Let Me Tell You A Story

It was here that the stories began, both on this page and in a hotel room surrounded by suitcases and small bodies. Their four faces held a pattern, a template from G and myself: his eyes, my chin, his long arms, my hair. While they were all different, you could tell they were the same, somehow linked, a product of us. In Canada they were four under the age of six – chaos, raucous bath times, high chairs and pasta stuck to the walls. In Houston they were the perfect two, four, six and eight, they were sun kissed and mischievous but seriously cute. They seemed so much bigger in our early days in Qatar at four, six, eight and ten – double digits!  Cup cakes and birthday parties, soccer games and hours and hours at the compound playground. And then somehow inexplicably but inevitably they were 12, 14, 16 and 18. A perpetual plane ride away, two here in Qatar, two in Australia: middle school, high school, about to finish school.

I stopped writing our stories here. Work became busier, I couldn’t devote the same amount of time to writing, the podcast grew, we built a new house, and the admin of children seemed to increase. It doesn’t make any sense does it? Small children are so time consuming – but they’re also in bed by 7.30. My days of sitting exhausted on the side of the bathtub with my pasta sauce stained toddlers wondering how I was going to push through hair washing, story telling, and one final rendition of goodnight moon were over. The physical feat of my pregnant body carrying a toddler on my hip while running side by side with a preschooler who was late for school is now a distant memory. Distant because it makes you smile rather than wince.

Our lives now seem to be a constant state of phone calls, whatsapp messages, study decisions, trips into the school, baseball practice, rugby games, driving lessons, party drop offs and my personal favourite party pick ups on the other side of town at midnight, sober.

There are days I am more than a little battle weary with teen fightback. My children are experts on many things and are quick to tell me when I’m both wrong and incredibly embarrassing. The eye roll, the sigh, the outrage of not being able to go to the party. If there is mansplaining there is certainly teensplaining – this comes naturally to a teen who will teensplain something you more than likely hold a degree in or spend eight hours a day getting paid for.  Economics, real estate prices, tax, politics, or what it was like to grow up in the seventies? Take a seat old lady while I tell you how it works. I’m so lucky to have them to guide me through my conversations with friends.

It’s not the teensplaining though  – it’s the other side of teenagers that no-one can prepare you for. Their fears, their hurt, their worry, I see it acutely. After years of training, of listening to their stories of watching them learn a new skill, I know those anxious looks. I’ve written before about those tiny pieces of my heart that they take around the world with them – it’s those same pieces of my heart that swell with pride, and then ache when I realize I just can’t fix things like I used to.

I went to a breast cancer function last night, casual, at a friend’s house – three women stood up and told their personal experiences. It was a room of women, all interconnected, all friends. As the host, my friend Karen told her story I realized that somewhere in the past couple of years I’d lost the belief in the power of story telling. And in that moment as she told the ins and outs of breast cancer with humour and warmth with a tear in her eye I saw the faces of friends change – I saw the impact of how a good story can heal and help. A good story creates change, awareness, provides warmth and heals both parties.

Over the years I’ve seen these posts as love letters to my children – something they and me could return to later if we felt the need for a time stamp or a memory. I shouldn’t have stopped writing here, we haven’t stopped living. The travels continue. There are more stories to tell and if I get it wrong I’m sure they’ll correct me. 🙂

I’m back

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