reality check

The post I’m about to write is in part inspired by this post written by Cybele of Serendipity in Chaos which had me nodding along in agreement, but the real catalyst for me writing about it myself, instead of just reading Cybele’s words and nodding was a discussion I had with a friend this morning.

In fact, this post could really just be an open letter to that friend, with the hope that other readers might take some comfort in it too.

We hung out with our friends this morning for another meet up of the Denmark natural learners crew. We’re rocking that by the way, we’ve caught up quite a bit in the last couple of weeks and it’s been nice. I’m sure it’ll be even nicer when my family moves closer than 50km away from the rest of them too!

On the way to the meet up Bean and I talked about how refreshing it was to spend time with people who are very real. People who authentically express how they’re feeling, where they’re at, what’s going on for them. These people are people we don’t feel a need to put on a face for, because they’re just real so we can be too. There’s no feeling like we’re imposters around them, we don’t feel inadequate, we don’t feel that we have to put on a “perfect family” facade. We feel accepted and honored for being us, not for being something else. We can admit that homeschooling is hard at times (a lot of times!). We can admit that we sometimes wonder why the hell we’re doing it. We can admit that we’ve fantasised more than once this week about our lives in a parallel universe, the lives of us without children! We can admit that we’re not traveling so well and we don’t feel weak or inadequate for that. We don’t feel judged, we just feel understood.

So there we were, talking about the realness of that particular family when we pulled up in their driveway this morning.

We greeted each other, the sproggets all settled in to play with each other for a couple of hours, and we adults chatted.

My friend, this Mother I had just been admiring told me she’d read my blog and cried. She thought she was getting it wrong and I was getting it right. Which is just oh so wrong! I’m not doing it “right”. I’m just doing it the best I can. I’m doing it like an ordinary Mother.

One of my main motivations in keeping this blog is that I am such a damned pessimist that I need something to prompt me to be positive. Writing this blog forces me to look for the positives in my life so I can document them here. I want to write about the good things so when I look back on this time that my babies were so little I can be reminded of the wonderful bits. I find it easy to remember the bad bits without writing them down, but the good bits take a little more effort to remember. In a haze of exhaustion, feeling isolated and undersupported, I have a tendency to spiral into depression and while a private journal and my art journal have been places I’m able to write without censorship, this blog is the place where I write while wearing rose coloured glasses (most of the time!). Optimism doesn’t really come easily to me. I tend to be negative, and it’s a pattern I’m trying to change. I seem to be more positive now than I used to be, so this conscious effort to change is working, but it’s not easy and I find that I slip back into a pessimistic mindset like I slip into my comfortable old jeans.

Trying to focus on positives has been particularly hard for me over the last few months as we’ve navigated our way through financial stresses, employer induced stresses, study induced stresses, family induced stresses and the big one of living in a weeny little shed with a camp toilet and no washing machine (with a baby in cloth nappies) for 5 months. I yelled at my sproggets more than I want to remember. I yelled at their Dad too. I even told them all that having a family was the biggest mistake I’d ever made. I’ve done that more than once too! Oh how I needed this blog then, inspiring me to find the joy in my life over a long, wet Winter cooped up in this little space with two understimulated sproggets and a glorified bucket for a toilet. It was a glorified bucket that made a tough situation a little easier, a glorified bucket that I was extremely grateful for the loan of, but it was still not a patch on a real toilet. Nor is the shed a patch on a real house with room, a house with rooms! There’s only so many times I can fall over my children while they play in the too small living space we have before I start to lose my sense of humour and feel very smothered.

I don’t want anyone to read my blog and think for a second that I have it all together. I’m as fractured as the next person, parent or not, I just don’t blog about those bits so much. I yell, I swear, I say hurtful things, I cry, I rage and I have Mama tantrums. I have really hard days, and I have some days that just work. I like to write about the days that work because those posts are a bit of inspiration for me to read over the times when it’s not working, the crappy days. Also, it’s a bit embarrassing to write about the times I’ve sworn at Moe when he poked my chest and requested another freaking breastfeed, or how I told Sprout to just bloody well leave me alone because I didn’t want to listen to her whinging anymore. Those memories are etched in my mind anyway, I don’t want to write about them. The burning shame of being nasty to my babies because I just felt so overwhelmed by the enormity of parenting them. It’s not a nice feeling. It’s one I’m sure every parent knows, and one that’s hard to shake.

When Sprout was a newborn and my midwife was still visiting quite regularly for my antenatal appointments I told her I felt guilty about something I’d done (or not done?). Today I don’t even remember what it was, I’ve done so many more things in the time between then and now that I feel guilty about, but what I do remember is what my midwife said to me. She welcomed me to motherhood and told me I’d have a multitude of things to feel guilty about for the rest of my life! She was right, you know. I constantly question whether I’m doing the right thing, whether I’m giving my children a million and one reasons to be in therapy when they’re adults. Whether I’m giving them enough, or even too much.

All of that makes for kinda heavy blog fodder though, so while there is the odd post about the hard times and the inner turmoil, I try to keep it positive.

The thing I took away from today is that we can admire someone so much and not really let them know. You know? I had just been talking about how great this woman is, how much I enjoy being with her, and she was feeling down on herself. Someone might be bumbling through their life thinking they’ve got it wrong, thinking they’re pretty terrible, and all the while someone else might be simultaneously admiring them. So, I’m going to try to open up a bit more, to tell people what I love about them. I’m going to express my admiration because I think everyone needs a bit of admiration now and then.

I’ll start with the friend who has inspired this blog post because I don’t think I did a good enough job today of telling her how much I admire her.

I hope you’re reading this, friend, and I hope that if you’re crying this time it’s tears of joy and love for yourself because I think you really are quite wonderful!

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falling into place

Since I’ve been back from Perth, this whole living on the south coast thing has felt like it’s falling into place. Finally.

The first few days back here were a bit of an emotional blow. I was feeling isolated and cynical.

It rained that Monday, so we stayed indoors and spoke to no one outside our mother-children triad all day.

It also rained Tuesday, so we had a repeat of Monday but with slightly more resentment because Tuesday is a “play in the park” day and we were missing out because it was too wet. Cabin fever had set in. The sprogs were cranky and I was too.

Wednesday saw our spirits pick up though and we’ve been on a high since…

The sprogs and I went to the museum for the monthly mini muses program Wednesday morning. There we met an old friend who has one extra child than the last time I saw him but otherwise hasn’t changed much. I knew he lived down this way, I just didn’t know how to find him and I’d hoped we’d just run into each other eventually… we did, yay. He introduced me to his partner and we had a little chat while our sprogs ran about (excepting their littlest sprog who is just a wee baby). Knowing they’d understand my plight, I complained to these friends about my poor luck sourcing good food down here. I told them I was shopping at stupormarkets down here, and that it was destroying my soul to be doing it after so many years of doing all my food shopping at small, locally owned businesses back in Perth. They understood, like I knew they would, and they had some solutions to suggest. Hurrah! They told me about a little bulk food store down here and they told me about a biodynamic farmer that sells his meat from big chest freezers in a park! I told them about my friends who deliver fresh milk in reusable glass bottles, and we all smiled. Wednesday afternoon we went home feeling happier than we’d felt when we’d left home that morning, so we’ll call it a successful outing.

Wednesday night was my first night back at college since my trip to Perth and it was really nice to be back among lovely people and playing with nurturing essential oils. I got home to sleeping children and a clean home, how wonderful.

Thursday morning the sprogs and I decided to check out the food store our friends had recommended and it certainly impressed me. It’s small, it’s really a little too small to contain all the loveliness within, but it was still great. There were bulk dry goods and there were completed quilts hanging up too, they were for sale. It made my heart sing to see good food and beautiful quilts in such a visually appealing store. It smelled yummy and it looked unique. We bought some biodynamic flour, some organic rolled oats and a small lot of banana chips for the sprogs to munch on the walk back to the car. The woman who served us was warm and friendly, and she was interested to hear about my delight at finding the store. So much nicer than a large stupormarket!

Come Friday morning we were back at boobie club (Australian Breastfeeding Association meeting) for some good company and sunshine, our week had well and truly turned around. Friday night I got to go to a one off night time booby club, and I got to go without sprogs too. I owe Bean for that, it was nice to have a chat without having to entertain the sprogs too.

Saturday night we went to our milkman’s birthday party which was nice. Our milkman is also a carpenter and he just happened to knock up a patio to party under that day. Fabulous! The food was nice and, as always, the company was lovely. Sprout and Moe had a lovely time cruising around with other kids, getting thoroughly filthy in a big pile of black sand, and generally loving every minute of the party!

photo by www.liamwilde.com

Then, after I had a Sunday of study while Bean took the sprogs fishing, I got an email late last night from my aromatherapy lecturer. I’ve been sending her some raw food recipes and generally talking up the awesomeness of young coconuts so she invited the sprogs and I around for a play date today, so we could make some raw goodies and the sprogs could play. Her son is the same age as Sprout and they got along so well! Moe was a bit out of sorts after a rough, sleepless night, so he needed a bit of extra help today. Thankfully I was able to give it to him when he needed it because Sprout was so beautifully preoccupied playing with her new friend. Even when meeting Moe’s needs was taken into account, my friend and I still managed a remarkable amount of adult conversation, fresh juice, herbal tea, young coconut smoothie, roast veg & salad wraps, and a bit more adult conversation. It was a fabulous day and I’m feeling really great after it!

photo by www.liamwilde.com

Yes. This south coast thing is starting to work out ok.

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the awesomeness of sprout

I’ve been having a lot of fun with Sprout lately.

Moe is 20 months old now, he’s on the downward slope to two! The displays of “two-ness” are both more frequent and more powerful, and Sprout is still so patient with him. We’re kinda like allies, Sprout and I. When Moe is having a seemingly irrational, exceedingly frustrating moment, Sprout so often gives me a knowing look and steps in with some brilliant reasoning. She often explains what he wants, when I can’t work it out (usually not because of Moe’s lack of vocab, he’s been able to verbalise his needs for some time now), which has nipped so many meltdowns in the bud.

Aside from her awesomeness in her role as big sister, Sprout is awesomely funny. Sprout is awesomely empathic. Sprout is awesomely inquisitive. Sprout is awesomely feisty, and Sprout is a ninja at arguing!

I’m so glad we’re on the other side of three, four has been really quite wonderful so far.

Photo by www.liamwilde.com
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unschool monday – exams

Oh goodness I am SO PLEASED my children will not be subjected to exams until they’re old enough (& foolish enough?!) to decide to undertake formal education.

I have just sat an exam for one of the units I’m studying. My first exam in more than 6 years…

Oh the nervousness. The churning in my belly. The fluttering in my heart. The negative self talk rattling in my brain.

Admittedly, this unit is one of the harder units & it’s one that doesn’t make my heart sing like aromatherapy does, nor does it fuel the passionate fire in my belly that herbal medicine does. It’s just anatomy & physiology. It’s big words. It’s complex concepts. It’s something I find hard. It’s something my memory just doesn’t want to remember! Despite all this though, it’s a foundation unit. It’s concepts I need to grasp so I can better understand the aromatherapy that makes my heart sing & the herbal medicine that fuels the fire.

While I know I have to do this, to get what I want in the end, I am just so very, very pleased that my children won’t have to sit exams at any time during their childhoods. So, so pleased.

 

Unschool Monday inspired by Owlet

 

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bad dreams

I had a particularly bad dream as I was waking this morning. One of those dreams that makes you wonder whose side your subconscious is on! You know? That thought,

“Dear, dear brain. How could you even go there?!”

I woke from it feeling a little shell shocked. My mouth was dry, I’d forgotten to get a glass of water to put next to my bed last night. Luckily Bean was awake too & he got me a glass of water, he also took the sproggets to the kitchen to make breakfast while I sat with my jumbled thoughts & disjointed feelings.

Initially I was overwhelmed with self-pity. As if my dream was actually true. Slowly, that pity morphed into gratitude. My dream isn’t true. I am fine. My little family is fine also. We’re all ok. We’re all actually more than ok & for that I’m grateful.

I’m still a little dark on my subconscious for such a yucky dream, but then I wonder if it’s what I needed in order to begin the day with a heart full of gratitude & love?

We’re painting at the shed again today, our second day, so I may very well need a heart full of gratitude & love! It was tough painting the ceilings yesterday with the sproggets around, the walls could be another level of tough again…

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making friends

The sproggets and I had a wonderful morning today. We went to the local Australian Breastfeeding Association meeting. It was just delightful. I left feeling ever so much better than I did when I arrived.

Both The Bubble & Babyman had a lovely time playing with the other children, inside & outside, while I had a lovely time speaking to other mothers in a sunny, warm room.

Just today they decided they’d probably start meeting weekly, instead of fortnightly. I do hope that happens. We now have something fantastic to do Friday mornings.

There were women there who I share mutual friends with, women who I really, really enjoyed meeting.

Through today’s meeting we’ve also been invited to a small Steiner inspired playgroup which I’m stoked about. The networking has begun & this evening I feel a little more fond of this town than I did when I woke this morning.

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loyalty & thanks

I am a loyal customer.

I shop at small stores for the more personal shopping experience they provide, rather than the large, anonymous “stupormarkets” that make my head & my heart ache.

We used to buy our fresh produce in Fremantle from Mr Organic, a small business run by a beautiful family who we miss so much. We followed them when they left the Fremantle Markets, eventually moving to the E-shed Markets. Every week we’d go to buy our fresh organic produce & they’d greet us warmly. They’d ask about our week. They’d give The Bubble something fresh & yummy to eat while we shopped (a cut up apple, a small cluster of grapes) & always a cuddle as well. Shopping for our weekly supply of fresh produce was a delight. It was a task we looked forward to. Especially once Mr Organic moved to the E-shed, their stall was opposite the Fremantle Harbour. In Summer it was cool when everywhere else was hot. All year ’round the view was better than any view you’d find in a shopping mall. The air was fresh & salty. It was just… nice.

When we first moved to Albany, before I discovered a small organic shop down here I shopped a couple of times at a big supermarket. It was so, so, very stressful. Finding a parking bay in the carpark was difficult, we ended up parking quite far from the entrance. We found a dicky trolley. Is there a such thing as a not-dicky trolley?! I strapped Babyman in to the seat of the trolley & went in. My first supermarket shopping experience in a very, very long time…

The food available there was not anywhere near my standard of food (call me a snob, I don’t care! Good food makes my world go ’round!). The same amount of conventionally farmed produce from the supermarket ended up costing more than we ever paid for organic & biodynamic produce at Mr Organic anyway! Iwas totally out of my comfort zone. My heart rate increased. My breathing shallowed. My shoulders tensed. My gut churned. I spoke tersely to my children through gritted teeth,

“Don’t touch that. Put that back. Leave that alone. Come here with me. Don’t walk too far that way. We’re not going that way. Watch where you’re going, there’s someone with a trolley right behind you…”

The sproggets were overwhelmed. The supermarket was big. It was over-stimulating. It was busy. So, so busy. Trolleys everywhere. People rushing to beat other people to the checkout. People scowling. People snatching for the “specials”.

I missed our friends at the markets. I missed being served by people who know my name, who know my children’s names, whose names we know. People who smile when they see us. People who are familiar. People who came to learn what our absolute favourite produce was & put a little aside for us if we asked. You know? People who just care a little more than the underpaid, overworked folk at the large supermarkets.

Thankfully, within a week or so I found a small organic store here in Albany where we could be loyal customers.

When we shop there we speak to the same people, they greet us warmly, they are familiar. The Bubble has found a playmate in the daughter of one of the women who runs the store. We are learning to remember each others names. We’re learning to remember small details about each other.

I am so grateful to the families who run small businesses like Mr Organic & the organic store in Albany. I’m grateful for the very hard work they put in to running their businesses. I’m grateful to them for running their businesses in the face of overwhelming competition from supermarket giants. I’m grateful for the warm customer service. I’m grateful for the provision of such amazingly good food. I’m grateful for the opportunity they provide to learn about locally grown fresh produce. I’m grateful for the beautiful people they are. More than anything though, I’m just so grateful I don’t have to shop at supermarkets. I’m grateful for the chance to be a loyal customer.

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thursday thankfulness – week five

It’s Friday and I am thankful to the strangers who helped me when I really needed it.

It’s Saturday and I am thankful for the generosity of a community of women who made it possible for us to buy warm clothes for the sproggets in time for Winter at a time when our budget just isn’t stretching to new clothes.

It’s Sunday and I am thankful for the chance to look at vintage & post-vintage cars at the classic car show in Albany.

It’s Monday and I am thankful for public holidays.

It’s Tuesday and I am thankful for Play in the Park & the invitation to join a Friday morning playgroup.

It’s Wednesday and I am thankful for my elder sister, who is understanding, compassionate, accepting, supportive, incredibly generous & unconditionally loving (to list just a few of her positive traits).

It’s Thursday and I am thankful for everything that made today just flow nicely so the sproggets & I could have a simple, lovely day together.

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Thursday Thankfulness – the fourth week

It’s Friday and I am thankful for one last full day with my younger sister before she leaves.

It’s Saturday and I am thankful for the time to browse through salvage yards & auction houses.

It’s Sunday and I am thankful for the chance to just rest.

It’s Monday and I am thankful for fresh, local, organic fuji apples. Total culinary orgasms!

It’s Tuesday and I am thankful for skype!

It’s Wednesday and I am thankful for the organic shop in town, providing beautiful food & a bonus playmate for The Bubble.

It’s Thursday and I am thankful for this project for MAKING me find at least one thing to be thankful for, even after a really bad day.

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Thursday Thankfulness – the third week

It’s Friday and I am thankful for Fridays! What a week!

It’s Saturday and I am thankful for op-shopping with The Bubble while Bean hangs out with Babyman.

It’s Sunday and I am thankful for the refreshing afternoon catch-up sleep I was afforded by Bean & the sproggets.

It’s Monday and I am thankful for an afternoon tea party with the sproggets, drinking from op-shopped earthern ware mini-mugs.

It’s Tuesday and I am thankful for having the space at Wonderland to offer to my sister who needs somewhere to escape for a few days.

It’s Wednesday and I am thankful for bearing witness to the beginnings of a friendship between The Bubble & a little girl whose parents own the organic store we buy our food from.

It’s Thursday and I am thankful for this…

Morning cuddles with a special Aunty

 

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