Because things are never as they first seem…………………

 

 

Our neighbours having been driving us insane. By neighbours, I mean their dog. It has howled and cried like an old sick, dying man being prodded up the bum with a hot iron for the past 6 months. With probably only a handful of nights that we haven’t been woken up; the tiredness is taking its toll. We are beyond exhaustion. Between the dying dog and our daughter who is still waking up at all hours, going to bed is no longer exciting; we dread it! It is like preparing for battle. We roll over every night and hope for the best.

Every day we wake up after another ‘midnight audience with stinky old dog’ and wish terrible, evil things upon the neighbours and every day we become cowards and say nothing to them. We were certain someone else would have to complain soon enough, so not being whingers; we left it.

Today after a year and a half of living in our ‘new’ house. I decided to pay a visit to the neighbours. No, it wasn’t to be brave and complain about the dog, but to chat about the trees we would be removing from our boundary fence.

I charged up to the door, tension building like you wouldn’t believe. In my head I had constructed a picture of an evil couple who were showing disregard for the human race by allowing their 99 year old mutt to howl at the moon every night. ‘Disrespectful @#$%^&’ my husband and I had called them for months. How can’t they hear this *&%$ dog barking at all hours? Surely if they had no respect for anyone, then taking the trees down was sure to start an argument. I slung my 1 year old on my hip and marched up the driveway.

I didn’t get a chance to knock on the door, sitting outside on the porch, lighting a cigarette was a frail, broken woman. After a year and a half of living next door, this lady had no idea who I was, did not even recognize me. She was talking to and feeding the Magpies. I had to introduce myself, still on the defensive and preparing for an argument. It was then a few moments in that my anger slipped away and was replaced with sadness and guilt. After a just a minute or two my neighbour (who as it turns out is named Chrissy not   ‘ *&%$head)  had spilled her heart out to a stranger. It seems her husband had left her after 30 years of marriage; she was a broken woman and clearly struggling. She confided to a not so close neighbour, though I suspect she would’ve told anyone who would listen that she had been in and out of the mental health hospital; that she felt she had lost her life. Clearly sedated at 3:30 in the afternoon, it became clear why she could not hear her dog barking. She was so highly medicated to escape her pain that a dog barking would have faded into the backround.

Suddenly my anger was gone. There was now a face to the evil person from next door, and more than that there was now a sad, lonely woman trying to claw her way back to life.  Chrissy even mentioned how excited she was that the trees were being removed and how her summer would now be much brighter from her side of the fence. What a shame that it had taken a year and a half to make contact with someone living a few metres away from us.

The guy chopping our trees down came to interrupt our conversation and I must admit I was a little embarrassed when he asked and realised it was the first time we had met. From the outside, their house looked the same as it had a year ago when things were good for them. But behind the fence things had fallen apart.

After being shocked to recently hear of another friend separating from her husband after being together from the age of 15, I was reminded that nothing can be judged from the outside. We certainly know nothing about what goes on behind closed doors.

Recent topics of conversation have also turned to the insecurities we are all feeling as a result of following particular identities on Instagram or Facebook. Each picture, each hashtag and each story just seems to be so perfect. The houses are perfect, the children are perfect. Every second mum is an ‘entrepreneur’. Hey, if you have kids and you’re not running a business then it seems you’re a lazy ass. The one thing I know for sure, is that not once have I posted a photo of the shit things in my life. Never do we see a post of the bills on the fridge that couldn’t be paid. Never do we see a post about how shit peoples’ marriages are, never do we see a post about what they are scared of or what their child ‘can’t do’ this week, or the fat, sugar laden takeaway that we ate for dinner this week.

It’s probably time we got real and at least once a week started posting the shit things. Or better still, that we logged off the social media accounts and instead of liking someone’s posts, wonder about what they aren’t saying or having the guts to post. My bet is they’re probably sitting behind their own fence, with their own barking dog.

In keeping with the ‘keeping it real’ posting I’d like to share a picture of my grotesque front door from my not so renovated house. Because after nearly 2 years here and a year off work, we just had other shit to pay for!

 

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When maternity leave leaves you on the scrap heap

 

maternity leave cartoon humor: 'Good to see you back at work.'

After another glorious year of maternity leave it is that time again to start thinking about returning to work . I have written before about my frustrations with having to return to the bottom rung each and every time you have maternity leave (read it here-  New Year, New job and the Glass-Uterus Effect ) and I have conceded that this is just life, but it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.  Since having my eldest son 6 years ago I have always been all to aware of the need to maintain my teaching hours in order to stay up to date with changes in curriculum and methodology. For you teachers out there I am sure you would agree that a year is a long time in Education. As the school year comes to a close I ‘ve started to look at my options for next year and to be honest there aren’t many at all for a mum of three who is no longer a permanent employee who can’t face working full time.

If you are permanent then in most cases you are able to return to work in a jobshare/ part time capacity as the school/ principal is obliged to assist in your return to work where possible.  If you aren’t permanent then you are free agent, no one owes you a thing and it is up to you to start again from the bottom just to get some relief work. With this uncertainty comes having to commit to 3 days worth of childcare x 2  ‘just in case’ you get called in for a relief day on those specific days. If no work comes up then you are stuck paying $300 for nothing.

I have always loved my job. In the early years after graduating, single, childless me worked my bum off, volunteered countless hours and would attend the opening of an envelope in hopes of gaining a permanent position. It worked and after 3 years I was given permanent status. No more worrying about whether you had a job each December and if you were going to be paid in the holidays. Fast forward 12 years and a resignation after moving interstate and now I find myself competing with young girls with 2 years experience and hours to give for even the most graduate level positions.

It makes me angry, I feel like I’ve done my time- but what is the solution? Well that is to go back full time and start from the bottom again. It was my choice to have my three beautiful children, and as my husband points out, there are many childless women in leadership positions who would happily swap for my position as a mum. I agree with him. I also look at friends of mine who for various reasons have gone back to work full time with small babies and wonder if i could do it too.I did do it with my first son, and at the time it felt right. It wasn’t until after that it felt so wrong. Maybe I should have and I wouldn’t be sitting here with 12 years experience looking for jobs again. But then I look at my last baby girl (as she rips this laptop from my hands) and my stomach hurts thinking about leaving her with some one else every day. Before long she will be waving at me through the school gate and I’ll then have those hours to give again, just like  did 12 years ago.

I know what my heart says- but I still have this internal battle every school year as I see opportunities come and go.It would be much easier if I hated my job and could use that as an excuse not to return, as I am sure many mums who weren’t particularly keen on their careers pre-children do, but I don’t, I love it and couldn’t think of doing anything else.

I guess for now it is part time relief or bust! How did you feel about returning to work after maternity leave?

 

 

 

What sort of ‘Phone Friend’ are you?

I don’t know about you, but I always seem to spend my ‘driving home from work time’ engaged in a team motivational meeting, attended only by myself, in only my brain, for only me to hear. Mostly my team meeting is a critique of my day, or a re-shuffle of  my To-do list, but as with any good meeting (even imaginary ones) there are some days I get a little bit distracted. Like today when I was trying to remember what I needed from the shops, until I noticed that a tree that I drive past regularly, actually has a naturally formed face on it that looks like ‘Alfred’ from the popular 80’s game Guess Who. I couldn’t believe it, I was so impressed. There are days that I arrive at my destination and cannot even remember how I got there let alone the fabulous ‘How I can earn money without even moving’ schemes I had thought of on the way.

Today while sitting at the traffic lights trying to avoid eye contact with the driver next to me as if we were in some sort of reverse ‘stare off’ I realised it had been nearly 5 months since I had last called a particular friend of mine. I was absolutely horrified. How could I have some much time pass by without just giving her a call? It was terrible. I immediately text her and arranged a good time for us to chat. As any mum would know, trying to call a friend with children is almost harder than trying to do a Rubic’s Cube without taking the stickers off and moving them. When your children are asleep, hers are awake, when you can talk she’s washing the floor or asleep, when you’re asleep, she can speak and so the cycle continues until you accidentally find a ‘good time’ to chat. But let’s back up a bit.

Why is it such an effort to speak to some people on the phone that it is easier not to call for months and risk missing some really life changing event in their lives? I have been giving this a bit of thought and have come up with the conclusion that all humans with a phone fall into a Phone Friend Category. Your phone category might be placing you unknowingly at the bottom of the phone a friend list.

So here they are:

Category A: This is the friend that you can call or text every day or two, with almost nothing of any importance to report. Usually a close friend who doesn’t mind your boring observations of who you just saw wearing no makeup at the shops, sports scores, or mundane convo’s about television shows. You can always just ring this person and have no shame in tell them that you’re getting off the phone now because you’re bored

Category B: This is the friend who you actually just call every month or so for a quick catch up and a laugh. They don’t care that you haven’t called, and nor do you. A low maintenance phone friend. You have also known this person for such a long time that you both know the score, but also both know you are there for the ‘big times’ in life, when the convo’s actually count. Convo usually is never too long to deter you from calling.

Category B.1 Same as Phone friend B but this friend actually does get annoyed that you haven’t called and has been holding their own private stand off that only they know about, where they have been waiting to see how long it would take you to call them…because you have sooooo much time to care about these silly things. Ha!

Category B.2 Same as Phone friend B, but you can leave it longer than even a month. Sometimes even 3 or 4 months and they still really don’t care.

Category C: The friend who you actually only call because you feel you have to keep the friendship going. You probably have known each other for years yet have very little in common these days. You hate the thought of the call, but once you actually do it you finish up thinking ‘Why don’t I call her more often?

Category D: This is the person you love to have a big chat and gossip with, but you leave it a while between calls because you want to store up enough info for a big chinwag and a laugh. The only problem is that you keep avoiding the call as you know it will last for 5 hours and really, who has time for that this week? Or this year?

Category E: The person that you call when you are bored and lonely and waiting for something. You are either: in the car waiting for someone, at the Doctors or some other public place that prompts you to call someone rather than sit alone like a Nigel No- Friends. This is always a risky call though, because they may not answer immediately and by the time they call you back, your ‘real’ life has resumed and you no longer care too much about speaking to them.

Category D; The text only friend. You are not too fussed about speaking on the phone and arrange every meeting via text. You would rather save all of your information for the face to face meeting.

Category E: Similar to the text only friend ‘The Voice Mail Chasey friend’ is often so busy that you continue to miss each in real time but are happy to converse using short messages.

So it seems that your friends can become a general mix of a few different categories or even evolve into to different categories as life rolls on. My poor friend accidentally fell into category D and that is my excuse for not calling. My solution is to call more frequently or maybe some ‘in between’ call text messages.

I’m sure I have missed so many additional ‘Phone Friend Categories’ so feel free to add any you think of.

So what sort of Phone friend are you? Or do you think it depends on who is calling?

P.s – I know some of you have googled a picture of ‘Alfred’ from Guess Who. Was he the one you thought he was?

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Losing that ‘loving’ feeling……

Christmas is and always has been my favourite time of year. I love everything about it, from mince pies to Midnight Mass, every little aspect works together to build that magical feel that you either love or hate. Christmas lights in particular have always captivated me. I remember going for long walks with my dad as a small child and seeing the trees flashing through the lounge room windows. To this day my heart still skips a little when I see a beautiful Christmas tree.

 

I suppose our feeling about Christmas are largely moulded by our childhood experience. Despite coming from a less than affluent family, I have only ever had wonderful memories of Christmas. It is only now that I see that maybe our lack of money and material possessions was what made us so appreciative of that one day in the year when the food was rich and the fridge was full, and it seemed like we were the luckiest kids in the world. I know now that there were some years that my parents struggled to pull the whole Christmas thing together, the expensive presents that they couldn’t really afford and the treats that lined our stockings, but there was not once that we as children went without and knew of the small miracle it had taken to make the day special.

 

This year in particular, after a few personal setbacks I have struggled to get into the Christmas Spirit. On Monday I dragged myself to the shops to do the final food shopping for our Christmas Dinner. When I returned home and unpacked the endless sea of shopping bags I was left feeling empty, and nowhere near  close to my usual Christmassy self. I looked around my kitchen and my pantry and felt nothing. There was nothing ‘special’ about what I had just bought, because nowadays our fridge is always full and our wallets are always lined, 365 days of the year. In comparison to the struggles of our childhood, we are in a privileged position. I remember my mum coming home with the Christmas shopping and be amazed by the chocolates, mince pies, gherkins and pickled onions…all little luxuries that were only afforded at Christmas time.  I felt a sense of sadness that my children would never know that excitement because our lives our now full of little luxuries on a full time basis. I felt guilty that our children have ice-cream most weeks, and Babycinno’s at the local café. I want more than anything for them to have empathy for those who don’t have, and to know that things in life don’t come easy.

 

I know that as a parent you want better for your children. A large part of us immigrating to Australia, was so my parents could provide us with more opportunities, and therefore be in a more desirable situation that they had found themselves in. You want for every generation to have come along a little but further than the last. Our humble upbringing and some very supportive parents encouraged us to strive for more and to be more, and we did and I hope our parents are proud of this.

 

Those of you that know me well, know that I hate being indebted to someone, and I can honestly say that everything I now have, I have worked for and paid for myself from my first house at 21, several terrible choices in cars and the clothes I am wearing. I think this is what my parents wanted for us. If you have always had everything handed to you on a plate, there is no sense of loss or value when it is gone, or as they say ‘easy come, easy go’. Don’t get me wrong, I am also not here trying to have a battle of the have and have nots. I am quite certain that if I am in the blessed position to do so, I will also try to give my boys a solid beginning, because every little helping hand is a head start, but I want them to know the value of a ‘struggle’. I want them to know the feeling of wanting something that you just can’t have until you work for it. I want them to appreciate the chocolate in our kitchen and the lollies in the jars. I want them to feel the magic of Christmas, but not the greedy kind, the innocent kind…when getting an apple and orange in your stocking was a treat. (err yeah thanks mum and dad)

 

Not only did my upbringing teach me 101 meals to make from ‘bread, tomato sauce and peanut butter’ but it has defined and shaped my character. I was always ashamed to say where I was from during my uni years, as every time I did, judgement would follow. Now I realize the only thing they should have been thinking was …..Shit she had to work a hell of a lot harder to get here, and how did she get through high school in those terrible ‘no brand sneakers?’

 

I know in reality my children will never truly share our experiences, but a little bit won’t hurt. So as of the 1st of January there will be a few changes around our place, just to remind us all how lucky we are. If we have love, food and family….we are doing okay.Image

 

Watch this space.

 

Merry Christmas Everyone

 

x

Looks Can Be deceiving…..

Forget Teenagers, are Pushy Pensioners the new rude?

 

Many of us would be familiar with the phrase ‘Respect your Elders’. Well enough is enough, no more Mrs Nice Pants. Up until a few years ago, I was a strict follower of this Golden Rule. But as time unravels, and as I transition toward becoming someone elses ‘elder’ I obey this no longer.

 

You see this silver haired army has created their own version of the get out of jail free card, but amongst themselves it is affectionately known as the ‘Refusal to Wait in Line’ card. In Post offices, Airports, Shopping centres, Doctors surgeries and Toilets all over the world, ‘Elders’ are banding together to disobey International Queuing Conventions. It is power in numbers. Most of us have been a the receiving end of this card, and like me thought ‘ Awwww dear little thing, doesn’t know what’s happening and has gone to the front of the line, someone help them’. Mmm.. Dare I suggest that a large percentage of these happenings, these seemingly accidental oversights were in fact premeditated attempts to ‘push in’. As you may have already picked up from previous blogs and as my husband would tell you, I really hate waiting and am incredibly impatient. It really does evoke a fight or flight reaction where I could seriously injure people who push in.

 

You see my dad has blown the cover of this operation. On many occasions throughout my childhood I can remember him saying ‘I can’t wait to get old, you can do what you want and no one does a thing!, Who’s going to have a punch up with an old bugger like me?’ It wasn’t until waiting in line at a café the other day that I remembered this conversation with dad. It was true…they get away with everything under the guise of being ‘past it’. But Dad who has now excitedly joined this elite, well-travelled group of humans and is more than ‘with it’ is adamant that it is not just him that ‘plays dumb’.

 

Anyway, back to ‘Rude Old Lady’. I was in clear sight of the grey haired offender as she scuttled up to next to me (think little and old, set and blow dry, with dark glasses on, and yes I do believe the glasses were part of her plan). She even started a conversation with me about my children, at which point I thought ‘Oh, how sweet’. Until the attendant came and shouted ‘Who was next?’. Well you should’ve seen the speed and precision that followed as she bowled me over to unashamedly get to the counter There was not a feeble, scuttle insight!!!! What happened to the sweet old lady? Who was this Octogenarian Gladiator before me? From the moment she pushed in all eye contact had ceased. If she didn’t look, she couldn’t be held accountable, and really, as if I was going to be the one to alert everyone to the fact that I ‘knew’ that the 80 year old granny next to me she knew she wasn’t next. Everyone saw, everyone knew and everyone said nothing. Mission completed.

 

 

 

I get a funny feeling that that by the age of 80 you would seriously be thinking ‘I’ve been on earth for long enough to have earned the right to ignore all of the rules’. This also includes being the only person at Christmas dinner who is able to single handedly insult everyone and get away with it. Good one Nanny!

 

To be honest….this is one right of passage is one that I fully intend to take advantage of!

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Moving The Goal Posts

Moving the Goalposts

When ‘alive and healthy’ was enough…..why do we go and move the goalposts?

Three years ago when I found out I was pregnant with my first son, we were full of wonder, excitement and anticipation. From the moment you realize you are bringing a life into the world, your mind races through a myriad of thoughts, some negative most of them positive. The obvious one- Will it be a boy or a girl? What will they look like? And the most important one, I hope they are healthy. For me, many months were spent worrying about the health of my unborn baby, I just wanted so much for this new person to be perfect, as do all parents. Unlike before, when you woke up, saw it was  to sleep for the rest of the day, You wake up every day, open your eyes and remember you are pregnant, and you feel a love and warmth that filters through to every inch of your body, for the first time in your life you are not alone.

At our twenty week scan, things took a turn for the worst. I noticed during the scan that the technician spent a little too long hovering in one area, a little too long on his tiny spine, a look of worry lingered too long on her face. I knew something wasn’t right, but she remained silent and it was forgotten about until I picked up the results the following day. I know I shouldn’t have but the ‘nosey’ bugger in me couldn’t resist it. I opened the envelope and read the report. All I could see was the words the ‘abnormality’ and deformity’. The world closed in on me, I couldn’t breathe, I read it again, and again, each time a little bit harder through the tears. I called my husband immediately, and being the optimist that he is, assured me everything would be okay. The pessimist in me, knew that it was not okay. I called my doctor immediately who then told me to come and see her as early as possible the very next day, I felt momentary relief knowing something was in motion, anything was better than just standing still. I remember going home and my husband calling a family friend of his who happened to be a doctor, I could tell from the conversation that it wasn’t good. My husband had never outwardly waivered in his strength and positivity, in the worst of times he was a tower, to see him doubt anything was a massive blow, It was the worst night I can ever remember. Google was our enemy as we looked at images of children born with Spina Bifida. Waking up the next day, I opened my eyes and for the first time since being pregnant and for the first time I wasn’t excited, Love and excitement no longer filtered, it had been replaced with an empty, sad poison For the first time in my pregnancy, I felt dread. How could I be excited.  I received an early phone call from my GP, cancelling our appointment and telling us to head straight to our capital city (1 hour ) away to see a specialist. This was the worst blow, it was obviously bad if we had to go into the city. The drive there was the longest I can remember. I felt nothing. I could feel my baby kicking me and for the first time, I didn’t want to answer back. I kept thinking, in an hour we will know the fate of our little baby. On the way I remember us deciding that we would find out the sex of our baby, just in case we came home without him.

An hour later, our lives returned to normal. Everything would be okay. Our nightmare had only lasted 24 hours. Sadly this was not the case for most who shared the waiting room that day. For most who waited with us in the diagnostic centre received bad news, this nightmare became reality for many of them. The realization that the perfect child inside was now somewhat ‘tarnished’, ‘defected’ or ‘abnormal’. What strength it would have taken to walk away and carry on with that knowledge in hand.

This scare remains a defining moment in my life. At one point I remember thinking’ please let everything be okay, I don’t care about anything else right now’.

Isn’t it funny how we then move the goal posts. Once we know things are okay, we push the boundaries again and start wanting for more. I hope he is clever. I hope he is good looking. I hope he is good at sport. As a teacher I hoped he didn’t suffer from a learning disability. Even up until he was delivered, I still feared the worst. The first thing I asked was ‘Is his back okay?’ Three years down the track I worry if his teeth will be straight, if he is developing properly, and then I remind myself of my early ambitions. I just hope he is alive. I look at my beautiful boy everyday, and am thankful he is here.

I wonder how different life would be if we had been like the others in the waiting room that day. Where are those parents? and what had become of their perfect babies. I so admire those who have been faced with this situation in a ‘real; capacity and have had the strength to move forward, whatever the future held.

It’s funny that I had even forgotten about this small time in my life until talking to a pregnant friend today. I looked at her today and the memories came flooding back. I remembered the hopes and aspirations a mother has for an unborn child, and then I thanked God that ‘he was okay’. And I’m sure her baby will be just ‘perfect’ as well.

Things that made me laugh@….the bar

 

After two failed attempts at re-living my ‘Party Days’ I have decided to take off my heels, sling them over my shoulder and call it a day. (then go home and put on my grey trackpants and my husband’s socks) Those who now me may say why? You’re still young? Well after two nights out in the last few weeks, I’ve seen enough to keep me going for another few years.

 

So here they are…the things that made me laugh @………………. The bar

 

Farting, Drunk Courtesan :  My friend and I were approached on a Dodgy nightclub dance floor by a man who was so drunk he had involuntary eye closure, and a shoulder that had obviously fallen victim to his nineteenth beer and was now scraping the floor. The drunk shoulder sloping was so profound that you did even look down at his hand to see what he was holding. He then piped up with his most charming slur ‘ Waaaart are yeeeewwwww two ladies doin on ya own?’ To which we informed him our husbands were at the bar. He then released the most vicious and vile fart, staggered on the spot, then blamed us for the said fart, referred to us as ‘stinky’ then left the scene of the crime. Now I know we are no longer the ‘Belle’s of the ball, but I also don’t believe we have hit our ‘fartworthy’ years either.

 

Young 18 year old on her first night out: You’ve seen her. She’s never really been out, never even really watched Video Hits because of the partial nudity. Just started her Bachelor of Arts, borrowed her mums red frock and hasn’t quite worked out how to dress in the city. Dancing provocatively but in a ‘I’ve just escaped the cult and I’m making up for lost time’ type of way. It was so bad, but for some reason you just had to keep watching. Should we stop her? Or should we buy her another drink?

 

3. Over confident, underwhelming middle aged man who after being turned down, gets nasty and calls you a stuck up cow. Mmmm….or we just have no reason to speak with you? There are certain conversations in life that can easily be identified as pointless, meaning you can tell pretty early that you will gain nothing from the interaction so are better off putting it down quickly. A bit like a much loved family pet, it is more humane to stop the pain immediately, rather than listen to dribble for the next ten minutes only to have it all end up in tears.

 

4. Over apologetic drink spiller: Pretty self -explanatory. Spills fourteen litres of beer on your foot then spends the next 20 minutes apologizing in fear a fight will break out.

 

5. Under apologetic drink spiller: More annoying than his over apologetic counterpart because they are more upset about having to line back up at the bar again than they are about turning your top into a possible candidate for a wet t-shirt competition.

 

5. 50 year old woman who has been separated from work colleague’s but is having such a great time decides to find ‘new mates’ so she doesn’t have to go home. It doesn’t really matter who they are or how old they are but proceeds to tell them how much she loves them.

 

6. Drunk friend: The one who reveals intimate embarrassing details about their innermost feelings but who will have no memory of even eating her entrée at the dinner beforehand. Usually followed up by a regretful, early morning text which they hope will give some indication to the extent of their behaviour ‘I hope I wasn’t too bad last night?’ I ‘m sure we have all been this person.

 

I admit It was fun. I still love to get dressed up and have a dance with the girls. But now I fear my fun is had at the expense of others, when years ago…it was me spilling the drinks. I also look at my husband and feel so lucky that I no longer have to prowl the night scene looking for love, because let’s face it, most people are just out looking for that someone special and this is why they turn into vulnerable embarrassing humans, because love makes you vulnerable. This is why going out partying loses its glamour when you’ve already found him or her and they are a million times better than anyone you will meet at a bar (unless of course you did meet at a bar). I look beside me (or will when he gets home) and feel content that we have already found each other. I love him when he’s here and miss him when he’s gone. (Just in case he does read this on his way home, I’ll already be asleep….. I love him even more when he sorts the kids out in the morning and lets me sleep)

 

 

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