Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

The meaning of Christmas December 20, 2013

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Santa sackChristmas means different things to different people.  For some, it’s a time of year to celebrate everything special about family and kids.  For others, it’s about surviving insane relatives for a few days, and trying not to drag family secrets out of the closet.  For still others, it’s a time of year that serves to amplify their loneliness, especially if they are away from family or wanting their own.  For many of us, Christmas is a marker of time, a reminder to us of the loss of someone close to us as we mourn another year without them.

And for my children, Christmas has different meanings too.  For Sister of a Man-Child, the excitement about Christmas started early, begging to put up our tree well before December.  I know the shops couldn’t wait to put the decorations out, but we drew the line at December 1 for our tree at home.  Likewise, her Christmas list was written quite a while ago – just as well for Santa who has to put in special orders before the rush amid the threat of popular toys disappearing off the shelves (she of course just imagines he is busy making as many as are required)!

For one of the Men-Children, he seems completely disinterested in Christmas.  He doesn’t seem worried about having no presents for Xmas Day, otherwise he would have organised to go shopping with his mother for the clothing he wants.  And he has been given plenty of notice that his mother WILL NOT be anywhere near a retail store on the 24th of December, so I guess it will have to wait (and not for the Boxing Day sales either).  C’est la vie.

Conversely, the other man-child jumped at the first chance to go shopping for Christmas presents.   How is it that we half completed my list, but managed to complete his? We walked from one end of the shopping centre to the other until we had found what he wanted – man on a mission (and after my own heart I must admit).   I did draw the line at him then deciding to wear said present the next time he went out, and then another of his gifts the following day (not even from us, but relatives).  I went completely nuts at him, and said at least he could wait to be given the gifts before wearing them.  I am completely over the RFN mentality of Gen Y, who can’t wait for anything.  They expect instant gratification, and have no sense of earning or saving for anything (at least in the case of one of my men-children).  Not to mention maintaining the spirit of Xmas for his sister.

I actually contacted several charity organisations about doing some volunteer work with the boys before Christmas (they couldn’t contain their excitement at my suggestion – NOT!) I explained I thought they could both benefit from a lesson in giving rather than receiving!  Sister of a man-child was naturally very keen to join us, unlike her brothers.  Unfortunately for all of us, although surely a great sign for the charities, we struggled to find somewhere we could help after contacting several organisations.  Apparently there are WAITING lists for volunteer work, although probably more so at Christmas time due to seasonal people like me.

I have also asked (okay, perhaps insisted?) that the boys come to mass with us on Christmas Eve.  It’s a wonderful celebration of all that is Christmas, with lots of families from our school community, full of the joy of the occasion, reminding us all of the real meaning of Christmas, and a chance to join the chorus of wonderful Christmas carols and hymns (I love it)!!!

So as we count down the final days to Christmas, and look forward to a wonderful day spent with my children, Father of a Man-Child, and our families, I wish all my readers the joy of the festive season.  I hope you enjoy the day, along with all the madness that precedes it and the chance to relax that follows it.   Happy holidays – I’ll be back with the Men-Children in 2014. 🙂

I’ve blogged about Christmas a few times before:  2012, 2013



The Christmas Rush! December 13, 2013

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Christmas chocolate barkPardon my absence, it’s been a busy time in Man-Child world, and to be honest, not much super exciting has been happening (or I don’t feel I can share specifics of certain events just now)!!  As I literally hurl myself towards the end of the year, with an almost 3 week break in sight (love those public holidays that stretch things out), it’s a crazy time for working parents.

To name just a few of the things on my plate:

  • The rush to the end of the work year – why do we all decide everything has to be done BEFORE Christmas?  Some of it is self-imposed deadlines and some the demands of seasonal businesses that kick off again in January.
  • When I worked in ad agencies years ago, why did so many clients call new business pitches the week before Christmas?  Because they are either complete bastards or couldn’t wait to get it off their desk and onto someone else’s for the break.  Plus with a performance review coming they could declare they had pitched the business before the year was out!!!
  • The end of the school year – in our case, TAFE course ending (help son with job-hunting), end of year 11, start of the rowing season (rowing cocktail parties and season opening events), primary school concerts and family picnics, dance concerts, basketball season break ups – the list goes on.
  • Christmas shopping – in our house, it seems Mother Claus bears the bulk of the workload, whilst Father Claus is relegated to ensuring a good supply of alcohol throughout the entire festive season!  The co-ordination of presents, including those from Santa, group presents, work presents, family presents, KK presents and teacher’s presents (don’t forget the cleaner) is EXHAUSTING, requiring a constantly evolving list of suggestions, additions and revisions.
  • Teacher’s presents – coming home from a long day at work to create the wonderful hand-made sweet treats for the teachers (sports teacher, class teacher, language teacher, piano teacher), with lovely hand-made cards by Sister of a Man-Child.
  • Santa videos – grabbing a spare 30 mins at night to create the wonderful, unique and mega-exciting message from Santa for your 10 year old who still believes! Truly magical to behold.
  • Christmas parties – being an all or nothing girl, these are either fully embraced or completely avoided (resulting in an acceptable list of outings on the calendar).
  • Friends’ catch-ups – the first hint of Christmas renders us all momentarily insane, and we suddenly decide that the friends that we somehow haven’t had a chance to catch up with all year we must finally see in the few remaining weeks to the end of the year.  And ex-colleague reunions are also the perfect annual event, best held at Christmas when everyone flies in for the summer holidays.
  • Just to ensure all working mothers are tipped completely over the edge, the inbox overflows with festive messages from every blog or website you have ever visited in your life, not to mention the daily 12 days of Christmas emails from every online retail site you have ever even thought about (I swear, Google is now so clever, you don’t need to type anything, they actually KNOW what you are thinking of searching for)!!
  • Add to that social media (which I admit I love), with more channels and more messages and more Christmas insanity and more fun than you can poke a stick at, and I think I’m as full as a TURDUCKEN*!! (If you don’t know what a Turducken is, just Google it peeps).

So, with less than two weeks to go, I am attempting to breathe deeply (not hyperventilate) and get across the line in one piece.  As I learned at a recent “stress” workshop (or rather how to avoid it), they told us it’s not “something” or “someone” that causes us stress, it’s actually we that choose to take it on.  Hold that thought – just as I am trying to!  Do you think practice will make perfect?

Promise another post before Christmas.

Here’s my previous musings from last year about the JOY of Christmas (seriously).


Christmas is coming! November 30, 2012

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The joy of Christmas is less than a month away and so preparations have begun in earnest in our household.  As Sister of a Man-Child is still a firm believer (yes at 9 years old) it just adds to the excitement and delight of Christmas.

As the retailers filled their stores with Christmas decorations, and the TV advertising cranked up, my daughter had all the reminders she needed about this magical event.  First stop the Christmas tree – she begged me to put it up last weekend, which we did, but not until the end of Sunday due to other commitments.  We did have to endure quite a few sulking moments along the way, but as I said to her, I refuse to be rushed doing the annual Christmas tree decoration.

So here is our very eclectic Christmas tree.  Yes years ago I had the “designer” Christmas tree, with every last bow (or whatever was in fashion at the time) placed just so, completely colour co-ordinated, not a branch out of place.  As the men-children came along, so too did the home-made decorations, which were proudly added to the tree or used as centrepieces for the table (it’s amazing how good a couple of wreaths made from dried pasta and spray painted gold looked).

Now it is my daughter’s home made decorations that grace the tree, along with a special collection of ornaments, including Father of a Man-Child’s childhood decorations (rescued from the beach house), and personalised, named baubles of family members.  Having some history on the tree only adds to the sense of family and tradition that we so love.

The other thing we lap up of course is the joy of a child that still believes in Santa (even the men-children enjoy it).  I love the unwavering belief and innocence of children every Christmas and Easter.  She is so excited, she asked if she could sleep on the couch on Christmas Eve so she could see him!

After the tree all attention turned to her letter to Santa.  It is so gorgeous I have republished it for you to read here (just click on this link): Letter to Santa.  I was especially pleased she mentioned both Jesus as well as a gift for her rabbits.  I intend to keep a copy for her, to give to her one day, along with the countless letters to the tooth fairy of course!! 

Anticipation is also growing for her video from Santa.  Last year she received a video from the North Pole, with Santa talking directly to her by name, and amazingly talking about the EXACT present she wanted.  HOW did he know her name, or what she wanted?  I mean, he MUST be real! 🙂  Santa is so clever he even arranged to send her a video for her birthday recently to say he knew she’d been pretty good so far this year.

Amidst all the excitement there is however stress.  One thing tops her Christmas list, a Fijit Friend (don’t worry I had never heard of one either), which just happens to be the Toy of the Year in Australia.  What that means for any Mrs Santa Claus’s out there is that there is now widespread panic-buying across Melbourne and Australia, and every Fijit is about to be completely sold out before the end of November!!!!!  Santa doesn’t explain on video what happens if his elves can’t make enough of the ridiculously popular (and ridiculously expensive) toy.  But I have managed to secure one!  PS.  If you want to know what they are, take a look here:  Fijit Friends

So how is Christmas stacking up in your house?  What wonderful things do your children do to prepare for the visit from the great man?  And how long did they believe for?

You can read more about the tooth fairy here, and also what happened when we finally broke the news to the men-children about Santa. A Princess Tale.


Mother of a Man-Child: A Princess Tale. March 4, 2011

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When I am not being Mother of a Man-Child I like to think of myself as Mother-of-a-Princess.  My seven-year-old daughter is my princess, and she is an absolute delight.  Like all good seven-year olds, she still believes in all the wonderful magic of Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny and of course the Tooth Fairy.

She is so enamored with these magical beings that at every opportunity she leaves a gorgeous, heartfelt, hand-written note full of all the sincerity and love only an innocent seven-year old can muster.

Each time she leaves a note for the tooth fairy, she asks some personal questions so she can understand a little more about their magical lives.  So the first time, she wanted to know how tooth fairies knew that children had lost their tooth (a special homing device of course).  And then she wanted to know how old the tooth fairy was (10 fairy years) and when her birthday was  (we made the executive decision that it would be January 1 in the event you want to join my conspiracy).   Most recently (see pic) she wanted to know the particular tooth fairy’s name (Daisy).  For some reason we always refer to the tooth fairy as a girl, although perhaps next time it should be a boy to ensure some equality of the tooth fairy sexes.

As we discussed the note and the fact that the fairy had cleverly found one of my daughter’s special magical Textas (amazing isn’t she), the next round of questions began.   How big do you think they are (we both imagine they are very small)?  How do they get the tooth out of the water?  I mentioned they might have scuba gear! What about their wings?  How do they fly if they get wet?  They’re waterproof of course!  Or maybe they just use a fishing rod?

No doubt she went off to school with her head buzzing with the possibilities.  I for one had hysterical visions of a miniature tooth fairy clad in said scuba gear with wings protruding from the wetsuit and goggles on looking for a pearly white at the bottom of the deep glass.

It really is such a delightful time of innocence and joy to see the absolute belief they have in all things magical and make-believe.  Fancy those naysayers who espouse it is wrong to “lie” to children at a young age and say they should not be told fictitious tales about Santa and the Easter Bunny at all.  Party poopers!

Believe it or not we actually got the men-children to 10 years old before we broke the news about Father Christmas to them.  And that was only because we were travelling in the car with the kids pre-Christmas and we had no way to hide the boxes of presents without them becoming suspicious.  Of course we swore them to secrecy as their sister was only three and threatened them with near death if they ever ruined the fun for our “Princess”.  So far so good.  I actually think the boys enjoy being part of the conspiracy.  And so the magic continues. 🙂