Archive for the 'Home and Hearth' Category

Sunday Mothering

NS January 24th, 2010

Quiet contemplation and frenzied scribbling (or typing, rather) may not make sense to many as a suitable and entirely worthwhile pursuit on which to spend an entire Sunday when the sun is shining and there are ruddy, muddy outdoor romps to be had, but to me it is perfection and bliss. My husband does not understand it. My children…do they suffer for it? Or, rather, do they benefit from the happiness and satisfaction it gives me?

My method of Sunday mothering may not involve wellies, mountaintop picnics or forest adventures but instead hot chocolate kisses, counting raindrops on windows and reading stories of wizards and cats and little girls who won’t go to bed. We may only venture outside to gather the necessary supplies for baking more chocolate chip cupcakes but does our quiet, near, indoor adventure mean any less simply because it wasn’t undertaken beneath the grey sky and through the long, wet grass?

Perhaps my children will look back at winter Sundays — their mother curled cosily under her blanket, fingers poised motionless above the keyboard as she takes in a scene of familial merriment with a smile as broad as a river on her lips — and they will not be disappointed that we weren’t somewhere new and dangerous, but familiar and safe and warm. Together.

You’ve got to admit it’s getting better

NS December 23rd, 2009

My sister is here visiting and we’ve been busy catching up, going out, preparing for Christmas and just spending time together as a family, hence the silence for the past week. But I wanted to do a quick update for everyone who commented and emailed after my last post, which ended on a pretty miserable note. The Noble Husband went into work the day after I wrote about him losing his contract and was called into a meeting with his boss. It looks like they will be able to keep him on at their offices after Christmas, even though in a different capacity and without overtime. So while his job is secure at the moment, if he can’t squeeze a bit of extra money out of them he will be on a bit less pay then he was before. Still, it’s not as doom and gloom as we originally thought and is a pretty big relief, considering the stark alternative.

Posting will continue to be sporadic and light until after the New Year as not only is my sister here visiting until the 6th and TNH is off work until the 4th, but I’m also working on launching another website, the details of which I will share as soon as it’s all been ironed out and finished up. In the meantime, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and peace and joy this holiday season.

I’d also like to thank you all for reading and commenting on my scribblings in this teeny little corner of the blogosphere;  interacting with you and getting feedback on my writing, not to mention the incredible ‘real life’ support I’ve received, is one of the real bright spots in my life and something I truly cherish. Your readership, along with being listed as a top parenting blog in both the Tots 100 Index and by media communications company Cision in the last few months, has really bolstered my confidence that maybe I really can do this writing malarkey for a living, which is pretty much my lifelong dream. So from the bottom of my newly-Santified heart, I thank you.

Now stop reading this and go be festive and merry! Drink and eat too much, laugh ’til your sides hurt and your pelvic floor feels like it might give, and file away in your heart’s memory this time spent with your loved ones and the looks of contentment and joy on their faces. See you in 2010!

Santa Brain

NS December 4th, 2009

the-grinch

Before

heart copy

After

You know how some people claim to have ‘pregnancy brain’ or ‘mummy brain’, wherein they attempt to explain why they can’t concentrate on anything other than their offspring, but which is really just code for I Haven’t Slept in a Year and/or These Kids Are Hard Work And Parenting Sucks Every Last Drop of Energy Out of The Space Where Caring About Current Events, Interacting With Other Adults and Having Hobbies Or A Social Life Used To Be? Well, there’s a new one I’d like to add to the list: Santa Brain (or Father Christmas Brain for the British readers).

Josie is likely wretching at the thought, but I have already been sucked into the Christmas Vortex, the depths of which I shan’t return from until the January sales are upon us. I know, I know, it’s only December-the-bloody-4th and there’s still three weeks until the jolly man in the red suit squeezes his corpulent frame down my soot-laden chimney and the little George Jesus lays down his sweet head, and I’m an atheist and a cynic and have never been big on Christmas  and all its capitalistic, religious-driven dogmatic glory. Believe me, I know this.  I’d never EVER have pegged myself as a ‘Christmas Person’ but this year has been different.

Maybe it’s because my sister is coming in two weeks and I’m more excited about that than anything, or that The Noble Child is finally at an age where she truly grasps the concept of the holiday that has melted this Grinch McScrooge”s tiny, icy, bah-humbug heart. Maybe it’s the way her eyes sparkle and the way she claps her hands in gleeful anticipation at the merest mention of Santa and his reindeer that has me all warm and fuzzy ’round the aortic valves. This uncharacteristic soppiness is the reason my house is already festooned with decorations, why we’ve been listening to my Christmas mixed cd since yesterday and why I spent an hour and a half on all fours with a pair of scarves tied around my middle to fashion a harness for Santa (aka TNC in a Santa hat) to hold while I guided the sleigh (armchair) through the night sky (living room), passing out toys to all of the children of the world (The Noble Baby and the cat). It was the most ridiculous but fun way I’ve spent a Thursday afternoon in a long time.

Maybe it’s because when I explained to TNC that not all children get toys on Christmas and that she needs to be very thankful for what she has, her little face crumbled but then quickly lit up as she declared, “I will give all the children my toys and they will be happy again!” and that when I asked her if she would help me wrap the winter scarves, hats and gloves I donate to a homeless shelter each year, she looked me in the eye and said “Of course I will, Mummy! People need to stay warm on Christmas.”

Whatever it is, and however much it might ruin my ‘street cred’ amongst those who dismiss it all as corporate-driven bumpkis, I have rediscovered the magic of Christmas and the element of humanity that it brings out in us. And at a time when so much is going on, with the kids and my career and with my personal life, it has given me back something I’ve been missing for awhile: hope. That may be incredibly corny and hokey and mawkishly sentimental and all the rest of it, but since Christmas is a time to celebrate birth (even if I don’t buy into the whole story behind that particular one), it feels really refreshing and and wonderful to forget all the horrors and injustices of the world for just a little while and let my cynicism be replaced by optimism and a childlike sense of wonder at the world.

This ability to be humbled and step back from the bigger picture to celebrate life’s small joys is one of the most powerful gifts that having children has given me.  So please forgive my Santa Brain — my normal one is still there, it’s just busy being dipped in gingerbread houses, holly wreaths, elves and reindeer games. Ho ho ho!

You hate me, don’t you?

It’s raining, it’s pouring

NS December 1st, 2009

Things are a bit unsettled here at Casa del Savage. The Noble Child caught impetigo (from some crusty urchin who planted an infested kiss on her face, I presume) and so missed all of last week at preschool, resulting in levels of cabin fever and exasperation not seen since the summer holidays. Because her condition was contagious, we couldn’t even venture into a playgroup, the library or a cafe. It rained much of the week and TNB was also sprouting teeth like he’d been reincarnated as a shark. My days were spent holding a howling 3-year-old down to apply antibiotic cream, alternately cuddling and saying “What do you want?!” to an inconsolable 1-year-old and dealing with a raging case of PMS that saw me sustain a chocolate-related injury (I bent my index fingernail backwards while trying to break apart a large bar of Dairy Milk which had been in the fridge — it’s still black and blue).

On top of that, it was the end of the month, hence being broke and eating cheap meals and not being able to splurge on lovely lattes or a new book or anything like that. Usual end-of-month story. It was also Thanksgiving, which always finds me pretty homesick and missing my family, especially since it was the first major holiday since my grandfather died a couple months ago. The Noble Husband left work early and we took the kids to a restaurant for a (non-Thanksgivingy) meal and then I went to Jen’s on Saturday for a proper turkey fest, which was lovely, but it’s still hard not to miss family on such a family-oriented day.

On top of THAT (I’m almost finished bitching, I swear!), my laptop’s hard drive failed and I had to send it off to be repaired. It’s still under warranty so won’t cost me anything but I lost some data, namely the outline for my book. Thankfully I found about half of it on my Google Docs but the rest has vanished into the ether. Must. Start. Backing. Up. No more assuming it won’t happen again. If that wasn’t enough, TNB pulled my precious baby, my Canon Rebel Xsi, down from the bookshelf, where I’d placed it after trying to get some snaps of them in their Christmas pyjamas. It’s not totally demolished but something has been shaken loose internally and will require repair. It’s still under warranty as well but I bought it in the US, from an eBay store, so I’m not sure how sending it back for repair will work or if I’ll be able to get it back before Christmas. I’m guessing not. So that’s a downer.

The icing on this shit cake is that I’m also having some personal issues that need dealing with and that is preoccupying my thoughts. Add to this the fact that we haven’t done a scrap of Christmas shopping yet, TNC’s primary school admission application is due this Friday and I haven’t done it yet, and that I am working on some freelance articles, my book and am launching a new website and it’s easy to see why I have been and may continue to be quiet on the blogging front for a little while yet.

Now that you’re all up to date on what’s going wrong in my life, let me fill you in on what’s going right. This is the only thing making me smile sometimes these days. Behold, TNB’s “kiss face.”

kiss face

This is what he does when you say “Give mama/dada/your sister a kiss!” The way he puckers up, long before a lip or cheek is in reach, just cracks us up.  If either TNH or I are in a less-than-stellar mood we just ask for a kiss and let it make us laugh and melt our heart at the same time. I may start calling it Kiss Therapy.

Thank you, my darling boy, for reminding me that all the other stresses and mundane details in life don’t matter. Time with my family and kisses from my children? That’s all I need to see me through this rough patch.

Turns out, I need structure

NS September 22nd, 2009

The Noble Child started at her pre-school last Friday and is now going four mornings a week. The other morning, Thursday, she goes to her grandma’s house for the day. That means that every day of the week we have to be out of the house by 9am sharp. It also means she’s out of my house every morning. This has turned out to be a very good thing. Not just for her, but for me.

Before she started, I often shuddered at the thought of having to go from lazing around all morning to performing the military operation of getting children and self ready and out the door on time for school. I thought of myself as more free-spirited, less regimented than that. School uniforms on, bags packed, breakfast made and eaten, showered, dressed, hair combed and tied back, appropriate shoes and jackets located, snacks/lunches packed, pushchair and scooter ready to go (or kids in carseats, if driving), all before 9am?! You’re mad, I would’ve said. M-A-D. There is NO way this will happen, or at least it won’t happen without tears, tantrums and frantic last-minute dashes back inside the house for forgotten items, half-eaten toast and skimming of crumpled newsletters outlining what the children should bring with them or do on that particular day as I smack a palm to my forehead in panic.

I will crumble under the pressure, under the authoritarianism of it all, I thought. I’m not one of those super-efficient working mothers who does this every day without blinking, I’m a lazy, coddled SAHM who doesn’t HAVE to be anywhere, really. I won’t be able to hack it. But it turns out, I was wrong. Really wrong.

Not ony have I managed to get us all ready and there with time to spare, but I’ve been so much more productive in all other areas of my life as well. Being showered and fed and out the door seems to be curing what I thought was my laziness and gives me some kind of strange energy I had forgotten I ever possessed. I’ve been ticking things off of my to-do list, engaging more fully and happily with the children, getting more housework done, cooking healthier meals, spending less time on the internet and more time reading and working on my book, and I even applied for a full-time freelance job. I’m in the middle of this starburst of creativity and patience and, dare I say, contentment.

So this is what it must feel like to be one of those happy SAHMs, I realise, not the miserable, snarling, impatient ones  who just wants FIVE MINUTES TO HER FREAKIN’ SELF isthatsomuchtoaskhmm? before her goddamn head explodes and the wine is poured prompty at five because it’s the only thing keeping her hanging onto a very thin thread.

I feel content. I feel fulfilled. I feel happy.

I haven’t said those words (and meant them) in a very long time, it seems. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not been so down that I haven’t had moments of contentment or happiness or fulfillment, but not all three. Not all at once, for more than a few hours, or a day.

Granted, I realise that the first week of school often does this to people (from what I’ve read on mothers with more experience under their belts) and that inertia may eventually set in again, but even if it does, I now know that as much as I resisted the idea, I need structure to my days. I am a much better parent when I keep going and stay busy, not allowing myself to sit down and think too much about all the things that are going wrong or that I’d rather be doing. I thrive on having a full, varied schedule with the children, even if it’s just “Tuesday: cafe for tea. Wednesday: playground with friend down the road. Friday: ballet and then out for ice cream.” Or whatever. But I’ve noticed that if I take the kids out twice a day, even if it’s just to the shops or the library or to climb to the top of a hill and then race down, we all get on so much better. I suppose being cooped up in a small terraced house all day, tripping over one another and generally just getting on each other’s nerves is a recipe for disaster, really. It’s a wonder we’re all still alive. Cramped spaces make everything seem worse, don’t they?

I know that once winter sets in and life settles down again and the newness wears off, I might find myself backsliding to that place, the one I now know was teetering on the edge of depression, but for now I’m enjoying the moment. I’m connecting with my kids, especially TNC, like I haven’t in quite awhile. Our relationship is thriving. They deserve a better, happier, more balanced mother. And it turns out, all I needed to make that happen was an early shower and spending a lot more time out of the house. Who knew?

All I can say is thank god for the iPhone. Instead of wanting to get back home because I’m bored stiff at the playground and want to check emails, I can just park myself on a bench and keep one eye on my progeny while the other composes electronic messages.

Technology, you will be either the undoing of me or the making of me. I guess we’ll find out which soon enough.

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