I’ve never been one for love letters…

My Husband…

I’ve never been one for love letters. Perhaps my heart is a little too big to wear on my sleeve, or the words fall over eachother clumsily when I try to bring them together. When I try to say ‘I love you’ with all the words it deserves.

But as time passes I realize that those three words can’t possibly contain it all, and that they tumble from me so often they blur into the other words that make up our days. They become like habit, comfortable and reliable, but not all they should be.

The truth is that life gets busy. It gets so busy at times that it steals whole days sometimes before we get a chance to really see eachother. We see the mess to clean up, the squealing kids, the work to be done. We talk about all the have tos and need tos but the wants… they hang there unsaid, stolen by all the stuff that distracts us and we forget how much we ache for them.

Sometimes I watch you when you don’t realize it. When you’re focused on work or when laughter escapes your lips. I drink in all the intricacies that make you who you are and I allow myself that moment to fall in love a little more. Sometimes it feels like a warmth bubbling up in my chest, other times like a comfort, a safe place to land.

The I love yours in marriage become mixed over time, and you realize now and then that the thoughtful moments say it as much as words. That the gestures and touches and private jokes blend in with the hard work to make this family whole and it becomes a bit of a tapestry together. It’s quite beautiful really, the dance we do getting through the every day, each move so essential to the other.

Thank you for the soft place to rest my head when I lay in your arms, thank you for the tingles when you kiss me, for taking out the trash when it’s too cold outside, for the way you rest your hand on the small of my back when we walk up hills to give me a boost. Thank you for making a space where I can be raw and honest, angry, passionate, crazy or sad and still seeing the beautiful in me.

I’ve never been one for love letters, but every day is my I love you.

loveletter

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

Treasure hunting

These past couple of weeks have been a blur of sick kids, sick parents and the general chaos that goes with it. A teething toddler squealing if he wasn’t velcro attached to a hip at all times and mess, so spectacularly much of it, breeding like the germs we have been trying to fight.

In amongst it all there has been a lot of tiredness, frustration, and, well… sneezing. There haven’t been a lot of ‘wow’ moments.

Or at least that’s what I thought. It occurred to me today in the midst of a pile of laundry that I had forgotten about the game in this. That every day, be it filled with snot and old cartoons or beaches and laughter – they’re all treasure hunts.

In this day there was gratitude to be found. There were so very many things to be thankful for. So I started being aware of the treasure hunt. I started looking a little harder….

I found a beautiful home behind the newly applied pencil marks on the walls (thanks little one). I found the unmistakable smell of ‘baby’ still clinging to the toddler than clung to me. I found new angles to my five year olds face – just a little – the sign of a growth spurt in progress and the proud squeals when he marked his new height on the wall by the fridge. I realized that my enormous laundry pile meant abundance – so many clothes. So many beautiful colours, fabrics and styles all ours. I found options in the ‘I don’t know what to cook’… healthy ones, lots of them, with fresh broccoli and silverbeet and basil from the garden – scents that I could still smell through my blocked nose. I even found appreciation in my tiredness, and realized how deliciously good sitting down felt today in those moments when I had the chance.

We get so caught up in the tired or the busy or the stressed or the sick that we miss all the wonderful holding it together. There is always gratitude to be found in the day you have… sometimes, you just need to take a little more notice.

grateful

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

Jellybeans

There are many “wow” moments in parenthood. Sometimes they’re big ones, other times they’re beautiful bits of daily life that make you fall in love with your family just that little bit more. I had one the other day, and it was all over a packet of jellybeans.

Bodhi had been obsessed with jellybeans for a while. Obsessed in a way that a five year old does so well, with every supermarket trip spent running to the candy aisle and gazing at these mysterious sweets that he had never tasted but frequently imagined. He wanted those jellybeans with every fibre of his little being. 

Sweets are something we do very rarely, so I tried – and failed – to distract him. He asked about jellybeans several times a week, even telling me that he was dreaming about them and imagining holding them in his hand. 

Last week I found some vegan jellybeans – unhealthy enough to be sweet and colourful, but healthy enough to be free of anything artificial. He jumped up and down and cheered when I bought them, but waited patiently until a ‘junk food day’ before he could have them. 

On Monday, my wide-eyed little boy got his jellybeans. He flung himself into my arms bubbling with professions of love and clutched that packet with everything he had. His hands practically shook as he tasted the first one. His eyes closed and he sighed – they were “perfect”.

Then my boy gave me one of those wow moments.

In between savoring his jelly beans he came over to pop a few in my hand, then ran to the other side of the house to give some to daddy. Sebastian had been given four or five, and Bodhi the rest of the pile, but instead of eating his long awaited stash he looked at his brothers high chair tray with those few colourful beans and then at his own pile.

“No, that’s not fair, is it?” he said, then gathered up a handful of his precious sweets, placed them in front of his brother, and sat stroking Sebastian’s hair while he excitedly ate, saying “Here you go brother. You deserve good things.”

 After all his giving, Bodhi ended up with around a quarter of his jellybeans left. And he didn’t care. Not one bit.

After their treat Bodhi sat in the doorway to his room with Sebastian curled up on his lap, head over his heart, chubby toddler arms wrapped around his big brother.

This was my wow. Because it’s in these little moments that he shows me ‘him’. In these moments, while I still have the privilege of knowing him better than the world does I get to see who he is, and I love him all the more. 

I am blessed to have so many wows. Some are like this. Some happen at the dining room table when he announces “Every woman in the world is beautiful when she has heart love.”, or when my husband and I are grumpy at eachother and he walks up to his Dad with the courage of a lion and sticks up for his mum (even when I was probably at fault ;). Some are wows because we help eachother come back to the best of us at the times when we’re frustrated or angry or upset. Some are wows of beauty, others of rawness and trust.

Some push me, some catch me: all humble me.

Thank you jellybeans, you brought sweetness with you.

 

cuddles

 

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

 

More

We need to talk.

We really do. All of us. All the Mums and the Dads and the friends and the families. We need to talk to our kids, to the ones we love, the friends on Facebook that we rarely see, our neighbours and the strangers we get to know at the park.

We need to start talking about more. In between the chatter about the weather or our clothes or what we’re doing on the weekend – we need to talk beyond the conversation that fills the spaces.

Because there’s a lot going on in the world at the moment. There are bees dying in unprecedented numbers, killed by GMO’s and pesticides that are still being widely used and sold. The everyday diet that fills most of our supermarkets is contributing to huge numbers of preventable illnesses – and most of us know people who are being hurt by their habits. We are living a growing half-life captivated by electronic/social media – me too. I will humbly admit that I have a love hate relationship with my smart phone. There is both good and bad happening all around the world on a grand scale and the majority of it is not covered by the mainstream media.

There is so very much to talk about.

Around us at any moment there are people who are inspired, depressed, lonely, or filled with potential. And more often than not – we just don’t know it.

The other night my husband and I lay down together and talked. Really, really talked about all of it. All the good and the bad and the inspiring and the maddening. The stuff that people just seem not to get, or at least, not out loud. I marvel at how rarely conversations like this happen between us – all of us. Not the laying down on the bed kind, the baring the soul kind. We all have SO much to say. Don’t you get curious?

We get caught up sometimes in the political correctness of what shouldn’t be said. Don’t talk about religion, sex or politics, they say, even though these are major forces that shape our world.  It’s easier to stay on the surface, but we really can’t afford to anymore.

Right now, we really are at a turning point on this amazing planet of ours. There are enormities of environment, diet, morals, and ethics that are pivotal to the way our story will turn out. We need to start talking about them. We need to start questioning beliefs, traditions, ethics, actions and everything in between.

Our kid’s minds are forming before us – the minds that are shaping the future. What are we giving them? Are we remembering to talk about the big stuff, even when the small stuff takes less work? I forget. I bet you do too sometimes when life gets busy and in the way. But all it takes is a little. It just takes asking them questions, picking up a book for ideas if you need to. Create an open forum for their thoughts – a safe space to wonder aloud. The world needs more wondering. It needs more theories and wild ideas. It needs more rebels with causes and more of the sensitive ones who aren’t afraid to feel what others brush off.

It needs us. Right now. Today. To talk, more. Ask someone what they believe, ask them about their dreams, ask them about what makes them angry or happy or what truly excites them. Reach beyond the beer and footy talk or the housework and kids talk. It’s hard, but it’s also necessary.

The great ones in this world, the ones who have changed things and awoken others, beyond anything else, spoke from their truth, whatever it was. They talked about the big stuff even when others didn’t understand why. Their minds might not have been any greater than yours, or your husband’s or your child’s, they just stretched a little more.

After that talk with my husband I came away with a lot more to say. It woke something up in me and I wanted to roar. I almost did, then realized that roaring wasn’t the answer to anything. The world is full of loud, it’s full of opinions trying to outdo eachother – that’s not how change happens, it’s not how people wake up in the way that the world needs them to. They wake up through dialogues that spark something in them, through ideas that come at the right time, when their mind is ready to stretch a little more and perspectives are shifting. When they feel safe to ‘be’ a little more than they were a moment ago.

All it takes is a conversation to start the ripple going. So ask questions, open dialogues, don’t be afraid of stepping on toes. Just do it from a good place, a place of curiosity and openness. It may even be your perspectives that shift – and that might create a wonderful ripple indeed.

ocean

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

 

Let’s be honest….

I stuffed up today. Not in any remarkable way, just in one of those everyday parenting moments that we have a tendency not to notice until we look back on them later.

I overreacted to something and snapped at Bodhi in the process. He responded with harsh words and upset. In the heat of the moment I started to get annoyed… I started to say something back… then I stopped myself. I took a breath, sat down and opened my arms to him. I did what I try to do whenever I don’t get it quite right –  I owned it. “You know what?” I said, to my red-eyed, angry boy. “I can understand why you’re feeling frustrated right now. I messed up didn’t I? I didn’t handle that well, but I’ll try to do better next time. I’m sorry.” And my boy, like he so often does in these little everyday honesties, wrapped his arms around me and said “No, that wasn’t nice. But I’ll help you do it better next time. I really love you. Mum, do you think you could help me respond nicer too?”

Sometimes I sit down at the end of a day and I reflect back on what we did. I think back on the moments that worked and the ones we didn’t, and I find that every day, every single one, has both. Along with the moments we’re proud of come the ones that we aren’t. I’m facing the fact that they’re likely to stick around. But the thing that makes some days better is when I remember to be honest with my kids – to own my little stumbles, even as I help them with theirs.

Bodhi struggles with emotional maturity at times, but when someone else lays their own struggles before him he steps up in a way that never fails to surprise me. It might be me just “needing a minute” (after intense toddler wrangling or general madness) and little hands bringing me a cold glass of water and a kiss as he slips away to build some lego, or me saying “Sorry I rushed you kids, I should have gotten us ready earlier.” and him replying “That’s ok Mum, remember you can ask me to help next time.”

An old idea lingers that for our children to respect us we need to be in control all the time. The thing is, no one is, not you, not me, and not our beautiful kids.

I want my kids to respect me not because I’m perfect or always in control, but because I’m authentic and kind. I want them to know that they can trust me to own my mistakes as much as I expect them to own theirs and that my advice means something because I’ve earned my lessons along the way.  I want them to know that their advice is just as important.

Bodhi and I talk about a lot of things together. We talk about space, dinosaurs, lego or what’s happening around the world. We skip down the street together sometimes and have ‘evil laugh’ competitions in the kitchen. But we also talk about the bits we could have done better. I want him to know that the obligatory stuff ups don’t take away from all the good that makes us who we are.

I find that when I’m a truth teller my son is more inclined to be too.

Shaming children is slowly becoming a thing of the past, but we forget that if we hold onto guilt or shame they learn to do it to themselves.

Today I have done a lot of things right. So have my kids. And we have all, at one moment or another – been jerks. That’s ok, because we’ll do it better next time. And even when we don’t quite get there, we’ll respect and love each other for trying.

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

Logically Illogical

Sebastian has always been quite logical. At 18 months he is entering the tantrum stage, but views them more as a planned expression rather than an emotional outburst.

Like this morning, when he burst into tears, stamped his feet, balled his fists by his side and screamed at the top of his lungs…. until he realized that his audience wasn’t paying quite enough attention. At that point he stopped cold and all anger *completely* disappeared while he said “Mumma, tantrum. Look. Watch tantrum.” then like a switch was flipped he thrashed around in fits of rage once more.

This one’s going to be interesting!

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

Awkward Family Photos

A couple of weeks ago I was looking online for some new PJ’s for the boys. I wanted those nice warm onesie style ones with feet. I ended up finding a site that sold adult ones too, and on that particular night that was *ridiculously* cold both Daniel and I thought that buying them for ourselves too would be the best idea ever.

They arrived today. Just in case the mental picture isn’t enough, this is us…

DSC06550Though I think Daniel does it better….

DSC06546On the bright side they are warm!

 

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

And then I took a photo of…

Bodhi picked up my camera today for the second time ever and informed me that he was going to teach himself to use it and take some pictures. Sebastian thought this was a wonderful idea and followed him around crying “Cheese!!! Cheeeeeeesssseee!!!” as often as possible. Which resulted in snaps like this…

DSC06350He then went outside to capture some “art” which resulted in snaps like this…

DSC06378“Light” which resulted in snaps like this…

DSC06395and “Close ups” which resulted in shots like this (that’s our dog by the way)…

DSC06402After he had been outside for a while I decided to check on him. “How are you doing?” I asked, just before stepping outside. “Last photo!” he replied happily.

The last photo was this…

DSC06412In case you’re wondering, that’s the seam of his pants. His last photo was of his butt.

I think he lost the “art” factor at the end 😉

Things that shouldn’t raise eyebrows

My son hugged a boy at the playground the other day. He had been playing with him for all of five minutes and he swung him in the air, arms around him and exclaimed “You’re so hansome, I’m going to marry you one day!”

Now I should clarify that my son’s list of future spouses is extensive. He has proposed to more people than I can remember, from old ladies to babies, hippies with flowing hair to rough brickies with impressive beards, so this boy who played a game of dinosaur attack so very well was unremarkable in his proposal.

But I still turned around to several parents with their eyebrows raised. Mine were a little too. And I’m disappointed in that, just as I’m disappointed in myself for whispering that it might be best not to propose to boys for a while, at least unless he was certain he actually wanted to marry one.

I’m disappointed because my reaction was quite normal. And that’s a problem.

We have talked about love. We have talked about the kinds that exist between family, between friends, between pets, and between spouses. We have talked about why he cannot, even if he very much wants to, marry me. We have talked about falling in love and marriage, and different points of views on all of it, and my son, like the rest of our family, firmly believes in equality. To him the idea of certain types of love being considered less valid just because of gender is madness. And I’m proud of that. I’m proud that my five year old can grasp marriage equality better than a lot of politicians.

So I really should have applauded that impromptu proposal. But the raised eyebrows got me, and it’s occurred to me that that’s a bigger battle than the one being fought for those legal rights.

The more that we teach our kids to “accept” it, the more than we unwittingly make it strange. The more that we clarify it, the more that we isolate it. Love should be love, it really should. Our kids don’t need a commentary from us on what makes up the majority, they need the diversity we preach to become organic, because most of the time it is to them. It’s us that make it ‘strange’, even without meaning to.

Who my kids grow up to love will come from who they are, not from an innocent game at a park or playing with makeup, and I will be just as proud of that love no matter what form it takes. But it is my reaction, and yours, and everyone else’s that witnesses these little moments, that can keep it innocent.

The greatest steps towards equality don’t just happen in a courtroom, they happen in the home. They happen when our little girls can go play with trucks wearing boy clothes without a second thought, and our boys can paint their nails because they think it looks funky, without anyone looking at them as though it’s out of place. Its when we don’t bat an eyelid at little girls giggling and announcing they’re engaged any more than we would if it were a girl and a boy. Childhood games will not make them gay any more than they will make them straight. But our acceptance, our lightness about love, will help to raise a generation where equality doesn’t need to be fought for, it will be as normal as kids playing dinosaurs in the park.

love-is-love

When a picture says a thousand words…

We had a great day today, but in the late afternoon Bodhi was a bit… over it. I came into his room quietly and asked how he was feeling. He didn’t answer. “Can you show me?” I asked.

“Yes!” he replied… and did this.

 

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Point made, little one, point made.