It’s fake but it’s actually proof.

This photo is not as described. It’s a lovely thought…but the photo is actually a huge, thriving pack of wolves led by their alpha female. Back story here

The important point though is that the idea of it appeals to so many and reveals the beauty that still exists in humanity. The values of; protect your old and your weak. Keep an eye out for each other. Be a smart, loving leader.  

That this speaks to and touches so many gives me hope for our future xx

13 Reasons Why…Why?!

I’m watching ’13 Reasons Why’ and I’m terrified. I’m devastated. I’m afraid. I am an emotional wreck. 

I’m terrified of raising children who end up as Hannah. I’m terrified of raising children who end up as Justin or Jessica. 

If you haven’t watched this series, those names mean nothing. But one is a girl who took her own life following a prolonged period of ostracising, humiliating bullying.  The other two are players on the offensive team.

I look at my beautiful little girl and her honesty, her openness, her eagerness to share every detail of her day with me. I think about times I shut her down or half-listen….and then I think of teens and their habitual self imposed isolation from their parents and I wonder: how can I avoid that? 

Am I setting up that sullennes now, that silence, refusal to share, every time I don’t listen or show my impatience when she babbles at me about the wonderful imaginings of her world?

How can I guide my child towards being a good and caring and kind human, one that realises actions have consequence, that words can and do hurt. One that will share her pain with me and allow me to comfort her; I know she will be hurt and I can’t stop that completely but I’d like to be an option for comfort she is always willing to take. 

How can I give her the confidence to know that the words and actions of unkind or thoughtless people do not define her and that no one can make her feel any way she does not allow herself to feel? To believe in her own worth to the point that she can easily allow meanness and jealousy to roll off her back without leaving a trace?

I’m filled with self doubt and the price of failure is high, so high ūüė¶

High school for me was both good and bad, I was at different times both the ostracized and the ostraciser; but today’s world is completely different and in 10 years time when my little lady heads to high school I shudder to think how much worse it could have gotten. 

The reach of bullies is so much greater now; they can infiltrate every safe space, every private place, via social media and the internet, phones and tablets. And, for all the gains women have made in equality and “girl power”, it seems girls today are even more driven by peer pressure than ever before. 

Why are so many of our girls so fixated on getting approval from strangers? Why do they equate their worth as a person with their number of ‘likes’, how many ‘followers’ they have, or how many comments their photos attract?

How can I ensure that my girl, and my boy, learn to be their own judge and jury…to examine themselves and decide on their own worth rather than rely on others to tell them. How do I teach them that what really makes a person good or bad is their heart, their mind, their morals? That “perfect” is subjective and that beauty fades but the love (or hate) we show in our behaviour lasts forever?

My own mother did a great job raising me to not credit too much worry to my physical appearance. I was quite different to many of my friends in worrying about make up and fashion and so on. I wasn’t oblivious, far from it, but it didn’t have the weight for me that it did for my friends. 

But I still remember the pain of high school, peer pressure, wanting to be popular, feeling hurt and lonely. 

And I think about how much more vicious teens seem to be these days and I am terrified. How do I teach the most precious little people in my world to fight an enemy I’ve never faced myself???

So I guess, in a way, I should be grateful for 13 Reasons Why. It is (I think?) a brief look into the reality of high school these days, the good, the bad and the downright awful. It’s like a glimpse into an enemy camp I suppose, and I will try to formulate my plan for guiding my babies using every bit of intel available to me, ever.

Or else – I will home school. Yep. Maybe I will just do that. 

Bloody hell. Teens are vicious. Hats off to the teens in my life – you’re walking a war zone every day; all I can say is, be the sun – shine bright; and remember, the clouds always fuck off eventually.

x S

Motherhood is all about Making Allowances.

Just a short observation tonight; I’m tired and sick and I’m keen to get into bed. Miss 3 is having a sleepover at her grandmother’s and Master 1 is already in bed…my bed is calling me too. We have a hot date of lots of sleep planned *nudge nudge wink wink*

But I have strayed from the topic.

Allowances.

Motherhood, I’ve realised, seems to be largely about ‘making allowances’. It hit me today, this epiphany, as I found myself driving from a friends place back to my mother-in-law’s, running late to collect my 1 year old thanks (in part) to having to run through the little time wasting routine that is  (apparently) a part of toilet training. Miss 3 is in training. Woo! It’s great, but it does mean that before we depart anywhere, I have to very seriously ask my little angel “Do you need to wee?” And then wait for her to seriously consider the question, answer in the affirmative, half undress her, sit her on the toilet, wait…wait….wait….wait some more, have more discussion and wait some more. Get kicked out of the toilet and then summoned in the most offended ‘how could you leave me!’ tones a 3 year old can muster. Finally, either get a mere sprinkle of tinkle or nothing at all and go through “yay!”, wipe, flush, redress, wash, dry. Holy shit balls.  It takes time! So much bloody time! 

Hence my epiphany and conversation with myself on the way to my MILs, mentally adding to my list ‘add 10 minutes to departure time, toilet allowance.’

Then I realised, on top of all the other ‘allowances’ I already have for planning departure time, here’s yet ANOTHER one to add! On top of ‘in case baby poops’, ‘finding missing shoe/toy/whateverthebloodyhelltheyredemanding’, ‘gobackforforgottenitem’, ‘win the get in the car fight’, etc etc – you get the idea. I reckon I’m up to about 30 mins extra time in allowances just to get out of the house these days. 

And then I thought, this is my life now…mentally calculating all the extra minutes I need to get myself out the door with the kids. Motherhood. Wonderful.

Holy shit balls.  I’m sure it’s going to get easier as I get better at it….right?

x S

The big Pee En Dee.

(And no, I do not mean Party Next Door, the rapper, cause apparently that’s actually a thing)

As I sit here, watching J eat his vegemite sandwich (eat, or more accurately, smush and rub and chew on a bit then throw it), I think about the fact that he is one tomorrow and I get so emotional. Its been a big year.

It’s the year I became a mother of two. It’s the year I had to be rushed into surgery to have an emergency caesarian. It’s the year I was incredibly lucky to have a stay at home husband for months. It’s the year I became a mother to a son. It’s the year I said goodbye to our beloved husky, Jazz, and our little pony, Archie. The year I learned more than I wanted to know about allergies and gave up all dairy and egg products for eight long months.

It’s the year I was diagnosed with, and sought treatment for, post natal depression.

My story: around 4 months after the somewhat traumatic birth of my little boy, I went to the GP because I’d been having increasing bouts of anger, sadness and, most frightening to me, continual feelings of detachment and numbness. ¬†Feelings like I was watching my family on TV, like I had no actual connection with them. Feelings of despair. ¬†So I went and saw the doctor and described what was going on. ¬†She asked some questions and she had me do the oh-so-familiar PND checklist and unsurprisingly it indicated I was ‘more than likely’ suffering from PND.

Since the day I sat in the GPs office and listened to her diagnosis with equal measures of relief and despair, I have shared this¬†news with some of my nearest and dearest directly, slowly, over the course of a few months. I’ve alluded to it with others, and on this blog, and hashtagged ‘pnd’ on my instagram a few times. It’s not something I’ve spoken too openly about, not really, not in the amounts I’ve wanted to, except with my incredible husband and of course my very skilled psychologist. I’d like to say that’s because it’s no big deal, it’s a tiny part of my day, it never occurred to me – but that would be untrue, and I promised myself this would be a very honest post.

The reality is, I’m still ashamed. Ashamed and feel like somehow I’ve failed, am failing, every time I feel a slowing in my progress. Every time I feel a rush of that detached, numb sadness wash over me. When I suddenly started having panic attacks again in January / February, after not having had one for years and years, I felt like I was going backwards at the speed of light. ¬†Crushing, when I had been feeling like I’d made such progress.

Why am I ashamed? Well, partly that’s because I look around and see so many other amazing mums around me, mums who are struggling like I am, only they actually have tangible, serious issues they are dealing with, so in my mind, their struggling is justified. Or worse, mothers I see with enormous hurdles and draining challenges they face every single day and they are coping better than I cope with my small, normal, day to day issues. I look at myself, on the days when I was at my lowest, and take stock of exactly what was going on at that time and I think to myself, ‘How pathetic that you can’t even cope with that, and yet so and so copes with this really well.‘ Big sigh. Even reading back over this makes me feel sad.

In my head, the lovely, logical, left hand side of my brain, I know that it is an illness. And that yes, I struggled to cope with things that normally I would handle no worries, but that’s directly due to the illness. ¬†That other mothers around me simply have a greater capacity to cope, specifically because they do not have PND, so comparing myself to them was always going to end badly.

But the other side of me (thank you, right brain) just feels defeated and ashamed and sorry. ¬†Sorry for being the burden to my husband, sorry for being the downer in my family and my group of friends, sorry for the times I couldn’t be the mother I wanted to be for my kidlets.

No-one talks about it. ¬†Its not like having any other kind of longterm, treatable illness. ¬†Not often would anyone ask me, ‘How are you going with your PND?’. ¬†I rarely bring it up, except on this blog, with anyone bar my husband. ¬†I might say, “I’m having a bad day today,” to a friend, but I don’t even know if they know I’m referring to my PND, or if they just assume I mean a ‘bad day’, like anyone and everyone has from time to time. I feel awkward bringing it up and I wonder if those around me feel awkward bringing it up, too? ¬†Don’t want to offend me? ¬†Or perhaps, when they’ve asked me the general, ‘How are you going?’, they actually mean how is my PND going but I just don’t hear what they are really asking. Or maybe they get updates from my husband…. Who knows?

I know of mothers around me who are suffering PND, too, and we talk about it to each other Рbut do they feel the same sense of invisibility that I do? The shame, the hesitation to voice any thoughts or feelings or progress or set backs?  Maybe, and I hope this is true, they are a bit stronger than I am and they do talk openly about it with their nearest and dearest.

None of this is to say that I haven’t had support from those around me. ¬†Its a solid wall of support, I know all of those I call my ‘village’ have my back 100% and think absolutely no less of me for this phase in my life’s journey. ¬†I know that and do not doubt it, ever.

And those around me who I’ve never directly shared my diagnosis with (God, I nearly put diagnosis in quotation marks, because I am still so quick to be dismissive of it and myself), well, how could I expect them to discuss it with me? ¬†If it’s something I’ve avoided talking about then, as people who are kind and caring, they would naturally avoid talking about it with me too, no matter how curious they were. Or how much they wanted to ask me, ‘Are you OK? How are you doing with your PND?’

And – even more importantly, I think, if they wanted to say – “I have PND, too,” or “I think I have PND – how did you know? What did you do? How can I get help?”; well, my silence about it would make it very difficult for them to start that already confronting conversation wouldn’t it?

So, hear it is. The end to my silence on PND. ¬†I have it. I’m beating it. I love my kids fiercely and I want to be the best me I can, for them. ¬†And for my husband, I want him to have a whole, happy woman beside him on this crazy ride we call parenthood.

There is so much support out there for PND, if only we can stop thinking of it as something to be ashamed of, to speak of only in hushed voices or minimally.  We should regard it like any other treatable illness Рrecognise the signs, seek diagnosis, get treatment, get well.  Talk about it. Ask about it.

For anyone, man or woman, out there suffering from this illness, whether a mild or severe case, know that the feelings you experience are not yours alone. ¬†They are symptoms of the illness and they will go away with the right treatment. They are not “fault” any more than a runny nose is your “fault” when you have a cold.

You can do it, you are not a bad person, it is an illness and those around you love you still, and more, for fighting this battle that only you can win.

Check out the PANDA website, its one of the best in the world, at http://www.panda.org.au/

And be kind to you. ¬†Sounds simple but it’s truthfully one of the rarest things we do.

x S

Letters to Ella #3

Dearest, beautiful Ella,

Happy birthday my love.¬†You’ve just turned three. Three whole years have passed since the moment I held you to my chest and and looked at your daddy with tears in my eyes, unable to fully believe it and finally able to allow myself to accept that I was to be a mamma.

You amaze me. Every day, you learn something and you use it over and over, testing it out, rolling it around, bringing it into conversation – its phenomenal. You have a ‘word of the week’, and its such a wonderful moment when I recognise what it is. Last week, it was ‘maybe’ – “Its time for lunch, maybe?” This week, its ‘think’ – “I’m just thinkin’ about it, mamma,” you told me on the way home from daycare – “I’m just thinkin'” Holy shitballs, my heart explodes at your cuteness.

A switch seems to have flipped in your attitude, too… so much more independence, such tantrums… although they aren’t, compared to some, bad tantrums; but if I look at you up til now and you now – they’ve gone from a 2 up to an 8 … that’s a big increase in a short space of time. And doing things yourself.. wowsers. EVERYTHING. You must do EVERYTHING YOURSELF. Even when you cannot possibly do it yourself. Not frustrating at all…..Hello Threenager ūüôā

Your imagination – beautiful and endless. You like to ‘become’ Oceana right now… randomly, I’ll be talking to you and you will gravely inform me: “My not Ella – my Oceana!” And thus I must address you thereon. Its magical. Its also infuriating sometimes and has actually elicited the following response – “I don’t care who you are right now!” ¬†But mostly, its magical.

Co-sleeping. You’ve never been a co-sleeper. I think, prior to the past 8 weeks, you had spent a total of 2 nights in bed with me. ¬†As a tiny baby you slept beside me, but not with me; once you moved to your own room that was it. Maybe twice, when you were ill, you spent the night in bed with me but usually if you were awake at night, you’d come into my bed for about an hour and then I’d have to take you back to your bed. You just wouldn’t sleep with me. ¬†Which was quite great, really, but on those nights when you were just a little bit off, it would have been nice to snuggle with you, and you never could.

Until now.

At the moment, every morning you wake up very early. You call out to me and I come and grab you and bring you back into my bed. Then we snuggle and give kisses and we snooze (well you do, I can’t, still – but I love that you do). It is so nice. We have so many tense, frustrating, hurtful, angry, confused moments during our days that I truly, truly cherish these beautiful, loving, peaceful cuddles and snuggles we are suddenly getting to share every morning.

Its just you, and me, like it used to be … and I love it. Of course I love your brother and our fambam of four, but I absolutely miss the ‘you and me’ it used to be and so these early morning cuddles are so, so precious to me.

What else? You’ve learned to ride a bike (you picked it up in about 12 minutes, no lie), you run like the wind (and crash pretty hard too), you can count to 18, you proudly tell me “Its B for Ella!” whilst holding up an ‘E’, you help me feed Harley and the chickens and Archie your pony.

You miss your daddy and you love your brother – even though he’s not quite big enough for you to play with yet.

You have regular tantrums, but they aren’t too severe really, and you seriously have such a sweet, loving and easy going disposition so much of the time that I have to forgive you the odd epic meltdown.

You’re trying to give up your day naps and its so horrible for me but I’m trying to be supportive…sigh.

You still aren’t toilet trained and though it stresses me out, I’m trying hard to follow your lead and go with the flow and never ever pressure you. But seriously – I’m quite happy to not have 2 kids in nappies, ifyouknowwhatimean.

You love pasta, and meat, and capsicum. You do NOT like mushrooms.

You are love, personified. And I am absolutely blessed to call you my daughter, my little girl, my beautiful tiny human.

Love you sweetheart.

x S – mamma

 

 

Taking my own advice…literally.

I recently had a bit chat (the modern version – online of course) with a beautiful friend who is questioning herself a lot. ¬†Her fears/worries/thoughts so strongly echo my own that after I’d given her this advice, I thought I probably should take it myself. After all, if its solid advice then it should apply to me too right?

Anyway, so here it is, a bit edited to make it able to apply to me – so Sharna, next time you’re beating yourself up (again), please read over this letter from me, to me, with love x

Its so very important to not feel guilt that you want space and time. Its normal – and for those women who you know that ‘manage’ it all, without complaining, keep in mind that you have no idea what goes on in their head and there could be a million reasons why they seem to have it together. They may even think YOU are the one with it all together. Perception is a funny thing and there are always 3 sides to a story – your truth, their truth and the actual truth.

Make sure you get out and about with the kidlets – even just down to the park or something, take a book and a coffee and a blanket and plop them down to enjoy fresh air. The house is claustrophobic and the outdoors can amuse them so much, even just for 30 mins, so you can have a bit of ‘you’ time even if they are¬†with you, technically.

And just remember. You ARE grateful, you’re grateful for them, and for their health, and for all you have. Its not natural, however, to be grateful for things that hurt or upset you, like the feelings of isolation and boredom and frustration. Those feelings are what you are not grateful for. You don’t have to feel grateful for that type of shit, in fact it would be weird if you did!! So don’t confuse what it is that you feel resentment against – not them personally, but the feelings that you are experiencing (which are no-one’s fault, they just are) and don’t feel guilty.

As for resilience … you don’t give yourself enough credit, you’re still going aren’t you? And keep in mind we are all of us good and bad at things. I am good at organising and spreadsheets and helping people. I am not good at monotony, and I am not great in the areas of mental reality and stability. I have anxiety and I tend to catastrophise everything and I’ve learned (thank you to my great psychologist) that these are just parts of me that I need to learn to manage, rather than constantly try to fix. Like someone who has a limp – sure, its not ideal, but its not game ending either, its just a small fault in them that they acknowledge and work with and get on with life. I’ve stopped asking myself ‘what’s wrong with me? why can’t I just be normal?’ and I now accept that this is my normal. My husband has shitty eyesight and I think no less of him. I have anxiety and he thinks no less of me. He wears glasses and I see a pysch.

We all have our faults, and we all have areas we excel in too. Just because motherhood doesn’t make you fart glitter, doesn’t mean you are any less of a great mother. In fact – it means you are an AMAZING mother because every day you fight against reluctance to give your little humans a wonderful life and bucketloads of love. So start appreciating you.

be-kind

x S

Seriously. F today.

Well. Today was certainly a memorable day. If this was an NCIS episode, it would begin with me standing in a vomit-filled kitchen, covered in vomit myself, laughing hysterically with tears running down my face. There would be a freeze frame on my maniacal, regurgitated-mushroom-risotto spattered face, it would turn black and white and then we would flash back to the beginning of the day. It would be an awesome episode start.

Actually ¬†– I guess it would start with me sitting at this laptop with that giant glass of wine, typing…. not such good dramatic value though, eh?

Anyway.

Today was one of THOSE days. With a kick in the nuts just for shits and giggles. Have I ever sworn as much on one day as I did today? I think probably not. Despite my earnest efforts of late to curb my cursing, by replacing – well, you guess what – with ‘fairies and unicorns!’, today a fair few plain and simple ‘fuck’s’, ‘for fucks sakes!’ and ‘fucking hell’s’ came flying out of my little mouth. Geeeeeessssussss.

Started, really, at 11.30pm last night when my 3yo repeated the previous nights performance and woke up, coughing and crying. (I wasn’t mad – I was sad – I hate that she’s unwell. See my previous post about that here. I’m not all fairies and unicorns, I promise). Anyway – she came to my bed, which, thanks to a FIFO husband, was conveniently half empty – and promptly fell asleep, still coughing her little heart out every couple of minutes and turning more than a wagon wheel. Hence she got a pretty decent sleep while I ‘woke up’ at 6.30am feeling like I’d been rolled through a pasta maker (flat and stretched, not pliable and supple, in case you were confused).

In positive news, the 11mo had slept well and didn’t wake up until 6.44am. WINNING on that one, lemmetellya. When a kid, who until now has considered 5.30am a sleep in, sleeps until 6.44am….. well HALLELUJAH. I was grateful, but apparently not enough to stop the karma fairy punching me in the face with a thunder hammer.

Anyway. The morning went OK…. made pikelets for breakfast and then packed the kids in the car for a trip to the park (the house was already seeming a bit claustrophobic). At the park noticed the 3yo left eye was all gunky… awesomeballs. Conjunctivitis. Or sand? Maybe sand. Let’s go with sand. Enjoyed my coffee and the company and then packed the kids into the car to go home. 11mo fell asleep on the way home… which was great, except he woke up as we got home because the 3yo insisted she was a baby and I needed to carry her inside to put her in the portacot to sleep…. and grab that toy for her… and a pillow… and by then the 11mo was woken by the motionless vehicle. Sigh. No worries, he needed lunch anyway right?

I won’t bore you (more than I already have) with the mundane details of the day, suffice to say it was one of those days where what could go wrong kinda did, could have been a lot more bad stuff happen I know and I have perspective; but, when you’re very tired from 2 nights of little sleep, you are doing it alone cause your partner is not around, you have a 3 yo who is just loving saying things like “No!” and “I don’t want to do that!” and “Why?“, and you have a list of things you have to do and things you should do and things you just want to do and NONE of them are getting done… well, it can be a little draining.

And then, suddenly, it all improved. Somehow, I had dinner cooked by 4pm, we had all our little jobs done, we got all our many animals fed and put away and we were sitting on the trampoline enjoying a warm autumn evening in golden sunlight, and I thought – “Wow. Isn’t this a lovely way to finish off a pretty stressful, pretty unpleasant day? All the ‘jobs’ ticked off, looks like an early bedtime, probably get some time for me before bed even! And this is nice….I’m so glad me and the kidlets could have this fun time to end the day.”

Bahahahahahhaha.

Get inside and start cleaning up. Give the kids their milk – her a cup of milk, him his bottle – while I do dishes. They have enough and start playing, she follows him into the kitchen and does ….SOMETHING, I don’t know exactly what, to him, just behind me and he starts screaming his head off. Whole head turns bright red. Like a tomato.

I pick him up to soothe him and tell her to “GET ON THE COUCH AND WATCH TV!!!” (Yes, parenting 1-0-1, but by god I’m so glad I did) and then it happens. The kick in the nuts I mentioned earlier… my little guy does this weird little burp …. and then he power vomits half digested mushroom and chicken risotto mixed with 200mls of formula all over me, my kitchen floor, my kitchen cupboards and himself. So. Fucking. Awesome.

Sigh.

Cue the early bedtime going out the window because I spend the next hour cleaning up the boy, me, the floor, the cupboards, re-feeding the boy (carefully), putting on a load of washing (after rinsing off the chunks, of course!) and only then, did I tackle bedtime. And of course part of that was giving my 3yo another dose of the eye drops for her (maybe, and in hindsight, probably unlikely) conjunctivitis. Which went down a treat, I tells ya. Even better than the first dose earlier in the day. Cause, memory….. sigh.

But – you know the real kicker? The moment of today that really, truly broke me? That made me cry when telling my husband about it on the phone?

It was when, as I was putting my 3yo to bed, she touched my face and told me that I’d been ‘sore’ at her today, all day. That she was a good girl. That she knew I was sad because daddy was at work.

I can justify 100% my frustrations of today – I know I’m extra tired, I know my kids have been quite challenging and I have a lot on my ‘must do’ to do list. ¬†So on one hand, I forgive myself for the short tempered, impatient and shrill moments I had today, the times when I raised my voice or showed clearly my frustration.

But – on the other hand, and any mother or father can probably understand this – I feel terribly, horribly guilty for being so obviously shitty today that my little girl noticed enough to talk to me about it at bedtime. And that’s just a contradiction I have to live with, as a parent, every day pretty much. It sucks balls.

Anyway. The day is done. I’m ready for bed. I can hear the 3yo coughing and I am fervently hoping she settles without needing me and sleeps all night in her own bed so I can get some much needed catch up sleep.

So yes. The NCIS freeze frame would be me, at a laptop, with a big (now empty) glass of wine. Its time to close down the PC and hit the shower. Cause, you know, I can still smell the vomit …. on me….fun times.

Hope your day was better than mine, or if not – hopefully this brought you a little smile and a feeling of at least not being alone ūüôā

20170422_173414-01

x S