Love stories

I have to say, I’m a total sucker for a love story.

I always enjoy a book that little bit more if there’s romance in it – and while I love novels like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Middlemarch and North and South for their social commentary and brilliant writing – let’s face it, I also love them because they’re romance narratives.

I’ve been doing a bit of reading lately, nothing heavy, mostly just dystopian young adult fiction with a bit of fantasy thrown in. There’s way too many writers in this genre, and they’re not all great. But there were a few I did really like.  Frost by Kate Avery Ellison was quite good, although the romance moved a little quickly. I really enjoyed The Scourge by A.G Henley, an original concept and a killer love story, and all written from the perspective of someone who’s blind, which was fascinating. I would definitely recommend this one. The Divergent Trilogy by Virginia Roth is also excellent. She’s only written two so far, and I am hanging for the sequel, which is due out in October. This was a classic slow-build love narrative, and they’re always the best.

So why am I thinking about all of this today? Because it’s Easter Sunday, and I am reflecting on love. Love and sacrifice. There is much I could say about Easter, but I am going to quote the underquoted (in my opinion) Dave Lister from Red Dwarf. In the episode “Holoship” he is arguing with Rimmer about the life of Jesus when he says,

“I mean, whether you believe that stuff or not, it’s about a dude who sacrifices his life for love”.

It’s that simple. No matter what your faith or theology, I hope we can all think about love and sacrifice today, and the greatest love story ever told.

Here’s a link to one of my favourite songs about Easter called “Just to be With You”.

Enjoy.

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You know it’s a bad day when…

…you slam your own face into the car door while you’re opening it.

Yes, I hear your sniggers. And I totally understand – I mean, how is it even possible to do that? Can anyone really be that spacially challenged?

Well yes they can, because I did it this morning and now I have a fat and grazed lip. It’s actually quite painful.

…the tooth that you’ve just paid $200 to get fixed starts hurting again.

It’s very depressing. I rang the dentist and I think he used the word “root canal” but I’m hoping I misunderstood. I just feel like a whole world of pain is headed my way  – physical and financial – and I’m in denial.

…the clock loses time

Poor Picasso. We were late to school and I totally blamed his last-minute dash back to his room to get news. I blamed him – quite loudly – for the entire car trip. And then I got back home and realised the clock was actually 20 minutes late.

…the printer runs out of ink

And OF COURSE this happens when you’re working from home on something super urgent and you need to print something RIGHT NOW and that stupid yellow exclamation mark pops up on the little printer screen. Frustrating doesn’t begin to cover it.

Anyway as you can see, I had a bad day this week. It really sucked.

But it’s the Long Weekend…so things are looking up 🙂

Dentists and disappointment

It was an up-and-down week this week, but two things stand out.

Firstly, I had to go to the dentist. It all started when I experienced excruciating pain whenever I ate chocolate, and then graduated to just excruciating pain all the time. My dentist fitted me in as an emergency case – he really is a lovely man – and I spent an hour with my mouth pulled open to an almost-anatomically impossible width while several thousand torture devices were used upon my innocent teeth and gums. And then I paid several hundred dollars for the privilege! When things go wrong with your teeth, it really sucks.

Then there was the incident with Bookworm and his maths homework.

Poor Bookworm. Those of you who know Souljourneyboy and I know that we each have a fairly dominant vague and/or disorganised gene. It means we can’t ever remember were we parked the car at Ikea, and it takes us eight months to change a light bulb, and we’ve lost all of our children’s birth certificates at some stage, and we never know when school notes are due etc etc. Unfortunately for Bookworm, he has inherited both these genes, so saying he’s disorganised is pretty much like saying going to the dentist is mildly offputting. A massive understatement. Anyway after a week of forgotten books and scrunched up notes and lost shoes and hats, I really had reached the end of my tether when at the school drop-off on Friday he realised he’d forgotten his maths homework. He immediately started crying, because apparently if you forget your maths homework you have to stay in at lunchtime. I did feel sorry for him. (Well to be honest my first response was, ‘I have no sympathy for you AT ALL!’ But that was just the toothache talking). He seemed genuinely repentant and remorseful, and then he looked up at me with his big green eyes and asked if I could possibly go home and get the homework…

And I said no. Whereupon he burst into another storm of tears and walked off towards assembly, crying bitterly.

I had a moment’s regret; I actually did have the time. But I really think he needed to experience the disappointment of missing out on lunch as a natural consequence for forgetting his homework.

It’s so tempting to step in when these kinds of things happen, because you really do feel bad for the little munchkins. But I kept thinking to myself  -I’d rather him learn the lesson now when he’s 9, than when he’s 35 and he stuffs something up at work and doesn’t know how to take the consequences on the chin. I’ve worked with people who haven’t learned to taste the bitter sting of disappointment, and it’s not pleasant working with people like that.

So anyway, he lived to tell the tale – and I don’t think his lunchtime punishment lasted too long in the end. And – maybe? hopefully? – he’ll remember the maths homework next week! One can only hope 🙂

The women we are

I caught up with some of my dearest friends last night. As we chatted away over dinner, I found myself thinking about how each of us are in quite different places in our lives at the moment. We are all mothers, but one of us is embarking on a brand new business venture; another is finally starting the postgraduate degree she has planned for years to do. Another is just starting part-time work after many years as a stay-at-home mum to four children, and then there’s me – and well, you know all about me 🙂

Thinking about this made me think about women in general, and all the women I’ve been over the years. I thought about this a lot on International Women’s Day – I wanted to post last week when it was on, but was too frantic juggling preparations for Little Miss’s Princess Party and a busy week at work to find the time (the irony was not lost on me!)

Over the International Women’s Days I’ve celebrated, I’ve been: a university student who manned a stall raising money for women in developing countries, and a woman still in the throes of joy after discovering she was pregnant for the first time. I’ve been a mum with a days-old baby, at once insanely sleep-deprived, but also reveling in that intense love you can only feel for a brand new baby. I’ve been a stay-at-home mum juggling playgroup and playdough, and also a mum juggling full-time work and the school run. I’ve been a postgraduate student, and a woman who was running her own business. I’ve been out late with friends, and up late with sick children. And, of course, a mother who was too busy researching how to facepaint butterflies for sixteen five-year-old girls to spare five minutes blogging on her computer 🙂

I love all these women I have been, even if I didn’t love every single thing about being them at the time.

I think women are great. And I think no matter who we are or what we do, we all deserve a pat on the back. Take a moment to enjoy who you are right now, because you may never be this particular woman again.

Here’s to all the wonderful women I know – and in the world everywhere.

There’s something about siblings

I find the interaction between my kids frustrating, sweet and fascinating all at once – probably because I am an only child. Here are a couple of the things I find the most baffling…

Their seeming preference for annoying each other over just calmly getting along
I really, really don’t get it. If you are walking past someone, why would you stick your foot out to trip them over? If everyone is sitting watching TV happily, why would you deliberately move your leg so it is touching your brother, thus causing angst and turmoil for everyone within earshot? The other day in the car, Little Miss was in uproar because Picasso wouldn’t stop “smiling” at her. I mean, how offensive can smiling be?? I often feel like I am repeating the mantra of that Guy Sebastian song – ‘Can we all just get along?’ Only I am not singing it, I’m screaming it from the next room where I’ve hidden myself away from the racket.

Their obsession over equality
Does it really matter if someone has an extra teaspoonful of chocolate sauce on their ice cream? Really? Or that two of them got three minutes of extra iPad time because the other one was in the toilet?  Or that two years ago I bought someone a 30 cent soft serve cone and promised one of the others I would get them one another time and I didn’t and of course the other hundreds of soft serve cones I’ve bought since that day don’t count because I bought them for everyone. Are siblings all defense  attorneys in the making??

It’s enough to make your hair stand on end.

But of course there are also things I find adorable…

They know each other better than anyone
Better than I know them, in some ways. Picasso knows exactly what kind of muesli bars Bookworm likes and the kind pasta sauce Little Miss doesn’t. Bookworm can tell you what book Picasso is reading and whether or not it’s his news day. Little Miss knows her brothers’ favourite ipad games and which Skylander Picasso wants for his birthday. The other day Bookworm was upset and embarrassed about a problem he had, and he didn’t want anyone to know – except Picasso. It really makes me see just how it is siblings ‘get’ each other like no one else does. And now they are at at school they have these cute conversations about lunchtime and the library and what teachers they like and what happened at assembly. It’s lovely getting a glimpse into their little shared world.

Their affection is steadfast
It never ceases to amaze me how you can be yelling at someone one minute, then playing and laughing in literally the next. How Bookworm scrawled, I hate Picasso on his doorway after a blow-up, and then right next to it, wrote I love Picasso just the next day. Or that Bookworm can be fed up to his backteeth with Little Miss, but still spend half his saved pocket money on buying her presents and writing her a beautiful card. I think something I’ve subconsciously worried about over the years is the fragility of relationships – that if you argue with someone, you run the risk of ruining the friendship. I also think part of this is because I haven’t had brothers and/or sisters to scream and shout at, but know that at the end of the day none of that matters.

So all in all, I’m glad I had three kids – if nothing else, it’s very interesting to monitor them as an ongoing social experiment 🙂

Mothers and daughters

Tomorrow we celebrate Little Miss turning 5 years’ old.

It’s a cliché, but the time really does slip by at an incredible speed. It doesn’t seem so long ago I was lying in that hospital bed – sobbing hysterically out of pure relief that the birth was finally over – and feeling an overwhelming sense of joy as her squishy little body was placed in my arms.

After two boys, I was delighted to have a girl, but unprepared for the feeling of being absolutely enveloped by her. I think as a mother, deep down I know that eventually my boys will find their significant other, and she will be the primary female in their lives. That’s as it should be. But with Little Miss, I know I will always be that focal point for her. Always. I remember when she was about three, we were talking about when she would be “big”. I was intrigued to discover that she thought she would grow up to actually be me. I had to explain to her that she would always be her, herself, and not actually me. I understood then that the very intimate connection I have with her is two-way.

So to celebrate her – and mothers and daughters everywhere – I will share the poem I wrote for her on her dedication.

Daughter

She has my eyes

My question mark chin

My blueprint form of face;

A patterned flawless space

I have chartered the course

Of my callow calf-love

From fragile pulse of forehead

Clutch of toe and butterfly breath

Her blown-glass hands

Her snail-shell palm

And like Braille, her skin

My fingers, comprehending

When my mind softens, strays

I find myself writing her name

Betraying the constant, pendulum pull

Of my thoughts, a sentience elemental

Once, lucid shadows

Of reason, contemplation

Idled in the noiseless ranges

Of my soul. Now they are strangers

Their lifeless shapes blunted

Limp husks of love, stunted

I am translucent

Engulfed and emptied-out

My folds of flimsy-frail skin

Tangled in exquisite limbs

As delicate as a bird’s call

And ruthlessly consuming all

We are knotted selves

And I, a paradox host

For, should we split, and separate

I would disintegrate

A collapsed star of yearning

Her withered moon, feebly turning

And she has my eyes

And I am undone

By this mad tenderness

This fevered restlessness

She is my logos and I

Her word, and her ruin

I am fixed in her map

I am Lear’s egg, cracked

For she is my all.

And I see you there, lost

In your blossom-boned daughter

Greedy, yet gaunt with need of her

Fatuous fascination

Of her instrument form

Our eyes catch, turn on a clockwork point.

Lured, seized, captured, caught

By the beauty of that natural law

I am less, that she might be more


xxxx

Emma Whale