Posts tagged “Parenting

47/52- Five weeks shy

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: Five weeks shy of turning three, which means five more weeks (technically four since I post these the week after) until we wrap of the 52 project for this year. Three. I’m not sure years have ever passed so quickly before, nor have they ever been so rich and meaningful. We’ve started talking about your birthday. You want a T-rex cake, a new crown and have a clear list of things you’d like.

Tomorrow marks the start of a hectic time for us all. I wonder if  you know how much laying down next to you each night and waking up to your warm hands on my back every morning is as important to me as it is to you. As much as I am your shelter and even more so these days, you too are my shelter from the storm. 


46/52 – Here comes the sun (and the heat)

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: at your happiest running around outside in the buff watering the garden without a care in the world. This is the beauty of childhood. The freedom to explore and to be just who you are, safe within reach of those who love you. 

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***

I cherish every moment these days while we are still just three. Before the wave of events, visitors and baby, just us three. Things are changing fast. I often find myself navigating unfamiliar territory parenting an emotional toddler. I’m not a big stickler for rules, but rather for framework and for safe and loving boundaries. And of late this process has involved some unlearning of things that have come before (personal past experiences or observed “old school” ways)  or un-hearing of advice and opinions that don’t mix with my chosen way of parenting. My best advice to myself these days, and what I live by, is always follow your heart and act with love. More on that soon.


45/52 – Big brother

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: In a few short months you’ll no longer be the baby, but a big brother. A big boy, about to turn three and about to have your life turned upside down by the arrival of your little sister. I don’t think you quite get what it involves, but your affection for the baby bump makes my heart explode. I get your apprehension, I’m a bit apprehensive too, but we’ll do fine. We’ll do better than fine. I have no doubt you’ll make the very best big brother. 

***

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It’s been a turbulent time with big emotions for a little person. For us all really. So many things happening at once; my partner finally returning, wedding preparations, baby preparations, birthday talk and getting ready for two months of overseas visitors. It’s a lot to take on for someone not quite three, it’s a lot to take on for me too. I’m finding myself pulled closer as Anakin has become terrified that I will leave him, even for an hour or two. I’m also receiving a lot of anger and confusion in response to everything going on. It’s becoming clearer to me how carefully we need to navigate the next few months ahead, always making sure that number one stays, and feels like, number one. Keeping routines, slowing down, not taking on too much. And most importantly, never, not even for a second, let Anakin feel as if he is being set aside from us, from me in particular. He is so protective of me these days, perhaps aware in some sense that soon he’ll have to share. After my partner was away it has become even more important for him to know that we are here, that I am here, to take care of him. So whatever is going to happen over the next few months, this is my main focus.

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At 28 weeks I get easily tired. Without a rest when Anakin naps I’m not worth a dime come three o’clock. Sleep is broken and allusive, but despite the general forgetfulness and pregnancy brain, I am feeling great and still thankful for the time we have left as just three. I too am finding myself overwhelmed by everything about to happen, perhaps even a bit scared. Scared that I won’t be prepared to be the mother of two, that I’ll be too tired from everything happening before the birth, that there will be no break between visits and birth, that she’ll come early, that she’ll come while we’re away and so on. These kinds of thoughts race through my mind more often these days and I occasionally struggle to keep them in line. I just have to remind myself to keep breathing and that whatever happens I’ll be able to manage. Learning hypnobirthing is really helping as I find I can calm myself quickly if I remind myself just to breathe slow and breathe deep.

As chaotic as our lives will be it will also be a wonderful time shared with family and friends. It may all happen at once, but they’re all good things, the best things. Wedding, birthday, baby… bring it.


44/52- Puppy

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: I barely took any photos last week of you, of anything really. This was from the only photos I took that week after we came home from open day at the gym. Your first ever face paint, and oh how you loved it. It was a perfect day of laughter, sunshine, ice cream and games. 

***

We never made it to the airport last Saturday. There was no pappa to pick up. I woke up to the news of him not being able to fly with his passport due to a rip in the ID page on Friday. It was the start of a few very bumpy days. Anakin had been crossing off days on a calendar and we had talked about the airport all week. He woke up to chaos and a very sad and very tired mamma. I’ve never seem him quite like he was that day. He was unsettled and afraid of me leaving him behind at childcare. It took a lot of reassurance, some time, a few books read on the sofa and a special trip to the toy library to be able to leave him there. His disappointment and hurt was written all over his face as he clung to me. Unable to articulate how he felt he was left with acting out. But we made it through. My partner ended up having to go to Norway to get a new passport and we ended up with another week on our own.

We’ve both had colds and I’ve been incredibly tired, but as much as it’s been hard it’s also been a very special time. We have a special groove, Anakin and I. And he really is the sweetest boy. I wake up to him snuggling in next to me at night, pressing his face against my back and hear him whisper “I’ll take care of you, mamma”. He tells me he loves me several times a day. When he calms down after he’s been upset he holds me and says “I’m not mad at you, mamma.” I’ve put in a lot of work towards how we deal with our feelings the past couple of weeks, particularly the not so great ones, and it’s paying off. For us both.

I tear up every time he holds me and says ” I will always love you, mamma”. Or when I say goodnight at bedtime and tell him I love him and he replies that he loves me too before he adds “And I love you (baby’s name).” After we told him her name he has bonded with her quite a bit. (We want to keep the name a secret, but it will be near impossible once family arrive for the wedding as Anakin refuses to call her by anything other than her name. Oh well.)

Often over the past couple of weeks I have been overwhelmed by this feeling of being eternally grateful and incredibly lucky to be Anakin’s mamma. And this time alone has also shown me that out of the few things I may occasionally do wrong (and I do fail sometimes), I have done, and am still doing, so many things right in my journey through motherhood so far. I only have to look at Anakin to know this. I hope some of it stems from the incredible respect I have for my son as a person. I hope it stems for my unconditional love, my patience and continuous efforts to let him be as close as he wants and needs. I hope I never forget the look in his eyes when he sees me naked after a shower and how he comes running to be held close and to feel my skin next to his. When my son looks at me in awe and tells me how beautiful I am I can not help but feel just that. And when I look at him I don’t just see a child I see a person with every right to be heard as I have so I do my best to listen.

Tonight our big wait ends. My partner will be back. Although I’ve been careful to not say much in case something else should happen I sense Anakin knows as he is still not asleep and it is way past the time he usually goes down. I suspect we’re in for a few days of incredible joy, but also a bit of punishment from a little one who does not like to be left. If he does fall asleep I can’t wait to see his face in the morning when he wakes up to find his pappa next to him. I can tell you right now it’ll make me cry. I for one am insanely excited to hear that door open in a bit. I  do fine on my own, but there will always be something special about the love of your life and father of your children returning home after being away. As it should. So as tired as I am and as much of an emotional roller coaster as this has been, tonight I just feel lucky. And excited.


43/52 – Whispers

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: Sharing secrets with pappa and Elias, the boat, in the bath before the big (temporary) goodbye. 

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Just a couple more days now until we get him back. Saturday we’re getting up at the crack of dawn (like we always do) and heading to the airport to pick him up. It’s hard to tell who’s more excited. 10 days isn’t a long time, but for a couple of days it has felt like forever. It almost went too well for the first half. Then exhaustion, colds, heat, little sleep, a busy schedule and no break didn’t play nice with us for a while. Add pregnancy hormones and the general bodily havoc to that and you’ve got yourself a bit of a land mine. But we bounce back, like we always do. I’ve sure longed for a big glass of wine more than once though. At least there are cookies, strawberries and ice cream. And a break within reach. Just a few more sleeps.


42/52 – Grateful

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: Sitting on a ball watching pappa fire up the first BBQ of the season on a sunny afternoon. 

***

I’m filled with gratitude these days, wishing I could hold on to every little moment. It’s been a turbulent week. My partner flew out to France for ten days and it’s been tough for our little man to cope with it all, before and after. But in all the chaos, the tears and the hurt, there has been so many moments of honest beauty, of true connection and of growth for us both. I’ve readjusted our days to make sure my focus is where it needs to be at all times. I make sure I rest when Anakin naps, that we spend lots of time outdoors, that dinners are quick and easy and that I take the time to explain what’s going on. It’s not much different from how our days usually are, but as Anakin is feeling fragile and sad his anger becomes explosive and every little thing takes more care and consideration. And a thousand kisses. And as I get easily tired from it all I need to make sure I navigate our days with more care. And so far we’re cruising. The other night he laid down in my lap and just cried after a minor meltdown, his little body shaking with every gulp of air. He was so heartbroken because he could not understand that pappa wasn’t coming home for a few days. After he calmed down a bit he looked at me and said: “I love you even though I’m sad, mamma.”  My heart broke and burst at the same time. Earlier that day I’d said what I try to say every time he loses himself in anger, “I love you even though you’re angry.” As much as he’s been full of hurt, he’s also been so full of love. And we’ve strengthened our connection in a big way. I’ve noticed that my head has been a bit off and on of late, hormones and all things wedding and baby has taken my focus away at times, but these past few days has re-grounded me and I’m so grateful.

I watched Anakin run down the street this morning on our way to the shop in the sunshine. He had dressed himself in his winter hat, his winter shoes and his mittens. It was far too warm for it, but he was laughing and absolutely carefree. His well-worn tights slightly sagging and his nappy bum wiggling. I couldn’t help but smile and laugh with him as I thought to myself “this is it. This is what I live for.” And I desperately wanted to capture the moment, but chose to stay in it instead of taking photos or filming. And I’m glad I did. I wanted him to see me and to remember me walking with him, smiling and laughing, carrying the sticks and leaves he gave me, just being there with him. That moment was pure happiness. That moment was perfect.

So as I sit here pretty tired from the day I feel so grateful. For our beautiful son, the absolute light of my life, for my best friend who I get to marry soon, for our unborn daughter and for the life we are building together.


41/52 – Connect

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: The days are getting warmer and we’re enjoying more time outside. Our days are still planned around that vital afternoon sleep which I am even more thankful for these days. You’ve been having long sleeps too, without them a massive nighttime meltdown isn’t a maybe, it’s a certain. As you’re getting closer to 3 it’s easy to get tricked into thinking you can handle more than you can. We’re learning fast that we need to hold back. You’ve been going to childcare on Fridays for about a month now and we’ve figured out that the day has just been too long for you. You’re usually quiet, but content when we pick you up and you love it there, but lately I’ve noticed you’re also dead tired and feeling disconnected. By dinner and bath time all hell breaks loose. The meltdowns are long, hard and painful, most of all for you. This Friday night was no different. But this one was particularly bad after a couple of days where we were all a bit off beat and perhaps not all winning. You desperately needed to cry it all out while feeling safe. After a long struggle I finally got you to relax, wrapped up in my arms. And you cried so hard. No anger, just so much hurt. And once it was all out we could reconnect and start over. 

What is this trend of wanting to tip the cradle over so early? Push our children out and away, say “stand on your feet, grow up, be independent” when they are still just children? I hear people say things like “It’s so good for you to be away from your mother” and I wonder how disconnected these people are with reality. Or questioning why our son isn’t in childcare full-time. It’s true, we are looking into getting him in another day or so, but seeing how hard Fridays are, I am filled with doubt. Connection and dependence isn’t a bad thing. Feeling safe and connected is what gives my son the freedom and the confidence to roam. It’s why I can leave him without him feeling abandoned, it’s why he loves people, it’s why he is so free.

Why are some people hellbent on fostering and celebrating disconnection and perhaps more importantly, why do they feel they can comment on such things to our children?


The dark side… a long story.

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. It’s been a tough one to write, but a necessary one. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to share it or if I just needed to write it, but here it is.

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 Days… weeks… months. Pregnancy is all about time passing. How many days, then weeks and months. It follows you throughout the entire process from last menstrual period (LMP) through conception to estimated due date and delivery. Every check up or scan (if not done by the same person) starts with questions concerning time passed and number of pregnancies. At least in the beginning. Then follows the occasional awkward assumptions made by well wishers once you announce, if you announce.

This pregnancy those questions and comments carry a shadow with them. The dark side of pregnancy, the largely unspoken. Miscarriage.

It’s not something we talk about much, is it? I’ve been wondering why. Why is it so common to suffer in silence? At first I thought maybe it was because the people it involved would hurt too much by having it dragged out again and again, but now I’ve come to think it’s more about everyone else. It’s awkward, it’s painful and faced with someone carrying that hurt most people don’t know what to say or do and would rather be spared. But I have no intention of sparing anyone. Why should I? I need to acknowledge our loss because it’s not going to be undone, it happened and it will stay with me. And it happens to so many people that I think it’s important we start talking about it more. It shouldn’t feel as if it’s something you need to hide or keep to yourself. It hurts and keeping it a secret won’t make it hurt any less. I know people who have miscarried and I’m sure out of all the people I know there are many more. But it wasn’t until it happened to me I understood the full impact of it.   _DSC6111_web Every time I’ve found out I was pregnant I’ve been ecstatic. It’s always taken me a few days to start believing it’s true, I’ve always done at least 4 pregnancy tests, but it’s always made me happy. And it’s never been something I’ve felt that I needed to keep between myself and my partner for 12 weeks. It’s funny how it’s almost expected to be kept a secret for the first 3 months. When I told my big brother at 9 weeks this pregnancy he commented on how early it was, as if I wasn’t meant to say anything for another few weeks. But those 3 weeks wouldn’t have made me any less pregnant at the time I told him. And it’s not like whatever happens before 12 weeks doesn’t count. I’m not sure I understand this expected 12 week silence.

Without double checking a billion different stats to compare and contrast (but getting my numbers from here) as many as 70-75%  of conceptions end in miscarriage, about 30% of pregnancies, and 15-20% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage whereof 80% of those occur in the first trimester. (To make sense of these numbers have a look here.) That’s a lot.

I found out I was pregnant when I was one day overdue.  I doubt I’d miss a pregnancy once my period is due because once I’m back in my cycle it’s pretty regular and it’s not like we weren’t hoping for a baby soon anyway. We’d taken some precautions for a while because neither of us wanted to have a newborn when we got married and life would be hectic enough with overseas visitors, but our maths were a bit off when we thought “oh heck, if it happens now it’ll just miss all that.” And Bam! it did right away and Shit! it didn’t miss all that. Perhaps part of me already knew something wasn’t quite right. I remember telling my partner the day before we found out that I was pretty sure it wasn’t happening this time because I was having a lot of cramps. But lo and behold, no period came and the tests started coming back positive over a few days. We were thrilled, but I was also stressed by our horrible timing. The baby’s due date was about 1,5 weeks after the wedding meaning it could come at any time and there would be heaps of people here. I have very strong feelings about not wanting any overseas visitors here at all this time around. I want us to have what we didn’t have the first time and that is time for ourselves to adjust and enjoy the newbie for a few months without pressure and people in our space. But nevertheless, I was happy. We saw a doctor and got the whole pregnancy circus going. You gotta roll with the punches right? Sometimes great things happen that don’t necessarily fit your perfect schedule. And we really wanted this baby. So stress slowly gave way for joy and excitement.

A sunny Friday rolled around. I’d been feeling a bit off and complaining about pains for a while, but the doctor said it was normal and to just take Panadol. I saw some friends and shared the news. To my big surprise they were expecting too  and the afternoon turned into a celebration. I couldn’t have been happier. We’d been talking about how much fun it would be to be pregnant at the same time and now it was happening. The night came and our son had just fallen asleep. I remember standing at the top of the stairs in the living room talking to my partner when I felt a “pop”. And that was the start of the worst weekend I can remember having in a very, very long time.

Part of me knew what it was and I went to the bathroom immediately to discover that I was bleeding. My heart sank. I told my partner who tried to work out what to do. Knowing that nothing could be done if it was a miscarriage and that it very well could just be a small bleeding that would stop, we nervously decided to wait to the next day before doing anything. Dragging Anakin out of bed to go to the hospital wasn’t something I wanted to do unless I had to. And part of me was in denial. I can’t remember much of the evening. I kept going to the bathroom and I didn’t sleep much that night.

When I got up early next morning there was enough blood to warrant a trip to the hospital. Sitting in the emergency ward I felt like a zombie. We were called in for a blood test and an examination. As I laid there after what was a rather long and invasive examination looking at my bloodstained knees while a midwife and a doctor stood over me talking I just felt cold. I kept a straight face, a very matter of factly tone and desperately wanted them to let me get dressed and go. I do that, I put on a seemingly cool facade, I somehow manage to temporarily hide that I am about to fall to pieces. I can fool the best of them if I want to. Comes from years of practice, I guess. We were due another blood test in 48 hours to check hormone levels. The doctor assured me that it may not be a miscarriage, but deep down I think I knew that this was not to be. We went home, we cried and I went to bed. I laid there just staring at the wall hoping that I would go numb at some point. Anakin came in and demanded mummy come play. And somehow we got through the day. It’s hard to crumble when you still have to care for a child.

The next day my partner was playing football far away and scared to be alone I decided that we should go with him. I walked in circles pushing the pram around the football field for over an hour trying to get Anakin to sleep, hoping that something was going to make me feel better, but I just wanted to lie down and cry. A close friend of mine was there playing as well and asked how I was going. I didn’t answer, but managed somehow to turn the conversation to how he was instead. Later he asked how our weekend was going. I didn’t answer, but again turned the conversation around. I wasn’t going to lie, but I also knew telling him wouldn’t do either of us any good at that point. On the way back I tried to convince myself that I was starting to feel ok about it, that I was prepared. I was wrong.

The next morning we were back at the hospital for another blood test. Later that day they called me with the results. The lady on the phone started the conversation with “The results look fine.” My heart jumped. There was hope? But the next second she confirmed the miscarriage and asked “That’s what you thought, right?” It was, but how on earth can you relay such a message like that? Everything looks fine? I was far from fine. The pregnancy was far from fine. We were not fine. And I was still bleeding. The walls came tumbling down, but we still had to take care of Anakin. In some ways I think he was the one who carried us forward.

_DSC5142_web (I took this photo that weekend. Anakin found an old seesaw with a horse, so blissfully unaware of how hard we were struggling to keep it together.)

Then came a roller coaster of a time. We were hurting, but I found myself trying to be brave and saying things I didn’t believe to protect myself. “At least it happened now and not later” and so on. We didn’t tell that many people, but out of the few we did there was a few “It’s very common” responses and even one “blessing in disguise” and a “with the timing it’s kind of like a win-win”. Nothing deprives you of your hurt more than hearing that. Yes, it is common, but that doesn’t mean that we weren’t feeling the pain of loss. One of my closest friends even ignored the whole thing once I opened up about it. That one hurt even more. With a few pregnant friends around I felt like a failure every time I spoke to them. I tried my best to stay positive, I tried desperately to protect myself and seem more composed than I was, but a part of my heart was broken.  At some point I realised that I needed to own it to move on. I needed to shed some light on that darkness before it swallowed me.

Little did I know at the time that two weeks after that Friday we conceived again. Without going into any details, let me just say we didn’t try to make it happen, it was just one of those moments when all the stars align and all that. When they say you are super fertile after losing a pregnancy they are right. In our case anyway.

I didn’t believe the test when I first saw it.  None of us did. But four tests over a few days later there was no denying that we were indeed pregnant again. It was confusing. It was a downright mind fuck. The doctors and midwives all ask “what number pregnancy is this?” Number three. “And how many babies do you have?” One. “When was your LMP?” It was this date, but it was a miscarriage. And so the ball started rolling without any of us being ready for the ride.

For the first 12 weeks I was terrified. An early dating scan confirmed that everything was so far so good, but I was still shaken. I went to the bathroom all the time to check for blood. I was sick, much sicker than I had been before and throwing up several times a day. Around 11 weeks that suddenly stopped. Everything just stopped and I freaked out. Blood tests showed my hormone levels dropping a bit over 24 hours and a day before I was handing in my Masters, probably during the most stressful week work wise in a long time, we were told we needed an emergency scan done. I was hanging on by a thread. I was certain that we’d lost this one too. My partner tried his best to be brave, but I could tell he thought the same thing as I did. I barely held it together as I struggled to get as much work done as possible before the scan. Once there I could hardly believe my eyes when we saw a little dancing baby on the screen. The lady told us we could do the 12 week scan right away and we somehow managed to say yes. I think I held my breath for most of it. Baby was measuring older than the first scan had shown which explained the drop in hormone levels. Everything was fine. And we were in shock. _DSC4164_web Both before and after this I was struggling with various scenarios of how to deal with comments and responses to our new pregnancy. The miscarriage wasn’t something most people knew about and it was still so raw and the two were so inextricably linked. I avoided as many social gatherings as possible where I may be confronted with any comment on my growing bump, which decided to pop out more or less right away, or I made sure to dress in layers and be quick and quiet. I was paranoid. I was so scared someone would mention how if we had fallen pregnant a bit sooner I would have been so close to my friend (with whom I first celebrated) or comment on any other thing in that regard to which I wouldn’t know what to say or how to react. And of course it did eventually happen. Someone made just that comment, but by then I was as ready as I could be for it.

It still stings. Someone unknowingly said “congratulations on your second pregnancy” a couple of weeks ago and it slapped me in the face. Whenever I go see my midwife I pass the emergency clinic and I see people with the same look on their face as I imagined we had, women discretely holding their still flat bellies waiting for answers, men staring into space while holding their hand.

It’s not unique occurrence, but it happened to us as it happens to so many people. And in some bizarre and terrible way we were lucky to have it happen in the first trimester. Every day pregnant is a day of attachment. Every day counts. And I acknowledge the more convenient timing of our new baby and how lucky we are to have fallen pregnant again so fast. Some people say it was meant to be. I don’t know about that, but I do know that owning what happened and not hiding it in a dark corner is making this pregnancy a little less scary every day. I still wait for kicks and signs of life to feel sure. Part of me still can’t quite believe that it’s true, there’s new life in my belly and it’s doing very well. I know people who have suffered a far greater loss of their pregnancies later on and of their children after they were born and I can’t imagine how heartbreaking and absolutely life altering that must be. And in comparison our loss was small, but no loss is insignificant. It changes you somehow.

_DSC7698_web   But do me a favour. Next time you meet someone who’s pregnant don’t assume which number of pregnancy or baby it is, and if you meet someone who’s lost one, please don’t tell them how common it is. They know. And don’t ignore it as if it doesn’t matter.  Acknowledge the loss, don’t inadvertently belittle it or deny its significance. And as someone who had just suffered the most unimaginable loss once told me, if that’s too hard or you don’t know what to do just give them a hug.

“The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.” – V. Nabokov


Balloon Friday

Oh sweet Friday… It’s getting dark and I can hear the usual winding down noises from the bathroom. My partner is patiently trying to coax a tired toddler into the tub and to bed. I’m thankful I get to just sit here and feel like a swollen lead balloon with far too little space on the inside. I know that in a while they’ll call my name and I’ll go sing some lullabies, get a few cuddles and sit outside the bedroom for 10 minutes in the dark listening to Anakin play with his diggers in bed before I can assume my horizontal on the sofa with a glass of Maggie Beer’s non alcoholic sparking wine. (The only non alcoholic wine worth drinking. It’s delicious and I dare say better than most alcoholic sparkling wines.) I’m exhausted. Baby has been surprisingly quiet so far today, perhaps it is just waiting for me to lie down. I feel heavy and stretched. But I also feel pretty darn great. Life is in a good place. We’re not where we want to be with it all, but I am happy, very happy. This year, as hard as it has been and as much as it has kicked us in the face, has also been good. I’ve let go of a lot of hurt, I’m letting go of more every day, I’m facing fears and learning to manage them. And as heavily pregnant as I feel tonight I feel lighter than ever, and stronger than I’ve ever been.

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Speaking of strong… babywearing a big, heavy toddler to sleep when pregnant makes you feel pretty strong too. Desperate times and all that. I seriously could not live without the Tula. (Picture taken at 18 weeks.)

 

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It also doesn’t hurt that spring has sprung in all it’s glory and temperatures are hitting the 20+. Life is good. I feel damn lucky.

Happy Friday from all of us!

xx


36/52- The simple joys

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life.

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Anakin: Your smile is like sunshine, it lights up any room. It has this amazing ability to expel any shadow. Your laughter is the purest sound I know. Our most precious moments are about sharing the simple joys. Playing in the family bed while changing sheets, taking the time for a good snuggle, waking up to you stroking my face, building great, big cars and pretending that we’re tractors, horses, dogs or firemen, enjoying the feel of naked skin touching. The simple joys are the best ones. 

***

I’ve been neglecting this blog somewhat this year. I’m planning to make up for that as soon as I can. There’s no lack of words floating around my head or images on my hard drive, but there’s been a lack of time and energy, and a few other things.

I’m hanging my show this Friday and I don’t think there are any words that can explain how excited I am to see them together. I am so proud of this work, I am so incredibly proud of what I’ve made of my life the past three years. It hasn’t been easy, it hasn’t’ been without great sorrow or struggle, but it has been fruitful and it has been rewarding. And the journey is far from complete.

I can’t believe we’re at 36 already. How did we get there so fast?


35/52 – Lost

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life.

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Anakin: Helping me test some bulbs on the flash kit by running around in front of the lights. Then suddenly you stopped and there was this. You look so lost in thought, I wonder what was going through your head. I love a great smile, but a serious face can be visually so much more intriguing. 

***

I honestly thought for a couple of days that we were over the hurdle of illness. Two days later (and a gym and creche visit after) Anakin got yet another cold. His immune system is shot from the gastro that started it all and the cold/flu that followed.  As I’m writing this he’s currently strapped on my back asleep in the Tula after having to give up trying to sleep in the bed because of a stuffy nose and constant coughing. Thank goodness for a good carrier. Three minutes in it and he was out like a light. No cough, no constant struggle to breathe through a stuffed nose. It doesn’t do wonders for me and all I had planned for nap time, but this is what we do right? We sacrifice so that our children can have what they need, particularly when they’re unwell. I know my back will be sore from standing like this and I know I’m losing valuable work time, but I couldn’t care less. Sleep and love are the best medicines for illness and providing that is more important than anything.

In other news I’m printing my Masters assessment show which opens September 10th and it is such a joy to finally bring these babies to life. There is just something irreplaceable about the photograph as object, particularly when it is work that has been created during the most life changing and excellent times of pregnancy, birth and motherhood, and which stands as witness and evidence of an enormous personal achievement. I’ll share some of the work with you soon.

xx Dida


Friday Love

I love Fridays. It doesn’t really matter what kind of day you’re already having it’ll get better by the simple fact that it’s Friday.

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We’re having a pretty excellent Friday. We’ve already been to the market, done all the grocery shopping for the week, had fresh, crusty bread for breakfast and free veggie soup for lunch. (Cute kids get a lot of free perks!) The sun is out, the sky is all blue and there are promises of a warm, spring afternoon. After nap time we’re heading out and staying out until dinner time. It’s a good day. It’s a really good day. Most of all because I get to spend it with this guy and I can’t imagine better company for a sunny afternoon. Happy Friday!

 

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32/52- Wishes

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: I’m not sure we’ll ever outgrow the joy of blowing the seeds off old dandelions while making a wish. I hope we never do. You’re still too young to understand what wishes are, but I suspect you’ll discover them soon. 

***

I live for moments like these. After a rather intense period of total rejection of your pappa you finally let his hard work pay off and let him back in. Your punishment was as brutal and loud as it was honest. He had to win you back and you kept testing him. And last Saturday it was as if it had never happened. You took his hand instead of mine on the way to the playground and your face lit up with smiles and laughter as you played on the swings together. You finally trusted that his full attention was yours, that he’d keep you safe and that was all that mattered. On the way back this happened and my mummy heart skipped a beat as I hurried to capture the moment before it was gone.

The past month has really knocked us around. Even more so than the last few months did before it. We’re entering week three of being sick and it doesn’t seem to want to let go of us just yet. It’s the first time in a long time that I’m starting to feel snowed under. It’s been an intense year and I’ll admit to have days where I’m not sure exactly how to put one foot in front of the other anymore, but we do. And moments like these are the fuel that make us keep it all going. And despite it all I am still in a happier place than I have ever been. Because even big things become small when you know that at the end of each day you’re going to be surrounded by what and who you need the most. That is my shield and that is my armour to keep on fighting until we catch a break.

 


28/52 – Sunshine after the rain

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life

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Anakin: That smile. I just can’t go past it. 

***

I had initially chosen another photo for this week, but after some deliberation and in light of the past few days, I ended up choosing this bright smile. During moments of feeling like I’m absolutely failing at motherhood it is this smile that brings me back. That little face that just beams up at me and forgives me for letting myself momentarily slip. I get that it’s not easy being little, being 2,5 years old with big emotions and not always finding ways of expressing them. I get that it’s hard to see mamma and pappa tired and stressed, and to feel that sometimes you’re just in the way or not even properly seen in the whirlwind of the day. I get it. It’s been a tough couple of weeks.

I get that we far too often use too many words, words that are too big, and that we pick the wrong battles when all we really should be doing is listening to you as you struggle to tell us that you aren’t feeling that great either, that you need some undivided attention, that your screaming and bickering is just your way of saying “I’m here too! I’m feeling this too!” And I’m sincerely sorry for those moments when it all falls to pieces. It haunts me and I struggle to remind myself that my failures are so small in the bigger picture.

This too shall pass, my love. Tomorrow is a new day. Sunshine after the rain.

I love you always. xx Mamma


27/52 – Helicopter

A portrait of my son once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life.

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Anakin: I often find you quietly pottering away in your play area. You’ll get your stepladder and pull it down the stairs and over to the small table. When I ask you what you’re doing you say “I’m riding a helicopter! Do you want to come along?”  A piece of plastic becomes your steering wheel, you find other bits and pieces and place around it, all of utmost importance for the helicopter to work of course. 

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I didn’t take many photos last week. It was just one of those weeks again. Everyone had too much to do and with the really bad weather, cabin fever. While this is by far not the best photo of the lot, it is definitely the one that describes Anakin the best these days. His imagination astounds and thrills me every day. I can not wait to hand in my Masters in a couple of weeks and finally take some time off to dedicate to him and him alone. (And cleaning this pigsty of a house that has been neglected for too long!)  While there is still much work to be done before the exhibition that follows, I know that I’ll be better able to be fully present once I hand in this brick of an exegesis. If anyone ever thought doing a postgraduate degree while caring for a kid full-time was a walk in the park they would need their head checked. Then after comes the great unknown, I suppose. The great unknown swimming in a sea of debt. One foot forward at a time, right?


26/52- Stumps and ghosts

A portrait of my son once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: Standing on a tree stump in the corner of our yard wearing my rain hat and reciting a rhyme about ghosts. This stump is the designated spot for this rhyme. As much as possible it is performed on one leg.

***

Some days just last forever and seem to test every fibre of your being. Today was one of those days. We’ve had a week where none of us has slept very well, I got the flu, my partner has been incredibly busy and Anakin has tested his toddler rage to the limits. The rage I saw tonight I have never seen in my sweet, little boy before. So much frustration and no proper way of letting it out. Somehow I managed to find my most calm self and ride it out while letting him rage in my arms. It’s ok to be angry. Sometimes I think I should be better at telling myself the same things I tell my son. It’s ok to cry, it’s ok to be angry and frustrated as long as you don’t hurt anyone or yourself. I’ll sit right here with you until you feel better. It took a few very deep breaths and a every bit of patience I could muster, but we got there. And we got there in the best way where no one was left feeling scared, ignored or shameful.  And in the end everyone could enjoy story time, good night songs and cuddles.

Now all we have to do is ride out the storm outside. Stay safe and stay warm.


25/52 – Prince Charming

A portrait of my son once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life.

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Anakin: My Prince Charming. You’re such a gentle soul with a heart far bigger than your body. I cut my finger cooking today and you noticed it at the dinner table. You asked for a tissue and started to wipe my cut with such a gentle touch. You periodically peeked under the tissue to see if it was still there before you lifted it, smelled it and said “It smells like ouch. Are you ok, mamma? There’s blood, did you hurt yourself? I’ll make it better for you.” 

You’ve got so much love, so much care for the people around you. When I tell you we’re going to see someone the first thing you say is how much you’ll cuddle them and how much you’re looking forward to it. And you do, you give the biggest hugs and make the people around you aware of how happy you are to see them. 

I burst with pride, awe and love at the little things you do without ever being asked to do so. Like saying thank you for dinner when we finish at the table or making sure pappa gets an ice cream before you do. 

One of my favourite things these days is how your hands find my neck in the morning, you cuddle closer for a while before you start stroking my back. When I turn around and open my eyes you press your face to mine and smile so big your eyes beam. You start whispering about things you want to do and games you want to play. I can’t imagine waking up without you next to me. I can’t imagine a life where you aren’t the first and the last thing I see every day. 


23/52 – Winter

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life. 

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Anakin: Suddenly it’s winter. It seems like only yesterday we had warm days running around in t-shirts in that delightful autumn sun. This past week has been all about gardening. We got you a wheelbarrow (well, really your grandparents did, they paid for it!) and you’ve been busy raking leaves and dumping them in the corner of the yard. We should definitely get you more practical gifts more often. Perhaps a small vacuum or mop next? 

****

What are some winter activities you do with your kiddos? Do you find yourself spending more time indoors or do you just layer up and get out as much as you can?


887 days – Goodbye and thanks for all the milk

887 days. 2 years, 5 months and 5 days.

Feed time

It’s the end of an era.

For 887 days I breastfed you. And for most of that time it was a beautiful thing we shared, my body nourishing and protecting yours. One of the best choices I ever made was to keep going for as long as I thought was best, to give you what you needed until I could give it no more. We’ve had some resistance you and I, opinionated people who for some reason think it’s gone on too long. Who think it’s their business to comment on and who have no knowledge of the benefits of it all, for us both. Some have thought it was selfish, others have thought it was too selfless, but we stuck with what we wanted and believed in.

I always wondered when it would come to an end. I guess I somehow thought it would happen on its own, that you would somehow lose interest and that would be it. But you didn’t.

And lately it became uncomfortable and even painful. Those moments we shared became less and less enjoyable for me. And as much as I’ve hated to do it I’ve had to say enough with a gentle nudge so we could move closer to ending that last one we shared every day. It pains me to hear you cry and see the grief and sorrow on your face.  Even offering a million hugs won’t take away that loss, I know that, but believe me when I say I can do it no more. If I could I would.

You always were a boobies boy.  We had a good run, baby.

It’s time to say goodbye and thanks for all the milk.

 

Boobies


A different week

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It’s been a bit of  a different week for us. Solo parenting for 7 days while my partner is in LA for work. This time has been a whole new deal for a little boy who struggles to understand where pappa is and why he isn’t coming home every night, or why he isn’t next to us in bed in the morning. Moods run high and low, and the need for stability and comfort is bigger.

It’s heartbreaking to hear his little voice call out for pappa and to see the look on his face when he realises pappa is still not here.

It’s hard work, but we’re doing fine

I’ve stepped a bit away from gadgets, work and distractions this week, trying to keep my focus where it needs to be and unplug. An emotional toddler is hard work, but one that misses his pappa is even harder. I’ve quite enjoyed the quiet nights despite being so exhausted I can hardly keep my eyes open. And I admit to have sought out the comfort of a glass of wine (or three) after the sun goes down and the house is quiet.

But I can’t wait for Tuesday and this again.

 

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My boys together. Doesn’t get any better than that.


Remember these things…

Dear Anakin,

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I’ve been having this strange feeling of things moving too fast lately. As if something is slipping away from me. I look at you and I can’t believe all the things you can do and say, the level of things you understand and how refined your interactions with the world are. And you’re only two. All the clichés are true, time goes too fast. There are so many first and lasts. And I am finding myself scared of forgetting them all, and terrified of missing any of them.

I want to remember these things.

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Like how you love to nibble on parsley and rosemary, and how you pronounce rosemary (rosmarin in Norwegian) Ros-atte-min.

Like how you call a police man a police car man (politibilmann).

Like how last night was the first time you let your pappa put you to bed since you were a tiny baby. We made a deal that I would feed and cuddle you in your room and then you and pappa would read and sing in our bed. And it went as smooth as if it was something you’d always done.

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Like how today after a day of highs and lows you decided to forgo your normal bath and go to bed early. And it was the first time you didn’t ask for milk, and I didn’t offer. I want to remember how sad and happy that made me at the same time. I want to remember how you asked me to put my head on your tummy and sing while you stroked my hair and how you laid next to me for close to an hour just snuggling. Your little hands touching my face, feeling my eyebrows and the contours of my lips. How you laid there looking into my eyes for ages with a slight smile. As if you knew the significance of it all and wanted to make sure I felt just as loved as before.

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Like how your face absolutely lit up when I hang your paintings on our wall and how you kept looking at them, so proud and so stoked that your art means something, that it means enough to be hung on the wall next to our art.

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Like how your imagination is running so free now. You make up songs and change lyrics. How you can sit completely still for 40 minutes listening to an audio book and how you start acting it out afterwards. Your vocabulary, in both languages, is far beyond your age.

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I so desperately want to remember you like you are right now. I feel I have already forgotten so much of how you were when you were smaller. I want to remember it all.

You truly are a magnificent person. I can only imagine what an amazing man you’ll grow up to be. I hope that when you do you’ll remember some of these things too, and remember that you were loved so deeply, so completely and so unconditionally.

Yours always, Mamma xx


Everyday superhero

Superheroes aren’t that rare. In fact, I’d say they’re quite common when you start to think about it, if superheroes are people with superpowers that is. I’m not talking about people who can fly or shoot lasers through their eyes, I’m talking about people who do extraordinary things as part of their everyday life. Like this guy.

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Just an everyday superhero. Helping out as much as he can in his own way, bringing sunshine on the darkest day and showering everyone he comes across in unconditional love. Because making people feel great and beautiful for being exactly who they are is a superpower.

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Golden cape Panda Boy. What a guy.


We heart holidays!

A couple of weeks ago we ventured up to the Sunshine Coast, to Mooloolaba beach to be exact, for a much needed holiday. My partner was attending a conference there and we decided to stay on for a few more days to relax and do as little as possible. The last time we had anything that resembled a proper holiday was in 2006. It was divine. As I’m sitting here back home again feeling hot and bothered I’m dreaming myself back there with a bit of a photo essay.

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View from our apartment

We got a wonderful deal for the whole trip, return airfares and 8 nights in an apartment at Mantra hotel right on the beach by booking through Japanese expedia. Believe me, there is a lot of money to be saved by being smart about how you book things.

The flight to and from couldn’t have gone any better. Anakin was excited and within ten minutes of the seatbelt sign being turned off he was asleep both ways. (Yay for the power of boob!)  Our flights were scheduled a bit after his normal nap time and it worked a treat. He slept for 45 minutes to an hour and was easily entertained for the rest of the time. The only downside to flying was that Anakin immediately got a cold. By the time we arrived he was already getting snotty.

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But in true champion form this didn’t impair him at all.

Mooloolaba beach

Mooloolaba beach

Our hotel was right on the beach. All we had to do was to cross the road and we were there. Along the strip were restaurants and small shops. An all in one place for a family holiday.

Early bird breakfast

Early bird breakfast

Because of the one hour time difference our days started at 4.30 every day. It was hard, but it meant we got a lot out of every day. It also meant that most nights we were in bed by 8.30-9, an hour or so after Anakin.

Early birds need coffee

Early birds need coffee

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Up the road from the hotel was also one of several playgrounds.

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Checking out the surf

Anakin was a bit weary of the beach. The waves were big and it was a bit full on for him. We managed to get around it by taking turns watching him and swimming. With 26 degrees in the water it was hard to keep us away!

Hold on to your hat!

Hold on to your hat!

Love love love!

The beach was pristine. Clear water all the way.

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I love the beach!

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Every day was ice cream day

Every day was ice cream day

One night of rain, but still beautiful

One night of rain, but still beautiful

A moment of not so happy

A moment of not so happy

While Anakin was not the biggest fan of the beach he was a huge fan of the pool and the spa in our room. The outdoor pool’s heating was bust so it was quite freezing, but this didn’t stop our little fish.

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A bit further up the road from the hotel was Underwater world. Great place for a morning excursion.

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Nose fish. Hilarious.

Nose fish. Hilarious.

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Getting a bit of touch’n feel

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Showing the fish his truck

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A great place for an awkward family photo

A great place for an awkward family photo

Hotel playtime

Hotel playtime

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early dinner wine time

early dinner wine time

We enjoyed some nice meals during our holiday. Some of them better than others when we timed them early enough for me to enjoy a glass of red too!

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Excursion to the docks to look at some boats. There was a lady here with a snake (which you had to pay to photograph) who let Anakin pet her snake for a gold coin donation. Anakin went one step further and gave it a hug. Might have to talk to him about hugging snakes. No photos of that, but a good memory still.

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Meeting Marilyn

Meeting Marilyn (and ripping her eyelashes off. We left in a hurry) 

Hanging out on the balcony making mamma and pappa nervous

Hanging out on the balcony making mamma and pappa nervous

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And before we knew it, and way too soon, it was time to go home.

_DSC2033_webOnce we got back we all got sick, one worse than the other, but it was all worth it. What a great holiday it was. Mooloolaba beach we heart you!


Just a boy in a dress

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While I was showering on Tuesday my 23 month old son was playing with his truck on the bathroom floor. Next to the bathtub was a pile of clean clothes for me to wear once I got out, the usual suspects like underwear and a maxi dress. It was already a warm day and forecasts said it would only get warmer. My son picked up the dress and told me it looked like his pillow, the one with drums on it. I couldn’t see the resemblance, but that’s ok. He tried to put it on and managed to wrap it around him somehow. It was far too big to be even remotely practical to drag around and he kept tripping on it. “Look, mamma, dress!” He was proud and thought he looked great. I did too.

Once I had dried off he’d sat down leaving the dress behind him. I picked it up and put it on. This was apparently a grave mistake. Crying and shrieking my son pulled on the dress. “My dress! My dress!” I calmly tried to explain that it was too big for him and that mamma needed to wear it. This did not compute at all. He ran into his bedroom still crying with that look of hurt and wild toddler anger on his face. I followed and opened the doors to my wardrobe in his room and held out several dresses for him, “what about this one? Or this one?” No. None was as good as the one I was wearing. Trying to be somewhat practical I had an idea and went into the hallway. I got my thin, red scarf and held it up to him. “What about this one? This one is nice. Feel it, it’s very soft and will fit you just perfectly.” No. He threw himself onto his cat shaped pillow in the corner and continued to cry. “Ok, if you don’t want to wear it I think I will.” I wrapped the scarf around me and did a twirl. He stopped and looked at me. “Anakin dress?” he said. He walked over and I tied the scarf around him under his arms. “You wanna see?” I asked. We went into the bathroom and I held him up in front of the mirror. His faced beamed. “Anakin dress, mamma dress!” “Yes, we look very nice, don’t we?” And we did.

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He wore the “dress” the rest of the day. A small negotiation made me able to change him out of his pi’s and put a singlet on before going out as long as the dress came back on. He chose one of my hats to go with it and out we went. He was happy, I was happy, and it kept him cooler than wearing shorts or pants. Anakin likes to decide what he wears and most of the time I think that is great.

The afternoon rolled around and the vegetable delivery man came around. He smiled at Anakin and said “How are you doing?” I smiled too and said “Oh he’s a very happy little man today.” The smile faded and the man gave me a weird look. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. Soon after my partner came and picked us up to go grocery shopping at the local mall. As Anakin ran around happy as ever in the mall I started noticing people looking at him in a different way to what they usually do. No smiles, just these slightly odd looks. They’d look at his dress and sometimes at me. No one said anything, but it was clear to me that some of them seemed to have a rather strange reaction to seeing a little boy in a dress. (Ok, it probably looked more like a skirt or a sarong.)

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Personally I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little boy in a dress. In fact, I think everything’s right about it. Anakin is 23 months old, he doesn’t know that the world is full of social cookie cutters and stereotypes, or that some expect him to conform to these even now. I think kids should be free for as long as they possibly can, I wish they could grow up and still be free. Free to be whatever or whoever they may want to be and to dress up as whatever their little imaginations can come up with. If he had gone dressed as a cowboy everyone would have thought he was adorable.

Every kid I know loves to dress up and role-play, whether it’s as a superhero, a chef, a ghost, a doctor, a ballerina or whatever else kind of character they invent. This ridiculous gender stereotyping which society tries to enforce from birth in form of colours and boy’s toys and girl’s toys, it’s all nonsense, but it’s also very real. A lot of parents I know fight it, a lot strive to let their kids be free, but how long until one day, when your son has decided he wants to wear a dress out somewhere or wants bright pink shoes, someone says something hurtful about it and he understands what they say? I don’t know how I’ll deal with the heartbreak he’ll feel when he’s faced with the world’s narrow-minded fools, but this mama bear will stand up to anyone who dares be the cause of it, particularly for such utter nonsensical reasons.

But I’ll tell you this, if my kid wants to wear a dress or a tutu, if he wants a tiara or pink shoes with glitter on them, he’s gonna have those things as long as I’m able to give them to him and he’s gonna get to wear them wherever he wants. Perhaps some think I should censor my kid to shelter him from what may become a hurtful experience, but I think I should rather give him the support he needs to stand proud as whatever he wants to be and let him be free.

Thankfully Tuesday was no more than food for thought for me. I saw the looks, he didn’t. I also saw the joy of a little boy who got to wear his mamma’s dress. Tuesday it was the dress, other days it’s bunny ears…

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or a Yoda hat and a gold cape…

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Yoda rocks a pink stroller

or swim goggles…

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or a Panda hat.

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The kid loves to dress up and I love him even more for it.