Sunday, 26 February 2012

Friend, chum, cohort, ally, buddy, mate....

During my childhood, I never thought I would be a person who would have a multitude of friends.  I was shy in school (which made me an easy target for bullies), and I spent my weekends horse riding and not being social.  So it's funny to now look at my life, and to see how blessed I truly am.  I have made friends from all walks of life, and they came into my life in each walking a different path.  I have a few friends from school, my fellow crazy cat ladies, old uni and work friends, friends from my daughters' school, old neighbours.... the list goes on.  Each and every one of them has touched my life and if you're reading this, then thank you for being you and I love you!

However the purpose of me writing this, is to focus on one special group of friends.  My fellow defence wives.

Yesterday the PP, Mr J and I ventured out to the Defence Family Day.  It's a huge event that is free to all defence personnel, and we enjoyed ourselves with endless hot dogs, fairy floss, popcorn, slushies, rides, and sunshine!  However it was while I was sitting in the shade, listening to some friends talking and just soaking my surroundings in, that I felt the need to write all this down.  I was looking at how many people were enjoying their day too, as they stopped to talk to someone they knew while their kids ran around screaming.  I noticed how many tents were set up, filled to the brim with information and freebies from different organisations, and it was all support for defence and their families.  I realised that we are a part of a very special community, and it is because of this community that I now share my life with people who are more special than they realise.

Mr J was in the US Navy when we met, but my first real taste of defence life and how different it is, is when we moved to Cerberus.  I had moved away from my family and friends, and was living in a strange place with three kids, one a newborn.  It was indescribably hard, and I have never felt so alone.  On our little patch of housing was a community cottage, and I summoned up the courage to venture down there.  I had heard talk of defence wives being nasty, riding on the coat tails of their husbands' rank, and basically being a pack of witches that feast on the souls of those lower down on the food chain.

My experiences thus far couldn't be further from the truth! Sure, you get some nasty or weird pieces of work but they exist throughout all of society.  For the most part I have only met gorgeous, kind and amazing ladies.  That first day at Cerberus, two beautiful individuals made me feel welcome and are still my friends today.  Through the playgroup I met two of my best friends, and I'm thrilled to be sharing a posting with them both again.  Cerberus yielded some wonderful friendships, and I love that I have friends Australia-wide.

It's fantastic to be a part of a community who looks out for one another.  We can vent, cry, celebrate and laugh over things that no one else understands.  We deal with people asking how on earth we can do it, living this kind of life.  We vent over the bad press the defence receives, while the good is forgotten.  We understand the pride that we feel when we see our men in uniform, whether they be marching in an ANZAC parade, or walking through the door after work.  We love the adventure, seeing Australia and making those precious friendships, and welcoming new babies as a part of the defence family.  Yes it can be hard, and oh so frustrating.  But us girls have each other's backs, our kids have many pseudo-aunts and siblings, and our partners can share a beer as well as the camaraderie that develops almost instantaneously.

There's a sense of belonging, we would do anything for each other and we're never alone.  As I spent the day with some of my friends yesterday, ran into people I know, and watched my girls run around with their buddies I decided we truly are lucky to belong to this world and if it wasn't for the navy I wouldn't share my life with such amazing people all around Australia.

Plus, we all love a man in uniform. ;)

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

I heard your heart say love, love, love....

Yesterday was the day.  The day where singles staunchly declare that they're happy being unattached, and where couples try to outdo each other in the gift and romance stakes.  My facebook was flooded with pictures of roses and status updates of love or loathing, of date nights or partners in trouble!  You know what I think was the best part?

Clicking on the Google logo.  How cute was that little animation?!!!

Mr J and I rarely celebrate Valentines Day.  Our anniversary is in April, and we would rather celebrate that than a commercial day.  This Valentines Day was spent with Mr J at work, and myself cleaning up after the youngest princess who is going for a world record in destroying sheets and doona covers as she attempts to defeat whatever virus is holding her little body hostage.  Yeah, nothing much romantic about that!

So it has got me wondering what is so popular about this one day that either breeds brownie points, or resentment?  Is modern-day romance so far gone that we need a day dedicated to reminding us that we love someone? Has the knight in shining armour who would fight for his fair lady been replaced by the Sensitive New Age Guy (S.N.A.G.) who has forgotten the simple gesture of opening the door for his partner?  Do both men and women rely on this one day every twelve months to make up for the other 364 days a year where they take their relationship for granted?  What about those who are single?  Yes, there are plenty of people who are happy flying solo, but what about those who are newly single, newly widowed, or lonely?  Where's THEIR day?

How about everyone just tries to show their partners how much they mean apart from on the 14th of February?  Spare a thought for those who are alone, and let's not turn it into a competition about sizes of bouquets or expensive dinners.  Trust me, the only ones who are impressed are the companies who are amazed at how much their profits soar in February!

It's the little gestures that mean the most.  Seriously.  Get out there and try some Random Acts of Romance, your partner will love you for it!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

School Daze

Carefully brushed hair, pulled back into a ponytail with her trademark curls and new pretty clips.  Brand new shoes so white that they're blinding, and socks that are too big.  Same as her shirt and skirt, and her schoolbag that houses her much-loved dinosaur lunchbox, new pencilcase and her hat.

Outside for photos, "The sun is too bright Mummy!" One more! Then onwards to the big brick building that she has been itching to be a part of since we moved into the neighbourhood last year.  When we walk through the gate, it is already a hive of activity with big kids and little kids everywhere.  She holds my hand tightly, and stays close beside me while I go to double check the class list that is stuck to the library window.  Seeing her name up there, it feels surreal.  We stop to chat to friends, and for more photos.  She is so, so nervous but her big sister gives her a hug.  She's an old hand at this gig.

We wander to the building closest to the office, and mill around with the other mothers.  Whenever we make eye contact with someone, we smile and shrug off our own nervousness for our little ones.  Most of the kids are chatting and running, laughing and tugging on their mothers' clothes.  Mine stays close, refusing to break the invisible rope that has been between us for four years.

Finally, the front door opens and two teachers step out.  One young, smiling and chirpy.  The other is older,  more tired.  They introduce themselves, ask us to leave bags outside, and then start handing out name tags as we enter the building.  Still holding my hand, we put her new prized possessions into her cubbyhole, then I sit on a miniature chair beside her while she does a Red Riding Hood puzzle.  Again, and again.  She is too shy to walk through the throng to get a different puzzle.  So she keeps doing it, handing pieces to her younger sister, until a bell rings.  It is time to say goodbye.  She holds onto me, and tears start falling.  I start to feel tears building up myself, but am saved from them escaping by her teacher who comes to lead her away.  She tells her that Mummy will be here afterwards, that she will make new friends, and that her big sister is only across the playground.  I walk out of the classroom, looking back one more time to see her curly ponytail amongst all the other kids sitting down on the rug beside her.

She has been my precious second-born princess for four years and I love her so much.  She is affectionate, loves cuddles and kisses, and dancing, and dresses, and pink.  Today she experienced her first day of primary school.  I missed her so much, but was also so excited to hear about her day and to see her special bird that she made and that she is so proud of.  Tonight, I crept into her room to say an extra goodnight but she was already fast asleep.

Such a big day for both my princess, and her Mummy.  Our invisible rope hasn't snapped, it's just grown longer.