We are all different. Our life experiences are all different. Our life expectations are all different. And so, for mothers, the celebration of their role be different.
I reflect upon my experience, and wonder about yours.
I grew up in a tight knit family where Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day were almost as important as birthdays. We’d creep out into the dewy green garden at dawn – our mother’s own masterpiece – with our father, to pick a few favourite blooms to decorate the breakfast tray. Dad would help with a hot cup of tea or coffee, and we would scrape some untidy blobs of butter and jam across a couple of squares of dry toast. By the time we were ready, the warm drink was barely that and the toast was cold, but I knew our mum would be sat up in her bed eagerly awaiting it, because three smiling faces (shepherded by my dad) delivered it with a bucketload of love.
Over the years, my little family have developed our own way of celebrating Mother’s Day. Some things never change. Their dad supervises a floral masterpiece from the garden, while my eldest coordinates the menu (very similar to the one my brothers and I used to deliver). I sit up in bed eagerly awaiting my three little smiling faces with their grand presentation, just as my mother did.
This year we followed breakfast with something a little different – a wander down to a quiet local beach with enough fishing rods and bait for a couple of hours of quality family time… And do you know what? This was my best one yet!
Whatever your experience or expectation, ￼I’d love to hear about yours.
Can you hear that? That’s right, it’s quiet. No hum of the motorway, no roar of the truck engines. Less screaming from the sirens. Less noise, less pollution. Replaced thankfully, by clearer skies, fresher air and sparkling nights. The perfect opportunity for budding astronomers.
I must say, that positive side effects of COVID-19 seem to have been a healthier environment and the return to community – I have seen more families playing together in the park (while socially distancing from others) than ever. We are chatting across the fence more with our own neighbours in the street.
Physically we have been distanced and isolated from many we care about, but socially through mail, telephone and the internet, we have probably been more connected than ever. Displays of fun, kindness and thankfulness have been inundating social media. Socially distanced “crowds” have gathered to applaud our health workers, celebrities are entertaining for free over the internet, and fun loving Aussies have started the global trend with the “Bin Isolation Outing” Facebook group.
Right now, I am listening to calm waters lapping gently on a quiet beach. My boys enjoy each other’s company while my daughter chatters happily. ￼
Ssshhh… Listen… The sound of simplicity.
A silver lining to an awfully dark cloud.
It is late in the day, but this is my first opportunity to take a moment and “muse”.
Shadows are starting to lengthen, and instead of the excited twitter of birds in the morning, the lazy buzz of insects is the backdrop to the relaxed chatter of children playing in the yard, now that the school day is over.
For our family, this is Day One of homeschooling, and although I have not done my obligatory 10,000 steps, I feel quite exhausted!
With a huge demand for online resources, the anticipated structure of our day quickly fell apart as the primary website crashed. We all took a deep breath, and to buy a few moments of planning time we listened to a kids’ news podcast. Thankfully, they were immediately engaged and enjoyed doing the quiz at the end to see who was listening best. I think we might start every day that way – they keep up to date with current events and it stimulates further conversation and investigation, along with some fodder for writing and other projects.
We very loosely followed our regular school day schedule, and there weren’t too many complaints… In fact, my oldest son even exclaimed that “this day went so quickly!”
I quietly breathed a sigh of relief and gave myself an imaginary pat on the back for a job adequately done. I now feel qualified to describe myself as an “Educational Guide“ (most definitely not a “teacher”), and I’m looking forward – just a little more confidently – to our Day Two.
How is this new global experiment of homeschooling shaping up for you?
It feels like late morning, but it is not. The air is warm. There is barely a breeze. The sky is blue with only the barest scattering of fast-moving light clouds. My freshly brewed coffee tastes good.
I sit and just gaze. I look at the brilliant green in the garden, beautifully interrupted with a splash of colour here and there. Tiny insects and delicate butterflies hover just above. A perfect time and place to muse…
My mind is floating like the butterflies. The sights and scents of the garden lead it to far away places.
I am reminded of one of my favourite capital cities in the world – Darwin, Australia. A relaxed tropical city where the smell of fresh cut grass and frangipani flowers lift your spirits as you walk along the street.
Then, a brightly coloured bloom takes me back to springtime in Vancouver, Canada. A bustling busy city centre where nature shows up in the most surprising places. Flowers are bursting from every garden bed as the fountains melt from icicles into sunlit sparkling droplets. I remember walking along one of the busiest streets when a mother duck popped out of a fountain followed by a brood of very young clumsy ducklings. They crossed the sidewalk in front of me, then halted morning rush hour for a moment while she lead them to the refuge of a large garden bed across the street. Then just as quickly and without fuss, the cars moved along again… Springtime in downtown Vancouver.
Suddenly, I am brought back to the here and now as my faithful old dog and his younger, wildly enthusiastic offsider drop at my feet demanding attention and a tickle behind the ears.
Coffee finished – back to real life…
It is still early, and I’ve crept out into the garden to enjoy the cool fresh air and bright friendly sunshine. The chorus of birds this morning is more like a full orchestra – too many different calls to count. I breathe in deeply and slowly… and just like the day, I can feel myself slowly coming to life.
In this moment, my world is normal. It is the first official day of the school Easter break. The children are sleeping in a little, my partner is early in to the office as usual, and I am taking a moment of solitude to gather my thoughts and contemplate the day.
Only this particular day is quite different. I won’t be planning an outing for our first day of leisure. We will be planning an at home activity. We won’t go out for a picnic lunch, but perhaps will enjoy one in our own backyard. My partner won’t come home from the office this evening, the office is now at home.
As I contemplate my day, I am reminded that my world is not normal. No one’s world is “normal“ any more. We are in the midst of a pandemic, like nothing we’ve seen in 100 years. Our new “normal” is a world of restricted movement, limitations, trepidation and uncertainty.
In order to live with our new “normal“, I have just realised the importance of taking this moment to feel the old “normal”. While the sun rises, while the birds herald, while the day is still fresh and new… as it is every single day. While my partner goes to the office, just like any other weekday and the children sleep in a little just because they can. I breathe in deeply and slowly… and for this moment, my world is still normal.
I am so thankful that my partner can work from home, and that I have a garden to share with the children.
How are you managing your new “normal“?
Lift your spirits – find a friend with a smile.
I didn’t think I particularly needed lifting this morning, but I did feel a little flat. Fighting off a cold and not getting enough sleep will do that to you.
Once the morning “rush hour“ had passed, I planned to catch up with a friend for a quick coffee… two hours and two coffees later we suddenly realised we had a day to get on with.
While we were chatting, it seemed as though the weather were reflecting the tone and mood of our conversation. We hadn’t caught up in quite a while so there were lots of “issues“ to discuss.
We met and the skies were cloudy – maybe a little threatening. Our conversation took on a serious note as the thunderheads gathered and the sky outside darkened, becoming quite ominous. Lightning flashed, illuminating the gloom, then a crash of thunder rattled the windows and a torrent of rain coincided with our enthusiastic outpouring of emotion when discussing the most important people in our lives.
The storm passed and the brooding darkness lifted, so too did our spirits. We chatted and laughed.
As a few bright rays of sunshine pierced the clouds, we parted feeling lighter, and – like the trees outside – cleansed and refreshed, ready to take on the rest of our day.
Did someone lift your spirits today?
As I felt the refreshing rain sprinkle my face while I walked this morning, I realised that nature really knows how to take care of itself – especially when we don’t.
We are always taught to sweep out our own homes, to get rid of the clutter for our own health, yet we don’t take care of nature by creating firebreaks, or allowing back burning and small fires to sweep out the excess plants and dead leaves – the clutter – from beneath the trees.
With all this buildup, like a house filled with dirt, dust and rubbish… Our bush, our forests and our plains become fodder for a fire just waiting to consume them.
Years of drought have left vast expanses of land and bush as kindling for the fire poised to strike. And strike it did. Huge areas – larger than some of the world’s countries – were left decimated by fire. Totally burnt out. And yet, nature has a way of healing itself. As our famous poet, Dorothea McKellar expressed, we have gone from a land of drought, to flooding rains.
When the smoke haze has washed away, the clouds have cleared and the blue skies return, not only will we see the devastation left by fire, but the rebirth of that very same land. Just as we will also see the true grit of our nation’s people as they rebuild their lives.
For myself and so many of my friends, this was a week of new beginnings… New beginnings for our children – either a new school year, or for some, the brave and vast leap into high school.
These few days are a transition from adrenaline, excitement and nerves into a new routine, and now a touch of overwhelm is beginning to settle in.
I was advised this morning by a kind woman of previous experience to expect this next week to be one of meltdowns – overwhelm and sheer exhaustion will set in for those of our children who are beginning their life in high school.
As I sit and sip on my morning coffee, I muse over these first couple of days. The sky is looking as moody as I feel… Fluffy lighter clouds above, ominous grey and threatening storm clouds on the horizon, with surprising flashes of brilliant blue. If this is how I am feeling, I can only begin to imagine how my almost-teenage daughter must be feeling!
I am taking ten minutes to reflect, gather my emotions and keep them in check so that I may be the rock solid, dependable person my daughter will need for support as she begins this next chapter in the storybook of her life.
How is your sky looking today?
Every morning I have an epiphany and every evening I seem to forget that old adage “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise”.
Why is it so hard for me to get that?! It has been drummed into me since I was in primary/elementary school, but I have always been a night owl.
Unfortunately night owls don’t always get to sleep in. In fact, for most of our lives we are caught up in the global working world’s timetable – which means a bright and early start to the day. No chance to catch up on that lost sleep.
Doctors have said for years that we need a certain amount of sleep to repair and restore our bodies… Our mental health depends upon it, our healthy weight range depends upon it, our brain function depends upon it, our skin, health and youthfulness depend upon it, our vitality… The list goes on & on! Yet, why do I not get it?!
I always have an excuse – I still have jobs to get done before bed. I can’t get to sleep.
Our simple physical make up dictates that we are designed to function between dawn and dusk. We don’t have nightvision. We need sunshine to nourish our bodies. Our natural inclination is to sleep after sunset (whether we actually realise it or not).
Yet, with a booming caffeine industry, it is quite obvious that I am not the only one who doesn’t seem to get the message. Do you struggle with early mornings? Do you need that cup of coffee to function? Do you often feel grumpy or down? Are you struggling with a healthy weight? Do you lack energy to do your normal daily activities? Do you struggle with clarity of mind and productivity?
It is an early spring morning. The sky is an incredible azure … But something is not quite right. The breeze is light and cool… But something is not quite right. The birds are twittering, today in a different tone… Something is not quite right.
Treelopping services are like busy termites everywhere – The buzz of chainsaws chewing through wood interrupts the tune of nature. The air is so dry when I breathe that I can only begin to imagine what the parched earth must be enduring. A fine grainy dust coats every surface. I can even feel it like sandpaper underfoot as I walk through the house.
We began our day just like any other. The morning chaos was as it usually is. The flurry of hugs, kisses and rushed goodbyes at the school gate were as frantic and enthusiastic as always.
Now that I have a moment to enjoy my morning coffee, I glance up again to notice that the incredible azure of that clear sky is tinged at the horizon with a suspicious beige haze.
I inhale deeply, expecting the rich aroma of those beans to be the perfect accompaniment to my musings… But there is something acrid in the background. Something more than just dust. Something is not quite right…
I can smell smoke!