Wednesday, 7 March 2012


“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
G.K. Chesterton

A friend read this quote to us after dinner on Monday night. It was after a weekend of delicious, uninterrupted conversation about motherhood, creating, teaching, being. Of my kids having constant companions and interesting new toys.  I felt so full up, energised, ready to grow my children with grace and patience and initiative.
And then Monday came, and Tully's Daycare mum (he goes to Family Daycare) was on holidays. And I had plans to finish my mini quilt. And there wasn't any beautiful teenage girls or toddlers and their toys to make it oh so easy anymore.
So you can probably imagine that by Monday night, with dear friends in my lounge room, this beautiful quote by Chesterton cut right through to me.
I feel like I spend so much time with my kids competing with them. I'm trapped with a million ideas in my head, without the capacity to shape them into flesh. If I plan to use sleep time, chances are my efforts will be foiled. (Just now, as I write this, Tully has come out of his rest time twice, the first to ask for Buzz Lightyear, the second to show me the comfy bed he made for him.) I decided to experiment. For the next week, I'm going to stop and listen to my kids. I'm going to follow their lead, be on the look out for their needs, let them set the agenda and hand over mine. And just see if I get any less done. Maybe I will, but with a whole lot less stress. I'm going to see what I can learn from them and if I can rewind some of this 'growing old.' I felt some of that weekend energy creep back.

Well, yesterday was the first day of my challenge and I woke up with anticipation. I had goals, but I would hold them lightly. The sun was shining, a cool breeze was coming through the kitchen window. And there was enough milk left for coffee. We ate breaky, chatted, tidied up, played with the trains. Then Sharon arrived and offered to play with the kids outside while I got some cutting done. I felt like it was my little gift. A pat on the back. See? I didn't need to fight. Maybe I don't even need daycare anymore. It was afterall only 2 days, and we could use the extra cash. And we were getting along so swimmingly. By the end of the week, I was going to be one of those Supermums, asking Tim if we could have more kids and writing a book about how to parent with half the effort and double the warm feelings.
At 11, we put Evie down for her sleep and put on a movie for Tully so Sharon and I could sew together. But he didn't want to watch, he wanted to hang out with us. That's ok, I said. And he helped Sharon with the pins and made a bed for Buzz and pulled out all my scraps. I started to feel my energy evaporating.
No, it's ok, I told myself. It's only mess. He's having fun.

At 2, Evie woke up and I asked Tully to help me tidy up. By this stage, my scrap box which is like Mary Poppins' carpet bag, was spread from the lounge room to the dining room. I put Evie in her highchair with some lunch and suggested we race her to tidy up the fabric.
"It'll take too long!"
I suggested a game. Find all the blue ones. See how many you can fit in your hands. See if you can fill that box before I can fit this one.
And then, "Tully, you need to tidy up your mess or you'll have to go lie down on your bed." He chose tidying, but he didn't.
An hour later, I was so sick of using my patient voice and I'd run out of things to bribe Evie to stay in the highchair. And about three pieces of fabric had been put in the box. I'd been fun, I'd been firm, and I didn't have anything left. He was sent to his room while I tidied up.
I was so tired and disappointed. And slowly becoming aware that I'd just shifted my goals from my sewing to perfect, agreeable children. My hands were no more open.
Day 2 and Tully has just come out a third time, been told he needs to rest or we won't go to the museum this afternoon, gone back to bed crying and woken Evie up after just a hour's sleep. I'm not sure I feel like being warm and open handed any more! I feel just as old as ever. But I'm going to go get Evie out of bed and give her a cuddle. And try not to think about what is required of me for the rest of the day and whether I'll have enough.
And tomorrow I'll wake up and try to listen again. And maybe at the end of the week I'll have something I've gleaned from the exercise that I can share with you. Or maybe you could share with me, how you develop a posture of living and learning and creating with your children, while maintaining some kind of identity and keeping up with the washing? I'd love to here your thoughts (and encouragement!!)
Jodi. xx


  1. Jodi, I don't think you are alone in your daily grind- being productive, an active mother who is intuitive to their childs needs and on top of the washing is all a dream. I am trying to say to myself that I am not a failure that we always have dirty washing, we always have too many baskets of washing to be folded and we always have too many baskets of ironing to be done.
    My new philosophy is to try to live in the moment, don't think about what you should be doing, what needs to be done, just go with what the moment allows you. If that is a shortened sleep then roll with it, if that is two uninterrupted hours of putting away then yay. Motherhood is a tough job, but you need to be able to sit back and appreciate- this is my new feeling to focus on!!

  2. OH my!! This is my life ;)
    I try to get all the day to day chores out of the way in the morning so the rest is play time!! I sew when she naps and mostly in the evenings when they're in bed. Occasionally if she's playing nicely I will sit at the table and get a bit done while she's colouring etc. but that rarely happens! There's been a couple of times that my scrap bin is all over the floor too, that really made me laugh!
    The listening and taking their lead is such a great goal and I'll be interested to see how you get on!!
    Generally my life is smoother and less stressful when I do the same.
    p.s. typing this as they finish their puddings ;)

  3. Your not alone wanting to live the dream honey!
    It does however get easier as they grow up (and you can bribe them!)
    Our dishes get done when they get done, Irons are for pressing fabric to sew with not to wear and parenting should be a 4 person job!
    The only really helpful advice I can give you is to watch for the schedule your children keep themselves for a day, they will have hyper moments (usually when your busy) and lulls. Then work with that, what I mean is if Tully is really active first thing run with that and head to the park to tucker him out and spend time playing - soothes the conscience for later in the day when you need to have mummy time!
    Madam is 9 now and I kind of miss the days we went to the moon for a picnic, but now she likes sewing so I guess I'm still taking her lead lol

  4. Wow Jodi.... you sum it up so well. It's so hard juggling everything isn't it? I work three days a week and on those days I don't see the children (apart from maybe 20 minutes in the morning if I'm lucky) so on the days when I am at home with them I try really hard to put them first (and leave my own stuff for when they are asleep). I choose the activities that Hope (3 1/2) will enjoy joining in with e.g. baking or some cleaning (if she can spray the polish)so that I can feel I do achieve something throughout the day, but other than that we spend our time doing children's things! I see my sewing as a luxury for me, and usually only manage it two/three evenings a week. I find it hard, but I tell myself, I will never look back on my life and think 'I wish I'd cleaned up more, or I wish I'd had a tidier house' and I hope i never look back and say 'I wish I'd spent more time with my kids'!


  5. The only times I am truly productive is when all my boys were in school! Then I started to volunteer at the school. *snort*. Now, with the baby, I sew/craft first, and then do chores while he is awake. He likes to watch me and get in the middle of it all. But I know i will get more done when he goes to the children's program twice a week in the fall....and I am not going to volunteer!!!

  6. thank you for such great candor... When my oldest was an infant she was an amazing sleeper, and I got so much done. Then came #2, not such a great sleeper and of course #1 was getting older and more active every day. Now they are 11 and 8, and I feel like I've got some balance. Some ;-)


I so love your comments! I read all of them and reply when I can. If you don't hear back, I'm lost under a mound of scraps or outside jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Jodi. xx