It’s true…I have become my mother!

It’s official.

I have  become my mother.

For some time now, I’ve had an inkling that this might be the case. For example, I can no longer stay awake until the end of movies. When I was young it used to aggravate me beyond all measure that Mum would fall asleep before ever making it to the end of the show – I mean, wasn’t she interested? Didn’t she want to know what happened at the end?  Now, I reach my limit somewhere around 9:30pm and just look up the endings on wikipedia the next day.

And naps. I never understood why Mum would go off for a 20-minute kip in the afternoon. But just yesterday I found myself saying to Souljourneyboy, “I just need to shut my eyes for 20 minutes”. It was as though I was opening my mouth and her words were coming out!

I also found this entry while I was trawling through my Diary of a Teenage Girl. It was written on a day when Mum, Dad, myself and Soul Sister were getting ready to travel to my grandmother’s house:

Mum had her usual stress because we were just ten minutes late (I will NEVER do that).”

Hmm. Enough said.

And then the final clincher. Anyone who knows my Mum knows she is – expressive. If you want someone to be excited because you got an award or a payrise or even just found your lost socks, my Mum is your go-to girl. No-one does surprise and excitement like she does – it’s hilarious (and also very encouraging!) Well, a colleague of mine who doesn’t usually sit near me has been sitting at the desk next to mine for the past 3 weeks. The other day she said, ‘You know Em, I love sitting next to you. You are so funny to listen to on the phone. You really show everything you’re feeling. If you’re surprised, then you are SURPRISED. It’s awesome!”

Well, I’m glad I can bring some life to the office party, but all I could think of was – oh my goodness, I am my mother.
Lucky she’s amazing and I don’t really mind 🙂
How about you? What traits of your mother do you find yourself exhibiting as you get older?

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I feel the need…to travel

I love this quote: “The world is a book, and people who don’t travel read only a page.”

Maybe it’s because it’s winter, and I don’t have any time off work in sight, but I have been thinking way too much about holiday destinations lately (particularly warm sunny ones).

Like a delicious chocolate gelato, my Italian Adventures both sated my desire to travel and at the same time made me want more. Souljourneyboy and I are also really keen to take Bookworm, Picasso and Little Miss overseas to let them see for themselves how rich and varied the big wide world is.  

So we have been talking a lot about where we’d like to go one day, and I thought I’d share.

So far I have been to the UK (although I was 1 so I guess it doesn’t really count), Sri Lanka, Western Samoa, Hong Kong, New Caledonia, Italy and Switzerland.  

My top spots so far:

  • Venice – a complete otherworld experience.
  • St Moritz (Switzerland) – absolutely stunning scenery, and with the light snow that fell while we were there – completely magical.
  • Sigirya – Sri Lanka (rock fortress dating back to 5BC). The history of the fortress is incredible, as is the view from the top.
  • Negombo – Sri Lanka (picture-perfect beach). White sand and warm crystal waters – my kind of beach.
  • Bellagio – gorgeous Italian village on Lake Como.

 Here are my top spots of where I would like to travel:

  • Prince Edward Island – so my soul can embrace all things Anne.
  • Scotland – hills and castles. Need I say more.
  • Costa Rica – Mayan ruins, dazzling beaches, jungle exploration. A perfect holiday spot that has it all.
  • Vienna. It may just be because I LOVE the Sound of Music, but it’s on my must-see list.
  • The Mediterranean. All of it.

How about you? Where have you been that you loved – and where are you dying to go?

Generosity – what’s in it for everyone

I’ve been thinking lately about generosity.

I think it was first inspired by an argument between Bookworm and Picasso, one of those truly trivial sibling fights that started because Picasso wanted to borrow Bookworm’s bey-blade rip-cord and Bookworm said no, even though he wasn’t using it, didn’t care about it, nor indeed had used nor cared about it for possibly six months. I gave a rousing speech about how I want them to be generous-hearted people, which means allowing people to use – or have – things of yours you don’t use or need.

Then my Mum shared with me something from a book she had been reading, written by Tim Costello (CEO of World Vision).

Tim has written a book called “Hope”, which is a collection of his experiences traveling around the world, visiting under-developed countries. This particular story was from when he visited the people of Nagaland in a tiny part of north-east India, where people wear different colours to represent their roles in the community – for example teachers wear blue and elders red.

Here is the extract:

“One morning I was to address the village where I was staying at the 6am prayer meeting…I remember seeing the usual colours and spotting a person adorned with a gold coat. It was a knockout. I asked my host what that colour represented and was told that it indicated a person who had given a feast of merit.

“I looked quizzically at my host, who responded in surprise – surely my culture had feasts of merit? ‘No’, I said, ‘that’s new to me’. So he went on to explain that in Naga culture, when you become rich – meaning you have a lot of pigs and bags of rice – you can choose to throw a feast of merit. This means hosting a party for the whole village, particularly the poor, which might go on for two weeks or a month – whatever time it takes to liquidate all your assets.

“When everything is gone, you have a glorious gold cloak placed on your shoulders in a ceremony of great respect. Then you start again with nothing. I recall telling him that I was pretty sure I had never heard of anything like a feast of merit in my culture.”

What a beautiful story.

Finally, I’ve also been studying (for my degree) the idea of the “cosmopolis” lately. This is an idea that all human beings, regardless of culture, race, religion, political affiliation or even where they are located in history, are actually a single community, bound by the fact that we are all human. Our value lies in our humanity. It’s this kind of thinking that has birthed the concept of universal human rights.

So with all these thoughts bubbling away in my mind, I started thinking – what if we – as a family, community, or nation – really saw others like that? What would happen?

I think it would change the way we view so many things – our neighbours, our school community. The  marginalised. The impoverished. Nations who are starving. The disabled. The mentally ill. Refugees. And then I think we’d start by being more generous, in our views, our thoughts, with our time, and our kindness and compassion and also our resources.

So I have actually felt really challenged to be a more generous person in lots of ways. To actually treat my neighbour as myself, and be generous, with things (like bey-blade rip cords!) that have no actual value at all, but also with things that cost me in some way. I think the kids did take on board my little homily, and we are all excited about doing the “Operation Christmas Child” boxes, where you buy Christmas presents for children across the world who would otherwise have no present on Christmas Day. You can read more here.

I hope everyone has a great weekend – and you get the chance to be generous to someone in your path as well.
🙂

Mums – let’s celebrate what we do well!

So often I feel as though I’m failing as a mother. I find myself obsessing over a long list of indictments, like I don’t spend enough time with my children. They never have matching socks. I didn’t breastfeed long enough. I went back to full-time work too soon. They have too many breakfast dinners.

And at the heart of it, what I’m really worried about is this often all-consuming question:

Am I a good mother?

I know a lot of you mothers out there can relate – we seem to pour over the smallest and most insignificant things, recriminating ourselves for the most minor infractions – and the bigger ones we just never let go of.

Well. I am just totally over mother-guilt. I have decided that when I ask myself that question when things have gone wrong, I am going to answer it with: YES. I am a good mother. I am not perfect. I make mistakes. Yet I am a good mother.

So in that spirit  I thought I’d share a list of things I am proud of doing, that I think make me a good Mum. Hopefully there are lots more things than what I’ve listed, but these are the things I am particularly proud of. I hope it encourages all of you out there with kids to do just the same.

I know my children

This is easier with some than with others. I like to joke that Bookworm is indeed the proverbial open book while Picasso is a coded message and Little Miss is an overhead projector. There’s usually no problem knowing exactly how Bookworm and Little Miss think and feel – in fact it’s impossible not to know – but it is harder with Picasso. I need to – and do – try very hard to know what’s going on with him. And I think I do. I know what they like and don’t like, what makes them scared and happy, their hopes and fears, what makes them laugh and what makes them sad. I know their little hearts, how they think, their strengths and their weaknesses.

I make space for creativity

I can’t count the amount of times I let them take out the pots and pans and play music shops even though it did my head in. Or use the garlic press for playdoh and then had to buy another one. Or let them empty all the cupboards so they could climb inside and play cubby house. I have cupboards full of craft and paints and bits of cut-up paper and even though it makes a huge mess I always try and say yes when they ask to drag it all out. The downside of this is that my house is pretty messy, and I try not to care.

I try to parent thoughtfully

Now I’ve said “try”, because of course I don’t do this all the time.  But generally if things aren’t working, or there’s a pattern of behaviour I don’t like, or I’m yelling too much, I try to think about what’s not working, and then try something else. When making  decisions – like when or how we’re going to school, where we’re going on holidays or how we’re going to make a pocket money system, I do try and think about what larger goal we’re trying to achieve. That we’re bringing up little people who will one day be big people – and I want those people to be compassionate, thoughtful and living lives of integrity and fulfillment.

I actively foster a sense of “belonging”

We belong. It’s as simple as that. A couple of weeks ago Bookworm came home pretty upset because he’d had a fight with some friends that hadn’t ended well. We talked it through and hugged and prayed and then we all had a fun night together, which I think gave him the strength to face the next day (and sort it all out, which, luckily, usually happens).  I always want home to be a secure place, a safe and welcoming haven where it doesn’t matter what’s happened to you in the big, bad world, you can come home to people who love you unconditionally.

We are explicit about our values

We have family values we try and live by, and I like this about us. They are all about loving and respecting each other, trying our best, valuing our faith and living a purposeful life.

I would love to hear what you are proud of as Mums – I know all of your lists will be different, and that’s just the way it should be. Let’s celebrate us!

Poetry for a cold winter’s night…

I like poetry. So I thought I’d share some:

 

Night Swim

Come float along my pebbled light

Through jagged black-blue sea

The silver shard-spray cleaving you

As it has broken me.

A bleach-bone moon; a pulse of stars

The raw, rough thumb of sand

A coquetry of wave and sky,

Of water’s probing hand.

Light-footed; a capricious step,

The foam scrambles ashore

Clasp-handed with the secret night

Are two there, hungry for-

Sweet fissured skin and loosened thought

For seamlessness delight

And I have lived a billion years

I’m flow, I’m flood, I’m flight.

Hear crooning past the feather-grass

Rhapsodic melody;

Lock-jawed, the cliff rock softens, sighs

love me love me love me

I carry your heart

by E.E Cummings

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)

i am never without it(anywhere i go you go, my dear;

and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)

i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;

which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Just two for now 🙂 I wanted to share some metaphysical poetry, which I love, but it’s quite lengthy.

Enjoy your Sunday evening before the craziness of the week begins!

 

 

I’ve done all the dumb things

Well, not really. But I have done a few, and they’re always worth a laugh. Some of you who know me well are already aware of some of these, but others should find it quite entertaining.

1. I once introduced myself as someone else.

I think it was because I was shopping for wedding dresses and couldn’t handle the excitement. I accidentally introduced myself as Soul Sister, and then, laughing hysterically, stupidly corrected myself, which I think was more embarassing than getting it wrong in the first place.

2. I sent out invitations to Bookworm’s 6th birthday party with no date and the wrong phone number.

The poor man whose phone number I accidentally used got pretty sick of accepting RSVPs to a party that noone had any idea of when it was going to be on.

3. I forgot my honeymoon bag on the morning of my wedding.

Everyone had already left for the church and so the chauffeur had to break in through a window to get it.  My colleagues at the time were very impressed by this, and even gave me a special award for the occasion:

4. More wedding craziness – I got my lefts and rights confused when writing the instructions for how to get to the church for my wedding.

I dilgently put these instructions into every wedding invitation. So the day before the wedding we had to drive around putting big signs up on telegraph poles telling people the right way to go.

5. I sat on a fork.

Little Miss had left it a dessert fork sticking up out of the couch cushions and after collapsing onto said couch it got stuck in my butt like a pitchfork on a cartoon character. I had to get a tetanus injection, and the doctor told me he thought it was so funny he told all his friends at a dinner party.

6. I tried to go to Leichhardt for dinner and ended up in Rose Bay.

Still not sure how that happened, but we had a really nice dinner where we ended up.

7. Lost my wallet in the cinema.

I guess lots of people have done this but what makes it embarrassing is when I rang the cinema to see if it had been found, the girl said, “What name, please?” I went on for ages saying things like, “Oh, I really don’t know, not sure, do people actually know? I can’t remember…”. There was a strange, difficult silence, wherein I realised she wasn’t asking me for the brand of the wallet, she was asking me what MY name was (which, incidentally, this time I knew).

8. Lost: more things than I could ever count.

Including my wedding ring. I think it joined a dancing troupe along with all my earrings and bobby pins. On a side note, we NEVER have matching socks in our house. EVER. Picasso complained about this the other day and I just said, “sorry buddy, we’re just an odd-sock family.”

9. I miss trains because I am reading on the platform.

I honestly don’t notice them stopping or leaving.

10. When I was waitressing my hand got tired, so without realising I rested a boiling hot plate of food on a man’s bald head.

Needless to say, I don’t waitress anymore.

11. I parked my car and sat reading the paper as I was a bit early. I only realised I had forgotten the hand brake when I banged into the car parked on the opposite side of the car park.

Awkward. Left the guy a note.

12. Was entranced by the sight of a carpet of Jacaranda petals lying on the grass at the local park. While wandering around on them and enjoying their beauty a bee flew up my trousers and stung me on the behind.

It really hurt.

13. Received an email from a colleague once that I thought was quite mean. Emailed their manager to complain, then realised I’d accidentally hit “reply” instead of “forward”.

Technology gaffes are some of the worst, in my opinion.

I think I’ll stop there for now 🙂

Why it doesn’t matter if you can’t draw rectangles (in Kindy)

Some of you know that I am now beginning the last subject for my Master’s degree that I started four lifetimes ago. I am very much looking forward to being done with Uni (for the time being anyway), and I will be pretty proud when I get that bit of paper that represents a whole lot of hard work. Anyway as I was pondering about this achievement, I found something interesting. My Kindergarten school report:

Two things jumped out at me regarding this report. The first being that apparently I could not recognise, nor draw, rectangles (go figure). The second thing was that though I had the potential to be – and ultimately became  – quite academically driven, I was obviously not that interested in Kindergarten!

Now, I like to think of myself as an involved parent. I researched schools before choosing one, I help the kids with their homework, I read their reports and I diligently attend parent-teacher interviews. But there are certain things I don’t do. I don’t, for example, stay up all night doing school assignments while the child in question gets a good night’s sleep. Nor do I accost other mothers I’ve never met in the carpark asking what reading level their child is on. I also try and remember that while my kids are the centre of my world, their teachers actually have 25 other little darlings to worry about, and so from time to time things do get overlooked.

I get that education is important – in fact, I believe passionately that education can make all the difference to children’s lives. But I just think we expect so much of our little people way too young. I am so grateful that my mother didn’t storm up to my school, Kindergarten report in hand, saying ” but if she can’t recognise a rectangle when she’s 5 then HOWEVER WILL SHE BE ABLE TO WRITE A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF MARXIST THEORY WHEN SHE’S DOING HER MASTER’S DEGREE?” You get my drift. Sometimes we need to chill a bit (myself included) and know that they’ll get there when they get there.

Anyway, I found another award from Kindergarten which puts everything into perspective:

(The picture is of the award, not the lummi stick, just to be clear).

So I might not have been able to recognise a rectangle but I could paint a damn fine lummi stick and isn’t that what Kindergarten is all about?

🙂