Archive for August, 2013

Yes neighbours I am the crazy woman yelling at my kids.

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

I just a read a post from someone else’s beautiful blog about her daughters happily playing outside on their organic farm, and then the sun shined through the clouds. And then I threw up on myself a little bit.

You see even if I lived on an organic farm, my two boys would not inspire that kind of post.

Instead you get this one.

My wild child turned feral today. Completely. Out. Of. Control. Feral. Wild animal thrashing about, screaming like his leg had been chopped off, punching into his brother, throwing stones at the new car, kick the dog, throw the train set kind of feral. And all because I said no.

I believe in boundaries. I believe in consequences. I believe in teaching kids limits. Well at least I did until I witnessed the complete maniac my four old turned into on a fairly ordinary Sunday afternoon. He was not allowed to go over the neighbours house. He had asked to go over this morning, and their Dad said no. So we told him he wasn’t allowed. Response, go anyway.

I don’t do defiant well. Ask any kid I’ve ever taught. I see red, quickly and fiercely. At the moment defiance is flavour of the behaviour month in our place. If he doesn’t want to do it, he doesn’t. Hence today. Complete meltdown. Eventually we got him in the car where he calmed down and channelled some kind of freak angel child for the next hour at the park. Lucky for him.

And then afternoon comes. My folks turn up. Rare occurance, but not enough of a novelty to save the humiliation for another time. Seems they aren’t special enough to turn on the charm for anymore. So this afternoon when he is told that his Dad’s rule of not playing at their house for the week, comes into effect, the meltdown is repeated. Of course by now, Dad is off surfing and I get to invoke my most common role as most un-fun parent. I say no. He goes over. I return him to our house. He loses it. He loses it so bad, I nearly cry, and every single strategy I have is completely disregarded. Put in his room= throws toys at the wall, put in time out in the drive way= throws stones at the new car, cuddle him = kicks me, put in the pram to go to the park = starts laying into his brother. And all the while, the neighbours are pulling back curtains and locking their doors everywhere. Especially the ones whose house he was trying to go to.

My parents are at a complete loss. He is mental. My dad even tells him off. Takes no notice. My Mum tries some nice calm primary teacher talk, too busy screaming to care. So all I have left is throw him in the car, still screaming, well by now, both of us are because I am embarrassed, furious and terrified of what is happening to my little boy. The guy across the road just stares at me as I drive past wondering what kind of psycho he lives across the road from. I fight back tears and take my new car for a spin round the block. (Don’t even ask me what colour it is, because I have no freaking idea.) It works. He stops, I calm down. And then we pull in the driveway and the kid next door is out the front again. I talk him through walking inside without being completely mental again.

To face the horrified faces of my parents. It is worse that they see him for the absolute worst behaviour he has ever displayed in his life? He is not the golden grand-child anyway, but now he might be lucky if he gets a christmas present. Or can they at least see his naughtiness and not just my whinging aside as overreactions. Maybe now the fancy cafe they’ve booked for Father’s Day next Sunday might not have as much pressure attached to it. My Mum, the primary school teacher, cannot think of one possible strategy that might work, instead just citing the most mental kid she teaches in Grade 2.

We get to the park. He is fine, good even. Me, well let’s just say thank god there is a bottle of white wine in the fridge.

And at least it was my parents, the in-laws don’t need any more ammunition.

Maybe this full time work caper isn’t such a bad option after all.

Here goes

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Now clearly I am no Ruby Rose, but I have wanted to write about mental health since I began this little venture of mine.

Today I am braving it and there are lots of reasons why. But mainly because there are lots of us out there with really poor mental health, living with it, battling it daily. This post is not for every day we win the battle, this is for the one day we don’t, or can’t and what those battles mean for those around us.

In some ways I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I was able to get help and support that didn’t cost me a cent, that was private and professional and made a significant difference to my wellbeing. I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder quite a few years ago. Some people don’t like labels. They are scared of how that makes them feel. Or actually how it makes other people around them feel.

But for me so much started to make sense. My teenage years of feeling furious, terrified and completely emotionally overwhelmed started to have an explanation. My poisonous affair with vodka started to make sense. My volatile friendships that were punctuated with typical teenage angst, atypical break ups, and complete confusion about how these people who were supposed to be my friends made me feel, all became clearer. I was as much to blame as anyone I grew up with, and believe me they all had issues of their own, and then issues on these issues.

So as a professional, educated woman, in a stable relationship I finally had a glimmer of understanding about how I could finally shed some of those parts of myself that I didn’t like, and didn’t understand. Some of the relief came from an explanation that how I felt and how I behaved had reasons, and often reasons I couldn’t help. And to be honest, some of the relief came from the medication. I appreciate being cautious about medication. What I do not, and will never understand, are people who are completely resistant to taking medication that is prescribed by a doctor, proven to work and will have significant results on someone’s health. If we had diabetes, we would take it. Asthma we would take it. A heart condition we would take it. And yet anxiety, depression, or a disorder like me, we resist. We figure we will be okay, or that someone will find out, or the side-effects will be terrible, or like me, that we will never be able to exist without it.

Some of us can manage without it, even actively improve our mental health. But for so many of us, we cannot. It might be Post-Natal Depression that completely swallows us up, or anxiety that undermines every shred of self belief, or like me, emotional instability that has us lashing out, hiding away and disappearing under a blackness that threatens to change us forever. And then sometimes those magic little pills work in a way that is so effective and so subtle that we mistakenly think we don’t need them anymore. And sometimes we don’t. Pregnancy and breastfeeding meant I couldn’t take my meds for two years, and I have never gone back on them. Sure I have bad days, fiery moments, manic highs and the roller coaster in between, but I have got much better at managing it.

But I am aware of it, every minute, of every day. And often a few at night. And that is absolutely the key. I know what to look for, what the warning signs are and what to do about it. I don’t always manage it as well as I should, and I’m sure many people with a range of health problems could say the same. But I am so much better off for what I know. Because doing nothing is not an option. Not for me. Not for my husband. And not for my kids. They deserve the best Mum they can get, and so much of my energy is invested in doing just that. Even if in the future I might need some help along the way.

 

What full time work feels like now

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

 

It’s been three weeks since I have been back full time at a paid job. I have never stopped working full time, my other job just got longer and I stopped getting paid for a while. Now I am back in my old job. A job I used to love, but often found overwhelming, stressful and demanding. How time can change your view on things.

I still love this job, and I’m lucky to have had lots of really great moments over the last three weeks where I have been reminded of why teaching is awesome. Each day is different; you work with like-minded, but differently experienced people which means interesting and funny conversations. The boys I teach are pretty great. They are willing to share something of themselves, they are keen to know a little bit about you, and they give most things a really good go. My first week back provided two of the best lessons I have ever taught in my whole teaching career. I learnt more about those young men in 50 minutes that perhaps some of their teachers who have taught them all year know about them. They were willing to share stuff about themselves that their classmates later said they never knew, and they had been at school together for five years. It made me remember that each of these boys I teach have a pretty important story to tell, we just have to ask.

And it made me realise how important my job is as a parent.

And therein lies the complexity of this topsy-turvy time. My husband is home for three days with the wild and child and the stink, and on these days I can breeze out of the house on time, get a coffee and get to work nice and early like I did every day, once upon a time. As my mind flashes to my little boys at home, I can smile knowing they are doing something fun with their dad. It’s like every day has become the weekend for them. Holes get dug, Lego gets built, the shed is open, and there are tools out and about.

But on those other two days when neither of us are there, the stink is sick, the babysitter (mum) is too sick to mind them and the mad rush is on to get them out of the house, then back home and dinner cooked in minutes while they are tired and hungry, it’s a bit more difficult. The saving grace at the moment is my beautiful life-saving friend who has my boys with her. I know they are happy, loved, playing and fed. Once the new day-care opens its get a bit harder again, but at least then, every day will be a work day for me as my husband stays home permanently. Maybe then the shift will be easier. I hope so, because it’s about then that my other three jobs kick in to gear.

It makes me realise that this teaching gig aint that hard. Even with kids who would rather be anywhere that in that classroom reading a book. Even when meetings drag on, forty essays need to be marked by tomorrow and the baby has been up all night and I’ve got two hours of tutoring after school. It’s a nice shift for a while. It’s nice to feel like you know what you are doing and that at the start of the day you know which battle you will fight that day.

I miss my boys a lot. I think about them whenever I look at a clock and wonder what they will be doing. When I’m tired and it’s only lunchtime. But I remember that I’m just as tired when I’m at home. And anyway it’s my husband’s turn to get a crack at that life for a while. I’ve been able to juggle it all for four years and spend the majority of my time with my boys. Now it’s turn to run a house and be primary parent, and it’s my turn to walk in
the door tired after a day at work and have my boys run to greet me.

Well it’s not quite that much of a swap yet, but we are getting there.



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