Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Some days are light and sunshine and others are, well, not.

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Summer in Victoria is a fickle beast. Some days it rears up out of nowhere and hits you in the face with heat and wind and bugs. Other days its so damn cold the jumpers come back out, and living on the coast quickly loses it appeal.

I feel a bit like this at the moment, sparkly and light some days and wanting to hide in the blankets on others. I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with the weather but I’m not so sure if it also has nothing to do with motherhood. My old life seems a million years ago. Hangovers, long, late breakfasts, hour long walks with me and the dog and the only time I had to stop was to catch my breath at the top of the stairs, no plans, lots of plans, holidays to exotic destinations, weddings, parties and long uninterrupted telephone conversations. Some of these things I miss terribly and others I still have, but often they are accompanied with the guilt of putting on the TV to get some precious minutes to myself.

It’s summer here, so for me this has always meant holidays. As a kid we camped by the beach for weeks, eating Barbecue Shapes by the box and cordial out of a massive shared drink bottle. At uni they were filled with work, late nights out and at the beach and no study. While teaching it meant days and days of beach and friends and drinking and reading and fun. Now I think I am on holidays, but it doesn’t really feel like that. My husband had very little time off this year and our annual week away with our great mates didn’t happen with all the new babies on the cards. So it’s a weird feeling I guess. I feel like my life should be the same as it always is. Daycare is still on, most of my friends that live locally are around and my hubby is working. But it’s not the same. There are a million people on holiday down here that remind me all the time others are on holidays and lots of our fun activities we do aren’t on.

So what? Clearly a first world problem I know and I’d love to just get over it, but I can’t. When it has been sunny we head to the beach with everyone else. Hmmm not so relaxing when I keep losing track of the two kids amongst all the people and break my arms carrying the kids and the stuff cos I have to park so far away. It’s just never sunny on the weekend when it would actually be fun to go to the beach with two adults. So we have just been hanging out at home, getting stuff done. Which is fine except I do this all week!

I feel terrible living the privileged life I live saying I’m bored. But that’s just it, I think I’m a bit bored. Yuck, even the words on the page make me cringe. I thought actually writing them down might make me feel okay about it but I don’t. I often wonder if other Mums get bored. Bored of doing dishes, cleaning the house, washing clothes, building lego, watching Playschool, playing at the park, making food, playing cricket, whatever. Some Mums I meet that I only know well enough to be brutally honest with, (it’s funny how you can tell people you hardly know what is really going on, but other friends you keep smiling for), tell me they are bored. Usually this is watching swimming lessons, waiting for kids to get off the computer at the library or pushing the swing at the park. Some tell me that they don’t use Daycare, instead they just whinge about staying home with their kids. Others tell me they couldn’t imagine working or doing anything else but look after their kids. And good on them.

I know that like many other phases of my life I might regret not loving this period of time. There’s is lots of laughter and love in our house and we something fun every day. I think I’d just like to share it a bit more. So I have come up with a bit of a plan. A plan to have lots of family time, less boring house chores and much more summer. It’s just a spark at the moment, but I’m hoping it might catch fire and turn into a blaze that might just change our lives.

I’ll keep you posted.

Working (as in getting paid by an employer rather than just do every job in the house) Mothers

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

My boss has asked me what I plan to do next year about work. I can go back to work if I like, but he can only offer me three days, not two as I had hoped for. I am really torn. It’s a much more difficult decision that I thought it would be. I’ve been seeking advice from friends, my husband and other mums about what to do about deciding what my life will be like next year.

I went back last year to teach for three days a week. I also did tutoring and managed an online university subject and on one of the days off I looked after my friends little boy as she was kind enough to do the same for me. We were also renovating our house. Needless to say, I was pretty busy. And pregnant.

Some of the work stuff I loved, some not so much. My days at home, I loved. I really enjoyed the company of my wild child and all of his adventures in between. He still had day sleeps so days were filled up quickly with catch ups and play dates and activities. When he slept, I worked. It was hard but the money was desperately needed for the reno and the paid maternity leave from my work and the government was awesome!

But now I have two it is different. We have no family so all my day care costs money. And the kind of day care I love, with a dear friend who is just beautiful to my son, in her house with her kids, is just too expensive for two on a teaching wage. And the thought of packing bags, with lunches and nappies and getting me and kids dressed and out the door three mornings a week by 7.30 am hurts to think about. A nanny has crossed my mind, but again it’s lots of effort for a bit of pocket money at the end of the week.

So what is the alternative? Commit to staying at home for another year, or more. I love my children dearly, but would we all go a little mad staying at home together? Kinder next year is only 2 hours a week for my three year old, and the baby will be that busy, five minute activity age. Summer is fine, who can’t handle going to the beach every day? But winter, not so much fun.

And of course there is the money to consider. Do I go back for a year, with the intention of hopefully having another baby at some stage? Then I can access maternity pay, extend my leave for another three years and actually stay home for the busy kinder year and even my son’s first year at school? I have my whole life to work. I’ve managed to find lots of other ways to entertain myself and exercise my mind these last three years, I could do it again. I love teaching, but not all of it. Would I regret going back to something permanently when I could just pick up a few days of relief teaching here and there? And how hard is it to make a decision in August about what you will be doing in February?

It’s a touch choice, but I absolutely know just how lucky I am to even have to face this choice. Some mums have to go back to full time work. Others don’t have the luxury of considering part time as an option. My husband says its totally up to me. I think that’s what is making it just so hard to decide.

When good kids go bad…

Friday, July 13th, 2012

My son embarrassed me today.

Not a first for me, nor for many others , but it’s one of those things that doesn’t get any easier no matter how many times they do it.A bit like farting in public really. Other people are laughing because it’s not them, but you are definitely not.

Today we didn’t even leave the house, friends came to us. Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I socialise at all. He is usually better at other people’s houses purely because of the distraction of new stuff and the threat of going home. Normally he is not too bad at home, especially when one of the boys coming over is a really good buddy of his. But today he churned out all the greatest hits!

He fought over toys, pushed, yelled, chucked himself on the floor, played away from the others. And all the while the bubba was crying and unable to settle. Could be the latest lot of vaccinations, the medication from a stunning bout of mastitis I am recovering from or just picking up on the vibe of his feral big brother. I’m sure my friend was thinking, wow this was really worth coming out in the rain for! When she left I actually realised I had probably made her day. At least she could walk out thinking, well my kids can drive me mad, but at least they are nothing like that! At least she could walk out.

Some days you wonder if the activities are more for you than for them. He loves these kids but obviously, after a very restless night last night, he was too tired to be able to put any limits on his behaviour. I can’t blame him really. Sometimes I would love to yell really loud in someones face when they piss me off, or snatch the thing off them I want, or push in the line, or hell, even lay on the floor and clench my fists. I’ve been hanging out with humans for a while now and I regularly find it tough to control myself. Why should I expect him to, when he is three?

Because I don’t like being embarrassed, or failing, or not having some semblance of control of my offspring.

Later in the day he proved to me just how little control I have, but how much influence. He woke up in the car driving out to check the surf and the first thing he said was that he will go surfing there soon, with his little buddy he had been hanging out with this morning. And then later tells me off for yelling because he would like me to use my ‘nice voice’. It seems some of the message may have got through, I just need to make sure I’m using my nice voice when I am trying to teach him.

The Second Child

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

At the moment he is my second child. If my body holds up he might be my middle child, but we shall just wait and see. I’m not sure whether it is worse to be the baby of three or more, or the middle. My life is so crazy at the moment that I find it hard to imagine a third one rolling around the place, but imagine it I am.

I am very lucky this time around. My beautiful, chubby bubba is a pretty cruisy baby. Well let’s be honest, he sleeps! Since he has turned six months he has started to sleep all night and you have no idea of my pure delight at this. Well hang on, if you have a terrible sleeper like my first born then yes you know exactly how much joy I am feeling. For the past week at least, I have been up at least once to the three year old. The baby, just sleeping, well, like a baby. This is the first time in the last three years that that saying has actually made any sense at all because until number two came along, sleeping like a baby was akin to torture via sleep deprivation Guantanamo Bay style!!

I take absolutely no credit for this at all. It is purely luck. Sure I haven’t picked him up as frequently or quickly, because it’s not always possible to get there at the first sound of a sqwark, and sometimes this has meant he has happily played in his cot, or gone back to sleep. But I think that it has more to do with his personality that any kind of baby training. And for the first three months he was feeding every two hours over night, oh it makes me shiver just thinking about getting up that often. So I am blissfully enjoying the fact that now he can self settle over night and will even grumble in his cot for a while if god forbid, he is awake before 6.30am.

Everyone tells me he looks just like the first born, hey he probably does, but he’s so different in personality that I don’t see it as much. He has the patience to grizzle, unlike his older brother who has my red hot temper and goes zero to one hundred in a second. And he just loves his Mum. While he gets lots of cuddles as a result, it means he won’t really go to anyone else for more than about five seconds. Then the bottom lip drops and the tears start. It’s a bit disturbing. I have no idea how I will ever go back to work, unless I can do what I am at the moment and take him with me. Maybe he does it because this way he gets to be protected from the ground floor madness created by the human tornado we have living here. So it means he doesn’t roll, sit, crawl, any of the stuff his brother could do at this age. He is just a different kid. And an absolute delight.

I quite like the change in pace. The eldest had teeth at five months and was commando crawling at this age. I love that my bubba is still just a roly poly, cuddly, gummy baby. I don’t love the whinging and will not cope well with a sooky boy. In fact he won’t have much choice about that. But I am fascinated that he is such a different little person already. I shouldn’t be surprised. I have taught many brothers who couldn’t be any different from each other and I was always stunned by it then. But when it is my own children it is even more suprising. My husband and I are chalk and cheese, or mad and calm, or talkative and mute, the list goes on. So if one takes after each of us no wonder they are slightly different. I just hope this one also gets his Dad’s coordination, fearlessness and gentle nature like his brother.

But if my bubba turns out to also love an audience, the sound of his own voice and cracking it in seconds then I am definitely going to have to try for number three. And who knows what we will get then.

 

Sleep – you, me, bedroom, now!

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

My bub slept all night for the first time. Hip Hooray, dance through the streets with joy. Even my toddler joined in and stayed quiet, in his bed until 7am. A delightful and very rare treat in our house.

Top of my list for Mothers Day last month was a sleep in, you know anything past 6 really. And the irony of being able to celebrate Mother’s Day meant that my darling boys woke me up. I could think of worse things than having my three favourite people in the whole world cuddled up to me in a nice warm bed. It just took me an hour or two and some coffee to see it in this light.

Sleep has been a battle in our house for nearly three years now. My first born wasn’t a great sleeper. Every stage would cause a new problem. As a newborn he was hard to settle and as a baby he was hard to keep asleep. I remember my breaking point of getting up one, two, three or four times a night came at about eight months. I resolved myself to attempt the dreaded controlled crying. I had read somewhere to not feed him at that 4.30 wake up and that should help some of the problems. So he woke up. I patted him and left. The crying started. Then it stopped. I couldn’t believe it, only a couple of minutes, really? So I fell asleep, for fifteen minutes. He was awake again. We did this for the next two hours. And then at the ‘appropriate’ time we got up. Grumpy, tired, but up. The next morning I fed him at 4.30. We all slept till 7.30.

So for the next two years I tweaked day sleeps. Short morning nap, no morning nap, rock to sleep, push in the pram to sleep, drive to sleep. But in the last few months I have had to accept that the day sleep is no longer. I can’t get him to sleep anymore, which is probably just as well because if he ever has longer than a nap in the car, he is up running around like a child possessed until nine at night and I cannot cope with that.

When my baby was born I desperately held on to the day sleep for as long as I could. But then I soon realised, they never slept at the same time and I was just too tired at night to endure the battle of going to bed. I didn’t want my energetic funny little boy to go to sleep every night crying and fighting. It made me feel like shit.

So we have learnt to let go of the daytime nap. Instead we watch some telly quietly on the couch, or give him my Iphone and go for a walk in the pram, or I buy a coffee, turn up the radio and drive out to the surf beach to check the surf. It’s half an hour of quiet time for every one and its enough to just get back on track again. What amazes me about this is that the more people I confide in with this guilty pleasure, the more I find who share in the ritual. Now I will start waving at those other mothers driving around at lunchtime with that look of bliss on their faces.

But what I didn’t understand about the lack of the day sleep until I finally let go of it was just how much slower my day could go, and not in a bad way. Instead of racing out of the house in the freezing morning with lunches packed, dragging a toddler kicking and screaming who was happy playing, so that we could get back in time for a sleep, we just stay at home playing. We go slower, take longer, walk instead of drive. We get to enjoy the best of the day outside instead of sleeping the best part away and being out in the freezing morning and dewy afternoon. It means we only need one activity instead of two and it means for once that my second child actually gets to come first. Because now it’s not all about the toddler, it gets to be about the baby. He happily sleeps for a couple of hours and if we are home for this sleep then I can play play dough or cars, or paint, or make cookies, or kick the footy with the wild child and I have both hands and all of my attention to do this.

I still get worried if friends stay here, or we go away and I have to get my children to actually go to sleep in weird places and then stay asleep without disturbing too many people. But I have to remember many of us with little children are going through exactly the same thing. Thankfully I cope okay without too much sleep, but then what choice do I have. It could be worse, I have friends who are only getting tiny little glimpses of sleep and I have no idea how they function.

One day in the years to come, we will sit and wait up for our teenagers to come home and remember these precious years with fondness.

And then we will stand outside their rooms from 6am waking them up every hour and getting enormous satisfaction out of it.

They say we can choose our friends but not our family.

Monday, June 4th, 2012

We can choose our friends, but not our family. Blood runs thicker than water. So the sayings go. I always believed this, until recently. The dynamics of people’s families fascinate me.  And none more so than the family you inherit when you tie the knot. The similarities in appearance or mannerisms, the values and shared beliefs and habits are always quite striking when you first notice them. But it is the relationships between generations of people and all of the history that determines those relationships that are far more interesting and much harder to find. People can hurt each other so much, families perhaps more than anyone. And sometimes the hurt comes not from the relationship we have, but rather the one we were never allowed.

I have spoken before about my Evil Nanna, (Scary Nanna according to my son!) and there are many reasons for the strained relationship we have. Most of these have little to do with how she treats me, but rather her impact on others. Her son is now middle aged, and yet behaves like an out-of-control teenager. He still rings up needing money, still has massive addiction issues which have led to abusive relationships, loss of custody of children, overdoses of friends. As a kid, he was my favourite uncle. As a teenager he was my hero. As a young adult he was so cool, my boyfriend and mates at the time went to Sydney to live with him for a bit, and I followed. And that is where the worship ended. In the worst month of my life I learnt about drug abuse, emotional and physical abuse, and the consequences of all that entails. I refused to speak to him ever again.

My family don’t know what I witnessed in that house for that month. Thankfully my childhood meant it was the first time I had been a part of such a volatile domestic relationship. It changed me forever. I came home a little less innocent than when I left.  My boyfriend had been cheating on me up there. My uncle knew and never told me. It added to how black he had become for me. For many years since my Nanna has tried to tell me stories about ‘Poor Richard’. I walk away. I blame my grandparents for some of his behaviour, I blame him for the rest. Mothers are supposed to always love their sons, but excusing and allowing such behaviour to go unchecked doesn’t do anyone any favours.

A friend told me recently that one of the hardest things about her Dad walking out, was missing out on the relationship with her grandparents. His behaviour meant that one of the most precious, innate connections we are entitled to have in our lives was taken away. I am old enough to make a choice about the relationship I have with my grandparents, but it is only since I have had children that I have had to be responsible for the relationship they will have with their grandparents. At the moment it is easy. I drive up to see my parents, we all hang out. My toddler checks to see if Scary Nanna will be there, and puts up with her when she inevitably is.

My in-laws live further away so they come to us. They are lovely people, but they are not my family. They annoy me as much and yet the same level of honesty just isn’t appropriate. My husband has known them forever, me ten or so years, so obviously things still surprise me. They are not my parents and I have always felt as though it isn’t my role to affect the bond my boys have with them, it is my husbands. And hopefully it will always be. But if anything was to happen I have to make sure that my boys know their grandparents well enough to maintain their own relationship with them when they are older. Even though I didn’t choose them, their son chose me, thankfully, and I have to remember they are part of the package. Luckily they live far enough away that this clause really only takes effect every couple of months.

People without any grandparents remind me how lucky I am to have any, and then I introduce them to mine. As an adult I have the knowledge to make my own decisions about the kind of relationship I have with them, but my children have the right to experience that unconditional love that spoils them rotten and sends them home crazy on the high on having your every wish granted. It is my job as their Mum to make sure that is equally felt on both sides of the family tree. Before my friend shared this little pearl of wisdom we had already planned the six hour trip to visit them. So that conversation now resonates more than it ordinarily would. And as I drive down the freeway this weekend, I will gently uncurl my fists and breath deeply and remember that even though they are not my flesh and blood, they will impact on my children entirely and forever and for that I am deeply grateful.

Oh Day Care, how I have learnt to love you….

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Today is day care day in my house.

It usually means a mad day of rushing around and getting all of those jobs done that are fraught with danger with a nearly three year old and bub in tow. I buy only what I need at the grocery store, instead of all of the extra ‘silencers’ that buy me some time when my toddler comes shopping. I clean the floors, once, and they stay clean. I do the washing, dishes, pay bills, check emails, walk the dog without stopping and head into school to tutor some Year 12 boys. Oh yeah and I feed, change, play with and settle the baby.

My day flies past. I rarely eat lunch or do anything for me. So today I decided to do it a little differently. Today I have decided to read the paper, write my blog, eat lunch, talk on the phone, all things I love doing but never find time to do. The problem with never finding time to enjoy these ‘luxuries’ is I get to a point at some stage during the week where I just get pissed off. Pissed off that I don’t get any time to do anything for myself, by myself. (Now granted I still have my bub with me on day care days, and prior to his arrival when I only had one, I couldn’t do any of these things, but you learn to be faster and very good at using one hand when there are two hovering at your ankles.)

I’ve had a few days up in Melbourne visiting lots of friends, hanging out with my family and getting a few jobs done. My husband gets some time to himself and my family get to spend some time with their nephews/ grandsons. Then I walk in the door to have friends arrive to stay for the weekend. They are easy friends. They let their kid eat whatever, watch telly, sleep wherever and don’t make too many comments about how crazy my kids are – which is nice. But by Sunday night I was knackered and bubbling under the surface was this angst.  As I pat my baby back to sleep having just got into bed and realising there is a load of washing in the machine to hang out, the angst grows.

I have just spent four solid days of making sure everyone else is okay, doing my bit to help out, check in, support, build relationships, offer food, clean up, make conversation, listen, make sure others get sleep and by last night I was done! I took the lap top and a book to melbourne, hoping to read and write, but couldn’t find the time to do either. Now my life is pretty easy compared to lots of my friends with sick babies at the moment, but it’s always busy and by Sunday night I was exhausted. I want someone to make sure I get uninterrupted sleep, or that my toddler isn’t being too offensive. I would like my kids’ uncles to make the effort to hang out with their nephews instead of me having to drive two hours with two kids down the freeway. I would like to go to bed complaining how long it’s been since I went for a really long bike ride, instead of how nice four hours of sleep in a row would be. I would like someone to call me on an afternoon and say, hey haven’t seen you for ages and we are just up the road can we come visit.

So instead of whinging about it, hang on, as well as whinging about it, today I just took a couple of hours off. I did my chores while by babies were awake and now while I have a little bit of quiet I am relishing it! Sure, I’ll pay for it later when the dinner isn’t made and the house is a bomb and the washing piles up and the dog hasn’t been walked, but today I don’t care. My son is in day care and I’m having some time off. I’m not feeling guilty about him being there. Not justifying putting him there so I can clean and cook and shop and work. I’m tired of telling people who don’t put their kids in day care why my son is going. Because for those of us without the luxury/ interference of grandparents round the corner, we know the benefits of day care. When you are two years old peer pressure is fantastic! You learn to use the toilet, stop crying at drop off, share, eat good food and even SLEEP IN THE DAY.

So goodbye to the guilt, sure it’ll be back this weekend when we see the in-laws and they wonder why he goes for a whole day when I work for one hour, but today we are strangers. Now for another cup of tea and a tim tam.

Leave me alone, I’m just trying to live in the moment!

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Some days are all about the journey, not the destination.

You want them to be about the destination, especially when that destination sells coffee, but as I am no longer the boss of my life, the coffee shop remains an elusive, distant dream. Today we headed out on a walk, (you know just for something different!!), with the intention of getting to the oval, the playground and then of course our local cafe. I was up to my old tricks of using bribery, games, then demands, then threats to get out the gate and where I wanted to be. But we didn’t make it. Every single part of my life is on a time limit, often measured in minutes rather than hours, and today was no different. The problem is, the people I share most of these minutes with have no concept of the time limit, until about 1 minute before the deadline arrives and then it is announced at the top of their voice!

So today the intention of completing all of these tasks before the baby was due to feed failed. And today it wasn’t really the toddler’s fault, today I blame the rain. Because when you are nearly three, rain means puddles, mud, wet grass and glistening crystals on the grass, and all of these need explicit, undivided and very close attention. So today instead of continuing to bark orders and negotiate to get my child out of the puddles, to put boots back on muddy feet, stop drawing pictures in the mud or flicking the drips off the trees, I just waited. I let him play, draw, laugh, roll around and get wet and enjoy it. Sure I still desperately wanted a coffee, but my baby needed a drink more urgently than that and my toddler just wanted to run and play.

Every day I walk around ticking off the events we have coming up in my head, hopefully filling up the weeks to come with activities that bring the weekends around faster. I count the months away with plans we have made with friends and family. Why? Why wish away this precious time? I have always done it and it is now starting to annoy me. I scoff at people, particularly retired, fit healthy, wealthy people who tell me this is the best time of my life, because that’s crap. My twenties were pretty bloody good! But I do wish I could appreciate the good things about staying at home with little children a bit more. They are funny little creatures who love the world they live in and the people who surround them. Sure they can be absolute pains in the neck, embarrass the pants of me frequently and to be perfectly honest, bore me stupid with the same DVD, story, question or demand for attention. But they are only little for a little while and in comparison to some people, they are both pretty easy to hang out with.

One day I can go back to work where I can actually do something I’m not too bad at. Maybe even have people listen to me and follow instructions rather than just defy every little thing I ask. I am still amazed that while once upon a time I could have an assembly of 240 teenage boys, sit dead silently and pay attention, I cannot get one two-year-old to listen to one sentence that comes out of my mouth! In that life I wished the minutes away as well, waiting for the bell to go to be able to eat lunch, go home, start my weekend of drinking and sleeping in, but then it didn’t really bother me. Maybe then it was because I was surrounded by everyone else doing the same. Maybe it is only now that I can witness the wonder and awe of toddler land that I can appreciate what I am going too fast to notice. Maybe for once, instead of trying to get the toddler to do what I want, that I should listen to him. Maybe for once he does know best and the journey is actually more fun than the destination.

I don’t know, but I’m damned sure a coffee would help me decide.

Old friends, new lives

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Some old friends came to visit me today. They drove two hours with a toddler who is as mad as mine to come and see my newly renovated house. They are family friends, my Mum’s bestie, her daughter and grandson. I have known them my whole life, in fact she is my Godmother. It was lovely to have them here, interested in my house, my life, my kids. It actually meant more to me than I thought it would. Why? Because I’m not very good at maintaining links between my past and my present. There are so many people that I have loved over the years that I just don’t see anymore. These are people I lived with, travelled with, slept with, told secrets to and grew up with. Some of them I can’t be in touch with anymore, lives have moved apart and we have nothing left to offer each other. But there are others who I think about, often, and who I wish I could see again.

I’m a lazy friend. Not always and not to everyone, but I have these amazing friends who can be tripping around the world, or living in some exotic location and they still have the energy and courtesy to stay in touch with everyone they have ever met. That aint me. I wish it was, no that’s not entirely true, sometimes I wish it was. Some of these friendships ended awkwardly, a fight or some harsh words, or in one case moving out, and then just never seeing them again. Until Facebook that is. Others are people who were my whole world at that particular time in my life and nothing terrible happened but I left the country, or they left, or I went to Uni or got a new job, or new boyfriend and gradually I just didn’t see them for a while. These are the ones I wonder about.

And it can happen at the weirdest times. A song can be playing that just transports you back to another place and another time when you feel like you were a different person. Jack Johnson has that effect. Immediately I am in Byron, having caught the train up in my school holidays (as a teacher), pashing a hot English back packer who cooked the pancakes at the hostel I was staying at with a gorgeous friend of mine. Or it can be a food or drink. A sip of Southern Comfort and I am back in high school getting smashed with my best mate, the most genuine, thoughtful, fun loving guy I have ever known. We laughed, and I cried, for many years, and now its been so long since I have spoken to him that I don’t really know how to pick up the phone. I think I’m a much much better person now too than I was back in high school and I feel bad that he had to put up with all of my crap and didn’t really get to reap any of the reward. As for any picture of Canada that I see, there are so many memories of so many amazing people that come flooding back. Some whose names I can’t remember, but singing every word of Eye of the Tiger in a stinky pub in Banff with them is still embarrassingly fresh in my memory.

Some of these people I never expected to see again, but if I did I’d be wrapped. But others I would love to run in to. Not in an awkward “Hi this is my husband and two kids, and husband this is the guy I met on a school camp and who taught me to be proud of myself in a way no one else ever had”, kind of way. (That’s a whole other blog, believe me!) But maybe to just see where they ended up and thank them for the impact they had on me, or some cases punch them in the face! Maybe life doesn’t work like that though. Maybe people only have a brief window into each others lives, that they live together, love each other, laugh and move on. Maybe we take what we need from them and keep travelling on the journey. Maybe the memories are enough to remind us of the impact they have had on us and that naturally we change and develop and move on. And if that is the case, then thank god for Facebook, because at least I can spy on them without actually having the awkward face to face contact.

But today life long friends remained just that. They are still part of my life, and now they are part of my kids lives too. It’s a nice feeling to be around people that celebrated your birth, but it’s nicer to know that some of the beautiful friends that I have in my life now, who have celebrated my babies births with me will also drive down the coast and check on my kids in 35 years time. And just like today, I hope they can just pick up where they left off, whether they are friends on Facebook or not.

 

 

The apple doesn’t fall far enough from the tree

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Recently on a holiday with the extended family, a friend of the in-laws tried her very best to insult me. What she didn’t know was that I’m a scorpio and I never, ever forget. I’m not sure whether she intended to insult me or not, but her comment stung. It was after eight at night and my wild child was running around in the courtyard of the restaurant he was supposed to be sitting still in(???). Yes, expecting the impossible often results in disappointment and this was exactly the case. He was laughing and dancing and generally drawing attention to himself while his placid, three month old baby brother was happily sitting on my lap smiling at the world. She loudly pointed at the toddler and exclaimed to me, “He is all you. This one is just like his Dad.”

As they proceeded to tell stories about how my husband, The Golden Child, never did that, but instead sat and played lego, I slowly started fuming. When you have a really curious, clever, but busy little boy it becomes a fine line between wanting people to see how tough some moments can be, but not having to defend him the whole time as most of his behaviour is very normal and highly appropriate for a little person his age.

But it did get me thinking, not for the first time, about just how like me my children might be. I don’t really know who they look like, now or will look like in the future and to be honest, I don’t really mind. Instead, I worry, frequently about just how much like me they might become. I have my flaws, we all do, but mine are ugly and protruding and unlike my husband, who keeps most of his under wraps, mine can fester and boil on the surface. I’m getting better at managing some of them, particularly now that they have some of an explanation. But I still do things that makes me horrified at myself, wishing I could change it, frequently apologising for it and not being able to forget it. Once upon a time alcohol was the key to this. Now I have nothing but sleep deprivation to blame for it, and when you are surrounded by others who are also desperately tired, it doesn’t really cut it.

Kids are little sponges. Beige sponges. The ugly, obvious stains show up, make their presence known and remain. They copy your reaction, they repeat your words and they share your values. The old adage, ‘do as I say and not as I do’ just doesn’t cut it with a two year old, because damn it, they are right when they say, but you do it Mumma. You see them tell the dog to “do as you are told”, or stand, hands on hips staring at the huntsman and say “That’s a fucking massive spider” or dance to their reflection in the mirror, and you laugh because you can see yourself. But what happens when they clench their fists when they lose their temper and scream, or hit you because they are angry? What about when you shove a dummy in their mouth in the car becuase they have not stopped talking for twenty minutes, you wonder where they might get it from…. Or find yourself in a full blown argument, as he puts forward a valid reason, why he cannot stay up any longer? Have you really got any hope of changing any of this? Have they learned these characteristics, or is this just the way they are?

I look at my other bubba, happy, calm, loving people, but only if his Mum is holding him and not someone else, and I wonder how he will turn out. Will he be the mummy’s boy it looks like he might be? Will he happily follow his brother around, laughing and providing the perfect audience for many more naughty antics? How much of what I say and do will impact on him? Or will his Dad, or his brother be the major influence for him? It makes you wonder, and dread, just how like you they can actually be. Stubbornness, a bad temper, bossiness and self doubt are ugly when you see them in yourself. How do you react when you see them in your little boy?

You have another baby, and hope you do better next time.

And that’s why I’m planning on having three!

 



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