Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The making of me.

It wouldn't be right for me to leave without sharing a snapshot of my family. Those of you who have been reading along since the beginning know that my children have been an enormous part of this writing journey.

I started blogging when my daughter was ten months old. My little 'un (as I called her then) is now almost seven. She still has huge blue eyes and porcelain skin. But now she is tall and missing her front teeth! She is every bit as beautiful as she was the day she was born.

And now we know, without a shadow of a doubt, something we suspected even before day one: she is one very special girl. She is unbelievably smart, unconditionally loving, fearlessly creative and disarmingly funny. After her first year in an immersion school, she is already confidently bilingual.

She's the girl who makes gifts for everyone and decorates the house to celebrate Christmas and birthdays and Halloween. She lets her baby brother play with her toys without a moment's hesitation. She worries about us if she senses that all is not well. (I see a number of my eldest daughter people-pleasing tendencies in her and it kills me. But then I also see a confidence and wisdom that I would do anything to nurture and protect.)

Many of you know that the journey to conceive my son was long and arduous and, for a while there, it seemed as if he might never arrive. Some of you may also recall my bewilderment on discovering I was going to have a boy. (I only have one sister and my male cousins live overseas. I knew nothing about raising boys!)

My bambino is now almost two. He looks so much like his sister, because they both look so much like their dad: big blue eyes, fair hair, porcelain skin. But he also looks quite a bit like me.

From the moment he arrived, we all fell head over heels in love with him.

It somehow seems perfect that he arrived when his sister was that much older. And I see just how wise it was of this soul to choose to be a different gender. To be honest, they are so different  in terms of personality and milestones, it just feels pointless to compare them. I love that. My beautiful amazing girl changed our lives completely and I know she will go on to do great things. My sweet clever son arrived in his own way, in his own time. I have no doubt he will be able to forge his own path, in no way dimmed by his sister's shadow.

My little fellow is calm and funny and so very affectionate. He is an empath and gifted communicator and has a fascinating way of exploring the world around him. He does everything with such love. I named him for my paternal grandfather and he has something of his gentle, wise demeanour. His smile could light up the universe.

It's hard to believe that he is going to start attending some short creative play sessions next year (the same ones his sister attended at the same age) and thus begin the part of his life that is independent from me. I am so excited for him -- and for me -- but my heart aches a little at the thought.

[Many of my friends do not have children. In some cases this is by choice, in others not. All seem to be at peace with the way their journeys have unfolded, leading rich lives that are full of love and joy. There are times when I envy their freedom (and their uninterrupted sleep). But I what I am about to say is in no way intended to judge or pity or belittle anyone else's choices.]

My children have been the making of me. They've required me to dig deeper than I ever thought possible. I've felt triggered by pretty much everything and have not been allowed to fudge my way out of anything. I'm reminded on a daily basis that doing my best does not always amount to much and even when it does, it invariably falls short. I've learnt the hard way that it is just not possible to tend to anyone else's needs if I've neglected my own.

If it hadn't been for my daughter, I would not have stepped off the corporate treadmill, started blogging/writing/artmaking in earnest and opened up the possibility I could infuse my life with beauty and creativity every day. If it hadn't been for my son, I would not have realised that I could not continue to be all things to all people and discovered what self-care, self-compassion and self-love were really all about.

I'm still a work in progress and as each day passes I feel less perfect, less in control than ever. And yet, I like and respect myself more than I ever have.

Funny, the way that works.

(Therapy helps.)

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