Archive for the 'Love' Category



Happy birthday to you….

I’m writing tonight because I’m know I’m not going to have a chance tomorrow and then we’re going away and then, before you know it, this special and beautiful moment will have passed without so much as a whisper from Mumma.

Tomorrow is S’s first birthday. All day today, I’ve been madly rushing walking around, thinking of just how damn proud I am of him. Proud that he’s turning one and all the bye-bye to babyhood it entails. Proud of the cheerful, charming little boy he has become. I’ve been so busy all week, I was kinda scared of letting this moment rush by. I had bought his present (very organised of me) and had even organised some family to attend a little birthday tea tomorrow evening. But I thought his birthday would pass too quickly in the flurry of all the work I’ve got on at the moment. But today, while scarily busy and struggling a bit to breathe trying to work out when everything’s going to get done, I managed frequently to think about the first year of S’s life. Think about him and his disarming smile. Think about him and I and our ever-developing relationship. Think about the little unit he has made our family.

I whispered to him many times about his birthday tomorrow. He smiled and looked at me as though I was about to give him more toast because that’s all he was hoping I was whispering about.

He sure has changed my world. In tough, raw ways. In ebullient, joyous, life-filling-up-with-great-stuff ways.

Tomorrow marks the first year of his life and the first year of the rest of my life. My life as a mother of two beautiful, impish, open-armed, quick-to-chuckle, kiss-on-the-lips boys.

Happy birthday S! You totally. And utterly. Without question. Rock. My. World.

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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.

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.

YES!!

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.

How to do it the right way

A’s behaviour has been erratic lately to say the least. In the last week, I have found myself acknowledging quietly and privately that I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I don’t know how to improve the bad stuff and encourage the good. Whatever I am or have been doing does not seem to be working.

He’s not good at regulating his emotions and I know at 3, he doesn’t need to be totally on top of it. However, I have noticed, now that we spend more time with other families from day care, that his peers seem to be able to cope with things, especially foreign and unexpected things or events, a whole lot better than he can. Sometimes it’s almost as if he becomes possessed by adrenalin and tears around hurting all around him. He’s especially prone to doing this if he’s tired, or awkward or feeling particularly insecure. That seems to be his modus operandi in such situations and frankly, it’s driving me MAD!

I’m finally at the point of acknowledging that I need help – be it in the form of child development books, of assistance from our local childhood nurse, our paediatrician or even our GP. I don’t know, I need some tips.

Anyone got anything to offer?

Sometimes he’s aggressive but again, this aggression is uncontrolled and not always manipulative. Sometimes he’s emotionally hysterical. Sometimes he tries hard to hurt S so that he gets a reaction from C or I. Sometimes he just drops into my lap, very quiet.

I want to help him. I want to make him feel secure enough that he doesn’t need to react with such extreme emotion and physical energy. I want him to know that it’s always more productive to talk about how insecure and upset he’s feeling than to act it out with aggression.

It’s making me tired and pretty deflated. And it’s almost harder by the fact that when he’s good, when he’s on, comfortable, feeling loved and feeling secure, he’s the dreamiest of dreamy little boys.

Brimming sadness

I have had two phone calls in the last few days from people in my ‘love the mostest’ bunch. These phone calls have been both bitter and heartwrenching. They are hard conversations to have and I have been forced to sit in the moment, with tears (mine and theirs), silences, tense words (theirs), and no trace of a word (mine) that might make either of them feel better.

I’m not used to this and to be forced to sit and feel every part of my body as these people that I love fall apart because of a decision I am making, is so damn hard. But. It’s also one of the most important things I will do for myself.

We are in the throws of planning a move, away from this city and from my family. C’s family live elsewhere and don’t get to see the boys nearly as much as mine. Plus, we’re pretty sick of this city for many boring reasons I’ll one day post about.

My family is hurt but understanding. We are close and all live here mainly for each other. Because it’s the only spot we can kind of all agree on. They are terribly close to all of us and C and I have said on many occasions, that we really would not have enjoyed these years as a burgeoning family had it not been for the endless support from my mother.

She runs her own very busy and successful business but every spare moment she has she gives to us generously and without thought otherwise. She has called me just now from Noosa, sobbing, telling me she hasn’t slept for 3 days because she can’t think about anything else but our move.

I don’t know what to say. And I always know what to say. And having to sit on the other end of a phone as someone you deeply love sobs with the weight of their intense love for you and your boys, while having nothing to say to soothe this pain. Having no solution or capacity to fill this frighteningly painful void. Feels so goddamn awful.

But, this is an important thing I’m doing or learning to do. Make decisions for myself that inadvertantly hurt people. Not changing my mind or my words just so they feel better fleetingly and then making either myself or them feel like shit later. Not saying “It’ll be ok,” or “we’ll work something out.”

Just sitting while the pain and the tears and the loneliness that usually I can’t acknoweldge, swill down the phone line .

the here and now

I’ve been crazy busy working, trying to see old friends as they whish quickly into town and then out again. I’ve got a lot I want to write about but I just thought I’d pop in quickly to share the here and now.

Right now:

reading: beautiful stories and woven narratives full of subtle suspense.

listening: to funkaroo, uplifting, pretty music. I don’t know anything else that they do but this makes me smile and they’re so young they could seriously be toilet training.

watching: alot. Dinner on Friday night consisted of sitting around a computer screen, drinking beer, screaming with laughter and pushing away tears of grace. Check this out.

eating: the tango-ist of cheese with hearty bread.

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loving:

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Love being a mother?

Interesting question….When I first fell pregnant with A I thought I was doing the least original thing in the world. And I was. Not that I live on the cutting edge even a significant fraction of the time but I have always been keen not to go with the flow. Having a baby seemed to be jumping right on the big mummy wave with a million other women and yet trying to come up with my own surf-board moves.

I left my mother’s group because the shiny happy faces and the ‘don’t you just love being a mother?’ songs of praise didn’t fit with me. I did love A and he was the easiest baby anyone could hope for. I had nothing to complain about but it’s not that simple. And I figured I was surrounded by simple women if they thought like that.

Women seem to get and be so precious about being a mother and about their children. They forget that it’s been done so many times before that we have now have a human race that will struggle to die out. We aren’t unique and neither are our children.

But strangely children are. Unique. Yours are. So are mine. That’s the strange part.

Despite the fact you’re doing what everyone else is, you still experience a joy shared by no other. Every single mothering or parenting experience is unique despite the fact that all babies feed, toilet train, learn to walk, enjoy sleepless spells, learn to ride a bike, start school, lose a tooth, fall so hard they can’t get up…you know what I mean.

I was never the mother type. I didn’t want to be the mother type. I knew I’d love my kids but I didn’t know I’d love being with my kids and that’s a big difference. And I do. They are the coolest people to hang out with. They make me laugh, they are unabashedly affectionate and they make me show affection in a way I’ve never before been comfortable. They challenge me intellectually (no one who negotiated with 3 year old demanding a packet of M&Ms in a long queue of frazzled Kmart shoppers can tell me that it’s not a real exercise of the mind), and they make me consider my ethics on a daily basis.

I have two boys. I’ve decided I want them to be feminists. I don’t really know what that means yet but I know I want them to grow up recognising the value of women and appreciating that value despite the fact our family only has one (s0 far anyway!). In this sense, I know that their moral framework, their appreciation of social justice, fairness and even their ability to empathise, for a large part, comes from me (and C of course). That is a huge responsibility but an exciting challenge and god knows I’m always looking for challenges.

I thought parenting was the easy way out when you couldn’t decide what career you wanted (ughm…me). No way. It’s the opposite. It requires the selflessness and patience of a monk. It forces you to put things into perspective on a daily basis. To fight the important battles and to acknowledge that ultimately your own needs come second.

I always thought that I would fight hard to keep the ‘real’ me alive when the boys came along. I would dedicate enough ‘me’ time that those things that made me who I was would not burn out. Now I realise that everything changes. There’s no me before or me to come. There is only me right now. And that’s the way it’s always been. I still love writing, reading my books, flicking through cooking magazines, watching trash on my computer, travelling, sharing a bottle (or four) with my beautiful friends, debating with my funkorama bookclub and cuddling my C. But somehow, and I’m not sure how it happened, these things are not so important now.

A and S – you rock my world. Your world and your lives are the real things that get me goin’. Thank you.

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Her Bad Mother is starting Around the World in 80 Clicks and I figured Australia had to have some involvement. We’re a pretty enlightened bunch down here. Not too shabby and doing motherhood big time with a massive baby boom. A friend introduced me to this blog which is an highly entertaining account of single-motherhood goin’ beach style in Sydney.


May 2019
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