A Midnight Clear

Every year I find myself time travelling over our box of Christmas decorations.  All those handmade kid decorations and the sentimental ornaments that take me back to times before.  There are the annual ornaments I always received from my Mum, a tradition now adopted by my sister.  There are the ones from children I taught, and older ones too from so long ago I barely remember their origins. Garlands and baubles and hand embroidered love hearts.  Toy soldiers made from pegs and pipe cleaner reindeer. Jingle bells from the first year I was married and a tiny wax baby Jesus nestled in a walnut shell.  I watch the kids unwrapping each one and remembering, smiling as they feel that special Christmas magic.  It’s a time of year I adore.  The carols play us the lullabies of yule and this mood, this palpable feeling is the reason why I love this season so much.  Family, love, memories, togetherness.

Only this year, I can’t manage to trim the whole tree.  December First happens to have been a very big day this year and we are all a bit tired.  The children lift and bring me each decoration and my arms shake as I hang them; just so. I push myself far beyond my capabilities. My husband puts the kids to bed and returns to find my head in my hands.  I am spent.  It’s not just the emotion of Christmas.  I literally can’t move my legs.  The weakness and pain radiates down my legs pinning me to the chair.  I stare at the tree.  The lights blink through the blur of my tears.  It’s Christmas, but not as I know it.  I don’t understand this pain I am having, the weakness and trouble with walking. I am afraid of it. It’s not a usual Dysautonomia symptom.  Walking is not mediated by the Autonomic Nervous System, but the Central. I don’t understand and I don’t want to even try. I’m just weary.  I am upset that even Christmas decorating is now tainted with the wrongs of this body.  I try to make the tree come back into focus.  It’s beautiful.  It’s not finished… but there is tomorrow.

My favourite carol floats through the living room. My tiredness overwhelms me.  Time for a silent night.

I need a silent night, a holy nighttoHave you heard this beautiful carol?
It’s the perfect Christmas-carol-for-mummies.
Here’s the link if you’d like to have a listen.

Have you been trimming your tree, too?

Mister Wordsworth

There is a poem by Wordsworth (An Ode to Immortality), that suggests we are born with magic still a part of us… that time imprisons our other-worldliness… until we have forgotten all it is to be heavenly creatures.  Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting.   Mary Poppins, (a personal hero of mine) shared his philosophy, but for her it included the loss of an innate ability to understand the languages of animals. Remember when she explained to the children that they couldn’t understand what the bird outside the window was saying, because they were too old? Those two must have been in on some kind of ancient wisdom.

Ah, here it is… a little extract of poetry for you:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;

Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen
I now can see no more.
The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose;
The moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.  

I watched a chubby fisted bubba the other day, she was like a miniature conductor, waving her hands with conviction. Commanding the wind, waves and water to do her bidding.  She looked absorbed by the feeling of the wind between her little baby fingers, the sounds and syllables bubbling out from her, a symphony of connection with nature.  She was doing Important Work, of a kind we cannot understand.  Talking to the world itself; to the forces of nature like they were personal friends of hers.

We forget.  We forget how very magical this world is to small people.  The glitter of sun on sea.  The industry of the ant in the microcosm of our own lawn.  The dusty musty warmth of a face buried in the dog’s fur.  The smell of jasmine. That terror-delight as the swing arcs through the air and falls back to earth.  It’s so easy to forget.  We are so busy doing all  the things that “must. be. done”.  Frankly, it bites being the one who must do those things, but it is okay, it’s good, to pause and switch perspective a little sometimes.  Get a little bit of magic back.

When is the last time you lay on your tummy in the grass?  Made snow angels in the sand? Sat in a mud puddle and squiggled your toes through the goop?  Marvelled at the way the sun shines through a marble or the beauty of rainbows in the overspray of the hose?  Have you jumped on the trampoline or ridden a bike lately?  Have you leaned your forehead on the forehead of a loved one, closed your eyes and felt the gloriousness of their presence?

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Dear old Wordsworth.  I’ve thought of him often in the years since my HSC English class.  He knew a thing or two about shaping words to express things that are hard to explain.  And he loved to write about our world and the way we respond to it.  Today, I am going to be a little one again.  I’m going to grab a moment to do something that lets me see the world through the eyes of a child.  Join me?

We, in thought, will join your throng,
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!

– See more of the poem here.

He’s a little bit old fashioned, Mister Wordsworth, but every now and then, a little poetry for me and for thee… makes thine heart filleth with sunshine! 😉  Indeedy and veritably so.

Second-Chance Me.

25899_413283735814_2554940_n Second Chance Me

I wish I’d had the chance to do that.

Have you ever played this record in your conversations with your kids? Er, yep! Like so many parents we strive, sacrifice and stress out about the extra-curricular lessons.  About making sure our babies are keeping up with the full gamut of opportunities.  “Who knows what their ‘thing’ will be?  They certainly won’t be left behind their peers, let’s try them all!”

In our particular parenting story, it began with swimming at 8mths old.  I had read somewhere that the earlier lessons for swimming begin, the better for the child.  So she began.  We’d rock up to our sauna of an indoor swimming complex with all the bells and whistles to make the lesson thing run smoothly.  Towels and nappies and spare bum-cream and a bottle for after and a snack just in case, organic baby wash for the showers, a fresh set of clothes for after, the pram, water and a snack for us.  Seriously, we were prepared!  The whole palaver took three hours.

Baby gym was next, because according to my sources, without the right/left brain coordination she would never develop correctly.  We ran around the obstacle course lifting, flying, chanting “Good!  Aaaaand, left leg UP, good girl!”  By the end of each session she was sound asleep in the car seat and I was ready to curl up with a blankie and a dummy myself.  And yet we pushed on. No way my girl was going to have my coordination issues, my fear of water, my mediocre ballet career….

Ballet.  Shoes, tights, leotard, videoing on my phone so we could practise the steps at home.  Mums all peering through the studio windows, desperate to see their babies dancing, anxiously comparing, heads nodding with the beat, toes flexing in their shoes, hands occasionally fluttering away from their sides.  Aaaaand, breeeeathe.

Netball Mums, yelling from the sidelines “SHOOT!  FIND A SPACE!  !!!REF!!!  C’MON!”  quiet conferences between Mums and sideways glances, passive aggressive conversations with coach.  Pep talks on the way home from practise, try harder, use your head, toughen up, listen to your coach, mark your opposition!

Gymnastics, Tennis, Hip hop, Art class, Trampolining, Ukulele, Theatre Arts, Mind Lab, Digital Music Composition.  Oh goodness.  I list them all and I am ashamed.  How many hoops has my baby jumped through to satisfy my vicarious ambitions?  So many. Too many.  How many dollars have we funnelled into the accomplishments of our daughter?  How many times have I berated her, and behooved her to make more effort? I try not to, but I confess, often I see her as second-chance-me.  She can have the opportunities I lacked, try the things I wasn’t brave enough to try, be the girl I wanted to be.

But what does she want to do?
Only one thing.
The only one thing that she has ever wanted to do.
The only one thing I know nothing about (ouch.  ….any wonder why?!)
The only one thing she has ever enjoyed, out of all of them.  My girl will do anything to be near a horse, to ride a horse, to scoop the poop of a horse and pick the hoof of a horse.  At first I didn’t encourage her, isn’t horse riding for the elite?  That’s just not us, sweetie.  She persistently begged me from four years old.  Horse themed birthday parties were as far as I went.  But her innate passion wouldn’t give up its grip on her.  She is a horsey girl through and through.  And so, I let go of my other ambitions, I had to.  Horse riding isn’t fiscally friendly!  She has proven across the years that this horse thing is no passing phase.

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So there she goes.  Taking a chance, that is nothing to do with what I didn’t get to do.  We were forecast for a tropical cyclone today.  I woke to the sound of the wind whipping around the house in the dark of early morning.  I hoped that maybe, she’d say “Let’s give it a miss today, Mum”. But no, she was already up, already in her gear and chomping at the bit (pardon the pun).  I watched her circling the arena in the rain, her little face peeping out from under her riding helmet and raincoat, wreathed in smiles.  It makes me laugh at myself.  She’s found her bliss.  If only I had listened to her a little earlier I might have discovered my own.  Because there is no joy like watching your child do something they love to do.  Even in a storm.  

My girl enjoys jumping over hoops more than jumping through them, and at last, I understand what she is teaching me.  “Let me be who I am Mum, not who you wanted to be”.

Guess I am a slow learner!

Photographed by Beverley Couper