Goodbye Faithful Friend

Goodbye Faithful Friend

Yesterday my little dog died.

I patted her goodbye as I went off to town and when I returned in the afternoon I was surprised that she didn’t run out to greet me. She was getting quite deaf but usually the cat nudged her when I came through the gate and they would both run to meet me. The cat didn’t meet me either and as I stepped onto the terrace I saw the cat watching me through the glass door.

I looked to the side and there was my little dog, lying on her favourite blanket, head on paws, fast asleep. I bent down to pat her and realised she was gone.

Tears welled up, as I remembered the many happy years we had shared…..the day we chose her from a litter and my husband put her in his pocket, the time our small granddaughters decked her with necklaces and tied a baby bonnet on her head as she sat patiently and the way she liked to sit at your feet with one paw resting on your shoe.

Sophy and our cat, Sox, were best friends.

They trotted after my husband as he checked water troughs and fences. They sat, one each side of me, as I gardened or picked tomatoes, then followed me back to the house. Often they were to be found, lying side by side, stretched out in the sunshine.

As Sophy became more deaf, Sox would tap her to make her aware they were needed. Sox is now dogging our steps, obviously missing her companion.

Sophy is buried in our pets’ cemetery, alongside Gyp, the most faithful companion to our boys as they navigated childhood.

Gyp was the ball-fetcher when the cricket ball or football went out of bounds, having learnt how to latch onto the football laces. Gyp was the one our four-year-old painted with his older brother’s model paints and when questioned, claimed “Gyp had got wet and went rusty”. Gyp liked to pose when the camera came out and there are few photos of our boys without him.

How grateful we all are for the wonderful love and companionship these little dogs have unstintingly given us, the empathy our boys learnt from being with them, for other animals, and the sheer joy they brought to our lives.

Sophy was over seventeen years old, fit and active, apart from some deafness, to the day she died. Wouldn’t we all like to live a full and busy life and then gently fall asleep in our old age ?

Farewell our good and faithful friend.

Me Time

Me Time

I was thinking about “me time”. Yes, I can hear mothers of babies and young children muttering “there is no time for ‘me time’”. And mothers of school age children who either work and/or spend precious time ferrying children to sport or ballet or music or just play dates muttering the same. STOP!

Mothers with babies and young children, I know you often use that time to catch up with some household task but try to spend even half an hour of their nap time doing something just for you whether it’s reading, going out into the garden, exercising or whatever. If your child doesn’t nap then early on get them used to going into their bedroom with books or toys with the door closed for an hour for “their special time”.

My husband used to give me Tuesday evening off, I’d go to art class and he was responsible for the children. That time apart from family responsibilities and having adult conversation was a lifesaver. Perhaps for you it could be some other hobby, maybe book club or just catching up with girlfriends where every sentence isn’t interrupted by crying or “Jimmy don’t do that” or “yes darling that is clever”.

Mothers of school age children, obviously if you’re also working you are desperately time poor but at least you do get to have time away and the opportunity to have adult speech. Stay at home mothers usually spend a lot of time helping at school and doing unpaid volunteer work plus the constant ferrying around. Make friends with the other mothers so that if there ever is an emergency or you’re running late you feel able to ask for help.

Keeping sane and having time with your partner/husband is the best argument for establishing set bedtimes for the children. During the week because my husband didn’t arrive home until 6:30 I used to feed the children early, cleaning up and putting our meals aside. Then after time catching up with the boys doings, he’d put them to bed with a story, we’d both kiss them goodnight and then zap our dinner and have it in peace and quiet. On weekends we all ate together, cleaned up together, did family things, went out together as a family.

Every month our parents gave us a Friday or Saturday night off and we’d go out to dinner and perhaps see a movie, go to a concert or dance or catch up with friends. It was good for the children to spend time alone with their grandparents as well. Remember your children will grow up and leave home and you don’t want to find yourself living with a partner you no longer know. Those years after your children leave can be some of the best and freest of your life together.

DO IT NOw!

And seeing I’m on the Advice Wagon, I know it takes extra time but when your young child offers to help with household chores like getting dinner or cleaning etc accept that help. Don’t wait until they are teenagers and then suddenly start asking for or yelling at them to help. Make it an expected thing from an early age.

Most of all take time to enjoy each stage of your life. It passes so quickly. As someone once said “It’s not the destination but the journey that is important”.

Time’s Up

Time’s Up

Wills are strange things.

They can be an affirmation of love or an opportunity to say things that would never have been said in life. They can make dreams come true or be an instrument of revenge. They can bring families together or tear them apart.

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When you have young children, making a will also includes making provision for the care of your family if you and your partner are both gone. This can be an agonising decision. Who will love them or raise them the way you intend ? Are the grandparents too old, too sick or unwilling to take on raising another family?

Is your sibling’s spouse on one side charming but way too casual with their own children? Is your sister-in-law a martinet whose children are frightened to say boo and live in something close to a prison camp? Are other siblings unmarried and always travelling or partying and will other siblings on the other side take offence that they weren’t chosen?

Are you both orphans with no close relatives? Would any of your friends be agreeable or capable? You pray it will never happen but you must make some provision or they will end up in state care. You may be fortunate that you have someone who is both willing and loving but many couples don’t have that luxury and agonise over the best of a very ordinary bunch. In our case it meant them being put into the care of an interstate uncle who barely knew their names and changed partners more often than his socks, or an aunt who drank heavily and screamed like a fishwife at her own children.

Will your children not only lose their parents but their home and friends and be forced to make great adjustments while coping with overwhelming grief? These are sobering thoughts for any parent.

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We wrote letters to our children to be given to them, in case the worst happened, before the reading of the will, (updating them every two years) so they would have written proof of how much we loved them and how proud we were to be their parents. We included a couple of photos very special to us all and then we prayed hard that they would never need to read them.

We breathed a sigh of relief when our eldest child reached an age where he could have the guardianship of his younger sister and brother.

How Do You Manage Grief?

How Do You Manage Grief?

I had a call this morning from an old neighbour of my parents. Elaine and her husband Fred lived next door to my family from the time I was a teenager and we were constantly in and out of each other’s homes. They were there for our marriage and when visiting my old home we always went across to see them. They gave our sons their first cricket bats and the whole family were very fond of them.

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Sadly Ted died suddenly nine years ago but Elaine remained in their home because that was where she felt closest to Fred. My parents have since gone and so visits have become the occasional phone call and Christmas card but today Elaine felt compelled to call me.

She said yesterday was her 90th birthday and she was suddenly overwhelmed by grief for the loss of her husband of 55 years. She wanted to talk to someone who had known and loved him.

Friends have told her she should be over it by now but she said how can you forget the loss of someone who was such part of your life.

It reminded me of a book I was given when I was grieving which listed the emotions one should expect to experience and how by certain amounts of time having passed you should “have moved on”. It was written by a well known psychologist but I felt the author had never actually experienced grief and ended up by pitching it into the rubbish bin.

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Everyone is different and experiences grief and shows grief in a multitude of different ways; it is impossible to generalise. Some people get relief by shouting and screaming and throwing things while others may appear to getting on with their lives while internally bleeding. Both are valid.

Some need to talk it out while others just need the quiet and space to fully realise their loss. Some can no longer stay in the home they shared amid the constant reminders of what was, while others relish the familiarity and the sense of their loved one being nearby. Some have done their grieving over a long period of illness and need to move on to a new phase of life and are perhaps more open to finding love again. Others cannot imagine life with another partner and prefer their memories. They feel being alone is preferable to settling for what they perceive as second best.

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No one should ever live their lives according to “what the neighbours think” or friends or even family. Do what that small voice deep inside you tells you is right for your circumstances and you.

Hot & Bothered

Hot & Bothered

Belinda Edit | Thank you to all our contributors for MyWifeLife. This entry by Mrs. Jane is her first for 2018 and it’s greatly appreciated.

Read more about our contributors here. Enjoy Mrs. Jane’s sage observations as a Mother and Grandmother.

P.S This blog is based in Melbourne, Australia and we are in the middle of our hot summer to give you some context 🙂


How have you been faring through the days of high heat?

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Averaging over 30 degrees Celsius in Melbourne

If you have a small baby my sympathies are with you as you try to keep the little one cool. Having had a January baby myself I remember his sweaty little body as I fed him through the heat and how flushed he was. Toddlers too often tire easily and become cranky and restless.

We seem to be the only country where our children return to school during our hottest month with often extreme temperatures. New Zealand and South Africa have milder temperatures than we usually experience, while in the northern hemisphere children have the hottest months on holiday returning to school at the beginning of Autumn.

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Grumpy babies everywhere!

I spent a few years living in Sydney as a child before air conditioning was available and remember well those humid, uncomfortable nights of broken sleep.

Everyone from children to adults was irritable and tired, dragging themselves through the day. One of the blessings of moving to Melbourne was to feel the Southerly Buster hit and the sudden drop in temperature whereas in Sydney an electric storm was more likely with even more humidity.

Pity the poor bridal parties coping with the heat, particularly if they hoped to have photos taken outside or on the beach. Pouring rain is another hazard or gale force winds.

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We were married in January with a temperature of 43 degrees, howling northerly wind and an electrical storm hitting as we were about to take photos.

Needless to say all our photos were taken indoors. In contrast my brother had married the year before in the middle of winter in icy conditions with the bridesmaids (including myself) turning blue to match our gowns.

Do you ever think of your wedding and think how different it would be if you did it now?

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Ours would be much simpler with more of our friends and fewer of our parents’ friends and definitely not Great Aunt Ruby who has a very limited acquaintance with soap and water.

Weddings for some have become ultra expensive and out of control.

We’ve been invited during the past couple of years to overseas weddings, Bali, Las Vegas and Paris and couldn’t afford to go, in common with many invitees.

We all felt guilty and so gave more than we intended, but one of the family felt it was a deliberate plan to cut down the numbers and so gave less.

Who was right?

Observations On Convenience

Observations On Convenience

I was driving along in my comfortable medium sized car, Lucy, and yes I am one of those people who name their cars, when I began to think of cars I have known.

I grew up in the era of manual gears, no power steering and bench seats front and back.

To indicate that you were turning right you put your arm out the window, holding it straight. To indicate that you were stopping you put your hand out the window with your elbow bent at a right angle to your shoulder.

There was no heating and certainly no air conditioning. Many a long trip in the summer heat meant open windows and wet towels wrapped around shoulders and necks. Windows were wound down with a handle; there were no childproof locks and seatbelts were unheard of.

If your battery was flat, hopefully you were on a slight slope or had other people to push. You took off the brake, put the car into 2nd gear using the clutch and when the car picked up speed, eased off the clutch, pressed the accelerator and hoped the car would start. I started my first car many mornings using this method. Fortunately we lived on a small hill.

My parents had a real talent when it came to cars; they invariably bought a lemon. If the steering wasn’t faulty, the electrics were or the exhaust pipe fell off. We lived in the Southern Highlands of NSW about 2 hours south of Sydney and it became common practice if we were travelling more than 20 miles (about 24 kms) to pack essential supplies.

These consisted of a frying pan, eggs, tomatoes, bacon, bread and butter, matches to light a fire by the roadside (no total fire bans in those days), a billy for tea, mugs, plates and cutlery. We always carried blankets (no doonas back then) and pillows as many a night we slept in the car. A large container of water was always in the car for when the radiator boiled and for the afore mentioned tea.

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There were of course no mobile phones. In fact our landline was a party line and went through a telephonist at the post office. A party line meant that everyone’s phone was on the same line and the number of rings indicated the person being called. Of course for many of the others on the party line it was irresistible to lift the receiver to listen in to other people’s calls. I can remember phoning my mother on one occasion and two other people telling me she wasn’t answering because she was visiting Mrs Brown who’d broken her leg.

When you wanted petrol you drove into the petrol station and a person came out, asked how much petrol you wanted, filled the tank and cleaned the windows. You handed over the cash (no credit cards then) and the person returned with your change. You could only buy petrol or oil, certainly no food or drink.

There were no McDonalds, Kentucky Fried or roadside cafes. Every country town had a Parthenon Cafe where you could buy milkshakes, tea, coffee and light meals. Hamburgers were a later edition or you could go to the hotel. No women other than guests were allowed into a hotel except for the dining room where basic meals were served, usually a roast dinner. A Chinese cafe of that era served Steak and Eggs, Chow Mein, Curried Prawns with rice and banana fritters.

When I married we bought a car which got us from point A to point B with no problems. I couldn’t help thinking some of the adventure had gone out of driving.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Someone said to me the other day that we were lucky having only boys….no worries about them getting pregnant and that males get away with everything.

I was quite shocked. We always were very open about answering our boys’ questions about sex and the need for protection for both parties. From the earliest age we spoke about treating everyone, male, female, different races, beliefs and inclinations, with respect.

It’s not what you say as much as what you do that resonates with children. They see very clearly if your actions do not mirror your words and they quickly pick up on family tensions and resentments.  It’s no good preaching tolerance if you don’t practice it as adults.  That doesn’t mean you can’t have a disagreement. We are all human and you can still agree to differ and respect another point of view even if it is not yours.

We asked our sons to put themselves in another’s shoes. How would they feel if they were a young girl finding out she was pregnant, terrified of telling her parents and having to make decisions regarding the baby growing inside her body, a baby that was half theirs.

 

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We cuddled and kissed and showed them at every opportunity the joy and laughter that life can bring. We taught them that every freedom carries its own responsibilities, that sex should never be selfish or careless. We warned them that as young males their sex drive would be very strong and controlling it could be difficult, that a sexual partner is not an object to be used but a real person with their own hopes and feelings.

We didn’t just say this once and hoped they would remember, we reinforced this attitude throughout their growing years. And we tried to demonstrate this in our own lives and behaviour, always aware that our children were watching how we dealt with them and others. Now they are adults with their own families it’s good to see them doing the same.

 

Kids Bringing Up Kids…

Kids Bringing Up Kids…


Belinda note: Today’s post is from Mrs. Jane and please remember that she is our energetic 73yo grandmother. I value her perspective greatly as she’s not only raised her children but now observing her children raise their own children (her grandchildren).

This is really interesting to me because I love learning from her vast experiences and I hope you get some value and enjoyment from it too 🙂

Enjoy! 


 

People have asked my thoughts on how our children are bringing up their children.

 

 What a minefield!

 

I can remember the worry we experienced when our children were young as to whom we would give the responsibility of caring and raising our children if we were no longer alive. Should it be our parents? Not practical as one couple lived interstate and were constantly travelling as well as being reluctant to accept the responsibility. The other couple were elderly and had medical problems.

 

What about our siblings? One brother was divorced and working overseas and our children barely knew him. The other brother was married to a screaming alcoholic who terrified our boys.

 

On the other side was a sister who ran her family like a drill sergeant and another sister who took offence at the slightest thing and one day would, the next day wouldn’t and made it very clear it would be a huge imposition. Where were the normal family members when you needed them?

 

We had to accept that no one will ever bring your children up exactly as you do. We fortunately had close friends, adored by our children, who were willing but it caused all sorts of angst within our families when it became known that “we preferred strangers to our own flesh and blood”. Fortunately the need never arose.

 

As to our thoughts on our children’s child raising abilities….my husband frequently remarked as we drove away that his tongue was sore from biting it. Our daughters-in-law are loving and caring but far less concerned with bedtimes (10pm Really?), involvement in chores and expectations of tidiness (no, the floor is not where you hang your clothes).

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We quickly adopted the practice of only offering advice when asked and then never referring to it again if it wasn’t taken. We both clearly remembered how annoyed we were when our mothers regularly criticised our actions and attitudes.

 

The end result….our grandchildren have grown into delightful, interesting persons and we love spending time with them. We have a close relationship with our children who were fully aware and appreciative of the tongue-biting and the restraint we exercised when we were longing to tell them how to do it better.

 

As my granny used to sat “There’s more than one way to skin a cat ” and obviously there’s more than one way of bringing up children.

 

And if you don’t recognise that saying it dates back to the 1600s. However the Animal Rights Action Site informs me it is more politically correct these days to say “There’s more than one way to cook an egg”. It just doesn’t have the same ring somehow.

Wisdom Comes With Experience – Meet Mrs. Jane

Wisdom Comes With Experience – Meet Mrs. Jane

Hi everyone,

As an “older” mum I have the wonderful opportunity of seeing how our children have grown and developed and also to see their parenting skills in action.

Was our parenting successful?

Did we scar them for life by some action or non-action of ours?

Did resentment at some rules we set last into adulthood?

These are worries that often beset young parents as they navigate the shoals of bringing up their child/children.

We had great difficulty having children due to advanced endometriosis and were told after 3 bouts of surgery that our specialist felt that I was 99.9% certain to never conceive.

But he went on to say that “ I never say 100% because God works in mysterious ways” and he was right. Three months later I was pregnant but because of the drugs I had been given to control the endometriosis they weren’t sure how the baby would be affected.

When he was born he had breathing difficulties and spent the first week in intensive care but quickly recovered and we took him home in fear and trembling. When he developed Colic my husband wanted to rush him to hospital immediately but fortunately a nursing friend persuaded him against it and more valuably gave us useful tips on how to deal with the Colic.

We gradually relaxed but were advised if we wanted more children to try again immediately and our second son was born a year later. It took us another five years to produce another son and that was it.

We found that the best cure for nervous parents is to have another child quickly. You are more confident and just don’t have time to worry about every little thing. It’s better for your first child not to remain the centre of attention and to realise early that the world does not revolve about them.

We soon found that our original, beautifully polished theories of child rearing went out the window and we had to rethink how to deal with these small people in our care.

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These were our conclusions:

  1. Always present an united front. Children can scent any wavering and take advantage.
  2. Lots of hugs and kisses and that includes the children. Obvious affection between the parents gives the children security.
  3. Laugh a lot with the family. Never be afraid to act in a ridiculous way, the kids love it.
  4. Listen to them. Something minor to you can be quite devastating to them.
  5. Don’t be afraid to set reasonable rules. Children like to know the boundaries.
  6. If you threaten consequences, follow through. Just make sure that the consequences are within reason.
  7. Children won’t remember if the house was always perfectly tidy but they will remember if the house was a place of warmth and welcome.
  8. And most important, tell them you love them at least once a day. As teenagers they’ll go “Ahhh” but secretly they value it.