Why Having Children Is A Good Thing

My babies meeting for the first time.

My babies meeting for the first time.

In the weeks before my son turned 18, I started to have flashbacks about his childhood, and his sisters childhood. Things I have forgotten rose as the the sediment of his life was stirred in anticipation for him to turn into an adult and I remembered how much I loved having children.

I always knew I would have children. One of my favourite games as a child was to pretend I found a baby lost in the snow and I would rescue it and care for it and dress it in warm cardigans knitted by my grandmother for my dolls. I had my first child at 25, because I wanted a baby. We had no money, no real careers and no idea what we were doing but we had one anyway and we loved her. I loved being a mother even when they annoyed the crap out of me.

I had a large amount of time between my children, which I could afford to do since I started so young, so the next one arrived when I was 29 and he was as delicious as the first one.

I loved being with my children. I remember my husband and I fighting as to who would get up to my daughter when she woke, not because we didn’t want to, but because we both wanted to be greeted with that smile as she lay happily in her cot. All snug and smug we used to say.

My son didn’t sleep so well but I didn’t mind as much as I thought I would. Him and I just hanging out at night, shooting the breeze and knowing it would all pass and we would survive this stage.

Nothing really stressed me as a young parent because I didn’t overdose on books and we didn’t have apps. I just loved them and asked my sister a lot of questions, as she had already had her son before I had my daughter.

When I sat with a pregnant friend a little while ago, she said there was so much scary information about how hard it is and she was worried.

I shrugged and told her that if I could do it anyone could. I mean, I think I am 7% not quite right most of the time, so if I can push one baby out, and have another one out the sunroof, anyone can. And if I can survive on little sleep and still laugh at my kids being hilarious and joyful, anyone can, because I am the least pain resistant, most selfish bitch I know.

There is something so wonderful was your children loving you and you loving them. That their individual little quirks and words and dances are precious and what you wanted, and that they will challenge you and make you look at the way you were parented and try like a mother to fix yourself so they can benefit.

You don’t need all the apps and money and gadgets, I mean who really needs a baby wipe warmer?

You need something for it to wear, to sleep in (in past time, babies used to sleep in a bottom drawer) food and love. Seriously! You can make toys from empty toilet rolls and put rice in and old soft drink bottle and make play-dough from flour and salt and oil. You do need to provide kisses and songs and put your phone down and talk to the small person and read them books from the library and everything else is optional.

Women hang onto their birth stories like battle scars, well worn and some show them off to those who don’t ask. I don’t. Each person’s story is personal and I think scaring the living baby out of someone is mean. If people ask me any advice I say, take the drugs if you need to, and do what works for you. Your body will tell you what it needs. The rest is all you.

I have loved being a mother to my kids. Even the tough stuff was a privilege to go through with them, and every lesson they had, I learned something about myself as well. I am not the most conventional of mothers.

My kids swore at home from an early age, because I couldn’t be fucked stopping them when I am such a sailor, but they did know there was an at home language and an out of home language.

I focussed a lot on education because I think that matters. Critical thinking matters in life. I wanted them to try everything and then see what felt like fun and not work. Education was my saviour. My school rescued me in many ways. I wanted my kids to have something extraordinary in their education. I think they have been fortunate and we worked hard to give them that. Not just schooling but travel for my daughter also was worth it. Europe, alone, gave her the confidence to problem solve and see the world is bigger than little old Melbourne.

Lots of exposure to art. Lots of questions answered. I never lied to my kids about hard stuff, so they grew up with a high level of emotional intelligence. They also knew more than they should have at times but they survived.

I let them hang out with the adults. Kids learn from modelling others. Socialisation with adults helps them understand how to speak in groups, take turns, discuss without expecting anything other than conversation. I encouraged them to participate. Their opinion mattered. I never told them to ‘piss off’ as so many of my generations parents told us. Also, I liked them, so I was happy to have them at the table with my friends!

I knew there were some battles I wouldn’t win without it hurting me and our relationships, so I didn’t stress so much about them, such as mobile phones in bedrooms and trying to control that. They get over it. Chill, refocus. Manage it, don’t be a nightmare parent about this, trust me. Choose the battles, and choose your weapons carefully. You never know which one will leave a wound that won’t heal.

And finally, I said yes more than I said no. Once day I realised how much I was saying no, so I started saying maybe, and yes. It changed everything. The yes was within reason but I realised I said no a lot because it was like an automatic reflex. But what if I said yes?

What if I said yes to my daughter wearing a gold lame costume to my Dad’s 60th birthday instead of the perfect dress I had picked out? What would happen? (Funny photos for ever!)

What if I said yes if my son decided he wanted to go to the supermarket in his pj’s and swimming goggles? (He made people smile as we passed)

What if I said yes to pancakes at 10 at night? (Heartburn for me)

What if I said yes to a day off school and work for everyone and we went to the movies? (We made this a once a term thing and the kids could do whatever they wanted with me on that day. Movies, sleep in, lunch whatever.)

What if?

Life is an adventure. Having kids is an adventure. If you do it right, it can be fun. Stop controlling so much, and start loving them and remember to play.

My 12th Letter to You

SG634.jpg

Dearest One,

What an awful week we had, and yet we made it through. So much hate in the world and still we keep loving. Every moment babies are born, hands are held as others die, and somewhere in between we have to go on living.

Living is a privilege and as I lie in my marrow years, I can see this truth more than ever. It is hard to understand how careless people can be with their time here, but it is more impossible to try and fathom why someone else would take that life away from us.

I was talking to a man this morning about his son who just suicided not even a month ago. He said I made him cry-laugh. Is that a new term? Kate the Inventor of the Cry-Laugh. We spoke of many things about his beloved boy but we also spoke of sorrow. The sort of sorrow that makes you lose control of your body, and feel as though you exist in another place and you are where you are by accident.

I understand this sorrow. I have lived this sorrow. Sorrow in the marrow. The marrow of sorrow. That’s it, isn’t it? We have to go down deep to find meaning in any loss. Sometimes the loss is senseless so we make it mean something. Laws change, people choose at their words a little more carefully, they rethink their ideas about everything and they try to make sense of it all. And we have to ask ourselves the real questions.

Why did this happen to me?

The answer is, why not?

You and I are not blessed. No one is blessed by some benevolent Sky Daddy who says I am more worthy than someone else, thus I will not be shot while I sit with my friends somewhere that we consider a sacred space. It is just luck, and racism, and bigotry. Only two of those we can control. The other is random.

I don’t have any answers other than try and be kind but take no bullshit. Try and show others how to be generous of your time and conversation but call our racism and bigotry when you see and hear it, and be prepared to educate or not have them in your life. Stand up and be heard and above all, listen more than you speak.

Whatever is happening in the world right now, I want you to look at you small part of it, and do what you can, we need you.

Much love,

Kate

How to not be a f*ckwit partner

I have been married a while, which doesn’t mean I have been happy the whole relationship. I know my husband has had times where he’s questioned that whole decision to wear a suit and wait in a musty church for me to turn up in a big white dress and an even bigger picture hat (I was really into Grace Kelly’s whole High Society aesthetic at the time).

Once I annoyed my husband by asking him to move a wardrobe at 1.00 am, because I was nesting with our first child (I gave birth two days later). I refused to let him do it in the morning, it had to be right then! As he moved it, I heard him mutter, “Sometimes you shit me so much, you make me wanna poo my pants.” So funny. Honestly, he was a toddler, while I was about to birth a baby. We still say it to each other when we are annoying.

I don’t really have all the answers or probably any real solutions tell the truth but here are a few things I have seen in others, learned and experienced so far in this close to 30 year relationship.

  1. Make an effort in the relationship. Do kind things for each other. I don’t mean roses and chocolates. I mean, picking up the package from the post office, or getting the script filled from the chemist. Do it and be a good egg about it all. Don’t ask for praise but remember to say thank you when it’s done for you.

  2. Don’t ask them to be a mind reader to meet your needs and expectations. If you want to go away for the weekend, tell them. If you want to do more things together on the weekend, tell them. They don’t have a bloody crystal ball, and it shouldn’t be a test.

  3. Find something to do together. A TV show you both love and can talk about. A hobby. Get fit together (I am still waiting to do this one). Explore new ideas and concepts together. Don’t dismiss it out of hand. Even if you’re not into it, maybe ask them about it so you show you care.

  4. Learn the names of the people they work with. Hearing stories about other people’s work is really boring, but people’s behaviours are not. Find out who the key people in their daily work life and when they tell you how their day was, ask questions that include the others. It makes it more interesting for you and makes them feel they aren’t so boring.

  5. Let them tell you when they’re worried or paranoid or stressed like you would a let a friend confide in you. Sometimes when we the person we rely on is fragile, it can feel destabilising to have them so uncertain about life and your relationship. By allowing them to admit their vulnerabilities, we are helping them process and work through the whole mental mess and take the load for a while.

  6. If an argument comes up and they respond with old issues from their previous relationship or childhood, call it out. I hate my husband drinking because I had an alcoholic parent, so I have to remind myself that just because he’s had a few drinks with his mates once in a blue moon does not mean he is an alcoholic.

  7. Learn how to do things so you don’t rely on your partner all the time. Cooking, cleaning, ironing, sewing on a button. Small things but it’s great when you are both a team and can take care of BAU in the home.

  8. Don’t fight over crap like doing the dishes and whose turn it is. Do it together if you have reached an impasse. It’s you and them against the dishes, not you two against each other.

  9. Don’t disrespect what is important to them. If something really matters to them but not to you, then just go with it. If they are all about Christmas decorations or having a beautiful garden, or a wonderful indoor plant collection, or looking fly, don’t shit on it because you don’t care. They care, so respect it.

  10. Talk about when you got together. It’s a nice reminder that this was what you wanted then and how bloody amazing your love story is.

  11. Don’t expect your partner to be the sole provider of your happiness. They aren’t. You are. Okay? Good.

  12. Make an effort in your shared space. Clean up after yourself. Don’t be a complete piglet. Respect the other person might have issue with it. You are living together. If you want to be a slob, live alone.

  13. It’s okay to forget a wedding anniversary. It’s not okay to forget their birthday. Make an effort. Buy a present. Be present. Celebrate them being in the world.

  14. Don’t hold grudges over petty shit. Let it go, learn to laugh at it and yourself.

  15. Don’t compete with them over bullshit like how much money you earn or looks or vapid crap. Let them have the spotlight when they deserve it and vice versa. Share the moments and don’t always be an attention whore. Take it in turns to the racehorse and the donkey.

  16. Don’t be disloyal. I used to be friends with a group of women who only ever bitched about their partners. I felt bad about for their partners and because I didn’t want to bitch about mine I felt like I didn’t belong. If I had something to say I would talk to him about it, not them. They’re all divorced now, so…yeah, you work it out.

  17. Don’t have a shit-fit when they call you on your bullshit, and you know it’s bullshit. Level up and own that shit and then retire it. You don’t need to threaten to leave because you’re embarrassed. Just own it, move on, and grow-up.

  18. Learn to apologise and work out why you’re apologising, and then tell them why you are wrong. Saying sorry is easy, meaning it is some next level emotional Yoda stuff and makes all the difference in moving forward in your relationship.

  19. Be happy when they have a success even if your plans are going to the dogs. A rising tide lifts all boats. If they win, you win by osmosis. Let them have their moment and don’t drag them down because you’re unhappy with your current situation. It’s very selfish to do that and frankly, a shitty thing to do.

  20. Work out your communication styles. Being all ‘yelly’ might not get the point across to someone who prefers a more quiet approach. Also, being good at arguing doesn’t mean you’re always right. I need to think about things before I discuss big things so I need to formulate the argument and present it, as I’m not good on the spot, as I am too emotional. Be prepared to walk away from the situation to get your head straight and allow the other person to do that.

And that’s all I can think of now. I hope it resonates with you and we can always be better partners. I am going to try to not make my husband want to poo his pants, and that’s a win for everyone!

My 9th Letter to You

Hello Lovely,

How was the week, just gone? Did you do the things on your list? Or some of them?

What about the week ahead? How is that shaping up? You don’t have to do everything at once, remember that. The ones that impact your life the most are the ones to focus on first.

I read a while ago that procrastinating is what happens when we are stuck. Stuck in a mindset, stuck in a rut, stuck in a pattern. If you’re stuck, let me know and I can help unstick you. I am not sure that’s a word but I can certainly guide you in the right direction. Sometimes you just have to ask for help.

I am mentoring a few writers at the moment and it’s interesting to see the feelings of self-doubt and second-guessing are with everyone. My kids laugh at me when I use a phrase, one that I have used for twenty years when I am trying to motivate them, “Nothing to it but to do it,” and it’s still true.

I have a lot on in the week ahead, including a weekend interstate helping my daughter settle back to University. I also have jobs to finish and writing to do and I must clean my house today. I will feel better when it’s done. It has felt like a sword hanging over me so I might as well just do it!

I have been enjoying free things that are being offered on the web also. I have a new sofa, a banana tree, and a new fiddle leaf fig, all because people don’t want them anymore. Isn’t that lovely? I am more than happy to take them and enjoy them. I don’t even like bananas but who can say no to a fruit tree? I can always give the fruit away, thus the cycle of generosity goes on. That will be me on the stamp, handing out bananas!

I had brunch with a friend. I love her so. I bought her a lipstick called Rita because she’s glam as Rita Hayworth and sometimes lipstick is just the panacea a gal needs. She is good for my soul. I hope you have a friend like that. Someone. It’s hard being alone sometimes. I am grateful for my husband and children and my friends. Friends can be your chosen family. The only way to respond to disloyalty is with detachment. It’s funny when people don’t realise they are being disloyal. Disloyalty hurts in your bones. The idea that people who claim to love you, who then don’t defend you, or gossip with others about things you swore them to secrecy about are disloyal people. Don’t be around this. You have rights and deserve better.

I know you think that sometimes things should have been different for you, but just because things could’ve been different it doesn’t mean they would have been better. Who is to say how things work out? You know when you don’t want to go to something and it ends up being an amazing night, and then when you set up something in your mind to be incredible and it turns out to be a fizzer? It’s called expectations. You really need to let them go, Lovely One. Expect that you can do your best most of the time but expect nothing else from anyone or anything else. Just work through the list. One task at a time.

I’m always here if you need me. Let me know how I can help if I can help. If not, I will be sending you healing and productive energy from here.

Much love to you,

Kate

x

My 8th Letter To You

Hello there,

You are doing so well.

I mean that. I know you think I don’t notice but I do and I don’t say things too loudly because I know you will more than likely startle at any compliments. But I want to say, I see you and I know it’s fucking hard. Like, so hard. It’s enormous what you’re doing, and it matters.

I am writing my next book which is bloody marvellous and the lead character is named for a friend who died a long time ago. I miss her more than I thought I would. We were not best friends but we were good friends and I made her laugh, a lot, even as she was dying in her 30’s. I made her laugh and that is a bloody miracle.

I used to make my Dad laugh, which is a lovely memory to have. I miss him also but we talk in my head and he understand where I am at and what I am doing. It seems there is no ego or expectations in the afterlife, which is both comforting and surprising.

I was thinking about writing something for the newspapers but I would have to trawl my life and talk about the personal pain/success/learnings and more and to be honest with you, I just don’t want to unstop that bottle. You know I have been lots of work on myself lately and to write about the past seems futile. It’s happened. The horse has bolted. I cannot undo things.

The things I could write about and complain about are things that really don’t matter. The response to them being shitty moments in my life is because I wanted things to be different and my ego threw a hissy fit. I am over that bullshit. If I wrote those articles now it would be a subtweet of everything and everyone who ever hurt my ego. Who cares? Honestly. I don’t even care about those stories now. My life story is worth more than $300. Also, it’s worth nothing because everyone has a story and everyone’s story is interesting and hard and crazy.

My focus is creative writing. A new book. A new TV show. Plus I am being healthy and I planning my trip to Italy and Greece, which is so exciting I can hardly breathe. One kid is back to finish their final year at uni next week the other one is starting their final year of school. Enormous stuff and exciting and a lot of hard work.

So, I want you to try to remember to not get caught up in the drama. Remember to walk away from it and from things that your ego is responding to. Take a moment and pause and look at what is upsetting you. Is it really, truly worth the energy?

Feel things as they are, not as you want them to be.

It does help.

I am sending you love for the rest of the week.

I am thinking of you.

Kate

x