May.

Dear Babies,

This month the washing machine broke down (because I washed too many couch covers too many…and at once) and my cellphone stopped taking calls (because I answered it with wet hands from running the bath) and the batteries for the home phone were no longer working (after they were used in an ‘experiment’) and the dishwasher all of  sudden no longer washed dishes (which led me to discover, it was actually a fuse) and power points all over the house no longer had power and my laptop went to sleep and never woke up and the laptop I borrowed didn’t have all its keys (so I spent 3 weeks copy and pasting ‘L’s, ‘T’s and 9’s and do you know annoying that is, when you’re in a heated debate, over instant messenger?) and the USB keyboard I purchased today, because I had to write this post? Well, my darlings, I’ll be damned if the ‘A’ doesn’t work. So whenever you see one, think of me fondly; cross-legged and squinting, machine on machine, hunting for typos. Ctrl V. Ctrl V.

And all this to say, sometimes you will have a mare. And you will get to the point where you say, gosh, that’s a fair share. And then more will happen, and you’ll think, really? But…really? And then more will happen and you may have  cry; or you may be too tired to cry, or too stubborn; so maybe you’ll just be angry instead, and you’ll curse your lot and call your mother and swear and complain.  And then more will happen and you’ll be like OF COURSE. COME AT ME! WHAT ELSE YOU GOT? Because you are my children; and that’s how we do.

And on and on it may go, a veritable avalanche, untill you get to the point where you no longer care, which comes as respite, but also, rewardingly leads into the point where you will find yourself laughing. And then it’s as if the secrets of all things are revealing themselves to you. Because if you can still laugh, for whatever reason, alone and your own, you’re doing okay.

Because there will always be times where things go wrong. Times the sheer relentlessness of the world will astound you. But there are also first kisses, and new ventures, and parties and books. And inspiration and peanut butter and jam sandwiches and really hard hugs, right when you need them. There’s conversation and collaboration and new party clothes and treasure and gold watches and do you know how many cat videos there are on the internet? There’s new bands and old bands and doing your best. There’s cleaning your bedroom and washing your hair. There’s new friends and old friends and family. There’s new friends and old friends and family, who have a full complement of working chattels.

There’s a quote, wrongly attributed to Buddha, that says, “When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” And while it my not be from the source, there’s wisdom in it. Remember there is much to look forward to. And most of it will come as a complete surprise.

*

This month you said:

Driving somewhere talking about what we could see out the window:
Theo: Look at that truck Mama!
Alice: That’s a good one, Bubba. What do you like about it?
Theo: I like the engine and the started motor!
Mabel: I like the black it’s painted!

Sitting at the kitchen table; eating dinner:
Theo: Mama, what are prickles?
Mabel: Like on cactuses! (Then you laughed to yourself) Good thinking, me!

Sitting on the couch in the afternoon with Mae on my lap, when she turns to face me and pats my chest.
Mabel: Mama, your boobies were a milk container!

Theo came over to fix my fence (as played by the couch)
Theo: Hammer! Hammer! Hammer! There! All fixed!
Alice: Great! Thank you! How much do I owe you?
Theo: 20 box!

Getting in the car this morning, a Police car drives past.
Theo: You tell the Police to get lost!
Alice…You mean, you tell the Police when you get lost, darling?
Theo: Yeah! And then they’ll ring Simon!
Alice: …You mean…Ring the siren?

This month I overheard you say:

Theo: Is that the go-er?
Mabel: No! that’s the stopper!

Theo: I’m going to give you a haircut!
Mabel: Okay!

Theo: That sounds naughty and dangerous.
Mabel: Lets do it!

*

Theo; you have learnt to say and spell Bob the Builder in 5 languages, and to use the covers of our videos to copy the titles for searching on you tube. You are endlessly inquisitive; you asked me the other day why the mandarins had freckles, and asked your sisters feet why they were under her socks. “Feet? I’m talking to you, Feet!”. She made them reply in a silly voice and we laughed and laughed. You are such a good brother and son.  I remember exactly, like some cellular memory, how I would burp you when you were a baby. Sit you up straight with my hand across your chest, lengthen you as best you are able to lengthen a slug, tilt you slighty forward and rub your back in an upwards motion. You’d wake every 2 hours, like clockwork. And I remember, so clearly that time; how everything changed, suddenly so focused. I remember the light from the lamp on top of the television, where I would sit on the couch and feed you those nights. The warm weight of you. I had no idea the little boy you’d turn into; though you feel it, somewhere. A knowing. I am so proud of the person you are.

Mae; you say ‘him is’ instead of his, ‘them is’ instead of theirs. Carrying you in, half asleep from the car, you pointed your little hand “Mama, the stars have them is lights on”. We roll around in my bed, most mornings, under blankets til the house warms up. One morning you sat up and said, very earnestly, “It’s a whole city and a whole world, Mama. It’s a difficult music. We need a day off”. I am so often struck by your wisdom. I never want to forget how you talk, you say things like “There is a yittle cup in your breadroom”, which makes me so happy. You have no ‘L’s, could just about be my favourite thing of all time, but still surprised me when you asked me the other day why I had a cock on my arm. “You mean a clock, darling? My watch?” “Yeah. Mama! Your cock! It’s shiny!”. Your favourite look at the moment is to wear tights with feet as pants, and I call you Edie Sedgewick and you say “No! I am Mabel!”. You told me, this month, that you didn’t want to be a girl, as I sat on the toilet doing a wee. That you wanted to have a penis like Theo and Daddy and Pappou, so you could wee in the ‘toilet hole’. And I wanted to reassure you, to extol the virtues of our sex. Damn the patriarchy! Girl power! I was almost shocked by the force of my own reaction. But instead, I said, “That’s okay, baby. You can be whoever you want to be”. And then we sat there a moment; you on the floor, and me on the toilet, and we waited while that information echoed inside us. I will always be there for you, to help it take hold.

*

And so, my loves, take heed: it’s not the life in your appliances, or even the appliance in your life – because where there is a will, there’s always a way; even if it’s not the way you had planned.

That I stay home, Friday nights, and write love letters to the best people I know, is proof. Ctrl V. Ctrl V.

Everything’s gonna work out, you’ll see.

Love,
Mama xx

January / February / March / April

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Three Hundred & Sixty Five – Days at Home: Week 19.

 

Moving leaves from gutters after days of rain while you stand on the footpath and offer instruction / Practice makes perfect / So many questions I now just point. (You thought you had me, “What does this say, Bubba?” “Um…’on’?” “Close…it says ‘No'” “But…those are the letters for ‘on’!” and on and on (and no) it went for, seemingly, ever / Buttery, buttery toast / “What does this spell, Mama?” – Mabel gets in on the action / Things Vegans Eat: Vegan Coleslaw: 1 Onion, 2 Cloves of Garlic, 2 cups Red Cabbage, 4 grated Carrots, large handfuls of leafy green vegetables (pictured here: Spinach and Silverbeet) + Parsley. Toss through with Olive Oil and the juice of a couple of Lemons. Don’t have plans to kiss anyone directly afterwards.

A Letter to My Children on Mother’s Day.

I am sitting on the front step of our house, in the sun, writing this to you. It’s Sunday morning.

When I brought this house, at 22, I didn’t realise then that it was for you. That one day you’d be what filled it up, what pushed life into its every available space. You did the same with me.

The camellia tree, that was planted at the same time this house was built, some 80 winters, is filled with sparrows. These details; what it is to sit on the front step of the house you own, filled with the life you have made, watching sparrows dance; this is peace to me. That’s how I know I’ve done alright.

“It’ll be alright” was always the great standard of measure in my house growing up. And I use to feel somehow diminished, like things improving to the standard of just being alright was all there was to look forward to. But I see now, what my own Mother was teaching me was to have hope. To hold on to your hope and to let it lead you to where you are supposed to be. And that is the foundation I draw from everyday. It’s what brought me to this house and how you became my home.

I had no idea this was where I was going. And I am confounded with good fortune that it was here.

 

Thank you for bringing me home.

Mama xx

 

 

Three Hundred & Sixty Five – Days at Home: Week 18.

 

Changing the water every second day and adding a hefty teaspoon to brown sugar – Old Wives Tales that really work. Gerberas in their 3rd week. / Partially-Eaten-Apple Shortcake. Made with apples from our little tree. / One of those days. / A leaf Mae fell in love with from the Magnolia tree by the back door. Autumn’s really here. / Theo’s curls. I can’t bring myself to cut them. / May? Already? How did that happen? / Little wooden clogs perfect for dancing. / Helium balloons from a photo shoot for something very exciting on the horizon… / & Things Vegans Eat: Steamed Broccoli with Soy Sauce and Sesame Seeds. Honestly, try this for lunch someday soon. You’ll feel amazing. And there’s nothing like a virtuous lunch to justify 2 puddings.

 

 

April.

 

Dear Babies,

You don’t always have to be right. You won’t always be. In every new season of my life I realise how much I don’t know. But those gaps have a way of filling themselves. There’s this Kafka passage Tom Robbins quotes in Still Life with Woodpecker; “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”

Here is a secret that’s not really a secret (people will try to tell you that’s wisdom); you don’t always have to know what you’re doing either. Or what you want to do, or where you’re going. It is perfectly okay to just sit with that not knowing. To wait it out. To think it over. To try a bunch of things. To like them or not like them. To succeed or fail. Where and who you are supposed to be will find you. Your future is waiting, and you are the only one it wants. It’ll come to you. It always does.

We are all here; worrying the same worries and feeling the same feelings and thinking the same thoughts. The best you can do, at all times and anywhere, is to be kind. To yourselves especially. Be patient. When it all feels too slow or too hard or too much, try to remember that everything you have done has brought you to now, and you managed all those other times that felt too slow or too hard or too much, didn’t you? You kept breathing in and out and putting your right foot in front of your left foot until you found yourself somewhere else. Somewhere where maybe it was easier to breathe. Remember to breathe. It may sound too simple to be meaningful, but that’s a another lesson for another letter. Try and appreciate the good things, even in the bad times. Because they are there too, just as much and as ever and the hard things.

Read widely. Listen to all sorts of records, especially if someone you love loves them. These are the secrets people will share with you without even realising. Take a lot of photographs. I began the 365  project I’ve been doing this year, to help and mend a broken heart I was holding. One day at a time is a powerful thing. It’s enough. It is so easy to get caught up trying to figure out the future, when you’re headed there anyway.

Mabel; I think we all forget sometimes how young you are; only 2.  But you have reminded us this month, with your tantrums, your demands, so seemingly out of character, but so suitable for where you are right now. Being only 15 months younger than your brother, you have almost rolled into a twinship. But you are you and our very best you at that. You come up to me sometimes, and take my hand and say ‘best friends’. You like to build towers from all my library books and when I give you a carrot dipped in hummus, you eat the hummus off and hand me back the carrot, “More pwease!” you tell me, rather than ask. You’d live on crackers, if I let you. I woke up the other day, to find you sitting on my bed, crumbling a mysterious piece of polystyrene all over my bed covers. “It’s snowing, Mama!” you told me, as a million uniform snowflakes drifted over us. They stuck in your eyelashes, like some kind of Man Ray, and oh, I just can’t get mad at you. You overwhelm me with happiness. Your face heralds it.

Theodore; this time next year we will be preparing you for school. Just as I am beginning to feel as though I am getting this thing right. As our rhythm is finding us and carrying us over. That’s how these things happen, my love. The music swells, and our lives along with it. You say the most tremendous things, all day, without pause. “Where are my formal pants” you asked the other day. I had to tell you I didn’t know, because, formal pants? Where are you off to? The theatre? I ask you a lot of questions back, wanting you to look for your own answers, wanting to show you the possibility not knowing offers. And then there are some things, like when you say ’emergent seat!’ instead of emergency, which make me smile too hard to correct. Try and remember humility, Bubba. Never let yourself be shamed into it. But know that there is a connectivity that comes with it. Something relateable. Because when you are singing ‘heyyyyyy, sassy neighbour!’ as the lyrics to Gangnam Style, there is always going to be someone who thought those were the words too. And then you can laugh about it. Together.

I think I write you these letters as a way to hold on to you. Or to hold on to myself. To try to preserve something that is both fleeting and forever. I am sure, when you’re old, and I am trying to explain to you all that we find and feel over the course of all things, you’ll throw back to me, over your shoulder and out the door, “Yeah. I know, Mama. You covered that in Newsletter 57”. “Consider yourself lucky”, I’ll call after you, never to old to kick your ass, “that I was so consumed with love for you, I had to tell the whole world our story”.

Our tiny landscapes.

 

I love you all the love,

Mama xx

 

JanuaryFebruary / March.