Love and loss

The morning after my first daughter was born, my father came to visit us at the hospital. He brought a stuffed Winnie the Pooh toy for his new granddaughter. I loved that, especially because I remember Dad reading Pooh Bear stories to me when I was little. He did the voices so well.

It’s one of those everyday memories, but it’s only now, eight years on, I can write about it. You see, Dad came to visit me by himself because at the same time my mother was in another hospital being treated for lung cancer. She had not wanted aggressive treatment: she was 75 and had smoked for many years before giving up in a courageous late-in-life effort, so her illness came as no surprise to any of us.

Even so, when Mum died 10 days after my baby was born, I was left reeling. The spheres had shifted and I didn’t know what to hang on to. Just two days after that, my father died. It was one of those almost trivial household accidents that plague older people, especially when they are off balance with grief.

Out of nowhere, my sister, brother and I found ourselves parentless. I felt completely adrift. I remember waking up to breastfeed my little girl with tears streaming down my face. I tried not to cry, feeling that somehow the sorrow would mix with my milk and poison my baby.

I was almost obsessively determined that my child would have the best, unaffected by circumstance. And to me, breast milk was part of that. We struggled through with breastfeeding for almost six months before introducing solids. At nine months, a dietician asked me to describe what my daughter was eating. I rattled off details of a rigidly healthy, nutritionally balanced diet. She looked at my child’s growth chart thoughtfully, then looked at me. ‘A biscuit won’t kill her, you know.’ Read more

The wise night owl and the easy sleeper

I do wonder who is raising whom, sometimes.

My elder child is a night owl (or “night hour”, as she would say). Sleep has never come easily for her; she seems to fight it, and we’ve wrestled through many long evenings with her bouncing out of bed and up the hallway time and time again.

I can hear some of you, dear readers, drawing breath to offer me advice on how to get a child to sleep. Stop right there. I believe I may have heard it all and tried most of it.

This time I decided to bring the message home with a role play. I involved both of my girls: one has empathy and emotional awareness by the bucket load (that’s my night owl) and the other is very cool and pragmatic (that’s my easy sleeper). One afternoon I sat them down on the sofa…

Read the full article on happychild here.

Love and loss

In the Dec 11/Jan 12 issue of Melbourne’s Child, I write about what it was like to be struck by grief from two directions just after my first child was born.

The morning after my first daughter was born, my father visited us at the hospital. He brought a stuffed Winnie the Pooh toy for his new granddaughter. I loved that, especially because I remember Dad reading Pooh Bear stories to me when I was little. He did the voices so well.

It’s one of those everyday memories, but it’s only now, eight years on, that I can write about it. You see, Dad visited us by himself because at the same time my mother was in another hospital being treated for lung cancer. She had not wanted aggressive treatment: she was 75 and had smoked for many years before giving up in a courageous late-in-life effort, so her illness came as no surprise to any of us. …

See the print edition for the full story.

Smug mum – are you one?

Smug, smug, smug – it’s one of those words that the more you say it, the stranger it sounds.

What is it about human nature that means we feel better about ourselves when we hear about someone else getting it wrong? It’s why gossip magazines sell in the millions, pushing sales with pictures of celebrities getting into endless varieties of trouble. It’s why we read about mothers who drive and breastfeed at the same time and think, ‘I might not be the best parent on the block, but at least I wouldn’t do THAT.’

Read the full post at happychild here.

Parenting with Soul nominated for award

I feel like a proud parent. Indeed I am one of those all the time these days, but this week I’m particularly chuffed to announce that my book, Parenting with Soul, has been nominated for the Kibble Literary AwardsRead more

Being perfect, being present and breaking down the barriers

I’ve just put three new videos about the ideas behind Parenting with Soul up on YouTube. They’re seriously short (less than a minute each) and each will give you a taste of soul: check them out. Read more

Do we have a blinkered view of our children?

Sometimes I think all children have double identities. There’s the ‘at home’ child, the one the parents know and love, and there’s the ‘out in the world’ child, the one that the rest of us see. Here’s what I mean. Read more