I’m a mum too, you know!

I went to the Melbourne “Special Edition” Pregnancy, Babies and Children’s Expo on the weekend, down at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Having scoured the preview list of stall-holders, I knew exactly what I was looking for: teething jewelery!

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I’d seen my friend at church sporting a funky string of these colourful, over-sized silicone beads and decided I simply *must* have one. After all, Amelia is that stage in life where anything within reach is fair game for her little grabbing, pulling mitts, and this of course includes any necklaces I might dare to wear. What better solution than something she can grab and chew on (providing her plenty of entertainment) without worrying about her breaking it? The groovy colours are just a bonus!

Another thought popped into my head when I was sealing the deal (did you know vendors can now use a phone app to “swipe” your credit card?) – it would be great for when I’m out and about without Amelia. This probably sounds crazy, but I want other mums – you know, those random ones you see down the shops – to know, I’m one of you! OK, I think I am crazy. But I can’t shake it! And I like to think that wearing my bub-friendly bling acts as some unspoken code, alerting the parenting world to my mum-status.

Perhaps it’s because parenting is such a monumentally self-consuming journey that even the most basic bond, initiated by mere visual recognition, between parents – even those who are complete strangers – is enough to generate a little encouragement. It’s like being part of a prestigious club, filled with secrets to life that only members can know, whose emblem is a vomit stain on one’s shirt, whose mascot is the child-wrangling, house-keeping, job-working, sleep-deprived, under-appreciated though much-loved mum or dad.

Or something like that. All I know is, I need more of these necklaces. Have you seen how many groovy colours and designs are out there?!

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I crave chips on Mondays

The fish and chip shop isn’t open on Mondays. Not the good one, anyhow; we swore off the one down the far end of town after the last overcooked batch. Notwithstanding, every Monday I think how nice it would be to get some hot chips to go with dinner, maybe a potato cake salty and sauced up on the side. Or forgo boring plans for casserole or chow mein and order dim sims, crab sticks, a souvlaki for Sean…

It’s always on Mondays. Weekends I’m on my own – the sad life of a chef’s wife, restlessly pulling open the cupboard and fridge with a depressing lack of inspiration (or ingredients, as is often the case). But Monday is when our good friend, and godfather to Amelia, comes over and Sean doesn’t have work and the sun shines and and it’s our weekend. Somehow the crispy salty goodness just seems right.

Growing up, when it was just the four of us – Mum, me, sister, brother – we’d have chips by the beach or sitting in a park; other times, just at home after walking, skipping up, us kids to collect that package of butchers paper to be opened steaming and delicious. Other times we’d share them over the centre console in the car, hands dipping into the hole ripped into one end, fingers burning, blowing and savouring the hot belly feeling on a chilly day.

Maybe one day I’ll open my own Fish and Chip shop, and it’ll close on Tuesdays.

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Is everything pointless?

I’m feeling down. It’s been creeping up for a few days now. Maybe weeks? Like a wave I’ve tried to surf to the top of, while an undercurrent works even harder to suck me under. Today I woke up (late) and could barely move for apathy and malcontent. Circling around my head like a fly whizzing aimlessly around and around, there was this thought, a half-hearted sentiment…. there’s just no point.

Depression is the word for it, but I’m loathe to apply it to myself. That would require some sort of action, after all, and I can’t stand the thought of having to open up to someone – it all feels so futile, so difficult, like going for a run after Christmas lunch – heavy, draining, passionless.

Of course, I don’t want to go on like this. So I thought about it, slowly, a little here, a little there, as I poured milk over my cereal and flaked out on the couch and ambled from one room to another in a forgetful haze of pretending to be doing something. I thought, and it came to me.

Right around when I was thinking that even God and his plans and his callings in life are pointless, that’s when it occurred to me: this idea of pointlessness? That’s a lie of the Devil, right there. And it’s a good one. It’s enough to send you over the edge, to make you give up life altogether. And if not your physical life, the beating heart and breathing in and out and being not-dead – then at least the things that make up a life, the talking and connecting with people, the creating and feeling and seeking. It can make you give it all up to lie in bed with barely even the effort to feel properly miserable (because what’s the point?). It can make you abandon God, and his plans for you. It’s a good one, because it’s so effective at being bad.

Having established that this thought is a lie, I can move on. That idle, buzzing thought has buzzed off – it couldn’t stand to be confronted with the truth of its own inherent untruthfulness, and was forced to leave. I’m tired, and I need to drink a lot more water, and do a bit of exercise, but that’s just physical stuff. In my mind I’m a little weary, but I’m OK again now. I can keep going, I can do things that are healthy for me, like talking to friends and pursuing activities I enjoy, because I know the truth is that there is a point. I might not know what it is, exactly, but I know that pointlessness is a lie, and that’s enough to keep moving forward.

My best reason for keeping it together

 

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At the end of our resources

It’s 9:55pm on Wednesday night. Sean has high hopes for finishing work by 10:30 and my spirits soar – last week it was all early starts and late nights, 56 hours worked and no breaks had, no food eaten in that time, and we commiserated instead of relaxed, shared sympathy instead of affection.

Many don’t understand. The figures don’t compute; the madness of it all, experienced second-hand in abbreviated story-telling, is lost, beyond the comprehension of the nine-to-fivers, the weekend-revelers, the lucky majority working regular jobs and finding recreation in between. It’s not just the hours worked – long and grueling though they be. He copes with the fast pace and the dulled hunger and the sore feet; at home, I wish for another set of hands to help with Amelia, and chip, chip, chip away at housework between feeding, changing, playing, placating. But then he returns from work, wearied, stressed, to down some dinner and have a shower and tumble into bed, to do it all again the next morning. Neither of us energy to relate beyond a dot-point run-down of the highlights and lowlights of our day. We sleep on opposite sides of the bed and when I wake he’s often gone, or just leaving.

The ‘weekend’ rolls around – Monday and Tuesday, the beginning of the work week for most. Sunday night runs late most weeks and so we’re exhausted when we roll out of bed and begin the cross-country motley collection of errands that always pile up, waiting to be completed, on that first weekend day. Errands complete, Sean helps me with the infinite build-up of housework I have not managed during the week. Monday is not a day for relaxing.

Then Tuesday comes, and Sean is filled with dread already because tomorrow he goes back to work. Now we make this our shopping and cooking day; we go to the markets, and buy all we need to cook up a fortnight of meals and freeze it. Tuesday is not a day for relaxing.

We are tired. Exhausted, even. Our mental energies have been spent and we’re desperate for change. If only Sean can find a new job, like the nursery positions he’s applied for, and work during the day, during the week, and spend time with me and Amelia. Please…

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Things change

I have this picture hanging in the bedroom. Strung across the back is a line of thread, and this balances on a wall hook. For as long as we’ve lived here – a good ten months or so – it has tilted to the left, upsetting my internal perfectionist every time I look at it. Initially I had made several attempts to right it, but to no avail. Yesterday, amidst a cleaning frenzy that saw me cleaning that side of the room (Sean’s side) I made another go of it. I moved it a little this way; I moved it a little that way – and walked away satisfied that it was fixed. Looking at it now, it’s worse than ever!

It is a kind of soul poetry, I believe, to observe some mundane fact and be able to apply it in creative analogy to the profound complexities of life by way of abbreviated understanding. Staring at the picture, feeling a rising sense of irritation, I contemplated some of my favourite bloggers and other writers and how they might look at such a situation and be able to plumb the mysterious depths of human existence.

Life has been a little humdrum the last couple of years. A few ups and downs, but overall, a moderately bleak picture of financial struggle and general stress. It has been on the downward tilt. Little successes have been short-lived, and generally after a brief dip below our starting point, we will return to the status quo.

Then our beautiful baby girl was born and it was tax time and the government was giving us money for having a baby and things were looking good! It was just like the picture – a little bit of wiggling and adjusting, and it appeared to have righted itself, ready to carry on in an agreeable manner. But this was an illusion: just as the picture fell even further than before, so have we been plunged into a crisis, where we are dealing with not only the usual financial stresses, but critical emotional and psychological burdens as well.

It may seem like I couldn’t possibly fix that picture and make it stay where it should be. After all, I move it, and it gets worse. So too does it sometimes feel like life can’t improve any; like any time we seem to get a leg up, we end up slipping further down than before. But we won’t always be here. One day I will hang my picture on a fresh wall with two hooks, so it can’t fall. And one day God will bring us to a place where we are no longer tossed and thrown about like a canoe caught in a storm in the middle of the ocean.

I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.

Jeremiah 31:13b

 

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Why do I blog?

A few months back I pondered the question, “why do I blog?” The answer I came up with was to organize and share my thoughts. However, today I’ve concluded that that’s not enough.

I got to thinking when I realised I’d forgotten my Instagram photo-a-day challenge for several days’ running. Contemplating what I might put up, I wondered how many people might “like” my photo. A thought that has been slowly brewing and bumping around in sub-conscious suddenly burst through into my consciousness: why do I do this? Is it purely for the likes? Because that honestly seems pretty shallow and pointless!

No, it’s not for the likes – though that can be a good indicator of whether I’m succeeding or not. Succeeding at what exactly? The cogs turned, and out came a series of possible objective statements:

  • to grow a following
  • to share my thoughts
  • to argue contentious points
  • to give people something interesting to read

None of these felt right. Then out popped one last statement:

  • to inspire thinking

Finally, I have hit upon my blogging objective. This is what makes me keep going. Sure, I don’t have many followers just yet; there’s always the chance when I write that only a handful of people (or perhaps no one at all) will read what I’ve written. But I share my thoughts in the hopes that somewhere, it get someone else thinking. Now, around this idea, I can build my blogging goals – primarily, I think, to inspire conversation, so that my posts can be a place where thoughts and ideas are shared between myself and my readers, to the mutual edification of everyone.

So what is this inspiration toward thinking? I’ve left my mental definition broad: it might be to think about a weighty issue; it might be simply to draw attention to some mundane object, and so promote mindfulness and the discovery of everyday beauty. When I learn something, I like to share it, in case others find my lesson helpful.

2015: The Year of the Thinking Blog!

 

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