January 4, 2013
It's 4 January today, already day four of this new year that already seems to be passing so quickly. We spent New Year's Eve with my husband's siblings, their partners and children at the Gold Coast. It was a lovely evening - to a point. Good food and wine and family... I realised how much I value the relationships with my husband's many siblings and their partners (he's one of six), how nice it is to hang out with these good people, especially as I am so far away from my own. I also realised with that as time passes, and we become less a part of our parents' families and more our own, that these relationships are to an extent unlikely to become any stronger and if anything, these passing days will see us spending less time together rather than more. I won't lie, and I say it respectfully, with some members of the family, it wouldn't be a bad thing.
One of the very nice things Will and I realised as we were driving home from a busy, energy charged and kid-led couple of days (think bomb diving, golf-buggies, scooters, bikes) is how similar the parenting styles of nearly all the parents in the family are. Importance is placed on stories, minimal tv, wholesome meals with a few treats thrown in, lots of time outdoors and lots of time focussing on the children whilst trying to lead by example with good manners and positive communication. Everyone operates at varying levels, you know, some care more about the food they give their children than others, some are freer with the tv remote etc, but on the whole it was great to be amongst like minded people with children that are almost without exception well behaved, sweet natured, well mannered and up for some fun. It sure makes looking after the kids smoother and I think the kids like it too. Lots of people to hang out with and do the things they love.
Last night, as we were tucking into the Christmas ham that I only glazed yesterday (and enjoying it with modified versions of this coleslaw and home made beetroot and ginger relish more than any other meal this holiday), we talked about the last week or two and where we think our future is headed. I had mentioned in passing to Will that one of the things I took away from this break was how simple our life seems to be and how I like it that way. I crave spending quality time with each other and our children and for me, and apart from living closer to my own family, it's all I really want in life. The opulence of the time we spent at the Coast, the excessive food, the drink, the golf buggies and ensuite bathrooms were all good fun, but I was so happy to get back to our little home, to water our tomato plants and then to put the children to sleep in their rooms before having an early night's sleep on our slightly lumpy mattress and familiar sheets. Back to the budget, back to dvds we've watched countless times before, back to the dust on my bedside table, back to wishing we could afford some help around the house but realising that doing the chores and housework amongst the childrearing and togetherness actually makes me feel good. Don't get me wrong, I'd hire someone to dust that bedside table tomorrow if we could afford it, but we can't. And even if we could, I am certain I'd still feel as though there's not enough time and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be happier. A little less tired maybe, but no happier.
So, we said goodbye to 2012 and at midnight, Will and I were together with our sons. I kissed their foreheads as they slept and thanked them for the best year of my life. It was a phenomenal year, truly, with our new baby, a stripey party, a robot cake, the perfection of a tiramisu recipe... my dear little boys became a year older and their ever evolving personalities wowed us, their naive parents, who, just like this time last year wonder what this year will have in store. What stories we will share as we fall asleep each night, talking about what Ollie said, what Max did, how Hugo is the most darling little creature we have ever set eyes on...
I do know this: 2013 will be a big year. In July, it will be 10 years since I arrived in Australia to be with the man I longed to spend the rest of my life with (so far so good). This year, we will spend our first full year as a complete family of five and we will make some significant decisions about where we want to spend the rest of our lives, or at least the foreseeable future. I know these aren't easy decisions to make and I'm terrified of making the wrong ones - we've never been good at deciding anything, but I have come to realise there aren't really wrong decisions, are there? Every decision leads you somewhere and provides an experience (like the other day when we decided to take the kids on the train to the video store on the hottest day of my life, what the hell were we thinking?). And if it's the wrong experience, well now you know it and making the next decision should be easier. Shouldn't it? Of course! (We aren't ever going to go out in the summer sun when the kids haven't had a lunchtime nap, ever again!)
It's not the decision making I'm scared of, it's the consequence, especially now there are little people we are responsible for. I'm frightened of change (and lack of shade on Queensland summer's day), scared that the grass isn't as green as I think it is, and now we have our kids to think about and a little patch of green lawn is as important as ever. But without actually stepping over the fence I'll never know what's there, will I? There could be no grass at all... but there could be parks and vales and hillsides and forests and mountains... and if there's not? I can come back to this lawn. Or find another one. Or accept that I might never find the right shade of green but I'll keep trying before having the revelations that the years are passing, passing quicker than ever before and the best thing I can do is to find some grass, any grass, lay down our lumpy mattress and let my kids loose with their watering cans and watch them make the grass green for us all. Yes.
Happy New Year.