Sunday, April 25, 2010

Remembrance & Reverence

My little Joey Scout marched in today's Anzac Parade, proudly displaying his great Grandfather's war medals. Watching the dear old Diggers wave to the spectators never fails to stir some tender emotion in me, and today I was doubly tearful as I watched my oldest boy stepping in time to the drum beat. Anzac Day is a bitter-sweet day for Australians, but always one that makes us proud.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Muddy puddles

... an afternoon of mud! In the shower afterwards, I was told that it was the best fun they have ever had. The simple pleasures are always the best.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A birthday blessing

My baby girl is three today. It's hard for me to remember where those last three years have gone, but I know they have been filled with complete joy and satisfaction. After my second son was born, I never imagined I would be the mother of a daughter. We only wanted two children, and I always maintained that I would only have a third child if the universe would grant me a little girl. I guess she must have been listening!

We've been blessed with a true Arian (both her sun and moon are in Aries), and her fiestiness and determination will take have her taking the bull (or should that be ram?) by the horns in this life. She's full of zest and spirit, and is the most affectionate of us all, with cuddles and kisses bestowed upon us regularly! Her brothers are doting, and she has them well and truly wrapped around her little finger. They will do anything for her, including taking the blame for many of her 'toddler' moments! They are her teachers, her playmates, her friends. And as for Daddy, well, he just melts in her presence. She is Daddy's fairy princess.

Having a daughter has meant so much more to me than just being able to buy pretty clothes. It means that I now have someone with whom I can truly share this journey of womanhood. Someone who will one day be a mother herself. Her birth and the months after it, taught me so much about my body and its ability to heal and nurture, and without wishing away the years, I am so looking forward to sharing her life with her. A friend of mine wrote in her blog recently that when we give birth to daughters, we are in effect giving birth to our grandchildren as well. Little girls are born with all of their eggs, and therefore half the genes of our future grandchildren. Incredible thought, isn't it? Quite mind boggling, but so beautiful at the same time.

I wish her the happiest of birthdays today, and I love her with all my heart. I love her little pixie face and her deep dark eyes, and I could kiss her little ears until the end of days. She has brought us so much happiness, so much love, so many blessings, and we couldn't imagine even a day without her.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sharing the love...

This is a picture of my boys taken yesterday at the local pool. The same pool I used to swim in during the hot summer days of my childhood. How could I not buy them a chocolate paddle-pop after hours of play in the water? They deserved it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Loosening the apron strings

I like to think of myself as a 'trainee free range parent' . I believe whole heartedly in the concept, but my kids are still too young to be given total free range. Except for my oldest son. He is just beginning his journey of independence.

Tonight he has his first slumber birthday party at a friend's house. It is at the home of his joey scout leader, so we are confident he is in responsible hands. However, this afternoon as I was driving him to the party, we saw all his fellow party goers riding down the street on their bikes (sans helmets) and nowhere near home. Alarm bells shrilled in my head! Would he be joining them after I'd left!? How did I feel about this? Living on a fairly busy and narrow road, he isn't used to being allowed to ride unaccompanied by one of us, and bike rides are usually in the park near home, not on the road. He is afterall, only seven years old.

While my brain was in its familiar 'divert panic' mode, I quickly used the opportunity to remind my son about making safe choices. Thankfully, he is switched on and mature enough to understand what I was suggesting. I reminded him that he wasn't allowed on his bike without his helmet (this is afterall, a legal requirement), and that he needed to make sure that he was comfortable with what was happening around him. If he wasn't, then he needed to tell someone, and to stop whatever the activity might be. I trust him, and I know that he has a good head on his shoulders.

Thankfully when we arrived at the party house, the boys had all returned from their jaunt, and were happy just to be together to play. I'm not sure what will happen this afternoon, and I was in two minds on the way home. Worried that he would be doing something I might not necessarily have let him done, and if that was the case, would he be ok? But also satisfied that I have raised a boy who is smart enough to know right from wrong.

There comes a time in a child's life when it is necessary to let them choose their destiny. I know that I am definitely not a 'helicopter parent' , but am I as free range as I want to be? This afternoon is a test for both of us. Can I loosen those apron strings enough to allow him the opportunity to put those safe choices into action? Can I be comfortable with my choice to let him go to this party? And will he rise to the challenge of being the responsible and smart little boy I have raised? My gut feeling is, yes.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Amma, the 'hugging saint'

If someone told me I'd be spending the night of the resurrection being blessed by a living saint, I'd have been hard pressed to believe them. But that is exactly what happened.

Easter Sunday started as any other. Awoken at 5am by the children's discoveries, and pulled out of bed with the promise of an Easter egg! We spent the early morning at home, and then packed our picnic things for a lunch with our extended family. It was here that Mum handed my cousin's wife a piece of paper that would change the course of my day.

Lana had lent Mum and I a book to read last year. It was called Ammachi. It is the biography of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi. We all read the book, loved it and marvelled at this incredible woman. A woman who defies all human logic, and who permeates unconditional and extreme love from every cell in her body. She is known simply as Amma, and she is considered a living saint - the Mother of All. She is revered throughout the world as one of the most outstanding humanitarian and spiritual leaders of our time. Amma subscribes to no formal religion, but rather says that her religion is love. A love that shows no limitation of caste, religion, race or nationality.

The piece of paper that Mum handed to Lana was cut from the weekend's newspaper, and it was an invitation to be a part of an evening with Amma. Unbeknownst to us, Amma is on her Australian tour and this weekend she held a retreat on the Gold Coast. Sunday evening was a free event open to the public. A chance for everyone to hear her speak and to receive darshan. Darshan is quite literally a 'vision' or 'to see'.

Amma's darshan is unique. Most guru's or masters are traditionally only to be seen and not touched. Amma does quite the opposite. She embraces you. Not just a quick hug, but a loving, motherly embrace. She has been known to bless as many as 50,000 people in one sitting, and on one occasion in Spain, she hugged continually for three days. Without once taking a break for food or sleep. We had to line up for a token in order to receive darshan. Thankfully we had called earlier to find out what the evening entailed, so we knew to arrive early. Aside from the retreat participants, we were almost first in line to receive our tokens. There would have been close to two thousand arriving later in the night, and we were told that darshan would continue until everyone had received theirs - most likely until dawn.

The evening was called Devi Bhava, which is translated as 'the mood of the Divine Mother'. It is an incredibly special even that celebrates the feminine aspect of God, and God's unconditional love and compassion for all humanity. We were first handed some holy water that had been blessed in front of us by Amma, and told to take it home to share with our loved ones. Amma then spoke for an hour or so (translated by one of her followers) about the beauty of dispassion. There was music, singing, meditation and the chanting of the names of the Divine Mother. After this, darshan began.

Lana and I waited for about an hour to receive our hugs, Mum even longer. It went very quickly though as the whole place was a feast for the eyes. So many different people, from all walks of life! We had to approach Amma on our knees, and we were guided to her lap by her helpers. I didn't realise that we weren't meant to hug her back (I found out later from Mum, that she had been told to place her hands on either side of Amma's chair), and I wrapped my arms around her. She pulled me in tight, with my head on her bosom, and whispered into my ear, 'my daughter'. I felt safe and incredibly emotional. Her body was pulsating. Not like she was moving, and not like the vibrations some of us may feel when we touch crystals etc, but a deep, heart-beat like pulsation coming from her core. It was probably the most amazing thing (aside from having my children) that I have ever felt in my life. The darshan lasted maybe 5 seconds, but felt like minutes. Amma handed me a sweet and a rose petal, and I left the stage. Almost in a daze.

I can only imagine a world where love is given as freely as it is from Amma. To experience it like we did last night, was truly a gift. Amma tours Australia every two years, and I know I will be first in line to receive her again.

"Motherhood, in its ultimate sense, has nothing to do with bearing a child, but with love, compassion and selflessness. It lies in totally giving to others." - Amma