Small and Big

I’ve never felt so small in my life. Or so big.

After years of believing I’m in control of my life I realise its fragility, and how, in an instant it can all be over. That’s what happended to my mum. Literally. One minute she is reading her grandchildren a goodnight story, and moments later…Bam! Something explodes in her head and her life ends. It’s just that she’s still alive. Since then I’m terrified of my own demise. I lie in the dark and wonder when and how it will happen. I am shattered by the thought of leaving my girls and not being able to stop it. I don’t feel like I can conquer the world any more….. more like I’m falling off the edge of a cliff. I feel small in the shadow of all that I do not control. It’s a strange sensation and I suddenly dread the forthcoming birthdays, each one closer to my last. The very first blog I wrote was about the sudden accidental death of one of my peers – it was inconceiveable then that life could just end. It is no longer inconceiveable and that makes me feel very small indeed.

And that smallness is making me feel big. Because I can never be that little girl in my mum’s arms again. Even as a mum, I have always been able to still be that little girl. Even the night before she left me (for her stroke did make her leave me) I was her little girl when she cuddled me as I cuddled my newborn, reassuring me and making me strong. For that’s what my mum did. She kept me strong. And now I am alone. I will have to make myself strong. I have to always be the adult now. I have to finally grow up. Small and big. Big and small. All at the same time.

I have to start being strong. And I’m going to start here. I’ve been reading back over my early blogs – my life filled with the wonder of womanhood, of writing and the marvel of motherhood. In honour of my mum and all that she taught me, I must live that life again. So for the first time in a long while, I’m writing a story makes me feel good. And strong.

Today Poppy had her first ballet lesson. She’s very little and lovely and based on her elder sister’s reluctance to embrace new experiences, I wasn’t sure which way this would go. I dressed her up in her petite ballet dress and off we set, my nerves wrecked before we even got there. There’s something so vulnerable about Poppy, my heart is always breaking for her. I’m still not uber confident about walking into a room full of strangers; how was my little three year old going to fare? Like a little trouper is how. Without a backward glance she joined the group of dancers and proceeded to dance her little feet off. She never hesitated, she never looked lost, she bore a confidence that made my heart swell. After, Daisy (who’d lasted half a dance class last year before refusing to ever return) asked for Popcorn. As I was feeding RubyI gave her the money and told her to go and ask the girl behind the counter. She refused, too shy. ‘That’s ok’ I said. But not for Poppy. Despite the fact she didn’t come anywhere close to the top of the counter, Poppy strode off to ask for popcorn. She may be small, but she is unbelieveably big. Small and big, both at the same time….

About Grin & Tonic by Alana Kirk

Bouncing into middle age armed with courage, ambition and a pair of tweezers (chin hairs for anyone over the age of 45 reading this) I am a writer with a mission: to redefine this midway point in my life when the last thing I want to do is hang up my high heels and become invisible. This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. A single mum to 3 fabulous girls, an author, and a fundraising consultant, both ends of my candle are on fire. As I enter this new stage of my life, I want to explore what it means for 'mid-aged' women today, who were promised they could have it all, ended up doing it all, and just do not identify with the traditional image of middle age.
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6 Responses to Small and Big

  1. I love the line 'in honour of my mum, and all she has taught me, I must live that life again.' I hope, reading your post, there is a little bit of hope in your mind because it is there – albeit very small- in your writing.

    Your mum would want you to lead life to the full and be strong even when things are so difficult. The photo of you and your girls is lovely and it's really nice to start reading about them again.

    There has been so much sadness for all of your recently. I hope you can enjoy the good things even while your sadness goes on. Be stong. For your lovely mum.

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  2. your posts always move me, thank you so much for writing and sharing

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  3. Oh darling, it's so scary, your own parents mortality. My mummy has Alzheimer's so while she's still with us, i know she doesn't know who i am or which of her 14 grandchildren are my 4. It's horrible & sad but nothing much i can do about it, other than make her feel loved & special. It's a slow horrible way to end your life, such an amazing life at that. Especially painful for my father, after 55 years of marriage, it's just not the same. You just have to be strong, work through the worry & anger, live every day to the full, loving your own children to pieces. Love Posie

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  4. cath c says:

    I'm glad to see this post. You seem to be processing the recent trauma of your mother's stroke better and moving back into life. the post-partum period is such a vulnerable time in anyone's life, but you were walloped. Your mother is still present, she just can't express it. know she's still there, feeling for you as a mother, the way you feel for her and your daughters now. I am happy to see you found strength in Poppy's courage. I love her take charge spunk!

    Those seeming most vulnerable ones often do surprise like that. my oldest boy always seemed so fragile to me, until i watched him when he thought i wasn't around and was with his peers – turns out he is a natural leader.

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  5. I never fail to be amazed at they way your express yourself in words. Beautifully written post. Having lost two family members in my teenage years (and having just turned 40 myself) I live in an awareness of the fragility of life. My deepest fear is leaving my three beautiful little pinks without a mummy – but I try not to dwell on it. Life is a strange things – full of wander and full of unknown. I'm so sorry to hear about your mum.

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  6. hi there just to let you no i have awarded you the “versatile blogger award” please check out my page aussiebummummy.blogspot.com for the details =)

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