Archive | May, 2011

Pumpkin Soup and Scones

30 May

Maybe it was because I didn’t have their cribs next to me during those initial days.  Or the fact that when first born, I only had them on my chest for a brief moment before they were placed in humidicribs, to be whisked away to the nursery.  Perhaps it was the fact that the first two weeks of their lives, they were under the care of midwives and doctors helping them get stronger and bigger in the nursery instead of being at home with us.

With an offbeat start , for perhaps the first six months –  being a mum to twins – was surreal.

Despite being positioned and locked in the famous rugby hold for their breast feeds (in the end, it was almost like riding a bike…almost) I would often have to pause.  I would look down at that blue breastfeeding pillow and confirm that yes, indeed there were two helpless little faces staring back at me.

Even during these moments of obvious reality, I would turn to Hubby and in a daze would say, “You know, it still doesn’t feel like their my children.  I still think I’m just baby-sitting.  Waiting for the real parents to come and pick them up.”

And for those first six months it was all about keeping two little beings fed.  Keeping them warm.  Making sure they didn’t get sick.

The days of routine and fulfilling basic parental duties blurred into each other.

Hence, the need to start this blog.

I would wonder when the Groundhog Days would be over.  Yet, while busily pondering, the shift seems to have already happened.

Somewhere along the journey, the lift in change carried us through what was mundane and into days of bubbly interaction, lively jibber-jabber conversations and involuntarily sweet butterfly kisses.

Arriving into this new season of pumpkin soup and scones, we have also indeed nestled further into family life – filled with colour, variety and a different, even more delightful joy.

Last Saturday, the twinlets turned 16 months.  It had completely slipped my mind.

I laughed remembering my distorted thoughts of who the twinlets belonged – or didn’t – belong to.

I’ve stopped pinching myself.

It’s definite.  It’s real.

No one’s coming to pick them up.

No one’s relieving me from baby-sitting obligations.

Because yup, they are mine.

Both mine.

The Art Of Forgiveness

29 May

Have I mentioned how much I detest our neighbours upstairs ?

I love our other neighbours.  But this couple above us really test my patience.

Similar to many in our area, we live in an old building, consisting of four units where creaky floorboards and tissue thin walls are inevitably part of the territory.

Part of Sydney apartment urban living means that you have to tolerate neighbours who elephant stomp.  Late night muffled bedroom noises of heated conversations are par for the course.  You somehow immune yourself to hearing upstairs’ toilet flush (and other *ahem* toilet activities).

That stuff, I can deal with.

But then, we enter an entire new level of misdemeanour.

On several occasions, usually in the early hours of a Sunday morning, Hubby has had to force himself out of bed to knock on their door to politely ask to keep the blaring noise of their stereo down – only to have our intoxicated neighbour slam the door in his face.  He does eventually turn down the volume.  Begrudgingly, I’m sure.

By the time Hubby returns to bed, I am completely riled up over such intolerable behaviour.  Hubby gets upset too but isn’t as demonstrative as I am.

So, I have become this grumpy neighbour and I make sure I let them know.

When the wife bumps into me at the front foyer and greets me, I will barely mumble a reply.

Hanging the clothes out on the line, I completely avoid eye contact with the husband as he walks straight past me to get to his car.

Admittedly, all this pent up anger and angst is emotionally tiring.  Yet, I have let it continue to brew inside me.

Until the other day.

While I was cooking dinner, Hubby happened to look out our back door.

“Our neighbour has left his car interior lights on…” he said.

Just as I grumbled, “Serves him right,” I realised that Hubby had made his way upstairs to actually tell him.

Yes, the same neighbour who has slammed the door in my husband’s face so many times I’ve run out of fingers.

It was then I realised that I was learning the art of forgiveness.

Right in front of my flat nose.  Right under my own rickety rack roof.

I’m not here to tell you what a saint my husband is.  (It’s State of Origin season, so he is not so ideal at the moment).

Likewise, I am even further from such benevolence.

But six months away from our second anniversary, I had an “Ah ! I get it !” moment about married life.

I started thinking about our wedding vows.  How we promise to forever love each other, be there for each other, keep each other happy.

That is all undeniably important and sacred.

But how about the importance of living through example ?  Learning life virtues from your partner ?

As parents, we expect to be role models for our children.

Lest we forget to be role models to each other.

So, the other morning, as I was routinely hanging out the washing and my blessed neighbour walked by, I gave him a smile – albeit a little forced.

I even threw in a cheery, “Good morning…”

As much as I hate to admit it, it actually made me feel okay.

Musings of Mama Grace © 2011

Healthcare: Is it as simple as a star-rating ?

27 May

Listening to the news in the car yesterday morning, the controversial topic of NIB’s (an Australian health insurance provider) soon to be launched website, “Whitecoat” came up.

In case you haven’t heard, the site will be provide a ranking based system for customers to log-on and review health care professionals – psychologists, podiatrists, dentists.  There are plans for the database to expand to general practitioners.

It has many major medical associations in an uproar, complaining its potential to release unfavourable and unsubstantiated information about health care providers.  The fact that it’s on the internet deepens the debate.

I actually like the idea.

I think back and remember the long, tough, taxing road we took to find a local GP.  It was around the time we were planning to start a family.  Conceiving wasn’t as forthcoming as hoped (another story, another post…perhaps).

We just wanted to have the best health care available to us as we were to commence a journey of uncertainty.

Looking for someone who we felt had the best bedside manners and most importantly – who we could trust implicitly – was an uphill battle.  It took several attempts and a case of relying on “word of mouth.”

Naturally, battles with infertility are sensitive topics.

Yet, there were some doctors who I found to be curt and too abrupt when asking for their help and advice.  Completely unsympathetic and cold.

We found our current GP soon after we found out I was pregnant with twins and it was – dare I say – love at first sight.

She has really been through the thick and thin in our family.

They say it takes a community to raise a child (or in our case children).  And I am so grateful that she is in ours.

I like the fact that we call her by her first name.  I am relieved that she knows the twinlets’ medical history so well, she can confidently tell me exactly how many times the boys have had to take antibiotics in their 16 months of life.

Most of all, she doesn’t see me as a paranoid, nut-case parent when the boys are going through a minor stomach bug while I’m dealing with it like it was the end of the world.

She treats all of my concerns with seriousness and great professionalism.

If I was asked to rate her on a website, would I ?

Damn straight, I would.

I’d give her five stars – in a lightening flash.

But back to the debate. I do see the health practioners’ concerns in protecting their practices.  Their reputation.

Although, on the flip-side, don’t NIB also have a brand to protect ?  As a reliable health insurance provider, what would be in their interest to release dud information ?  You would hope that NIB will have an experienced team in place who will be managing the site’s content with integrity and proper ethics.

We’re not rating hotels or used cars here.

Perhaps also, these medical associations who are worried about slanderous opinions should give the internet user, the consumer, the patient a little more credit.

Going on-line, I would be well aware of how damaging – or helpful – my information can be.

Looking at things logically, why would I abuse my right  ?

Why wouldn’t I give a review with proper thought and credence ?

Musings of Mama Grace © 2011

Looking For A Little Ray of Sunshine

26 May

Hi all,

I know my posts have been a little morbid lately.  Just the way life is at the moment.  Hopefully, things will be a little more cheery soon.

*****

Whichever way you look at it, I ain’t gonna lie to you, people.  It’s been a very tough week.

Yes, I know.  We’re still only on Thursday.

Sunday night saw an ugly stomach viral bug brewing in our household.

Despite having to rug up in daggy purple bed socks, flannelette pyjamas and hugging a hot water bottle, I still had the shakes.

A true vision of loveliness.

The rest of the week has seen the twinlets have all sorts of nasty, gooey, greenish stuff coming out of all ends – tops, bottoms, noses…

And while I can at least try to recover at home with the boys, poor Hubby has had to deal with going into the office.

Yesterday afternoon, this wretched virus took its toll.  He actually called me from work to say that he was still so nauseous he had to lie down on the floor of an empty meeting room at his office.

Yet, in the midst all my gripes and groans, I consciously stop myself.  My woes are inconsequential.

Because I know there’s a family out there who are heartbroken.  A family who have lost their beloved daughter and loving sister.

A terribly sweet young man who’s mourning over the love of his life.  His best friend.

She was only 23.

Then I think of the cruel paradox.

That sometimes it takes a tragic loss to remind us to hug our children a little tighter.  Or to tell our nearest and dearest more often that we love them.

All I can do is pray.

Pray earnestly for this family in this difficult, painful time.

To keep them close in my thoughts.

Musings of Mama Grace © 2011

From Leg Warmers To Legal Battles

24 May

Taking a five minute breather from a day of grizzly twinlets ridden with a stomach bug and cleaning up vomit, I surfed the news and stumbled on an article of great interest.

A 40 year old woman has finally won a legal battle granting her ownership of her dead husband’s sperm.  She can now go ahead and plan to have that baby she and her husband always wanted.

Not only did this woman’s story intrigue me.  I also realized that we went to the same high school.

We weren’t friends.

However, I do recall her hanging around the corridors, wearing the standard ’80’s attire of mini-skirt, leg warmers and white runners.

Just your typical high-school teenager.

Now, 20-plus years later, there she was with her wedding photo on the SMH website.

Not only was she making headlines – but her tragic situation and plight in love and passion has also caused a dent and difference to society as we know it.

Congratulations to Jocelyn for breaking through the system.

I hope this will be the breakthrough for her to finally have her baby.

Musings of Mama Grace © 2011

Trying To Make Sense…

23 May

Today was a day of many questions and doubt.

Entering the church filled with so much sorrow; how was it possible to also feel intense love ?

Wondering when all the insurmountable emotion will transform itself into a cosmic force to bring her back.

Just to be able to look at the sky and say to Whoever is up there, “Okay, enough.  We’ve experienced the horrible, unbearable pain without her. Can we just return to life as it was ?”

Trying to make sense of death – but particularly one that was so untimely.

One that robbed an intelligent, talented, beautiful 23 year old from her bright future.

Amidst the uncertainty, there is the unquestionable generosity of spirit and love she had for others.

DQ, thank you for being part of – and touching – our lives.

Until we meet again and see your magical smiling face.

Musings of Mama Grace © 2011

A Moment To Pause

22 May

Thursday mornings I somehow manage to scramble out of the house to make it for a exercise training session with other mothers.  I’ve mentioned them in a previous post – tough as nails, super-fit ladies.

Last week, arriving early at the gym, I was doing some stretches as I waited for the other mums.

Located on the second floor, I happened to look out the window and noticed that there was a car in the midst of a reverse park, blocking the traffic behind it.  There were three women were on the street and I recognised two of them were mums of our training group.

After ten minutes of what seemed to be heated discussion, mobile phone calling and photo taking, the two ladies finally made it to the gym.  Both arrived looking somber – one with red eyes from crying and still sobbing from the trauma and commotion.

As the group remained silent and sympathetic, our personal trainer asked her if she was okay, if the car was damaged.

Still sobbing she replied, “I don’t care about the car.  It’s just the animosity of people these days.  Just how aggressive and rude people can be.”

Despite having apologized, the lady she hit behind her confronted the situation with profanities and abuse.  Even her little daughter sitting in the front seat, witnessing her mother’s irrational behaviour didn’t stop her.

Car accidents – no matter how minor – always cause stress and anxiety.

The dramatic sound of metal hitting metal or tyres screeching causing the distinct smell of burnt rubber.

Then, the inevitable face-to-face encounter with the other driver.  Whether you’re at fault or they are, you never know what kind of personality you’re going to have to deal with.

As our friend dried her eyes to start training, she shrugged her shoulders, “It’s just this area.  Everyone here is in such a hurry to get somewhere.  So much aggression.”

I didn’t say anything, but I disagree.

It seems to be human nature to make sure we get ahead.  Maybe it’s a survival instinct.

What is unfortunate is the lack of thought.  The time to sit back and see how our actions might effect others.

This incident and others over the past week made me think of a poem I discovered in my early 20’s.

It maybe s a little too new-ageish or “out there with the stars” for some people.  Personally, it helps me switch on the pause button in my – often unnecessarily – preoccupied life.

It doesn’t specifically talk about religion or tells us what we “should, could, would” do in our lives.

It talks about peace and finding perspective.

Allow me to share it with you.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, 
be on good terms with all persons. 
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; 
and listen to others, 
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story. 
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit. 

If you compare yourself with others, 
you may become vain or bitter, 
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. 
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; 
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, 
for the world is full of trickery. 
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals, 
and everywhere life is full of heroism. 
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love, 
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass. 

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. 

Beyond a wholesome discipline, 
be gentle with yourself. 
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. 
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, 
whatever you conceive Him to be. 
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, 
keep peace in your soul. 

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. 
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

— by Max Ehrmann

Musings of Mama Grace © 2011

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