Friday, November 10, 2017

the antidote

The other day I was walking Miss Pepper down the hill into her school. I think we were just on time with not a moment to spare. We were both wearing overalls, we were holding hands and she was skipping along beside me, pulling me forward, chattering away about something or other. Along the way we greeted other people, asked them questions and answered theirs.

At one point when we passed two teachers from her school, one of them remarked on how easy I make parenting look. We took a few more steps until I realised what she'd said and turned back to thank her. She elaborated a bit, I told her briefly about my experience with the woman at the festival the week before, and we all agreed that I would use her kind words to cancel out the other's nasty ones. Like an antidote. Or anti-venom. 

Then I skipped Miss Pepper out into the school garden to play, and went about my day.

Hours later when I met my farmer boy in the kitchen for coffee we filled each other in on the stories of our mornings. He'd driven the big girls to school and I'd bumped into a friend in the fruit shop. As we were finishing off and about to leave I remembered the kind words the teacher had spoken to me. 

A week before when a complete stranger criticised my parenting I took it straight to heart. I agonised, I cried, I couldn't get it out of my head, I felt terrible and I couldn't let it go. Yet when someone I know and trust, someone who sees so many parents with children, someone who is in my day to day life, compliments me on the same things, I feel happy and then promptly forget about it.

When you look at it with a bit of distance, there's something about that story that isn't quite right.

I should have nodded politely at that woman at the festival, been upset for a few minutes and then dismissed her as a cuckoo and gotten on with my day. And then a week later I should have felt thrilled with the teacher's comments. I should have taken them into my heart, replayed them over and over, told them to everyone I met and used them to feel good about myself and my parenting.

Why am I so quick to believe a nasty stranger and so quick to dismiss a kind friend?

I keep asking myself if deep down in my heart I felt like the stranger saw my truth and was exposing me for the terrible person I am, but I know that's definitely not true. Not at all. In retrospect I think her tirade was possibly more about her and less about me anyway.

Bren thinks it might be in the delivery. If the stranger had made a rude comment and then left me to walk away and the teacher had shouted compliments at me for two whole minutes, then my response might have been different. Makes sense.

I don't know the answer but I am happy to sit with it for a while. Happy to try harder to take compliments deep into my heart and deal with criticism appropriately. Happy to report that two weeks after the verbal abuse at the festival I feel over it and that although I'll probably tell the story when it comes up for weeks to come, it doesn't hurt me anymore. 

This is the only photo I took on my big camera on our four day trip to Sydney for my birthday. Miss Jazzy in a vintage shop in Newtown trying on Converse runners.

We also went to markets, watched Beautiful the Carol King musical, ate out, drank lots of coffee, visited my cousin and his sweet family, visited the Opera House and the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art, watched a movie, caught buses and trains and taxis, looked at the Bondi - Sculptures by the Sea, listened to all the noises of the people in the apartments above and beside us, squirmed with embarrassment and horror at some late night loud activity above, tried to laugh (and debrief) about it the next morning, thought longingly of the acres of space surrounding our house back home, op shopped, wool shopped, book shopped, and came home feeling happy and celebrated.

We were only away for four days but gosh it was wonderful to wake up on Wednesday morning and see our place with fresh eyes. All the colour and growth and beauty. All the mowing and weeding that needs to be done too.

Over the past week these two toes are all that I've crafted. The other night I knitted a few rows of a pattern into the next bit but then I undid them because they didn't feel right. I'm not sure where to go from here. Part of me wants to decide quickly and get on with the knitting part and the security of knowing that I've got a project on the go and another part of me is enjoying the design insecurity. 

I always feel happiest when I have a good book and a good knitting pattern to turn to at the end of the day, it's strange to think that I've been working such long hours lately that I haven't had much time for either.

And this is the birthday present I bought myself in Sydney last week. It's going to become a sweater before too long. It was hard for me to move away from the blue and grey section, but Miss Jazzy really loved this brown and the photo that goes with the pattern I plan to knit is this brown, so I chose it and so far, I'm pleased I did. Watch this space for updates.

Oh and farmer Bren chose that black on the right for a new beanie. Black is also something new for him, I'm interested to see how we go with it.

And now I'd really like to thank you guys - for your kindness, for your birthday wishes, for your sweetness, and for your sunshine. You guys fill my life with so much wonderful and I'm ever so grateful.

I hope your weekend is great, I hope the people you meet up with are kind and I hope that someone surprises you with a compliment and that you take it into your heart and use it to make yourself feel strong and awesome. 

Love Love



  1. So very true Kate! So here are a few more compliments for you... you are an amazing writer, you inspire me with your crafting and how you make your children's birthday parties so special and memorable, you make me want to grow things and I read your book over and over and dream of one day driving off with the family around the country (and crocheting my own spare wheel cover). From what I see on this blog you are a wonderful mother and wife! Enjoy your weekend xxx

  2. I'm glad you had a good time in Sydney. I'm sad I missed you by 2 weeks. You are a great mum, a great sister, a great daughter and a great friend. Yesterday, I had a woman stop me in the street- asked if I was Cath, pointed to my rainbow pin and she hugged me and said "thank you for everything you have done for my community" and we both cried and I am going to try to rememberthat moment, because that stuf is important. Love you. xxx

  3. Hi Kate. I have noticed that you knit your socks from the toe up. I have just finished my first sock,from the cuff down.Can you recommend a pattern or someone that does simple instructions. I was so excited to finish my first sock following Winwick Mums fantastic instructions. Your socks always look fantastic. Have a good week.

  4. "although I'll probably tell the story when it comes up for weeks to come, it doesn't hurt me anymore. "

    You could do that, but I wouldn't recommend it.

    I say that as someone who worked in customer service and call centres for many years. I've taken a lot of abuse over that time. I've been called all kinds of names, I've been threatened with physical violence by people on the other end of a phone line and while I could probably write a list of all that stuff given time and a decent memory, I would not be able to give you one specific instance off the top of my head. That is because each and every time it has happened to me, I got off the call, laughed with my colleagues about it, then got right back on the phones. I did not carry any of their baggage around with me.

    My best ever call centre boss used to call it a monkey - she would say these people have a monkey on their back, and they want to put it on *your* back. Only *you* can decide not to carry the monkey. You can choose to put the monkey down and keep walking.

    Of course her tirade was about her. We all live in this world and we all get to choose how we do that. Most of us would have kept our lips zipped regardless of what your kid did. That is because we have learned manners and how to behave in public without getting smacked in the face over and over. If she'd said that to some mothers, she might well have got a slap or copped some abuse in return.

    I'm serious. People don't play these days. This is why many of us say nothing even when we see kids wrecking a place - we know better than to get involved.

    This is why many of us do not raise our middle finger when someone tailgates us - we have seen the videos where that person gets chased and punched at a stop light.

    This is why many of us do not use our horn even when we maybe should, because we know what could be the end result.

    I'm not saying that stuff is good, it is far from good. We should be able to use our horn without fearing a road rage attack. But most of us want to live happily without angering other people, because we do not know how they are going to treat us in return.

    When the opportunity comes up to tell a story in the next few weeks, tell one of the ones you told us today - the positive comment from someone who knows you, or about your lovely trip.

    Put that negative comment from someone who saw you once on the ground, right now, stomp on it, spit on it if you like, and leave it there. You don't need to carry that baggage! Give her back her monkey and walk on. :)

  5. Hi, wow those flowers in the first pic are beautiful. Love how you cram so much into just 4 days away. Converse .. never thought to look but I adore retro vintage shops. Green is awesome for socks. I'm so glad you got such a great comment from the friend . The thing about someone you know giving you a comment like that is they've seen so much more of your interactions with the girls , you should absolutely take that one to heart. Strangers see one thing to get an impression of you . Have a beautiful week . We've got Beautiful rain on and off lately, flowers everywhere and Ive had a great week . Xxoo

  6. Hey almost birthday twinnie! Glad to hear you had a fab weekend in Sydney for your birthday. It is weird how we dismiss the good and dwell on the bad, though that woman was super super bad and completely ungracious, and I'd be upset if I were treated that way too. I love dropping by your blog because there are images of Home, not simply your home but Home, things that matter in it. And gum trees, can't forget the gum trees :-)

  7. I've heard that the human brain needs 5 positive statements for every negative one we hear. Perhaps it's part of survival to be hyper aware of negative/dangerous situations? Anyway I'm so glad to read about your positive interaction with that teacher. I was also a good reminder to me to let others know what I admire about them or to comment when I notice something positive.
    Sydney sounds delightful, can't wait to see your yarn become a wonderful garment.

  8. Re-tell the story about the teacher instead. What a lovely compliment! (And your blog is ALWAYS lovely.)

  9. I started reading your blog a while ago and your last post and this one rang such a bell, that although I usually lurk, I wanted to come out of 'lurkdom' and leave a message to say how refreshing your blog is. Your photos are lovely but also of real life, which is so refreshing in this day and age of beautifully styled Instagram photos. I love going to my blog feed and finding a blog post from you :-)

  10. So glad that you enjoyed your birthday Kate, I love the new wool it is definitely my colour. I always have trouble moving away from the browns and beiges. Wow for a moment there I thought Miss Jazzy was sat in her wardrobe, then I read the words and realised it was a store. She sure did look as if she was enjoying herself though. Have a great weekend, show us the photo of the sweater you’re going to knit.

  11. Happy birthday Kate. I'm the same and let the negative comments weigh on my heart for too long. Thank you each week for your beautiful photos and words. Kayla

  12. Hello Kate, I am so glad you had a wonderful birthday with your gorgeous family and that you were so pleased to come home after it. And I am so glad too that the interaction with that lady isn't hurting you anymore. I find it difficult to shake things off but facing it and sharing it really helps doesn't it? Ooo that windowsill in your greenhouse makes me happy! Have a good week lovely, Lucy xxxxxxxxxx

  13. The quiet grace of kindness spoken in truth rests easy as it lands, it doesn't require processing, because the depth of your being identifies with the truth of it and settles more deeply in to it.

    The harshness of projected self-discomfort delivered as a judgement hits you and your heart desperately wants to be able to trust that person, because you have a good and generous heart, and thus there is a battle - your inner-being knows what is offered is very very wrong, thus it sits uncomfortably, but your heart wants to trust, and a war ensues - thus the need to process, to verbalise, to cry, to wrestle with the dissonance and find peace again.

    May you sit peacefully knowing that you did indeed receive that compliment on your walk to school, and it was so very very right that it just settled into your being and out of your head.

  14. Dear Kate, belated happy birthday :) I still replay hurtful stranger comments in my mind years after they have happened. I totally hear you. I've been following your sock knitting forever. I'm a sock knitter too, but I've never mastered the toe up two at a time method. How did you learn to knit socks like this? D x

  15. I read you last post about your nasty experience and all I can think is that this woman was projecting onto you . Look up projection in the psychology books or online and I think you will feel better . Its hard being a human sometimes and putting up with each other .

  16. Hi hun, it's lovely looking at the photo of the orange poppies, strawberries and flowers.I love how our growing seasons are opposite.We are going into a cold Autumn/Winter and they made me smile. As well as a little jealousy of being able to sniff the fragrance of the flowers and later on pick sweet sun-ripened veggies/fruit yummm. :) Hugs Sue

  17. Dear Kate, let me reinforce the messages by Snoskred and mem.

    That tirade was definitely all about that woman's issues and not yours. Anger often arises from fear so it is likely that the woman was responding to some perceived threat which she chose to embody upon you.

    I often need to use a wheelchair in public. Unfortunately, it means that I often stand out in a crowd for looking 'different'. The verbal attack you experienced is also often experienced by people with disabilities. We can be moving along, minding our own business, and suddenly we find ourselves at the receiving end of unsolicited, unwanted attention by perfect strangers who seem compelled to tell the world about whatever is troubling them. If it wasn't you standing there, that woman probably would have had a go at someone else. I totally understand how it can leave one totally gobsmacked.

    Trust me, the behaviour is all about the other person and nothing personal about you. That person was more likely to have been unable to cope with their own frustration at a slow moving queue, evident by her inability to deal with it in an appropriate manner. It makes me wonder what goes on in a person's life that they still think toddler temper tantrums are appropriate strategies to solve problems!

    You said yourself, this woman was a perfect stranger - she is not qualified to make any judgments about you. If anything, everyone around the scene was likely to be making more judgments about that stranger than about anything she said!

    The only opinions that matter are of the ones who know you very well and love you dearly so it is only right that you take on board the teacher's compliments and ignore the stranger. A teacher sees many parents and knows about healthy child development. Rate her opinion highly and forget the rest!

    Wishing you a calmer, happier week!


Thanks so much for stopping by...

I do read every single comment you leave and appreciate it very much, but I should let you know that I can be a wee bit on the useless side when replying to comments, that's just me, everyday life sometimes gets in the I'll apologise now, just in case.

Kate XX

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