Drawers full of stories

I never planned on hand me downs. I felt certain, in that over confident new parent kind of way, that I wanted my children to have things chosen just for them. Things that would express the individuality of who they were, rather than fitting into someone else’s. We would be rich enough, I reasoned.

I can’t quite recall how long that idea lasted, but it did involve passing on piles of toys and clothes. Somewhere along the way I began keeping things, and packed them away, unsure of their value. Still certain that my next little person would be so very much themselves that they would need clothes and toys to match.

How I ever thought my little ones individuality could be lessened by anything is beyond me.

Sebastian is almost two now. He has new clothes, bought fresh and just for him – he also has hand me downs.

Not just drawers of clothes but drawers of stories. They’re not just the shorts he’s wearing to the beach this morning, they’re the shorts we picked out in Zurich on a hot summers day, that his brother wore when his hair was still blond and his voice still small. The Viking t-shirt isn’t just cute, it’s days at the park filled with giggles before he was born, and hide and seek when his brother always used to hide in the same place. The red pajamas are him, but they’re also his brother making cubby houses under the sheets, they’re nursery rhymes sung back the front by a little boy who came before him who fiercely wished for a brother of his own (and had christened him “Mashtoe”). Sebastian isn’t any less himself when he wears his hand me downs, but he is a little more “them”. And in my naivety I couldn’t have comprehended the beauty of that.

Bodhi loved diggers when he was two. Unlike cars, which were a momentary curiosity, diggers enthralled him. Every day for almost a year he made us read his favourite book that talked about all kinds of heavy machinery in great detail. He would sit, fascinated, listening to the same facts and figures as he cradled his toys. He loved his digger toys. Some came from Switzerland, some Italy, some the shop down the road; little model diggers and graders, loaders and forklifts. He would carry them everywhere, even fall asleep with them clutched tightly in his hand.

He didn’t dug with them once.

They were held, admired, sometimes tentatively moved back and forth but never ever really played with. That was him. The idea of dirtying toys meant for dirt appalled him, so they sat in a box, paint only faded from endless caresses by sweaty toddler hands. Along with the cars he had barely registered he owned.

Sebastian ran around the house today, as he so often does, driving Bodhi’s old cars and trucks and diggers along tables, floors and shelves. He humms like an engine, crashes them, races them and makes tunnels from books. The diggers dig, the graders grade. The cars are parked in their freshly made garages. Those toys, the dusty forgotten vehicles are alive again. Alive for the first time really, because this is different in a way I was a fool to think it wouldn’t be. “Mine.” Sebastian says, hugging them, and they are. They are his, just as they were his brothers.

Those toys, those clothes, those things that make memories are both of them. They are their stories, waiting to be remembered.

Years ago I figured we would be rich enough not to use hand me downs. How wrong I was. The richness in this has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with memories best worn and played with. It has to do with sharing; laughs, cuddles and moments made together, played out years apart.


Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

Twenty-five things…

One day, several months ago, I was having a hard day. Thanks to the absence of sleep, a cold and two sick, whinging kids I felt deflated. And to top it off I felt guilty for feeling deflated, like I should have found the silver lining by now.

That day a friend posted a link on facebook, this link http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/04/2011-lesson-2-dont-carpe-diem/

I read it and I cried because it was so what I needed to read at that moment. Glennon Melton, who writes the momastery blog has started a love revolution, she has inspired many people and created miracles for many others.  In her very first post titled “Twenty-five things you don’t have time to read” she showed great courage in her complete honesty. She laid herself bare.

In this post I do a little of the same, and share a bit about who I am, who I’m not, and who I’d love to be…

Here are my twenty-five things

1. We have chosen to Homeschool our children. I believe in this with every fibre of my being. I buzz with anticipation for the adventure ahead. I look forward to the joys and the challenges. I also have frequent flashes of self-questioning, of hoping I will do it well enough, of doubts and uncertainties. I appreciate them – they keep me on my toes.

2. In the majority of photos taken of me my unattractive twin jumps in front of the lense and works her most awkward facial expressions. So much so that when I see a good photo of me I become quite excited. I have been known to squeal.

3. I love to meditate, but stilling my mind when I do so is as difficult as holding onto a greased eel. I hear that the eel gets less slippery the more often you hold it.

4. I refuse to believe in a truth that does not allow questioning. I believe that truth can only become stronger by questioning, by wondering, by exploring all its angles and intricacies.

5. I love, really really love, to dance. Sometimes I dance down supermarket aisles when I think I’m alone. I’m usually not.

6. I despise coriander.

7. I crave travel. Its absence leaves an ache in me, a delicious thrum of anticipation that makes me want it even more. But for now I’m staying put while we build our family, and that’s ok. I keep planning and dreaming – it’s like foreplay for the journey to come. The next time I step off a plane somewhere strange and wonderful all my senses will be heightened from the wait.

8. I am loud. Oh how I’d love to be perpetually zen, but I’m not. My peaceful parenting is occasionally interrupted by the sound of me losing my shit. Thankfully my son isn’t bothered, because he’s louder.

9. I expected falling in love to be like a flash of heat, like being swallowed up by unquestioning certainty. I expected the “this is it” to knock me off my proverbial feet and take my breath away.

But it wasn’t. It was like stepping into the sun and the warmth slowly filling me from the inside out. It didn’t knock me off my feet but put me more solidly on them…. And the breath I expected to be taken away I found had actually become in synch with someone else walking in the same direction. So I could breathe deeper, and step stronger knowing I wasn’t walking alone.

10. I started asking for a pet giraffe for Christmas when i was five. Disappointingly enough I still haven’t received one.

11. I have never smoked, never taken drugs and only had a few drinks in my life. This is mainly because I enjoy mental clarity and have little interest in reducing mine. It’s also because I have very few inhibitions even when sober so I would be an extremely embarrassing drunk.

12. I once pole danced in a bar in Thailand. Sober. See the inhibitions comment in #11.

13. I am deeply grateful for everyone in my life, now or in the past. I’m thankful for the ones I’ve loved, lost, laughed with and cried over. I have learnt more from them than any self-help book I could have read.

14. I get nervous about making phone calls – pretty much every freakin’ time.

15. This poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson once changed the direction of my life:

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

16. I was single for years before I met my husband. I had decided not to waste my time with a man who did not want the same things as I did. But then I got so comfortable in my own company, so safe in my own existence that I almost walked away as soon as I felt something. I’m grateful for those who cared enough to push me to take a chance.

17. I have fire walked.

18. I’m in love with Venice. The crumbling grandeur, the reflections in the canals, the narrow calle choked with bustling tourists and the way they become a haunting maze without them. The city is poetry and it will be forever in my blood.

19. I find intellectual conversations a turn on.

20. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve responded to “Hello” with “Good thanks, you?”

21. I love to read. I get addicted to the words and everything falls away, even sleep.

22. If I could I would quite possibly marry ice-cream.

23. My older son knows how to push all my buttons. He drives me mad. He’s absolutely awesome.

24. One day I will finish my novels. Until then the characters are growing, changing and evolving, taking on a little of the people I meet along the way, a lot of the wisdom I gain as I grow, and a delicious sprinkling of the crazy that motherhood brings.

25. I swear too much. I wish I didn’t, but I fucking do.