Recently I went to an event hosted by the Mothers Union of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney. It was about parental involvement in education and it was fascinating. I don't want to go into all the content from the day here (even though there was lots I could talk about), but I did want to share one bit from the keynote speaker's talk. She's the principal of a private girls' high school, and she told an anecdote from when her children were younger and she was friends with a family that had children of comparable ages—which meant that not only were they in the same classes together, they also did a few extra curricular activities together. She would often go over to this family's house to give lifts to one of the children who did soccer with her son. The family, however, lived in quite a big house, and often the mother wouldn't know where the relevant child was. The keynote speaker said, “I cannot count the number of times I spent waiting in the foyer while the family went about searching for this child who was presumably lost inside this massive house.” She concluded by saying, “Family houses are getting too large” and made (and implied) a few points about how house size impacts the children (one of them being that parents are working so hard to pay off big mortgages, their children are losing out. She told another story involving a boy who came from a well-off household where both parents worked, however, they worked long hours—which often meant that he had to get his own dinner and put himself to bed. One day he complained of stomach pains. His parents took him to various medical appointments to figure out what was wrong, but no one could work it out. He returned to school one day after one of those medical appointments when it was a couple of minutes before the lunch bell, and asked the teacher, “Should I go to class?” She said, “No, the bell's going to go soon. How about you get out your lunch and go sit in the playground.” He said, “I didn't bring any lunch today and I forgot to bring money for the canteen.” The teacher promptly reached into her purse to give him some money to buy some lunch from the canteen, and as she did, a thought occurred to her and she asked the boy, “When was the last time you ate? Did you have breakfast?” It turned out the answer was no: the last time the boy had ate was a slice of pizza at a friend's house three days ago. He was slowly starving to death and neither of his parents had noticed).
I keep wanting to get back into blogging. It’s a crazy thought that leaves me internally laughing: “Yeah right! With what time?” And then another internal voice (one no doubt spawned from my internal critic) chimes in with, “You have to make time: you make time for the things that are the most important to you. If you don’t, then it obviously wasn’t that important to you”—to which my other internal voice (the one that’s cranky but which tries to be kind to myself) says, “Oh, SHUT UP! Don’t you have any inkling of what it’s like, being a mother to young children? You’re on the ball for 12 hours a day, plus you have to tackle the housework and the admin on top of general parenting/childminding, so it’s little wonder that when the girls are in bed, all you want to do is sit on the couch, knitting and watching TV. TV and knitting may seem like a waste of time, but let me tell you, if you weren’t spending those few precious hours in the evening doing that, you’ll be more of a basket case the following day. You know this. You may be able to get away with devoting a night a week to demolishing your never-ending To Do list. But it still eats into your store of energy, and then you end up super cranky and yelling at your kids. Do you really want that?” To which I respond in a small voice, “No …” And then I just keep running around in mental circles.
But perhaps another solution can be found: perhaps (if I silence my internal critic and perfectionist) it could be done. It would mean writing shorter—quelling that impulse (that partly arises from Twitter’s brevity) to write lengthy thinkpieces incorporating everything I’ve ever thought on a subject in favour of pithy things that may not do very much, but that might make a small point in about 500-1000 words. (Okay, okay: 1000 words is exactly “short”.) It would mean setting a timer, seeing what I can come up with in that period and learning to be content with it, whatever its form. It would mean bolstering my self-control to ignore the intrusions of social media. It would mean quashing all protestations that my blog design is 10 years out of date (it is), existing on a domain that hardly gets used anymore (true), powered by a content management system that is too old for the version of PHP running on its server (*sigh*). (Maybe one day I’ll have time to update all of that. [*Insert hysterical laughing.*]) But for now, the writing is the thing.
(Continued from Part 1 …)
Hello, blog and blog readers! I've missed you. Hope you've missed me!
December is the month when everyone looks back over the year, and although I'm not the sort to enjoy doing that (I find it kind of annoying, actually), it's still mildly interesting to take a step back and think about all the stuff that's happened this year. It was a big year: afternoons writing with Guan came to an end (*sob!*); I gave birth to Saski and got caught up in baby stuff; after writing a bunch of manuals about how to do things, I was relieved from my Music Time duties (along with pretty much everything else I was doing at church, so now I just rock up, unencumbered by rosters); I sold my old car, got our new car fixed and serviced, and swapped cars with Ben (so now I drive the one he used to drive and he drives the new one); I entered the Dairing Art Yarn Challenge Competition in April (I submitted two entries, but I suspect they weren't really “arty” enough for the judges); we went to Hong Kong in September for my brother's wedding (which meant researching accommodation, applying for passports, writing packing lists and doing as much preparation as possible so that travelling with an infant and a toddler would be as smooth as possible [it was]); I organised a big birthday party for Astrid that involved more than family on the guest list; and I tried to stay on top of the housework/admin/calendar/baby things to the best of my ability to prevent the wheels falling off everything. (It's amazing how having another child further immerses you in domestic life …)
And there's lots of stuff I'd like to write about what it's like to move from one child to two, but that's not the purpose of this post: the purpose of this post is to note the writing stuff—that is, the stuff that I regard as being my “work” away from … err … work (that is, domestic labour).
Obviously time has been limited this year. Nevertheless, the following still managed to happen:
Please forgive the random topic; I've been trying to blog about this for a little while in the corners of time that I have to do stuff like blogging. (This post was made possible by my in-laws being here today to give me a little break!)
Last year I had a bit of a mini meltdown. As you may have noticed, I am a planner (as opposed to a spontaneous do-er or whatever you call such people), and I had a plan for the next five years that went something like this:
Oh dear: I have not blogged in three months!!! I haven't even done a working update since January! Obviously I've been a little busy, but anyway …
Yesterday Paul and I finalised the interior and cover art for Part 1 of our graphic novel, Eternal Life, and sent it off to our printer. The cover looks like this:
I mentioned earlier that Christmas was hugely stressful for me last year. I also mentioned that I would blog about my battle plan for buying Christmas presents, which helps to reduce some of the stress that Christmas brings. Then I realised that Christmas present-buying is really part of what I do about present-buying for the entire year, so to call this post “The Christmas present battle plan” wasn't quite correct. So anyway, here I spell out how I handle present-buying throughout the entire year.
(Feel free to skip this post: I'm just going to blather on about my second labour in excruciating detail, which, I realise, will interest some people and not others. But I felt like writing it all down was an important thing to do—not just for me and my processing of the whole event—not just for Pine Nut who might want to read about it in future years—but also because good birth stories are important: apparently a lot of women these days are afraid of childbirth because often just the scary birth stories get shared around when they get pregnant. [NB This has NOT been my experience.] Hence sites like Tell Me a Good Birth Story. [Thanks Annelise for the link!] Also, if you're interested in more about this, this interview with Lucy Perry is fascinating—and not just because she started off not wanting to have children and then became a birth attendant. Finally, apologies for any errors: once again, I'm writing this quickly so I can get it down before I forget.)
Since I did December last week, I thought I should also move onto January.
(Note to self: label your posts with the year, otherwise there will be too much of an overlap in the blog database.)
It's February, so here's the recap of December (obviously ;P).
A way of funding writing in the future: pitch and idea and get people to support it.
Place where you can hire play equipment for parties, etc.
How to recalibrate the home button on your iPhone.
Unsolicited manuscripts accepted by Pan Macmillan with certain conditions.
Thought Balloon is a group blog in which the writers tackle a new theme every week? month? with one-page scripts. This URL is for their Phonogram ones.