Monday, December 3, 2012

This old house

I had a old house in South Africa.

But I loved her and I cared for her and she looked better and she felt like home.  I dont like new houses.  I dont like modern and am highly suspicious of white walls.  They look like they come out of a box.  I dont like chrome and gleaming metal.  I like old counters where other people have leaned on their elbows and made peanut butter sandwiches and drunk tea.  I like old baths that have been well soaked.  They feel welcoming.

Likewise I dont like gardens that look too well maintained or neat.  With colour blocks.  And raked paths.  I like chaos and leaves and birds and vegetables.  I like gardens that look shabby but loved.  Because the one thing that I have learn't is that if life is to be lived, really lived, it has to be messy.

I have an old house in Australia.  She looked very tired when I moved in.  She was shy at first, but she opened up to me slowly.  She started chatting to me one day when I was sitting drinking my early morning tea.  She whispered, I really need to be painted a bit.  So I did.  I wasnt very good but she was very understanding and even laughed softly under the tickle of my brush.  I started feeling her groove as I cleaned and dusted, slowly, slowly.  I felt comfortable in her passage, up and down, carrying laundry, toys, clothes, towels, the discards of life.  I found nooks that I dont think anyone had looked at and hung pictures there and I packed clothes in her cupboards and washed dishes at her sink and watched the red wattle bird that lives in her tree on the fence.

I like her more and more.  She is too small really for us.  I have too much stuff but she feels right.  As if I needed to be contained on arrival.  Perhaps she knew that too much space would make me feel more lost.  She is a wooden hug and I like her cracked step and front door that sticks.  I feel the echoes of others here and I like it. 

Its taken six months but I finally feel like I am home again.  I have spaces for things and know how things work.  I know where the creaks are when I sneak off from sleeping babies and I have her oven figured out.  I have waist high tomatoes and rows of corn and the neglected roses that I pruned down have rewarded me with blooms.

I have a good home in Australia.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The forgetful blogger

I am the forgetful blogger.  Or perhaps the reluctant blogger?  All I know is that while I have good intentions I have been very bad about posting.  And thats not to say that I dont have a lot to say.  Actually so much is happening right now that I have a lot to say.  But I havent been saying much.  I think part of this is that blogging as always been a revealing process for me and right now I am a bit fragile and not really wanting to deal with what is happening around me.

Its been almost six months and I am struggling here.  More then I ever thought I would to be honest.
I dont miss South Africa as much as I thought I would but I am homesick.  The longer I am here the more abnormal some things become for me and thats hard.  When I arrived I found everything abnormal but amazing.  Then we conquered the practical part of moving and I thought things got normal again.  Once again, you have a routine.  But it is the very midst of that day to day routine that I feeling lost.  I rise and do lunches and school dressing, frantically filling out forgotten notes and looking for change.  Then its the drop off and the shops and racing home and cleaning up and putting children down for a nap.  And its fetching time and sports time and supper time and more cleaning up and paying bills and more cleaning up.  And.  I dont see myself in the chaos or stop to talk to myself much and so I am feeling lost.  Asking myself who am I?  And what happened to my life?  And how the hell, beyond that terrible quantas flight, did I get her?

We moved here for lots of reasons and we get asked about them almost every day.  We did move here because of crime and political stability and all the other reasons why South Africans move here and elsewhere.  But it was more then that for us.  We moved here for quality of life and what we thought Australia could offer.  The thing is that right now we are too tired to really take advantage of the quality of life aspect of this country and so that is really skewing how we feel right now.

On top of that Jason found out that he wont be made permanent in January and that he needs to start job hunting again.  And because we are still raw and insecure after the last long job hunt, it has caused us a huge amount of stress.  This move has been hard on our egos.  So its November, almost December and I feel that we are limping a bit as a family, caught up in the madness of scouts and cricket and end of year events and birthday parties but huffing and puffing.  Not really as emotionally fit as we were when we landed, full of hope.

Now before it sounds as if we are about to pack for Pretoria, not so!  Even in the hard space i find myself in here and now, i am intrigued by this country.  I feel like one of the seedlings I recently put into my garden.  I am spindly and weak but full of promise.  I know instinctively that if I put down roots here we can thrive.

Memories bind us to a space and time.  So I am embracing this festive season with hope.  Its a sad time for me because I love the holidays and they have always had great meaning for me.  Two of my children were born in December and with their parties and christmas itself, this has always been the season for family.

But here lies December 2012 before me and I am determined to create new nurturing memories for my family.  I have extended myself, planned birthday parties, christmas lunch, been invited to new friends for christmas eve and I am embracing it all.  I determined to create some joy for myself right now.

I hope that wherever you are you are in the midst of diving into the season and all the joy that it promises....

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What happened?

Its been a year since i last posted.


Whats been happening?  Oh, no much.  Three kids, life... and we packed up our whole life and moved 10 000km to Australia.  All in a days work or life.

I know, it still doesnt seem real to me.  Or my previous life doesnt feel real.  I am still deciding which.  On the 19th June 2012 we flew from Johannesburg to Melbourne Australia.  The last 6 weeks have been hard. Doing anything with children is hard.  Doing something like this with three kids is just south of crazy.  I am really happy for the wonderful opportunities this decision has presented for me to be with my children.  But right now in the madness of setting up home, settling in, setting up life really, i dont always think that i am achieving what i set out to do.  I am short tempered.  They are acting out.  I am known to have the occasional crazy melt down.  I may have even stamped my foot once or twice.

I miss the feeling of comfort and home and long for my precious shipping container to arrive, full with my life.  I have realised how much of a nester i am.  How much i value and need every day comfort.  How simply domesticated i can be.  Even when i had the big executive job.

But i am going on.  Rebuilding day by day.  Putting out roots, meeting people.  I know some names, some faces.  Shopping isnt the nightmare it once was.  I baked a cake.  I made my grandmothers banana bread.  It tasted like home.  I have a library card.  I have a couch.  I have planted in my rental garden because i feel like its home when i have put something into the ground i walk on.  I am walking slowly along the path to normality.

And Lilith is still beautiful and soft and makes me so glad for her when i feel lonely.

And Seth is still blue eyed handsome, boyish, acting out more then i thought he would but still loved.

Gabby is still mine in the softest way.  He reads me so well, I love him so dearly.

Life goes on....

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The prickles along the way.

Things are getting much better here.  I feel like i am starting to find my feet slowly.  I am starting to feel that three kids are the norm.  The strangeness is lifting.

I am so grateful that i have everyday help.  I know that i am really one of the very few people who have been lucky enough to have a full time maid when all three of my kids are babies.  At least in the craziness of the last six weeks i have been lucky enough not to worry about cleaning up.  Every day my lovely domestic arrives at 8am.  I lie in bed and hear the dishes clinking in the kitchen sink.  By the time i get up the kitchen is clean and i am able to make my morning coffee without the chaos from the night before.  Better still my nanny will also happily take Lily from me and entertain her while i eat breakfast in peace.

I can leave her with her while i am able to have a quiet shower and even run off to the shops.  At the end of the day my house is spotless, i have had an hour or two to myself and the family is happy.  I have been so lucky to have all this support through all three of my early baby days.  I often chat to people living in other countries and dont have this support system.  I have so much respect for these moms.  I dont know how they are cope and am aware of how lucky i am.

There are still some prickles along the way.  I find that Lily is very much an arms baby.  She doesnt want to put down even when sleeping so i end up carrying her around a lot.  This really ties up my time.  I am reading a lot and end up watching TV but feel frustrated that i cant do more crafts or activities.  Thankfully she is sleeping well so i feel good in the day.  But i cant translate that into productivity as Miss is constantly in my arms.

I have also been struggling with the boys lately and feel like my patience is running out.  They seem so noisy and loud.  I feel like i spend my life telling them not to jump near their sister, not to shout when i have just got her to sleep.  And Gabriel seems to be constantly testing the boundaries, trying his luck with me.  He is driving me crazy.  I know i just need to wait for this stage to pass..

But the prickles are getting less..... Nothing like a good nights sleep to put things into perspective.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sweet faces of Lily

I know they say "A face that only a mother can love..."

But i am of the opinion that when it comes to Ms Lily she has a face that anyone can love.

I am falling more in love with her everyday and let me tell you its an easy thing to do.

She is my last and i am enjoying every moment.  This sweet ending, satisfied, knowing what i am doing part of motherhood.  The sweet last moments of a long process.  Of course i know i am being a bit melodramatic here.  I have three kids and am going to be a mother for the rest of my life.  But i am not going to be the mother to a newborn for very much longer.

That has its own wonder.  Its own magic.  Its own relief (Yes it does!!!).  Its own sadness.

But i am not dwelling on it too long.

I am just focusing on loving and savouring the sweet little faces of this baby girl.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

At this moment....

I am:

  • Pretty much smitten with this sweet little girl.  I cant wait for the rest of the family to go off to work and school and let the two of us go back to bed, to snooze and coo together.  We are getting to know each other, sussing each other out.  Its the best sweetest part of new motherhood, when the boundaries between you and baby are still transient and open.  They are still you and you are still them.
  • Loving the way that my voice quietens her, the feel of me comforts her, the way that her eyes seek me out.
  • Trying to guage whether i am getting the first smile or not.  My head tells me its too early, my heart tells me - she's trying to smile at me!!
  • Trying to still be as available for the boys as i was before.  Feeling like i am failing a bit.  I feel like they are growing up in front of me.  I remember this happening with Gabriel when Seth was born.  When the new baby arrives, the old "baby" seems to grow overnight.  Part of you is so relieved when they go to sleep without you or pick themselves up and dust themselves off without you.  Another part is devastated because you know that these changes are forever.  That they have read the writing on the wall and have changed with it.
  • Am finally feeling better physically and emotionally.  I am starting to feel less pain when i get up or move around.  I am driving.  I am starting to find a box for Lily's birth, that was not my personal choice but that still is ok.  The point is that she is here and that any birth is an experience, that has its own life.  It passes.  You need to make sense of it, for what is was and not for what you wanted it to be.  So i wasnt in control of that experience.  I am in control of how i want to feel about it now.  I am in control of what happens going forward with my daughter.
  • I am happy that life is creeping back into its old routine.  That we are starting to change our routines to fit her in.  I am starting to get a glimpse that in days to come, there will be a routine where she fits in perfectly and it all works again.
  • I am savouring those perfect moments when all three kids are together and i know that this is my family and that everyone who is supposed to be here is here.  That there is no more waiting required.  Eight years ago, i was struggling to conceive and i remember having a good cry after yet another failed pregnancy tests.  Here i am with a full home, a full heart surrounded by my children, feeling more content then i ever have before...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Baby Lilith Lucy Valerie

On the 24th May 2011 my daughter was born.  What a moment.  It was so different from the boys births and i am still trying to make sense of it all.  She was born via a c section after she had the cord wrapped multiple times around her neck.  I was so petrified of the procedure.  Much more then i was with the natural births.  I had always felt that no matter how painful the births were, i was in control and that i could have delivered the kids alone if i had to.  Lily's birth was surgical, clinical.  It was magical when they took her out and lay her on my chest but i still felt detached from the process, although not from her.

It was not the birth that i would have chosen although it was physically easier.  Emotionally i found it harder.  But there were also factors.  Having a daughter brought about a lot of additional emotions for me.  I had my tubes tied on the table which was a choice that i made.  I dont want any other additional children but it was hard for me to accept that i would never have other children.  When i had Gabby i knew that i desperately wanted more children.  When i had Seth, i hoped that i would have more children.  With Lily i knew that she would be my last.  This is exactly how i would have wanted it and i could not have chosen a better family then i have.  But there is something about knowing that your child bearing years are over.  When i had my baby blues for a couple of days this was a big issue for me.  That i would never be pregnant again, wonder about the gender of the baby, what would baby look like?  I know that i would never cope with four children or would want four children but it was still a process for me.

The good thing is that i am so determined to enjoy Lily.  And i am enjoying her.  She is such a princess and so loved by the family.  Two weeks down the line it feels like she was never not here.  I recovered pretty well from the C section.  I was able to leave the hospital after two days and come home which was a huge relief.  I missed the boys terribly and wanted to be in my own environment.  Not being able to drive was another issue for me.  I hated being stuck at home and dependent on everyone.  I am happily behind the wheel again although i am just doing short trips to the shops nearby and to the schools to collect the children.  It has done me the world of good!

Baby care has been easy.  It is tiring but at least as a third baby, the princess is benefitting from the auto parent that i have become.  I am still a pro at the mundane tasks of feeding, burping, changing, putting to sleep!  At this age the tasks are easy but just exhausting in their never ending routine.  I am struggling with the nights but not as bad as i did with the boys.  She is still waking every two to three hours which can be a killer.  The worst part has been that she was born in the middle of winter here.  It is terrible!  I miss the hot summer nights that i enjoyed with my December boys!  They only wore vests and nappies.  Changing them was a breeze.  Now midnight nappy changes require removing loads of clothes and blankets.

Mostly i am grateful right now.  Grateful that my family is complete.  That i have my beautiful daughter.  That she is healthy.  That the family have adapted so well to her presence.  That the birth is over.  That i can start to enjoy her.