Building a family one brick at a time


June 2016

My fourth love

Is a game. It’s a sport, and it’s something I don’t do anymore – mainly because of 2 of my other loves, my kidlets. Hopefully I’ll come back to playing it one day, but for now I must content myself with watching it. And right now (well for the next two weeks) is the best time of the year. 

This is the time of the year I find it hard to be in Australia, the best tournament in the world is being played for the next two weeks in London – as it has been for about the last 130 years. It’s a tournament steeped in tradition, the venue it takes place at is beautifully maintained, with stunning flowers, manicured lawns, and many a picnic spot. It’s a place where all the players wear white, and we stuff ourselves with strawberries and cream, drink Pimms from a can and pray for sunshine. Oh Wimbledon how I miss you!! 

Tennis is an interesting sport-Andre Agassi famously described how incredibly lonely the singles game is, comparing it to being a boxer, but even a boxer has his coach in his corner. In tennis you’re all alone, it’s just you facing your enemy, who you can’t touch or talk to. He described it thus; ‘of all the games men and women play, it’s the closest to solitary confinement’. 

Well that doesn’t sound much fun does it?! It’s not all like that. Doubles was my game, I’m far too sociable to stand all by myself at one end of the court. I like having someone to talk to, and the word ‘YOURS’ is rather handy in this format. Plus I never played that seriously. We played in a local league back in the UK, with several divisions catering for all talents (or lack thereof). 

Part of the amusement was coming across opponent/s who took the game extremely seriously on a Saturday afternoon in a leafy suburb, on some dodgy courts – whilst enduring some light drizzle. Facing our stony-faced retro-styled John McEnroe-alike (in the short shorts and headband stakes) we would conjure up some pretend tactics, talking into tennis balls, tying our shoelaces a lot and flipping the finger at our partners behind our backs. I giggled a lot – and that was as much to do with my love of my teammates, as it was my love of the game. I think I played my best match the day after a very heavy night out – the combination of large sunglasses, complete gay abandon and not giving a shit really opened my shoulders. Just shows how much the game can be in your head – remove any pressure (usually self-inflicted) and we all play better.
We played in all weathers. I became famous for wearing 18 layers of clothing, giant bobble hats and gloves. We would ignore a light dusting of snow. The odd bods in their budgie smugglers would peer out of the swimming pool windows to see the ‘weirdos’ out playing tennis in the cold and rain. Now I’m not sure any Wimbledon player has had an audience like that before. It was very off-putting if you were facing the pool, receiving serve. 
My fondest memory is of a good male friend who took up tennis and joined our club. He played many matches, never won, but amused himself and us for many hours berating himself in his gorgeous Trinidadian accent. I had the privilege of playing as his doubles partner when he won his first match. He literally leapt into my arms when we won-it’s a moment I will remember forever! It was as if we’d won a grand slam. 

And that’s the beauty of it. Tennis is a lot of fun, and the great thing is, it’s very adaptable depending on your level. Anyone can play. When I moved here and sadly left my club and team, I got into ‘cardio tennis’ – an exercise class on the court if you will – and that IS fun. No need for accuracy or skill, just enthusiasm and energy. Music, lots of balls, and a fair bit of sweat. And no competition – well maybe a tiny bit depending on your coach. 

So there you have it, it’s a game for everyone. Competitive or not, skilled or not, sociable or not (!). Long live Wimbledon and your traditions, I will be back one day. But for now, I’ll be tuning in for the next two weeks to watch those incredible players make it all look so easy, and then I’ll kid myself I’m better at playing than I am and I’ll want desperately to pick up my racquet again. 



Do you believe in miracles? 

What is a miracle anyway. Something unexpectedly amazing? Something you didn’t think was possible-but then was? A person? A thing? Everything? 
Life is pretty miraculous when you think about it. Do you ever wonder how on earth you’re actually alive? Sometimes I look at myself and I can’t quite believe it. I’m alive. ALIVE. I’m a person, a being, I live, I breathe, I procreated. 

Albert Einstein said “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  He has a point. I’m very much feeling like everything is a miracle right now. Take today for instance. Let’s put aside that I recently gave birth to two healthy children, my body still functions pretty well despite that, I can walk, talk, eat, sleep (occasionally – ok actually most of the time, I’m blessed with sleepy children), and I sat in a chair in the air 5 years ago and moved my life to the other side of the world. Plenty of miracles kicking around there. 

Today was an ordinary day, one which would have been forgotten probably in a few months, or would have just merged into 100 other ordinary days. We got up, we did all our routine shit. The nappies, the clothes, the toys, the playing, the breakfast, the ‘excursion’ to the local DIY centre which has a play area for kidlets (who’d have thought?). We came home, I tickled one child’s feet on the journey and chatted incessantly to the other whilst playing loud music to ensure NO SLEEPING IN THE CAR. We cannot allow sleeping in the car and I’ll tell you why. Unless we are on a car journey of 2+ hours, sleeping in the car can only mean one thing, NO SLEEPING AT HOME. This is not negotiable, especially given that 5 car sleeping minutes equals at least 1 hour of home sleeping. That is a miracle in itself, but seems widespread in the child community. 

Anyway, I digress. So we get home, do more of the usual shit-stuff more foodstuffs/milkstuffs into said children, watch the miraculously  irritating Teletubbies (that bring SUCH joy?!), and pack them off to Bedfordshire. BINGO, both are sleeping. Time to open the champagne. If only I had some chilled. So I settle for a shower (oh what a miracle THAT feels like), some lunch, and a read of a book. 

Sitting on my bed-my chosen reading spot, I’m in the last throes of a thriller that I’ve actually read before, (but when you have children, all recreational activity memory spills out of your head as you move) so it’s all rather exciting. I then glance down to my left hand, as I’m about to turn the page and gasp something’s amiss. 

It may sound trivial – and I’m not really one to put crazy value on material things, in fact I’m actively not any longer – but I saw that the stone in my engagement ring had vanished. There was just an ugly hole in its place. My heart literally went cold. I actually thought I was dreaming. Amongst the heady world of my children, and surrendering absolutely anything and everything that was ever of worth to me to them (to destroy, at will), it is literally my one treasured possession. It was a labour of love (metaphorically and literally) to make and deliver, it has such a story of love knowing no bounds, with several miracles along the way bringing it to life. I know the story of every part of that ring, all the people who were involved in its creation, and it’s journey across the country and beyond to its final presentation on an island in a tropical paradise. It also knows the story of me since then, having never left my finger. If I don’t take it off, I can’t lose it. But I did. 

I died inside a little. It must be in the bed. I search, no luck. Ok, retrace my steps, home, lunch, milk, nappies, beds – hmm children are still sleeping, a ray of hope it’s sleeping with them. Then the SHOWER. Oh no. And I’m being all fastidious right now and channeling my inner window cleaner after each shower (it won’t last), cleaning the water off. I didn’t see it. But I wasn’t looking for it. Oh fuck fuck fuck. I search, search, search. Comedy crawling on the floor, not trusting my eyesight kind of searching. It’s fucking see through and like millimetres by millimetres in size. Needle in a haystack? Nah, that would be easy

Balls. I went out!! I had no f-ing idea when this thing dropped out. I had to go into sleuth mode. Did any of my friends notice the ring? It turns out yes they did. So my window of opportunity to lose got a teeny bit smaller. But could still involve a 100m walk through the diy centre and car park, the whole of my car and most of my house. Fart. Time to widen the search. Wake up children. Hold on-never wake a sleeping child!!! Ok excruciating wait for them to wake ensues. Followed by urgent food stuffing and car into shoving and safe parental driving. Still no luck. 

Do you tell people-ie random strangers you’ve lost a diamond? Hmm, discussion point for another time. I decided yes. 

Anyway the worst part was having to tell the person who pretty much walked over hot coals, plucked a peacock feather and climbed a mountain to get this rock for me. Eurgh, that was not going to be fun. I’d  never find it. It’s a speck in a world of children crap. And let’s face it, probably at the bottom of the shower drain. *vomit*. 

The bin. OMG it must be in the bin. I put shit (not literally-oh hang on yes I do) in the bin all the time. Gloves on. Nappies-oh goodie. I changed nappies. Yep I checked those. So I bit the bullet and owned up. I sobbed. He was VERY kind. I know he pretty much sold his mother and a kidney or two to get me this thing, so he held it together well. 

He comes home and it’s search again time. We search. And search. And search. EVERYWHERE. I sit in the wardrobe and stare into space. Comprehending the loss of A THING. Is it ridiculous? Or is the sentimental value really that real? Am I shallow? Or does this hurt as much as it feels?

I go back out to face the music, and he’s turning the lounge rug upside down. Oh god. I think, what are we going to find in there? Raisins, bits of Lego, lots of sand(?), considering how much I (think I) vacuum it’s quite unnerving. 

And then. I see something. White. And small (but not that small lol). 

We found it. We fucking FOUND IT. A speck in a world of chaos. 

See – miracles do happen. Every single day. Mine was a big one today (to me) and we’re celebrating with champagne-any excuse. But I agree with old Bertie Einstein-pretty much everything, everyday is a miracle, and I’m grateful for each moment (except when I’m woken unexpectedly from a nice sleep). 

I hope you saw your miracles today.    

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