My wife and I were great designers. I was trained to be so and drew up plans for houses and shops and pubs and other things. She on the other hand was a great designer of babies. OK, so I was involved in that too. I would have a squiggle of an idea and give it to her and she would fashion really beautiful children from it. Sometimes it didn’t work out. This might happen just a little while after giving her one idea and she would say “Come on I need you to try again”. So I had to keep on coming up with ideas until she was satisfied.
When we first got married I had firm ideas about how many babies we would have. We will have five girls I said. My wife said nothing. She knew that I had been brought up with a dominating elder brother, and a host of boy cousins so I needed to find out what the other side of the street was like. She was therefore wife and sister and confidant and lover and friend and mentor and everything I needed her to be. She was jealous too of one and all of my past girlfriends. Some of these had long gone from my life and others I might nod at in the street as they just flicked their eyes in my direction as they swung on the arm of their husband, boyfriend, lover, whatever and glanced at my wife in curiosity.
Our babies were beautiful from the moment they were born; so much so that I spent a lot of time on the floor at their level getting to know them. Our first was a boy and clearly my wife had ticked that box ahead of me. However to satisfy me the next two were girls. So she had two boys and two girls to love and to mother. This was an excellent arrangement. While I scrabbled about on the floor with the children with the cars and the trains and the dolls and the toy animals she did the washing and ironing and cooking and making the beds and all those other little jobs. At bedtime there would be bath time for the children and reading by me for the little ones who were tucked in bed for a final kiss.
Now so many years later, as I look at my own children grown up and now even older than I was back then, I see their children too looking so much like our babies still playing with the Lego and the toy cars and the dolls and the furry animals, still wanting stories from their favourite books still wanting me to make things or to draw things with them and even to wonder at the birds and insects and lizards in the garden.
In them I see you my beautiful wife. Every time a daughter or son, granddaughter or grandson gives me a hug I am getting a hug from you. Every time one of them speaks to me I hear your voice. You were able to do this in your creativity. I called myself a designer but you were one.