Kid’s sport, letting the mystery be and other stories

Living

I’ve had such a gentle week, perfect for easing back into domesticity after my week away. My house needed some womanly care and affection, and supported by half the planets in the sky all nestling in everything’s-got-to-be-just-how-I-like-it-Virgo at the moment (Mars, Venus, Mercury, Moon and Sun!), I spent half the week cleaning, sorting and filing. There is a calm ecstasy in a clean house don’t you think?

There was a public holiday on Monday, so I didn’t even have to go back to work until Friday, and the kids went back to school on Tuesday after a two week break, leaving me lots of time to find my rhythm. My time wasn’t all my own though, of course – with the beginning of term comes the return of after school activities – for this week, cricket training for Nick, karate for both of them, music lessons for both of them, and then this morning Nick’s first cricket game of the season, making three afternoons and a Saturday morning of this week dedicated to kids’ extra-curricular activities.

At one stage I began a semi-resentful, bitching whinge in my head about all the driving, time taken and the expense of such activities. I popped into a cafe in town to grab a hot chocolate before karate and started chatting to the beautiful girl behind the counter, who I knew had grown up in Taylors Arm. She asked me if I was taking my daughter to dance lessons. I told her no, I was taking them both to karate. She nodded, and said wistfully that she wished her mother had taken her to after school activites – “I was so bored, and it would have helped my social skills,” she said; “I am so awkward now!” If I could have reached behind the counter, I would have hugged her, but instead I told her that it was the same for me when I was growing up, and that the Bear and I decided that just because we choose to live out here, it doesn’t mean that our children should miss out.

I didn’t have any more negative internal dialogue after that. I sat and watched them learn karate, in between sipping my hot chocolate and reading my book, and felt nothing but privileged. That beautiful girl in the cafe (not awkward! Introverted and sensitive maybe, but not awkward) had reminded me of why we go to all this effort. Our children can have the best of both worlds, why not? They can have a country upbringing, a small school education and have a wider, world experience.  We can provide that for them, as well as have fulfilling lives of our own.

It comes back to what is needed to make creativity and fun a part of your life. Almost counter-intuitively, to have those things as well as be productive and useful, you need to be disciplined and organised. In semester time, I treat those after school hours as study hours. Sometimes I get myself a little treat like a hot chocolate if I feel like I need it. Like the Bear says, leave a bit of butter on both sides of the bread – it’s got to be win-win if it’s going to be sustainable.

If you’re a parent, how do you feel about after school activities? What about when you were a kid? Were after school activities a part of your life? What did you do?

Loving

Podcasts! Seriously, podcasts have been the icing on my cake this week. I just pop my headphones on, iPod in pocket and off I clean, happy as anything. My favourite podcasts this week (thank you Lulu from Uncharted Ground for your wonderful recommendations <3) were Rob Bell talking to Elizabeth Gilbert on creativity, criticism and joy:

A man will be called to account on Judgment Day for every permitted thing that he could have enjoyed and did not.
– The Talmud

Criticism is the tax on participation.

So. Good. Also, I listened to a fabulous podcast from the Sounds True Insights at the Edge library with poet, educator and activist Dominique Christina called This is Woman’s Work on the importance of women being the author of their own lives and how we have a tendency to let other people write our stories. She also talks about her fascinating research into female archetypes.

Also: Dominique Christina happens to be a world poetry slam champion. Check this out:


This little video literally started a party in my heart. The cuteness and joy factor is almost too much to bear; seriously, this will make your day:


North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell: I just loved this book. It was like Pride and Prejudice with a feminist, social justice bent, and a ferociously strong and intelligent woman as the main character. What’s not to love? Both the main characters face challenges and as they go through the fires of life, they are humbled, softened and somehow stronger. It is a wonderful analysis of class, the difference between the north and south of England (fascinating how weather and geography can dictate what kind of people live in a place and what they do) as well as, of course, a love story. I wasn’t ready to leave the story when it finished, so I guess I will be turning to the TV series :).

Learning:

As part of my cleaning frenzy this week, I cleaned out my semester 2 files, deleted what I did not need and filed what I did. I also enrolled in semester 3’s subjects – a philosophy subject, The Art of Good Thinkingand an English Literature subject, Engaging with Literature. Not all Australian Universities offer three semester’s, but UNE does, and I decided that studying all year round will work for me. For starters, it takes two years off the length of my degree if I do it that way, but also, we have a six week summer holiday over Christmas, which, from past experience, can be a bit challenging for my need to be active/challenged/working on something kind of personality :). Also? Philosophy and English Lit over the summer holidays? Love it :).


Caroline Myss 2This idea that we have, that we know exactly where we’re going and what is in store for us – it’s such an ego trip.  Speaking from my own experience, whenever I have tried to steer my life in a certain direction, for whatever reason, it almost never works, and in fact, causes a whole lot of problems I didn’t anticipate that often take years to sort out. Expecting something or someone to turn out in a certain way, or be a certain way has been such a source of suffering in my life, that dropping expectations has just been a huge relief. People, places and events are so much more enjoyable when I haven’t decided ahead of time how it’s going to be (and the arrogance! oh my).  I am not sure if I am just someone who really needs to learn how to let the Universe guide my ship, or if other people have this experience as well, but ever since I backed off from thinking I need make all the decisions, all the actions and generate all the energy needed to get anything done, my life has gotten soooo much easier. Just sayin’. It’s not that I don’t have a purpose, it’s just that I’m not plotting, planning and worrying about my life anymore. Opportunities come, and I take them. I get ideas and I follow them up. I do the things that are right in front of me, and mostly, I just let the mystery be. Life is on a need to know basis, and until I need to know, all the worrying, wondering and fretting in the world is not going to help me. You know?


That’s all from me guys, have yourself a beautiful weekend. I have some friends coming over this afternoon, with a bunch of kids – one of those a friend I haven’t seen in a couple of years, ever since she left Australia to live overseas, so; excited <3. Dinner, sleep over, talking, catching up, but most of all, the joy of seeing her lovely face, in the flesh. I hope your weekend is beautiful, my friends, whatever you get up to.

Yin Yang Spring and Autumn - Gloria Di Simone
Yin Yang Spring and Autumn – Gloria Di Simone

23 comments

  1. “North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell: I just loved this book. It was like Pride and Prejudice with a feminist, social justice bent, and a ferociously strong and intelligent woman as the main character.”

    Sounds like a great read. I’ll have to check it out.

    And I love that yin and yang of autumn and spring. The motif works well when you are working with the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, too.

    Have a nice weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Georgia – it’s kind of strange that North and South has escaped my attention for this long, because it’s so up my alley. I think Gaskell was a contemporary of Jane Austen, who I have loved all my life, but with this gritty, industrial feel. Glad you liked the artwork, it really is beautiful, isn’t it?

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  2. I’m not a parent yet but I was one of those kids who had their parents driving to and from activities from middle school till I got a license. I grew up in a smaller town and to play on a competitive club volleyball team, my mom would drive me to a bigger city an hour away 2-3 times a week. I realize the big sacrifice it was now and am grateful that both my mom and dad took an interest in all the things I was passionate about. Funny enough, when I graduated and went to play volleyball in college (in Hawaii) they went through withdrawals not being able to watch my play or have time with the other team parents. We had all become a big family throughout the years of traveling and long weekends and tournaments. you’re children will thank you for it one day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Leslie, thanks for sharing your experience, I really appreciate it. I come from a background of no after school activities – my parents didn’t have much money, and we were quite isolated – so I am interested in other people’s experiences.
      I am sure that my kids do appreciate it, although I don’t do this parenthood gig for gratitude, that’s for sure 😜 (luckily).

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  3. So much I could comment on (again) in today’s post, will try to contain myself! We lived in a small town and took ourselves to after school activities and the rest of the time we played. At our grandparents’ farm, at our other grandparents’ house, in our own yard. Our parents worked and when they didn’t work they took us to do things. When we had a child we decided to be led by her interests for extra-curricular activities. She was, and is, a pretty self contained person, and we could see that. She mostly had friends over to play, or went to their homes to play. Occasionally she would want to pursue something like music or dance, and we would accommodate her, but it never lasted long. I don’t think any of us regret that approach. She is a happy, well educated, socially adept young woman and that was always our goal. I’m totally with you on the not planning our life too carefully but seeing what opportunities are before us. I think to do that we need to be pretty self aware and confident, though, to be able to know when something is of interest and to go after it. I prefer spending time learning about myself and save the planning for the Universe! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I prefer spending time learning about myself and save the planning for the Universe – perfect! I could not have said it better myself, Ardys :).
      We have always let the children lead by their interests too – my son is a team sports kind of boy, who loves music. My daughter loves moving her body – dance, gymnastics, swimming, martial arts – and she loves music as well.
      I was more like your daughter – self-contained – and definitely non-sporty, although I would have liked to learn an instrument. We’re all different, aren’t we? Thank goodness 🙂

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  4. I love, no, -need- the oasis of a tidy self sufficient home… I spent a few hours at TA last weekend cleaning out drawers and fixing things up. And we’re having an at home day today; it’s wonderfully rejuvenating and centering, with the economy of scale that the breakfast dishes are still in the sink but we don’t care because we have time!
    It’s nice you support your kids’ interests. Growing up in a small country town there were some extracurricular activities I could do independently but my Dad coached tennis, and our hockey team carting the whole gaggle of us around for inter-town games. Over the years he also had a few different interests and I would just tag along with whatever he was doing. Nice memories of time spent together.
    Philosophy and English Lit sounds like a good way to make use of summer holiday time… I always choose a few special summer reading books to look forward to… must do that soon 🙂
    I haven’t suffered so much from being a steerer, rather the opposite… embarking without enough consideration then hanging in far too long. Now I advocate sitting with things, conversations and possibilities until the way becomes clear and feels right.
    As always, a beautiful sharing of your week 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love, no, -need- the oasis of a tidy self sufficient home – exactly! My home is such an extension of my self, that one intrinsically affects the other. Sometimes I can tidy a messy mind via a drawer.
      Thank you for sharing your experiences of after school activities – your Dad seems like someone who liked to be part of his community, which is so valuable, and such a beautiful thing to show his family.
      I have been loving holiday reading – it’s so nice to be able to get my teeth into a book again – a novel, even, which has become such a luxury! Enjoy your week, Dale, and thanks for popping by xo

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  5. Hello, Sara!
    Loved your opening thoughts about kids’ activities.

    My daughter takes two dance classes, rides horses (we both do, but at separate times), mountain bikes with her dad, runs her own dog walking business (with my participation until she’s a little older), and has just started participating in the “techies” group with the middle school drama club (doing props, sets, lighting, audio, etc.). In short, even though she doesn’t do a team sport, she has a very full plate.

    For the most part, she’s at an age now that (other than going on dog walks with her and watching her ride) I no longer need to be sitting around waiting for her to be done with this class or that. Though I’m happy to have the additional time to invest in my work and miscellaneous housekeeping and errands, there’s a part of me that misses those pockets of enforced “time out.” Though I often brought my laptop to the dance studio (and even the barn on occasion), usually I used that time to read, catch up on social correspondence, journal, and other such activities. Sometimes, I would just sit. Now that I don’t have to be there with my daughter, I find that I’m unable to take those moments on my own. Instead, I just work right through and leave myself no “breathing room.”

    As to how I feel about the activities themselves, I’m delighted that she has these interests and grateful that I’m able to give her the gift or indulging them. Growing up, I didn’t have many opportunities because we didn’t have a lot of money, but my parents did find a way to give me piano lessons (which I loved until I discovered boys), and riding lessons. The piano didn’t stick with me, but I still ride today.

    Mostly, I’m just glad my daughter gets to try new things and meet new groups of people and explore life through a variety of activities. They may not all stick, but some of them may end up having a long-term influence on her, and that’s pretty cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jamie,
      I love how engaged with life your daughter is – and good on you and her Dad for being able to facilitate all of those activities. I love that you have kept up horse riding all your life. I rode horses when I was young, but probably only because we lived on a farm, we had horses, and most of my family rode. It was fun, frightening and frustrating all at the same time 😊.
      It will definitely be easier next year when my son goes into town for school and can get himself to training…but I don’t resent the time spent now, either. You’re right, it does create these pockets of time out that I wouldn’t normally give myself, and I appreciate that. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, I really appreciate it ❤️

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  6. Its wonderful to get the children in after school activities.. My own it was football with my Son and dancing with my daughter but she decided after a while it wasn’t for her..
    There was nothing like that when we were children.. It was a case of entertaining one’s self.. 🙂 mostly climbing trees and jumping brooks 🙂 and the occasional scrumping crab apples mainly over the local village Hall walls.. Yes I have a tainted past LOL.. 🙂

    Loved the video of the little boy who found out he was going to be Big Brother Loved it.. 🙂

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend Sara.. and I know you have more than enough to keep you busy..

    Hugs Sue 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Sue,
      Yep, my childhood was pretty much the same, except I was a big reader, and I rode bikes and horses. I like my children to do those those things as well, of course, but I can totally see the value in these other activities as well, especially seeing as they go to such a small school.
      How good was that video of the little boy??? Loved it 🙂
      Thanks for popping by this morning, I see you’ve been busy having a catch up read 🙂

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  7. A gentle week – lovely. I love the tidy-ing space and having been home from Nepal now for a few months it is time to embark on some decluttering. So luckily for me an internal energy has helped me keep my focus on cleaning out cupboards and filing.

    I am blissful this week (last week :). I have decided to devote two full days of my week to meditation, nature, yoga. And it is wonderful! so wonderful. And then it is amazing how this flows… The after school activities is something that could be a challenge for me (we end up driving at least 25mins each way, most days for some sort of dance, gymnastics, kinder drop off), but right now it is magic – just going with the opportunity and experience. And the anxt, timelines just fade away. I have weaved in opportunities for me, within the opportunities for the kids. At Gymnastics I spend the first 30mins walking round and round the nearby rec reserve, and then watch the last 15min of the class. Nice to feel the energy equilibrium.

    Thanks for the sharing and inspirations – lovely first read, wonderful second time round too!

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    • Now that is what I call the ultimate self care – dedicating two days of your week to meditation, nature and yoga. Wow. How wonderful.
      Your situation is similar to mine – I also have a minimum 25 minute drive to activities, but just as you do, and I think this is how it works, I entwine time for myself in there as well. Both parties have to benefit, don’t they? Certainly, if something is going to be ongoing in a sustainable way in my world, that’s how it’s gotta be 🙂

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  8. Oh la la, so interesting reading your thoughts on after school activities and that young girls comments. Coming from an isolated area as a teen with no after school activities, introverted etc, etc. Yep, my kids are doing it differently. They get to do what they are interested in, well I try to juggle it as best I can.

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