31/52 – Happiness in little things
A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year.
Anakin: While shopping for new clothes: “I want a Batman.” “We’re not getting any new toys right now.” “No, I want a Batman shirt. That one, with a cape.” Who can argue with a boy wanting to be a superhero with a cape? I surely can’t. Go be a hero, little man!
Isis: You love showers. While your brother loved his baths you definitely prefer showers with me. I fall crazy in love with your excitement. As soon as you’re undressed and understand it’s time to shower your little legs start kicking and you flex every muscle in your little body in anticipation. Afterwards I wrap you in a towel by the window and you watch the wind in the trees with a smile on your face. Happiness is so easily found in the little things.
The long goodbyes
I hate long goodbyes. When I say long I don’t mean goodbyes that drag out but saying goodbye to loved ones you won’t see for a long time and that live far away. Those goodbyes. I’m no good at them. I just can’t get them right. They leave me full of wants, needs and regrets. And usually in tears. Some are definitely worse than others.
So this morning I had to say goodbye to my mum. Again. The mum goodbyes are the worst. She lives in Norway and I live in Australia. It’s not as easy as a Sunday drive to say hello. I always need that last hug or that last kiss we never share. Then there’s that last wave that usually doesn’t happen because goodbyes are killers and none of us want to let the other one have to see the pain so one of us turns away at that critical moment as the car drives out of sight.
It’s marginally easier being the one who leaves. For me at least. If I’m the one leaving I’ll quickly become (or make myself) busy with what needs to happen next. Airports, check ins, kids, all that stuff. But if I’m the one staying… whoa. And this morning was such a time. My husband and son took my mum and my niece to the airport. The baby and I had to stay because there was simply no room in the car. As soon as the car drove off I just kind of tipped.
Our house feels strangely foreign and empty when someone I love leaves it. I walk around aimlessly looking at the places they occupied searching for pieces of them left behind. As if it will miraculously make them reappear. With my mum her smell usually lingers for a while but never long enough. It’s this lotion she uses. It just smells like her, safe and cozy. I make strong connections between people and their smells. Today I have a baby that smells like my mum from those last hugs. She probably won’t get a bath today so I can hold on to that smell for just a little longer.
Goodbyes are awful. Suddenly I’m a child with children of her own desperate for my mother’s embrace. I feel lost and for a couple of days I find myself having to revisit all the choices that created the physical distance between us. But the answer is always the same. I can’t go back. I can’t sacrifice myself to be closer to my loved ones. I have to remember who I was before I left and who I am now, and the battles fought to get to this point. Going back is something I may not survive. It sounds melodramatic, I know, but severe depression is no joke. I came closer than most people know to not surviving the time I lived there and I just can’t put myself in that darkness again. My brain just can’t handle the extremes and I just can’t give up finally being on the way to doing what I want with my life. My children deserve a healthy, happy mum even if it means we have to make big sacrifices. And my mum knows that. I know that. But it’s still heartbreaking. And it still hurts like hell every now and then.
After ten years it would only be natural to assume goodbyes would get easier. They don’t. If anything they’re harder. And I know they will only keep getting harder and in some years they will reach a peak of almost unbearable as my mother at some point will become an old lady unable to travel across the world as much as she does now. (It’s still a long time away, mamma!) Our distance means there are many realities I just can’t think about. The what if’s and the when’s have to be kept far away. It means we have to carry a lot of hurt and longing in our hearts but the distance also shows how strong our love is.
Today was a little harder than it has been. Partly because it’s the first time she’s left me as a new mother of two, partly because this time there was no time for just us and because I’ve been ignoring the fact that the past two years have been an uphill battle and I’m completely depleted. I failed to really acknowledge the ledge I am hanging on to until my safest haven left. Because that’s what most mums are, the safest place there is, a haven between two arms to seek shelter from raging storms. So today the sound of every airplane above has left me in tears. Today has been a battle of its own. Today was full of regrets. Things I wish I’d said, things I wish I’d done (more of).
I love you until eternity, mamma. And I miss you every day.
I’m sorry it has to be this way.
Thank you for coming to see us. Thank you for helping out and for everything you do for us.
Thank you for letting me go, for never holding me back and for always being there when I need you the most.
(Sorry for posting your photo without permission. You’re beautiful.)
All my love, always. xx
Mama, forgive yourself
I think some part of me thought number two would be easier. I’d done it all before, right?
She was born into expectations of how certain things would be. Her birth would be calm and serene. She would sleep better and longer, she would be easier to settle, she would like to be worn, she would… But she is her own person. She’s not a shadow of who came before.
He would go through the motions for a few weeks and then settle and we would all be one big, happy family. His anger and his hurt would vanish and he would always know that my love for him remained the same.
I would manage to keep the house tidier and cleaner and tend to every need for both of my children. I would make sure I had plenty of time for my son, I would play with him every day. I would always keep my daughter close and we would remain as one. I would excel at juggling, I would let go and ask for help when I needed it. I would stay level and take care of myself. I would bounce back to my pre-pregancy shape (despite never doing so the first time), my stomach would be flat within a week like I’d seen other people’s do and I would feel magnificent about my post-baby body right away. Breastfeeding would be a breeze, after all I’d spent 2,5 years doing it already. I wouldn’t stress about anything, I would go with the flow at all times and I would get work done. I would always keep my cool and I would be even more patient than before. I would understand and empathise at all times.
But I am constantly failing to meet the ridiculous standards I’ve set myself.
It’s not the same, it’s not easier.
And some days I am not the mama I want to be for my children.
But what I am slowly learning this time around is;
Mama, forgive yourself.
Forgive yourself for expecting too much, forgive yourself for putting too much pressure on your body. Your body is beautiful because it is uniquely yours. It was their first home. It grew, carried and birthed two of the most beautiful little people. It is softer, rounder and fuller. Forgive yourself for sometimes forgetting the look they both get when they see you naked, their eyes lighting up at the sight of you because to them you are perfection.
Forgive yourself for momentarily buying into ridiculous nonsense about baby sleep. Your children are healthy and need nothing but your love. You are following your instincts and you are doing everything right. Forgive yourself for not always having as much time as you want for both of them. One is still so little and her needs so big. You will get better at dividing your time. Forgive yourself for not being an expert, a mothering perfectionist. No one expects or wants you to be perfect. Forgive yourself for still struggling with breastfeeding your little one. It takes time and she is not her older brother, you both need to find your own way. Commend yourself for not giving up despite your raw nipples and your aching back.
Forgive yourself for the times you raise your voice, for the wrong battles you pick and the tears that follow. You are tired and it’s ok to make mistakes as long as you apologise and keep trying. Forgive yourself for your doubts and your darkness. For neglecting the needs of your husband, for feeling ‘touched out’ at the end of the day and needing to keep your body to yourself. Forgive your mood swings and your occasional sadness. You give your children everything, it’s ok to feel empty as the day nears its end. You have yet to find your village and sometimes you will feel lost in the dark. But you are exactly where you need to be.
Mama, just remember to forgive yourself a little every day. It takes practise. What you’re doing is nothing short of amazing.
An extreme wedding
It’s taken ages to write the story of our wedding, but here it is. Better late than never.
Saturday December 13th, 2014, I married the love of my life. The story of the wedding however begins the Wednesday before. (Ok, sort of on Tuesday when i got my wedding dress and it wasn’t exactly the dress I had custom ordered, but that’s a minor detail in the whole matter.)
As some of you know 2014 wasn’t exactly the year for us. It was the year the kept kicking. But we kept getting back up. I tend to joke that we do things to the extreme, I guess the wedding was yet another example of that. Sort of. It’s a long story.
Wednesday before the wedding our son spent the day with two of his grandparents at the aquarium celebrating his birthday as they wouldn’t be here by the time his birthday rolled around. I can’t remember exactly what the rest of us were doing, but it probably had something to do with wedding preparations. We had takeaway Thai food for dinner. That evening I remember commenting on how I thought Anakin seemed a bit hot. Not feverish hot, just a tad off. The evening rolled on, Anakin was asleep and I went to bed. I must have had about half an hour to an hour sleep before waking back up. My mummy radar sensed something was off. Anakin was restless and kept swallowing. He felt a bit hot still, but it was the constant swallowing that worried me. Unable to go back to sleep I stayed awake to monitor him. Then at 12.30 am all gastro hell broke loose. (We had no idea that was what we were dealing with at the time.)
Anakin woke up with a scream and started vomiting all over the bed. I woke my partner (yes, partner, not husband yet) up and told him to go get a towel. He jumped up still half asleep and ran out of the room. We keep the towels in a closet in the hallway right outside our bedroom but for some reason it was taking him a while to come back with anything. In the meantime I was trying to calm Anakin down and keep the vomit from going absolutely everywhere. Poor Anakin was frantic and panicking. My partner finally came back wearing plastic gloves and handed me two wet wipes. Yep, two wet wipes. He scampered back out of the room and finally got a towel. Sleepy brains don’t make sense. 🙂
We changed the sheets, changed Anakin and reassured him that everything was ok and went back to bed. I still couldn’t go back to sleep so I kept monitoring Anakin. About half an hour must have passed before he woke with another scream and started vomiting again. We changed the sheets, changed Anakin and went back to bed again. Another half hour or hour passed before the same thing happened again. Anakin freaked out and I held him while my partner ran around frantically trying to find more towels and sheets. When he came back to the room both Anakin and I were covered in vomit as I had Anakin on my lap and he has just vomited in my hair and down my back as well as pretty much everywhere else. I had vomit in places I have never had vomit before. The same thing happened two more times and by that stage we had run out of sheets and our bed was covered in towels. Around 4.30 in the morning everyone fell back asleep.
Thursday Anakin was still sick and upon having an icy pole, which was the only thing we could get him to eat, vomited on me again. By this stage it had started coming out his other end as well.
Friday was the day we were supposed to get the venue ready. I was directing everything from home. Being 8 months pregnant and having a bad case of pubic symphysis dysfunction and pelvic girdle pain, I decided it was better for me to organise things from there. I got up, had breakfast and a shower and as soon as I got out I vomited. Uh-oh. I thought it was probably just pregnancy and stress related and got ready. The house was buzzing with people coming and going. Our friend and wedding cake maker was putting the final touches on the cake. I was drawing out a floor plan showing where the various decorations would go and feeling increasingly crap. I tried to eat some dry crackers and found it hard to focus on everything going on. Anakin was at home with me, he’d stopped vomiting but still had it coming out the other end and the day was getting closer to nap time. While going through what was going to happen the next day with our toastmaster I started getting worse. It was becoming clear that whatever Anakin had I had too. At this stage I was feeling fairly horrid. Everyone eventually left and I got ready to put Anakin to bed with me. I could no longer drink or eat anything without vomiting. For every sip I had three times that would come back up. Anakin fell asleep and I laid in bed trying to have small sips of water only to have to run to the bathroom a few minutes later. I messaged my partner and told him what was up. Around 3pm I was feeling so bad I decided it might be a good idea to call my midwife. She told me that it was important that I kept fluids down as dehydration could be dangerous to both me and the baby and could induce labour. Unless I could hold fluids down by 5pm I would need to go to hospital. My partner came home with hydralyte for me to drink which made me vomit even more. I could barely stand up. Our cake baker came down with gastro too as soon as he delivered the cake to the venue and was flat out in bed between trips to the bathroom. 5pm rolled around and it was clear that I needed to go to the hospital.
At the hospital they checked my blood pressure and pulse. My pulse was racing, I was dizzy and I felt like drinking the entire content of a pool. I was quickly put in isolation and given fluids through an IV. I was also hooked up to monitors and told to keep trying to drink and to buzz every time I had to go to the bathroom. (Let me just say it’s not ideal to have to wait for someone to unhook you when you’ve got gastro and time is of the essence, but I somehow managed.) One bag of fluids later and I thought I was getting better. I was thirsty as hell and couldn’t have enough to drink. “You’ll be home in no time after these fluids.” Everyone knew we were getting married in the morning and that getting well was of utmost importance. Then I started vomiting again. A lot. Two more bags of fluids later and I was still there. We got a message that my father in law had also fallen to gastro. Then my mother in law.
I was then told I couldn’t leave until I could hold my fluids and that baby had tachycardia and they needed her heart rate to stabilise. My partner and I were both thinking the same thing, but none of us said anything. We both knew that unless I got better and unless baby settled we wouldnt’ just have to get married in the hospital but we’d most likely have a premature baby by the morning. Somehow through all this we managed to keep our cool. We talked about what to do if I wasn’t released and made back up plans. I was still vomiting and things were still coming out the other end.
Later I was transferred to the birth ward. You can’t stay more than 4 hours in emergency apparently. I was put in isolation in a room that was rarely used and that had the most uncomfortable bed you can imagine. I decided to send my partner home so that he could get some sleep and so that our son would wake up with him there. We had to leave abruptly and I didn’t tell him what was going on. This way at least one of us would have a semi clear head the next day. Our plan at this stage was for me to be released at 7am, go home to sleep, get ready and get married. (We somehow thought a 7am release was possible. Of course it’s not because you have to see a doctor first.) But I was still sick and baby was still not doing well. I was no longer allowed to drink anything but could have ice cubes and I kept having crazy, intense Braxton hicks contractions at regular intervals.
Some time after my partner left I was taken off the IV. I was given a brief of what needed to happen before they would release me. I realised that it wasn’t looking very good. Around 1.30am I managed to stop vomiting. The rest of the night was a battle between mind and body, and I was swallowing like you’ve never seen anyone swallow before. Baby’s heart rate started to settle and I somehow managed to get an hour sleep in the worst bed of all time.
Morning rolled around and I was waiting to see a doctor. When you don’t eat or drink your body starts eating your reserves and the doctor explained that this needed to stop before I could go and I also needed to be able to keep food and drink down. I was more nauseous than you can imagine butI tried to eat something. I was also dead tired from not having slept and looked like hell on wobbly legs. After that it was a waiting game. My partner and son came to see me. They told me my mom had started vomiting too.
And so we waited. I called on the midwives explaining that I needed to leave, I was getting married in 4 hours… then 3 hours… Stress was adding to it all. I needed to shower and get ready! Eventually we were seen by the same midwife who received us and who then arranged for my release after more medication to help with the nausea.
The only reason they were letting me go was because I was about the get married. It was 11.30 and the ceremony started at 2pm. I left with an army of prescriptions to stop anything from coming out either end and with promises that if I got worse I would have to come back. We got home, I showered and got ready. I felt like death. Our friend, and baker, was still in bed. We couldn’t serve the cake, but had thankfully ordered cupcakes to supplement the cake anyway. My in-laws were still battling gastro on their end, but my mom was somehow holding it together.
We somehow managed to get to the venue by 2pm and by 3 we were husband and wife.
We got married under a big tree showered in spots of sunshine surrounded by people we love from near and far. The ceremony was everything we wanted it to be, light-hearted, full of laughter and most of all, a reflection of our love. It was important for us to include Anakin in it all so Anakin got his own ring and got “married” too.
Besides the fact that we had the worst lead up we had an amazing day. How I managed to stay on my feet is beyond me. We sectioned off bathrooms for those of us who were sick and tried not to shake too many hands and in the end had a magnificent day. Looking at the photos there is no way you can tell the mayhem that went on before, the lack of sleep or the hospital stay. My husband gave the most romantic speech which culminated in him telling me how beautiful I am even when I am naked and covered vomit. You can’t beat love like that. I never got to give a speech because I was too busy trying not to vomit (which would have sent me back to hospital), but I will one day. One day I will give him the speech he deserves.
By 8.30pm I was dead on my feet and went home.
In the end I got to marry my best friend and the love of my life. I wish I wasn’t so tired or so sick, but none of that mattered. The smiles you see say it all.
And I somehow managed to still get up with Anakin the next day after yet another night of broken sleep. (This time due to kicking baby and a celebratory husband and houseguest, but in the scheme of things, I’d rather be woken up by baby kicks and song than by vomit any day.)
I’ll leave you with the gallery 🙂 (click on an image to enter the gallery.)
Thursday January 22, 38 weeks +6 days. She was still swimming on the inside.
Sunday January 25, 39 weeks+2 days. She came rushing out at 00.45 am and we fell head over heels in love again.
Meet our baby girl, Isis Indigo.
1 day old, having her first sleep in the hammock.
4 days old. She’s a peach. She’s absolutely perfect in every way.
We’re still finding our feet as a foursome and I’ve still got some healing to do, but life is good. I’m still processing the events that brought our baby girl into the world but once I do I will write her birth story and share some photos. In the mean time we’ll be busy enjoying our new family and easing our way into this new life. Posting will still be erratic for a little while as we’re still navigating our way through the early days. My heart is still expanding, my head is still trying to catch up. All I know is that right now I couldn’t possibly be happier. Unless I had a really long sleep.
It’s been a bit quiet around here hasn’t it? With the exception of the 52 project there hasn’t been much going on here of late. Believe me, there’s been plenty going on, just not here.
At first it was a matter of just not having time to write and process images as I was getting down to crunch time for my Masters degree. (Now how that all wrapped up is another story.) As you can imagine juggling being a stay at home mum with writing a thesis and creating a large body of work is a huge workload. On top of that I was slowly trying to get a micro business going of handmade kids clothes. (Still working on that one.) What little time there was left I needed to just catch my breath and to spend with my family.
But as the year went on and winter hit my silence was also grounded in other reasons. Every year, around the same time, I seem to retreat and have a bit of a stock take of my life and the people in it. And this year I finally decided it was time to let go, of old hurt and the people who had caused it for so long. I started a process of pulling some people closer while letting others go. I was growing tired of feeding certain relationships that only went one way.
And the blog became part of that process. Through sharing intimate looks into our lives I was enabling some people to feel connected and informed without having to give anything back. For the most part I’m ok with that, but for a time I needed it to stop. I needed to just let some bridges burn and stop fighting an uphill battle. So I started to hold back. A lot. Some weeks it was easy, others were hard.
But recently I’ve come to realise that I am losing more than I am winning. This blog isn’t mainly about sharing thoughts and images with you or with everybody else, it’s about us. Its main function has always been to document our journey as a family, for better and for worse. It’s to make sure there is a story for Anakin to discover and hopefully cherish as he grows older, it’s for me to remember the little things, the big things and to reflect and look back on. This is our story. This is our document.
Everything else, everyone else who reads it, enjoys it or cares about it is just a bonus. A good bonus, but not why it exists in the first place. And so as major events were unfolding I was losing by not documenting it. As was Anakin and my partner.
So I guess you could say this is me telling myself to get on with it, to get back to winning and not sit by watching burnt bridges turn to ash. There are many chapters I need to get to, things I need to process, things I feel a need to share and have wanted to share for a while, but I guess one thing stands out as needing to be said first. Of all the secrets we’ve kept, and we’ve kept it from most people, this is by far the biggest one.
Our little (or not so little) baby bump is 20 weeks and kicking up a storm. We are over the moon about this little person joining our family, due late January.
We weren’t planning a big announcement of any sort and it’s been nice to have such a gem of a secret, only shared with a few close friends and loved ones. And I’ve really enjoyed sharing the news with people as we see them or talk to them as opposed to shouting it from a rooftop for all the world to hear. We kept it close and personal.
But as this most likely is my last pregnancy and this blog also is this little persons’ document there are too many things to say and to photograph to keep quiet. Neither could I hide from the camera forever.
So here it is. Our little big secret, not so secret anymore. And we’re loving it!!
The Cat Inside
“The cat does not offer services. The cat offers itself. Of course he wants care and shelter. You don’t buy love for nothing.”
― William S. Burroughs, The Cat Inside
Poor, old Quincey, if only you knew how much he adores you. To him every small affection you share brightens his day in ways you and I can only imagine. He’ll grow older and his touch will grow gentler, but his love for you will still be all-encompassing. Sometimes love is tough… if you’re an old cat.
___ ___ ___
If you’re a cat person, I highly recommend reading The Cat Inside by William S. Burroughs. It’s a treat.
Sometimes all you need is a bit of TLC
Sometimes all you need is a bit of tender love and care. A good friend, a hug or a baby goat.
Something or someone to love, to remind you that the world is so much bigger than you and the rumbling inside your brain.
Today is a bit like that.
(I used to think TLC just referred to the girl band. You know the ones that kept singing about not chasing waterfalls? I was never a huge fan of theirs, and I really like waterfalls. Anyways.)
Captain Happy Pants
Little Captain Happy Pants,
my little joker,
I can hardly believe we are two days away from your second birthday.
The king of our castle
You are a true beauty, my love.
The most amazing person I know.
Let me pretend you’re my baby for a little while longer.
Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows
This past week we really said Hello to summer. Warm, sunny days, and the first of many too-hot-for-comfort nights.
It’s definitely a sign that we bought our new baby monitor in Norway when it’s equipped with an alarm that goes off when the room is about to hit 27 degrees. And it doesn’t stop until it drops to at least 26. That’s gonna be a lot of fun come mid-summer. This week it was enough to open a window and it eventually got down to 24 degrees in there, but it was still too hot under the winter quilt and none of us really got any sleep. That’s one downside to the new (old) house, no air con in the bedroom.
There’s heaps of life buzzing around now that we actually live where there is trees and grass. That keeps the small and smaller happy and busy, and makes mamma easy mossie prey. I can’t help it, they think I’m delicious.
It makes a world of difference to stress levels that we can just step outside our door and feel grass under our feet. Despite feeling more tired than usual lately I’m better equipped for it when I have nature close by. Life doesn’t seem to get less busy or stressful, we just get better at dealing with it. And we’ve all been so much happier since we moved. I never thought it would make this much of a difference.
And there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not fully aware of how incredibly lucky I am to get to spend my days with my son. It means more intense, short work spells, but I wouldn’t want it any other way, not now. When he is little I want to be there as much as I can. I don’t mind childcare, at least not all of them, but as long as we can manage it I want to keep him with me for most of the time until he is three when he is more able to communicate and express his needs, and able to wait to have them met by others. I will have to find work once I finish my degree, but I hope to be able to work part-time or at least be able to work from home for some of the time so that I can be with Anakin the days he is not in childcare. (So if you need any freelance photography, I’m your lady.) I must admit to being a bit weary. I haven’t been blown away by the reviews from a lot of childcare centres around. But for now, he stays with me.
In the Sunday heat we played in the water (we’re still awaiting potential access to the pool), made kiwi strawberry icy poles (puree fruit, freeze, eat, yum) and said happy birthday to grandma M. She’ll be visiting us in April and we’re very excited!
But first we get to go on a family holiday soon just before a special someone has a birthday.
Good times ahead! Makes me want to sing a bit of Lesley Gore (and ignore the fact that the heater is on and it is pouring rain outside)!
Unbroken – How motherhood is keeping me centred
(An over-emotional open letter to my son from the other side of darkness)
My dearest Anakin,
You thankfully have no idea of the stress and inner turmoil that has raged through me during dark times in the past. Before you entered my life I would sink to the bottom of a deep, dark ocean when life pushed me too far or I worked myself too hard. I would lie there for days, sometimes for weeks, struggling to breathe, unable and perhaps sometimes unwilling to move, chained by my own depression.
And then there was you.
Ever since you were a tiny seed in my belly things have changed. Ever since I could feel your flutters, your kicks and your little hiccups I stopped feeling so alone when things became too much. Occasionally lonely, yes, but never alone. And I stopped falling, stopped sinking to the bottom. You managed to do something nothing has ever done before, you broke my chains. You’re bigger than everything that threatens to pull me down, and you make me stronger than I ever thought possible. Being your mamma keeps me centred.
It isn’t always easy trying to give my work all I’ve got as well as give you my everything. Sometimes I fail, I fall behind, lose focus, and grow frantic trying to catch up. And that darkness comes creeping in from the corners again.
But it doesn’t take hold.
How can it stay dark when you shine so bright?
Despite all the stress and frustration I’ve had lately I would change nothing if more time for work means less time for you. Every day with you is a reminder of the things that matter the most. You make me want to be a better person, you make me strive to learn new things, to break old habits and to always, always let love in. You’ve made it simply impossible not to.
I know I’m not perfect, but you’ve taught me that I’m damn good, and that to you I am the very best. So thank you, my love, for reminding me that I am bigger than my darkness, that I am able to bridge any ocean as long as I have you, and that at the end of the day all that matters is the love we share.
Yours, unconditionally and forever,
Remember these things
There are a few things I need to write down before I forget them. It’s too easy to forget the little things in the whirlwind of days, the ones that are so small, yet so magical.
Like how you went into the garden today to pick me a flower and came running back with the biggest smile on your face to give it to me. “Flower, mamma! Smell flower!” You held it up to my nose and let me smell it before you gently put it in my hand and ran back out on the grass.
How during dinner you picked up the broccoli, one of your favourite vegetables, and exclaimed “Flower!” and put your nose in it to smell it. I said “It’s broccoli, honey.” You looked at me with a cheeky smile and insisted it was a flower and smelt it some more before putting the whole thing in your mouth.
How you always pick a flower from the same spot when we go for a walk, clasping it in your hand for the entire way, and how you stopped to hug a lamp-post on our way yesterday.
How you try to stroke my hair at bedtime, but end up pulling it and how I lie there for as long as I can before I say ouch because it melts my heart a little bit that you try so hard to be gentle.
How you kiss me after every time I have to raise my voice when you act like a monkey at bedtime to make sure everything is ok.
These things, and more, are things I want to remember.
These are only some of the million things that make me love you so much my heart explodes.
I think I’m falling…
I think I’m falling in love with our new neighbourhood, with our house and with spring.
I love the flowering trees in our yard, the curious little boy who stops to smell all the flowers (and tries to eat them) and the feeling of a fresh start.
I love the warmer days, and the sound of the wind and the birds. I love how everyone we meet says hello and smiles.
I love taking walks with Anakin around our neighbourhood. I love how he picks up small things, acorns and twigs, clasping them in his little hands like small treasures and carries them home.
I’m falling in love all over again. An overwhelming feeling of being in the right place, at the right time, with just the right people.
Tonight this guy decided he needed to give me one hundred kisses before he could sleep. He held my face with both hands and kissed me again and again.
I’m not sure what brought it on or why he needed so many, but every single one of them was full of the affection only he could have for me. If he kissed my nose, he’d kiss me again on the lips. He’d roll over, still holding my hand, and then come back for more.
He finally fell asleep, still holding my hand, with his little head on my pillow.
There have been a lot of kisses lately. I don’t think there’s anything I enjoy more.
Today was a good Monday.
Some days are best spent like this
Rolling on the floor with no particular purpose
Just enjoying the little things
Wrapped in the very big thing called love
We hope you’ve had a great weekend so far!
xx Dida & Anakin
Ode to the last breath of summer
Oh summer, we’d just gotten used to not having you around when you all of a sudden decided to come back for a couple of days.
How wonderful it was to feel your warm rays again. How quickly we forgot about the sunscreen.
Gone were the wool and the beanies, gone were our shoes and our pants, even if it was just for a few brief moments.
Summer, we apologise for every complaint we made about the heat over the past few months.
We already miss jumping in the pool, splashing about embraced by your soft evening breeze.
We miss eating ice creams and rolling in the grass.
We miss skipping around in the park in a warm afternoon daze.
Oh Summer… sweet, sweet summer
Thank you for stopping by to remind us just how wonderful you are and that we are indeed in the right place.
It’s been one of those Mondays. I’ve boycotted pilates, I’m about to break the “no sweets during the week” pledge and possibly also consider if my headache deserves a mix of panadol and red wine. Why not break the no wine during weekdays pledge too.
Despite waking up at the crack of dawn, missing a nap, sprouting two new teeth and waking every hour since he went to bed, this guy makes Mondays better.
An unapologetic open letter
My dearest friends and acquaintances who don’t have any children,
I feel I should write you this letter to explain a few things from my point of view, not because they necessarily need explaining or that I owe you an explanation of any sort, but because I feel like getting it out of my system.
You know how I keep saying “I’m sorry I can’t make it because (insert something related to having a child)? Well, I’m writing you this to tell you I’m not, I’m not sorry at all.
I should just stop saying it.
I’m not sorry my life has changed because I have a son, I’m not sorry I can’t party like I think I’m 25. I’m not sorry I’m busy between 4.30 and 7.30 every single day. I’m not sorry I have to consider nap times or the constant wants and needs of a little one. I’m not sorry I can’t stay out all night. I’m not sorry I can’t do whatever I want when I want. I’m not sorry that my concerns these days revolve around having a stack of teeny tiny clean pyjamas, teaching my son the difference between seeing something and hearing something, or reading books about sheep. I’m not sorry I have to deal with temper tantrums or dirty nappies. I’m not even sorry I haven’t had a full nights sleep in… I don’t know how long.
I’m not sorry.
I’ve never been happier.
While most of you have been wonderful and welcoming of this gorgeous new addition to our family, some of you, although very few, have perhaps had a more difficult time adjusting to the new me. Which is fair enough. I’m not writing this to say you have to love my son because I do or that you should in any way feel guilty. But if you think for a second that I am missing out on anything, or that my life, or that I personally somehow have less to offer now that I am a mother, you are sadly mistaken.
Sure, I don’t watch the news much anymore. I simply don’t have the time or energy for it, so I’ll fall off the wagon in any such conversation. I was never that into news and current affairs anyway, I’m more of the art and culture type. I don’t go out partying on weekends, hell, I don’t even make it down to the pub very often. And yes, I do spend a lot of time talking about my kid, or recent research into children’s sleep patterns or why I don’t let my son watch tv because these things are important to me. I understand that this may not always be of interest to you. And sometimes I complain that I’m tired or that I haven’t had much sleep, or that I haven’t had any “me time” for ages. Saying things like “If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen” really doesn’t help, and tells me not only do you not understand, but you just don’t care. I’d never say that to you when you complain about your life and your job, and let’s be fair, you do complain, we all do. But ask me if I’d change a thing and the answer would be no. Because I’m not sorry.
I know some people thought I was having a walk in the park when I was a full-time student being paid by the university to study, and some even continued to think so when I added full-time mother to that. “So what do you do all day?” Really? You have to ask? To the very few of you this applies I really have nothing but pity because you clearly don’t understand what either of those things entail. I’m always on call, I never clock off. When I’m not with my son I have to work on my degree. There is no such thing as a holiday or proper time off. (Actually, the last time I had a proper holiday was in 2009). But I’m not sorry about any of that either.
To those of you who have taken the time to come visit over the past 16 months despite me rarely if ever returning the favour, or just dropped an email to say hi, or accommodated the time and place of things so that we could come to whatever is happening, I love you even more for it. When you’ve gone with us to the zoo or offered to watch Anakin while I have a shower, when you’ve spent all night here alone on a Friday or Saturday so that we could go out and have dinner, it makes me want to squeeze you so tight and shout how much I love you. Because it’s people like you who are true friends. And let’s not forget when you gave me Dida-day. That still brings a tear to my eye and makes my heart burst in the very best way.
So when you ask me to come to something and I say no because my son still breastfeeds and needs to be put to bed at a certain time, or because I’m simply too tired and life after 9 doesn’t really exist anymore, it’s unfortunate but I don’t feel it needs an apology. I occasionally wish I could accommodate both of you at the same time and in some cases I feel bad that I can’t, but I’m never sorry for what I have to do instead. I am right where I need to be. What I can say I’m sorry about is if I’ve made you feel like you don’t matter as much as you used to, or that I don’t have any time for you. Because you do matter and I do have time, just not when or as much as I used to.
Much love and no apologies, Dida
Portraits of a lover
Far away, yet still close.
I had one of days today, you know, the ones where you wear your insides on your outside and everything is just that much more sensitive.
Just as I thought a gust of wind would surely make me crumble I was once again reminded of how much this little person I made can lift me up by simply being and that it really doesn’t matter whatever else happens as long as he’s with me. It made me think of one of my favourite songs by The Cure, Lovesong.
whenever I’m alone with you you make me feel
like i am home again whenever I’m alone with
you you make me feel like I am whole again
whenever i’m alone with you you make me feel
like I am young again whenever I’m alone with
you you make me feel like I am fun again
however far away I will always love you however
long I stay I will always love you whatever
words I say I will always love you I will always
whenever I’m alone with you you make me feel
like I am free again whenever I’m alone with
you you make me feel like I am clean again
however far away I will always love you however
long I stay I will always love you whatever
words I say I will always love you I will always
Lately we’ve been having days where I often look down and see this. Small hands pulling on my skirt, face buried, a small body asking to be sheltered. The world suddenly seems too big, too frightening away from mamma’s arms. Hold me tight, hold me close, mamma.
I still have days where the only thing I really want is a hug from my mamma and the distance from Melbourne to Norway seems stark and endless. Some things only a mamma can make better, and I doubt that will ever change. On such days I seek just as much shelter in my son as he seeks in me. We’ve had a few of those lately too.
I’ll be your shelter, always, my love. I’ll be right here, arms open and ready.
We had one of those days yesterday. You know the kind where you just need to stop, take a breath, and appreciate what you have just that little bit more. It was a day of close calls.
We started some long awaited home improvements on Sunday. Things got moved around and some things that had previously been hidden out of reach of small hands suddenly became accessible. In the chaos to get things back to a liveable state we failed to foresee certain new dangers.
Anakin will use anything to walk these days. If it can be pushed he will get behind it and walk around with it. We had a glass vase almost the size of him in a corner in the dining area full of shopping bags. I woke up to a smash followed by Anakin crying. Loud and desperate. I rushed downstairs to find Steinar standing in a sea of glass trying to check Anakin’s hands. Anakin had found the vase, used it to walk, it tipped, smashed and he fell on top of it. Thankfully he escaped with only a couple of small cuts to one of his hands and wrist, but given the size of the vase and falling on top of it, it could have easily been a disaster with an unmentionable outcome.
Later, I was on my way home from some errands on the tram with Anakin strapped to my chest. The tram stops and we make our way outside. I take one step out of the tram and a ute swooshes past just barely missing us both. The driver, a young man, doesn’t even slow down, but waves his hand out the window as he drives off. Heart racing and legs shaking we stumble home.
On top of some other bad news, it was a Monday from which the week can only go upwards. I ended the day by going to my first power Pilates class (which was excellent) and drinking
a bit too much wine.
We all needed some extra tender, love and care yesterday, and to be held just that little bit closer and that little bit tighter. On days like that life feels too frail.
Free to be…
My dearest Anakin,
Someone asked me the other day what I would do if you wanted to dress up as a princess when your pappa and I get married in two years. (It will be a theme wedding.) The question stumped me, not because it was meant in any malicious way, but because I thought the answer would be obvious.
You’re thankfully far too young to realise this, but the world is sadly as full of bigots and people hateful to others who may differ from themselves as it is those who are tolerant and respectful. There are public figures who state that they won’t let homosexuals teach their children because they think that their values are somehow less, and that their personal lives will somehow effect their teaching abilities. There are master bakers who refused to bake a wedding cake because the couple were lesbian. There are people who would kill because someone does not believe in the same God as they do, there are places where a 13-year-old girl can be raped and then stoned to death for it, all in the name of religion. I could go on, but you get the picture.
My mother raised me to think for myself, to be respectful, loving and tolerant. She told me to be what I wanted to be and to stand proud. I dearly hope I pass on the same values to you. You see, the most important thing in life is to be yourself, whoever that may be. To be happy, to be fulfilled and to feel safe to express yourself. And I want you to know that I will love you unconditionally regardless of how you choose to live your life. It won’t matter to me if you’re gay, straight or partly bent to any side. You can feel free to be a carpenter, a drag queen, an astronaut, a politician or whatever else as long as you do what makes you happy. I only ask that you never mistreat or discriminate against anyone for who they are, whatever colour, gender, sexuality or religious beliefs they may have.
I am lucky to have friends who are gay, straight, drag queens, muslim, christian, astro physicists, artists, teachers, hairdressers, stay at home mums and so many other things. Although I may not agree with their religious beliefs or all their point of views, they are still my friends and I love them all dearly. The world would be a terribly boring place were we all to think and feel the same. Diversity should be celebrated! I love that we are all unique, there is only one of me, one of you and one of your pappa. It makes each and every one of us special. We all have a responsibility to do our bit to make the world a more tolerant place.
So to answer my friend’s question, what I will do if you want to be a princess at our wedding; I will buy you the prettiest dress, a tiara and whatever your heart desires and proudly have you by my side. As long as I can help it you will never be made to feel shame for whatever you may want to be or for whoever you may discover that you are.
This I promise you.
Yours, unconditionally and forever,
Before I had you
(An amazing poem written by Alberto Caeiro, one of Fernando Pessoa’s heteronyms.)
Before I had you
I loved Nature as a calm monk loves Christ.
Now I love Nature
As a calm monk loves the Virgin Mary,
Religiously (in my manner), like before,
But in a more heartfelt and intimate way.
I see the rivers better when I walk with you
Through the fields to the rivers’ banks.
When I sit next to you and watch the clouds
I see them much more clearly.
You haven’t taken Nature from me,
You haven’t changed Nature.
You’ve brought Nature closer.
Because you exist I see it better, though the same as before.
Because you love me I love it in the same way, but more.
Because you chose me to have you and love you
My eyes gaze at it
More than at anything.
I don’t regret what I was before,
For I am still what I was.
I only regret not having loved you before.