You can call me a woowoohead and that’s okay

She: “Mom I’m making a toy at school. It’s a project. I’m making a robot alien”

Me: “That’s so cool, babe. What are you going to call it?”

She: “424-424”.

Recently, my daughter’s been dreaming a lot about my mother. She has incredible grandparents on her dad’s side (the best!) and an amazing set of extended family. But, I’ve always mentally underplayed the role of my own parents in her life. Why? Because my dad wasn’t here for her growing up and my mother was only here for just under five years of it (thanks cancer, you really know how to mess up my folks’ plans of a dynasty… which they ended up having, but aren’t here to see it). 

I realise now that this is an error. Family ties aren’t based on time spent, but rather on connection. And the woowoohead part of me thinks that my daughter actually misses my mom, and my mom is, well, making herself evident.

These incidents were few and far between in the years after my mom’s death. We’d openly chat about my mom, her illness and her journey but I imagined that these conversations would fade over time. They did, for about a year but now, over the past few months, the opposite has occurred. As time has grown longer and my own ability to assimilate feeling like an orphan in the world has minimised, my daughter’s need for her maternal grandmother has grown.

Obviously, real life isn’t able to give her that, so it’s coming out in strange places — her dreams, her projects and, I imagine, her writing. She writes a lot, a lot more than you or I realise. I find it semi-comforting that she’s finding an avenue of peace through words, even if they’re little scrawls in notebooks or fantastic stories she pieces together. There’s a sanity to be found in that world that is peaceful, if you can get past the madness of word-mangling.

That is where my mother found her peace too, in the last years of her life. It’s where my father had found his for years. It’s where I find mine.

But somehow, no matter how much I write or create, or write towards them, I know I can’t bring them back to life. My daughter is, I think, reaching for them too, in her own particular way.

Is it grief that does this? Or is it acceptance? Either way, it is an avenue of healing that she is determined to integrate into her life (or it is being determined for her). I do know that my mother would, and could always, make herself heard. She would “speak the words” so that others would have to “hear the words”. Most of her life, she spoke them for the sake of someone else who did not have a voice.

Perhaps this is her, speaking them for herself. Speaking them to her granddaughter.


I can judge the level of how well I know someone, and how well they know me, by the things they say about me, to me (and sometimes, not to me). A lot of people think I have it “all together” and I often want to laugh in their face. I don’t, and I really try not to let it look like I do. Anyone who appears to have it “all sorted” is, almost always, faking it.

The thing is, if you think I have it all sorted, it’s only because you have known me in the last few years. Before then, it was a shmeshmortion of failed attempts to pull myself towards myself. I had to learn to make choices, quickly, and stick to them. My 20s was a time of absolute chaos, for a large part of it. I’m not shy about it anymore – it is what it is and it brought me here.

My decision making skills have never been good, but I have had to carve them like wood into me. They are chiseled and sharpened every day, and – perhaps because I (finally) realised that my refusal to make choices led me into a mess – I am driven by them.

But they were not won easily.

At one point, a number of years ago, I had to make a choice that centred around a person. It is still the most difficult choice I’ve ever made. It was the most horrible, elongated and gigantic conversation that I’ve ever had (and guys, I’ve had awful ones). But I will never forget the pinnacle moment where I made this choice, and then had to follow through on it.

Everything that’s happened since then, has been a direct or indirect result of that decision. Some of it was incredibly unexpected, but some of it was very well rehearsed in my mind.

When I get a bout of the sads, my mind sometimes wanders right back to that conversation. It finds it, like one would happen upon a jewel in a scratch patch. Looking back, I remember it as a battle against myself. In my mind’s eye, it still is – it’s just that this Cath, the one who sits here now, is the one that emerged victorious. She was the one that hoped to be released and lifted into a world that was driven by her choices, and not her inabilities.

I try and have this rule, that I ripped straight out of that movie Hope Floats (which, incidentally, I watched about 97 times after making this choice) – “don’t look back, we’re not going that way”. It’s something I absolutely fail at, because I often find a comfort in looking back and seeing how far I’ve come. It also helps me to carve or design the next choices I may need to make.

But today, when I feel insular and like a grumpy monster with a sore paw, I feel like the other Cath – the one I left behind, who hated decisions and rallied against all the new things that were to be invited in, is still sitting on that chair, having that loaded conversation, knowing she finally facing up to make choices. She’s sitting there, having that decision-focused conversation all over again, and she’s stuck there. It never ends, like some sort of badly scratched record that’s set to play, over and over again.  That girl isn’t me anymore, and I know it. (side note – thank the stars).

I have zero regrets about beginning to make choices. I harbour absolutely no misgivings about it – I just got to the point where it had to happen. I did what I had to do, and that’s who I am now.

On days like today though, where I’m all screwed up inside, I wonder to myself though, if she’d won that argument… how would life be?

This song was so indelibly tied to that time, so I’m going to let it play, wonder over this for a minute, and then… then I’m going to drink tea and go back to work.

Because my life is not there anymore, and I chose it to be that way.


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.