Thursday, September 30, 2010

Emotional Barometer Pt II

I have an immaculate house.  Each room is as tidy as it can be given the confined space.  I feel good.  Almost feel like taking photos...

Another facet to my emotional barometer is the maintenance of the clean state.  The real test is how long it stays clean.  If the house stays clean my level of perceived control goes up.  But if we let is slide straight away it is a sign that my veneer of control is too thin.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Who is your Mrs Landingham?

I've been watching the West Wing again lately.  Luke and I love it, and Bede loves it (mostly for the music I think).  We're just up to the end of Season 2, which focuses on Mrs Landingham, one of the series' best characters!!

I was thinking though.  It seems like she is a mother substitute for Jed.  You know the type.  The older female figure who offers advice (solicited or not) and kicks you in the butt when you need it.  I'm not sure if I have one.

Actually that's not true.  I do have one.  But she's not that much older than me and she's my best friend.  She has certainly kicked me in the butt when I've needed it.  And she is great at offering advice!!

Who is your Mrs Landingham?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What's your Emotional Barometer?

It is funny how you can tell when someone is not coping too well.  Some people retreat into a room and play guitar.  Some people drink a bit too much.  Some people go out a lot.  Some people clean.

I am the opposite.  When I am not coping too well, my house gets messy.  Very messy.  But my true Emotional Barometer is the state of my kitchen.  

If the washing up is piling up on the bench top, you know I am having a rough time.  When it is piling up on the oven as well as the bench top...well let's just say I'm headed for a melt down.  

Sometimes it gets so bad I will go out for the day (no matter what it does to Bede's sleeps) just to avoid looking at the state of my kitchen.

This is all very ironic given that I do the mouse's share of the cooking in our house.  

Luke has always done the bulk of our cooking.  

He likes it.  

I like it. 

Long may it continue.

I have always done the bulk of the cleaning.  I am not good at it.  My house would never win an award for tidiness and my mother would (and sometimes does) flinch at the state of the bathroom.  

But when I am coping, my kitchen is pretty clean.  Immaculate even.  It's when I'm feeling confident and in control.  But it can go from clean and easy maintenance to messy and hard to fix in the space of 24 short hours.  I never realised I was so emotionally mercurial!!

So when you come to my house and I tell you "Please ignore the mess"...chances are I would really appreciate a hand.  I would deny it!  Vocally.  But please ignore my protests and please wash up for me!!! 

It is an easy way to help me get back under control.

The smiley face to thank God for...

I hate that the goodness or otherwise of my day has become all about how well Bede has slept that day.  It has been that way for way too long and I need to get over it.  It is hard but I really really need to get over it. 

What I need should be doing is thanking God for a happy, healthy boy who is growing well and who 95 % of the time is an absolute joy!  I should be spending more time writing posts like "Giggles" a few days ago.  

I should be spending more time thinking of the new skills he's learnt this week like:
     -  clapping spontaneously
     -  reaching down to pick something up without falling over (from a standing position whilst holding on to something)
     -  moving from crawling position to sitting position 

He is a JOY so often, with his smiley face and his snuggling in for a cuddle.

As a posted on facebook a few weeks ago, it is days like this one (and a few others lately) that remind me how easy (comparatively) we have it with Bede.  He has always slept well at night, eaten well (taking to breastfeeding like a duck to water), reached milestones early, and been good as gold for any and all babysitters.  I know many people who have it a lot harder than I do, which is why I shouldn't whinge.  

So I need to pray for thankfulness for my smiley little boy, and patience to keep smiling when he has a (rare) bad day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

That time of year again...

It's that time of year again.  The time of year when tens of thousands of Year 12 students finish the humdrum world of classes, and slide sloshily into the murkier world of stu-vac before the HSC.  

It was not a sloshy slide for me.  I walked with my head held high (and dry) through many an 18th Birthday party, through the end-of school celebrations and into uni keen to learn.  This is not the experience of most young school leavers.  Most will drink their way through ridiculous amounts of money and self-respect between now and uni, and often continuing into the uni years.

I drink.  Sure.  About one drink a month.  But many of these kids will come home from  Schoolies with damaged livers.  And I think to myself: WHY??

Surely there is more to having fun at a party or at uni, or just to celebrate than to pour huge amounts of (essentially) poison down one's throat.  Surely having fun does not include throwing up in the bushes, and spending the next day making people whisper and tip toe past your door.

The drinking culture in Australia is much discussed on morning tv, evening tv and in churches.  It is also much subtly defended on morning tv, and evening tv.  The presenters will sit there and bemoan the binge drinking that occurs on a mass scale every weekend, conveniently forgetting their own heavy drinking days.  In the evening the presenters often laugh shamefacedly as they try to speak against the drinking culture, and try and laugh off their own drunken exploits.

Until recently in Europe alcohol was the only safe liquid to drink when most waterways were full of material and human waste.  The current guidelines for pregnant women not to drink any alcohol (apart from being largely ignored) would have spelled a quick death from dehydration in centuries passed.  

Now we know better.  We know the effects on the body of prolonged moderate use of alcohol.  We know about the effects on the developing baby.  We know about the effect on families and the raised levels of violence.  And yet as a society we continue to drink to excess regularly.  

How can we change this culture??  The current advertisements suggesting you "delay their first drink" will be largely useless given that for the target audience, the "parents", often they spent their youth sozzled and happy about it.  For too many generations, getting drunk has become a positive statement about adulthood, about manhood, about fun.

Again I ask: How do we as Christians change the culture?  

Well we know that prohibition doesn't work.  The USA tried that.  EPIC FAIL.  The reasons for the Prohibition Act were great reasons.  But the culture was too entrenched even then.  Now?

Biblically we know that Jesus was not averse to a tipple himself.  He turned water into wine at a wedding for crying out loud.  But at the same time, the Apostle Paul exhorts women 'not to be addicted to much wine'.  So moderation is the order of the day.  But do we know what moderation is anymore? Do we really know what moderation is?  In a culture where people who drink to excess think they drink moderately...a culture change is definitely necessary.  But still difficult.  

Some Christians think we shouldn't drink at all.  I am tempted to agree, but I know I don't really.  That attitude may well be the product of too many years of indoctrination into the idea that alcohol "isn't really that bad", that everything in moderation is ok.   Maybe we shouldn't drink.  Maybe it would really take being completely different from the prevailing culture to make a difference.  

I don't know.  What do you think?

Monday, September 20, 2010


I am a stickler for appearing dignified in all circumstances.  

I am one of those people who will not allow myself to be pulled out of the audience at dancing classes, won't sing at karaoke (even though I love singing), won't do gym classes all because I am so paranoid about appearing undignified.

Not so when it comes to making Bede laugh!  I still remember the first time he did it!! and for the longest time we had to work really really hard to get him to laugh...we practically had to turn ourselves inside out and turn handsprings at the same time for a tiny chuckle...

Not so anymore!! Now we have a boy who will laugh quite readily when tickled, who will chuckle at his reflection in the mirror or at new sounds.  But the crowning glory, the most fun part of my day is putting him to bed at night...not because I'm tired and can't wait to get a break...(well yes that too)...but because he has in the last few days discovered how to play peek-a-boo!!  He'll pull his blanket up over his face, then down again, when we say "Boo!!"...cue the howls of laughter from the boy!!

What a joy to see him discovering such an easy yet sophisticated game!!

Bede playing Boo with bear!
Bede at bedtime with Merlin...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Just a mum...Part II

Often I am asked when I will be going back to work.  If I had a dollar for every time the question is asked, I would be very very rich.  It is an interesting assumption isn't it? Of course I'll be going back to work right?  I mean I'm a modern woman with a modern (and very expensive) education.

My school life was filled with the explicit indoctrination into modern ideas about women in the workforce: women can and should have both a career (a successful one of course), and a family at the same time.  I never really thought twice about the question of going back to work.  Not until Bede arrived.

Now when I think about going back to work, I am uncertain.  I alternate between wanting to go back to teaching; to the imparting of knowledge to the young; and wanting to stay with Bede, seeing all his firsts.  I have already missed a couple recently.  I missed the first time he pulled up to stand when he was at home with Poppy while Luke and I went to lunch...and then I missed the first time he pulled himself up in his cot, again while out with Luke.

Going back to work has other problems.  We will be moving at the end of the year to an as yet unknown location (we'll know where as soon as Luke gets a job for next year), into an as yet unknown church family.  It would not have been worth going back to work this year since I would have to quit at the end of the year anyway.  And next year, our first year in parish ministry, I want to spend time making connections, finding my feet in our new spiritual home.  I don't want to confuse the issue (or Bede) by adding a new job to the list of new things (new home, new church) we'll have to get used to.

We also kind of like the idea of 3 year age gaps, so in some ways it may not be worth going back to work between children.  Mind you I may change my mind on that one.

So it is a loaded question for me when people ask when I'm going back to work.  Firstly it assumes that I will.  I may not.  Secondly it assumes that work outside the home is a more important, more valid occupation than looking after the primary needs of Bede and home.  For the time being, caring for Bede's physical, spiritual and emotional welfare is my primary ministry which God has graciously blessed me with.  Any job I go back to will always be secondary to the cares of the family.

In a new church we will be wanting to extend hospitality often and to many people.  If I am working I will be less able to extend that hospitality and to run an efficient household (something I already struggle to achieve).  If I try to add paid work to my home responsibilities, Luke's life is made more complicated and stressful, which is not something he needs in a new job.

So as you can see asking me when I'll be going back to work is a very loaded question.  And for someone like me who was less-than -enthusiastic about leaving the work force, it can be a hurtful question because it reminds me of the sacrifices I make every day, and how selfish it is to even consider them sacrifices.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Stay at home...

"So what do you do?"

"I'm just a mum..."

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I was somewhat reluctant to give up teaching.  I was always worried that being at home all the time with a baby would mean that my brain would turn to mush through lack of adult conversation.  

It was of course my pride talking when I used to say such things.  I have too much pride.  It often gets in the way of my emotional and spiritual growth.  But one thing I have learned: pride is not a godly response to blessings from God.  I have been blessed with intellect and I am overly touchy about any potential slurs against it. So for me the idea that my brain might turn to mush whilst taking on the (supposedly) thankless tasks of parenting was terrifying.  It meant shelving ideas of further study whilst teaching.  It meant being "chained to the home" or so I thought.

What has been the reality?

The reality has been a double edged sword.  In some ways it is much easier than I expected it to be.  Bede has been a (relatively) easy baby to live with (no matter how much I may whinge on facebook).  He has always been a good eater, on the whole a good sleeper (with some exceptions to be addressed in future posts), and a very smiley happy little boy. My brain hasn't turned to mush as I feared it would.  I have been able to get to at least one Biblestudy group a week, to Moorewomen each week, to Mother's group most weeks, and to visit and support a very good friend and fellow maternal traveller more weeks than not. I have enjoyed not marking exams or writing reports, or dealing with recalcitrant students.

On the other hand, I have often struggled with my own expectations of myself.  I often have to revise what I can actually achieve with a baby in tow, how many things I can actually get to each week around sleeps and feeds.  On occasion I have had to clear the decks for the sake of a few days of good sleeps (for Bede) whilst champing at the bit to get out the door.  I can be very ungracious about putting aside my need for human contact for the sake of Bede's need for stability and routine.  

Don't get me wrong.  I love routine!! I made a big effort to get Bede into a routine rather than feeding on demand.  I'm a teacher so I love control and predictability. In a sense, having a baby has been the hardest thing I've ever done simply because it means surrendering my need to control and regulate.  It has meant slightly freaking out when Bede doesn't do what the books say he should and when (for the record he generally does things ahead of time...both good and bad). 

Anyway.  The upshot is that yes I was reluctant to give up my working life.  And yes I thought parenting would be one long round of hell and isolation.  Was I correct?  No I wasn't.  I was wrong.  

There.  I've said it.  I love being a mum.  I love looking after Bede each day.  

But why is it so hard to admit that?  

Pride.  One of my most glaring defects and sinful attitudes.    I should be able to shout my joy in Bede from the rooftops.  But because of my pride, I whisper it shamefacedly, embarrassed by my own backflips...

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I thought it would be a good idea to address the question of my occupation early-on in this blog. 

I always wanted to be a teacher.  I have been a teacher since before I can remember.  

It was only the subject that was the question; I never considered anything other than secondary school teaching and as I grew older and began to understand myself and my interests, my passions for literature and for history (and everything involved in both) it became clear to me what I needed to study at uni.  

I never had the years of soul searching that so many kids have when the UAC books come out each year.  I knew what degree and what uni I would apply for.  I only put in one choice because I was that certain of my desires.  

I got in to my choice of uni and degree, I worked hard, I got honours in both English and History because I could never choose one over the other.  I did a Dip Ed at a less-preferred uni, did my prac at a great school (James Ruse...let the reader understand) and graduated as the one thing I ever wanted to be: a Teacher (note the capital).

For various reasons I chose not to apply to state schools (a post for another time), and I spent almost a year and a half looking for a full-time job.  

But teaching was not what I always thought it would be.   I struggled with class control, kids didn't listen or care...but I thought my enthusiasm would cut through all that.  Not so.  I left a few schools because I couldn't cope.  And what of my lifetime of dreaming of finding one school I could work at 'til I retired? getting further and further into the distance...

Then last year, I taught at a school which was ideologically and theologically opposite to almost everything I believe in.  And do you know what?  I loved it! The kids were great!! they wanted to learn, and on the whole they listened.  It was a joy to teach there.  It was somewhere I could have stayed for a while...not quite a lifetime of teaching, but a while.  

In March and April I was toying with the idea of taking this year off to study at Moore College  with Luke.  I was within a few weeks of applying.  Then God showed that He had other ideas for me this year, and for the years to come.  

The lofty years of dreaming of a career in teaching, retiring  after a long and fulfilling career...diminishing...fading...into the reality of becoming a mum.  

"SO what do you do?"..."I'm just a mum"... 

... to be continued.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love...Yourself...

I went with some lovely Moorewest ladies to see 'Eat Pray Love' tonight.  It is not really my kind of movie...I'm not really the chick-flick type...I went more for the company than the film...

Having said that it was an enjoyable experience.  The movie wasn't brilliant, but it was good for what it was.  It was well shot, using some amazing scenery from Italy and Bali.  The music was generally well chosen, and the acting wasn't half bad.  

I was very interested in the kind of ideas about life and self that were portrayed in the film.  The protagonist Liz is on one of those 'quests' to 'find herself' that so many modern women seem to need to go on.  This seems to be a way of avoiding working through her real issues and spending a very self-indulgent year travelling, eating good food, meeting great people, and basically getting used to being alone after many years in and out of relationships.  

Initially Liz seems to be trying to challenge the idea that you need a man to be fulfilled, and that is great!! Her desperate prayer to God was amusing yet saddening to a Christian viewer.  She kind of says "nice to finally meet you"...I found that ironic because she was in no way engaging with God on a meaningful level (from a Christian perspective).  Her request for a sign was one of those things we all do when we have no idea what to do next, and predictably failed.   

To get to the point, the movie seemed to be all about finding an inner balance or centre.  This could be achieved chiefly through meditation, engaging with gurus (or medicine men), getting advice from all your friends while giving nothing back to the relationship, and generally avoiding taking responsibility for your decisions.  There is little or no mention of God except to say that "God is in you" and another few phrases which had very little to do with God.  Essentially it was saying that you find balance by looking inward not upward.  You find your centre by seeking self, not truly seeking God.  

And in the end the cliche is restored...balance is restored...she flees a relationship to find herself, and she finds herself in a relationship, but only after she becomes able to love herself. 

A question to do we use this film (or book if you read the book) as an entry point to talking about God, and through that, Jesus?  

I think it's about looking at the world views, but also, starting with the most glaring thing: relationships are do we fix them?!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

teething troubles...

the what to say question...

I could talk about how excited I am about the fact that it is only 68 days until the next Harry movie opens...

I could talk about the 20 or so books I am currently reading...

I could talk about the tedious process of job hunting after College...

I could talk about the highs and lows of being a semi-reluctant stay-at-home Mum...

I could talk about how much I miss the murky world of Fan Fiction and my secret desire to write one...

I could talk about my own inefficiency as at sharing the gospel with my friends and family...

I could talk about these things...and I probably will get around to them all eventually.

What do you want to hear about?