Tag Archives: Love

Small Days – a storehouse of memories.

When you bring that brand new baby home for the first time, no one tells you that time will fly.  No one tells you that you will blink and they will be 10, that you will sigh and they will be teenagers, that you will wake up one day and they will be adults. Our baby is turning ten soon and I’m learning to treasure every small day because I know that sooner than I would like, he will be grown. Here is my letter to him…

Dear Joel,

One day the Lego boats will disappear from the side of the tub. One day I won’t hear the sound of your small feet running to my arms in the night. One day my face won’t be the one you look for first. One day you will tend your own bumps and wash your own clothes and I will stand to the side, proud of the man you’ve become.

One day I will close my eyes and smile because right there, in my heart, I have stored up all your small days. I will close my eyes and remember when you fit in the crook of my arm so well and I’ll let the smell of newborn you fill my senses. I will close my eyes and laugh about the days you were small enough to stand under the table with your little fists clenched and face purple, wanting your own way. I will close my eyes and wave you off to school again and sigh that even then the days seemed to pass like lightning. I will swell with love for the little boy who came home broken-hearted about the cruelty of others. I will hug that little boy again and feel the jab of that day. I will be proud that you didn’t let the opinion of others define you. I will close my eyes and draw on a thousand memories, a thousand moments of joy, love, laughter, tears, overcoming, and growth. A thousand memories that are mine alone.

And between now and then, I will tell myself to savour every moment (even the ones that make me pull my hair out). I will tell myself to really listen when you tell me your stories, because this is the only time that your voice will sound this way. I will tell myself to laugh at your silliness and love the way that you don’t know how to behave “properly” yet (and pray that you hold on to some of that silliness forever). I will remind myself never to be the first to end your hugs, because one day I will be wishing for just one more small moment with you. I will build memories that are full of you. I will tell myself to linger in these small days because one day, the Lego boats will disappear from the side of the tub.

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Message send failure. 

I’ve saved all the text messages my sister and I sent to each other this year.

I thought it would be comforting to be able to look at them when I’m sad and know that we connected when everything else got stripped away. I saved them but now it’s a bit of a double-edged sword because somehow my last message to her went astray. It didn’t send and now when I look at my phone it has her name and next to that is the line “message send failure”. And I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. I’m not sure whether to be distressed or comforted. You see I know she would agree that in some ways “message send failure” sums up our relationship perfectly. We spent a lot years trying to communicate with each other but neither of us were very good at getting the message across. It was only in the last months of her life that we managed to strip everything else away and speak the same language. The only language that’s left when all else is taken – Love. 

I’m so grateful that we had those moments. Moments where we could look at each other and know that nothing about the past mattered except that we loved each other. Not perfect love, real love. Love that doesn’t need the other person to live up to your standard. Love that sees all the bumps in the road we walked together and all the cracks in each other’s character and says, “that’s okay, you are still beyond precious to me”. So I suppose that in the middle of the pain of saying goodbye to my sister I’m learning about love. I’m learning that love lowers the bar to include us all. I’m learning (in my sister’s words) that “imperfect love is still love”. 

Maybe, most of our lives could be summed up as a message send failure – each of us speaking a different language and neither of us understanding the other- but really, that’s okay. That’s okay, because when I scroll past the failure I can see the heart. I can see her message to me “hey bub, love you” and I know that whether the text got there or not, the message finally did and really there was no failure….. 

  

Dear John… Breaking Up With Bitterness

At some point in our lives we are all going to get hurt. We hope when hurt comes it will be something small, something easy to shrug off, and often it is.  Sometimes, though, it’s the type of hurt that feels momentous and life changing, the type of hurt that changes the way we look at the world and damages our ability to trust. When those hurts come along its natural to feel angry and sad, to grieve and to cry, to withdraw and seek to tend our wounds, but eventually we have to do something about our hurt.

We have to decide to either hold on to it – store it away in some deep place in our heart so that it stands as a constant reminder of the wrong done to us and teaches us that no one is really trustworthy, or we have to choose to forgive.
Forgiveness is not really an attractive prospect is it? I mean, it’s full of hard work and dealing with painful feelings, but what’s the alternative? The alternative is that we can let the wrong done to us continue to hurt us everyday because we insist on holding on to it. For us to refuse to forgive, we have to be willing to constantly remind ourselves what happened to us that has made us hurt. It’s like hurting ourselves over and over and over again. And sooner or later that hurt changes us, it makes us see the world with less joy and more suspicion, it makes us look for the bad in everything- it makes us bitter.
I don’t want to become a bitter person.
That’s why, I’m committed to breaking up with bitterness and no good breakup is complete without a “Dear John”, so here is mine…
Dear John,
You and I have been living together for a long time now (holding on to hurt gives bitterness a home in our heart and allows it to become second nature).
I’m not happy (reminding ourselves about the hurt we’ve experienced sucks the joy out of life). When we first met I thought that I really wanted you (after all, when we’re hurt anger and revenge look pretty attractive, the problem is that they can’t actually undo the pain we are feeling) but I can see now that I’m trapped (ultimately hanging on to hurt makes us miserable). So today I’m ending it (making the deliberate decision to live in forgiveness) no matter what it costs (not denying the wrong that was done but releasing it and choosing not to dwell on it anymore). I deserve so much more (we can choose to look forward to the good that waits for us) and I’m going to start looking for it (we can decide to open up to trust again – maybe with more discretion this time). I know we may still see each other now and then (sometimes when we’ve been hurt, the same issue will raise it’s head again – not all hurts are quickly healed) so I hope you understand if I just nod and keep on walking (deal with pain as soon as it happens and be committed to move on). The truth is, I’ve met someone new (forgiveness) and I’m pursuing a relationship with them instead. I’d like to say thanks for the memories, but really, they aren’t that great.

Yours truly,

Shiv.

 

Hollywood Lounge Story – Love At First Sit.

Last week I trawled a seemingly endless number of op-shops. I was looking for an Art Deco sideboard and having no joy at all. After a long and fruitless day, I walked into one last place. It reminded me of a wardrobe in a hoarders house – a badly organised, mothball smelling, cluttered up, old wardrobe. I walked in from the back door and came across the usual array of clothing (old furs and wedding dresses) before maneuvering around some laminate pieces of furniture in various states of repair when my eyes fell on a treasure.

It sat in the middle of the store and I swear to you, I had a Hollywood love at first sight experience. It’s like all the light in the room suddenly focused down into one area. The harsh sounds of daily life faded to obscurity and someone, somewhere began to play the gentle stirring notes of a love song. And that’s how I laid eyes on the most perfect antique lounge I’ve ever seen.

It wasn’t what I was looking for, but it still made my heart skip a beat or two. I resisted my first urge to run over to it, throw myself across it and start hissing at the other bargain shoppers that it was “My precious!” Instead, I strolled casually over and tilted the price tag so that I could glance at the price. That’s pretty much when I came undone. I’m not saying that I definitely foamed at the mouth or that I definitely told my husband that there was no way in the world he would get me out of that shop without that lounge, but, twenty minutes later, I was the proud new owner of a very valuable piece of furniture (having paid about a tenth of what it was really worth). That day was a pretty good day!

It was also a pretty good picture of what life can sometimes be. We can end up feeling like we are sitting in the op-shop of life, surrounded by clutter and looking like someone else’s cast off. Some seasons of life find us so surrounded by sticky little fingerprints, dirty laundry and hard work that it is simply hard to picture ourselves as any sort of treasure. Some of us sit for years with the labels, and tags of other people tied to our heart telling us that our worth is far less than it truthfully is. We are waiting for someone to come along and recognise that we are a treasure, out of place in the every day.

But what if we didn’t wait any longer? What if we decided from this moment on that we would write our own tag, that we would recognise that we are a treasure in every place and in every season? Even in the op-shop seasons of life, those cluttered, chaotic, endlessly tiring seasons. How would life change if we treated ourselves, and those around us, as though we were priceless because that’s the reality; each of us is a treasure regardless of our tag. My guess is that if we began to value ourselves this way, life would get a little better. I believe that in valuing who we are as people we would teach our children their value too. That we would begin to bring up people who saw treasure where the rest of the world saw trash, people who knew how to find and draw that value out of others – and that is something I long to do!

Puberty?… Oh No!

Photo Credit: Jon Stone, Mike Smollin

Kids have this terrible habit don’t they? They just insist on growing, whether we are ready for them to get bigger or not.  It’s exhausting and unstoppable and right now, in our house, it’s terrifying because the growing is pushing us closer to the edge of that cliff…puberty! 

I feel like Grover in “There’s A Monster At The End Of This Book” – I want so badly to chain the pages of our life together, or nail them shut, or brick them up just so that we don’t have to get to the part with the dreaded monster.  The thing with that book though is that the kids just insist on turning the pages.  Nothing this Grover-mum will do is going to put off getting to the back page!  Adolescence is coming to my son (and there’s nowhere I can hide). 

So, because there really is nowhere to hide, I’ve decided that it’s time to grab my flippers and my snorkel and dive right in.  I’ve spent the last few weeks talking to SOTY’s (survivors of teenage years) about how to make it through my son’s adolescence without the need for Prozac or military school and the funny thing is that they are all saying pretty much the same things. 

1.  Be the immoveable object

Picture your child as a small yacht in a beautiful bay.  Up until now, the waters have been fairly calm, the sky pretty clear, and they have had a lot of years to practice sailing around in the safety of your family’s harbour, but now it’s time for them to learn to do what yachts are built to do – it’s time to sail some bigger seas.  As parents, the thought of pushing that small yacht from the slipway and turning our back on it is unconscionable so what is our role in this? 

We have to become the rock in the ocean. The one that he can navigate around, the one that appears on his map, the one that he can anchor himself to in a storm, and cast off from when he is ready.  We have to learn to be the immoveable object in our child’s life.  Loving him bravely – letting him know that it’s good to want to explore the world around him.  Loving him with stability – letting him see that home will always be a place of acceptance, grace, forgiveness, warmth and consistency (a place he can anchor himself to when storms rage around him).  We have to let him see, that no matter what changes around him, we will not change – we will stand firm in our dedication to him.

It may take a great deal of courage to love this way, to love like the immoveable object, but parenting is about making courageous and uncomfortable decisions from its very first moments, so why would this be any different?

Photo Credit: Kevin Tuck

2.  Remember that the person you love is still in there (somewhere).

Every parent I have spoken to has said this to me (after they stopped laughing about the fact that we are just approaching this season and they have already made it to the other side).  They all said, that adolescence is not easy but that it’s really important to keep reminding yourself of your child as a person.  As parents, we need to work on setting the behaviours aside and reaching out to the individual inside.  When we remember that there is a person who we love behind the behaviours that we find frustrating, it’s helps us to focus on maintaining relationship with them.  Adolescence, like all seasons, is not without its end and once it’s over, they assure me, we will get to see and enjoy the beautiful people our kids have become.

Is that all that there is to it? I don’t think so – it’s never that simple, is it? Will this work in getting our son through those scary teenage years?  I think it (and a lot of prayer) will help, and I think we will learn other things along the way too.  At the end of the day, there’s one thing I know for sure, love has been the answer in every other stage of our children’s lives. Not the flimsy, wishy-washy, passive love that watches the world fall apart around it as though it was powerless to do anything.  No, not that kind of love.  The gutsy type of love, the love that is a verb – active and powerful.  The love that is strong enough to say I will not give up on you.  The love that is immoveable. 

Love (& Other Fairy Tales)

source:rgbstock scottsnyde

Before I met my husband I had a list (I like lists).  It was my perfect man list and I knew I couldn’t be happy unless my dream man ticked every item on the list.  Then I met Dave and he made me want to throw my list to the wind and write a list of a completely different sort.  We fell in love quickly and utterly so it wasn’t a big shock to find myself married within 12 months.  I was so in love… and so clueless.

I’d swallowed every Hollywood chick flick and fairy tale hook, line and sinker.  I knew what falling in love was all about but my examples of love finished at the kiss.  What was happily ever after supposed to look like?  That’s the thing that Hollywood never tells us isn’t it? They tell us what “in love” looks like but brave love, the everyday love that comes with monotony and routine and sacrifice isn’t interesting enough to hold our attention for two hours. So, we end up in relationships with unrealistic expectations and shattered fairy tales wondering where all this mess came from and whose job it is to clean up.  What we really need is for our chick flicks and fairy tales to teach us what comes after the happily ever after.  Here are some real lessons from our fairy tale romances…

Sleeping Beauty: You have a life to live, don’t live it on pause! Sleeping beauty was so bored waiting around for Prince Charming that she fell asleep and stayed that way for 100 years.  You were born for a reason and whatever that reason is it’s waiting for you! Go climb a mountain, explore the world, dance in the moonlight in Paris or better yet make life better for others.  Don’t stand around doing nothing while you wait for love to find you, live a big life and let love catch you on the run.

Shrek:  If he looks like an ogre, smells like an ogre, and acts like an ogre then he is an ogre. If you weren’t looking for an ogre then you need to run a mile!  Before I got married I received this advice; “This is him on his best day, on his best behaviour. If there is something that you can’t live with when he is at his best, don’t think that it will change when he has won you”.  When we’re falling in love we are on our best behaviour – after we’ve won our partner we feel safe to let it all hang out (not the other way around).  We need to stop looking for the “perfect” person and start looking for a person with character.

Rapunzel:  Grow a thick skin or very long hair.  There are times in every relationship where we want to run to the tower and lock out the world.  Sometimes it’s because of the big stuff (like grief and loss) but a lot of the time it’s the small stuff that makes us want to run.  Here’s the truth; tough times will come.  There will be a time at some point where you sit down and wonder if it’s worth it and then you’ll have a choice.  You can pack a bag, find a tower and lock out the world or you can find your partner, unpack the baggage you’ve both been hauling around and face the tough times together, as a team.  It’s lonely by yourself in the tower, let down your hair.  He is just as scared by conflict and struggle as you are; it’s so much better to face it together.

So what does happily ever after really look like?  It looks like a lot of consistent and hard work.  It looks like long nights and dirty nappies and serious conversations.  It looks like humbling yourself when you want to scream that you are right and he is wrong.  It looks like your hand on his knee as you drive along the beach. It looks like coffee dates snatched from busy days and warm looks that no one else understands but you.  It looks like a lifetime of choosing them over and over again even though you know them better now with all their ogre-like qualities. It looks like a real life fairy tale.