Looking for an Anchor

A post that I made direct to the FB page a couple months ago…it’s finally a real blog post today 😉

I went home today, or I tried to. I’ve been sad and searching for an anchor. Something to bring me back to myself.
Back home.
I decided to go to the only real home I’ve ever known. One small problem; the home I was looking for isn’t home anymore.
I alread knew that while driving there, taking the familiar turns, passing the same streets of my youth. Naming them one by one in my head as I approached. I already knew home wouldn’t be there.
I cried as soon as I turned into the not my street.
Still, something in me was hoping that rather than travelling to my old house, I’d be travelling back in time, to my old life. Mum in the kitchen, or chatting on the phone, or tending her fern garden. Dad painting or fixing or growling because I parked on his nice lawn. Bec with her 13 year old secrets and Bro with his 8 year old annoying boyness.
Back when at 16 I thought life was hard.
what the hell did I know about hard.
What the hell did I know about life.

Now I sit outside my house that’s not my house and wonder if the new family inside will think I’m crazy if I knock on the door, ask to go and smoke a cigarette in my old bedroom.
I don’t smoke anymore, but I would if it could take me back.
I considered it.
But I’m far too adult (ppffft) for that nonsense so instead of sitting in my car crying like an idiot I decide to leave. I end up at the beach instead.
My beach.
The one at the end of the not my street that has known me since I was born.
The track is so familiar. So much the same that I almost smell sunscreen and aeroguard and red cordial.
This is the beach where my parents paddled with me at 12 months old.
Where I collected shells every single summer of my life and built sand castles with the best moats.
Where I collected crabs with my brother and held them in a hole so large they couldn’t escape. Captives.
Where we ate vegemite sandwiches and bbq shapes that always had a little bit of a sandy crunch.
Where I was afraid of the seaweed and knew every route to make it out to the deep whilst successfully avoiding standing on even a teeny piece of it.
Where i was once bitten by some big ugly sea monster.
Where my sister and I walked on “the wall” and tried to hold hands even though it made the task of balancing ever much more difficult.
Where My friends and I at 15,16,17 ‘borrowed’ other peoples boat sheds; we came to talk and smoke and listen to music.
Oasis and Faith No More.
In the days when we had to carry the heavy ghetto blaster, with its cassettes and spare D batteries- that would inevitably go flat. Every.single.time.
Where I went when I ‘ran away from home’
Where my best friend always knew she could find me and where my then brandnew boyfriend and I wagged school just to walk hand in hand, barefoot in the ocean.
Where we shared our first kiss and where he eventually proposed.
I have a jar of sand and a jar of sea water from this beach that I collected 20 something years ago, knowing that wherever my life would take me, I would always have a piece of it with me, in a treasure box in a closet in whatever house was my new home.
I must find those jars, I think.

And then I realise the truth. I don’t need those jars. I never needed those jars. This beach is always with me, has never left me and never will.
This is the true home of my heart, the church of my soul, and it will always exist, if sometimes only in my memory.
So I did travel back in time today, and I did find my anchor, and I did go home after all.

 

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All You Need Is Love

Last week I answered a knock at the door to find two very well dressed young men beaming at me.
No, really. They were glowing with joy.
They were far too happy for a miserably cold, would-swear-it-was-winter-again, spring day.

They introduced themselves as Elder Polson and Elder Piung.
Call me stupid, but it did take me a minute to realise that they do not share the same first name.

Oh yes. Realization dawns.
I squint at their name badges. Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Sigh
I don’t do religion.
But I wont be rude. They’re seem so…well…joyful.
So I groan inwardly, but let them speak.

Surprisingly, they don’t launch into their religious speech immediately. They want to chit-chat.
They’re actually quite pleasant and very friendly. Easy to talk to.
Elder Polson is from Utah. And very very good looking.

We wax lyrical about the crazy stupid weather. We discuss the differences in weather between Melbourne (4 seasons in one day) and Utah (either blisteringly hot or arcticly cold-apparently)
We talk about Elder Polson’s plans for his stay in Australia for the next two years.
I tell them about Barbara, the Jehovah Witness that regularly calls on me in much the same way. I tell them I am used to this kind of front-door-hovering religious conversation.

Barbara is such a lovely elderly lady. Originally I let her talk because I didn’t want to be rude. She’s just too nice to treat impolitely.
She visits us quite regularly now, and I listen patiently while she tells me all about her God. I tell her the truth of my beliefs too. I don’t simply smile and nod, it’s not in my nature. It seems to make her happy that I am a willing ear. It absolutely makes her day when the children all come to the door to say Hi. She remembers all their names and asks them about school.
I feel rude not inviting her in, she almost feels like a friend of a friend.

Almost.

But I can’t ask her in. If I did, I’m afraid she’d take up a whole afternoon instead of just 15 minutes at the door.
It seems I’d be crossing some kind of invisible line.
So we continue to stand in the doorway. Divided by more than just the lintel.

I don’t invite the two Elders into my house either.
For one thing, I just got home from work and it’s a pigsty.
For another thing…..well, door lingering is more than enough.
He really is quite good looking though. Elder Polson.
It’s somewhat disarming.

Then he asks me The Question.

“Are you religious?”

I consider myself more spiritual than religious. I definitely do believe in God, in a sense; just not the sense that most people would think of. My God is not an all seeing, all knowing, interventionist, prayer granting, minutiae controlling God. Not at all.
And although I do believe in God, I do not believe in religion.

I tell him so.

He seems confused at the notion that God might exist outside religion.

He asks, very politely mind you, if I would please explain why I have a problem with religion. If I don’t mind. Thank-you very much.

The truth is I find religion to be divisive, intolerant and sanctimonious. I do not like the lack of acceptance of others’ beliefs. The premise of ‘what I believe is right, therefore what you believe is wrong’ does not sit well with me.
This too, I tell him as gently as possible. I don’t want to offend his faith. And it’s not the people of faith that I take issue with, not really.

He counters my argument with “Someone has to be right. We can’t all be right. There has to be one religion that is true.”
He goes on to give the example of Jesus Christ and Buddha. “Both religions can’t be true, can they?” He turns it into a question, an attempt to be respectful, less confronting.

Well actually, I believe they can.

He raises an eyebrow in question and is clearly confused by my logic, but still enjoying the debate.

I tell him my theory of God. That God is everything. The universal source of all there is. An energy rather than a being. Neither male nor female. Neither Good nor Evil. But both.

I tell him that it is perfectly feasible for our great religious prophets to have all been messengers of one God.
Well why not?
We shouldn’t confuse religious rituals and doctrine as rules from this God or that God.
Those things, dogma, are man-made.

God just is.

Strip away the manmade construct, and the message is the same, regardless of the messenger.

Elder Polson is still grinning. He likes debate. He tells me in all his travels he’s never heard this belief before. (wow, am I really so strange?)
It’s apparently given him something to consider. I don’t for one second believe that I have shaken his faith. Nor would I want to. But he’s not shutting me down. He’s not looking at me like I’m crazy. He’s accepting that I have a different, and just as valid, belief from his own.
He tells me how much he enjoys talking with people like me, because I am honest.

That and the fact that I am not slamming the door in his face.
He really is distractingly good looking.

We finish our chat, he leaves me a brochure (which I did read), invites me to call his mobile if I have any questions or want another chance to debate, and after offering his services (as if I’m going to let a stranger weed the garden) he gleefully high fives me before he turns down the drive.

As I close the door behind me I notice that he has left a little piece of his joy behind in my heart. His particular combination of devotion to his faith, acceptance of others beliefs, and love of healthy debate is refreshing. This stranger, who I interacted with for no more than 10 minutes, was able to get inside my soul and leave me feeling…peaceful.

I have to wonder, if that love and peace is the hand of God, perhaps telling us both that no one is right, and no one is wrong.

Deflector comes to the door once they are gone and says ‘What the hell was all that about?’

Just a spirited discussion about God, and religion, I tell him.

“Huh.” He says. “I don’t get religion. I’m more of an evolutionist.”

And just as I open my mouth to tell him that the belief in evolution doesn’t necessarily negate the belief in God, he turns back, scratches his still boy-ish chin and says

“And anyway,  I do think that God is Love, and really, that’s all you need to know”

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Motherhood and Management

Since I was last regularly updating my blog, I began working full-time again. Or semi full-time, anyway. I am fortunate enough to have a husband with a business for whom I can work, and dictate my hours. I drop the kids at school just after 8am and pick them up at 3:30pm. I work the hours in between and the only difference they see is that the house still looks like a bomb has hit it at 4 o’clock every afternoon.

Yes, there are days when the breakfast dishes get done just in time for dinner.

Working outside the home, and still running the home is not easy. Home never seems quite up to scratch. Work never seems quite up to scratch. (Or is that just me?)

We eat more takeaways. (Thank Goodness for Healthy Grill)

The laundry pile is a never-ending work in progress.

The showers don’t get the scrubbin’ love that they’re used to.

I always feel spread thin.

Quite often I have to start work late or finish early to taxi kids to various things. We have orthodontist appointments (Deflector and Actor) we have weekly psychologist appointments (CC-that’s another story for another time) and we have the usual not-necessarily-regular-things-that-just-happen appointments. Like high school uniform fittings that can only be done in the middle of the day.

Someone has to manage that stuff.

In our family, that someone is me.

Last week I left work early one day for a meeting at school, and arrived late one morning for an appointment. Yesterday I had to take the whole day off work, to take two kids to two different appointments.

Today I get into work to find a message from the CFO ‘please call me’ it says. A colleague helpfully reminds me, with raised eyebrows and dripping sarcasm, that ‘he thought I worked every day now’
Ha! Who knows when Rach will be at work!’ they joke.

Hilarious.
In an office full of men whose only job is their paid one, they cannot possibly understand how we working Mums feel about trying to divide ourselves in two. They might find it funny, but it just reminds me that the world expects me to do better.

Or, even more regrettable, the possibility that they suspect I, or mothers in general, are not even trying to do better.

Last year we employed another Mum who does exactly the same thing as I; she works school hours. She will, like me, occasionally take a day off to ferry a school excursion or start late to attend an appointment. Sometimes she will need to bring a sick kid into the office, lunch box and bean bag in tow. Sometimes she might make a mad-dash in her lunch break to buy a last minute birthday gift or drop off the dry-cleaning. She is actually, as I type this, at home nursing a child with a broken leg.

Another colleague noted her absence today with ‘What, still no Linda…?

Really? Is that necessary?

Last Monday morning when our internet was temporarily down, another colleague greets me with
“The internet’s back.” pause “Oh wait…” he snorts derisively “…what am I saying! – Not that YOU would have even noticed yet. But it has been down since yesterday. “
This because I get to work at 9am after school drop off, instead of 8:30 like all the men. I also noted the self righteous reference to his working on a Sunday.

There is an undercurrent of ‘the women are unreliable and undependable’ in our working environments. I am sure that this is reflected in many a workplace. To be fair, my husband would never support this ideology. He takes pride in his business and enjoys the fact that he gives people the flexibility to work and run their family life in a supportive environment. He welcomes an extra kid here or there over the school holidays and allows them to play in the boardroom or he might thrill them with an impromptu science experiment in the lab. There are probably a lot of bosses that are open and supportive and flexible like him, too. But the fact remains, the vast majority of parents who are making these compromises are women, and the resulting societal undercurrent of incompetence is real.

It seems inevitable that if someone’s career is going to take the hit, it will be Mums rather than Dads.

I have to wonder why that is?

In my case I realise why it is me. I never really had aspirations for a career. I was happy to be, and have already written about my decision to be ‘Just a Mum’. My husband, on the other hand, always knew that he would run his own business. I always knew that my job was to support him in whatever way I could. If that means that I have to dash away to collect a sick kid so that he can still attend his sales meeting, I’m ok with that. If that means that I am judged as ‘unreliable’, it’s unfortunate, yes, but for the greater good I can be ok with that too. Supporting my husband and helping him forge his own career path is what makes me happiest.

But what about those women who do have careers? Who aspire to motherhood and management?

I fear that the world is not ready to accept that Mothers are capable and often very committed employees.
It seems to me that once a woman has given birth, or even earlier perhaps, when she is pregnant, she is perceived as less committed, less competent. In order to be seen as the ‘ideal employee’ we either have to forgo having children altogether, or be able to maintain the work habits of men and other childless women. That’s 40+ hours a week, working without interruption until retirement, and focusing the majority of our time and resources on our job. This, despite the fact that women generally do take on the lion’s share of the family and child rearing responsibilities.

It is no wonder we feel spread thin.

 

3442161-616356-a-working-mother-with-a-baby-speaking-mobile-phone

It has a name actually. It’s called The Motherhood Penalty, and I am sure many of my fellow working Mums will not be surprised to hear that it is a very real thing. (Google it. There are studies)

I certainly don’t have any answers. I don’t even know what sort of real world action could be done. Short of shaming Dad’s into sharing the work week kid hustle, but that seems counterintuitive.

There will always be women taking extended maternity leave, downgrading to part-time jobs, taking a sick day to nurse an ill child, leaving early to make an appearance at the athletics carnival and regrettably turning down business travel opportunities, just to keep the family life equilibrium.
No one is suggesting that our children are not worth these sacrifices. Of course they are worth it. No mother would tell you otherwise. But what a shame, that so many talented and intelligent women are unable to realise their full career potential.

Working outside the home, and still running the home is not easy. Home is never given 100%. Work is never given 100%.
But you can bet she’s still giving 100% of herself. You can bet she is giving 100% effort, and I dare to claim that she is just as productive in her shortened hasty work day as her male and childless counterparts.
Working Mums have a host of good quality traits that can benefit business. They are often more flexible and adaptable. They are time efficient. They can prioritise and multitask. Mums really are good at getting stuff done.
In fact, Microsoft conducted a study that concluded Motherhood improves essential workplace skills.
I have no doubt.

While I might not have a clue where to start turning this tide, perhaps I do have one suggestion to make after all.

Can we please, kindly do without the condescending judgement of shortened work days and lack of overtime? The sneers at hasty knock-offs and parental leave days. The tasteless jokes and righteous commentary. They really only serve to perpetuate self-doubt and guilt.

We could start with changing the culture in our own working environments. One workplace at time.

Rather than implying your colleague has been missing-in-action, ask about the wellbeing of her sick child.

Rather than persecuting her for not working overtime on Sunday, enquire about her son’s soccer game that you know she attended instead.

If we can take action in our own workplaces, putting a stop to the condescension of working mothers and valuing their input without discrimination and prejudice, it just might be the first step to acceptance.
Acceptance of Mothers as capable and valuable employees.
It might lead to a common recognition and understanding that we truly are a valuable resource; we can be strong leaders, and we should be respected as essential contributors; even without the ability to work 80 hours a week.

 

Your Turn.

I’m really interested to hear your stories like this. Everyone feel free to comment, not just Mums. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

Posted in Controversy, Kid Wrangling, Life and Other Mysteries, Secret Mummy Business | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Things That Make You Go…Huhh?

Our conversation in the car on the way to school this morning.

Princess “I miss Daddy”

Captain Clumsy “Me too. Is Dad coming home from China today Mum?”

Deflector “Yep. He is. Will he be tired when he gets home Mum?”

Actor “Yeah, I bet he’ll probably have Jet Legs.”

Jet Legs??

I knew I heard him correctly, but being the kind considerate mother that I am I just had to ask him to repeat himself so that I could hear it again.

“Yeah, you know Mum, Jet Legs. When you get really tired after traveling”

Deflector is incredulous “You’ve never heard of Jet Legs Mum!!! Are you serious?!”

I laughed all the way to work today.

jetlag

 

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Soldiering On.

I was reminded yesterday, by my husband as we walked hand in hand along the beach, that I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 23 years old. Two years later than most. We already had our firstborn, Deflector, who was probably 6 months old when I finally decided to get my Probationary License.
“That was quite a bone of contention wasn’t it!?” he declared, laughing at the memory.
“Was it?” I never realized it was a concern for anyone.
It wasn’t a concern for me.
“Oh yeah” he says “My Mum was worried you were going to be housebound for your whole life and be a burden on me. End up like your Mother”

Well that’s news to me.

My Mum has never driven a car. Never had a driver’s license. When I was a teenager I asked her about it. she just shrugged and said ‘I never wanted to drive. Never really felt the need.’ Cant argue with that I suppose.

I am reminded of the time, years ago, that Mum told me someone had accused her of ‘staying married’ to Dad for the convenience of his driver’s license. We both laughed at how ridiculous that statement was. Mum married to Dad because he could drive her places?
Please.
If you know my parents, you know how absurd that judgement is. They’ve been married for 38 years and they are still hopelessly in love. To the point of embarrassment. (They wear matching jumpers a` la Kim and Kel – and she might now kill me for making that public)
I never found out who made such a comment. She would never tell me who it was.
We blew it off. Someone made a stupid comment; So what? It didn’t really matter to me then. I knew it was bullshit anyway. But now, faced with a similar cursory judgement, this new information that I might ‘end up like my mother’ made me wonder….what would be so wrong with that?

I have to give you some back story. It’s relevant, I promise.

My Mother is strong, and independent and loyal. She is NOT housebound, or lazy, or a burden on anyone, least of all my Dad.
She was a military wife for twenty years. She is no sap. Let me assure you, military life is brutal.
When they first married, Mum made a commitment to Dad that she would be by his side no matter where his job took him. And take him it most definitely did.
She quit her job, a promising career actually, and laid it to rest to stand by him.
I was born, 3 months premature, spent months in ICU and then suddenly our new little family was whisked a thousand kilometers away to live in a new state. Mum made us a home in a place where she did not know a single soul. She, as a brand new wife and mother of a microprem, was taken from her only support network to a place where she knew nothing. Didn’t know a single person, didn’t know where the hospital was, didn’t know where the local supermarket was.
But she managed.
Of course she did.
She found her way in a time when there was no Internet. No Google maps. No GPS. No Siri.  Even without the ability to drive she got me to all of my appointments. She managed the transition into motherhood while her own mother might as well have been a world away. She created a life, and a home and doted on her husband and baby.
My sister was born shortly before we were moved again. From one state to another Mum packed up her house, her newly growing brood and made a new start.
Again, in a town where we knew no-one, she had no support network. No-one to call to babysit. No-one to give her 30 minutes for herself.
Again, while Dad was at work, she managed to get my sister to all her Maternal Child Health Care appointments . She took me to Kinda, She did the shopping and ran errands like most wives and mothers. She never allowed herself to be limited by her inability to drive a car.
We moved interstate 5 times in the following 10 years. Every two years we left one life behind and had to start a new. New town, new house, new people. Again, leave any prospect of a growing support network and start from scratch. Say goodbye, knowing we’d never see these people again and go into our new life knowing we’d be creating short-term relationships that we would again be waving goodbye in another 2 years.
Then live out of a suitcase in a hotel for 3 months while we try to find a house, a school, a life.

She is a pillar.

She carved out a life for us in every single new state that we lived in. She volunteered in our school canteens and our P&F commitees. She found play groups and calisthenics classes and Little Athletics. She made costumes and christmas decorations for the schools. She sewed uniforms for the underprivileged and knitted and crafted and gave to people who were our ‘temporary friends’. She ran a family day care from our lounge room and looked after dozens of other people’s kids alongside her own. She walked us to school and caught buses to appointments. There was the occasional taxi.  My brother was born in amongst all these moves. He never missed an appointment either. She walked him to kinda. She volunteered at his school. She again, looked after kids for other busy working Mums and never failed to provide a steady supply of biscuits fresh from the oven.

Her inability to drive a car was never, and I do mean not one time, a hindrance to us. Nor was it any kind of burden on my Dad. Mum always found her own way. She relied on no-one but herself.

Mum learned the bus routes in every new town. She walked and walked to find us a park to play in. She spent many a day in our newest town walking and making mental notes. There’s the medical centre,. That’s the butcher. Over there is the post office.

If anybodys life was burdened by her lack of drivers license it was her own. It probably would have made life easier for her had she been able to drive. But what I have come to learn is that my mother doesn’t do things just because its ‘easier’. She has grit.

She did not for a second consider not participating in life simply because she never learned to drive.
She continued to be a part of the community.
She continued to donate her time and her skills to others.
She continued to be an unwavering presence for her family.
She continued to hold us tight and kiss our tears when we had to say goodbye.
Goodbye to our friends and teachers and favourite bedroom. Again.
Goodbye to other military families who might have almost been a real support network.
She continued to soldier on. (pardon the pun)
Most of all she continued to stand by her husband with every single fibre of her being.

soldier leaving

Dads job was a rollercoaster. Mum never knew what would happen next. Dad might come home one day and announce that he’d be leaving in 30 minutes and would be back in 3 months. There were times when, in a new town with my father her only ally, he would have to leave us for an undefined period of time. Mum would be left to run family life not knowing when her husband would be home. One week? One month? More?
There were times that he was sent on classified missions, not only did she not know how long he’d be gone, she also did not know where he was.  Didn’t know if he was still in the country. It was classified even to the wives.
There were times when Dad was sent on missions that put his safety at risk. She couldn’t be certain that he would come home at all.

Did she suddenly lose the ability to function without Dad and his car? No, of course not. She ran the house as she always had.
With tenacity and determination. With love and patience. With a bus timetable and her own two feet.
Dads presence was such an unknown quantity that it would have been impossible for her to rely on him or his car. I’m sure that during those times, alone and missing her husband, it was more than his driver’s license that she yearned for. I’d like to bet that it was not even a consideration.

All of this, removed from the networks and interactions and web of support that most of us take for granted.
I never saw it, but surely there was a loneliness in her heart. Now as an adult I try to put myself in her shoes and I can honestly say I don’t know how she coped so stoically.
You’d think all that upheaval and restarting, the uncertainty, the lack of one single person who knows you, I mean really knows you,  would get wearing after a while. If she was ever tired of it my Mother never let on. I never heard her complain.

She is a pillar.

There is only one thing that would make any sane person live that kind of life.
L.O.V.E
Love made my mother choose that life over and over again.
Love.
Dad’s drivers license had f*@k all to do with it.
My Mum deserves more than that kind of flippant ignorance. Much, much more.

So, here I am. Now fully licensed and oblivious to the fact that once upon a time there was a ‘bone of contention’ that my inability to drive might make me ‘end up like my mother’
Perhaps over the years her inability to drive has made her more organized and independent. Or perhaps she would have had those qualities anyway. Does it even matter?
What matters to me is that she has been an example of resourcefulness, resilience and determination.
She taught me how to be a patient and loving mother.
She taught me how to be a committed, loyal and genuinely supportive wife.
She taught me how to be the soft place to fall for my work weary husband, and tired cranky children.
She taught me how to be the ‘Home’ for my family. She taught me that Home is not simply where you live, it is where your heart lies. She taught me that Home is a feeling, rather than a place.
She taught me to take life in my stride and make the best of every new situation.”
She taught me how to love unconditionally.
And, she taught me that the public bus is a perfectly respectable way to travel.

I’m fairly certain that if I had never learned to drive, I would have been more than ok ending up just like my Mother.

Caveat:

This is in no way a sledge against my MIL. I happen to think she is a pretty awesome lady too. She is another Mum who is strong and independent and loyal. She made a snap judgement that was coloured by her own experience. She saw her son’s life through the filter of her own and acted out of concern for him. It is something we all do. Faced with my 3 boys’ girlfriends in the future I will probably have fears for them too. We are human.

To err is human. To forgive divine.

Oh and PS.
The sacrifices my Dad has made for his military career I am still learning. There are things that he still wont tell me about, even now. I hope to tell you some of his story at another time.

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Happy Birthday ‘Lil Sis

My Mother tells me that when I was 21 months old, and my brand new baby sister would cry, I would cry too.

Later, when she was 2 and testing my mothers’ patience, I would come to her defence, 4 year old hands on hips, indignantly exclaiming “Don’t you growl at my sister!”

At 5, I realised that I was my Grandmothers favourite. I ran to her sobbing “You don’t love my sister!” I was devastated. How could you not love this?

BEC11 BEC12

On her first day of school I happened to look up from my work and I saw her outside, all alone, crying. It didn’t occur to me to ask permission to leave the room, to ask permission to help her, I just ran. Stood up, bolted out of the classroom, picked her up and took her back to class. She looked at me with her big wet eyes and said ‘I didn’t know where to go.’
That was the first time I got in trouble at school.  It was totally worth it though because my sister was crying!

As teens we would hang out our bedroom window in the middle of the night, smoking, giggling, confiding.

From the day she was born she was ‘my sister’.
Mine.
I had a protective ownership and fierce loyalty that would rival any mothers.

She is my one true best friend. My other half. She is my confidant, my shoulder to cry on, my partner in crime. My birthday cake baker, and frequent life saver.

Countless times I have called her from my car, stuck in traffic, screaming into my phone.

‘Don’t worry, I’ve got it’ she says, and she collects my cherubs from school preventing them, and their teachers, from thinking their mother has deserted them. She feeds them something fresh from the oven for afternoon tea and has hot tea waiting for me when I finally show up in a frazzled heap. Good English tea. Not nasty cheap crap.

She babysits. Long-long days during the holidays when I have to go to work. After a day of umpiring 5 fighting children she cooks dinner for all 9 of us and then sends me home with a jar of home made chutney or a batch of fresh scones.

She feeds the pets and scoops the kitty litter tray so we can take holidays.

She loves my kids as she loves her own.

She doesn’t judge when I eat 3 pieces of cake.

And she makes me laugh, reminds me that life is for living, and lets me complain about my first world problems.

Mum and Dad, 33 years ago today you gave me the best gift a girl could ever wish for.

Bec, if you ever leave me, I’ll kill you.

Happy Birthday xo

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Posted in Life and Other Mysteries | 4 Comments

There’s a Hole In The…What Now?

Saturday afternoon I was attempting something that is highly unusual for me. Making a cake.
I rarely make cakes these days. My sister makes all the kids birthday cakes, I never even have to think about it. She just shows up to each party with a fabulous cake. But since it’s her birthday, I can’t have her making her own cake now can I.
Can I?

No I can’t. Despite the fact that we all know my kitchen escapades are highly unreliable, I decide that I cannot allow her to make her own birthday cake.

So, I’m in the kitchen attempting this delicious creation.

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Click the image to see the recipe at http://www.paleocupboard.com

It’s a healthy not-really-cake cake, and since we’re all on diets we decide that this cake is perfect.
Fresh, light, low fat, delicious.

I’m trying to whip the coconut cream; it’s not going so well and I’m deliberating with my mother and sister on the ideal temperature conditions and other possible variables for whipping coconut cream.

Suddenly we hear a rather loud crash.

Now let me preface this by saying that there’s always a loud crash of some sort happening in my house. Crashes, commotions, crises, catastrophes and calamities are common. More than common, they’re expected.

So I do what I always do. I stop for a beat…listen for crying, groaning or worse – dead silence and when nothing seems amiss, I carry on. Continue chatting, whipping, chopping, agonising because the coconut cream won’t do as it’s told.

You have to understand, if I stopped for every little thing…

So, attention back to the second batch of non-compliant coconut cream, and it’s looking nothing like it’s supposed to.
I’m busy Google-ing ‘how to whip coconut cream’ when Actor walks past the kitchen; iPad in one hand, telephone in the other, en route to the rumpus room he looks back over his shoulder and ever so calmly declares “oh I just fell from the roof” and he keeps walking.

“That’s nice dear” I say. Or something to that affect. There is nothing unusual about Actor stringing a combination of alarming words together, just for effect. He does that, call it a quirk. Combined with his incredibly nonchalant demeanour I assume this is one of those times.

When Princess appears a few minutes later screeching “Did you have to do it in my room?!” I am totally pre-occupied with the defiant coconut cream to really realise that these events are all somehow linked together.

My mother and sister are not so oblivious. Off they go to investigate. I start the third batch of coconut cream. Perhaps I left too much coconut water in the cream……

“Umm Rach…..have you seen this?”

“Yes Ma I know….the roof is leaking a little, Owen is up there fixing it now.”

‘Umm, No. You might want to take a look at this”

Sigh.
This not-really-cake cake has to be good. It has to be perfect. My sis does an amazing job of everything she does for me; I have to get it right. Damn coconut cream! Why won’t you whip!? I’m talking to myself as I wander up the hall to see what my mother is having a conniption about. Probably over reacting, I tell myself, I bet it’s nothing at all.

At Princess’ room I stop, look up.

What
The
……?

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Call me stupid but my brain does not yet compute.

And then a rush of images and realisation hit me all at once.
Actor – “…fell from the roof”
Princess – “Did you have to do it in my room!”
Hole. In. The. Ceiling.
Crap.

“ACTOR, Get in here!”

“Yes Mum?” He saunters in, barely lifting his eyes from his iPad.

There are no words. I cannot speak. I point to the gaping hole in my roof.

“I already told you.” He says “I fell from the roof”

“You mean, you fell through the roof? Through? The? Roof?

“Yeah.”

“What exactly where you doing IN the roof?”

He shrugs. “Looking for Dad.” He says that as though it’s totally normal for children to go looking for their father in the roof cavity. As though it happens every day. He’s looking at me like he’s not sure what part I’m having trouble comprehending.

Incredulous is not a big enough word. I am dumbfounded. “In the roof? You were looking for Dad in the roof?!” Have I just landed in the twilight zone?

My mother told me later that Actor said to her ‘Mum is gonna go spaz when you guys go home’
But I didn’t. Once I got over the shock of the ridiculousness of the situation, I checked him to make sure he hadn’t hurt himself. I told him that I wasn’t angry, just scared because he could have really caused himself a serious injury. Cuddled him while he cried with a mixture of shock and relief, and then commissioned my sister to call a friend who is a plasterer.

Then I shit canned the coconut cream, went to the milk bar and bought two tubs of extra fat double thick dairy cream and two six packs of bourbon.
I made this.

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I ate steak and potatoes and drank bourbon with real coke. I sang happy birthday to my sister not caring about the fact that the healthy cake was not perfect, nor totally healthy. Not caring that my temporary diet hiatus would set me back at least a week, and surprisingly unconcerned about the gaping hole in my roof.

It’s all fixable.

Posted in Kid Wrangling, Life and Other Mysteries | 2 Comments