Archive for April, 2012

The tapestry of life

April 28, 2012

There’s something strangely comforting about visualising life as a huge and intricate tapestry being woven thread by thread each second to finally reveal the image.

Last week I finished a section of my masterpiece and the detail which emerged showed a hospital visit with head stapling to repair a gory wound (Son One). This week I prepared myself for the familiar weave of the back to school week, but found by Wednesday my threading had unravelled and began to tangle as I lost the confidence of the needle and weakened in my stitch.

Tiredness plus belligerent children will do that to you.

As I pull the stitching back together the image for this week is slowly emerging and amid a mess of angry shouting colours and omnipresent woven chaos I can see this section of my tapestry as so many others: a darn challenge.

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Feeling judged lately?

April 19, 2012

How do you know when you are being judged? How do you discern between a sense that you are being judged, and a general insecurity and lack of confidence you might already harbor? Can you be secure and confident and still be judged? Of course you can. But does the judgement whittle away at your security and confidence until they can bear no defence and the sense of being judged becomes all pervading? How do you stop this from happening?

Women are judged from the moment they are born: is the child petite, pretty, feminine? Is she moody and manipulative? Are her hands and feet dainty? Is her skin smooth and spotless? Do people swoon at her fluttering lashes? Is her hair silky, long, glorious? Is she a chatterbox? Will she “cause trouble for the boys”?

The judging continues through childhood, intensifies in adolescence (the cruel, hard years) and becomes complex and sophisticated as we become adults and take on various challenges of adult life. What is your career? How did you get there? Are you in a relationship? What are your priorities in life? Will you have children? Layer upon layer of expectations pile on top of the ever present assumptions regarding appearance and it seems the very air is thick with a judging commentary on our every movement.

It can be difficult to breathe sometimes.

Motherhood is a feast for the judging commentary. A child becomes an extension of your presence in the world and as such expands your judgable offerings. If you have made it through the mire of childhood, adolescent and adult judgement unscathed and with an armory of self confidence and esteem, you will hold firm under the potentially critical fire of your mothering peers and be a guiding light for others.

If, however, you emerged from battles past scarred and frail, you may find this new exposure tormenting. With tattered defences judgement seeps in to become the default. You will feel judged when you are in good company, when people are trying to help. You will find the undertone in the most well meaning advice. You will compare and contrast your child’s behaviour and be critical of their performance. You will fear the eye of every mother for surely she is judging. You will doubt your instinct and question your true capacity.

You will become your own judge.

The judging barrage must be withstood. For the line between real judge and imagined critic to be discerned confidence must be the lens. Like blocks it stacks in gradual ascension until elevated enough to regard the truth. We must tell each other, ourselves, we are doing ok – a mantra of true and honest praise – and simply never cease stacking.

A true story

April 17, 2012

Once upon a time there was Privacy.

Privacy lived a fairly happy, contented life, sharing a house with her friends Peace, Solitude and Clean. Sometimes, the four friends would be visited by Party, and although Party often brought Mess, usually Relaxed stayed behind to sort things out.

The best fun was when Spontaneous came over to stir things up. This kept the four friends on their toes, but Calm was never far away to help and of course, wherever Calm went, Equilibrium was never far behind.

But then one day, the happy house shared by Privacy and her friends was taken over by some Children.

The Children brought with them many things, and some were greatly enjoyed by the householders: Confidence, Honesty and Sincerity were pleasant bedfellows to Privacy and her pals. The new housemates were able to learn from each other, and this learning opened the door to Patience who soon became one of the most respected tenants of all.

But some of the things brought by the Children posed problems for Privacy, Peace, Solitude and Clean.

Troublesome Noise, irrepressible Chaos, and pesky Curiosity stretched the limits, and with Willful and Naive along for the ride there were testing times. Days went by where Privacy would disappear altogether, concerning Solitude greatly. Clean took issue with Clutter and Filth and poor Peace couldn’t get a word in edgewise with Chaos. The house seemed to be in turmoil and disarray until one day Fun strode in all beams and bravado and said “Look here! I know a way we can all live together and get along but it will require some effort. Trust me, smile and you will see.”

From that day on, the housemates have lived in relative harmony ever since, with Fun as chief arbitrator and Patience the governor. Privacy and her friends have finally found a way to live with the Children without being too disturbed by all that they brought, and the house has been declared a Happy Shambles.

The End.

Small wonders

April 17, 2012

Today, amid the general wonder of getting through a day with three boys remaining physically unscathed, two wondrous things occurred.

Microscopic on the scale of earthly wonders, these events nevertheless stood out as joyous morsels; as beacons of hope.

The first occurred at a birthday party for the daughter of a very dear friend. During the party I had the privilege of holding one of my friend’s adorable baby girls – one of twins born slightly early late last year but growing and smiling and keen to get on with the business of experiencing the world. With baby nestled under my chin, I performed the instinctive mother sway whilst humming… actually this… and she fell asleep. I relished her sleepy weight for a while before reluctantly agreeing to relinquish her to the cozy confines of her pram. I peeled baby away from my chest, awkwardly maneuvered her headfirst into the stationary vehicle and literally held my breath as I removed my arms. She didn’t look entirely comfortable with one foot propped up against the pram bar and various blankets asunder but I resisted the urge to adjust and it was in this moment – the nervous transitioning of a sleeping baby from an calming accustomed rhythm to a cold startling stillness – that the first wonder occurred. Stepping back, I watched as she opened her eyes and stirred and I thought it was over and her peace had been irrevocably disturbed but then – wonder of joyous wonders – she resettled and went back to sleep.

My friend happened to witness this miraculous scene and immediately offered me a congratulatory high five – she herself having never managed this transition successfully.

This was one of the proudest moments of my entire life.

The second wondrous thing to occur today is that I got through a day with my boys – all jam packed and active and wall-to-wall – without shouting once.

Like I said, both of these wonders are microscopic on the scale of worldly magnificence. And yet to some they stoke and replenish tired and withered flames. They keep bright the motive and illuminate the cause.

My cause is relishing this life, and a sleeping baby and peaceful household help me to pursue it.

Social Networking: A dilemma of an age

April 10, 2012

I am currently going through a messy separation.

It’s been six months now. I really want to leave, and know I should, but something keeps pulling me back. Time and time again I find myself in the same old routine, spending too much time dwelling in the same old spaces looking at the same old faces, and each time I go back I am plunged once again into turmoil and angst. Of course, ideally, we would never have gotten together to begin with. My life was fine without it. Better in fact. More real.

I’m talking of course about facebook.

If you are currently on facebook, and have any doubts whatsoever about the benefits of this social media tool to your life, try and divorce yourself from it. You will find it a nearly impossible task.

My initial attraction to facebook began, as it so often does, as benign curiosity: What is it? What does it look like? How does it work? Logging in, creating “my space”; it was all so easy. But then came the lure. People from the past. Good people. Bad people. Vaguely-ever-known people. Crushes. Ex-lovers. Ex-lovers’ new crushes. Work people. Friends from school. Enemies from school. People other people know. People I don’t know. Celebrities. Distant relatives. They were all there, and before long I was eavesdropping on conversations between people I hardly knew about events and people I hardly knew and I began to realise that something felt… wrong. But I persevered in search of a point. I defended it because it was keeping me in touch with friends and family interstate and overseas. I was able to see their photos of Brussels and their growing pregnant bellies and the dog they had bought and the dinner they had made and it all seemed so… harmless and so… connected.

But I had issues.

I came to realise that I don’t want facebook as my only source of news of impending births, deaths and marriages. I don’t want to feel like a voyeur looking at photos of people at family functions. I don’t want to have shallow connections to people I barely know, and I don’t have time to watch recommended YouTube footage or respond to multiple choice surveys. If someone I know – really know – has a baby, I want them to tell me. Ideally in person, but at least in a personalised text message. I would like to have real-life-real-time conversations with people about their Europe holiday or their dead dog or their challenging toddler. I want to share ideas and debates and dialogues over coffee and cake and curry, not in one hundred characters or less.

But herein lies the dilemma.

What if no one else wants to do this? What if people only share their news of babies and weddings and funerals over facebook? How will I find out these things if facebook is the dominant mode of communication and I am not a part of it? Should I just shrug off the fear of missing out, brand those who rely on social media to inform others of important events as not “real” friends, and move on? Will this leave me bereft and alone? Out of the loop?

It is this fear of missing out that has led me to where I am today, six months on from my attempted divorce, still voyeuristically checking in to see how things are going. To make sure I haven’t missed anything. Not contributing but witnessing. Spying. Unsure whether to make my presence known with a comment or a like and thus betray my position or remain aloof online and instead make personal contact along the lines of “so I found out you had a baby – congratulations!” Surely this is at best, hypocritical, and at worst, creepy. By maintaining this fear-based toe-in-the-water connection I have crossed over from social media participant to lurker and I’m not sure this is healthy.

There must be other lurkers my age out there similarly trapped. Unsure. Faithful and nostalgic yet sophisticated and keen, wanting to be part of this new age. To stay with the zeitgeist, but doubtful of it’s value. If we reject social media as a shallow, ephemeral trend that will ultimately be superseded by a reversion to more real, more personal modes of communication, are we as naive as the oldies who derided rock and roll in favour of the old standards all those decades ago? Is this the splitting of the ages where we become the out of touch older generation, or does social media transcend temporal difference and become more a question of access and need? Can you access social media, and if so, do you really need to?

Yes. No. Maybe.