We’ve been reading Alice in Wonderland to Arddun lately – the unabridged version. She’s watched the Disney version about ten times and has a very short board book version of it. But it wasn’t until she kept asking me to read the Ladybird Classic version – broken into chapters – that I wondered about her appetite for the whole hog.
I ended up downloading Alice for the iPad. More ebook than app, it features the unabridged version of AiWL with some cute interactive bits now and again – falling cupcakes, Alice elongating like a telescope as she gets bigger before shrinking again, comfits bouncing off a Dodo’s back… A childhood classic imagined by Lewis Carroll, illuminated by John Tenniel and then brought to life through the wonders of technology.
I don’t know that Arddun pays attention to the whole thing. There are lots of talky bits and Alice herself tends to go off in tangents that a 4yo can hardly keep up or be bothered with. But by and large, Arddun understands what’s going on. And she really looks forward to doing the book together come bedtime.
So it was little wonder that when Book Week was around the corner and Arddun was to turn up in school as a book character, we did Alice.
Lots and lots of rules about the dress-up, actually. They could only come as a book character, not a TV one. Please, no princesses or superheroes (read: no last-minute raiding of your child’s dress-up box). They had to bring their book along to school (so I had to run out and buy one because she wasn’t going to traipse into school with my iPad!)
After a quick rummage through existing stash and a dash to Top Bargain for that cheap and cheerful traffic-stopping yellow wig, our Alice was born. But just so there could be no mistaking who her book character was, we needed a storytelling prop.
It dawns on me this early morning that we will soon be leaving this home.
When we bought this house, we had always known that we would move eventually. It was to be the first of hopefully three, and we would live in it until the children arrived. The first rung in the property ladder. The step up into the larger family home, before we eventually downsize in our retirement. If we got to live that long.
During our house hunt, this had been the first house we walked into and the one we couldn’t shake from our hearts and minds. In November, we would have lived in this house for ten years. And in all that time of course, this house had become our home.
And as much as we’ve been gearing up to this season of selling and moving on, I can’t help but feel nostalgic and a little sad about the prospect of leaving this place. It’s a terrific family home, and it’s served us very well. Coming from an old flat in Singapore, this is the first house I’ve lived in that has such open plan living, and where the kitchen truly is the hub of the home. I love that our guests always gather around our massive kitchen island the moment they arrive, and that I get to engage with them even as I’m busying in the kitchen. Having gotten so used to entertaining this way, it was one of the first things I made sure we have in our new home – a large kitchen island, right in the family living area. And space underneath for bar stools so we can continue having breakfasts that way.
Arddun had learned to walk on these floors. My mother stayed here every chance she could. Atticus was almost born here (if I ever get down to writing about his birth, that is definitely a story to tell.) For a few consecutive years, we hosted Chinese New Year for our friends here.
These walls have paid witness to the highs and lows of my family’s last decade. Mostly highs, really.
I’m going to miss walking to the shops. I love that when it was just Arddun and I, it was so easy to walk over to the buses and take a ride to Belconnon or the city. A part of me is rather sore that they’re finally going to build a cinema within walking distance of this place, but we’d probably be in the new house by then. My little fantasy about date nights with Tony and then walking home thereafter, slightly ruined now by the prospect that we’d still have to drive.
I love that I could send Tony to the shops for onions in the midst of cooking, and he could still make it home in time for dinner to be finished on schedule.
I’m so glad we moved to this part of Canberra. I’m so thankful we have this home.
If all goes well in the coming weeks, someone else is going to walk into this house, see what we’ve seen in it, and love it on the spot. Until then, I’m going to treasure our last months together.
Atticus’s latest party trick is to fight bedtime from 7pm to 9pm, and then wake up at 2 or 3 am to fight sleep for another two hours.
And while he gets to catch up with his beauty sleep in the day, I of course do not get that luxury because I have this whole other child to stay functional for.
This is why I look like this lately:
Christian women are told a lot that they should aspire to that wonder woman in Proverbs 31 who, among other things,
is a savvy property magnate,
probably could win the annual Great British Sewing Bee if she was
a) British, and
b) had wool, flax, linen and something called a distaff at her disposal, and
feeds the needy.
She also has a slew of female servants whom she apparently dresses up in fiendishly expensive garments, and she tarts up pretty well herself. She apparently likes purple. Woman after my own heart.
In the past, every other criterion had me going, “Yep, yep, doable, doable…”. All except for the sewing (no talents or inclination there), and that bit where she “gets up while it is still night” to provide for her family. As someone who is more night owl than daybreak do-gooder, that wake-up time used to intimidate me. It used to be the one thing that shamed me about my work ethic – the fact that I’m not a morning person.
Then I had Atticus, and the truth finally dawns on me: Proverbs 31 Wonder Woman isn’t sub-human. She’s just a mother of a baby boy who friggin’ won’t sleep through the night.
I am definitely getting up while it is still night to provide sustenance and comfort to this family member. It’s been 8 months and counting. And while I know you’re not supposed to compare your children, I just want to explain that this has all been a rude shock for me because Arddun had slept from 7 to 7 every day since she was 4 months old.
Never underestimate the soul-sapping realities of chronically broken sleep, people.
Because of the hours we keep, I haven’t been able to blog. Or write. Or pore over my roles in several church-related projects. Ironically, I haven’t been able to do what I’ve been meaning to do for months – get more organised by waking up at 5am every day. Staying ahead of the game by carving out some early morning time when I’m fresh and the batteries are fully charged, so I can write and meditate and think. So I can jump in the shower before the kids awake. So that I’m ready and able when the day officially begins.
But it’s nigh impossible to wake up at 5am every day, when I’m lucky if I get back to sleep at 4:30am after spending 2½ hours settling Atticus. And it’s incredibly frustrating when I wake up to find half the morning over, but my body is still weary and yearning for sleep.
And in case you are wondering, yes we’ve been trying controlled crying, no it doesn’t seem to be working – in fact, it seems to be getting worse. It isn’t for want of steel and effort, folks. I’m not running into the room at every whimper. But this boy has determination, stamina, and a set of lungs that would make a howler monkey think, “Hot dang!” Meanwhile, I feel guilty about possibly frying precious baby neurons in the process, and I feel defensive about the youngest member of our family turning dictator of our nights. Even while I believe that we should give our babies every reassurance of love. Even while I am patently aware that the sleeps of my husband and firstborn are also at stake. Even while I wonder if the concept of “sparing the rod = spoiling the child” should even apply this early. Even while I believe that our children shouldn’t become the all-consuming focal point of our marriage. Even while I suspect that my health is important too.
I know this is a passing season, and perhaps I’m being unrealistic about the number of outcomes I’d like to knock out of the park while mothering two young children. But right now, I just feel like my whole day revolves around this boy when I need to pack So Many Other Things in my day yet I can’t, because I have no reserves left.
They say that I have to treasure these days because he won’t stay my baby forever. That these lonely stretches with him, just the two of us alone in the dark, me cold, exhausted, and – dare I say it – bored out of my mind, are actually precious, fleeting times. I know this. But gee, a part of me would really like my body back.
He’s still a very cute kid, though. And innocent. And I love him to bits.
(Want my body back!)
Love him to bits.
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