Sunday, 29 December 2013

My family reunion - Part one

On January 2nd Hubby and I are having lunch with a few members of my Dad's side of the family.  This might not sound like a big deal, but trust me it is. See the thing is, I haven't seen most of these people in over 10 years and the fact that we're seeing them now would go down really badly with my immediate family if they knew.  Will any other members of my family be there? Nope! So why is it happening? Well, because becoming a parent has made me realise just how important it is to at least TRY have a relationship with your family. 

The last time any of us have seen Dad's family was at my Grandfather's funeral. And even before that we didn't see them all that often. As a child I knew the reason was because we all lived so far away from each other.  Some of us in Queensland, some in New South Wales, and others in England.   But as an adult I learned that this wasn't the reason at all. When my Grandfather passed away it was sudden. He had something like a heart attack while swimming laps at the local pool and didn't recover. I'm uncertain as to whether any of his family knew he had a bad heart or any medical conditions because he wasn't a man who spoke about such things. He wasn't a man who spoke much about anything to his family at all. He was a military man who ran his home and his family with the same discipline as he'd learned in the army. And he held the same high, and unbelievably unattainable expectations of his children. He was not warm and welcoming, and as a kid becoming a young man my Dad did not find acceptance or pride in his Father's words or actions. Only years before his death my Grandfather attempted to repair the relationship he'd had with his children, but by then my Dad's scars were far too deep and he wasn't able to accept that he'd changed. 

In the years since we had no contact with Dad's family. It was always a sore point when we brought it up.  We've got Aunts and Uncles and cousins who we've grown up not knowing. At least until a few years ago when my Aunt S got in contact with me via Facebook (you've gotta love Facebook!). Turns out she missed me, thinks of me often and after a long chat I realised I have quite a lot in common with her.  She became a much-needed calming influence with nothing but wisdom to share during a time when my own relationship with my parents was rocky.  We spoke long and often via email and I finally began to feel a really family connection with her again.  Unfortunately she was living in London at the time but was soon planning on moving back to Australia.  

Well, that time has come! And in the few weeks she's been back in the country we've already caught up and have planned this impromptu family reunion with my other long-lost aunt and her children.  So Sunny Hubby, little Gracie and I will go to lunch and extend the olive branch. Just because my Dad isn't ready yet to mend the broken relationships he's had with them doesn't mean I can't. Now, more than ever, I appreciate and value family relationships.  For such a long time there have been people in the world who have loved me and yet I do not know them. I want at least to say that I tried to know them and to rebuild the part of my family tree that was broken all those years ago. I want my daughter to know how important family is. And that there is always another chance to repair a relationship. 

I don't know how it'll go tomorrow at lunch. I'm nervous, anxious and excited. I am worried that I will feel like the outsider, but I'm also very keen to meet my cousins who I've not seen since they were in primary school.  Whatever happens at least I can say I tried, I reached out. And if all goes well Gracie's family tree will grow bigger and stronger. 

Families are all so complex, aren't they?!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

My Christmas spirit

It's Christmas Eve! I'll just repeat that so it sinks in.  It's Christmas Eve!!  Nope, still haven't wrapped my brain around it yet. Tomorrow is Christmas Day and our first Christmas with our beloved little daughter. And yet I still haven't gotten into the spirit of the season in the same way as years gone by. Our tree is up, decorated with baubles and lights, there are Christmas movies on TV, Hubby and I have made the obligatory run to the shops to buy gifts for our families, and yet it still feels surreal. 

Tomorrow is going to be a quiet one for our new little family. We'll wake up and make a pancake breakfast and open presents with Gracie. Then we're off to a casual late lunch with my side of the family.  We'll probably call it a day soon after that and head home so Gracie can nap.  

We haven't even bought each other gifts this year.  And I think that's why it doesn't quite feel like our usual Christmas.  Anything we might have wanted we'd already bought in some mid-year sale, or we lost interest in while waiting to purchase it. But to be honest, gifts haven't really interested us at all this year.  We've already received our gift, and she was delivered to is in October.  And I know how corny that sounds when I say it out loud, but that's truly how we feel.  I look into her sweet face as she beams up at me with her toothless, sideways smile and I feel like all my Christmases have come at once. 

Sure there are things that it'd be nice to have, like a pretty new dress or a new watch. But I don't NEED those things. I NEED Gracie! And she has been lovingly gift-wrapped by God and delivered to us. Our lives are not complete without her now. Such a tiny little girl has filled all the open, empty spaces in our lives and our hearts. What once we yearned for, what we were missing, we have been given. By the grace of God, we have our daughter Grace. And that is all we need this Christmas.

So this year, and I know for all our years to come, Christmas won't stand for presents or things. The gifts our Lord has blessed us with, on this the day of His birth, are what will remain important. And that is where my Christmas spirit will come from. 

Merry Christmas to you all!
May love and peace surround you during this most special time of year. 
Sunny xx

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Meeting Miss Grace

Being a new parent is hard. You know from the moment you find out you're pregnant that life will never be the same. And that this little person soon to be born will challenge you every day for the rest of your life. But no amount of reading or friendly parenting advice can prepare you for YOUR baby and their specific little character which ultimately depicts what they need and want from you as their Mum and Dad. Every single day is different from the day before, and for the first few weeks we weren't sure if we'd ever learn all Gracie's little commands and requests. But now she's nearly eight weeks old we're slowly getting the hang of this new life. 

Our first six weeks together
When we brought you home from the hospital we thought you'd never smile. Your cranky, dissatisfied little face always looking up at me in what I came to think was disapproval. "How can you be getting it so wrong, Mummy?" But as the weeks went on we started to learn a few things about each other that have made our lives together a lot calmer. 

You're incredibly adorable, with your beautiful eyes that look like marbles with their mixture of blue, green and brown. Those adorable little hands and feet that I just want to hold, kiss and nibble every time I catch a glimpse of them.  And the little birthmark on your belly that just happens to look exactly like your Mummy's melts my heart each time I see it. 
You have so many little facial expressions and it seems you learn a new one each day. Your smile is slightly crooked and your tongue pokes out the side and my heart skips a beat each time your face lights up. 

You're so strong already. You can hold your own head up while sitting on our laps or propped up in your bumbo seat. You can grab and squeeze our fingers and pull on our hair or jewelry. And those tiny little drumsticks you call legs can kick with enough force to boot the cat away when you don't want to share cuddle time with Mummy.  
I can't wrap my head around the fact that Daddy has taught you how to grab our fingers and pull yourself up into a standing position already. Granted,you don't have enough balance to do this on your own yet, and your cute little bandy legs wobble as your tooshy  sticks out too far behind you. But it won't take you long to get it. 

You're so clever. You've learned that you can summon us from any part of the house to your side within seconds with your noises. Whether it's the "uh uh uh" sound that tells me it's feeding time, the coughing sound we've dubbed "the fake out", which is essentially a five second warning that you're about to start screaming the house down, or the grunts that signal that it's poopy time. Our days now revolve around these noises in whatever combination you choose to apply them. Food, poop, cry, poop. Poop, cry, cry, food, food, food, poop, poop, poop... You're doing a pretty amazing job letting us know what you need. 

You are VERY particular!!
You prefer side-by-side feeding to upright feeding. Not such a bad thing for mummy either, as it gives me 20 minutes or so to close my eyes or read a book or write this blog.  
You are always awake at 2.30am. Whether it's because you've woken for a feed-poop-cry or we're winding down from an anti-nap marathon, it doesn't matter. When I see that magic time flash up on the clock in our bedroom I know it's nearly time for us all to close our eyes and sleep. 
You will only fall asleep wrapped around someone's belly. We've tried all manner of soothing but the one old faithful settling position remains the same; belly to belly, legs wrapped around as far as they'll go, head wedged in between boobies or nuzzled into an armpit. Nothing works better and hey, if it ain't broke don't fix it, right?!
You prefer showers with Mum or Dad to baths. You do love kicking about in a bubble bath, no doubt about it. But a warm shower can turn screaming Gracie into calm Gracie in about five seconds flat. So you'll cling onto us, looking like a drenched monkey, while we shampoo your hair and wash your bottom. And you'll cry the minute we wrap you in a fluffy towel because you're never quite ready for it all to be over.  
You enjoy a car ride under two circumstances: a) you're asleep OR b) we're speeding down the highway, there is no traffic, no stop signs, no traffic lights, no deceleration. 50km/hr seems to be the magic number. Anything slower than that invokes a very unhappy scream session. 
You dislike doing poos or having the farts with a passion. It would seem that even though both of these habits occur at least eight times a day for you dear girl, you're never quite prepared. The sheer act of cracking a fart offends you so much you have to let the whole neighborhood know about it. I would have thought that practice makes perfect, but apparently not when it comes to matters of the poopy kind. 

And most importantly our little Gracie-girl, you are loved! You are loved in the purest, most intense form of the act. Your Mummy and Daddy love you in a way that makes their lives richer.  In a way that brings a sense of peace to the heart. You are loved unconditionally, without judgement and without expectation.  You can be who you want to be and we'll stand behind you cheering you on every day of your life. 

We have all the time in the world to get to know each other, my sweet girl. And I can not wait, because these first weeks have already been so fulfilling.