Coming of Age

Life events

It’s finally time to sit for a moment and gather my thoughts. It’s time to reflect on this past year really, firstly because that is how long I have been dallying on getting back into writing for me, but secondly because it has been a wearisome year that has developed who I am as a mother, friend, wife, and human being in general. I’ve learnt a lot about myself this past year, and I’ve learnt a lot about my place in the world, and moving forward has been the most awkward and worthwhile experience of my 30s.

IMG_1442

– Me with my beautiful first-born Lauren as a baby

“…and suddenly you know…..it’s time to start trusting something new and trust the magic of beginnings” – unknown.

“Coming of age” is generally a term reserved for our children and their transition from being our child into adults in their own right. Often it is filled with excitement, but overshadowed with trepidation and uncertainty as they shift from being their mammas little girl, to a young adult with the expectation of responsibility and the ability to determine their own outcomes. I am certain that I am not alone in feeling that same sense of apprehension about letting the most precious part of me go and be her own person, experiencing and working through her own mistakes. At this moment I am living this with my eldest daughter, and although she is not yet 18 years old, she has worked hard to complete her final year of school which included an International Baccalaureate with a focus on high level subjects of theatre, biology, and psychology. It certainly has been a challenging year for both her and us, as we attempted blindly to help her navigate this education program, manage the emotional rollercoaster each term and held our breath as we awaited each results estimation, and of course the precious milestones that pepper our young ones’ last year of school.

“Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title til much later” – Bob Goff.

Graduation was one of the proudest moments as a parent as I watched my beautiful baby girl walk up on stage and receive her certificate, with every elegance and grace. We had already had the joy of her last day of school, followed by the iconic moments of clap out and beach swim, and I’m thrilled that I was able to have time off work to soak up every single moment with her. As a working and studying mum, every one of these special moments are exceptionally valuable to me and to my husband and ones that we will not easily forget. The day of graduation (after finishing her last two exams that morning), we drove from make up artist to hair stylist to put some extra sparkle on my already stunning daughter, before arriving home to get dressed in her gown. That moment when doing up the back of her dress and shiny gold belt, I shed just a small tear and the woman who was standing in place of my little girl. The reality that she was no longer the little girl who was small enough to cuddle in my lap was tangible and terribly scary, but proud. I can now say with certainty that she had reached the end of high school intact – my job as a parent had worked.

This past year my daughter Lauren has become a P-Plater (Provisional driver – meaning she can now drive without us), had her first significant car accident that left me in a state of panic (she is however okay now and was not at fault), and of course most recently we presented her with her first car. Her sense of freedom has exploded and I’m certain we will be seeing less of her now she has her own means of transport, but her promises of maintaining her close relationships with her family reassures me. Lastly, she has been spending time with her first boyfriend but the only thing I can share (to protect his privacy), is that he is a wonderful young man whom we totally approve of). Now her job is to create the life she wants, and we can’t wait to see the adventures she gets up to.

IMG_2270

Coming of age is not only preserved for our kids, I also feel that as we get older we have times where life experiences and our own personal growth leads to our own coming of age. A transition to the next stage of our lives. Whilst our eldest graduating has been part of that for us, it is a myriad of other things that has led me here also.

Currently, we are making all the plans necessary for our move to England at the end of 2018, and its been a little bittersweet. We are super excited to be embarking on this amazing journey as a family, but the sadness of the impending goodbyes is ever present. We have so many dear, dear friends here in Australia and it is going to take commitment and dedication to nurture those relationships despite the distance and time differences. I have had to reconcile myself with the fact though that some of those people in my life will fade into fond memories when we leave, just as some have begun that process now of their own accord. It reminds me that no matter how busy I am with my job, my study, and my family, the friends that are dear to me need to know that they are – they are part of the tapestry of the life I love so much.

This year our family survived not only me working lots of hours, studying, and carrying out and presenting a research piece in Sydney, but we also survived a great heartache when we lost my husbands brother, and it shook us to our core. The sadness is still with us and whilst we still wish we had made more time to go and see him, its reminded us to cherish the opportunities we get to see the special people in our lives and to not take it for granted – none of us know if there will be a tomorrow. The tomorrows we do have are going to be great, throughout it all I am beginning to really know who I am and who I am not. What I am is a kick-arse nurse, mother, and friend who is enough – it’s what I am beginning to really accept that about myself and it feels good to be more certain of that. Knowing for certain that I am enough has been a work in progress, and also means I am more confident in standing up for my boundaries and beliefs in the face of others judgement. My focus this next year to further develop deep relationships with my friends and family, become more fearless, and challenge myself and my beliefs – so that I know for sure that I am being a leader in my own life.

IMG_4142

– The wonderful man I get to enjoy this life with, my husband

Ultimately, getting older and coming of age is a lifelong process and whilst my daughter is figuring out how to be an adult, I am enjoying getting older and closer to 40 – and I’m loving it. I am loving caring less about what people think, I am loving the courage I have to face my own flaws and question what lesson life’s shitty little events are trying to tell me, and I am loving the life of following our wildest dreams that my husband and I have created for ourselves – and hope our children have that courage too.

 

“What we know matters but who we are matters more.”
― Brené Brown

NEVER TEAR US APART

Uncategorized

Welcome to 2014. With a new year comes expectations that it will be a better year than the last, more productive, more settled, less challenging in that 2013 yucky way. I’m just as guilty, I had these expectations too – it’s just that God, the universe…had other ideas. To be honest it still feels like 2013 with all it’s devastation, pain, turmoil and terrible luck. This past week feels like a train wreck really and I can’t for the life of me see beneath the rubble – but I’m flexing my muscles and doing my best to clear it, whilst taking an inventory as I go along.

From the very beginning my week looked much like the bottom of a mudpit. It started with someone spewing their insecurities all over my good mood and intention for the coming change of calendar. With each tick on the clock it worsened – without breaching confidentiality I can just tell you that sometimes it just plain sucks being a nurse, enough to make me question my career choice just a bit. The entire week followed the same pattern and each day saw me sink deeper and deeper into the mudpit awaiting me. Just as I dawn on the weekend and things start looking amazing – in fact during this heat wave we have had mummy pulls out the spiraliser and we make lengthy strands of raw carrot, zucchini and squash. Terribly fun by the way…and tasty too. Then I get the call….yep the call.

I answer my phone and am asked to leave my child’s immediate area and as I do and the conversation continues infall in a heap on the bed as I realise I am going to have to break some terrible news to my child. At this stage I am not going into details of when, why, how, who or what…because it isn’t necessary. Lets just say that from that phone call on, both my daughter and I have barely been able to stop crying…even the smallest things will set us off. At 13 she is far too young to deal with this grief, and yet she must. She must face it head on, wrestle with it and move on. So what about grief?

Well they say that grief follows 5 stages:
1. Denial “no way, never happened”
2. Anger “unfair. Bring me the person at fault”
3. Bargaining “what if? I can do this and it won’t have happened”
4. Depression “no food, no company, tears are my only friend”
5. Acceptance “this has happened but I’m okay”

Nice little equation isn’t it? Would be terribly nice if we could just follow protocol, then we could know what to do and when to do it. So what has this equation taught me about teenage grief? Nothing! Zilch! Nada! Zip! As I navigate with my teenage daughter the road of grief I can tell you that this equation does nothing and provides no comfort to us. What has happened has sent us all in a whir and we just hold on for the ride when we can.

So how do you comfort a grieving teen?

Well firstly you scrap the formula – there is nothing teenagers hate more than to be put in some structured idea, in fact they find it somewhat condescending.

Then you remember that once upon a time she used to be your little girl, and that certain things worked wonders in calming her fears and tears.

You also recognise that sometimes the best counsellor is actually their peers (with some debriefing from mum of course), because let’s face it – different era, different ideas. Their peers are going through stuff too and remember that when we are going through the tough stuff all any of us want to feel for others is a simple and quiet “me too”.

You take back some of the mummy role…tickle their face, stroke their hair, lie beside them and cry with them, listen and don’t interrupt. Hug, cuddle and hug again. Talk about it. And never say AT LEAST, it’s like telling them their grief is invalid.

Get them involved in a related project. My teen is working on an inspired board…something that will encompass important things.

How’s it working? Pretty well I would say, but she will steer the ship and I will just be the added muscle for any sharp turns ahead. Life still feels unfair. We are still crying. But we do it together.

So don’t forget to hug your loved ones, embrace differences, say your sorry when you should, forgive when you can, and remember how short life can be……..