My Mother

In honour of Mother’s Day, this crisp autumn morn, I’d like to introduce you to my mother. Everyone thinks their mother is special but my mother is nothing short of extraordinary. I love my mother to pieces, there is nothing that I could ever do or say that would come close to expressing to her, or the world, exactly how much I love her, care about her and how much she means to me. Despite my obvious and inexplicable adoration you would probably be surprised to know that my mum and I get along best when we aren’t under each others feet. Our relationship likes a bit of distance, a bit of breathing space- it’s really picked up in the time that I have been living away from home.

We are both very opinionated people, which is fine, but neither of us have learnt particularly well how to censor our opinions, especially in the company of each other. We are both pretty good at censoring our opinions in public and around people who aren’t family, but I think the comfortable shell of our mother-daughter relationship breeds an environment where true self-expression can be made without the fear of irreparable damage being done to the relationship- it’s not that flimsy a tether. Don’t get me wrong, though- we have had some many arguments that would curl your toes but I think at the end of the day we understand that our love for each other is far, far greater than any disagreement we may have.

My mother is a self-professed perfectionist, it drives me ABSOLUTELY batty! She will obsessively re-write something that has already been written at work by someone else purely because it just isn’t as good as what she would do, so we have to do it all over again. Most time delegation isn’t an option at all. My mother cannot sit still for more than 5 minutes if she knows that there is something that needs to be done. AND, here’s the really funny part, even if everything is done she will find work to do, you know, idle hands and all. So it will come as no great surprise when I tell you that I also drive her batty with my people focused, touchy-feely approach to everything I do. I am a dreamer, I am not very task oriented and near enough is good enough for me. But I think that I have worked very hard NOT to turn into a perfectionist. There was a time in my life where every single thing had to be perfect and although I still cling to my routines as a sort of safety blanket that’s about as far as it goes. When I catch myself down on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor by hand because the mop didn’t do a good enough job, I tend to want to slap myself to snap my self out of it. So I do understand my mother’s perfectionism, I understand it is easy to succumb to but, for my life, I feel it is more of a burden. But, again, I think that is more because of my ‘dreamer’ personality type.. I mean, who ever heard of a perfectionistic dreamer!? Chalk and cheese, man… chalk and cheese!

The older I get the more I seem to be able to see inside my mum. I think she puts up a tough facade as a defense mechanism, and to a child that can be quite confusing, so I never really used to ‘get’ my mum when I was little but I did love her all the same. Now that I am an adult, and I think the aforementioned distance has something to do with it, I am discovering things about my mum that feel so unlike her but, upon closer examination, have always been a big part of her heart and soul. I am constantly amazed by the things that seem to touch her and really impact on her life, the things she takes on board. I always felt that my touchy-feely-ism annoyed her and made her feel uncomfortable, and it does when it means I am telling her that I love her at random intervals throughout the day, but I don’t think it is as annoying as I first thought it was. I’m starting to understand that just because my mother is 3o odd years older than me, doesn’t necessarily mean that all areas of her personal growth have bloomed, some are still only budding, and that’s just our different experiences in life. I am blessed to have this woman as my mother, because of her I was able to focus on the growth of my heart and soul as a child. I am nowhere near as street smart as her, but I’ll get there, maybe when I am in my 50’s and have grandchildren of my own, but I’ll get there. What I am trying to say is, it’s nice to be growing ‘our’ heart and soul together, it gives me a conectedness to my mother that is priceless. There are some quotes that my mother tells me she likes from the Dalai Lama that make me inwardly say, “Wow! I never thought that would touch you like it has!” and it is beautiful to witness.

Mum likes to be alone. She can stand that deafening silence that ensues and she likes her own company. I can’t stand it. I love to be around people, though not too many, too many and I start to suffer panic attacks. I love having someone to talk to, mum is always commenting that I talk too much. You can see the exhaustion in her face when we finish a conversation and she has hardly said two words. But I think my mum likes it a little more than she lets on. I think secretly mum likes knowing that I like talking to her, that I feel comfortable talking to her. Plus, it gives her a chance to drink more coffee!

My mother and I, despite out obvious differences do share a lot of commonalities as well, one of them is that we cry at the drop of a hat. All you have to do to make us cry is show us a sick cat or put Oprah on and we will consume several boxes of Kleenex. We are hopeless. My sister often pokes fun at us because we’ll be watching a movie, one that we may have seen before, and she’ll turn around and here is mum and I, sobbing like babies. I think this stems from the fact that we both like to stick up for the underdog, the little guy, the one that is being trodden on by the big shots, the heartless cowards. We can see beauty in things that some people don’t. My mum has a heart that is far too big for her body.  My mum does an absolutely, beyond words, s.t.e.l.l.a.r job as the director of operations at an aged care facility. She has been teary on a number of occasions when a resident has suffered an injustice, it fires her up and God help anyone who was a part of that injustice because you are going down! I am so proud of my mum. She stands up for what she believes in and gives her heart and soul, and more!, to those who are in need. I am so glad that my mum did such a good job of teaching my sister and I about the importance of justice and standing up for what you believe in.

Being a mother myself now means I have a lot of those dang-blasted “a-ha” moments. There are times where I am saying to myself, “Damn, mum was right!” She’ll know now, but I don’t tell her at the time. There are times where I am with my daughter and I will say something and I have to look over my shoulder to check that my mother isn’t in the room with us because it seriously just sounded like she was. Things like, “What part of ‘No’ is hard to understand?” and “How many times…” Oh, so cringe-worthy! At least I can be comforted in the knowledge that when I was little mum had those same cringe-worthy moments herself. Mum is my best ally in my life as a single parent. She offers awesome advice and encouragement and, she’ll hate to admit it, so much understanding, so many ‘been there done that’ perspective. I don’t always take it, but I always hear it. There are moments in my life as a parent where I am absolutely, truly, sorry for all the crap I gave my mother. I understand how draining it was to sit through a meal with an over-tired child. I understand what a day with a child who doesn’t remember any other word in her extensive vocabulary other than “No”. I am sure my mum laughs at me sometimes, not AT me, but at the cycle of motherhood. It will be humourous to me too, when it is my child!

I could go on telling you how amazing my mum is, I could write a book about all the things she has taught me and done for me, I could tell you about all the times where we wouldn’t speak to each other for weeks verbally but you could see that we were crying out to each other inside. I used to crave a simple mother-daughter relationship, like you see in the movies. The kind of relationship where you just get along with your mother like it is natural, but the older I get the easier it is to see that I have been blessed, truly, truly, blessed to have the relationship I do with my mother. The complexity of our relationship, I think, makes us tighter and richer than if we had the type of relationship I used to crave. There is nothing about my mother that I would change. She is perfect. She is love. She is beauty. She is intelligence. She is justice. She is strength. She is friendship. She is MY mum. And I love her more than life.

Happy Mother’s Day Mum. 

Love, 

Pumpkin xo

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Like Mother, Like Daughter…

I was having a shower this morning and my daughter decided to ‘help’ me which of course meant more hindering than ‘helping’. Her helping included opening and closing the shower curtain to let the water cascade over the bathroom floor, taking the soap for taste testing and puling down towels to sop up the lake that had now formed on the floor, all things I am sure you are very familiar with. Everything was going along swimmingly, no pun intended, when she spotted a spider! You have to know that my bathroom is a kind of makeshift after thought to the house that we are living in. It has painted brick walls and bare copper piping and in some areas has gaps around the exit pipes for basins and the like. That being said it is all plumbed properly and safe for little fingers, just, as I said before, a bit of an afterthought. Thus I spend most of my time spraying crunchy crawler around the open parts in the bathroom to try and deter any potential visitors. With the recent rain, it has obviously been diluted and hence our creepy, little critter was able to enter unscathed. It was quite a spectacular sight to witness as I peered around the shower curtain trying to stop more water from getting everywhere. She stopped dead in her tracks, did a little on the spot dance as she flit from one foot to the other on tip toes with her fingers in her mouth in an sort of over exaggerated, mime style frightened face. I didn’t realise what exactly she was going on about until her frantic toe tapping changed to frantic finger wagging and a tiny, high-pitched; “mummy, spider!”

Spiders are one of my top five ‘things that are worthy of running out of a room screaming about’, so I felt for her but I just couldn’t muster up the courage to move as soon as she uttered that dreaded word! My mind raced, first thinking “Come on you’re a mother now, grow some kahunas!”, then “I could throw a towel on it and then jump on it”. After rendering both those choices inferior I came to what I thought was my last resort, take the shower head down and trying to drown the sucker! All the while the little person’s cries have gotten louder and more shrill and her tip toe dance had returned, this time accompanied by the frantic, wagging finger. Calmly, or acting as such, I looked her in the eye, still peering around the corner of the shower curtain keeping all the water in, in a desperate attempt to ensure the spider doesn’t catch on to my plan. I tell her “Bubba, stop crying and open the door and go find your Aunty” Her tears keep pouring down her cheeks as I try to open the door of the bathroom without disturbing our little visitor to offer a visual cue to the instructions that she obviously hasn’t received over her wailing. That proved enough of a persuasion as she toddled off screaming for her Aunty, which left me alone with a spider in a room strewn with soggy towels, chunks of soap and about 2cm of water covering the tiles. Hiding behind my flimsy shower curtain I talked myself through what I was going to do, pick up the shower head, open the shower curtain and aim it at the spider. I armed myself with said shower head, flung back the curtain and sprayed, with, of course, the obligatory tongue biting action required of someone concentrating really hard. However, the spider seemed to have had some sort of premonition as he had a game plan as well and it involved charging straight at me, and I should have guess that an insect with eight legs would be quite light on his feet but I hadn’t and before I knew it he and I were standing no more than 30cm away, staring at each other. I don’t know about him but my heart was racing. I now know how events such as a simple argument or a seemingly harmless burglary can end in murder because at that moment something inside me just snapped. I was scared, I was mad, I was cold, I was wet and my bathroom was flooded so I took the shower head that was still in hand and I whacked that spider! I whacked until the only evidence of him having ever come to visit was a small chip in the white paint on my ‘oh so stylish’ brick walls. I don’t think I will paint over that chip, it will serve as a reminder to any other spider that dare enter my bathroom to shelter from the weather- you are taking your life into your own hands.

This brings me to the reason I am writing this. Is fear of certain things something that is born or bred into us? The first time my baby saw a spider she would have been about 6 months and she kicked up a furious racket as she crawled and tumbled and commando rolled as fast as her little legs would let her across the linoleum floor, but before then she had never been around when I had come across one of our delightful visitors, thus had never witnessed one of my own flailing tantrums. Which has made me wonder where she has picked up her fear from? Thinking on it further I believe she is probably sensitive to my changes in feelings. I know when I am feeling particularly horrible and wanting to cry she will come up without any warning and ask me if I am ok. I know when I am at uni I can tell when she is crying or hurting because I get a sunken, ‘not right’ feeling in my gut. Perhaps it is born in us as children that we are tuned into our parents’ feelings as a preservation method. What do you think? Born or Bred?

I better get back to my bathroom and clean up the flood, sodden towels and floating soap pieces..

Erin xo

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Brusha, Brusha, Brusha

As a single mum time poor is one of the words that describes me perfectly and never more so then when I have a toothbrush in hand trying my darndest to get the little one to agree to open her mouth and have her teeth brushed. So far I have had my fingers chomped on, water spat at me, a crying child who has banged her head on the basin in her mad attempt to clamber away from the dreaded toothbrush. I’ve bought Wiggles, Dora and Deigo toothbrushes and even showered her with stickers and rewards charts, but to no avail.

I’ve played the “you brush mummy’s teeth and I’ll brush your teeth” game, brushed the dolls teeth, sung the songs and even, at one of my lowest points, played the small excerpt from Grease at Marty’s pajama party where Jan sings along to the Ipana toothpaste commercial- it didn’t catch on, I’ve never been much of a trend setter! I’ve read just about every book known to man on the myriad ways that can be adopted to help ‘teach’ your toddler to brush their teeth with enthusiasm, I even forked out a whole $5 to send her to the singing dentist show at day care, hoping it would be enough of a persuasion to end the wars that often ensue around teeth brushing time. Who was I kidding? I should have kept my money for the holiday jar that is looking ever so bare. I’ll definately need a holiday with all the tantrums this one throws!

Tonight was like no other, the sulking started this time included was intermittent little yelps of “nope” in between the spasmodic sounding high pitched whining. So in my frustration at her sullen attitude and in a desperate attempt to find s.o.m.e.t.h.i.n.g that engaged her long enough for her to open her mouth I told her to scream at me. First we screamed “aaaahhh” together so I could brush right at the back and then we screamed “eeeee” together so I could concentrate on the front of her teeth and it worked! I couldn’t believe it! We ended our teeth brushing session laughing at all the different types of noises we could come up with and what shape our mouths are in when we make them.

My realisation tonight was that I obviously still take some of the more mundane activities of life far too seriously, my baby was simple telling me in her on special way to “lighten up, Mum!” And so, as per her request, I’ll definately be using this method from now on, however noisy it may be. As for the neighbours, well the last two nights I’ve had to endure their son fussing for up to 2 hours about goodness only knows, probably another child who needs a little convincing to brush his teeth, I think they can put up with two minutes of, as she likes to call them, ‘noisy teeth’. Who knows, if it turns out his little episodes are about brushing teeth, I might just share my little secret!

No one could ever convince me that parenting is a dull job!

Erin xo

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An execution of justice?

It seems that almost everyone around me is rejoicing in the murder of Osama bin Laden (and that is exactly what it is in my eyes- murder), everyone except me. I am finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that people think this is a good thing. I agree that he was an evil man, who did evil things. But does that really mean we have the right to take his life? Just because he took the lives of others? Does that not make us no better than he is? Is that really justice? Why is it right for Barack Obama to order his capture or killing without consequence? How is that any different to bin Laden ordering the death of a rival? Is the only difference the intent? Is that intent enough to change that act from being murder to being the execution of justice? Are people really so deluded to think that this is going to make any positive change on terrorism in this world? I’m not rejoicing. I’m not mourning. I am saddened that the world that I live in is a place where people feel violence for violence is justice.

I’ll leave you with a thought from the bible…

Proverbs 24; 17 -18
“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him.”

Erin xo

 

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A Weighty Issue

I’ve been unfortunate enough to have been bred from a more ‘rubenesque’ stock. My Mum’s side of the family blessed me with hips, bum and thighs that most sumo wrestlers would envy and my Dad’s side, I am convinced, bequeathed me with the ‘if-you-so-much-as-look-at-that-piece-of-chocolate-you-will-gain-5-kilo’s’ gene. Yep, I really do have it all! As such, weight is something that I struggle with a lot. I have always been the ‘heavier’ friend, even when I was at a healthy weight all other people my age seemed to be these mutant stick-insects without arses, I often pondered how they sat comfortably on a chair. Hmmm, anyway. Since having Hilary 3.5 years ago, she was a dainty 9lb 140z, I have stacked, and I mean STACKED on the weight. I finally got to a point where, despite my meagre income, I just had to do something about it. So, for the past year, I have either been ‘gyming it’, focusing on nutrition, enlisting a personal trainer, oh, sorry, he prefers ‘quality of Life Specialist’ (QLS), or a mixture of the three. I’m realising, though, that weight loss is a mental thing as much as it is a physical thing.

I am a very emotional, heart-on-my-sleeve type person at the best of times so you can probably appreciate that this weight loss journey is very emotionally charged. Add to the fact that I now have to face a whole bunch of demons and change a life-time of bad thought processes and you have a bag of tears in the shape of Erin. This week took that bag of tears to a whole new level. Having struggled with my weight for so long it stands to reason that I have heard a large portion of the hurtful names that people can come up with for fat people. And, I’m sorry, but sticks and stones may break my bones but names hurt just as much! Being an adult now, Wow- that’s a concept that would frighten a few people, I thought I was well past the stage of horrible and childish taunting and moved on to the stage where people would just be polite about my weight and trust that I was doing something about it, and at the very least that I was aware of it. (You can tell I am only new at this ‘adulthood’ thing by how wrong my assumption was, right!?) Until the other day when I was at the shops and I was told to “Hurry up you fat bastard” by this mid-20 year old man and his 50 something father. Both of them found themselves very amusing. I, obviously, didn’t. I’m not going to lie, I went back to my car and bawled like a baby all the way home, and then for good measure I bawled at home for about another 20 minutes. And after all that crying, I kicked myself for not turning around and ramming the sorry excuse for a human being with my full trolley complete with wonky wheel- but that would have just been immature.

I have a few issues with all that happened but my main issue is; Why do people seem to think fat people need to be told that they are fat? I mean, I know I am fat. I have a mirror, I have eyes, I have a brain, all three function perfectly together and I am actually able to see my reflection, how ever offensive. I can see the scales buckling under my weight as I climb on to check if that Mars Bar I just looked at has in fact attached itself to my body in any way. I have to buy the clothes to cover my body from the stores that exploit fat people and make a humble t-shirt $70.  I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps the deficit lies with the people making the observation. I’m thinking that for some reason their brains can’t process the vision of a fat person in front of them without first verbalising it. Well, that theory lies better with me than the one everyone keeps telling me- they take delight in hurting people, usually because there is something about them that they are self-conscious about. You might think me a trifle (mmm, trifle!) crazy for not wanting to think the latter of those type of people, after all it would be easy to just conclude that they are indeed of the ‘arseholeus maximus’ variety of people and walk away with my head held high. But I can’t. I can’t help feel sorry for him because one day someone will find his one sore spot, hone in on it, as he did to me, and really hurt him. I’m the sort of person who believes that two wrongs don’t make a right, hence why I didn’t ram him with my trolley, so it really bothers me to know that one day he will know what it feels like to be publicly humiliated and have your already fragile self-esteem crushed.

I have learned valuable lessons from it all, though. I’ve learned that I have a choice as to how much someones words affect me. I can choose to feel angry and hurt or I can choose to see deeper down and realise that one day he will be the one that is crushed and feel sorry for him. I can bawl and cry like a baby or I can rise above it and realise that every tear I shed gives him what he wanted, whether he can see me crying or not. But most importantly, I have learned that I’m a worthwhile person. That might seem like an odd lesson to have learned, but it is true. I hold a great deal of value in myself after the way I dealt with it all. I know I am an intelligent, compassionate, friendly human being and I now know I am a lot more resilient than I first thought too.

So if you are blessed with ‘rubenesuqe’ genes like me, hold you head and look at yourself as a whole- you are amazing! And if you are of the ‘arseholeus maximus’ variety, think twice, because one day it will be you- and it will hurt! Don’t tempt karma. 

I leave you with one of my all time f.a.v.o.u.r.i.t.e quotes:

Remember that people come and go, and of all the
 people in your life, you are the one who is there to
stay. You are the one who can choose to love
yourself, choose to respect yourself, and promise with
all your heart and soul that you will never leave you
~ Authour Unknown~

Enjoy your day!

Erin xo

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