Saturday, March 16, 2013

My New Baby!!

Have you ever found something wonderful and wanted to run around, waving your treasure in the air screaming ‘SUCK IT, BITCHES’ because you have it, and everyone else doesn’t? If so, you’ll know how I felt today.

The local Catholic primary school holds a MASSIVE fundraising fete each year. It’s a huge day, with the best display of fresh local produce I’ve ever seen, heaps of food, games, crafts – the whole box and dice. It’s always packed and the school showcase some amazing local businesses in return for the donations and funds they donate.

Apart from that, each year they have what I’ve taken to referring to as a ‘Treasure Stall’, because anytime I care to look closely, I find hidden gems, like last year's $15 framed Ken Duncan print. It’s quite clearly an opportunity for the parents of the school to clean out all the crap they didn’t want to give to a charity shop, but can’t be bothered Garage Sale’ing, and there’s always a lot of trash in amongst the treasure.

Kids’ books are 50c each, cheaper than any of the local Op Shops. This year I told the kids to go nuts and we walked away with 15 great reads for $7.50, including some Enid Blyton titles I was seeking and some great new stories for L to sink his teeth into.
Never say no to 50c books!!

Walking round, trawling the crap and chattering away to B, I suddenly spotted it. Dumped upside down in its’ case, you’d miss it at first if you weren’t looking close enough. But I saw it! There was no price tags on anything, so I waved over a parent volunteer and asked him how much for the gorgeous (if upside down) item on his table. He shrugged blankly at me – ‘Make an offer’ was all he said. A quick, furtive conversation with B over how little would be insulting, and B asked ‘$10’? The lovely, wonderful man nodded, money was exchanged and we were away with...


Meet the newest addition to the Sanity family... The Olympia SM-9. The best part is, she’s totally functional – and so pretty!! I spent a good part of this afternoon playing with her, running paper through her and typing very faded sentences with the very old, nearly dead ribbon she has, just to hear the beautiful click. 

She’s from the 60’s, according to my research, and she’s so pretty! Can I typewrite all my blog posts from now on? Take Instagram photos of the pages and post them here? Perhaps no...

What do you think of my new baby? Did you ever have a score as monumental as this?
Think O is more excited than me!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

JUST a Stay at Home Mum

For years now, I’ve bought into the idea that it’s somehow a bad thing to be just a stay-at-home mother. Since O was very small, I’ve piled myself up with extra activities, convinced by the childless and the naysayers that I wasn’t doing enough if I just enjoyed being a Mummy to my child. I gave in to social stigma, ignoring warnings from doctors and family, convinced that I was a superwoman with the power to do it all.
I tried to be her. Turns out I was going the wrong way about it.

When O was tiny, I worked at a local business doing payroll and administrative tasks, before finding I wasn’t handling the pressure of having to be dressed like a human and out of the house three times a week. Then, I took on a Certificate in Business Administration, because I was told it would be valuable. I involved myself in small jobs here and there, telling myself that it would be good for O to have a mummy who was making something of herself. All the time, I was neglecting O, who was relegated to daycare, and sending my body and mind into a turmoil of exhaustion and depression and feeling awful for being ‘not enough’.

I have to interject here that I love, and always have loved, my daughter. She has never gone without anything, and has always been my gorgeous baby. Neglect probably isn't the best word, but it fits.

Just after O turned one, my boyfriend at the time convinced me to start a photography business. He told me he would help me with setup costs, and that I needed to do something more than being ‘just a mum’. I began this business in 2010, working hard to produce images my clients would love. It worked reasonably well for me, I loved the work. But all the time my house was turning into a disaster, and I was getting more and more tired and overwhelmed. I lived alone with a small child, just mobile enough to create a disaster zone and the split focus of mothering, housekeeping and work was sinking me further into the pit. But still I slogged on.

When I moved in with said boyfriend, the pressure to succeed got greater. He figured he had started his own business at 21, why couldn’t I manage? It was hard not living up to his expectations, so I pushed harder. I was with O as much as I could be, and when I wasn’t I was working or cleaning the house, constantly falling down on one count or the other, because it was just too much. At the same time, I was completing a certificate in adult training and education, teaching photography and computer skills classes three times a week and increasingly becoming the shoulder that friends leaned on when things got tough. I did all of this with a smile on my face. At the time, if I complained of exhaustion or misery, boyfriend would admonish me and I finally stopped complaining, my dissatisfaction instead eating at me. He didn’t clean or cook, that was all up to me, as was parenting of O. After all, why should he do anything? I was living in his house (paying an exorbitant amount of ‘board’ as well as food and bills) and he had helped me start my business, so I should show my gratitude by looking after him. And O wasn’t his, she was my responsibility. I told myself all of this, knowing that was the prevailing attitude in my house.

In late 2011, convinced that my dissatisfaction was due to a hole in my life, I took on a university degree. I’ve always wanted to be a counsellor and began studying Social Work full-time, adding further pressure to each day. Pretty simultaneously, I came to the realisation that I wasn’t happy where I was. In fact, I’d been backed against a wall for months, pushing myself to the limit to satisfy someone I didn’t particularly like much anymore, and probably hadn’t in a very long time. Someone who seemed to derive power from my tears, exhaustion and misery. During my first semester break, I made the decision to leave, and on Boxing Day 2011, O and I moved in with some close friends who had a spare room in their share house situation.
Just after leaving. Happiest we'd both been in a LONG time!

Since then, I have met and married (in rapid succession) my soul mate, B. Every day, he reinforces with me that I’m pushing too hard, that my responsibility is to look after myself, my child, my family and my home. I’ve pulled back from my business a lot in the past year, and at the end of March I’ll be closing operations entirely for an indefinite period. I’ve finally been diagnosed with the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that I’ve undoubtedly had for several years now. I’ve been through several small jobs, but have left them all when my limit has been reached. I’m appreciating my daughter more with each day that I allow myself to be her mum and to feel the joy of that privileged position. Today, I applied for leave from university. I plan to use my credits to fast-track a TAFE certificate in Counselling in my own time. I never wanted to be a Social Worker, and I’m learning to accept ‘good enough’.
This guy... he saved me.

I still push myself a little too hard most days, but I’m learning. These days, I listen to the people who tell me how important my role as a mother is, rather than worrying about being just a mum. I laugh with my kids. I enjoy my husband (mostly). I commit to my friends, but I’m learning to say ‘no’ when I just can’t cope or when their issues are impacting on me and my family too much. I’m not running away from my life anymore, I’m accepting that the role I can’t escape is my most important.

Yes, I’m just a stay-at-home mum. But you know what? I couldn’t be happier.
How could this ever not be enough?

It's Tuesday, guys. Therefore, I Blog on Tuesdays with Essentially Jess

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I want my solitude back!!

I’ve been suffering pretty badly from depression lately. Normally, I don’t say that I ‘suffer’ from anything, but for the past few weeks, my absence has come down to definite suffering. 
I mentioned a while back that I’m self-managed. I have been for several years. Every so often, the doctor and I agree to a course of ‘happy pills’ when I’ve had a bad few days, but I end up grinding my teeth to nubs, or completely characterless, or throwing furniture at people who annoy me, and we quietly agree that I go back to self-management and ride the bad day waves when they come.

However, in case I haven’t managed to mention it a time or seven, I’m ever so slightly pregnant at the moment. Yep, I’m 17 weeks in, and hormonal like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t remember there being so many bad days in a long, long time. Possibly because there haven’t been since my last pregnancy. 

However, last time I was pregnant, I didn’t have a 4-year-old daughter with an immense love for the sound of her own voice and no off switch. I didn’t have a 9-year-old stepson who, lately, seems incapable of personal autonomy (I’m getting to that, too!). And my partner at the time went out and worked. I could work my way through the bad days on my own, and no one expected human conversation or even smiles from me.

For 3 weeks now, B has been at home. He suffered a pretty nasty scare with his heart at work and as such has joined the ranks of the unemployed whose wives would cheerfully strangle them if we thought we’d cope with the kids on our own. Because B is now home, there is someone for my crankiness, bitterness and anxiety to be aimed at all the time.
Before B stopped working, I had O here on my own one day a week, and I could manage to be a Sunshine Mummy for that one day, and there was someone to palm her off to on weekends so I could hide under the bed and snarl at dust bunnies. And because B wasn’t here all the time, I loved and appreciated him when he was. Now, much as I adore him, I’m realising how much I LOVE being alone! I adore watching crappy cooking shows while I pretend I might make that someday. I love the absolute shit out of putting my headphones in, listening to podcasts and not worrying that anyone is going to destroy my rhythm while I clean, or cook, or pretend to be useful. I miss solitude. I miss stretches of silence where it’s just me and my thoughts.

Because of this turn of events, what might otherwise have been well-managed depression, anxiety and anger isn’t getting the time it needs to work out, because I can’t dance around the house to stupid Icona Pop songs, and I can’t scream at the top of my lungs. Without my solitude, I’m drowning in my own depressive thoughts. And, here’s the kicker, I can’t medicate!! I can’t do anything except hope to god I don’t snap and end up in a lovely padded room with a jacket that makes me give myself cuddles!

I love my husband. I love my kids. I’m so lucky and grateful to be surrounded by a loving, caring family, and I adore looking after them. But sometimes all I want is to be left alone.

Is that so wrong?