Sometimes a crow in the distance sounds like a child in another room calling out “Mum!”
Sometimes a crow in the distance sounds like a child in another room calling out “Mum!”
Sitting with the selectively obedient schnoodle on the hillside grass of the vacant block in our suburb
Meditating at the pre-schooler’s suggestion
She shouts to the passing cars
“We’re having PEACE!”
How is it that I ever manage to write anything at all
Or even have a thought to myself
For that matter
The household toddler has had a visit from gastro this week. That meant being woken every two hours for two nights in a row by a fevering child, living in a blur of repetition of toilet checking, bottom wiping, hand washing, administering water and offering dry foods, and surrendering to dropping all plans. It has meant losing wages whilst still paying for unused daycare, and having the tv on way more than usual.
On the back of all this, yesterday I sat 2 adult naplan exams, complete with overcoming the stress of the power point not charging my lap top, my mouse stopping working, and the remote proctor not being able to access my camera, resulting in a 45 minute delay to my exam start time. Somehow managed to get a delicious evening meal on the table, and little one is on the mend today.
Yet the biggest challenge for me was helping her to put on the tiny gardening gloves that she was insisting on wearing for our walk this morning.
She also brought a cushion “in case I fall over”.
So of course one block into our walk, I’m carrying a pair of gloves rolled up, a cushion, a hand full of lillipillis, a few flowers, a bagged dog poo, and the lead of our 40kg old man. All in one hand to keep the other hand free to hold hands with little to cross the road.
A young woman jogging freely in the other direction with both hands free and ponytail swinging, smiled at us.
I thought, maybe she looks at us and wishes she could have this moment.
I am having this moment. This is what life has given me right now. What a joy.
I’m sick of people referring to their kids as little terrors or monsters. Of expecting their 6 month old babies to self soothe. Of asking for advice on how to be able to get their kids used to less human connection.
I’m sick of seeing babies in prams with screens in front of them. I’m sick of hearing parents use power-over and fear tactics with their children. I’m sick of crappy gender stereotyping through clothes and toys.
I’m sick of parents asking on parenting groups about what “stuff” to buy for their kids.
I’m sick of the chilling impact on the early years of human life that capitalism and ecological terrorism is having. I’m sick of the pressure that keeping on top of basic living costs is putting on parents.
I want to see a world where parenting is regarded as THE most important job. Where the people doing it are supported financially and by community to do it to their best ability. Where everything we know about secure attachment, neuropsychology, and our deepest needs for love and belonging, informs the core motivation of how we raise our children.
I want to see extreme overhauls of our education systems so that teachers are upheld to support the biologically wired, natural and beautiful blossoming of innately intelligent, good, active humans.
I want to see a medical system that supports families to have great nutrition, sleep, and spiritual support before labels and prescriptions.
I want to see a world where we understand the value of unstructured time together. The value of parents having time to breathe, alone with themselves. The value of free play.
I want to live in a world where we know that we’re all in this together.
Not a big ask. And I know I’m not alone in this wish.
These are the first words I heard this morning.
Followed by “there you go Mama, so lovely”.
I say ‘this morning’ in reference to the time after birds had started.
All the talking in wake and sleep that happened between 2:00 am and the birds shall be known as night talking. Night talking is not to be encouraged, as cute as some of the stuff is (Mummy I draw a beautiful pitcha on your aaaaaaaaarm); and shall not be spoken of again.
But that morning invitation to smile. Oh!
Thay makes the same invitation in the morning prayer:
Waking up this morning I smile
Twenty four brand new hours are before me
I vow to live mindfully in each moment
And to look at all beings with eyes of compassion
The beautiful hand made poster of this recitation that I used to have stuck beside the bed was long ago removed by a curious baby. Some days I remember to start the day with a smile to this poem, many days I’m swept up with the earliest demands.
Today they synthesised and my smile was so big, my presence in the moment so true; my gratitude for the life I have so visceral. Whatever the day brings, it started with a smile, and a smile to the invitation to smile.
Being awake since 2:00 is going to be ok…
“Mummy I get pants for meeeeee”.
Long little legs go running down the hall, with the pitter patter of new red leather shoes beating out the allegretto of a single-focused mission.
I gaze in wonder at the space before my eyes where she passed by with her announcement. Those little legs. Strong and certain, holding her to the earth; lifting her to the sky, where she was once a star.
A star, waiting for just the right time to take up the long-extended invitation to come and be loved by us.
And here she is, full of life, full of words. Full of erroneous requests at 4:00 am.
And as she is full, so does she fill me.
With a love so heart-expanding that I too, grow taller. With a joy so face-opening that my smile lines stretch further. With a giddying glow so all-encompassing that I’m sitting here in the kitchen, awe-struck.
That those little legs are the result of an orgasm.
Things feel pretty glum.
My old dog is getting wobbly in the hips, but today was another new day for him.
He showed the same optimism for a morning walk that he does every day, intuiting before any of us could tell, that the rainy grey morning was but a light cleanse of yesterday’s dusts before the blood-warming heat crept in.
He sniffed and pissed his way along the High St as if it was any other day; particularly pernickety about some zones in a way that we could never sense the importance of.
He patiently let the toddler proffer a freshly picked dandelion intrusively close to his veteran snout, and behaved with grace when a neighbourhood cat came slinking out onto the path for the “dendle” petting she knows is guaranteed when our trio passes by.
Glad, with so many birthdays behind him, for a short walk; home once more, he allowed his muscles a break from holding him in shape , as he sighed his large nobility into a pile on his indoor bed, trusting that things were in order, and a feed would come soon.
Despite more than twelve years passing since his rescue, his breakfast meets his gut like iron filings to a magnet, over almost as it began. But these are sweet days, and the toddlers rejected egg scraps will likely follow soon as seconds.
They do. Today is good.
Watching him, he spends his day in a similar way to how my grandfather used to self-admonishingly describe his own idle days on the other side of ninety. And I am glad for him, that he can feel the changes in the breeze, hear the conferences of the magpies, sense the light shifting as clouds move across his patch of vast sky.
Witnessing with calm the bubbling babbling bauble of golden curls and rapid synapses; an anchor of cool self-authority, the dog just is.
As he was yesterday.
How many pats today? A lovely brushing in the sun? The child incorporating his water bowl into her play? What is his agency in any of this? Could I manage life with the same serene dignity as he does, with so much beyond my control?
Instead, I am stirred up, fragile in my tiredness, and vulnerable in the wake of decades of perceived misuse. Crashing after building hope that intelligent change was within reach. Needing just that little bit more resource to be able to stay in the lane of everything actually being ok. Perhaps even frightened, for what it represents, that the majority of our population have used our chance to choose, to hand the power to racist river-killing bigots.
I’m glad the dog doesn’t know. He feels my sad. And he soothes me in it by showing me that today is another day.
And tomorrow will be too.
Onward dear heart.
Because I need to call the Waaaahmbulance.
Ow! My arm.
What did I do last night? Bruised knees – part of dancing on a wooden stage. Slight pull in one calf – from when my tap shoes skidded on the shaving cream residue still on the floor from the previous performance. Crunkly eyelashes – from multiple coats of mascara… but I could not remember doing a one armed cartwheel/ I don’t even know what to call that trick, not in my repertoire… I could not remember a drunk person falling on me… I could not remember lifting anything particularly cumbersome or heavy.
What did I do last night?
Oh wait! What did I do yesterday lunchtime?
I’m a 40 year old cheerleader with a 12kg child.
A 12kg child who woke up precisely 4 minutes before our squad was due to appear at a festival, and was too much in need of mummy cuddles to be interested in any other potential care giver.
So there we were, at a community event, running a community workshop, with me as the one who was leading the big group warm up dance.
So I just did it. With my toddler on my hip, held there with my left arm.
4:11 of medium intensity cardio, Baby sitting on one pom-pom as I waved the other about with double enthusiasm for balance… I noticed the extra weight as we did 1,2,3 jump, and during the side traveling rock-stomp around in the circle; but mainly I was balancing my focus between teaching the basic moves and checking Baby’s welfare – was her head not bobbing around too much, was that security biscuit she needed to hold not choking her…
As you do.
Etc etc – it all went along – at some point she was happy to hop down and I noticed the great relief of no longer holding her in one arm.
Performance/workshop over, time to sit and feed snacks to Baby before heading home to get ready for cabaret tech run.
Blah blah blah, amazing night of women’s performance, happy juices flowing as I feel at peace with my need to share absurd dance comedy with unsuspecting audiences.
Home, sleep, sun comes up.
Ow! My arm.
Knowing that tiredness and pain are both things that can be a source of grumpiness, I pledge to go gently while my arm heals.
Times of exertion call for times of replenishment, and I’m ok with the ratio changing as I gather birthdays behind me.
Recovery time may be longer, but if I settle into that truth as a beautiful truth, leaning into rather than resisting it; then I can enjoy some slow days with less expectations on myself.
Let the floor stay unswept for today, have a storybook marathon in the teepee, model self-kindness and patience with the process of healing.
Because if I try and operate as though I’m not tired and hurting, yes, I can get the things done, but I get cranky and snappy. And that’s not the tone I want our family to have.
So I come back to myself.
What do I need right now to be the best mum I can be with what I have in this moment?
Caregiver state of mind is everything.
As my mum’s beautiful teacher Lama Yeshe said: “May I be gentle with myself. For only then can I be gentle with others.”
And gentle is what my kids need from me.
It is a secret strength that I am working on. Slowly, and with patience!