January 2010 Archives

Of Bicycles and Love

Dear Diary

One of my favourite films, which some might say is a sad indictment on me, a film that I watch whenever I'm in need of a pick me up, is French Kiss. Yes I know, you've never heard of it. It's not even that I've stolen all the copies available in the world....it's just that not many people seem to have the same affinity for it, shall we say, as I do. Anyway, there's a phrase in there....where Meg Ryan is hassling Kevin Kline about whether he believes in true love (yes it is that kind of film), and he says that he loved his mother. Her response is "...everybody loves their mother. Even people who hate their mothers love their mothers." And I have come to believe a similar thing about mothering and kids. Even people that constantly find their kids extremely annoying and frustrating love their kids. It's the baseline from which families start. It's like a default setting. Apart from those people that REALLY hate their kids (or their mothers for that matter).

It's certainly not something that gets reaffirmed all that often. Once a day usually for me. Every night when they go to bed, I tell my kids I love them. It's not even a verbalised love that stems from guilt for all the times I've yelled at them during the day. Well not all of it anyway. When they get older I'll probably be buying them bunches of flowers and diamond earrings.

And then there comes a time when the default love setting is just not quite enough to deal with events. A bigger more elastic heart is needed, lest tears should overflow.

Biking is pretty big in our household right now. As reward for sorting out her own toilet training, Holly was allowed to choose a bicycle. Considering her lack of height, I thought it might be a challenge to find a bike, but not so. There's heaps of bikes out there for tiny tots. We (rather she, a young woman of quite some decisiveness), eventually decided upon a balance bike. The idea with these is that kids learn balance first, and then go straight to learning about pedals, without those pesky training wheels. Finn has had a bit of a mental block about giving up his training wheels, so I was keen for Holly to try a different approach. The unexpected result of this of course, was that Finn took to the balance bike, like he'd always had one. Freewheeling madly down the drive, cornering, skidding, doing trick jumps off the raised garden beds. It became a bit of a fight as to who got to use the bike.

So I took the training wheels off Finn's bigger bike and told him his was now a balance bike. Genius me. He believed me for a while, coasting a bit down the gentle slope of our back lawn and even doing a bit of pedalling, but that lasted only as long as the first bifurcation of Finn and bike, when he realised he was a bit further above the ground, and hence hurt a bit more with the less than stylish dismount. He didn't like his balance bike, he wanted to ride Holly's balance bike.

This continued for a couple of days, and then he asked if we could go to the park, taking his big bike with him. We got to the park and he said he was too tired to ride, and I thought he'd psyched himself out. But I pushed him off to start and then told him to keep pedalling...he didn't realise that I was no longer holding him, and before he knew it he was 100m down the path. He kept saying "I couldn't realise I could do it by myself." And so it began.

It's very hard to get Finn off his bike now. Holly is spending more and more time on her balance bike as a consequence and is getting confident enough to do a small amount of gliding on gentle slopes.

I am so proud.
And I love my kids a little bit more than the default.


Dear Three

On a day like today, I found it hard to be enamoured with the joy of parenting. It was not so pleasant to be a full time Mum, I was really not feeling the love at all. I'm not sure what it is, whether it's the fact that you found it so hard to get to sleep Tasman, or whether you like to be a little brat Holly, full of tantrums and biting and tiredness. As for you Finn, two rage attacks in one day is definitely enough. As days go it was Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. A bit of a train wreck. And yet sitting at our picnic table in the park eating our pizza for dinner, who should we see but your Dad...biking home towards us at an unusually early time. I'm not sure who's smile was the widest.

And so it is the message is reinforced about motherhood, and life. The crunchy and the smooth. The happy and the downright grumpy. The joyful and the sad. It is just tough when on a day like today it is very hard mentally to find the bright side of the road. Too many dark clouds around today. In the way of these things however, I do know that the sun will shine tomorrow.

There is so much to document recently about your lives, your milestones. Time marches on so fast and you march along with it. You Holly, march straight to the toilet seat to do wees or poos in exchange for a chocolate. You have largely toilet trained yourself over the last couple of weeks to the extent that you are now pretty much dry during the day if we stay at home. There are none of the Finn hassles; if anything the only problem is your overwhelming need for independence. You zoom off and attempt to take care of business all by yourself, sometimes with mixed results. There are certain phrases one doesn't wish to hear from your toddler when involved in toilet training, and "Mum, poo everywhere!" is definitely right up there. Still no item of floor or clothing gets so dirty that it can't be washed. Or thrown outside covered in kero and set on fire, depending on your energy level. I am so proud of you, my big girl. You are two and a half years old.

When we were holidaying in NZ Tas, you started to crawl. Now at 10 months old you are extremely mobile and pulling yourself up to standing on pretty much everything. You have no teeth, don't eat any solid food and don't really like to sleep much. You are the challenge that small children are. Just tonight, with the others having gone to sleep in rage fuelled exhaustion; Finn after having lost a bike race down the hill, a race that no-one understood was on except him; Holly after having bitten you and being told off, you refused to let the rage end in exhausted sleep and instead just added more rage topping to the rage at being put in your cot. You had been awake for more than 7 hours. Overtired has a whole new meaning in Tasman Land. So you came out and sat with your Dad and me to watch District 9 and you smiled your widest gummy smile at me with pink rimmed eyes. There was no other place you wanted to be. Sigh. You kill me every time. It is hard sometimes to find the magic in being your Mum, and yet through the smallest of gestures, you show me a window left open for the wonder to crawl in.

Today Finn you had the rage on. I'm not sure if this is a milestone worth mentioning, or whether it even is a milestone. It is unpleasant as much as it is incomprehensible. The tiniest of things gone wrong set you off on some major venting, absolutely screaming with rage. The worlds smallest volcano. We're never sure how to deal with these things except to put you in your room until you've calmed down, put our metaphorical ear plugs in and hope the neighbours don't think we're attacking a cloud of fruit bats with a cleaver. You are extremely articulate at verbalising your tantrums, to the extent that "I'm a little bit grumpy today, I woke up too early" or "You made me so angry!". You are almost four and a half years old.

I always at some stage come back to my favourite words of John Lennon "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans". On a good day motherhood is fantastic, the best job in the world, on a bad day it's hellish. But it is what I do, what I am. And this is as good as it gets.

Disappointed, happy, delighted, furious.
These are the days of our lives.

love Mum