Dedicated to Dani

OUR LITTLE CHRISTMAS GIFT

You, two days old

Wow, how time flies.  It’s been nearly nine months since me and you jumped on the plane to come to Australia.  And what a journey it has been.  There’s been ups.  There’s been downs.  There’s been times when we are having an absolute ball.  Then there’s been times I just want to throw in the towel and hightail it back home.  Branching out and learning to live in an entirely new country has presented some major challenges.  But through it all, you are the one person that keeps mum from losing the plot. You keep my smile intact when normally I’d be walking around with a frown on my face and depressing thoughts on my mind.  Or more like, normally, I wouldn’t be walking around at all.

You are the one that keeps me going, my love.  If it weren’t for you, I would have given up a long time ago.

What a pleasure you have been in our lives thus far.  When mum recalls the day you were born, I still can picture it all in my mind as if it happened yesterday.  You were a planned baby.  And it took two long years before you were finally implanted in my womb (a long story for another day).  You were no trouble at all throughout my pregnancy, but you certainly made up for it the day you were born!

You began giving mum grief in the early hours of the 23 December 2010.  The contractions were about half an hour in between, and mum didn’t get any sleep that night.  Me and your daddy were living down Ohiwa Harbor Road, just around the corner from your nanny’s (grandmothers).  Dad stayed up most of the night rubbing my back and waiting on me, hand and foot.

By the morning, you began to show signs of being ready to come out.  The contractions were coming faster and stronger, and the pain was, when I recall, un-bloody-bearable!  I heard all the horror stories of contractions, but even then, I wasn’t prepared for it.  It’s like a thousand needles plunging into your stomach, and reaching all the way into your lower back.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget that pain as long as I live!

Seven thirty, your midwife, Jane Curley arrived, looked me over, and ordered me to get to the hospital.  There was no mucking around after that.  Dad grabbed our bags that had been prepared and sitting in your room for weeks, chucked them in the car, chucked me in the car, and we were off.

When we got to the hospital, surprisingly, the contractions began to slow.  It’s like you were backing out, and we began to wonder if you were going to come out after all.  Nevertheless, I was still poked and prodded and hooked up to machines to determine what was going on.  After a half an hour, Jane Curley came in and suggested we go for a walk down town to see if that would ‘hurry you along’.

So me and dad jumped back in the car again and off to town we went.  We parked up down The Strand, got out, and spent the next half an hour just walking up and down the strand holding hands and talking and marvelling that today you could possibly, finally be here.

And then mums contractions started up again, and this time, they were coming fast and hard.  Not only that, the pain was intense enough to make mum double over right in the middle of town!  So me and dad had to walk back to the car, and it must have looked so funny because, every five minutes, mum would stop, clutch her stomach and moan.  But I was very noticeably pregnant, so I think people walking passed would have understood anyway.

When we got back to the hospital, I got the biggest shock of my life.  I had only planned for the following to be at your birth. Your dad, your nanny and mums best friend, your Aunty Fran.  But as we pulled up to the hospital, it seemed clear that your birth was going to be gate crashed.  Mums two other sisters, your Aunty Bex and Aunty Jassy were there as well, along with Aunty Nicola, who is really mums niece, but we have been bought up as cousins (another story for another day),

The rest of the day is a blur of contractions, of hysterical screams, of gasping and clutching at the gas mask as if my life depended on it. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that much pain in my entire life!  I just about ripped off your Aunty Jassy’s hand, and I’m pretty sure your midwife Jane Curley wanted to slap me at one point because I was screaming the hospital down.  But finally, after a couple of crazy, intense, drama-packed hours, you entered the world.  It was 5.05 pm, the 23rd December 2010, two days before Christmas.  You weighed in at six pounds, five ounces.  The people in the room were: Dad, Aunty Jass, Aunty Bex, Aunty Fran, Aunty Nicola and your beloved Nanny Tangi.

You never screamed when you came out, nor did you wail.  You slid out without so much as a boo and, as you were cleaned, and as daddy cut your cord, you just stared, with wide eyes, at the new world around you.  For some reason, that amazed the midwife.  She said that it was very rare for a baby not to cry when they first come out of the darkness and into the light.  She said it was even more amazing that your eyes were so wide and alert, as most babies, when born, tend to scrunch up their eyes due to the brightness.

Taken the day you were born.

I’ve never believed in love at first sight.  To me, that was an unrealistic cliché for fools and only existed in movies.  I didn’t even fall in love with your dad on first sight, that was a love that developed over the years.  But from the moment I laid eyes on you my baby, that assumption was turned on its head, for I fell in love with you hard.  I remember being in total awe when you were first placed in my arms.  Despite all the jabbering going on all round me, I don’t remember hearing much.  I don’t remember seeing much.  All I saw was you.

When night time fell, and everybody left, it was just me and you.  We were in a hospital ward, and the light was dim as I watched you sleep soundly, completely overwhelmed at the amount of love that rushed through my body and left me feeling tingly all over.  It was then I made the promise to you my darling.  That, come hell or high water, I was going to bestow on you all the love that was missing from my life when I was a child, and make damn sure that you grow into a strong, confident girl who will stand up for herself and knows what she wants.  I will never make you feel worthless, unloved or neglected.  I will surround myself with positive people, and not people who are going to belittle you because mum knows, firsthand, just how destructive that can be.  I will fight for you and protect you and go all out to keep you out of harms way.  And when you get older and begin experiencing all that comes with being a teen, I hope to be the one you turn to and confide in.    Although that is going to be a clinch.  I’m not putting my hopes on that one.

Your daddy was the happiest man alive when you came into this world

And most importantly, I promise to give you opportunities galore.  Which is why we are here, in Australia.  Mum has struggled to keep her head above water here because I miss home so much. It’s growing up with a small-town mentality that has done this to me, and this is something I DO NOT want for you.  It’s you that keeps us here my darling. We stay here because we know that there is so much more you can achieve here than in our beloved – yet hopeless hometown Opotiki.  As much as we miss it, and as much as we miss your nanny, going back is not an option.  There is no future there.  There is family and there is beauty – but there is no chance in hell of getting ahead in life if we go back.  Dreams are but wisps of smoke that stay dreams and never become a reality.

And you are getting more than that.  I want to make sure I give you options.  Options to achieve and become whatever you want!

You have a better chance than I ever did my love.  You have a mum and a dad that are always going to put you above everything and anything else.  I’m not saying we are perfect parents, because that is far from true.  Like every other parent out there, we have our days where you seemingly push us to the limit and beyond.  But our intentions when it comes to you – they are the intentions of parents who hope to never let you down in any major way.  I’m so proud of you my love, so very proud that you are my daughter.  I hope, one day, to hear from your very lips – that you are just as proud to have me as your mother.

“I gave you LIFE but you give me a reason to live…”

Love you my baby girl.  Forever and always.

xxx

JUST A LITTLE ABOUT YOU…

Your interests and hobbies

* You love watching High Five Musicals

* You love watching Play School

* Your favourite thing to do, when home, is pull AV cords in and out of the TV

* You also love turning TV off and on…and off and on…and off and on…

* Almost everyday you tend to drag your chair over to the light and switching light off and on…and off and on…and off and on

* Almost every day you also like to drag your chair over to the sink and ‘wash the dishes’ (and the floor, I should say).

* You enjoy daily walks to the park

Your all time favourite show

* You go to Swan View Child Care Centre twice a week

* You love your arts and crafts, especially with letters and numbers

* You love to sing, and can hold a better tune than mummy

Watching TV…smile for mum

your little personality  

* Very grumpy, like your dad

* Sweet and loving when you want to be

* Loves to share with other kids, but gets grumpy and snarky when they don’t share back

* Gets annoyed when hungry

* Gets annoyed when tired

* As long as your tummy is full and your nice and clean, your a pretty happy-go-lucky, content little girl

words/sentences your saying

(you are a vibrant little chatterbox, but here are some of the things you say on a regular basis)

The entire A-Z alphabet

Numbers from `1-10

love u Mummy

love u daddy

thankyou

ice cream

chippies

orange

play TV?

play school

high five

titty

can i have…?

go for walk…?

go on the swing….?

kai kais…?

baba black sheep (your favourite song)

twinkle twinkle little star

eye spy (high five song)

And that’s the monthly update for now…until next month my girl…

No more working…only living…

I remember the exact moment the epiphany hit me. It was like something had fallen down hard on my head, stunning me into a sort of reverie that lasted for two whole weeks. I had just moved to Swan View, Perth, with my baby.  Six months prior, I was living with my brother in Newman, a little rugged red town in the middle of the Pilbara. Oh my god, I really hated it there.  Which is going off topic, I know, but I’ve just got to emphasise that I really hated that place. Like really hated the place. With a passion.

Anyway, back to the epiphany. So me and my baby had just arrived in Swan View, where my baby’s father, and on/off  now officially back on boyfriend, had been residing since February. We both came to Australia with big plans, lured away from the comforts of our beloved but economically useless home town of Opotiki, in search of a better life. The day I finally got out of the Pilbara and landed in Swan View was a fortuitous day for me. My head was bursting at the seams with all kinds of big plans. Getting a job. Making twenty plus an hour doing manual labour (a rarity in New Zealand, unless your qualified at some trade). Giving my baby more opportunities, having money, saving money, spending money and all that jazz. The first thing I did was go all-out-mother-effing craaazy trying to set us up in our own place and find a job that will do for now. Which I did, in record time. I’d found a really nice place  and landed an easy as 1-2-3 job stacking shelves at Woolworths, in just two weeks – no lie. My man was already working, making security doors at Westral, so the transition into our own place, and into an exciting new independent life was a smooth one.

“…Me and my boyfriend both came to Australia with big plans, lured away from the comforts of our beloved, but economically useless hometown of Opotiki, in search of a better life…”

The job I snagged wasn’t all that glorious  the people I worked with were even less so. But it was a job. Pay was twenty-two dollars an hour. The work was physical, but that was fine because I loved physical work. The boss was Indian-Fijian, and to this day, I still don’t know what her name is. It had nothing to do with the fact that it was one of those complicated, hard to pronounce Indian names. Blame it on my hearing. It’s excellent. So excellent, I have to wear hearing aids. You get my meaning.

I think it started during my last week there. The stirring of something unpleasant in my gut. It didn’t take long for the initial excitement to wear off. For one thing, going to work amongst a group of really unhappy-looking people began to bug me. Everyone has bad hair days. We’re entitled to them, right? But when a large majority of your co-workers can’t summon the strength to smile, walk around the place with dead, blood-shot looking eyes from erratic sleeping patterns, push trolleys and stack shelves like automated robots while giving off the impression that life has somehow cheated them, that’s gotta be worse than just a bad hair day man. The atmosphere was, to put it bluntly, just down-right depressing. I only lasted there three weeks, and it had nothing to do with the job itself. Maybe I just read it wrong but, judging by the high employee turnover, I doubt it.

It was getting me down big time.  In all my working life (and let me tell you, I’ve had some shit bosses) I’d never had this problem before. I’d get home from work, plop myself in front of the TV, weary and despondent, wandering, always wandering what the hell I was doing. I don’t why the attitude of some people bugged me, but it did. It bugged me relentlessly. I mean, I had enough going on in my own backyard, who gives a flying fox what’s going on in the next person’s? Truth was…I did. A little more than I should, actually.

I believe it was an unfavourable incident that happened after my last night shift that really made me go for the kill. We didn’t (and still don’t) have a car, so I had to catch the bus to and from work three times a week. I didn’t mind. Coming from a small rural town with more hills and cows than people, it was actually an adventure. Until that night I stood in the dark waiting for the eleven thirty bus. A black car with tinted windows, trembling with the Bass of some god-forsaken music I’d never heard of before, pulled up beside me. The occupants of the car were friendly at first, then insistent when I refused their offer to take me home. I suppose what followed could probably be highlighted as one of the most startling moments of my life, and there’s been more than a few of those. If it weren’t for the Maori dude who was asleep in his cappy in the loading bay of Woolworth’s, I probably would have been toast. He came to my rescue, scared the white boys off, and sat and talked to me until my bus came. Top guy. I didn’t get his name (thanks again to my awesome hearing skills) but one day, I hope to find him and send him a card or something. You know, just to say thank you.

I never went back to Woolworth’s after that. And two weeks later, I realized something else. The epiphany. That I didn’t want to work for anyone else. Ever. I see the bigger picture. It’s been there all along, but in the background, murky and unfocused.  It’s clear as crystal now. I don’t fancy spending the rest of my life working my butt off to make someone else’s dream come true. I don’t want to be an automated robot, walking around with bloodshot eyes thanks to erratic sleeping patterns, or pushing trolleys and shelves and looking as if life has cheated me somehow. Then you got people higher up in the ranks, mercilessly competing with each other, gotta have the latest, man. The latest Holden, the latest iPhone, the latest iPad. Worrying about whose kid has the trendiest gear, and which house is the biggest house on the block. And let’s not forget those that struggle from pay check to pay check, taking on anything they can get solely just to put food in the cupboards. People everywhere, everywhere, all over the bloody globe, always on the go, go, go, working themselves to the bone and neglecting the one and only thing that can help them be truly happy. Their dreams.

“I don’t fancy spending the rest of my life working my butt off to make someone else’s dream come true…people everywhere, everywhere, all over the globe, always on the go…working themselves to the bone and neglecting the one thing that can truly make them happy – their dreams.”

This is the norm. This is society. I’ve never believed in its path, but what I do believe, now more than ever, is that I think it’s high time I follow my own path. Because one day, when I’ve completely freed myself from the chains of society, I want to help others break free, too. Thats my ultimate goal. I want to help people resurrect and begin living their dreams.

But first, I’ve gotta resurrect and start living my own.

When I talked to my man, he was, understandably against it. I told him I finished at my job. He didn’t make too much noise at first. Until I told him I wasn’t looking for another job ever, and then he thought I was joking. I told him no, I wasn’t kidding, not even a little, and that I planned to stay home and do what I’ve wanted to do since I was chubby pre-teen. I plan to write. He yelled. He accused me of being lazy and unmotivated to work. He threatened that he wasn’t giving me any money for anything, smokes included. I told him I plan to give up to which his reply was a scoff (understandable, because I’m always trying to give up). His next objection was that it was a waste of time us being here in Australia if I wasn’t going to go to work. I reminded him that we were here, not just for ourselves, but for baby too. With the PSA vine disease threatening the Opotiki and NZ economy, and pregnancies on the rise at an alarming rate in our home town, you don’t gotta be a genius to figure out that there was no future there.

He’s thawed a little since then. It’s probably going to take some time before I can get him to trust me on this one.  In my heart, my soul, my gut, and every other anatomical part of me, I know I’m onto something good here.