Thursday, November 29, 2007


Steve (24) has just passed his first year of a jazz performance degree at Massey Albany. Well, he still has his theory result to come but there's no worries there, it's just a matter of how well he passed that paper. It's been a pretty scary time since his recital in Monday 19th November because although he played fine for the first half of the recital he totally froze up at the end, so we were worried he might fail. But he scraped through with a C+ for his Performance and Improvisation.

It's been a hard year for Steve, and also his fiance Heidi, and their friend and flatmate, James. Living away from home for the first time. For Steve it has involved the first real academic study he's ever done, given his homeschooling was towards the unschooling end of the spectrum - but he managed an A- in music history.

He says he's learned a lot, not just about music, but also about study and hopes that next year he will manage his time and study better. But in the mean time, we can all put the worry aside look forward to his wedding to Heidi in February.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Quiet Panic

As my children grow up, I find myself more and more relegated to the sidelines: they are out there leading their lives, and increasingly I am simply watching from the sidelines. It's hard. I see them going through the turmoils of life, but can do little to help. When they are sad or troubled three out of the four now have partners to turn to - a mother's hug just doesn't do it anymore! I'm glad of that: it is right that they move on - and I still remember the huge burden of responsibility of having babies and young children depending on me to 'fix it'! But after nearly 27 years of motherhood, it is hard to adjust to being needed so much less - it leaves a gap in one's life!

Of course they do still want me in their lives. Mac and I have spent a lot of time and energy supporting ds26 through his troubled marriage and subsequent bitter separation / access dispute. We are there when our sons feel the need to touch home base, or need to talk, need help moving house, whatever. But we no longer share their day to day life, except for that of ds17.

When the kids were younger, it sometimes seemed so hard: the illnesses, the broken sleep, the worries (especially as a homeschooling mother) about whether they were learning what they would need later, whether I was making the right decisions and so on and on and on. But there was so much fun too, and even in the sad times, there was a little body to hold and cuddle and comfort. I miss that.

So at this point in my life, when my 'baby' is planning on working full time for the first part of next year, before starting university in the second semester, I am left with a deep anxiety, not really certain of my own identity or place in the world. I thought these sort of feelings were the province of teenagers, but at 56 and going through the tail end of menopause, I find myself in a similar state of confusion. However, this time around it is less exciting, less dramatic - more a sense of quiet panic.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Caterpillar Binding

After seeing some photos of some stunning hand made books
I tracked down a book that describes how to do caterpillar binding on handmade books (and many other bindings too). I have finally completed my first attempt at this binding - on my 2008 diary - and though I have made a few mistakes, I have learned a lot, and as well, have a beautiful diary to use next year.

I'm looking forward to having a lot more fun with this binding.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

An Unbalanced Life

On the seesaw of life
the thought of sitting
at the pivot point
neither high nor down
always seemed uninviting.

Yet the wait on the ground,
knees up around ears,
with only an occasional quick-flick
up and down again,
I find even more drear.

But if I climb off deliberately
finally abandoning the game
a person I love may plummet
crashing too hard to bear,
perhaps concussed for life.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Shining Mother

A couple of days ago I was looking at vegetables in Raglan Four Square. A man in his forties was stacking and rearranging vegetables, and between us a young woman was shopping with her little girl, about three by the looks. This child was beautiful - like something off an old fashioned biscuit box - pretty dress, long, light brown hair falling into soft ringlets, carrying a miniature shopping basket, in which she had an onion, a couple of carrots and a banana. She picked up a bunch of 'trussful' tomatoes - and two tomatoes fell off onto the floor.

My stomach clenched, waiting for the mother's reaction, with bitter bile rising to my throat, knowing how I would have reacted many years ago when my children were that age. What, I would have thought, would the shop employee think? What would that grandmother think? And I would have made assumptions about their thoughts and reacted with screaming and bitter abuse, embarrassment and rage.

I'd seen the signs but they hadn't registered: the basket, with the fruit and vegetables. This wasn't the sort of mother I was all those years ago. The mother just smiled and said, "You want some tomatoes? Pop those ones back and put those two in your basket, two will be enough. And that was all there was to it.

The little girl did as she was asked, then noticed me. She looked up at me, smiled and said, "Hello. I've got lots of things." I smiled back and replied, "You certainly have. You're going to have a yummy dinner tonight." Then I turned to the mother and said, "What a lovely little girl you have."

Why did I say that? Why couldn't I have said what I really wanted to say?

"What a wonderful mother you are, surrounding your little girl with so much love and respect, encouraging her Self to Shine so brightly."

Why is it so hard to comment on other people's parenting, even when what I want to say is positive?

I hope that young woman wasn't a visitor to Raglan: if I see her again, I will go up to her, remind her of the incident and tell her what I wanted to say. I want to offer her the encouragement to keep Shining just as she offers it to her little girl. I hope I have the chance.

If you wonder why I capitalised 'Self' and 'Shine', it is because these words have come to mean something special to me through an email list, and one very special woman, Anne O.