Tag Archives: motherhood

Dancing Queen

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 1.07.32 pmIt seems impossible, but just like that… it’s the end of the year again. I’m sitting in a massage chair, with my feet soaking in a foot spa waiting for a pedicure; contemplating life.  It’s just what you do at this time of the year.  You think about the year gone by, and start dreaming about the year ahead.

On the TV screen above me I notice the original music video of Dancing Queen playing in a merciless loop.  I haven’t heard it in a while- and I’m not sure if it’s the fumes of the nail polish remover or the immortal lyrics of the song, but I’m finding the moment rather intoxicating.

Where was I when I first heard this song?  And where am I now?  It’s a classic that fills me with a sense of freedom; young and sweet only seventeen.  Confident and free.

I pause and make a decision- if I had to select a soundtrack for next year, it should be this one.  I want to make a commitment to be always be like Dancing Queen.   To move through life with a commitment to authenticity.  To continue growing and unwrapping the very core of who I am – my values and my views – and to honour that in everything I do.

I look back over the years and at the amount of times I was timid on the dance floor, or the times I didn’t make the dance floor at all.  The times I’ve tried to be someone else in order to fit in with the crowd- to be a different type of mother, or a different type of partner.  I reflect on career decisions that may have ‘made sense’, but ultimately didn’t make me happy.  Adventures that made NO sense, but that would have brought me joy.

This year has been a bold one.  I followed my heart and made some big choices.  I challenged myself in ways that were long overdue; I set goals that seemed totally unattainable. I leaped with faith into a relationship that made no logical sense, and discovered the love of my life.

And although I can’t say that I’ve arrived at any kind of destination, what I can say is that I’m happier than I’ve ever been.  Just through being real, a little bit less fearless and a whole lot more ‘me’.  It’s only taken me 38 years!  But then again, it’s better than staying buried for a lifetime.

When I look at my growing boys, if I have one hope for their futures, is that they would learn how to live authentically- that they not fear risks because of the opinions of others, that they take chances even when the crowd watching doesn’t get it.

There is a great peace that comes from being raw and real.   From putting up boundaries of what you will no longer tolerate, and from pursuing happiness in ways that others might even find confusing.  In a world where so many people are shallow and uncertain, there is great satisfaction in being exactly who you want to be.

My partner and I have six boys between us, and this morning we were discussing how incredibly different all their little personalities are.  It seems when you’re a kid, being yourself comes naturally.  Kids don’t apologise for being who they are, and they seem to accept with ease that they are special.

My eight year old walked out of the bathroom yesterday with his hair slicked sideways in a mafia part, like he owned the world.  I sung out from the kitchen and told him he looked handsome, to which he casually replied, “I know”.

I hope their sense of worth never changes.  In fact, it’s my New Year’s Resolution: for our boys to never stop realising that the ‘prize’ lies within.  They are special- just as they are.  Because the great adventure of life isn’t about what you can ‘take’ from the world, but what you can bring to it.

We want out children to grow up in a home where there’s always room for them on the dance floor, no matter what crazy moves they want to make.   I can’t teach them that if I spend my life standing fearfully like a wall flower at the back of the room.

My blue nail polish is drying and I’m estimating that we are now on about the eighteenth loop of Dancing Queen.  But I’m good with it- since I have nominated it my soundtrack of 2018.  A tune to remind me the importance of never straying from my authentic self, to honour the things that make me happy, to pursue my passions and be more daring with my decisions.

I wish you all an incredible New Year; and I dare you to pick an empowering soundtrack, and to dance boldly to your own song in 2018.

Silent hero.

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I have been away from my children these last few weeks and I would have thought I’d have very little to write about in the way of parenting this month- if it wasn’t for something my eldest son said yesterday over the phone that very much surprised me.

I was standing at the airport, ready to board the plane home from Phoenix, Arizona where I had been visiting my partner.  My eldest son could hear that I was tired & emotional; and then suddenly out of the blue, he said, “I’m proud of you”.

I was so touched, but I didn’t quite know what he meant.  So I asked him, “What for?” and he simply said- for the way you live your life. 

It just struck me like a bolt of lighting to the gut.  I had been feeling guilty about being away, but I had forgotten that well beyond all the conversations, all the lessons, all the cuddles, lunchboxes and excursions- the greatest impact we can have on our children is to show them an example of how to live.  Not just ‘how to get by’, or exist- but to get out there and live.

After all, it’s not what we say, it’s what they see.   Words are never louder than what you witness.

My life has not always been easy, but with gratitude I have to say- it’s always been rewarding.  As I said to my partner this morning on leaving, I’ve never been afraid to trade the path that is convenient, for a path that promises to be extraordinary.  I grew up in the middle of a civil war, at ten we travelled to Australia as refugees, I then left home at seventeen to go travelling, I got married young and took on step children at twenty-two.   I survived a divorce, and we have somehow found a way to successfully co-parent our four sons.  I’ve jostled up and down the corporate ladder.  I’ve started businesses and had to close them.   It’s sometimes been challenging, but heck, it’s definitely not been boring.

Student, traveller, step parent, mother, business woman, writer… we are all called to adapt and re-invent ourselves as we travel along our own personal adventure.   I’ve been down, I’ve been up.  I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor.   I’ve been right and I’ve been wrong.  But of all the things I’ve been, there is one thing I’ve always refused to become: a victim.

For this, I’m grateful to my parents: a pair of the toughest, hardest working people, who always taught us that it isn’t what  happens to you that matters, it’s how you handle it.

And yet to be honest, I don’t actually recall either of them saying this to us even once.  They were just silent heroes, who through their dignity and determination- showed us how to live.   Aware that every single day, we were watching; much like our own children are also watching.  They are watching how we manage our fears.  They are watching how we handle our enemies.  They are watching how we bounce back after our disappointments.

What does it matter if we tell your children to be kind, but then show cruelty to others?  Who cares if we encourage them to be brave, to reach for the stars and pursue their goals… if we ourselves live defeated, crippled by fear.

I believe that there is no such thing as a ‘good parent’, who sets a bad example. 

Hypocrisy is one of my greatest gripes.  I cringe at folk who sit in church pews on Sundays, but show total intolerance of others through the week.  I can’t stand the flippant insincerity of someone who will smile to your face, but backstab you when you turn.

If you’re going to live, live truthfully.  Because either way, the world will eventually reveal you.  And when it comes to our children, there is no hiding at all.  From the moment you wake up, the curtains are up, and the spotlight is on.  Piece by piece, our behaviour will form the backbone of the standards they accept in their own lives.

When we chase our dreams, we teach our kids it’s ok to chase theirs.  As I boarded the plane, I felt hopeful that my sons might see in me one day, an example that there is no compromise necessary for staying true to their own happiness too.

Our example will either leave a trail of inspiration, or a trail of destruction.  

I am now on the last leg of my journey home.  I can see the sun rising on the horizon as we start to sight the sleepy silhouette of Australian soil.  I can imagine my boys curled up in the beds, still asleep.  I can’t wait to hold them.  And as I reflect on the month gone by – all the things we’ve done together and all the things we’ve done apart – it occurs to me that I’ve never been obsessed with what I can do FOR my boys, but more concerned that I teach them what they can do for THEMSELVES.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, we shouldn’t seek to be ‘needed’ by our children…  we should hope to be admired.