Love in Hindsight III

In Post 1 and Post 2 of this series I looked back on my time as a pre-parent teacher and then as a parent in the present day.

While teaching and parenting are hugely important aspects of my life, they don’t define who I am.

It is interesting to note (to me at least) when I started blogging what information I added to my gravatar. ‘Mum’, ‘wife’, ‘sister’ and other titles were provided. But who am I?

Over the past two years I have seen myself on a course of discovery, trying to locate me and my passion. I won’t bore you with the long list of endeavours and ideas that floated through my mind.

Since the middle of last year I had thought about starting a blog but knew very little about what it entailed. On January 1 this year I decided that there was only one way to find out and that was to just do it (to borrow the famous Nike slogan). I could blog from home and it wouldn’t take me away from my young family. Yes! It was the perfect solution and it would be great. By choosing the theme and focus of my blog I would also be able to remind myself that there is love in the everyday moments of life with littlies.

Aiming high, which is always what I seem to do, I set out to write a post a day. Mum would probably say, ‘biting off more than you can chew.’ Yes, Mum, you’re right-as always (tongue in cheek).

Starting Free Little Words was the best thing I have done just for myself for a very long time. It is also the most time-consuming undertaking I have attempted in a very long time.

I don’t know about anyone else reading this but blogging, over the course of a week, has me sitting at my laptop or catching up on the reader on my phone for approximately 16 hours. That’s an ENTIRE DAY! Now, I don’t mean to shout at anyone but that’s a shedload of time.

Any new ‘thing’ that we choose to do generally takes time to learn and grow accustomed to. While I’m all for learning, there is a limit to the amount of ‘me’ I’m able to invest.

The one thing I am truly grateful for and would have given my left arm to rediscover was that I love writing. As the people closest to me would testify, I can talk underwater with a mouth full of marbles. I have a tendency to be a jabber jaws though and my mouth moves faster than my brain can handle. I trip over my words and get tongue tied, particularly when I’m nervous or anxious.

So writing is the ticket for me. Being able to think then write and order my words and erase when needed, is just plain awesome. Add to that, my experience with children and the love of rhyme and rhythm and I feel a natural affinity towards picture books.

So blogging has led to more writing but there just isn’t enough hours in the day to do everything. My manuscripts and ideas lay languishing on the bench at the end of every day, crying out for more words to join the fray.

So it has come down to this – my last post here on Free Little Words. I didn’t want it to sound so final even though it does.

There’s two young boys, who won’t be little forever, wishing that their mum would be slightly more present when she’s present. I owe them that much. Then when the lights are out and those eyelashes flutter as they dream sweet dreams, the words can spring forth to the begging blank page.

I leave you now with just one promise.

My journey on WP is not complete. I will be back; I’m just not sure when that might be. When I do, I hope you’ll welcome me back.

This mum/wife/sister loves to write.

♥ Kelly

 

Image from: here.

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Love in Hindsight II

In the first post of this series, I reflected on my teaching career.

Teaching has been a big part of my life, spanning nearly two decades. What I didn’t know back then was how much I was learning about myself as a person and a future parent as I learnt to teach.

Over the years I have met as many different kinds of parents as I have students. Parent teacher interviews always afforded an insight into the children’s personalities, home life and behaviour. It also led to a deeper understanding, at times, leaving me with the saying, ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,’ swirling inside my brain.

These parents came from all walks of life. There were those that had little but provided an abundance of love and support. The type of parents who expected the best from, and for, their child were in abundance. The couldn’t-care-less approach was adopted by the minority.

I saw parents arrive holding their little one’s hand and helping them prepare for the day. They fostered their independence but assisted them if need be. I vowed to be that type of parent.

I saw parents arrive early and stand chatting until the bell went-always there to greet their child with a warm hug and a kiss at the end of their day. I vowed to be that type of parent.

I saw parents only to willing to help out at school. They were never too busy to lend a hand, listen to reading or applaud their child when they received an award at assembly or sports day. I vowed to be that type of parent.

I saw parents rush their kids to the car, in a hurry to get to that appointment or sports practice. ‘Get in the car, now,’ they’d say through gritted teeth. I vowed not to be that type of parent.

I saw grandparents bring their children’s children to school every day of the week. Some of their circumstances necessitated this, of that I was sure. I vowed not to be that type of parent as long as I could help it.

I saw parents ‘drag their kids up’ rather than raise them, some showing their children that they were a burden rather than a privilege. I vowed not to be that type of parent.

I knew what kind of parent I wanted to be.

Like most non-parents I stood in judgment of all other parents, keeping my thoughts to myself. Somehow I was of the conclusion that my teaching degree gave me an understanding of children that non-teaching parents didn’t have.

So here I sit, with two gorgeous boys who are now 6 and 3.

All I can say now is….

as they continue to grow, the more I need to know.

And I still have visions of the type of parent I want to become.

To be continued.

Image from: here.

Love in Hindsight

Imagine if you could, just for a moment, the kind of parent you imagined you’d be, merging perfectly with the parent you’ve become. Do I hear guffaws of laughter from those of you who think that’s hilarious?

Through my 20’s, which was also the beginning of my teaching career, I thought I had a good handle on the concept of parenting.

On my very first day, I had a class of 5 year olds who came in with saucer-like eyes. They stole glances at me; this newbie who hadn’t a clue what was about to occur. Just as a predator can smell fear, I am certain that they could sense mine.

Primary school pupils during a lesson becoming the parent you thought you'd be graduates first days of teaching As the bell rang, most of the children made their way to the floor as a mother entered with her son. She seemed flustered as the boy eyed me from his latched position on her leg. She said she was going to be late for an appointment and needed to leave. Being fresh as a spring daisy, I tried to utilise my limited arsenal to encourage him to join his classmates on the mat.

Holding out my hand, he clung even tighter while his mum detached him and thrust his arm out to me. With his tiny wrist surrounded by my hand, he kicked at my shins and screamed blasphemous words that would put a drunken sailor to shame. The mum had turned on her heel already and I wasn’t far behind. I closed that door behind me with trembling hands and tears of failure streamed down my face as I made my way down the corridor to the principal’s office.

Thousands of children, all with different personalities, quirks and backgrounds have since crossed the threshold into the classrooms in various schools where I have practised my craft. Now, I also have children of my own.

All of these children came through doorways paid for by the government. Some of these entrances were in need of a new coat of paint, some doors were bearers of scars from fists, chair legs and other implements randomly thrown. Others displayed pride, colourfully decorated with art work, welcoming anyone who would step through. Perhaps the posters and drawings just covered up any harm that had been done to the surface.

I, too, bear the scars. There are physical ones you can see. Scratches on my hands, my skin dug at so deeply that as I age they become whiter; a constant reminder of my journey. There are emotional ones etched on my heart that only I can feel. True stories of children who awoke each school morning top-to-toe with their brother in the back seat of the family car. Tummies rumbling at a quarter to nine was as common as the unwashed uniforms and tousled hair. Children who had lost a parent through accident, illness or an horrendous tragedy. The communities that grieved for a student lost, much too young to be with us no more.

Ten years of teaching, before my first son was conceived, and these children helped me to learn more than I probably taught them.

To be continued.

Image from: here.

For All The Girls My Sons Have Not Yet Loved

Under the branches of a gum tree bending in the wind, Peta and Connor’s eyes were fixed on their shoes.

Neither was concerned with the wintry weather nor that some of their closest friends were not in attendance. They were to be married today in front of over 400 people. 

In keeping with tradition, the pair were united with a kiss.

As the bride ran over to join the girls, the groom was overheard to say, ‘I thought we were just going to hug. Before I knew it she just came at me and kissed me.’

Beaming with a mixture of pride and shock, the mother of the bride said that any thoughts of a honeymoon have been postponed until these two 6 year olds turn 21.

Having two boys, 6 and 3, I thought time was on my side.

In anticipation of what is to come, a rethink began.

While neither of them have had a girlfriend yet, preparations will need to be made.

I have high expectations for them, and of them.

It is with this in mind that I, as their mum, do solemnly promise that:

  • my boys will be surrounded with positive role models from which to learn
  • my boys will show respect and learn how to treat girls and women as ladies
  • they will never arrive empty handed on a doorstep
  • they will learn how to say sorry from the bottom of their heart because they will make mistakes
  • flowers and chocolates are thoughtful but are not the way into a ladies heart, good books or bed
  • behaving like you’re with ‘the boys’ should be reserved for when you’re actually with the boys
  • they will learn what it takes to be considered a true gentleman
  • ‘I love you’ should only be said if you truly feel it
  • while my heart is still beating, they will never use social media to announce the demise of your relationship
  • I will dry the tears and hug him if you break his heart, then remind him, once again, of all of the above.

As my 6 year old ventures onto the oval at school during his lunch break, he need not think of love. It will find him in due course and I’ll do my darnedest to help him be ready.

Image from: here.

Love Got Off on the Right Foot

….or was that the left?

Ever have one of those days when everything just feels out of whack? Maybe your hair just wouldn’t cooperate this morning or you tried to put the wrong key in the lock? Milk in the pantry maybe or trying to put your pants on before your underwear? Something’s not right but you can’t put your finger on it.

My brain must have been replaced with the contents of a balloon this particular peculiar day.

The three of us had left home to have lunch with my mum. I asked Now 6 to help Just 3 with his shoes to save me 30 seconds and hopefully get us out the door on time.

We met Mum, enjoyed a light lunch and then went into a department store to find a gift for a child’s birthday party. The store was having its annual toy sale which normally means aisles full of boxes and no room to manoeuvre. Going into the depths of the toy section with two in tow without a trolley means anxiety meets hysteria. The unanimous decision, made by me, was to get a trolley.

Just 3’s legs dangled from his prominent position as I promised a stop off at a playground nearby if the two of them could manage to contain themselves long enough for us to get a gift and checkout. Unfortunately Just 3 had consumed half a milkshake at lunch and decided he needed the toilet just as we got to the toy section at the back of the store.

There are no toilets in this store.

Drive trolley like a mad woman to store entrance.

Offload precious cargo.

Forehead beaded with sweat, I made a dash with two attachments to the toilets.

Everybody pee consecutively.

Back to store.

Back in trolley.

Back to toy section.

Right-y-o.

Arriving at the playground after having unsuccessfully completed our mission, Just 3 steps out of the car and prepares to take off for the equipment.

It is then, and only then, that I look down at his feet for the first time today.

‘Sweetheart? Do your feet feel funny today?’

‘Um, no.’

‘Your shoes are on the wrong feet. Don’t they feel funny?’

‘…..No.’

‘Come here and sit down. We need to put them on the right feet otherwise you’ll probably fall over.’

My son doesn’t need any more excuses to trip over. He does well enough all on his own.

He may well have two left feet so his feet didn’t feel funny at all.

Only one foot did.

Image from: here.

I Love You More Today

moreI love you more today than yesterday.

Just when I think it is not possible to love you anymore than I already do, you manage to make my heart feel fuller than it has ever been.

It might be the look of concentration on your face as you build a block tower higher than yesterday’s. Or your confidence doing backwards rolls off the lounge that you weren’t able to do the day before. Or the new words that spill forth from your mouth that you didn’t know a short time ago.

My love grows as you do. Tomorrow you’ll show me more reasons to love you. You might tree-hug my leg when I’m least expecting it or tell me you love me just because.

No matter how much mess you make, how loud you are or how disagreeable you may be, as long as I don’t let tomorrow come without having told you I love you at least once, I’m happy.

I’ll love you for all of my tomorrows.

Image from: here.

Foot note: I re-read this today more as a reminder to myself than anything else. Tomorrow sees the school holidays start here in South Australia and I’m looking forward to the arrival of 2.15pm. Following that is 17 days where my primary responsibility will be entertainment coordinator to my two nuggets and writing will take a back seat. There’ll be no forgetting to say, ‘I love you’, but I might need to take many more cleansing deep breaths than normal.

Love in this Day and Age

‘You’re only as young as the woman you feel, or in my case – man.

I am younger then by the same amount of time it takes a foetus to reach term, if that stands to reason. There is a gestation period of difference between my husband and I. His parents wouldn’t have even known that they were going to give birth to their first child, a son, the day I was born. So while I was taking my first breaths of air he was still sucking on amniotic fluid. He was growing downy hair all over his body when I moved onto solid foods. By the time he was born, I was on the move; wearing out the knees of my romper suits and collecting lint and hair off the floor.

When we’re young it’s all about the milestones and birthdays. Cheers ring out and hands are clapped in delight as a baby or toddler manages to learn a new concept, skill or ability.

As we get older those milestones are more about the number attached to us. We carry that sucker around like an extra appendage. Some lie while others are creative with subtraction. For many it’s a matter of remaining young at heart-it’s the inside that counts, after all.

At a visit to the doctor with Now 6 when he was a 3 year old, an elderly gentlemen sat down beside us. He must have been close to his octogenarian decade but seemed to have retained most of his faculties. He took an interest in the scribble drawing my son was doing and then said to me, ‘that’s a fine looking grandson you have there.’ I do remember mumbling a reply about him being my son as my heart only just managed to regain a regular rhythm. It was fortunate we were at the doctors as I was certain a heart attack was imminent. Perhaps he was there to see the doctor about finally getting a prescription for glasses.

Several weeks ago, I had an informal meeting with the principal at Now 6’s school. I was being scrutinised to see whether I would be an appropriate replacement for the German teacher when she takes leave in the Spring. My experience was asked about and when I answered the question I included the year that I first began teaching. I was met with raised eyebrows and an audible ‘wow’. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve hung around 5 year olds for nearly half my life that has kept me young. Hmmmm.

When I met with the teacher whose role I will be filling she kindly concurred about the difference between my chronological age and my perceived age.  (Note to readers: I have known this teacher since 1999 when I taught her son who is now 26 and we have kept in contact since then). Apparently I am thinner now even though I’ve been the same weight since high school, except during pregnancies, and have given birth twice since then. I don’t have a forehead full of Botox and on a good day I feel every one of my near-40 years. This ‘holding my age well’ card might come in handy if I ever have the need to chat up some young gents at the R.S.L. I could fill the role of a 60 year old cougar to get a free shandy or two.

If I had to categorise myself, I am one of those people who find it to be a difficult and dicey situation when someone asks me how old I think they are. Think of a number and subtract 15? That should cover all bases. When I’m asked how old I am, particularly by cheeky students who haven’t learned the unwritten code of conduct for someone who wants an ‘A’ this semester, my generic responses include:

‘How old are you?’ -answering a question with a question sometimes deflects the inquirer.

‘How old do you think I am?’ -see above.

or

‘Old enough to be your mother.’ – which normally puts them back in their box.

The time will come soon enough where my final response will have to change to Grandmother.

So herein lies the question. Does it matter what’s written on your birth certificate or what others think? How do you tackle the age old questions, ‘how old are you’ or ‘how old do you think I am?’ Have you ever done creative number crunching, turned 21 for fifteen years in a row or had someone overestimate your age by a whole generation?

Image from: here.