Archive for December, 2008

Lame indulgence

purtty nails


I don’t know why it is that every time I set foot outside the Noosa apartment, the ever present tension in my shoulders disappears. It could be that I’m a working example of Pavlov’s famous experiment. That I’ve been coming here so long and enjoy my time so much that the association my body has with Noosa is immediate relaxation. It could be that for so many years crossing the threshold into my grandparents’ house was always full of such joy. They aren’t here anymore but their spirit and the freedom that they wore proudly is definitely here. It could be that the view of an immense stretch of water framed with low lying stark greens and browns and blue, blue sky has an extremely meditative and calming effect. It could be all of these things combined. C says he feels it too. There is just something about this place.

Anyway, so I’m Noosa and I have to say despite the fact that S is waking for a feed 3 times a night and the four of us are sharing a room and wake up time for the kids is between 4 and 4.30, I am feeling great. The first time in a long time I’ve felt even-keeled. And it lasts. All day. There are none of the ‘eek’ moments that have found they’re way so easily into my life recently. Our view from the apartment is extraordinary. We’re both relaxed despite C feeling under the weather. S is LOVING it with a capital L. It’s like he was surfing the waves inutero the way he’s taken to the beach. A has been more tentative in basically everything he does. He loves the water and he’s clearly appreciating the holiday feeling that has taken over our family but this is definitely a ‘phase’ for him. Well, at least I hope it is. He’s getting a bit weird man. He’s so frightened of absolutely everything. Everything has become ‘dangerous’ or ‘scary’ or ‘I don’t like it.’ He won’t talk to anyone and is just damn rude in response to greetings or conversation attempts. He gets sooo upset if anything doesn’t go his way and not in a “I’m-two-goddamit-i-deserve-the-world-and-icecream-and-lollies-and-chocolate-and-Bob-the-builder-and-new-cars-whenever-I-want-them” kind of way. In the “oh-my-god-the-world-is-going-to-end-and-it’s-all-my-fault-and-i-can’t-bear-to-live-if-things-continue-like-this-if-i-don’t-get-my-way” kind of a way. Sheesh. It’s both exhausting and frankly, a little unnerving. I’m scared I’ve got one of those kids that sits in the corner of the playground studying his lunch box just to look occupied as the rest of the boys play soccer in the car park. It’s scaring me.

More than anything I’m worried that it’s my fault. When he uses the word dangerous, which he does at least 50 times a day about anything that he doesn’t want to do or that scares him, I hear it coming out of my mouth. I here the utterance I’ve made countless times in the three years of his life and I feel awful. Is this what I’ve done? Have I made him scared of the world? Scared to take any risks at all? That’s exactly what it is with A. He simply will not take risks. I wasn’t like that as a child. C wasn’t like that as a child. I don’t think either of us were particularly risk-taking but we didn’t fear much either. I feel I’ve been more frightened of taking risks since the age of 19 than when I was a kid. I spent a good part of my twenties unable to take risks and paid for it with a great deal of unhappiness. That’s what I feel A is suffering now. I feel that his unwillingness to take risks is causing him great unhappiness or potentially will. Or maybe that’s just my stuff.

I am becoming increasingly aware of the part my ego plays in bringing up both A and S. When I get cross with A for being rude, or not replying to someone, or failing to greet someone or thank someone, I now know it’s because I don’t want to be the mother of a child that is like this. And that I don’t want the people I love most in the world, to be rejected. Ok, so part of me knows (or I should say believes) that these little things – call them manners if you will- are kind of important in life. They help you get things and places. But I also know I’ve spent my life wanting always, always to be liked. I avoid conflict to an embarrassingly degree and get caught in awful situations of subservience because of it. I tell white lies just so as not to offend someone but more than offence, so that they won’t dislike me. So they won’t say bad things about me.

I know this stupid, insipid part of myself I’m transferring onto my children. I don’t want them to be criticized. I don’t want them to be disliked. I don’t want them to be rejected. I don’t want them to be judged. All the things I’ve avoided for so long but in doing so, have definitely held myself back. I’m getting better but if there’s one thing I don’t want my kids to inherit, it’s this. The person I want to be stands up for what she believes in all the time in all situations. She admits to her mistakes. She is more open so that people get to know the real her and not the person she hopes they like. All of this I want for my kids.

So when A doesn’t say ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’ or ‘excuse me’. Or he says something rude or inappropriate because he’s feeling uncomfortable, I feel all the hot feelings of embarrassment I’ve felt for so long when I feel I’m being judged. And I lash out at him firstly, to show that I’m a good mother and expect more from my son, but also, to relieve myself and the humiliation I can feel building in me. It’s terribly ego driven but I’m working on it. I don’t want my parenting to be about me. I want it to be about my boys. I want them to have strength, resolve, honesty and integrity. All the things I feel I’ve shirked away from just so that people are nice to me.

Holding my breath

I’m holding my breath to see what next year holds for me. I want to phone. To email. To write. To find out what they’ve decided. I’m full of trepidation but also completely excited. I feel like I have found my answer. I guess part of my changing attitude totally accepts that this doesn’t need to happen right away.

But I can’t escape the person I have been for so many years – I’m still IMPATIENT! I always want things to happen now. I wish this meant that I lived more in the now but funnily enough it doesn’t. Anyway, it would be great to know before we go away. Wishful thinking I guess….

Serendipity or synchronicity?

I once had this rather wanky conversation with a then-friend about whether something (perhaps our meeting) was an example of serendipity or synchronicity. I remember struggling to remember the exact difference between both but pretending (rather well I might add) that I did. He was smart. Probably smarter than me. But more than that, he was a thinker and I met him during a rather elongated period of not-thinking. So he had one up on me for sure during the conversation. It was witty repartee. The wittiest I’ve experienced, and we flirted our way through it. I was with someone else but for the time we were together that didn’t seem to matter, not because I was attracted in a relationship-sense to this person, but much more because of how great I felt about myself when I was with him. Fact: we are quicker and brighter when we are with quick and bright people. Fact: being quick and bright makes one feel GREAT! Our friendship faded as my relationship at the time faded. In fact, this friendship faded because my relationship faded. You know, it suddently became too loaded with all the stuff we’d managed to avoid because I was in a relationship.

Anyway, the reason for this story (aside from an indulgent reminisce on my part) is because I opened the book I am reading today to the page a stunning but moving postcard was keeping. My book, an inquiry into post natal depression has interested me mildly. The bookmark, a beautiful painting in the form of a post card my father sent from Edinburgh this year. The figure in the painting sits, head down, her figure obscured by a large orange hat. She sits in the muted browns of a traditional English manor library. Her face, if nothing else, is down turned. I think it interesting that my introduction to depression sent me a postcard of a woman (perhaps) on the edge of a depressive episode, which I am using (unknowningly) to mark my book which is about post natal depression. Lying awake at 2am I realised the irony of this and chuckled quietly as I watched the courtyard world revealed by the small slit that sits between the raised blind and the window sill. I’m beginning to realise that I was never going to evade this shadow. I thought I was exempt but that was never the case. I congratulate myself on doing so well to keep this shadow at bay for so many years. In hindsight, it’s showed up to tap me on the shoulder but I am amazed that I have looked at it without recognition. Fortunate for me that I have. Now, while it stays me, it is more at a remove than it would have been had I given it a name and said hello during the times it visited previously. I think I’m doing better because of it.

December 2008