Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Cut to weeks of paint, plaster, wire and pastels, talking about ideas for his works and how he felt about the interview. Hours of sitting quietly in the house while he worked, music requests, homework be damned while he ruined clothes and sat drawing, painting, cutting until I had to force him to take a break. Trip after trip to bunnings, places for paper, places for anything he felt he needed to do the next thing.
I was already so proud of his dedication. He would sit for hours and hours while he played with ideas. Scrapped them and starting again. And I knew that whether he got in or not this was an amazing journey I got to watch him on.
Occasionally he would loose motivation. And I would talk to him about how if this was something he really wanted he needed to find ways of working through those times, but also letting him know that is he felt he had changed his mind it was ok.
I didn't want to lead his journey. This needed to be his want, not ours. And every time he pulled something together and started working again.
Today we received a letter. And on the top line it said:
And my heart melted for him ...
He did this, he worked and worked and he did this thing all by himself. And it's amazing.
Tonight as we went to bed I gushed at him about how proud I was at exactly that. How his hard work had given him something he really wanted and what an amazing lesson that is.
And he said 'you helped'
'I didn't do any of it for you'
'No but you helped me stay motivated, and you were my inspiration, you knew I could do it so I knew I could as well'
And that ... Well that is better than any any congratulations letter.
Wednesday, 27 April 2016
I'd love to take all of the credit for them. But I can't. I can't even take 1/2. Because of course even though their dad is absolutely as responsible for how wonderful they are as I am, we are only part of it. The thing we have probably done best, is pick the village that is around these kids.
They are surrounded by hilarious, confident, aware, brave people. People that inspire them, people that show them how being yourself is one of the best things you can hope to achieve.
And they soak it up ... It's fantastic to watch.
But something occurred to me this week. The vast majority of these amazing people are women.
Now I believe as much as the next woman that strong women role models in a boy's life are absolutely vital. And I can see that with what they are learning from the women in their lives they will become amazing men.
But men they will be, and they also need strong, independent, hilarious, confident, aware, brave men to learn from. And the older they get the more this will be something they need.
Their affinity with women became a topic of conversation when we were talking about Mother's Day. Hamish asked if they should get Andrews partner a Mother's Day present. He said that she wasn't his mum but she was like a 'kinda' mum and he was thinking it would be nice to get her a Mother's Day gift to celebrate who she is in their lives. I of course said if it feels like something he wants to do he should absolutely get her a Mother's Day present.
He then moved on and asked if I was planning on falling in love again. I answered honestly and said that at the moment I was very happy just loving them but yes one day in the future it would be nice to fall in love again.
He then said somethings that made me pause.
'Well mum when you fall in love can you make sure it's with a woman, I think I'd feel funny if it was a man'
Now a few months ago I had a similar conversation with his brother. Hamish wasn't around for it so this is either something they have talked about between themselves, which is doubtful or it's just one hell of a coincidence.
Jacks reasoning was that he likes being the man of the house and he can't imagine having another man in his home with me. Hamish's reasoning was that women are nicer and he likes having more than one mum figure but can't imagine another dad figure.
My reasoning for both of these conversations is that they don't have a heck of a lot of men around them. They have had so many women figures in their lives that are regular and loving but really only one man figure that does the same.
It's a funny thing being a woman raised by strong women and one strong feminist man, trying to figure out how to give these boys who will one day be men the male role models they need. I guess this is where things like Kung Fu, male teachers and friends fathers come in. Maybe instead of always asking my female friends to be the ones that hang out with the kids I should start seeing if some of my male friends want to do some child minding.
I'm sure that even if they were raised 100% by women they will still work out to be amazing men. But I can't help but think that in the same way as I try to make sure they have balance in other aspects of their development, maybe finding some better balance in this would be a great way of giving them a well rounded perception of not only men, but of the kind of men they want to be.
Wednesday, 17 February 2016
When I noticed this role reversal a surge went through me. I wanted to reposition us so the we were the 'right' way round. I am the mother after all and shouldn't I be curling him up in my arms, not the other way around. But I left it because as I thought about it, this was something that had been going on for a while and I had only just noticed. It seemed silly to think about, as cuddles are cuddles and as long as we chatted and giggled nighttime cuddles should be able to be anything.
Tonight as we had our nighttime cuddles Jack could get comfortable and I asked him "well do you want to be the big bear or the baby bear" he very quickly replied "the baby bear" so we readjusted ourselves so I was cuddling him versus the other way round but after a few minutes he readjusted himself to be cuddling me again.
I looked up and him and smiled and said "So you do want to be the big bear?" and he replied "not yet mum, not yet"
Monday, 15 February 2016
I mean we all have one of those right? Those moments where everything just fell into place in such a way that 20, 40, 100 years later you still cringe a little to think of it.
Here is mine:
I can't exactly tell you why or how but as part of the first year of my degree at university we had a lecture listening to Brett Whiteleys wife talk about him as an artist and his life,
just a short time after he had died.
Now I have to tell you I didn't go to university to study art. I was doing a Bachelor of Arts degree but focusing on gender studies. So how I found myself at this lecture I couldn't tell you.
But there I sat at the back of this massive amphitheater tired and bored and not at all being where I wanted to be. In fact if memory serves me right my boyfriend at the time was waiting outside in my car waiting to pick me up.
So I sat and listened to what the other 400-500 people in the theater probably found incredibly inspirational and inspiring. But I was day dreaming ... looking around ... Not really listening. And then in the wall behind my head ........ I saw a hole.
It was just a little hole. But it didn't look like an accidental hole. And I stared at it wondering what it could be. At first I though maybe it was connected to the lights so I waved my hand in front of it, but no.
So I sat there with my head rested back on the headrest of my chair looking at that hole and for some reason reached up and put my finger in it.
There was nothing in the hole. Not a bolt or a latch, it was just a hole that for some reason was above my head and skinnier than had thought as my finger got a little stuck ....
I was in a spot light
Because while I was thinking about the hole above my head, I had missed that Brett Whiteleys widow had just asked "Does anyone have any questions?"
So the spotlight had seen me, with my arm stretched above my head and all the four to five hundred people (some of which had been crying during the emotional lecture) turned and looked at me as she said "yes, you in the back"
I froze for a second and then, because I couldn't think of what else to say said ...
"Oh, ummm no I've just got my finger stuck in this hole"
I can't tell you exactly what happened next. I know my friends next to me definitely started giggling uncontrollably, but trying to do it quietly. The spotlight definitely turned off me. All I remember with complete clarity is how I felt like I wished I could melt into the chair and ooze my way out of the theatre.
But that's it ... My most embarrassing moment ever. Funny how often I think about it. I guess it's part of what makes me me. And if I learnt anything from it it's just, make sure your head is in the same place as your body or else.
Saturday, 9 January 2016
Ok ok I know that sounds a bit overdramatic but I sort of mean it.
So in retaliation I have a tendency to think jeez I have a day where I can do almost anything I want and so seeing that life is hard I shall take this opportunity to chill the hell out. I'll sit and read my book, watch some crap on tv, I'll do a few chores (and then feel exhausted because I did a bit too much) and generally spend those days where I am free to do anything, doing very little at all.
And you know what, sometimes that is totally ok. And sometimes it really isn't. I am by nature quite lackadaisical, always have been and I mother in quite a lackadaisical manner. For the most part this has worked extremely well. But when it is taken too far it also means we don't 'DO' things. We chill, we love, we laugh, but we often get to the end of time off and wonder what the hell did we do.
To combat this I've been trying to be more adventurous. Sometime an adventure is just taking the boys out of the house when they are obviously are going to bicker and whinge. Sometimes it's doing more than one thing in a day. And sometimes it's far more that that.
I decided this school holidays to spend some of our time doing things we wouldn't usually do. And seeing it's summer a lot of that is around going swimming.
We live about a 20 minute drive from some gorgeous beaches but I have a strong dislike for the beach (the many reasons behind which are a post all of its own). I put this down to the fact that I grew up in a rural environment. My idea of a lovely day swimming has to do with rivers. Clear water, birds chirping, the occasional eel, rocks and shade and that peaceful feeling I can only get from being in the bush.
I decided to take the kids for a drive to a waterhole I had heard about. From the blurb on the internet it was a 45 minute drive from Sydney and the an easy 20 minute walk through the bush to the spot. It sounded and looked from the photos like the perfect spot to be adventurous.
We grabbed all the water and food for the day, our swimmers, sunscreen a book and a friend for the boys and headed off.
The drive was easy, if you can call 45 minutes of eye spy easy. We arrived and parked and I realized that although the internet had told me to park at the train station, the directions from there to the actual track, let alone the pools were somewhat lacking. I found one of the guys working at the train station and asked if he could direct me to .. he promptly cut me off and told me to walk to the other side of the station down a road, past the shops and the path started there, expect an hour or so walk.
In hindsight I probably should have thought two thing: a. He obviously gets asked this all the time so is this going to be the serene place I was thinking and b. Was that hour from the station?
We found the beginning of the track 15 minutes from the recommend parking spot (FYI if I had have driven an extra 10 minutes we could have parked right next to it) and started our walk. It was so pretty, birds were chirping, the boys were laughing the grass was beautiful and green and everything was flat and calm. And then we found the real beginning of the track. Apparently that first bit was just another bit you have to walk to get to the actual beginning. And there it was, the Sign.
The pools were from here an apparent 2km walk that was rated as hard.
My poor little lackadaisical brain went into pure denial .. They are only saying that for old people, cause who else but old people actually like bush walking. So a hard walk that is meant to take over an hour must be old people rated but three kids and a semi fit mother ... easy walk for 20 minutes surely ... I'm an idiot.
15 minutes into the walk and we were already sweating. It was rocky, like jump from here to here, don't fall in the mud, up down up down rocky. At 40 minutes we met some people coming back up and heard them say they had been walking for over 1/2 an hour ... Must be a different path my lackadaisical brain thought. About 10 minutes after that we started going down a very rocky steep decent ... And my lackadaisical brain started thinking, we are going to have to walk back up this.
Another 15 minutes and we heard water and everyone pepped up. We burst through the bush to our serene waterhole to find that at least 100 other people had also made the trek down.
I stood there for a second ... Trying to take I the scene. Then we found a rock, stripped to our swimmers and jumped into the coldest water I have been in for quite a long time.
Now I could stop the story there, and it would all sound horrendous. But actually once we got used to it the water was amazing. The kids ran and jumped and slid on slippery rocks for over three hours. We had a brilliant time. The crowd wasn't quite what I expected, but then what is an adventure without a few unexpected things.
As the sun started to make its way down we decided it was time to leave so that we would be home well before dark.
And then the hard stuff really started. If we had thought the walk down was tough. The walk up after hours of swimming was incredibly tough going. Of course it was doable, it was just so very tiring. Both of my boys did a fair bit of 'OMG I'm going to die'. The lovely other child didn't dare but occasionally gave me this look that told me if I had have been his mum he might have also mentioned he wasn't sure the pools were worth the walk.
By the time we got back to the car all of us were totally spent.
We silently drove for about 15 minutes before I dared ask ... So was it worth it? and to my surprise they all said absolutely.
So another adventure is done. And yes if you ask me it was worth it. Maybe the swimming hole full of people wasn't worth the crazy walk. But the effort of doing the thing was worth the reward of feeling like we had done something a bit special and had a day that of all the days during the holidays we would all remember.
All in all I think we might all think that this adventure was totally worth it.
PS. Once I got home I looked at the internet again and yes I had misread. That whole 20 minute easy walk was the explanation of the walk from the car park to the beginning of the track. The pools however 1.5 hours hard walking .... Next time I go on an adventure I'm going to make sure I actually read the blurb properly.
Sunday, 13 December 2015
Today was one of those. I introduced Jack to a movie I LOVED in the 90s. I wondered if he would get it and appreciate it the way I did. And OMG he really did.
Parenting is full of these moments. And more often than not they are filled with my apprehension followed by my dismay as the just 'don't get it'.
- Decorating the Christmas tree, nope.
- Introducing Bohemian Rhapsody, not really.
- Watching Aliens, not even scary.
- Playing pool, it doesn't make sense that this is even fun mum.
Watching 'Hackers' one of my favourite 90s movies, this photo says it all. He is totally into it.
Bring on the school holidays, I have many things I hope will be hits. Many will end in me looking at them and wondering 'are you even my children' but it now have a bit of hope that one in 10 will end like this.
Friday, 20 November 2015
We had such a lovely day, we bought new art books each and spent a few hours drawing. We had long conversations. Being quite a hot day we went to the pool during school time for a cool down without the crowds, came home ate ice creams, had cool showers, watched movies, drew some more and then all snuggled on the lounge until we were dozy enough to fall asleep and went to bed. It was near on the perfect day.
I woke up this morning to the news of horrendously hot weather coming and I saw a few people were planning on keeping their kids home. As their school isn't air conditioned, I spoke to the kids dad and woot! Another day off. I felt a bit guilty at first, I mean had I known at the beginning of yesterday that today was going to be a day off I wouldn't have done given them yesterday off. But in hindsight I'm so glad I did. And hell they are 9 and 10 and a four day long weekend won't kill them.
Today was another near perfect day, we had a water fight before the real heat kicked in, battened down the hatches, we did more drawing, had more conversations and watched more movies. No one asking to play on the computer, no one arguing in spite of the heat. Too hot for actual cuddles we just spent time cuddling with words and thoughtful actions.
We had just settled in to another movie, art books and/or pompom makers in our laps when I looked at the time.
And my heart dropped. It was almost time for their dad to pick them up and the end of our little staycation.
You see there has been a topic that I have tried to stay away with since the reinvigoration of the blog.
Due to hard work and as much mutual respect as two people who have split up can manage we share the care of the kids.
Generally I have the boys for three weekday nights a week and they are with their dad the other two. We then alternate weekends, and holiday weeks.
And for them it's near perfect. They love the extra time they get with both of us. They talk about it a lot. About their two houses. Their two bedrooms. That their family is bigger now. How they have such different times at each place. They have never once talked about the way our life is now in the negative tense. And to be honest I think that's how they feel 99% of the time.
But every week there is a morning where I drop them at school, we talk about all the fun things they might do at daddy's, how excited I am that they are going to do all the daddy things, have extra hugs, say our goodbyes. I tell them I'll call them every night and see them soon.
I smile a huge smile as I drive away waving and blowing kisses. Then I turn the corner and cry.
Every week it surprises me that it doesn't actually get much easier. I mean sure there are weeks that I'm just a little somber and others where it's really tough. I have tried to pin point why some are harder than others. It doesn't coincide with how long, good times, bad times, it doesn't even coincide with my hormonal fluctuations. It just is.
Today is a tough one. They won't be gone long, just a few days, but as I sit here in the hours since they have left I have a deep ache in my gut that is just telling me 'I miss my boys'.
I think mostly my sadness comes from the idea that, for all foreseeable time I will spend more time than before missing them. These aren't those little breaks where you get to just enjoy a quiet night, or the longer ones where they are doing something unique. This is just a part of my week.
The upside I remind myself is how fantastic is it that they are happy, they have an involved and dedicated father and mother who both really love the time with them (even the cranky insane kid days) and who both miss that craziness when it is gone. Who manage to keep up a relationship with each other that isn't about each other but about our two children. And so on weeks like this week because something unavoidable came up I got extra time with them and in a few weeks for my stuff their dad gets them a bit extra as well. And in the end that means that they are always ok. Always with people who love them. And because of this never missing me nearly as much as miss them.
Friday, 13 November 2015
I went through a traumatic experience last year. It was something that changed me in so many ways that I am still working on it. It changed the way I felt about myself, it changed the way I saw myself and my worth. It was such a profound experience that when I mentioned it, in what I thought was an off the cuff way to my shrink she added it to the list of thing to talk about in our sessions.
I cut my hair ….
Now you may be thinking ummm this is stupid, what a ridiculous thing to have a traumatic experience about. And you are right. But it was a lesson that was massive for me because I realise now just how much of my ego and worth was put into my hair.
My hair was something that I have always received compliments about from everyone including hairdressers. I have been blessed with hair that quite naturally, is pretty. If my hair was ok, it didn't matter what I was wearing or how sallow my skin looked, or how old I felt. It was all pretty much ok.
This is my hair at the beginning of April 2014
It is long. The back touches around my lower back. I dye it regularly because as much as the colour of it is ok, it isn't punchy. So I have bleached the tips a few times, or I dye it in reds and purples to cover the few greys that are coming in.
But I had started to feel a weight from my hair. It felt boring and I wanted a change.
And then I saw this picture and man, I wanted a light choppy soft hair like this. It looked fresh and new and I wanted to feel that. So I went to the hairdresser and said cut it, but don't cut it this short. Just shoulder length, choppy and light like this. The result was really lovely.
I felt more modern, less flat. It felt a little more mumsy but I didn't have to think quite as much about moisturiser or how often I shampooed it. And it felt lovely. But that time was relatively short lived.
I went to the hairdresser again to have it cut back in. Lesson learnt, do not go to the cheap hairdresser and wind up with the apprentice. I received the worst haircut of my life. The layers were all wrong. I had layers that were only a few cms long at my crown. Bits were standing up so that it looked like I had some weird blended mohawk. And for the first time in my life my hair didn't feel pretty. I started wearing a beanie as often as possible just to hide it. Work was awful because on top of my ugly uniform, I couldn't hide my hair and just had to walk out the door looking like something the cat had dragged in.
I couldn't rely on it to be the thing that made me feel 'pretty' and my ego just didn't know how to deal with it. I had never felt quite as low about myself physically as I did with bad hair.
And then for a derby event I had to dress up like a punk and I did my hair like this. All slicked to one side and big on the top. And everyone, EVERYONE commented about how amazing my hair looked, and said wow you should shave the side. And man did my ego need that. I liked the way it looked as well. It took that mumsy feeling away. And for the first time my hair didn't feel pretty, or ugly, it felt funky…. I wanted more.
Cut to this … a slightly drunk hilarious night where we decided to shave 1/2 of my head. Because months of this bad haircut had passed, and my hair still looked terrible and so I figured, if it can't look pretty it may as well be funky, can't get any worse.
I was wrong….
Unless I put a heck of a lot of effort in, and to be honest I have no clue how to put effort in to make hair look good, I had a 1/2 mullet. It was horrendous.
And so, as all normal people do when they are having some weird existential crisis … I figured, fuck it and cut it all off.
And straight away I new I had made a MASSIVE mistake.
I complained to those nearest to me and it must have been so boring to listen to. But what they were listening to wasn't really about my hair, it was about my loss of self, well the part of myself that still needs to walk out the door feeling together, and lets be honest, attractive. And without my hair being part of that, I just felt plain, no worse than that, I felt ugly.
Ok break time … because I know that reading this could lead you to think that I'm a complete idiot. and yeah partially you are right. But we all have these things right? these parts of us that if it was taken away you would feel less. For me it was hair, but it could be a range of things. Maybe its going out without makeup, maybe its the way you dress and present yourself. Maybe being the least smart person in a room would rock your self worth, or being the one that carries a little more weight, maybe you aren't refined enough, maybe you aren't cool enough, maybe you don't have enough money, or enough success, maybe …. well hang on that's the point isn't it …
And that's why my shrink figured it was worth putting on the list.
But lucky for me I had already realised it. It wasn't about a bad haircut, it was about taking away something that made me feel enough when I walked out the door. And thank goodness I realised it when I did because the next step would have been me shaving my head.
Today I have a short bob. I have this weird piece that won't grow fast enough and keeps bugging me and I still often look in the mirror trying to figure out how to fix my hair. I still wear a beanie when I just can't deal with the madness or just because they are cool. But now I try and remind myself that my hating my hair is just a symptom of me probably needing to love more things about myself. And some of the time it works. I no longer hate that my hair doesn't look pretty. Sometimes, although it's still rare I'm even thankful for that stupid haircut. The biggest thing is sometimes I think I can still be beautiful without my hair.
Now don't get me wrong, I have at least another 15 things that play on my mind when I go to walk out the door, but I hope now that now I have survived the haircut I can use those lessons to deal with of those parts of me that tell me I'm not enough.
Wednesday, 21 October 2015
It's funny you know, I think about it a lot. That idea that I was ever silly enough to think that I could be these wonderful together loops of wool, when I am, in my natural state obviously a random, colourful, slightly unconventional all the while still being wonderful pom-pom. That day 5 years ago was something that was quietly life changing. Not long afterwards I spoke to my shrink about it and after a few more sessions we both realised that the pom-pom didn't need her anymore.
Well today I had another epiphany. I am still trying to be those loops of wool…..
See owning being a pom-pom was easy for me when times were smooth, but if life is tough I long, I fight, I turn myself inside out trying to be those glorious loops of wool.
FYI if you are lost and have no idea what the hell I'm talking about you might want to read the above link :)
It's been a challenging time for the last while. My relationship of 15 years broke down, suddenly I had to stand on my own two feet by myself for the first time in my life. I made a new relationship and had to explore that, not just by myself but with my children. I started working so much that I had to learn to find balance between work and parenting, needing the children more than the wage, but needing the wage so that I could parent in a place of safety. I sold a house, and as we all know for me that was more than just selling a house.
Challenging …. on almost every important life level.
And so my natural reaction was to put my head down, my bum up, ride the wave, breathe, walk forward even when I wasn't sure where the road would lead, and pretty much any other analogy you can imagine. Keep it together, be safe, be calm.
And as I did that, I forgot to be a pom-pom. Because who want's the fluffy randomness of being a pom-pom when life feels fluffy and random. Fuck it, I didn't just want I NEEDED to be those damn loops of wool.
And then …. I needed my shrink again.
The expectations and bars I had set for myself were to high, to unachievable, to limiting, to stringent, to measurable. I forgot to forgive myself the things that I love about the pom-pom … about myself.
I can be messy, impractical, forgetful, stressed, sad, joyous, inappropriate, disorganised. I can laugh too loud and long, I can cry from the depths of my soul for no reason at all. I trip, bump, stub, and smack. I dance and sing whenever wherever I feel it. I yell and swear and overreact. I parent from a place of joyous abandon and crazy make it up as I go, never asking if anyone else thought it was ok and if I make mistakes I apologise to them and myself and move on.
Forgetting that has meant more than just forgetting to be myself. I have put the 'small things' to one side. I have been terrible in keeping up old friendships, I have actively given myself barriers against any new friendships. I stopped derby because that kind of dedication was beyond me. I stopped writing, singing, drawing, reading. Communication that required a thought out response took me days. Plucking my eyebrows became a luxury. And if I'm really honest, sometimes I was too busy keeping it all together to remember to laugh with the boys.
Those who love me understood but also became further away. Not because they wanted to but because sometimes you just can't keep being the only one trying to stay together.
I hope todays epiphany helps me rebalance.
I hope I remember just exactly what kind of mum I want to be.
I hope my friends are still open to me.
I hope that talking with my shrink takes out the 'I hope' and turns it into the 'I will'.
I hope I find my pom-pom again.
Tuesday, 6 October 2015
Sure it's come with extra bugs in the house and needing to remember where the sunscreen is, searching for the clothes you wore last summer and thinking, what the hell was I thinking. But it's awesome. And for relief it also comes with trips to the pool.
This afternoon after school we packed the kids and a friend up and headed down to our favourite pool for our first early evening cool off for the year.
After a lovely dip I jumped out and lay down in the shade watching them play and jump and splash. I grabbed my book and started reading. As a side note oh my how lovely it is now that everyone can swim comfortably and I only need to look up every 5 minutes not every 5 seconds.
After I'd read a whole 5 pages I lifted my head to put my eyes on the boys. And straight away I saw Jack. He was bouncing around at the top end of the pool but seemed perplexed. Then I saw Hamish and the friend at the other end. 1..2..3 all accounted for.
But I didn't put my nose straight back into my book, I looked back at Jack wondering what he was doing.
And then I realized, he couldn't see his brother. He was bouncing to get a better look at the heads in the pool trying to see where he was. Finally he caught him in his sights, relaxed, and slowly paddled around by himself again. He didn't rush up to play with him. He just needed to know he was ok so he could go back to what he was doing.
It's another one of those 'raising siblings' things that as an only child my brain can't process. I felt in equal amounts, pride and concern.
Proud that he is the kind of brother that wants to care for his little brother. The kind of person that at 10 and being in the middle of something he is enjoying still thinks of others. And concern that that want to care is stopping him being able to be carefree.
It's normal, I know that, but understanding that sense of responsibility at such a young age is foreign to me and leaves me with so many questions.
Will this tendency help him in life, yeah probably, but I find myself wondering, will it also hold him back? Will he learn the balance between giving, but not so much he gives more than he should? Will he resent that he feels this way? Will he retaliate at some point as he breaks free from a pressure he may feel? Will he notice that his little brother doesn't have the same need to make sure he is ok? If he does will he resent that? Or is it just maybe a totally natural normal healthy and lovely part of being the older brother?
It takes a village they say, to raise a child. I didn't ever think that maybe part of my village would be him.