Thursday 23 March 2017

Returning to middle earth with a thud

Last week, the husband and I went away for a week. It's the longest we've spent away from the kids since Lil-lil arrived 10.5 years ago.

Returning this week has been a thud back to reality - school lunches, tuck shop duty, parent/teacher nights, netball organisation, bath/dinner/bed routines, being woken up to  "Muuuuuuuuuuum" in the wee hours of the morning. Winery lunches and late nights at whisky bars it's certainly not.

Of course, coming back filled me with all the things I need to focus on and would like to achieve for the rest of the year. Becoming an employed member of society, making our home more of a home, expanding our social circle, entrenching ourselves into life in Brisbane, worrying about the kids.

Feeling like I haven't ticked nearly enough boxes and feeling a little of the post-holiday blues, I've been rather down at the mouth the past couple of days. Those times when everything just seems like too much or too much hard work or too something.

As hard as the post-holiday blues are, it's worth it in so many other ways. Spending time with Skip, seeing new sights, just chatting away or soaking up the spectacular scenery in comfortable quiet, being adults -  not mum & dad. Doing what we want on the spur of the moment and not having to hear "Can we go home now?" Now that's special.

Next week, we'll have been married 12 years. This is our 20th year together. So many stories, adventures and life tales we've created together. We've lived in many different cities and even countries together. We've packed a lot into the half a lifetime we've spent together. It's a rich story. Above all else, he still makes me laugh.

On the plus side of returning home was seeing the kids. I've had a whole week of being appreciated, which is almost unheard of! The eldest keeps telling me how happy she is to have me home, she even stopped and chatted with me at tuck shop today rather than pretend she didn't know who I was. The middle one keeps giving me little notes that say "Even though I don't always like you, I love you more than anything". The youngest keeps cuddling me and telling me "You're the best!". So I'm soaking up the love before it's replaced with eye rolls, door slamming and "Mean mummy!"

Life can never be all winery lunches and whisky bars, or I love you notes and adoration. It's mostly scrubbing pots at tuckshop and remembering to have clean uniforms ready for the morning. It's scraping uneaten dinners that were lovingly made into the bin. Arguing over whether "Neighbours  really existed in the olden days" (it did and Toady was in it even then) and buying outrageously expensive netball uniforms. It's about explaining why you can't tell the tuck shop that you were supposed to have tuck shop when there's a bread roll you know full well about sitting in your lunch box and there must have been 'some kind of mistake'. "Real life" is annoying and frustrating and unpleasant and boring, but at the end of the day as I scrape those uneaten dinners into the bin I hear that laugh. That laugh that makes me sigh deeply and then chuckle myself.

Tuesday 7 March 2017

One man's tip...

Today, I was weeding in the garden while also gathering up a mighty pile of old palm fronds. This is without doubt one of the my least favourite things about living in a house. As I painstakingly pull out tiny weed after tiny weed, I mull over how much I wish I was back living in a Dubai skyscraper where weeds were someone else's problem.

Then I looked up to see the mighty pile of palm fronds that I'd been gathering at the side of my house, wondering what kind of wildlife had been making its home in there or what kind of fire hazard I was creating. Way too much 'green waste' for our fortnightly collection, I literally shoved it all into the back of the car, squirming and itching as bugs and dust showered over me.

In my mobile jungle I made our way to our local Refuse Recovery Centre (aka The Tip). This may surprise you to hear, but the tip is one of my most favourite places. Sure, given the choice I would probably go to Venice or Vienna over the tip, but given the choice between pulling out weeds and going to the tip, the tip would win every time.

The first time I went to the tip was up in the northern suburbs of Sydney, in Belrose. We got to drive past Paul Hogan's house and then we drove down a windy dirt track to what I can only describe as one of the most glorious sights I'd ever seen. Piles and mounds of stuff! There were piles and piles of unused colouring books, there were toys and bikes and bits of colourful plastic. "People are throwing this stuff away?!"I thought to my five-year-old self. It was like a shop where you didn't have to pay for anything, except my mum wouldn't let me take home any of the treasure I found. For months after I dreamed about going back and and climbing the mounds looking for treasure. I decided that it might even be a good idea to have my birthday party there. It was just the most magical place in my young imagination.

A few years later we to another refuse centre, I was buzzing with excitement. What would I find this time? Except when we got there it was just a big concrete-lined hole with a mechanical compactor. There was no way for me to touch my treasures, I just had to watch as it was all squashed together. It was most disappointing.

As I drove up to the tip today and I smelt that distinctive smell, I won't deny that I got a little excited.  It was all so organised and I eagerly looked around at all the signs "car batteries", "mattresses" "green waste", "recycling". My five-year-old self wanted to run around and see what everyone was throwing out. Seeing the cars and trucks and trailers with their hauls driving here and there to right locations, I have to admit that I had fun! As I pulled out the palm fronds one by one and threw them high on to 'green waste' mound, I was smiling widely to myself.

Image courtesy of Nyberg

Wednesday 1 March 2017


Across the front of today's paper is splashed: "Hottest summer in Queensland's history!" I was chatting to some mums at netball the other day and they were all complaining that it was the hottest summer they could remember, not having anything to compare it with I had to trust them and it appears they were right. There were 64 days above 30 degrees. That's a lot of sweating!

It's funny, because while it was hot, it didn't feel especially hot to me. Sure it was warm and I sighed in the humidity, but I also noticed that my kids could still play outside and there was a breeze and cool changes. I guess those long, long hot Dubai summer's have steered me well. Before we moved to Brisbane, so many people said to me: "Why would you move there, it's so hot!", but when you live through months and months of temperatures that never dip below 38 day or night it's a relative thing.

My kids, like most kids, are prone to a hyperbole. They often have "the best day ever" or "the worst day of my life" or "the toughest life". I often irritate them when they say something is "the worst thing ever" that their life must be pretty good that's as bad as it gets.

Us humans generally go through life looking out from just one perspective, after all, that's what we know. Then occasionally we're shown another perspective or viewpoint or something changes our perspective and it's like waking up. Oh my goodness, that same old outlook appears completely different! It's like being in a new world and we can't remember how the old view looked.

Over the weekend, I jumped into the pool by myself a couple of time (being the hottest summer ever, after all). I floated and looked up at the clouds and they swirled in the blue above me. I started to feel a little queasy as I wasn't exactly sure where I was as floated around, was I about to bang my head on the wall? Which way was which? It was relaxing and unsettling at the same time. The pool that I look out at each day seemed like a whole new place.

Most arguments we have are because we feel like people can't see the world the way we see it. And, of course, we believe we're seeing the world in the 'most true' way. I know that I get so frustrated when I look at people who are bogged down by what they see as 'the right thing', not realising what they're missing or who they're hurting, wishing they could see something just out of their line of vision. Thinking that if they took a look from a different angle, or from a different viewpoint a whole new world might just open up.

I need to remind myself of this constantly, even if it feels strange or makes me queasy. We might not want to look from another perspective, we might be afraid that we'll discover that our vision isn't quite what we thought it was. That thing we felt was so strong and so true, that thing that has hypnotised us, actually looks a bit fake. Like when you're in the cheap seats of a magic show and you can just see the fishing line the magician is holding. Or when you're on the side at the theatre and can grab a glimpse backstage of the actors changing costume.

Perspective changes everything.
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