11 Years

I once read that one of the most important career related decisions a woman can make is who she chooses as a partner – someone who values her career as much as his or her own and is willing to do things to support it, or someone who sees their career as most important and can only take what they need to sustain it, not give what their partner needs. What this comes down to is mutual respect. Seeing each other as equal partners where, when one person succeeds, they both succeed.

11 years ago today I made one of the best decisions of my life and married my husband. We’d been together for four years before that and, to be honest, if he had’t proposed when he did we wouldn’t be where we are today. But he did, and here we are.

We’ve weathered our fair share of storms. We are incompatible in every way but the important ones. We’ve embarked on the journey of parenting and eight years in have managed to produce two beautiful little boys without killing each other (or them. Some days it’s a close run thing though). He lifts me up, makes me laugh, holds me when I cry, forgives my weaknesses, leads when he must and follows when he must. Apart, we are still whole but together we are so, so much more than the sum of our parts.

Truly and as trite as it sounds, everyday I love him more.

Allot 2007 171

Land of the Long Weekend

Australian’s love a long weekend. This weekend it’s the Queen’s Birthday long weekend (but not actually the Queen’s Birthday) and we’ve spent it visiting family. Both my parents and my MIL and SILs live in the same area, so it’s easy to visit them all the same time.

It’s also exhausting.

I remember when I used to sleep in on a public holiday, have a relaxed brekky and spend the day doing generally very little or spending time with friends. Ah, those days are gone. My children get up between 6 – 6 30 am every day. EVERY DAY. But, that said, I think my days are more interesting now.

What do you get up to on a day-off?

Everyone has an opinion

Life is a BIG Adventure

My dad turned 70 last week. That’s a big deal. Seven decades, a world of travel, military service, one wife, four children, countless adventures. Sometimes, listening to my dad I realise that the world has both been transformed in countless ways and yet has stayed so much the same. He’s part of the baby-boomer generation, literally born into a world recovering from war. I wonder what pressures that must have put on a whole generation of children and what scars their parents must have been carrying with them.

Of course, life is one big adventure. We do our best to find our way with the map we’ve been given, often it’s a bit a tattered and has ‘here be dragons’ scrawled in the corner, and the guides we’ve found, also a bit tattered. For most of us, the vast majority, the adventure has it’s white sandy beaches and mosquito ridden swamps. For some of us it’s all swamp, sadly.

I hope when I look back on 70 years of adventure I can say it was pretty awesome, and I hope that I have achieved as much, and am as loved, as my dad.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Autumn Has Arrived

I love April. March is a bit of a tease, flashing us with sweltering days and then blindsiding us with a burst of cold weather but April is all mild days, crisp as an apple off the tree, and cool nights touched with the scent of wood smoke. It’s the perfect weather for getting outside, gardening or making mudpies (or a little of both).

It’s not so conducive to actually sitting down and writing but hey, there’ll be time for that when May and June roll round and winter cranks into gear. At the moment I’m enjoying some time with the kids while school holidays are still on, tucking into what the Easter Bunny so kindly left us and doing a little polishing on the manuscript I’ll be talking about with a publisher at the writers conference next month.

Where ever you are in the world I hope the weather is being kind to you.

I’m Back

I have been missing in action for the first half of this month. B2 turned four (where did those years go?), we spent time visiting family and I tried to wrangle my character, Sam, through the minefield of relationships in his life – you know, just the usual like friends and family and his dead father’s secret second family. But all of this left little time for blogging.

On top of that, and pursuant to my last post, we’re still house hunting. This is becoming less fun, I can tell you. The anticipation and, to be honest, the potential to sticky beak through someone else’s house is fun but the feeling of, ‘no, not this one’, is less so. But then, how privileged are we that we’re in a position to be house hunting in the first place.

So, how’s your March been going? I’ve been amazed by how quickly the year has been flying by. What about you? And how are your New Year Resolutions faring?

 

Starting School

Today B1 started school. In Victoria we call in Prep and so now, instead of saying that I’m the mother of two pre-schoolers, I’m the mother of a prep and a pre-schooler.

When I was teaching, and bare in mind I was a high school teacher, I found parents somewhat strange – like exotic animals whose behaviour I didn’t really understand. To be fair I was in my early 20s and closer in age to their children then I was to them. I found their expectations (voiced or otherwise) overwhelming. Some of them were protective to the point of bubble wrapping their house, others wouldn’t have known where their children were five nights out of seven. Some of them were dumbfounded by the change in their children following the onset of puberty and were looking for answers – answers I had neither the training nor the life experience to give them.

Now my child has started school. I spent the first six months of his life wishing the time would pass quicker – please sleep, please feed less, please smile, please laugh – and now I don’t know where the time has gone. How did it pass so quickly?

And boy do I have some high standards for my son’s teachers 😉

If your little cherub has started school for the first time this year and you’re feeling a little lost (and maybe a little cheated by Father Time) then know you’re not alone. Like me, you might find it helps to remember what a big, exciting, adventure your child is beginning and that education is a gift and a privilege that not all children in the world are lucky enough to be given.

And it’s okay to cry…in private.

Good luck!

Put out your bats…

If you live in a cricketing country then you’ll probably have heard of the sad passing of Phil Hughes. Whether you follow the cricket or not, the loss of a young man in such a random way is heart wrenching, and the grief of people from all walks of life and across generations is a powerful example of our shared humanity.

Personally I don’t follow the cricket, the only thing more boring is golf and televised parliamentary sittings, and it would be wrong of me to pretend that I knew anything of Phil Hughes’ career. But I do know the impact he had on my husband, a man known for his reserve, who is a true cricket fan and an avid fan of Phil Hughes. A man who was truly shocked, stunned and saddened by Phil Hughes’ unexpected death.

From an authors perspective, it’s interesting to observe human nature and behaviour at times like this and, when emotions are new and sharp, to notice feelings and thoughts that you might otherwise have ignored. It’s an education to see how shared grief (or shared joy, fear, anger etc.) is expressed both publicly and on a personal level.

From a persons perspective my heart goes out to Phil Hughes’ family and friends and also to Sean Abbott and his friends and family who are undoubtedly going through a difficult time.

What Makes a Family?

I enjoy writing children’s picture books. B1 in particular gives me any number of ideas for new stories and I can then share them with my own little ones.

Invariably though, if I write a story with a family, there’s a mum and a dad. This is probably because I grew up in a ‘traditional’ family. My parents have been married for over forty years, and when I say ‘parents’ a mean my mum and my dad.

But there are lots of different types of families. Families with two dads or two mums, families with single parents, families with grandparents as guardians. All sorts of different families providing children with happy, healthy, loving homes.

So, does that mean there should be more diversity in the families portrayed in children’s picture books? I think so but I’m curious what you think.

And to be honest, I’ve never written a story with same sex parents. I’m nervous about hijacking a story, which is aimed at entertaining children, with a statement aimed at parents. But that said, it would be nice if diverse families were represented more…

…and didn’t even make us blink.

Mums

Today is my mum’s birthday (happy birthday Mum!) and I suspect Mum has had a wide range of birthdays. This year she is celebrating in England with my dad (who is also her husband, so that’s handy) and her twin sister (hi Aunty Trudy), but she’s spent plenty of birthdays without Dad, who works away, and plenty of birthdays with her kids – which I suspect was not always the gift you’d think. After all, even on your birthday, children demand need attention and care. Not just love, which is fairly easy to dish out any day of the year, but they need to be clothed, fed, woken up (if they’re teenagers), sent to bed (if they’re little ones), bathed, played with, refereed. The list goes on. So while I’m sure she would love to have us all with her (especially now we’re adults and can more or less feed, dress and bathe ourselves) I’m also sure she’s enjoying having a day that really is all about her (and Aunty Trudy of course).

But the thing is, because my mum was the sort of mum who gave me (and my siblings) time and energy and attention and affection and love, every single day of the year, I really miss her. Today especially because I would love to give her a present and have a meal with her. It’s something I’m really looking forward to when she and Dad are finally in the same time zone as I am. Which makes me wonder, will I ever stop needing my mum? If I need her now, when I’m thirty and have children of my own, is there ever a time when I’ll have outgrown my mum’s hugs and chats and advice?

I hope not.

And I hope B1 and B2 never do either.

So happy birthday Mum. Have a wonderful day. You deserve it.

And Dad, I miss you as well.

 

 

A Hat For Every Day

My mum doesn’t have a hair on her head.

Not one strand.

Not one kink.

Not one curl.

But she does have a lot of hats.

She has hats with flowers and hats with feathers. Hats with brims and hats with bows.

Staw hats, lace hats, big hats and small hats.

Wooly hats, leather hats, cloth hats, sparkly hats.

She has hats for hot days and hats for cold days, hats for summer days and hats for winter days. Hats for normal days and hats for special days.

But she only has one hat for hospital days.

It’s soft and warm, it fits just right, and she wears to hospitals where she must sit, sit, sit.

She wears it and watches her medicine go drip, drip, drip.

Then there’s no hat days. They’re ginger tea days and sleepy days, cuddly days and snuggle on the couch days when I stroke Mum’s head and my tummy feels a little bit funny.

But mum says, when her hair grows back again, she’ll grow it all the way down her back. She’ll dye it blue and pink and green. She smooth it, spike it, spring it and spruce it. She’ll wear it up, she’ll wear it down, she’ll wear it half way in between. She’ll have ribbons, she’ll have bows, she’ll have tiaras and clips, bands and grips.

Mum says, when her hair grows back and she’s feeling good again, she’ll have a hair style for every occasion, a do for everyday.

She’ll have as many ways of doing her hair as she has hats, and we know all about that.