So here we are, 2020 and it is the end of an era.
I feel such a mix of emotions as my youngest ventures off to big school. I am so thrilled for her as her excitement is palpable...yet the other night when I went in to check on her before I went to bed, I started sobbing at the thought of not having her home with me anymore.
It feels like I am stepping into a new phase of life and I am not sure I am ready for it. I mean, it's happening regardless of whether I'm ready or not, but strangely, I don't find comfort in this fact.
Bottom line is, I will miss her. I will miss her little hand in mine as we walk through the shopping centre. I will miss ordering a babycino with my morning coffee. I will miss negotiating food purchases in the supermarket (okay, maybe I won't miss this part) but I will definitely feel that space; that empty car seat, that deafening silence as I arrive home after school drop off, the stillness.
My baby marched into school this morning with her head held high, and whilst I am so proud of her confidence and relieved at her capabilities, my heart feels heavy with an indescribable sadness.
It is the end of a phase of life I have known for ten years. A new phase begins and whilst change is inevitable and can be exciting, I think it will take a little time for me to adjust.
I'm learning as I get older to just love and appreciate all that life encompasses. The love, the pain, the plans and the mess. Life is all just a mixture of feelings, emotions, wants, needs, goals, disappointments, fear, choices and moments.
There is good and there is bad. There is easy and there is hard. There is joy and there is heart-break.
I'm learning that sometimes, there is a very fine line between right and wrong. We give, we take, we love and we rage. I may not always set the perfect example for my children, they see my outbursts of anger, they see me at my worst. And although I know I can do better, be better - calmer, gentler, more patient - I also remind my children that I am not perfect. No body is. I don't want my children to place me on some pedestal, I want them to see beauty in the mess of life. To find contentment despite the imperfections.
I wake to the sound of Miss Four giving her daddy kisses on his cheek - ‘I’m just kissing daddy’ she whispers to her brothers before she scurries down the hallway to join them on the couch for morning TV.
School holidays have meant we’ve had a few days of laying in bed til 8am as the children rise at 7am and set themselves up in front of Netflix. It’s bliss.
We are right in the thick of Winter yet today there is a warm breeze, mimicking a Spring day. The sun is shining brilliantly and it’s 22 degrees outside. I get out of bed and put on my painting clothes, kissing the kids as I pass them on my way downstairs. We have been renovating and adding a downstairs rumpus and we are finally (after one year of hard work) almost finished.
I listen to James Bay and Vance Joy as I paint - The Husband is in the kitchen cooking pancakes for our breakfast and I smile to myself, impressed by his patience as our two youngest wish to help him.
Master Eight washes and cuts the large punnet of strawberries as Miss Four mixes the batter. Master Nine reluctantly sets the table then pulls out Harry Potter to read on the couch.
Eager to maintain some balance between family time and renovating, I suggest we all head to the local BMX track for an hour and then go to Bunnings to get more supplies. The kids love this idea and don’t seem to be tiring of the BMX track even though this will be their third visit in as many days.
At Bunnings we gather supplies and give the kids a play before grabbing sausage sandwiches on our way out.
It’s after 1pm before we are back at home so when the kids ask for some screen time we happily oblige. It allows us to get stuck into finishing off renos downstairs. My dad comes ‘round to help move some furniture and we have a coffee and chat with him as we watch the new room take shape.
By 5pm we are done for the day. The room is almost complete and is looking just how I imagined it would. My heart is bursting that it’s finally a usable space.
I look around at my home, at my family, at my kids who are now pyjama clad and playing nicely together and my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude.
This is us. This is Sunday.
I always remember my father telling me he wasn't sure he wanted to have children. It wasn't because he didn't want to be a parent. It was because he was so unsure about the stability of the world at the time that he didn't know whether it was fair to bring children into it.
That was over forty years, and three children ago.
I often wonder what my children's world will be like when they are adults - not in a cool Back to the Future kind of way - I can only hope we have done enough to keep this planet safe and healthy for them.
It feels to me like we are in a time of change. There is a shift in perspective as we move away from the thrill of convenience for the sake of our world. I think about how exciting it must have been for my parents when all the 'fantastic' plastics came into being. Straws and cling film and snap lock bags... things that made life easier and quicker. Use it once and throw it away...no washing required!
But now we pay the price and I know that we can all do better. People are aware and people are wanting to make changes. No more plastic bags in the supermarkets. No more straws being sold. We are searching for alternatives and in some cases, going back to basics. It not only feels good, but I have a feeling it is worth every second of extra time, every cent of extra money it might take.
I want my children to grow up in a world that is simple. Take care of things, respect your environment, gain knowledge to make positive changes. Delight in our magnificent planet.
I was watching my three children play together today and while I was watching them an ache filled my body that travelled from the back of my throat to the depths of my belly.
I was missing the years that hadn’t even passed yet, as well as all the ones that had already.
I’m constantly questioning my parenting. Like for example, I was sitting there watching and thinking do I go and join in? Or do I just let them continue on and observe their interactions?
Am I present enough or too present? Sometimes I know I do too much for them and speak and interject when perhaps I should just let them figure things out on their own. But I’m also afraid of missing something. And missing out.
It’s 4:30 and I’ve already closed the house up, turned the oven on, ready for meatloaf and veggies for dinner. Shortly it will be bath and shower time and before I know it another day will end and a new one will begin again tomorrow.
I miss the past, often forget to live in the present moment and think too much about the future.
Watching my children grow and learn is such a privilege. I already miss these days of simple joys I see in them. Their laughter filling our home. I think of all the things that annoy me some days - like when they ask to do craft and I know it will end in a huge mess - and I realise it is all of these things that I will miss the most. The noise. The mess. The creativity. The singing. The chaos.
How can I hold them long enough so that they know how loved they are? How can I give more of myself when some days I am so tired and spread thin? How can I protect them from hatred and pain and disappointment but hope that they are people built of resilience, courage and respect?
I walked over and asked if I could join in their game. They all gave a smile and a ‘yes!’ And I tried to go along with rules I wasn't sure of and play I didn’t quite understand. But I sat with them, down on the floor with them. And I watched and I played and I gave myself to them.