I am the mother of this child.

elliot

I am also the mother of his two younger brothers. My middle child (5) is terrified of his older brother’s driving skills, and drives sedately. My youngest (6), drives like an Asian in New York traffic when he is on a lonely dirt road. (He is only learning?)

Stepmother to another five adorables, I reckon I know a thing or two about worrying..

When the above pictured maniac first got his license, I went a little crazy with the safety advice, and a routine was born. Every single time my kids got in a car I’d start.

“Don’t drink and drive. Who’s driving home after? If you get stuck call me or sleep in the car? Don’t speed. Promise? If you’re drinking, no motorbikes, okay? Where’s the party at? Who’s looking out for you all? Parent there? Do I know them? Look just stop for a minute! I love you okay, I just want you to be safe..?”

We are Mothers. We bleed when you cut yourself. When you cry, we bravely try to blink away our tears, they fall on your shoulder, (behind your back), because we know we need to be strong for you. But you can feel our shoulders shake, right?

So you know. We love you. Would do anything for you. Always will.

So why do you have to make it so hard for us? Why do you ride a four wheeler on two wheels in a rocky, tree studded paddock with no helmet and safety gear? Didn’t I always tell you how precious your sweet little face is?

Don’t you know your head is just a watermelon waiting for the right set of circumstances, to explode?

I know I am anxious and paranoid as a mother. I get that I fear things a little more than “normal mum”, but dammit I could never stop the endless stream of horror movies in my head?

I used to imagine they stopped breathing all the time. Things would get too quiet, and I’d tiptoe in to make sure. In my head, I’m seeing a blue baby boy, his eyeballs rolling back in his head. I’ve left him too long. He’s brain damaged! In reality a peacefully sleeping baby confronts me.

It just got worse. The kids didn’t help at all. Sporty, active and death defying, 3 tested every nerve in my body. When I received a phone call from his school telling me he’d been hit in the head with a 8lb shot put and had been taken by ambulance to Emergency, I darkened. There’s no other way to put it. My soul kinda goes black like death. I can’t breathe, think or speak intelligibly until I know.

The possibility of a broken neck during 5’s football game? Outta the park! I had to follow the Ambulance, my son in a neck brace inside. I have a quadriplegic brother, I know this shit happens. All. The. Time. I’ve been visiting in the spinal ward. Plenty.

I also visit the grave of my tiny stillborn. You don’t need any more graves to visit after that. Trust me.

Mostly we have sensible, intelligent children who do much to protect themselves against the elements of nature and danger. Occupationally, there are exceptions.

Fitty’s eldest son, 2, is in the Armed Forces. On his first posting overseas, he was in Afghanistan. He wasn’t in direct conflict situations, but his job makes pretty sure he travels the unsafe passages and sniper-filled roads. The danger is real.

It wasn’t long after 2 left that I had a particularly rough day at work, (undergoing operations and recoveries at record speed for 12 months will do that). I got home, crept up the stairs in the early evening dark, and left the lights off. I sat in front of the fire, which was still glowing softly from the morning, hung my head and cried.

Fitty had arrived home, and in my pain and misery, I hadn’t heard him coming up the stairs. What I didn’t know was that Fitty had heard there had been an attack on an Australian unit, 4 young men were dead, and he hadn’t heard from 2’s wife or anyone yet. He was a little worried. He didn’t know.

When he came up and saw me in front of the fire, on my knees in the dark, sobbing, can you imagine what he thought? I’ve never seen a man drop to his knees like that, look at me with such a pleading look. A look that shows me how much he will break if anything happens to our children.

Having all this time to think, (and I know I say this all the time now, but I find I’ve never had so much free space in my head, time to process all the things..), I’ve decided to actively change the way I worry. I’m just going to try not to do it so much anymore.

Be Safe.

I have already condensed the safety speech above down to – “Be safe.”

When I first started this a few weeks ago it came out more like, “be safe…?” I have amended it. The question mark is gone forever. I command the universe to protect you. I demand you be safe out there. No question about it!

You’ve been taught, you know the drill, you’ve broken enough cars and bones to prove it. Time to settle down. Be responsible, be safe.

Be Free.

Oh Lawd, the baby girl is a teenager now, has a job and an opinion about everything! How in the hell are we gonna keep this gorgeous kid safe?

I have been lied to, swindled and conned by every teen in this house. I know you people, I know how you operate, (yes, even you trainee-man 8, tryna wink your way into my heart.) You’re just practicin’ on me! You want another hug? Sure baby boy.. but you’re still doing the dishes and making your bed!

Is 6 coming home tonight? Where will he sleep? What street? Near what school? Whose mother? When are you coming home? Tomorrow. Okay. Fine. Yes I know you’re nearly 18 son, but you haven’t slept in your own bed all week, there are 5 nutritious meals in the fridge that you’ve replaced with KFC and Oreos, washed down with energy drink! Have you showered? How’s your flu? I can hear you wheezing.. Where ARE YOU?

I’ve learned. My mother didn’t raise any dummies… What to do?

Practical stuff. Do the shit that seems like it’s actually going to happen. Worry about the real things.

7 will have a boy come callin. She will want to. He will want to more. She will need to make up her own mind about all that, but I have provided her with the information I feel she needs in order to make a decision which will ensure she is respected and ready. It’s all you can do really. They just lie if you treat the subject like it’s not a thing. It. Is. A. Thing.

Fitty and I removed our porch swing from the upstairs balcony where all it was getting were sticks from the Gum trees and love from Pooh dog. An ugly thing, it looks much better in it’s new location under our balcony, strung up on long chains, facing the lake. It is a sunny but private little space.

In Fitty’s head: “Awesome, we’ll turn this part into a frame for netting, and we’ll grow herbs and tomata’s up here? It get’s the best sun here. This is perfect!” Cue another Fitty Recycling Project, (we still have a trampoline on steroids in the yard within it, a luxury brooding house awaiting the final process..)

In my head: “This is cool. Perfect place for 7 to sit and swing and stare at the lake. Kissin on future boyfriend’s face if she wants, and daydreaming about the future… ”

serial killer sunday-1

Fitty’s domain (the yard) is a creepy place full of wonder and junk. I call this shot “Serial Killer Sunday”

There’s an element of reality that you can’t escape when you’re on your umpteenth teenager. Shit is going to go down.

They are going to come home one day, with huge dilated eyes. They’re gonna chatter and race about for around a day or so then they’re gonna sleep like the dead for another. This is Pinger Boy.

They are going to come to you and say “Mum Sally’s pregnant!” (Hasn’t happened yet, but it will.) I’m gonna welcome that child into the family even if it never arrives. This is No-Franga Boy.

They are going to look you in the eye and lie to you about where they are going and who they are with. I’m gonna let them know I see their bullshit, but that they have a choice about the lying. This is Gone Girl.

We cannot protect them, we can only stand by and watch. We can teach them what we have learned about the world, but they’ve already seen it through their own eyes. They’ve built their own belief system, based upon the experiences you have allowed them to have, and the ones you’ll probably never hear about.

I am finally learning. We can trust them. Be safe xox

Advertisements