Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ARE YOU BEING SERVED?






So it begins with you finding a car park.  “Excuse me?  Are you leaving?” you say to the poor harassed looking lady exiting the shopping centre. She nods but she’s clearly a little pissed. She wants to walk back to her car at a leisurely pace and preferably NOT harrassed by the family in the 4x4 that  appear to be rampant weirdos.


You, by the way, have been left no choice other than to car park stalk after driving around the 5 stories of concrete megaplex carparking 28 times. To effectively car park stalk one must find their unsuspecting prey emerging from the automatic doors. They are often laughing jovially with their partner, arms full of newly purchased goods, reminiscing about their shopping expedition, laughing at an in-joke.  


Meanwhile you and yours are willing to either pay them good money to guarantee they will allow you, and only you, access to their car space when they leave or alternatively, just take them out. Again, to do this, you mush HARRASS THE SHIT OUT OF THEM the minute eye contact is made.


As it turned out, this Boxing Day, 2011, we didn’t have to stalk down anyone. We attempted to, oh we did, but it appeared that almost everyone had already been hunted. We would have been stalking the stalkers. There is no AVO in the land that could handle this level of shit.


So we wandered and we wandered and I was probably, oh, 2 seconds away from saying “Screw this, let’s go home” when outta nowhere, a couple in a ute shot out in front of us and bam, we were in.


And  so begins the Boxing Day Challenge.


See, if it had been my choice, I probably would not have 
chosen today, the busiest day in the retail world, to go shopping. But I had three children who had both money and gift vouchers burning a hole in the their pockets and I was coerced into it, with the promise of coffee and lemon slice. 

First stop – Myer. And this apostrophuck. 

Hey Myer, perhaps less cash on Jen Hawkins and more on sub-editors Hmmm??



Anyhoo, because the kids were generously given a fair bit in vouchers, the majority in Myer, this was our first port of call. Wait, no, our first port of call was the toilet. Visit one of one hundred and one. This was a text I sent to my husband during one of the stops. (Apparently we live in different hemispheres, hence the texts)


Me: Maddie in toilet AGAIN

Him: OK.

Me: (5 minutes later) She’s still in there. Doing a shit. FFS

Him: OK

Me: (5 more minutes later) She’s missing

Him: OK

Me: (5 minutes later) Don’t panic, stop looking I found her.

Him: Ok.

See!  What a joyous and funfilled occasion for all the family.

I digress.

Soooo, we make it into Myer, kids can find not one thing they want. Maddie, being older, starts to negotiate with the younger two, offering them $30 in cash for $50 in Myer Credit. Boys aren’t buying. Cue full scale war.


It's around then we decide we need lunch first. Add two more hours to the jurnee....



Right. Back to our mission. After consuming a coke spider, Jack is Karate chopping his way through the teeming masses and then Phil remembers, wait, ‘I need some decent pants for the cricket tomorrow’ because he was going into the members or some such thing. And as he went on a culling bender when we left Queensland, he didn’t actually own anything nice any more. So he lined up for FORTY-FIVE minutes to try on two pairs of pants that DID NOT FIT. 

Meantime I am making threats through gritted teeth at Jack who insists on sniffing ladies as they sit next to him in the shoe department and telling them they “Smell awfully nice”.
So, no pants. No money spent.  It’s roughly 3pm.  I’m hungry again but more to the point, need recaffeinating.  This is probably not a real word. I no longer care, I just need to get away from rude people and over perky sales assistants who are using their passive aggressive nice-nice approach to guilt me out of stealing their stuff.  Which is tempting seeing as the line-up to purchase anything is about 25 deep.


We make our way to every large department store in the centre.  All to no avail.  Why is it that when kids have no cash to spend they see 1,000 things they want, but when the place is positively bursting with millions of shopping Zombies and they are cashed up, they can find nothing?  Surely there a science behind this?


So we double our way back to our original destination. Myer.  We then proceed to spray each other with rank smelling perfumes in a game I like to call, immaturity.  It’s been passed down from generation to generation and on a day like this, it fits in nicely.  No one is watching and we are BEYOND caring.

Maddison picks out some celebrity  perfume package, the boys end up with Lego and a Wii game and we pack into the industrial sized lift to take us back to our car.  It’s 5pm.  And I think I have just added a new  New Years Resolution to the list. Boxing Day Sales are to be avoided. Forever. 

Oh.  And Phil did eventually find fancy pants.  But he didn’t wear them to the cricket today. Let's never discuss this again.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

DOES YOURS DO THIS?





I do wonder what my children missed out on.  You know, not being pushed around in a pram that cost more than my first car. I mean, seriously, is the latest in parenting pissing contests or was this always going on and I just didn't realise? 

This pram, the one above, is $1599.99. I mean, thank Christ! Imagine if it was $1600.00. Wait.

And the one I saw today in the shop was the last one – floor stock. One that has no doubt been test-driven around the shop a thousand times, rammed into stationary mannequins and probably, more than likely, had a toddler’s filthy fingers smearing it's (now invisible due to petrifaction) snot into the undercarriage. 


My question to you though is, do you get more from say, the two thousand dollar pram, than the ones I always seem to purchae that were around the Two hundred dollar mark? Did I roughly receive 10% of the product as a result? I have to know, does this hideously expensive contraption

- Wake up in the middle of the night, flop out a mechanical breast and feed the baby?

- Automatically steer into bunched up teenagers who look suspiciously like they are up to no good?

- Deal with the annoying, yet well meaning advice from every person who has EVER had a baby before you?

- Cure cracked nipples?

- Awkwardly launch itself at people who walk 4 abreast in shopping centres.

- Through direct mind power, Grind 100% pure Arabica beans and produce a world class flat white into your cup holder

- Magically fold and unfold with a remote control?

- Hover into the back of the car and ALWAYS fit. Even if you own a smart car.

- Keep the child endlessly entertained while imprisoned inside it. The details of how are not important, as long as they don’t whinge.


If the Pram could perform even one of the tasks above, I’d buy it. Unnecessary debt be damned. But something tells me the people buying these aren’t exactly worried about cash. Ultimately though, from where I stand, basically a pram gets vomited in, shat on a thousand different ways to Sunday and ends up as a feral vessel of unidentifiable smells. And it would break my heart to know I could have put that money towards something useful. Like their therapy when they realise the root of all their problems stem from the fact that they were pushed around in the pram equivalent of a Hyundai Excel and not an Audi.

But each to their own. I’m probably just jealous. Oh and probably won’t be asked to do a sponsored post on expensivo prams anytime soon either. Foot, meet your gun wielder. 

So how about you? Are there features I just don’t understand? Are they just a modern status symbol?  


Sunday, December 11, 2011

THAT'S WHEN GOOD NEIGHBOURS BECOME GOOD {INSERT APPLICABLE HERE}


The shoe is not a Christmas Present. Based on behaviour  - it's lumps of coal FOR ALL!!



See that picture above?  That’s our new Christmas Tree.  We don’t own this Christmas tree. That’s not our fake snow on the leaves.  No, this belongs to our new neighbours who, upon hearing we didn’t own one, said they had a spare.  It’s not ours to keep, just to borrow.

Then, tonight, I got home from work and Phil told me that our other neighbours, the ones that have children of similar ages, were cooking Pizza and asked us to get involved.  At first, I’ll admit I was all, ‘Jesus, I’ve just walked in the door, where are my children and do I really have to speak with anybody after 8 hours of non-stop talking’. But then I went outside and into the courtyard. And laughed and saw our other lovely neighbour who gave us the tree.  Now either a) we are being Punk’d b) are on the Truman Show or c) we just really have top neighbours. 



We had great neighbours in Queensland, still consider them all to be great friends, but we were a lot slower to move into each other’s lives up there.  This may have been due to the fact that initially, I may have come across as a little bit of a lunatic.  Maybe. 



The house we bought was old.  Nearly 50 years old in fact.  I’ve written about renovating the Money Pit Here and Here.  When we first moved in, Jack, now 5, was around 6 months old.  We had just finished a 7 week stint of living with my in-laws between settlements.  To put it mildly, for the first time in my life, I was an emotional fucking wreck. New baby, two solid months of passive aggressive, yet ultimately well meaning remarks, moving away from my friends  and the realisation that we had taken on a renovation job much bigger than we could probably actually handle or afford, and I wasn’t at my best. I was actually probably at my worst.

So, two days in, I was cleaning up a little.  We had put new floor boards in and I was sweeping them when Jack started to cry.  I placed the broom up against the wall, picked him up and went to open the window.  That’s when the window started to fall out. And then the broom started to fall onto the new floorboards.  There I was, baby in one arm, holding onto a heavy window  with the other and with a foot extended, trying to save the broom from hitting the ‘new floorboards’ when Phil walked around the corner and suggested ‘Babe, you really shouldn’t leave the broom on the floor, it will scratch the new floorboards.’  I’m sorry?  What. Did. You. Just. Say?


That’s when, very uncharacteristically, I somewhat lost my shit.  I yelled and screamed and told him to politely go fuck himself.  And all of the past 2-3 months worth of tensions that had been simmering, the fears, the sadness, the anger, everything escaped at full volume, straight out our window that was now sitting on the ground outside out of our house.  Right into our new neighbours realm of hearing. I remember looking out the window and seeing them staring back at us. And I waved. And they awkwardly waved back and then they hightailed it up their front stairs. 

So it was a long time until they talked to us. I mean, we looked like *that* feral family. I would have avoided me too.  But eventually, we were cool. I think it started with them needing plumbing work done. Then it progressed to us being asked to one of their children’s birthday parties where I turned up hideously hungover from the night before.  I knew Judgy McJudygy was sitting there silently judging me, but this is where we met our other neighbours who were very impressed with my ability to eat 4 sausages on bread and chase it up with 5 green frog cupcakes.  A firm friendship was made from that day. 


So here, at the now defunct lunatic Aysylum which I will write about shortly, we have been embraced, sometimes claustrophobically so.  They are giving us stuff, inviting us places and feeding our children who seem to be continuously over at their house. And while I struggle to feel at ease with this, perhaps it’s just the way it is here.  Maybe it’s the way it should be.  Old School. It's me who needs to embrace it.

Are you friends with your neighbours?  Did it take a while or was it instantaneous?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE




I know it has been discussed to death. There’s even been a movie made about it, after a book was written about it. I’m talking about having it all as a working mother. Is it possible?  Is it possible to work, raise children, stay happily married and not completely lose your mind in the process? Short Answer  – No. Long answer – No. 


But what does ALL mean?  Isn't that like defining Normal? By all, do people mean being happy and successful in your chosen field of work, bringing up smart, emotionally stable and healthy children whilst keeping the house clean and husband satisfied? Because if that is having it all then I fail daily – on all levels. Do I still continue to give it a red hot go?  Sure.


But often it is to the detriment of some aspect of my life.  In short, something has to give.


First to Give:

Sex on tap.  When you have an exhausting day at work, the dog has shat on the carpet as a basic fuck you for leaving him alone all day at home and the middle child has roundhouse spewed green bile all over the lounge room rug as you walk in the door, for some reason your ‘come hither’ eyes, have turned into ‘come near me with your penis and I will find a new function for your Swiss Army Knife’ eyes.  Often a consequence is that the bedroom action slides a little. Or a lot.


Next to Give:

Parental supervision. Once upon a time, I believed I would NEVER be one of those parents who would give their child a device to keep them quiet in public. No damn it, if we were going out, we would be that family sitting serenely sipping tea and telling funny anecdotes. Yeah, no. Trying to make sure all time is quality time, puts major pressure on not only you but the children as well. Hence the equipment comes out. Portable DVD players. DS, phones etc etc. Whatever keeps them amused and allows us, as a couple, time to actually speak to each other has been embraced. Judge as you see fit. 


Not long after:

The general housework and cleaning gets put on the backburner. No seriously. My car hasn’t been cleaned out in a year.  Minimum. I found a power Ranger stuck up the Air conditioner vent just yesterday. That and a petrified french-fry. It seriously is the last thing I feel like doing when I get home. Easy solution is to hire a cleaner. But we all know people just clean for the cleaner. So perhaps my answer is just for someone to threaten me with a cleaner.. 


MOST DISTURBING:

Stuff might slip past you that you’d normally notice. Like producing  a child who begins to love Nickelback inappropriately.



OBVIOUS SIGN ALL IS  NOT DOABLE

You may start to notice your daily alcohol units start to increase more than is generally acceptable.  You get home, you have a wine. You have dinner, you have a wine. You watch telly (while not cleaning or reading your child a bedtime story) and have a wine. You tell yourself you deserve it because you’ve had the kind of day that deserves a wine.  


YOU CAN’T BE EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME:

This is why I know, as a working Mum, who is there 5 days a week, that when I become more worried about pacifying the boss, I have lost the having it all battle. It generally starts with some kind of concert. One where your child is a potato, or a gnome or something hideously unimportant to anyone other than yourself. And you are desperate to see it.  But on occasions, you will fail at making an appearance at these.  And your child will file this kind of behaviour under ‘stuff  to throw back in my mother’s face at my best opportunity’.  Guilt comes hand in hand with being a working parent. It chokes you at times. None more so then when your child is at the front of an assembly, receiving an award, searching the crowd for the familiar face of their parent so they can show off their award.  To hear  the words “Mum, I looked for you, but I couldn’t find you” breaks your heart into a few million pieces. And also earns you the shittest parent in the world award.


So above a few examples of what gives in my world.  What has to give probably. I used to smugly think I was doing it all. That I had it under control.  But now I realise, it doesn't matter whether I do or I don't. It matters whether it feels right. For you, for the family unit as a whole and most importantly, the kids. I think I'm operating at about 70%. With room for improvement. Always room for improvement.


What do you think? Can it all be done? Can you have it all? What does having it all even mean?