Sweet Home

The lights of home are a warm yellow.  There’s no strip light cold hard fluorescence blinking into life; here.  They are a soft light; home light.  Benevolent. Outside the wind is howling, it is a perfect day for turning on the lights before dark has even come. I pull all the curtains and blinds closed against the weather and tuck myself into bed.  We have a thing for flannelette sheets.  Warm snuggly cosiness. I wiggle my toes down through the sheets, they are still warm from before I got up to light the rooms and close the windows. I’m hunkering down and pulling the heavy covers over me.  Safe and secure, in my own bed.

I got myself out of hospital last night by telling a bit of a lie.
I exaggerated my progress and the house officer signed me out.  I couldn’t bear one more moment there. A lonely weekend, the frustrations of not being in control of my own treatment.  Home here, where the light is warm and the bed is mine.  This is where I can help myself. Better. But I see that I have been a little ambitious.

Healthy people are speedy people.  Have you noticed that?  They move at what seems the speed of light, whizzing around the place, flitting from one thing to another.  Barely stopping at all.  It’s exhausting to watch.  It makes you feel like you need to be rushing about, too.  So I did, for a bit. I hung out some washing.  I put some more in the machine. I climbed the stairs and made a bed.  Then my body flicked over in to ‘NO’ mode.  I felt internally shaky, weak and so tired.  The contrast between me and the speedy ones so stark. I felt like one of those figures in the midst of a time lapse scene, the world blurring past me as I sat motionless.  
I lay down.  I watched the wind out the window whip the trees and push debris up the road.  The rain slanted down on my washing; turning the reflections of the traffic lights at the top of the street into watercoloured puddles.

So I slept. The speedsters kept speeding through the day and eventually I got up again. I called my little guy over to work on some homework.  We got out the watercolours.  And got absorbed by them.  Long after he’d finished his poster, I was still playing with them.  What a beautiful distraction from the feelings in my body. I focused on the colour, bleeding out from the brush onto the paper. Filling the spaces with colour and light.  I thought about the strokes, the shapes, the way colours moved together.  I thought about my Mumma, her artsy legacy spreading out across her children and her grandchildren.  She’d like to see me there, playing with paints.  Filling my mind with colours to push out the pain, the ache, the things at stake.  I thought about her cup, the one she cradled in her hands every time she had a ‘miley’. Her cup.  Her hands.

I remembered my Dad, last week, standing there in the kitchen, holding it out to me.  That small moment when my breath caught in my throat and I realised the treasure he was giving me.  Her cup. His tears, my tears.  We could fill that cup with our bereft sadnesses. But she is not here to drink from it.  I placed it on my shelf of treasures.  I thought about that cup with the paint brush in my hand.  I painted a picture with the paints.  And packed them all away.

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I slowly make my way back to bed.  To stretch down into the benevolent yellow light.  The comfort of home. I will sleep some more and join the fast ones later.  Together in a circle of light cast onto the table from the pendant above. Food, family… home.
Sweet Home.

The Bobby Dazzler

It’s Father’s Day again. Time for the legendary sausage sandwich with brown sauce for breakfast.  Home-made cards after a rare sleep in.  There will probably be a new book, I’m sure Zombie Apocalypse will get some air time. The kids and I have been getting things ready for the big day. And I’m going to write a bit about their Daddy.

Sometimes, my kids ask me questions about my first husband.  Or ex-boyfriends.  There are photos of these people around the place, it’s not a hidden part of my past.  My mother, if she were here, would probably roll her eyes  “Oh, Rachel! For heaven’s sake, don’t write about all that!”.  Horrified.  But I’m not ashamed. My ‘History of Men’ is very much a part of who I am and I am not much of a life story editor.  The cutting room floor would be littered with things I’d want to pick up again and say Remember when…?  My husband and close family sometimes tease me about the number of volumes in my ‘History of Men’! They can laugh all they like. Every single one of those relationships was important and taught me something.  Some of those relationships changed the course of my life. I don’t regret meeting those men or loving them.  So when my kids ask questions like,
“Why aren’t you still with that person?”
my answer is always the same:
“They weren’t supposed to be your Daddy.
I had to search for a long time to find the one who was supposed to be your Daddy”.

They are always satisfied with that answer. They know I picked them the right one.

(Here he is, during the rugby, doing double duty as a beanbag).

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He came to fatherhood late.  It hadn’t been on the radar during his first marriage, but when he got together with me he knew that kids were a non-negotiable part of the equation.  We surprised ourselves by being a bit quick off the mark… Bee came along rather rapidly after we bought our first house and before we were married. I sported an bodacious breast feeding cleavage in that wedding dress, all thanks to our early arrival!   I think the hubster was quite happy with that. Then, three years later, Zed joined us.  When I eventually saw a cardiologist, he was surprised to learn I had two children.  “Well,” he said “I do hope you are happy with two because I don’t recommend any more.  If I had seen you earlier I would have advised against it altogether”.  So we are conscious of how lucky we are to have them.  Two beautiful kids.  Our pigeon pair.  But it is fair to say that when Bee was a baby, during the early, difficult introduction to parenthood, my hubster didn’t cope well with the drastic change in lifestyle.  Bee’s stratospheric scream lasered right in on his amygdyla.  And his primitive self would bellow back.  He found it really hard.  And yet there were times; he bathed her every night and lay down on the carpet to do baby exercises with her. I remember watching him with wonder, pacing up and down the hallway with her some nights.  He would sing her the same song every time, he said it was the only one he knew the words to.  Away in a Manger.  Bags under his eyes and hair all mussied up. Then the careful transfer of a sleeping Bee into her cot before the blissful drop onto his own.

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By the time Zed came along, Bee had turned him into a bit of a pro at the Daddy thing. He had begun to prize the parts of parenting that were his domain.  And he had discovered that kids were a fantastic excuse to build a train set. I am sure we sport the largest geotrax collection in this country.  The kids even get to play with it, sometimes!  Because he is a bit of a workshop wonder, he’s even wired headlights onto the engines, for night drives.  He can turn his hand to most things and loves to wander through Bunnings, dreaming of the next project. He has cleaned up sick, wiped up poop, cooked breakfasts (best egg poacher and pancake afficionado in the whole universe), lunches (he’s a toasted sandwich, sausage rolls and noodling hero). And dinners, too. They equate yummy with Daddy being in the kitchen.  They equate comfort with themselves being inside his warm embrace.

Yesterday, that Daddy performed the kata for me in his undies, to show me what Zed learned at the dojo (it was a great show, but I digress).  I love that he never misses a chance to be there for Zed and he is Bee’s staunchest supporter.  He is a lego master builder, a horse-jump adjuster, a ten man cheer squad all in one booming voice box. He is a home-stay-student hugger,  a family driver, a miniature stables builder, a problem solver and a fixer upper.  There’s only one word for it. When I was growing up, my Mum had an old-fashioned moniker for Dad when she was impressed with something he’d done.  It’s a term that has trickled down into my own family’s vernacular.  And my babies’ daddy?  I’m proud to say he’s a Bobby Dazzler.

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Every morning, my Bobby D gets up and makes breakfast for the kids.  The morning routine falls entirely to him while I flounder into a new day. He is adept at knowing the details of which uniform pieces are required each day, it is him that reminds the kids about whether they have packed the various bits and pieces they will need.  I lie in bed and hear him chatting and laughing with them over breakfast, or issuing the tenth exasperated request for someone to do something.  And then he opens my curtains so I can see the world; brings me a cup of tea.  He’ll run through the list of things he has done, because he knows that I will worry that he has missed something. He’s such a great Dad to those kids of ours, even though his job is bigger than most daddies. Even though the mummy he chose for his kids is a bit of a compromised control freak sometimes.

Happy Father’s Day honey.  You were worth the search.  Thanks for being such a good Daddy.

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