'Twas The Night Before Christmas

… And suffice it to say, it had not gone quite to plan. 20131225-014425.jpg

20 years worth of photographs. Baby clothes. Baby equipment. My childhood memorabilia. Ruined. Of course we are grateful our house wasn’t flooded, like our neighbour’s, and by lunchtime another was still scooping water out of her car. We are grateful for the losses we haven’t incurred but that doesn’t negate the sadness over what we have. Wading through freezing water trying to salvage what we could while still tending to my mother was a new kind of challenge. I’m glad today never has to be lived again.

After visiting the local food bank to donate some food – a new annual tradition for me and the girls- we spent a couple of hours chasing down enough morphine to keep my mom going through Christmas – or local supplier is out of stock,and few pharmacies carry large supplies, it seems.

I was determined to salvage some Christmas Spirit. Don’t think me strong or brave though. If it wasn’t for the children I’d have holed myself up in the room with a large supply of mulled wine and brandy, like an old man with a brown bag problem!

Instead we went to a Christingle service. We made a gingerbread house from scratch. We wrapped the last of the presents. The girls opened their stockings. We laid out food for reindeer. I prepared a meal for tomorrow. And I shared the mulled wine.

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Tomorrow will be Christmas. Apart from my mom and I not a creature is stirring. Santa has come and gone. We are waiting for nurses to arrive to increase her morphine as she is in to much pain to sleep. It’s 3.30am on the longest Christmas eve of my life.

Cancer Came Home

Do you ever feel like life is laughing at you? That’s me today. This week. This month. This indeterminate time in space. There’s a long story here, one that I am currently too tired to go into but suffice to say that it culminates in now, here, gone 3am sitting in my children’s bedroom next to a hospital bed on which my mother is half sleeping, half morphine-induced stupor – finally. She spent the last four hours throwing up.

As she has the last two weeks really but yes, “steady decline” is what I say when people ask how she is.

My dad, sister, brother and I all take turns sitting awake with her 24 hours of the day. Her care is now constant. When we control the pain and discomfort successfully she can’t help herself when she vomits – so we sit vigil, 24 hours a day. No one wants to die choking on their own vomit.

In November she had the all clear for travel – her incurable cancer was regressing. She was told to have a wonderful time and check back in when she returned to Perth. Three weeks later she was found to have a 21cm tumour on her liver and many more masses on her lungs and kidneys, I think. So aggressive we can see visible growth in her abdomen day to day. The treatment for the original cancer spread cancer cells around her abdomen. We didn’t see that coming. Good one, life.

She can’t even fly home. Now we just get to watch her fade and die, the most inhumane thing I’ve ever witnessed. Torture for both the sufferer and everyone who sits by them. Bizarrely legal. Even cancerous animals are spared this horror.

It’s strangely obscene that someone who spent her working life caring for sick people now lives out her days with such high need of care, gladly given and with love in our hearts and our thoughts and interactions.

It serves as such a reminder and confirmation to me to keep our lives as chemical free as I can. ‘They’ once told us asbestos was safe too.

So, I didn’t finish blogging the Advent Book Crafts series. I guess we try again next year. I didn’t brine a turkey for tomorrow. I didn’t get to putting labels on all the home made gifts. But at least I am here, listening to the wind howling outside and the rain pumelling the conservatory roof, and the gentle snore coming from my awesome dad who does not leave my mother’s side, and the shallow, rapid breaths from her tired, worn, beaten form.

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A Thank You Note To The Mama Who "Makes Me Feel Bad"

Dear Mommy, Mummy, Mama

Yes, you, Pinterest mom with your amazing photos, your tidy house and your fabulous ideas. You who sees a craft in every story, a game in every chore and an opportunity for gratitude in every unpaid bill. You who goes to the gym, does dancercize and fits into your pre-babies jeans. You, who cooks from scratch, eats clean, and has a raw repertoire. Whose children eat cauliflower pizza base and beetroot coloured icing, and yes, you who works to support your family and still finds the time to remember your girlfriends’ fifth child’s third birthday. All of you, this is a note to say thank you!

Thank you for your wonderful ideas. Thank you for the inspiration you send my way. Thank you for being the foundation I can build ideas for my home and my family on. Thank you for turning this non-crafty mama into a story time machine. Thank you for sharing your inspirations and showing me what you are capable of and therefore what I may be capable of too!

Thank you for the smiles as your naughty elf  gets up to mischief or as your kindness elf opens up a channel for conversation. Thank you for the silly pictures of your super cute offspring doing daft things that remind me that my 4 year old needs a giggle after doing her writing ‘work’ and that my one year old isn’t likely to destroy my pots and pans if she uses them for stacking cups.

Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your struggles, your joys, your every day and your once in a blue moon. Thank you for making me feel bad challenging me to be less lazy, to pick a few things up and to try a new activity. To switch off the TV and hand over the glitter pots.

Thank you for making me feel bad by doing such amazing activities highlighting those areas that I need to be more proactive and making me feel bad for not creating certain rituals for opening my eyes to things I never even knew existed. Thank you for making me feel bad by working out five days a week helping me prioritise what’s important to me.

Thank you for helping me realise that you doing what you do to the very best of your abilities isn’t an indictment on me. It’s just you celebrating your strengths as I compare, identify and then celebrate mine! And also for showing me that you can’t make me feel anything, and I own my feelings and should take responsibility for them rather than blaming you for being great.

I hope to never steal your achievements from you by calling what you do for your self and your family “showing off”, or a competition. No, dear mama, I celebrate your victories, and hope you celebrate mine because heaven knows we have enough failures without having to break each other down.

You are perfect in your way, in your latest post, that Facebook update, the photo you tweeted, you have showcased the best of you. Thank you for sharing it with me and thank you for providing the inspiration and motivation to showcase the best of me too.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

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