Category Archives: mama-hood

Tears at breakfast

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Pic by Mr 6 which has little to do with the post but much to do with the child and his awesomeness

There were tears at the breakfast table this morning. At the outset let me say there are often tears at the breakfast table at ours. I was, I think, wholly unprepared for the sheer number of tears my children would shed and over so many different issues before becoming a parent. But toddlers and preschoolers cry a lot it turns out. Even my highly verbal ones.

But I digress. This morning’s tears were the sad type. The type of crying we adults do in varying degrees depending on our propensity to leak from the eyes. I leak from the eyes regularly by the way. But I digress. Again.

Mr 3 had sought out one of his favourite presents, a torch and it wasn’t working. He cried. Nothing new there. I cuddled him and said it was most likely the batteries and we would seek out a new set and do that as soon as we were finished with breakfast. Of course he wanted it done immediately but before I could say anything further Mr 6 burst in to sobs. Loud sobs at that because the drama king is strong in him. I handed Mr 3 over to Mr and scooped up Mr 6 in my arms. As Mr 6 was crying so much it set his brother off in to deeper tears. Because though they constantly battle over whose way will prevail they genuinely care for one another it seems.

I hugged him and stroked my beautiful big boy’s hair. He calmed enough to tell me, through sobs, that the torch not working was his fault. It turns out he had dropped it and had heard a, “really quite crazy tinkly smash sound” (I told you highly verbal right?)….”and because dad had asked me to put the torch down but I ignored him and it broke” he hadn’t wanted to admit it to us. Because really, who hasn’t been there? Not wanting to admit you’ve done a wrong to avoid trouble is something we have all done.

And the next thing he said, “I am really, terribly sorry I did it in the first place and I am especially sorry because look how upset my brother is now.”

There are moments in parenting that feel like a test. This was one. And instead of getting angry with him, as I might have done had he admitted it at the time, I spoke to him instead of how important it is that he tell me things, even if he feels they’re wrong or he will get in trouble. Because he is six after all. I had let him accept his wrongdoing and reassured him I would love him anyway. His internal compass is what I want him to be able to listen to after all.

Parenting test 1034 navigated, I wonder what 1035 will have in store?

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The joyful child

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I try hard not to compare my children with each other. I’m very conscious of letting them be the people they are without trying to label them. It isn’t easy of course as it’s human nature to try to label things so we can understand them.

I have two very strong of mind children however. Actually, all four of us are very strong of mind. It makes for interesting times and will continue to do so as they grow and want to exercise their own opinions more.

As I watched Mr 3 joyfully run up and down the beach yesterday though, squealing happily as sand was tossed towards us by the wind, I was struck with just how joyful he is. And he is full of joy. He has a lightness that the rest of us don’t have. He’s quick to laugh, will find the silly in a situation in order to lighten the mood. He is full of love and wonder.

I was also caught in thought about the baby he was – fair to say he was a pretty miserable baby. He screamed a lot and loud. We walked laps of the backyard under the stars singing to him nightly for months. Until perhaps six months ago suffered from incredible separation anxiety. I tried a lot of things to make him happier. I had people tell me it wasn’t “normal” for a child to be this way. And though I questioned myself as a result of these comments my internal voice took it as a sign he needed my extra reassurance and did whatever it took to let him know he was loved. I left for work many a morning in tears as he screamed behind me, knowing the screaming would not in fact stop for perhaps hours to come.

Over time my reassurances that I would always be back seemed to work and he became happier to be left. But it took a long time for that to happen.

And so….My joyful child worked hard to be so. And so did I.

Generally

IMG_9333.JPGI don’t usually like to label myself. I hate being hemmed in by a label. I like to think of myself as “generally” one way with splashes of the opposite thrown in for good measure.  Kind of like the yin and yang symbol you know? I guess it’s the rebel within me that doesn’t like such definitiveness.

I am however, generally some ways as I suspect we all are.  I’m generally an introvert who likes other people and a chat for instance.

And when I read this article on gentle parenting on The Conversation last week I nodded along with it. It’s generally the way I parent and I wish I’d known more about these ways when I first became a parent.  I would have done things differently for sure.

I did though, make the mistake of commenting on the post linking to this article on Facebook thereby opening myself up to criticism and contempt from complete strangers as to my parenting philosophies.  Fun times.

Yesterday I took my boys out for a school holiday treat and we stopped at a local cafe for a treat.  As happens, a nearby toddler had a meltdown. Mr 2 put down his spoon, stood up and said, “I be right back ok?”, index finger akimbo.

Fascinated, Mr 6 and I sat back and watched him.  He walked, with purpose, over to the little girl having her loud, vocal moment and said, “Excuse me, I show you my special dance now, it’s called the ‘chip dance’. You watch!” And he proceeded to do his very special, twirly, stompy dance, singing, “Do the chip dance! Do the chip dance! La la la la.” It’s a dance he usually reserves for his closest family.  It, of course, changed the little girl’s mood instantly.  That he recognised the stress in another child and did something within his power to “fix” the situation made me extremely proud.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing a good job of taking care of my family. I get stuck in the cycle of work, chores, school pick up and drop off.  My head feels explosion worthy more than occasionally.

Empathy, kindness, curiosity and creativity are qualities I want my children to have in abundance.  And in this one little scenario my baby bear showed me that, generally, we are on the right track.

Space (subtitle: observations of a Term 3 School Mama)

IMG_9101.JPGMonday morning Mr 5 woke with a mild fever and complained of a sore stomach. Mr Be Loverly and I passed a knowing glance at one another and in that look we knew we would play along.

My Mr 5 is a beautiful child.  Everyone thinks their children are awesome but our first born is an insightful, wise, sensitive, funny and incredibly clever child.  His observations astound us regularly.  We knew this complaint was his way of telling us, “I am going through some stuff and I don’t know how to process it.”

Though this seems to be a thing that happens just before his birthday every year (the amazing Planning with Kids blog posts on half ages gave me incredible insight in to this – read here on the characteristics around this). This year though, is different….it’s the first real time he’s had peer influences.  He’s in the third term of his school journey and though he’s made friendships before he’s really been thrust out in to the world this year.  Something I have mixed feelings about.  Five is just, still, so young.  And five days a week just seems so much for a small child to be in the formal school environment (how I would LOVE to have the French model where children go to school four days a week!).

It’s also the first time that we, as a family, have encountered people whose ideas about how to raise a family are different to ours and so it’s a lesson to us all.  We are quite mindful of our principles as a family and we talk openly about what we believe in – kindness, learning, love of each other, loyalty, humour, self awareness.  It’s firmly entrenched in Mr 5’s mind and he knows himself well.  We are a household full of strong characters.

BUT he is only five and the unkindness he is experiencing from his peers is wearing him down a little.  He has been torn between wanting to play with his friends and disengaging from play he knows to be wrong.  He needed space to talk about this, to ask questions and process how this all fits together. The tantrums we’ve experienced the last week or so are evidence of this. His teacher is marvelous and we trust the school to deal appropriately but it’s not possible for them to see everything and be everywhere and besides, resilience is an important lesson.

And so, we sat together, around our table and I gave him room to just be himself…..I asked if there was anything he would like to tell me and the words, and tears, came flooding out.  I let him speak and when he was finished, the sheer act of naming the words, sharing them with me made him visibly lighter.  Mr 2, who understands much, said to him, “You are a very nice boy and I loves you and Mama loves you and Dada loves you. We always here for you.”

Though he will grow and experience much that is out of our influence he will always have space in our home to just be, talk, be angry, laugh, cry, play.  And it is our greatest hope that both our boys will understand that on every level.

In the blink of an eye

IMG_8858.JPGIt’s been a really rough few months with illnesses. Mr 2 and I have been hit particularly hard. There have been many more sleepless nights than usual, more antibiotics than I would ideally like and many, many boxes of tissues.

My biceps are sore from carrying Mr 2 around more than usual. There have been a lot of cuddles, the latest round of separation anxiety and more than a few tears and I’m reminded how hard almost three was when we went through it with Mr almost 6.

I was on the bus with Mr 5 last week. It was full and I stood whilst he sat. He slipped his hand around my pinky. The way he used to when he was teeny. In the blink of an eye I felt the brevity of time since he was teeny. And then he made a silly joke that made me laugh and I was whipped back through time to see him for the funny, clever, kind boy he has become.

These boys of mine have changed my world. The way they grow and change so quickly in such a short time is deceptive. They talk big but they are still small.

Even when they’re not with me their presence is huge. I do carry them in my heart. The time will come when they set off in to the world on their own. It already feels like time has passed so quickly and though the days have been long and I feel like I could sleep for years I know enough to know that the years, like they have already, will pass in the blink of an eye.

“I like your dress”

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He runs in, hair flopping and I can see him backlit from the sun’s rays that are only just peaking above the horizon.

I’ve counted his little steps before. Thump, pat, pat, pat, pat, pat. Twenty little patters as he slides out of bed and runs towards me.

Every time I hear that first thump I smile. Even if I’ve been woken by him so many times overnight that I lost count.

His hair always flops. Silky and golden.

He stops next to me, smiles and hoists himself up next to me on the bed.

“Hey buddy! How you doing?”

“I good!” he says as he flings his arms around my neck. I hug him back of course and kiss the top of his head as I do a hundred times a day and pretend to nibble his totally delicious cheeks. Something that always makes him squeal with delight.

He snuggles in next to me. He slowly smiles and says, “ooh Mama, I like your dress!” He means my flannel pyjamas. Pink with the Eiffel Tower and camellias all over them. I like them too. He thinks of everything I wear as a dress. Because when you’re two you get mixed up by stuff like that. And at that moment I see myself as he does. And I feel beautiful.

“Now, Mama, please may I have my breakfast?”

Stasis induced cake

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Image source

I’m in a holding pattern. I have been for most of the year. I’ve talked to people I know and trust. I have some options but none of them are singing to me as “the one”. I get on and do, I’m busy. Always busy. I am mindful in my busy so I like it in it’s own way.

I’ve begun focusing on health and energy as that feels like the right thing to do.  Making the odd day for myself here to do things I love – visit the Art Gallery, catch a movie and even read a book for half an hour.

And of course I’ve been focusing on my family and food.  The two things that I always come back to.

The question of what to “do” professionally is still bothering me.  I read this great article yesterday and I know it’s part of who I am.  I am a better person now than I was 10 years ago in every way.

I know that “a” decision is what is needed but I’m paralysed by the options ahead of me. Further study is a certainty but so much depends on the type of paid work I am able to find. History tells me that it’ll be ok, I’ll make it work whatever happens but I’m still waiting for the right path to make itself known.  And patience has never been my strong point.

I have a dream I want to pursue but am not ready to name….one that I will kick myself for not attempting if in fact I don’t.  How I can get this to work with the realities of the rest of my life I do not yet know.

In the meantime, loved ones, you can count on a lot of cake!

When you’re unsure of a way forward what do you “do”?