Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You can't have it all

In the 90s I did an arts degree (journalism major). All my life I have loved to learn - especially history - and doing my degree gave me lots of opportunities to spend time pondering the past.

With Spring nearly over (only a few days left) I have been doing a spot of 'culling'. Nothing like throwing stuff out to make room for the unstoppable invasion of plastic knick knacks that attack my house each Christmas.

Going through my filing cabinet I stumbled across these assignment notes. They were from a course called Myth and Ideology and we studied Greek mythology and its impact on the world.

Now there's a fun way to blow a thousand dollars! I just loved this subject.

The premise of the assignment was Antigone encounters opposition not because she is strong minded and transgressive, but because she's a woman. How much fun I had reading the old texts and coming up with arguments to support my ideas.

Back then, I was quite the feminist. I was going to be someone. I wasn't going to let 'being a girl' get in the way of my success. I wrote for smaller newspapers and envisaged a life with a briefcase and BMW. I had planned a law degree after finishing my Arts (unless Getaway called and offered me my dream job as a location researcher).

Fast forward 16 years - here I am with a dusty briefcase under my bed, three kids arguing over who gets to shower first today and a stack of report cards to complete.

What would my younger self think? That I've failed? Like Antigone, I've been a victim of my own femininity? Would she wonder what happened?

This is what happened. I made a decision. A decision to follow my heart to a boy in a country town. I went into a job that wasn't my first preference but one I knew could make me happy. I made a decision to have children in my twenties because I knew I really wanted a family more than anything else in the world. I knew I couldn't possibly build the family I wanted and climb the career ladder at the same time (although I did try it for a bit).

Maybe other people can. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm just saying I couldn't do it and be happy. I don't think that makes me a failure.

I'm still in contact with some people from my uni days. They're either like me - having chosen other dreams over career-success, or they're enjoying career success sans family.

If I could go back to my younger self, I'd tell her it's not important to have it all. What is important to have priorities. And do what makes you happiest.

Works for men, too. When our eldest was a baby, my husband was busy building an empire - determined to climb that career ladder all the way up. Mr Z and I watched Gilmore girls and ate steamed veges on our own every night while Daddy worked himself ragged in the office. He missed the first steps, the excitement of the first words - he missed putting that sleepy baby down for his sleep at night.

By our third child hubby had discovered that some dreams are bigger than an enormous bank balance and had changed his priorities. He downsized and even took a year working from home so that he could enjoy playing with our Small Boy while he was still an infant. He is happier than he has ever been.

Am I glad I chose family over career? Yes. I can live with not having a BMW, but I couldn't have been content without having had kids. Seeing friend struggle with infertility, I thank my lucky stars every single day for these small people who have blessed my life.

Do I wonder what my life could have been? Of course I do. But I wouldn't change it for the world. Do I feel I have failed, given that I haven't reached my career potential? No. I might not have a BMW but I do have a happy family, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Wondering what inspired this rant reflection? This article. It sounds like one I would have written in my early twenties. If you're on team contented is enough, read the comments. They made me smile :)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The very last one...

A milestone crept up on me this week.

My last playgroup. Like, ever.

After eight years of weekly meet ups (excepting that one crazy year when I worked fulltime) with other mums, I had my last one last Tuesday. Next year my Small Boy goes off to 'school'. A couple of days at Kindy and two days at the ECDP where they will get him ready (listening and talking-wise) for prep.

I thought I would be sad. I thought I might even cry. But in actual fact, as I walked through the door for the last time, I breathed a sigh of relief.

It's not that I haven't loved playgroup. I really have. I've made some (quite possibly) lifelong friends. I've had help and advice and support when I've needed it (sometimes when I haven't needed it too, if you know what I mean).

I've sort of grown up at playgroup. I've gone from a brand new mother, gingerly laying a milky newborn on a blanket (far from all the other children, brandishing cars and trucks) to the sort of mother who can watch her brood with one eye while scoffing down tea and biscuits and recounting the latest antics of her tribe.

source: unknown
But I feel okay that that part of my life is over. Playgroup used to be the place I went to for conversation. Now I have conversations with Mr Z and Miss Piggy. Playgroup used to be the place I went to for support.
Now I can giggle or cry (as the occasion demands) with girlfriends over coffee once the kids are in bed. No more nappies, no more mashed bananas, no more waiting up for 11pm feeds.
Feels kind of liberating.
Linking up to Maxabella's Weekend Rewind

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Reading the warning signs

Interesting time at the dentist. Sigh.

Mr Z got a bit over-excited at the playground and smashed his front tooth (his adult tooth) on a concrete dolphin. As you do. Who on earth puts a CONCRETE dolphin in a playground?!

Cue panicked phone call to dentist. An after hours one. Dollars. Sigh.

Cue hurried introduction to dentist I don't know who's probably hungry and tired and just wanting to get home to his dinner.

Cue panicked 8 year old, huge injection and eyes wide open in fear (mine).

Poor Mr Z, trying hard to be brave. I'm trying hard to be brave.

Then I saw it. Something I hadn't seen in years. An odd jiggle in one of his legs.

You see, Mr Z has inherited my panic attacks. When he was small (between 18 months and the age of three) he used to have at least one, most days. He would drop to the ground, rigid with fear and start thrashing around while turning blue. Then he'd pass out, regain his colour, and go on almost as if nothing had happened. Scared the life out of me the first... I dunno... fifty times they happened. Scared a lot of innocent bystanders too!

Initially we weren't sure what they were. Were they fits? Was it asthma?

We had electrodes stuck to his head, visits to paediatricians and other people before we worked out they were panic attacks. Plain and simple. Over minor things like spilling his milk or losing his truck or stubbing his toe. Often they happened at playgroup or the shops or places he felt out of control. They were often about things I couldn't see/find/work out at the time of the attack.

We worked on relaxation techniques and a plan for when he felt 'wobbly'. I learned to watch for the signs - that restless leg, the sudden stillness - and help him to feel safe before the panic had a chance to take hold. Helping him helped me with my panic attacks, too.

So, when I saw that jiggle in his leg, in that huge dental surgery, I had a moment of panic. What if he started thrashing while that injection was going in?

I acted. I don't know whether I made the situation better or worse. I blurted, "Um... he has panic attacks! If he goes blue or starts thrashing, don't panic, he'll be fine". The dentist turned to me, with fear and perhaps anger (I'm not so good at reading people so not really sure), "Why isn't it in his file? What medication does he take? Why wasn't I told?". Of course, then Little Z did start to panic. By the time I'd mumbled something about it not being part of their form, no medication required, just calm voices and explanations about what was going to happen, he was in full twitchy glory.

I eventually calmed us both down but repeating, over and over, "We are BRAVE, Z. We are brave." I was comforting myself as well as my son.

So.... There's now a temporary cap on his tooth. It's wonky but functional. We have to wait to see if the nerve will die and then go for a more permanent solution.

Little Z seems OK about it all. Now he knows what it will feel like (both of us hate that numb feeling) and look like (injections and all) when it all happens, he says he'll be more brave next time. I believe him.

I wonder what that dentist thinks of me. Probably hysterical mother who caused her son to have a panic attack by mentioning it in the first place. But. He didn't know about the twitchy leg. He doesn't know Mr Z's signs.

I do.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Beauty Disasters

I'm not one who pays much attention to my appearance. I mean, I like to dress well but I find makeup a tedious bore (mostly in the removal) so I rarely bother. Usually, I just smear on a moisturiser with sunscreen and put on a smile.
My friend Jo is awesome at selfies. I, clearly, am not!

Despite rarely bothering with beauty, I seem to have a bathroom full of products. Some are left overs from the time I tried to sell Avon (disaster), some are bargains I picked up on impulse (I love a bargain bin, especially after a disastrous day), others are gifts from people.

Who buys beauty gifts for others? Are they trying to tell me something?

Anyway. I've discovered that the most frightening mirror isn't the one in the Big W change rooms (fluoros and cheap mirrors are a bad combination, I'm sure you'll agree). It's the little mirror in the sunvisor in the front seat of my car. In that little mirror, I've discovered that you can see your wrinkles up close and personal, without even wearing your prescription sunnies. Eeeeek!

Which brings me to my latest disaster. After said discovery of road map of fine lines on my forehead, I brought out all the bottles that said anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, anti- anything.

They had collected a lot of dust and all had tiny writing which I had to find my glasses to read. Dust and glasses. That doesn't scream old person, does it?!


My bathroom basin is sporting a vintage look thanks to Vit-C serum that has gathered some colour with age. As my friend said, you don't want a vintage glow to your face. So probably good that a small person seems to have tipped most of it down the drain. After using a night cream, my skin is still wrinkly but now sporting pimples (do pimples count as anti-aging? I look like the wrinkliest teenager in Australia).

So, am giving up. Wrinkles draw attention away from my grey hair. They show you have lived. They show character and courage and perseverance, traits I'm wishing for my kids. Why bother? Really, what can I do about it?

I resolve to drink more water, keep slapping that coconut oil* on (it has improved the redness on my neck) and not look in the sunvisor mirror again.

That's a plan, isn't it?


* Coconut oil is great for killing lice, apparently. I tend to pour it in once a week or so, leave it for an hour while I do housework eat tim tams and then wash it out. Hairdresser says that hair is lovely and shiny. While I wash it out, I let it run all over me, makes my skin soft, too :)
Linking up with Maxabella Loves Weekend Rewind

Knowing you're done

The other day a colleague brought her newborn niece into our staffroom. While I watched everyone fussing over the tiny little thing I felt pangs of actual pain in my stomach. So much so I actually got up to have a chat to someone on the other side of the room just to take my mind off it all.

It was the end of a long day and I could have just gone home, but I felt a sort of internal conflict going on in my body - some sort of strange baby-magnetism kept me there, despite my feet wanting to take me elsewhere. M, a new grandmother whispered to me as she sidled past to get a closer look at the little poppet. "It's ok - we know you're a breeder," she winked conspiratorially.

It's true. I think that had I been born a hundred years ago, I would now have ten or eleven children. All driving me insane. Perhaps I may not have wanted ten offspring, but some sort of biological urge would have kept me permanently knocked-up, I am sure of it.

I know that for my circumstances, three is my absolute limit. When Small Boy was born, I wished that we had the opportunity for one more - for a little 'mate' for him to play with. I've always loved that closeness my older two share. As time has gone by, I've realised that one more would have meant that I had no time/energy to do all the things that Small Boy needs me to do for him. But part of me still wonders what just one more would have been like.

I am so lucky - THREE little children to call my own. I know I am blessed with the most amazing gifts that life can offer. I feel greedy even thinking about wanting a fourth when I know so many people are desperate to have even one.

There will be no more babies (Hubby has seen to that). I am perfectly content with my three little people who I love wildly. At least until the next little newborn visits our staffroom ;)

This is a self-portrait I took while 32 weeks pregnant
with little number 3. He was a whopper!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

This is the life

I feel like a posh lady today. I'm not at work, my hair is wound into tight curls at the back of my neck and my nails are done.

This morning, I drove my kids to school and dropped them off, wiping lipstick kisses from their cheeks.

"Have a great day, I love you!" I called cheerily as I waved them off from the car park, knowing that nutritious snacks were packed away in their bags.

It's quite a departure from a normal school day, where I hurriedly put my hair in a bun, wipe any toothpaste that might be lingering on my face and literally shove small people from my car as I wrestle with the bag of marking/craft supplies/sporting attire I need for the day. Usually, Daddy has packed the lunchboxes filled with all sorts of packaged treats and a few healthy things to placate me.

Usually I'm stressed and tired and grumpy and rushing to get into work.

But today, I am on leave from work and I am going to a Melbourne Cup function. I feel like a proper lady. Later, my friend's nanny is going to drop me and a friend at the track, all frocked up in our finery. Just like Gwyneth might do. Or Madonna. Or Danni Minogue. I am so excited, I could almost pop!!!

Mind you, I've been up since the crack of dawn - nutrition-and-makeup-and-painting-of-nails-and-fancy-hairdos all take time and straighteners and that bottle of 'goddess for a day' hairspray that I finally tracked down at the bottom of a drawer. I hope I don't fall asleep after the first wine!

My makeup is probably a bit wobbly because I can't see what I'm doing without my glasses on and I realized that while dirty hair makes for easier upstyling, it also makes your greys stand out like neon lights. My dress (under $40 delivered from ebay) may have an iron mark on it, but it's hardly noticeable and I'm sure I'm going to get rained on/spill something anyway...

That sounds a bit more like me, doesn't it? I'm still in there under all this.. fancy.

Breathe in. Breathe out. This is no time for panic, self-criticism or doubt, this is MY day and I'm going to enjoy it :) And just hope nobody else is wearing their glasses, either.

I love reading your comments, thanks for stopping by :)