Two interesting things happened at graduation.
The first was while the guest speaker gave his address to the graduates. It was, in many ways, a typical graduation ceremony address. Motivational, inspirational, challenging and broad. During the first half he told a beautiful story about the power of dignity and how the simplicity of treating an individual with grace can change lives. The second half of his speech challenged those of us graduating to pursue big dreams and take risks. To take what we have learnt and to apply it to our lives with vigor and immense energy. I liked what he had to say and the way he said it.
…while he was speaking I was acutely aware that I could hear my baby girl crying at the back of the auditorium. She was doing her ‘I am exhausted and need to sleep but I can tell that something really interesting is going on and I don’t want to miss it’ cry. Probably very distracting for everyone else, but for me it was heart-wrenching and distressing. It took all my self-control to not stand up, run down the aisle and get her. But it made me realise that there is no ‘next big step’ or ‘big risk’ to now take, unlike most of my fellow graduates who were pursing new jobs and new adventures. This is my life. My husband and little girls are it. And that loving my family is all about pursuing big dreams and living life with enormous energy. It was nice to realise and it is something that I embrace with delight. I have spent so much energy attempting to discover and define what I am meant to do with my life, that perhaps I have actually missed the point. The point is that innate and deep response in me to run to my baby girl when she was crying. So I am sure that the rest of the ceremony was very interesting and inspiring, but I don’t recall much of what else happened. I was to busy contemplating how good life is and how lucky I am to be surrounded with such good friends and be apart of such an extraordinary family.
(Oh, and the second interesting thing that happened at graduation was that I won the Academic Achievement Award for the post-graduate and masters programs!! So kids, the lesson is, hard work does pay off!! Who knew?!)
As I have gotten older I have thought much about the events and activities that defined my childhood and my idea of family. Birthday’s were always marked by a cake of our choice from the classic Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book, Christmas with the extended family involved opening presents in chronological order of youngest to oldest, and Easter always, always, involved the Bendigo Easter Procession with the spectacular Sun Loong Chinese dragon. There was safety to be found in the knowing of what was going to happen and there was boldness in the owning of a tradition. I knew what to expect and when to expect it.
Some of those traditions have stayed staunchly the same, some have been discarded and some have evolved into something which better expresses who I am today.
Since the girls have come along we have searched for new and significant ways to mark events and moments. Or in some cases, we have held tight to the tradition that marked our own childhoods.
This Easter I have decided to introduce a new tradition into our household. I am going to get in touch with my inner Maltese, which, quite frankly, does not exist, but I’m going to give this a try anyway, and participate in a Maltese Easter tradition – the making of figolli. Gourmet Worrier, whose blog is inspiring and delightful in equal measures, has launched World Figolli Day, and I am jumping on that bandwagon. Figolli are iced biscuit sandwiched together with a mixture of sweet ground almond and orange blossom water, made into various shapes. Often the shapes are symbolic, being ancient symbols of fertility or traditional Easter eggs or rabbits. As the lovely Gourmet Worrier says herself, ‘The idea behind World Figolli Day is that you turn off the television and get off the couch and head into the kitchen with your kids, nieces and nephews and have a bonding session with some dough and royal icing and hopefully pass on a few Maltese culinary traditions whilst your at it’. Perfect!
I want to attempt to make figolli that is symbolic to our little family, which could be a bicycle, a book, a baby or a horde of little girl shaped biscuits! I’ll let the girls decide and keep you updated with photos.
So get on board – go check out Gourmet Worrier and sign up. Here is the recipe that I am going to use and here is some inspiration.
(image from here)
Today I am not so frustrated.
Probably because I have had 3 cups of coffee (so far), eaten some excellent dark chocolate, and my 3-year-old picked up an apple this morning and said, ‘Mummy, look at this beautiful shiny red apple’ – and so it was.
(And I found this print that I quite like.)
Today I am frustrated. Today I am finding it hard to see past the limitations of being a ‘stay at home mum’.
This is not me at my finest. This is me being impatient and ungrateful.
I love my children fiercely and unreservedly. But I am more than a mum and more than the resident maker of ultra healthy lunches for school (which, by the way, is primarily motivated by a fear of getting ‘looks’ from the teachers if I slip up and put a sugar laden muesli bar in the lunch box). Let’s be honest, this not an identity crisis, it could be the complete opposite of one. It feels more like looking at your reflection and saying, ‘well, I guess this is it then’. And either you embrace it or you fight it. And that space between embracing and fighting is where frustration reigns.
We (hubby and I) knew that the decision to have one of us be a ‘stay at home’ parent would come with consequences and sacrifice. And today those consequences feel heavier than they normally do. So do I shake myself off, smile and carry on? Or do I wallow?
Or perhaps, this time, I acknowledge that today it is difficult and I don’t have the energy to do much else.
She told me to go and glanced around the room – unsure and nervous. I gulped and faded into the background. ‘Give her a moment’, a little voice whispered, ‘Just a moment more’.
She turned her head, left and right. Searching for something familiar. ‘I am familiar’, my heart cried, ‘I am the most familiar’. But she turned again, recognised a friend and smiled. Grasping hands they skipped off to play.
Still my heart cried, ‘I am the most familiar, pick me’.
And that is hardest thing, this time, for the first time, she is not meant to pick me. She is meant to pick adventure and independence. She is destined to learn and grow outside of the world she has lived in for the last five years.
To describe today as bittersweet in no understatement. I am so proud of our girl. She was excited and ready for her first day at school. She is social and sweet, kind and curious. She will thrive and grow, learn and laugh.
But I will miss her. I worry for her. I worry for her heart. I want to protect her. This not just about her growing up, it’s about me letting go. It is harder than I expected. It is, indeed, bittersweet.
It is strange to be hopelessly in love with someone I’ve never seen before.
I may not have seen her – but I know her and she knows me.
I am at her mercy gladly
She has captured me
All that I am revolves around her
My day is defined by her
My life is defined by her
Captured, in love, anticipating and hoping.
Counting down the days till I can hold her
(‘her’ is used in a non gender specific way, not as a sneaky way to reveal that we know we are having a girl!)