Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The third. And final. And scariest.

Monday, December 29th, 2014

I’m in the last weeks of countdown until I finally squeeze out this watermelon I have been carrying around for a bit more than seven months. Yep we are having our third baby, and most definitely our last. It is my fifth pregnancy and by far and away the most difficult and stressful. Not only do I feel like a baby kangaroo will spill out in the delivery room when I eventually get there, but I feel like I have been pregnant for about two years, and have been a giant, out-of-breath, vein popping, cranky bitch for most of that time.

You see, (or if you have three or more children – you remember), there are lots of things that have made this time around harder and most can be summed up with the words fear and impatience. This time there are a few complications, I am older, oh yeah and I have two spirited little adventure seekers I am responsible for twenty-four-seven, that make this tough going. There is no rest. There is no exercise. There is no down time given my husbands extraordinary work hours. And goddamit – there is no alcohol. I am relying entirely on my own sheer will to grow this baby, which is why I am absolutely terrified.

I’m scared about having to have this baby five weeks early and have it in special care and be needed at home to look after my boys.

I’m scared about waking up in the middle of the night and not knowing who will look after them while we head into the hospital.

I’m scared about being even more tired than I am now. Although given I’m still up every night a fair bit and I cope – not well – but I cope, maybe this will be the least of my problems.

I’m scared about physically not being able to care for my family because of stitches and swelling and exhaustion, or maybe having to ask for help because I cant do it all myself.

I’m scared of being a shit mum to another kid when some days I think all I have done is tell my other two kids off for being naughty or noisy or rough or rude all day.

I’m scared of labour, and the next twelve hours, and the third day.

I’m scared of this being too much for me and expending the little bit of energy I have left for fun with my beautiful boys on surviving.

I’m scared of struggling to stay positive and grateful and inspired and calm.

But we will be okay. We never really know what we are capable of until we do it. The boys are excited. It gives my husband as excuse to have some time off. And third time lucky with my parenting!

Now if you can just give me some tips for names for the joey, I’m right to go.

What you really want your kids to have.

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Parenting has become a bit of an art form in recent times. There are a lot of people making a lot of money out of talking to  parents about creating the best kids they can. (Some completely self-absorbed people even write a blog or two on the subject!)

It intrigues me. I’d love the answers too, if it was as simple as that. I don’t mind reading a book or two on what the experts reckon. In fact, I even gave up my beloved yoga class the other night to go to a parenting session. I realised my mistake when the first thing this ‘guru’ did was laugh at us all for coming out to learn how to be a better parent. Yep, at that point I was very much regretting my choice of Thursday night activity. Not to mention the tiny wooden chairs they make you sit on.

Since then, I’ve been hanging out with the Wild Child and his kinder buddies at Bush Kinder. It’s this amazing concept where the kids go outside and play. Yep, I know, ground breaking! (Pardon the pun.) We have also done the usual bit of park time and even got to cook some snags on the bbq at the beach this weekend. And my funny little boys have spent hours in the backyard.

Nothing really very different or very exciting has been happening and yet I feel like I really learnt something. No one told me. I wasn’t reading anything. It wasn’t even on a hilarious social media meme. Stink and the Wild Child  had embarrassed the pants of me the usual five or so times that week by being, well to be fair, just little boys, but it felt like we were the subject of some kind of caricature. Picture two feral, stick wielding horrors with their mother tearing her hair out in the background as she drank straight from the cask of wine in the fridge.

And then one afternoon I dragged myself away from the fridge to spy on them in the yard and there they were, happily building a shelter with timber and sticks and leaves and the most important thing that lives in our backyard; their imaginations. And I realised, I can remind them countless times a day to use their manners, I can tell them off for fighting or being mean to each other or their friends, or being rough. I can talk about kindness and show them what it means to look out for those who need it most. I can not run to every sound of tears and wait for them to solve it themselves instead. I can read books and tell stories and spell words out for their own books and stories. I can cook and eat and offer healthy food to make our bodies feel good and we can name our feelings to make our heads and hearts make sense.

But maybe the most important thing they need is going to work best when I don’t interfere at all. It is only then that their imaginations will grow and blossom and fill up their world. And with this imagination they can solve their problems, overcome their insecurities, make sense of their friends and themselves. But all of this is a long way away, for now those brilliant imaginations can sparkle with joy and possibility. Sure they need manners and resilience and kindness and to know when to be gentle. But with their imagination they can fill in the gaps when the world doesn’t make sense. They can wish their mean mother who keeps nagging gets eaten by a dragon and then spat out as a funny little frog. They can pretend their annoying little brother is the keeper of the snail house who must guard it from the giant snail squashing bug. And they can imagine a future where they can be and do whatever comes into their strange little minds.

And in the meantime, those sticks and that backyard has a whole world full of possibilities. And just in case they need it, their mum isn’t too far away.

photo boys





It’s okay to not be okay.

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Mental health matters.

We have been reminded of this again this week. I have wanted to write something about this again for a few weeks because of lots of things happening to people I love, or used to teach, or laughed at on the TV. And with the death of Robin Williams and five minutes of spare time this is what I want to say.

We all struggle. Sometimes its big, horrible, traumatic events. Sometimes it is the day to day. Sometimes we don’t even know why. It doesn’t matter what is making us feel completely void and useless and overwhelmed. It matters what we do about it.

I have had the black dog of depression hover over my head. He stood next me as I tried to teach in my second year out of Uni. He sat on me as I tried to get out of my bed and make sense of what was happening around me. He terrified me into acting, into doing something, talking to someone, trying to make it stop.

I was lucky. I got out before it got me. That was one occasion and there have been many, many others.

Depression, if you are one of the lucky one that have never felt it breathing down your neck, is different for everyone.

Some days you feel like you are swimming in thick, black toxic ink. Not swimming even, just barely keeping your head above the surface of that squalid ooze as it drags you slowly down, underneath, like quicksand. It is a thick haze of dark fog, blinding you, disorienting you, making the most basic of actions impossible. You can’t eat, think, plan, organise, let alone communicate, be any type of friend or partner or try and find a way out.

But you have to. You have to fight it. You have to not accept this is how it will be for you. You need to summon every tiny bit of lingering hope or optimism or belief and reach out. You have to tell someone.

And you have to hope to God you tell the right person.

One time I didn’t and it was almost catastrophic. But there is hope now. We, the ones living outside the cloud, have no excuses. We might be busy, distracted, hurting, far away, but when someone reaches out, even if it is only with a fingernail, we grab on to that call for help and we don’t let go. We Never Let Go.

Depression is annoying for people who don’t have it. Sometimes it makes us angry, drift away, ignore, unsure what to do. But surely the more we talk about it, the more we know about it, the more we realise even the brightest, funniest people can be trapped by it too, the more chance we have to help. They will sink faster than you know into that quicksand if we don’t give them something stable to hang on to. Even if it is just long enough to get some experts to help.

Support the decision to medicate if that’s what it takes. Depression can kill. If we had a heart problem that was life-threatening would we hesitate to take the meds required to keep us safe? I doubt it. Do what it takes, whatever it takes.

Tell that black dog to piss off and then tell someone else exactly how you feel. It is up to us to hear their cry for help.

robin williams




Less is more, apparently.

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

I feel a bit overwhelmed at the moment. I have a few opportunities presenting themselves and I’m trying really hard to be realistic about what I can do. Because realistically, whatever I agree to take on, I have to be able to do it all. It is what it is, and I totally accept the lack of family support, because we moved so far away. Just sometimes it means I have to say no, and I’m not great at that. I have always felt compelled to say yes to whatever is thrown my way, and most of the time I can make it work. But I am starting to realise that there are consequences to this, and those who bear the brunt of them are the two little boys who make the sun shine in my world, and my blood boil, often in the same five minutes. So I’m trying a new strategy. It is intended to bring calm, happiness, balance, excitement – yep not aiming too high then. So here goes.

A little less anxiety.

A little more confidence in my ability to make the right decisions about my kids.

I little less wasting nights watching the TV.

A little more dance classes trying to badly hip hop around to the latest Beyoncé number. (Yes it is as funny as it sounds)

A little less yelling.

A little more breathing, counting, closing eyes, drinking – hell whatever it takes to put out the fire.

A little less focusing on the stupid things I do and say.

A little more positive self-talk.

A little less getting cranky with my husband.

A little more noticing the helpful stuff he does, out loud.

A little less rushing.

A little more slowing down.

A little less checking what my friends are doing on social media.

A little more calling them up to chat and wrapping my arms around them in a long awaited catch up.

A little less scrolling the net for a cheap holiday.

A little more  living in the moment and appreciating what we have right here.

A little less wishing for what I don’t have.

A little more being grateful for what I have got.

A little less scolding.

A little more laughter.

A little less talking.

A little more listening.

A little less frowning.

A little more smiling.

And a lot, lot more kindness.

(Please note the absence of any commitment to drink less wine, I actually really want to be able to achieve some of this!)

A latte and a serve of public humiliation on the side please.

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

At some point the tide will turn. My kids will stop embarrassing me and I will start embarrassing them.

I can’t wait.

Some days I really can’t wait and just want to throw my own whopping, head-turning, recoil with horror tantrum at the pure frustration at the way my kids are behaving. And the other night I did.

The wild child would not go to sleep. Again. He demanded that I stand in the hallway and wait. I just didn’t want to. You know how it gets to 8 oclock, it’s been a massive day and you just want to be away from them. Whether it is to watch TV, or do the dishes, or go to a dance or yoga class, or have a conversation, or some work, I was done and I wanted him to go to sleep. So as he is yelling at me to stand in the hallway and I am standing in the GODDAMN HALLWAY I yell back. I was frustrated and tired, just like the four year old and so I acted like one.

It felt awful.

And it made me look like a fool. Only this time I was at home and only my husband got to hear my crazy again. The Stink has just started spitting chips over nothing and absolutely cracking it in public. It annoys me but it doesn’t bother me as much as the Wild Child. He is four and a half and I feel like I should have more control over how he behaves. I don’t.

Well that’s not entirely true. When it is calm and there is something in it for him, then we can negotiate and work out a plan. But when he is already losing it and it’s in public and I’m embarrassed then I have nothing. A few weeks ago it was on a camping trip when he threw a stick and was told to apologise. He completely cut loose, screaming like a banshee, thrashing around and refusing to go and say sorry. I was mortified. Firstly that he threw the stick, (it turned out he didn’t know our friend was standing there holding the baby), then he wouldn’t say sorry, then he ran away, then he wouldn’t go back and apologise. So I wrestled him back to the tent, squeezed his wrist, whispered angrily, threatened and then finally carried him back to say sorry.

And I felt like the entire camp park had stopped and was watching the action. They probably weren’t, but at the time when you feel like you cannot do anything to make that child stop screaming. Camp grounds are full of parents and I’m sure what most of them are thinking is the same thing I am when it’s not my kid; thank god it’s not my kid.

There have been worse moments of bad behaviour than this including the brief stop in a Byron Bay café when Martin Sacks, the actor, was commenting on me manoeuvring  my double pram around when the Wild Child reached up and slapped me in the face. You can imagine my delight. Or the time in the doctors when both of the boys start wrestling so badly that they both end up crying, or last week at the beach when one throws sand, it goes in the other’s ones eyes so he is screaming so I say we are leaving and then the other starts screaming and I am just walking up the beach carrying surfboards with the glares of the old ducks sitting in the beach chairs burning holes in my back. I want to turn and run into the water and dive into the waves. I want to tell the old ladies to not come to the kid beach if they don’t want noise. I want to make the kids stop bellowing at the top of their lungs. But I just walk and whisper threats which make no difference at all.

I don’t have any answers except that I know this time will pass and it wont be long before I can get on a dance floor at their 18th birthday party and bust out my best dance moves and have all their friends stare at them with horror. In the meantime though I will just close my eyes and take a deep breath. And if it’s your kid throwing the tantrum I’ll bring coffee or vodka to ease the pain.

We can always dance on that dance floor together.

photo boys

Great Girl Friends – get yourself one.

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

I’m not one of those people who have loads of school friends that still trek across the country to meet up in big groups and hang out like the did back in the day. In fact, I barely have any girl friends that I went to school with. Only two in fact, and there is a very good reason for this. They are the best ones I made, the keepers, the one’s worth hanging on to. An ugly break-up with my high school sweetheart had a bit to do with the parting, and the fact that most of my great mates were boys at school might also be a factor, but most of it was because my friends weren’t really friends at all. This has taken me a long time to understand, and is a lesson I am still learning.

I didn’t know about toxic friends back then. I didn’t know it when I started uni and made great mates, and then another uni and made better mates, that this was what good girl friends felt like. And then I got a bit older and made other friends, through work and a new place to live and my children and my husband and my new friends. And I had the pleasure of discovering Great Girl Friends.

If you’ve got one you already know exactly what I am talking about.

Some of my oldest friends still fit me like skin, (well the way my skin fitted me in my twenties anyway!), and they will be with me forever. But one of the most surprising pleasures of growing up is making new friends. They are lovely because like all new things they are shiny and sparkly and make you see yourself in a way that is different to before. They absorb and reflect and highlight you in a way that feeds the soul like nothing else can. They are more fun than a glass of bubbles on a warm afternoon, they are more flattering than an expensive new dress and they are more rejuvenating than a relaxing summer holiday.

Great girl friends give.

And by that I don’t mean presents and money and not even time, because like everyone that’s the one commodity no one has enough of. But they give stuff you can’t buy. They give honesty and interest. They ask questions and listen to the answer. They make you look forward to the weekend, evening, hour or conversation. And they make you look back with warmth. Great girl friends let you do the same for them. They share, they confide, they ask, they seek. They genuinely want to know.

My summer has been filled with sun and sand and surf and my two adorable little boys who soak this up with the enthusiasm of an ADHD clown. But my summer has also been punctuated with hugs and tears from faraway friends, long conversations during a few days of bliss, too much champagne on one special night, a walk to a night-market, afternoons on the beach, lots of chats on the phone and some laughs on a green hill with some band in the background.

Great Girl Friends shine in a way that makes the shadows of others fade away. They fill you up. They nourish you. They feed your soul.

And they last forever.


Magazine Christmas’s are overrated – well at least I think they are …

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

The festive season. Joy, good tidings, magic and all the rest of the money sucking, relative spending time that the ‘holidays’ is all about. We are almost at the end of it for another year, and I will sheepishly admit that I am glad.

There are a few things about Christmas that I love. The snow, the beautiful coats, egg nog and warm fires, the smell of pine trees – oh hang on – that’s not actually the christmas I experience in real life, just the one on the telly and in those gorgeous christmas movies.  (And quietly in my own imagination)

So sorry, there are a few things I like about Christmas. The songs, not the mind numbing high pitched ones, but the Bing Crosby crooners; the anticipation for the little ones; the use of Santa as a bribe for a good four weeks to get some kind of obedience from my children; the food. And the gathering. Some of the gathering.

As a kid my favourite part of Christmas was hanging out with our best family friends on Christmas Eve, watching a Christmas movie and desperately believing that those twinkly lights in the sky were Rudolph and his posse. The anticipation is clearly the best part, the day never quite delivers.

And so in good, trying to create the best parts of my childhood and hopefully leave out the crappier parts style of parenting I adopt, we have some mates over Christmas Eve. Great fun, except for the part when the Wild Child is far too overexcited about the upcoming slush of presents and spoiling and acts like a complete pain in the arse for the whole time. Still we completely got the kids with a fleeting vision of a Santa hat and a special parcel from him. Christmas morning is a little woozy with a few bed swaps in the night, and I’m sure one day I will regret not having a photo of a puffy face and mismatching pyjamas, but at that stage I was just concentrating on keeping my eyes open and remembering Santa had also been to Bali last week to get a few gifts!

So after some quality time on the West Gate Freeway together, we make it to Christmas lunch. And normally this is where ‘magazine christmas’ really kicks into gear. You know all in matching crisp, red and white, with ribbons and clean faces, with beautifully wrapped gifts. (!!) But this year it kind of was like this. My niece looked gorgeous in a pretty pink dress, the newborn nephew was all wrapped up and baby smelling bliss, and my crazy boys were actually okay. Nana didn’t get too smashed till later, and then she just had a quiet nap instead of offending someone with her unwanted advice. No-one smashed a window, swore at anyone across the dinner table or drank someones present. The food poisoning didn’t kick in till the next morning and no-one put the old scots music on to make us sad about Pa. The slipnslide got a workout and even though The Stink got stung by a bee, he only cried for a few minutes. No one broke a leg, the pissed idiot useless uncles were thankfully interstate as usual, and rang early enough in the day that the obscenities were kindhearted. (And yes every single one of these things has happened in past years, sometimes a few in the one day!) Even the dog only stole one plate of food and it was The Stink’s anyway so he was stoked he could just eat sweets for the whole day!

I got to squeeze my beautiful, shiny, bubbling boys and husband and really that’s all anyone should hope for, so for me I got everything I wanted.

For this year at least, no one ‘ruined Christmas’. It was lovely, but it wasn’t the same. In fact for a few hours we gave those David Jones catalogues a run for their money.

Never mind. Something to look forward to for next year, I think it’s our turn to host…



Mother Idols

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

Do you have one?

I bet you do. Those other mother’s that you adore. You love their philosophy. Their manner. Their, calm on the outside but the kids are driving me bonkers on the inside just like you, state. Their kids.

I have a few. Actually I know lots and lots of mothers, but I only have a few idols. Some I know really well, others I admire from afar and wonder if they ever have those moments in their own houses when one kid is lying on the table, the other is refusing to eat the dinner you didn’t want to, but bothered to cook, and then the first one whips out a hand and sends a glass smashing over the floor and just for a minute you want to throw your own rip snorter of a tantrum and lie on the floor crying and kicking, but unlike you, they don’t.

I wonder if the positive, but not gushy, (gushy makes me want to vomit up the coffee I threw down on an empty stomach because breakfast for three is just pushing the envelope too far some mornings), talk takes place all the time. I wonder if that stern voice that means business, but is not being launched at a high pitched roar across the dinner table (hmmm, food is the defining factor in my house it seems), is always present. I wonder if they feel overwhelmed and frustrated and just ripped off about the bullshit myth of motherhood that Kleenex are portraying, and cry sometimes.

If they did, I think I would like them even more.

I know mothers who know which battles to fight, but never have to make that choice in public, because they were smart enough to pick the right ones at home first. I love them. I want to be them. I’m trying very hard.

My other mother idols are those who belong to the sisterhood, and let you belong too, no matter what. They don’t judge, or offer advice, or critique. They agree and they share their own horror stories of the evening where the bath got pooed in, the carpet got pooed on and the couch scored a wipe down too, and they weren’t even at home. And they laugh about it. Because hey what else can you do.

My other mother idols are those who have crazy kids and know their limits. The ones who say, yeah sorry but that restaurant at 6.30 with my kids, is not going to end well for anyone, come to my place at 4pm instead. Or, yes I love the sound of a plane ride, then a car ride, then a boat ride and 4 weeks on an exotic island, but I might jump out of the moving car on the way to the airport before we even get to that ‘holiday’ destination, so maybe we will wait 5 years before I even consider that.

And you know the other mother idol I love. The one that can ask for help. Who calls out. Who stands on the roof tops shouting “I have PND, get me some drugs goddamnit.” Who says, this sucks, I need a break, let me have your kids for a bit, and I’ll have yours. The mother who lets people who are offering help her, and ask those who are not to do their bit helping out the family.

You are the mother’s that I idolise and I thank you deeply for taking me along for the ride. But please, tap me on the shoulder if you see me staring for too long, there is probably a dinner on the floor I have to clean up anyway.

What a weekend of sick kids, my own ear infection and crap weather taught me

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

It was inevitable. Well it must have been because that is what everyone with kids tells me when I explain the haggard look on my face. As soon as your husband goes away, they get sick.

I am sleep deprived, a little more insane than usual and surprisingly okay about it all. First weekend the surfer boy takes off, the kids get sick. Ear infections; so that means grizzling, a temperature, not much sleep, lots of visits to doctors and doctors to us and a very long weekend.

I had to take the Friday off work to care for them because, well, no-one else could really, with the main care giver away. And the fun began about lunchtime. The Wild Child, in all of his determined, will-not-be-made-to-do-anything-that-he-doesnt-want glory will not take medicine of any kind. Turns out this is not such a bad thing. He gets a temperature and proceeds to spend most of the next three days, other than a couple of good hours each morning, either lying on the couch watching telly, or asleep. Not so bad really.

The Stink, well he takes medicine like his life depends on it, he knows the stuff tastes like lollies and he is all over it. So really, he is annoying, grizzly and insists on sleeping in my bed and impersonating his Dad’s best snoring, but also not too bad. I get an ear infection too. Good times. So now I’m also on drugs, cant drink my way through the horrid weekend and feel like I did anyway.

The absolute lowlight, other than no sleep, was the worst part of sick kids, that you can’t hang out with anyone else that has kids. And in my world, no one else wants to hang out with me, so this is all I have. I missed out on an awesome catch up with two of my absolute besties, a rarity with newborns and big car ride in between. That sucks, no doubt about it.

But the rest was actually okay. You do realise how awesome your kids are when they are well, when they have a brief sickness. And you also realise how bloody lucky you are that these things are fleeting and so insignificant you can whinge about it. They didn’t eat much, so that reduced the cooking and cleaning which is a win. And when friends called in Sat arvo for a quick drink, I could have one without too many interruptions. (It truly is amazing how many times I say please don’t touch your brother when there are guests here.)

And you know what else. Surely they will be better next weekend. Well I hope so, I will be a little more frayed and a lot less sane by then, even if a week of full time work with two kids needing looking after can go well, my four days off with them next weekend will feel harder than the working part of the week. photo-2

Just love. That is all.

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Please don’t judge me I’m doing my best.

We are all doing our best. Sometimes its not the right thing to do, we all know that, but sometimes its the right thing for that moment and until you know the rest of the story, that is okay.

Whose business is it anyway to pass judgement on the choices we make for our kids? Unless of course a child is in danger, the parents can parent however they like. Once upon a time it was only the old ducks in the shops or the doctors surgeries that would cluck about the way that child was behaving. Now everyone has an opinion. And unless you are super skilled at completely avoiding the world that intrudes through your phone or your computer, you can be bombarded by other peoples comments over and over again. And it can make you feel like crap.

I had not heard the expression ‘this too will pass’ until my eldest was nearly two. I dont know if it would have helped the many hours we had spent rocking him to sleep, or justifying to other people why we were pretty unsociable and grumpy because of the little sleep and early mornings we were still having. But maybe it would have helped us put it into perspective.

Now I know better. I am the mother of two wild little boys and I am over justifying their bad behaviour to others, especially those who are supposed to just love, not parent, not judge, just love. They will be judged their whole lives, my two mischievous monsters. Kinder, school, sport, public, cousins, friends everywhere. It is natural to compare, I get that. But sometimes it’s better, and more helpful to just accept and love. Sure they might be attention seeking, or annoying, or embarrassing or infuriating. And sure the response to give in, or yell, or punish, or not is the wrong thing to do at the time. But have no fear, there will be many, many other opportunities to do that.

For now, for today, I’m just going to love. Love what they are great at, love how much they love each other, and love that they are pretty oblivious to the bad press they generate for themselves. It wont be long before they can identify the look of reproach of people who should love them, but dont right at that moment. They will get it from their parents too. So for now, while I can, I will cuddle and laugh and tickle and ignore.

Because that is what is right for right now. And how can anyone pass judgement of that.


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