Monday, April 16, 2012

Growing up

So with turning 40 and Smallest Boy turning 4 a couple of weeks ago, we have all been thinking a lot about change.  This is the first time we have got to 4 without another baby or pregnancy.  We have reminisced about each of them, laughed at things they did/said as littlies, and shuddered at other things they did/said!  One that always stands out and makes me shudder, but all the kids scream with laughter, was Jonathan at the age of about 18 months telling Grandma "Fock off".  As you can imagine Grandma was horrified and looked at me as if to say "what are you teaching my grand children??"  To explain, we had just got in from some fun outing and he was asking Grandma, very sweetly, to take his socks off, the "foos" having already been dealt with!

I've also been thinking about my parenting skills, or lack thereof.  I was never one of those mothers who listened to all the advice from the proper grown-ups.  I breast-fed on demand for as long as baby and I wanted to and whenever baby wanted to, we did some co-sleeping, lots of cuddling and "spoiling" (honestly!!), but my rule was that "Mummy always wins" - helps you to think before picking those fights!

Miss Meg a couple of days old

As they got older (and took up more space) the big boys were never all that interested in toys and were more interested in playing on me or Daddy.  They have always been feisty and I do remember years of exhaustion and the feeling that I couldn't cope with these wild children.

An armful of wriggly boys

We learnt that getting them OUT was the only way for survival, which was why I walked everywhere, dragging toddlers and pushing a pram, up hills, down hills, along the coast path so rugged up that their wee arms stuck out horizontally!
A wet and windy walk near Stirling (spot the Wallace Monument)

They learnt to ride bikes and played in the street until it was dark and I encouraged the older boys to take on responsibility by walking/riding to school by themselves, walking to friends houses and even going to the shops for the odd can of tomatoes.  Fortunately we lived in a quiet, small town where they would have been spotted getting up to any nonsense and I would have know all about it before they even got home.  They played football in all weather with John and would have to strip at the back door and be hosed down, I had to bin undies that were so mud-stained even Vanish couldn't shift it!

Coming to Australia changed things again.  Where we live is not so conducive to walking about safely, schools are a bus ride away, as are most friends.  They have been learning new skills and are adapting to new ideas and ways of doing things.  But there is still a lot of beach action and lots of football with Dad when things get too boisterous in the house.  Sport has proven to be a life-saver for us and them!

All 5 of them having a walk together at One Mile Beach

 Dad's training school!

I spent a morning recently clearing out all the old baby cups, plates and bowls and doubling my storage space.  It is quite sad to get rid of these things that I have handled, washed and used on a daily basis, some for 13 years, and now it would appear that we could probably do with buying a new dinner set for all the people using 'proper' plates now.  Another reminder that we are moving on and growing up.

When they ask me about my job as a mum I tell them that my job is to make sure they leave home.  This used to be met with shock and wobbly lips, but the older ones realize that I see my role as preparing them to go out into the big, wide world, able to cope with whatever is thrown at them.  I won't be with them at University to write their essays, I've got my degree already.  I won't be there to do their food shops, cooking, washing up, cleaning, laundry etc.  I figure that if I do my job right now then hopefully (everything crossed tightly) they will turn out to be decent, successful human beings.  But for the moment we are still juggling a pre-schooler and a teenager and 3 more inbetween.  It's a whole new kettle of fish these days, but I think we have all survived relatively unscathed so far.

We talk a lot as a family.  We discuss our faith and beliefs, hopes and fears and how putting these into action should affect the way we live our lives to benefit others.  We talk about how people judge each other, how to avoid judging and to avoid being judged.  They are given responsibilities around the house and help out more as they get older.  There is a lot more growing up to be done, but every now and then there is a glimpse of the fantastic people they will become.

As for me, I think I'll just stay 40 for a few more years...


  1. What a lovely post! Well done Mum.
    Celeste x

  2. Owwww what a lovely post hon! I have laughed my focks off reading that comment - poor grandma!!!! What a scream. They do grow up fast don't they? My baby is off to school in less than a month - eeek.

    Have a fab week hon.

  3. You have such a lovely honest and sensible philosophy. And I think you are dead right - we have done OK if we can get them safely to adulthood as happy, secure people who have a sense of right and wrong and the ability to accept responsibilities. Even with the roller coaster my life has been on of late, I think we've ended up with three great people that I love to spend time with. I have agonised over whether decisions I have made would be damaging for them but they seem largely unrockable and happy to accept a change of circumstances. I can't say they have been perfect all the way (16?! welcome to the world of 'I can't believe you know anything...!') but all in all I have loved and continue to love each stage of their growing up. I can't quite believe my boys are so independent! Oh and by the way...looking fab at forty!!! :-) xx

  4. Aww Sandra you totally crack me up. I love how you write and how you grasp your world. You have had some busy years with plenty more to come. I think you nailed it with your job being getting your kids ready to leave home. We are only borrowing them afterall, our kids are entrusted to us for a purpose. That statement was a really timely reminder of the bigger picture of parenting as, even though I have only two, my active boys swamp me under at times and I can only see the now. You've had more kids and are slightly older than I, but you are a knock-out! You can stay 40 for many years with no one being the wiser! xx Fi

  5. Thank you for sharing! It makes me feel like I could survive one or two more kids (I have 2 now). 5 looks chaotic, but in a fun, noisy, homely kind of way. Happy 40th!

  6. Oh Sandra, I think you are just wonderful in so many ways... as a Mama, you're an inspiration to me. I think you've done an incredible job to now and you're certainly laying some strong foundations for your lovely children. You and your hubby should be giving yourselves a big pat on the back for all you've achieved with your family. I totally 'get' the wild boys factor... and I only have two to deal with!
    Love all of those photos you've shared also, that top one melts my heart. Thanks for sharing this piece of your journey with us xoxo

  7. Hi Sandra,
    New here and this is such a great post! It gives me hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel and i will reclaim some cuboard space one day. With 4 kids aged 5 - 8months i look forward to reaching the point where i'm focused on preparing them to leave home.
    Sounds like you're doing an excellent job. Great photos.

  8. fabulous idea! I am forty next year and it feels a little bit odd especially as I have been so absorbed in babies and really relate to al you are saying.......forty sounds fab! x

  9. You know I am so slow to move from 40 now actually have to stop and think how old I REALLY am!

  10. Sandra, I'm another newie to your blog ... drawn to the name. My blog's similarly named, though including cattle and missing the crochet and cakes. Love your parenting outlook. Look forward to reading more.

    1. Fiona, I have just discovered your blog in the last week or so and I have enjoyed reading back through your posts. I grew up just south of Biloela so I enjoy reading about the area and looking at your gorgeous photos. Maria.

  11. Ooohhhh - I don't blame you - I think I've come to that conclusion too.

    Nina xxx

  12. Oooo missus- you should write a book! I mean it- this is seriously good advice for anyone with small folk.
    I too, breast fed on demand, spoilt my babies and we were (and still are) out in the fresh air as much as possible!
    I think you're right about raising children with the skills and knowledge they need to leave home and survive successfully. I hope to do the same with my children.
    Great post (and lovely pics, too)

  13. I have enjoyed this post Sandra. I have four girls 14, 12 and 4 yo twins. I am having trouble connecting with my eldest, I was wondering how you go about starting conversations with your kids about the issues you discuss. Any comments would be gratefully received . Cheers Maria


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