Tag Archives: kids

20 for 2020: week 29

Week of 13 July

My 20 for 2020 list.

After a week off that I really needed, it was back to work this week. Kramstable was still on school holidays. I’m glad that he’s able to do his own thing for most of the time now, so there is no longer this crazy juggle of work hours, annual leave, vacation care and other family members every 10 weeks or so to make sure he is suitably supervised in the holidays. Sometimes it used to feel like if we weren’t in school holidays, I was planning for the next set. There are some things I don’t miss about having a younger child, and that is right up there near the top of the list!

I had a lovely day out with Kramstable, my mother and Slabs on Wednesday. This included us taking him to an activity that my mother had been doing with him in school holidays since he was about six, but she needs someone to drive there now as she doesn’t drive any more.

Kramstable also needed some help with filming some scenes in the city for a project he’s working on. As I stood in the middle of a public street watching his camera and tripod while he made the shots of himself he needed, it occurred to me that first, unlike me, he had no reservations whatsoever about setting up his gear in public and paid no attention to the people wandering past looking at him. Second, I felt a whole lot less self-conscious being with him than I do when I try and set up my camera on a tripod in the street. I think there’s a lesson or two in there somewhere.

My uni program (thing 8) sent through the learning guide for the next module (the last one!) and I printed it off so I can flick through it before the module starts. For the final module, we have to do a workplace project that applies some of the things we’ve learned throughout the course to an actual work situation, so I’ve started to give that some thought and to talk to a few people about what I might do.

20200719 Writing in the coffee shop

Sunday morning coffee shop writing

 

I proved yet again to myself that I am perfectly capable of focusing on work for long periods if I set things up properly and know exactly what I need to be doing. On Friday, after spending most of the week catching up on what was going on and following up all the mundane things that seem to form the bulk of my job at the moment, I turned off my email and teams chat, set my status as “do not disturb”, put on an out of office message that said I was busy, and sat down for four hours to work on the project I had wanted to finish before I went on leave. It was brilliant! I got so much done and ended up with it being at the point where I was actually comfortable to send it to other people for their input.

This is how I work best. This is how I get things done, and it feels so satisfying to have done this work. My next step is to figure out how to bring more of this type of experience into my work day and try to minimise the time I spend in “reactive mode”. This is a work in progress and I’m going to keep tweaking and refining what I do to find a system that works.

On Wednesday, I went to the garden centre to get a new pot for my sadly neglected indoor plant. While I was at the counter, I asked the guy what I needed to do to repot my orchid (thing 20). Well, I asked him after a couple of attempts at trying to speak to him while he was checking out my other items and ignoring me while he spoke to the customer at the other check out about golf. It turns out they didn’t have what I needed anyway so I have no problem with not going back there to get it. If they aren’t interested in helping me because golf is more important to them, I’m not interested in giving them my business. I went to another garden centre on Saturday, got what I needed and repotted the orchid. Thing done.

I spent some time on the weekend sorting and editing photos from the 2019 Open House Hobart weekend that was held in November. I had been posting my photos on my (other) blog, fell a bit behind and never really caught up. Now I’m up to date. Eight months late, but it’s done. (Check them out here. You know you want to!!)

20191110 OHH-384 Dorney House-Edit

Esmond Dorney House, one of the fabulous buildings open on the 2019 Open House weekend

It felt good working on my photos again and I really want to be doing this every day (and getting stuck into thing 7, the Photoshop class). Finding a consistent time every day that I can do it is what’s proving challenging at the moment. But hey, four days a week is better than three days last week, is better than no days!

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 1 (20)
  • Things completed to date: 11 (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20)
  • Things I progressed: 1 (8)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (7, 11, 13, 17, 22)
  • Things not started: 5 (2, 9, 12, 19, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit: 4
  • Days I read a book: 6
  • Days I did yoga stretches: 4
  • Days I was in bed by 10.30: None. Most days I’ve been close to 10.30 but I’m doing that thing where I’m quietly packing up later and later and edging my bedtime closer and closer to 11.00, a bit like the dog gradually edging itself off its mat closer and closer to the fire so no one notices until it’s taking up the entire floor space and not a single part of it is on the mat.

Spreading our wings

Until this year, I had taken Kramstable in to school every day that I went to work. In his early days at school, I’d stay until the bell went and we’d read stories, look at work he’d been doing, and talk to his classmates, their parents and his teacher.

As the years passed, the time I stayed with him decreased, until by the end of last year I was seeing him to the door of his classroom, and he’d be off. I think by Grade 4, I was one of not many parents who would actually go into the school with their child, but I really liked it. I liked seeing his classroom, looking at what he’d been doing, and catching up with his teacher.

But it was time for a change, and at the end of last year Kramstable said he didn’t want me to come with him to school any more. I knew this was coming, because most of the other kids weren’t being walked into school, but I still felt I like I was losing something that had been a big part of my life for six years.

He said I could walk him to the school gate, so that was OK; I’d still have a chance to go in if I needed to, but I had a feeling that as this year moved on, his drop-off point would get further and further away.

It did, but it happened so suddenly – only two weeks into term – that I’d not had time to recover from not going in with him, before he asked me to leave him at the end of the street.

Ok. That was unexpected.

And last week we’re walking from the bus stop, and we get to the place where Slabs had dropped Kramstable off the day before.

He says, “I got dropped off here yesterday. Bye.”
That’s even more unexpected. I say, “I think I’ll walk with you a bit further.”
We walk on a bit to the next intersection, him skipping ahead as always. We stop and look for cars. I say, “Don’t you want to be seen with me?”
“No,” he says, and starts to cross the road. “Bye.”
“See you this afternoon,” I say, feeling incredibly sad, but also slightly amused.
I watch him cross the road safely, and he’s on his way.
“Bye,” I say to myself.

I know that he has to become independent. I know it’s my job to equip him so that he does become independent. I know I’m not going to walk him to school forever. I’ve always known this, but it’s never been real until now.

Of course he’s not going to want to be around me forever. He’s growing up and, as he grows, he’ll need me less intensely than he has done. And that’s the way it has to be; the same way I needed my mother less as I grew up; the same way every child does.

But he’s been the main focus of my life for so long – over ten years – and it’s hard to accept that this is changing, and changing fast. He has depended on me, and I’ve given as much of myself to him as I’ve had to give.

I feel like I’m bonded to him in a way I can’t imagine being bonded to any other person, because he’s my son. He has made me laugh, made me cry, made me so very grateful and feel so very blessed. I can’t imagine life without him.

It strikes me now as I’m writing this that I’ve spent his whole life making him ready for when he’ll be able to leave me and make his own way in the world, but that I’ve done nothing to make myself ready. It’s a minor thing, leaving him to walk a bit further to school. It’s such a small thing, but it symbolises so much more than that. I wasn’t prepared for how much this would hurt.

The worst thing in the world would be for me to be clingy and to deny him the freedom he needs. To try and stifle his growing independence. He needs to grow his own wings and fly. And while I’m so proud of the young man he is becoming and I love watching him learn and grow, I am also feeling deeply, intensely, painfully his gradual transformation away from the boy he has been. The boy that called me “Mummy”, the boy that would always hold my hand, the boy that was happy for me to come into school so he could show me what he’d been working on.

I cannot, will not deny myself this pain. I acknowledge it. It is real. I accept it as part of the transformation that I too must go through over the next phase of his life from being his provider and his care-giver into a role of adviser, supporter and (I hope) positive role model. Perhaps it hurts so much because it’s such a slow transition that will continue over many years to come. I can’t just rip the bandaid off and have a fully functioning adult before my eyes. I wouldn’t want to be able to do that. We have a wonderful journey still ahead of us.

He’ll still need me, even if he thinks he doesn’t. I treasure every moment he wants to involve me in what he’s doing, perhaps even more so now than when he was younger, because there are fewer of those moments these days, so they start to mean more.

And it occurs to me that, while he is still the centre of my universe, his decreasing reliance on me gives me my own freedom to focus on becoming the person I want to be outside of being “Mum”. So while this awareness doesn’t lessen the pain I feel, at the same time it inspires me and fills me with enthusiasm for how I might create my own future. In loosening the apron strings, I’m making room for my own wings to grow.

As I’m trying to figure out how to end this post without rambling on uncontrollably, I scroll through Twitter. This quote from Maya Angelou appears in my feed:

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty”.

It seems highly relevant right now. The destruction of the old, the massive upheaval and transformation, and the eventual recreation into something new and beautiful.

2011 FOLIO 19 Butterfly

Even though there’s no actual end to this transformation – Kramstable won’t wake up one morning and be a butterfly, any more than I will – this quote still rings true in relation to the changes I’m going through. People say that it’s heartbreaking and difficult to let go, but it’s hard to convey to someone else how much it hurts until they experience it for themselves.

I’ve laughed and made jokes about how this has affected me, and have tried to carry on. I think that mostly we’re expected to accept this type of change, because our job is to prepare our children for the “real world”. There isn’t anything in the job description about taking time to reflect on different stages as our children move through them and to acknowledge how we feel.

I know it’s part of the job, but I’m not an automaton, I’m not a position number. I’m a person, I have feelings, and the process of letting go is upsetting me.

I think there’s value in acknowledging any kind of transition like this, rather just sucking it up and pretending we’re ok when we aren’t. This is the first time I’ve sat down and acknowledged how I really feel about it, and I’ve been surprised to find out how much it’s deeply affecting me.

It’s not the first time that a transformation has been painful, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. But I’m ok with this. I’m grateful to have had an experience in my life that has meant so much to me, that moving on from it hurts this much.

Walk In Her Shoes – Day 7

Well, this is it – the end of a journey that started back in January when I signed up to do CARE Australia’s Walk In Her Shoes Challenge for the second year.

Since then I’ve been gradually increasing my daily step goal from 13,000 in January to 25,000 for the week of the challenge. I originally set a daily goal of 20,000 steps, but I really wanted to beat my 2014 step total over the week of 183,214 steps. So to do that I’d have to do just over 26,000 steps a day.

My other goals were to beat my longest walk from last year of 12.21 km. Then I said bugger it, I want to walk 15 km. And we know what happened there. My other goal was to walk 6 km in less than an hour.

Today was Day 7 of the challenge, and I’m happy to say I walked at least 25,000 steps every day. I’ll know my final total tomorrow, but I feel confident I’ve eclipsed that 183,214 target. And I achieved my other two goals as well. *Happy dance*

So instead of going on about steps and stats (I’ll do that tomorrow), today I thought I’d post some photos from my walk this morning. After about an hour I got sick of Runkeeper and turned it off. I just wandered around, taking photos. I even ran for a bit because I think I miss running.

I walked up the same street three times trying to get a decent shot of the sunrise.

20150322 WIHS Day 7 05 Sunrise

Autumn is in the air, but it was hard to find a scene that would prove it.

20150322 WIHS Day 7 09 Autumn

We have mist.

20150322 WIHS Day 7 11 Mist

The river looks beautiful with the mist.

20150322 WIHS Day 7 13 Derwent

Then we get to the top of the hill.

20150322 WIHS Day 7 14 Mist

And we get a great view from here.

20150322 WIHS Day 7 15 Derwent

Both ways, up and down the river.

20150322 WIHS Day 7 17 Derwent

I love this one from the Esplanade. The three dots in the middle of the picture are ducks I didn’t even realise were there until they flew past me.

20150322 WIHS Day 7 18 Derwent

I tried to get a decent photo of this spider’s web, but it didn’t quite work out. The phone camera does have its limits.

20150322 WIHS Day 7 22 Derwent

Finally, I’m sure you want to know which leggings I was wearing today to round out my week of leggings.

20150322 WIHS Day 7 23 Leggings

It’s been a great journey, and I felt really happy this evening when Juniordwarf said he’d donate $20 of his savings to my fundraising. I didn’t want to pressure him, but just explained what I’d been doing and why. He said he wanted to help the people that CARE helps, and said he’d contribute. It was a lovely moment.

Tomorrow I’ll be getting up early to go for a walk because I don’t want to break the habits I’ve been building up over the last two months, but I can guarantee I won’t be doing anything near 25,000 steps.

My fundraising page is here if you’d like to contribute, and I’ll be doing a final post next week on my total step count and my thoughts about taking part in the challenge this year. There might also be a report on what Zoe’s been doing, since she seems to have abandoned me!

 

 

 

 

 

And so another school year begins

Today Juniordwarf started Grade 3.

I don’t know about anyone else who has kids, but these holidays seemed to fly by. Yet even though the holidays have zoomed past us, last year (when we were wishing his Grade 2 teacher all the best for her retirement) seems like a lifetime ago.

Time’s a funny thing. Something can go past in the blink of an eye, yet seem like it started foreverago.

When I was Juniodwarf’s age the summer holidays seemed to drag on and on, and I’d get incredibly bored. Yes, in those days the summer holidays were longer than they are now we’ve got a 4-term system but, even so, the holidays seemed to last forever.

I expect my mother, at home with 2 kids, felt the same way.

And I don’t know if I’d been at home with him the entire time if I’d feel the same way about these holidays too. But I wasn’t. I spent most of January at work, with a few days here and there for our little getaways and then towards the end, I took some time off to spend with Juniordwarf.

He never seemed bored while I was with him, but leading up to school going back he started to get excited about going back. He was especially excited about seeing his friends.

Even if there were periods when he got bored, he never seemed to experience that excruciating, neverending boredom that I remember from my childhood.

Yesterday I told him he was my big Grade 3 boy, and he told me seriously he wasn’t a Grade 3. Not yet. Not until tomorrow. Until then I’m Grade Zero. I’m not in a grade yet.

OK. If you insist. Who am I to argue?

I guess I got a bit sentimental last night.

He’s now been at school for 4 of his 8 years. Half his life. This year is the start of his ‘big kid’ years at primary school. His classroom is in the main building. He’ll have his first taste of the NAPLAN tests. He’s not a little kid any more.

I remembered back to just before he started school in 2011. How distressed I’d been about putting him into this system we call education. (I wrote a post about it here.)

This time wasn’t like that. This time was more reflective and wondering.

I watched him sleeping last night and I thought I could see, in the dark, with my crap eyesight, a glimpse of what he’d look like when he was a lot older.

Sleep is honest. It shows you things you don’t see when people are awake.

When my father was ill and Juniordwarf was a small baby, I can remember looking in at my sleeping father and thinking how much like a sleeping baby, how like Juniordwarf, he looked. So peaceful.

The same feelings came back to me last night. I could see, if it wasn’t a trick of the light, the young man he is going to become.

And I wondered . . . Is this the year?

Is this the year he leaves behind some of his treasured playthings and companions?

Is this the year he stops wearing his exotic headwear?

Is this the year he tells me not to come into school with him?

Is this the year he doesn’t want to hold my hand any more?

Is this the year?

I don’t know. A part of me doesn’t want any of this to happen. I love who he is right now and I love the things he does, the things he wears and his assortment of companions, real and imaginary.

But I know that, just like he’s moved on from Ben & Holly, he will – when he’s ready – move on and grow up. He’ll find new interests, new things to delight and amuse me with, and new people to be with. Eventually he won’t want me around as much (or ever).

None of this might happen this year (I hope it doesn’t) but, even though I know it has to happen, it’s going to be hard to cope with.

Perhaps one reason for feeling like this is that every first for me is a last as well.

With only one child, every first wobbly tooth will be the last first wobbly tooth. Every first day at school will be the last first day at school. When he grows out of something, there won’t be anyone else to love it, play with it or do it any more.

And so I tell myself to make the most of the moments I have because I won’t have these chances again. So at the times I’m with him*, I’m trying to fully enjoy the quirky things he does – even the ones that are annoying (remember Ben & Holly?) – to be present and engaged, to observe when he’s entertaining himself and to participate when he needs me.

I owe it to him, and I owe it to me.

 

 

* Opens discussion about boundaries and me-time, which don’t quite fit here!