Autumn, Hello + Practising Non-Attachment

 

It’s late and a school night, but I’ve been trying to get here for days (weeks, months) and there’s no time like the present. It’s Easter Monday here. This afternoon we arrived home from Mum’s new hideaway, an upgrade from the caravan we have known and loved for so many years. The new place can fit us all in (my three sisters and our respective partners and children) with space leftover to run and play and plant vegetables and think and walk. The new place is deliciously isolated, on a long dirt road, tucked away in a valley surrounded by farmland, rolling hills, big serious clouds, a farmer called Kevin and not much else.

Over the four days we picked the last of the tomatoes and armfuls of lemons from the lemon tree which was absolutely dripping with fruit. We walked around the property, we talked, we drank wine. Simple things like putting the children to bed seemed so much easier than usual. The dishes, the washing (most likely because Mum kept doing it). Folding things and keeping things in order. The carpet was new and the house was neat. The evenings seemed to stretch on for hours. I tried my best not to whinge on my way back to the city. I tried not to look around at the cars and the houses and the dull ring of smog around the horizon and feel as though something had ended. I’ve been trying my best to practise non-attachment in my daily life. The more I read about it, the more I agree with Leo Babauta, and find that many of my own personal struggles arise from being strongly attached to something, be it a person, an idea, a concept or a structure.

So when my Mum grabbed longingly at my sister, and told us she was going to miss us so much and have separation anxiety when we left, and when I too began to feel that familiar flatness of a good time coming to an end, I tried to let go. I tried to accept that the weekend was finished, and that it was time for the next thing, the now. Yes, it’s true that my daily life currently incorporates stressors which were greatly lessened while away this weekend, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t many other things to be grateful for in amongst it. And, let’s face it, no matter how fast technology advances I’m not going to have the ability to rewind or fast forward time any day soon, so acceptance rather than struggle seems to be the logical way forward, don’t you think?

When we came home and I felt swallowed up by our little house and the walls began to encroach on my space, I took a moment to remind myself of all of this. I brought out the lemons we had collected over the weekend. The girls sat up at the kitchen bench while I made lemon butter. Bird helped me roll oats, coconut, honey, and lemon into lemon bliss balls to share with her class tomorrow as it was her birthday over the school holidays. I made some bread rolls with chia and sesame seeds sprinkled on top and a pot of tea. I packed lunch boxes with homemade rolls lathered in lemon butter, lemon bliss balls, carrot sticks, dates, strawberries and hommus.

Tonight we watched the most magical sunset from our back deck, it was all shades of purple, pink and blue. We all got up from the dinner table (dahl, no surprises there!) I held the baby up and she pointed at it, repeating “Wow!”. The Pixie stood on a chair and shouted and pointed out street lights lighting up across our little suburban valley.

They aren’t the rolling hills of the country-side, but we are lucky enough to call this patch ours.

that overwhelmed feeling

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It’s day four of being at home with two sick kids (luckily Peach has avoided it so far). They have that deep throaty cough that keeps you awake at night and makes your voice croaky. KB worked late the last two nights (home 8.30pm) and leaves around 7.15/7.30am in the mornings so the days at home alone feel long. I’ve had to miss out on a gathering at a friend’s house I was looking forward to and cancel my pregnant sister and aunty with her baby coming over this morning which I was so looking forward to. (Very small and minor complaints in comparison to world wide events of late, I know.) Yesterday we spent the entire morning at the hospital for some check ups for baby (she’s had a little heart murmur since birth, but is absolutely fine) and when we returned home a little frazzled and burnt out, our darling Pixie didn’t want to have her day sleep (cue exasperated emoji x 1000). I spent about an hour returning her to her bedroom to no avail.

Eventually I gave up and let them both play in my room on my bed (found all sorts of treats under my doona when I went to bed myself last night…). Knowing I had the evening ahead of me (and wanted to be in front of the TV by 7.30pm for The Bachelor Australia semi final!!! #guilty) I decided to do early baths and try to instil some sort of calm into our afternoon. I made little oat pockets in hankies and let them pour milk mixed with a few drops of lavender into a deep, warm bath. I desperately wanted to get in myself and lock the door of the bathroom (with them on the other side)… despite my efforts, come 5pm Pixie was bouncing off the walls. When she is tired she morphs into this strange kind of hysteria. Her giggles become high pitched and her face draws a curtain over itself, she looks at you when you speak but doesn’t seem to hear the words. She wouldn’t eat her dinner and she has also figured out that I am relatively powerless while I’m feeding Peach. So she looks me in the eye as she picks things up she’s not meant to touch, as she gets down from the table when she’s meant to be eating her dinner, as she pulls my wallet out of my bag and begins to empty its contents all over the floor, as she tips her cup of water into her dinner or puts her entire fist into her food, as she pulls Bird’s hair… or all of the above.

I was so beyond my limits by 6pm that I pretended it was 7pm and put them both to bed. Luckily for me our clock ran out of batteries yesterday morning so my clever Nell was unable to see through my nasty little trick.

On days like these it really makes me question our Western way of life. Since having babies this set up has always felt very unnatural to me. When my family are visiting (and often stay for full days at a time because we just can’t get enough of each other) it feels full and whole and right. We always joke about buying houses all in a row, we call it “our commune”. But for me it actually just sounds perfect. One of my little sisters is about to have a baby and even though she only lives a 20 minute drive away, it seems too far. All the rules that we impose on ourselves, when you really think about it, life in our culture is just one big game. We have made all the rules (working 9-5, living isolated in silos and away from our families, do this, don’t do that, etc) but now we seem absolutely trapped by them.

Well, at the very least, I do. Do you?

I survived

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So it turns out I am perfectly capable of living a normal life outside of social media, without turning into Gollum searching for The Ring. After the first few days, I actually didn’t miss it at all!

The other day I downloaded Instagram onto my phone again. I’ve clicked the app maybe five times in the last three or four days, as opposed to five times in an hour that I was capable of previously.

I can now sit down and think, my mind feels clear, my feet are on the ground.

I was sitting at the traffic lights during the week and I looked into the window of the car next to me. I saw a two year old in his seat, tapping away eagerly on a screen of some sort. This time spent away from social media has really made me think (again) about the place screens play in our lives. How seamlessly they slip, unassuming, into the fabric of our homes.

We bought an iPad last Christmas for KB’s work. I have used it a handful of times and actually forgot we had it until about six weeks ago, when the girls asked if they could watch ABC KIDS on it. They sometimes have a go on one at their Nan and Pa’s place, and surprisingly (or not?) they knew how to use it better than I did. Since that day they have asked to use it constantly, and being so bedraggled I started to say yes. Before I knew it they were having iPad time every afternoon and started to cry if I said no.

What have I done!?

I think it’s unrealistic while I’ve got such a small baby that I ban screens altogether (I’m actually just not willing to put myself through that right now… for better or worse) but I am so conscious and conflicted as their world is saturated with technology, unlike my own childhood… it just doesn’t feel right.

We’ve got some thinking to do, that’s for certain.

adjusting

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Pixie hauls herself onto my lap while I’m breastfeeding Peach. She grabs each side of my face and forces me to look at her while I’m ushering lots of “careful, careful, careful of the baby.” She looks at the baby. “I love your baby, she’s beautiful. ” (“luff”, “boo-full”) she says. She thinks momentarily. “Now your baby has come out, there’s room for me in your tummy again.”

This has been a common thread of late, Pixie commenting on the appearance of the baby, and the vacant accommodations she has left behind. And how she would dearly like to climb back into said vacant block. Please.

I look at this enormous creature perched precariously on my knee, her gigantic deep brown eyes staring at me, eagerly awaiting a response. I’m confused. Only three weeks ago this huge being was my baby. I would pick her up like a tiny doll and balance her on top of my rounded stomach. I would play with her soft curls and wipe vegemite from her stained baby lips. Now she appears in front of me like a monstrous Japanese cartoon; all eyes and head and face. She reaches out a finger and pokes the side of Peach’s face. “Can I kiss your baby?” (“tan”, “tiss”) She asks, sick of waiting for a response to her request to climb back inside me.

She kisses the baby then pulls my hand away from where it is rested, cradling Peach’s back. She holds my hand and makes sure I can’t touch the baby with it.

We are all adjusting to this new way of life, this new being who is suddenly in our family and in our space after an eternity of pregnancy. Adjusting to my constant “shhhhh’s” and “careful’s!!”. Adjusting to the crying, to the constant commands of this tiny person.

And then I see my eldest two daughters playing and hugging and kissing each other. I see them holding hands tonight while we walked to get fish and chips. I see them giggling together and whispering rude secrets (namely about poo). And I remember when Pixie was this tiny thing in my arms and Bird was the giant child poking and prodding. And I know everything and everyone will be just fine.

news in dot points

* I ran my first workshop for teachers the other day at the not-for-profit I work for. One of the teachers fell asleep.

* My step-grandmother passed away a fortnight ago. At the funeral, my sister (who has Down syndrome) snuck in on the private family viewing and then proclaimed loudly to me that the body looked like a zombie.

* I booked a surprise family weekend away in Gippsland to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks. When I excitedly showed Birdie photos of the house we are staying at she proceeded to burst into tears and said she would miss her own bed.

* I thought it was about time I did something motherly and domestic, so I decided to vacuum. Then I vacuumed up a sock and now I can’t vacuum any more.

* The Pixie was having a wonderful time in the bath, KB and I sat by the side of the bath talking after a long day. It took us a few minutes to realise that she was studiously playing with a giant turd of her own making. Birdie then hysterically tried to get away from the poo and it chased her around the bath.

That’s all my news of late.

Hope you’re all having a fabo weekend with your families xo

being all of the things

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mother

wife

friend

person who cleans things up

person who folds things

organiser, sometimes

writer

maker and creator of things

person who likes to be in nature

person who files things and pays bills

person who enjoys some time to themselves

person who wants to learn new things

striver to achieve, something

I read a book recently that aims to help you find out what you want to do in life, and how to achieve it (thanks CR + SP! I love it). It’s great book and one I will refer to often. I had to write a list of all the things I wanted to do and be, and although it was different to this list, it made me realise that you don’t just have to be one thing in life.

But if that is the case, how to fit it all in? Going back to work, life just feels like such a struggle and a juggle. It feels a lot like survival, setting out each day just to get through it and maybe even be slightly organised for the next. My girls are cross, Birdie in particular. I’m tired and KB is just as muddled as I am. Washing is literally climbing the walls, the dog is depressed and on weekends we are all just falling in a heap. I feel as though I am so many things, good things, but at the moment I’m spread so thinly I’m just dipping my toes in each area. There is no immersion.

What is this all about? Am I conforming to the way of the modern family, just going along and doing it because I sense some expectation about the way my life should look? Or do I genuinely want to be here in the midst of all this, paddling around, doing lots of things but never quite reaching 100% in any of them? And if I wasn’t doing this thing – these things – what would life look like? What could it look like?

I love so many of the different aspects of my life – parenting, working, the outdoors… just not all at once. All at once it feels overwhelming, chaotic and dull. You might be imagining me typing this from my studio, looking out a white washed window into a forest, my face pensive and thoughtful. In reality, the lap top is currently on the kitchen bench, I’m typing single words, phrases or sentences at a time, in between making lunch, tidying, vacuuming and playing princess fairies with Birdie.

Balanced? Not so much.

balancing act

Last night, after spending an afternoon (an entire afternoon) cleaning the house (but oh my it was lovely to get up to this morning!) and crashing on the couch to do our online organics order and meal planning for the week and paying some bills and watching some boring television, Papawho and I were finally ready to go to bed.

Then there was that awkward moment when I saw him packing his runners and putting his sports bag out on the couch at the same moment that I was organising my yoga gear for the following morning.

We paused.

“Are you going to the gym in the morning?” I asked.

“Yep, I was planning to?” Came his reply.

“Oh… I was thinking of doing yoga in the morning.”

Silence. We niggled this way and that, both wanting to start the week on a good note, both having goals that we want to achieve and things we want to do outside this parenting gig. Neither wanting to stop the other from doing and achieving and enjoying; on the contrary, we both make a real effort to support each other to do and achieve and enjoy things for ourselves… yet here we were, both wanting to do something, each hanging on to our own for dear life.

A little tug of war.

In the end I set my alarm super early and managed to squeeze in twenty minutes of yoga at home before the Pixie woke up. (Naturally, being a pixie and all, she likes to wake at ungodly hours each morning. Apparently that is what naughty pixies do.) Papawho went to the gym and squeezed in a workout before he went to school.

It is so, so, so very easy to fall into the who is worse off game with our partners. It is hard to make sure that in amongst parenting, working and being a family, that we each get time to ourselves to maintain a sense of self. We are continually learning. We don’t always get it right. Do you?

How do you make sure you each get what you need while parenting small (or big!) children? How to you make sure you are present as a parent when you need to be? How do you support your partner whilst making sure that you too are fulfilled? I would love to know. x

staying home

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We have been enjoying a lot of time at home lately. We’ve had a few rounds of tonsilitis, flu, colds, vomiting (yay), and other lovely end-of-wintery illnesses. Many of our friends have been sick too, so all the mamas in my circle have been sending “I miss you” texts and going about our solo ways for the past few weeks.

Something that ordinarily sends me a bit nutty has actually been an absolute blessing. Having to cancel plans and really, truly, actually Slow Down has, in the end, been just what we all needed to close off the winter.

The telly has been on way too much. I’ve been drinking so much coffee because our pot makes enough for two. We’ve spent many a day in our pyjamas and thrown gumboots over the top to go outside. The house has been cleaner despite us all being here all day. Food has been cooked and menus planned. Sewing has been done! Baking has happened.

I think even once everyone recovers and Spring arrives (in just a few days now!) we will stick with this new rhythm of more home time.

It suits us all very nicely.

feeling unqualified

IMG_7445These girls ran rings around me today, and one of them can’t even walk.

Have you ever been the new girl in the office, sitting there shuffling papers, staring intently at your computer screen, trying desperately to look busy, mind going a million miles an hour, words spinning in your head, trying to spit out sentences that make sense, trying to look like you know what you’re doing, watching the minutes tick away, wondering who to sit with at lunch… No? Just me?

I felt like that today. A fraud in my own home. Doing the washing, cooking dinner, packing baby bags: fine. But dealing with my little ladies stumped me, time after time after time. I was just pulling blanks, trying to respond timely and say the right things, trying to be a Good Parent, trying to keep things calm, trying to communicate, trying to be clear, trying to set boundaries… trying, trying, trying.

Birdie was bouncing off the walls. She was rude to one of the waitresses we know well at the coffee shop this morning and I didn’t handle it well. I was so embarrassed that I found it hard to relay the story out loud to Prince Charming. It wasn’t that it was particularly bad, I just felt that I wasn’t clear in my response and she ended up getting away with something she wouldn’t normally have because I couldn’t think fast enough. I’m not used to her being ratty, around 5pm- maybe, but not the majority of the day. I’m exhuasted!

Meanwhile my little pixie really did nothing wrong, just had a bit of a needy day which combined with Birdie’s antics made me one tired mama come sundown.

Hopefully tomorrow I won’t feel like such a new girl and will have the brain power to out-think my crafty three year old and her trusty disciple.

Wish me luck!

daily life

IMG_7234I had a realisation the other night as I was sitting on the couch in my lounge room watching (dare I say it) Big Brother on telly, a few lamps on, the baby asleep, little Birdie with her Daddy reading stories, a blanket on my lap and my fingers curled around a hot cup of tea.

Life isn’t something I’m looking forward to anymore.

It’s playing out around me, minute by minute, day by day.

I watched Birdie walk out of the room after kissing me goodnight: her little girl figure, the shape of her, her walk, her hair. Her growing hands touched the doorframe as she wandered off to bed.

I had that momentary shock that you sometimes get if you allow it to come. The shock that never ceases to shock: I produced that, she’s mine, there is something where there was once nothing.

When I was a teenager I used to long for the day I had a family of my own and a house and a dog and a car and a bank account and could eat what I wanted and do what I wanted when I wanted and was officially Grown Up.

Now the day is here, yesterday, today, tomorrow.

I sat on my couch and felt intensely happy.

Despite the house being a mess. Despite feeling sick. Despite being tired.

I was happy. I am happy. I am in the middle of the life I so looked forward to. It’s not perfect. There are stressors. There are desires and stumbling blocks. There are arguments and moments of annoyance and frustration.

But in amongst it, stripping it away, taking away the bullshit: here I sit. With a hot cup of tea, a roof over my head, two beautiful children and the best husband I could imagine.

Now after you have finished gagging, I dare you to strip away the crap and the bills and the dirty washing and the toddler pinching your leg and screaming in your ear and see what you are left with.

I hope whatever it is, it’s full of love and raw happiness.