February 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
This past weekend was a family celebration of three birthdays – my sister’s, my own and my daughter Lily’s. Five adults and eight children noisily and happily came over to mark the occasions. I made my favourite cake. I let Lily blow out the candles.
Being the wacky, out-there kind of parents that we are, Lily’s present was this drawing. For a while it has bothered Lily that she can not see her guardian angel. We talk about our angels often at bedtime, but she was starting to lose trust.
I’ve been asking for this book for months, and my sister delivered (or rather, her husband did, who had to enter the bookstore and ask for it by name)! I love Naomi Wolf’s ideas, and cannot wait to read it. I’ll do a review once finished.
These past few months…. my family have gathered often. I cherish these days of becoming closer, especially with my sister and her children, watching all of our children connect and accept. More birthdays to come in March as well….
February 22, 2013 § Leave a comment
When you are expecting a baby, and especially if it is not your first baby, you know how life will be once the baby comes. It will be slow, and simple, but not always easy. You know that getting a shower alone will be an achievement. You know that getting the basics done is probably all you can expect.
But you also know that this phase does not last forever. You know that all too soon the baby will be crawling and eating, taking their first steps away from you, and that as this happens your own life will open up a little again. I think that is what makes it bearable in those early months of living a small life. That and the fact that you are completely in love with your baby!
In my family, little Robin is almost one year old. In my last post I wrote of not rushing him, not pushing him away, or to grow up. It is as though he has taken me at my word, because in the past week, life has slowed way down.
Way, way down.
I’ve had a few nights with tears. Trying to explain to an empathetic husband what it is… like still being in that newborn stage with Robin, except that it has been almost a year now. The deep frustration – of not being able to eat slow, or without a crying baby as background noise. Of not being able to do anything, anything, except to watch TV or go to bed after about 8.30pm at night. The trapped feelings…. knowing I can’t be away from him for more than two or three hours, knowing I can’t even put him down for a minute without him crying. And not just crying…. the hyperventilating, not breathing, totally devastated crying!
When we first came home from the hospital after Robin’s illness (the first time), somehow I thought that because we were out of hospital it was over. The reality hit very quickly… leaving hospital was just the beginning, and being home again was harder in many ways. There are no nurses backing you up at home, and Grandma has moved back to her place. Suddenly I was being Mum to all the kids and doing the school run again, but also nursing my ill baby back to health. It took a little while, and a second stay in hospital, to realise that life probably would not be ‘normal’ for the rest of 2012. Once I recognised that, I lowered my expectations, and dropped commitments accordingly. That helped.
This year, I thought life could resume… I thought my life could resume. A life of doing Playgroup, craft workshops, craft to sell, being involved at the school and possibly some study. But life is just not working out that way. This past week has been sending me a message: maybe life is not meant to be that way for me anymore.
Most things have been let go of. My commitments now consist of activities I can do at home, in my own time, around the baby. That helps. I’m trying not to lose myself now that my life is stripped back.
My Birthday is on Sunday…. usually a time of reflection and goal setting for me. But it feels like my expectations, desires and goals have no place in my life right now. Surrendering to that reality feels impossible.
Robin wakes up. Smiles, reaches for me. Looks into my eyes. He loves me, adores me… I can see that so clearly. In the brief moments of surrender and peace I achieve, we are one.
February 15, 2013 § 1 Comment
When I had my first child, I had very definite ideas of how I wanted to parent. I read many, many parenting books, mostly around the philosophy of attachment parenting. Now, four children later, I’ve let go of some of the ideas from these books that don’t work for me. However there is one theme that I have held on to throughout my entire mothering career (yes I think with five children I can call it a ‘career’!). It is this:
A need that is met, then goes away.
I can’t remember now whose book I read this in. But what I do remember is how many times I’ve come back to this saying. It’s comforted me in the middle of the night, when a child is awake and wanting a cuddle, and I am wondering if I will get any more sleep that night. And it’s affirmed the choice to arrange Parkour lessons for my thirteen year old, so that I don’t have to worry about him hurting himself with his dangerous body tricks at school.
And right now, this week, I’ve come back to it again, in regards to Robin.
It is probably time to let go of wondering whether his intense clingyness is nature or nurture – his personality, or the fact that he was in hospital and therefore completely cosseted for most of his babyhood. As a mother, I try to flow with my kids, and where they are at. But I realise that I have been fighting Robin’s needs. He is eleven months old. His development, once delayed due to illness, is now normal.
Except that he is still almost exclusively breastfed. And where other babies his age are content to sit on the floor and play, or sit in the pram and watch the world around them, my Robin has to be physically attached to me, all the time.
Literally – all the time.
Unless Sol is around, in which case he may need to be attached to Sol. Sometimes he will be with Samuel, his older brother, but never the floor, and less and less the pram.
With three kids at school, after school activities, and my minor work commitments, all of a sudden his needs are tricky for me. Some days it is a struggle to get the basics done. The element of time pressure that is in our lives is not good for him, so it is not good for me. Increasingly I have been feeling consumed by Robin’s needs against the backdrop of family life.
It is time to take a step back, and remind myself that “a need that is met, then goes away”. Robin needs me intensely right now. It won’t be forever, it is for now. Having a little perspective makes it that much easier to bear.
To be honest, with all he/we’ve been through, I’m reluctant for him to leave his babyhood behind. I feels like we missed so much of it. And I’ve been fighting against those feelings too.
Sometimes it is hard to have a child whose needs are different, or at least not what the ‘mainstream’ think they should be. I’m under a lot of pressure to make him eat, to just leave him on the floor to cry because he is ‘old enough’. But by now, I am strong enough in my Mothering to stay true to what is right for us. And right now, that means not pushing him away, or to eat, or to be more independent than what he wants.
Instead, I will be making some small adjustments to our lives, so that I can flow with him and his needs, thereby reducing the stress on me. First change: kids on the bus to school in the morning, so he can sleep in!
February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment
This week saw three of my children return to school full time. Lily, who is five, began Big Kindy with Lillia, the teacher who both William and Samuel experienced Kindergarten with when they were five. We’ve been camping with Lillia, numerous times, been bushwalking, been to her house, and her and I have a long friendship. Lillia visited me when Lily was only three days old!
Because of this, I thought the transition would be easy for Lily. I boldly stated on a friend’s FB page that I would not be missing Lily this week, partly because she is so full of life force and energy that she has seemed ready for full time school for the last two years!
I should know by now the folly of making grand statements, like when I was nineteen and declared that I was NEVER having children. This week I have well and truly had to eat my words. The first goodbye was a little prolonged, but OK. By Wednesday morning she was clutching me as I tried to quietly extricate myself from the class (which had already begun the morning circle), whilst holding the baby and trying to keep Zara with me. Lily ended up in tears, as did I. It was heart-wrenching for me, and I didn’t expect that it would be, being my third child and all.
Lily loves school, I know she does. It is just the moment of ‘goodbye’ that is tricky for her. She is outwardly confident but has a secret sensitive side. I often think to myself that Motherhood is just a series of letting go, beginning when I have to ‘let go’ on every level to let the baby emerge from my womb into the world. This week was another letting go, as I feel she is old enough to have a little wobble at school without me and then work it out herself, with the teacher’s loving support (part of the reason why I love our school).
Our other big Beginning was Ballet. Ever since Lily could walk, she has danced. We have a book about Angelina Ballerina, where she dances so much, and is so preoccupied with dancing, that her parents eventually send her to lessons, so she has an outlet. That’s a little bit how it feels with Lily. It’s satisfying to match the interest and motivation with the right timing.
We have resisted after-school activities for a long time, partly due to cost, partly due to wanting to be a bit free. This year, however, it feels right to get out there! She’s had two lessons and loves it.
I’m not a particularly ‘girly’ girl, so having a daughter who is very much that way is a little challenging. But I also love what that brings into my life. Lily, in particular, is the happiest, most positive person I know. She absolutely loves herself and is never down for long – qualities I would like to nurture within myself.
February 2, 2013 § 1 Comment
As the days of January flit by, we’ve been busy. I’ve had to abandon my grand plans for lots of blogging or crafting and just remain present with the children. As the calendar moves towards February and school, I’ve tried to hold on to the holiday feeling, but last week I could feel it trickling through my fingers as notes from school arrived. Still, we managed to slip out of Sydney for three days of water-oriented fun.
Our favourite holiday park is only an hour north of Sydney, and it has everything our kids love. Pool, beach, and jumping pillow. We just went from one to the other for three days. Poor Robin was so exhausted from the non-stop activity that he fell asleep in the water, twice!