Some people don’t know me so well, and are surprised to find I grew up in a shed. I prefer to call it traditional, rather than a hippy upbringing, thanks to mums Tasmanian heritage. We had the bush, and a creek, goats, homemade everything and a massive garden. It really was paradise, and thankfully, my parents still have the property, although the shed has now been replaced with an gingerbread cottage style eco home. (Which was definitely not as cool growing up as it is now – they were the original hipsters, but the bemused locals called us ‘bush rats’).
You can imagine my three kids adore getting back to the wild. Swinging axes and lighting fires, catching yabbies and digging up native yams, their hands grubby and hair wild. This is the normal life for children in many parts of the world, and we certainly enjoy it for the weekend. I’m not sure I have the stamina to live the earthy, wholesome, hard working lifestyle of my parents.
We don’t really celebrate birthdays, or make rules about when to get together. I love the traditions of my hubby’s family, every celebration planned in advance, so the person was made to feel so special. However there is a subtle magic to a life lived where the joy is found in just being together, each time you can, rather than feeling pressure to squeeze as much impact and ‘spoiling’ into one day of the year. Something relaxing happens when you focus on the moments in between those ‘one-off’s’. There is no time like the present. Right now is the moment to enjoy, and rushing to the next thing is robbing many slow, heartfelt moments.
I’m slowly learning these simple truths my parents seem to understand. There is a lot of grief in leaving your children to work. I discussed with a business owner the same age as me this week, the utter jealousy we feel when we see a mum with her child. This period of adjustment has seen me honestly shut down at times, finding it easier to shut the family out and escape into more work, than let the misery of ‘child-sickness’ attach itself to my heart again.
Like I said, I’m learning. It’s better to enjoy those glorious moments I get with them, even if they are not cookie cutter perfect. Much better to switch off to the deadlines, and clamour, and just listen to my daughter, and soak her in, or let my baby son try a sneaky piggy back whenever I sit down. Just to be, in that moment, all mother, completely available. Taking the joy from the moments and leaving the guilt to the side.
I hope at this busy, intense time of year you can take a moment to breath and spend some slow time with your family. Those moments are the true magic of Christmas, and the things your children, siblings, parents, partners & friends will remember. Have a wonderful Christmas!