Wednesday, 11th of May, 2016
Without knowing what the day would hold, I received the best birthday present I could have hoped for. My morning started around 6am. I came out of a dream sequence where I was once again in a women’s circle discussing leg hair. I am not sure why this theme is reoccurring, but it is the third such dream in three weeks. This time, I was sitting on the ground in a group of about ten women, and three of us were openly living with leg hair. This ratio was an improvement to the past dream gatherings. The interesting thing was that all three of us, myself included, had different types of leg hair. One lady’s leg hair only really grew on the top of her calve and it was quite bushy and then disappeared to nothing near her ankles. It was all very fascinating too me. After I lay there thinking about my dream for a bit then I remembered it was my birthday and then I checked my mail. There were two emails from Mum. One quick sentence saying, “I hope you have a lovely day Honey. I can’t believe you blessed my life 40 years ago.” which was very light and sweet. Much better than least year when she implied she wished she had aborted me. Mum does not like when I mention this and she denies she implied such a thing, but I do have the email and she was in a very bad place mentally at that time and she was very upset with me. My mother never could have aborted me, she is pro-life. She is pro-choice too, but for her personally, when she became pregnant young to a wild young man, having the baby was her only moral choice. Mum is all about celebrating creation, even in unfortunate situations. Her being unkind last year did make me cry, but I knew she was suffering, and I knew it was not about me, but her life pain coming to the surface. Anyway, this year we are in a much better space together, and this is something I am very grateful for. I have worked for it. Funny that a relationship, a connection to another person might be the thing you work for most in life, and the thing you get the most reward from… well really it should be like that. I feel so rich on the soul plane these days.
So that was good, and then the second email from Mum was a letter she had sent to her Dr’s assistant, telling her Dr she wanted to go off her medication. I see now where I get the letter sharing from. Mum does this too, She writes letters to other people and then she forwards them to me. So I read the forwarded letter she had written to her Dr, and it was so sensible and strong, it made me want to cry with happiness. In fact, tears are rolling down my face as I write this. It is healing you know. Healing. Mum has decided she wants to gradually wean off the medications she is on, and she has made the first step, by telling the Dr she is ready. This was a birthday gift I had not expected, and I do not know that Mum even realized the synchronicity, she was not saying it because it was my birthday, she was saying it because it felt right in her, but part of me knew, I had been giving her enough of whatever it is she needs to kindle life back into her.
There was a funny lead up to this birthday, I really did not have any plans to celebrate it in any major way, and there was some pressure in the back on my mind, some social engineering that I have had to break down. I had an inner voice going on with fortieth birthday nonsense. “Kirsten, fortieth birthdays are supposed to be special!” I said to myself as I pottered around the kitchen. It aggravated me that I had to keep deconstructing expectations. “So-and-so had a $10 000 fortieth birthday party and you are going to scrub the downstairs toilet for the painters!” I muttered in a bad moment. I was very quick to eliminate that sort of talk with some sense, “But you know what Kirsten, not having a party suits you, you are being true to you and it does not matter what other people do!” I said to lift myself away from any kind of life comparison. As I thought more about a large extravagant party, the more I realized just how far away I was from wanting that. “That is not me at this point in time.” I said to myself with firm knowing. “You like things simple and humble and if you did gather with women in a special way, it would be with an underlaying impetus.” Isn’t is marvelous to know one’s self. That is the beauty of turning 40. I was not feeling like a failure or bitter towards life, I know I am doing it all exactly how I want.
So, a day of chores it was. We have an old toilet in the basement that is the same age as the house. We do not use this toilet but all of the work people have been using it the past two weeks. The plumbing is in disrepair and the water runs non stops so we turn off the tap and you have to use a wrench to turn the water on to flush it. I was in the basement yesterday pegging up the laundry on the indoor clothes line and could smell the stale energy and so I knew I had to make cleaning the basement toilet one of my jobs today. I have not bought non earth friendly cleaning products for about 4 years, but I knew I was going to need to go and get something more intensive to clean that 90-year-old toilet. I felt bad to put questionable things in the waste water, and I would only do so in an extreme situation, but this called for it.
My day was not to be completely dedicated to such a task though, a friend’s daughter was organised to come and sit with the girls at 5pm. Cam and I made plans to go to the city to listen to a lecture. I received an invitation below only two days ago, and I knew instantly it was what I wanted to do for my birthday.
Dear Playgroup Parents,
A very special longtime NYC educator will make a presentation to our group this coming Wednesday, May 11, at 7pm, in our final Parent Education event of the year.
Are the Singing of Stars:
Childhood and The Poetry of Play
A conversation with Richard Lewis of the Touchstone Center for Children
This will be a wonderful opportunity to learn from someone who truly listens to the voices of children, and has much wisdom to share! Here is a video he recently produced, so you can get a sense of his work: Something Somewhere, That is a Room. I know from experience that his workshops for adults are just as profound!
Hope you can all make it. The evening is guaranteed to be magical….
You should watch the video… it is a beautiful reminder of what childhood is about, or at least should be. Normally I would go to this sort of talk alone, and when I saw it was on my birthday evening I knew I could ask Cam to come with me. I felt like it would help us both as parents and homeschoolers to listen to Richard Lewis speak. The girls are in the Autumn and Winter of childhood and so more than ever I want encouragement to keep play alive in them, to get every last drop out of childhood.
When Cam woke up he came and snuggled in bed with me and gave me the most loving cuddle I have felt in the longest time, it was so so loving, it was a gift in itself, “I do not have any presents for you to open.” He said with a slightly regretful tone. “That’s ok!” I said in reply, his love was holding me, and I felt so appreciated. I was not expecting anything because I know how busy he has been with his new job, and because our life is a little chaotic and expensive with house repairs. He did want to let me know he had put some thought into a gift. “I tried to get the quilt for you but the antique store was closed until Thursday.” He said sheepishly.
I had come home from an outing with Anneliese on the weekend and I had seen a hand stitched vintage rainbow star burst quilt on sale at an antique store. I am not sure that is the right name for the quilting pattern, but anyway, that is how I will describe it. It was so lovely I mentioned it to Cam. He must have taken note because here he was on my birthday morning letting me know he would have bought it for me as a gift. Of course he had no idea which antique store I had seen it in and I knew he was thinking of the wrong store, but that did not matter. It was a sign I could buy the quilt myself if I wished. Then he suggested we go out to breakfast to our favorite restaurant, which we did.
As we sat in the restaurant the girls gifted me with a yarn octopuses that they had made at the craft class at the Society For Ethical Culture the day prior. Each was in a brown paper bag tied with red ribbon. Elle’s octopus was bright yellow and Maya’s was turquoise. “Wonderful!” I said, feeling delighted by the symbolism, “I could do with an 16 extra hands!” I said noting all of the limbs on the octopus.
I knew chores was a priority for my birthday as I had cried two days before because our house was such a mess, “I just want a clean house for my birthday!” I said putting my hands up to my eyes to stop the tears. Look, the combination of messy home maintenance and turning forty can be an emotional time. As I have said, mostly it is the things society lumps on you. I think the reality that was upsetting me most though was the fertility stuff. Do you remember back in the day when Dr’s used to say it is best for women not to have babies after 4o? I know no-one really says that anymore, but it is true what they say, a women’s body, hormones and fertility changes between 40 and 50 years old, and entering this decade of my life felt like part of my fresh youth was going to be replaced with crone wise… and I am grateful for that, but, grateful and tearful sometimes go hand in hand. Even though Cam has said no to more babies and I have found peace with that, there is always that tiny glimmer of, “Well, you know, while I am still ovulating, anything could happen!” My ovulation and menstruation is really healthy, I cycle like clockwork. Bleeding on the new moon each month. I feel fertile still, and I think my love of motherhood is so large, that there will always be that longing for the love of children, even when I can not have more.
Anyway, I wanted to clean our house so that I felt good. I told Cam my plans for the day and he shook his head and told me I was silly. “You can clean the toilet tomorrow.” he said as we showered together. “Well, I would not want to use a toilet like that myself, and I do not want the painters to have to either.” Cam pulled me into a wet hug. We like to shower together and as far as our children are concerned, that is what parents do. As you might recall we don’t sleep in the same bed together, but intimacy comes in many forms. Elle likes to join us as well, but now that she is bigger three in the shower feels crowded so today I told her no. She had the sweetest sad face. Elle the love child, loves love, and family showers are one of those simple but potent ways to feel close and establish healthy body identity.
I dropped Cam off at the library after breakfast so he could work in a quiet atmosphere and when the girls and I returned home the painters and the carpenters had arrived, and I really did have an 16 extra hands working in our world. It was a perfect day for painting, warm and still and everyone was busy. I was swept up by the industrious spirit in the air and occupied myself with chores right along side of the workmen. There was one young man I was particularly fond of, he had the lightest spirit and each day he would wave good morning from the yard to me through the window. He was not much taller than my 165cm, and I would guess about 32 years old and for some reason he seemed different to the other he worked with to me. At the end of the first day they arrived, I had become worried for his health. He was in the basement cleaning the brushes and with no ventilation the basement quickly filled with fumes. I could smell them from the kitchen and I marched down the stairs to inspect the situation. As he stood there washing the brushes I started talking, “The fumes are really bad in here, you might not be able to smell them because you do this work all the time, but I can smell it very strongly, and you should have a mask on.” I said, not even sure if he could understand me. He gave me a look of kindness, but it also seemed backed by futility. So I walked up the stairs and I went and spoke to the foreman. “I was just in the basement, and it is it not good for that young man to breathe those fumes so often, you should have ventilation masks for situations like this, where there is not good air circulation when cleaning the brushes.” He looked at me a little perplexed, and I felt like I was stirring a pot of muck that no-one knew what to do with. “Breathing fumes like that every day is very bad for your brain!” I said tapping the top of my head. I know, I really must have looked like a nut, standing there in my front yard explaining to the painters that they needed to be careful of their health. The irony that I was concerned about using non earth friendly products in the toilet while the painters put toxins down the drain daily was not lost on me either. My worry and words changed absolutely nothing, but as it turned out, the young man was the only worker fluent in English, and I had made a new friend.
I liked having the painters around, they activated something in me, and so even though it was my birthday and I could have gone and had a massage or something, I actually wanted to work along side of them. I cleaned the basement toilet. Then I washed the cotton shower curtain, and sorted the girls toy baskets. While the painters were sitting in the yard having lunch I decided to empty the paper recycling can. With the big red metal cylinder in my hand, I was stood on the back landing like life was my own show and I announced with a loud chipper voice, “Guess what! Today is my birthday!” In a spontaneous burst of self-confidence I told the painters I was 40 years old. They all laughed out loud, and like a chorus sang back, “Happy Birthday!” I was spreading my own birthday cheer.
I took an opportunity in that jovial moment to spy a little closer at the painters lunch. They lunched differently than the roofers. The roofers all ate from large silver disposable trays that came in plastic bags, but the painters, they did it much better. They had a co-op style lunch. Each day one man brought a large canister like a thermos which I think contained beans, and another brought avocados and another brought bread. The man with the thermos spooned out beans onto the bread, and then they cut the avocados in halves and they squeezed the inside of the avocado on top of the beans and bread. They all ate the same shared lunch brought from home. They drank from plastic water bottles so they lost points there, but they were well ahead of the roofers in my book. I liked seeing them share their home cooked food in re-usable containers, it made them seem like a good team, like a work family.
Cleaning continued all day. The men had been chipping away old paint from the wooden window sills and the paint chips were sprinkled at the base of each window. Like white styrofoam floating in the sea it could not be contained and our floor was speckled. Bit by bit the paint chips drifted. I lifted up my feet and I could see paint chips stuck to my skin. I felt an inner warning that I needed to get rid of the paint chips and dust right away so the little bits did not end up inside of us. Over and over we witness through autopsy of sea creatures how easily the wrong things are ingested into bodies, just by existing. My house was the sea, and the paint chips were plastic and my girls and I were whales. I did not want to accidentally swallow any of those little bits as we swam around our space.
Any house painted before the 1970’s can have lead paint and I know the serious side effects lead paint can have on children, learning and behavior issues, stomach cramps and skin rashes as well as many other problems for the body and soul. You do not want excess lead in your body so with diligence I was vacuuming the old paint up. I followed this with the mop to get all of the finer particles as well.
The house was all a bustle and as I wiped surfaces a happy nostalgia in the form of working together appeared like painted letters of an old sign being revealed beneath a layer of dust. Busying myself alongside the painters reminded me that I come from a family of hard workers and that I miss that part of my life, doing physical work on the farm together. Fixing a fence, preparing the garden, cleaning out a shed or dipping the cows together. Whatever it is, I missed it and today with all the bodies laboring in one space it kindled that part of my soulful childhood. It felt so good. The girls joined in too, and when all of the bigger jobs were done, Elle and I sat and folded the white load of laundry.
“We need to have more colored socks. We can’t just have white, white white all the time.” Elle said in a mater of fact way. Warmth filled my heart, she was mimicking my voice and something I say, only I say this about eating vegetables. “You think colored socks would make you healthier?” I said. She liked that I knew she was mimicking me, and she felt clever. “Well you do say that about vegetables, and it could be true for socks too!” she said. I have this thing about white socks and undies. I am not sure why, but I just love unison piles of white underwear. Everything plain and the same. I could certainly see as she sat there making white sock pairs that that bright socks could be a source of joy for her.
It all felt so nice to take care of all that we have and it reinforced to me as I was cleaning up clutter that having no gifts was a good thing. I know I can have important things when I need them. I recently splurged on a weeks worth of organic cotton underwear, and no, the undies were not white because I could not find any white organic pairs that I liked, but they are made in America, all natural, plain and very comfortable.
Well that is turning forty for me. Sensible undies, A loving husband, a clean, maintained house, a mother that is trying really hard to get well, and an opportunity to listen to a person speak so that I can be a better parent. I could not ask for more.
Thank you for reading Magnesium Blue.