Saturday, 29 January 2011

On The Laps of Their Parents

It continually fascinates me to watch Molly imitate me. Functioning like a mirror set up to show me exactly how she perceives my parenting. Somedays her teddies and dollies are repetitively put on the naughty step and told to say sorry. I bite my lip as I watch her role play, thinking 'am I overdoing the discipline?', 'Is that all she sees our relationship as? A never ending time out?'. But there are other days, when I walk into her room in the morning and see all her toys snuggly tucked into bed, or when she lays dolly over her knee and rubs her back. In those moments I think I must be doing something right.
'Dolly', the recipient of Molly's mock parenting, was Moll's
Christmas present this year, I made her with this tutorial.

The other day she sat for an hour with 'dolly' on her knee and read her stories, book after book, inventing the narrative in her own native language. It reminded me to not roll my eyes so much next time she follows me around the house, holding a book and exclaiming 'Mummy's knee! Mummy's knee!'

What are some of your favourite children's books? Me and Moll are equally obsessed with Calef Brown's Polkabats and Octopus Slacks. This book has been torn to pieces and taped together many times, the sign of a much loved book.
A little update: Finch has finally started sleeping through the night. The second day that he received 3 solid meals he went from a 4 hour waker, to sleeping 12 hours straight! It seems he was just way too hungry to sleep all night long. I feel like a whole new person.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Introducing The Steen Family

The post brought a big envelope the other day containing our Deed of Name Change. I could say 'it's been a long time coming' but it hasn't. A year is not an extraordinary amount of time to find yourself with a different name, a different means of identifying yourself, a different identity? But it is time. And I'm ready, though It will take time to adjust to our new name. To grow into it.

Keeping my married name was no longer an option to me. Losing 'Magee' was never intended to be a purging of the kid's biological fathers presence (who lives on a different continent and is not involved in their lives in any way**). I am not interested in changing our names as a means of revenge. But I no longer feel comfortable with having the ownership of 'him' implied in my surname and consequently It would seem a little strange for the kid's to have a different surname to me when I am their sole parent.

In molly's first year of life, so delighted was I that Molly had made us a family, I would proudly make statements like 'Family Magee joined the library today' and 'It's Family Magee's first Christmas'. But as soon as I set foot on that plane I felt I could no longer make those statements. I'd take a breath to say it and then I'd stop myself, because 'Family Magee' was broken, incomplete.

We were three and then we were two. But along came Captain Finch and restored us to our former tri-glory. And we needed a new title to give our new family.

Somewhat controversially, I've decided not to return to my maiden name. That decision was almost instinctual right from the moment it looked like 'things' might be going wrong. Returning to being a 'Reid' felt like a step back. It's not that I had an unhappy childhood or teenage years, but I never felt comfortable in my own skin back then - and that's what 'Alli Reid' conjured up to me - low self esteem, insecure and afraid. That Alli is gone and I refuse to step back into her shoes, despite how tempting it's been at times.

So why Steen? Steen is my middle name, but to me it has never been just a word to bridge the gap between forename and surname. Many of my close friends refer to me as 'Steen' or 'Steeners', it is the title I have chosen to give all my creative endeavors since I was old enough to make birthday cards with glitter glue. It was my great grandmothers surname and my grandmothers maiden name. I never met my grandmother, she died before I was born and my great-grandmother died when I was an infant. But I have grown up knowing my great aunties, still referred to as 'The Steen Girls'. They are a force of nature; strong, determined and big hearted women. Having been given Steen as my middle name always felt quite a compliment and indeed a standard to live up to. Unfortunately the name died out when each of The Steen Girls married and took on their husband's name. So I guess us becoming Steen's is a way of resurrecting the name and hopefully carrying it on. I always thought if I had children, I'd give one of them Steen as a middle name. I never expected it would become our family name. But here we are. Steen's and proud.

Meet the Family

Allison Steen, Finch Timshel Steen and Molly Joan Steen (my name sounds so short now! especially since I usually go by Alli Steen. But I'll get used to it.)

So here I go using it for the first time: Family Steen got our first family picture today. What did you do?

** but it's easier that way and I am can honestly say now that I'm grateful for the space and feel the kids do not lack in any love

Friday, 14 January 2011

This day a year ago me and Molly boarded a plane...