Tag Archives: baby

Mother’s Day & the Ghosts of Mothers Past.

Happy Mothers’ Day!

Today, it’s Mother’s Day. That means roadside stalls have sprung up along the main street overnight, bursting with white chrysanthemums. The rest of the year, we don’t even think about chrysanthemums and to be quite frank, they stink…at least a little bit. However, here in Australia, white chrysanthemums mean it is Mother’s Day. Chrysanthemums flower in Autumn and because we’re upside down and topsy turvy, we don’t celebrate Mother’s Day in Spring. Indeed, it’s almost officially Winter.

Of course, I have no idea what white chrysanthemums have to do with being a Mum.

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After all, no sensible Mum with little peoples has anything to do with white. Indeed, white to me evokes images of the elderly. There’s “Kids! Be careful on Grandma’s white carpet!!!” Or, visiting someone in hospital where there’s white on white on white and the sense of being trapped inside a white antiseptic cloud. White to me means sterile and has nothing to do with dirty fingerprints, washing, dirt and sundry mess. Or, of course, warm hugs and having my toe nails painted rainbow colours either!

Mummy & Amelia

Me and my gal.

Being a mum doesn’t mean peering at your kids through a keyhole. Being a scientific researcher in their white lab coat observing children in a laboratory environment. It means getting down on the floor and being a kid and getting your fingers dirty…playdoh, paint, mud, food and unfortunately there’s also what we’ll call the “business end” to contend with.

Children were never meant to be clean!

That, to me, is also unconditional love. Giving your children the space to be and express themselves, albeit within some kind of limits.

Jonathon & I reading

Mister and I 2007

Giving birth was just the beginning and parenting is forever. A parent’s love has no end. Being a tad exhausted and cynical, I’ll add that a child’s demands never end either.

That said, I have always needed “me time” and don’t believe any parent should become their kids. That you can be involved and know your kids, while still maintaining your self. For me, my interaction with my kids is a fluid thing. Sometimes, they need me more than others and there are times when I can also give them more or less of my time. A word of encouragement to parents of little ones, that you do get more of a balance as your children get older and more independent. It can be really difficult when they’re small. Hard to get a break and even enjoy that elusive hot cup of tea (having hot drinks around little ones is verboten and I still remember how much I longed for that hot cup of tea!!)

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Launching into Motherhood.

Yesterday, I visited my cousin in hospital with her brand new twin boys. I hadn’t quite forgotten that elation of a new baby but it was really delightful to have such a poignant reminder, especially x 2. Of course, I remembered and savoured when my two were first born. They’re now 12 and 10. So, even I’m starting to turn back the clock. Do a bit of time travelling remembering what it was like right there at the very beginning when my children were nothing but a blank slate. Moreover, when my son was born, my knowledge of babies was a blank slate too and much to my surprise, they let me take him home without sitting any kind of test…just a “Good bye, Mrs Newton. Bon voyage!!”

 

Thinking about my cousin becoming a mum these days, makes me reflect on what becoming a mother meant in the past. Just a few generations ago, there was no contraceptive pill. Having sex meant the likelihood of having kids, regardless of your plans. My grandmother had seven children while juggling an international career as a high profile concert pianist and her grandmother had 8 daughters living out on a sheep property in the bush.

There was no choice in the matter, although there were some contraceptive strategies around.

This puts an altogether different slant on motherhood with motherhood being more of a destiny, than a choice.

I wonder how that impacted on being a Mum. Your children are still your children and your own flesh and blood but it would have been hard going through strings of pregnancies and births under difficult conditions, while bringing up a handful underfoot. No sitting in your seat and being waited on hand and foot, even though there was “help” for some.

Jonathon & Amelia Cutouts

The Kids.

We forget that this idea of having 1-2 children to give them some kind of privileged existence, is a very new concept. Indeed, so is being able to feed the family without having to grow your own food.

 

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The Thinker: me as a baby back in 1969.

Personally, it is important to understand that our modern way of life and the things we take for granted are very, very new and not something which we should take for granted. Indeed, it’s strange because for so many now, the question is not about preventing pregnancy but enabling conception. We’ve been able to work out the stop part but not the go and not having children is the new heartbreak. Well, not new but it’s certainly replacing the lament of the old woman in the shoe who had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.

University Graduation

Just ask Virginia Woolf: attending University hasn’t always been a given.

While becoming a mother isn’t revered in our modern world, I encourage younger women to make their own decisions about what’s right for them and find your own path. Does money buy happiness? Parenting may not give you happiness either but somehow you need to find out what you want. You can find a heap of ways of finding intellectual fulfilment without working or by working part-time. Or, you can be a parent and work full time. You need to find out what rocks your own boat and be firm. If that means, not having kids, no apologies required. Good on you for not going down the wrong path for you.

No woman or man should have a gun at their head forcing them to have or not have kids. At the same time, you need to be honest with yourself and your partner and know you’re both on the same page.

While that might not be the pink fluffy Mother’s Day message you anticipated, it’s a helpful reality check. Children are such a precious and priceless gift but they also come with huge strings attached and we can’t just send them back. Or, just tie them up round a pole like a dog when we need to duck into the shops or have a quick break. Thank goodness for family, day care or a good friend.

So, after that fairly deep journey through the pros and cons of motherhood, I wish you all a very Happy Mothers’ Day, sending my Mum a huge THANK YOU for all her unsung assistance throughout the years. I love you!

How did you celebrate Mother’s Day today? Are there any Mother’s Day traditions where you live? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

xx Rowena

 

 

Mummy Sleeps In!

Struggling to come up with a title for this shot of a father and son down at the beach yesterday morning, I finally seized on “Mummy Sleeps In.”

Our son might have turned 12 this week but I still haven’t forgotten that extreme fatigue that comes with having young kids. I think Geoff might have taken the kids for a walk on Saturday mornings to try to give me a chance to catch up…not that he’d fared much better himself. Indeed, commuting to Sydney and working all day, he could well have been worse off.

Little peoples are incredible cute and enchanting but they’re also incredibly high octane and a 24/7, round the clock “job”, for lack of a better word.

I still remember the impossibility and luxury of a hot cup of tea…not something you can drink around the little peoples, even if you do manage to pause them and time for an instant.

By the way, this photo was taken yesterday morning when our town was blanketed in thick fog. The fog was so thick and expansive that it even filled our street, right up to the front door. It was quite incredible! We’ve been living here for 15 years and it’s never done that before.

That’s why I rushed down to the beach with my camera. I was expecting some good pickings but nothing this good. The bright early morning sun shining through the thick fog, really created an incredible ambiance…a photographer’s paradise!

I wonder if this image brings back any memories for you? The beach is such a way of life for many parts of Australia. I just love it! I spent so much of my own childhood there and now I go there with my own kids…and the dogs! Thus, the beach somehow moves beyond time, as generation after generation walks it’s sandy shores.

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Beach Feet.

 

This photo is part 2 covering my walk yesterday through the Mist. Here’s part 1: Walking Through the Mist.

I hope you are having a great week!

xx Rowena

Welcoming Your Little Sister…10 Years On.

This week we are celebrating our daughter’s 10th Birthday and that specialness of “turning double figures…at last!

Ten years is an entire decade. So hard to believe both that so much time has passed and that there was a time she wasn’t here. Life before kids is getting harder to remember these days!

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Miss Aged 4 Weeks. The shawl was made by my mum’s sister.

In the process of putting together a slide show for her birthday, I stumbled across a letter I’d written to her brother three days before she was born. I’d forgotten all about it although that’s a very me thing to do and I do remember thirsting for information about how to help number 1 child adapt well to the arrival of number 2. Mister was almost 2 years old at the time and so had no hope of understanding my letter at the time but it was intended as a kind of apology for down the track or perhaps an insurance policy. Sorry we screwed you up kid but we did our best at the time.

Jonathon & Amelia Jan 2007

Kids learning how to cook January 2007.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s:

Mummy’s Letter to Mister  February, 2006

 Dear Mister,

It’s now only 3 days until your baby sister arrives in the world and our lives are changed forever.

 I know we didn’t ask for your opinion, but we wanted you to have a sibling, someone to share your life with…birthdays, Christmases and all those multi-coloured memories. We understand that there will be times when you wish you could just send your sister back and be the centre of our universe again.

However, I think we all need the depth and texture that comes with being part of a family. You need to learn to be a part of a community and learn to give and take. It’s also great to have someone to play with and have fun.  We hope you and Miss have some wonderful, wonderful times together as well as with us, your Mum and Dad.

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Mummy & Mister 2004 four weeks old. Photo: Mark Revello.

 You were our first born, our superlatively gorgeous little man. I will never forget the very first time I saw you and the love, which flowed from my heart like a mighty waterfall, such powerful, amazing emotions. Like a bud transforming into a flower, we’ve marveled at each small step you’ve taken and I have photographed what seems like every minute during your first year. These were not easy times as your father and I were lost in the dark grappling to find a light switch half the time. We hadn’t had much experience with babies and nothing can really prepare you for the enormous changes. Yes, it is all worth it and you are a wonderful little man but there have been times where it would have been nice to just return to sender and return to a relatively carefree existence. But, like being an only child, it would be a life without the depth, the meaning, the grappling and most of all, the love and deep emotional connection that you can only have with your child. You are our flesh and blood, our breath, our life. You just can’t fathom what that really means until you have children of your own. There is work, achievements, goals and then there’s life and you have given us life (even though it feels like we had a life before you arrived and have now become walking zombies).

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Mister aged 2 with his new sunnies.

 I wanted to acknowledge this crossroad in all our lives. I am the first born in my family and experienced years of bitter resentment. Some degree of jealousy is inevitable but I want you to be happy and we want you to have someone to share your life with and not just be an island. That means sharing centre stage with your so called rival. However, we have more than enough love for both of you and when it boils down to it, your sister is your nearest ally. It really is us against the world….definitely NOT us versus each other!

 I will be honest with you and say that I have my own reservations about adding to our family. I have struggled looking after one of you at times and I hope I can be fair and equal and not play favourites. I worry about how you will cope without me while I’m in hospital and wonder whether anyone else can really know your intimate requirements the way your Mummy does. So much of the time, it has just been the two of us and while that has been lonely and isolating at times, you have grown into my companion and we’ve gone to the beach and the reptile park together and enjoyed our own universe. I will treasure those moments as the chaos of a new baby and the business of life takes over. I know I will find it hard to let go of that but I remind myself that we are adding, not subtracting to our family and soon the four of us will feel like it has always been.

 So, as we’re about to embark on this next stage of our journey together, let me remind you just how much I love you and that you’ll always be my Little Man!

 With much love and God’s richest blessings!

 Mummy xxoo

Bilbo + Amelia

Twinkling The Keys.

Coming from a “piano family”, looking at these photos, I could well stand accused of getting my children interested in playing the piano from an extremely young age.

However, as a swarming member of the paparazzi, the piano was merely a fabulous prop and, for once, I was lucky that my subjects “performed”.

These were taken on Easter 2007, when Mister was 3 and Miss was only a year old.

Aren’t they just adorable and hasn’t time flown! Our son starts high school next year and is now on the cusp of becoming a teen.

Good, grief, Charlie Brown!

xx Rowena

My Turn...Big Brother Seeks the Stage.

My Turn…Big Brother Seeks the Stage.

Look at Me!

Look at Me!

Mummy and Miss.

Mummy and Miss.

Goodbye, Farewell, Auf Widersehen...Goodnight!

Goodbye, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen…Goodnight!

Why Baby Loves Grandma!

Came across this photo tonight taken when my daughter was only four week’s old and she’d already developed a fine appreciation for Grandma’s gold jewelry.

That was taken about 9 years ago and she still has her grandparents wrapped around her little finger. That said, Grandma has retained custody of the gold necklace.

Even in her sleep, Miss isn't letting go of Grandma's necklace.

Even in her sleep, Miss isn’t letting go of Grandma’s necklace.

Revisiting these photos, reminded me of the incredible importance of seizing the moment. The fleeting transience of each and every passing moment…sands slipping through the hour glass in seconds.

Reminds me not to take anything for granted and to cherish the past and present as we step into the future with all its new advenures.

xx Rowena

Grow Slow…Happy Birthday Miss 9!

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy.

Paul Simon : The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)

Last night, as I kissed our daughter goodnight, she said: “This is my last night of being eight.” She was overjoyed!! She’s one of the youngest in her year at school and it’s no secret she gets a bit cheesed off that it takes eternity for her birthday to come round each year. There’s only a couple of months and the frustrating tail-chasing game starts all over again. Like all kids, she wants to grow up too quick. Our “little Miss” is 9 going on about 15 especially when she struts around the house in her fancy silver high heels, which almost fit her now. It wasn’t that long ago that I’d bought them from the charity shop for dress ups!!

That said, she is still a little girl and boys are still “yuck”…thank goodness!!

Im not sure how long that’s going to last with her brother who turns 11 in less than a fortnight and heads off to High School next year. I have no illusions about what all of that means. However, I feel much better prepared for the teenage years than I was for early childhood. At least, I can remember what it was like to be a teenager and I’m sure it was only yesterday.

Family Photo Back at Home.

Family Photo Back at Home 9 long years ago.

As we celebrate another round of birthdays and I’m forced to think about the passage of time yet again, I am reminded of time’s  cruel tricks. Since all other theories and explanations have failed, I’ve concluded there’s some kind of horrid, malevolent watch matcher lurking somewhere way up in the sky who keeps tinkering with the cogs and speeding things up. Don’t you agree?

I mean…Surely time couldn’t move that fast unless it was taking performance enhancing drugs and even then we’re talking about lethally high doses.

Someone or indeed, something, is doing an awful lot of tinkering with the gears up there. That’s the only way I can explain how time goes really fast when you want it to go slow and conversely barely seems to move at all, when you really want it to speed up like while you’re waiting in a supermarket queue and the person in front of you with enough food to feed an entire army can’t remember their pin and you’re running late and your child is standing on a street corner after dark in their ballet leotard and it’s cold and you don’t know what sort of creeps are hanging around.

Time always goes agonisingly slow then!!!

Ever the philosopher, me at around 6 months.

h Ever the philosopher, me at around 6 months.

Once upon a birthday, my grandparents used to sing me “Happy Birthday” on the phone and my grandmother would tell me year after year, about when they “got the phone call” and my father told them they had a grand-daughter and they’d put her in a warmer. She always left out all the details such as how I was facing sunny side up and things had been touch and go. That THAT phone call wasn’t just about “it’s a girl”. It was a serious answer to prayer and their daughter and grand-daughter had made it through a rather perilous journey called birth.

You forget that your baby is hopefully crying the first time you see them.

You forget that your baby is hopefully crying the first time you see them.

There were no life or death dramas when our daughter was born, aside from when Big Brother, the inimitable “Little Man”, decided to climb up on the hospital bed to have a cuddle with Mum and activated the  emergency switch. That immediately and brutally flung the head of the bed straight down and in the process, the drip stand fell down and bumped Miss on the head. Miss ended up with a bruise on her forehead and was sent off to the Special Care Nursery for observation. A storm in a teacup but we still stir Mister about that. It’s not his only tale. The antics of “Little Man” are legendary but largely just involve a healthy curiosity combined with high speed.

Getting back to our daughter’s arrival…

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the endless skies, my love
To the dark and the endless skies

Roberta Flack (a romantic song but so apt)

Little Miss a few days old.

Little Miss a few days old.

The other thing, I remember, of course, is the very first moment I saw her.  She was much smaller than I’d expected and only weighed 2.93 kg and was an average length of 49cm. She was exceptionally petite and I guess given that I’m quite tall myself (174cm or 5 ft 10″), I was a little surprised. She was so tiny that we needed to get her baby-pink, miniscule 0000 Bond Suits outfits from the Special Care Nursery where they were kept nice and warm for the premmie babies. My Mum was sent to buy some micro-clothes for when we went home.

Our Gorgeous Little Rainbow Fairy Almost Aged 5 and About to Start School.

Our Gorgeous Little Rainbow Fairy Almost Aged 5 and About to Start School.

I know I’ve mentioned time before but tell me, where does time go? I know lines like that are cliched and a road too well-traveled for a seasoned writer and yet, this great mystery still hasn’t been explained. Not all time travels at the same rate and where my daughter’s concerned, time has fast-forwarded faster than the speed of light!!

Miss on her first day of school.

Miss on her first day of school.

After all, I could have sworn she wasn’t born that long ago and she’s only just started school. Yet, somehow she’s migrated from infants into primary and is now well, perhaps not towering over all of the new kindergarten kids but has certainly moved on. I feel like I’ve been hit by a flying brick and I’m lost, almost in a trance or in a dream, while everything flies past me.

I’m so confused!!! (Remember John Travolta as Vinnie Barbarino in Welcome Back Cotter? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29BoqCMRBFk)

I hope she’s had a Happy Birthday. She opened her presents before school and as it turned out, the local radio station was at school this morning and they wished her Happy Birthday on air…much cooler than on Mummy’s blog!!

Miss celebrates her birthday with SeaFM Radio Host Kristi before school.

Miss celebrates her birthday with SeaFM Radio Host Kristi before school.

She took the most amateur-looking Cake Pops to school for her class. I can’t believe I let her talk me into making those because, as my mother advised me, you never make something new for a special occasion and when I’ve broken that Golden Rule, I’ve regretted it. As we all know, regret with family birthday cakes is usually accompanied by nerve crushing angst, tears and if you’re really wound up…hurling the cake across the room.

That is, if the dog hasn’t eaten the cake first. I have very bad memories of a food-thieving, greedy Old English Sheepdog called Rufus being caught in the act. That dog used to steal food and swallow it plastic bag and all. Eventually, we’d find the evidence deposited on the back lawn!!

I don’t know how that dog survived for so long!

Happy Birthday Miss!

Happy Birthday Miss!

Instead of having a special birthday dinner tonight, the kids were off to Cubs and Scouts. As we still haven’t sorted out the details of either of the kids’ birthday parties yet, this was opportune as a few of their friends were there. That meant making a batch of chocolate cupcakes and huge boxes of chips for tonight’s celebration. Miss told the lady at the checkout that: “Scouts love junk food and we purchased supplies. What a great ambassador!

Happy Birthday Chocolate Cupcakes for Scouts.

Happy Birthday Chocolate Cupcakes for Scouts.

There’s a world of quotes which I could pass onto my daughter but here are a couple from AA Milne’s: Winnie The Pooh.

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
A.A. Milne
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

I also like this one from Stephen Fry:

“We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I’m going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.”
Stephen Fry

Happy Birthday Precious Miss!

May all of your dreams come true..,in time. I’d like you to grow up before you open that dream fashion business in Paris. Climb some trees. Make clothes for your dolls and film them with your iPad. Ride your bike. Walk the dogs and wear your hair in plaits with rainbow nails and silver high heels, which are still too big and keep baking glittery cakes and drawing precious pictures just for fun.

As much as you yearn to grow up, you can’t rewind time. It only speeds up.

You might not appreciate it it now but there’s real beauty in growing slow.

Love & Blessings!

Rowena & Mummy

Me & My Girl

Me & My Girl

PS A week after Mister’s birthday sitting at Palm Beach, I stumbled across this song Forever Young by Rod Stewart, which I wanted to send to Miss as a post birthday present: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgiLWNgpXiQ