Today, however, they got to play policemen themselves! And firemen. And builders, carpenters, plumbers, racing drivers and rubbish collectors! They played bakers, pharmacists, pushed trolleys round a supermarket and tried their hands as chefs! Today’s visit was magical. We went to an indoor miniature city for children. Designed just like a real city with cobbled streets, shops, a bank, emergency services, radio and tv stations, building sites and road works, it was the most imaginative, creative and fun children’s activity centre I have ever seen!
Sammy and Benji had the chance to dress up and learn through hands-on experiences how the real world works and feels. From dressing up as firemen and riding in a fire engine, joining the other children to put out a blazing fire in a realistic looking building with a real hose and water, to sitting in a crane working on a mock building site, the boys had the time of their lives! They built houses with play bricks, shovelled make-believe debris, ‘fixed’ pipes, drilled, screwed and hammered! They baked their own bread, got a ‘driving license’ and went ‘shopping’.The children were given play money at the entrance and were able to go around spending it in the various shops and work stations.
It was an absolute delight to see them so ecstatically happy and enraptured by it all. They enjoyed every second of this amazing day. It’s hard to believe that Austria is such a child-friendly place with so many wonderful provisions for children and young families when this idyllic picture jars so mind-bogglingly with my own children’s traumatic experiences here.
I was so incredibly excited for today’s visit. I hadn’t seen my boys for almost 2 weeks (last Tuesday the visiting centre was closed because of New Year). Today, like the beginning of every visit, they ran into my arms, with happy cries of ‘Mama!’ the finest music to my ears. Hearing them say ‘Mama’ when they say so few other words is the best reassurance I can get that our love has survived. Our inseparable ties and unbreakable bond have remained intact, having been tested and pushed so cruelly to the limit. Even now, 18 months later, just one look at them is still enough to gauge exactly what they want and need. Verbal communication is superfluous with a mother’s instinct.
We sang, we danced, we cuddled and laughed together. My children lying in my arms feels like the most natural thing in the world. The ease, the comfort and security of being together, so carefree and relaxed, is something so intangible yet a feeling so right and undeniable. Being with these two little boys, my own flesh and blood, brings me an indescribable joy and completes me in a way nothing else on earth possibly could. After all the cruel unforgivable things that have been said about myself and the boys in this ugly battle, hearing their squeals of laughter and seeing their affectionate interaction with me makes me the proudest mum alive.
Returning home and reflecting on today, I am torn with conflicting emotions; the strength I’ve drawn from the happy precious hours we spent together, weighed down by a heavy heart at the depressing silence now pervading my flat and the abandoned toys I need to clear up and put away until the next visit.
I hope and pray that the impending custody decision finally recognises the pivotal role a mother plays in her children’s development and well-being. Sammy and Benji need me as much as I need them. My heart bleeds and every fibre of my body aches to be re-united with them once and for all.
The intensity of my love will never diminish. I only wish that they will be allowed to receive that love and security every day and every night. That they may grow up safe in the knowledge that their mother will always be there for them, not just in spirit as I am now, but a concrete reality; embraced in my arms and enjoined in my heart forever.