|August 2006, Holzgerlingen|
But I'll blame that on heredity. Gotta blame the parents for SOMETHING, right?!
Funny how it's all in the bleeding though.
|November 2006, First Ribbon, Holzgerlingen|
Because what I do remember is the beginnings of an essay I had back when we were living in France, before I had a blog, before I was writing regularly or had even joined a writers' group. I had just read one of the Harry Potters. Whatever was out when in December 2002. And I was crossing the park towards home with a huge bag of Christmas toys I had bought for the kids. (In retrospect, how much could a 9 month old an almost 3 year old possibly NEED?!)
I remember having spent what I considered to be a huge amount of money, considering our financial situation, living on the outskirts of one of the most expensive cities in the world (Geneva) with Damon on an intern's salary. (Having now seen people spend THOUSANDS on their two toddlers at the pre-Christmas sales here, the couple hundred I had spent was minsiscule in comparison.)
|August, 2007, Tripsdrill Animal Park|
But it hurt. The money hurt. And I remember feeling as if I was hemorrhaging money that I couldn't really afford to lose. I was bleeding for my children.
But that that was not only okay, but the way it should be. That a parent SHOULD bleed for their children, and do so happily. Because that's what being a parent was. Just like Harry Potter's mother had given her life for Harry, her sacrifice ( and somehow her blood?) protecing him from Voldemort.
It all made great sense. And I have it written down on a napkin packed up in a cardboard moving box somewhere downstairs.
|June 2008, Holzgerlingen|
Let me get back to you on that though.
Because this time I am vomiting.
I was physically ill for over a week after we went to Ryan's new riding stable. Still am if I allow myself to think about it too much.
She was bouncing around in the seat next to me, radiant and chattering about her new riding program.
I was trying to hide the tears I had streaming down my face.
|June 2008, Holzgerlingen|
There is no possible way we can afford this riding program for her.
None at all.
And yet she started this weekend. The outrageous lesson fees. The course guides. The required lesson texts. New boots and chaps. Stirrups to follow. Barn polo shirt and sun hat. Safety vest optional. Formal attire and show fees still on the far horizon, but there none the less. Not to mention 45 minutes each way to get her there.
The 9 seater van we were looking at has turned into a 7 seater second-hand model. I guess my new glasses and contact lens prescription can wait. And I saw a dentist in Germany so I'm good. I'll just line up behind the kids the next time Damon is cutting hair. And I can get used to sandwiches and homemade pizza. Even have the kids convinced that homemade fries and chicken nuggets are an acceptable alternative to take-out.
|June 2011, The Gap (Brisbane), First Lesson|
But it's dull, not having ANY extras AT ALL. (Would LOVE to see that last Harry Potter!) And a lot of hard work cooking without ANY chance of a night off. The other kids have sports activities too. But Andrew's agreed to wait on the hip-hop dance lessons until 2012. (He's still got soccer.)The twins can swim in the pool so that they don't need formal lessons. And goodness, looks like replacing that old couch can wait until the kids go to college after all.
We're not living in poverty.
But we have had to make some serious choices about lifestyle - mostly about Damon and I giving one up - in order to get Ryan those riding lessons. (They were 15 Euros a week in Germany. Here, all we could find was a nationally certified dressage and show jumping training program, with internationally competing coaches. All of which is well worth the money, just a lot more than we were counting on. Kids don't take casual lessons here. They either have a horse in their backyard or Mum and Dad are wealthy enough to allow them to compete at an international level.)
|The horses are getting bigger!|
Even as I bleed - and vomit and cry - for Ryan's riding lessons, I don't regret them for a moment. This week, when I returned to pick her up after three hours, the other girls - all 4 to 5 years older - told me how amazed they were at her riding abilities.
"She stayed on Ace," they told me. "And he's not so easy to stay on."
We've gone form Welsh and Shetland ponies to Thoroughbreds.
And they threw a couple of jumps at her to see what she can do. "Um. They didn't jump in Germany" I told the coach. Ryan just rolled her eyes and told him she could do it.
|Brave new world. Jumping.|
Then did. "She'll have no problems getting right into the program." her coach reassured me.
"She's REALLY good." said another girl. "Wish I could have trained in Germany!" (And I really gotta credit Stefan Lange's program in Holzgerlingen. Fantastic foundation. 15 Euros a week.)
Ryan's stepping higher again since she started riding. She's back in her element. Calm, centered, focused, balanced, confident.
She belongs on a horse.
|They don't call it 'Wattle Creek' Riding for nothing. Look at those trees!|
And if I have to lose blood to put her there, yeah well, it's not like it's good for much else. Anitbodies to things I need. Clotting when it shouldn't. Not clotting when it should.
It's all I have to give. And I look back on that time in France, a time when I was just beginning to understand that a parent would give more than her life for her children...
And shudder to think of how easy I had it then. And what might still lie ahead!