Little feet + big feet


We’ve been busy. So busy. Laundry has been piling up through the week. Thank GOODNESS for mum and her folding expertise, otherwise it would have buried us by now.

Busy working. Busy with life. Preschool. Lunches. Then work increased. Then I went mental contacting bookshops and other places and people in the lead up to my book launch next month.

Then there was the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival, and we all took in as much as we could. Between busy and life, we sat down where we could and enjoyed a sunshine breakfast, or an extra coffee, but still the weeks have been running at crazy pace.

Last Saturday, we slipped away to the rainforest. We walked the girls right into the depths of the Minyon Falls, and back out again. Talking of backs, mine was killing me, as I carried my enormous two-year-old the entire time. But she needed extra cuddles. Did I mention the busy thing?

The rainforest was good for us. As was that delightful afternoon spent hanging at Doma, the surprisingly wonderful Japanese outdoor eatery in Federal, of all places.

Busy is good for productivity. My work is flowing. And my book launch month is packed with fun and activity. But after a week or so of busy, cracks start to show. Husband and I get snappy. I get weary towards my kids. Little things – little them things get irritating. And it’s not fair. It really isn’t.

Getting out of the house – why so hard? I don’t know why, but every single blimmin’ day it seems to be impossible. Getting dressed. That simple task. Suddenly so much harder, because there aren’t extra hours for this simple task to take extra hours. And irritation levels rise.

Trying to cook dinner. A request to make slime. And while we are at it, ‘Can you print off more pictures for me to make a book?’ Dishes pile up around me. Just grateful the laundry is already folded as the dishes have their own plans for takeover.

In the busy, my kids’ faces are close to mine. When things are close, they seem bigger than they actually are. A child’s voice sounds louder than it actually is.

Sitting on the beach on a marvellously perfect winter’s afternoon yesterday, I cradled my oldest child, who seems particularly big, especially close up. She’s big. For 5. Tall. And she’s loud. Chatty. Amazing. But loud. Her presence is so big in the room, I sometimes forget how small she actually is.

I cradled her, and sang I See Fire. For no particularly reason. We looked out on the ocean, and rocked from side to side. She sunk into me. Still. Quiet.

Then I noticed her feet on mine, resting. Still. Quiet.

And her feet were so small.

I really do forget how small she is. Especially when it’s busy. But it’s worth remembering.

The memory makers + the memory takers

memory makers and memory takers

Hanging out with one of my best friends in the whole entire world last weekend made me realise something.

I have a terrible memory.

My friend recalls details about my past I have no recollection of. She remembers the details of my 20th birthday – who stayed where and what we did. My memory of the day is sparse.

She remembers every little aspect of our trip to India together. Of when we first met. Of studying together.

I am so grateful to have a friend who also doubles as a memory bank, and only wish I had met her when I was five. Or earlier, preferably.

As I sort through the debris of my memory, there are icons that stand out.

From my childhood, it’s my special imagination olive tree, where I spent days cooped up in its branches. I remember the barren paddocks. The kangaroos on dusk. I remember being followed by our old German Shepard, Sammy, as we walked through the scrub.

Through my adult years, the particularly traumatic, or the particularly emotional moments are the memorable ones. Any occasions coupled with alcohol are vague wisps of something reminiscent of memory.

Memories are so important, aren’t they? Aren’t they – us? We are but a sum of our memories.

I think about this a lot in relation to my kids. What memories are we making for them? Each little day, piled on another day. Those moments, cutting out paper on the kitchen floor, or swinging in the hammock, or playing in the sand…this collection of moments in time. Which ones will stick? Hopefully the good ones?

As I take my phone out to snap a particularly important moment – a lost tooth – for instance, I think about this process of memory keeping. If I take a photo on my phone, am I purchasing insurance for my memory of that moment – or my child’s memory?

When I need to remember something in particular, I write it down. Even if I never read the note again, the act of writing helps commit the memory. Is it the same with taking photos?

Maybe. Maybe not. There are a million photos stacked on my hard drive, and in books, and on my computer. My husband thinks it’s ludicrous. I will never ever get to look at all those photos surely. But I haven’t the heart to delete them. I have to keep them. This bank of memories. It’s much more reliable than my own sieve.

I wonder sometimes whether the act of taking the photo itself diminishes my ability to simply remember the moment.

When we travelled when Elka was about two, I was walking back down the mountain, and she was running towards me. The joy on her face, and the childish enthusiasm of her run made me want to snap a picture. I did. And she immediately turned on her heel, and ran away from me. It was like popping a bubble. The moment evaporated with the click of my camera.

Lately, I find my memory’s worse than usual. And the reason why is obvious. There is so so much to remember.

I don’t mean commitments, or appointments etc. I remember those things quite easily.

I am busy, yes, with preparing for the launch of my book, and the other things on my plate. But it’s more than that.

We are flooded constantly with potential stimulus for memory. Each time I scroll through social media, the list of things I could potentially remember exponentially grows. And grows.

Trawling social media feels a little like using a metal detector on the beach. We look and look, and wait for something to stick. And at last the beep goes off, and that particularly cute image of a cat wearing glasses glues.

And the minefield of visual information is competing with the actual stuff in my life I should be remembering.

Like that wonderfully cute and hilarious thing Rosie said the other day. What was it again, that made us crack up so much? I have no idea. I swear to myself I need to write those comments and quotes down when they happen – not later, because later they are definitely forgotten.

I wonder what all these images, and all this information will do to our collective future memory. Will it be sharper, as we expose ourselves to more? Or will it diminish, as we rely more and more on technologies to remember things for us? {Phone numbers. Calendar dates. Passwords…} Maybe there’s just not enough space in our tiny human brains to handle the vast amount of material coming our way.

So, this week, I am conscious about where I place my attention. I am going to aim to place it carefully on things that matter. Precious moments with my children. A beautiful children’s book. I am going to gaze into that moment, and let it gel. Then, when it has settled, I’ll break my gaze and carry on.

And I really should remember to write that stuff down. And take a photo.

How’s your memory? And how do you make it better?

It’s work, but it’s not: How to be slow when you are busy

  It's work but it's not

Technically speaking, it’s been a bit busy around here of late. Technically, because between my husband and I, one of us is working from 9am until 12am (yes, that’s midnight), while the non-working parent looks after our two girls. It should feel hectic and ridiculous. But since I got over my illness a few days ago, it doesn’t.

I’ve been wondering why. Why aren’t we stressed to our eyeballs, tired, feeling like crap etc?

I think, perhaps, because although it’s ‘work’ it’s not work. It’s just life.

There’s a pleasant rhythm while we do what needs to be done. I tap away on the keyboard in the office all day, while the girls and Gregor play in the back garden. In the afternoon, I take over, and Gregor heads off to his work. As a family, we meet over meals, and as a couple, we meet in front of iView on the day bed and share a block of Lindt before bed.

I’m fortunate to be able to work from home. The noise of children playing doesn’t bother me while I work. There’s no pressure to get somewhere, which is liberating, and Baby has marathon day sleeps in her cot (oh, glory be).

We do it all slowly. We eat slowly. We linger around the breakfast table. We don’t short cut, and miss our coffee. Over lunch, we take our time. Have another coffee. We do a bit of exercise together, to get the oxygen flowing. We have the luxury of choosing our hours, more or less. Somehow, all these things give us the illusion (perhaps) that work isn’t dominating our life. It just is life. And children are life. And none of it is really work. Really, it’s not, it’s life, and we are just doing it.

And as today is officially a day off, for both of us, we are heading to the market. Happy slow Sunday to you. x

My child is bored, and it’s OK

allowing kids to be bored

For the last few days, my daughter, 3.5, has been hanging tummy-down on kitchen chairs, lying on the floor, lying on the grass in the sunshine or sitting in a nasturtium  bed. Her eyes are dreamy – she’s looking somewhere between space and the Magic Faraway Tree. I ask her if she’s OK, and vacantly, she says, ‘Yes, Mama.’

At first I was concerned. She is usually so chatty and vibrant. Some days, I want to siphon camomile tea into her, and spray her with lavender oil  just to wind her down.

But then I realised, she’s bored, and that’s OK.

We have been reading stories lately. The Magic Faraway Tree, The Enchanted Wood, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, The Wind In The Willows…We read until I literally can’t read any longer, my eyelids feel like lead. During the day, at moments she might have once asked for TV, she asks me to read: ‘Let’s find out what happened to Varuca Salt,’ she says.

Sitting in the nasturtium bed today, gazing into outer-space, I wondered about the world her mind had travelled to.

I often feel guilty that I don’t take her to swimming lessons, ballet, Little Kickers or that she doesn’t yet go to daycare or preschool. Is she under-stimulated? I am hopeless at doing activities with her at home. The best I can summon is asking her to help me cook dinner. I have flashes of concern, when talking with other parents, that I am somehow forsaking my child by not cramming our week with activities.

But the bigger half of me rationalises – we are going to have more than a decade of schedules and routines. This is the time to let days run into other days; to let kids daydream and be vacant. This year and next are a tiny window in my daughter’s life where we can hang endlessly at home, if we want to,  and not rush off to work or school or the next Thing.

Carl Honoré, founder of the Slow Movement, author of In Praise of Slow and Under Pressure, writes about the importance of giving children time to explore the world on their own terms. He talks about letting go of schedules, and goals, and focusing on the journey.

Creativity and imagination need space to bloom. Kids need to be bored, so all their learning and impressions can cultivate in their little minds.

Once again, I am giving guilt the slip. I don’t need it. We’re fine, doing what we do, hanging in the nasturtium bed, dreaming stuff.

My Little Sunshine Home

Dealing with my SAHM issues

Home has taken on a new meaning lately.

In the past, I would have described myself as a go-out-as-much-as-possible mother. I spent all Sunshine Girl’s babyhood in town, at a friend’s house, at my mum’s place, at the lake…anywhere that wasn’t home. Anywhere I didn’t have the slightest opportunity to experience boredom or idleness.

I am Zanni, and I have thaasophobia. Thaasophobia is fear of boredom and idleness. (It’s an actual Thing.)

But since having Baby Sunshine, staying at home is more necessary. Outings with two ain’t quite as straightforward. Twice as much food to bring. Twice as many spare pants. A sling and a pram. More stuff.

And being at home is easier with two. Thaasophobia is diluted because there is twice as much to do. And ironically, I get more Other Stuff done since Baby’s birth, because the girls potter around side-by-side, enjoying each other’s company.

I do stuff around the house, and we potter in the garden, in the sunshine. Baby Sunshine explores, tat-tata-ta-ing as she goes. Sunshine Girl tells me about her adventures with Moon-Face and Silky, and how she is going to fly around the world in a hot air balloon. She talks relentlessly, and all I have to say is, “Really?” and “Around the world? That’s a long way!” She doesn’t mind that I am avoiding idleness by pulling out weeds or cleaning windows. The magical universe in her mind is the best place in the world.

Renovations have paid off too. There’s no denying that the period when both Husband and I worked liked dogs, had two small children, and tried to renovate was gruelling. But let me just say that tiles and newly painted walls can quite literally change your life. Rather than vacuuming twice a week to maintain a scruffy house, now I just sweep when I need to, and it always looks good. 

Having two kids and living in a house I actually like makes more of a Stay At Home Mum of me. I actually like being here. I like pottering around, with little girls by my side. Neither idle nor bored, I relax into a gentle rhythm of doing things in the Sunshine.

Oh, and the espresso coffee machine helps.

Do you like being at home? Do you have thaasophobia? Do your children spend their day in fantasy worlds, like the Enchanted Forest?

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