Archive for June, 2009

These are a few of my favourite things

random iPhone June 09 014Reading in bed before the light goes off. The one and only truely me time of the day. Oh, how I relish that first sniff of sheets and the warmth that creeps up as you wriggle around. Then, to reach for a good book, smooth the pillows, get your perch just right and open the pages.

random iPhone June 09 015

Reading my blog roll in the morning (which is quite funny because C likes referring to his enjoyment of a good bog roll in the morning). Or evening, depending on whether I”m able to find 5 minutes during the day. Sometimes I get over it quickly – it seems all too much stuff. But other times, I relish the connection I feel when I read other people’s words.

random iPhone June 09 017

Jonquils have the most divine smell. Their scent brings back a heady rush of childhood memories. Building cubbies in the front paddock amonst the wild jonquils, narcissus and daffodils. I associate them with winter although I guess, typically, their a spring flower. For me, their smell mingles in memories of warm coats, heavy woollen op-shop jumpers, gumboots, scones and hot chocolate, open fires and evening readings of The Secret Garden. I love that these memories come back to me every year when I smell the first scent of jonquils.

Morning walk

Sleep monster…

rears its ugly head once again. Oh my, I’m done. D-O-N-E. It has now been 11 1/2 months of inconsistent to absolute-crap sleep from S and it’s really doing my head in. I’m mean, of course it is. I’m saying nothing new but for a while there I was committed to trying certain techniques on a regular and sustained basis in the knowledge that I was doing the hard-yards in return for some tangible rewards. Now I’m not so sure. He just doesn’t get it. He doesn’t respond to the techniques everyone else seems to rave about. He is up and down. Awake, asleep. Asleep but mostly AWAKE.

I was prepared to seriously consider a third but I just don’t know I could do another round of this. Especially when I’m not sure I wouldn’t also be dealing with S’s sleep habits at the same time.

I’m so tired and tiredness works well to make you resent life. Resent being out of bed and actually living. Tiredness means bed is the only haven and coffee the only sustenance. Tiredness makes me feel like life’s on hold.

My grandmother died on Saturday. Ten minutes after S and I and my father had left her bedside. She was sleeping after a cruel spell of painful breathing. Her passing makes me (once again) look at life – its fragility, its transience.

Lying in bed last night after I had succumbed and left S with a bottle, I was thinking of the strange paradox of it all. Life  means so much and yet is extinguished so quickly and often thoughtlessly. Any moment we could be gone and my worry about lack of sleep and its attendant complications would mean nothing at all. I have been thinking that EVERY MOMENT MUST COUNT. And then, I’m wacked with lethargy and weariness and I struggle to make ANY moment count or matter.

Hmph……there are no answers. But like every life, every moment too shall pass. Every non-sleeping, weary, fuzzy brained moment.

Birthdays and love

Although I wasn’t around much Wednesday night to celebrate C’s birthday we made up for it last night with an awesome night out with great beer, indulgent dessert wine, the best food and our newly discovered favourite dessert – affogato. It was a night full of chatting and love and it was nice just to face each other again without any distractions.

Chocolate chip Monday morning

Since making the somewhat disappointing chocolate chip cookies yesterday with A, I have been obsessing about finding the perfect recipe. Sitting down to do the mass of the work that looms every Monday morning, all I can think about is chocolate chip cookies and an accompanying coffee. I’ve been trawling favourite food blogs all morning in search and am gnashing my teeth for a coffee and one of the left over morsels from yesterday.

I can resist no longer. I’m in the kitchen now filling my perculator and pouring my milk.

Ahhhh….how to improve your Monday mornings? I just did.

Birthday cups

It is morning and I move around the kitchen with the pale, lukewarm sun sitting hesitantly beyond the window. I take down a tea cup without its saucer and think about where it came from. A birthday gift of little sense because I don’t drink much tea and don’t really have an eye for nice crockery. But the shop where it was bought was walking distance from his office and he’d have been able to pop out at lunch time, quickly, grab a sushi roll and his dry-cleaned shirts and a present, sitting on the sale table in front of the shop.

The cup’s design is twee and too many young people work nearby the shop for it to have been a popular purchase. The cup would have sold better at a department store where the grey-haired, pearled set usually shop because it’s quiet and the music is unobtrusive.

The cups wrapped nicely. Their odd shape inviting beneath the clean, white wrapping paper. Funny, that after all of these years in between and without him, these cups have kept. They have survived. Followed me, unbroken, relentlessly and unforgiving. Reminding me that the choice I made to leave was the right one and to let me know on a strange but daily basis, as I open the cupboards, that there are no regrets.

I’m not so sure about that. About no regrets. But I am reminded of him every time I take one of the cups down from the cupboard above the sink, preparing tea for my mother-in-law. Yes, I think of him. I think how he would have appreciated the cups but how now my husband does not notice them tucked amongst the odds and ends of other cups.

In fact, had my husband noticed them he would have thrown them out. Just the two cups with their saucers. To him, this odd pair is clutter. And this house in which we live is clean and white and a bit stiff but without clutter. In our house there is little sign of two small children. Aside from Callum’s room, proving the point he really is just like me. He has an abandon about things and seems perfectly at ease amongst his own chaos. He enters his newly cleaned room removing odd books and figurines from the shelves, to give the room life or perhaps for inspiration for the next game although he always, always returns to the trains.

Callum likes the cups. He likes sipping tea from the cups. A splash of tea with milk. When she’s here, he likes to sit with my mother in law and I having tea.

Recently, when I sat with him outside a café in winter, I told him I had a son named Callum and he reminded me that it was his grandfather’s name. I had forgotten.

All mothers love Raymond

I’ve written recently about the angst of working from home as a mother. It seems that others too are addressing the issue. While for a long time I’ve eschewed the label WAHM (thinking that soon I’ll be going ‘back to work’), I’ve realised from my reading in the blogosphere that this label now sticks to me.

How funny then to find a beautifully written essay by Raymond Carver in which he addresses this very issue: work and family balance. How to work well while looking after you children effectively. How to commit to your writing,  but also be a present parent. He speaks of similar struggles that we all have.

…the fact that I had two children. And that I would always have them and always find myself in this position of unrelieved responsibility and permanent distraction.

YES!! Could he have said it more eloquently. This is exactly what I find myself thinking time and time again as I search frantically for that 10 minutes (10 minutes for god’s sake) every day to write!

He also writes about his own assumptions about ‘writers’ and the lives he assumes they lead. This idea completely tapped into the excuse I seem to come up with time and time again as to why I’ve never truely committed to writing despite my passion for it.

At that moment I felt – I knew – that the life I was in was vastly different from the lives of the writers I most admired. I understood writers to be people who didn’t spend their Saturdays at the laundromat and every waking hour subject to the needs  and caprices of their children…..At that moment – I swear all of this took place there in the laundromat – I could see nothing ahead but years more of this kind of responsibility and perplexity. Things would change some, but they were never really going to get better. I understood this but how could I live with it? At that moment I saw accommodations would have to be made. The sights would have to be lowered.


He goes on to speak of the myriad and multitude of jobs both day and night that he and his wife were compelled to keep in order to support their family. So yes, on top of having children, Carver accepted mutual responsibility for their care in order that his wife assist in their financial support. And he tried to begin writing, to begin being a writer at the same time because it was compulsive. Because he had to. Because he’d ignited a longing that he couldn’t ignore.

In those days I figured if I could squeeze in an hour or two a day for myself, after job and family, that was more than good enough. That was heaven itself.

Oh yes it is.

And I felt happy to have that hour. But sometimes, one reason or another, I couldn’t get that hour. Then I would look forward to Saturday, though sometimes things happened that knocked Saturday out as well. But there was Sunday to hope for. Sunday maybe.

We’ve all been there.

But what I loved most about his essay – aside from the consistently spare and beautiful writing – is his comment that his children are his work’s influence. Asked time and time again which other writers have influenced his work, he cites his children has giving him more influence, more consistent creative fodder than anyone else because they were his everyday. “I’m talking about real influence now. I’m talking about the moon and tide.”  So, I guess, while having children and looking after them limited his opportunity to write, the fact is he wouldn’t be the writer that he is were it not for them.

Influences. John Gardner and Gordon Lish. They hold irredeemable notes. But my children are it. Theirs is the main influence. They were the prime movers and shapers of my life and my writing. As you can see, I’m still under their influence, though the days are relatively clear now, and the silences are right.

The best I can

I’m feeling sluggish and pretty down today. There are reasons. But more than anything, it seems impossible to get going on the work front. I have been at my computer for an hour and a half and am no further through anything than when I sat down. A few moments ago I wrote a sentence on desktop sticky. “I’m doing the best I can.” It made me feel better for a while but then I glanced at it again and began questioning the substance of it. I’m mean, am I? Am I, right now, doing the best I can?

Because I feel a bit crappy, I can answer yes. It seems I’m not going to get much done today for that reason. On the other hand, if I were really doing the best I can, would I not be working harder to jump start myself out of this malaise and begin doing some real, substantial work instead of distracting myself with blog writing.

I sat down to write this entry in order to try and make sense of these thoughts that are swimming blindly around my head. It has only just occurred to me that this might just be another firm example of why I’m not doing the best I can.

I (we all) put so much goddamn pressure on myself to be working at full capacity all the time. I feel terribly guilty that this morning, my first morning on my own in over a week, I’ve had a quick morning nap, I’ve got little work done, I am finding hard to motivate myself. When I say guilty, I mean I feel pretty much crap about myself.

It seems as a mother, and a mother who tries to work works from home, it feels totally inexcusable to take a moment for oneself. It feels like the soft option; the lazy way; the opting out. Right now, I feel bad because I feel bad and in feeling bad I’m not getting anything done which means that I’ll be madly rushing to get the work finished later in the week when I’ll have a baby or two at home and also working at night when I want to crash in front of the TV. I’ll be madly typing away, staying up late only to get up early to a baby who doesn’t like to sleep in the mornings and then feeling crappy and in a bad mood with everyone because I’m tired because I DIDN’T GET THROUGH MY WORK ON TUESDAY MORNING BECAUSE I FELT LIKE CRAP.

None of it really makes sense does it? I still haven’t answered my question, am I really doing the best I can? Would the best be getting through my work no matter how bad I feel so that I’m more available to everyone else later in the week and feel less stressed when I’m required to give more of myself?

Or does doing the best you can, just mean that you can only do what you can do in any given moment dependent on nothing?

It’s the little things

I realised this morning as I made S’s bottle that it is the small, inconsequential rituals that bring the most peace. I continue to make his bottles with cooled, boiled water. I know he’s old enough for water from the tap but I love the process of boiling the kettle, filling the pyrex jug, waiting for it too cool and then filling his bottle. I had never thought about it until yesterday but I realise there’s a reason I haven’t been going to the tap. I am attached to this ritual and to the idea that the water he consumes is clean and almost handmade by me.



June 2009