Ruminations from the Weekend Past

It was my turn this weekend.

Suse was running a workshop in Castlemaine. So that meant I was on for the weekend.

Not that the idea scares me. As far as guys go, I’m pretty happy to hang out with kids on my own. Girls no less. If you’d asked me twenty years ago – as one of three boys – what you do with girls all day, I wouldn’t have had any idea. Well, I was nineteen years old then, and my idea of what you do with girls was probably fairly well formed – but you know what I mean.

I thought you have to play dolls with them, or do their hair, or play dress ups. And yes, we spent a lot of this weekend doing exactly that, but it’s not like there was any need or urgency around it, it’s just kind of what happened. Yes, there are dolls and prams, and yes, there is a dress up box, and yes, we did spend time trying to recreate Elsa’s hair, and yes, we did talk a lot about what constitutes the right type of hair, but it wasn’t the focus. The focus was hanging out with my kids. The dolls and the dress ups and the hair were just the props.

We went over to grandma and grandpas house. We drove to a café in Learmonth. We hung out under the big tree. We cried and we fell over and we hurt our collective knees, and we got up and cuddled, and dusted ourselves off.

And yes, we got frustrated, and we couldn’t get the trike to ‘work’, and we had stand offs about sitting on the toilet, and we filled multiple nappies, some of which spilt down the gusset line, and we cried, and laughed, and did silly things, and serious things, and we did nothing.

There wasn’t any aim to the weekend. There wasn’t anything that had to be achieved. I didn’t have to see a certain number of patients, or ring a certain number of people, or pay a certain number of bills. And this is a challenge for me. I’m hardwired to do stuff. To write lists and complete them. I’m good at that. Even without thinking, I’ll mentally check off how much of ‘The Age’ I’ve read. Like it’s a job, or something.

To just be present for the day, actually being in the moment – not in the past, thinking about things that have happened, or in the future, thinking about all of the things I have to do – is a challenge. A massive challenge. Hanging out for the weekend and not actually doing anything, is an exercise in self-control.

There was nothing to do but be present. Did I achieve anything? Nothing tangible. Did it matter? Of course not. Because just when you let go of what you think you have to do, and not try to control it, and just ‘be’, rewards arrive. And this happened just this morning.

Before Suse went away for the weekend, she had some trepidation in how Asher would cope with her being away. If I’d stopped to think about it, I may have been the same. But it was fine. As a Mummy’s girl, she asked after Suse once or twice, but not much. We had fun, and we had cuddles, and all just hung out.

This morning, I walked the girls up to the car, getting ready for Suse to drive them to day care, as I do every Monday. And Asher reached up for my hand.

Now this mightn’t sound like much, but my heart skipped a beat. SHE took MY hand. This was not functional, this was not in order to stop herself from falling over, or to help pull herself up onto the next step. This was just to hold my hand. My little girl – my less-overtly sensitive, my little Asher Basher, my girl who falls over, skins her knee and gets straight up, my little independent girl – reached up for my hand.

You can’t quantify this feeling. You can’t measure these events. These are not things that I can write on a list. This is not an event to tick off. This was a moment in time that resulted from being there, from truly being around my girls, playing with them, without direction, without aim, without looking for a result, for hours and hours on end.

I took her soft palm in mine, and looked down at her. In a Hollywood movie, she would have looked up, smiled, and the music would have played, the lens softened a little by Vaseline. Instead, the moment continued, as it does in real life, with her bustling towards the car with great intent, babbling away in non-sensical two-year-old language as she went.

* * * * *

Lens with Vaseline

6 Comments

  • Dorothy says:

    One of the earliest lessons I learnt about motherhood was to stop trying to DO everything and just be. It’s also the nicest thing.

    Lovely post, Mark.

  • Caz Filmer says:

    What a beautiful post filled with beautiful sentiment. I have three girls (and one husband). We out number him 4 to 1. But he does a pretty good job too. Love that you could live in the moment for the weekend. I strive to do that – but get so caught up in all the ‘goings on’. Nice one.

  • Thank you, Dorothy. As a fellow Do-er, it’s not easy, but one of our greatest lessons, isn’t it?

  • Hi Caz, your husband is one braver than me!

    And living in the moment probably translated more as a series of moments strung together by feelings of needing to do things! We are forever relearning how to think like our kids… 🙂

  • Rach says:

    Aw… that moment that makes you pause and realise that you have done something right. My husband has the same ‘doing’ thought patterns, due to his work. It is very hard to help him relax into a day without ‘achieving’ anything in particular. Like you, he’s working with it because he knows the kids need him more than he needs to be doing the work. Just hard to slip from one mentality to another! They say the greatest thing you can do for your daughter’s self esteem is value her company. Sounds like they are going to have great self esteem with a daddy like you to hold hands with. Nice work. 🙂

  • Thank you, Rach. I really love that phrase – ‘the greatest thing you can do for your daughter’s self esteem is value her company.’ I’ll keep that one in my head, for occasions when I’m in a real ‘doing’ mood. 🙂

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