A FRIEND of mine believes books fall into her hands at times they’re to be read. They contain for her a teeny tiny pearl of wisdom, a messag...

A FRIEND of mine believes books fall into her hands at times they’re to be read. They contain for her a teeny tiny pearl of wisdom, a message or thread that sends her off on a wider path of discovery. I feel Rachel Power’s book The Divided Heart is that for me.

Now, stick with me, because I have a convoluted thought process going on here.

I stumbled upon Power’s book here. Natalie was close to finishing the book when I started reading her blog. The fact she was reading it in snatches while busy with family, work and life, resonated with me.

We all read blogs that resonate with us but I have been wondering who my blog resonates with, if anyone. Essentially it has to resonate with me, but it’s not the blog I imagined creating when I started it earlier this year, and that’s got me thinking.

I’ve been thinking about the blog, what does resonate with me, why what resonates with me doesn’t seem to be making its way to my blog, what I am doing in real life that plays havoc with what I’d like to happen in real life and what I should be doing to make stuff happen. You following?

Readers of The Divided Heart, and many other smart cookies out there, will see where this is going. Fulltime parent, fulltime work, what feels like fulltime volunteering and fulltime creative soul. Hmmm. That’s a lot of full and not a lot of time.

My difficulty is that I am only an intro and one interview into The Divided Heart and already feel a fraud. You may have noted I carefully dodged the words “fulltime mother”. I am not the mother of the four children I have helped raise. They already have one of those – my partner as it so happens.

Now, this is where it gets trickier because people are ready to offer you medals and life memberships to parenting clubs when they learn you are raising children you did not give birth to. Step-parents are so very common but so marginalised. Society assumes "steps" take a back seat to "real" parents. You’re wicked and meddling – dangerously so – or you shouldn't have a say. People really struggle with the idea of taking responsibility for children not your own.

And for me, once the matter of residential status is cleared up the conversation then goes something like this.

Them: Oh Lordy, you mean the children live with you?

Me: Yes, all four of them. (Well, there's three now. I killed one off ... No, she's all grown up and moved out of home.)

Them: But where is their mother. (Place emphasis on the word mother.)

Me (choice one): Their mother is actually my partner. (Now, I never mean to shock or rub my choices in people’s faces and the tone of this statement is always carefully selected for the audience.)

Them: Either stunned silence or too-cool-for-school, fiddlin’ and fumblin’ to cover up the fact they hadn’t guessed that, or thought they’d guessed it, but didn’t want to say.


Me (choice two): The children have very close contact with their mother, in fact, they have four very loving and caring parents and we consider ourselves to be a knock-out parenting team. (White lies can sometimes be a safe option, not only for me, but for the children. My partner and I have gone to great lengths to ease them into a very unforgiving, at times, society.)


Either way, once it’s known the children’s mother, my partner, is on the scene, I’m written off as superfluous.

To illustrate, I had a colleague ask me a couple of years ago whether I was involved in choosing Christmas gifts for the kids. As my partner is considering a blog about moss and lichens, I think it can safely be said I’m the arbiter of all matters style and good taste in my household. So der, mate, whaddya reckon?

It’s not an uncommon assumption, though. To add to the murky waters my family I am also 11 years younger than my partner. People imagine I get home after a days work and swan about doing whatever I like while my partner does the - excuse the pun - mother load.

It’s a tricky one, made all the more so because I do not wish to diminish the hard yakka, patience and endurance of my partner. She has her own battles with motherhood and I marvel at her ability to manoeuvre through - in a blended, extended, left-of-field family - a minefield of human frailty and emotion.

That minefield becomes particularly difficult to navigate at Christmas.

Lisa, at The Red Thread, posted this week about how she’s had to step up to the role her mother left in her passing and create a Christmas full of meaning for her own family. It’s the missing members of a family, alive and dead or separated by distance or divorce, that are elephants in the room at this time of year. I imagine, each year, how I’ll make Christmas special and as the date looms I feel the pressure of that responsibility.

Each and every year my expectations for that one day dwindle in size and grandeur as it draws closer and I tell myself to be calm and go with the flow. Like the women in Power’s book, I struggle to make the vision match the reality. As a child Christmas was a time of creativity and careful planning. Now, dare-I-say-it, as a working mother it’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, arms flailing, crazy, crazy day which is often wedged between two working days because newspaper people, as my partner and I are, don’t get public holidays.

I’m hoping this Christmas for answers, time and direction. There’s a big wide world out there and I’m in it, well and truly. I don’t wish to complain or grumble and hope people don’t read this as such. I’m, like so many parents and oh so many mothers, putting my hand up to say “I hear you sista”. I am reading your blogs and am gobsmacked by the sheer talent and enthusiasm you have for your families, your art, your craft, your work, your gardens, your wardrobes and your friends.
I still feel a bit the new girl and if you don’t mind, I’ll just hang back a bit this month until I can work out where I fit. In fact, if you don’t mind, I’m the one in the corner with her nose stuck in a book and while I’m not known for being shy, today I’d like it if you said hi first. I’m sure we’ve got lots in common and I’m an OK listener – not great, but OK.

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