Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Le petit orchestre

On Wednesdays, a little orchestra comes to our house to rehearse in our living room. This is one of the many benefits of being married to the luthier. It is a chamber group formed by the luthier, from a group of the finest strings players in our town who also happen to be the most charming people. They call themselves ' Camerata Obscura".

Last week, they gave two serenades to me and the children and we happily drifted off to sleep all cosied up together.

It is a luxury and privilege to have our own private orchestra each Wednesday but this week the children and I have been generous enough to share. The Camerata will be playing their first gig at Fresh on Charles at 7pm this evening. The program of music is dreamy and superb. They will play Tchaikovsky's Serenade Opus 48 and Elgar's Serenade in E minor. it would be lovely to see you there.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Getting on

I am getting on.
There are signs.

Wrinkles. That errant and recurring single black hair on my chin which can reach surprising lengths before being discovered. Singing incorrect lyrics to young people's popular tunes. Becoming less self-conscious about dancing in supermarkets or sitting in the front row. Inappropriately dressing for comfort over style. Calling people 'darls' as I have potentially forgotten their actual name.

But I suspect that one of the best things happening to me as I get older is that I am just beginning to get the teeniest hint of insight into the difference between giving up and letting go.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Still here

So, we made it to the princess party. It had a jumping castle and was extremely excellent.

As for every single other item on my simple weekend plan, well I'd rather not talk about it. Let's just say we are still here and its raining.

Hope your weekend has been as excellent as a dress-up party with a jumping castle.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Simple Weekend Plan

Right, then. So, I've made a plan.

What I am going to do today is get up, go out, attend compulsory Disney princess-themed kid's party (shudder), buy lotto ticket, come home, clean up while kids wallow in screen world for far longer than is good for them. This evening we will head to the Junc room to listen to 'da hip hop' and shake our communal Smith groove thang and after that I will return chez nous to discover we have indeed won an obnoxious amount of filthy lucre in the lotto.

Tomorrow we will pack up and by the afternoon we will be in a warm tropical place, in a resort replete with kid's club, morning yoga and every nutritious and delicious meal and whim catered for, planning our move to France.

Ok? Great.

P.S I told you I wasn't very good at this contentment business.


This week I entered into a Sanctum. Annie offers pampering and relaxation, but I received from her something altogether more significant. ( No happy endings jokes thanks, cheeky rascals!)

As I lay in that peace-filled room, prone, vulnerable and exposed, Annie massaged away my knots and troubles while I closed my eyes and soaked up the oils, the attention and that sweet, soothing music. As she moved around that room, changed from side to side, reached for more oil or a warm towel, Annie always maintained connection with a lightly resting hand. This slight, sure touch braced me against sudden moves, I knew exactly where she was and this touch gave me certainty. In that room I lay pummelled and exposed but so sure, so certain. Those deft hands intuited my strengths and sensitivities and yet instilled me with confidence. Those hands knew when to go softly, softly or just how much pressure I could take. And so I was massaged, worked, coaxed and relaxed into body and being, always certain of the hands.

Annie gave me a massage but more than that she illustrated a way of being and gave me insight into a way of parenting I aspire to and which I rarely achieve.

Thank you Annie. For the massage and for the model for my aspiration - to massage and brace three children into adulthood, giving them the gift of surety, of certainty, of their mother's presence.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I saw a preview for a movie with a radical plot last week. It was a fictional movie, about a Dad who says' Yes' to his children and the movie demonstrates all the joys and adventures that saying 'yes 'to kiddies and their whims and fancies can bring. So, even though this idea goes against every fibre of being that is my parenting instinct, I was inspired. I thought, "Hey, I'll give it a go".

So I said 'yes' to another biscuit, 'yes' to climbing into the car through the boot, 'yes' to everyone's song selections in the car and so on. The result was, for a little while everyone felt like they were getting what they wanted. It was a good idea, right up until the questions got to 'Can I stay home from school?' and 'Can we buy a guinea pig?".

On Mondays, I take Sophie to her ballet class. It would be better described as her bliss class. The little princess get's herself ' all pinked' and frocked and skips happily with pig tails flying into the hall to adore her ballet teacher and frolic in her bliss. This Monday, Sophie asked a very simple question, "Mummy, I want you to watch me. For the WHOLE class." So I said "Yes". And for one whole half hour I gave my daughter my full attention through a little window into the ballet hall. I didn't play Words with Friends, or check the nothing that people have to say on Facebook, or text the luthier or anything. One whole half hour of undivided watching.

About 5 minutes into the class I caught myself with the widest, most unselfconscious grin I have had in years. There they were, a group of little girls all dressed up in tutus and fairy costumes, and full ballet rig (though they are only three) soaking up the presence of their teacher, the dream ballerina, chins held aloft skipping, pointing and flexing and being a mermaid. The happiness and spirit was palpable and it had infected my face. I couldn't stop smiling.

After about 10 minutes I became aware of 3 mothers behind me. They were watching too, as their daughters took their turns at sideways skipping with scarves held before them in front of a mirror. And their commentary began,
' Oh, look at Lila, she doesn't concentrate.'
'Well look at Ruby, she is totally uncoordinated."
'What about Lucy, she isn't even going in the right direction."

The criticism was delivered with giggles and in the spirit of humurous self- deprecation, I guess.

And then they moved on to a systematic dissection of themselves. In the few minutes they stood there, while there daughters danced joyfully, they compared each other's faults. They weren't losing weight fast enough, they drank too much, they were overwhelmed with busy-ness and, of course, they were shit parents. All in a casual, couple-of-minute conversation.

And before us, in that room through the window frolicked the girls, blissfully dancing, blissfully in love, blissfully unaware of the social conventions ahead of them.

I turned the grown up voices off after that, tuned into the girls and said "Yes".
The grin returned in an instant.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Sitting Still, where you are

Man! I struggle with this. The sitting still, just where I am.

I just filled out the census and realised we have 'usually lived' at the same address for well over five years, almost 9 years, in fact. And almost every Thursday, for at least the last five or six years, I have scoured the real estate guide for a bigger and better option.

Before family life and home mortgage ownership I had moved every 12 months, at least, since I was 18. When I was a kid my mum liked to change houses about every 5 years - a new interior design project, or drops in the numbers of children living at home from 7 to 3 to 1, etc.

The luthier and me, we watch 'Escape to the Country' and 'Grand Designs' religiously. We even go to open houses and view properties in town and in the country regularly.

Something in me craves change constantly. It manifests itself in craving change in real estate. And also in the endless cycling through the questions " Should I get a job?", "Should I go back to uni?", " Volunteer?", " Take more on?" and on and on it goes.

Now, there are two things I suspect about this restlessness:
1. The longer I sit in this house, life and mother/wife space that I have and concentrate on it and on the people inside it, the better off we all are. And so the less energy I focus on this elusive, fantastical and probably non-existent 'better offer' of a life, house, job, plan the better our real lives get.

2. This craving of change is just a manifestation of my own sense of inadequacy. The niggling background noise of 'I am not enough'. My life is not enough. Or in the words that the luthier and I often (probably) misquote, as said via the magic that is beat poetry in Dead Poets Society "you gotta do more, you gotta be more!"

The truth is that I am now old and ugly enough to consider that number two is a lie. Me and my life could be enough. I am a mother and wife. It is my passion.

The truth is that I know what I want. I basically want what I have. To allow a sense of inadequacy to undermine my appreciation of it, is to degrade all of us connected with it. Why do I criticise it and so sell short myself and my family? I should be boasting about how bloody great it is and how great they are. I fear I have succumbed to the fashion for self-deprecation, for "I am not good enough", which seems quite the mode de jour for mothers this season.

So perhaps I could aspire to relinquish the restlessness.

To aspire to control my distractable nature and direct my attention to the mostly smiling and sometimes whining faces and hearts of the loves of my life, unmarred by the discomfort of feeling inadequate.

To aspire to sing out loud the love for the life that I have right now.
To sit still in it. Where I am.
It is enough.
In fact, its a beauty.