Thursday, January 31, 2013
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Today I did the washing, the same way as many times before
But as I loaded the machine, something stirred, an emotion quite raw.
Because, you see, within the pile hid several extra-special pieces
A jumper, a shirt, socks and some shorts all still with brand-new creases.
Embroidered with a logo, blue, maroon and grey in colour,
They all made up the uniform for my son and my daughter's brother.
He would soon be wearing these with pride to his very first day of school,
A grin beaming from ear-to-ear has been worn every day leading up as a rule.
But as I poured the powder in and set that familiar setting,
I couldn't help but think of washing those tiny little leggings.
Five years ago, I was again in a laundry with a different job to be done
Tiny jumpsuits, singlets, and the leggings all piled up, waiting for Leo to come.
Drying on my mother-in-law's line in the fresh country air of expectation
It was hard to imagine the little person was almost here to end the gender speculation
That very moment I'll never forget, the first wash of my baby's tiny garments
The small reality as they blew in the breeze that we would soon be parents.
Today I stare in disbelief that that baby will pull on the jumper, brand new shoes and a hat
Head off through the gate, perhaps a smile and a wave, to his new adventure and, well, that's that.
With brains in his head and feet in his shoes, as Dr Seuss would say,
He can steer himself in any direction he might choose, today is his day, off and away.
Mothers would sometimes tell me about the first-day-of-school emotion.
“Not me” I always thought, I am not a mother to cause any commotion.
But as the pegs peg the uniform on the first day of thirteen years of uniform washing,
I understand the feeling of five-and-a-half years of a life now in need of blossoming.
That feeling of handing over, saying goodbye, the unknown between nine and three,
I now understand how that might bring a tear, even if I was always certain not to me.
Because, at school, there will be sad times without me and happy ones too
I worry, will my little man, born so tiny only five years ago really know what to do?
Will he make friends? Will others understand his unique take on life?
Will be the class's top scholar, the clown, or get into some strife?
So many questions to ponder and wonder about, worries, as well as some 'what ifs' to toy.
But all I can hope for as I pick up the empty basket is that that baby, I mean grown-up boy
Will take what we have taught him, be good to others and follow his heart.
Find what drives him, practice, and always listen to those with wisdom to impart.
Be patient and gentle, remember what is sown you reap,
To question things, be curious and never be afraid to leap.
To be his own person, not lose his incredible way
To imagine, be compassionate and, of course, have fun and play.
To live a life without a ceiling so the limits are never there
To challenge and explore and do his best but of course be fair
I know he is not leaving the country, I have not been quite that fooled
I know only between nine and half three it is that he is schooled
But it is hard to imagine all the things we have shared, done together and discovered
That now I won't be there for them all as he learns, socialises and new things are uncovered.
That washing is done now, all dry and inside, folded and ready for an inaugural wear
I guess now we just wait, let you go on as I put those new socks in a pair.
Just as we awaited your arrival into the world to fit those tiny baby outfits
We now await the person you will become as you grow through the school portraits
But enough now of the lamenting a small boy's education
I'll hand back over to Dr. Seuss to finish with this small abbreviation:
So...be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!
Friday, January 27, 2012
It has been a long time since I have stayed up late writing. But tonight I needed to, I don't know what it is, but I often feel the "need" to write. Like I couldn't concentrate on another thing until I got what was in my head, out. And, again the funny thing is, I often don't even know what is in that head of mine, I just start typing and the rest follows. Maybe it's the heat, too hot to sleep anyway, or maybe it's the fact the Rupert McCall (the very man who summed up my passion for Australia and inspired me to write for a living) just tweeted this to me:
This week I was awarded an Australia Day award, for the Buloke Shire. Pretty incredible. At first I try to pretend like it isn't happening, I worry that I have had so much already and things should really be shared around, and in fact, and in all honesty I haven't done much at all to deserve it. I am already lucky enough - I have a wonderful family and a job that I love - isn't that what everyone strives for? The rest I guess I wish I could do better at, but time is always poor. I wish I could give Donald a childcare centre and decent Kindergarten, then life takes over and I don't have seven days a week to dedicate to the campaign. Then I get the Young Citizen of the Year Award, not for Donald, but for the whole Shire and I think, well, these people reckon I am capable of something, so get stuck into it woman!
Every day (and that is no exaggeration) I come across people who deserve a medal for their dedication to the community, to a cause, to their families or to their work. And then I get the award, it really doesn't seem fair.
Despite all this, the pride is unmistakable. I mean, I accepted that award in front of such a large crowd of smiling faces, faces which all looked proud, I didn't see any with the look of "she doesn't deserve that", but admittedly, I was a bit taken aback.
I have always been a passionate person. To the point of annoyance. Sometimes I wished I didn't care, that winning a test match meant nothing and that Anzac Day didn't stir emotions I didn't even knew I had. But I never lost it, so there came a time where I had to embrace it. I guess, you could say, I beamed it. I mean, I love this country, it is amazing. I have never wanted to go overseas. I am sure there will come a time that I do, but for now all I want to do is take in every inch of this country and have my children experience it too. I want my children to realise how lucky they are. To take nothing for granted and appreciate that fresh air, the space, the freedom, the food on their table, the clothes on their backs, because so many around the world would give anything for these things, the things we might describe as "simple pleasures".
Growing up I lived and breathed cricket (I first encountered Rupert McCall on one of the first Allan Border Medal broadcasts, it wasn't long before the VCR tape was worn out and I could recite the cricket version of Green and Gold Malaria off-by-heart). I knew little about the game, but something drew me to it. I had my room decked out in every newspaper article about Steve Waugh's unbeatable team, 16 test wins on-the-trot. I knew their favourite songs, their birth dates and I would bore my classmates with statistics. One Christmas my Mum and Dad got me a cricket bat, I guess they were at a loss at what else to do, a pretty dress or make-up kit would have been a waste of money. I love it, I treasured it, I knocked it in. I even found a wooden stump, a golf ball and our old tank stand and set my mind on becoming the female version of Don Bradman. Turns out there isn't much call for female cricket players in the country (and if I was to be brutally honest - I really had no idea). But for some reason it didn't dampen my enthusiasm, even when I rang to book a spot on the cricket camps advertised during the ad breaks of the test match and I was greeted with "is this for you son?" (needless to say I didn't make it to the camp).
I still loved the game. I drove my family and friends insane and even earned the nickname "Clarkey" in late high school (because I would go on so much about Michael Clarke being the next Australian captain). During Year 12 exams I would get migraines. Then I would watch Gilchrist or Bevan smash a heap of sixes in a one dayer and....well....what migraine? I even convinced my poor Mum and Dad to take me to a live cricket match. You know, a couple who wouldn't drive in the city which we lived a good three hours from. They found a way, a bus from Ballarat to a one-dayer against Zimbabwe. I'll never forget, they even took my best mate Jess. We were on the third level of the MCG and the players resembled ants, but my gosh, the atmosphere is etched in my memory forever.
I called my first cat Bevanleemacgillypont (the Mac after MacGill with a little McGrath). Then my Dad and my brothers took me to the first match at Colonial Stadium. I was beside myself. Then there was the incredible cricket writer at The Age who agreed to take me on work experience. He somehow put up with the odd family connection request to take me on. I arrived at Jolimont Street to get my "press pass". My parents had allowed me to travel by train from Ballarat to the Boxing Day Test, 2001. It was Brian Mergatroyd who gave it to me, the press pass that is. I wore my ACB One-Day shirt (extremely professional, I know). I was gobsmacked I arrived on ball three of a Funky Miller hat-trick (my timing always impeccable). I saw a Steve Waugh and Matthew Hayden press conference. It was incredible. I knew I wanted to do this for a living - write about cricket.
I was again taken on another bout of work experience for a Pura Cup match at Punt Rd Oval between NSW and Vic (that angelic cricket writer for The Age).
It is only now that I realise that engrained passion, the love for this country that I have is what drew me to cricket. You'd go a long way to find another game so bathed in patriotic glory on an international field. I love it. I love it because of the Baggy Green, the green and gold and the national pride.
I went onto to secure a cadet ship as a sports writer. I did my days at square-leg with a camera trying to get "the " shot and writing match reports from half filled out score sheets. But what it really taught me is I love two things - Australia and writing - and somehow I had to make those two things combine.
And now I do, well at least I hope I do. I love what I do now, writing real stories about real people. I just love listening to an account of a life or event and then putting it in words for the rest of the community to appreciate. I love it.
I just hope, one day, I can master it as well as Rupert McCall. I dream of delivering a piece I have written in front of a crowd who can't breathe for fear of missing word, who will live forever with those words etched on their brains and who will have tears in their eyes, tears they don't know the origin of, but it will be because the words they just heard were exactly what their heart might say if it spoke directly and hearing those words left them with an out-of-breath feeling of disbelief that someone could incite such a deep emotion through words. Who might, just maybe, be inspired to follow their own dream, who may, just like I did after hearing "Green and Gold Malaria", who may, say to themselves, 'you know, maybe I'm not crazy after all, maybe I'm just passionate and maybe this is a good thing and maybe I could do something with this.' That would be grand. Actually, that would be bloody awesome.
I just wanted to say....
Triple 0 operators spoke of the dying words now forever etched into their minds of vulnerable victims on the end of the line as the fire came rushing in, others told stories of how they escaped the terror any way they could and surgeons recounted the cost of the devastation as their ICU rooms filled up. The country's leaders fought back tears and everyone seemed to know someone who had been involved.
The enormity of Saturday's bushfires hasn't hit home with me yet, I still find myself in a state of disbelief and awe of the fury of the inferno. I can't imagine what it must be like for those directly involved.
It seemed everywhere I looked today, everyone had the same thing on their mind, or at least were trying to somehow process the news of the devastating death toll as it climbed by the tens as each hourly news passed. The usual bustling nature of the city was on slow motion.
What do we do? How can we help? Just how will the state recover? And it still isn't over, fresh alerts continued to be issued as the fires continued to rage and previously contained ones flared back up. People begged Mother Nature to bring an end to it all and give some relief to those many volunteers, CFA personnel and those protecting their property who must surely be near breaking point, if not already there.
Last night as I walked to my clothesline with a heavy basket of wet washing, I looked to the eerie red/orange sunset, one I had never witnessed before and couldn't help but crumble in tears as I thought of those many people who don't even have a basket of clothes to wear, let alone a line to hang them on, and my mind dared wander to those sitting under that same fiery sky with tears of grief for relatives, friends, neighbours who couldn't escape the fireball of terror as it ripped trough their usually peaceful, friendly communities.
Reports of hospitals running out of drugs, morgues running out of room and buses going to collect survivors and returning empty made it feel like I had somehow woken up in the middle of a movie and it was all just too surreal and horrific to comprehend, or maybe it was just that my mind wouldn't let me believe it was real.
It was a day when I held my husband and babies tighter than I ever had and thanked God we were together and not in the path of the destruction. But the guilt of being thankful we were not affected had me wandering around in circles all day, packing bags of clothes, finding blankets, items needed by those devastated, then looking at the pile of things and realising that they were just that - things - no one could ever erase the memory of such a hellish experience for these people, no one can bring back their most treasured possessions, no one can breathe life back into those who have perished in such godawful circumstances.
It was a day when comedians stopped being funny, everyone went about their usual duties in a daze, nothing else mattered, everything seemed nominal in comparison. I grew up hearing about the Ash Wednesday fires like they were yesterday and here I am living out a disaster which is many times worse. Even my kids who should be too young to understand seemed uneasy, irritable, as if they were reflecting the mood shown by the rest of the state, the rest of the nation.
In a rushing swirl of confused emotions, I also felt that patriotic sense of pride as I heard relief centres were being inundated with donations, people were being turned away from blood donation centres due to the influx of those wanting to help, telephone lines taking donations were engaged and businesses started offering support in any way they knew how. There is never any doubt that Australians will rally around a cause and see the downtrodden rise back to the top, and I am certain this will be no exception, it will be a challenge for our grit and determination, but if there is one thing I am most certain of, it is the true Aussie spirit will shine through and see our country recover, if it means selling lamingtons on the corner of the street or donating funds from a cricket match, we'll get there, with the glue that has held this unique nation together through so much, we'll get there, just hold on you brave people, we'll get there.
My kids are incredible. Yeah, yeah…here we go, another parent proclaiming they have spawned the returned Messiah. Truly though, my kids are quite amazing and it isn’t until the house is quiet and I am sitting here listening to the gentle snores of the littlest one tucked up in between myself tapping away on the laptop and my husband trying to block out said tapping to attempt sleep, that I really reflect on how lucky we are and how fabulous the children are.
They are so different, I know I have said it before, but every day I am amazed at just how different they are. And somehow it works. Take today for instance. Delilah, the queen of the universe, who can simply not understand or accept why everything in existence doesn’t revolve around her two-year-old being, and Leo, the over-anxious, caring, quiet, thinking four-year-old and myself decide to go down the street.
Delilah has a bike. It is pink, it has three wheels and it has two seats. But Delilah’s legs are as yet too short to reach and push the pedals the full circle they require to move forward. So, as a result, Leo rides it for her and she takes a load off in the back seat. So, we saddle up:
Me: “Ok guys, let’s ride down the street.”
Leo puts on his hat, his boots and goes to get the bike. Delilah is already out the door, one sock, no shoes, no hat, door left wide open behind her. Leo has a small coronary and insists Delilah rectifies all of the above. She says no with a well-perfected death stare and Leo politely and patiently explains that we simply cannot go any further in our planned adventure until she has appropriate footwear, protection from the sun and closes that door so the flies don’t get in because Daddy hates flies. Again, Delilah replies with a very short, but very loud and insistent “NO”.
We do this for a bit, Delilah practices some more stubborn traits until, eventually, she gives in. For this reason, we need to leave at least half an hour early for any engagement to allow for Delilah’s independence speech before we board the vehicle of choice for that day.
Ok, so here we are ready to go.
Delilah (holding on in the back seat): “It is scarwy Eo.”
Leo: “It is ok Lilah, I will go slow for you.”
Delilah: “Hanks for dat Eo, hanks for going slow.”
Leo: “My pleasure Delilah.”
And off we go!
After a relatively uneventful ride the two blocks to the main street, we arrive at the Post Office.
Me: “Ok, off the bike, park it there out of the road. Inside, you may look at all the pretty things but please do not touch them.”
Me: “Because I have asked you not to, now you show me how good you are at listening.”
Inside the Post Office we go.
Leo asks if he can help me at all by carrying something, Delilah runs straight to the trinkets and starts lovingly handling them all and feeling each and every one to experience all the shop has to offer, afterall, it would be a shame to miss out.
Me: “Delilah, please only look.” I say in the hope she may suddenly become a different person just for the five minutes I have to be in the Post Office with many inviting things at two-year-old level. But just for that five minutes, no longer. It doesn’t happen. Probably a good thing because Delilah just wouldn’t be Lilah without having to experience absolutely everything on offer in the world without fear or judgement. Leo walks behind her quietly telling her how to at least handle the things properly so there are no damages.
Job done, time to go. I open the door. Delilah begins a very loud protest about her wanting to open the door. We give her this one and close the door allowing her to open it herself. She does, but then takes up residence on the Post Office floor holding the door wide open. I diplomatically discuss this for some time while apologising to everyone stepping over the small child and the concerned brother at 4.30pm in the Post Office doorway.
Then I give up. It had been a long day, in fact our third trip down the street.
Me: “Ok, well you can stay there Delilah, but we are going over to the supermarket. Bye”
Leo: “But Mummy, we can’t leave her here, I do like her, she is Lilah. What if she gets locked in, then she will have to sleep here and I am sure she will miss us.”
Me: “It’s ok Leo, I wasn’t really going to leave her, I was just pretending.”
Delilah, of course hears all this and renders my threat useless.
After quite sometime, a lot of convincing and possibly a bribe, we are eventually back on the bike.
Don’t even ask about the supermarket! All I’ll say is the protest reached fever pitch when we had to have a large conversation in the meat section about why we need to wear shoes in the supermarket.
Total opposites, but two peas in a pod. Leo goes to kinder for two hours on a Wednesday morning and Delilah spends the entire two hours asking where he is and if he is ok. Delilah is completely uninhibited, willing to give everything a go and take in all on offer. Leo is cautious but has a hilarious sense of humour. He is so very caring and responsible and always there to catch Delilah when her grand plan doesn’t quite work out. Delilah encourages Leo to push his boundaries and let some of the worry go. She looks up to him and wants to learn everything he has to teach. Together they make up the best games and have great fun, and mostly, not always, but mostly enjoy each others company.
Two amazing kids in their own separate ways. How lucky are we that we get to watch them grow together and discover new parts of their personality each day. A tantrum here and an over-anxious worry there pale to insignificance in the wonder of two incredible children.
Just another day in the depths of imagination
Leo is contemplating what vintage caravan to buy and Delilah will only answer to "penguin". Just another day in the world of Leo and Delilah.
It is hard to tell what Delilah will be next. On the surface, one might assume she is doing that ignoring skill that females do so well or is simply not listening. I'll give you an example.
Me: "Delilah, could you please get dressed?"
Delilah continues doing what she is doing or begins to roll over the floor.
Me: "Delilah, could you please get dressed, I am waiting." (times at least four or five)
Delilah: "I not Lilah, I'm a penguin."
Me: "Penguin, could you please get dressed?"
Delilah gets dressed immediately.
Delilah: "Say hank-you penguin."
Sometimes it strikes at 3am.
Delilah: "Daddy! Daddy!"
Daddy: "Yes Delilah, it's night time, what's the matter? Hop back into bed please"
Delilah: "I not Lilah, I'm a balloon. The balloon needs cuddles."
Daddy: "Ok balloon, have a cuddle and now go back to sleep."
Delilah: "Ok. Say hank you balloon."
Other times it is a dog, often a baby and sometimes Miss Polly. She has also been known to only answer to Grandma or elephant.
She surely has a future as an actress. Surely.
Leo on the other hand has a very logical imagination. He spends his time imagining what his life will be like when he grows up, becomes a vet in Donald and drives a blue car with a TV that tells you where to go (I assume he means GPS).
Leo: "Mummy, when I'm a vet and your cat gets run over, you can bring it to me."
Me: "I would have hoped that if I did have a cat it didn't get run over."
Leo: "Well you can come to my vet house and I will cook you tea."
The other thing Leo is currently obsessed with is getting a caravan. Not sure where this sprouted from.
Leo: "So mummy, we need a caravan. It's ok, I'll sleep on the top bed and there will be room for Stig. Then we won't have to worry about the tent breaking in half."
Me: "That is a very good idea Leo, but caravans cost a lot of money, maybe we can look around and try and save up."
Leo: "So can we go get that money for the caravan today?"
Here's another one:
Leo: "Mummy, I had very good dreams last night."
Me: "Did you Leo, what were they about?"
Leo: "Well everything was upside down. You and Daddy and Lilah were upside down and I was walking around and the house was upside down too. And do you know what you said to me Mummy?"
Me: "What's that Leo?"
Leo: "You said, why are you walking around upside down Leo?"
Often, they combine forces. Usually one of them is the superhero and the other in need of saving from various quagmires of mud and crocodiles.
I just love listening to them, some of the best quotes I have ever heard have come from these two. Would rival Ghandi I'm sure.
My favourite? There are two, both from Leo. The first has to be, "Mummy, why doesn't Grandma get old?". And the second, when we were talking about birthdays and how they work, Leo brings up a dear old friend of his who passed away and says "She just used up all her birthdays didn't she Mummy?"
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
My kids don't find it unusual if we are going for a drive and I suddenly pull off the road. They wait patiently while I grab the camera to capture that image which has just caught my eye.
It is only recently that I have noticed a certain side effect of this photography habit emerging in my children. They are learning to appreciate the beauty in everything. Things they may not have ordinarily thought about twice they now ask "Do you need to take a photo of that Mummy?"
Driving home from a long day, Leo will look into the gorgeous pink sunset and ask if I need to photograph it. When Leo and Delilah water their garden of a morning, they will often come running in excitedly, "Mummy, Mummy, we have some new flowers, get the camera!"
And in turn, I am learning to see the world from their perspective. What is important to them and what they want captured forever.
In fact just today, a day of absolute perfection, beautiful sun with a light breeze and occasional overcast moments, Leo came inside to suggest I bring the camera out with the "stick thing" (tripod) as is was such a lovely day that I needed to be in the photos he was about to direct.
We love self timer. The tripod is a bit fiddly for my liking, despite Leo's insistence, and I tend to use random objects of acceptable height to prop the camera up on and then run into position to beat the 10 second timer. Today those 'tripods' came in the from of an esky and the top of the slide.
There was of course lots of photos of the kids and I, under Leo's artistic direction of course. But then I love when they decide what should be photographed. "Mummy, look at these eggs, take a photo, the black chook laid this one."
"Mummy, the clouds, take a photo of the clouds. Mummy, the grass, look it is so green and there are bugs."
"Mummy, look here on my arm, take a photo of this spot." Leo had discovered his first freckle.
I really do love photos.