|the holiday house|
|the New Years Eve spread|
|Ruby, Ginger, Nina|
|things that caught someone else's eye|
|oh, how arty Julie|
|Grace and Sassy|
|Hannah, Lily, Georgia|
|walking back from the beach|
We've been away, down at the beach along with half of Melbourne, and without internet access for nearly two weeks. We hired a holiday house through some people who knew some people. Not a 'commercial' rental and so much the better for it. It reminded me of the many rented holiday houses we stayed in as kids, full of someone else's books and games and treasures brought back from the beach. This one had a stash of New Yorkers from 2006; funny to read an article pondering whether Facebook would achieve comparable success to MySpace. It also had groovy orange and black vinyl stools, lovely crockery and the same saucepans I have at home.
The holiday was mostly about catching up with old friends - both ours and the kids, who manage to maintain a close bond despite not seeing each other from summer to summer. Our eldest three girls did nippers this year. Overall they would probably say that it was okay. They didn't love it, which was not surprising, not being the sporty competitive types who'd adore it, and they didn't hate it. It was tough having to get them up, breakfasted and in their bathers, rashies, high vis singlets, weird surf-life-saving hats and out the door by 9.00am and they definitely resented that aspect of it. But it was also kind of nice to have them spend two hours running around on the beach and in the waves every morning. Ruby was giving me tips and telling me how to spot a rip by the end of it There was some part of me that was pleased to have them engage in this ritual of many aussie childhoods. As a kid it always seemed that those kids who did nippers really owned the beach in a way that was completely removed from our experience, which was generally to pick remote locations and go in winter. I doubt our kids feel that they own the beach, but it was mostly good and I think we'd do it again.
We are so lucky to get this time at the beach, even when it is busy and getting busier. We rang in the new year with good friends, paella and Eton mess. Lily fell asleep on the couch and I realised that there is perhaps only one more year where she'll do that, before she starts running with the rest of the pack, telling scary stories and toasting marshmallows. For the first time I have a three year old without also having a one year old, and it is a strange, but lovely experience. I do finally understand what everyone means when they say they want their children to stop growing up so fast, but I also saw a woman cradling a newborn at the beach and was glad not to be that woman anymore.
So, 2013. I feel older, all of a sudden, in good and bad ways. This year Grace starts school and Lily will go to three year old kinder for three hours twice a week and during those hours, which coincide with my days off, I'll be alone without children. I am excited by these little spaces that are opening up in my life, these childfree spaces, and am determined not to squander them on chores or checking email. Not having any more babies brings home the reality that that part of my life is over and the next stage is beginning. An older stage. This year I'll have been parenting for a decade, I'll have been with Craig for half as long again, and practising my profession even longer. Suddenly the world of naps and playgrounds and sippy cups is receding and being replaced with a world of board games and external friends and extracurricular activities. I'm ready for it, well and truly ready to leave discussions about toilet training and routines and eating habits but it's not without some little sadness that I depart.