Friday, 21 September 2007

on my way out the door

I should be packing, so I'll be uncharacteristically brief. I'm off for a week to do some relaxing by the seaside.

Perhaps even read a book for the first time since last summer. Sigh. This stack has been hanging around for way too long.

And I intend to enjoy the Spring weather and stop to smell the flowers, which seem to be blooming round these parts.I do like the colours and the sheen of the Rowan. There's rather a lot of them now. I think I might need to start on something new for a while and let these settle in.

Spring has also prompted me to get out these and these for a bit of hard yakka. I'm very stiff and I've generated an enormous amount green waste. But with no water it's hard to get a foothold in the beauty stakes.

An end to footy season. A blast from the past as Amy dons D's childhood jumper from no longer existing team. Much sadness and bemoaning the olden days of real neighborhood footy league.

And a new toy care of workplace technological obsolescence. So now we have three obsolete computers and I can return to the Mac fold for a bit of nostalgia. Aren't we lucky!

See you all in a week or so.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007


Amy: You are the best mum ever.
Me: Why do you say that honey?
Amy: Because you do the washing and make dinner and sometimes take the clothes off the line. Sometimes you even run my bath.
Amy: Mum, did you know six is an even number? Because it is three plus three.
Me: That's right.
Amy: And mum, did you know that nine is an odd number?
Me: How did you work that out? [since she hasn't been taught any maths per se and only knows about even numbers because they are something plus something when the something is the same]
Amy: I just did lots of thinking.
Amy: So if I ate all the lollies in that lolly bag I'd be so sick I'd have to go to the hostipal in an ambliance wouldn't I?
Amy: OK! The hostopital in the amluliance then.

Monday, 17 September 2007

the rest of the other one

One of the things I find confusing about being a parent is how often and how easily I get pulled from doing what I believe is right. I find this confusing because in the rest of my life I think I run pretty sure to course.

I am by nature an analytical person. I think it through, do my research, test my theories and then lock the answer in. Not that I'm saying I'm immovable, I'm happy to re-examine my views in the light of new evidence. But I trust my process. I like to move on.

So what is it I believe about parenting that keeps getting lost?

I think children are born pretty much whole. They are not blank slates, empty vessels or even lumps of clay waiting to be molded. They are organisms born with all the tools and instincts to survive and thrive. They have personalities, preferences, desires and dislikes. They have strengths, they have weaknesses. They have imperfections.

Some of them are better placed to be happy or accepted or successful. To run fast or stay free of diseases. To control their impulses or play a musical instrument. To adapt to hardship, to sleep long hours, to be social or alone, to speak or write or draw or read. To be adventurous.

They are all entirely themselves and deserve to be loved and nurtured and given every opportunity to develop. They all need to be properly fed and sheltered and kept warm and educated, to be given health care and stimulus.

But they will all suffer. They will suffer disease and loss and cruelty and frustration. They will all experience the problems of their own shortcomings and while from an objective viewpoint these may vary wildly in scale, they will each feel and interpret their own pain subjectively. Nothing can be done to protect them from life.

Because of this, I think children develop themselves through their experiences. They behave by instinct to begin with and modify their behaviour based on what comes back at them. When it works, they'll keep on doing it, but when the results they get are not in their interests, they'll change.

There are definitely limits to how much they can change. An introvert is not likely to become an extrovert for example, and the kid who is forever on the move with boundless energy won't willingly become a couch potato. And that can present real problems. For kids and their parents too.

Because we know that some of those things, those behaviours and appetites are not good. They can hurt others, or be unhealthy or intensely annoying or lead to isolation and unhappiness. Sometimes that's a transient thing while new boundaries or developmental stages are reached. Other times it is a part of someone's make up as much as their eye colour or height.

So I believe all this with quite a high degree of confidence. That children should essentially be left alone to work it out for themselves, to become who they are unencumbered by the pressures and expectations of their parents and their community to be things they are not. And at the same time I recognise the responsibility inherent in parenting is to shepherd a child from the womb to a place where they can exist as an independent being. To find their place in the world.

So here is the paradox.

I look on my children, particularly Amy who I know so much better than Wil, as my equals in terms of their right to self-determination. Intellectually I can't find any rationale that holds up that says she should have to do things my way, or give up doing things her way. I can also point to plenty of evidence to suggest that the more I try to bend her the more she will resist, if not through battles of will now then through rebellion or repression later on. I don't want that for her. Or me. No winners there.

But neither can I deny that I have a job called mothering. To make sure she eats something more than lollies, that she wears sunscreen, that she learns to be respectful and law abiding. To teach her about the costs and benefits of conforming, to help her understand delayed gratification, to expose her to diversity and help her make good choices. To understand that it takes age to develop wisdom and not expect her to do more than she can for her stage of life.

And part of that job is also about being able to go off duty. To put some limits in place for my sanity as well as her benefit. To recognise that even if I thought she had a right to bottomless needs, I can't provide bottomless mothering. Life involves compromise and pragmatism and better we tackle that upfront rather than take it on as defeat. Be strategic about it.

Even though I'm not one to get too caught up in the chattering about being a good mother, I am not immune to the commonly held fundamental proposition that my children are almost exclusively a product of my choices and mothering. That if my child throws tantrums it is because I have given in to them in the past, if they are a fussy eater it is because I introduced foods wrongly, that if they will not sleep it is because I have established bad routines.

And the challenge is in being able to see clearly between my choices and theirs, indeed between inevitable realities and choices at all.

In those times when I am confronted by the things my children do that I can't easily accept (not sleeping, endless crying, problematic eating, talking too loudly and incessantly, whining, intolerance) or when something goes wrong that could have been prevented (injury, illness, missed opportunities) it all gets very slippery.

With Wil especially, because he can't speak for himself or assert his will, I feel I am at once his advocate and his opponent, trying to secure for him what he wants but trying to stop him from pursuing the wrong things. And all the time trying to love him and console him through the difficulty of his own journey.

So when I have to choose how often to breast feed him, to take just one of so many available examples, my instinct is to let him feed as he chooses.

But then.

But then.

But then I have to think about whether this is really a good choice, whether his desire to feed is really about feeding, whether he shouldn't be eating more solids, whether this contributes to being unsettled, whether it is in his best interests to get his nutrition and comfort from the breast. Whether this is one of those occasions where I need to shepherd him into the next stage of his life, where I need to help him towards self sufficiency. Whether I ma setting up bad habits, whether being tied to him on an hour by hour basis is really in my interests, the family's interests. Whether it is my choice, not his, to take the simple route to calm and sleep.

This is the hard work of parenting. It's not the nappies and the getting up in the night and buckets of baby food to prepare. It's the not knowing and the questioning. Accepting that everything that goes wrong may not have gone wrong if you had made different choices, but that everything that went right was probably nothing to do with you.

And can I say?

I hate it. I hate that not knowing, that always feeling responsible even knowing that what you do almost certainly makes no difference. I hate that my confidence and reason desert me when I need them most and return when a crisis passes. I hate the way every little decision must be made over and over again and reconsidered each time in a subtly different new light even though the answer is just as surely the same.

And I hate that I just feel the need to complain about it all so much because come on, I have it really good. Like the cat that swallowed the canary. It's just the feathers tickling on the way down.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

pretty pictures

My last post keeps floating around in my head.

There is much more I wish to write on the topic of how I respond to the hard bits, what I believe about the little people, what I believe about parenting and its role in helping little people deal with suffering, how it feels when what I believe presents me with intolerable situations, how it is when what I feel so differs from what I believe, how robust I am in dealing with that.


This morning I have a couple of precious hours to get some things done unencumbered by little people so instead I'll just flash some pictures of the pretty bits of life while I get on with some making.

First some mail.

Gotta love those friends with skills and good taste, thank you so much Di! The spiral hat (more photos from all angles over here) is superb and the yarn delicious and it coordinates so well with the hoodie I want Wil to wear this combo everyday. and the fabric so well chosen! I can think of so many projects waiting to jump out of these.
And you gotta love those people who run businesses to admire, with product to feel good about (thank you Vivian!!). Crochet blanket is coming.
And speaking of great product, I finally finished Wil's off to childcare backpack with thes eexcellent fabrics from Sprout design. It wasn't exactly ready for his first day but I'm pleased with the result. The bag is good and I'm chuffed with a few of the details I got right but the fabric is what really deserves the rave. Good quality basecloth, excellent print quality and of course superb design and colours. So delightful in every way.

What else? I bought some Rowan cotton glace to try and make something someone described to me that they had seen on someone else...Nothing like flying blind I say. You can see some more when I'm a little further progressed. And I'll show you the crochet cat I made with some of it whilst I was trying to wrap my mind around exactly what the heck I was doing with the other thing.

A 2 minute project - a new toy for Wil. I threaded some felt balls and beads I had made for other things onto some sturdy cotton. Lots of wholesome games in this for adventurous mouths and clumsy hands.
And I'm showing you these just because. I inherited them from my grandmother, the original Amy in my life. Hand made hammered silver teaspoons with individual floral emblems. I know nothing about them or who made them but they are so exquisite I just like looking at them.

And now I'm hitting the sewing machine.


Wednesday, 12 September 2007

where does the time go...

It is proving difficult to find blogging time right now. Mostly I blame Wil.

Yeah, it's all Wil's fault, as Amy would say.

My delightful happy calm baby has spent the last week or two reminding me that babies are evil and only people with a death wish and no self esteem have them.

We've had lots of screaming and sleeplessness and bottomless appetites and I have been stricken with the devil child's bedfellow, demented mother syndrome. I seem to have lost entire days of my life considering the endless list of possible causes and remedies to what ails him including but not limited to

too much food
not enough food
food at the wrong time
the wrong kind of food
gluten intolerance
bad genes
too much burping
not enough burping
a (symptomless) cold
growth spurt
poor sleep routines
poor breast milk supply
ear ache

And what really shits me about these bursts of hell, quite aside from the way they consume so much freaking time and plunge me into exhausted depression, is the way I oscillate between thinking it is my job to rise above it and feeling like it is my job to fix it. I just can't stand the indecision. The way I devote all this time and intellectual energy shoring up one argument - it's a phase, don't worry about it, it will pass, the biggest mistake I can make is getting myself all tied up over it - only to be struck by the conviction that there is something quite obviously wrong - he's not normally like this, he's just started on wheat and all this bloating and gas is a classic sign of gluten intolerance, he keeps tipping his head to one side and his nose is running so surely he has an ear ache, he's not normally like this.

And it goes on and on and I begin to lose track of the days and exactly how long he's been insufferable and how much sleep I should be expecting (for me as well as him) and how many times I've contemplated calling the doctor and whether I'm making a rod for my back by letting him into the bed and how long it has been since I've read a blog, let alone posted on one and why it is wrong to sleep on a flimsy bit of foam on the living room floor because the bed seems like a cruel joke. And keeping a semblance of order and reasonable food provisions in the house seems entirely beyond me and I can't remember what you are supposed to feed babies aside from zucchini and pear (especially if they fart and seem to get gut aches all the time).

And then one morning I wake up and Wil is lying there looking at me without screaming at all and he goes off to his first day at childcare without me and he eats and plays and sleeps without screaming (though the farts apparently continue) and when I arrive to pick him up he smiles sweetly at me and goes back to what he was doing so I go off for another hour and he's still happy when I come back.

So what the heck does that all mean? And more importantly should I even be asking the question because most surely there is no answer to it anyway.

So I'm conscious that these endless ruminations about the minutiae of baby life are in fact deadly boring. For me as well as you. And yet here I am, sucked into the vortex in such an all way that if I wasn't writing about it, I wouldn't be writing. I am kind of shocked to find myself so much less robust than I thought in the face of it all, so quickly sinking without a trace.

Perhaps I can post about it today because it is passing. My shock and Wil's demons.

I've been snatching moments to sew, but progress has been murderously slow. And boy that's frustrating too.

Building works have been equally snail paced. Poor D is drowning under a heavy workload and an endless to do list at home. I do my best to occupy the youngsters out of the house each Sunday to let him get on with it but that's wearing a bit thin for me too. We're tired.

I know, I know, like der fred.

But thrilled with the glass wall in the shower, thrilled to have a working shower for the first time in so very long. I have plans for the view, but hey will have to wait a little while yet I am afraid.

And speaking of plans, it's spring and gardening time. At the moment we've got a lot of compacted, sad dirt and remnants of old backyard, not to mention building materials and all kinds of trash. We've also got bugger all time. Not a combination likely to produce the lush playground and fertile crops we'd like. I'm trying to content myself with some long range planning and a vivid imagination.

And some crochet. No photos, sorry. Soon. Maybe.

If he sleeps.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Pachelbel Bedtime

Oh my. Happy father's day.

Thanks for the link Krista.


My name is Suzie and I am a fabric addict.

Hello Suzie.

The rationalisations that prevent me from believing I have a problem.
It is cheaper than gambling.
It is more legal than heroin.
It is less physically damaging than extreme sports.
It is less socially destructive than alcohol.
It is more socially appropriate than sex addiction.
It is more practical than collecting fine china.
It is more community building than playing with model trains.
It uses less bandwidth than facebook, myspace or you tube.
It is more useful than restoring cars.
It is less privileged than playing golf.
It is less fattening than a vanilla slice.

And welcome Spring. What other way would I want to celebrate the turning of the seasons?

Now all I need is a clone to do all the child minding, report writing and domestic godessness whilst I sew us all our spring and summer wardrobes...