Today I am having one of those days. The one where washing is piled, carpet waits to be vacuumed, surfaces need dusting. Instead I have been pinning, reading, and applying nail polish.
Today is an it’ll wait day.
Because it will.
The washing is done. It’s dry. It’s not folded or put away. It’ll wait.
The floor is not beyond dirty. On the weekend a child, or an adult will vacuum.
The dust is a fine layer. No one will write their name in it. There is no white glove test. On the weekend someone will grab a cloth, dampen it with water, dab some essential oil on it and dust. It’ll wait.
I am tired. Monday was a long day.
The weekend was full.
My legs ache and my head does too.
There is homework and work. Sunlight hours are precious as we edge towards winter.
It’ll wait. The non-essential things.
Today is a have another cup of tea day. The rest, it’ll wait.
Turns out I am perhaps the world’s worst dance mom. I have an accomplice though in the Husband, he’s not all that great a dance mom either.
Recently The Green Eyed Girl was part of a school dance troupe for a local competition. This was our first foray into the dance world. We have up until now escaped. There may have been a reason for this. A very good one.
Being the weekend we were having a slow kind of day. So, it was no surprise that when it was time to leave, there had been no thoughts about food. Not to worry, how long could this thing go for? That right there? That was the first inkling we were novices.
The second inkling was when all the other performers turned up with bags. Because they’d need somewhere for their regular clothes to go while they were in costume. Luckily someone had a spare supermarket bag for our child.
There had been some forethought into the evening. We had one bag of fantails. For three people. For four hours. We managed to purchase a bottle of water and 2 bags of salt and vinegar chips while there. I managed to pass our daughter 3 fantails, as she had to sit in the performers area. So, she was well sustained for her dance.
By the time the dancing started my thoughts had turned to gin. The fantails were all but gone and Hubby and I were calculating how long each dance on the programme would go for; how long between each dance and added ten minutes for interval. The horror when we realised how long the evening would be was written all over our faces.
Turns out interval was twenty minutes. Plus an extra five for good luck.
Audience members treated the event like some kind of über competitive sport in its own right. Yelling out, cheering and clapping with such ferocity I needed to hold Hubby’s hand. The MC even had to remind the crowd to only cheer before the dances, but not during. Tennis crowds had nothing on this lot.
As for recording the evening, we had a camera. On my phone. So we have some blurry shots and think we can make out our child. Kind of hard among a troupe of children, identically dressed, at least half of which have brunette hair in high ponytails.
You’d think that having been parents for 14 years now we’d have things sorted. We’d be organised. We’d have water bottles from home. Spare jumpers. Tissues. That kind of thing. But we don’t.
Turns out we were not alone. We saw at least two other families in the nearest burger joint at 10.30pm having their post dance fair evening meal.
As for the dancing itself, the troupe our daughter was part of won, also receiving a special award for most entertaining. Celebrating with a giant burger and fries late at night may have been less than stellar, but that’s just how this family rolls.
Are you organised? Or like me, just roll with the burgers and late night fries?
There has been a shift. Another one to be exact. As is the way with parenting, with family life, as soon as you get used to something, change rears its head.
Where do you draw the line between privacy and a personal blog when children keep on growing? When they are less wanting to be in the posts. When their lives are less centred around myself and their father. Friends, school, becoming who they are – all things that I see, am part of, but have no right to share on the pages of a blog.
What to write when a large part of life is not for the sharing. How to write without giving away details of other people? Vague blogging. There is a trick to it. An art to the writing of words that say so much, while not giving away specifics. For now though I am at a loss. There seems to be much to say, with no clear way to say it.
Some days it is not so much what is written as the spaces in between the words. In what is not said more than what is. In the lack of posts. Or, sometimes in the flurry of them, all saying very little other than here I am to fill the empty space.
Autumn has come to the hills. Our road is covered with leaves that soften the black tar edges. Perhaps I should write about that. Or how I love the ritual of cleaning and polishing school shoes for the kids of a morning. Something I remember my own Dad doing for my sisters and me. Or how I miss running with a less than cooperative knee prohibiting it for now.
Perhaps I should just say nothing.
There is an art to vague blogging. A trick to it. Perhaps I will learn it. Or perhaps I’ll keep writing about the leaves on the road, and my love of clean shoes in the morning.
The photo above is one I took during winter at our old house. Planted at the base of Mount Wellington, Hobart. The photo has meant many things to me over the years.
In my facebook feed recently I saw an image of a house with a perennial border. It was beautiful. If you had asked me eight years ago where I’d be now, I’d have answered easily. Living in the house Hubby and I bought. Renovations would be completed. I would have tamed the garden beds into something resembling the image I saw on facebook.
My kids would be in the school of our choice, with friends they had made in kindergarten, if not earlier. Life would be grand.
Life is grand. Just not in the way I pictured it. And that is ok. I often think about what would have happened if Hubby had not accepted that job interstate. If we had not sold up and moved. Who knows is the only answer.
What I do know though, is that while I don’t have a well loved perennial border, I do have a life of my own making. One that I am not all that sure would have happened if I’d stayed inside the comfort zone of a well known town and friends.
I doubt this blog would have started. I doubt I’d be on twitter. Or instagram. I certainly would not have made the friends I value so much now.
Even a few years ago I wished for that house, that garden. But not that life. It’s not that I don’t miss family and friends. I do. But I also know that if I’d stayed, I would not be who I am today.
The twists and turns. The deviations along the way. That’s what life is about. And I for one am glad to still be on the path unknown.
Some days things get the better of me. Usually just about the time I take a moment to stop and think, well isn’t everything going well. Murphy’s Law 101. There have been times when my answer to anything remotely hard is an overwhelming urge to bury my head in the sand.
As life would have it, this is never really the wisest of solutions. As much as hiding away would be the quickest and easiest solution, it’s not going to get anything sorted. So, onwards it is.
This is why I was up at a somewhat early hour yesterday morning tackling an issue. It is why I made a flurry of notes, researched, found old notes and texted some people with an SOS. It is why by 10am I had six hand written pages, about as many tabs open and a cold cup of tea.
It is also why that afternoon I had time to bake. Anzac biscuits and another batch of bread. The problem had not gone away. Rarely, if ever are things so easy to solve. But I am underway. I have information, resources and a way forward.
I have some space in my head for other things. My shoulders are not as high and tense. My neck, not so achey. There is a way to go, but for now, there is a plan. So while I mull over ideas, think on what has been planned and where to go now, I medicate with the simple movements of mixing and stirring, forming and baking.
Things are rarely all going well, but there is always time for baking.
Confession. Sometimes I’m not so sure about the whole going grey.
Partly it is me being impatient. I’d prefer a whole head of silver than salt and pepper. Mostly it is me realising I am fast approaching 42 and am afraid of becoming invisible.
Confession number two – I am vain.
I have always obsessed over clothes and how I look in them. I will climb on a bench in a bathroom to see what my bum looks like in jeans. I spend time and effort on makeup and what to wear. I like that there have been times I have turned heads. I spend more than a reasonable amount of time in front of mirrors. Self confidence is tied to feeling good about ourselves. I work hard at that. Often, but not always, feeling good for me is tied to how I look. This is me, in all my vain honesty.
I know there are exceptions to the rule of ageing and invisibility. I wonder though how much people such as Dame Judy Dench like being referred to as amazing or brave because of their natural ageing. I am not an exception, but I still do not want to fade to invisibility. Nor do I want to be told I am brave for my choices.
Recently while in one of those retail stores with too loud music, the young girl behind the counter over enthusiastically told me she LOVED my hair. I know she meant well, but the tone was condescending in a way that assumed I needed a young person’s validation for being older with an undercut. Good on YOU! she exclaimed. I smiled, paid and left, wondering if being invisible would maybe be preferable to being spoken to in that way.
I am more than happy to not be in my twenties or thirties anymore. So why then am I so unsure at times about the grey hair?
Partly I think it is word association. I read this post on The Rhythm Method recently by Gillian Harrison. A reference was made to Sarah Harris, director of fashion features at British Vogue. Sarah Harris makes a distinction between grey and silver, saying grey has negative connotations. I agree. Silver seems a much better word. I think I may claim it as well.
Part of my feeling unsure is tied to ageing. No doubt. But I know too that for me, colouring of my hair was just as much about ageing. It was also ageing me. With age comes not only a change in hair colour, but skin tone too. As a dark brunette, even so called natural hair colours have an affect on the way my skin looked.
Perhaps though being vain could be good. Admittedly not all the time. But I am not all the time. (Google hard enough and you may find photos of me in running events. There is nothing glamorous about a photo 19 kilometres into a half marathon let me tell you.)
For me, having silver hair is not about letting go. I think that is part of the problem with the way having grey hair is perceived. The misconception that the owner of the locks has decided to let go of vanity. I have not. I doubt I ever will. Iris Apfel I am not, but I do think there is something to be said for maintaining personal style.
I know if I wanted I could colour my hair again. But then what? Endless trips to the hair salon, time and a fair whack of my pay going to the upkeep. I do not want to colour it again. I just need a little time to get used to looking in the mirror and seeing silver being reflected back.
I will get there. It will take time. Like all things do.
Going grey, or, as it will now be referred to, the getting of silver, is something we all face. For some it is sooner than others. For me it is about vanity. The keeping of it. My hair colour is changing, I am ageing, but I am still here. I shall have to learn to wait. Perhaps that’s the thing about silver hair. It comes with patience. Maybe I shall learn about that along the way.
Sometimes I think about what I have achieved with my 41 and a bit years on this earth. Most days I think I’ve done alright. There is the all slippery first draft manuscript I wrestle with. But really, I don’t have all that much to complain about.
As I get older there are some things I am a complete grump about. Rudeness. People taking up the whole footpath and not giving way to anyone coming from the opposite direction. Drivers who don’t apply the zipper rule when merging. Those who think they are more important than any other commuter, refusing to merge when lanes ahead are closed. Super loud (and usually really bad) music in certain clothing stores. Being called love, doll, hun, by anyone in retail.
There are other things though that I remain stubbornly (cough) young about. Like music.
It’s not so much that I refuse to grow up, the grey hair, a lined face and teenage children make sure of that. It’s just that as much as I love music from my youth, that of my parent’s and their parent’s before them, I also love the new.
There are days when the banter of twenty-somethings on radio is too much for me, but the music keeps me coming back. Sometimes a song catches my attention and makes me go into an almost craze of I must have it.
Recently that song has been Royals by Lorde. The singer/song writer behind it is 16. I am a little in awe of someone forging her own way at such a young age.
Her EP is on high rotation here, and helping me get home on the increasingly dark evening commutes.
Lorde can be found here. Tell me, musically speaking, do you like the old stuff, the new stuff, or all sorts of stuff?
It is no secret I love nail polish. Currently my favourites are dark blue and grey (sorry Mum.) Each time holidays roll around one of the first things I do is apply my most recent favourite shade. I am careful. I take my time. There is even a timer involved between coats. When the top coat has been applied and dried, I sit for a while admiring my new nails.
As the days go by I wonder in awe at the staying power of the carefully applied polish. I obsess over tiny chips. I think about new colours. I remove and reapply. Frivolous yes. Enjoyable, definitely.
Before long the holidays come to an end and back to work I go. This is where things start to go wrong. Well, from a nail polish wearing perspective anyway. While part of my time is spent in an office, planning, assessing, filing, most of my working day is with a group of twenty five fantastic four and five year olds.
There is sand. There are sticks, stones, pinecones and shells. There is mud. Not to mention paint, play dough, clay, blocks, bikes, and any manner of items that are not all that nail polish friendly.
I know. Get a real problem.
At the beginning of each term I bravely arrive at work, nail polish intact. By the end of day one, it is in tatters. One may think that after all these years I’d be wise and just not apply said Midnight Blue, or French Quarter For Your Thoughts Grey (the name alone is reason enough to own said polish.) But I am not.
I live in eternal hope that one day my lovely nails will stay the colour I have painted them for at least eight whole hours. I am the eternal optimist.
Tell me, are you a nail polish lover?
*this is not a sponsored post. I just like nail polish. A lot.
It would seem that despite my best efforts to the contrary I am someone who likes routine. I try my best to be all let’s just go with it, but for me it just doesn’t work. More to the point, it doesn’t work for my family.
There have been some problems on the home front. Nothing major, but exhausting and emotionally draining all the same. Two schools to contend with, homework, parents working, trying to keep the house in some sort of order is hard work. For all of us.
As is the case for (what I would say) most families, things began to slip. Routines, rules (how I despise that word) and ways of doing things that work slid away as term one wore on and outside circumstances took their toll.
So, on the final day of the holidays we did something not done before. And as much as I don’t like the idea; as much as it goes against my wont to not conform, not be the typical poster family personified, we had a family meeting with our evening meal. We even called it that. Hubby and I swallowed our pride and got on with parenting in a way we thought we never would.
Routines were re-established and written down. A menu plan was made. On our weekly planner we wrote in homework, free time, and the things that needed doing to keep the house going. We added in a movie night and another movie afternoon. Something we always used to do, but let slip. Then we talked about why these things were happening. Why there would be no screen time (for any of us) between after school and tea. We put a stamp back on the importance of reading, drawing, chatting. On walking the dog, going for a run with me or a bike ride with Dad. We acknowledged the importance of downtime; time spent chatting online with friends, talking into headsets and gaming with mates. But that there is more to who we all are than our online connections.
I am a realist. I know what kind of world we all live in. I am more than happy for my kids to have time online with their friends. Friends they see face to face as well. But I know too that we all need to take a step back sometime. That family, that school work, that house work are all things that need to be done, like it or not. I know that setting boundaries is easy, but keeping them up is hard. I know that at times we all need to bend the rules, but it needs to be the exception, not the norm.
So, we are in routine lockdown. There are plans, set times, and lists of meals. It is not where I thought we would be as a family, but then life is not always what you think it will be. There are boundaries, not so much to keep anyone in, but as a protective buffer. A safety net to fall back on when life throws challenges. Which is does. Always.
It has only been this week. I know it is hard to tell long term. But for now things are working. It would seem that this mother who didn’t wan’t to be like all the rest, is. Maybe more so than she thought. But that is OK too. There is calm in our house this week. There is cooperation. But most of all there is happiness. Who could ask for more?
There is something to be said for the quiet mixing of ingredients for birthday cakes. Something soothing in the closeness of bent heads while choosing the one.
There is love, in all its schmaltzy glory, stirred into every layer. Be it mother for child, or wife to husband.
Between the beginning of March and the middle of April there are three birthdays in our house. All but mine are this time of year. As the years have passed I have come to love the making of the cakes.
When children were younger, work was full time and sleep was in short supply it was not as pleasant. There were many disasters. A blue banana cake. A melted horse paddock, plastic ponies sinking into the green icing like quicksand.
But now, as children become older, I look forward to the ritual of choosing, making, assembling and ultimately eating the cake. I am not suggesting we should all strive for the perfect cake on the perfect day. I am a realist, and time is not always on my side. But there is comfort in the doing. Beauty in the making and love in the layering.
Sentimental it may be. But making a cake for those I love, adorning it with candles and singing badly before it is cut and shared; there is greatness in it. Not the greatness of legend, but the quiet greatness of family and friends. The untold greatness of home.
And in the words of Donkey… cakes! Everybody likes Cakes!
1. Crêpe, Cointreau and chocolate ganache layer cake.