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Friday, 31 May 2013

Decisions for you

In life, we all have many decisions to make. Sometimes they are things that don't matter: what to wear and what to eat. Sometimes they are more important but are fairly easy decisions to make (for most people): The shop attendant forgot to charge me for x so you decide to go back and pay for it. I have found though that most decisions we make are discretionary - we make our decisions based on our personal circumstances, not everyone would do it the way we do it, and you'll usually get open or not-so-open criticism from someone along the line.

So - here's another decision - do we do the things that we perceive will be most favoured by the people around us, or can we be true to ourselves and make the choices that truly are best for us and the family or others our decision effects? I would have to say I have probably done a bit of both in my life, but I am happy that in the moments where these decisions have mattered most I have gone in the direction that was best for me. And it's becoming easier.

One example of such a choice for me was to put my girls in daycare once a week. Admittedly I don't recall anyone really saying I shouldn't do it - it was more what I perceived that other people would think - but I did it because I knew that having that one day to do things I was finding hard to get done and also have some time to myself would make me a better mother for the rest of the week. Actually I felt similarly about what people would think when I decided to leave school part way through year 12. Those are small examples and you can probably think of bigger decisions with more real that perceived opposition, but it illustrates my point.

Everyone has different reasons for doing things the way they do. Some of the experiences I've had have taught me that, and have given me more pause to stop and think before I make a judgement on someones actions and choices. When I was pregnant with Natalie and was planning the sort of mother I wanted to be I thought that I would never ever for any reason put my kids in childcare... short of some tragedy that left my husband unable to provide for our family perhaps. Now, even if I really just don't understand why people do certain things and just can't bring myself to agree with them, I hope I am better at stepping back and trusting that they are making their choices based on personal circumstance that I may not even be aware of... and even if they later decide that they were wrong - that's part of life - we do the best we can with what we have and we live and we learn.

In high school, people might have criticised us for what we wore, what gadgets we did or did not have, how we spent our Saturday nights, or who knows what... now people wonder why you would marry so young or why you wouldn't marry, why you wouldn't have kids or why you don't have more, why you took the job with the lower salary or in that field of work... 

Here is my hope: yes, we need to be careful in the decisions we make. Some of them will have a huge impact on us and other people in our live... but at the end of the day if we have deliberated, weighed options, prayed for guidance, and know that something is right... I hope that you will be able to hold to what you know is best for you and be happy. Because you deserve it.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

I Want You

Amongst the sweetest words I have ever heard my daughter utter is the phrase, "I want you".

There have been many times when Natalie would say to me, "mum" and I would answer, "yes?" and she would repeat, "mum"... I would respond so many different ways - "Yes, Natalie", "What", "What do you want sweetheart" and she would have nothing to say but "mum".

More recently Natalie has started saying to me, "I want you". And I'll tell you right now, when I hear those words whatever I may have been doing becomes so insignificant and I just go and be with her. Because she wants me. And I guess that's what she'd been trying to say all that time.

I live and breathe my sweet little family. As challenging as it can be at times I am getting better at putting the people in my life - and most importantly family - first. If the dishes, or the washing, or the homework, or the text message, or whatever get left til later... they will wait. But if all my babies ever here is, "in a minute honey" or, "I'm just doing..." they're going to stop asking. There are obviously times when I have to cook dinner or do something else that has a schedule attached to it but I never, ever, want my children to feel that I'd rather be doing that stuff than spending precious time with them. Because children measure love with time.

Among the other sweet things Natalie says to me are, "I love you mummy", and "I like you". I think that second one is just as important as the first. It says to me, "I like being with you and you are a nice person". Aren't kids great for the soul? I also love, "I want to help you". Whether it's making breakfast, washing dishes, or putting on a load of washing, I try to make an effort to let her help... partly because the day may come when she'd rather be doing other things than chores with her mum but mostly because the time we spend together doing it is precious and it teaches her that I want her to be with me and that she can be a participator in life. Because life is something you make happen, not something that happens to you.

My kids are teaching me some pretty wonderful lessons, they are buoying my soul up with their love, and they are teaching me that who I am is ok but also how I can be better than I am.

Hayley doesn't say all the things Natalie says yet, but she is pretty good at communicating none-the-less. The way she wraps her little arms snugly around my neck and cuddles me tight makes my heart sing. It's like a hymn. Likewise the little kisses on my cheek. The way she'll take one cracker and hold out her other hand for another one... and you think "she wants two crackers of course" but then she goes over to Natalie and gives her one instead. The way she lights up when she hears the garage door opening and she runs to the door with enthusiasm because she knows daddy's home.

Does the heart get any fuller?

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Anniversary, baby, and family

Dear world,

It's only 1pm, but today has been an amazing day.

It would have been amazing automatically: it is mine and Jonathan's 4th anniversary and we are spending 2 nights away while our mum's take care of our little princesses. I'm so blessed to have had four wonderful years with Jonathan. It is also the celebration of the start of our family - our two little girls definitely feature in my joy too.

To add to the excitement, we got to have an ultrasound today. I am 20 weeks pregnant and it was a pretty detailed scan. Since we've got home I've been looking at the ultrasound pictures, adoring that sweet little face. That sweet little man! That's right - we're having a boy :D We would have been in love either way, but that news did add seem to stretch our smiles even that little bit further. We have a healthy little bubba on the way. I'm relieved that I wasn't being too hasty to pass on the clothes that our youngest has been outgrowing and we had no room to store - her brother won't need them!

As it does often, it strikes me how richly blessed I am. It's a feeling that has little to do with material goods and everything to do with love.

Always grateful,

Monday, 13 May 2013

The battle against cancer

Recently, my husband decided to register for and participate in a fundraising event for cancer being inspired by my brother-in-law who has gone in to remission from cancer himself and is participating in the ride.

I have always known (well, since I was old enough to understand these things) that cancer is terrible for those who suffer from it, and that if they are not fortunate enough to survive it, that the loved ones of those who lose their battle have then to grieve for the one they have lost.

I saw this first hand with one of my beautiful friends. As positive and accepting as she generally was of her situation, it was still hard to see how ill she became and how she knew that she would be leaving behind a daughter and son-in-law and didn't even know if she would still be here to see the birth of her first grandchild (which she did). She was the sort of person who will always be missed by those who knew her.

What I didn't realise is that cancer can, and usually does, continue to affect those who survive it and their families even after they are in remission.

That's why I am so exceptionally proud of what Jonathan, Daniel, and many others are going to be doing on November 30 and December 1 of this year. The developments in cancer treatments over the last decade have certainly given people diagnosed with cancer now a much better likelihood to overcome it and have a great future, but there is still a long way to go. If research can continue because of fundraising events like this, perhaps the next generation will have even better odds agains cancer. And that can only be a good thing.

If you are able, please visit this page to learn more about how you can donate. Obviously, it is not possible/practical for everyone, but any kind of help you can give will be appreciated: whether it be encouragement to Jonathan to keep training, or letting others know who may be able to donate or otherwise participate themselves! Of course, I want to support my husband in his fundraising effort, but the most important thing of all is to get the funds for cancer, so I would also like to share my brother-in-law's page for the ride. If you want to spread the sponsor love between the  two of them, or even just see the perspective of a cancer survivor, check his page out too!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Reflections on Mother's Day

This morning I woke up, and after lying for a few moments I remembered that it is mother's day. I smiled. What a glorious day to celebrate mothers and to celebrate the little people that make me a mother.

I am so grateful for my own mother. I'm grateful that she pressed on in the face of life's challenges to raise her four children, and for all that she taught me along the way. I appreciate more each day the time that she spent with me at what seems like endless medical appointments, and when my heart was broken over one thing or another, and when there were things to celebrate. I realise more and more the love that goes in to changing, bathing, feeding, driving kids places and all the other things your children will inevitably ask of their mother. 

Thank you mum.

I'm likewise grateful for my mother-in-law who raised four children (each of whom are fantastic) while facing challenges of her own. She is an amazing person in her own right and I know my husband wouldn't be the man that he is without her.

Thank you mum.

There are many, many other mothers and women who I admire, but I especially want to mention our grandmothers, each of whom are women worthy of admiration. I really want to be like my grandma. 

It's strange to truly contemplate the role that I have in the lives of my children, but I am certainly grateful that I have it. I love the little people that they are, the joy they bring, and all that I know they can become.

I love my husband and I'm profoundly grateful for all that he has done and does to enable me to be the best mother I can be.

It amazes me that Heavenly Father has entrusted two of his beautiful daughters to me as their mother, with another child on the way.

Happy Mother's Day.