Wednesday, September 28, 2011

CHOP CHOP











When the Post it Note appeared on the fridge with the words ‘Book Vasectomy Clinic’ scrawled across it, I knew my baby making days were all but over.




It appeared my husband knew me better than I knew myself and even though at that point in time, i.e. three months pregnant with baby number 3, I had no intention of having a number four, he knew all it would take was a mere sighting of a cute baby and I’d be back on the newborn express.




See, babies are my crack.  One whiff, one sighting, one hold and I am hooked and need a more personal fix.  My husband was onto me, hence the post it note.




He had also done some logical thinking, damn him.  Going from a family of 5 to a family of 6 would mean more than adding a new name to the Medicare Card.  It would require a 7 seater car.  It would mean a four bedroom home (at the very least).  It would also mean that we would probably not retire until we were dead, (although to be honest, we are fairly prepared for that scenario anyway).




Are these reasons, which essentially are material based, valid enough to veto child number 4, 5 or even 6?  If you had caught me off guard in the post baby haze, three years down the track when the memories of vaginal tearing and sleep deprivation were conveniently forgotten, I’d have said, no, not a good enough reason. In the cold light of day however, knee deep in shitty nappies and having cleaned up my body weight in vomit, I’d probably quite happily snip the offending  sperm carrying tube myself.   So yes, I guess I’m saying three is the magic number for us.




It almost feels like three is the new two.  Most all of my friends have three children and, like us, they went back for more punishment bliss at that comfortable, fuss free time of their lives when their other children were basically self-sufficient.  And I can’t even say we had our third child because we wanted a child of a particular sex.  We already had a pigeon pair and they were/are good kids.  And then, perhaps just to teach us a lesson to mess with fate, we had the now Mr 4, the hurricane on two legs.  




This boy came out born ready.  He took no more than 2 hours to make his way out, 9 pounds and I didn’t even require a single stitch. This either means I was totally ‘one’ with my breathing during labour or, probably closer to the truth, I was just a total loose goose.  I digress, the fact is, this kid was jumping out of trees and breaking his wrists before he could tell me No.  And he tells me No A LOT. 




Do I still hanker for another addition?  Honestly no.  I love that my friends are having babies and I am getting to enjoy them in an ‘Aunty Bern’ capacity, i.e. I’m getting to give all the hugs, kisses and long holds and then sleep for 8 hours.  Sometimes 9.




In hindsight, that 20 minute trip to the clinic where the doctor pulled out his glorified soldering iron and burnt the pathways to fatherhood to render my husband infertile was both sad, yet necessary. 




Where did you draw the line?  Have you?


*Note - I had to google vasectomy to find a picture for this post.  What I have seen cannot be unseen.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I LIKE TO MOVE IT MOVE IT





They say getting married and moving are two of the most stressful events you will face in your lifetime. 


Let's just say that that I’d dance the funky chicken at my 19th wedding rather than move house one more time.  Because this time, we aren’t just moving house, which for some insane reason, we seem to do about every 4 years, we are moving State.  Lots of states.  We are moving to Victoria.    


Have you ever talked so much about something that it actually turned into reality?  I mean, like something so massive, so life changing, it will not only interrupt your own life but all of those around you as well?  It seems that I may have done this.


A few months ago my husband I sat down and realised we were getting nowhere.  Building and construction here on the Gold Coast has basically stalled.  People are sitting on their hands waiting for something to happen.  In turn, Phil hasn’t worked a solid week since Christmas 2010.  I’m pretty sure this is the story being told by any tradie on the Gold Coast right now.  Confidence is thin on the ground, the Real Estate Bubble burst a while back and people are scrambling to sell at much less than they did two years ago.  We could see it coming, but we’ve rode this out here a few times before. 


The last time was in 2001 and we only had one child at the time.  Phil moved to Sydney where he was offered a great job.  I stayed behind and it was relatively easy.  Well for me.  Although to be honest, we were kind of running two households, flying to and fro and what not. And although I was fine working, running Mad to day care and looking after ourselves, Phil didn’t fare quite as well.  What should be every man’s dream was his nightmare.  I mean, nights to oneself, pub dinners, beers with mates and complete control of the remote control sent him nuts.   So he came home.


So this time around we were realistic.  The mines were an option, but that involved FIFO and weeks away from the family.  No go.  So we started to investigate.  Before we knew it, Phil was offered a job.  In Melbourne.  Whoa.


So, in just over a week, I alone, will set off in my little car and drive away from the only place I’ve ever known.   Away from my brother and two of my best friends in the world, my wonderful boss, all of our lovely neighbours and other friends and family and drive in a semi- straight line to Melbourne.  In the mean time, I have, oh, one thousand, four hundred and fifty nine things to organise and very little time to do so.  But winging it has always kind of been my MO, so I’m hoping it works for me this time. 


As we sat out on our deck, in our modest little seaside home this afternoon and had a beer, I wondered out loud if we were doing the right thing.  The logistics are huge.  Phil looked at me and simply said ‘Mate, if it’s not right, we can always come back, what have we got to lose?’ Oh, just my sanity, but apart from that, nothing. 

Have you ever made a massive move?  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

LOVE, LOVE ME DO













I'm not sure when I first started to follow Carly Findlay on Twitter.  I can't remember when she went from being a tiny picture on my laptop screen to a person I genuinely grew to care for.  




I don’t know how we started to chat, perhaps it was a recommendation from someone on Twitter, perhaps it was our mutual love of all things Callan Mulvey.  I honestly don’t know, but the one thing I  do know, was that when we started interacting I wasn’t aware Carly had a disability.  This I guess comes down to the fact that she doesn’t let it define her.  Plus, to be honest, Carly was just ace. Is, just ace.  Carly is funny, relevant, spirited, is a fantastic writer and to be honest, often more in tune with the ways of the world than what I am.




Carly Findlay was born with Ichthyosis. In her own words  Carly explains what this means:




‘I am red and scaly. My skin gets itchy and sore. My face is the reddest part of my body because it is exposed to the elements. I get infections easily - generally on my legs, but sometimes on my face. Sometimes my infections result in hospital stays where I am bandaged up like a mummy. These infections can make me very sore.’




Carly as a baby






I had the pleasure of meeting Carly in real life, for the second time last month in her home town of Melbourne and we caught up for dinner.  I was able to witness first hand people’s reaction to her.  I noticed it, I’m not sure if she did. The stares on the Tram, the looks from the less obvious on the city streets.  On the flip side, I saw her interact with people in a way, and start conversations with strangers, that I guess I never usually would.  And people were attracted to her vibrancy. 


















Recently Carly featured on Triple J’s Hack program discussing love and dating with a disability, so I decided to ask her a few more questions of my own:




HAVE YOU HAD MANY RELATIONSHIPS?  TELL ME ABOUT THEM:


Four I guess, maybe five, but I can’t define the fifth one. Though I loved the fifth more than anyone before.


I guess they've all been problematic - the boys have often had bigger issues of their own then my skin condition. I have been asked if I've settled for people with disabilities because of mine. No, but I have settled for douchebags. 
There was the guy who lied about his whole life, two unemployed ones, one addicted to painkillers who had an alter ego, and one extremely troubled man. Charmers! But I saw good in all of them at the time, sometimes beyond. Sometimes I think when people have bad attributes, the good shines through, like a silver lining.


And there have been a lot of unrequited loves. I loved my best friend for about three years. I'd watch the footy, bored out of my brain, just to be with him! He and I shared a moment, but he told me I was "too fucking special" to him to take things further. Devastating.


Sometimes when I have had a boyfriend I feel like letting those who doubted I ever would have one know. "I've found love! I've had sex! And you never thought I would!" hahaha!



WHO IS YOUR IDEAL MAN?  WHAT ARE HIS CHARACTERISTICS, BOTH IN PERSONALITY AND  PHYSICALITY?


I like a man who will treat me right, is compassionate, understanding and accepting, is intelligent, makes a difference in the world even if it's just a small thing like helping a stranger, and who can have a laugh. 


Physically I like a man who is taller than me, nice eyes and big smile. I like a bit of scruff - a beard is cute. 


When I was younger I really liked boys with long hair and piercings, but I don't know if those characteristics work well now I'm looking in the 25-35 age bracket! I once had a boyfriend with 11 piercings, a chain that went from his nose to ear rings, and had long plaits with a shaved top of head. 


Celebrity ideal men – Callan Mulvey! Sam Johnson. Hamish Blake. Brendan Cowell. Caleb Followill from Kings of Leon





WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST, BEING SINGLE?


Sharing my day with someone. 
Being held at night. 
Knowing things only "we'd" know. 





I KNOW IT PYSICALLY HURTS OFTEN TO BE TOUCHED.  INTAMACY IS A BIG PART OF ANY RELATIONSHIP.  IS THIS A CHALLENGE?


Being touched doesn't hurt all the time, except when my skin is really sore. I guess the biggest challenge is being comfortable enough to let someone see my whole body. I'm happy with my shape and size - I got some great assets! But I worry about how they'll react to my skin shedding. 


That's probably a big factor in me preferring to be intimate with someone I love and trust, and who is understanding, rather than casual encounters. Sometimes I wish I was more inclined to pursue casual encounters, but the emotional effort for me is so great when starting any relationship that I'd rather expend the energy cultivating a more meaningful relationship.  





DO YOU FALL FOR WORDS OR LOOKS? A COMBINATION?


Usually it starts with words. I fall for a good vocabulary and articulate writing. I think I had one relationship or whatever it was, based on a year of words (texts, emails, phone calls) and three days physical contact. 


Maybe it is because most of my relationships have started with the Internet.


Words are hard though - you only get a 2 dimensional perspective of the person. It is easy to forget they may have values that you don't agree with. And you can also conjure up an ideal. 


I think If I have a connection to someone via words, the physical attraction heightens. With Matt*, I hardly took notice of his looks initially, it was all about his thoughts and words. And perhaps because of our connection I thought he was one of the most beautiful looking men I had ever seen.  






HAVE YOU CONSIDERED OR TRIED A DATING SITE? 


I have tried many, particularly when I moved to Melbourne. I'm in two minds about them whenever I use them. I want men to get to know me for my fabulousness, but even online there's a superficiality, and despite being honest about my skin and writing about all the great things I do in my life, if they don’t like the way I look, or don't like that I have a chronic illness, they won't get to know me. Even despite their profile listing that they want a girl who is different, and they have a kind heart. 


Sometimes I think as 'open minded' people say they are, disability and chronic illness can be too confronting for them. It's like being in a very competitive catalogue.


I have met a few of my boyfriends online though. One on a dating site. The others on ICQ and Facebook - and one at the train station (I dumped him on a train too!)  It's hard to be honest when communicating with someone from an online dating site without it sounding like I'm pleading for acceptance.






WHAT IS THE WORST THING A GUY HAS EVER SAID TO YOU? THE BEST?


The worst:


"your looks and illness are too much of a burden on me" - an Internet date. Didn't go past the first date. 


"didn't I tell you I don't love you anymore" - an ex boyfriend




The best:


My second boyfriend used to be very protective of me and would often be very defensive if people stared or commented. It was chivalrous, but got annoying when he'd be more confrontational than the starer!!


It's also been nice being told "I love you". (of course)


"You are the person I admire the most. Not my favourite rock stars or sports personalities. YOU.
99% of the time I see your posts they are very constructive and mostly of some joy.
I wish I had the courage that you have.


I wish you everything Carly. You are the most beautiful person I have ever met.
When I see the pics of you smiling, it makes me smile."






SO YOU HAVE RECENTLY SPLIT UP FROM SOMEONE.  WELL, FOR GOOD AND YOU ARE HURTING.  WHAT SONG IS ON REPEAT RIGHT NOW?




I don't know if it's a break up because as I said, this thing has been so hard to define. (Darren Hayes once sang "how do redefine something that never really had a name?") But it is certainly I love/d him more than I have ever felt, and now I feel it's a loss and I feel like I'm grieving. 


I discovered I don't have any uplifting songs. They all feel like they've been written about or for me! 


Gotye's Somebody I used to know and Adele someone like you have fitting words for the situation.


Darren Hayes - Bloodstained Heart - it feels like he's giving me a hug with this song


Bertie Blackman Television - I can just relate to the lyrics where she wants to be like everyone else, she wants to fit in, be loved.





IF YOU COULD GIVE THE GUYS OUT THERE A WORD OF ADVICE ON HOW TO APPROACH YOU AND/OR ASK YOU OUT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?


Don't be afraid of the way I look. Take a chance and get to know me to find out I'm more than just a red face. And I hope that they can see my beauty - inner and outer. I am a great cook, love music and will make you laugh. And my boobs are pretty good too! 






Below has been taken from Carly’s blog which I highly recommend you read.  She captures the essence in a situation in such a way, I could only dream of being able to replicate.


  


‘This week marks one year since I began to love him. I remember my realisation – it was after a text from him, telling me he is glad he started talking to me, it feels so easy, and reconfirmed after an after midnight text following a three hour conversation telling me I am the perfect girl for him. I fell quick, I fell hard. I wonder whether I am destined to keep falling in love this way – through words alone?


A couple of months ago I wrote about wondering whether a year will go by with a day where I wouldn't think of him. The answer is no. There hasn't been one day in these 12 months that I haven't felt something for him. Sadness, frustration, and hope. But mostly love.


Just after I wrote that piece, we became in contact more than we've ever been. It has been one of the good things to come out of a very bad situation. Long emails and texts almost each day, and one call. The contact is, to an extent, more positive. I'm comfortable talking about things with him that I'd never with somebody else.


I feel a different kind of love for him now. It is more realistic due to the difference and distance between us. I feel it's evolved from idealism and me wanting to be in a relationship, to lustful, to heartbroken... and now it's this type of caring, understanding, non judgmental, fully trusting love on my part. It's the kind of love I hope to feel growing old with someone. Only I won't with him. It's a nostalgic love. I feel more sad than happy about it, especially when he told me he wishes he could have our time again.


I don't expect love from him in return. Though in the past I've hoped for it, I've never expected it. Just loving him is enough for me. Is that unhealthy? To settle for unrequited love?


This thing. It's based on words and memories alone. And need. Mutual need. Unconventional love. I sort of want to set him free from my heart. He deserves this love from somebody closer to him, and so do I. And then I get sad at the thought of him no longer needing me. 


A month ago I went to see a counsellor. The counsellor asked whether I loved him.
I said yes.
The counsellor asked whether I told him that I loved him.
Only once in person. A few times recently in text, to remind him of his worth to me. But I don't want to push it. I don't want to ruin things. Maybe he knows my love for him through my loyalty.
I have every right to tell him I love him, the counsellor told me, for I have earned my stripes.


I've earned my stripes. I love him.’


I find the above a beautiful piece.  Settling for unrequited love?  You deserve so much more than that Carly. 




Thank you Carly, you are a simply wonderful.



Sunday, September 11, 2011

WHAT TO REALLY EXPECT





I remember being given a copy of ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ when I was first pregnant.  On the front cover, sat a serene woman in sensible shoes, rocking away in her wooden rocking chair with a fairly sceptical look on her face.  Clearly she’d already read what was going on inside, i.e the very vanilla, straight laced version of what was actually going to happen when she got pregnant, had a child and then raised said child (followed up in the aptly titled ‘What to Expect in your first Year’ and ‘What to Expect in the Toddler Years’.  I can save you forty bucks. Just expect your life to change.  Massively.


But here are a few more expectations I personally have found to be true:




EXPECT LABOUR TO HURT – A LOT


Pinch that soft fleshy bit under your arm. Hard. Harder. Feel that? Hurt? That doesn’t even come close to the absolute agony that is labour.  In fact, go outside, put your foot under a 4WD tyre and ask someone will very few scruples  to reverse over it a couple of times. Painful? Nope, still not even close. Shit out a watermelon. Yeah, that comes kinda close.




EXPECT TO NEVER SLEEP IN.  EVER AGAIN


Look, just think of those last uncomfortable months of sleeping whilst pregnant as training. Training for the Tired Olympics. Believe me, your training will be so intensive you’ll be almost a dead cert for the Gold medal. Expect to never sleep in past 6am ever again.  Oh, wait, I take that back, *just* when your body is used to waking up at that time and can no longer physically break the 7am barrier, your child will start to sleep in. Until midday. This will enrage you.




EXPECT TO BE EMBARRASSED IN PUBLIC


“Mum, why is there a snake coming out of your bottom?”  I’ll set the scene.  Public toilet at some brightly lit Megaplex in the burbs.  Me, in sudden need of a toilet and believe me, if it could wait until I was in my own home, it would have.  The 3 year old, standing in front of me while I try to efficiently do as nature intends.  He, when not trying to escape under the door, is peering into the toilet and in his best big boy voice, alerting my stable mates that I am doing a massive shit. 




EXPECT TO NEVER SEE THE BOTTOM OF YOUR LAUNDRY HAMPER. EVER AGAIN


You know, if someone was smart, they’d make a laundry hamper with a big picture of your celebrity free pass at the bottom.  Give you some incentive to make your way down there.  Mine would be Jason Bateman or Mark Ruffalo.  If someone was doubly smart, they would make it your husband’s Free Pass.  Therefore I would find Natalie Portman at the bottom of ours.




EXPECT TO NOT HAVE AN ORGASM DURING CHILDBIRTH


I know, I’m totally bursting your bubble right?  Oh, but if you do happen to reach the Big O during birth, congratufuckinglations, you’ve just won the equivalent of OzLotto.  I mean, I don’t think I even orgasmed when I conceived, let alone when my vagina was being ripped apart.




EXPECT TO FEEL GUILT AT CODE RED LEVELS


Mother s guilt really needs its own postcode.  Are we working too much, feeding them too little, not enough? Allowing them too much screen time? Are they eating enough dirt?  Too much?  It’s guilt central and we are our own harshest critics.  




EXPECT TO BECOME THE MASTER OF EMPTY THREATS


You will need to find your currency when it comes to kids and threats.  ‘Stop it or you go to your room’ rarely cuts it. 'So freaking what, all my toys are in my room, do better Mum.'  So you have to find what they love the most and threaten to take it away from them.  More often than not, these are empty threats.  I mean you want to go to Dreamworld just as much as they do, but you can’t let them know that.  




Expect to lose your train of thought.  Which has just happened to me right now.  




Feel free to add your own advice to the list....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

AND THE AWARD FOR SHITTEST WIFE IN THE WORLD GOES TO.....

This is a total rewind of last years Fathers Day Post.  This year, I will be up and cooking pancakes.  Or toast.  Or going out and breaking no less than 15 traffic rules to make the 10:30 breakfast cut off at Maccas. Either way, I will feed him this year.  I also spent ten bucks on a card that makes a farting sound when you pull its cardboard finger.  I've outdone myself this year.   Happy Fathers Day to all you dads out there!


My effort in 2010 went like this:


My blog was conspicuously absent from Fathers Day platitudes this year.  Not because I don’t think my husband is an ace father, I do and he is, but quite simply, when the day rolled around, I was holed up in bed, unable to move.  Now before you start to feel sorry for me, stop.  I don’t deserve your sympathy.  No you should be receiving me with scorn in your heart and with your lips twisted in distaste.   It was self-inflicted.

See, due to sucking back quite a few (mixed) beverages the day before, I was, well, shall we say, enduring quite the self-inflicted dehydration event that consisted of epic head pounding headaches and quite a few rides on the porcelain bus.  Yes, I had a hangover.  In my defence, we started drinking at a family gathering at 12pm on the Saturday and then continued on to a 40th where the last thing I remember was seeing a crowd surfing geriatric blow up doll.   I think my problem was quantity.  Ya think?  Phil imbibed equal amounts, but clearly, he’s not a girl, both literally and figuratively and can semi-function the next day.  God I miss my twenties on days like that.

So, my dear husband, the father of my three children, got up and cooked not only himself, but his children pancakes on Fathers day.   There was a five minute window where I managed to remove myself from bed and hand him a SuperDad Toblerone Chocolate bar and an obligatory coffee mug with a suitably hilarious Dad cliché emblazoned across the front.  Then the window shut and it was back to bed for me.

My lowest point however, was when I surfaced around three hours later to an empty house.   I sucked down some more water and Panadol, sat down on the couch and thought to myself  ‘Oh he must have taken them out for lunch, or ice-cream or to the park.’  Way. Off. Base.

I heard the car pull up.  I heard, what appeared to be a heated debate between 4yo and 9yo about whether the TMNT was called Michelangelo or Mikey. I heard Maddie scream at both of them to 'BE QUIET!!!!'  Oh dear.  That’s when I heard the rustle.  The rustle of grocery bags.

Yes my friends, my husband, on fathers day, had wrangled all three children into Coles at the local megaplex AND taken them to the foodcourt.  I know this because he mentioned 'It was really quiet in the foodcourt at lunchtime.' I gently reminded him that most families were probably ensconced in fathers day love-ins at trendy restaurants, hence the downturn at Maccas.

Here’s the thing though, shoe on the other foot i.e. should that have been me on Mothers Day; I would have been royally ticked off.  And I know how selfish that sounds, believe me, no one was more pissed at me, than me, but it’s the truth.  But not once did he complain.

I at least tried to make amends.  I took Hurricane Jack and we picked up pasta for dinner.  I cleaned up, I made lunches, I dealt with arsenic hour solo and sent him out to his shed to do bloke in shed stuff.  In short I tried to pack a day’s worth of being a proper wife into three short hours.

It’s overdue, I suck and you are awesome and even though you still don’t know you have an active Facebook account and more than likely will never read this, you’re a top dad and I love you to bits.
   
   

Friday, September 2, 2011

WHY SO SERIOUS?







Driving the 11yo to school today I noticed another family walking along the street heading to the same destination. They were a little family with Mum, Dad, child in stroller & school aged child around, say, 7.  I was waiting in the (godforsaken) traffic and my attention was caught by the 7yo who was turbo-ing up the grass hill and crawling on her knees above her parents. Immediately I thought ‘No! Dirty knees, dirty uniform, she needs to be stopped, what are you people doing?!’


Meanwhile, Maddison the 11 year old, was absolutely murdering Papa Don’t Preach beside me in the passenger seat, earphones tightly in her ears, singing with abandon.  I turned to her and with my pointer finger, indicated in an anti-clockwise circular motion to turn that shit down.  I meant her singing volume.  She did so, reluctantly. 


I looked back at the climber and her family who had now overtaken my crawling car.  The complete joy on the little girls face when she rolled down the hill gave me pause for thought.  Was I just a spoilsport?  Did it matter if she had a bit of dirt on her knees?  Did it matter that Mad was singing a bit too loud and could possibly make my ears bleed? Especially when she was doing so with such unselfconsciousness? Was I just being a big old wet blanket?


Yes. 


Welcome to killjoy city people.  Population: Me.  When did I become this way. When did I start to care more about the practicalities of a situation and not enjoy it for what it essentially was, fun? 


As a child I caught a lot of buses. This was mainly due to the fact that we only owned a car that was drivable sporadically as Dad was either a) pissed b) broke or c) pissed.  As I fancied myself quite the singer, it was quite common for me to sit on a seat in a bus and sing, in my loudest voice, any song I liked at the time. This was the 80’s, so there I was, belting out a bit of ‘Hello, is it me you’re looking for’ when a teenager sitting in front of me turned around and told me to ‘Be quiet!’  Or he could have said ‘Shut the Fuck up’, I’ve blocked it out.  But I do know from that day on I was less of an extrovert.  I didn’t dance like no one was watching because there was always someone that was, and they were only all too happy to tell me I looked like a dickhead.


I was the one who was always begging her brother to stop mucking around or he’d get hurt or dobbing to avoid conflict.  In short, I didn’t relax. 

So now, I’m going to make a conscious effort to let my kids be kids.  Stop sweating the small stuff.  Let them wrestle on the floor.  Not stress when they throw a baseball at to me with very little warning. Play the music a bit too loud.  Live a little.  Or at least a little bit bit more.