Saturday, 7 September 2013

Comfort in Unlikely Arms

Today is a beautiful day. The weather is near perfect and the kids
have been playing outside most of the day.

Hamish just came in and asked to play the computer and I said "no
sweetie, not now but maybe later".

He didn't take it well. He got angry, which seeing he is 7 and his
impulse control is still developing, is normal. He decided to sit
outside and moan about it for a while.

I just came back inside and this was the scene I saw. I can hear
Hamish telling Jack how unfair I am (again perfectly normal for a
little man who feels like I have denied him something he wants) but I
can hear Jack explaining some of the reasons I made my decision and
also that he agrees that sometimes I am unfair but by moaning about it
I'll just get cranky and it won't make me change my mind. (You've got
that right)

Jack is stroking Hamish's hair, and Hamish is snuggling further into
Jack as they have this moment.

Of course in the 20 minutes it has been since the photo was taken they
are bickering again. Like almost all siblings my boys bicker and fight
a lot. But I have seen this today, and I feel so proud of the brothers
they are.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Changing Homes

I'm not a car person. In fact if I ask you what kind of car you have,
I'm probably just looking for you to tell me the colour. Cars are
just tools, they take you from A-B and hopefully are reliable.

This is what I thought I felt. But it seems I am getting a new car and
suddenly I am mourning my current car.

I didn't buy it. One day AB just came home with it as my then current
car was not able to have a baby seat in it. I thought it was a fussy
looking soccer mum car and not at all how I saw myself. But it has
been the most perfect car for our family.

It bought Jack home from the hospital, taken us on many road trips,
been vomited in, shat in, had every manner of spillage in it. It takes
me to work, takes me to friends, it gives me the freedom to do what I
want and need.

I have realized that I LOVE my car. It's perfect. I know exactly how
to drive it in the city, I know it's dimensions perfectly. It's old
and beaten up now. It's paint job is so dodgy after years of being
parked outside and being pooped on by bats that its been a long time
since I felt precious about it. It has NEVER broken down. I can drive
it lazily or fierce. It's so unpretentious and even a bit boring.
It's part of my home.

So apparently even though I don't 'do' cars. I have somehow fallen in
love with this one. This new car has big wheels to fill.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Plank

This weekend we have the finals of this tournament I've been talking
about. It's going to be a challenge.

We are again playing the Blue Mountains roller derby league to decide
who gets third and who comes fourth. Remember those little super
charged mice I was talking about, so fast, so agile, so strong, yeah
them. And us .... The little team that could ... Or at least tries
their little hearts out. This could be one of those times when 'we
don't win'.

Saying that, a week ago we had a scrimmage against a team that are
newer than us but are also part of the super league of NSW. I was
really nervous ... What if these newbies beat us?

During our joint warm up they were leading the drills and they told us
to plank for a minute.

I hate planking! I hate it because it hurts, it's hard, and I have
never done more than 30 seconds before either falling onto my knees or
completely flattening out on the floor in anger at those making me
even try it. I hate it because I know I can't do it.

I didn't want to look weak in front of this team. I wanted them to
see me as fierce, strong, skillful and completely in control. But now
I had to do the stupid hateful plank and they would see that I am weak
and the mask I was putting on would fall away.

So I started planking. Gritting my teeth and wondering when I would
give up. Wondering when they would see just how unworthy I really was.
My back is the first thing to hurt. This sharp ache that goes right
through my core. Then my arms and thighs starts to burn and I know
it's just moments until I start shaking and fall to the ground looking
every bit as old and unfit as I know I am. The worst part is because
of my failure to be able to do this hateful exercise they may then
think that our whole team is weak!

So I grit my teeth and keep planking, thinking about how much I need
to do this. They call out 20 second...
then 30...
then 20 more to go...
10 more...
And 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!

I had planked for a minute, and no one but me knew how hard it had
been. How every second ticked in slow motion. They would have noticed
had I fallen but they way they saw it planking for a minute was just
an everyday activity for me.

So this Saturday, I'll mentally be planking. And if nothing else I
know that at the end if I mentally plank I will be doing exactly what
I need to be doing. I will be looking fierce, strong, skillful and
completely in control. Win or lose.

By the way we won that scrimmage, impressively so ... Probably wasn't
ALL because of the plank though.

Monday, 22 July 2013

It's a Fine Line.

I was at a kids birthday party on Saturday and one of the dads and I
were talking about derby. He had no idea what it was all about except
that is was quite a physically aggressive sport.

So once again I had that conversation; No you can't hit people with
your fists, no you can purposefully trip them, no you can't head butt
them either, and on and on. He ended up asking me with a mixture of
confusion and a bit of doubt that this sport was aggressive at all
"well what can you do?"

So I hip checked him.

Ok, it's not really ok to hip check people unless they are either your
team mates or an opposing team, but I figured we were close enough
friends and he was a big enough guy that a little hip check would just
give him an idea of what it was all about. Don't get me wrong I pulled
my 'punch' and didn't go in hard ... But he almost fell over and spent
the next 15 minutes rubbing his hip looking at me. I apologized
profusely as I hadn't meant to hurt him. And he laughed (thankfully)
and said he got it now, yes it was quite a painful sport.

On Sunday we had our usual training. But this week we also had an off
skates hilarious obstacle course. I, of course, couldn't bare not
going as hard as I possibly could and ended up belly flopping on the
wooden floor, feeling very thankful I had decided to leave all of my
protective gear on (this also proved to me why the only exercise I'm
interested in doing is with wheels on my feet). The photo above is of
my hip/belly bruise.

When I got home I surveyed the damage and added it to the lump on my
shin from a wheel kicking up during pack work, the scratches on my
shoulders from other people's pads and the fingernail marks on my back
from a teammate grabbing my shirt (skin) to get past me. And this was
all only from training.

I giggled as I remembered that as I did the crazy belly flop the team
mate I was racing stopped to see if I was ok. And my reaction as I
jumped back up was to scream at her "Don't stop!!!"

I guess I am well and truly a derby girl after all.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Relax ...?

I took Wednesday off training to rest my body for a week post bout and
today being my day off work I was going to make the most of it. After
two weeks non stop with the kids, a big derby bout and straight into a
week of work, today was MY day.

I had full plans to sit on the lounge and do nothing from the time I
took the kids to school until I had to pick them up. Oh sure I would
take time out to eat something yummy, have a long shower and wash my
hair, maybe even sit in the sun and read my book if the weather was
nice but beyond that I would do nothing. That was the plan.

Instead of sitting down when I got home I decided to I start hosing
the moss off the bricks out the back. Once that was done I moved the
last of the building left overs and all the sleepers for the front
yard into a neater pile 2 meters away. Then I decided to rearrange the
outdoor furniture and pot plants. Scrub the rest of the yard, pull the
weeds and scrub the laundry and the toilet. I stopped just as I
thought about getting a toothbrush to clean the grime built up on my
garden gnomes.

I realized I was hungry so thought perfect, I will eat a late lunch
and watch a movie ...I lasted about 12 minutes.

The inside of my house is now as clean as the outside. Jesus I even
went and dusted the inside of the car!!!

What's wrong with me. I used to be able to spend days doing nothing. I
could ignore mess, I could sit and be still (at least physically, I've
always been terrible at being still mentally) and love every minute if

I blame working/playing derby!! Mixed together with my normal state of
child, hubby, dog and house maintenance, I seem to have forgotten how
to chill out! These last 8 months have been the busiest of my life.

(It's at this point I want to point out that I completely know how
lucky I have been/am and my little rant is just my thought of the day)

Pre kids I worked hard and long hours but once I got home my time was
mostly my own.

Post kids I had a time almost everyday where they would both nap at
the same time, or they would be happily playing and I could be still
for a moment. From the time Hamish was 2 I had at least 2 days where
for 5 hours I had some peace and quiet.

These days there is both more and less down time, mostly because I
have filled the school days with work. And although the kids no
longer require so much of me outside of school hours, I have filled a
lot of that time with derby (both training, secretary stuff, games and
social stuff)

Lesson learnt I suppose. I have more energy now and so if I take a
night off training I had better find a way to use up that energy
otherwise I will find myself lifting couches one handed, like a
superhero, to vacuum underneath.

Upside, my space looks amazing and I did end up finding time to have a
long shower and wash my hair.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Do You Win?

A while ago one of my neighbours was asking me about roller derby and our league.  Her leading question was "Do you win?".  I cheerfully told her that no we had never won anything, but that didn't seem to matter.  As I have said before I'm not sporty, I've never really played sport before and I certainly have never won anything sporty.

This year IWRDL has been part of a tournament called the 5x5 championship.  Basically derby isn't like soccer or AFL, we don't have the setup of many games between leagues that lead to some sort of grand final.  It's more like a series of hosted bouts that are one offs and for some leagues this is a rarity.  So some of the leagues that live within the greater Sydney area decided to work together and once a month play off against each other in a tournament.  IWRDL went into it being the youngest and least experienced league and were just feeling honoured to be asked to be a part of it.

Our first bout was against the Blue Mountains Roller Derby League (BMRDL).  These girls were agile and quick. It was like we were hamsters trying to keep up with twitchy little super powered mice.  We lost.  But we always lose.  And we were so proud of some of the things that had come together on the track and of each others stamina.

Our second bout was against the South Side Derby Dolls (S2D2).  We had scrimmed against them many times but knew that their training had taken them from being our big sisters to a heavily tactical team.  We lost. But we always lose.  And we learnt so much about the sort of tactics that are coming into the game. About ourselves as derby players, our strengths and our weaknesses, and the fact that after a year we can still come together and be proud of each other even as we get completely slaughtered.

Our third bout was against Central Coast Roller Girls (CCRG).  These girls had not been beaten by anyone else in the tournament. They have an amazing combination of all of the skills of the leagues competing.  They are agile, strong, fast, hard hitters and generally amazing.  They also reminded me of us though.  They are kind and funny and they play because they love the game.  They wanted us to dance with them as we waited for jams to start, they cuddled us before the match, and after we lost they laughed with us and cuddled us again.

On Saturday, we came up against the last team we had to play to decide who played who for the finals.  We had seen the Hawkesbery Area Roller Derby (HARD) girls play all the other teams.   They were actually the first team we ever played and they kicked our proverbial arses.  We knew they dominated the track, they hit HARD all the time.  Their walls were impenetrable.  They had as much, if not more, team spirit that we did (and man team spirit can go a long long way).  But we also knew they hadn't won a game in the 5x5 either.

I was terrified, my team were all actually wondering if we could win this one.  But as far as I was concerned ... we don't win.  And for me knowing that felt ok.  We don't win on points but I'll challenge anyone to win on spirit and enthusiasm more than we do.  In my opinion we are so young and fresh that I don't feel ready to win.

But ............................... we won.  Ok it was by a very teeny 8 points, and it could have easily gone the other way, but we did win.

I stood there in the silence of my team, watching the score board making sure there weren't any last minute changes (I mean 8 points can be 1 mistake in 1 jam) and I felt sick .... and then those final whistles signalled that the score on the board was the final score and IWRDL had won their first every official bout.

My reaction surprised me. I cried, big fat non stop tears that rolled down my face uncontrollably for at least 10 minutes.  But yet I didn't feel prouder or stronger than I had when we had lost with other games so why the heck was I crying.  And then I realised ... look at these faces, look at how much my team revelled in winning something! And yes we may have only won the right to fight for 3rd or 4th place.  But we won something. And as a league we needed to win something.  To see the pay off of the hours of work, the pain in our joints and the bruises we are constantly bearing, the time we spend away from our family and the passion we have given this game.  I wasn't crying from the joy of winning, I was crying from the joy of watching all of these woman that I sweat and bleed with, that I love so much  feeling so joyous.

Next time someone asks "Do you win?" I can say "Sometimes we have more points that the other team.  Most of the time we don't.   But in the way that matters most, yes, we always win!"

Photography by Richard Rayment

Friday, 12 July 2013

Today's Activities.

Today I spent a rather unreasonable amount of time doing the following:

- Trying on a multitude of tights, leggings and socks in a many
different combinations.
- Shopping for completely pathetic foods like nut mixes, high protein
bars/drinks and new water bottles.
- Drinking loads of water and taking vitamins.
- Shaving/waxing.
- Packing and re packing my derby bag.
- Cleaning my wheels, powdering my knee pad covers, checking my toe
stops, re doing my skate laces and making sure my tool bag has
everything I need.
- Figuring out what the hell one wears mid winter in the mountains,
that will also be light enough to carry around, cute enough to wear to
a derby after party, layered enough that I can strip off layers as I
dance and comfy enough for an hour and a half drive home.

Oh ... That must mean that tomorrow is a bout day.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Conversations with a Man

Laying in bed last night;
Me: (whisper) Babe, what's that noise?
AB: (whisper) What noise?
Me: (whisper) That tick tick tick noise.
(Quiet pause)
AB: (cranky voice) It's the rain dripping in the gutter .... And for
future reference why the hell did you need whisper. When you whisper
I'm thinking your hearing something urgent, not just rain in the
Me: Oh, yeah ... Bahahaha

Next Generation

Jack (3) and Hamish (1 1/2)

This was my life when I started this blog in January 2008.  It was full to the brim with cuddles, dirty nappies, kids parties, park visits, kids wrestling, breastfeeding, housework, cooking, and basically trying to be super mum. 

It was a very intense, crazy and beautiful time.  But it was also quite lonely.  I no longer had the day to day socialness that work brings, my conversations with other adults were either about children or interrupted by children.  And as all mothers of young children would understand, I lost myself into the world of mothering.  This is of course completely normal and I did not and do not resent any of it.

And so in an attempt to connect I started this blog.  And for a long time it gave me a place to be 'Me'.

Almost a year ago I stopped blogging, it wasn't that mothering had stopped or that I had less to say but my life had changed.  I was no longer blanketed by children, I had regained my sense of self again.  My babies were no longer the babies this blog was about.

Jack (8 1/2)

Hamish (almost 7)

They were kids, little men who come with new challenges but they no longer needed me to be completely smothered in them.  In fact the opposite is true.  They needed me to start stepping back, and I was happy to do it.  I had missed myself.

I have had many times over the last year where I have thought about my blog and had a longing to write something. But I almost couldn't relate to the woman who started this blog anymore.  So I didn't.  I wondered if I should just start a new one, but that didn't feel right.  This blog is an intimate part of me that I decided to share with the world and denying it by starting a fresh feels tantamount to lying.

So today I am going to give something a whirl.  Wondering Willow v2.  It's not a new blog, but its different, just like me.  If all goes well you will notice that I am no longer lonely.  I have filled that 24/7 mothering void with work, rollerskating (still), friends (new and old) and a different sense of self.  I don't know if it will take off or if this will be the big start of nothing big.  But it's worth a try.

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