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Archive for the ‘motherhood’ Category

Darwin said that it isn’t the strongest or the most intelligent that survive, but the ones most responsive to change.

I’ve always been responsive to change, thrived on it in fact. There’s a nomad somewhere inside me who loves the idea of constant flux.

And yet….

This last year has not been an easy one. There have been many changes and many areas over which I have not had control. Growth comes with pain, and while, I know that and have learned that lesson and am able to sit with my own pain, it is the pain of my children that is so hard for me. Because I am unable to ease it, I am unable to take it from them and ‘make it all better’.

What I am feeling isn’t something that is easily passed from heart to page. It’s a sadness that is impossible to describe. Every road is winding, every window is cracked, and the distance between a mother and a child continues to grow ever wider. A distance not measured by centimetres, inches, feet or miles, it is the distance between a child’s pain and a mother’s inability to erase it, prevent it, circumvent it.

My heart and my head sit at opposite ends of the spectrum. I know that this will pass, and that there is no growth without pain, but how do I share my truth? How do I share my self in the truest, barest of hues.

My truth, or any truth for that matter, is not beautiful. It is broken, blistered, tainted, and yet it is the only thing I have to offer. It can be dangerous and yet, my darkest moments have shown me who I truly am. Have allowed me to look in the mirror and accept my darkest faces.

Witnessing my children’s journeys to self-discovery slices a dagger through my heart, bringing the trepidation and fear and growing sense of horror that engulfed me as I embarked on my journey of escalating memories and cerebral turmoil. Thoughts whipped through my head, clashing together in a mental cacophony of voices. At times they melded together to form concepts I still struggle to put into words. My thoughts were my avatars representing me more justly than I represented myself.

And yet, here I am, pretty much whole, content with the person I have become, yet feeling more insecure than ever in the role that has for the better part of 18 years defined me. As my children reach inevitably towards the adults that they are struggling to become, I cling desperately to the children that they were/are. Trying so hard to give them my truth, because in the face of the fact that I am unable to absorb their pain, my truth is all I have to offer. (the love goes without saying)

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Dear Kinmond,

Today is your 18th birthday.  It’s such a cliché to say that I can hardly believe it and that time has gone by so quickly, but it’s the truth.

I feel tremendous ambivalence on this day, and it is not just the poignancy of a parent watching the maturation of a child and the accelerating passage of time and disbelieving that it could happen so quickly.  How could you get to be so tall, so independent, so capable, so complex, so funny, so far away?  How could eighteen years have elapsed since that astonishing, magical moment that our eyes locked and I saw all that you had ever been and all that you were to become.  You were disconcertingly serious, unconditionally present and absolutely real, and I have loved you completely ever since.

Like any first child, you were the culmination of such vast trepidations and expectations, the repository of such ineffable hope, the focus of so much concern and love.  What I’m feeling as I anticipate your transition to adulthood (whatever that might mean!) is beyond my ability to express with words.  In thinking about how well or how badly your father and I have prepared you for the world, I find that I am completely unprepared for how much more perilous and awful it feels to send you into the unknown.  There are so many more things I want to teach you, to tell you, to show you.

You are still so young and you’re at a wonderful stage of life, with so many wonderful stages of life still to come, but they are not without their costs and perils.  I want you to know that no matter what situation life may bring you, I will be there to see you through, if not in person, then in your heart.

There are, and will be more, days that you don’t have the right answers, or any answers at all.  You will find cruelty and suffering in your journey through life … but don’t let that close you to new things. Don’t retreat from life, don’t hide or wall yourself off. Be open to new things, new experiences and to new people.  If you close your heart to new people, you’ll avoid pain … but you will also lose out on experiencing some incredible people, who will be there during the toughest times of your life and create some of the best times of your life.

Always take responsibility for your actions, good and bad.  If you can’t change something, change the way you think about it.  You will fail many times but if you allow that to stop you from trying, you will miss out on the amazing feeling of success once you reach new heights with your accomplishments. Failure is a stepping stone to success. You are growing stronger in wisdom with each passing year. Don’t ever use CAN’T as an excuse, ALWAYS TRY.  Remember a mistake is not a failure unless you let it keep you down.

You will meet many people who will try to outdo you.  Remember, life isn’t a competition. It’s a journey. If you spend that journey always trying to impress others, to outdo others, you’re wasting your journey. Instead, learn to enjoy the journey. Make it a journey of happiness, of constant learning, of continual improvement and above all, of love.

Remember to be kind to others even when you feel they might not deserve it.  Let others see the real you from the inside. It’s ok to show your true feeling.  Share your amazing spirit with others.

Most of all, love yourself. While others may criticize you, learn not to be so hard on yourself, to think that you’re anything less than the wonderful, sensitive, funny, strong, loyal, multifaceted, intuitive young man that I am so profoundly proud to call my son.

Finally, know that I love you and always will. You are starting out on a weird, scary, daunting, but ultimately incredibly wonderful journey, and I will be there for you when I can.

With all my love

mom

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“Mommy, Daddy, why’s that man SO FAT?”  These words were spoken, or should I say shouted, at the top of her voice by my daughter when she was three years old.  Having climbed up onto the table at our local McDonalds, pointed her chubby little finger at a man three tables down, she asked said question.

 

Well, what exactly is the correct response to a question like that?  “Sit down sweetheart and I’ll explain.”, “That’s not really polite my love.”?  As it happens, I didn’t have a chance to respond before said ‘fat man’, and indeed, he wasn’t merely chubby, waddled over and tore a strip of my husband and myself for daring to produce such an ill mannered child.  The tirade went on to include numerous insults about our parenting skills.  My husband’s response?  “Children tell it like it is!”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

Teaching a child good manners is an ongoing process.  There are so many levels of good manners.  ‘Don’t talk with your mouth full,’ and ‘No elbows on the table,’ is a far cry from ‘Don’t mention the fat man/ lady with the green hair/ person in a wheelchair.  And really, should we be teaching our children to ignore the elephant in the room (the pun here really is unintended).

 

There is such a thing as age appropriate manners.  It is not acceptable for a twelve year old to make fun of someone because they are different, but for a three year old discovering the world around her to comment or ask questions about things that she observes?  It’s part of the learning process, surely?  And for the person in question to make such a scene?  Now that’s bad manners!

 

Of course, this is the opinion of said three-year-old’s mother who had her own faux pas at around age three involving the lady at daddy’s work who had a moustache, so perhaps I’m not the best person to judge.  Is any parent?

… I am now dealing with the same child as an almost-thirteen-year-old… the mind boggles!

 

 

(first published at Blogher)

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Chatting with my friend yesterday over a drink (over the telephone too because the abhorrent traffic situation together with family commitments make it all but impossible to pop in for a visit on and afternoon – notice I haven’t included work here, it’s somehow easier to juggle work and meet for breakfast once a month), we were discussing on our daughters, both going on thirteen, and it occurred to me, no, not for the first time, that those people who insist on telling you that “things will get better” while you’re wrestling an irate three year old to the ground to stop her throwing the car keys down the toilet are smoking their socks. Either that or their kids never reached their teens!

As Fiona said “What happened to the little girl who would wear the cute little outfits I bought her?” No, now they somehow have the notion that looking like the Grimm Reaper or the homeless man begging at the corner is fashionable. And you just can’t wrestle them to the floor anymore. I know. I’ve tried.

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I read something a while back about facebook being responsible for a “huge resurgence of global love” and I have to agree that social networking has changed the way we interact.  For better or worse? 

Many parents I know spend a good deal of time worrying about their children spending time on MXit, facebook and the like.  Why?  Could it be simply because they are technophobic?  Can social networking really be that bad?

Like anything else I guess it could be, but there’s a lot to be said for being able to see who your children are hanging out with online.  My point is, you can tell a lot more about your kids friends by their online activities than you can by conversation, I mean, have you ever tried to have a conversation with a teenager?! Enough said.

Take some time and check out the groups your kids have joined, the comments they make, lists of favourite movies, photo’s of their “real life” socialising.  Take the plunge, it’s possible to learn a lot more about your kids (and their friends), just by meeting them in their own playground… 

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Dear Isla,

I can’t take away the pain. I think those are the hardest words a mother can say out loud. Actually, they’re the hardest to acknowledge in the quiet spaces of my soul too. The fact that my love, as all encompassing and profound as it is, cannot protect you from experiencing life and death and loss is one of the most painful realisations of my own life.
All I can really do is provide a space for you to be. A space for you to mourn and to feel your pain, because bunny, you do need to feel it. I can try to make that space as secure as I can by surrounding you with my love so that all the sharp edges of your reality can bump and cut into me and you can see that no matter what, my love remains unbroken.
I want you to know that despite what you think, despite all the anger and hurt that you’re feeling right now, you will get through this… we’ll get through this, and as much as you feel that you’re all alone, you’re not. I’m right here beside you and I’ll “keep bleeding love”.

love
mom

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To live remains an art which everyone must learn, and which no one can
teach. ~Havelock Ellis

I’m on a quick approach to 45 and I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes in life… I have few regrets, even the huge mistakes have taught me invaluable lessons. From all that I’ve learned, I wish there was some way I could implant the lessons in my children.

This list is far from complete, but it’s a start. Who knows, maybe my kids will even read it one day.

You’re never as fat as you think you are. (this lesson is especially for my gorgeous and beautifully proportioned 12 year old daughter) I’ve always obsessed over my weight, yes, even as a twelve year old. This may have had something to do with my mother spicing my childhood with comments like “rather waste on the plate than waste on your hips”. Yup, I don’t think she ever heard about the children starving in Africa that most parents spoke of – oh wait, I was one of them, trying to please mom. Looking back at photographs of myself, I was NOT fat, not even close. As I got older my weight yo-yo’d as I tried to get thinner and messed with my metabolism. Now, in middle age, I battle with a few extra kilo’s, but I think if I’d had a healthier self image as a young girl, I may have had a more balanced eating plan.

Make time to pursue your passion, no matter how busy you think you are. There were so many things I was passionate about but just never made the time to pursue. With a family and school and a full-time job, there just weren’t enough hours in the day. Well, I’ve learned that you have to make those hours. Set aside a block of time to do what you love, cut out other stuff from your life that take up your time, and don’t let anything interfere with that work. When I think what I’ve achieved over the last few years, and especially the last six months I wonder why I wasted all that time!

Save a little every month, even when you think you can’t afford to. I’ve learned that a little goes a long way. I wish I’d learned it sooner. If I had saved 10% of my earnings – and bearing in mind I had my first part time job at age 14 – I could probably have been semi-retired by now.

All the things you stress over, it’s not worth an ulcer! When things are happening to you right now, they are all encompassing. I had deadlines and projects and people breathing down my neck, and my stress levels went through the roof. I don’t regret the hard work but I think I would have been less stressed if I could have just realised that it wouldn’t matter a single bit just a few years down the road. Perspective is a good thing to learn.

Balance is essential. An unbalanced life leads to ulcers (see above) and worse. It is so important to make time for yourself and for your family. You may have to make compromises financially or professionally, but at the end of the day, what is it all for?

Nurture the special relationships in your life. People come and go in your life, but there are a few, if you’re lucky you can count your family among them, that are consistently there. That don’t have unrealistic expectations, that don’t harp on your mistakes, that share the times between the spaces of your life. Hang on to these. Value them above all else. And most of all, know that you are blessed.

Keep a journal. I kept a journal my entire life, and I mean that. I learned to read and write at age four, and began writing my secret thoughts down. I went through a strange time about 20 years ago and burned all my journals. That is THE major regret of my life. I continued journaling and then, during another strange time about 10 years ago, was so concerned at having my thoughts “out there”, I stopped. BIG mistake. You learn so much from reading back through your journals. It is a wonderful measure of where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. It’s an outlet, a therapy and a place in which to be totally honest and completely yourself. Just do it!

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