Thoughts: Momentous Meetings

This week has been pretty huge for me.

My birth mother has come to stay with me and KT. She arrived in NZ a month ago – I wrote about it here – and has been spending time catching up with her old friends and reconnecting with my birth father.

Last Sunday represented the first time in my entire life that I have been in the same room as my mother and my father. It was a little surreal.

My kids got to meet their biological grandmother for the first time in their lives on Tuesday. After the initial shyness they connected. My mother (76) loves technology and gaming and has a Steam membership, as does Master 13. They’re now friends on Steam and as my son so eloquently put it “When it’s my birthday you can buy me games”. Sigh.

Miss 10 is a little more circumspect. She likes to hold back and observe until she’s considered all things. Then she talks. And talk they did.

As I’d already met Mum and my family over in Somerset and have connected with my Father and half-brother over the last few years, it wasn’t too emotionally challenging for me. Apart from an occasional “wow” moment when people around us observe mannerisms and speech patterns that are clearly genetic rather than learned. For my Mum though it’s been a completion. She’s naturally a tad pessimistic and was worried that my kids would ‘hate her on sight’. This of course was quite silly. She’s mentioned that for the first time in her life she feels directly involved rather than being on the periphery of family goings-on.

An interesting observation is that my mother and father don’t have any real experience of being grandparents so the relationship that will develop between them and my kids is going to be quite different to those my kids have with my adoptive parents and their grandparents on their mothers’ side. It’ll be more adult than anything. It will be interesting to see how that progresses.
MumMe
It’s been good showing mum around parts of Auckland. She’s got to meet my ex (the mother of my kids) briefly and has started to get a real sense of my world. She has realised how similar to her I am.

My dad has been staying with my half-brother this week and has joined us on occasion. We visited Kelly Tarlton’s (yes, it’s the one thing my mum wanted to see in Auckland – she loves aquariums) and then yesterday, we all met my adoptive parents for a cuppa and a chat.

Well… by ‘chat’ I mean that the four somewhat deaf senior citizens paired off and started talking. The kids and I were surplus to the occasion so we ended up playing cards. My birth parents and my adoptive parents had a lifetime of catching up to do. They’d never met before.
MumMumDadDad
So the missing pieces of my life are found. And with this visit, my life has come full circle.

Very interesting times indeed.

MumMumMe DadMumMumDad DadDadMe

Thoughts: End of the Year, and Prizegivings

It’s that time of year which I’m pretty certain most parents dread.

Not only are the days longer, and the humidity is dialed up to hair-raising levels but the kids are tired. They’re over school. And they have to endure just a few more days…

A few more days. Bookended by an apparently endless list of prizegivings. Every activity, every class, dragging in family and friends to celebrate the success (or not) of the year.

I’ve attended two so far. Happily the minor ones are during school time and I haven’t been able to attend 100%… I don’t really feel bad about that.

My kids attend a church-based school. Their prizegiving was full of wide-eyed optimism, hope and God. Thankfully, it was also highly efficient.

In a church-based school prizegiving there is a lot of singing, always involving the attendees. With hands in the air, and/or bouncing and clapping. The school provided the musicians and again, the optimism came to the fore. Front and centre. It’s not a bad thing I guess. However, I do struggle being completely positive about things when it seems that the concept of learning to tune your instruments before playing has been bypassed. A few sighs. A few winces of aural pain. I survived.

Making it about my kids, they both got prizes. They’ve had a good year. I do worry about this sort of thing as being in a family dynamic that is no longer your traditional ‘mum, dad and the kids’ could be problematic for them. Not many of their peers have divorced parents. Miserable parents, yes, but not divorced.

Then the joy of my daughters gymnastics end-of-year event. What a steaming pile of disorganization that was! 

There was a display. Little people running, jumping, rolling, flipping and posing.

Then my daughter got a prize (yes, I’m somewhat surprised!). Then for the next 1hr 20mins it went something like this:

Display ( running, jumping, rolling, flipping, posing)

Prizes

Display (running, jumping, rolling, flipping, posing)

Prizes

Display (running, jumping, rolling, flipping, posing)

Coaches giving themselves prizes, wine and general back-slapping

Display (running, jumping, rolling, flipping, posing)

In short, it was excruciating.

Still, my girl got a prize. So I’m ok with this!

Hopefully I’ve checked my calendar correctly and I have no more to endure. 

Love my kids, can’t stand bad events.

Thoughts: Father’s Day 2015

And another Father’s Day is done and dusted.

I’m always a bit leery of this annual day of recognition. The build-up usually annoys me – I hate the gratuitous advertising ahead of the day as I think it detracts somewhat from the importance of the Day itself.

I use this day as a day of reflection and consideration. It’s been over six years now since my marriage ended, and I have been focussed that the decisions of my past don’t impact on the relationship I have with my kids.

And you know what? I think I’m doing OK.

My kids actually want to spend time with me. It’s not grudginly enforced. They want to create cards for me. They love joking with me.

Today’s efforts included cards: “Happy Farters Day”… or referencing Destiny – mu current gaming obsession. They gave me Star Wars diescast models. Awesome!


I picked them up and we went hunting for food. I like avoiding the regular places such as McDonalds or mall foodcourts, and I also like supporting locals. We parked at Ponsonby Central, and ended up at the Street Food Collective in Lot 3 (off Ponsonby Road, behind the Golden Dawn. Miss Moonshines is there as well). Many food options and the kids decided on tacos from The Lucky Taco.

Of course, I made them order, pay, and collect. The tacos were great (I do recommend them if it helps). Then I got the kids to order our hot drinks. I have realised that they’re a little under-experienced with regards to commercial transacting! And yes, I’m always up for teching them stuff.

Further fun was had down at Wynyard Quarter – great icecream and lots of things to do.


All up a great day. Summed up by something Master 12 wrote in his card to me: “You must be doing something right”. I think I am.

AidanFD2015 CaitlinFD2015

Thoughts: Finding My Passion

I’ve been feeling a little off-balance in recent months and I’m trying to put my finger on what is causing this.

  
I think I have reached a turning point. A fork in the road. They don’t come along all that often, so to recognise one when you see it is fairly important.

I’m examining most (if not all) aspects of my life. 

Some things are set in stone: my kids, what I do with them, how they see me and my existence. It’s a tricky balance as I’m very careful not to disrupt their worldview at this point in time. It is something that I determined to do six years ago, and I’m not about to change.

Being immovable brings issues.

It means I can’t consider, until they’re older, major changes. For example, moving to another town, another country. Not being around and present for them. 

It means that my monthly expenses are higher than they could be. I live alone because I want them to feel that they come ‘home’ when they stay with me. I don’t want them to ever feel like they’re visitors.

It means that other people’s expectations and hopes aren’t met.

I do feel I’ve found balance in work, having made necessary changes a couple of months ago which removed stress and gained a little more flexibility, and therefore time to ponder life.

I’m still trying to determine what it is I’m passionate about. What is it that would energise me, that appears front-and-centre when I remove the dross and distractions of day-to-day? I have many hobbies that I could immerse myself in, but they’re not passions. 

I’ve learned that I’m happiest when I’m engaging with people. Meeting them, hearing their life stories. Listening to their journeys. I actually love people (Caveat: not the dicks. Please don’t be a dick). I don’t like casual shallow conversations. I love to get beneath the surface. To find out who they really are. 

The last couple of years I’ve not been that free to meet and greet but these last couple of months have seen me being able to get back into this and it’s been great. 

This is a passion I need to explore. 

There is another side to me which commands that I have ‘me’ time. Isolation. Being at home, by myself, doing ‘stuff’. If I don’t get this isolation, I don’t recharge. And I get unhappy. Understanding this is key to the above.
  
Balance.

I hate getting trapped into a routine, getting stuck in a rut. Sometimes they’re necessary I guess, but it is important that they’re finite. I sense that some of my routines are coming to a close (yay).

Once I’ve worked out what my passion is, I’ll need to work out how to make it happen. What would the cost be (not just financial of course). That could be the tough scary and challenging bit. 

I’m up for it.

What about you guys? Are you living your dreams? Do you know what your passion is? How’d you find it and make it work? 

Thoughts: Camping Pt 1

It’s underway!

A few years back I decided to try my kids with camping. You know, the whole “drive someplace, set up a tent, swim, eat, sleep” thing.

Their mother is more a “motel, hotel” kind of person, but I can happily report that they have taken to it and in fact, look forward to it every year.

This year I left booking a destination a bit late, but have ended up in Taupo. This is not a bad secondary choice.

The Top 10 is quite nice. The facilities are clean and well-equipped. There is a pool which dominates our schedule, and by next year the current worksite will be transformed into a pool of beauty and magnificence.

Master 12 has noted, with some disappointment, that most of the other kids he’s spotted are girls. He’s not yet at the point where this is actually a very fine thing indeed.

We are definitely getting more efficient at setting up the campsite, although there were tears of frustration when the camp stretchers were unfurled. Terrible things really.

One thing I’ve enjoyed is seeing my daughter take an interest in cooking (well, BBQing things) and being helpful.

They’re not inclined to go play tourist, which will make for a much cheaper week. We visited Huka Falls which interested them for a minute before they decided an icecream was a much better thing to obsess about.

Anyway, I’m starting to relax into the week. It’s a valuable time, not taken lightly.

^sd

Thoughts: Christmas Day and the post-Christmas washup

And… breathe.

I have survived Christmas 2014. And survived well.

In previous years I have found it tough (well, in the last five years). I’ve put things in place that ensure I don’t go to dark places and they seem to be working. I am now able to choose not to dwell on sad. Not to dwell on guilt.

Christmas for me is all about logistics. Sharing my kids with my ex is always a bit challenging. It generally means I have to commute from Central Auckland to Howick, from Howick to Dairy Flat, back to Howick, all with specific arrival times pre-planned. We alternate year-on, year-off who has the kids for Christmas Lunch with our respective families. This year I did. Next year, I won’t see them as much. It actually works.

Preparing gifts for my kids is important to me. And for the last few years I have had to juggle finances to make sure that happens. I have to plan my cashflow for weeks in advance, and given I don’t have a crystal ball, it can be concerning as the Holiday draws near. That being said, I think I’m in good shape at the moment!

New traditions are slowly embedding.

For the last four-five years, I’ve taken it upon myself to prepare the Ham for the family to enjoy. It seems to work and people seem to enjoy it. From a personal growth perspective, my culinary skills are improving. Practice makes perfect!

ham

Note: The glaze I use is Gordon Ramsey’s. Using actual Sherry Vinegar makes a huge difference. Don’t use a substitute!

I’m still very leery of spending time with my family. We aren’t that close and only get together for significant events (parents birthdays, Christmas). Plus I’m not particularly interested in sharing anything of importance with them. There is a disconnect there. And I’m not sure if it’s redeemable. I did try to be more open with them this year and I don’t know if it was actually worth the attempt. We shall see.

I got to spend time with another family on Christmas Eve (that of my significant other). It was interesting to see what they do and how they interact with each other. I do have to say that my ‘normal’ is not their ‘normal’ and as such it was a little overwhelming – not that I’d admit it.

Reflecting on gift-giving.

I love finding things for my kids and other people that they’ve listed. It’s rewarding to be able to tick things off as they’re acquired. Personally though, I’ve reached a stage in life where I don’t need to receive gifts for the sake of it. Generally speaking I do appreciate a little thought in the gifts that come my way. However this is offset with the joy of vouchers. I LOVE vouchers! (and if they’re for a specific purpose then that ticks the ‘thought’ box).

Worst gift of the year? Again, this award goes to my Sister overseas. It was a small book of Sudoku puzzles and a sachet of bath salts.

I don’t own a bath. I haven’t for over five years.

I hope you all have had a joyous Christmas, a relaxed Boxing Day, and have a wonderful slide into New Years.

S.

Weekend Done

And…. relax.

Actually, I quite enjoyed this weekend for the most part. Amazing time having my kids here, and I am so enjoying their personalities. The nuanced sense of humour and joy of living. I hope I never lose mine (of course, as with adult life, one can lose ones sense of humour easily).

I’ve been introducing them to the Harry Potter movie series. I was a bit uncertain given their world-views and some of the content, but they’ve been enjoying the character development and story. Deathly Hallows 1 and 2 next time they’re here…

Soccer (football for the purists) leads to me having to wear my counsellor hat. Still, a visit to the comic book store seems to staunch the tears of disappointment quickly. Thanks Heroes For Sale.

Quality time was spent with my parents also. The kids were on form. They discovered I have a degree of OCD as I noticed a slightly askew picture and needed to correct it during the lunch meal. Interesting times as I had to explain it, and then follow them around the house putting everything back in alignment after the kids moved things about. (That sense of humour eh?)

OCD* a new Twitter account to follow: @OCD_Nightmares

** if you type ‘askew’ into a Google search bar, something special occurs. Try it on your desktop Mac/PC browser. Thanks to Master 11 for showing me this.

 

It has been a trying week leading up to the weekend. It’s required a lot of energy. Family dynamics are strange.

I’m now home as I need to hermit for a bit – thinking, planning, preparing. Caves are safe after all. At least generally (look out for sleeping bears). I am grateful to those who understand me and know to give me space when I need it.