All posts filed under: family

Planning with teenage son #46 UPDATE

Did he have a party while I was away, like I worried HERE? I don’t believe he did. (And there was a small search for evidence, I admit). However, my bedroom door was open (I’d left it closed), and the bed was made (I’d left it stripped to air). Me: So what happened in my room? Him: Nothing Mum I swear! I’d never let anyone in there, that’s gross. But I was really tired from the party the night before at ‘B’s’ house, and I wanted a good sleep, so I got into your bed… I slept so well, and it smelt of you too… It was very cosy. Me *Can’t continue conversation- gone all soft and gooey*  

She’s slipping through my fingers, and there’s nothing I can do

I’ve written before about Mum, who’s 81 and lives in the UK, most recently HERE- ‘Mother and daughter out for a walk’ , and a longer one last year about the health situation HERE- ‘Down the long lane’. This morning I opened the late-night email I’ve been half dreading for at least 18 months: “I need to let you know that your mum is not too well… her dementia has deteriorated.  She had not been eating well and not been taking her medication for the dementia and is in a very confused state…” F*ck! There’s no other response. I feel sick. And kinda helpless. I’m in Australia, with a son who’s just started his final year of school, a home to run which includes a cat, a self-employed performing business to take care of, and Pilates clients to teach every week as well. Plus my interstate beloved ‘H’ to connect with regularly. I look at my diary, flicking pages back and forth. Can I cancel everything to jump on a plane? Is that the best idea? For …

How I climbed a small mountain, did something slightly ‘illegal’, & created the sacred

I chewed my quinoa and baked veg salad looking up at her; in 2 hours from now, it would start. After 16 years of no access, 500 locals had registered for ‘The Chinny Charge’, a 7km run/walk up our tiny but omnipresent Mount Chincogan, near Byron Bay. The queue to collect our numbers was long, and you could feel the buzz of excitement; even Colin, who won the first ever Chinny Charge in 1967 with a time of 38 minutes and a $20 bar tab prize, was enthusiastic (in that utterly laid-back, short-phrased Australian country way) “Stick to the rules, so we can hopefully do it again next year: wear shoes, don’t litter, stick to the path, and no fighting.” [Fighting? I’m going to be struggling just to breathe aren’t I? What exactly went on in the olde days round here??] Yup, I’m happy to agree to all that. The tiny mountain is on private property, so unless the landowners give specific permission (which they do a few times a year to local  school groups), …

Planning with teenage son

Him: One more week of school then I’m on holidays for a month. Me: [In hopeful tone] But we’re still doing fortnight on/fortnight off aren’t we? Him: Not a chance Mum! At Dad’s I have to live on cereal all day; being here is like staying at some kind of foodie resort… I ain’t going anywhere…  

Mother and daughter out for a walk

A hand strokes her back as they walk down the hill on this warm morning, heading away from me. Giving reassurance, or seeking it? The road is steep, and the frailer figure is definitely an old woman. Her back is stroked again, and I assume that’s her daughter, with the cherry red sunhat and white runners. Similar body shapes, similar height. I’m walking into a mall in England with Mum, July 2017, and we realize the shop she wants is up on the second floor. I know her anxiety and claustrophobia won’t let her get in a lift, and she hates escalators too. “Shall we walk up the stairs Mum? It’s not far. I can hold your arm, or you can hold the railing?” “Ooh, I don’t know, I hate heights. Will you help me?” “Yes of course. Just don’t look down. Let’s talk about something to keep your mind off the height, and definitely don’t look down OK?”  The red hat leans in to whisper something, and the older woman laughs; I hear it …

Driving & talking with teenage son till I laugh/cry/laugh

So many times as a skinny teenager I used to ask ‘What’s for dinner Mum?’ She’d usually sigh, and dismiss me with ‘Oh I don’t know, I hate cooking.’ I made myself a lot of frozen pizza with instant mash potato. I learnt to love cooking though, especially after becoming a vegetarian in my early, idealistic twenties. When I had my son in my early thirties, I created different memories around food and eating with him; when he was 7 for example, I bought him his own small chopping knife to help me cook with, and ten years later, we still use it. We both enjoy good food a lot (he’s actually making dinner while I write this). His Dad’s a good cook too. We separated when ’17’ was only a toddler, and at first our son spent 2 days with each of us. It slowly stretched to 3 days, then 4; I think he was about 5 when it grew to Week On/Week Off. The day of ‘changeover’ became a mix of sadness and …

Living with teenage son #25

Him: ‘Mum look, I’ve created a Study Nook! I’m so going to get on top of my assignments.’ Me [Looking at my now un-useable spare room, complete with blocked access to my linen cupboard, and removal of my only bedside lamp plus the living room coffee table]: ‘That’s great Honey…’ ONE WEEK LATER Me [Having taken back my bedside light, and moved the coffee table so I can get sheets & towels out]: ‘How’s the study going?’ Him: ‘Well I can’t work now that my habitat has been destroyed.’  

Jetlag’s gone. So I’m back. With a Soft Linger in Puppet Lane…

Maybe it’s having another birthday pass without hearing from him? Or travelling in France, where he spent so many years? Or simply because I was in the UK seeing Mum? Whatever the reasons, last week I drove home from work in a nearby town, and a vivid memory bubble burst across my steering wheel. Because as well as blogging, I’m a performer. I do street theatre, festivals, corporate gigs, and community events like parades, fundraisers, and cabarets. It’s a great [varied] job, I’m pretty good at it, and have been doing it in various incarnations for almost 25 years: My memory bubble was from 2005: Dad had flown from his home in Canada to visit for 3 weeks, and I was performing in a cabaret fundraiser at local queer pub The Winsome. The venue was packed, and noisy. Lots of flamboyant folk were being flamboyant, while the MC was being very funny. I asked for a simple introduction, and settled myself quietly on the floor with my large black garbage bag. The crowd wasn’t taking …

Walking with son ’17’ when suddenly…

… he drapes his arm across my shoulder. He’s never done that before. I put my arm round his waist, but it feels awkward, so I let it drop. We move apart a little, and walk on. We sit in silence on the rocks watching a dolphin pod swim in lazy circles while the sky fades orange, pink, baby blue, dark blue. As we walk back towards the car, he does it again. This time, my arm round his waist feels comfortable. We walk and talk, arm in arm, 17 & 51, as night falls. Best. Homecoming. Ever.  

How to cook Paella for 100 guests in one easy step: hire the local experts

We’re here in the Dordogne for a weekend of family, friends, fun, and the long-awaited 50th. Saturday evening was the big gathering, with long wooden tables and benches spread under the trees outside: We hung fairy lights, tiny candles in jam jars, and foraged greenery from the woods and fields around us: Someone even came up with a creative solution to that dangerous rusty farming implement right near where we’re sitting: The views completely sucked: It was a pleasant 22 degrees or so, and the sunset was as always stunning (such soft light here compared to Australia; I can’t describe it any other way than it looks like it’s been smudged or half rubbed out): There was a mojito bar set up in the ruined BBQ area, plus trestle table bar inside with kegs of wine and champagne bottles. And then of course, everyone had to be fed. So the triumphant organization of this celebration peaked with the Paella King & Queen. We cleared a space in the centre of the Barn, and they just …