Saturday, March 01, 2014

This week's Mid-Life Crisis in review

Today my husband kicked me out of the house. "Get out. Go now. I want you out of my sight right now and I don't want to see you before 1pm." He really, really loves me.
So, here I am, with 4 hours free time up my sleeve. What shall I do with it?
Well, as we have limited internet at home at the moment, the plan is to blog the week's events at the Safety Bay Library (ta-da), blog about Cranky Women and their place in my life (with a focus on one in particular), take out many books on knitting and then head into Rockingham Proper in order to sit at Mash, have a glass of wine and start work on a short story. So first things, first, here is my week in review.
On Faith
I'm currently going through a crisis of faith. This is, in quite a large way, due to Connor's illness. Not because I believe God has anything to do with my boy being sick (not at all) but because of the reaction of those around me to this illness.
Connor has been since May last year. From the first moment of his illness, people of all walks of life and belief have shown our family a lot of support. Most of these are 'friends' whom I've come to know via the internet, particularly through Facebook, but over the past few months they have become a personal part of our lives as they send through gifts of tea, books, stamps, DVDs, internet games and all sorts, all with a view of cheering up this little boy whom they barely know.
Others who believe in God have sent prayers. All this has been offered with love and kindness. All of it has been received in gratitude.
So, where does the crisis of faith come into it? Well, I have had one real belief over the past 20 years or so, and that's that all goodness has gone from the world, that people are basically selfish and unthinking of others. However, despite this negativity, I belonged to a faith that believed in showing 'love amongst themselves' and that made me feel secure. 'My people' were a tightknit group and really were lovely and supportive. Now, however, almost all the support our family have received has come from outside my belief system. I'm seeing so much good from those who owe me and my family nothing, nothing at all. There is no selfishness, no agenda, just pure kindness from those who have it to give. Lee and I lay in bed recently discussing this outpouring of kindness and Lee pointed out that the largest portion of support has come from those who carry an atheistic view of life. I hadn't thought of it this way. All I'd seen was a group of people showing inclusiveness, not a group of people with or without a belief system. For the first time I began to think that maybe it's not the belief system that matters. It's what you do with it.
To all of you (believer and non-believer), I say thank you for being you.
On Sharon
I met Sharon 19 years ago when my previous husband and I moved to Kununurra. Sharon was part of the congregation and, as we were both young mums with 3 children (Blake was only 4 months away from being born), we both had a lot in common. We clicked and quickly became best friends.
Time wears away all things, but our friendship, which has gone through many trials, has somehow survived. I left Kununurra about a year after meeting Sharon, but we managed to keep the fires of our friendship alive. A few years later we were both divorced from our husbands and finding our feet in our new lives. We made mistakes, we discussed them, and, with an arm thrown around each others shoulders, we continued on.
Sharon and I both left our faith, but not each other. Oh, we've had our periods of separation, but we've always come back to each other full of news and love and understanding. We just 'get' each other and want happiness for each other.
Recently we met up for the first time in years. "Let's take Connor out on an excursion and catch up," Sharon said, and I fell in love with her all over again. It wasn't "Let's catch up and you can bring Connor along." No, this beautiful, generous person saw my difficulty and put it first. "Let's take Connor out on an excursion and catch up." It's all in the wording. The excursion became lunch and with that we're back on track with a view to introducing our husbands.
After several years of female-friend loneliness (my other best friend, Catherine, lives in the US with her new husband. There is a Catherine-shaped hole in my soul :( ) , I am starting to feel like I can breathe again.
On My Daughters
Yesterday was a happy day for me. I got to spend several hours with my daughter, Cassandra, as well as my grandchildren. As I sat on a couch and chatted to the oldest of my babies, I got to see how the years have treated my girl. The several troubled years of her teens are well behind her and now she's a confident, devoted mother who thinks of her children first and foremost. I am so proud of her.
After a while, however, we had to part ways. Erin was scheduled to sit the GATE exam in Claremont and I wanted to leave in plenty of time to find where we had to be as well as give her some time out before hand. We stopped at the Rose Gardens in Nedlands and for 15 glorious minutes Erin, Connor and I ran around, smelling the roses. And so, Goal 22 was ticked off: Take the kids to smell roses at least once. By the end of our time in the park, Erin was happy and calm and ready to face the test that would decide her future (not that we've said this to her, even once.) Three hours later the test was over and Erin walked out with a big smile on her face.
Now, here's the thing. Two weeks ago the GATE people sent out a practice exam so the kids could see what they faced. Erin struggled with a few of the maths questions, so I went to her teacher to ask for a handful of worksheets to help Erin gain an understanding of what might be included in the test. Her teacher sent about 30 worksheets, all filled with the maths subjects Erin will be learning this year. Over the next 10 days Erin learned an entire year's worth of work. We worked hard together starting with the basics and building and building until Erin had mastered an array of problems. She never gave up, never said it was too hard and she didn't want to do it. She just got on with it until it clicked. On Friday she received an Honour Certificate that showed that this effort hadn't been in vain, that her teacher had noticed her drive and had seen fit her reward her for it.
As it was, not one single thing she learned was in the exam. Not one fraction, not one percentage, nothing. However, as she said to me as we walked to the car: "It doesn't matter, Mum. It was your teaching me that gave me the confidence to walk in there and give it my best."
Oh, look, teary Mummy is teary.
Yeah, I'm so very proud of her.
On knitting
35 years ago my dad's best friend, Maureen, taught me to knit. I made all sorts of things for my dolls and I was quite adept. So, she taught me to crochet and I was good at that too. Actually, I found I preferred crochet to knitting and so I kept at that and dropped the knitting.
And then the 80s came and the 90s and craft work fell out of favour. Yes, to be honest, there's no way I'd leave the house with a knitted handbag, no matter how 'funky' the authors of the pattern claimed it was.
I left the woollen crafts behind and turned my creative attention towards writing instead.
Now, I want to return to knitting. And, oh goodness, I want to be as good as I was all that time ago. But I'm not. I'm trying to knit a pair of (toe up) socks but I keep doing the same two rows over and over. Cast on. (Yep.) Knit. (Yep.) Turn knitting upside down and knit into purl bump. (Say the heck, what?) How does that even work? Oh, goodness, I've mucked it up so I have to pull it out and start again. Cast on... I find I am getting frustrated by the inability of my reading brain and my doing fingers to communicate. I look at socks and I can't see why they'd be difficult to make and yet I can't make even the simplest of patterns work.
So, now I'm thinking of joining a knitting group but I'm nervous. I'm sure they'll be quick and clever and will be irritated by my clumsy attempts to make a garter square (Okay, I'm actually quite good at that, but you get my point.) I'm finding that, in my mid-life, I'm less inclined to put myself in situations of embarrassment. I don't want to be a newbie again, but I don't know what else to do in order to achieve the creations I know lie within.
On Writing
Usually, when I attend a Writers Festival (or conventions, or book launches, or dinner with writers) I leave feeling inspired and ready to add my voice to the art. This year, however, I'm left feeling flat and drained and totally uninspired. This Perth Writers Festival seemed, to me, to be an exercise in obtaining money rather than a discussion on the literary arts. Yes, I am aware that my beloved, Lee brought money into the household by being an "Artist" of the festival, but he did this by running a three hour workshop for would-be writers, rather than by sitting in a panel discussing how great his books are to paying readers.
So, I'm thinking that the only way to feel good about writing is to just sit down and write. I can't keep waiting for this magical community to appear that will help it all make sense. I just need to do it. I  have ideas and I have works that I'm half way through, but what I need is the motivation to take a work through to the end and the only one who can make that happen is me.
I know, it's an old revelation that verges on being a mantra, but sometimes I just need that gentle reminder to myself as to why I do the things I do. So, why do I write? I don't know why I write, anymore than I know why, despite my desire to lose weight, I have to eat cheese and crackers with a glass of wine when the kids go to bed. I do it because I can, I guess. And, maybe, because when I do it (the cheese, the crackers, the wine and the writing) I actually stop feeling flat, drained and totally uninspired.

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