Friday, 10 May 2013

This is for you Mum, on Mother's Day!

When I think of Mum, I first think of her smile, the gentle way she moves, her grace and her deep intelligence.

I remember the way she would light up in a group of children and the way she would pour hours of time preparing amazing lessons for them to learn with passion and commitment to the task. It was clear how this paid off in the way many students thought she was the world, which to me, of course, she was.

Dressed in tracksuit pants or a pair of old jeans, she would bring in a tray of veggies from the garden and look amazingly beautiful, without a trace of make-up to be seen on her skin.

Bedtimes were heaven. Mum always tucked me in and my bedclothes were crispy clean, washed and dried and tucked in tight around the mattress.  

I was a sooky child at times, but Mum understood me. She even let me suck my thumb for as long as I needed, despite it being a terrible habit. She knew I had an ear for music and bought me a piano. Heaven! Then she paid for lessons and found the best piano teacher in the world, letting me learn for as long as I wanted. She even encouraged me to join the brass band and put up with the early learning noises as well as following the band for years.

Mum encouraged to explore my creative side, letting me play how I wanted to play, making cubbies and emus in the bush, acting out competitions on the trampoline, creating games and stories and role-plays, mixing endless potions and making mud-pies and pasting magazine pictures all over my walls as a teenager, never mind the endless paper-maiche models, journals and notes and the sewing of numerous scraps of fabric, they were just the tip of the ice-berg!

Surrounded by books and interesting conversation, Mum inspired me to be successful academically, always celebrating my achievements at school. She’s a great cook, too, my Mum. Especially memorable were the zucchini cakes she made one year from the masses of zucchinis she grew in her garden. They were sweet, moist and never-ending, it seemed, like the magic pudding. My mouth still waters at the thought.

She is a patient woman, proven by her endurance of my whinging as a child and her ability to encourage me to get my head out of a book occasionally and ride my bike, one of the few exercises I enjoyed. I went from the back of my sister’s three wheeler trike as a toddler to my own trike, to decorated bikes in the Dahlia and Arts Festival, to riding from Sydney to Wollongong as a family on my yellow beast to eventually completing the Great Victoria Bike Ride when I was 19, riding from Stawell to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road. I still love my bike!

Mum didn’t push me to be anything I wasn’t, but quietly encouraged me in what I was.

She even taught me what it meant to love a pet. She showed me how much she loved our dog, Happy, when he died after being bitten by a snake in the bush and she was grief-stricken. I was sad too but her depth of grief taught me a lot and prepared me for what I might experience when my own pets would die, years later. She taught me about forgiveness when she allowed our Labrador, Bill, to avoid a death-sentence after he attacked me, trusting me when I begged her not to have him put down. He ended up being the best dog ever, too.

Studying primary teaching as an adult, Mum trusted me to read her uni notes even though I had no idea what they meant, giving me confidence that I could read big words … really big words!

I had the freedom to be friends with whoever I wanted and she always made them welcome. Later, she accepted and loved the men I chose to share my life and she still treats both of them with respect. She adjusted to being a Grandmother (quite a young one too) with grace, always expressing her love to her three grandchildren who love her like crazy in return.

What an amazing woman you are Mum. I love you so much. Happy Mother’s Day!


Sue xxx

For a great Mother's Day Present, you can download 'Short Stories on Motherhood' for free this weekend only on Amazon kindle!


Saturday, 4 May 2013

Build your life around what you love!

'Building your life around what you love is something you’ll never regret' says Marie Forleo on the Positively Positive blog and she goes on to expand, 'It’s your passion for what you do that will give you the drive, commitment, and energy necessary to create any amount of success and fulfilment you desire, and you’ll have an extraordinary time while you do it.' (see link for reference)  This is a great article and worth a read and it really got me thinking about what I am doing right at this moment in my life, in my lead up to turning forty.

Looking back over some of my older posts I remembered writing about my daughter and her star-fish hairstyle. Boy it's been a crazy journey since then, a journey which has changed me in so many ways and made me realise how much I really judged people by their appearance. The battle with school continued as she found many more ways to rebel against the expected dress code. I'm talking hair in as many shades of red as can be dyed, hair shaved and shaped, piercings in the side of the nose, the inside of the nose, the lip and a stretcher in the ear. Not just a little stretcher either, but a giant, plate sized stretcher, not something that is easily missed. The complaints from other parents, the looks from passers-by, because she really was starting to look, how do i say it, 'different!'

Calls from school, an unhappy daughter, family dysfunction, you name it, it was all going on. Then finally, I had enough of the calls from teachers to come and discuss the appearance issues once again and I decided it was time to pull the plug. 'You're just going to keep challenging the school with your appearance because you don't want to be there, aren't you?' I asked and the answer was a resounding 'yes'. This was going to require some big changes of my own life, too. She was going to need me home more. It was time to talk about going part time ... which would also free up a couple of days for me to concentrate on my writing. It was time to give her space to do what she was being called to do, and it was going to go against every brain cell inside my skull that was lecturing 'she should finish school in the traditional manner'. Once I let go of those little self-righteous voices, suddenly the tides of circumstance appeared to have been released. There were a few leads and following these up led to my daughter being offered a place in a certificate of visual arts at the local TAFE college.

On the first day there, I watched her reaction, the expression in her eyes behind the mask of make-up and the strands of rainbow coloured extensions. It was like a fire had suddenly entered her soul. From the moment we walked past the red-brick walls, past the sculptures in the middle of the buildings and into the classrooms, where student desks were set up with easels and sketches and art materials, I knew beyond doubt that my daughter was where she was meant to be . As I signed the papers I felt the excitement emanating from her and as I drove away, leaving her happily ensconced in her new class I was actually crying tears of happiness. I felt I had been part of something momentous, part of something so much bigger than me. Watching and feeling my daughter being freed to follow her passion. Now that is a moment to treasure.