Tuesday 5th July 2016

Well, today didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but it was still good. Which isn’t always something you can say! Troy, the boys and I got up and left for Ballarat at a little after 8, hoping to stop to pick up lunch, and then just drive and collect Emma and then all go to Sovereign Hill.

The first part of the plan worked okay, but the closer we drove to Ballarat the darker and gloomier the clouds grew, and the heavier the rain got. We decided that we’d have lunch at Benita’s place with her and the kids and hopefully give the rain a little time to clear, but it just didn’t happen. There was a brief break in the rain when we first got to Benita’s, but then it moved back in and that was it. We debated a bit – because honestly we were all really looking forward to going to Sovereign Hill! – but in the end we decided it just wouldn’t be that much fun if it did nothing but rain. I mean, cold and wet and muddy we were prepared for, even intermittent showers you can cope with there because you can just duck inside a house or business for a little bit, but constant rain would have just meant we spent a couple of hours trudging around getting wet, and then have to drive home in wet clothes for two and a half hours. It did suck having to disappoint the kids, but I really think it’ll be more fun if we wait for a day when it’s not actually raining.

We talked about going to the movies instead, but no one was all that enthusiastic. Not enthusiastic enough to justify spending $66 anyway, since that’s what it would cost for us to go to the movies! So in the end we hung out with Benita and her little ones and left mid-afternoon, borrowing Zootopia from the oovie machine and having a movie night at home. It worked out well actually, the kids were all tired after driving all day (and after being on holiday for Emma) so when the movie was finished we sent them all to bed at 7.30 and no one made a sound to object.

So cute and fun to play with Benita’s kids though! I think Sullivan was a bit overwhelmed when we first got there because he disappeared, and then when I went to the toilet he was just in his room. So I asked him if I could come in and he said yes, and then he showed me his bed and his dinosaur called Boris (which made me laugh, since that’s what my family used to call me and I hated it!) and told me about Winnie sleeping in the other bed, and showed me his kinder paintings and stuff. He’s so big and talkative now, it was gorgeous! Winnie was a bit shy, but obviously once she gets used to you she’s your little buddy – she gave Emma so many hugs, it was so sweet. And Dempsey was just crawling around in his little old man sweater and grinning at everyone, he was so cheerful and laid back about everything.

It’s funny to see them too, because once upon a time that was me with my little ones, and now it’s not! I mean, Benita hardly even sat down to talk because she was cooking lunch, but even after that she was giving out food and wiping stuff and sweeping and picking up toys and feeding Dempsey and answering questions and sorting out the potty and changing nappies and giving cuddles…there’s just always something when they’re that little, and it’s funny to watch someone else do it and realise all over again that it’s different when they get bigger!

Watching Benita be so busy is interesting, because in so many ways I’m glad I’m not there anymore. I mean, I think in a lot of ways I didn’t cope that well with so many little kids at home (well, not with the little kids I had, anyway!) but at the same time I really did love it. I love baby snuggles, and I loved watching my kids grow and learn and just being able to be with them. They filled up my whole world honestly, and I loved doing it. But I used to worry sometimes, that because I loved them being little so much that I couldn’t possibly love it as much when they got bigger – but now we’re there, they’re bigger, and I still love it. It’s different now, and the things I love are different, but I don’t wish that we could go back or wish that we could skip forward either. I’m happy to be able to experience all these different stages of being the mama.

It was also interesting to talk to Benita today about growing up in our family, and realise that even though we both grew up in the same family, our perceptions and experiences of it are really different. A lot of that is just personality, but there are also real differences. I was five when Ben was born (same difference as between Ems and Soren actually) and that five years makes a surprising difference. I’m the second oldest, she’s the second youngest and there are two in between us. She grew up with older siblings leaving home – at one point she lived at home with only Mum, Dad and Rhiannon, whereas Lee was the only one who left before me. (Well actually, if we’re being technical Ellen did too. Because I skipped a year of school and then spent a year at home, Ellen and I left home at the same time. She finished year 12 and moved into Hamilton to work at IGA, and then I left for uni in February) Benita doesn’t remember living in Bundoora, but I have very clear memories of living there and then moving and how that changed things. Because I was one of the older ones and she was one of the younger ones we had different experiences in terms of responsibilities and things we were allowed to do. I was getting married when Benita was finishing high school, and I used to go and visit her at uni with baby Nicholai. Just so many things that I’d never really thought about until I sat down and talked to her today! And of course it makes me think of my own kids, and wonder how differently they will view our family, and me and Troy as their mum and dad.

None of this is bad or anything (seriously Mum, don’t get paranoid!), it’s just so interesting to think of something like family, which always felt so solid and ‘real’ for want of a better word, and then realise that my perceptions might be completely different to that of someone else, and no one’s perceptions are any more right or wrong than anyone else’s.

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