Today's cuppa: Fancy joining me for a brew of lemongrass tea?
In my late teens, I worked for a professional babysitting agency in Adelaide, South Australia. My jobs were mostly for new parents who wanted to leave their newborn babe with a complete stranger (me!!) and go out for dinner. As one mum said to me, ‘where’s the romance in dirty nappies?’
When my girls were babies they were constantly with me, ROMANCING in my arms ‘continuum’ style, and sleeping in the family bed. I took my role as a parent very seriously and simply would never have abandoned my girls by leaving them with a babysitter ~ regardless of whether that person was a stranger or my best friend.
I made meals with my girls in the front pack, and they sat in my lap or their dad’s as we ate our meals.
When I became a mum to two children under the age of two, I would pop them in bed beside each other and breastfeed them to sleep. Most nights we’d eat at the table first, but occasionally Paul and I would enjoy fine dining while the girls slept. By fine dining I mean we ordered Indian take-away. We would sit on the end of the family bed and eat our dinner by candle light to the soundtrack of our precious daughters’ breaths. It would never have occurred to me to leave a tiny baby sleeping in a room without an adult there. Parenting IS romantic, if we choose it to be so; if we allow ourselves to truly fall in love with the creations we’ve invited Earthside. It’s a very romantic journey if you don’t take your life partner for granted, and you take each day as a sacred opportunity to give thanks for all that you are and all that you have. If you make magic in your marriage you don’t need to go out to dinner and leave your babies behind. Absenting yourself from your baby won’t fix your marriage if it looks like Swiss cheese.
Our culture sees my attitude to parenting as completely over the top, but I simply followed my heart. I imagined what it would be like for a little baby to wake up and not have a familiar heart beat or face or smell or touch. I imaged how unstable her world would feel and how she’d have to cry or scream to be ‘heard’. So I never left my babies in situations where they would for one minute feel unsafe. Our night-time parenting is every bit as important as our visible daytime parenting.
But in all those years I never felt like I was sacrificing myself or my life. I willingly obeyed my heart’s calling and listened to the inner prompts which encouraged me to nurture, nourish and protect my babies.
Paul and I have never gone out to a restaurant without our daughters. We’ve never felt the need to. Last night, while eating at the world’s finest restaurant, the dining memories of our early parenting years came flooding back in a joyful rush. I remembered, with love, all the bedside dinners and how the gifts we give our children are truly priceless. We may not always see how important our presence is at the time, but if we simply trust in our children and ourselves we’ll never have cause to doubt our parenting.
My Continuum Concept ‘babies’ are big girls now. Bethany is 12 and Eliza is 10.
Last night they took us out to dinner. Where did we go? Nowhere and everywhere! Home and away…
Bethany transformed the dining table with a cloth and brought in flowers from the garden ~ bluebells, daffodils and twigs of eucalyptus. She brought to the table a candelabra with locally-made beeswax candles. With table set, she poured Elderflower Presse into her late Nana’s recycled wine glasses and then seated Paul and I. She serenaded us by playing Moon River on her violin. And Eliza, resident chef, brought in our first course ~ Greek Salad ~ abundant with rocket and other mixed baby green leaves, kalamata olives and cherry tomatoes in flaxseed oil and lemon dressing.
Bethany then played Für Elise on the piano as Eliza served us her vegan Moussaka (recipe in issue 29 of The Mother, July/August 2008). That girl is a genius with food!
I’ve been overwhelmed by gratitude for many, many things in my life lately, and last night was just one more example of the richness I find in my days. I keep asking myself, ‘how did I get so lucky?’
The Continuum Concept years haven’t ended. They’ve evolved. I don’t carry my daughters in my arms any more, and they now have their own beds, but Paul and I still carry them ‘energetically’ in how we live our lives.
Being present for our children ~ REALLY present ~ is one of the greatest gifts they’ll ever receive. Our children are sponges for love and affection. When we enjoy the opportunities which are always available, we find abundance dancing through every cell of our being. It’s an abundance you won’t find in a bank account. It’s a richness of heart.
Have a gorgeous week
~ Veronika ~