Wednesday, July 29, 2009

truth, beauty and chaos

When I wrote about my happiness a little while ago, I mentioned (twice) that having a baby had bordered on catastrophic for my mental health. This may alarm those of you who now know that I'm pregnant with my third child, but rest assured I am not alarmed. Alert, but certainly not alarmed. There are moments, I confess, when I have a slight panic about the prospect of raising three children, of welcoming a newborn baby into our lives, which have just recently seemed to be a little smoother, in a moments-of-complete-chaos kind of way. But then I focus on why I wanted to have this baby, that feeling at my very core that believed it would be so right. It's about lots of things, but mostly it's about being true to what I believe in. Trusting myself. Sometimes when people find out my news I sense shock, or pity, or even ridicule. It's not for them to say, of course, and not for me to know if I'm just imagining it. It doesn't matter in the least when I'm focusing on the truth and beauty of the journey we're on, all the little and great things that lie within. Along with moments, I'm sure, of complete chaos. How else would we know we're alive?

Friday, July 17, 2009

the raw ingredients

I have several issues with food, the most pressing of which just lately has been that none of it is at all appetising (except maybe Kraft deluxe macaroni cheese, but whether that can technically be called food is debatable). I blame the pregnancy hormones for this latest issue, but there are many more that go way deeper than that. My biggest problem with food, however, is that I despise having to prepare it. The stress I feel taking over my body as dinner time approaches every night is akin only to that I feel when I'm sitting in a dentist's waiting room and drilling can be heard. My children are both incredibly fussy eaters and Freya has her own issues including the texture and appearance of food. She would probably be happy to eat sausages every night of her life. I probably need not mention what the smell of sausages cooking does to my nausea-addled stomach at the moment, so her sausage intake has fallen considerably in recent weeks. Another few notches added to the mother guilt.

I have tried cooking flavoursome, minimally adventurous meals for the younger set, all met with incredulous stares and point-blank refusal to eat. Frustrating doesn't even begin to cover it. So I have chosen to go the easy, conflict-free route and largely give them what they want to eat. I want them to be relaxed about food. I want them to enjoy eating, not feel like their dragon of a mother is breathing down their neck forcing them to eat. I connect food with nurturing, so my shortcomings in the cooking department weigh heavily on my perceived worth as a mother. I don't think I'm alone there. I wish I loved cooking. I wish they loved eating. But wishing doesn't help.

What has helped, surprisingly, has been a little reality TV show called MasterChef. If you haven't been living under a rock, you may have heard of it. I haven't been watching it all, but in the past few weeks have been incredibly inspired by one of the contestants, Julie. She's actually in the final two as of last night. Julie is a mother and her reason for cooking is always clear - she does it for her sons and husband, as a display of her love, and what they get out of it is nothing compared to the joy she feels in doing it for them. I so envy her that ability to cook, and to have such a healthy emotional connection with the process. It's been such an eye opener to hear her speak so passionately about cooking. And it makes me think maybe I can be like that one day. I normally hate ''foodies'' but something about MasterChef is so real, and so fascinating, that the egos fade into the background and it's really just about the skill of cooking, creating sustenance for other people to enjoy. I haven't been able to eat much in the way of appetising food lately, but I've loved watching other people make it.

I had a glimpse of Julie's motivation just the other day, when I was icing a cake I'd baked for Elsa's seventh birthday. I make one every year, and every year I want it to be special. Not in a three-tiered, elaborately decorated way but in a real way. I want it to look lovely, to be delicious, and to let her know that I love her so much and I want her birthday to be as fantastic as she is. It was that feeling that I put into every spatula stroke of the pale pink icing as I finished her seventh birthday cake, and I was so grateful for it. Small steps, admittedly, but maybe one day I'll be feeling that same way as I serve up a creamy risotto or a rustic vegetable lasagne for my girls and they say "Thanks Mum, that looks delicious!"

Happy birthday my darling girl.

PS: If you'd like to talk to me, you can now comment without needing a blogger sign-on. It's open slather. Please be nice.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

me again. remember me?

Has it been two months already? Really? I guess I should write something down then. The happiness conference went swimmingly, was quite an experience and I'm glad I went, despite the frequent panic attacks and crying that went on behind the closed doors of my huge but fishbowl-like apartment in the centre of Hell - I mean Sydney. And about two weeks later some lovely Buddhist monks came directly to Newcastle to create a sand mandala and spread the message of happiness in a week-long engagement at City Hall - 20 minutes from home. I chose to take this as a sign from the universe that I need not look too far from myself to find that which I am seeking. It shouldn't be that hard. Sometimes it's right under your nose.

There's been a few other things happening of late. Namely, I'm expecting my third child and battling the nausea that I had completely forgotten about - a lot like labour, I'm guessing, but it's a bit late when you're in the delivery room to say "Sorry, hadn't thought this one through.'' I had been feeling comparatively sprightly in the past couple of weeks but in recent days actual vomiting has been involved. Since I'm 12 weeks on Wednesday, I'm assuming the sun will shine brighter that morning, birdsong will ring out and all signs of the sickness will be a distant memory. That's very much the assumption I'm holding onto, actually, if the universe is reading this, and I'll be awfully disappointed if reality doesn't match up. I'm also anticipating a return to the consumption - and enjoyment - of real food. This includes tea of the milky, sugary kind that I have savoured practically every day of my life since I was five. Which I can no longer even smell without wanting to throw up.