Tag Archives: family

The Shape of 2013 (how it was)

I wasn’t going to do one of these this year. 2013 has been a bit of a crazy, scattered blur in many ways. But then I read my 2012 post and was so pleased I had noted things down for future reference. And then I remembered that I won a Hugo which is, you know, quite extraordinary and belies my general impression that I spent most of this year chasing a 4 year old and recording podcasts.

I did totally spend most of this year chasing a 4 year old and recording podcasts. It was a family and friends sort of year, occasionally punctuated by books, short stories and a whole lot of Doctor Who. There were hospitalisations and dramas, all of which are (KNOCK FREAKING WOOD) behind us now. ( I still don’t feel I’ve properly caught up after my pneumonia bout back in September! If I owe you an email, please remind me) It was a tough year in many ways, and a stupidly slack year in others.

Mostly, we came through it intact.

Here are some good things that happened to me:

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Things To Be Excited About (Writing and Parenting Edition)

I missed out on the fun & professional inspiration of Genrecon this weekend, which would normally have been pretty depressing, but I got to hang out with my snuggly family and watch a bunch of black and white Doctor Who which was quite a major consolation.

In any case, without a convention to kickstart the last quarter of the year into gear, I have to find my own inspiration!

Firstly, I’m super excited by the first Twelfth Planet Press crowdfunded book, with Julia Rios joining Alisa as editor. This is Kaleidoscope, a book devoted to contemporary fantasy for YA readers which reflects the diversity of the world we live in. I’m writing a story to submit to that (as well as a bunch of other books) right now, with four deadlines between now and December. Eek!

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Ice Warrior Fashion Week

It’s been a weird week.

I gave my talk on Wednesday night with Lian Tanner – between us we chatted a lot about creativity, about keeping score as writers, and what with one thing and another we kept coming back to the ridiculously high standards to which we end up holding ourselves.

I walked outside afterwards in the rain, and breathed in cold air with my flu-damaged lungs, and something went, click.

The next day I was taken into hospital by ambulance with what turned out to be pneumonia.

So, from being completely devastated and exhausted by a week of my children being sick, and then me being sick, and then school holidays piling down around my head, I ended up with a bizarre four days in a calm, empty hospital room with my own nebuliser and access to Fox Sports. Oh, and barely being able to talk for more than a sentence or two at a time.

It’s not the rest cure I would have chosen at all, but apparently it was what I needed!

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The Best Excuse for Cake

raelimummybirthday2013So it’s my 35th birthday! It was a pretty chilled out day. My presents so far have mostly included chocolate and tea which is most pleasing and appropriate, though I’ve also received a couple of rather lovely pieces of crockery for my new (super old) kitchen dresser: a gorgeous Persephone Books bowl featuring a pomegranate design from Alisa, and a TARDIS teapot from my honey.

Raeli gave me a beautiful piece of artwork – a sketch depicting our family in the Trojan War, playing Sparkly Monopoly, napping together (that is, me and the girls piled on top of each other reading books while their Daddy naps deeply beside us which is ENTIRELY ACCURATE), and a family portrait of us as fairies.

Lunch, some actual reading time (shock!) and I also probably spent more time than I should have working on a post about A Song of Ice and Fire. I got a single lovely child free hour thanks to my honey taking Jem for a walk to buy CAKE.

Jem went through a slightly frantic and stressful (for me) art period in the afternoon – MUST MAKE ART MUMMY – which involved clue and paper curls and cutting random bits of paper and oh gah, artistic children. Lovely but also messy and inconvenient. I am proud of her love of art but there are times when I just want her to go watch some nice tidy television instead.

But the really cool thing is that before dinner, my whole family gathered together and watched all 5 episodes of The Mind Robber (1968) with me! I’d always thought that the ‘books and fairy tales’ theme of this story would make it a Classic Who my girls were likely to enjoy despite the whole black and white thing, and I was right! Not only my three-year-old Hartnell fan Jem watched rapt but after one episode of casually playing Minecraft while glancing up occasionally, Raeli was hooked too.

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Too Many Pirate Captains

A friend of mine likes to point out to her children when they are having idyllic childhoods. Picnics by the river, cuddling piles of squealing kids on a trampoline, gingerbread daleks at Christmas. IDYLLIC CHILDHOOD. Of course, they never do stop and appreciate the moment for what it is – but maybe, maybe pointing it out to them will freeze a photograph style image in their head that they can pull out as an adult.

It also gives us a chance to let the usual layers of maternal guilt slide away for a few minutes and appreciate that, sure, we do so many things wrong, and so many other things just to get by, and there’s no such thing as perfect parents or perfect children, but right this second, we’re doing a good job and they are good kids, and these are the bits we want to remember when they’re glued to Playstation 2020s and grunting unintelligibly at us.

There are many days of their childhood that are so far from idyllic, with the TV blaring and the kids wanting (or actively trying) to kill each other, the days when the lack of a cup of tea can be the difference between making it to 6 o clock or everybody falling in a heap.

“Look, idyllic childhood moment, over there! You go run after it while Mummy has a sit down and breathes into this brown paper bag.”

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Glueing with Peanut Butter

I have been working on my novel edits, honestly, even if they have brought along with them the most titanic attempts of procrastination than I have ever experienced before.

My favourite clanger that I caught in the manuscript yesterday is that if you’re going to use the metaphor that a character “glued himself” to his computer it probably shouldn’t be in the same sentence where he had just made himself a peanut butter sandwich. I just couldn’t stop staring at that sentence! It’s been there for YEARS.

My major achievement for the weekend, though, was something I have been fretting about for, well, years. When we moved into this house seven and a half years ago, with a brand new baby, we came from a compact 2 bedroom unit to a sprawling four bedroom house with lots and lots and LOTS of cupboard space. Naturally we exploded into the house like a cannon, filling every available corner with our (apparently compressed far too tightly) stuff.

The house was so big to us that we spent the first year or so of it living in only half, heating only half (turned out doing that saved no money btw) and sleeping with our baby in the master bedroom at the front of the house. The three bedrooms at the back were, well. Storage. Okay, a couple of studies and… anyway. We were especially cavalier with the built in cupboards because there were so many of them.

When we finally moved little Raeli into her own room at the age of two and a half (we malingered on the decision a bit because we didn’t want her at completely the other end of the house to us – took ages to realise we could move down there too, into one of the little rooms) we focused on the important things: a big girl bed, space for her toys, and so on. Kids have a lot of stuff, it’s true, but she was still tiny and certainly wasn’t going to be using hanging space any time soon.

The room was hers but the cupboards were basically still ours. As indeed were all the cupboards.

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If I Reach Out With My Fingertips, I Can Touch the Holidays.

I can tell it’s nearly the end of Term 2 because we’ve been hit by illness after illness, mostly surrounding the kids, though of course the parents tend to get smacked with versions of the same illnesses, usually just as they are most exhausted from running around after cranky/vomity/coughing children.

For example, I didn’t get the high temperature spikes or achiness of Raeli’s flu, but I did manage to get an inner ear infection that defied antibiotics and happily snapped, crackle and popped in accompaniment to my daily life for more than a month.

It’s the end of the school soccer season too, and much though I like to see my sporty daughter learning teamwork and running around enjoying herself, I have NOTICED how often a snow-chilled wind is laid on especially for the after school practice, and as for getting up for 9am muddy games every Saturday morning… well. I’m glad she enjoys it. I am. But I am ready for it to be done.

Also, school. School holidays have been a source of stress for me in the past – stress and unwork – but in my current lifestyle, with a bouncy three-year-old at home to entertain, having the cheerful and responsible seven-year-old join us for two weeks sounds like bliss. BLISS.

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Happy Alice

We have survived Jemima’s birthday! I wanted to do something special for her because she missed out on a party last year, as the whole family was sick, and ever since January when half the people she knew had birthday parties, she has been wondering where hers is. A year is a long time between two and three…

The Alice in Wonderland theme was, admittedly, my plan because I figured it was one of the last birthdays where I would get to decide the theme instead of having to incorporate whatever crazymadawesome ideas my daughter thought up for herself.

I think I made the right call.

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Today, For International Women’s Day I Shall…

Get my daughter to school, while my partner gets the toddler (she is dressed as Batman) to daycare.

Brief (BRIEF) coffee with mums from school.

Work like the clappers until 2:30, including editing, cleaning house, more editing, and some other writing-related admin jobs.

Pick up daughter from school, take for eye test.

Early tea with children.

Attend discussion panel at Fullers Bookshop on topic of Int. Women’s Day and Stella Prize.

Get home in enough time to put (hopefully only one) daughter to bed.

Record an episode of Galactic Suburbia.

That’s enough to be going on with, right?

NOTE: I typed this while listening to my 7 year old listing all the superpowers she has when she plays heroes in the playground.

Ready… set… GO!

Mothering, Writing, Pilating, Guilt

I finished my short story! It feels like a big achievement, the first thing finished of the year. This is going to be my year of finishing things, and rewriting things, and submitting things. Many things. For the first time in a while, I don’t have a contract or official deadlines which means I have to MAKE MY OWN.

Today is Pilates Day, an activity I took up when Justine Larbalestier started evangelising about how important it was for writers to start that kind of stuff BEFORE developing RSI or some other work related injury. When I started, it was amazing how many people were there to fix something awful they had done to their bodies. I would feel a bit abashed about being there pre-emptively, but it seems the thing to do.

Pilates is one of those things I had to circumvent a lot of guilt to allow myself to do – because it’s something that’s about ME and not the family. Especially when I was using household money to pay my way – but since our last big budget rehaul, I’ve been paying for it myself and buying less things on the internet in order to do so, which means I feel less like I have to justify This Thing.

(I know, by the way, that I shouldn’t have to justify it, and what’s good for me is good for the family and so on, but logic is logic and guilt is guilt)

Managing guilt is a huge aspect to being a working mother. Or a mother full stop, I guess. (it’s also one of the hardest aspects to reconcile with being a feminist – what works in theory often falls down in practice, and when the baby’s screaming, theory doesn’t help much!) I find it interesting when talking to other mothers that we all have different lines of guilt, those which we cross regularly and feel bad about, those which we try not to cross and feel AWFUL about, and those which we are okay with.

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