Friday 6 October 2017

Not quite what you expect

Rarely in life is anything quite like you expect it will be. If my 15-year-self met my 41-year-old self, I'm sure she wouldn't recognise me. As life really doesn't turn out like you plan.

Parenthood is definitely one of those things that wasn't like what I expected it to be. In all honesty, if it was something I'd signed up for and paid for I may not go as far as to ask for a refund, but I'd definitely be writing a letter to say 'this wasn't in the brochure'.

When my first-born was a newborn, I remember having a moment where I wished she was 7 or 8 years old. That she could talk and tell me what on earth was the matter, that I could just send to bed and not have to rock and pat and life as a parent would be a whole lot easier. Well, yes, it's true that some parts are easier, there are plenty of parts that are not.

Like every mother in the world, I have rolled my eyes when someone has told me to enjoy that time with your baby/toddler "because it goes so fast". Not bloody fast enough, I thought to myself. Now I see a gorgeous toddler and think wistfully back to those days at home pottering around and going for babycinos, carefully forgetting the sleepless nights, the mess and the constant nature of it all.

In the midst of the chaos of having young kids at home, I dreamed of a day where they would go to school all day, pretty much take care of themselves and I could just do the "fun" stuff. Yeah right.

Having kids in school sometimes feels like harder work. It's probably not harder, just hard but in a different way. People say to me now, you mustn't know yourself having the kids in school and being back in the office. And yes, I'd say it's true.

Take today for example. My youngest had a high fever and his cries in the night had me finding him in his bedroom hallucinating and speaking gibberish. After a lot of worry, a dose of panadol and some comforting he went back to sleep, seemed calm and a few short hours later the day began. You have to hit the ground running with three kids to get off to school. Lunches, uniform, books, notes, whatever weird and wonderful thing they need for that day.

By 9.30am today, I had already made lunches, got kids ready, had a parent-teacher conference for the eldest and attended an ENT specialist appointment for the middle one. All while answering Slack messages and emails from work. By 9.30am I'm usually arriving at work, but today with a sick boy, I went home after the doctor appointment, tag teamed with the husband while he went to the office.

Working from home can be good and bad. Some days I get heaps done, others not so much. This morning was warm and there was glorious sunshine so I took advantage of the situation and did a few loads of washing. I was feeling very satisfied with my less-full laundry basket and the sight of white shirts flapping in the warm breeze. You know, being grateful for small things.

It was then time for another few messages, some reading for work, a bit of fluffing around the house and attending to the patient, when the phone rang. It was Wendy the school secretary. I had already spoken to Wendy twice this morning about late students, absent kids, so I was surprised to see her number pop up again. The eldest wasn't feeling well and could I come and collect her. So off I went to school, seeing Wendy yet again and thinking, I speak to her almost more than anyone else in Brisbane.

Walking through the front gate once we got home, Lil screamed "SNAKE!" I was a little concerned but we'd had a few pythons around so wasn't too upset. This snake was different though. Yelling to get inside, trying to get a photo of the snake so I could identify it and Lil yelling at me that the door was locked and Darbs crying cause he felt awful. Inside, a few phone calls later and we had identified the snake as an Eastern Brown Snake. One of the world's most deadliest. Awesome. By this time it had fled, or had it?

In between, I was still answering messages for work and trying to post some social media posts for the company. It was decided that on advice from the friendly snake man that we just had to bunker down and hope our reptile friend had left or would soon leave. But then I still had to go and pick up the third child from school. And my washing was still on the line. Quite possibly where the snake was.

Third kid collected and then taken for a playdate, which seemed like a good idea as her siblings were unwell and there was a deadly predator in our yard. As I drove back from dropping the kid at the playdate a fierce storm blew in and all I could think about was my white shirts on the line. And the loads of washing in the machine. And could I ever retrieve them if there was a snake there. "The snake won't stay out in this rain, Mum," Darbs told me. True, I thought, but where would it go was my worry.

So now I'm sitting here. Not having got much work done, the washing wetter than it was this morning, nothing planned for dinner, a couple of unwell (yet again) kids and a brown snake potentially taking up in our yard. Rather than sorting out any of these issues, I decided to write about it instead.

Now, I know this isn't hard. Because having an potentially fatal disease is hard, living in a war zone is hard, not having enough money to feed your kids is hard. It is, however, surprising. And really not quite what I expected.

Thursday 5 October 2017

You can't have one moment without another

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about ‘living in the moment’, which seems to be the modern-day mantra. Everywhere you turn there is someone telling you that you need to live in this moment, forget the past and not look too far forward. This moment is the one we have.
To an extent I believe in it, but to be honest, I think original idea of ‘living in the moment’ has probably been corrupted. Instead of appreciating the ‘moment’ or being present in a moment, it’s turned into a self-centred, do what makes you happy now and forget everything else type of thing. Which to be honest, is not a life. Not a life with any real substance anyway. 
I do believe that you need to soak in the now. Appreciate what is going on around you and really relish it. Otherwise, it just becomes a blurry half-hearted memory. On the other hand, I think the past and the future is equally important and can never be discounted. The old saying that life is a tapestry is true, all these ‘moments’ equate to a life and they should be woven together to make the best life possible. How do you do that if you don’t consider what has gone before and what is coming ahead? Which is why I prefer to try and be present in each moment, rather than “live” in the moment (or worship the moment as I feel we’re being asked to do by this trend). 
Rushing into something because it “feels good” or “right” in a moment and not thinking about the past or the future will create a life of half-finished things and regret. It’s not bravery, but foolishness and to an extent cowardice. And how will you create anything of value? 
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” I see that to be not just about living in the moment, but it’s the small things that you do over and over that make up your life. You can try and make each “moment” special and glorious and important, even make it special with it's 'simplicity', but god that must be tiring, not to mention disappointing. And just because you don’t appreciate and ‘live’ in every moment doesn’t mean you’re living a lesser life.  I think that it’s perfectly OK at times to appreciate things in hindsight. 
When I look back on my life, some of the most memorable and important moments are the ones that I wished I could fast-forward through. Fortunately (or unfortunately), you don’t have a remote control for life and there are plenty of times we just have to endure. I certainly didn’t ‘live’ in those moments or relish them. Those moments I won’t forget and I’m glad I experienced them because they have made me who I am, how I react to things and I carry them with me. Yes, I will move past them, but you will always carry your history with you. How can you not? So, I internally roll my eyes and tell them to shut up in my head, when I hear someone say let the past go, don’t think of the future only think of the now. 
You can’t change the past, but the past certainly changes you. You can only create your future if you know what you want your future to be. Above all life will throw at you what it will and it will be up to you to play the cards you’re dealt. Build yourself into life, rather than build life around you. 
Pain and sadness are valid emotions, and equally important as joy and happiness. You can’t have joy without sadness, I believe. I also believe that emotions aren’t destinations, but they are simply emotions. I don’t think you aim to be “happy”, happy is just one of the many emotions you feel in life. And if you do everything just to be “happy” then you are setting yourself up for failure. You may work hard to do all the right things to make yourself happy (or what you think will make you happy) but ultimately we have no control over life. What makes a life worth living and a life of substance is your attitude, your values, your principals. The way that you live, the way you treat others and how you do things creates your life, not just the “moments” that you live in. 
I recently read a piece by Brienna West, which really struck a chord. She also believes that life is not about living in the moment but more about creating a legacy through small repeated actions. I will leave you with this quote that I love:
“The truest love is not how you feel, but how you act. If you want a ‘soulmate’ relationship, think of it not as something you find, but a person you choose and then grow with over time. If you want to find your purpose, think of it as whatever you are good enough to keep doing, until you leave a legacythen it is your calling.It is not in premeditation that we decide what the big, important parts of our lives are, it is doing. Particularly, what we do over and over again. Doing defines our lives, our characters, our relationships—everything.” 

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