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.

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.

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.

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.

Love in Overdrive

driving mum madLove’s driving me crazy.

There’s nothing like a confined space and two small people with loud voices both competing to be heard.

My favourite driving experiences are:

The School RunShort and sweet. Hmm, short yes, sweet no. Those few short minutes can feel like sheer torture. Is the bickering and banter their way of saying, ‘I’ll miss you or I’ve missed you?’ Whatever the case may be it’s enough to drive anyone batty.

The Trip to the Grandparents: similar to the School Run just longer in length. There’s also the added anticipation of arriving. The excitement builds to a crescendo just as we pull in the driveway. My eardrums feel as if they might explode and the grandparents think that a tornado is about to hit the house. It is obvious to all concerned that I have little/no control over my terrors.

The Big Day Out Drive: setting out at shortly after the sparrow’s have sung their morning tune and arriving home close to dinner time denotes a Big Day Out. Wherever we may be headed we have a packed lunch, picnic rug, esky and bag (filled to the brim with spare clothes, hats, sunscreen, etc). The expected, ‘Are we there yet’s?’ start when we’re approximately half way there. It’s been smooth sailing the whole way if we don’t have to stop for petrol or the toilet en route.

The Great Escape: we’ve prepared for this for weeks but nothing can prepare us for the journey ahead. The car is crammed with half the contents of our house. The tailgate on the wagon will only just close. There’s pillows between the kids on the seat. It’s like we’ve tried to build the Great Wall between them so they can’t touch or see each other. The kids have got numerous things to keep them occupied. A game of ‘Eye Spy’ starts before we hit the freeway. If we’re lucky they’ll nod off (syncronised is heaven) for a while shortly after, ‘Are we there yet-i-tis?’ has commenced.

The Solo Cruise: doesn’t happen too often but when it does, Oh Boy! A chance to listen to adult tunes at any volume you please. Window up or down, whatever takes you fancy. And that annoying noise coming from the back of the car? It’s completely gone!

Mum’s taxi will be off again in the morning with the boys I love on board.

How do you cope with the calamity of children in cars for the quick trip or the long haul?

Footnote: After originally publishing this post in February, I decided to revisit it today as it was one of the first ‘pieces’ I wrote that exceeded several lines in length and had some substance. It is also the basis for the idea of my first picture book manuscript. My self-imposed deadline of June 30 is looming. I think my set of wheels needs a car detailer.

Image from: here.

Top 10 Tips for Showing Love

love is a verbShow me the love!

The words ‘I love you’ are easy for most parents to say to their child. It is a little more difficult with the fast pace of day-to-day life to find time to show kids the kind of love they will most remember you for.

When I think back to my own childhood the fondest memories I have are of the things we did not words that were said. I knew my parents loved me because of their actions not from a single spoken, ‘I love you’ even though it’s lovely to hear and I heard it often.

So here’s the Top 10 Tips that can help create memories of love that will last a lifetime:

          1. Show and tell. In our home we have an unwritten policy that means we try and express our love in as many ways as possible. Children can learn how to sign ‘I love you’ from quite a young age. Another way is just to point to your eye, your own heart and then point to the person you’re aiming your love at. Both of my boys love having their back tickled before being tucked in at night. So after sharing a story, I will tickle their back and write, ‘I love you’ with my finger.
          2. ‘I love you because…..’ Simply stating ‘I love you’ can be wonderful to hear. It has even more meaning when there is a connecting reason given to the receiver. The end of the sentence could convey how you feel, ‘I love you because I feel so lucky to have you as my son/daughter.’ You may choose to say something about the child’s appearance, ‘I love you because when you smile it lights up your whole face.’ Receiving compliments can be difficult for adults who have never learned to graciously accept them as children. This one is then two-fold-a compliment and an expression of how you feel all rolled into one.
          3. Little things impress little people. Sticky-notes in lunchboxes, sandwiches cut into shapes or heading to the playground straight after school are all little things that are a big deal to kids. Think of something you know your child will appreciate and it doesn’t have to cost a cent to be meaningful.
          4. Spend time wisely. Everyone knows childhood is gone in an instant. Blink once and they’re walking. Blink twice and they’re at school. Blink again and they’re getting their license. I know I want my children to enter adulthood with the recollection that I had time for them. That I wanted to spend time with them, share it with them and try as I might, make it stand still. Capture moments, get lost in the moment but don’t miss the moments of time you could have spent with them.
          5. Do things as a family. Family time is hard to find for some but so important. There are times when we need to divide and conquer to achieve tasks but ensuring your family has together time is essential. It might be as simple as an adventure in the backyard or as complex as going on a day trip with a picnic lunch.
          6. Lend a hand and let them help. Helping children shows your willingness to engage in what’s important to them. Like any relationship it needs to be reciprocal. Allowing them to help you with tasks or involving them in your interests shows them that you care what they think and feel and that yo appreciate their willingness.
          7. Model love. Children learn their cues from adults. Demonstrated love will allow them to see how it’s done and put it into practise.
          8. Actions speak louder than words. Cuddles, kisses and hugs and lots of them. As human beings we crave touch-the feel of a warm embrace, a kiss from a loved one or to cuddle up together without a care in the world. Not a day should go by when your children don’t feel the warmth of your heart beating next to theirs.
          9. Greet and farewell them like a long lost friend. Having children understand that you miss them when they’re gone but be so happy to see them again later helps them to understand that they are important people in your life. Sharing the day’s events when together again is a great way to connect with kids.
          10. Remind them constantly. A day without love is like a day without sunshine.

Most certainly, there are many other ways to express love through actions. If you have a way of showing love you’d love to share I welcome contributions.

Kelly ♥

© 2013 Kelly Hibbert, all rights reserved.

Image from: here.

Play. Date. Love.

‘I’d love to play. It’s a date!’

There is something to be said about the simplicity with which a child forms a friendship. The ritual is brief: play (sometimes names are not even exchanged), date (find out about each other’s likes and dislikes) and love (blissfully spend the rest of their time together with an occasional disagreement or two).

I have watched my boys, 6 and 3, meet new children at gatherings, celebrations and even at playgrounds. There is an unwritten creed in existence for children. The same cannot be said for most adults. At which point in life is it that we unlearn how to make the acquaintance of new people or do we not seek out new relationships to remain in our zone of contentment? Developing a new relationship takes time. It takes effort. There is an investment from each side.

I was faced with this predicament recently: to go beyond the, ‘Hi, how are you?’ or “How’s your day been?’ while waiting for the bell to ring to signal the end of the school day. My son was asked on a play date.

I knew that it was inevitable. The day had come. This was territory I had never ventured into.

I find making someone’s acquaintance a daunting prospect yet I would be forced to. My son is following in my footsteps, for the time being, and requested that I chaperone the ‘date’. There would be no ‘drop and run’ which the mother of the other child was expecting. See a play date for most is the opportunity to dispose of said child for a while and, maybe, get a manicure or indulge in a coffee that won’t go cold before you drain the cup.

So on this day I found myself in the relative comfort of someone else’s comfort zone where I was not comfortable at all. I had to take both boys as it was during the day while Dad was at work. I spent two excruciating hours there. In that time I worried about my boys waking the sleeping baby (not the proverbial baby-playdatethere really was one sleeping upstairs) or Just 3 being unable to successfully navigate the narrow stairway with two-way traffic. I wiped crumbs from chairs when the kids (5 in total) ate the home made fresh-out-the-oven cookies I had proffered on my arrival. I fussed over the fact that this home had no fences and at one stage Just 3 ended up at the top of the driveway near the road. The older children spent considerable time running away from Just 3 who, of course, chased them wanting to join in but inadvertently continued the game. I spent nearly 15 minutes in the downstairs ensuite bathroom, which was not much larger than the size of a public cubicle, when my boys decided to do their synchronised number two’s routine. Just 3 needed a change of bottom half clothes for….well I’m sure you can figure it out. Doors were being used like revolving ones, there were toy guns and swords that made noise and had strobe lights and I thought there’d be flashing lights coming to get me if I didn’t get out of there fast. Throughout all of this I attempted to hold an adult conversation with a woman who could not be any more polar opposite to me if she was floating in the water off the coast of Bermuda. She filled space with words: not of light conversations about the weather and what you like doing when you have spare time, but her life. Almost from start to finish. I, who am known to be able to hold my own in a verbal exchange, could hardly get a word in. So I listened and nodded and uh huh’ed in the appropriate places all while keeping Just 3 in my sights. The mother, either blissfully unaware or taking some time to rest while the baby was asleep, seemed to take it all in her stride. Toys being strewn across the path of anyone who dare enter did nothing to change her resolve. She was softly spoken even as a door was slammed for the 15th time and she politely asked her son to close it carefully as he dashed off and her words drifted in the air like dust.

As we made our way to the car I was composed, outwardly centred. Inside I was screaming, all muscles tense.

I had white knuckle fever on the journey home. It took 5 minutes but it felt as if I was on an exercise bike and wasn’t getting anywhere fast. My answer? A glass of red wine at 3:30 in the afternoon-something I have NEVER done before. This was my second option by a narrow margin to going out into the backyard and letting off the biggest scream I could create. The first option may have attracted unwarranted concern from my neighbours so I sucked it up. The. Whole. Glass.

In reflection, I did wonder whether that mum opened her own bottle after we left. Did she, like me, seek to quell the rising tension by forcing it back down again with her own medicinal glass? Maybe we weren’t as opposite as I had first thought. Perhaps adults need more than one ‘date’ to suss each other and decide if a friendship can be born. Maybe that’s why she handed me her card before we left. ‘Ben’s had such a wonderful time today. Give me a call and Ben could come to your place next time.’

‘The kids had a ball,’ I thought to myself. They were completely unaware of the cracks that formed in my veneer. It is all about the kids after all. I could hide a glass in the fridge if I wasn’t comfortable in my comfort zone. I wondered what we would talk about next time. Would she turn to me and say, ‘Well you heard all about me last time. Tell me all about you.’ Then it dawned- there would be no next time. She had expected me to ‘drop and go’ and that’s exactly what she planned to do on the reciprocal ‘date’. I wouldn’t need my secret weapon.

That’s why you’ll find me hanging with the kids next time. It’s so much simpler in their world. Play. Date. Love.

And the other mother can have her manicure and coffee too!

Image from: here.

Mind Boggling Love

mind bogglingLove for life.

Does your mind boggle when you think about the mammoth task raising children is?

Many people seem to think they muddle their way through or follow some type of process. Most also find the need to adapt to the ever-changing needs of their child/ren.

I’d like to think that I’m ‘training’ my little fellas using many methods. I couldn’t write a book on it as no one would be able to follow it. All I know is that I use my heart. Yes, I have those moments where I go off my noodle or show less than the required enthusiasm as I drag my heels to 730pm. Those moments are far outweighed by my desire to show the kids that I mean business when it comes to loving them.

Recently my brain cells played boggle over Almost 6’s desire to play basketball, soccer and football all through the Winter months. I’ll share my thoughts when the game is finished.

What mind-boggling conundrums have you faced?

Live for love.

Image from: here.

P.S I just noticed boggling rearranged is blogging. How pertinent.

I Love a Good Fight

The gloves of love were hung up recently.

An unexpected hiatus from the ring has ended! The gloves were off. Now they’re in full swing and packin’ a punch.

I have a game plan today. I’m facing a strong opponent and will probably do a little bit of dancing before any blows are boxing ringlanded but I’m gonna give it my best shot. Hopefully I’ll make it through each round.

Three days of no training can reek havoc with one’s routine. Lucky my sparring partner is back from his suspension in a hospital bed.

So the plan of attack looks something like this:

1. Catch up on my reader. 3 days worth-shouldn’t take long.

2. Approve and reply to comments. These people came to watch and saw a KO. Disappointing to say the least.

3. Check out some amazing bloggers who have stuck their head in for a quick look or to follow my journey to the title fight.

4. Nominate bloggers in an award post so they can hold the trophy aloft.

5. Complete 4 posts which will bring me up-to-date in my post-a-day promise to myself. I’ll back-date them later to fill in the gaps (I’ll sneak between my opponent’s legs if necessary).

So while the kids get to spend some quality time with their dad, I’ll be here fighting the good fight. Reconnecting, working on my game plan and giving blogging a good flogging. Better put, ‘Eye of the Tiger’ on ear-splittingly loud.

I’m not gonna tap out today. Can someone please have the smelling salts ready?

Disclaimer: I actually detest boxing and know very little about the sport.

I’m a lover not a fighter!

Image from: here.

Love is the Word

word

Four letters to love.

One syllable.

Four strokes of a pen.

Symbolic.

An immensely powerful word: spoken or written to someone who resides in your heart.

Love can also be felt without words. An embrace can convey it, a look can speak of it and a heart can be warmed by it.

Definition:

love

[luhv] noun, verb (loved, loving)
noun
1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2 .a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.
4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.

I met love for the first time when I was about 8. Our Christmas present that year was a kitten. Love was defined for me that day. Kimberly was her name and she was a member of our family for about 14 years. This was despite being attacked by a dog one day when I was off school due to illness in my teens. If I hadn’t been home…… I have fond memories of my first four-legged love and she still holds a special place in my heart.

The word love was used frivolously between then and meeting my husband in 2003 on my sister’s hens night. Love took on a new definition from that moment on.

In my 30’s I found a new definition of love that I had never known possible.When my boys were born that four letter word was redefined to that of a mother’s love. And as any mother knows there is nothing with which it can be compared. I love my mum but have a deeper appreciation of her love for me since having my own children.

I am the proud keeper of love in my heart. First loves, loves lost, loves treasured.

One word, many definitions.

Love is a word I love.

Image from: here.