Category Archives: Melbourne

Fortitude

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When we last left Cricket she was performing a concert with her bestie, Iris, while Saff introduced Grandma Willow to Mrs. Iris…

‘It’s so nice to meet you Willow. Saff’s told me a bit about your exciting life. Sounds wonderful!’
‘It has its moments that’s for sure, but it’s just so hard with this lot living over here, especially with my little Cricket-Wicket being so fabulous and growing so fast.’
Grandma picks me up and I squeal. I didn’t know I was FABULOUS!
‘Yeah, it would be hard. I don’t know what I’d do without my Mum to babysit.’
‘I don’t know what I’d do without your mum to babysit either!’ Mum said that and Grandma looked a bit miffed I thought.
‘Oh? So you get Tess’s mum to babysit Cricket, darling?’
‘Only a few times, but yes, she’s been so lovely to offer.’
‘Yes, of course. So you’re on mat leave too, Tess?’
‘Yep, but I’ll be going back soon unfortunately. I’m a makeup artist and worked casually and for myself before we got pregnant so I didn’t get any leave entitlements and I think it’s time to go back now.’
‘A makeup artist, that’s great. How’s it going, working for yourself?’
‘I’d only just started really when I got pregnant, so I’ll basically be starting over.’
‘Tess is almost 20 years younger than me Mum.’
Tess looked shocked. ‘Twenty?! No, not that much!’
‘Mmm, yeah, I think so. I’m 42 and you’re 23 aren’t you? That’s 19 years…’
‘Yes, right, wow. You don’t look 42.’
‘I feel it today.’
Mum put her hands on the bench and stretched her back out.
‘23! Goodness, it’s like the 1950s again. Was Iris planned, Tess?’
‘Mum! Oh my god, she has Tourette’s sometimes. Sorry.’
Mrs. Iris laughed and it sounded like happy, like finally finding a green sheep. ‘It’s fine! She sort of was and sort of wasn’t is the short answer.’
‘I think I need the long answer, dear.’
Mum banged Grandma’s coffee down on the floor next to her. ‘Mum, seriously, wow.’
‘There’s not really a long answer, but the medium answer is that I have quite severe endometriosis and my doctors told us it would take many years if we wanted to try and fall pregnant naturally so we started trying and fell pregnant three months later.’
‘Goodness, that must’ve been a shock! And it’s the opposite of Saffron’s story isn’t it?’
Because I’m plugged into Mum I could feel her heart hurt a bit. Not too bad, but a little tug, like when you fall over, but on your back, not on your face.
‘It was a bit of a surprise. A good one, of course. And I guess it is the opposite of what Saff went through. Sometimes I feel bad that she struggled for so many years and we tried for a few months and were lucky. It’s been a bit of an adjustment period, especially career-wise.’
‘Yes, but it’s a blessing really, I mean, you have all this time now, and you can have lots of children if that’s what you decide.’
When Grandma said that I felt Mum’s heart hurt much more than the first thing she said. Face-plant hurt this time. I stretch my arms up to her but she isn’t looking at me.
‘Yes, I guess that’s true.’ Tess looked at Mum funny. ‘So, will you guys try again do you think Saff?’
‘Well, yes, I think so. We’re actually starting the process now.’
Grandma stopped squeezing my knees to stare at Mum. ‘Really darling? That’s… I mean, that’s wonderful. I’m a bit surprised, but it’s just wonderful. When does it all start?’
‘Thanks Mum. Well, I think it might start now. If we can do the first bit quickly and get to the egg pick up stage then it’ll be really helpful if you’re still here.’
‘Well of course I’ll still be here if you need me to be. That’s such good news!’
‘Well, we’ll just see how it goes.’
Iris started slapping her leg and looking at Mrs. Iris. That means Iris gets to poo in her bucket! Life is so unfair. Mrs Iris jumped up and picked Iris up.
‘Saff, can I use the toilet?’
‘Of course hun, you don’t need to ask.’
Grandma looked very interested as Mrs. Iris took Iris off to the bathroom. ‘What’s this?’
‘Tess is doing elimination communication with Iris.’
‘Elimination communication?’
‘It’s basically toilet training from birth, it’s pretty amazing. It’s common practice in heaps of places across the world and is just starting to become better known in the west. If I had more fortitude I’d do it myself.’

WHAT DOES FORTITUDE MEAN? WHY DOESN’T SHE HAVE ANY?!

‘Toilet training from birth? Wow! I need to see this!’
Grandma scooped me up and ran with me to the bathroom. SQUEEEEEE! And there was Iris pooing in the toilet LIKE A REAL PERSON!! Mrs. Iris was holding her above it and she was POOPING INTO IT! Ohhhhh how I wanted Grandma to hover ME over the toilet too! I went berserk in her arms to let her know.
‘You like that, do you, Poppet? It is pretty cool, isn’t it? Maybe you and I can try it while I’m here, what do you think?’
Oh Grandma, how I love thee.

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Fun and Funner

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When we last left Cricket, GRANDMA had just arrived for a surprise visit…

‘I hope the timing is ok. I was going to call, but you know I love a good surprise!’
‘Indeed you do, mother.’
Mum sits with us and the coffee smells good. I’m not allowed coffee. I’m thinking of staging a protest. Maybe I can get Grandma to help me.
‘The timing might force my hand on something a bit, but that’s ok. How long can you stay?’
‘How long can I stay? Normally you’re asking me how long am I staying!’
‘No I don’t.’
‘Yes, darling, you do.’
I sense Mum getting tense. I’m a barometer for Mum’s feelings. She doesn’t know this. She thinks if she sings or makes everything rhyme, or says everything with a very big smile on her face, even when she’s unhappy, that I’ll think she’s happy anyway. But it doesn’t work that way. Even though Placenta got taken away from me (my dear, sweet Placenta), for some reason they left the pink ribbon behind. I’m beginning to think I’m the only person that can see the pink ribbon. It stretches from Mum’s heart to mine and it’s always there, even when we’re not together. And through the ribbon I can feel everything she’s feeling. It’s pretty cool.
Mum tends to get tense around Grandma. I don’t know why because Grandma only has two settings – fun and funner. I hope when Mum and I are old we don’t get tense with each other.
The doorbell rings. IRIS IS HERE!! I go to crawl before I remember I can’t and face-plant the play mat. Mum get’s up to let Iris and Mrs Iris in and Grandma grabs my hips and lifts them up and pushes my knees together with her hands so it feels like maybe I could crawl. It feels amazing!
‘This is how you do it, Cricket-Wicket.’
Mum comes back down the hall with Iris and Mrs Iris behind her.
‘Mum, this is Tess and this little cutie is Iris.’
Grandma strokes Iris’s cheeks – she does have lovely cheeks – and everyone says hello and finally Iris is right next to me and we get started practicing for our concert straightaway. We’re a bit rusty, but I’m sure we’ll be amazing very soon. Mum is already bustling. Mum is very good at bustling because of how many things she can do at the same time. Dad can’t do anything at the same time.           ‘Who wants coffee?’
‘I’ll have one, thanks Saff.’
Mrs. Iris has a lovely voice. It makes me hope she joins our concert.
‘I’ll have one too thank you darling.’
Grandma calls Mum darling, just like Mum calls me darling!
Grandma sits on the floor with us and Mrs. Iris sits at the kitchen counter.
‘So are Iris and Cricket the same age?’
‘Pretty much. Iris is three weeks older.’
‘She’s very beautiful, what’s her heritage?’
‘Mum!’
‘What?! I’m interested!’
‘It’s fine Saff, she’s got interesting genes.’
‘Yes, but it’s rude to ask someone their heritage.’
‘Why darling? Why on earth is it rude?’
‘Because, I don’t know, it just is. Why is it relevant, why do you need to know?’
‘It’s relevant because I’m asking about Iris.’
‘Yes, but…’
‘It’s fine Saff, seriously, I’m not in the least offended.’
See?
‘Yes, Mum, I see.’
‘She’s a quarter Italian and half Chinese. I was born here, but my Mum is Italian, and her Dad is Chinese.’
‘Wow! Beautiful combination isn’t it?’
‘All babies are beautiful.’
Grandma tickles my belly and I crack up. I’ve only just learnt how to crack up. It’s hilarious! Obviously. Everyone loves it. Except Hoot. Mum and Dad always clap and laugh when I crack up, but Hoot just looks alarmed. Cats look kind of funny when they look alarmed so I just end up cracking up more and then he looks more alarmed. I think that’s called a venomous circle.
Grandma looks back up at Mrs. Iris and Mum.
‘So how do you two know each other?’
‘We met at Mother’s Group and now we see each other almost every day. I’m not even sure how that happened, are you Tess?’
‘Boredom? We started meeting for coffee every morning after nap time and it just stuck I guess. It’s great, and the girls love each other, which is really cute.’
The timing with that remark is a bit unfortunate because Iris had chosen that moment to pull my hair just as I decided to test my removable eyeball theory. It doesn’t mean we don’t love each other, it’s just what we do. Iris’s eyeball didn’t come out either, even though I felt definite movement, because Grandma prized our hands off each other.

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The Getting of Wisdom – A Letter to my Daughter

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Have a lioness heart, baby. Stay fierce and determined, as you are now. Breathe deeply, even when you feel unsure. Slow down and dig in the garden. If you have a decision to make, if you feel stressed or lonely or unsure or afraid or overwhelmed, stop, breathe deep and dig your hands in the soil, mop the floor with mindfulness, curl up with your cat and think of nothing but soft fur and quiet purrs.

Stand your ground, but don’t hurt another’s heart. Be the bough that bends.

Love your legs, my heart. Love your nose and your skin and your face and your belly and your hips. Love them fiercely. Defend them if you need to, but never try to change them or be ashamed of them. You are beautiful beyond measure. Trust me. I know. My hope is that you work this out so much sooner than I ever did.

Trust yourself, your instincts, and your feelings. The time of the goddess is returning and oh how wonderful it will be to be a woman then, my darling. Teach others. Help the men – they will need it.

Never say I told you so. Hug often. Be expansive in your thoughts as well as your life. Your thoughts will create your life, so think creatively, think positively, think about abundance and joy and magic.

Treat sex with reverence and with lightness. A great sex life is one of the keys to happiness. So if anyone ever hurts you, you talk about it, straight away. There is too much shame, too much fear, too much hurt and too many assumptions around sex, my sweetheart, and as a woman the tools you need to navigate this are many, but the most important by far is self-love. Self-love is a shield and also your greatest weapon against the patriarchy, the media, the advertising industry, the dickhead. It’s the greatest gift you can ever give yourself. You having this is my greatest desire for you, and I will try to teach you this as best I can until the day I die.

Explore your own heart, my baby. Be of service to others. Do at least one thing every day with mindfulness and you will know peace. Make friends with people older than you. Seek out wisdom in creative places.

Go easy on yourself, love. Mistakes are opportunities, not an excuse to stop loving yourself, or retreat in fear.

Tread lightly on this earth, my darling. Leave a soft footprint. With everything you do stop and think about the next generation and the next and the next.

Really look at your grandmother and remember her face and her manner. You will think of her more often than you think when you’re older. And then one day you will see her in your own movements and you will cry with pride and love that a part of her lives in you.

Laugh uproariously. Be a good listener. Practice it. Know compassion – for all things, all people, even those you don’t understand. Especially those.

Keep your body flexible. Do something you’re afraid of and throw all of yourself into it, even if you get it horribly wrong, you’ll be glad you did it, because next time you won’t feel so afraid. Know that fear isn’t a real thing, my love. Fear itself can’t hurt you, so do it anyway. And if it’s an old fear, just let it go. How? By digging in the soil. Repetition isn’t boring, it’s cathartic. Remember that.

With service comes humility and grace and a deep understanding of the world and yourself. My hope is that you know yourself like I know you right now. All I see is an open mind, a full heart, and joy. So much joy! If you lose yourself, call me and I’ll tell you what I see, what I’ve seen from the moment you were born – an open mind, a full heart, and joy. There is nothing to discover but who you were at the very beginning, my sweetheart. The rest is just the getting of wisdom along the way. You came in perfect, remember that.

Know love, my daughter, even if it hurts. Don’t hide from big feelings. Jump in – in all things, but especially in love.

Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Your voice has immense power within it.

Learn to hold the space for others. Listen, breathe slow, have a warm heart, a soft touch, and be able to see beyond fear and ego and into potential and divinity.

Remember to look up and down as well as forward and backward. Some of the most amazing things in this life are often right under your feet.

Don’t over complicate things, my darling. You come from a long line of over-analysers and trust me; it doesn’t help you get there any faster or better informed. Just, simplify.

Practice forgiveness, dear one, always and always. Those who stand in front of you in this life are your teachers, hard as that may be to grapple with, the more forgiveness and gratitude you can project at them, the happier you will be. That includes your father and I. We will fail you, you will think it many times, and that’s ok. It wouldn’t matter what you did, said, or felt about me, the depth of my love for you would make your head spin if you could see it. That’s part of the wonderful, magical, preciousness of life, my sweet!

Dream big and learn not to worry about how these dreams may come to pass, just trust that they will. Trust a lot. Gullible is far preferable to impenetrable.

You will be hurt, disappointed, afraid in this life, my heart, and where you put these things after they’ve happened will determine the course of your life and how much joy you experience every day. Work hard not to put them in your body, my darling, for they are very difficult to get out again and can cause more problems than you could ever imagine. There’s no need to be angry at your thighs, afraid of your sex, or disappointed in your hips. They had nothing to do with it. Let it go, and right quick. How? Dig in the soil. And then do it again, and again. The present moment is your only true reality, my precious, and in it these past hurts don’t exist, so the longer you stay in the present the less impact they’ll have until you realise you have indeed let them go. What a gift if you can do this from young, my sweet.

These are my wishes for you, my daughter. And so I wish them, and I hold the space for you, and as I hold you to my breast I allow myself to sit in the present moment and think of nothing but loving you and giving you the space to show me who are. But I do see you, my daughter. I see your perfect, joyful, beautiful, mindful self. I see you.

 

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Art and Life

Mum 60s

Mum in the 60s in her amazing boots.

I don’t know if it’s a case of life imitating art, or the other way around, but Grandma really IS coming to visit! I told Charlie and she threw her chicken, apple and cinnamon mush up over her shoulder and high into the air in excitement. Ok, so it may not have been because she understood that Grandma-Dawn (GD) was coming, might just have been because throwing things in the air is a hoot. Or maybe she thought chicken, apple and cinnamon mush has the same result as salt when thrown over one’s shoulder. Who knows what babies are really thinking?

Mum hasn’t seen Charlie since she was about three months old and obviously a lot has happened since then – she’s solving complex mathematical problems, she’s joined a band, she’s ompleted her first ultra-marathon, and she’s now an apprentice chef. Ok. Ok, she’ll look at a book with numbers in it, she bangs things together, she can smoosh across the floor in a weird, crawly, snakey type way, and she’s now eating actual food. What? That’s close.

The thing about Mum is that I’m starting to think of her as the Grandma from my new book (as yet untitled) and that’s confusing. The idea for the book did actually start with my Mum. Mum and Charlie have been texting each other from soon after Charlie was born and some of the texts are really funny and both Mum and I really enjoy them. It’s also been a great way for Mum to feel involved in the day-to-day goings on of Charlie’s life. I remember laughing over a funny exchange between Mum and Charlie about me saving some of my clothes from this era for Charlie to wear twenty years from now and Mum telling her about an amazing pair of boots she had in the 60s she wished she’d passed down to me, and I thought it would be lovely in a book. Of course you can’t really write a book of text messages and Charlie is a very easy baby so some artistic licence was needed and suddenly I’m writing a novel half based on Mum and Charlie and half pure fiction about a famous dancing Grandma and a baby who understands the English language. See my confusement?

It’s great fun though, looking at these two people I love so fiercely and then making them different – louder, softer, naughtier, funnier. Who knows what either of them will think with the finished product, but hopefully it’ll be a tribute to them both and something they’ll enjoy.

I still think I need to put all of Mum and Charlie’s texts into a book for them. I know all three of us will be glad I did down the track. Here’s an exchange between them from early February. How cute are they?

Charlie:     GD I ATE FOOD!!!! … It was awful!!
GD:              Oh no Darling! What did they give you?!! Poor poppet xxx
Charlie:     Carrot!!! I wanted cake and coffee. I’m not a farm animal. Stupid parents 😦
GD:              Indeed my darling. I’m with you!
Charlie:     Thought so. Good talk, GD.

 

 

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I’m a Human Being – part three

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We’ve come to the end of the story of Cricket’s birth. Had you in suspense, right? Here’s where we left off last time…

…I could hear the womb-doctor asking Dad if he wanted to cut the cord.

You what, now?

CUT THE CORD??! I thought they wanted a live baby? This is worse than a Shakespearian tragedy. Maybe they didn’t realise Placenta had to come with me? They’d never done this before after all.

Here’s what happened:

I unwedge a hand just long enough to grab a big handful of Bungee and sling it around my neck a few times. There, that should show them how attached I am to Placenta.

Suddenly the womb doctor starts pulling and tugging at me way too hard. This is very alarming and my neck is starting to feel a little bit… constricted. Mum’s whole body is being rocked from side to side and she’s locked eyes on Dad as if he’s the only person in the room, but he isn’t. And now there’s one more. The womb doctor called in another womb doctor to help her and now she grabs one side of me and he grabs the other and they obviously think I’m perforated down the middle because they’re pulling me in opposite directions.

I’M NOT A ROLL OF PAPER TOWEL, I’M A HUMAN BEING! I squawk through my rapidly closing esophagus. But all that comes out is a squishy sounding wah-wah-wah and I get my first, bitter taste of the crushing disappoint that is baby language.

The womb doctor is sweating now and her accomplice is swearing. This is a cardinal sin in hypno-butter-birthing. You basically have to abandon that baby and start over if that happens.

Dad had long ago abandoned the camera and is holding onto Mum’s face as if his life depended on it and just as I’m about to faint, I see a giant silver claw aimed right at my face.

SPARE MY EYEBALLS! I yell, as I swim in and out of consciousness.

None of this is what I prepared for, especially being drawn and quartered and the face-eating claw of death. Maybe I shouldn’t have been quite so… resistant. But suddenly, there’s a pop and air floods in and my head is poking out of Mum’s insides! And I can see! Sweet Jesus they spared my eyeballs! Look!, there’s Mum’s small intestine! And then another big tug and the rest of me is out and I feel like someone air-dropped me in the arctic with no snowbooties and everyone is shouting, but through the glare of the lights someone lifts me high in the air and I see her face and there’s not a hypno-butter class in the world that could’ve prepared either of us for that moment. “You’re safe”, she said to me, with tears streaming down her face. “You’re mine”, I said to her. Then someone wrapped me in a scratchy towel and I’m plonked in Mum’s face and I squish her nose with my hand and then I’m whisked off to the other side of the room where we were all going to sit and have a civilized discussion about Placenta coming home with us, attached to me, where she’s supposed to be.

Placenta got left behind. They told me she’d go to a loving home, but that she couldn’t come with us because Mum and Dad had only ordered one baby and that was me, Cinnamon Cricket. It was my first bone-crushing disappointment in this life. Goodbye Placenta, fare thee well.

The rest wasn’t so far removed from how a hypno-butter-birth is supposed to go. I did get to put my bare skin body on Mum’s bare skin boob and I did find my own way to that colossal. It was ok. Cake is better. And then I slept for three days while Mum bled and cried and Dad drank whiskey and cried and the room filled up with flowers and people and the nurses gave Mum gianter and gianter pads until she disappeared under a mountain of cotton wadding and giant basketball boobs. And oh how the milk flowed. It was pretty cool.

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This Heart

r0_0_1548_1032_w1200_h678_fmaxThings are brewing in Cinnamon Cricket land (read, temporarily stuck on the next bit) so I thought I’d throw some Charlie Cinnamon (CC) into the mix. Here’s how I felt yesterday when CC and I visited the Williamstown jetty:

Today, dear one, we went to the seaside and as I walked along the jetty and pointed out the boats, you cast your little net of wonder and love out over everything: the women who stopped to marvel at your chubby arms; the little boat that rocked in delight; the seagulls who quieted their chorus when we walked by; the Sea Shepherd nodding its hello; the old, grey timber that sighed in pleasure as we walked along; and my heart, oh this heart that expanded even further than I imagined possible. This heart that cracked open the minute I saw your wrinkled face, heard your cry, felt your tiny hands search for me. This heart that hurts now, from both love and fear.

Today you stared at the water with big eyes and reached up for crinkled leaves and my heart sang. Today you smiled at a man who needed it and it filled my heart with pride. Today you curled your hand around my fingers and my heart swelled even bigger, ever bigger.

You did this, dear one – gave me this elastic heart, showed me the world renewed, gave me back wonder. You did this – took my limbs and my ears and my eyes and returned them forever changed. You rewired my nerves, unzipped my skin, reconfigured my breath, and exploded my heart. And now it beats for two, this heart.

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Marlowe and the Minion

MY Toy

MY Toy

Hello, Subjects. I’d apologise for my longer-than-a-week absence, except it isn’t my fault. There’s been all this hoopla about somebody’s labia. I don’t know what a labia is exactly, but I’m sick of hearing about it. The other thing that happened is that my humans’ humans came to stay! Who knew I had Grandparents?! And of the English variety! Yes, just like my people originally came from Burma, it turns out that my male human’s humans come from England. They sure did sound funny. Actually, my Grandpop sounds just like Michael Cane. I’ve seen Michael Cane on TV and, seriously, you wouldn’t know it wasn’t him to listen to him.

Anyway, it turns out that my Grandparents don’t like cats. I know. It’s a capital offence. I googled it. I fear for their lives.

Not. Like. Cats. Look, between you and me, not liking Bronte, I can understand. I mean, she is a moggy after-all. She doesn’t do anything. She doesn’t play fetch or talk or google. She’s, you know… slow. But me? Not like ME? I immediately went about setting that to rights. The following is a list of the things I did to WIN THEM OVER:

  • Played fetch (easy)
  • Talked (easy)
  • Looked adorable (pfft)
  • Googled stuff (breeze)
  • Pointed at Bronte’s regular vomiting with a perfectly muscled arm and claw-clipped paw while I sat and looked adorable and vomit-free
  • Demonstrated how I can play chasey with humans, but better than humans can
  • Recited Clancy of the Overflow in my custom-made tweed jacket.

Ok, so the last one may not have happened, but it could happen, if I wanted it to. It totally worked, naturally. They lapped it up. Had them eating right out of my perfect paws. My Grandma was petting me and cooing to me. They even bought me a present when they left. Yup, a new toy! It moves by itself! They’re the best kind and it’s total proof that they won’t go to jail now.

So, yeah. I totally saved their lives. I hope they come back one day. I’d like another toy that moves.

Marlowe Meowz

Paw

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