You’ve no doubt heard yourself comment with disbelief at how quickly your kids are growing right before your very eyes. With a 50/50 shared custody arrangement I have the girls every second week so any development and change seems even more pronounced. You don’t want to miss a minute of it.
I love seeing how much they have changed, grown and blossomed every time they come back to me. They challenge me, humour me, watch me, entrust me, listen to me, ignore me, play with me, laugh at me, comfort me and do nothing short of amaze. They are my biggest teachers and compel to be nothing less than the best mother I can possibly can be since the universe has seen fit to bestow me with the privilege of raising these amazing girls.
However, I wasn’t born a mother, I don’t even consider myself to be a born mother as the phrase goes.
When I was 26 I had a dream I was cradling a baby in my arms. The love I felt for this child was so profoundly intense it permeated my soul, left an indelible mark and changed the course of my life. I woke up, bereft that the child in my dreams was gone. I grieved that baby for days. Something was missing now and I wanted it back. That was when I decided to fall pregnant.
Up until that point I never really had a definite opinion if I wanted a child or not. Probably because, truth be told, even way back then I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be in my marriage or not. I had my reservations about the fatherhood material of Mr Busy (ex-husband) as I suspected I would be left holding the baby. Still the dream wouldn’t leave me and I took it as a sign for procreation, so we did and the delightfully headstrong Miss B arrived safely, after failed attempts by the doctor with the vacuum and forceps she was finally coaxed into this world by the gynaecologist with one chubby little arm coming out first, as if raised in victory at finally being freed from the confines of the womb. She still takes issue with confinement and conformity. A lot like her mother.
Miss J was born almost 2 years to the day later, conceived after a ride in the back of a panel van, she basically delivered herself within 10 minutes of us getting to the hospital. No doctors, no drugs, no fuss. Quick, determined, efficient and independent. She remains so to this day. A lot like her father.
I don’t bake cupcakes, cakes or muffins, I don’t sew, I don’t mend, I don’t knit, can’t remember last time I washed a window. I don’t throw elaborate birthday parties for kids. I hate housework but I hate mess so it cancels itself out. I hate doing dishes, we don’t have a dishwasher but we have 5 daughters 50% of the time. One piece of crockery is broken a fortnight on average and kitchen utensils don’t quite end up where I expect them. I like the idea of gardening but it hasn’t really taken off for me yet. I take really crap photos and I hate getting my photo taken. I always end up looking fugly yet I am really quite fetching so it is a mean feat of the camera to take something so comely and turn it into something so homely.
I don’t hang out with other school Mums, they frighten me. We are surrounded by kids but I can’t find common ground. I quit mothers group and the post antenatal classes because I found sitting around all day comparing baby monitors, nipple shields, babies who slept through the night and the well trained husbands who got up to said babies that didn’t, suffocating.
I was guilty of comparing and found myself wanting, I went back to work instead.
My three main personal passions are books, boots and booze, more or less in that order. I collect and buy books like a crazy old lady collects and breeds cats. My idea of indulgence is spending a whole weekend reading a great book or books depending on how quick I finish them. I love browsing through book stores suffering the exquisite agony of only choosing one. Boots cost way more than books and last a lot longer too so my collection is nowhere near as extensive but it is eclectically me. I try not to buy my boots locally, but one must make sacrifices, boots however must make a statement. Winter shod feet cannot look like anyone else’s. Within 35 minutes of touching down in Queenstown last year I was in my favourite boot shop with a brand new pair of black patent leather pointy boots. Every pair has a story to tell. Booze, hmmmm, the only thing in that collection is empty bottles. Should I mention to my readers that I love booze? Will they think me on old soak? To keep things in perspective I live on the outskirts of two burgeoning wine regions with amazing vineyards and craft breweries so a girl is going to tipple, as long as one does not tipple till one topples one should be fine! I had a fitness assessment done a few weeks ago, the trainer asked me how much I drank and then he told me he was going to double whatever figure I told him because everyone always tells him a half truth. So I ‘fessed up told him the whole truth and he told me I was about average, I have never been so happy to be average about anything.
I am the middle child, a Gemini girl sandwiched between two other Gemini girls. I was the naughtiest, always getting smacked, told off and grounded. I couldn’t help it, my mouth moved faster than my brain, it still does. I only thought I called Mum a stupid cow, and I was stupid enough to think it out loud within her earshot. Bang, another clip around the earhole. Still, what doesn’t kill you makes you deafer.
I turn 40 this year.
I am cool with that, I love a good milestone. I told myself I had to have had all my children by the time I turn 30. I smugly gave birth to my second daughter Miss J at 29 years and 7 months of age, Mr Busy had the snip and I dusted my hands off that goal. Little did I suspect my beloved step-daughters would creep into my mix and blow the budget by 150% inside 10 years. Didn’t see that one coming, but I am eternally grateful it did.
There are two things I am supposed to have achieved by the time I turn 40.
One is run a marathon. Done. Edinburgh 2011 4 hours 45 minutes.
The other is go to university and get a degree. Mum and my psych told me not to waste my brain. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school at 16 in 1990 and I still don’t know what I want to do 24 years later. So instead I made a promise to myself that by the time I turned 40 I would be doing something completely different to what I have spent the last 20 years of my working life doing. Eking out an existence in the mind numbingly banal work of office administration. I am half way to my goal. I stepped off the ledge; I quit my job last October with thoughts of starting up my own business, I have not completely given up on that idea but every time I try to move forward I come up against a wall of white noise. Something is holding me back. I am holding me back. Unwritten business.
I have always written, always loved to write, it has been my harbour through many a rough sea, my lighthouse in many a dark hour. In the end my ability to express myself has enabled me to find the strength, inner resolve and relentless passion to pursue the life I knew I was worthy of.
For 20 odd years I have always worked, for years on end I never took a holiday. Now I have simply stopped. This is new. This is different. This is a deep breath. A long pause.
Now I have time to tell my stories.
Now I have time to listen to yours.
Thanks for reading.