July

Dear Babies,

20 things to think about:

  1. Most new experiences will be hard and weird and interesting. Hang in there.
  2. Ask for help. Ask questions. Ask people their names.
  3. You are never too old to make new friends.
  4. Figure out what happiness looks and feels like to you. That way you’ll know it when you find it. And it makes it easier to remember it when you lose it sometimes.
  5. Never be afraid to say ‘this doesn’t feel right’ and stop as soon as it doesn’t. Don’t rush.
  6. Try not to put too much pressure on other people to give you the love you should be giving yourself.
  7. Everybody is just looking to feel cared for, in a way that feels right for them.
  8. It’s the people, it’s the people, it’s the people; be good to the ones that are good to you.
  9. Make art with your friends.
  10. Take road trips and flowers.
  11. Try not to show up empty handed and always offer to do the dishes.
  12. No one ever regrets buying quality.
  13. You can do literally anything for 15 minutes. Clean your bloody room already.
  14. Say sorry when you hurt a persons feelings. Even if you didn’t mean to or if you feel embarrassed because you did. You will be surprised how meaningful an apology, and changing your behaviour, can be.
  15. If you do the things you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.
  16. Spontaneous musical numbers are good for you. Put a little air behind it.
  17. Dance wherever and whenever it feels necessary. It’s good for you to remember your body in a joyful way.
  18. Remember your manners. Your Great-Grandmother always said they lubricated society…She also said to always flirt with the butcher…
  19. Everybody feels better after a cup of tea. Or a bath. Or a poo.
  20. It feels good to laugh.

 

Mae; you have the creepiest laugh I have ever heard, and a grin that could power a city. You crawl into bed with me still, some nights. Sleeping with your little foot pressed up to my ribs and stealing the blankets. When I am trying to talk to your brother, discussing the consequences of his actions, you roar in the background: ‘take him away, Mama! Take him away! You love animals and the garden. There’s a pit-dober-weiler that barks at us on our way to the dairy. ‘Be quiet, Puppy!’ You yell back at him. ‘Be a nice dog!’. You’re incredibly bossy, in a good natured way. You come with me to the grocer and take our fruit and vegetables up to the counter. I handed you some ginger recently. ‘Gabba had this when she had a cold! She cut it up and made tea to help her feel better!’, you told me with earnest urgency. You are wary of shopkeepers, or store assistants, other adults at Playcentre. You don’t like to be spoken to by people you don’t know. You can be slow to show affection, but once you decide you like someone you ask after them constantly, enquiring as to their state of wellbeing. You told me today that you were a super fairy. I am inclined to believe you.

Theo; this month you turned 4 years old and had a party that you didn’t want. ‘No friends’, you told me. ‘Just my family’. We had afternoon tea on the Sunday before your birthday with Gabba and Pappous and your avalanche of honorary Aunties and Uncles, but we weren’t allowed to call it a party. There were two cakes, as is our tradition. And you got a little daunted when they came out be-candled, as if their presence was what distinguished this gathering as something more. But you blew out the candles and said thank you and ate more cake than anybody. You don’t like to be the centre of attention, even though you so often command it. You love to listen to music through headphones and when I ask you to lower your voice when you’re telling me what you like about the song you’re hearing, you turn to me and yell ‘I’M NOT YELLING!’. You never stop talking. You ask questions from the moment you wake up until I sing you to sleep at night. The Nearness of You is your favourite song at bedtime. I imagine you dancing to it in the future with the person you love. They’ll be so lucky you do.

 

  • (And one for luck:)  Just be yourselves. There’s a reason that that piece of advice is so popular. It’s because it’s good. And you’re great.

 

I love you all the love,
Mama xx

 

January / February / March / April / May / June

Happiness is a serious business.

I’ve let them stay in the bath too long; their little fingerprints turning into raisins.

Alice: Put your pyjamas on please, Theodore. It’s cold.

Theo: …Mama…are you happy?

Alice: Yes, darling. I’m happy. I am just using this tone so you know I’m serious.

Theo: Seriously…happy?

Alice: Seriously happy.

 

How could you not be?

A letter to my son on his 4th birthday.

Dear Bubba,

Theo4

 

You’re 4. Right now. Today. Sitting on our yellow couch watching Sesame Street. There’s popcorn kernels in the hallway and a slice of bread on the floor of the lounge. These things are not indicative of it being your birthday; they’re just indicative of how things can be sometimes. Things that will probably end in ants.

You’re 4. Right now. Today. And I remember so clearly, the moment you were born; in a plastic paddling pool in my mother’s kitchen. How heavy you felt; out of my body and in my arms. Finally; after 9 months, after 2 days of labour, after my whole life changed. You made me a mother in that moment, physically. You have made a mother of me every day since. I had so little idea, really, of what that would mean. That with you would come such meaning; a complete purpose; a new identity.  It was always  important to me that I not lose myself to my new title, that I held on to some semblance of balance. That who I was before was not eclipsed by who you had made me. So I mother you with who I am. Because as much as we are one another’s, we are separate. Even though we are made for and from each other. I respect you for who you are, as your individual you.

 

Theo9

You’re 4. Right now. Today. You have taught me more about myself than any introspection has. The practical application of caring for you. The strength and patience and resources it takes you treat you in the manner you deserve to be treated.  How being connected to you has connected me with everything. Son and sun at once.

You’re 4. Right now. Today. The house needs vacuuming and I haven’t decided what to cook you for dinner, though you’ll just want pizza. I’m looking at you now, I feel like I’ve spent your whole life just staring at you. You’re wearing stripes and jeans and your favourite boots. You’re playing with your hair. You’re balancing a helicopter on the back of a plastic truck. You’re talking to your sister.

Today.

Right now.

You’re 4.

 

Happy Birthday, darling.

 

You are endless to me.

 

Love, Mama xx

 

 

Three Hundred & Sixty Five – Days at Home: Week 27 + Thrifted.

 

The hardest button to button is probably the cutest. / Thrifted: Blue Willow platter. So handsome. / Ranunculi are my favourite + washi tape picture rails / Thrifted: Blue Willow teapot and 6 pretty cups – perfect service for a spot of tea in the watery Winter sunshine + Snapdragons & Carnations – Mabel’s choices from our fortnightly trip to the flower market. / Thrifted: glorious yellow sifter; how happy you make me. / Five Minute Fix: Hanging new curtains (also thrifted this week!) / Spot the Sausage Dog. / Mabel’s new tattoos. “This one is a fish! And this one is a spider!”. But which is which? Answer on a postcard to the usual address. / Spring is sneaking into our garden. I couldn’t be more ready.

June.

Winter arrived this month. I chase you around the house in the mornings, still dark; trying in vain to get you to keep your socks on; to sit under a blanket on the couch while you watch cartoons. You wear striped thermals under all your clothes; your super hero second skin. I tie towels about your shoulders at bath time, and fly you into bed.

I assembled your bunks this month; Theo on the top, Mabel on the bottom. Our nightly ritual now including me banging my head; catching a shoulder; injuring myself somehow, just trying to get to you for kissing; on your castle, in your little cave. They are a pain in the arse to make, to make nice of the nightly knots you make of your bedding, but I do, because doing so is a part of our rhythm. Like dance parties before dinner. Like 1000 kisses a day.

There are some parts of parenting that took no consideration for me. They arrived with a knowing, just like you both did. I knew I would have you both at home. I knew I would stay home with you once I had you. These decisions decided themselves. They were just what was going to happen. I never measured them alongside anyone else. I think we get so lost navigating by the belief that we are having a comparative experience with others. That my not doing what you have done is a judgement upon your choices, or vice versa. Where we are lucky enough to be empowered with options, what works for one may just not work another. It’s a process, not a competition. Try to remember that.

Mae; you are a party girl. When you were a baby, you thought that was your name. You responded to it; looked up at us, from where you bum-shuffled; hands full to treasure or contraband, usually one in the same. “What you doing, Party Girl? Where you going?”. You would invariably hit us with the full force of your grin, your whole face the Sun. Before scooting off somewhere new, ready to party; somewhere the chaperones weren’t such a drag. You can fall asleep standing up, and did so this month, further testament to your party girl powers, and some serious Darwinning. Most of your top teeth are chipped; from dancing, from falling, from your hereditary perilous sense of adventure. Your language is developing in leaps and bounds. You decided at 1 that you spoke English; ready to communicate, to express, to get together and feel alright. Now 4 months shy of 3 years old, you are all the time refining, elaborating, exploring language and all it can lead you to. Sitting on the couch last week, you danced in to the room and took me by the face. You took a deep breath before yelling, point-blank, ‘THESE ARE MY EXTRA SKILLS” apropos of nothing.

Theo; you know your left from right; which is often confusing and frustrating for both of us, because I don’t. Not without having to think about what hand I write with, anyway. You told me the other day that you wanted to be a doctor. And a digger. And to work at the dairy. You love Louis Armstrong and can tell the difference between a trumpet and an oboe, which is a pretty great party trick, for a 3-year-old. You have mastered the art of the leading statement, often opening with, ‘so, I’ve been thinking…’. You’d live at the library, if only they’d feed you. You asked me just now, ‘what’s the good news and what’s the bad news?’, which is pretty demonstrative of your thought process. What are my options here? Is there room to negotiate? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? You hate to be rushed, but are easy to reason with. Except for the times there is no reasoning with you. You get that from me.

You are all the colours at once, the pair of you. Flags held high, tales trailing behind you. Filling yourselves up. Forging new ground.

May which ever road you choose, always rise up to meet you.

 

I love you without measure,
Mama xx

 

January / February / March / April / May

 

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

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.