So, there’s this envelope with a document inside asking me to ‘have my say’.
In an apparent attempt to allow space for everyone’s voices these envelopes have been delivered all around Australia, asking for a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.
And I will tick one of those boxes and I will post it back because I understand that for many people this is a very significant and important question, and it really matters that people thoughtfully engage with the lives that are impacted by the answer to this question.
But, if I’m truly going to have my say, it’s this.
Recently, we moved house.
There were numerous lessons in this.
There was the confronting experience of realising just how many items we had managed to accumulate. When you load the hired truck for the fourth time and there are still odd bits and pieces left in the house that you will need to come back for tomorrow…you start disliking your stuff and asking some hard questions about why you have so much of it.
In the previous post, I shared 'Three things that have changed since I became a parent', reflecting on how much taking care of a tiny human can flip your world inside out.
Well, almost everything.
Note: After posting this it was brought to my attention that this piece of writing may seem insensitive to those who have had difficult experiences on the road to becoming a parent - or who have desired parenthood but have not been able to fulfil this desire. There are many people in my close circles who have these stories, and if this is your story , I want to acknowledge your grief and loss. My story has its own scars (which I've written about in earlier posts), but it also has enormous privileges that I know are not shared by all. This is intended as a lighthearted and humorous reflection on things that may impact the decision to try and have a child, but it is not intended to make light of the difficult road this can be.
There's no two ways about it.
The rumours are true.
Becoming responsible for a tiny human flips your life upside down,
shakes it like a snow-globe,
waits for you to think the contents are just about to settle...
then shakes it all again.
It changes...pretty much everything.
Well, not quite everything.
has enormous brown eyes
smooth, plump cheeks,
and a little button chin
that can melt your heart
like butter in the microwave
When you blow raspberries in his neck
his giggles spill over like a waterfall
and your melted-butter-heart explodes with joy
has fresh eyes for the world
a wide, open heart
and I cannot tell him how much I love him
cannot kiss, cuddle, tickle, snuggle-the-poop out of him anywhere near enough
I have an abundance
of that weird, want-to-squeeze-and-use-naughty-words-to-describe-the-intensity-of-my-love kind of love
(You know the one right?)
a blood curdling
wild banshee scream
with sharp, prickly edges
that can endure, repeat and build in intensity
for small windows of forever
Sometimes chicken, chips and salad taste absolutely incredible.
And it has very little to do with the chicken, chips and salad.
Like when we were sitting in a room with a dear friend, a mate, a brother, who had jumped in the car and travelled 1.5 hours to bring this meal to us.
There are some clear differences between being a Mum and a Dad.
We could start with the obvious:
Noah didn't grow inside my body for 9 months.
He also didn't emerge from my private parts.
I don't happen to have breasts.
Each of those things means there is something between Sam and Noah that goes beyond the experience of parenthood I will ever have. Mysteries I will only ever observe in wonder.
- even a little idiotic -
but I think,
the most religious person I know
is an atheist
And I can already hear the objections to that sentiment
The crowd switch-off, the flare-up of ‘faith vs. evidence’!
But try to stay with me - this may be relevant
whether you’re a ‘right-wing evangelical’
a ‘progressive intellectual’
or a ‘lefty vegan’ smoking the botanical
I’m not a fan of the labels - trust me; I try to avoid them
(Can’t we just agree we’re all human, and we’re all kind of annoying?)
But I do find it funny that my friend, a Facebook activist
atheistic strategist, trying to save the world
with surprisingly violent words for a pacifist
loves to remind me how backwards my passion is
He’s a university student; he’s doing an arts degree
(So we’ve got something in common; I’ve got an arts degree)
But if you’re asking me - doesn’t matter if you’ve got an arts degree
or a PhD in some form of scientific mastery
Either way, you can still a bastard, be.
Don’t take that as an accusation
I just have some simple observations
the same temptation for self-righteous proclamation
and broad, sweeping condemnation
can be wielded by every variation
of information interpretation
We all want to be right, right?
We all want to lift our hands
or fall to our knees
sing, pray, preach, proselytise, lecture
gather in conferences, forums, theatres
rejoice and lament
about the wonder and the agony
and the mystery, of it all.
about Higgs Bosons, protons, photons,
the complex language of DNA
the injustice of all the pain
the hope of a tomorrow better than today!
Surely these impulses are as human
as believing you’re the ant the universe revolves around?
But religion is a funny concept with myriad meanings
Did you know Jesus seemed to only fight with religious leaders?
Did you know every university textbook was written by someone, or some crew
as grand and flawed as me and you?
Did you know first-class academics have been in favour of eugenics
and beautiful work has been done by ‘uneducated peasants’?
Did you not know that all the boxes break?
We’re all a little messy,
a little religious
a little pretentious
a little evangelical
a little lost
a little in need of comfort
a little in need of restraint
I’m not a fan of the labels - trust me, I try to avoid them
Can we just agree we’re all human, and we’re all kind of annoying?
Beautiful, frustrating, growing children asking question after question
thinking with our stomach, our scratches, our exhaustion
trying to sneak in a bite when we get in a fight
crying for a parent to intervene
because our knees are bruised.
So, how about we
put ourselves aside for a moment
dress each other’s wounds
make some fairy-bread
and play in the streets
Ben Procter and I used to sit in our year 7 classroom and chat about things we wanted to do in the future. Our list included travelling overseas together, living together, working together and buying a lifetime's supply of Starburst Squirts (not even sure they make those anymore?)
We've ticked off the most important ones in that list - and apart from our sugar cravings our year 7 dreams were fairly aligned with where we are at in our lives today. It always excited me having any opportunity to do something creative with my best mate, who all bias aside, is incredibly talented in all areas of film and media. Do yourself a favour and peruse through his website and see what I mean. We've both recently decided to take the plunge and dedicate ourselves to having a serious attempt at developing our artistic passions and profiles. This video represents a new season for us. It's a very simple, one-shot video, but for Ben it was a chance to try out some new equipment (a gimbal) and for myself this was a poem I wrote to launch 'SpeakUP', a monthly spoken word gathering on the Central Coast which kicked off with a bang in February.
So, simple as it may be this is representative of the season ahead and the projects it will bring.
And at the heart of it is the simple thought that our lives are cluttered, chaotic and complex - and maybe things would be a little less off-balance in this world if we all took a moment to breathe....
Grace and peace to you.