September 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
My eldest child is sixteen.
He drives now. He travels all over our city armed with his transport card and a mobile phone. Right now he is living with my mother because she lives closer to his work experience location, and he has arranged his lunches and everything he needs himself. I have been called upon for one thing only: money.
It doesn’t really matter which child is missing, but one less child means things feel quite a bit more relaxed at home. I use these times to catch up on things, and lately my time is also being spent pondering the larger picture of life. Now that my teenager seems ready to step out in the world alone, I can reflect on the journey of parenthood from the very beginning to this point now – where I feel my son will be fully independent in no time at all.
When I left high school and was pondering career choices, I shied away from many things I was interested in – paramedic, morgue worker (yes, they were what I thought I wanted to do despite having no talent for science and top marks for essay writing and history!). I could not imagine myself doing anything entailing massive responsibility, and I remember that feeling as a conscious thought.
I drifted along in my arts degree, and met my husband literally the week after I finished, providing an escape from having to think about a career. We took off travelling. Then I studied kinesiology – again I shied away from becoming professional. I didn’t want the responsibility of expectation that I could help people.
Ironically, I have embraced the greatest responsibility of all: childrearing. With five children, I have accepted into my life a massive load. When my children were babies and toddlers, it was hard to imagine the worry about teenagers that now keeps me awake into the night. And this is only the first child – there are four more to go!
My son wants a cat. And this extra responsibility, I already know, is too much for me. We always had cats and dogs when I was growing up. It was normal for me. I remember when I was a teenager, left at home for a week whilst my mother went to a spiritual retreat. I came home one night with my older sister to find my beloved ginger cat sitting in the hallway with a puffy, injured eye. That sight was a shock to me, but what was worse is that I was responsible for the cat, and I had no money to take him to the vet. My sister stepped in to save the day but that experience has stayed with me, and not in a good way.
Now we have guinea pigs and our children love them, and they seem just the right amount of work for us to manage. But a cat as well….I would almost rather have another baby than get a cat! The responsibility involved overwhelms me. I wonder about this theme in my life – maybe responsibility is one my major life lessons to come to terms with.
Last night, I held one of our guinea pigs in my arms as he passed away. I sobbed and sobbed over this little animal.
Later, in bed, I asked the angels to help me be strong enough for the responsibilities in my life. I have a deep determination to always be there for my children, but some days things can feel very overwhelming.
September 7, 2015 § Leave a comment
An early Spring afternoon. A full moon rising. An irresistible pull to the ocean.
It was an impromptu decision to jump in the car and go.
Some children relished the chance to explore the rocks as well as their physical skills. Some of us relished getting our feet wet and watching the moon rise above the swell of the water near the heads.
We stayed well past dark, bushwalking back to the car by the light of the moon.
A much needed family adventure.
August 19, 2015 § 1 Comment
About the time we were given notice to vacate our old home, I began this weaving. Almost every evening during the intense six week period of packing and procuring a new home, I could be found sitting on the lounge, hot chocolate beside me, weaving.
I made the frame myself from some simple planks of wood, some nails and a lot of string. At first I envisioned a simple blue/green theme, but then green led into yellow and the weaving itself began to lead me into unknown territory. The soft glass piece comes from one of my favorite places in Sydney to visit: Reef Beach. The leaves come from some awesome trees on the side of the road where I park to visit the chiropractor! Not so special in location, but more for the fact that for me they embody Sydney and the sandstone landscape that shapes it. This weaving is now incorporating the elements: two stones are next, from the garden of our old home, and then hopefully some feathers that will lay in my path one day.
I love the depth of weaving. The lines, the warp and the weft, the repetitive action going back and forth, back and forth. I love it that as I was weaving this piece, I was also in the process of weaving new elements together in my life….elements that even I did not know I was dreaming into existence back then.
I knew the weaving was to have pride of place in our new home. I had hoped to finish it before moving, but of course that did not happen. It is now six weeks since we have moved, and it sits, still unfinished. In those six weeks I have been in despair, feeling that the creative part of my life would have to be packed away as my physical crafting materials were. I could not see the path ahead, as our new home situation quickly made it clear to me that the way I was operating before was now redundant.
I was sitting fallow. Not knowing what to do, so doing nothing.
But as the cycles of life continue unabated, so my own cycles kept turning too, and I began to catch some new threads – so different from what I expected out of my life at this time, but so rich and satisfying.
The weaving is calling to me, ready to be finished now that the shoots of my new life have sprung.
To be continued…..
August 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
The bus slowly crawls through the city, mirroring the idleness of the sun on it’s descent. The golden sun streams over the city, some buildings bathed in its glow, some left in shadow.
I reflect on the past two months, and the changes which have taken place. Some aspects of my life continue to be bathed in the glow of my focus and attention and energy, and some have been left in shadow. Left to fade away.
We moved house in those two months. I have moved homes many times on the past twenty years, but somehow this move was harder than them all combined. I suppose moving a family of seven entails a lot of stuff, as well as a lot of organisation, as daily life must continue for the children, move or no move.
But I resisted this move so much. I was very comfortable in our old home, comfortably stuck and living with all the things that were not right for us at that house. I had such set ideas about my life was supposed to change, or not change, with this move. In the end, with three days spare, we took what we considered to be the ‘last resort’ house.
I cried when we moved in. Then I felt like a spoiled brat for crying over having to move into an almost brand new house with three toilets (after just one at our old home) and keys to a community pool. Some of my dreams for myself have had to be shelved with this move, unless I find a way to adapt them and make them not dependent on my home space.
It didn’t take long for the gifts of this new house to show themselves….peace and quiet, a lovely new area with great spaces for the children to play, closer to school, more space. And then, a new job for me, one that uses my own unique skills. One where I get to go into the city once a week on the bus to work, something I still find exciting weeks in.
I know now what happened. I thought I was God, or in control of my own life. I never was, and it took me a while to catch up, let go and let myself be held my the universe.
June 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
We are moving home very very soon. The decision was not ours, but all the same it was not an unwelcome one.
Or so I thought.
I have written before about my issues with our home. This house, that enabled us to move out from my mother’s tiny space, and into our own as a family. And in recent years, a home that has been integral for a business I have run, where the ‘home’ part became part of the appeal of the workshops and playgroup I ran.
Now that I am looking for a new home, I have renewed appreciation for all that we have had these past four years in this home. A great sized backyard where the children can play for hours (and do), with space for a swingset, a sandpit and one massive trampoline. Close to a great park, and close to both Sol and my mothers, who are such a part of our lives. Who knew it would be so hard to find a house with a double garage and a decent size backyard and some trees (or at least a view of them!)?
As the days all too quickly run towards our deadline for moving, I have to admit we still do not have a home to move into. We have been in this situation before, one where we made the leap into an unknown and adventure filled future, both exhilarating and terrifying. That kind of leap is not going to happen this time. Four of our five children are very settled at school and in their lives, and as much as I sometimes dream of that alternative life we lived for a time, I know it is not my path right now. Maybe one day, when we can make that choice from a place of abundance rather than desperation.
As I look at house after house for us to begin the next phase of our life in, I have too often felt some anxiety creep in, making choices harder. We have our family list of what we want, and we look at houses that tick all our boxes, except they don’t: they don’t inspire us, or feel like ‘home’. As I write now, I look out the window and see tall gum trees swaying in the winter wind. How will I be inspired write in the future if the view is just a fence?
I don’t think it is folly to wish for a home that uplifts and inspires us. But it feels almost impossible to find that in suburbia, and for various reasons we are not quite ready to move out to a rural location. Maybe it is our family and our life and our living that will make a house a home. Maybe I just over-think this whole thing! We have moved more than eleven times in fifteen years, but somehow each time it feels harder, like there is more at stake, and a greater fear of mistakes.
In the meantime, each day, I pack two or three boxes, dismantle beds, and act as though we are moving in two weeks. Not having a new home to go to yet makes it all seem rather unreal, and I feel somewhat ungrounded. I wonder whether I really am happy to move right now. I thought I was excited to move to a new area and to have the chance to build some new rhythms in a new home, but the more I look around, the more I can’t help but feel that what we have here in our too-small, somewhat cluttered house on the corner is perfect.
Every night I send out a prayer to help our family find the best new home for us.Time to find a new perfect.
May 20, 2015 § Leave a comment
The days are running by too fast at the moment. We are preparing to move house – something I have done many times in the past fifteen years. However this time feels like an epic move, it being five years since the last one. Who knew that just one more child could mean so much more stuff?!
I have three jobs at the moment: pack the house ready to move, make endless phone calls and visits to open homes in the search for the perfect home for our family, and to keep the household and family running smoothly throughout all this time.
In between this busyness however, I have experienced two weekends of sweet moments with my family. Mother’s Day came and went rather fast, as I was studying that day and did not see my husband at all! But he sent a box of chocolates with the children to pass on to me when I picked them up from Nana’s (which they did not), as well as a lovely hand drawn card that Samuel made for me.
The girls made their own special cards and gifts for me at school. I am so thankful for teachers that think to do this with the children in their care – as Sol is still learning that these occasions and gifts are one of my ‘love languages’, and as I am still learning that they are not for him – well, sometimes these days get fraught with tension. This year it was liberating, and all the more meaningful for me, that everything except the chocolates came from the children themselves. The girls showered me with hand drawn cards and felt necklaces and bulb babies wrapped in felted autumn leaves. So beautiful.
And best of all was the spontaneous “happy Mother’s Day mum” I received from my teenager when I picked him up from the station. No one to prompt him, or remind him – made those few words enough.
The following weekend my teenager and I indulged in our shared affinity for Asian cinema with the movie Helios. Movies are my go-to activity when I need a break from children clambouring all over me, from childrens’ noise and mess and demands. To sit in a movie theatre in the dark for two hours and be transported into another reality is bliss for me.
That was Saturday night. And now, back to packing….
May 6, 2015 § Leave a comment
I noticed that this week it was International Day of the Midwife. It made me think of you and the journey we have shared.
I have been so lucky to live in a country where I have been able to engage the support of one midwife for all of my care throughout pregnancy, birth, and beyond.
You were there with me, beside me, for the births of three of my children. Tears spring to my eyes as I remember those births: the intense ecstatic water birth of my very large first daughter; the gentle, peaceful, melancholy birth of my second daughter, born in my mother’s living room; and the dramatic and joyous birth of my youngest son, born on the rug in my living room at dawn after the birth pool broke.
The births of my children have been initiations. As I have birthed each new soul I have re birthed myself, as a woman and each time as a stronger mother. The gestation and birth of each new soul into my family have been times of accelerated personal growth. Each pregnancy brought new, different fears and issues to the surface, ready for healing. And you always met me in my deepest place, wherever it was on any particular day.
I experienced two hospital births before I turned to homebirth and an independent midwife. The birth of my first daughter was so different to the first two. Despite her almost 11lb size, the labour and birth were just a few hours, and an experience which I would call intense, rather than painful. In fact I experienced some moments of spiritual ecstasy. I knew it was because I was at home, relaxed, with loving support around me. I will never forget the knowing of giving my daughter the best possible beginning, thanks in part to your confident care.
Our journey together eventually became about so much more than birth. You were there throughout my journey with PPD, with gentle support, and then throughout the hardest days of my life when my youngest newborn had a serious illness. Your confidence in my strength kept me strong. You were probably the only person I knew who understood exactly what my little son and I had been through.
Our relationship has been one of the most intimate of my adult life. The gift of having one midwife and that continuity of care is the gift of time together, and over the many hours of appointments our conversations often strayed far from pregnancy and birth. You showed me what it is to be a mother and woman in her own integrity.
As I leave my childbearing days behind and enter a new phase of life, it becomes clearer to me how much of a rollercoaster ride of hormones and massive life changes that time was. You were a constant throughout those turbulent years, as I found myself through birth and mothering. I only wish every birthing woman could enjoy the kind of support I have been lucky enough to experience.