How to Just Be

 

 

Photograph by Be Couper
Photograph by Be Couper

Every now and then, I’m going to post some photographic magic here.

Photos by a friend of mine with a talent for catching beauty in her camera.
A little window for us to look through.

These posts will be called, ‘How to Just Be’.  Their purpose is to give you something to pause and wonder over.  Something beautiful.  Something to inspire you to take a deep breath. A moment to drink in the view, even if you can’t get out to see these wonders.  Something to help you to just ‘Be’ in the moment.

The tide may be out.  But look at the beauty of what remains.  The ripples in the sandy floor and the reflection of that sky.
Sigh.

How Long ’til my Soul Gets it Right?

So many philosophies abound on the subject of life, past lives, karma, goodwill, fate, futures, memory, purpose.  The meaning, of all of this.  We go through our days searching for reasons, looking for clues that will help us understand the Great Mystery.  Well, I do.  Hubster is less curious about why we are here and what it all means.  I sometimes envy his solid and scientific approach to all things metaphysical.  He is able to just not think about them.  What a relief that must be!

I grew up in the midst of church, quite literally.  Some of my earliest memories are falling asleep in my sleeping bag under the seats in the church, listening to the preacher’s voice at the Sunday night service.  There is a kind of a musical rhythm to preaching when you don’t understand the words.  That old tradition; generations of oratory, was my first lullaby.   My parents went to pentecostal churches (those are the ones you might identify as the ‘Happy Clappy’ churches).  And so, we four went too.  We had devotional every morning, home-church mid week and then church twice on Sundays. The singing was robust and energetic.  People raised their arms and waved them in the air.  I used to wonder why God didn’t wave back. Why some people could hear his voice but not others.  I used to pray with great earnestness.  I wanted to know the God they said was loving and kind.

When I was born I was dedicated to God.  I was four I was guided in the sinner’s prayer and ‘gave my heart to the Lord’. I didn’t want to go to hell when there was another option! The Bible said all manner of horrific things. Vengeance and punishment and judgement and eternal suffering. The Bible said that if I so much as thought of a sin, I had sinned. I was terrified.  I quite often thought of sins. I especially thought sinful thoughts about church and God and Christians. They just happened in my head. People sang songs of love to Him and danced in the aisles for their joy.  But I trembled at the thought of that angry God. I played my part and talked the talk, until one day, I couldn’t sustain the double life that I had grown into.  The church me and the real me.  The two ‘me’s were now so far apart that I couldn’t behave like a ‘christian’ and feel like myself.  It was a difficult conversation to have with my parents.

My parents’ people were faith-in-action people.  They believed in doing.  They were generous and truly understood the power of giving, of themselves, their skills and their own possessions.  Their communities were strong and compassionate.  In every church they attended there were people walking the talk, being God’s grace in the world.  And just as in any group of people, there were strange folk. People I found it hard to like. And I sang the songs and I clapped along.  People swooned at the pulpit, cried with joy at their healing, spoke in strange languages at their baptisms, screamed as they were delivered of their demon possessions… and some spoke with the voice of God Himself during prophecy time. God Himself spoke in King Jame’s English, just like my bible. Not Hebrew.  Or the language of heaven, whatever that be.  How curious, I thought.  And I would chide myself for another sinful thought.  My heart longed for the kind of connection with God that so many people seemed to have.  But it was always so elusive, just beyond my grasp.  I think I knew that the God of my parents did not love me in the way He loved some of those people, and I couldn’t find real love for Him amongst the noise of all my thoughts.

As I grew older and began to read more widely, experience life more, explore the ideas of modern religions and world history, my questions came thick and fast.  My doubts grew.  I saw the manipulations of communities by corrupt church leaders, by TV evangelists, by healers and preachers and worship entertainers. I stopped feeling guilty about all the ways I had failed in the church. I began to let myself wonder and think even more.  I wondered about other religions and began to research.  Why? I don’t know exactly why I search for answers, why I want to believe in something.  Because it is nicer to believe.  Because life is easier if you believe in something. But every religion I looked at was not my religion.  Did not answer the call of my heart for connection and meaning.   There are aspects of religion that I truly love.  I love the quiet reflection that can only be found inside some chapels.  The hush and rest of a seat in a candlelit space.  I love the music of faith, the melodies of my childhood, the songs of scriptures in a chorus of voices.  I love a good Psalm when I feel adrift.  A verse from my early years can bring me the comfort of my mother.   The memory of her voice saying my goodnight prayer, the same every night until I left home.

In a simple way, I feel certain there is something.  I have felt a rush of feeling when wonderful things happen in my life.  It is gratitude, deep thankfulness from my very soul.  It wells up and sometimes I have to shout it out.  Thank you!  But who am I thanking?  I am not sure.  I feel gratitude to the greatness of life.  I once watched a film that was about life in a meadow in France; Microcosmos I think it was called. It was filmed on microscopic cameras and showed extraordinary, exquisite details of insect life.  The detail, harmony, the ecosystem played out in all its’ artistry.  It completely blew my mind.  So profound. Somewhere in there is the meaning of life.  The secrets and the mystery of it all.  Somewhere out there, or in here, surely, is a life force worth worshipping.  So I feel gratitude to something I can’t define. I wonder at the sheer intricacy of our planet.  Our Universe.  Our bodies and our minds.  Our capacity to love and to hurt and to create and to destroy.  But I have not found a religious God.

My soul has been trying to get it right.  I try hard to show kindness where ever I can.  This is part of the religion of my heart.  I try to see all people for who they are without the damage that has been inflicted upon them.  I try to bring thoughtfulness and calm.  I try to connect and cherish.  I try to make the step toward a person rather than take a step back.  I try to add value to the world through the children I have brought into it, by helping them build character and strong values. I try to practise compassion and most of the time, I succeed. I believe in choices and consequences and the importance of making sound decisions.  I believe that we are all important, regardless of creed or religion.  And in my ‘religion’, I think having a good laugh at myself and at anything ridiculous is good for the soul.

How long til my soul gets it right?  Can any human being ever reach that kind of light?

This line is one in a song that always makes me smile.  It is a tongue in cheek song about reincarnation by the Indigo Girls.  I found this song when I was 19 and working in Germany as an au pair. Their music was great to dwell on at that age, such good lyrics. I still love so many of their tracks.  They take me back.   Have a listen to Galileo.  It’s worth paying attention to the lyrics, they make me laugh out loud.  And in the absence of something more transcendent, laughter is a good good thing.

 

er… and just like many of the Indigo Girls videos, this one is a bit distracting.  Better to listen than watch.  Or listen.  Then watch!

 

Giveaway!

Fall Seven, Get up Eight:  competition.

Recently, a friend I met online through my Dysautonomia support group asked me if I would proof read posts for her new blog.  I love to proof read, so I was delighted to help.  Kellie started up her blog to document her journey to Russia for stem cell therapy.  She has been diagnosed with a rare (one in a million) condition called Stiff Person Syndrome.  It is an auto-immune neuromuscular disorder and part of the condition is autonomic dysfunction.  The autonomic problems are the thing we have in common, they are why we met in the first place.  Kellie is an inspirational person, so brave, really funny and unassuming.  I really like her!  …Well, she’s been on my mind.  And one day and I spotted a t-shirt with a Japanese proverb on the front:
Fall seven, get up eight.
How perfect is that?!

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I knew that Kellie had to have that t-shirt when she went to Russia.
(Maybe you could do with one too?)

On the label it says ‘night tee’.  But you could rock it out in public too. I thought it was perfect for a girl who is going to spend some weeks in bed while her immune system is wiped out with chemo and the stem cell therapy begins.  I bought it and posted it.   Actually, I bought three.  One for her, one for me, and one for this giveaway!  Maybe, I bought it for YOU!   You know when you just know that something is the perfect thing?  That tee is the PERFECT tee for people with chronic illness, or any human being, really, when I think about it.

On Thursday last week I wrote a post about falling.  Falling under, falling apart.  I always get back up again, and I know Kellie will too.  This tee shirt is the perfect reminder. We will all get through, some how, some way.  The road is rough and sometimes we fall.  Then we get up and get on with it.

You know you want it!

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 2.46.38 pmPicture source: http://shop.laundromat.co.nz/estore/style/f5166fhw14.0287.aspx?c=590
You can win this one!

YES!

To be in the competition, just make a comment, in around 25 words or less, below. You must use the words “I FELL” somewhere in your comment, by the end of Monday 7th July, 2014 (NZ time).  


You can write in sentences, you can write poetry, you can use your words any way you like, but they must be your words.
You don’t have to have Dysautonomia to enter.  We all fall, in our own ways.

Ts & Cs:
I will notify the winner by email, so you must include your own personal, valid email address to be eligible for winning.
I won’t be using email addresses for any purpose other than notifying the winner.
The prize is as stated and is the product pictured.  It is white Federation brand tee with black text on the front.
It is a NZ women’s size SMALL and sadly, I can’t change that. It would fit ladies size 10-12… 14-16 if you like it snug!  Saucy!
Please don’t put your postal address in the comments, if you win I will email you for more details.
I am happy to post to anywhere, so don’t be shy.  Wherever you live, NZ Post can get it to you…

Although I am advertising this competition on my facebook page, I won’t be running it there.  So make sure your comment is entered below this post, in my blog commenting form, on this blog.  Not on facebook.  🙂

May the odds be ever in your favour!
GO!

}  This competition is now closed {

Cuppa?

1Most of you know that I did an online course about blogging in May/June.  I have been learning from the maestro herself, Pip Lincolne.  Have you seen her blog Meet Me at Mikes? I’ve still got so much more to learn and things to do to improve things around here, so I have signed up for the next intake as well.  I’m going to be like a Year 8 girl this time instead of a Year 7 newbie.

When I signed up for the course, I didn’t really look into it too closely.  It was an impulsive decision.  I’ve been writing parenting posts for Kylie over at Nic-Nac since the beginning of the year and I thought it might be good to find out what constituted proper ‘blog writing’ so I could see if I was doing it right.  I didn’t consider the possibility that I might make friends!  But that is exactly what has happened.  You’ve already met some of them if you saw my post here, called Chain Gang.  It’s like I’ve been milling around the quadrangle of this cyber secondary school, scratching my toe in the dirt, noticing the people I think are really cool and then… I’m in their gang!  These are my people, I have found the kids who like to hang out in the library at lunch time or discuss poetry under the shade of the trees.  Kids who want to run for school council or paint the sets for the school play. The sometimes-rebellious-but-never-suspected-because-we-look-too-much-like-nerds-crew. My kind of people.

We have formed a kind of community that will carry on long after the course has finished.  It’s a lovely place to be. A common room full of bright bean bags and big ideas, questions, learning and lots of support.  This week, our teacher, Pip, has invited us to join a ‘linky’ on her blog.  If you head on over there you’ll see links to all the blogs created or perfected during the May intake.  I’m there too, hanging out with the kids in the common room.  Come and have a cuppa with us.  Today we’re talking about five things we are loving right now.

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I am loving my red scarf.  It’s a deep, deep red.  Warm and super long, it covers my tummy when it is embarrassingly distended.

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I love my family.  We are many.  Last night there were eight around the table.  My immediate family is four, but we have two teenagers (from other mothers) who live with us too, my sister-in-law is staying, and last night, my daughter’s bestie was with us as well. She and her family are so much a part of our family that when we’re together we call ourselves by our hyphenated surnames.  Their close proximity to us in distance and heart gives us a true community, right here in urban Auckland.
It’s big and beautiful, my family.

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I love sunshine on my shoulders.  The winter sun is so much more appreciated by me than the summer scorch.  I love being right here on my bed while the sun inches it’s way across my feet and up, until it blankets me entirely in warmth.

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I love being around extraordinary women.  Recently I had tea with my sister in law and my Granny, two inspirational people who help me to be my best self.  Time with women is good for the soul.  So is a cuppa.  Put them together,  ahhhhhh, bliss.

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I love tea.  Warm, liquid love.  That’s what a cuppa is to me.  Comfort; me time, restorative repose.  A hiatus, a tiny, hand-held hug.  I love a good cuppa.  Thanks Pip Lincolne for inviting us all to have a cuppa tea with you.  Click here and see what Pip and the Pipsters are loving at the moment.

Might just go pop that kettle on for another…

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Falling

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 9.47.30 amYou can fall foul of the law, fall to the enemy, buy a TV that has fallen off the back of the truck, fall head over heels, fall pregnant. Statistics can fall, you can fall over yourself to get to something you want and in some countries, Fall is a season. At one of my schools I was dubbed ‘Falling Tree’ because of the way I would faint, straight over. Tim-ber!  Some silly boy started it and it stuck for a while, until he moved on to finding someone else’s problems funnier than mine.

That reminds me of a song I used to love. Catch me, I’m falling.  A much nicer boy once put this song on a mix tape for me.  I love Real Life (the band).  And OMD. Ah, those were the days! A little bit of synthie-pop-magic from 1983.  Of course, actually in 1983, I didn’t know who these boys were, it took nine more years before I discovered them.  Back in 1983 I had heard of Abba and Human League and Joan Jett.

Catch me
I’m falling down again.
I know it’s a dream
But just the same.
There’s a face before
My eyes are closed
But I can recognise
The danger there.
Slumber comes and darkness falls

And shadows dance across my walls

Today, I’m falling under.  I know I will surface again, but today is a day for letting myself sink.
My head feels like a separate entity from my body doing a nodding dog on my shoulders.  It is heavy, it hurts. My eyes feel like they are attached to the suck end of the vacuum hose. I woke this way and it hasn’t let me be. This time of day is usually my respite time.  My quiet time.  My rest and prepare for the afternoon, time. But none of those things are happening while my eyeballs thrum away at the inside space of my head.  I’m just here, getting on with today, one throb at a time.  Looking out on the white skies of winter in short instalments between shut eyes.  My screen brightness is turned down to low. The light hurts today.  I type by touch and hope there won’t be too much to edit later.

It all makes me feel nostalgic, it’s like I can slip so easily into the eighties in my mind when the present day is too difficult.  I’m back there, somewhere around 1987 sneaking over to friends’ houses to watch secular movies, listening to my walkman under the bed.  Casey’s Kasem’s American Top 40.  Whitney Houston, Nik Kershaw, mixed tapes and much unrequited love (mostly for the lead singer of A-Ha).  I had Minnie Mouse on my wall and Rudi the sausage dog as my unwilling psychotherapist.  That dog had to listen to endless hours of my teen angst.  Poor sausage!

Nice to remember the old days.

Here is Real Life.

 

Mother Hearts

 

baby feet, mother heart
Source: Foundation for Biomedical Research

“When were you ready for babies?” one of our babysitters once asked me.
She was in her late teens, a natural with our kids.  I wondered if she was beginning to notice that yearning within herself, that quiet mother-clucking, the sound that might grow to a hormonal crescendo by her forties. Was she wondering what it would be like to soothe her own babies to sleep instead of other people’s? I used to. I notice with interest these days, that it’s no longer fashionable to say you would love to have babies.  Not until you are at least in your thirties.  Why do we act like wanting babies is a timetabled urge?  Switched on by suitable circumstances?  I will always be grateful my circumstances brought my babies to me at a time when I was old enough to provide for them properly… but then I think, if they had come earlier in life, I’d have not been this unwell.  I don’t know why things happen the way they do.  Life is a peculiar thing. And it is good to remember, that for some, platitudes around motherhood like all in good time, or it will happen if it is meant to are painful, useless things to say.

“…about four years old I think”, I answered, truthfully.  When I was four, I already had a ‘baby’ of my own.  She was my special Sheila Carter (er, yes, that was her name, I named her in honour of a retired missionary we knew) and I clucked over her and loved her with fierce mother attentions. I loved the feel of her body in the curve of my arm and the way, if you bent her legs outwards, she could sit on my hip. She was the focus of all my games.  Where we lived, out in the back garden, we had a playhouse made from a packing case.  It had a fake shingle roof and tiny windows.  Outside the windows, within the reach of my eager little hands, was a grape vine, supplying great green orbs of sour sweetness for our playhouse meals.  There were daisies in the garden for gathering into chubby-handed bunches and mini furniture inside made from apple crates and hand-me-down cushions.

 

The original Sheila Carter
The original Sheila Carter

The boys, mercifully, spent most of their time up at the boy fort on the boundary of the yard.  But the playhouse. It was the sweet domain of the girls, untainted by rapid machine gun fire or cowboy-and-indian war cries.  We ‘cooked’ green grape stew, played house, and I tucked my Sheila Carter into the cot with purple paisley sheets.  She ate sitting up in her little high chair with the duck decal on the back.  I was in little Mummy heaven. One of these sunny evenings, my own Mum called us in for dinner.  But Sheila Carter was just so tired and she was still sleeping.  So I patted her tummy and ran inside.

I knew; the rule in our house was that you never leave your toys outside.  You certainly should never leave your baby outside.  But I realised too late that the rule meant I couldn’t go back to retrieve her. I wasn’t allowed.  My punishment that night was to sleep without my baby in my arms.  I cried my little four year old mother heart out.  I had let Sheila Carter down and I missed the curve of her little plastic body against mine.  Eventually too exhausted from tears, I fell into a nightscape of bad dreams.  
The next morning, as soon as the grey light filtered into my bedroom, I raced out to the playhouse to find Sheila Carter.

But she was gone.

Nobody has ever been able to tell me what happened to her.  Maybe the local dogs carried her off, or some kids decided to cause some havoc.  But she was gone and that was that.  I think my Mum was horrified.  She hadn’t meant my lesson to be quite so harsh as that!  They tried to console me by taking me to Wellington on my birthday, to choose a new baby at a big department store.  My new baby was a ‘Baby-This-n-That’ and could wave at me.  We called her Katie (a much better name for a doll, they said). She had silky blonde hair and big blue eyes.  She was cute.  I loved her and I still have her, but my little Mummy heart has always grieved for Sheila Carter, my first sweet baby.  She was the reason I could answer that babysitter with confidence.  I have been ready for babies since I first knew the joy, and the pain, of mothering. It’s what I was born to do.

I have many friends who, like me, were “born” mothers.  But they are mothers without babies.  For some, their babies passed away.  For others, their babies were gone before they arrived.  For still others, life circumstances have rendered their mother hearts empty, simply for lack of a daddy, or the years and endless cycles of IVF have not brought them what they hoped for.  Their arms; missing the curve of a baby who is all theirs.  A baby they have dreamt of and not been able to hold on to.  My heart breaks for them, for their mother heart’s grief.  For the longing that must surely be difficult to manage in the absence of the busy-ness of babies. In the presence of other people’s joy.  I know it is old fashioned and whimsical, but I so wish I could grant them baby wishes.  Supply them with the warm bundles of love to cherish and nurture.  I’m not saying that every woman needs a baby.  No.  But everyone of my girl friends who is without children, longs for them.  It is an ache that is so hard for them to bear.

So today, this post is in honour of my beautiful friends. The one’s whose arms are empty and hearts are longing to give love to little babies of their own.  You battle every day, to smile in the face of the losses you suffer, one moon after another.  You are strong and worthy and wonderful.  Any baby would be lucky to call you Mama.  I wish I could make the heavens do my bidding.  If I could, your mother love would have a place to go, and no one and nothing would ever carry that away from you.  I honour you for your loving hearts and the ways you give to others, sometimes without return or kinship.  I honour you for keeping on.  I honour you because you stay strong.

And my mother heart wishes I could just make it all better.

 


This beautiful song took me right back to that playhouse and my girlhood dreams.

 

Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs

Book Review

This book was published by Penguin in 2005. It is the first novel from Linda Olsson, a New Zealand author of Swedish origin.  She uses both of her national “belongings” to stunning effect in this book of vivid description.

Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs by Linda Olsson

Linda Olsson wrote this book during a year of postgraduate study at the University of Auckland, under the much revered tutelage of Witi Ihimaera and Stephanie Johnson.

In the novel, her protagonist, Veronika, is an author who has retreated to the countryside of Sweden to write her second novel.  Veronika’s neighbour, the strange and reclusive Astrid, against all odds, becomes her friend.  The secrets and sadnesses they carry become the dialogue of their unlikely friendship.  Their kindnesses to one another forge a pathway for them both to return to a place of acceptance and love for themselves.

Bo Bergman ‘Sleepless’

Veronika, has run all the way from the hard light and treacherous coast of New Zealand.  Astrid is still running, from the terrors and loneliness of her youth.  Together, they walk the forests and fields of a gentle rural idyll in companionable silences; sharing only what is necessary, relieving each other of burdens as they come to know one another. Marking the passing of each season.  Their own growth follows the cycle of the natural world. Then, one full year after Veronika arrives, decisions for the future must be made. The shifting scene will change everything, for both women, forever.

This novel is a delicately woven tale of the strength of two women, solitary unique souls who have found love, experienced loss and lived, alone, on moments of memory until stumbling into a need of sustenance.  It is a tribute to the importance of community, of sharing.  Of feeling comfortable in the company of like-minded, non-judgemental souls.  I found Linda Olsson’s writing to be a warm and comfortable read; the wrapping around of soothing sounds.  Her style is itself a gentle song.

I liked her portrayal of women at different stages in their life, in this I felt she handled the subject of grief with deep understanding and respect.  Her description of summer-time country Sweden was evocative.  I felt I could see the quality of the light, the wildflowers, the little hillside hamlets and running rivers.  The words around the swimming in the lake made me feel like I too might float, for the first time, looking up into the great dome of blue.

I particularly loved the use of Swedish poetry throughout the book.  Poets like Karin Boye, Dan Andersson, Bo Bergmann, Edith Sodergran. I enjoyed reading them in Swedish and in English, sounding out the unfamiliar words; as the melody of the Swedish words seemed to hold just as much pleasure/ pain/ poignancy as the meaning.  Linda Olsson has woven them into her narrative with skill and artistry.

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This book is a beauty to look at.  I particularly loved the matt green of the inside covers, peeping out as I read.  But don’t judge the book only by it’s cover.  It is also a beauty to linger over the words.  I look forward to the author’s next foray into writing.  She has something special and I want to read more.

How To Just Be

Every now and then, I’m going to post some photographic magic here.

Photos by a friend of mine with a talent for catching beauty in her camera.
A little window for us to look through.

These posts will be called, ‘How to Just Be’.  Their purpose is to give you something to pause and wonder over.  Something beautiful.  Something to inspire you to take a deep breath. A moment to drink in the view, even if you can’t get out to see these wonders.  Something to help you to just ‘Be’ in the moment.

(c)Be Couper
(c)Be Couper

The day
grows up

moves away,
gilt
behind the horizon,

a line, a trace
to memorise
or,
to

erase

 

Bedwetting

I am the mother of two. I do know that my kids are not clones of one another (not by a long stretch!) but my parenting reasoning hasn’t really caught on to the fact.  I constantly assume that if something worked for the first, it will work for the second. Frustrating but true; most of what I have learned parenting my daughter, has been unhelpful with my son. Is it gender difference? Maybe. More likely it is DNA difference. They are individuals and everything they do is unique to them.

For the purposes of privacy, I would like to interrupt myself to assert that any children referred to in this piece show resemblance by pure chance to my own. They are in fact fictitious characters!* Right. In our house we have a wee problem. We have had this wee problem for the six years that boy wonder has been alive. It started when he was a newborn and he weed on my face. Then giggled. Hmmm.   For my lad and for many little boys, weeing, for the most part, is a fun pastime. Weeing in non-wee environments seems to have become a comedic delight. There is the tree-wee. Handy. There is the trying-to-reach-the-window-wee. Rarely successful. The trying-to-miss-the-toilet-wee. Always successful! And despite years of attempts, we still sometimes have the in-the-midst-of-sleep-wee. In the last year, despite reassurances and positive encouragement, these slip ups have started causing him distress. It is so heartbreaking when his little hand pats my cheek in the middle of the night, his little whisper hot in my ear Mum. I weed the bed. His voice is full of remorse, not because I make him feel bad about it. No, it’s because he’s a ‘big’ boy now and he doesn’t want to wet the bed. Sometimes, after all the sheets and jarmies have been sorted, he’ll crawl into my lap and cry. I hold my baby and rub his back. It will improve, sweets I whisper. It will happen less often, then one day, we’ll notice that the bed has been dry for weeks. I know it will happen. My cousin used to wet his bed, right up until he was ten*. My nephew until he was nine*. Mothers everywhere reassure me that it resolves, all by itself, eventually.

If you are embarking on the Small Person Years; the post-nappy, ‘I’m a big kid now’ era, take heart. You may have a child like my first, who announced that she didn’t want to wear night nappies anymore. “OK,”I reasoned, “If you can go for a week with a dry night nappy, you won’t have to wear them anymore”. And so it was. Just like that, bless her little cottons. Or your child might be in night nappies or pull-ups for a good deal of their childhood. Or somewhere in between the two. It is a truth universally understood that they won’t be wearing them by the time they are at University. Exhale. My son recently had a whole class sleepover at school. I was so nervous about the bed wet thing. I brought it up with the teacher who said that it was very normal for kids this age to need pull ups.   Many would be sending their child’s pull-ups in with their jarmies. It was so reassuring to hear that my kid wasn’t the only one. If he was my only child, I think I would be quick to blame my parenting failings. But he’s not, so I know that this is less about what you do as a parent than about the individual child’s development. It’s a big relief to know that. Maybe you needed to read that today. It’s not about you.

So aside from acceptance, and giving yourself a break, there are some things you can do to ease the stress of bed wetting.

Manage the Bed Situation:

My sister, a veteran night wee mumma, swears by making the bed up with up to three ‘sets’of waterproof protectors and sheets. Layering them. waterproof sheet+fitted sheet, then another waterproof sheet+fitted sheet, then another. If an incident occurs, you need only peel off the top layer of sheets and protector; the clean and dry set is already on the bed. It’s a little stroke of genius that one! For me, having a clean set of sheets and protector handy in the bedroom was the thing. Umbrella sheets might be your thing. These are short tuck-in protectors that save you having to change the whole bed.

Use a waterproof Pillow case protector on the pillow, too. I haven’t figured out how to waterproof the doona yet…that would be a brilliant product.

Analyse:

The body’s pee system is pretty straightforward. What goes in must come out. But When it goes can be a bit crucial! We always have more incidents when my son is busy during the day and forgets to keep up his fluids. It makes him thirsty in the afternoon and evening, so he drinks more in the later part of the day. Try to increase hydration earlier in the day and reduce the amount of liquid drunk in the evening. If your child is thirsty at bedtime it is because they haven’t had enough water during the day. If their wees are dark yellow it is because they haven’t had enough water during the day. Carry drink bottles with you so that hydration can be a steady process not a fast gasping gulping affair

Be proactive:

Toilet time before bedtime! Cripes, sometimes you just want those kids in bed so badly that it is easy to forget to remind them to go to the lav. Pays dividends though. And another idea…not all mums like this approach, but I know a bunch of mums that wake their child before they themselves turn in for the night. If you wake the child fully (important for the brain association) they can have a quick wee and then go straight back to sleep; they learn that they must wake to wee. When it was getting really upsetting for our lad we tried this and it made a real difference for his confidence. It was awful waking him, but small pain in comparison to his distress waking up wet. Every night we did this he was dry. After a few weeks of it we petered off and he managed most nights.

Stay positive:

Kids always respond to positive language more than negative. It is un-productive to criticise a child for something they are still learning to control. So catch the best bits of their night and praise them for it. Notice the time bed wetting incidents occur, maybe it is getting longer between bedtime and wetting? Have they had a dry night? Remember that shame just isn’t productive or self-esteem producing. Acceptance and encouragement will go a lot further. Remind yourself occasionally what a great job you are doing, too. It’s not easy to keep up with the night waking, you are a nocturnal hero.

Don’t rush:

Night nappies and pull ups are expensive. Changing beds and doing laundry is exhausting, who wouldn’t want this phase to be over? Try not to rush them. I am a big believer that these issues resolve when a child’s brain and body reach the capability of control. They are learning and assimilating so many things in so many areas of their development. Rushing and pressuring children may only lead to frustration, anxiety and exacerbating the issue. Which ultimately leads to longer with night nappies and pull ups

*Privacy and Pee:

It’s okay, even healthy, to discuss wee issues with other mums, family members or friends, but never in front of your child (note to self: and probably best if not in a blog). Even very young children can find this distressing. I remember my Mum talking about my menarche with other women in front of me. Oh, crippling! The shame! On this note I would just like to say that unequivocally, any persons in this piece resembling characters real or unreal who might or might not truly exist in my real life is not intentional, merely illustrative. 😉

This Sick Chick goes Chic

There is sick, then there is “sic”.   I quite liked the two definitions as they both apply to this post.  And then there is chic. 

sic 1 |sɪk|
adverb
used in brackets after a copied or quoted word that appears odd or erroneous to show that the word is quoted exactly as it stands in the original, as in a story must hold a child’s interest and ‘enrich his (sic) life’.
ORIGIN Latin, literally ‘so, thus’.

When you feel like you are wearing a concrete body suit, achieving chic can be a challenge.

Sick chicks still have pride and and many of us, just like women the world over, make an effort to improve what nature has given us…  maybe not as often as we used to, but dressing up is still special! Some of us make a huge effort to show the world a face and present in a way that will enable people not to look too closely.  Maybe even to look and smile.  Even better, to linger on an accessory, comment on the eye make up, notice the hair.  Pretty things maketh me happy.  Accessories and scarves and dresses and heels.  Lately I have been making some Chic (sic) plans!

I have fewer occasions for dressing up than I used to.  Not so many opportunities these days for going out, but when I need to get a little chic going on.  I enjoy it as much as the next girl!  It’s just a modified and snail-like approach to the whole thing.
I can barely contain myself, because this weekend, my hubster and I are heading off for a romantic escape. Squee!
At least, we hope it will be romantic!
I suspect there will be more than a little deep sleep and mutual pillow drooling.  I imagine we will indulge in a late breakfast in bed and we may even read the entire newspaper!!! Can you tell that I am a little bit excited about our adventure?

It’s all happening because my lovely sister in law, Lee, is here from Australia.  She’s offered to have the kids for the weekend. A thousand thank yous to you, Lee.  It is difficult to express just how special some time away with my man is going to be for me.  You see, given any chance to be ‘just us’ in our day to day life, his hand will sneak into mine and the years, the illness, the stresses of life melt away.  We are instantly back in the land of ‘us two’.  Our eyes might meet, wide with surprise.  Oh that’s right, it’s YOU!  And ME!  I remember US!  And those little moments are the things that keep our love kindled.  The knowledge that there will be an intermission at some point.  We will get a break, some time.  And when we do, like for this fabulous weekend, we’ll be coming back home in the truest sense of the word.

Back to us.


(I love this song. “Feels Like Home:”  I loved it first by Neil Diamond and I also love this version, by the  amazing English/Irish vocalist Edwina Hayes.  She has also collaborated with Dr Hook, though not on this song.  Be still my beating heart!)

NOTE TO SELF:
Do approach the experience with an open mind and a hopeful heart.
He’s your man, you’re his girl.  Hold his hand and let love do the rest.
Can you tell I am a little bit nervous?

 

How do you pace your preparations for an exciting event?  How far out from it, do you start getting ready?