Friday, May 30, 2014

Call me Granny

I am about to hit a milestone in my life. In less than a week I turn the big 3-0!

It's not an achievement by any means on my part as I didn't actually do anything other than stay alive, but I do feel like it's one of those 'something birthdays'. Some birthdays are 'something birthdays' (such as 16, 18, 21, 40), and some are 'nothing birthdays' (like 23 and 27). I know it's ridiculous but that's my logic.

I'm not too worried about turning 30, aside from the fact I remember my Mum being 30 so whatever shortfalls I have I can no longer  console myself with the thought;

"Oh the boys are young and won't remember much of this age anyway."

They WILL remember. 

Already I see that 30 seems like a great age to be turning. It feels like around now I am really settled within myself. I am really comfortable with who I am and my interests, beliefs, decisions, relationships, and opinions. I am completely aware that I have shortcomings, but know that it's not the end of the world and as long as I am constantly trying to improve that the world won't come to an end because I made a mistake.

I know who I am as a wife. I know how much I treasure my marriage and recognise it as a true source of happiness and stability in my world. I also know my marriage is strong, but constantly evolving as is necessary in life.  We have faced hard things during the past decade, but I know where my strengths lie in our relationship, and where I rely on Anthony to help where I struggle. 

I am at the stage where I know what a REAL fairytale relationship is. There is no ball gowns, princes, or Fairy Godmothers.  For me it's more like dressing gowns, tickle fights, and fairy bread.  But I realise how blessed I am. I have a relationship that is wonderfully real. Real fairytale relationships have people who work hard to treat the other better than they treat anyone else because they want them to know they are treasured. There is two people who both know they are loved by the other every single day. They know they are loved even on the days they are harder to love. 

I know who I am as a Mother. I place this role as the most important work I will do, yet at the same time I need to be honest and say somedays my most important work is also the most tiring, frustrating, and difficult. At this stage I am learning that my role has changed and I am already having to tread the fine line of when to step in and when to step back. My instinct is still to grab the jug from Carter's hands when I see him pour a drink, but he reminds me he can do it himself so I step back and watch (with a cloth in hand all ready). 

We are getting some of the curlier questions from our boys now. Questions that make me realise how fast time is going as it feels too soon. I'm just glad they want to ask their dear old Mum and Dad still, as when my 40th rolls around, we will have an 18 year old and a 16 year old and I doubt my opinion will be sought quite so often.

I am much more comfortable with my views, beliefs, and opinions now.  Even just a few years back, I was much more reserved in expressing my opinions, but now see them to be worthy of expressing in a respectful manner and at an appropriate time. They aren't always right I'm sure, but come from thoughtful consideration and are a reflection of my experiences in the world. 

I'm also more comfortable to agree to disagree as I know it doesn't have to change my relationship with that person. Everyone's views are a result of personal experience and cannot be expected to align perfectly. How many wonderful perspectives would we miss out on if that was our expectation? 

I think the main difference I see from turning 20 to turning 30 is that I am more accepting of myself, and of the surprises life throws at me. I still stress at the unexpected, but at the same time I feel a quiet inner peace that tells me that no matter what curveballs have been thrown our way, we are still here and happy and stronger than ever.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It's soapbox time!

I'm not really one to get into politics, but the 2014 Budget seems to have the country in a bit of a tizz and I have some opinions if my own. I won't share them with you in detail as I hope to have people actually continue to read my blog, but there is one subject that is pretty touchy for me. 

It is the price tag Australia puts on stay-at-home Mothers. 

We have been told that Mothers need an 'incentive' to return to workforce. Apparently that incentive is money.

I am all for an honest days work for an honest days pay etc etc, but there is great value to what a stay-at-home mother brings to the community. They do not literally stay home baking muffins and watching Dr. Phil all day.  Who would watch Dr. Phil when Ellen is on?

Stay-at-home mothers can be found running play groups, volunteering in the school canteen, helping struggling children with one-on-one reading that is impossible for classroom teachers to provide with their hectic schedules, care for the children of working friends/family, and most importantly - they care for their own children. This frees up spots in childcare centres for those who need them. 

I in no way have an issue with any mother who does work and I don't believe they love or care for their child to a lesser standard than a stay-at-home mother. Their choice to work is their choice to make and need not be justified to anyone.  I'm completely aware the guilt trip works both ways. Working mothers absolutely get the rough end if the stick too at times.

But it seems that our government views working mothers as contributing to society and stay-at-home mothers not so much. 

Decades ago, there was the expectation that mothers would stay home with their children. Women fought for the right to enter the workforce without judgement. I respect this.

But why now do I have to fight to defend my choice to stay home with my children? It doesn't need to be one way or the other. Both can be viewed with equal respect and appreciation. Both can be understood to be important. Each can be lifted to a place that our society can value without pushing the other down. 

I am an educated woman. I studied full time while my children were young so I could support my family if *heaven forbid* our family required it, but more so that my family deserves the best of me. I still desire to continue learning. Motherhood hasn't taken that from me. But when Anthony and I decided to have children, we also both wanted me to be home with them while they were young (not just their pre-schooling years).  

I knew what I was doing. I knew the decision I was making in wanting to be a stay-at-home mother and it doesn't diminish my intelligence at all. The intricacies of running a household can be as demanding as any full- time job. It somedays provides the luxuries of a long lunch and freedom, and other days leaves little time to eat at all. Somedays the work is fulfilling and fun, such as volunteering in my boys school classes, but can be mundane and unnoticed, such as the hour and a half spent cleaning window tracks with cotton buds. 

My desire is not that everyone make a big song and dance for stay-at-home mothers, just that they are seen to be important and valued by the country we live in.

It's a choice we made, and we have paid the price financially by not having a second income, but it's a choice I would make time and time again because I know its important. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Just in time for the lies

It was only a matter of  time  until something like this happened.

Today I had the privilege of spending time in Carter's classroom. Somedays I help with home readers, but I stayed back a bit longer today to help with an art activity. 

Carter has a fantastic teacher who has more patience in her little toe than I have all together.  More than anything I appreciate her sincere care for my little man.

I love watching Carter in action. He is the Art Helper this week.  As you can imagine, he takes his jobs VERY seriously.  At one point in the morning, some children at his table needed help finding the next blank page to glue in their work. Carter then told me HE needed help too. 

I showed them the same thing I'm sure their teacher has shown them many a time. We started at the front and flipped through til we found a blank page. I used Carter's book as the example and made a point of commenting on the great work I could see as I flipped through. 

There were several drawing with captions that Carter had obviously narrated to his teacher to write for him. 

One described him at the park. 

Another one showed a train.

But the one that caught my eye was the picture with the caption under it;

"This is a picture of my Daddy smoking."

I asked him if he had told his teacher that Daddy smokes.  He smiled proudly and said;