I am keeping a close eye on young Teapot today. He has a runny nose and a cough, and I'm listening out for the moment when his cough takes on the unmistakable tight ring of an asthma hack. He is snuggled under a heated blanket on the lounge watching Sesame Street with his big sister. I am thinking about setting up a big craft table this morning, but first, I must get through these tears.
I can't stop thinking about the two children tragically orphaned this week when their parents Kathleen and Rob Rickertson drowned. I have a kids cookbook, made by this family, that I downloaded and printed out for my little chef Ted on his 4th birthday. It features Orlando and Otilija throughout, as they make and describing their favourite recipes. I loved these kids. Mine love to cook too. I imagined Ivy and Ted and George, years ahead, with their own specialities, taking over the kitchen.
These two kids were so cherished and so nourished by their parents, and their loss is unimaginable. There is a online trust set up for them here where we can donate, and they have, I am sure, a wonderful and loving extended family to care for them. But the particular, intense gaze of their parents, and the dreams of their family unit: these are gone.
Life takes turns, unexpectedly. We cannot see around corners. We are not all fated to live long and prosper. We are not.
Now is what we have. Useless tears for Orlando and Otilija, who have lost the watchful eyes of their parents on them as they grow, what money we can spare for their future, and hugs, especially tight, for our own children today.
Last week at the pre-school pick up, I was chatting to my friend Emma in the carpark when a woman came up, strapped her baby in the car next to us and then suddenly shouted 'My wallet! Somebody stole my wallet!'
She ran past us, stopping to shriek 'Watch the baby! My wallet's gone!' as she headed at full speed back through the gates.
Emma and I looked at each other. 'That's so weird,' I said. 'No', said Emma, 'what's weird is that she's just put her baby in my car.'
Yep, their two cars were identical, down to the ubiquitous crumbly mess in the back seat. This poor harried, underslept mother had strapped her kid into the wrong car and then had a massive hysterical freak out. In a few minutes she sheepishly returned, retrieved her baby, got into the right car and left.
I have not cackled and hooted and wept so hard in weeks. It was such a beautifully absurd moment and I recognised myself in that mother so very much, from the nutty mistake to the dramatic overreaction to the final, sheepish walk of shame. She is Everywoman.
I wish you all just such a full-bodied, deeply enjoyable belly laugh this weekend.
20th century actress Constance Collier uncannily captures my actual hairstyle and expression today.
For a brief, glorious period, I have been setting aside Wednesdays as my writing day, with Ivy at school, Ted at pre-school and Georgie at family day-care. It requires an intense morning wrangling all five of us out of the house for the day: washed, dressed, breakfasted and loaded with lunch and homework folders and assorted paraphernalia depending on age and continence ability. (If Keith forgets his Pull-Ups it can make for an awkward video Skype.)
The triple drop-off completed, I head to the coffee shop and the library for caffeine and a few wonderful, quiet, focused hours, before the end of the school day calls and it's time to do the pick-up in reverse order. Then we crack through Wednesday afternoon: music lessons, soccer training, homework, housework, dinner prep and the general management of overwrought, post-institutionalised children (mainly through the judicious application of porridge, ABC2 and Mum's lap.)
Wednesdays are busy, but those hours I spend alone in the middle; out of the house and tinkering with words, fill a important need for me. They drop me back into myself. They allow me space to think a thought through to its conclusion. They fuel me for the following week of trying to respond to the needs of others, and grabbing moments to myself in between tasks.
Alas. It's been a while.
Today, Ivy barked her way through a doctors visit where they diagnosed her with laryngitis. As the doctor listened to her chest, and her breathing rattled theatrically and satisfyingly, she grinned with pride. She's next to me now, making lists of things to research on YouTube and asking me every five minutes 'Are you finished on the computer yet? Are you finished yet?'
It's not as peaceful as my coffee shop.
Last week, the vomiting seemed finally to have finished. The last lot of defiled linens were drying in the sun, and I was desperately looking forward to a Wednesday on my own. But nay. The water heater broke down, and I had to spend the morning with a plumber who followed me around the house explaining how Hitler had invented an engine that displaced space so that objects could move faster than time, thus flying to the moon and also building the pyramids. He had seen UFO's from his house in Engadine, so he was definitely not mistaken.
It was not as peaceful as my coffee shop.
The preceding two Wednesdays had been spent cuddling miserable children and washing gastric juices out of my hair. That was not peaceful. Before that, my school holiday Wednesday may have been fun, and may have been packed with togetherness and good times and the general Making of Memories, but it was definitely, absolutely, without question, not as peaceful as my coffee shop.
I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at the minute. Chasing my tail after a lengthy bout of kid-sickness, trying to get on top of the house (not literally), and running out of time to write. But in honour of Mothers's Day, I thought I would share these stories from the archives about my own mum Chris . I wrote this back in 2009, when I had only two kids and many less grey hairs, but my Mum remains an incredible help and inspiration to me. Also, she still cracks me up.
1. The Sausage
While camping one year, Mum ended up at a long table full of people discussing race relations in Australia. One charming man at the other end was holding forth, basically advocating genocide of the Aboriginal population. Mum, shy in groups, got more and more worked up but couldn't get it together to argue back. Eventually, in a sudden burst, she fired a charred sausage at him. A nicely blackened bit got him in the eye and the conversation ended as Dad led Mum away from the table.
2. The Standing Ovation.
One of Mum's oldest friends is a bush poet. After working for years on a script on the Eureka Stockade, she got the chance to stage a reading for a group of investors at a city theatre. The audience was full of hard-nosed business types, me, and Mum, who was bursting with pride and excitement. At the shows conclusion, everybody clapped politely, but Mum was out of step with the vibe of the crowd. She leapt to her feet, cheering wildly, and then tried to sit down again when she realised that nobody else was getting up. Unfortunately, the chair beneath her folded up in the meantime, so she landed on the floor. Can you picture it? Gymnastic leap in the air, with clapping, to full floor finish. Priceless.
3. The Big Night Out.
So, with no small thanks to Mum's show of support, Eureka! got made, and Mum and I went along to the Melbourne opening night, where we had a blast. Mingled with d-list soapie stars and Big Brother contestants, boogied-on-down with the bearded mayor of Bendigo at the after-party, and stopped off on the way home at a karaoke bar to perform 'Hopelessly Devoted To You'.
What a woman! Lucky, lucky me. Love you Mum.
Happy Mothers Day, you bunch of beautiful breeders. x
Hello, hola, bonjour, saluton, etc. Welcome to my blog, where I aim to explore some of the juicer chunks of domestic life. I am Rachael, a mum to three kids under six and a wife to one work-from-home solar scientist. Our working stats are three parts chaos to one part serenity and I am always trying to improve that equation. I cook, I clean, I whinge, I write. My back hurts and I possibly/probably have head lice.