PJ Ryan

earth angels

In motherhood on November 8, 2011 at 10:23 am

On the morning after I smacked my daughter for the first time ever (she’s five years old), I awoke and checked my social media group.  The first thing I looked at was a video clip uploaded by a new friend.  This woman is the mother of two children and one of them is Autistic.  She’d filmed a few short minutes of an everyday ordinary event – the bedtime of her son.  He doesn’t speak well and the video shows the sparseness of his bedroom (for safety and sensory reasons I would presume) and the two of them sharing a ‘goodnight’ moment.  She uses a combination of brief sign language, direct eye contact and short play to say goodnight and ask for a cuddle from her son.  I watched it twice.  It brought tears to my eyes both times.  I didn’t weep because I was witnessing any particular hardship (she’s a single mum) nor did I cry for the life of her beautiful son and the challenges he must and will continue to face.  I shed tears because my eyes always get wet in the presence of angels.  She is an earth angel.

The irony of watching such a deeply personal and yet so ordinary snippet of their every day life, caused me to reflect on my own life and family.  And myself.

I admired her patience and passion, her tenacity and dedication.

I smacked my daughter yesterday in a brief PMS snap.  I regretted it the second I did it.  One swift backward movement of my arm in the car caused me to connect with her.  Slap.  My daughter was shocked, but realised she’d stepped over a line.  And so had I.

We curled up on the bed at home after the scolding and I held her and she cocooned herself within my arms and we showered each other in kisses and hugs and love and I said sorry for hitting her.  She made me feel loved.  And she let me know that she knew I loved her.  And I felt guilty.  This isn’t how we live our life.  We are stronger than that.

This little darling girl is one of my angels and I don’t like to hit anyone, especially angels.

Shortly after viewing the video footage of a beautiful moment in time for a mother and son, I then scrolled through my Facebook and found a picture of another friends newborn baby, who died just a couple of days after birth.  It was a beautiful image, if not confronting.  Another snippet of time caught on film, though still.  I’m not sure if her beautiful newborn baby was alive or had already passed in the picture.  I would never ask because it really is of no consequence.  The message was received regardless.

We are all precious.

We are all miracles.

We all have hardship of varying degrees and at different stages of our lives.

I am blessed to have other friends who have no children of their own and face tremendous trials and tribulations and they continue to inspire me daily.

Everyone matters.

We’re all human.

We will always walk by someone who is worse or better off than us.

This won’t stop us complaining or wishing for something different.

It probably won’t stop us from screaming at our kids too loudly on the bad days either.

But on certain days, when we are fortunate enough to be given a glimpse into the lives of others, we should thank them for allowing that.  We should tell them how beautiful they are.

We should let them know we love them.

So, to old friends and new, to parents and children and strangers on park benches (who will probably never read this), I send you love.

And I thank you for being you and for allowing me to share my own stories with you whilst you share yours with me, in whichever way you do.

I am so thankful that we’re able to inspire and support each other, on varying levels.

Sometimes, we crawl into our own selves and hide away from the world and all of its confrontational happenings, but when we’re strong enough, we always climb out and allow our wings to expand.  And then we soar.

Be the metamorphosis that you are, continue to change, learn, grow and amaze.

You are amazing.





In motherhood on October 17, 2011 at 10:55 am

If I give you a little bit of rope, you’ll hang yourself.

It will be my fault, because I’m your mother.

Sometimes you tie pretty knots in the rope and impress me but sometimes things get so tangled up that I sit here for hours and hours trying to untie it all, getting frustrated and letting my tears flow into the fibres.

It makes it worse because the knots get all wet, sticking together and everyone gives up.

There are pieces of rope thrown in corners and under your bed beside the defiance and the new strength you’ve found as a teenager. I consider taking the pieces and tying it all together.

Perhaps I’ll hang myself with it and dangle above you just to show you how it’s done, how it looks and how ridiculous this strangling of our relationship is.

You don’t scare me with your threats and your acidic mouth but it saddens me when you give up and tie yourself like that.

You’re blue around the mouth and the rope is too tight and you need to loosen up and spit it out and sit and talk and let me build you a swing with the rope.

But it’s too late, you don’t sit on swings anymore and you’ve forgotten how you liked to swing so high in the park and laugh and lean back and frighten me. You’ve forgotten how we skipped rope and played quoits and dangled over the creek before dropping in when we were too heavy with laughter.

But I haven’t.

I’ve seen you at your worst and I’ve seen you at your best and I know every little trick knot you tie and I’m sick of it already but I know there’s a long way to go before we make it up the mountain with these tiny pieces of rope we have.

I miss you, even though you’re here beside me and I’m so tempted to tie the rope around your waist and then to myself, but I have to cut it and let you go and make mistakes and be your own person with your own journey.

I hope I survive it too.

© ryan

Notes:  this piece was written several years ago and i’m pleased to say we’ve all survived the thriving of said teenager, who now has grown into a sensible, intelligent and wise young man.  One down, three to go.  It’s a jungle in there.

What’s for dinner?

In motherhood on September 23, 2011 at 11:10 am

When I was a little girl, I was believed that if I didn’t drink coffee, I’d never be able to go on a date and meet a boyfriend.

I knew I didn’t like the taste of coffee and still to this day, I’ve never drank a cup of it.

I love the smell and I don’t mind making other people an aromatic blended bean drink, but I’ve never been able to stomach a mouthful of it.

“Mum, how will I ever meet a boy if I don’t drink coffee?”

My mother would laugh and shake her head.  She’d ask me why I thought such things.

“Well, on television, everyone always says ‘would you like to come in for a coffee?’.  And then they kiss.”

I’ve since grown to grasp the reality of boy meets girl, though I relish both the innocence of my once naive self and my ability to still not like coffee.

It’s everywhere.

I marvel at how I grew to appreciate the taste of pumpkin, carrots and stir fry.

I drink coca cola though and I’m told by many that it’s the same as coffee.

Just as bad.

Just as good.

It doesn’t smell the way coffee does, all bitter and pungent and wakey-uppy with just one whiff.  Though it cleans a coin with better efficiency.

Don’t mention my insides.  They’re clean.

Most nights, my own children partake in the ongoing war against what is served for them.

They’re fussy.

I made them that way.  I think.

My husband and I share the cooking and it’s not unknown that he’s an amazing cook with a flare for effort.

He cooks the things that I can’t.

He can julienne carrots and zucchini into the most proportionate and tidy little setting.  Like firewood stacked perfectly against a beach house wall.

My sticks always end up pointy or too fat, too short and inconsistent.

I make the comfort foods at our house – like baked potatoes, pasta and those amazing things you get in the freezer department at the supermarket.

(I did once make the most amazing beef pie ever and the recipe is within the walls of motherstuff.  I was THAT proud of it.)

We don’t eat like I did when I was a child.

Back then (when dinosaurs roamed) our meals were mostly basic and comforting.  Meat and three vegetables.

We don’t eat a lot of meat at my house.  I’m not a huge fan of it and it’s usually served in small and sporadic doses.

The kids aren’t huge carnivores either.

I can remember not liking what I was made to eat as a child, but if i didn’t finish it, I was told there would be nothing else to eat for the remainder of the evening.  And that’s how it was.

I have a tormented memory of me sitting at the (now tres chic and vintage) dining table, alone and with tears rolling down my cheeks and onto my plate.  I was sad because it felt like abuse and I was sadder because I couldn’t stop the tears that made my food colder.  I knew the added salt wasn’t helping the flavour.

My mother had a point to prove on this evening in the mid 1970’s.




And so I gagged and dry wretched and regurgitated my mushy pumpkin and dropped further tears into it until she didn’t give up and I did what I was told.

I like pumpkin now.

But not when it’s mushy.

I’ve tried to force my children to eat things they prefer not to, and I’ve set out to promise them they’ll have nothing else to eat for the remainder of the night.  But, I always give in.

If they’re hungry, I feed them.

Perhaps too much sometimes.

Consequently, our eight year old son has developed boobs.

He was sitting in the bath three weeks ago and it shocked me to notice the extra weight he was carrying.

It’s not his fault.

I know it’s a combination of genes and body shape and yes, bad food choices and not enough exercise.

He’s so cute and handsome and yes, overweight.

I buy cupcakes and donuts and microwave mac cheese and sometimes chocolate cake and I know he sneaks a can of coke on odd days.

I’ve found the empties underneath his bed.

We have hiding places for the good stuff.  I usually stuff a bag of lollies and a block of chocolate into the saucepan cupboard.  That’s the ‘boring’ cupboard apparently.

Every high cupboard is reachable with a bar stool.

Every lower cupboard is too obvious.

They’re smart kids.  They say, ‘We know you and Dad have treats at night when we’re in bed.  We hear you.’

Yes, but I’m supposed to have boobies.

I can remember hearing my own parents rip open the wrapper of a chocolate block when I was ten years old. I lay in bed then wondering why the cupboard doors open and close after dark and why I wasn’t given the good stuff.

I wish our children cherished fresh fruit and vegetables and nuts and …. actually, I wish I could live alone on those things too.  Truth is, I’m a cake girl.  I love carbs.  I love lollies.  I adore the velvety texture of too much chocolate in my mouth.

Everything in moderation.

And more exercise.



But, I only like banana’s.


Boys aren’t supposed to have boobs and yes, I think you’re beautiful no matter what shape and I know that you’re the intelligent child of the family and you amaze me with your  mind so mature and enquiring.  You’re sedate and hate sport and there lies the truth after school when you and your little brother walk in and he heads straight outside to bounce the basketball whilst you start planning your night in order of shower, reading, computer time and drawing.

And then you ask me what’s for dinner.


How I hate THAT question.

When I asked that question as a child, I was replied to with – “Bread and butter and duck under the table.”

Or, “Food!”

My kids don’t understand the duck reference and to be honest, I like ducks too much to consider ever threatening to serve them as food.

I love the happy screams of joy when I say, “We’re having take-away!”.

I might like it best because it means I don’t have to think too much.

But no matter how much their happiness means to me.  Their health matters most.

And I know, that one day they’ll thank me for instilling healthy eating options AND for not making them eat duck.

Chicken, however, is different.

Chooks don’t fly.

Neither does bacon.

Or pumpkin.

Or boys with boobs.

And what also doesn’t fly is a mother who can’t take control of her families pantry.

I’m off to sort it out.

Starting with the saucepan cupboard.

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