Seven Years.

Dear Dad,

Seven years. My daughter has grown from a mewing infant into the tall, gregarious child I see before me as I type this. In the same time that her life has progressed, your life with us has been over.

There have been a million times I’ve wished for you, wanted you or needed to hear your voice. I have craved your guidance, your support and your love. I’ve wondered out loud if you know anything that’s happened and, sometimes, in my happiest and weakest moments, I’ve hoped you were watching. I’ll never know whether you are or not but I have felt my heart come home when I remember something you once told me.

One evening over books and tea, I had my feet tucked under yours as usual, we talked about life, the universe  and everything in-between. You expounded upon your own theory of how life carries on once someone passes on. To you, people carry on through their genes and the funny quirks we all inherit from our parents. You said it was like your DNA left a trail that muted over time, but was always there. Even when generations have passed and children grown, the faintest trace of your genetic code lives on within the generations beyond you.

It is this very theory, and the thinking over it, that’s drawn me to a place where I am okay today. It’s strange that as the years have passed, I’ve seen your theory come true. And that evidence has given me comfort.

When you were ill, you would keep a picture of one of my baby scans next to you, at home or in the hospital. You’d refer to Cam as “your little friend”, and you’d tell me that she was the future and that’s all I needed to worry about. We’d talk about it and I’d tell you I was scared of this parenting notion. You’d remind me that a child needs four things – good health, infinite love, the ability to trust and the opportunity to learn. I’d doubted myself then but, you believed in me. You believed in my motherhood more than I did and you trusted that I’d do it with love. You taught me what you could and told me to go with my gut when I didn’t know what to do.

I have missed you most in my motherhood. I have missed you most in my family life. The family life I have been lucky enough to be able to build, with love and memories being made every day. It is those times, over dinner or when the house is full of people and sounds suspiciously like a Jenkin household, that I wish you and Mom could witness. I wish you could be there and laugh with me. Smile with me. Squeeze my hand and tell me you see it and it’s wonderful. Marvel with me over how I got so ridiculously lucky to find love in a man who loves Cam and I as though we were made for it. Laugh with me over the times I’ve been confused and wound myself up inside my head. Berate me for my sometimes grumpiness and celebrate with me every time I got it right.

But there again, I find my comfort. I see you carry on in the expressions of my child. I see your toes in her toes. They’re the same shape. I see your hands in her hands. And that mischievous glint in her eye just before she pulls a prank on me (this happens often), that glint is the very same one you’d have when you were pulling my proverbial leg.

They say it takes twenty-one days to break a habit, thirteen months to grieve and seven years to digest chewing gum. Whether any of that is true, I have no idea. It is also said that it takes seven years to work through the loss of a loved one. Whether or not this is true, I don’t really care.

But what I do know is this… In these seven years, I have missed you. In these seven years I have built my life up, taken it all down, started again and made it better. In these seven years I have grown, been anxious, been scared, been amazed and been sad. In these seven years I have learnt friendship and trust. In these seven years I have hurtled through loss and fallen into love. In these seven years I have missed your speeches and pored over finding the right words to say them myself. In these seven years I have been able to move beyond feeling the loss of you, to feeling the part of you that carries on. In these seven years I have learnt to see it when it’s in front of me, and find it when it hides. In these seven years I have discovered the parts of me that are so typically you, and seen those same characteristics of you reflected in my siblings.

In these seven years I have seen you carry on in the eyes of my daughter and I’ve noticed a spark of you in my nieces. I’ve seen your tenacity in myself and I’ve felt the infinite love of a parent in my own heart. In these seven years I’ve learnt that the cornerstone of being a parent is that infinite love. In these seven years I’ve learnt that the cornerstone of being myself is found in the places and spaces where I am ultimately much like you.

 

So Dadadadadad, I guess what I’m saying is…

 

Your theory is correct.

 

And my life is the proof.

 

Thank you.

My first thought for the year.

1) Platitudes. I realise this is weird but, I loathe saying the following things: Happy New Year; Happy holidays; Happy Christmas; Happy Birthday. I know that sounds mean, but I can’t stand platitudes. I’d rather say something a little more creative, which makes me think that you’ve actually put some thought into it. Like “I hope this year is the one where your dream about that house you want to buy comes true”. It’s pointed, it’s personal and you can tell someone’s really thought about wishing YOU a happy time. Just a random thought, whilst we’re just emerging from the season of festive platitudes.

2) This year, is an attempt to get less irritated with myself. Seriously. I mean it. That’s what I want to try and achieve this year. It may seem absolutely banal to you, but it’s huge for me.

3) This year is also about much change. I will, after five years of it(aside from that good old Sheena invasion :P) be giving up my loner habitation habits. Weird, good feeling. Lots of change this year, all of it progressive and moving forward.

4) I am so lucky in love. So blessed with magnificent people in my life. This holiday has reminded me of that over and over and over again. I am infinitely rich in love.

 

A note to myself.

Today, I uncovered some things. Today, I realised I have a private battle with a few things I need to face. No, screw that, CONQUER.

Anyway, I wrote this little note to myself. I refuse to dissolve into a sweaty panic over this. I absolutely refuse.

1. You have the power to do this, and do it well.

2. You have the knowledge to make things happen, and you really need to trust yourself on this one.

3. You have to be disciplined to be kind. That may not always make sense to you, and it’s flipping hard but, it’s true.

4. You are way luckier than you have ever been, right now.

5. You have the power to make choices and take control. Make them, take it.

6. Own it, feel it and believe it.

7. This is what life is. There are no easy exit routes or sideways aversions. This is life at 31, and it’s yours. Isn’t that brilliant?

8. You have more choices than you’ve ever dreamt of. Amazing fact, hey?

9. You have the ability to work very hard. Work very hard. You know, best of all, the immense satisfaction you feel from working very hard.

10. Don’t be so afraid of speaking your truth. It’s hard for you, I know. But, seriously, people love you anyway and because of it.

11. Enjoy the little moments, you know the ones. Savour the smiles. Throw away the frowns.

12. Breathe and keep moving.

For this, I’ll need a Theme Song:

(and I don’t care if anyone thinks it’s lame).

Truth is, this video actually tells the story of my life as I see it right now. Honestly, no video has ever, ever summed up my life EVER. And this one does. I resolve to listen to this song every single day whilst I work away on this little battle.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1bcQMCZ5gU]

Something. And then something.

So, something happened where I had to choose between the two parts of my heart. This happens often enough, but it never gets any easier.

It made me sad. For a bit.

Then, last night, something snapped in my head. And like a big, bright sunshine, I looked around me. In front of me, was my kid dancing around the lounge and laughing about how the man in a video looked exactly like her dad about ten years ago.

I was lying on the couch and waiting for bedtime. Waiting because I’d not slept the night before. And then I remembered that I have this great honour, every night. Every night, I get to read a little story to my kid, kiss her face all over, and watch as she rolls over and kicks over into dreamland. Some nights, I even get to watch her sleep. And I do it. How blessed am I?

How lucky I am to have a strong, resilient child, who feels secure in the love that surrounds her.

I walked around the house and looked at the little life we’ve built together. The knicknacks that populate the surfaces, the photographs we treasure. The wall of art, of expression down the entranceway. All the little things that make up our home.

And I remembered, we did this. Just the two of us. Created a life for ourselves and live it, every single day. I’ve got that special treasure of being able to make a life, and live it, and love it, just for us.

There are people in the world who would give up everything for that very opportunity.

Pikachu. I choose you.

So, whilst I had to make a decision and turn down an opportunity, and choose between a heartwant and a heartlove, I’m glad I chose the heartlove. I’m glad I always choose that heartlove. That place and space where my heart comes home. It was an instantaneous decision, and I’ll make it every single day I live. Happily.

I always, always, choose my heartlove. Lucky, lucky me.

Just saying no.

Just saying no.

Saying no to giving up. Saying no to giving in to something that still sometimes consumes you.

Something someone very dear to me once said, was that I should set an expiry date on my anger. When a situation upsets you, or alters your life, you can survive, and sometimes even thrive on anger for a long, long time. But, eventually, it will eat you up inside.

Maybe it’s age. Maybe it’s wisdom. Maybe it’s a slighter clearer head. Maybe it’s just evolution.

Anyway, I’ve found, over the past few years, that yeah, I do still get blinding rages…But, I’ve learnt how to channel that anger. And live through it, and I find that I’m not angry after all. I know that anger is mostly (and most often) a mask for sadness or frustration. I’ve learnt to talk my way through my anger until I adequately identify the true emotion behind it. And then I feel that.

It sounds simple enough but, for me, it’s been a process that I have had to learn, very slowly.

There is one thing. One thing though, that I cannot let go of yet. And that anger is justified. I can find only sadness behind it, and my powerlessness towards the situation, despite my every intention to not be powerless about it. I cannot assuage that powerlessness. All I can do is live it.

So I’ve got angry, and I’ve found sadness. And I choose, every day, to feel that sadness unashamedly, and then to try and live as though it does not exist. I will not let it have power over me.

So, with that, I’ve set an expiry date on the anger. Once it’s gone, I will merely live to assimilate the sadness into my life (as I have to do with the grief I own over my parents…anyone who has lost someone they love – they know – you never get over death, you only ever get used to it…).

So that expiry date for this anger over this particular situation is set, and I’m going to keep to it. I’m doing nobody any favours keeping it. It will be gone. Soon.

the name of me. the name of you.

And these are the thoughts.

I’m working on a little pet project at the moment that’s both (personal) and (with good reason). My reasons for them aren’t important here.

The thing that it’s come down to, is this. I’ve shared a lot of my life online. That has seriously declined over the past year, and I’m way more objective about it nowadays than I ever have been. I’ve become way more protective over my life. Sheena will laugh at this. A lot. I’ve always been a paranoid android about it, and had really good reasons for it. I let go a little a while ago, but now, I suppose with age and wisdom, I feel more of a need to reign it in.

And I do, and I’m happy with that.

I do, however, have an almost daily need to do things anonymously. More on that another day. Nothing nefarious, I just sometimes wish I could say certain things online and not have people know it was me.

I also battle to label myself. No labels actually really fit, for me. And I don’t like putting labels on other people. Shoving things into little neat boxes is a principle I can use in real life, with actual objects, but never with people. So, I’m not your typical mommy blogger, and I’m not your typical life blogger, and I’m not a lot of things. But, what I am, was, and who I aspire to be, is pretty defined for me. It’s firmly set in my head and I’m not ashamed of it in any way.

I know that there are things I love, and there are things I despise. I know, too, that these are adequately reflected in the way I raise my child. And, there again, there are things I’ll share online, and there are things I won’t. I won’t tell the world her secret life dream, but I will tell you how she danced in the sunshine with me the other day. I’ll tell you what she did to make me proud, but I never will tell you what she did that irritated me. Note – there are VERY few times where I get irritated with my daughter. I’m stupendously lucky that way, and I have no cotton-picking idea how I got so lucky. She really never requires much discipline. I hope against hope that that’s a fantastic combination of nature and nurture, but I actually think it’s got a lot to do with the fact that…I have a fantastically good kid.

(yes, I know, as a parent, we all say it…our kid is the best, our kid is the brightest etc etc…)

Anyway, my point here is, the name of me. By putting together the name of me, I realise that in years to come, her name will be tied to that same name. In that respect then, I actually, in some way, pave the way for how she will experience the online world. That’s a big thing, really. Who do you think initially shaped your view of the online world? She’ll enter the online world and already have people who know her through me. And that will be warm and welcoming, and exciting. At the same time, I worry it could feel restrictive upon her, once she hits teenagedom. That time where she enters the online world as herself, inches nearer every day, and I’m very aware of it.

But, seriously, I’ll worry about the adolescent years when I have to. Right now, I’m way too focused on enjoying every single moment of this sixth year. This sixth year of brilliance, independence and unbridled learning.

My main concern for her is that she never feels that pressure to be labelled, or the pressure to label others. I want her to live and experience her life as free to think and experience. I want for her to go into the world with a positive viewpoint, and a secure sense of self.

I realise, even more, every day, that all I can do to help her have this, above all things, is love her.

In six years…

Today is six years since my father passed on. Today, I write to him.

 

In six years, your first grandchild has grown from the tiny mite we once spied on an ultrasound scan together, into a beautiful, graceful, compassionate and imaginative little girl. I’ll never forget the time you came with me to see her in an ultrasound scan. I saw your face as you fell in love. You were so sick, and yet so absolutely inspired.

In six years, your two other grandchildren, who you sadly never met, have become exhilarating, enthusiastic and character-filled little girls, whose laughter lights up the world.

In six years, I fell in I-thought-it-was-love. I fell out of it too. I stood alone for a long time. I fell right into true love, and I stand alone no more.

In six years, the world has changed and evolved and grown. How I wish you’d seen Facebook and Twitter and all of it. How much you would’ve loved it. How often I see the actual applications it could have been used for, for your life’s work. How I feel, so much, that you would’ve thrived within this sometimes-strange ecosystem. You’d have loved it.

In six years, I’ve realised I’m only alone if I believe it. I don’t believe I ever am, now.

In six years, I’ve learnt that bitterness does not help you grow.

In six years, I’ve tried really hard to learn to let go.

In six years, I’ve danced more than I did during my nights out. Except, this time, I do it around the lounge with my daughter, and not strangers in a dimly lit nightclub.

In six years, I’ve started to learn how to be me. Unashamedly so.

In six years, I’ve learnt that I absolutely must live with my heart on my sleeve. That’s where it belongs and if anyone doesn’t like it, I can kindly suggest they look the other way.

In six years, I’ve finally learnt what you were trying to tell me for so long. I have nothing to apologize for, unless I hurt someone. And I never intend to hurt anyone. Ever. You knew that from when I was very little.

In six years, I’ve taught myself resolve, and to steel against the sometimes wind of life. I’ve learnt that by remembering you, as you did, no matter what.

In six years, I’ve learnt that my anger at you being gone, is really just the sadness of missing you and your conversation. I am not afraid of that sadness, and I allow myself to miss you. The gap where you used to sit, is part of my life, and I accept it so.

In six years, I’ve come to make peace that you’re both gone. I’m at peace knowing that you are, however it may be, together. I am comforted by the assertion that that was one joyous reunion, however it played out.

In six years, I question myself less, and question the world around me more.

In six years, I grew wrinkles and grey hair.

In six years, I’ve learnt to care less about them.

In six years, I’ve taken the steps you wanted me to take, and I’ve shied away from the ones I intrinsically felt were wrong for me, no matter how forced I felt I was.  I learnt that resolve from you.

In six years, I stand tall. I stand proud, knowing the legacy and history you bestowed upon our family. I’ve got everything to be proud of.

In six years, I am more thankful to you than I ever have been.

In six years, I have learnt that I can miss you, and not have you be missing from my heart and head.

In six years, I can finally write you a letter and not cry. Well, at least not the big ugly cry. I can do it with some semblance of composure. It doesn’t mean it hurts less.

In six years…

In these six years that have gone by so very fast, I hope that you are proud of me.

I have a few thoughts…

1. This song, today. I’ve been thinking alot about world events, because of a friend, who brings much to light. I’m keeping this song in my head alot at the moment, because it calms me. And reminds me.

2. Today is 19 months with my precious, wonderful Shmooshy. Lucky, lucky girl, I am.

3. I’ve been up since 2am. I’ve mentioned this previously. I watched my kid sleep. I do that a lot, I know. And one day, she’s going to wake up and shout at me for it. I hope not. But, for the moment, I love the quiet observance of watching my sacred blessing snooze. She kicks in her sleep, like I did as a child, and sprawls her way across the bed like it’s a land to be explored overnight. I was exactly the same as a child, and, apparently, I still am. She wraps herself within the covers, tightly, or throws them off sleepily, dependent on the heat or cold of the evening. That quiet observation, in a dim light, there is so much peace for me in those moments. Lucky, lucky mama, I am.

4. I’m trying very hard not to obsess as neurotically as done before. In a way, that’s quite a funny resolution – obsess over the need to not obsess over things as intensely as I always have. I like to think I’m just more aware of my tendency to be overly affected. I honestly envy unaffected people. People who can shrug off distemper, or carry on regardless, in the face of disappointment. Mentally, I feel like I’m training myself to get over things a little more easily. The littlest disappointments don’t pinch me as much. That’s progress for the little girl who still thinks she fat because someone she didn’t know said so when she was nine.

 

 

my cynicism is gone.

I’ve never really been one for fairytales. Yes, I read them to my daughter, and I let her immerse herself in the world of princesses and dragons, and I’m not afraid to let her believe in gallant princes on white horses. It feeds her imagination – one that so grows every day.

But when it comes to real life, the reality in which I live, I’m not party to living for them. Yes, I get whimsical (especially on very special days), and yes, I allow myself to daydream. Sometimes the best ideas come from those mental meanderings down Dreamside Avenue. This piece is one of them.

Anyway, I’m cynical, at best, realistic, to a point, and often curb my own cravings for dreams by snapping myself back into reality, by making lists of things that need to get done, or reading the news. It’s awful to do, but I have to kick my own bum sometime. The thing, my point is, is that, when it comes down to it, I’m a hard-nosed realist who doesn’t make space for dreams in day to day life. It makes me question everything, and seek to understand every nuance of a statement or situation. I deal in bare facts, and accept them as best I can.

In fact, I’ve told you this before.

But, oh boy, my cynical dragon is slowly being slain.

Unbelievably, at the time when I was at my most cynical, an absolute  prince walked into my life. And there he’s stayed, for nineteen months so far.

And, with him, came a whole troop of heroes and heroines, each one of them singularly and tremendously spectacular. This troop of loved ones, have become like family over this time, and I cannot imagine life without them, not for one second. So too, has his family, who are, to me, closer than I could ever have imagined, and so absolutely wonderful to love. And they love us, through and through. They are all woven into the fine texture of every day. We are so very, very blessed.

So, yesterday, my best friend gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Grace. Now, what you don’t know, world, is what I know. I know that this child has been dreamt of for longer than I can tell you. I know that she’s the most anticipated and strongly longed for baby, that I have ever known. That’s not my story to tell, though. My story is this…

That, in the midst of waiting to hear of her safe arrival, I sat on my balcony, oscillating between pure glee at the notion that this dream was coming true, and pure fear over “how it was all going”. By the time I heard of her safe arrival, and listened to her father speak of her tiny beauty, my heart was sitting somewhere in my throat, and my nerves were more shot than ever. I’ve never so desperately waited on a text message, as I did yesterday evening.

When I woke up for no reason at 2am today, for once, I didn’t lie there worrying about life/bank balances/work demands/the eternal am-I-a-good-mother questioning…

I lay there, cuddled up in bed, and swooned over pictures, looked around at my life and smiled. There was no nervous tension, no grand designs of “how on earth am I going to get out of a pickle”, no furrowed brow over things I have zero control over. I watched my own daughter sleep, and marvelled at how quickly she’s grown, and just how much love she has in her little body, and the amazing dreams that live in her head. All I had was peace.

Dear Grace, you are barely a day old, and you’ve got me believing that fairytales do come true. Well done. 🙂

I cannot wait to meet you.

X

Looking back on 30

Seriously, I never, ever, ever thought I’d be sitting here, writing to you at 30. I thought by then I’d have been an entirely different person. How weirdly, then, that I am intensely thankful that I am not.

Usually, I’d pick apart a year of my life now. I’d mull it over, glance at the hurts, grin at the joys and grimace at the moments I did not enjoy. This year, though, I’m giving myself a break. I think I deserve that.

Women24 Shirt.

Yes, I have felt like an orphan at times. Yes, I have often wondered, in these exact words: “what on earth am I doing? why? how? is this a plan or a defense strategy?”. Yes, I have totally loved and danced through some wonderful days of sunshine. And yes, I have known great love. I have known amazing, steadfast friends who are more family than acquaintance.

So I look back on 30, and I think…you lucky chick, you. You very lucky chick.

I am thankful for a year where I felt both solid and adrift, all at the same time. I am thankful for some marvellous anchors with which I am held down during the great winds of life. I am thankful for love of all kinds. I am thankful for my little person, who’s more like me every day, and I hope that turns out to be a good thing. I wish her strength and perserverance. I wish her hope and happiness, through all of it. I have felt more of a mother than I ever have before. I think that has a lot to do with no longer having my own and another lot to do with being more confident in my own parenting.

I think I see things more clearly now than I ever have before. I’m not saying I’m some bastion of clarity. Heh. That’s just not possible if you’re me. But I will admit to being able to think more clearly than I ever have, at times. And that it’s a relief to me, in many ways.

Perhaps the greatest thing that I feel is a sense of consistency, both external and internal. I doubt myself less, and I am able to trust more.

Lucky, lucky me. Intensely thankful, me.

Happy Birthday Me.