Surprise! I'm a single parent

October 23, 2010, 2:25 pm
Filed under: environment

Years ago I spent a day with my youngest digging over a new patch of ground. We added compost and manure and then we planted a combination of herbs and veges and flowers. She was keen on the flowers. From then on we always referred to it as her garden.  If I was going out to get lettuce or chives I’d announce I was getting it from her garden.

I bet you think I’m going to say she became a keen gardener? Unfortunately no. But she can find her way through teh whole vege garden and gather the things I want. The surprising result however is that i have become a gardener – not a hugely successful one but I can always get greens out of the back yard for dinner: broccoli, silverbeet (so easy), several varieties of lettuce,  potatoes (super easy!), peas, beans, broad beans, rhubarb, apples (takes years!).

I’ve discovered small patches are the way to go for me.

There is a simple and enduring pleasure I get from seeing things grow and mature – a concentrated form of the pleasure of seeing my children grow. Unlike children its pretty easy to control the conditions and get optimal results!  Having a garden is about being in touch with the earth, its a tangible and positive product. It is me who sneaks out to the back yard and eats peas straight from the pod. I guess my kids will remember that we grew things and it will be an option for them when they grow up. That’s what it’s about isn’t it? Making sure they have a wide range of options…

the odds were in my favour from the start
October 15, 2010, 4:01 pm
Filed under: community

Not long after I split with my hubby I got asked to do some volunteer work working alongside prisoners. I thought I just wouldn’t have the time but the organiser kept bugging me and I thought it might be good to put soemting in to an area that doesn’t get a lot of attention. Besides I have been volunteering all my life and I’d dropped off since my youngest had gone to school and I was no longer on any creche committees.

I don’t know if I’ve had any long term effect on any prisoners lives but I sure have had the opportunity to contrast my life with theirs. Let me tell you – the odds were really in my favour right from the word go. Over and over again I have heard people in prisons talk about negligent and downright disfunctional parenting. If I had thought all that advertising about domestic violence was a bit overblown, when I started listening to women in prisons I wondered what had taken us so long to get awareness campaigns going.

One day a woman was talking. She said: You know what it’s like when you are driving and getting the bash? EVERYONE (except me) nodded!!!!!

Nobody else appeared to be marveling at it. Well, yeah I know its probably a cohort where you’d expect a lot of victims of abuse – but still – everyone! I think my Dad maybe smacked me three or four times growing up. I always felt safe. About a year into volunteering a woman got parole and she said she was a bit sorry to be leaving because it was the safest she had ever felt. Imagine that.

I keep going to prison and I keep parenting as consciously positively as I can. I feel really privileged to have such a window on the world.

road trip
July 16, 2010, 6:43 pm
Filed under: whatever

We were getting ready to visit Rotorua for the first time.The kids are now of an age where I think they should be able to take an active park in packing. I was trying to get them thinking about what they’d need.

Me: what if we are driving over the desert road and its snowing – and we want to make a snow man. What do we need to have packed?

13 year old: A remote controlled robot.

8 year old: Brownies. And boy scouts.

I’m teaching them girl packing skills not Boy packing. Girl packing is thinking about what you might need and packing for eventualities (might be hot, might be cold, might go out to dinner, might need walking boots…)

My girlfriend visits every winter, she has 17 year old twins, a boy and a girl. Every year the boy packs …. well almost nothing. We go out to dinner he is wearing surfer shorts, t shirt and sneakers.  We go to a play hes wearing the same thing. He is cold.  The girl has a different outfit for most of the stuff we do.  She is warm, water repellent, wind resistant.I admire that my girlfriend does not feel she has to pack for her son as I think I would break down and do it for him or spend huge sums getting him warm.

Anyway the girls ended up packing well and we had a great road trip up the island. The eldest suggested we borrow talking books from the library and what a great suggestion. Rotorua was sunny and much warmer than Wellington – it has been one of the wettest winters ever and it was so good to see blue sky. It made such an impression on us we even photographed cloud formations.

When we arrived we grabbed lots of brochures, set a budget and then picked the activities we’d do. The girls made good suggestions about dinner and lunches we could make ourselves and negotiated well about what they’d like to see and do. Its been a trying time lately and when things go wrong with my kids I often think it must be because I’m a fundamentally flawed parent. Seeing them acting like well adjusted bright happy kids was a great tonic. The whole break made me realize that holidays can be very affirming.

I got some bad news when we came back to town and Ive have been experiencing that kind of physical sadness you get with grief. I think it would be worse if I hadn’t been away – so I’m starting to plan our next escape

battle of the brat
May 20, 2010, 12:57 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sometimes it feels like it would be much easier to give in than battle. Tonight I asked my youngest to go have a shower. One of my girls is religious about a nightly shower – the other would go weeks or months without one if she could get away with it. I’m hoping hormones and peer pressure will eventually reduce my policing role but right now Im the mean mummy who demands water torture.

I started the battle with an ultimatum that I’d count to three IF. Something I learnt years ago is that its no good threatening to count to 20 because its just too long and to make sure my threats are carried out – so threaten something I feel ok about carrying out (oh and that child protection would be ok with too!). So tonight it was I’m going to count to 3 and if you aren’t heading to the shower Im taking your clothes off myself. I only said one and she was off like a rocket.

All wasn’t sorted however I could tell by the banging that there was plenty of foot stomping and little cleansing going on in the bathroom. So I ended up weilding the shampoo bottle but she was in the room and wet and that was a much easier proposition.

knowing you knowing me
May 6, 2010, 12:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I think you meet yourself through your children. My first awareness of this was understanding the guises we develop. My babies were born wearing raw unhidden emotion, they feel and they yell or laugh and then they learn to keep those feelings to themselves – we encourage it, ignoring tantrums, patiently rehearsing the words they must say to disguise their contempt of a disappointing birthday present, telling them to stop that delightful squeaking because it is too irritating for me.

Once clothed in emotional control it can be hard to be naked even to ourselves. I have found the way back to me through knowing my kids, watching them act differently to the way I would – not wrong just different, and learning to see and accept that difference.

April 9, 2010, 1:59 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I said to my kid Why don’t you make a flyer and offer to look after some cats over Easter? No she said. I don’t need any money. It was a bit disturbing. I would rather she said she couldn’t be bothered. That’s something I could understand, as she is now a full blown slothful teen. But: not needing money? Heck I was almost tempted to leaflet the neighborhood myself as at $5 per day per cat at 10 cats per day over 4 days…. Come to think of it – why didn’t I leaflet the neighborhood?

The sloth isn’t keen on clothes, technology or anything much other than books and for this she has an endless supply courtesay of the library. When she has money she usually spends it on others – she is generous.

But I am wanting her to be entrepreneurial – I can’t even spell it. I am wanting this for her because I am not. I am good at 9-5 working but this has meant I’m 44 with a mortgage that I’ll pay off, need to do work on the house and finally I will hopefully put a bit on one side for retirement. I’d like a little more financial freedom for my kids. Therefore I want them to have better financial literacy than I’ve had.

Luckily there is hope – youngest child was very excited about the cat care idea and whipped up a poster. Unfortunately at 8 years old I thought she might be a little young to be cat care credible…

tick tick tick tick tick
March 10, 2010, 1:02 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I never thought I’d be counting the days and the hours for my daughter to come home from camp. It’s the NOT KNOWING! If she gets off that ferry smiling I’ll be happy and angry that’s she’s had me feeling soooooooooooo bad all week.

school camp
March 8, 2010, 1:55 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

She didn’t want to go. I thought: it will be a bonding experience, she will make friends, all the other kids are going, its a bit late to tell me, it’s all paid for! So I said she had to go.

Standing at the ferry terminal she was the personification of morose. I drove off with my heart aching for her. It felt so bad and I wondered why I had said she must go. People said she would cheer up and have a good time. People said it would be a lifetime experience. But there is always one kid who hates school camp.

I came home and walked the dog and I had a thought. I thought for some women this is what it feels like every time their daughter goes to their dad. We are lucky that’s not the case.

round the bays
February 20, 2010, 5:06 pm
Filed under: community

Today the girls and I did the Round The Bays walk. Walked – we didn’t run. Young and enthusiastic daughter brought the flyer home from school. I instantly directed her over to her Dads with it – he is the fit one. Unfortunately he was going to be at a wedding…… oh ok then. I also signed up her big sister, figuring if I had to endure it she could too. This is the kid who has recently lost her bus pass, her cell phone and the dog. The only thing we recovered was the dog and it was probably last in my order of preference. (vent vent vent)

Our week together didn’t start great. I had a terrible cold and shouldn’t really have been at work Friday but I finish early and go home with youngest. It was a loooong short day. I got home and poured myself into bed just completely letting my antibodies do the recovery thing. The kids headed for the computers.

Saturday was a pretty minimal housework day with the snot pouring out of me. I am one of those people for whom pseudoeffedrine (sp?) cold tablets were a blessing and now they aren’t sold anymore I’m not peasant to be around. I had had very little sleep with the runny nose and not breathing. How was I going to manage Sunday on a 7 k round the bays thing? I did not want to let my young enthusiastic sporty child down. These days it is hard to get incidental exercise, hard to find time for exercise, hard to find exercise we can all do together.

Anyway Saturday night we decided we could eat a king sized bar of chocolate together because we had the walk the next day – so we did. And I realised I could taste the chocolate so I must be on the mend. Then we switched off the phones and went to bed. I slept so well! Perhaps the secret of a good night’s sleep is to have a very bad one the night before.

I woke up with energy and I could breathe! We got to the school rendezvous point and there were two mums I know. Yay! friends to play with! Eldest daughter found a friend she knew and youngest begged to go with a favourite teacher and some school mates. So much for us having a bonding experience. But strangely it was – big digression about cell phones…

I think because we have them these days – we don’t always plan so well. If you know me you’ll know I’m pretty anal so my kids had been told where the car was, where the meet up point was, and they know my cell no off by heart. So it didn’t worry me that we split up as there were plans to get back together. But other parents had no plans. One mum with two sons had one go missing in the race. She had to go back to look we went forward with her other son. Because this isn’t the new york marathon it all worked out and we got back together in time for a triple mum photo finish ending.

Do the race was fun and made me much more confident about my recent decision to stop driving to work and start walking.

After the race I met up with the kids and decided perhaps eldest daughter and I will do without a cell phone relationship and instead hone our communication and organisation skills. They worked today so they can keep working. Also, if she can lope 7 ks without raising a sweat she can walk home from high school too – something she happily does I just thought the bus pass would be good. I got over it.

Last night I read an online article about how slums can have good communities both in terms of a lowered environmental footprint and in terms of people knowing and supporting each other. We showed great support today finding a lost little boy during the formation of a brief community of purpose, I further cemented a couple of friendships and my kids feel they have achieved something (youngest is still wearing her race number). I said to my little girl Thank You honey for suggesting we do the Round The Bays I had a great time. Yeah I know, You’re welcome and she headed for her computer and I for mine 

Over and out and off for a nap….

but this week I don’t like beans
December 31, 2009, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Had a vegan dinner party for 13 year olds last night. Tonight Miss 8 explains she’s semi-vege – but won’t eat beans, courgettes, or onion that is combined with stuff. I explained there was food in the fridge and she could make herself a salad, but I was cooking lamb chops and mint sauce. I think I was 18 when I became vegetarian and from memory I left home shortly afterwards. Miss 8 might not need to leave home because she has a knack for getting things to work her way.

For instance I am watching something on telly (rerun of Flight of the Choncords) and bing! Ella Enchanted comes on. She has programmed it to come on. The dinger on the cooker sound and she emerges ready to watch.

Other instance: Recently she asked how old you need to be to orgnise where you live. Then she was thumbing through the white pages for the justice department to ask them when I elusively said I dind’t know. Fortunately it was Saturday.

Happy new year :-)