We’re on summer holiday and we’ve invited some of our friends to share their voices and projects here over the next 2 weeks. Say hello to Rhonda Mason:
For a long time now, I have wanted to return to journalling. To write for myself. For the present me, to remind me of life’s joys. For the future me, to remind her of the present. Recently, over the course of a single weekend, I read the writings of two different women, each with their own voice and style. And suddenly, I was inspired. Last night, I finally began to journal again. And it was invigorating. And meaningful. And wonderfully cathartic. Here are some excerpts from this new journal of mine:
It is almost the last week of June. It has been cold, and it has been wet. In the mornings we wake up to icy temperatures. I treasure the warmth of my doona and am always reluctant to emerge from under it, even when I hear Edward crying. Thankfully, Rick is endlessly selfless and is always on his feet and trundling down the corridor before I’ve even managed to pull the blindfold back from my bleary eyes.
* * *
Edward is already two months old. He is soft, chubby and round. He has twinkling eyes and the ability to melt my heart with one tiny smile. Yes, he smiles. And coos. My newborn is all grown up already. It seems like only yesterday when I held him for the first time, warm and slippery in my arms. When the pains of labour melted away in a split second as I embraced my fifth son and breathed in his beautiful aroma.
It is strange how distant a memory his birth has already become. Precious moments are too transient.
* * *
This morning before church, Edward greeted me with ‘a nappy spiller.’ It was already half past nine, and I had yet to feed him which meant we would be late to church. Worse things have happened, I told myself. Thankfully, the other three boys were all dressed, fed and happily watching Play School downstairs. Just at that moment, an SMS from Rick came through asking me to find a book in his study and bring it to church. “Huge nappy spiller,” I wrote back and returned to the task before me.
Poor Edward. He screamed and screamed as I removed every single layer of his. Who could blame him? It was freezing cold after all.
At about ten o’clock, we were finally ready to go. I heard a car pull into the driveaway and I realised that Rick had come home. I was conflicted with emotion. On one hand, I was thankful he had returned to help. On the other hand, I hadn’t asked for help and it meant he would be late to the service. I couldn’t help but think how bad it looked that the minister wasn’t there because he had to go home to help his wife.
And I hadn’t even asked him to.
“Don’t come home unless I ask you to,” I told him in the car. My frustration was clearly etched upon my face.
“Okay,” he replied. “Point taken.”
* * *
My hair is getting longer and more unruly each day. Every morning, I comb it after I dress and every evening, I comb it after my shower. For all the hours in between, I leave it to its own device. Most of the time, I don’t even notice it until Edwards grabs some of it in his tiny fist, his little fingers winding themselves unknowingly around the black strands. It reminds me of how our lives are intertwined, he and I.
“You have long hair, mummy,” Pete will say sometimes.
“Yes, I do, darling. Do you like it?” I usually reply, half-teasingly.
“I do, mummy. I do!”
* * *
Our electric blanket has broken down. We had it on full blast the other evening before we showered and after we emerged, the bed was still only lukewarm. The wire cable, on the other hand, felt rather hot. We’ve been hesitant about turning it on since that night and have been braving the cold feel of the sheets instead. Today when Rick’s parents were here, mum offered us one of their spare electric blankets.
“Yes, please,” we said.
* * *
While playing with Jamie and Pete on Thursday morning, I developed an irresistible craving for my mum’s potato and chicken casserole. It was something she made often when I was growing up, and it was one of my favourite dishes. It was my comfort food. As Rick left to pick Angus up from preschool that afternoon, I gave him instructions to pick up a bag of chicken wings from the butcher’s. I then called my mum up and asked her to repeat the recipe to me.
That afternoon, I peeled, I chopped, I grated, I stirred, I flavoured, and I let it all simmer. Then I waited.
The boys were slightly confused to see me in the kitchen.
“Why is mummy cooking?” Angus asked Rick.
At six o’clock, I served up the chicken and the potato along with basmati rice.
I took my first bite and felt giddy with satisfaction. Yes, that was exactly what I had wanted.
Rick loved it just as much as I did, and even the the boys finished every last spoonful.
Perfect food for a winter’s evening.
* * *
We finally bought skipping ropes on Friday. We were out for our weekly dinner at our favourite Chinese restaurant, but we had at least forty minutes to spare before they opened for the evening. So we made our way down to the sports store and found ourselves two black skipping ropes. The gentleman who served us thought Edward was a girl.
The plan is to work up to five minutes of skipping a day.
The plan is to get fit and not die earlier than we need to from heart disease and diabetes.
The plan is to start as soon as the rain stops.
* * *
It is raining again tonight but we are warm.
My legs are covered in my purple stockings and I have wrapped myself up in my favourite winter’s coat. It is loose-fitting and comfortable, and its oversized silhouette means that I can throw it over anything. Rick is in his Kitanica pants and his (fake) Northern Face jacket. He looks all cosy and cuddly. Like a big teddy bear. My teddy bear. His hair is getting too long and floppy, giving off a strong Beatles vibe. I must insist he get a haircut soon.
We have developed a solid Sunday ritual of ordering butter chicken and garlic naan from our local Indian restaurant and tonight was no exception. It was delicious.
While I write, Rick is buzzing about sorting out the laundry, filling up the dryer with clothes, cleaning up in the kitchen and taking the rubbish outside. I know he is exhausted, having only had three hours sleep, yet he pushes on with his nightly duties without complaint or fuss. It’s one of the million reasons why I love him and respect him as much as I do.
* * *
Sometimes it still seems surreal that in the span of five and a half years, I have given birth to five boys. It is truly amazing what my body has brought forth, and I am grateful to God for the children He has given us. Motherhood is such a gift. Such a privilege. Whether I am grieving for Cameron or giving Edward a bottle or laughing at Jamie’s antics or persuading Pete to put on a jacket or helping Angus as he jumps down from the back of our four wheel drive, it is all sacred. And beautiful. And worth documenting and remembering.
When I was younger, I pictured myself building hotels. I had read a book called Lucky in my first year of high school, and I had modelled my life’s ambitions after the heroine’s achievements and career. I would be confident, determined, powerful, rich, famous and successful – just like her. I would walk into my flagship hotel and be greeted by all the staff. “Ms Chan,” they would say, heads bowed as I walked past. I chuckle now when I recall these youthful fantasies of mine.
Being a mother was never a ‘dream’ as such. I merely assumed I would become one because that’s what I thought happened to everybody. You get married, and you have children. I knew nothing of the brokenness of this world. Infertility, miscarriages, stillibirth, death, heartbreak, grief – those were all foreign concepts to me. I may have heard of them, but the reality was hidden far from me.
Some days, I yearn for that naivety. That innocence.
I am not a perfect mother. Not even close. So many days I wake up dreading the task ahead. I long for more sleep, and more rest. I hunger for alone time. I use my stern voice in situations when a gentler approach would be more appropriate. I distract myself with the iPhone when I should be giving the boys attention. I flinch when I hear them fight. I tell them to wait and don’t answer their questions. I get grumpy. I get impatient. I get frustrated. I get angry. I get tired. And sometimes I just get tired of it all. Truly, I am imperfect in every way.
Yet I am the perfect mother for them, because I am their mother. I am their mother, and they are my boys. I love them fiercely, and I would die for them. For any one of them. For all of them.
Inexplicably, the cold season makes me all the more sentimental. Reflective. Nostalgic. Poignant. Grateful. More than ever, I am aware of life’s blessings. Even when days seem long and demanding, my heart is glad and thankful
ABOUT RONNIE | A graphic designer by trade, Rhonda lives in the northern beaches of Sydney with her husband and four of her five little boys. Photography, writing and de-cluttering are Rhonda's first loves. She is ever-so-slightly obsessed with documenting life, and is a member of Becky Higgins' 2013 Project Life Creative Team. She is most known for her brand of simple and minimalist design. In addition to memory keeping, Rhonda loves organising her life to a tee and systems are her best friends. Rhonda blogs at pinkronnie.com, where she shares (almost) daily posts about memory-keeping, photography, organisation, family life and living simply. She has been blogging since 2003 and loves how it keeps her sane.
TODAY'S POST IS SPONSORED BY | STUDIO CALICO
Committed to inspiring creativity, Studio Calico combines the latest scrapbooking and Project Life products with unique finds from a variety of sources while staying true to the basics. Studio Calico also offers digital cut files, brushes and printables.