Why I wouldn’t mind being an 80’s mum…

 

Hey 2016 mums, hold on to your almond milk lattes and cacao protein balls…this will really freak you out.

Here is a picture of my 80’s mum.  It was taken with an actual camera. To see this photo she had to first finish the film, take it to the shops to be developed, wait up to a week and then go back to see that 20 of the 24 pictures had a dirty finger blocking the lens and that her children weren’t even looking at the camera.

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You also won’t believe it but she didn’t take this photo of herself. Long, long ago mums didn’t need to take photos of themselves being mums and doing mum things. Apparently it was very possible to look after your kids and not tell every Sue, Sharon and Tracy about it. Kind visitors would offer to take pictures for you if they believed what you were doing was worthy of taking a photo. Unbelievable…..I know. How did she know she was doing a good job as a mum if there was no one there to ‘like’ and comment on her post workout photo? Taken whilst balancing her kids on her size 6 hip and removing gluten free, dairy free, vegan friendly, sugar free, organic substitute muffins from the oven? How did she keep going without reading ego stroking comments like ‘wow…you really are a supermom!’ or ‘You look amazing’.

And OMG what is mum wearing? Where is her ‘active wear’? No Lorna Jane here. Good mums don’t sit down during the day to play with their own kids? They go to the gym. Good mums also drop the older kids off at school, then take the remaining children to as many activities as they can in 5 hours. Apparently children very much enjoy going to places where other adults play with your kids for you. No, don’t be fooled – the 2 year old’s you see being dragged into Kindygym and gymnastics kicking and screaming actually really love it and they’ll be photos on Instagram later to prove it.

Hang on….Is that a disposable nappy I can see peaking over the top of my non-branded kids clothing? Why aren’t I wearing a 100% hemp/bamboo blend recyclable and reusable nappy? This must be the reason I have issues as an adult. And check out the daggy surrounds. Where is the abstract art? Designer rug? And on trend colour palette?

You get my point right. This week I could literally vomit at what I have seen and heard coming from the mouths and social media accounts of 2016 mums. Admittedly I can log off. I know being on social media has inadvertently overexposed me to a whole group of what can only be described as ‘asshole mums, but let’s face it they are everywhere. I guess I’ve just been trying hard to hide from them since 2010.

Don’t get me wrong – I have also had my crack at making  ‘clean muffins’ and I also take my kids to activities and post on social media, but please stop me when I begin think that I am the most amazing mum in the world because of it. Truth be told- some days I take my kids to activities because I can’t cope at home all day. I make muffins because I know it will waste an hour of the day and keep the boys from hitting each other over the head. I don’t do things for ‘likes’. This morning I got caught at school drop off dragging my screaming son from our car and allowing him to fall on to the grass in a heap to teach him a lesson. Yep….great mum! Will I be posting photos of myself and screaming son on Instagram with captions such as ‘love of my life’ while we gaze into each other’s eyes today? No, no and more no! Of course he is the love of my life, but today he was a little poo.

This week one of my ‘mum activities’ after school drop off was taking our broken laptop in for repairs in with 3 year old in tow. I handed the crumpled, used Aldi bag containing my laptop over the counter proudly exclaiming ‘all the cords are in there’ (secretly thinking how organized I was). After spending a second looking through the bag the repair guy replies ‘yeah I think there’s even some underwear in there too’. Shock, horror – sitting in the bag peering up at me were a pair of my dirty knickers that must have fallen inside in the weeks that the bag has been sitting in my wardrobe. Yep great mum……

Life is not perfect despite some people’s attempts to fool everyone on Facebook.

I guess my angry little point is, when did we become so needy and reliant on gaining other peoples approval in order to measure and compare our worth as a mum? Why are some going to absolute extremes to portray a ‘perfect mum’ profile? Or casting the net further – why do some people make up completely false online lives for themselves, and then you’re face to face and don’t recognize them?  The sane amongst us are not buying it…we should be reading between the lines. Get real. It is often those who spend the most time talking about how great life is….who are trying hardest to convince themselves.

Mums have been raising kids for thousands of years. You are not a super mum, superwoman or mum because you made your child hand rolled sushi for lunch and took a photo of them eating a coconut today. Nothing at all wrong with doing any of the above, but the ‘mummy –bragging’ has to stop. Stop speaking ‘out loud’ or ‘online’ about things that we don’t need to hear about. Keep it to yourself. Be humble, be helpful. Be real and be a friend to other mums who are also dealing with ‘little poos’ today. Take and post photos because you love them not because you need to be validated by strangers…because people who really know you, know that it’s all bullshit.

Our 80’s mums did it……..and they did it well. Guess what, they didn’t even need the photos prove it.

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It’s been a long time between drinks…..

 

Hello! Is anyone out there?  No I’m not trying to impersonate Adele, but am totally expecting to be writing to myself for a few weeks because let’s face it- it’s been a long time between drinks…literally.

Well here I am crawling back with my tail between my legs to ask for ‘blogging’ forgiveness. It has been 9 months since my last post and well…..the longer you leave things, the easier it is to keep avoiding. So the best way to get back on the horse, is to just jump back on and not think over think things too much. So I thought a quick update of all things teacher versus mummish was on the agenda so ease me back into things lightly.

Anyway, Attention everyone, breaking news! Since my last post it seems that ‘not making plans’ worked out really well- I wasn’t just writing rubbish after all. In 5 short weeks baby number 3 arrives, and we are also happy to report that the baby will not have to reside in the front courtyard of our tiny townhouse, as we magically found a new house as well. Despite my husband’s most convincing speeches about how easy it is to fit just one more child into a 3 door Barina hatchback, we have also managed to trade in the boy toy lawnmower for something more family friendly. It has definitely been a huge 6 months and to those considering it- the third child really tips you over the edge…everything needs to be bigger!

I finished up work at the end of the December and for those clever, experienced teachers who told me that job-sharing was hard, despite me mentally thinking ‘piece of cake’ – yes you were correct, it was bloody hard!. Since finishing up so many people have asked ‘I bet you’re glad to be finished’ and the answer was of initially yes. Eight weeks later I have decided it is far more exhausting staying home and looking after 2 boys than it was looking after 30 children.

My beautiful first born baby also started big school last week. He was mine for 5 years and now he begins a life that I will know little about, besides the small snippets he can remember to tell me when he stumbles into the car like an exhausted monkey every afternoon. Apparently his new school excels in providing quality ‘playtime’, as this is all he manages to report from his busy school day. Must remember this when I go back to work…no more planning or teaching anything, It’s a waste of time! All parents will judge my professional performance based on how exciting the adventure playground was.

Personally the last few months have been tough and challenging. Us female creatures are tough to conquer at the best of times but add some hormones and some negative thinking to the mix and we become ticking time bombs. Big apologies to the friends I haven’t called. It wasn’t because I don’t care…It was because I just couldn’t. But I think I am back for now. Big hugs to my wonderful husband for always providing the ‘positive’ in a dark day

There’s excitement in the air at our house and we are so looking forward to meeting our beautiful new human and celebrating with a few hundred glasses of wine (between responsible breastfeeding guidelines of course ……I can already tell this one will enjoy merlot). This post was sponsored by Avent Breast pumps.

 

 

 

When the only plan you have left is to have no plan at all

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I have always been a planner. Up until a few years ago my life was displayed as a series of dot points listed on one of those shopping list magnets that you find on the fridge. It read something  like this:  get a part time job tick, finish year 12 tick, get into the course I wanted at uni tick, find a teaching job tick, gain a permanent position tick, have kids by the time I was 30 tick etc, etc, etc.

I would say up until recently that things have pretty much worked out in the way I had planned on my little fridge magnet. I strongly believed that with hard work and persistence you could actually control the people and things around you and could purposefully steer your life towards the final destination you had picked out for yourself. But at aged 32, life jumped out with a stop sign or maybe just a slow- down sign, a sit back and take it easy sign. Life decided that it was time to throw the plan on its head. This week I’ve realised that the only plan you can ever truly have, is no plan at all.

Most of you know that at the beginning of the year my husband and I had decided to try for baby number 3. I had it all planned. Start trying in March pregnant by April (as was the case with baby 1 & 2) that way I could finish off my current school year and still qualify for some maternity leave. The timing would be perfect. Six months down the track, and clearly my senior citizen ovaries are still on a day trip to the bingo. Still no sign of our perfectly timed baby. Excuse me plan-where are you? How dare the plan have not worked! What happens to my list now? Will I have to rewrite it? My husband tells me to relax, that it takes most people a long time to fall pregnant and deep down I know he is right. He is the opposite of me – the ‘non-planner’. After a life time playing football professional football, he learnt at a young age to just take things as they come. He constantly reminds me not to plan too far ahead because you never know what’s around the corner, and of course he is right. I have no right being disappointed. I have two beautiful, healthy sons. I know nothing of the sadness in the hearts of couples who have been trying to fall pregnant for years and have nothing or no one to show for it. I had just not planned on it taking this long. So now my plan is to have no plan at all.

In my high school years I remember thinking how great it was that besides Narelle Maylin’s family, my family was one of the only one’s still intact. We were almost the weird ones. We were close, supportive and all living in the same house. Our house was the one people came to on a Friday night, we liked each other so much we didn’t see the need to leave. This may sound no biggie, but at Parafield Gardens High School it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I hadn’t planned for a time when this wasn’t the case. In fact I could never have imagined back then that we would all be living in different places. If there was one thing I believed back then, it was that family was first. That there was never anything or anyone that could dissolve us. I planned for the day when my own kids were surrounded by my family, Christmas’s, birthdays, good times and bad times.  I hadn’t planned to be here alone.  Now my plan is to have no plan at all.

We had planned to be in a bigger house by now. Our three bedroom townhouse with no yard seems to be closing in on us by the second, as two young boys burn past my feet on their scooters while I’m cooking the dinner. Our tiny dwelling seems to be giving birth to toys. I swear every day that I wake up the toys have multiplied- soon they will swallow us up. Last night I had to remove a matchbox truck, a minion and ninja turtle mask from my bottom before I could get to sleep. We keep waiting and looking. I hadn’t planned on still being here, so now the plan is to have no plan at all.

I had also not planned for a world without my mum in it. A few weeks ago I received a phone call telling me my 54 year old mum had had a heart attack. It felt like a joke.  Are you f&%$# serious was my exact response. Many scenes in our lives come as no surprise, we have usually played out pertinent events in our heads, even rehearsed our responses, but this one I wasn’t prepared for. I hadn’t prepared for the possibility of having already had the last hug from my mum without knowing it, and without having had the opportunity to hold on a few minutes longer. The opportunity to tell her the things a mum should know every day, not just on her last day. I haven’t prepared for a time when I can’t ring her and ask her what to put down in my tax return. I haven’t planned for the time when I go home to Adelaide and she is not there anymore. I haven’t planned for the time when I can’t call her crying and know she will be by my side as soon as she can. Luckily, and despite the poorness of her current mental and physical health, she is still here, alive and kicking with her achy, tingly, smelly diabetic feet. I now have the opportunity to make my last hug count. The day after her heart attack, after a long day at the hospital I returned home to her house for a sleep. We opened the door and looked around at the lounge room left as it was the moment she was put in an ambulance. Her clothes over the back of the chair, her makeup all over the bathroom and her little black shoes beneath her place on the couch. This could’ve been all that was left, and thank God that the image of her little black shoes won’t be the last thing I see of her. I hadn’t planned on ever losing mum, so now the plan is to have no plan at all. Every hug will be the last one.

It is funny how life changes. How what you had planned on never seems to go according to schedule. I am sure my husband is right. It is time to relax, take it easy and take it as it comes. And just hope I am ready for the next detour.

Correct Me if I am Wrong…………Sexist rant

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A lot has gone on since my last post. Work has well and truly begun and already I am thinking that the term ‘job-share‘ may be French for ‘get paid for three days, but work full time. Some fellow teaching Bloggers did warn me of this, but I am hoping that it is just beginning of the school year madness and that it will calm down soon.Or not?

My other job- the important one, the full time one, the unpaid and un-appreciated one called ‘being a mum and wife’ has continued to run ahead at full pace. As you may well know, children don’t understand nor care that one of your many talents has become being able to cook dinner, hold a gigantic 2 year old, chop an onion with one hand and turn up the volume on Peppa Pig with the other hand. Now that’s what I call animal adaptation! Last week I even sarcastically asked my four year old what hands he would like me to use to fill up his drink bottle, and in all his wisdom he replied ‘ You just need to get more hands mum’. Yes wouldn’t that be nice son! And you know what would happen if I got more hands? Some one in this house would find more jobs for the extra hands to do too!.

Can I be really honest here? I  just need to do a mental purge.  I am going to be very controversial now and say that the feminist movement has a lot to answer for. Not so long ago the women’s sole role in society was to be a good housewife. This involved birthing and caring for children, cooking, cleaning and keeping a husband happy. We were clear on the role, as limiting as it was, we knew our gig. Anyway, the mothers who went before us fought tooth and nail for gender equality, and I sincerely thank them for this.  For the first time we could throw our aprons and bra’s into the air, run out of our homes in trousers not our skirts, get down and dirty and begin working in meaningful paid positions. Sounds awesome right? What women wouldn’t see this as progression right?

HANG ON…….LET’S BACK THIS TRUCK UP A LITTLE ! Right back to the part where the women were supposed to be throwing away their aprons. Last time I checked, I was still wearing the apron on top of my trousers! Someday’s I’m so painfully aware of it  that it chokes me. Someday’s it’s still hanging off me as I jump out of my car ready to take up my place in society as a working woman.  What a great deal the men got out of the feminist movement, I can hear them now laughing behind our back. ‘Yes Gerald, great idea- Let the ladies work and they will still do everything else as well, it will work out great for us gentlemen mwaaaaahhhhhaaaaaaa! (insert Dr Evil’s voice here)

I realise more than anyone that in some cultures, the women’s role has not evolved and has not changed much since these times, and some days I look at these families with envy. I also realise it is apparently my choice to to wear an apron and work at the same time, but the hard part here is now we have a choice. When we didn’t have a choice it seemed easier to accept it. It is fine to be a house-mum when everyone else is too. Our roles have become blurred, we have lost parts of our identities and now scrambling to define our new role in society.  It is not fine for women to ‘just stay at home’. It is also not fine to be just a career woman. So what do we talented,  multi-tasking women do? We adapt and do both- the same as any other successful species.

My problem is that yes now we can contribute and work, but in most houses we are still the ones doing everything else as well. If we have evolved then why haven’t our home roles? Why should we work AND still be doing 80% of every other job that comes our way, child related or not. Something has to give, we can’t keep all of these balls in the air without dropping a few. We are still the ones to organize the children in the morning, we are still the ones packing lunch boxes, we are still the ones dropping by Woolworth’s on the way home to get groceries for dinner, we are still the ones to remember the children’s vaccinations, organize presents for birthday parties, sorting out clothes in the morning, finding lost shoes and nursing sick children at 2am, 3 hours before leaving for work ourselves. Yes It is in our genes, mums can not stop caring and nurturing just because we are now wearing trousers. We will continue to be cross dressing, apron- over- business -suit wearing machines who try to save the world or at least save the chicken from burning.

Before the inevitable ‘My husband does all the housework and cooking in my house’ comments, Lets get real. Clearly It is not just about cooking. Of course there are many exceptions to what I am saying. There are many fabulous husbands out there who work their bums off to help their wives, and to them I applaud. The sad reality is that most, and I say this with slight caution, MOST women are still keeping the homes going. Things have to change. In the past 4 years alone 3 female friends of mine have or have at least considered returning to work and having hubby stay at home with Baby Bob, as they are the main bread winners. The men have been more than willing to let go of a few ‘traditional masculine traits’ (usually the useful ones) whilst taking full advantage of our newly acquired skills, but are a bit slow on the uptake in acquiring their own new skills. Perhaps not quite yet the norm, but certainly is a growing trend.

So where do you stand on this. Should we just drop the ball completely or should we STILL be trying to do it all?

Why Rooms Get Smaller and Heroes Must Fade Away

 

 

Last week at school was our Sports Carnival. It is always a fantastic day for the children and for the staff. It is one of those days when the barriers between students and teachers dissolve, it becomes house team against house team and for a small moment in time we are our student’s peers. Our Academically weak shine on the sports field, and for that one  day of the year they become ‘Top Of The Class’. It is also a day that proud mums and dads line the sidelines to catch a glimpse of their son or daughter, most taking time off from a busy day at work, to support their little person as they run what seems like the longest race in the world. 

One older sibling had come to support his brother, after having left primary school several years ago he as enjoying his trip down memory lane. He approached us teachers in the tents for a chat and a catch up. One thing he said has remained in my thoughts every day since we spoke.

 ‘I remember my last sports day here, but the oval seemed so much bigger than it is today’. Of course in reality the oval had never changed, but the young boy who once ran here had turned into a man. His body had matured, his perceptions had changed and his ‘present’ had become reflective of his current circumstance, he was now an adult.

It got me to thinking about how as children we must experience growth and change in order for us to move forward as well adjusted adults and with this change, comes an acceptance of adult truth.  Yeah sure it was warm there, it was safe there in our minds while looking at aspects of our life through a child- like lens, but this lens is not reality, it is not what is ‘real’. We protect our children from the evils around us by allowing them to use this ‘lens’, because without it, people are just a bunch of pretty shit adults who practice little of what they preach, and for at least 18 years we want to help shield them from the truth. The Tooth Fairy, Santa, fake phone calls to the police when you try and con your son into owning up to a petty theft,  it is all part of this rite of passage.

I look back on my childhood and how lucky I was to have many heroes in my life. As a little girl I remember looking to these people as the light on my garden path, I looked to them for truths and in the most part modelled my own adolescent morality on what I was ‘taught’ was the right way to think and believe. At the time, through my ‘lens’ they were one hundred percent an authority on life and living. Sadly, as age and maturity would have it, with each birthday I clocked, a little more of the lens became cloudy. Each year a little more hurt, a little more let down, a little more tired of waiting, a little more ‘used’. The invisible cloaks that those close had held up to protect us slowly but steadily fell to the floor, what we thought were our foundations had become complete bullshit and replaced with not so nice things and not so nice people. There will always be those in our childhoods who claim high morality,  who are quick to condemn those not living up to the high standard they are faking for themselves, but soon enough  ‘reality’  has to step out of the shadows. Rooms become darker, days become longer, school ovals became smaller and heroes must fade away to nothing. 

There are of course those who for whatever reason choose to stay living as ‘children’ and ignore this passage of truth. Blaming others as a child would, feeling a sense of entitlement, manipulating loved ones around them as a child would,  throwing their toys from the pram as a child does and making choices with no regard for consequences- as a child does. For these people you can only hope that in their lucid hours, they can still remember what is real, what is the truth, for it is only when we are truly alone that we are left with what is ‘truly’ right. You can lie to others, but you can never successfully lie to yourself.  Maybe in those hours when the consequences of the ‘victim’ mentality’ are the loudest thoughts in their minds, they can see that it is actually an impossibility in life – that on every occasion it was always  someone else’s fault, maybe just one or twice being ‘right’ should have come second….and yet because of all of this they choose not to see that they are still loved, because it easier this way. 

If you are lucky, losing this childhood perception is hopefully your first real encounter with grief. Once you learn to accept that it isn’t really ‘anything you have really lost’ but more ‘what never really was’ you can move forward and try be the best adult and parent you can be.

To my dear boys, whilst I can never promise to keep you from the truth, I can always promise you this:

As a mum now I know that it should never be my child’s job to carry and protect me, but always my job to carry and protect my children. It doesn’t matter how old I get, or where life takes us……my love for you is paramount. There will never be anyone more important in a mother’s life than her own children, and nor should there be, for the intentions of those not in blood, can never be as pure. You will never have to wonder if I choose ‘you’, for the answer will always be…..yes.

 

 

To Work Or Not to work? Go on I dare you……..

 

Yes it is that time of year again. Unless you are one of the odd people who have placed a ‘no junk mail’ sticker on your letterbox (odd because- I personally love a good thick wad of Junk Mail) you could not have missed the mountains of back to school sales dominating the catalogues.

 

 

 

The first day back at school is fast approaching and for some parents it couldn’t come quick enough. Many have run out of interesting ideas to keep bored children entertained, the play dough is mouldy, the textas are all stubby at the tip and the blow up paddling pools have gone a little green and funky. Parents everywhere are shouting ‘What about the two hundred toys you got for Christmas?’ For others it is a sad time of the year when they lose their babies and hand them over to be cared for by strangers for perhaps the first time in their short little lives. For some it also means that they are left wondering what to do with their spare time, and whether or not it signals time to return to the workforce after the ‘childrearing’ has become more of  a part time job.

 

 

 

It is also back to work for many teachers and educators, and for myself a return to work after spending the year with my family. There are certainly mixed emotions about this. You see I am probably in a small minority of people who adore their children but also actually love what they do. For many years my job was my identity and it was what made me tick. I arrived early and left late, and enjoyed the challenges and rewards of each day. I still believe there is no greater place to work than in a room full of fresh and innocent little people. Even if I could afford to have twenty years off, I would still choose to work.

 

 

 

Then there are the financial incentives. For many, working is essential. There is no magical bank account that continues to top itself up. I have worked from 15 years of age and cannot handle the feeling of ‘not contributing’. Yes sure, I realize my contribution is raising the children, his money is your money blah bah, but at the end of the day I have always earned my own money and contributed in some way. I also love the feeling of independence that comes with earning your own income.

 

 

 

It is also time for my eldest son to spend some time with someone other than me. He is ready, and I am ready too. He doesn’t see many people besides myself and is craving that play time with his peers. He tells me he is so excited to go to Kindy. We are the best of friends but can also have the best of battles. It is like arguing with a 3 and a half year old version of my husband and a couple of days at Kindy will do him the world of good. There are lessons that can’t be taught at home and those that can only be taught and understood in the context of a room full of children. I am so excited to get back, but only for a couple of days a week this time around. I just want to dip my toes into the adult world for a bit, whilst still enjoying vegemite on toast in my undies and the musical perfection that is ‘Playschool’ for the rest of the week.

 

 

 

 

 

Then there is the obvious down side. As a worrier, I panic that someone else will be caring for my children. Strangers. Are they really qualified? There is no one who loves my children more than I do, will they hold them if they cry? My ‘little’ one is still so little, what will he think when I leave him?

 

 

 

I was never destined to be a full time stay at home mum, it was never something that I wished or longed for. I still believe it is the hardest unpaid job around. No one knows how hard you work to make it look like nothing has happened all day and the days just roll into one. Whilst I love the clothes and lipstick….I was never going to make a great 50’s housewife. As controversial as this topic is, and always will be, I would love to hear the reasons and circumstances by which mums decide upon their pathways.

 

 

 

Is job satisfaction prior to having children a deciding factor as to whether people even want to return to their jobs?

 

 

 

Is it pressure from our families? Do we follow in the footsteps of our own mothers?

 

 

 

Do we feel less ‘valuable’ to society when we tick the ‘home duties’ box?

 

 

 

Is it just a financial decision?

 

 

 

Is it generational? Most judgement I have received is from ladies nearing retirement.

 

 

 

 

 

I think it is all about the great balancing act. Some families want to live like kings and therefore must work full time to afford the lifestyle. Some want to just ‘live’ and so they work their bums off to pay the bills. Some would rather live a humble low income existence and watch their children grow, whilst the lucky ones stay at home and can still afford to live big. Whichever category we fall into, it is not our role to judge the situation of others, we choose what is right for ‘us’ and for our families.  We do not need the opinions of people who are wearing their ‘Mr Judgy Judgy Hats’.

 

 

 

Go on I dare you, What are your thoughts, should women stay at home, or return to the workforce?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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