Escaping, The Build and The Kid

 

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Yesterday was overcast and rainy all day, then suddenly the sun popped out for a few minutes in the afternoon and threw out an amazing light, the whole place was literally luminous. In the country, there is always something interesting and beautiful happening in the sky.

Escaping

I think it’s essential that primary parents or care givers get some time out now and then, it makes them a better parent. I had my turn on the weekend when I drove solo to Sydney to have lunch at China Doll at the Woolloomooloo finger wharf with 2 girlfriends. We’ve been lunching together three times a year for over 20 years. Our lives are quite different, so it’s pretty much the only time we spend together, yet we know each other’s lives in detail including all our secrets. This time, we hadn’t caught up for over a year, and I don’t think we drew breathe for the 5 hours we were together. It was also heaven to eat Chinese – we tend not to with a peanut allergy child – and China Doll is bloody yum and the people watching is second to none as well.

I like my wine too much to then drive 2 hours home, so invited myself to stay at another girlfriends house for the night. Three of us – school friends from the 80s – drank more wine, devoured a cheese platter and shared the familiar banter that 30-something year old friendships allow.

The Build

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The slab is down – the first milestone reached. Apparently there’s a lull now while the steel gets fabricated, and we should have a frame in a few weeks.

Mum

Thinking about Mum a lot. She had her routine, post chemo blood test which showed an increase in cancer cells, dammit. Then a full body scan shows something sinister lurking in her spleen. She has no symptoms, so no treatment required just yet, but the doctors advised them to bring their trip to Europe forwards, as symptoms (and therefore more chemo) are probably only 2 months away. So next week they are off to England to see their 4 grandchildren, and my sister and BIL for 6 weeks, and all the time Mum has to try not to be thinking “shit, I’ve got cancer”, and not be terrified any time she gets a bit of indigestion.

The Kid

Speaking of Chinese, am nervous about 2 firsts happening this week with Tippi our 4 year old child with severe allergy to peanuts, and what was once a severe allergy to egg that now seems to be diminishing.

A couple of weeks ago, Tippi’s preschool teacher called me aside to tell me they were looking at Chinese culture, and wanted to take the kids to the local Chinese restaurant for lunch. For most people with a peanut allergy, Chinese is unthinkable. I would never consider it, and when the teacher raised it my heart started racing, and tears sprung to my eyes as I thought of Tippi’s devastation at missing out. She just loves eating out, we do it quite regularly and to eat out with her friends would be a dream. In that moment, I decided I would have to take the day off work and keep her home so that she was not left at the preschool when all her friends were playing grown ups at the restaurant.

As it turns out, the owner of the restaurant has a peanut allergy child, so I was willing to listen, and long story short have decided she can go, and I will go too. Tippi is so excited. Me? I’m shitting myself. This is FAR from comfortable. But various things I wont bore you with have lead me to allow it – I will be there with 4 epipens in my handbag, and my stomach in my mouth. I’m cross with the preschool – at which Tippi has been since she was 1 – for putting us in this position, however I do acknowledge that they are incredibly careful with allergies, there’s not been once incident in over 3 years and they wouldn’t do it if they weren’t completely comfortable. The preschool director goes to this restaurant with her nut allergy son.

On the upside – maybe we’ve found a safe Chinese restaurant, not something I ever thought I’d find, certainly not in the Southern Highlands.

And then, next weekend Andy and I are both leaving Tippi with my mum and dad for 2 nights as we go to the Yarra Valley for a weekend of frivolity with old, old friends most of whom I’ve known since we were kids. This is the first time in her 4 years she’ll be waking up without either of us, she’ll deal with that, although will no doubt kick up a little fuss.

It’s the food thing that worries me – Mum is careful but has made mistakes in the past (that have been caught just in time, so no disasters) and is pretty terrified of the epipen. We’ll be doing a full training session on epipen use for the 1034th time, and after that it’s up to Mum. Outings will be the hardest part – they cant stay home for 3 days, and Mum isn’t used to ordering for Tippi when out. Pack her food, mum, I will be requesting.

Anyhoo, I’m determined to go, trust, and have a wonderful time with my husband and lifelong friends whom I see only every few years these days. Kids are left with their grandparents all the time, Tippi adores hers and at the ripe old age of 4, she’ll cope. Wont she???

So I tentatively step in to this week of fearful firsts and tell myself that it will all be fine, and it’s worth it. Don’t make a liar of me please Universe

How do you go leaving your kids? Have you been able to escape lately?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fireweed and burnin’ shit

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I don’t participate much in the physical running of the farm, it frankly doesn’t interest me, but autumn brings what is becoming a family tradition – the picking of the fireweed. Although it looks kind of pretty with it’s bright yellow flowers, fireweed is dangerous for cattle and if left can spread over an entire paddock in a very short space of time. Some of the properties around us haven’t kept on top of it, so it inevitably spreads to us.

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So every autumn when the fireweed begins to show, we all head out to the paddocks to fill big hessian bags full of the stuff. Tippi has fun because it feels like picking flowers, and what little girl doesn’t love that. So we walk, and pick and chat in the cool, afternoon sun.

I’ve learned a few things on these fireweed missions:

1. We have paddocks in Australia, not fields. They are never to be referred to as fields.

2. Baby cows are NOT calfies. They are calves. No exceptions.

3. It is apparently not funny or cute to refer to alpacas as llamas, its irritating. Which is funny, don’t you think? Farmer Andy doesn’t seem to think so.  And no, we can’t have one for a pet.

4. Blackberry bushes are also a weed, even if they do make good pies, so they all got ripped out and now I wish we had just one.

5. We also can’t have geese, or a peacock, or goats for pets, although I haven’t given up on some of those yet. Peacocks eat baby snakes. I want a peacock.

6. A heifer is a girl cow, a steer is a boy cow that’s had his privates removed. Actually I’m not sure if I’ve got that right.

At this time of year, there’s massive moths – or are they bats – as big as my hand fluttering at the glass doors at night trying to get in to the light and scare the crap out of me. But at least the snakes have gone to bed for the winter. Although, does the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having mean they might still be up?

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And it’s bonfire season. Still, clear nights spent outside in big, warm coats eating sausages in buns, talking shit, burning shit, stars like you’ve never seen them before. Pass me the red, will you?

 

 

The Grown Upness of It All

I’ve been playing grown ups for six years now. I became “we”, cohabitated, turned 40, bought a farm in joint names, had a baby, got married, got a will, life insurance, a self-managed super fund.
I’ve had earnest discussions with other mums about schools, sat in meetings with school principles (now that’s intimidating – tell me it gets easier), managed anaphylaxis and the health issues of ageing parents, changed careers, worried about child nutrition and stopped racking up my credit card to its limit.
But nothing has ever felt quite so grown up as this:

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We’re building a house, a real house, a family house – from scratch. Formwork, earthworks, footing, slab pour – all words that I don’t think I’ve ever used in my life have become part of our daily vernacular.

Our Grand Design, 5 years in the planning, is on it’s way.

And that, my friends, is grown up.

SLAB PARTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That Moment When

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Last year late afternoon in June I was at my friends house bundling our 3 year old girls into my car. I was taking her Miss R to our place for a sleepover, my poor friend was heavily pregnant and having a shocker in and out of hospital.

My phone rang, and normally with two 3 year olds heading towards the end of the day I’d leave it, but a glance at the phone told me it was my mum, and I wanted to talk to her as I knew she was getting test results that day. Not that I was worried, I wasn’t. She’d had some persistent abdominal pain, more annoying than anything else. No loss of appetite, nothing to worry about.

“I have cancer.”

Jesus. Of the nasty kind? We didn’t know yet, more tests, urgent ones.

I’ll never forget that drive home, done in autopilot. The delightful Miss R chitty chatting from the back seat all the way home. “Lexy!” she’d yell if she sensed I wasn’t listening, “Lexy!”

I wasn’t listening (I’m sorry Miss R I wasn’t but I’ll make it up to you). The oceans were pounding in my head as I drove into the orange sun. My mum has cancer. My mum has cancer. My mum has cancer.

As a family, we’ve all been smug in our absence of cancer and heart disease. Rolling our eyes at our inevitable longevity as all the oldies got to their 90s before dying of…. well of old age.

So there we were. Yep serious, but treatable and surgery straight away please, oh and don’t go Googling it because it’s unhelpful and it’ll only tell you that peritoneal or ovarian cancer is known as the “silent killer”and knowing the survival rate is just not helpful. Unfortunately, by the time I agreed with that advice, I’d googled and googled and I’d seen.

My mum, my amazing beautiful mum has been extraordinary in this journey. So strong, so inspiring.

She went through 2 hell surgeries, damn near died with blood clots travelling through her heart, lost god knows how much weight. Chemo, hair loss, some weird foot injury requiring more surgery and delayed chemo, then more chemo.

In all that time, mum has stayed so positive, so strong. She refused to get sick, she got on with her life. Once she’d recovered from the awful awful surgeries, we almost forgot she was in chemo. She got on with it. She has chosen to believe the doctors who tell her things are looking good. She believes them, so I do too.

She just hates her lost hair. I think she’s looking like Judy Dench now it’s growing back.

Cancer – which I’d always sympathised with but never really considered as an issue for me – not only touched us, it grabbed us by the neck, picked us up till our feet were dangling and shook us into submission.

So this Mothers Day, which I usually acknowledge with a phone call if I remember, I am thinking about my mum. Not because I don’t think she’ll be here next year, I know she will. But for the extraordinary inspiration she is, for the wonderful, tireless mum, wife, sister and grandma she is.

And the friendship her and I have grown since I became an adult.

And so much more.

Mumma, I treasure you now and for the next 20 years you’ll be around and forever.

To those individuals and families who have been touched by cancer (‘touched’ being the polite word) I’m thinking of you too. With love xx