You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

Hey guys! I officially give up apologising for the sparsity of my blogs these days. Actually, I am giving up on apologising for a lot of things lately which in itself is a small miracle.

This is however, my first blog since “going viral” and despite a small flurry of worldwide attention for about a month, life has gone back to being painfully normal. I am neither  rich nor famous from the whole experience but I am left forever changed by it and will always be so grateful that it happened.

OK, enough gooey crap, let’s get down to bid’ness.

The last few months I have felt like an utterly shit mother. I know we all feel like we fail as parents at times but this has been something that I have felt consistently for a while now and it is not because I let them sleep in their clothes occasionally or eat a popsicle when it’s 12 degrees outside (true stories); it stems from something much deeper.

I have lost my Mummy Mojo.

In much the same way as my interest in The Pants’ privates has waned over the years, I feel like a similar thing is happening with my interest in my children. Now before you all go losing your minds and calling child services on me, let me explain.

I love my kids. I probably loved them too much if that’s possible. For a huge portion of my life (and all of theirs), they were pretty much my sole focus and I did not take care of myself very well. We all do it; Mums and Dads alike. Cut to now, and I have had the realisation of the importance of good self-care but the patterns I established early on with my kids need to be broken in order for me to function properly.

That’s all well and good but there is one giant flaw in the plan.

I’M FUCKING TIRED YO!!!!

Almost 10 years of creating, housing, caring for and raising children has left me utterly spent. Like wrung, the fuck… out. I am not sure how I am going to get through the next few months of parenting without hurting someone (Pantsie, I’d pack your privates away if I were you). I have lost my Mummy Mojo hard. Too many years of being a sole parent 50% of the time (hats off to those of you who do it full-time; you guys are rock stars!) has literally sucked me dry of a huge amount of my motivation and also, if I am totally honest, my identity. I am now at the stage in my life where I am starting to really discover who I am and what I want from my life (thank you therapy!) and as it turns out, having children is completely at cross-purposes to a lot of what I would like to do and be. That is fine. It’s not a bad thing. There are things I can mourn, things I can do later and things I can do now as long as I am prepared to put in the work and I just need to know the difference. The problem is, whilst taking care of me, and realising how much better life if when I do, it leaves my resources for things like tantrums, unnecessary fighting, high emotion and bad behaviour at an all time low. In the past it was all about resolving their conflicts but now I am trying to resolve mine AND theirs. Exhausting!

Right, so my daughter is in grade 1. In grade 1 in Western Australia, they start to introduce “independent” days. This is where you get to drop your child off at their classroom and they are supposed to go in and do their morning activities without you. I fucking LOVE independent day! It’s not that I don’t like going into her classroom but more that she is so challenging in the mornings! Bronte and I have at least 3 fights of varying ferocity before we’ve even left the house most mornings and I’d say a good 80% of the time, she is crying when I leave her classroom so generally, I am keen to kiss her goodbye and go home and cry it out myself. So Bronte’s teacher informs us parents a few days ago, that next term, she will be upping independent days from 1, to two. I turn to the closest parent to high-five them in the face, only to be met with sad eyes. I quietly stashed my itchy palm and looked around me. More sad faces! I heard one Mum say, “Oh I love going in the classroom in the mornings” and she looked genuinely heartbroken. Talk about feeling like a shit Mum. I walked out of there feeling mixed emotions. I told nobody about my secret joy and instead chose to beat myself up (in the form of an almond croissant) about what a terrible person I must be for not wanting to be with me child for 10 minutes more in the mornings.

Cut to this morning and as I was sitting in the classroom fighting with my Bronte yet again, I caught the gaze of another Mum across the classroom. She was sitting with her child doing the morning activity and I could tell she was in struggle-town too as she gave me the universal symbol of mother’s empathy; the slow eye-roll. As she left the classroom, I grabbed her and told her the news about independent days as I could tell from her earlier eye-roll that she was a kindred spirit in terms of her tolerance of her child/ren’s nonsense. She looked at me and uttered the following words… which I will share with you as close to verbatim as I can however to protect the innocent, I will change a name or two. Let’s say her child is named “Sam”. It could be a girl or a boy that way 🙂

“Oh! Let me tell you honestly, if I had it my way, “Sam” would be about 10% sick all the time just to take the edge off and EVERY day would be independent day! I would stay in bed and boot them out the door quite happily. Actually, if we could just fast forward through this part of their childhoods, that would be OK with me!”
So she was kidding about the last bit but we had a quiet chuckle about it together and she left to get on with her day; my fabulous new spirit animal. She has no idea how much better I feel just because she shared her honest feelings with me… and so I pay it forward. I take the risk of making myself vulnerable to being called a “bad Mum” so that those of you out there, feeling like you’re a terrible person because you’re not in love with your kids 24/7 can know that you are not alone and you are not a bad person. Kids are the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me. They are the thing I am most proud of and the thing that brings me to tears the most. They break my heart and then warm it in a way I never thought possible. They are my soul and my torment; my peace and my chaos. The only thing that gets me through all of it is recognising the importance of my mental state and general wellbeing in the maelstrom of raising my kids. I may not be consistent all the time but I am constant in my desire to do better, for them and for me.

Love!

 

 

 

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Summertime Sadness

My good buddy Jay Shipston, who happens to be one of the hilarious dudes who host the breakfast show on Mackays’ Sea FM, asked me to write about my depression for his new venture. Jay and his partner, Jamie, have started a fantastic initiative called “Change Tee” and its’ goal is to help eradicate the stigma that comes with being diagnosed with a mental illness. It’s a really amazing idea and I support what they are trying to do 100%.  I know I have talked about my depression and anxiety before, quite openly, but I don’t think I have ever gone into too much detail about it so when Jay asked me to do this, I thought I would write my story as a blog post. It’s gonna be cathartic, messy, honest and real so you should be warned; read ahead at your own risk! On that note dear readers, and in all seriousness, there are some things I will write about here that might be triggers for some of you so if you are easily triggered or feeling fragile, perhaps this article is not for you to read right now.

The reason I have not done a post like this before is pretty simple (and selfish). I like the idea that my blog/Facebook page is funny. I love it when people come up to me and say, “Oh you had me in stitches last night with your post!” and let’s face it, by definition, writing about depression is not going to be a side splitter BUT… I also believe in authenticity and honesty and so, for the people who are expecting to laugh/snort coffee out of their nose reading this blog, you should probably stop reading now too, safe in the knowledge that the next blog I write will be a hoot, I promise.

For those of you still reading, this story is for you…                                                                             I ask that you read it without judgement or condemnation. I made choices in my life that I am not the proudest of and I am going to share some of them with you here. It might change your opinion of me and if it does, all I ask is that you be respectful of my story and understand that it was my path to walk. Your choices would have been yours; these were mine.

I was diagnosed with depression in my early 20’s. For those of you keeping count, yes that was almost 20 years ago. I had met a guy that year (my first year at university) whom I had fallen madly in love with. Four months into our relationship, I fell pregnant. Let me be clear, this was not by choice but rather, an unplanned accident. We reacted the way any two teenagers would have if they were faced with the same situation; we panicked. You see, I was raised in a very religious household and to have a child out-of-wedlock with a man I’d known for 4 months was not an option; not for me anyway and it certainly didn’t seem to be an option for my boyfriend either. We talked it over and decided, through tears, that our best choice was for me to have an abortion. We both had our lives ahead of us, we were both studying, we were both broke and we were not sure where our relationship would end up because it was such a new one. (PS we ended up dating for another 14 months or so after this before he cheated on me and we broke up). Anyway, broken hearts aside, this is when I became aware that something was not right in my head. I would vacillate between being frenetically happy and catastrophically sad. I would think horrible things about myself and manifest them in awful, self harming ways. I remember one time, I wrote “FAT” on my stomach in sharpie and then got dressed for the day and wore my label like a secret shame badge under my clothes. It stayed on for days.

In terms of self-harming behaviours, I am also a “burner”. I would burn myself as I didn’t like the idea of cutting and I remember doing it as far back as high school. I once burnt a boy’s initials into my leg because I had a crush on him. At the time I thought that I was being terribly romantic but I now know how fucked up that was.

I would have been in my early 20’s when I was formally diagnosed with “moderate clinical depression” and put on Zoloft. I can’t say that the Zoloft helped too much but I was also getting some counselling at the same time and I found that to be truly helpful and healing for me. Actually now that I think about it, the Zoloft must have worked because I remember feeling better after about a year and thinking that I would just stop taking my meds and try life “on my own”. P.S, if you have just started your medication journey, never, I repeat, NEVER, do this. It was horrible. I went straight back to my doctor and she got me back on track and within a few weeks I was back to “normal”.

The thing with mental illness is, you learn more about it and yourself when you are knee-deep in it, experiencing every agonising day of it. So the first bout of depression that I had, post-diagnosis, I was only just starting to put names to things and identify the root causes of emotions as they happened.  I had no idea about things like triggers and “manic” days; I had no idea that there were other medications I could have tried or how to advocate for myself or even identify to others what was going on for me. When I did try to tell people, I felt clunky and disingenuous and I copped many “oh really?!” eye-rolls, from my boss to one of my best friends. It was really a tough time to navigate the waters as I also did not yet know the value of reaching out and asking for help from trusted people so I did the bulk of it alone. I felt embarrassed and broken and I made some shitty, shitty choices in that time that contributed to my continued feelings of worthlessness. I slept with a lot of men in an attempt to find “love” like somehow being “loveable” would validate me as a person. Let me cut that long, slutty story short; it didn’t work. Shock and horror, if you sleep with men really quickly, they tend to lose interest pretty quickly. Yeah! Who knew?! Anyway, after about 2 years on medication,  under the guidance of my GP, I came off the Zoloft successfully and went on to live happily-ish for quite some time, before the Black Dog bit me again.

The next bout of depression was a slow burn; a long time in coming. Actually it was more like a long time before I acknowledged that it was a relapse if I’m being brutally honest. The dark thoughts that had popped in and out of my head over the years were staying  around longer, becoming more vivid and more real. I had been able to push them away as I’d had lots of lovely distractions and things to be grateful for. I had gotten married, moved to Canada and had my first child but a few years after he was born, I felt that dreadful veil of despair begin to glide over the filter through which I was seeing things. This time, I did not hesitate to get back to my doctor. She got me on a mental health plan and started me on some new meds. We were off and running. This was a longer and more drawn out period of depression for me that included an awful reaction to the new medication that made me feel like my brain was being “zapped” anywhere from 10-50 times a day. I was taken off those meds as soon as I told my doctor and I was put on diazepam to help deal with the side effects as they continued long after I had stopped taking the medication. All up I had the “zaps” for about 3 months. I learned to live with them despite it making life very uncomfortable. Once they stopped I was put on a new medication that worked really well for a few years until a flare up in my depression that turned out to be anxiety (yay!!) and so my dosage was increased and once again, I “evened out”. All together I would say that struggle went up and down for a few years and only really began to improve consistently when I began to see my new counsellor, Jo.

*drum roll*

Jo was UH-mazing. I credit Jo with a huge amount of the strategies that I use even now to hep control my moods and my panic attacks. She brought me through so many healing, cathartic realisations and confessions. I have to give myself credit here too as even though I had done counselling many times before, you only get as much out of it as you are willing to put in. In previous sessions with prior counsellors, I had not been prepared to be as honest as I needed to be. I was very deeply in “victim” mode and wanted a lot of my issues to be somebody else’s problem/fault. With Jo, she was very good at her job and I was so ready to get honest and “fix” myself as I was sick of feeling so broken. I won’t go into detail on the therapy itself as that would mean we’d be here all day suffice to say that Jo has seen my “ugly cry face” complete with snot pouring, unchecked from my nostrils. She has let me yell at her (well, near her anyway) and she has helped me to deal with some very deep-seated issues that go as far back as my childhood. I will forever be in debt to Jo for what she helped me to do. I know a lot of people who say therapy isn’t for them but I hope, for all of them, that they change their minds and try it. The right therapist will hold you as you go down into places that hurt like fuck and then they’ll help you heal back up again from the smouldering depths. Trust me when I say, I have dragged myself out of some sessions feeling like a giant, exposed, raw, nerve-ending and then floated out of the session the following week feeling like a goddess of love and light. Therapy is a trip and I loved/hated every dirty, filthy, tear-wracked session of it. The moral of this story? Therapy rocks and nobody can tell me any different *grins*

Cut to now and I am currently going through the worst bout of depression I’ve experienced yet. After “coming good” with Jo and meds, I was pretty confident I had this thing beat. We had both agreed I was ready to take the therapy “training wheels” off and try living life unassisted apart from my medications. It felt awesome. I felt invincible. Until one day a few months ago when I went to my doctor for something entirely un-depression related and while I was there, she innocently asked me how I was. I began to tell her how I’d been struggling with some big issues in my life (physical, tangible issues) when suddenly, out of the blue, the worst panic attack I have ever had, hit me like a truck; a giant, shaky, throat-closing-up, not-breathing truck. It took me completely by surprise and the severity of it shook me hard. Thank goodness I was with my GP! She took control of the situation and I left about an hour later, shaking like a leaf and clutching a prescription for more diazepam. I was so freaked out. I hadn’t seen the black dog coming and yet after the panic attack, it was so clear that it had been stalking me for some time and I was just so convinced that I was “cured” that I hadn’t seen it.

That was one of the biggest lessons for me in my struggle with depression and anxiety; that you are never fully “healed”; that you have to remain vigilant for the signs even if you feel great. I am not saying that means sitting around in a bunker with a raincoat on looking for clouds but to simply be present in your body and instead of “trying to be happy” all the time, to just monitor your emotional state and be honest with yourself about where you are at. Another thing I learned was the value of a good support network and I mean real support.  People who you feel safe telling about your fragility. People who you trust and people who know you well enough to know the signs to look out for when you are too busy being “fine” to see them for yourself.

I am an expert  at being “fine”. I am a mountain of a woman; in all aspects. I am 5’11” and I weigh over 120 kilos (told you this was going to be honest). I have huge, unruly hair and a mouth that cannot stop talking. I have a personality that is every bit as big as my body and my emotions are just as massive. I have been told I come across as “confident” and “capable” and like I’ve “got my shit together” but let me tell you right now that despite my larger-than-life appearance and how I might come across, I am as vulnerable as they come. So many of us that suffer with mental illness do this. We find a way to make people believe we are “just-super-thanks-so-much-for-asking” because the alternative is so terrifying and too much of a personal risk. PS this is why what Jay and Jamie are doing is so excellent. Removing the stigma attached to mental illness removes some of the risk in being vulnerable and honest with people about it.

My personal experience is that people who have not grappled with mental illness personally, cannot properly understand what it is like to deal with these huge emotions and feelings. This is not a criticism by the way but merely an observation. I mean, how do you explain to a person who has never experienced suicidal thoughts, what it feels like to want to end your own life? Not necessarily to kill yourself, but to just not exist any more. How can you explain to a well-meaning friend, what it feels like to want to take a lighter and heat up a bobby pin until it is scorching hot so you can slowly burn yourself until the mental pain and anguish subsides? Honestly, very few people who I have talked to about this have known how to deal with the information. I get why too. It’s a lot to take in and would be terrifying to hear. That’s not their fault, they just cannot understand because they are wired differently to me. My point is, make sure you are talking to the right people so you can get the right kind of support but here’s another big lesson I learned this go ’round on the depression ferris wheel (and I warn you, it’s a scary-ass lesson); that at the end of the day, it is just you and you alone who is left battling the demons. You can talk to everyone on the planet but when push comes to grudging shove, the only person in your head and therefore in control of the way you see things and the way you choose to behave… is you. It’s a big deal you guys. Ownership of your illness.

I didn’t own mine for a very long time. I was projecting my pain onto anyone that would listen. I was blaming my meds, my childhood, my partner, my kids (pretty ashamed of that one let me tell you) and it wasn’t until I admitted that I alone was going through this experience and that all roads ended up leading to Rome (i.e. me), that I began to find peace. Ironic really, the one thing that I would’ve thought would me make me implode was the very thing that gave me a foothold in the abyss. Once I realised there was no “fix” outside of me and that the only way I was going to get through the darkness was by becoming my own light, it was a whole new ballgame. It was when I committed to myself, that the possibility of my own power and strength began to reveal itself and like I said, I found something firm to stand on in the mire of my own emotional swamp.

So, am I through the woods/swamp? Hell no! Not even close and I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I may never fully get out of the bloody swampy fucking woods BUT; I am slowly learning to embrace my illness. Rather than fear it and look for it around every corner as if it’s waiting to jump out at me like a naked man under a trench coat, I shall greet it with a chaste yet familiar kiss. In the meantime, I will do everything single thing I can to prolong the time between visits because make no mistake, the “chaste yet familiar kiss” comes from knowing what that bitch is capable of!! What’s the old proverb? Keep your friends close and your mental illness closer *grins*

To those of you out there struggling, whether you are a first timer or a seasoned vet in the same; I feel you. There is truly nothing like finding a kindred spirit who sees your pain because they too have walked through the very same fire and share the very same scars.

I feel you.

I mean it.

Take that in.

I. Feel. You.

Good luck in your own woods. Try not to be afraid. Know that you are capable of lighting your own way. May your path through them be a mere detour in a long and happy life.

X

Heart-Shaped Box

Hello you pretty, pretty people!

How long it has been since we have seen each other’s faces?!

Like… FOREVER!

Well I am here now and thanks to some serious procrastination (and sheer laziness), I have put all my real, pressing,  important jobs to one side, to sit and write a wee bloglet for you. I finally had a good idea for a blog and a sandwich I could eat whilst I wrote it. YAY!

So, my good friend Jo couldn’t make it to an impromptu coffee date last week because, in her words; “she had a doctor’s visit to get ready for”. I laughed and said, “how long does it take you to shower and get dressed woman?! Come and have a coffee!!” She giggled and enlightened me that it was no ordinary doctor visit but rather a ‘down-there’ doctor’s visit. I understood immediately, wished her good vaginal health and let her get on with the business to hand (so to speak).

It got me to thinking about this whole fanny physician thing. Why do we feel the need to jazz up our lady gardens when we have to go to the doctor for anything “south of the border”? I don’t know if you ever read the story that did the rounds a few years back about the woman who had her gyno visit scheduled but lost track of time on the day. She realised she had no time to do her usual routine of landscaping and pipe-flushing etc, so she grabbed a wet washer from the kid’s bathroom and gave herself a quick scrub before running out the door. Little did she know, the washer had last been used to wipe up a glitter spill and in the half-light of the bathroom, she had not noticed. She went through her entire pap smear wondering why the doctor was giggling so much only to find out later that she had accidentally bedazzled her beaver. Mortified doesn’t begin to cut it.

SO, why do we do it?

I don’t think it’s a sexual thing as it doesn’t matter if it is a male or female physician that I am seeing and P.S. if you are doing it for that reason then you need to get yourself a new doctor ASAP! Do I think I am going to impress them in some way? I mean, do I think that they go home at the end of the day and over a glass of wine to the missus suddenly say, “I saw the most glorious vulva today dearest. I mean, it was really something to look at. I wish I could show you just how gorgeous these labia were darling. Just magnificent”.

I doubt it.

Look I’m not saying that a quick freshen up before a visit to the OBGYN isn’t a nice idea and is probably much appreciated by said medic but it’s not like people are hopping straight from a frisky Friday night into the stirrups now is it?! No! We all like to know the “house” is clean before the visitors arrive and trample their shit everywhere right? Right! But why do we feel the need to go to such lengths for someone we barely know and someone we see maybe twice a year if we are unlucky?

I stopped manicuring my hedges years ago; right after I had kids. The Pants stopped ‘scaping his shrub into sweet little shapes for me years ago too and I figured what was good for the goose was good for my over-plucked gander! PS Brazilian waxes hurt man! Why should I go through that pain when The Cap’n is clearly going for a more natural (read:lazy) approach to his genital region?!

So this brings us back to the original question; why am I doing it for my GP and not my husband?

I mean it’s a generational thing for sure. With no disrespect intended, I can’t see my mother’s generation of women giving 2 shits if their butthole is bleached let alone shaved! Oh and PS, why is this just a chick thing? Guys don’t buff up their man-meat and danglers when they are going for a vasectomy  do they? No!! Nor do they bother to pay extra care to their back door when they have a prostate exam on the horizon and yet women, who know the doctor is only coming in the front door, give the back door a once over too, just in case!

It’s clearly a gender specific idiosyncrasy as well as a relatively new evolution in cleanliness but it strikes me as funny that we afford so much time to making something “prettier”, for a person who probably doesn’t even notice. I mean they see hundreds of them a month (and in just about every state you can imagine I would think too), so why do we care what ours looks like? Maybe for my next pap smear I will pop a little surprise down there, just to see if my (female) GP notices. Nothing flashy, just a little stick on rhinestone or maybe a little splash of cologne*. If she looks up at me with a quizzical look, I will wink at her whilst giving her ‘The Fonze’ finger-point and say, “that’s for you sweetheart”. Or maybe I won’t…

*Never put cologne on your junk. I have a *ahem* friend who did it once and it burned her bits really bad and for a really long time too.

Anyway, I can’t speak for all of you when I tell you why I do it as I am sure we all have own reasons and lengths to which we go when it comes to letting someone who went to uni for that long go near our vag… I mean, I once let this lawyer guy put his… wait… no… I am not sharing that story right now!

 

 

 

Main image via: She Said

 

Fat-Shaming VS Skinny-Shaming.

So fat fat-shaming has once again hit the spotlight, this time thanks to “funny” you-tuber Nicole Arbour. If you have not seen her rant about how fat-shaming isn’t a thing, you can google it. I refuse to put the link here because it is pretty revolting. It sparked outrage from everyone (probably her goal) and not just from fat people. Whitney Way Thore who stars in TLC’s “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” did a brilliant video in response to Nicole Arbour’s that you can see here. It was funny but also addressed the seriousness of the issue. Right, I am gonna go out on a limb, open myself up to being yelled and just call it, fat shaming is a thing and it SO much worse than so-called skinny shaming.

I read articles about both and whilst I sympathise with anyone being shamed for their size, I call BS on the skinny girls who say, “What about us getting picked on for being ‘too skinny’”. In a world that is becoming more obsessed with looks and size as the decades pass, there is no way that being “skinny shamed” even comes close to being called out for being overweight.

What’s my evidence? I am a fat person. I have been big my whole life. Don’t try and tell me that being too thin is just as hard as being too fat. Everything is geared towards thin people. Everything! There are “plus size” stores and “plus size” departments in other stores but nowhere do you see “skinny” sections or “thin stores”. You know why? Because you, as a thin person, can walk into ANY store and find what you are looking for. You will never know the shame of walking into a store only to be told “I do’t think we have anything that will fit you here” (true story). I went shopping with a friend the other day in a “normal” shop and there were 2 and 3 “extra small” sizes of everything and a glaring lack of extra large sizes. It was a demoralising experience. Like most big people I struggle with self esteem and self acceptance all the time. It is hard man! You just start to feel good about yourself and then the world, that is thin-centric, seems to gang up on your to make you feel like shit about yourself. Don’t believe me? Let me give you some examples.

You, skinny person, will never walk into a McDonalds and be looked at with disgust for ordering a Big Mac let alone eating one. You, thin person, will never walk into a nightclub or bar and have punters look at you with distain and revulsion for being too small. You, small-framed people, will NEVER know what it is like to squeeze yourself into an airline seat and suffer the pain of the armrests digging into you the entire flight. YOU, tiny little person, will never have to look through your photos on your phone to find a profile picture where you look half decent or suffer the embarrassment of being told to “move your fat ass” by a random guy in a car park. All of these things have happened to me, some of them more than once. It sucks and I will not subscribe to the idea that “thin shaming” is as bad as “fat shaming”.

I hate that we live in a world where size matters. I really do. I support so much, the idea that what is on the inside is what matters, hell, we ALL know that to be true but in a world of superficiality and first impressions, a skinny person will never be judged in the same way a bigger person is, they just won’t. When people are trying to hurt another person’s feelings, they never tell them they are too thin as a taunt. No woman ever asks, “Does my butt look too small in this?”.

Giuliana Rancic has been quoted as saying that she gets shamed for being thin all the time. People tell her to “eat a burger” all the time apparently. Shit if the hardest part of being thin shamed is being told to eat a burger then sign me up! Hollywood starlets get splashed across the tabloids as being “gaunt” and “frail” and yet young girls (and some of the older ones too) aspire to be just like them. Hollywood is a prime example of how “thin is in”. How many “fat” actresses are working in Hollywood at the moment? A scant few and the ones that are, are the funny ones. Their humour and ability to poke fun at their size makes them saleable. I cannot remember seeing a plus sized woman in a romantic comedy EVER except for the movie Shallow Hal and in that movie, even Jack Black needed his leading lady to look beautiful for him to see how lovely she was on the inside.

Do you know what sucks even more? The working “plus sized” models in the modelling business look like normal women! Seriously?! You want to sit there and tell me that there is some kind of realistic representation of my size 20 body out there in the glossy magazines? These shiny mass marketing vehicles that call themselves “fashion” magazines are being applauded for using “real” women in their publications but for those of us who are over a size 14, there is nothing “real” about that. The simple fact is, the world is uncomfortable looking at a real plus-sized person and when necks are stuck out and actual larger women are used, the outlet who use them are accused of “glorifying bad health”.

No folks, it’s a sad world we live in and even sadder if you happen to be a larger person. I’m sorry but I will never buy that your life is harder than mine because you are “too” thin. Walk a mile in my size 11 shoes for a day (yes, even my feet are fat) and tell me that the sideways glances and sniggering jokes are not that bad. I have a thick skin to go with my thick ankles and for the most part, it slides off my back like bacon grease but I can’t lie and say there are not days when the callous comments leave a scar. I can’t even go shopping for clothes or go to Baskin and Robbins to drown my sorrows either dammit!

Let’s face it, for now, thin is most definitely in and that’s the only shame I will accept.

Guilty All the Same

Hello devotees!
I hope you are all well and happy. We have had a spate of sickness and suffering in our house so I’ll be honest, this blog may be fuelled by too much codeine. I’ll apologise in advance for any rambling…

At the moment, Captain Pants is away. He goes away a lot for work which, over the years, I have grown accustomed to. This particular stint is a long one, almost a month and whilst I enjoy my time alone, it does get hard to juggle everything by myself especially knowing that he is over in SE Asia, in a pristine hotel room, eating food that someone else cooked for him and will clean up for him, able to have a hot shower when he wants to, with people cleaning his room, making his bed, doing his laundry and ironing; you get the picture. I am not denying he works hard when he’s away but he definitely gets his down time over there and let me tell you, after a day of playing mediator, chef, judge, jury, doctor, nurse, housemaid, dry cleaner and general dogsbody with my 2 kids, I get a wee bit feisty when I think about him over there with nobody to be accountable to except himself. My hat is off to single parents. I mean it. You guys rock! It’s not that the captain is particularly helpful around the house when he is home but it is sometimes just as simple as knowing you will have another adult human to talk to/yell at in a few hours that gets you through a bad day. Anywho, so I am single parenting right now and I am pretty much failing at it. Look, the kids are alive so that’s a good sign but my sanity is leaving in incremental portions. You do what you gotta do to get by right?

So any parent alive today (and probably all the ones who are dead too) are familiar with parental guilt, specifically Mummy guilt. It kinda goes with the turf. I suffer from heaping spoonfuls of it. I eat guilt for breakfast, washed down with copious amounts of coffee. I have a great friend (JST you know who you are) and she has talked to me about how she cut ties with Mummy guilt and refuses to buy into it. I think she should write a book. It would be a best seller. I personally am not that evolved. I come from a long line of guilt. It’s ingrained at a cellular level I think.

So with the Captain away, the kids look to me for everything and that is a huge burden to carry. I think I do a good job but I also have to be careful of over compensating for their Dad not being here and trying to be everything to the kids and neglect myself in the process. I have needs too, needs that simply cannot be met while he is gone. I am not talking about anything sexual here either. I am talking about human contact, conversation and just having another person there in general. There is a certain amount of security that one feels when there is another adult in the house. The other day, I had to educate my kids about what to do in case something happened to Mummy. I have done a sign up on the fridge that details how to unlock my phone and call an ambulance if necessary. I walked them through what to do and what situations justify calling 000 and by then end, we were all thoroughly freaked out BUT, it had to be done. With the Captain away, the kids need to know what to do if Mummy collapses or chokes on a chicken bone. I now feel guilt. Guilt that my almost 7 and 4 year old, have to bear the burden of knowing this stuff.

The other night, I was putting B1 to bed. He is a big softy my boy. He loves cuddles and he loves my company. It’s gorgeous and makes me feel very special. Every night, without fail, he asks me to sleep with him. It’s so sweet. He looks up at me with his big blue eyes fringed with dreamy sleepy lashes and he says quietly, “Mum, I would really love you to sleep with me tonight”. I look at his innocent loving face as I stroke his downy head and my heart swells with love for him and I say, “Buddy, Mummy is going to sleep in her own bed tonight”. I have no issue sleeping with him but after the first 5 minutes, as the joy of watching sleep steal across his face wears off, I am left in bed with a large man-child who becomes all hard angles and hot clutches. I sleep fitfully and in patches and usually wake up with knees pressed into the small of my back. One of the small pleasures of Mr Pants being away is being able to have the king-sized bed we usually share all to myself. It is a small pleasure but one I love no less. All that space; no snoring man in it; no 3am boob groping; no blanket stealing; no waking up on the very edge of the bed; BLISS! As much as I know it brings my child peace to have me in the bed with him, I have to draw the line and say no because I know, my needs have to be met too. I need a good night’s sleep, in my big bed, without elbows in my eye sockets. This of course comes with lashings of guilt as inevitably when I say no to sleeping in his bed, he is crestfallen.

He is getting to be a “big” boy my B1. We had a paediatrician’s appointment a while back as B1 has ASD. He falls high on the spectrum but it does require extra assistance and follow up. This particular appointment was a yearly check-up so as well as following up on his progress with his autism, the doctor also took all of his measurements and lo and behold, he is overweight for his age. For the longest time, he was a terribly fussy eater. Any mother of a fussy eater will tell you about the crushing guilt that goes along with knowing that either a) your child has gone to bed with nothing but milk in their tummy or b) your child has gone to bed with chicken nuggets in their tummy because you couldn’t stomach dealing with option a! It’s horrible. B1’s eating finally started to sort itself out right around the time that B2 decided she was a bird and would eat nothing but crackers and cheese. YAY! I guess in my relief at him gaining an interest in eating a wider variety of foods, I lost track of how much he should be eating and thought he must be making up for lost time. He is not obese but he has a little belly on him which I am sure will disappear with the next growth spurt. Cue all kinds of Mummy guilt around this development. Guilt for over feeding my child. Guilt at not realising that maybe he didn’t need that second hot dog. Guilt that I have possibly set him up for cruel taunts and adult onset diabetes. Guilt guilt GUILT!!! All seeing, all crushing guilt!

The more parents I talk to, the more I know I am not alone in this. We all bear the scars of our perceived parental failings. It’s human nature BUT, I am gonna try and take a leaf from JST’s best-seller and let some of it go. It doesn’t serve me well any more. I don’t like feeling guilty, especially about my kids. It’s the whole glass half empty/full analogy isn’t it? I could focus on my failings and beat myself up constantly OR, I can focus on what I am doing well and how my kids are thriving in a mostly single-parent environment. I can release the guilt that surrounds doing things that make me happy and embrace the luxury of having a choice. At the end of each day, my kids are going to be more well adjusted and secure if they have a mother who models good self care right? Even as I am typing that I feel guilty! Like somehow I am justifying being selfish but you know what? It isn’t selfish. Yes, we have children and yes their needs are important as they simply cannot take care of themselves the way that we can but there’s the rub… we CAN take care of ourselves and I don’t know about you guys, but a lot of the time, I don’t.

Confession time: Ready for this guilt-vomit-stream-of-consciousness-list?
I go to the hairdressers maybe twice a year
Sometimes (and I know this is gross) I don’t shower for days
I eat a tube of Pringles for dinner at 9pm because I cannot face cooking one more thing
I have let my leg hair get so long you could braid it (and don’t get me started on my bikini line)
I put ALL my washing in the dryer. All of it. Rain hail or shine, I don’t use my clothesline.
I am jealous of people. A lot. There is always someone who has it together more than me, is prettier, thinner, smarter and funnier than me.
I haven’t cleaned my shower in 6 months (showering in it cleans it right?!)
I ignore my health issues until they become a problem because I just cannot “find the time” to go to the doctor
I say no to my kids because I just cannot be bothered cleaning up after whatever it is that they want to do (play doh, painting, water play etc)
I lie to my kids a lot. “No we ran out of the Pringles darlings (read: Mummy is gonna stuff her face with those at 9pm)”
I downplay my experience so that people won’t judge me/feel sorry for me/laugh at me
I sacrifice personal happiness for the happiness of others
Most of the time, I don’t know what the hell I am doing. In parenting. In life. In love.

OK I have to stop writing that list cos it’s making me feel guilty. SHOCKER!
Anyway, I am pledging that as of today, I am gonna cut myself some slack. Ease up on my expectations and embrace my cock-ups. In 10 years time, I don’t want to look back on a sea of guilt and wish I had done things differently. I choose to do it differently, starting today. Who’s with me? Let’s start the releasing-of-guilt revolution together. It’s a cliche but the fact of the matter is, this time is precious. I’m sorry but it is. I simply cannot continue to allow my pervasive negative spin to tarnish the silver linings that are there. Yeah this is a hard job but guess what, you are doing it! A friend of mine’s daughter has just had a tattoo done that reads “there’s beauty in the struggle”. How gorgeous is that?

I am off to find the beauty in my giant laundry pile and who knows, today I might actually hang it out… meh, who am I kidding, I am totes using the dryer! Guilt free!

Sweet Tooth

I hate clutter.
Hi, my name is Kirsten and I am a clutterphobe.
I suffer from Ataxophobia, the fear of disorder and untidiness.
Yes I had to google that.
No I’m not sorry it makes me sound pompous.
Consider it your “big word for the day”.
Moving on…

I seriously despise clutter. It gives me heart palpitations. The problem here is, I chose to have children who, as it turns out, are clutter MAGNETS! For real! Could you even comprehend just how much stuff kids accumulate as they grow up?! If you had told me B.C. (Before Children) that there would be so much mess involved, I would not have believed you. Cut to now, 2 kids later and I am up to my eyeballs in Lego, My Little Ponies and Shopkins. Shopkins… don’t get me started! I would like to hunt the person who invented Shopkins down and shove a Shopkin in every orifice of their body. If you have not been “lucky” enough to be introduced to Shopkins, let me enlighten you. Shopkins are these little teeny critters who are shaped (vaguely) like food items. They have cute names like “Flutter Cake” and “Pretz-Elle” and “Boo Hoo Onion”. My house is currently under attack from about a million of the little bastards. They are everywhere. When I get into bed at night, they are there waiting for me. When I pull the laundry out of the machine, they’re in there too. They are under my feet, they are in my shoes, they are even in my toilet. They are literally everywhere. EVERYWHERE!!!! You get the picture.

So, my eldest, B1, is almost 7. He has started losing teeth as you do around that age. To date, he has lost 7 teeth and has another one about to pop out. My policy about teeth had always been one of limited contact. I know it has to happen, I am resigned to the fact that it is just “one of those things” that is on the agenda along with getting spewed on, fishing poop out of the bath and mega-tantrums. I don’t like them but I know these events are par for the course and as such, when a tooth gets lost in this house, it is celebrated (with a minimum of touching said tooth) in a very traditional way and then promptly disposed of. We have a box that the tooth is put in before bed and then left on the nightstand. In the morning, the tooth fairy has usually left $2 for the tooth she has taken. The offending tooth is actually in my bin.

So here is where the waters get muddy. I was telling this story to a mate of mine at school the other morning and she was devastated to hear that I threw my kid’s teeth in the bin. I in turn, was shocked that she kept all her kid’s baby teeth which prompted me to ask other Mums what they do and sure enough, I am in the minority! Most of the Mums I surveyed hang on to their kids baby teeth! Can I just say at this juncture; GROSS!!!!! Apart from the “clutter” of it all, I find the idea that there is a box of little teeth rattling around in my house utterly creepy. It reminds me of a guy I dated once (and I use the term “dated” very loosely) who used to keep a jar of his nail clippings. All of them. From every personal grooming session. YUCK!! I mean come on people! You know that teeth rot over time? They stink too. They are teeny, weeny little bones that FELL OUT OF YOUR KID’S FACE!!!! Look, I have kept some pretty random things in my time from ex-boyfriend’s clothing to the kid’s umbilical clips (which I washed thoroughly!) but I just cannot wrap my head around keeping their teeth.

Level with me friends, am I missing something here? I mean, what are you going to DO with these teeth? Trot them out at dinner parties as a conversation piece? Sleep with them under your pillow? Have them made into creepy creepy jewellery? Actually, don’t laugh, you can actually have this done. I have seen an Etsy store where the “craftsperson” coats your kid’s teeth in silver or gold and makes it into a pendant. This is akin to Angelina and Billy Bob wearing each other’s blood in vials around their necks. Sure, it makes you kind of interesting but not in a good way. In reality, you’re just a weirdo with a bottle of blood around your neck.

Even if I did change my mind about this (which I am not going to in this lifetime) it is too late now. 7 teeth are now rotting in landfill somewhere as will the rest of them when their time comes to jump ship. If my kids are devastated when they are older that I made the decision to turf their teef, I will personally pay for their therapy but I really don’t think they will be. My mate’s Mum kept all of her baby teeth and recently gave them back to my her (presumably because she found them one day and went “what the hell did I keep these for?!?!”) and whilst my friend had a lovely time fossicking through her old molars (*shudders*) she then put them away for “safe keeping”. Again, I ask, WHAT FOR?!?! What will anyone ever do with old teeth?! Funny story; this same friend has kept her kid’s baby teeth and she keeps them in her jewellery box (*ewwww*). Last year they were broken into and her jewellery box was stolen. She was more devastated about losing the kid’s baby teeth than she was about losing her jewellery (ummm priorities?). As they cleaned up after the break in, lo and behold they began to find things the thieves had discarded as they burgled the house and among the things they found were the kid’s teeth. I have this hilarious mental image of a burly burglar ransacking the jewellery box and finding the teeth and flinging them across the room squealing like a little girl and flapping his hands in disgust.

OK so now that you all think I am a heartless cow I will reassure you that I love my children more than anything. I have kept their first curl from their very first haircuts. I keep their important drawings and any letters or cards they have made me. I go into their rooms at night when they are sleeping just so I can smell them one more time before I go to bed. I adore my children. I really do BUT I don’t need small rotting bone fragments in a box in my cupboard to remind me of how much I love them. You feel me?

OK now go ahead and tell me why y’all do it. Really. I want to know. Hit me up!

Oh and my lovely and obliging friend provided me with photo evidence of her little one’s teeth. The one on the far left is her dog’s tooth. That’s a whole other level of gross. Don’t even get me started…



Can We All Just Get Along?

Hey kids! I hear you collectively falling of your chairs because I am blogging twice in one month!! Who knew?!

So I know there are a few blogs floating around on FB right now with the school Mum profiles. You know the ones. Athletic Mum, Paleo Mum, Hippy Mum, Psycho Mum etc etc and I rather enjoy those as the reason they are so funny is, THEY ARE SO TRUE!! Following on from that idea, I thought I should blog about the unspoken “rules” around having to be friends with your kid’s mates’ parents and in turn, your kids having to play with your friend’s kids. I know you are all thinking it so I am just gonna go ahead and say it. Brace yourselves

So it seems there is an unwritten law that dictates that you MUST be friends with the parents of your kid’s buddies and vice versa and quite frankly, I think that sucks. I am pretty blessed in that most of my friends have great kids and most of my kid’s friends have awesome parents (notice I say most not all) but it does seem to be a playground “grey area”, a “grey-ground” if you will. Over the years, we have moved a few times and since having kids, obviously our circle of friends has expanded to include a lot of people who also have kids. Now, to protect the innocent, names and situations in this blog will be complete fabrications but believe me, I have had a few incidents in my time that have left me a little sceptical about making new friends. Let’s begin with playgroup shall we? Why not!

Playgroups are glorious places. Your kids can go and make a giant mess in a small space with other kids who are also making giant messes. It teaches them valuable life lessons about sharing, turn-taking and just interacting with other kids in general. It also means you have to socialise with the mothers of the kids at your playgroup and learn some pretty tough life lessons of your own. This is not always a bad thing. I have been attending a playgroup for many years now and have been in several different groups and have met many amazing ladies. Right now, I still go to playgroup with B2 even though she started Kindy this year, simply because I love the mummies in my group so much.

So you know the situation; we have all been there. That moment you meet a new Mum. Let’s call her Mimi. Mimi seems nice. You start talking. You have things in common. You start to share stories. You think to yourself, “wow man, this Mimi chick is really cool” and then you look over and you see little mini Mimi kick your kid squarely in the balls. You look back at Mimi and wait for her to parent her kid. And you wait. And you wait… You know she saw it. Your kid is now screaming and you are trying to soothe them whilst you wait for Mimi to get off her ass and reprimand her child… and she doesn’t. There’s your first red flag folks. So you wipe your kid’s tears away and send them off to play with someone else as faaaar away from mini Mimi as possible. Conversation starts to flow again. Mimi likes the same music as you. Your husbands went to same school. NO WAY! She likes to cook too. She mentions a movie you’ve been dying to see and you make a tentative date to see it together. Exciting! New friends are great! Then your warm fuzzy moment is interrupted by the high pitched scream of your child and you look over to see mini Mimi has him in a choke hold. You spring up and pry mini Mimi’s filthy hands from your child’s throat as Mimi looks on and sips her coffee. You move back over to her with your distraught child in your arms. Mimi laughs and says, “mini Mimi is such an affectionate kid, he hugs other kids like that all the time”. You can’t believe your ears. Is this chick for real?! How can someone so cool be so blind to the fact that her child is a budding sociopath?! Red flag number 2.

So then it’s fruit time. You and Mimi go and cut up the fruit together and she tells you about a problem she is having with her partner. It’s intimate and it’s real and you feel for her because you have been there too. You tell her so. You share a look that women everywhere understand. You know the look; that unspoken look that says, “I feel everything you are feeling because I’ve been there and I am so sorry you are feeling it now”.

Side note: this is one of my favourite things about chicks. For the most part, chicks are amazing. We share shit that most men just don’t. There is a bond with women that if nurtured, can build you up in a way that nothing else can. If abused though, it can have the opposite effect and unfortunately, that happens a lot. Women using that common thread to pull each other down. Don’t do that. The struggle is real. There is enough difficulty in this world being a vagina-wearer without other vagina-wearers beating you up about your choices in how you wear your vagina. PS yes I’m a feminist and yes I am proud of if and yes if I didn’t like men so much I would totally think I was a lesbian too but enough about this; back to Mimi and the fruit…

So we are sharing a moment. The bond is made. The thread that connects us strengthens. All red flags are ignored because this broad is so amazing. Sure, she parents her kid in a way that you don’t really understand but who are you to question her choices (GO FEMINISM!!). So you chop fruit and mentally hold hands with Mimi. You look up to see where your kiddo is and there is mini Mimi, systematically taking toys away from them. Your beautiful, resilient kid keeps moving on from toy to toy and every time, mini Mimi moves with your kid and takes that toy from them. Finally, your kid has had enough and once again, they scream, this time with frustration not pain. Mimi looks at you and says, “Wow, your kid sure does scream a lot hey?”. RED FLAG NUMBER 3!!! But guess what? It’s too late then isn’t it? You’ve made a date with Mimi, you genuinely like Mimi, you’ve shared an intimate moment with Mimi. In short; YOU’RE SCREWED! Because here it is folks, to be friends with Mimi, you have to deal with mini Mimi and their lack of parenting. This sounds an awful lot like judgement I know, and maybe it is but I consider myself fairly evolved and tend to have a “live and let live” policy on these sorts of things but when your parenting choices affect my child, you better believe I have something to say about that.

So let’s flip the script. Your child starts a new school year. They come home and tell you about their day. A name keeps coming up. Let’s call this one Billy. Could be a boy or a girl. “Billy and I played soccer today”. “Billy and I went to the library at lunch together today”. “Billy shared their sandwich with me today when I dropped mine”. Awesome. Billy sounds like a stellar kid. That day, you meet Billy. They ARE a stellar kid. Sparkly eyes, polite, well spoken and obviously loves your kid (who wouldn’t?!). You exhale. Yay! My kid has made an amazing friend. A few weeks later, you get invited to Billy’s birthday party. Fantastic! You get to meet Billy’s parents. You are sure they too will be amazing as how could a kid like little Billy be so great without great role models? Right? RIGHT?!?! Yeaaahhhh not so much.

You arrive at Billy’s house and there are 17 cars parked on the lawn. Red flag. You knock on the screen door and the smell of cigarette smoke coming through it is so strong it makes your eyes water. Red flag. You are greeted by Billy’s Dad, let’s call him Puffing Billy as he has a cigarette trailing from his mouth that seems to stay there the entire party. Puffing Billy couldn’t care less who you are when you try and introduce yourself. He gestures to the back yard and grunts at you which you take as a sign you should head that way. You walk through a living room of shirtless middle aged men who are all drinking (PS it’s 11am on a Sunday). You get to the back yard and pray that Billy’s Mum is a bit more friendly. Ohhh she’s friendly alright. She’s three sheets to the wind herself. Red FLAG! She babbles to you about how happy she is that you are there and that she finally gets to meet you. She puts her arm around your shoulders. She says your kids seem to be great mates. She says she is so happy that little Billy has such a nice friend as all Billy’s other friends are more interested in putting kittens in microwaves and seeing what happens when you pee in your own eyes (PS they are the children of Puffing Billy’s mates. SHOCKER!!). RED FLAG! She suddenly leans in and with breath that smells like a Foster’s factory, tells you she is having a torrid affair with the local butcher and that her husband cannot find out or he will beat the living snot out of her and by the way, do I want a vodka red bull. RED FRICKIN’ FLAG PEOPLE!!!

Again, you’re screwed. Your kid loves Billy. You love Billy. You cannot understand how such an amazing kid could come out of such a hellish environment. You feel for Billy. You want to be a positive person in Billy’s life and you love the way Billy and your kid are getting along. BUT, if your kid and Billy are going to be friends, you automatically have to deal with Billy’s family in some capacity. At some point it’s gonna get awkward. You are never going to let your kid stay at their house let alone go there for an unsupervised play date so that means you need to go too if your child is going to be friends with Billy. This means interacting with Puffing Billy and Billy-No-Morals way more frequently than you would like. BOOOOOO!!!

It’s a minefield out there and I have found as I have gotten older, I am more able to see the first red flag and disengage before things get too heavy. Don’t get me wrong, I have been bitten many many times in the past and have my share of stories to tell but they have all been valuable life lessons for me. The people involved are lovely enough people but the biggest lesson I have learned is that you just cannot be friends with everyone. Not everyone is going to like me either and that is OK too. It is OK to just be acquaintances. It is OK to just say hi on the playground. It is OK to encourage your child to play with other kids if you feel that there may be influences at home that you are not comfortable with. At the end of the day, we are all doing the best we can with what we have and it is OK if someone’s best is not good enough for you. That is what makes life interesting. You find the people who resonate with you and you stick to them like fungus. I mean it. You hold onto those people like a venereal disease because true friends, I mean the ones who are for life, are actually very hard to come by. I have a few friends in my life who I know I will be friends with when I am wearing diapers again and eating through a straw and I cherish those people because they have proven themselves to be authentic and honest and I adore them, right down to their core.

NOTE: One of my best friends hasn’t had kids yet but I know that when she does, those little tackers are gonna be amazing and I cannot wait for my kids to play with them. You know who you are dear one. This blog is dedicated to you and your future kids xo