Paleo, because I live with someone I can’t stand

I have recently gone Paleo and it’s a decision that I have copped a fair bit of flak for. I think a lot of people see this way of living (and it is a way of living as opossed to just a diet) as a bit of a trend or a fad and something that hipsters are inclined to do…. But here’s the thing…
I live with someone I can’t stand. 

She makes me depressed. 

She literally has me pulling hair out. 

She hogs all the heat so my feet get so cold that they hurt. 

She makes my body ache… Every. Single. Joint. 

She gives me severe fatigue… Tiredness right down to my bones. 

She makes me gain weight… Sometimes multiple kilo’s in one week, just for shits and giggles. 

I know what you’re thinking… It’s your house… Kick her out! 

I am trying, but it’s not that easy. Her name is Hashimoto’s and she is an autoimmune disease. I have an eviction plan but it takes time and really the best I can do is banish her to the basement… She will always be here, she cannot be evicted entirely… 

For those playing along at home autoimmune disease basically just means that my insides weren’t being entertained enough… They got bored… And so, just for fun, my own body has decided to launch a full DEFCON 1 level attack on itself and in particular my thyroid. Slowly my immune systems’ master plan is to kill every last thyroid cell it can find and cause massive inflammation in my system while it’s doing it. I was told I would be medicated for life but no one could tell me why I have this condition or where it came from. Maybe it’s because I had glandular fever twice when I was younger, maybe it was triggered by some other stressful event in my life, or maybe I just won the genetic lottery. But one thing is for sure, years and years of eating foods loaded with sugar and highly refined carbs and even dairy did not help things.

I have attempted Paleo before, and I say attempted because I did cut out grains and sugar in the past with great success but I didn’t fully embrace the lifestyle. Instead of ramping up my diet with more veggies of a wider variety and adding in fermented veggies and bone broths to try to help heal, I just cut out the stuff I shouldn’t have and then ate as I had before. I had great success, the detox period was terrible, but it didn’t take long until I was feeling on top of the world, bouncing out of bed and smiling where just weeks before getting out of bed was a painful and exhausting event on its own, let alone facing the day. For the first time in a long time I could go hours in between meals and not feel hungry, I was finally able to lose some weight and I managed to lower my medication significantly, things were great.

Except then I became single and started making new friends and dating… I started slipping… I didn’t want to be the girl that couldn’t eat anything on the menu and had to ask waiters to change meals, I thought of it as an annoyance and figured that my new found friends and potential partners would see it as annoying enough to pass me up… This probably says a lot about my outward display self confidence vs my inward lack of self love, but that is a whole other post – or maybe a session on a couch somewhere haha. Anyways it didn’t take long for the sugar addiction to reestablish and I slowly became hooked back onto the foods that I had worked so hard to eliminate. It took some time for them to inflict damage again. Yes I noticed my thyroid medication dosage sneaking up a little and up a little and a few aches and pains sneaking in, but it took nearly a whole year before symptoms started rearing their ugly heads enough for me to take notice…and then I fell pregnant and all hell broke lose on my poor system.

Nothing screams fun like being heavily symptomatic and having a newborn baby. It is frustrating when you feel you want to leave the house to visit people but won’t for fear of falling asleep while driving, or when it’s difficult to pick up your tiny baby even though she’s light as a feather. Not to mention stacking on the weight even though you are breastfeeding and it should be falling off you.

So I am back at it, but this time I am fully embracing the Paleo lifestyle in a bid to not just eliminate my symptoms and minimise my medication but to try and get off my medication all together and put my Hashi’s into remission. It cannot be cured but there are plenty of success stories out there and I have nothing to lose. Having an active flare up of Hashi’s is like having a heavy, damp cloth put on your personality and I wnt it gone so I can feel me again.

So for those who are judging, making fun of me, or thinking that I think I’m superior for being able to stick to this lifestyle. Please don’t. I’m doing this because my body is inferior and is kicking it’s own ass. It’s wrong to say I’m not doing this because I want to, because I do want to, because I just want to feel better. But it’s more accurate to say that I am doing it because I have to, because I can’t live in a Hashi’s state, it’s a horrible way to be. And it’s a tough gig sticking to it… When everyone else is sharing around lollies and yummy treats and I have to decline it’s not only difficult because I’m a sugar addict and right there under my nose everywhere I go is my drug of choice, but also because it’s isolating, I get to be the only person not in on it. There are hours that now go into meal planning and meal prep and I have to make sure I have food available because fast food can’t be done, navigating restaurant menus can be tricky and you are now inflicted on other people should they dare to invite you over for lunch or dinner. But it’s worth it, and it gets easier as time goes on.

Week one in and I’m not feeling too much different yet. The detox stage has been horrible, the first night off sugar complete with headaches and the shakes in the middle of the night like some kind of junkie desperate for a hit. But I am nearly past the hardest bit and hopefully well on my way to sunnier days.

-H

I wish I knew the first time around….

Being a mum of three and having had each child in a completely different circumstance there are a lot of things I have learned about being Mum that I wish I had of known when my first was born, had of remembered when my second was born and not just realised when I was blessed with my third….

1. Every baby is different, really truly different. There is no one size fits all routine that will suit every bub. What worked for Debby next door or Lucy from mothers groups or your distant cousin Jill who suddenly is brimming with motherly advice for you may not work for your child…. in fact it probably won’t! 

Not only that, but the miracle fix that you find for your first child, whether that be a routine, a wrap, a certain dummy or comforter will probably prove useless for your next baby.

2. Some babies are harder than others. Unfortunately parenting is not an even playing field. Some babies just sleep, they are just sleepy babies and they love nothing more than to give their parents a full night sleep on a regular basis from just a few weeks old. Some babies much prefer to stay up all night long screaming because of their colic, or reflux or wind or… just because. This is a sad fact, but it is a fact. And if you are the parent of one of these higher needs babies don’t ever expect the parent of an easy baby to understand… Ever. Because they just won’t, they just can’t. If you haven’t been there yourself it’s impossible to comprehend. So they will probably look at you with unsympathic eyes and try to tell you all the ways that you should be doing things to make your baby as easy as theirs… As if you haven’t already tried everything.

3. Breast is best…. Except when it isn’t. I myself am a massive breastfeeding advocate and I wish there was more support out there for new mums to help them establish and maintain breastfeeding, because here’s the thing, it’s the most natural thing in the world to feed your baby from the breast… But sometimes it doesn’t come all that naturally. It’s a learning curve and it can be difficult and painful. And even when it is working perfectly it can be trying and exhausting to ensure you are eating well enough for the two of you and drinking enough to fill an ocean and being the person solely responsible for feeding your bub. The fact is sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s all too much, sometimes Bub cannot latch properly, sometimes mum’s milk for some reason isn’t enough, sometimes the diet restrictions are too hard – because new mothers need chocolate in their life, when one isn’t getting any sleep, chocolate is an essential lifeline and some babies (mine included, much to my devastation) do not enjoy chocolatey milk. And when this happens, not breastfeeding is ok. It’s better than ok, it’s what’s best for your baby and yourself. 

And on the topic of boobs and breastfeeding – breastfeeding does not always make you lose weight. I am one of the lucky ones, where breastfeeding actually causes my body to hold onto as much weight as possible. My body grips those fat stores like it’s hibernating for the winter to ensure that I always have plenty to use up to produce milk. It is a shitty reality but it is a reality so don’t bank on feeding making you drop weight like nothing else as is often implied. And if that is how it happens for you, count yourself lucky.

4. You don’t need every baby gadget in the shop… But some of them will make your life easier. Try to avoid turning your house into a baby store, you do not need a bouncer, a rocker, a swing and a baby gym, it’s just more stuff to trip over in the middle of the night. But one or two of these items can be the difference between you having a shower or not😉

5. Stress less! A happy Mummy = a happy baby

With my first I spent so much time worrying, I timed every feed and every sleep, I noted down every nappy change. I felt guilty for cuddling her too much – after all I didn’t want to spoil her and make it so that she would never ever sleep on her own, ever. I was terrified of SIDS and I watched on as she screamed through tummy time on the floor because the nurse told me if she didn’t have at least 15 minutes a day she wouldn’t be able to hold her head up.

With my second a child health nurse made me feel guilty for having my nails done – ‘you’ll scratch the baby with those things!’ And told me I was over feeding him because he was in the 90th percentile and I had super milk – ‘do you want an obese toddler?!’. I had relaxed on the sleeping thing, but I still stressed and felt guilty when I let him sleep in our bed. I was still mindful of too many cuddles or using the carrier too often in case he became too attached. I felt like I had failed when his comfort blankies that were suppose to stay in the cot started leaving the house every time we did just to keep him settled while we were out.

This time around.. I am relaxed. As I sit and type this Baby A is asleep on my chest and I don’t care. She has been nicknamed Koala because for about 20-22 hours a day most days she is on or next to me. She sleeps in my bed and I have no guilt about the endless cuddles. I am not stressed that she rarely sleeps in her bassinet and most of her ‘tummy time’ is done on me. I don’t time feeds or sleeps or note down nappies; I feed her when she seems hungry whether it’s been 3 hours or 30 minutes and she sleeps when she sleeps. 

The funny thing about this is that so far, nearly 3 months in, she is the most settled by far of any of my babies. She sleeps the best, she doesn’t cry often at all. When she does go down for a play on her play mat she is happy for me to wander around the house and do chores until she’s had enough, I don’t have to sit with her and chat the entire time like with my first two babies. She is just overall very content.

Here is the thing, despite the differences in how I parented my first two kids, now at nearly 5 and 7, they both go to bed on time and usually straight to sleep and rarely, very rarely wake up during the night needing me. They can both hold their heads up straight and my little boy is a perfectly healthy weight! They are both really quite independent little humans, despite my excessive cuddling of them when they were babies and allowing them to sleep in my bed, so I wish I could go back and tell my earlier self not to worry, not to feel guilty over it and not to withhold the things that feel natural, like I did at times especially with my first baby girl, because they will turn out just fine.

So please first time Mummies, remember parenting is not a competition – even though some parents make it feel that way. It’s not about how fast you can get your pre-baby body back and stick it up on Instagram, or how far apart you can stretch your babies feeds, or how long a stretch they sleep over night and whether they sleep in your arms or in a bassinet or cot or in a swing or carrier or in your bed. It’s about you taking the time to enjoy your beautiful bundle. They are this small for such a tiny amount of time. Sometimes one night can feel like forever when they are unsettled and miserable, but really, honestly, it goes so fast and before you know it you’ll be reminiscing about the days when they needed you that much. 

So ignore the haters, feel free to tell Debby and Lucy and Jill to piss off… Or smile and nod politely and file their comments and advice  in the ‘I don’t give a shit pile’. As long as you and your baby are healthy and you are keeping you baby safe, just enjoy them. 

Always remember to look after yourself, because no one can fully take care of someone else if they aren’t taking care of themselves and then parent how it comes naturally and keep your fingers crossed that you come out of it with some of your sanity intact. Before you know it, they will be chatting to you as they sit in their high chair munching on a rusk and you will be thinking it’s time to give them a brother or sister😉
– H

It’s no use going back to yesterday…

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, I was a different person then.” – Alice in Wonderland

I took a stroll down memory lane today, and by memory lane I mean the camera roll in my phone and it gave me a pang of good old Mummy guilt. When I scrolled back far enough, about 2 and a half years, I come across gorgeous videos and photos of my kids playing… and not just playing by themselves but with me playing with them. Whether this was during trips to the zoo where all three of us got our faces painted,trips to the beach or just playing at home, the joy and fun they are experiencing is so evident, as is the joy it brought to me.

It was an amazing time, I had come out of a cloud of misery and hurt at the end of my marriage and instead of dreading what was to come my focus was purely and simply on enjoying my time with my kids. It was bliss.

Then life got hectic. The 2 and a half years to follow would be a cluster fuck of illness, house moves, more illness, more house moves, new schools, new child cares, new kinders, mummy getting a job, mummy quitting her job because she couldn’t stand to leave her little girl crying every day at child care, mummy getting married, custody schedules, mummy getting pregnant, mummy being sick, mummy being sore, adjusting to a new parent for them and now a new baby.

Mummy forgot to play. Mummy was too sad, Mummy was too tired, Mummy was too sick, Mummy was too busy and now Mummy is beyond guilty.

You see when people comment on how crazy life has been lately I kind of shrug and say yeah, it’s been a bit crazy for the last little bit. The last little bit is how I describe it, because that is how it feels to me, time has rushed past with so many things happening, but looking back at those photos and videos I realise just how much time has past and how much my beautiful children have grown in that last little bit. For my son we are talking about half of his life, half of his life has consisted of the crazy whirlwind, for my daughter it’s a third and my gosh has she grown in that time. She is changing before my eyes from my gorgeous little princess into a young girl and it is stunning and terrifying all at the same time. I feel that I have missed out on properly enjoying such a large chunk of their life because my focus shifted. I have been so concerned with working out the right custody balance that best benefits them and is fair for their dad (because lets face it if it was totally up to me I would keep them full time), I have been trying to create a home for them that is stable and comfortable and warm,  I have been sitting down doing readers, pushing her to try and being amazed at how far her abilities have come. I have been stressing over their diet and making sure they are eating right, I have been shuffling furniture and rearranging rooms over and over to maximise their space to play, to make sure they have enough room to build and create and explore…. I just forgot to do these things with them.

I forgot that it’s fun to run in the house (until someone falls over), I forgot that it’s brilliant to make mess and not care, I forgot that it’s awesome to get dirty and wet (that’s what a washing machine and a bath is for), I forgot that 5 or 10 minutes a day of being silly and funny with them isn’t enough.

It’s no use dwelling on the past and wishing it back, or feeling guilty over it, because it cannot be changed, only learnt from.

I will always look back fondly on my time as a single mum, because whilst it was difficult and demanding it was also so rewarding. I found more of myself in that time than I had my whole life and I found them. I found these two little people that I created (I did that!) who found so much joy in nothing more than playing with me.

It is time to refocus and reconnect with them on that level, more playtime where ever it can be snuck into our busy days in whatever form that takes. Time is too precious to give up the playtime and to lose that joy.
H

Motherless Mother’s Day

Last weekend was Mother’s Day.
There is of course never any question as to whether or not this is going to be a tough day. Even though I have my own beautiful kids (and another on the way) to enjoy this day with, it will never again be a day of pure joy and happiness, because whether it is front of mind or back it is still floating around in there, the ever obvious absence of my own Mum. Whether I can manage the whole day without tears is irrelevant, I am crying on the inside. Whether I am smiling and being ok or not, really I am dying a little inside. Really I am trying so hard to remember what we did for Mother’s days when she was still here. This is the second one I have had without her and it is becoming more and more difficult to remember specifics around what I gave her for Mother’s day those last few years and what we did.
And to be honest it is irrelevant, because it wouldn’t have mattered to Mum. She wasn’t really one for presents, not that she didn’t appreciate them, she just didn’t need them. She would rather us spend our money on ‘more important things’, on the kids or ourselves. She also wouldn’t have minded what we did for Mother’s day, usually it would just be lunch or dinner or something not sorted out until the day before or that morning, as long as we spent time with her it didn’t really matter what it was we were spending time doing.

This Mother’s Day I chose to spend it somewhere that I feel she is around me, which was both a blessing and a mistake. Sometimes it is so nice to be somewhere reminiscent of her and sometimes it hurts too much.

It surprised me when I decided that I could bare the walk to the beach that she loved, that it was with great relief that the weather and the ocean was miserable and angry. The rain stop-started, but not for the whole day did we see a ray of sunshine the sky remained grey and gloomy. The ocean was furious, rough, wild and absolutely unrelenting. Set after set of huge waves rolling in and crashing heavily on the rocks and the shore, the roughest I have seen her beach in a very long time. I sat with my gorgeous kiddies and we watched, mesmerised, and then Miss L turned to me and asked why it was so rough today. We ended up agreeing that it was so rough and wild because Grandma was cross. Angry that she couldn’t be there to spend the day with us. And she would be too, so angry and so devastated that she had missed out on that day let alone nearly a year and a half of our lives, and a year and a half that has seen so much change and so much excitement.

We enjoyed a beautiful lunch and the company of the beautiful family I have now married into was a welcome (if not completely successful) distraction. I’ve no doubt that my presence was not a complete one for the day, far too taken in my own thoughts to properly communicate with others and be fully involved, but I know they forgive me for that.

The day ended on some lovely text messages and well wishes from others, hoping I had had a lovely day and reminding me that “She is with me all the time” and the like.
Which only really served to upset and frustrate me, because while I know that these words are meant sincerely and as a source of comfort for me they do not bring that because they are not true.
Do I like to think that somehow her spirit is still around me all the time? Yes, of course I do. So much so that I often find myself talking to her when I am alone or in a space that makes me think of her.
But she is not here, not really. She cannot talk back, I cannot feel her hold me, she cannot snuggle her beautiful grandbabies and these are the things that run through my head when someone kindly attempts to suggest otherwise.
Sometimes I think that I would be better served with agreement to the stone cold reality that it is shit.
She is gone and it is absolutely shit.
Rather than empty words of comfort to assure me that I will never again be alone. Because that is how I feel at times. Completely alone. The loss of her is a hole that no other can or will ever fill, nor would I want them to. It has become a space in me that is filled with my grief, my sadness, my longing for her. But also my happy memories of who she was and what she means to me… A special place, I suppose, in my mind that is still, coming into the second year of her absence, trying to find acceptance, still coming to terms with never seeing her again, still lets face it, very much in denial, but also very much full of love.

– H

Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here…?

Alice: ‘Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.’
‘I don’t much care where-‘
‘The it doesn’t matter which way you go’

There are many great quotes from Alice in Wonderland, this is one that really resonates with me. There are a lot of decisions in my life that I make on the fly or rather quickly. I don’t often take time to dwell on things and I rarely allow something to take up so much of my conscious that I begin to find it distressing (the exception to the rule here is my hair… but that’s an entirely different story for another time).
My theory in life being very similar to this quote in many ways is that to change our circumstances takes but one decision… and if you don’t like where that decision takes you then it only takes another decision to take you somewhere else.
Obviously there are times when these decisions are difficult to make and time consuming to execute, and sometimes they are financially detrimental, but as a general rule it is true.
And this is the reason why I get frustrated with people who find themselves in circumstances they don’t like but refuse to take any sort of action to change things. Helpless souls who are slaves to their universe… victims of the world they live in… powerless. These are the people who walk, talk and think as if life has been inflicted on them.

I find myself at a crossroads at times, between wanting to believe that there is some kind of set direction for life, somethings that are predetermined almost, that fate exists… but then believing very strongly that we are in charge of our own destiny, Sarah Connor style – ‘no fate but what we make’ and that in order for things to happen we must make them happen. There is no sense in sitting around wanting and willing change but doing nothing to set the ball rolling.

I use to have my life set out in front of me… I knew where I would be in 10, 20, 30 years time… not exactly but fairly certainly, my life was selected, kids schools picked out, ideal lifestyle in mind… But then it all changed… I had found myself settling for a life that was nice and comfortable but that I didn’t actually want.
I don’t like knowing everything that is going to happen, sometimes it’s nice to be blindsided by unexpected events and sometimes you find the best outcomes and the greatest people by accident.
So where to from here….?  I don’t know….
Where do I want to get to…..? I don’t much care…
As long as I have my kids and my knight and we are warm, safe and happy… it doesn’t really matter where we wind up or how we get there… after all, it would only take another decision to change things anyway.

How long is forever….?

I have decided on a series of Alice in Wonderland themed posts….
No, not the movies, the actual book, which no one seems to bother to spend the time reading these days.
It has taken me nearly 30 years to pick up the book that saw the creation of one of my favourite childhood movies and I have so enjoyed many of the quotes and underlying themes in it.

My favourite by far would have to be the following….

Alice: “How long is forever?”
White Rabbit: “Sometimes just one second”

There is something about losing someone important to you, someone you are so close to that they feel more a part of you as oppose to a separate person.
Lots of people have experienced death in their lives and obviously it always affects you to a degree, a relative of some description, or even when it is a complete stranger, certain news stories – particularly when there are young children involved – about death and tragedy will make us feel things, but it is quite something else when this person formed part of the fibre of your very being, more so again when in your mind this person seemed… almost… immortal. You took for granted that they would always be there, it was just a given… until it wasn’t.

This person for me was my Mum. She was a constant in my life. She would be there, always. I had no reason to suspect otherwise and in my childlike naivety and denial I allowed myself to be quite convinced that there wouldn’t come a time that I would have the mourn for her. And obviously by association this meant that I too had ‘forever’ in front of me. Time was almost irrelevant… there was a vague back of mind thought that one day when we were old and feeble we would die, but not a present thought.
When a person of this calibre in your life passes on it forces you to face mortality, both theirs and your own. Suddenly you have found yourself without this ‘constant’ in your life, this presence that you thought of as a forever, as a given and you subsequently find yourself evaluating what ‘forever’ actual means, how long, or more to the point, how short, that may be.

For me it has brought a lot of things to light and created changes in how I see the world and how I see myself and obviously and most importantly, how I behave.
I no longer have this incredible desire for approval or to people please. I have managed to start feeling much more comfortable in my own skin (this is a work in progress, but I’m getting there).
The way in which I use to do things was to think of something I wanted to do and run it past my partner, then my mum and then think long and hard about what everyone else would think, then I would re-think it 4 or 5 times before I usually settled on not doing it so as not to disrupt the peace, so as to maintain people’s current perception of me and not to upset anyone else.

My outlook now has significantly changed… the fact that we only get one lifetime in which to live how we see fit has become a horrifying fact that I cannot ignore, and even more than this, the fact that life could be cut shorter than we ever expected at any given time.
Now the things that I want to do get two thoughts – the thought that I want to do it and another thought for the potential negative ramifications that doing it might have – of course in there I consider other people and the effects it may have on them, the most important of these people being my two kiddies – and then I go right ahead and do it, unless the negatives far outweigh the positives.
I strive to do what makes me happy these days and I know that by doing that, I do things which other people will judge me (sometimes harshly) for and I don’t mind.

I must say it helps immensely that I have found myself with my Knight, who sees me… genuinely sees me for who I am and seemingly wouldn’t change it for the world. Further more encourages me and helps me realise I am perfect, as I am (#selflove) – and that is not arrogance by the way… in no way, shape or form am I ‘perfect’, no one is, there is no such thing. Everyone has their flaws, some things they need to work on and some things that can’t be changed. Acknowledging that you are perfect as you are is acknowledging those flaws, allowing yourself to be the best version of yourself that you can be and knowing that the things that make you different are the things that make you, you – identifying and changing the things you can and want to change and accepting the things that you can’t. This is a much more difficult thing to do than it sounds.

I have made my peace with accepting that the way that I make myself appear, the actions that I take in my life and the way in which I parent mean that some people will judge me straight off the bat. They will not give me the chance to show them who I am.
For some people beauty, personality and character is something that they feel can be judged by something that is only skin deep… as deep as a tattoo needle for instance :p
I am ok with that. I forgive these people their judgements and if I feel they are worth the time, I will go out of my way to help them see who I am on the inside. I will push them to spend time with me and be myself around them until they understand that just because I have ink doesn’t mean I’m rough or bogan; just because I have piercings doesn’t mean I’m trash; just because I’m loud and seem extroverted doesn’t mean that I don’t, on occasion lack self-confidence and just because I seem invincible doesn’t mean I don’t need help sometimes.

But, they have to be really worth it… because at the end of the day, who knows how many years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds I have left in this lifetime… I don’t want to spend that precious time on people who think that I am anything other than brilliant!
Because what’s the point? They’re entitled to their opinion and if they got that opinion without really bothering to know me… then that’s ok… but perhaps I won’t bother to get to know them either…. after all, sometimes forever is only just one second.

H

The exclusion zone

Recently I have discovered that I have found myself in the exclusion zone.
This is somewhat of a new experience for me.
A few years ago, when I was married and a full time stay at home parent I threw myself into activities with the kids, the more stuff we had on the better, somewhere to be nearly every day of the week – great!
In addition to this I threw myself into all the committees and volunteer things that I could to do with them. Playgroup committees, kinder committees, fundraising stalls and bbqs, you name it, I put my hand up.
Part of this was because I genuinely wanted to do something positive with my time, I genuinely wanted to help out these organisations that helped bring joy or education to my children; part of it was because I was bloody miserable at home and needed things to fill my time and more importantly my mind and it was also because I had time. I was busy looking after my two beautiful kiddies but I had time left over to contribute to other things.
Then I became a single parent and all that changed…

I am becoming the ‘stealth ninja mummy’ of school pick ups and drop offs, I’m in and out before I can be detected. I didn’t even take a second glace at the school committee nomination forms and whilst there is no end of fundraising I have contributed to the school my little girl attends, I have thus far managed to avoid any that actually require me to be somewhere.
Part of this is because I lack time now that I am doing most of this parenting gig on my own and I have chosen to study so that I may return to work to provide for my two little monkeys and me; part of it is because I no longer feel the need to display how “happy and together” I am to complete strangers… funny how actually feeling happy and together will make you stop needing to show the world that you are; and part of this is because I have moved to a new area, one where I am an ‘inbetweener’ and by that I mean that I am not quite old enough to look like my fellow parents, and not quite young enough to look like a nanny.
I have moved to a rather posh suburb after my separation and in this suburb I am different.
I am reasonably young to have a preppy. I had Miss L when I was 23 and I dare say the average age of parents of kids her age in this suburb is a solid 10 years older than that or more, add to that my taste for visible tattoos and my 10 separate ear piercings (and until recently a nose stud to boot) and you can see how maybe I might be a bit of an outsider here.

The problem is that people aren’t sure how to take me – the parents think I’m too young to be one of them and the nannies (yes there are plenty of them here) aren’t sure that I’m young enough to be one of them. I suspect that perhaps they are wary of talking to me or approaching me because of my chosen additions and that they stereotype me (as I do them) into being a certain type of person because of them.

I hold myself fully accountable for making myself less approachable to others. For people my age and younger these days the stigma attached to tattoos just isn’t there. My kids in particular would never think twice about speaking to someone because they happen to have pictures on their arms/hands/body. And it’s not like any of my tattoos are offensive or violent looking, however for those generations older than my own there can be a stigma that paints you as a bad/unsociable/unpleasant person and of course I was aware of this before I started decorating myself and it hasn’t held me back in the slightest. I rarely hesitate to proceed with something based on what others think.

I started the school year saying ‘hi’ and ‘good morning’ to all the mothers in my daughters class, a few took to me better than others, but my upkeep didn’t last. I am often in a rush, to get the kids home and ready for dinner with their Dad, or to make sure I can get their dinner, bath and readers done before bedtime and still allow them a bit of play time etc and at drop off I am in and out with the speed of a lightening bolt because I have study to do, or a million piles of washing or somewhere to be. I have no one to blame but myself really for their ever decreasing interest in going out of their way to approach me. But I have also noticed that I was approached or politely smiled to or waved at prior to them seeing me in a sleeveless top and I can’t help but think there is at least a little bit of a correlation.

The worrisome thing is, I really don’t care.
I feel no worse off for skipping the mindless chit chat before and after school. The whining about the weather, the idle talk about what the kids did in art or PE last week and how sweet it is that they are all friends. I would almost always prefer to be somewhere else.
So as I arrive I give them a cursory glance and sometimes I say ‘Hi’ and sometimes they don’t even see me. But there is no twinge of longing, no regret at not trying harder… just a slight sense of relief that I don’t have to engage and I can get back to whatever I was doing before and get on with my day. I can spend that extra 5 minutes asking my daughter about her day, or I can pick up my little man 5 minutes earlier from his.

I don’t need these things to feel whole and happy anymore… and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
Is it possible for an extrovert to turn introvert…? Or maybe I’m just an inbetweener on that scale too….
While I work that out I think I’m best sticking to the shadows… although I do worry about the possible playdates my little girl may be missing because I am not part of these interactions…. I guess I will never know. I figure at the end of the day she spends 6 and a half hours a day with these kids 5 days a week, so surely that’s enough socialisation for her anyway!
I also harbour a sneaking suspicion that should it be offered any play dates at my house would be respectfully declined by the parents because they wouldn’t want their child mixing with ‘my sort’😉

H

Refusing to raise a doormat

My little girl got an award at school last week. An achievers award.
It is a token award that one child from each class gets at assembly each week, nothing terribly meaningful I suppose, but it’s a nice chance for their teacher to highlight something they are good at, something that they do well.
My daughters achiever award was for being a good friend, using her get along skills and always putting others before herself.

Now this should have been an incredibly proud moment for me, floss’s first year at school, her first ever little award, her first appearance up on stage at assembly, and it was. I was beaming with pride as that gorgeous little thing that I created stood up there smiling from ear to ear and blowing me kisses and signing I love you across the hall… until I thought about exactly what she was awarded for a bit harder and my heart sank a little.

She came home from school that same week, just days before this, crying. She was devastated. I had given her a lunch order that day as a special treat, and in it I included a gingerbread man. She was crying because her friend asked if she could have some and after only having one bite herself Floss handed over the entire thing and when (after her little friend had consumed half of it) she asked for it back her friend said no because she was too hungry and polished off the whole thing… and Floss let her.
I was furious! Partly because this was a special treat (that I had paid for) for my little girl to enjoy and this child had stolen it, partly because this little shit of a kid had just completely taken advantage of the kind nature of my own offspring, but mostly because it infuriated me that my little princess left herself out there to be taken advantage of like that. She did absolutely nothing to stand up for herself, worse yet at the end of it she deemed it her own fault because she had given it to her at all.
And then just a few days later she was awarded for exactly that kind of behaviour. My little lady was being officially recognised at school assembly for being a push over.

The disheartening thing here is that I know exactly where this comes from… whether learned or genetic this is a trait that has come from me. I am generous to a t… It has always been my nature to put those I care about in front of myself, and as years go on I realise that this is something I do often to my own detriment.
I spent many years in my past being a doormat to those who thought they knew better than I did about things to do with myself and further to this I have consistently allowed these people to pass judgement, to dictate what I should or shouldn’t do and then convince me that anything negative that comes out of these things were entirely my fault.
It took me a very long time and a lot of looking over my life and judging myself and my actions to realise that what these people thought was not important and that I needed to stop caring and that I didn’t need to deal with or accept their superiority complex and that I was entitled to remove them from my life as best I could and to stand up to them when I felt I needed to (boy, they don’t like that!)

What has me concerned here is the amount of shit that I had to go through before I came to this realisation and how it is that I can make it so that my little girl doesn’t repeat my mistakes and instead learns this at a much younger age.
It is a time where what everyone else thinks is paramount, that is why we have facebook and twitter and instagram – look, look at me, look at my life, do you approve? Am I amazing? Do you love me?
Who gives a shit? The number of times I have considered withdrawing myself from all of these social media outlets is well beyond being countable on fingers and toes. I like to be in touch with those I care about, I like to be in the loop and I get invited to a lot of events via my facebook page.. I fear that it will be too easy for people to forget to text me or call me separately if I remove these accounts… but the temptation becomes stronger and stronger every day because everyday I care a little less about what others think is happening in my life based on my status or my photo’s or whatever facebook article I’ve been tagged in. And that is a great feeling!
It’s funny how actually feeling happy and together kinda makes you stop caring about showing other people how happy and together you are.
It is also a time when ‘bullying’ is rife, yes I am air quoting bullying… (I can hear you gasp). I am not saying bullying isn’t real, but I am saying we need to teach our kids to stand up for themselves and redefine what bullying means.
When I was a kid (oh god, I’m old) bullying was being beaten up, having your lunch money stolen, being slammed against the lockers and having your hair pulled and your face punched… this stuff constituted bullying.
Floss came home from school upset about a boy who was ‘bullying’ her, evidently he had been chasing her around the playgroup making kissy faces and noises, I laughed. Floss got mad – ‘don’t laugh mummy, he’s a bully, it’s not nice to bully people’.
I asked her what she did – she went and got the teacher as she had been told to do when someone bullies you…. I scoffed and she looked confused.
‘Honey, he probably likes you, he probably thinks you’re a bit of a cutie. I don’t really think he’s a bully or trying to be mean, he wants your attention. Still if you don’t like it, you put your hand up and you say to him ‘stop that, I don’t like it, leave me alone’ and then you walk away. You keep doing that every time he does that, and become more and more forceful each time, put this together with ignoring him and I’ll bet he stops. We girls have got to stick up for ourselves!’
Floss swiftly explained that if she did that she was just as bad as the bully and that she had to tell the teacher because otherwise she wouldn’t be using her get along skills.
My daughters school is encouraging her to run away from her problem and that she shouldn’t stand up for herself because that puts her in the same basket at the bully. I’m sorry but what the actual fuck?!

In what world do we ever encourage someone NOT to stick up for themselves? Why train these children to be doormats? Why encourage them to just sit there and take it until they can’t anymore and then find someone else to deal with it?
These kids need to learn to process these things. Bullying never stops, there are always going to be horrible people in your life who ‘bully you’. Even as an adult, at work or personally. There are always those people and if you never take a stand and you always shy away and give in to them or run away, then they will continue to take advantage and treat you as their play thing.
I’m not saying you should always engage with these people, but often identifying their behaviour, calling them on it and telling them enough is enough, is enough to shock them into cutting it out. It is true that sometimes doing this can aggravate them further and that these people are often very skilled in turning anything into someone else’s fault – they have never done a thing wrong in their life – but it’s about finding that confidence in yourself and in your own abilities so that you can brush off their bullshit and move on with your own life.

It is the hardest thing in the world to judge yourself and the easiest to judge others. If you can look in the mirror and be happy with your choices and acknowledge your amazingness as well as your flaws then you are winning at life and that’s all that matters; what anyone else thinks is a moot point.
To be a ‘miss get-a-long’ all the time is to develop many fair weathered friends who only like you because they can take advantage.
And this is what I will spend the next many years trying to drum into my kids, it’s all very well to get along and be the kid that everyone likes, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a total push over. It’s much better to be liked for being who you are and to be able to stand up for yourself rather than just go along with everything so that people think you’re nice.

Mbaon

Madness is brilliance in this life…

When we first separated my ex accused me of being bi-polar…. because like seriously if I didn’t want to be with him I must be fucking crazy right?!
My behavior was erratic, manic even after he moved out… and before that I had been depressed…. clearly these mood swings were representative of a mental disorder as opposed to the cause and effect of our relationship and then its ending.

It took a long time for the first extended family event to come around where people actually spoke to me, like really spoke to me about the fact that my marriage was over and I was heading for divorce… it’s like they didn’t think it was real until then (my house was finally selling and I was in the process of getting my ex-husbands initials removed from my leg – their placement their a stroke of 19 year old genius!) and that if they ignored the giant pink elephant in the room and pretended like nothing had happened maybe I would come to my senses and we would get back together.
“It came as such a shock to everyone!” is the phrase I heard about 10 times that day from assorted family members… ‘it appears that way’ I smiled.
And that’s fair, because it was a shock. A huge shock to everyone… except me, because contrary to what many obviously think/thought this isn’t something I decided one morning and just went ‘oh fuck it, this’ll be fun!’
This is something I thought about and was dwelling on for many months (realistically years is more accurate)… it takes a long time to gather up the courage to throw away everything you have known since you were 16, and everything you have acquired together over the years and to be strong enough to shoulder the heavy, heavy burden that is being the person responsible for your children coming from a ‘broken home’ and to become ok with the fact that you might just lose your best friend because you have decided that you no longer want to be married to him.

On top of that my timing was terrible… My mum was sick and all I wanted to do was pull off the charade that everything was perfect in my world for as long as I could so that there was no stress for her and she could focus all her energy on fighting the biggest fight of her life.
So I sat on my hands, I cried for help to my partner, hoping he could help me change my mind… I so desperately wanted to change my mind… to change my heart.
I did some stupid things… I spent money on things I shouldn’t have… I was grasping at straws… any straw that gave me a semblance of forward moving direction…. maybe I could fake it until I make it…. maybe if I kept adding to my world there would be enough distraction to forget how unhappy I was…
Then I started to get sick, everyday I woke up ill, everyday was a struggle, everyday I found myself lonely and sad and crying.
Nausea for the first few weeks, which eventuated to a daily ritual of throwing up before breakfast… elevated liver function was to blame… no cause could be found… there was nothing wrong with me…. the day after he moved out it disappeared.
It’s like my body was rejecting the relationship. Like it decided that if I was going to continue to ignore my heart and my head that my stomach would have the final say and continue to make me sicker and sicker until I plucked up the courage to do something about it.

Someone said to me that they understood I had my reasons even if they didn’t know what those reasons were but that it was the cold manner in which I did it that took everyone by surprise and my behaviour since which seemed equally as cold.
Like when I talk about it I cracked jokes and made light of it.
And I see their point. Because I do that. I know I do.
I did it in regards to my Mum cancer diagnosis as well…. because it’s how I cope.
I had my fair share of days, days when all I could think about were the challenges ahead and how much I had fundamentally changed my life, and my kids lives and I mourned the loss of my marriage and I thought about my mum and I couldn’t move for crying. It took all my strength to try and make sure these days fell when I didn’t have the kids with me… and if they did it took all my strength and then some to try not to let them see what a mess I was. Those days were my shit days…. they were not as few and far between as I would like them to have been (and as people seem to think they were).

But out in the daylight with other people, I am always fine. I am funny, even a little crazy.
I make rash decisions, like that I should learn to play the guitar at 1am and I follow through.
Because life is short.
And if I want to play the guitar then why the fuck shouldn’t I play the guitar?!
And I see them look at me, confused, sometimes entertained… and I like that because that’s what I am doing… playing the class clown… look at me… I’m fine! I don’t need your sympathy.
I’m such a good actress that not even my closest family knew that I was struggling. That things weren’t as they seemed. My performance was so flawless that I managed to convince everyone that I had the perfect life, the perfect family.

So I see how people think that maybe I was cold and even calculating, rather than see it from the perspective that I had tried and cried for so long to stop it from crumbling that when it finally came crashing down I had no more tears to give.
I see how my ex can’t understand that after months/years of subtle cries for help that when he flat out refused to seek outside help when I demanded (not asked, demanded it) that it was the very last straw and there was to be no negotiation on our separation… because after all there had been no negotiation from him in fixing it in all those years, why should I negotiate not to break it completely; it was my turn to be the stubborn one. The first time for me to put myself first and to be honest when it comes to my kids I will never forgive myself for this, but then the alternative was not what’s best for them, I’m sure of that.

I know I have a crazy side… I am every bit an Aquarius – aloof and unpredictable.
Yes, I will decide to learn guitar at 1am and buy a guitar that day.
Yes, I will decide on a whim that 3 upper ear piercings on a random Sunday is a fucking great idea.
Yes, I will get a tattoo done at 11am having only picked the design at 10.14am that morning.
Yes, there are decisions I make that are ill advised and rushed into, but no, leaving my husband and life as I knew it behind was definitely not a decision made in that fashion.

For every moment of brilliance in my life there is a moment of madness and I wouldn’t have it any other way….. it’s just the way I like it and I challenge anyone else to not see the fun in how I am and how I live…. life is all too often taken far too seriously and life is far too short to be so damn serious all the time….. and that is the profound realization that pushed me over the edge to call it quits on my marriage….

That.. or maybe I’m just a bit bi-polar…

H

It’s been a while…

“It’s been awhile
Since I could hold my head up high
And it’s been awhile
Since I first saw you
And it’s been awhile
Since I could stand on my own two feet again”
(It’s been awhile – Staind)

 

Indeed it has been a while and oh boy, a lot has changed!

I’m going to take this post to very briefly fill you in on the last few months and what has been happening.
In June of last year I stepped out on my own, leaving ‘The Captain’ behind…
For those of you who don’t already know, this was a nickname that I used for him throughout my postings, what wasn’t know to most people was the in real life the proper extended version of this nickname was ‘Captain of the Fuckwits’, to those who did know it all makes sense now.
It was a massive and difficult call to make, I left behind a life of certainty with my best friend to step into the great unknown, all by my little self and with two small people who were reliant on me for everything. I knew the risk was that I would be losing not only a husband but also my friend, but I also knew I had to do something. I had all but lost the very essence of myself and become a shell of a person. Apathetic about life in general and becoming that way towards my children, when it started affecting them was when I knew that things had to change, that is no way to be a good Mum.

Shortly there after my own Mums battle with incurable liver cancer went from strength to devastating disaster.
In December of last year my whole world came crashing down as her forecasted months or years to live suddenly became weeks thanks to an unforeseen complication.
My Mum, always so much more to me then just that, was the centre of my universe. We spoke a minimum of once a day and saw each other usually several times a week. She was more than just a Grandma to Floss & J-bird; more like a second mother. The bond the she shared with Floss was unshakable and something just completely beyond words.
For all outward appearances we took this in our stride. My brother, his partner, my dad, myself and the kids banded together and held each other up through the worst of it. But on the inside things don’t look quite so well kept.
The kids are still struggling to understand, especially Floss who cries at night and asks repeatedly when it is that her wish for Grandma to come back will come true.
I am still having to remind myself each day, even 5 months on, that there is no point dialling her number because she’s not there to answer the phone. Old habits and all that.

But in the fog of all this, something amazing happened too.
I met someone, we’ll call him my Knight (for more reasons than one), although Floss prefers to say he’s my ‘Prince Charming’.
Though we had not yet known each other long, he was there for everything I went through with Mum. Which of course is a massive ask from someone you have basically just met. Not knowing what I needed or how I would cope given that he didn’t really know that much about me so far, he managed to be exactly what I needed, which was just there. He was there. Making sure I didn’t have to go home alone to my empty house. Making sure I had a shoulder to cry on that wasn’t my family so that I didn’t feel I was over burdening them with my grief when they too were grieving.

My own personal take on that beautiful old quote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” (Charles Dickens)

And so there we are… a very brief round up on what has been missed in my absence… and now let us being again!

Back to talking all things Mummy (and of course all things not)…

H