New Start

Last week Master Five started his Kindergarten orientation. He was super excited and I was excited for him.

As for next year when he begins school, there are some really mixed feelings about how I want it all to go. I mean obviously I want nothing more than for him to feel content and excited about school but surely it's equally as heart-breaking for a mother either way. If he clings to my side and holds me tight on that first day my heart will ache for him, for us - but how nice for a mama to feel so loved.
I will mourn our young, innocent days of endless questions and hiding in the same hide-and-seek spots. I will hold him just as tightly and silently adore that he would prefer to stay with me...
but that's silly (and selfish) mother emotions playing games.
And so instead my heart will ache as he marches off, head held high with not a single glance back to tell me he is apprehensive just like him mama.

Perhaps there is a middle-ground which is likely and just as crushing. Perhaps the most crushing of all scenarios. Perhaps we will hug, he will march off confidently and turn to his mama who is fighting back the tears, and he will give me his biggest, most striking smile that tells me 'it's okay Mama, I'm ready... and you'll be okay too'

...and with that he will turn on his heel and strut into a new, big world without me.




Extra Curricular Activities

What's with the fight to keep up with the Jones's when it comes to extra-curricular activities?
I am seriously perplexed at how mothers seem to be in a competition with one another over who's child does the most outside-of-school activities.

My children swim. They learn how to survive in the water. Once they master the art of staying afloat and being able to swim 20 metres or so, we will probably pull them out. Swimming lessons are expensive. They are important yes, but at a price. It is a life skill that we ensure they know but unless they show a keen interest in becoming the next Olympic champion in the 50m butterfly then it's an activity we won't always need to do.

When Master Seven was halfway through Kindergarten we told him he can pick one extra sport that he'd like to learn and he chose karate. I'm so pleased he did. Karate has taught him about his body, about discipline and about stranger danger. It seems to give him extra confidence and awareness. It's fantastic. But again, it is costly! It is also time consuming and with two little siblings in-tow it isn't all that enjoyable for me to take him to. But so long as he wants to stick with it, we will continue.

Other than swimming for both boys and karate for Master Seven we don't rush anywhere else during the week. Our afternoons are spent playing at home and chilling out. I'm realising though that we are not the norm when it comes to weekday run-arounds. Friends seem to be rushing to soccer practices and cricket training, basketball, gymnastics and touch football. Their weekends are filled up with soccer games and nippers carnivals and quite frankly I'm in awe of how they manage it all (and afford to pay for it all).

Aren't their children exhausted? Aren't the parents exhausted?
I am talking about young children here, a mere seven years of age or younger.
Exercise is so very important, but can't they ride bikes and jump on a trampoline? Can't they kick a ball in the backyard or the park? Can we not simplify and reduce the demand we put on ourselves and on our children?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.






Outdoor Play


I've dug myself a hole. I've used 'go outside' as a consequence for my children's bad behaviour and I realise now that outdoor play and the backyard in general has become somewhat of a punishment.
It now has negative connotations linked to it -
'You're being too loud, go outside'
'Stop running around the house, go outside'
'That's enough bickering and fighting, go outside'

On top of this I have noticed that our yard is turning into a stumbling hazard. It is a wonderland of opportunity for play as I, the consumer, have filled our land with balls, bikes, swings, slides, a trampoline, water guns and an array of other 'things'.
I'm guilty and I feel silly writing it all down. I admit that our backyard is a jungle of not inspiration as I naively thought, but an overwhelm of items that don't satisfy or inspire.

What happened to the days of digging in the dirt, playing make believe games and collecting rocks?
It's time to re-think outdoor play - Plants more trees, keep the rocks, mound the dirt into piles and let the rest be.


Free For All


I love waking to a rainy weekend. This morning the kids climbed into bed with me and we lay there and listened to the rain. It was forty minutes before we decided to get up - the idea of waffles for breakfast alluring us.

'I thought you said it was Spring!' Master Five calls out from the bedroom after discovering I'd laid out trackies for him to wear today. And so we talk about weather and how unpredictable it can be. Yes, it is Spring and it is also cold and wet today I explain.

An entire day indoors at home calls for a 'free-for-all' day. These are days where just about anything goes and I don't pick up after them along the way.

There is currently a pink yoga mat and plastic Easter eggs scattered down the hallway, twenty-three books strewn over the lounge and coffee table, Duplo blocks sprawled over the living room rug and Transformers have taken up home on the kitchen bench. Soon I will cover the table in plastic for protection and put out glue, textas, scissors and an assortment of craft items and it will indeed be a free creative space for them to explore. Cut up pears will accompany the crafting and Van Morrison will blare from the speaker while I sing along merrily to 'Days Like This.'

'Sometimes we all need a rainy Saturday' I think to myself as I put the kettle on to boil...


Good Luck


Master Seven hasn't had the easiest run at school this year. I'm not sure if there is a 'school mum' guidebook but if there were I would assume it would have one page, one phrase... one precious offering going forward into the world of conventional schooling -

GOOD LUCK.

That's what it would say. Short and sweet and honest. There really is nothing else to offer. No 'how to' dot points to memorise and execute because what it all boils down to is that every child is unique, every school is unique and every parent is unique. Those three elements trying to meld their worlds together to make a harmonising and positive experience is always going to prove a challenge. 

I giggle with a bit of embarrassment at how jaunty and spritely I was that first school year for our family, as we watched our first born thrive in Kindergarten. Being a school mum (or school parent I should say) can be tough. It is built within us to protect our young and we wish nothing but the best for them. We long to see them thrive and to be happy. Master Seven struts into school on most days, holding his head high and beaming a big smile but come the afternoons it can often be a different story. I'm not sure if it's the challenges of being seven, the challenges that have come with a composite class and being a huge minority within that class or something else entirely but it just hasn't been a great school year. 

There have been times when I've brought up home-schooling with The Husband and we've discussed it but never settled on it as a viable option for our family. Master Seven doesn't even want to learn Hot Cross Buns on the piano from his own mother let alone twelve years of schooling. He doesn't listen to me when I ask him to put his shoes on, what makes me think he'll listen to my ramblings of Australian history or why the word 'debt' has a 'b' in it. I realise there are many other factors to consider, and believe me, we've considered them! But at the end of the day I need to put my trust in those who are trained to care for their students, not just academically but socially as well. 

There are eight weeks left of this school year and I can't help but ponder what they will be like. I'm hoping we can end the year on a positive note. 

Overwhelm

I'm completely exhausted. The day was long and I feel incredibly tired. My cup of tea is easing my headache and warming my tummy with its sweet goodness. The TV is on low but it seems to be shouting at me. It's 8pm and my bed is already calling me...

I came home today completely overwhelmed. Today I worked at a school I haven't taught at for over five years. And over lunchtime I was offered something I have been waiting a very long time for.  The problem is the timing couldn't be more wrong. I am not ready for it and neither is my family. I feel so overwhelmed by the enormity of organising three children plus myself and achieving what I want to achieve.

As a mother of three and a wife as well, I often feel pulled in many directions. 'There is only one of me' my children often hear me say. I tend to give my all to the things I do. I jump in and I commit. For the past seven years that main role has been motherhood. Everything else comes second, third, fourth...

There has to come a time where I can no longer just cruise along with my career. I need to make decisions about fitting in work with family life and The Husband and I need to decide how this should best happen. I've been so fortunate to have a supportive man by my side, working hard and providing for us for many years now, with very little help from me. As our children get older I think more and more of my future and my work. What do I want to be doing? What am I aiming at?
I am sure my feelings and thoughts are universal. Motherhood will always come first on my list of priorities, but perhaps I need to make a little room for other things as well. The question is when...and how...

Tuesday Evening


The sun has set and the house is fairly quiet. I can only hear the occasional turn of The Husband's text book page as he studies in the next room. There is a soft hum of crickets outside the open backdoor and as I sit in the lounge room I can see the soft glow of my diffuser, which is letting off the most wonderful, subtle scent of peppermint, ginger and aniseed.

It has recently occurred to me, that as I head into my thirty-third year of life Earth-side, I am at that age where I once thought old. I can still recall being a young child of six or seven and thinking my parents, and all of their friends were old. And my old parents, and all of their old friends had boring, important jobs and they probably didn't have any fun 'cause they were 'just' parents. I know my assumptions were wrong, and I realise now my parents were 'normal' and not at all boring. In fact, it's dawned on me that they were in the midst of some of the best years of their lives.

So as I sit on my blue armchair, sipping my tea with milk and honey and stuff leftover brownies into my face, I acknowledge the importance of documenting these wonderful years that are my thirty-somethings...