Friday, April 23, 2010

It is spreading...

I am really excited to report that this idea is spreading. Instead of a blog post today I will simply point you in the direction of 'fun and frugality' where a mum tells her story about getting this to work. I hope to hear even more about it in the future.

On a personal note: A stone went through my radiator while travelling from Toowoomba to Maitland. I have spent a relaxing day on a little town called goondiwindi. This is where my husband and I met so I have enjoyed my time here. I apologise for the brevity of this post, it is from my iPhone. Blog updates will be a little infrequent until I am settled into a new home.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I am moving interstate

Today I just started packing. I went out and bought a whole heap of boxes and just started packing. Twenty-four hours ago I had no idea I would be packing, and now I am.

I am moving to live near my family. I have been attempting, with little success, to make parenting more social and it is just not happening. There is a huge part of me wants to see this project through, to stick it out and make my tribe work. However last night I had an epiphany, everything became clear, I am struggling and I have a big loving family that live interstate. I need to go live near them.

I have been talking about moving closer to my family for years. At least twice in the past three years I have said “We will definitely be living near you by Christmas” and twice Christmas has come and gone. I love the idea of family, I love everything from spending a big Christmas day together, to a quick coffee during a lunch break. After being married moving just never seemed an option, my husband has always been fairly attached to this area.

Now I realise, as I struggle with the daily life pseudo-solo parenting our four month old daughter, that I really need help. I have been saying this for a while, but it finally occurred to me that I do have help available, I just have to relocate interstate to get it. I am the type of person that tries to fix every problem that I see, I saw this as a chance to find a solution to what I saw as a problem that new mother constantly face. I now realise that I need to stop trying to fix the world and just allow myself to be fixed.

With that in mind I decided to start packing boxes and to move close to my family. I have no intentions of giving up this particular fight though. Actually it is quite the opposite, the fact that I have been driven to move my family interstate, giving up friends, the job that I know and the organisations I am involved with, only increases the passion and conviction that I feel toward a need for change.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Without the loneliness

This is the first poem I have ever really understood. Despite a number of books of classic poetry around our house, the honest truth is that I do not read them. I have never understood them, except this one by Emily Dickinson.

It might be lonelier
Without the loneliness.
I’m so accustomed to my fate,
Perhaps the other peace

Would interrupt the dark
And crowd the little room
Too scant by cubits to contain
The sacrament of him.

I am not use to hope.
It might intrude upon
Its sweet parade, blaspheme the place
Ordained to suffering.

It might be easier
To fail with land in sight
Thus gain my blue peninsula
To perish of delight.

I understand what it is to become accustomed to the loneliness, and to become unsure whether there is room in my little routine for another person. This translates into frustration when my brother interrupts my day, I like having him in my house, and yet I do not want to compromise and share my space with him.

This also translates into tears when my husband is home for a weekend, I hate seeing him because it reminds me that he is going to leave again. It would be easier not to see him at all, so much does it hurt knowing that he has to leave again. I want him to stay.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Do you have a Tribe?

I would like to hear some other stories.

Do you have a tribe? What do you do to stay socialised? Have you struggled with the social aspect of parenting?

If any of the ten people that read this blog would like to tell their story, then I would love to post it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Forming my Tribe

I want to write about how wonderful my new tribe-like existence, about how I exchanged my professional career tribe for a new family focused tribe. I want to tell you how every day is filled with conversation, joy and laughter. I want to tell you all that, after giving up a full-time job as a teacher, I am loving my new life as a stay-at-home mum. I cannot tell you any of this.

Several months ago, with a conviction that mothers need to adopt a more tribe-like existence, I began my own quest to bring myself out of isolation. I also began this blog.

Realising how isolated my days had become I set about making the mothering experience a much more social one. While I have definitely seem a couple of improvements, overall the process is languishing. I am still sitting home alone far more often than I would like. More and more I am noticing that I have not spoken a word for hours at a time. I force myself to describe my daily activities to my daughter, in order for her to have a healthy language development, however that becomes tiring and I fall into a quiet habit.

Despite my best efforts to create a core group of mums that work together it is just not happening. Despite multiple invites and even promises of visits only one other mum has become involved. I want to send out an invite for another cooking day, but I fear rejection (Note: I did send out another invite, with only one response). I also set about socializing myself on an individual basis, by visiting friends more. While that started very well I again became put off at the thought of inviting myself over to another mum's house too often. I began by inviting just four other  mums, I am realizing that I need to be a lot less selective in my invites. I also need to be a lot thicker skinned about the lack of turnout.

I should not be too hard on myself, these things do take time and it has only been a couple of months. I just do not get why this is so hard. Am I the only person who is struggling?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Not so together

I recently watched the ‘Ministry of Food’ television series starring Jamie Oliver he inspired me greatly, but it had nothing to do with the food.

For those who have not seen the show, British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver attempts to teach a borough how to cook. He begins with this incredible idea to recruit a dozen students who will pass his recipes on to two of their mates. He even has a nifty little animation to help us visualise how this will work. The problem is that it does not work. Not one to give up he tries a different tactic, he heads down to the local football stadium and does his best to recruit more men to become involved. This has some success, but no where near what he had hoped for. The show continues with him approaching big companies and holding grassroots street festivals. The entire town never really becomes converted, but he did get a whole lot of people cooking.

I understand it. I understand that feeling that you can see a way to fix a problem and a desire to show people how to fix it. I also understand the difficulties of breaking through, of helping people to see that there is a better way.

Maybe I am just completely wrong. Maybe the idea of parents becoming almost communal in their parenting is not really that important. Maybe I am the only mother becoming increasingly frustrated with the isolation. Maybe all the rest of the mothers are happy going about their business.

So far we have organised four days together, only three of which eventuated. So far it has only been myself and one other mum who actually make it. Problems arise, obstacles hinder us. I am trying to figure out why it seems more probable that an event will not go ahead. What is going wrong?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

How does fiction become non-fiction?

Four women meet at the house of a new mother. They chat together over a morning pot of tea, two of the children play noisily on the floor, one is sleeping, one is being attended to by his mother. The women are relaxed, discussing things that have occurred since they were last together. They ask the newest mother how she is coping. She is becoming relaxed enough to give an honest answer.

When morning tea is finished the woman begin working together to do household chores. One woman attacks the kitchen with a vengeance, doing dishes, clearing benches, emptying bins. Another dusts, sweeps, vacuums, mops. The third is washing clothes and changing bed sheets. One mother potters around tidying things, while keeping an eye on all of the children. They work in this way for an hour or two before stopping for lunch.

Lunch takes time, there are nine mouths to feed. The mother of a four month old watches with interest as her friend’s nine month old learns to eat solids. The newborn baby wakes up for a feed just as lunch is served, the women laugh at the timing and chat together as he is fed. When the newborn finishes feeding he is passed to the open arms of another mum. His mum eats a slow lunch as another mum begins the dishes.

It is a nice day outside so two of the women head out to do some gardening while the older children play outside. One woman mixes a cake while the another chats with her, minding the children. None of this takes long and the women find themselves sitting chatting together while the cake bakes.

At the end of the day the women head back to their own houses, one remaining a bit longer to give the new mum a chance to have a shower before her partner comes home.

This is a story of friendship and bonding. This story is important because of what comes next.

It is six o’clock at night one of the mums is home alone. Her partner has been working night shifts all week. He is exhausted from the hours, she is exhausted as well. Their newborn baby has been crying every evening. She feeds him, she changes him, she bathes him. Nothing works except pacing the floor, and even that it broken up with crying. It has been like this for three nights and she is exhausted. She calls up one of the other mothers from the group, she is asking for help. She has only known them a few months however they have bonded together well. The mother comes over and helps out. They boil the kettle and takes turns nursing the baby, things feel a bit better. The group organises to come visit her for a few nights in a row. One of the mums is not able, but she sends over a meal instead. They support each other, things are isolating for this new mum.

Be inspired.

The women in my story meet together regularly, several times a week. They meet at each house in turn. They open up their lives to each other and, by doing so, bring themselves out of isolation. They have broken down the barriers that stop women from asking for help. The women become good friends, they share a wealth of knowledge and they support each other.

How does fiction become non-fiction? This story seems so right, why is it so wrong? Why does it not work? How do I make it happen?