Archive for the ‘bill’ Category

Cormac convincing Bill to take him bike riding.

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I bought Bill a return plane ticket to Tasmania so he can spend a week hiking across Cradle Mountain with my brother – they set off in the next couple of weeks. Bill turns 40 at the end of the year and he has spent most of his thirties having two kids. It has been a while since he has had true solitude, it has been a while since he took a holiday without small children and it has been a while since he has been able to tackle something really physically challenging. I thought this trip would be the perfect gift for him.

When you have kids with someone you discover new parts of yourselves together, but man, you close a lot of parts down, too. Whenever you have a child under five years of age I think your relationship is pretty much situated in a high altitude death zone. If you go and have a second child (or more) then you extend this time in the death zone to even longer than five years. What’s your capacity for endurance like? Shutting down part of yourself can become habit. Living on thin air. It’s a problem, because your partner as someone unrestrained and unavailable and with serious passions of their own is likely the stuff you fell in love with. They were not this ragged person with altitude sickness that you now see before you. And you have the sickness, too, and you are not so clear-headed, yourself. The view might be once in a lifetime and you can acclimatize to high altitudes, to a degree, and you can try and train for them, or buy yourself a bit of supplementary oxygen but there really isn’t much relief until you start the descent. With our youngest at three years of age I can feel that Bill and I are climbing back down. Oxygen.

This week I went out to Bill’s parents to borrow a food dehydrator so Bill can start preparing meals for the trek with my brother. When I told Bill’s parents about the gift and how excited Bill was about it I think I saw a little bit of hate in their eyes. I guess the hike is in the snow and in the middle of winter and they think I could have sent him to do something less dangerous.

When I told my sister about the plans for Bill and our brother to go on a climb together she sent me this.

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This evening while talking to Lauca about the ups and downs of school friendships –

Me: And that girl and I were best friends in primary school.. but then her parents made her stop playing with me for a while.

Lauca: Why?!

Me: They thought I was a bit too cheeky.

Lauca: And were you?

Bill: I see the parents’ point of view.

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This is a fabulous response from Brenda Chapman (@brenda_chapman), one of the main writers behind Brave, whom I discovered when she started following me on Twitter (small world), where she answers the question of whether princesses are bad for girls:

In the past couple of decades, in an obvious effort to toughen up those princesses in filmic versions, there have been varieties to that plot. We’ve seen that in Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, as well as DreamWorks’ Fiona in Shrek, to name just a few. But in the end, their adventures (and the plot still) mostly revolves around the age-old beloved prince or love interest, who invariably saves them from some foul fate in the end.

But if you look at real princesses, they were basically working girls. Pampered in their times maybe, but nonetheless, they had a job to do for their kingdoms, whether it be as a diplomat or as a bargaining “tool” to bring kingdoms together in alliance. I think there was little waiting around for true love and eternal happiness in their lives. And back in the days in which the fairy tales of old were written, marriage was one of the most important jobs of a princess.  It was part of their job, not simply a romantic notion.

When I came up with the idea for Princess Merida in Brave, that was how I looked at the story. The Queen was a working mom trying to prepare her daughter for her “job” in the kingdom. I wanted to break the stereotype of the princess, as well as the princess plot. There were princesses that were trained for battle in some kingdoms. They knew how to wield a sword, knife and bow and arrow because they had to. They also had to know how to deal with the politics of a kingdom and hold their own as a royal. No romantic princes or love interests in Brave—I at least made sure of that.

My daughter, Lauca (aged 7) went and saw the film tonight with Bill, her dad. I asked her if she thought it was feminist and she said, yes, VERY. Then she gave me a long, favourable review and a discussion of the major plot developments, which involved lots of bears. Bill said, feminists are bears, or that is what I took home from this film, anyway. I punched him in the arm.

Cross-posted at Hoyden About Town.

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Housewarming gift

Look at what Bill just dug up out of the garden. A ‘one pint’ milk bottle. Be kind to my hipster heart, I really love milk bottles.

I also love this old house.

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Last night we went to dinner at a friend’s to watch the supermoon. It was incredibly beautiful. We cooked and ate outside and Bill and he rigged up a sound system so we could listen to the right music for the moon rising. We had binoculars and jumpers and wine.. and some people had etc’s, but not us, we have children instead. Our host made ice-cream cones for our kids, the way bachelors do, with a layer of sweets inside the cone, because there is no such thing as too much.

After dinner we all lay in blankets on the grass and watched the moon some more. The children fell asleep out there, one on either side of me, and then we talked about all the things you cannot talk about when the children are awake, until it was too cold to be out any longer.

I find a good fire-maker very attractive. Bill is the best fire-maker I know. The very first time he kissed me he smelt of the fire he had just built for us.

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Cormac just turned three. I got his hair cut, not his first but definitely his most boyish haircut. I thought it might make it easier for me to see him start Montessori kindergarten if he didn’t look so very little.

That’s tomorrow and I’m not feeling that it will make much difference now.

So, I promise I don’t normally dress him quite so hipster. Cormac really looks like he is on his way to reunite The Libertines.

Also, for the curious here’s a photo from the birthday party that his dad ran.


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How does your garden grow?

Look, our kitchen garden is growing.

The punk uncle’s motorbike parked in our garden, not far from where our own motorbike is parked in the garden. Both men – Bill and the punk uncle – assure me that bikes look like fancy sculptures.

I will call this photograph “The passionfruit vine is growing on to your bike, isn’t it time you fixed the bike already?”

My first lavender flower.

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It is long overdue, I have added a category to my blog called ‘arguments with your partner’. Including this post I have 20 posts under that category. I’ve been talking about relationship conflict for a while it seems.

But let me reassure you, gentle reader that Bill and I do more than fight together, because I looked it up and I have more than 120 other posts about Bill on here. In a lot of those posts you will see photographs of Bill – he is rather good-looking – and in some posts there are funny things he has said or gushy things I have said about him. Really, the book of us, it is long and possibly quite boring. The arguments are probably the best bit.

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Bill and I were in foul moods this morning but what a relief it was to find that we were both angry about the same things and it wasn’t each other. This time it was the state of the house and the behaviour of our children. Because recently it has been about one another, in a scary, suffocating kind of way. I’m not good with that kind of anger in a relationship, I’m not the sort to naturally back away from anger, I’m not the sort to try and cover it up, nor the sort to ride it out and trust that this is the ebb and flow of relationships; I think about moving on at times like that. Maybe it is because I am the daughter of a single parent, I don’t have the fear some women have of going it alone with children. I have a kind of gallows humour about the difficulties that path would involve, but not a complete aversion to it. The arguing brought up very old arguments for us, arguments impossible to resolve, and with this some very bad old habits that we both thought we’d outgrown. I’m only writing about it now that the moment has passed because honestly, I have no perspective when I am in those moments, I couldn’t write about it sensibly, couldn’t write about it with any kind of optimism, couldn’t write about it with the sense that only two weeks ago I was thinking I would compose a message of hope to new parents based on my own experiences about how much better it all gets.

While I was this angry I talked to my friends about how angry I was with Bill and how angry he was with me. If I can be so bold, this is my piece of relationship advice for you, have friends you can talk to about that anger and who aren’t afraid of it and then hold nothing back. Even better if they will share their own honest moments of anger and disappointment with you. Nobody wants to be the only person whose relationship ever falters.

I received lots of wisdom. Some of it reassuringly matter of fact: “you will either grow together or grow apart but you can’t stop growing”. Also, “women heading into their forties are restless with energy and self-awareness but they’re often partnered to men in their forties, and men at that age are becoming increasingly inflexible and self-assured, after all, they are quite literally the patriarchs by then, they are busy becoming their fathers and probably inadvertently expecting their mothers as their wives now”.

Some of the advice was refreshingly realistic: “friends say to me they don’t know if this new relationship of theirs is the one or not and wonder when they will feel that and I tell them I’m married to this man, have three children with him, bought two houses together and love him dearly but I still make a decision every single day about whether to be with him or not”.

Some of the advice was just the relief of knowing that others go through the same thing; those friends who share their quietest, most secret moments of doubt with you.

And some of the advice was terribly clear-headed: “have you thought about the fact that you and he are under incredible stress at work right now? No wonder you’re hating each other, you’re both flipping out”.

They were right, actually. For a time there both our jobs were simultaneously being ramped up with demands while facing possibilities of job insecurity. Most often I am aware of the impacts of home life on working life, but really, you can’t underestimate the impact of the reverse. Thankfully we seem to have passed through all that safely and like magic our anger is dissipating.  However, it feels like the house slid over the edge in that time and it is chaotic with mess right now and our children are increasingly frantic for our attention. So we’re annoyed, he and I, but in a shared kind of way.

And that’s the thing about being  this feminist and a man in a relationship – we are in love but we are also strongly independent and so it feels at times with us, as parents, that the obligations of domesticity are trapping us together. When really, we are choosing this relationship, there isn’t a sense of fate here, there is instead a sense of mad passion and endurance and vulnerability with us, of pushing and pulling and struggling through it all for an outcome we both want that involves ‘happy’ every bit as much as it involves ‘together’.

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