In the great green room,
there was a telephone,
and a red balloon,
and a picture of
a cow jumping over a moon…
It is night time, so we have read Goodnight moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, to our daughter five times, or maybe more, if you count our recitals by heart (but wait, you forgot the toy house, my husband says, and he is right). It is like this most nights. She loves this book, the two kittens, the mush and goodnight nobody, because why not when s/he is always there? She has a special squeak for all animals, but especially the the kittens and the mouse. The bunnies standing in for humans get none, but why should they when they waste a perfectly good bowl of mush?
How great is my Friday night?
I was walking to the shops one afternoon with my daughter, as I do, when I had a sudden realisation: if I had spent my life taking advantage of little chunks of time here and there to pursue my goals, I’d probably have achieved a lot more. Obvious, I know, but as someone who tends to want to enact major change in ideal (time-plentiful) circumstances, I’m going to take this as a kick in the ass from my brain. There are no time-plentiful, ideal circumstances (particularly not as a parent), but those ten-minute dashes and small daily rituals all have the potential of adding up to something fantastic.
I know I’m not alone in this. All those people in the States who don’t vote because their vote “doesn’t matter”… Well, it does matter. Everything we do matters. The impact may be small now, but in the long run, our actions become significant. They shape the world, and they fundamentally change us.
This is a very roundabout way of getting to a political message, but hey, that’s the way my mind works. If you’re Australian who is eligible to vote, I urge you to vote in the postal plebiscite when it arrives at your doorstep shortly.
I will personally be voting yes, because I strongly believe in marriage equality. As an immigrant to Australia, I have always been impressed by how willing most people here are to treat everyone fairly and equitably, and I see a yes vote as an affirmation of one of the best parts of Australian society. Hopefully, eventually, it will lead to an actual change in law. (Every little step counts, right?)
My daughter hasn’t wanted me to put her down lately. I get home from work and she clings on for dear life all evening and throughout the night, crying when I put her down to make dinner and, after bedtime, waking when I attempt to regain a little space of my own. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I love that she finds comfort in my presence. On the other hand, I’ve always needed some space of my own and am finding it difficult to fulfil this need.
This is one of the challenges I’ve found most difficult in becoming a mother thus far. My daughter’s persistent and communicative and very sure of her needs. My career (up until this point) has been all demanding. My husband, primary carer to my daughter most days, needs his space as well when I get home from work. And so I find myself torn: my own needs are often in conflict with all of these demands. I want to make everything better for everyone else, because I was brought up to put others’ needs before my own. If I do this, though, cracks begin to appear in my character; my resilience fades. In the process, my worst personality traits become amplified in all the caring for everyone before taking care of myself.
I want to provide positive examples of how to balance needs for my daughter, who will one day face some of the challenges I’m struggling to cope with now. She’s persistent and stubborn, is quick to anger and slow to forgiveness, and also needs her space–all characteristics I’ve been known to exhibit from time to time, to the point where, some days, I feel like I’m staring at a reflection of myself as I try to read my daughter’s anger. My poor mother. My daughter will survive as I did, but I’d like her to have an easier time managing these traits, so she can channel them into something positive. I guess I’ll have to figure out how to do that for myself first.
I keep reminding myself that these days are like these trips we used to take through the canyons of the Blue Mountains. You get through unworkable challenges with persistence, grit, and a bit of blood, only to find a view that makes it all worth it on the other side. We’ll make it, one slippery step at a time.