All posts filed under: Keeping the Faith

Santa’s Dead.

She was cheerful, spritely even, as she scanned our purchases. Chattering away to Master-Four, she asked the obvious question for the time of year, “What’s Santa going to bring you?” He didn’t even hesitate. Didn’t even blink before bleating his reply. “Santa’s dead.” Did the whole store go silent, or was it just my imagination? The sharp intake of breath sounded like something elicited from heavy industrial equipment rather than a few pairs of lungs. We laughed nervously and I tried to explain that we celebrated Jesus at Christmastime, that Santa was more of a cartoon character to my son. Her mouth stretched across her face but her eyes were hard – it was clear I’d been branded unfit for motherhood. What kind of mother tells her child that Santa’s dead?! This incident happened a few days after we Googled Saint Nicholas. We had explained that the fiction of Santa was based on the truth of Saint Nicholas, a real man who lived long ago. St Nick’s story is intriguing. Young Nicholas was born to wealthy parents in …

Silenced for the Offence of Offending

My boy starts school next year and we’re sending him to a local Catholic school. The decision-making process on this one was heavy. Considerations ranged from educational to social to cultural to financial to geographical to spiritual. Not to mention whether the uniform colours suited his complexion! Joke. I was just joking. Yes, all these things (except the uniform bit) were vigorously discussed as we novice parents weighed up what was best for our first-born and our family unit. For a whole fleet of reasons, we chose the local Catholic school. The decision didn’t come without implications, without some level of compromise. You see, we are not Catholics. There are parts of the Catholic tradition and liturgy that we don’t adhere to. Yet, in signing those enrolment forms we entered into the construct of a long-established way and we don’t for a moment expect it to change because one little kindergarten kid’s parents don’t do infant baptism or say the Hail Mary. There’s so much about this school that we love – like the way that …

Pack These Words for the Journey

We were sitting around on the grass under the lovely Spring sun, her face splashing all over us while, within eyesight, the kids squawked and imagined other worlds and pushed little bums down slides. Drinking up the bliss of adult company, we were a rabble of mothers comparing notes on parenting. Conversations like these lurch erratically from behavioural woes and toilet-training mishaps to school uniform orders and an amicable if somewhat competitive exchange of sentences that begin with, “My darling did the cutest thing…” This day, we were navigating the topic of sleep deprivation. Some of us have had a bad go thanks to certain munchkins who don’t understand the division of night and day – years after their entry. Others (myself included) have brains that fail to take the hint of lights out and body in horizontal position. The tips to counter insomnia were predictable: count sheep, think of the colour blue, take some sleeping tablets or do some, er, strenuous exercise before shut-eye time. But Kristy had a new one. “I tell myself …

Say NO With Conviction, Girl

She learnt to say “no” this week. From pursed little lips it sprang, clear as the blue of her eyes. “No.” And again, practicing. “No.” Her 17-month-old face was delighted rather than deceitful as she formed the new word, parroting her Mum, the weight of that one syllable yet to dawn. And later, my sweet daughter had already forgotten the obnoxious, if petite, declaration. Phew! Well… not exactly.

Humble as a Lion

I was sitting in my lounge room when I noticed the lions in my front yard. They were padding around on the grass, the sun illuminating velvet ridges of muscle as they half-played, half-prowled before my eyes. With the careless hook of a claw they caught small animals – mice, rabbits and birds – before lazily mincing them through their teeth, sliding the still-warm meat down their gullet. Through my floor-to-ceiling windows I could see that these beasts were males, at their prime, with great woolly manes and energy quivering through their flanks. Still, I felt calm behind the glass, lulled by the awe of their presence. Suddenly one of the lions turned his majestic head and walked up to the house with the gait of one assured of his strength and mission. He slinked through a door I hadn’t noticed was standing ajar and walked straight up to me. He leapt onto the couch beside me, his weight slanting me towards him, and laid his head in my lap. This is the scene that has visited me …

The Skin I’m In

I am white, middle class, Anglo female, and here I stand in front of the mirror lamenting my own skin. The weather is warming and long-sleeves and jeans are swiftly being exchanged for singlet tops and shorts. Yes, that golden, celestial orb is bestowing her warmth and those of burnished skin are reveling in the strip-down. Us of “alabaster complexion”, as my mum fondly names it – we stand in front of mirrors lamenting that the change of season means baring these ghostly limbs, these legs like fluorescent tubes. I reach for the cream, squeeze brown onto my palm and begin to rub fakeness into my pores. This year more than years past, I’m attuned to it. The farce of it. The travesty of altering my very skin colour. It’s hard to say what’s changed. 32 years of life and a daughter who shares my skin tone might be a good place to start. Still, I rub it in, from the tips of my toes to the tops of my thighs, rubbing at my counterfeit skin. There …

Fit for Conversation

Gym for me looks like this… Lycra on, shoes on, grab drink bottle, towel. Buckle kids in car, drive fast, not too fast, park, unbuckle. Run, one on hip, other dangling on arm, through doors, hello, recite membership number. Childcare, sign-in, kiss, close kiddy gate. Late, sorry to instructor, find cross-trainer, calm heartbeat. Move as instructed, when instructed, as fast as instructed, silently, watching clock on wall, counting down. Leave. (Repeat twice a week.) So you can appreciate my shock when veteran gym instructor Jodie gave her Monday and Friday classes a good old kick up the behind – no push-ups involved. She did it like this: she made us talk. To each other. It’s been happening for weeks now. Every class, she rattles our phobia of mingling with other people by giving us five questions to ask – and remember – of the people on our left and right. She tests us at the end, so participation refusal would be embarrassing. Not an option. Between the usual fitness directions of “On your toes!”, “Activate!” and …

Lambs Cut Down in Spring

There are four prerequisites for Spring. Four things that I must witness before Spring can truly be declared as here and happening: Daffodils in bloom. Sunshine without sunburn. Washing on the line (rather than strung throughout the house). And lambs frolicking in paddocks. It’s a season of unfurling, of pink vulnerability and joyful abandon. Gah! Those sweet little lambs. White and carefree, romping in the green, performing those delightful leaps that linger at mid-point. That’s before some crazy jumps the fence with a hammer and bludgeons one to death. One, then another, and another, until the poor Beulah farmer has a pile of 56 lamb carcasses, mindlessly killed, tortured. One had the wool ripped off its shins and its ears burned, the farmer told reporters. Gives you chills. What prompts such brutality? Please, can someone identify the gene, the experience, the upbringing, the education that generates such behaviour so we can purge society of it? Alas, you know as well as I do, that’s not going to happen. Let me be honest. When I saw photos of …

Thankfulness: Time’s Paperweight.

I have on my shelf a paperweight. Remember those? It’s on the shelf because I don’t use it – but it’s too pretty to turf. A glass orb encasing a whorl of deep violet. I guess paperweights once held down loose pages on desks. On a scorching summer’s day, Executive Director Whatsit might have flung open his windows to let the breeze through, making everything quiver and dance. Lucky he had that paperweight to hold down important budget documents! These days, our desks have trays of incoming and outgoing left loose and free, without a thing to pin them down. The windows are screwed shut and air-conditioning doesn’t generally have the same gusty force. So, our paperweights sit as useless objects on shelves. Until last week. I’m reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, a New York Times bestseller (she blogs HERE). If you think my writing is flowery, you’ll think hers is positively botanical! She introduced me to a new – and better – way to handle the finite hours and minutes in a day that begs for …

Those War-Bruised People Who Will Soon be our Neighbours

If Tony Abbott knocked on my door last Wednesday, I would have kissed him, ushered him in, poured him a glass of our best wine. A day earlier, the reception might have been different. I don’t envy your job, Mr Abbott. What a tense couple of weeks it’s been for you and your cabinet, but as one Australian voter with a deep concern for vulnerable people – even those beyond our shores – I want to say thank you for listening. As you know, less than a week ago the Australian government announced it would welcome 12,000 extra permanent refugees from the Syria conflict, with a particular focus on women, children and families from persecuted minority groups. Australia will also pay for the direct accommodation of 240,000 refugees seeking asylum in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Watching the news footage of women pushing prams along railway tracks, of fathers crying into the necks of their children, of cities leaning like ashen boxes in rubble gardens, we have wept. Their blood has run down our faces as tears. …