family.

Christmas – Moments of Joy

In two more sleeps it will be Christmas 2012. Bella has been counting on her fingers and reminds me every half hour. Her Dad took her to buy presents for everyone and she can’t wait for people to open them. (Even though each person already know what she’s bought for them because she accidentally whispered it super loud when that person was standing right there…) She keeps reminding me what Santa needs. What his reindeer need. She wants to know when are we going to bake Christmas cookies and deliver them to all our friends? (Yes, yes I am aware that this family has yet to bake a damn thing this December and very soon, if I’m not careful – the Christmas Baking Gift Delivery will become the Happy New Year’s Baking Delivery….or the Valentines Day baking Gift Delivery…So whats your point?! ) She is excited and happy. And that is the way it should be. Because she’s five years old and that’s what a child should feel at this time of year.

But I’m not really feeling excited and happy. I’m still sad that families in Connecticut, USA are having funerals for twenty children the same age and size as my Bella because somebody shot them in their elementary school with a military style assault rifle. And lots of other children the same age and size as my Bella who were in that same school that day had to endure that experience.

And I’m sad that at home in Samoa, so many families are still camping in evacuation centers because their homes got wiped out in Cyclone Evan. Some are mourning the loss of loved ones. Some are trying to salvage their personal belongings – and have to see neighbors walking past wearing their clothes, making off with their tools and appliances. ‘Finders keepers, losers weepers.’  I’m sad that so many small businesses are still cleaning out the mud and sewage from their stores, racking up all the losses from this disaster and trying not to go bankrupt, trying to decide whether or not they have the resources, the will to rebuild. To try again. Businesses like Coaches Corner, Pacific Jewell, JN Woodworkers and so many more. I’m sad that some homes still have no running water or electricity and I’m worried to hear about the growing number of typhoid cases.

So yes, two more sleeps to Christmas and there is much to be sad about. This will be a more restrained celebration this year. No excesses. Or over-the-top frivolous stuff. It doesnt feel right to drown in food and gifts and festive gatherings – when so many are facing great challenges. Instead,   I am sad, and in that sadness, I am reflective. I am grateful.

Why?

Because this week my little sister had a baby. There were some complications after the birth and my sister required surgery but she and the baby are home now, resting and recovering. I haven’t met my new niece yet because they live in the Cook Islands, but as I look at the photo of this child, so perfectly beautiful and serene in her newness – I am grateful. For the reminder that even though lots of bad things happen, life can still be entangled with moments of joy. Sacredness. For the reminder that Christmas (for many) is about honoring the birth and precious gift of another baby, born long ago with a divine mission. So yes, there may not have been any herald angels singing over the Cook Islands for Emaraina – but she reminded me of celestial glory.

Because shortly after finding out that his daughter Emilie was one of the victims in the Sandy Hook shooting, Robert Parker, made this statement of love and compassion, “I’d like to offer our deepest condolences to all the families who were directly affected…this includes the family of the shooter and I want you to know that our love and support go out to you as well…my daughter would be one of the first ones giving her love and support to all of the victims because that’s the kind of person she is.” I don’t know if I could have that kind of strength, testimony and forgiveness had that been Bella. His example moves me. Reminds me that in the face of darkness, it is still possible to see the light – if one is looking for it – with faith and an eternal perspective. A grassroots campaign started this week on Twitter and has spread to many parts of the world called #26Acts of Kindness where individuals commit to rendering ‘random’ acts of service and generosity in memory of the slain, with only the plea to “Pass it Forward”. I’ve been tracking some of the service acts as they are posted online and they are diverse and widespread. Meaningful. Parker made an emotional plea for that spirit to be the legacy of this tragedy. “Let it not turn into something that defines us, but something that inspires us to be better, to be more compassionate, and more humble people.” I am grateful for this reminder.

Because  after they lost everything in the cyclone and only escaped with their lives by climbing on the roof with their small children – Vanessa Nieuwenhuizen wrote, “We are starting to feel that Heavenly Father has a better plan for us. We so appreciate all your prayers….love and concerns. We really do. We no longer cry over the things we have lost…instead…we cry because of the immense support from all of you. So thank you. In return, I express great love and continue to pray for Heaven’s blessings to be upon each of you. Here’s us Wishing you all the happiness in this Festive Season!” It is this kind of spirit that weathers storms, carries one through trials and makes it possible to still hope for the joy of a Christ-focused Christmas. I am grateful for this reminder.

Because of these things, I will rejoice in my daughter’s happiness this Christmas as she hangs up stockings and puts out carrots for reindeer. I will watch her eyes light up when she helps her brother open her gift to him – because she cant stand to wait another minute for him to (pretend) to be surprised and super-gleeful about the deoderant she bought for him. And I will smile a lot when children make a mess opening presents and make lots of noise playing with them.

But most of all, in two more sleeps, I will be grateful for the sacred opportunity to be a mother and to have my husband and children with me in peaceful, safe surroundings. Grateful for the gift of the Savior. Grateful for all that reminds us to be better, more compassionate and more humble people.

It is my hope and wish that your Christmas be the same.

Manuia le Kerisimasi.

O Holy Night – A Song for Your Christmas

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106 Minutes of Sexual Intimacy

I always suspected I was a bad mother/wife/woman. And now I just had it confirmed. Some scientists  ( with nothing better to do with their time than find ways to make me feel bad), did a study on “What a Woman’s Perfect Day Would Consist Of.” And the results? Went a little something like this –
106 minutes of sexual intimacy
82 minutes of socializing with family and friends
78 minutes of relaxation with friends and family
75 minutes of eating with family and friends probably
73 minutes of prayer and/or meditation
68 minutes of exercise with friends
57 minutes of phone time talking to friends
56 minutes of shopping
55 minutes of watching TV …..and so on.

I read this and I’m like…are you out of your freakin mind? Is that really what you women out there in the world of scientific studies want, dream of, lust for and long for? You’re REALLY coveting 106 minutes of sex/intimacy? Please tell me you just said that because your Significant Other was looking over your shoulder when you filled out the nosey-poker form? And are you HONESTLY wishing for socializing with your kids, your family, your friends a close second? Or did you just write that because it would earn you points in heaven?

Because if this list looks like what YOU would write – then I’m a very bad woman. And very very alone in my bad-ness.

Because MY idea of a perfect day would go something like this…

1. Wake up to a completely empty house. Redolent with quietness. Because everyone has fed themselves, dressed themselves and taken themselves to other very important places , very far away. Like school.  Or the planet Mars. And they didn’t leave a mess either. They all made their beds, washed their own clothes, vacuumed the house and scrubbed the shower. Because they’re super-wonderful like that.
2. Go to a cafe and eat breakfast. An omelette with mushrooms, ham and tomatoes. Lots of maple syrup.  The Hot Man can come to breakfast too. (But he cant have any of my omelette. He would order waffles with ice cream. So then I can eat some.)

Then in no particular order, I would do any/all the following…visit a spa and have a massage, manicure, pedicure. Read a book, by myself. Write 5,000 words on my latest project. By myself. Bake cookies, by myself.  MAYBE go to lunch with a friend or two. Drink Diet Coke, by myself. Listen to Eminem, U2, Phillip Phillips, Norah Jones and stuff like that, by myself. Go water walking at the pool, by myself.  Go to a movie. Eat a chocolate lamington.

And yeah, I guess I would also engage in “Sexual Intimacy” – BUT NOT FOR 106 MINUTES – because I don’t care how amazing sex is, that’s just way too long to be naked and sweaty and acrobatic. I mean, get real, a zumba class is only 50 minutes of cardio. And I find it difficult to be smiley and look alluring and remember to breathe for that long, all while contorting one’s body to music. Without falling over. (And that’s WITH clothes on.)  So, sex can be on the list but it wouldnt be number one on there.

My ideal day would also include my children. In there somewhere. Like maybe a few blessed minutes before they go to sleep. Like when they’re already fed, dressed and have done all the dishes and their homework, then we would read stories together. One hug, One kiss. And then ‘Good Night!’ The Fabulous Five are most fabulous when they’re going to sleep.  My ‘perfect day’ doesnt look much like the scientific study.

No. Because I’m a freak who likes her personal space. To herself. Which means, I dont want to spend the bulk of my ideal day WITH OTHER PEOPLE. Not even people I love desperately. An ideal day would have lots of good food, good books, good music.

And most of all, SPACE. Lots and lots of space. Just for ME. To wallow in. Dance in. Delight in. Get drunk on.

Like I said. I’m a bad wife. Bad mother. Bad woman.

Clearly, I’m going straight to hell. I hope they have isolation cells for people like me.

So whats high on YOUR list for YOUR perfect day?

You Made Me Cry

What a week it has been. It’s Saturday night and I’m sitting here, exhausted and just a little bit stunned.

1. The electronic book version of ‘When Water Burns’ was released on Amazon on Thursday. I asked for your help with getting this book into the rankings and you responded. You bought 380 books in a single day.  I woke up on Friday morning to find that ‘When Water Burns’ was number ONE on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers List – which tracks books that move the most on the listings in a single day. Overall ranking, #379 out of 1, 190, 929 books. Number 1 on the People and Places Fiction List, Number 1 on the Mythology List, Number 5 on the Children’s Hot New Releases List. You made history for a book written by a Pacific author. You did that.

2. Today I went to Otara Market in South Auckland for a book signing event organized by Rasmus Pereira and the Shop Samoa team. I had never been to Otara Market before. (Rasmus is pretty sure that this was a first for Otara Market as well – a book signing.) Many companies and individuals worked together to sponsor the event and make it happen. Like SUGA Magazine, Levi Plumbing, DJ Meex, Keila Records, Yolande Ah Chong, Tatau Dance Group, the Te Ariki Vaine Dance Group, Miss Samoa-NZ – and more.  I was expecting a low-key morning with a few people in attendance – and the chance for me to check out the market shops and sample some of the food that Otara Market is (in)famous for. That’s not what happened. From start to finish, I was overwhelmed. There were masses of people wanting to get books signed. Wanting to have photos taken. Wanting to meet the cover models. Wanting to share their excitement and enthusiasm for the books and the characters. Not only that, but the organizers had worked together with different sponsors to host a great array of gifted Pacific artists. From dance groups to music artists and radio hosts and more – the day was one that celebrated Pacific talent and creativity. But the day was truly about you. It was possible because of you. The readers. The supporters. You that have embraced these books and these characters and gone out of your way to encourage a Samoan writer that is trying to write and publish her books on her own. Today was about YOU. You made it memorable. Special.

Mothers, daughters and grand-daughters celebrating a book together.

A professional athlete and an actress giving of their talents to bring a book to life.

A beautiful couple. 

A mum bringing her children to meet an author.

A community coming together.

Connecting with great friends.

Dancers sharing their talents ( and tattoos) with a captive audience.

Dancers sharing their fiery flair and beauty. 
Inspiring examples of Pacific women.
The next generation of readers…and writers?
A rugby superstar making the time to support a Pacific author – and our youth.

Dedicated fans showing their enthusiasm for the book (and for Daniel) via their T.Shirts.

                                         Laughter.

Family.

Thank you for all that you do to make this writing and publishing journey possible. The last few days have shown me just how much you love these books. Just how much you are willing to do to encourage and uplift a writer of fiery Pacific stories. I’m humbled and grateful for every day that I can be living my writing dream.  Thank you for all that YOU do to make it happen.

(Ok, and now, I’m going to cry. Thank goodness you can’t see me. It’s past midnight, I’m really tired, looking at the pictures from the Otara event and I’m crying because you all blew me away with your support. I had no clue you were going to make a day like today happen.) 

And yes, in answer to those who have already begun asking me about book three…I am going to get serious about finishing work on the next book. ‘The Bone Bearer’ is in the works. And so is the Daniel novella – much of book one retold from Daniel’s perspective. Your support of my books makes it possible for me to write more. It’s that simple. This week, YOU made history. Today, YOU made my very first visit to Otara Market – an absolute joy. And tonight, reflecting on it all – YOU made me cry.

Thank you.

Fifty Memories of Samoa for Fifty Years of Independence

Flags flying in Samoa for Independence. Photo by Leone Samu.

Today Samoa marks the 50th anniversary of achieving Independence. For me, the story of Samoa’s last fifty years is also my family’s story because my parents were married in 1962 and they celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary this year as well. My parents chose to stay in Samoa and raise their six children there, even though the lure of distant shores was strong. My mother came to Samoa from New Zealand, as a very new, very ‘refined’, very beautiful young bride ( wearing white gloves no less), and thankfully for us children – never left. One of the greatest blessings in my life, has been the privilege of being born and raised in Samoa – by parents who have always worked hard to strengthen their marriage and value their family above all else. I pay humble tribute to the land that nurtured me and to the parents who love me. Thank you. Here’s fifty of my favorite memories of growing up in Samoa. There’s a million more for each one listed and of course, each of you will have your own unique list!

1. Weekends at Lefaga, staying in a house on the beach. Spending the day in the water (after doing all the assigned chores of course), showering at a rusty tap by the mangrove swamp, playing cards by kerosene lantern, going to sleep with the sound of the ocean (and mosquitoes), waking up and doing it all over again.
2. Reading Narnia books while sitting in a mango tree. Sticky sweet juice on your face. Hoping nobody finds you and gives you chores to do.
3. Getting dropped off at the Nelson Public library for the entire afternoon – the only place I was allowed to go all by myself when I was eight years old – and not worrying that a psycho child abductor was going to grab me. Really nice librarians bending the rules and allowing me to borrow twenty books at a time.
4. Hot German buns. Deliciously sweet, caramalized coconut insides.
5. Classroom monitor duty, sweeping classrooms with a salu-lima. Trying to tell naughty boys what to do because I’m just boss like that. (and because I was class captain. Don’t mess with my power…)
6. Finding excuses not to play softball. Or netball. Because everybody shrieks with laughter when you make a mistake. And yells at you when you’re awful. Samoa never believed in ‘every child’s a winner on the field’. If you sucked, everyone told you.
7. Glutting yourself on whatever fruit is in season. Making a basket with your shirt and filling it with mandarins. Or passionfruit. Or crab apples. Running really fast to escape the security guard. ( We lived on an agriculture Univ campus and students had fruit orchards everywhere which we weren’t really supposed to be helping ourselves to.)
8. Hoping the neighbor’s dog wouldn’t bite you.
9. Hoping your own dog wouldnt bite you.
10. Picking frangipani so we could make ula for Culture Day at school. Sap sticky fingers, sore from all the careless needle pricks.
12.  Sunday Toona’i at my grandfather’s house. Getting to eat all the food that our palagi mum refused to make. Chop suey. Oka. Pisupo floating in oil. Taro.
13. Saturday morning cartoons at my grandfather’s house because we didn’t own a television and he got TV stations from American Samoa.
14. Eating red baked lopa seeds. Making a mess with all the shells everywhere.
15. Eating sugar cane. Making a mess with all the spit up, chewed out mouthfuls.
16. Eating lolesaiga. Making a mess with all the leftover seeds. Our mum getting mad everytime she stepped on one by accident.
17. The whole school practicing for hours in the sun everyday so we get our sasa JUST RIGHT.
18. Being in the B-group for Samoan language with all the palagi kids because we never spoke Samoan at home, because my Dad believed that English was the language that would take us places. At the time – he was right.
19. School detention for being late too many times. Mean prefects making you weed vaofefe prickle grass in the blazing hot sun. While they stood in the shade and watched. (So unlike Daniel who cuts grass BESIDE you when you’re suffering through your punishment.)
20. Traipsing around after my big brother while he catches eels at Lefaga, using an empty plastic bottle, suctioning them out of their hiding places in the lava rock pools.
21. Practicing our lines for White Sunday. ‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.’ Papa getting annoyed because the Mormon kids ( us) were really bad at memorizing scriptures.
22. Driving real slow everywhere. Stopping to allow really big pigs to meander across the road.
23. Swimming at Vaiala at least three nights a week. My Dad throwing me up in the air, silver spray scatters.
24. Ice-cream cones after swimming. Sitting in the back of the pickup truck, wet and wrapped in a towel, feeling like life cant get any more perfect than this.
25. Hot pani popo from Schwenke’s bread shop. Rich, creamy and delicious. The tall cute boy serving behind the counter who I’m SURE had a crush on me because he always gave me EXTRA coconut buns. (yeah, you know it. Twelve years old and getting free coconut buns with my smile. Woo hoo!)
26. The heady fragrance of golden mosooi flowers.
27. Dancing the siva all the time. Getting called on to be the taupou every time my Dad had some kind of village matai event because the REAL taupou of the village ( aka, my big sister) was at school overseas. Somebody needs a taualuga? No problem, ‘Lani, go siva.’
28. The dreaded report cards. The parent’s responses, ‘You only came first in THREE subjects? What about the other two?’
29. The high school socials. Held in broad daylight. Everybody dressed up with no place to go. Dancing in the school hall with sweat trickling down your back and teachers breathing over your shoulder.
30. Taking empty Coke bottles to the store so we could buy PK chewing gum.
31. Eating eleni and hating it. Even when its cooked a million different ways by our Martha Stewart mother. Eleni fishballs with sweet and sour sauce. Eleni ‘meat’ loaf. Eleni baked with aubergines. Yuck.
32. Three hours of church every Sunday. My little sister giving her Sunday school teacher a heart attack, telling her ‘I’ve decided to be an aethist.’
33. Evening lotu prayers at Papa’s house. Every night. The roads closing. All traffic forbidden from six to seven because everybody is supposed to be at home. Singing hymns. Praying. Reading scriptures. Or else you get fasi’d.
34. Visiting Great-Aunty Ita who named me, who tells everyone, all the time,  that I’m going to do amazing things  – become a nun, marry a pastor, or be a lawyer.
35. Visiting Great-aunty Ita who named me, always without my mother, because Aunty Ita called her a ‘daughter of pigs’.
36. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer at school. Every morning. Every day.
37. Working in our mum’s shop every day after school . All day Saturday. Getting paid one tala for our troubles. Rushing to blow it all on lolesaiga. Or a fizzy Fanta in a glass bottle.
38. Reading books while we’re supposed to be working in our mum’s bookshop every day. Missing it when a stealer grabs three of Mum’s silk-screened t.shirts and runs out the door. Getting told off by our mum for being slack shop security.
39. Being scared whenever Evaliga came into the shop in her colorful assortment of draped fabrics and a red turban on her head. She would sit and read a dictionary for half an hour, muttering to herself while we wondered what we would do if she decided to take it. Fight Evaliga? Hell no. Breathing a sigh of relief every time she left the store. Without the dictionary.
40. Buying all the coconuts from Maria – the little girl who lugs a basket of them into the store everyday. Making her sit down. Giving her some snacks. Wishing you could pay for her school fees. And then regretting it a little bit when she comes back the next day with another basket AND three friends who all have baskets of cabbages to sell as well.
41. Being a ‘young adult’ and going dancing at the clubs – the Playground, Margreyta’s, Evening Shades and even the Mt Vaea. Our favorite DJ, Corey Keil who always played the bestest sounds.
42. Having your boyfriend get hit on by very boisterous, very bodacious fa’afafine. Hoping he’s not interested because daayuuum how can you compete with such splendors of fashion and dance?!
43. Planting a massive vegetable garden with your brothers and sisters. The nuisance of having to weed and water it everyday. The wonder of eating fresh golden corn on the cob once everything actually grew.
44. Buying a plate of BBQ from a roadside stand. Chargrilled mamoe, a chicken leg that seeps with redness, saka fa’i, and a dollop of potato salad. Loving it.
45. Peka ( our babysitter/Nanny, our other mother) crying those rare times our mother smacked us with the wooden spoon. Telling our mother she was never coming back to work again.
46. Feeding chickens and collecting eggs every day. Being scared of the psycho rooster that charges at people, wanting to scratch your eyes out.
47. My Dad doing the dishes with the lights turned off because he didn’t want anybody to see him from the road. Because ‘it’s very shameful for all of you if people see the matai of the family is washing the dishes.
48. My Mum lending her creative flair and fierce drive and determination to community service groups. Organizing stunning fundraising events for the local IHC. Dressing up as Zorro to ‘kidnap’ the bank manager in broad daylight and hold him for ransom. Wearing a fluffy skirt to dance the cancan on stage with eight other women. Lip synching ‘Jump for my love’. Whatever my mum does – she does with style.
49. Making my little brother push me around in the wheelbarrow while I give orders to the little sisters as we make scarecrows to put in the yard. Which never scared any birds. (Nobody told the Samoan birds they were supposed to be scared of raggedy clothes hung on sticks.)
50. Waking up early on Independence morning to go watch our big brother and sister march in the parade. Eating homemade cinnamon rolls and drinking Milo in the darkness while we wait for it to start. Getting our ears and hearts blown to bits by the 21 cannon salute as another year of Samoa’s Independence begins.
  Happy and blessed Fiftieth Anniversary Samoa – and my Mum and Dad.

Women – why do we always put ourselves last on the list?

*I make sure my kids eat several servings of fruit and vegetables a day. You can’t have a cookie until you eat that banana. No Xbox if you don’t have that brocoli.  – But I can’t remember the last time I ate a vegetable. Not unless carrot cake counts.

* I am the Enforcer of Bedtime because it’s important for children to get a good night’s sleep. But if I go to bed at midnght, that counts as ‘early’ for me. If I get five hours of sleep a night, I count myself lucky. I am perpetually tired.

* I chase children outside “for fresh air and exercise” on a daily basis. Turn off that TV and go play/run around the block/weed the garden/jump on the trampoline… They need to move and groove to be healthy. But too many times, I will cancel my run/water walking/gym visit because I HAVE to cook dinner / supervise homework / clean the kitchen or even rearrange throw cushions on the sofa.A zillion other things take precedence over me getting ‘fresh air and exercise’. Most of those things involve house and family. Contrast this with the Hot Man. He can get up and go for an hour long run even though the house is a mess, there’s no food cooked and the laundry is piled up to the ceiling. Is it because he’s ‘lazy and doesn’t care’ about the housework? OR is it because, as he so frequently reminds me – ‘your health is more important than dirty dishes. The children and the house are fine. Forget all this and just GO FOR A RUN.

Which begs the question – why am I so good at taking care of my children, and so rotten at taking care of myself?

As women, we are often raised/taught to be the nurturers. The caregivers. The multi-tasking, multi-talented organizers of homes and families, not to mention workplaces, church groups and community organizations. On the list of priorities, we often place ourselves last. After partners, children, extended family and even pets, dishes, and an unscrubbed bathtub. Otherwise we feel guilty, like we are selfish creatures. The problem with this is that eventually, our bodies, minds and souls suffer. We are run-down, stressed out, overworked, out of breath, and what’s worse – we are seething with resentment as we brood upon all ‘all the sacrifices I’m making for this family/job/partner /church /goldfish’. When I’m exhausted and none of my clothes fit because I haven’t worked out in months – yes I hate myself. But I’m also angry at my children – for ‘making me’ fat in the first place with all the demands they place on my time. And annoyed with the Hot Man because he can go running oblivious to mess while I can’t. (and of course he’s the one who gave me all these kids in the first place…I used to rock with the body of a supermodel dammnit! Before these children destroyed it.) Yes, that’s right – it’s everyone else’s fault that I put them first on the list. Totally.

You want to know the crazy thing though? My husband and my children WANT me to exercise, sleep more and eat better. They WANT me to go watch a movie instead of cleaning out the pantry. Relax with a book instead of re-arranging their drawers. ‘Mum, did you go to the pool today? I think you should go now. Mum, what time did you go to sleep last night? Why don’t you go have a nap? We’ll take care of things…’ Why? They want me to bump myself further up on the Priorities List because when I am rested, energized, and fit – I am a happier, nicer woman. They love me and want me to be happy.

So why can’t I love myself enough to want the same thing?

Enough. This madness has got to stop. My gift to myself this Christmas is the gift of “selfishness”. Of love. I will love myself enough to start taking better care of me. More sleep. More ‘fresh air and exercise’. More balanced and regular meals.More down-time. I will re-arrange my list of priorities so that it better reflects how much my family loves me. And how much I need to love myself.

It starts now. The place is a mess with post-Xmas debris. Who knows what they will eat for dinner? But me? I’m going to have a nap. And when I wake up, I might go out and join Bella on the trampoline.

How about you? Where are you on YOUR list of priorities?

"You’re my bestest friend forever."

The family was in the car heading home after church when I told them that I had invited another family over for dinner. The Hot Man explained to the Fab5, “Your mother has made a new friend, isn’t that nice?”

Right away the older lot started laughing. Jeering. Teasing me. “Awww mum’s made a friend. Finally after 10 months of living in New Zealand, she’s got a friend. Poor mum!” I told them all to shut up  be quiet or else they’d be hitch-hiking their way home. “Yes, I have made a new friend and I know I dont have many (“Ha, you mean any!” scoffed a disbelieving child) but there’s no need to be so derisive.” But they were not so easily silenced and the onslaught of mockery continued. Until, the Bella Beast put a stop to it all by bursting in to tears. And when the Beast cries – we all listen. (Spoilt child alert.)

“What’s the matter darling?” I asked.

She was sobbing as if her heart was broken. “I’m your friend mama. Nobody else. I’m your bestest friend.You and me mama – we friends forever.”

Now this not a post about how lame I am at making friends in real life. No. This is a post about how love – huge, gut-wrenching, breathtaking love – can take you by surprise. It’s about how I felt – and now I’m crying as I write this –  as Bella uttered those words, as she  looked at me, choking back tears. My very last baby. I get tired of being a mum (a lot.) Maybe because I started being a mum when I was a very young 22. I look forward to when they’re all self-sufficient and doing fabulous things…somewhere else in this fabulous world. I get impatient because dammnit, I’ve got things to do! And they’re getting in my way.

But here now is the very last child that will ever, ever want me to be the center of her universe. The last child that will want my hugs and kisses in public. The final, last child that will love me with that overwhelming, crushing kind of love – the kind of love that hasn’t had time to get tarnished by the realization that no, your mother isn’t perfect. Isn’t the coolest woman on the planet. Doesnt know everything. Makes tons of mother mistakes. And can’t make donuts as good as Dunkin.
 
No. This is my last baby. Reminding me that she is “My bestest friend forever.” Reminding me that being a mother is a breathtaking, gut-wrenching and blessed thing to be.
 
Thank you Bella. You’ll be my bestest friend forever too. (Even when you fall in love and run away into the sunset with some dreadfully unsuitable boy.)