Tuesday, 23 April 2013

My mum hates my blog

It's true. Mum hates my blog. Well, she doesn’t hate it as much as fears it. She loves my writing and she loves that other people love my writing but she hates that people read what I have to say. She hates that I have a place, on-line, that I share stuff about me and my opinion and my loves and my hates. And she hates my blog mainly because of this post I’m writing right now. The one she doesn’t know I’m writing. The one about her.

When Mum finds out about this, which she will ‘cause her friends love my blog and they read it all the time, she’s gonna lose her shit. And when my mum loses her shit – the world knows. She’s that kind of mum. The outspoken kind. The opinionated kind. The awesome kind.

Being born in the 70s meant that my mum was young. It wasn’t the norm, back then, to wait until you had ‘done stuff’ before you had kids. You got married as soon as you could and had kids straight away. Which in Mum’s case was at the ripe old age of 20. Being born to a 20 year old in the 70s was a very different parenting dynamic than today. There weren’t books or websites or online forums or help-lines or social media communities or parenting shows. 

There was only this... On the job training

And, unbeknownst to me, it was during my mum’s on the job training that I cut my own teeth on being a mum. Today, 40 years after she started the ball rolling, I see myself parent in her style. It’s equally as terrifying as comforting. Terrifying because I hated some of what she did and comforting because what she did created some pretty impressive grown-ups [yes, I’m pissing in my own pocket].
I hated “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.”
I’ve got something to cry about Mum – that’s why I’m crying!

I hated “If you make that face and the wind changes, your face will stay like that forever.”
What was that parenting technique even for? To discourage kids from making ugly faces? And would that mean that if, after the wind changed and made my face ugly forever, I would have the chance to make it normal again by making a happy face and waiting for the wind to change again?

I hated “Because I said so.”
That's not a reason. Just like it wasn't an answer when I replied 'because I don't want to'. I hate even more that I say it to my own kids now.

I hated “You’ll understand, when you have your own kids.”
Because, of course, I do understand.

I hated "Do you want a smack?"
Yes please Mum. A hard one please and if possible, in public.

Yep, Mum said some stupid shit when I was growing up but it turns out it didn't ruin me. And as for the good stuff? Well that turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving... and I'm now regifting to you.

Lone's Life Lessons

#1 Always wear singlets in winter. It keeps your core warm which means the blood that pumps around your body is warm. Whether that's true or not, I still wear them to this day and my boys are in them whenever it’s cool.

#2 Always dry your hair before you go to bed. Or you will get a chill or catch pneumonia. Or end up in hospital. Anyway, I forget the reason but my kids are under the hairdryer every time they get out of the shower/bath.

#3 Always have a ‘hands towel’ and a ‘dishes towel’ in the kitchen and NEVER mix them up. It's a germ transfer thing. In my house, if the tea towel is visible then it’s a ‘hands towel’. The ‘dishes towel’ is on the rack under the sink.

#4 Always wear a dressing gown on top of your pjs if you’re not in bed. There can be no sitting on the couch [that people put their feet on and their bum on and their unwashed hands on] in the same pjs that you’re going to wear to bed later. It’s dirty and gross.

#5 Always have a rice steamer. It is the only way to cook rice.

#6 Always walk into a room as if you own it, even if you’re shitting yourself.

#7 Always protect your family.

#8 Never talk when Mum's favourite song is on the radio in the car. Either sing along or shut up.

#9 Always squat over a public toilet seat so that your bum doesn’t touch it and if you can’t squat, then LINE the toilet seat with toilet paper. This will reduce the risk of catching a disease like herpes or hepatitis or AIDS or the worst possible option – worms.

#10 Always overcook the chicken. There cannot be even a tinge of pink or you will get salmonella. Or worms.

#11 Always wash your feet before going to bed. Dirty and gross.

#12 Always have good girl friends in your life. Whether you’re married or not. They are the constant.

#13 Dance. Often. Well. Alone or out on the town. Just make sure you dance.

#14 Always be clean. Even if you’re tired. Even if you’re sad. Even if you’re broke. It costs nothing to be clean.

#15 Never apologise for who you are or where you've come from.

#16 Always sort your dirty washing into light colours, dark colours and whites. Towels on their own. Bedding on its own. Tea towels on their own. And if you leave them in the washing machine for 2 days, wash them again or they will smell like old vomit.

#17 Always shake the creases out of every piece of wet washing before you hang it on the line. You need to make it ‘snap’. If you hang it, like a boy, straight from the basket it will dry crunchy.

#18 Always steam your vegetables. Well, if you want flavour that is.

#19 Always make sure the kids are fed. Well.

#20 Never let your kids know you’re scared.

#21 Always trust your instinct. It’s all you have in the world when you’re all alone so listen to it and make it your friend.

#22 Always listen to your mum [if you haven't made friends with your instinct yet] She may do and say things you hate. She may be annoying. She may be too strict. She may be unfair. She may be too tough. But she knows your heart. She knows your smell and your touch and your face. She knows what’s best even when you don’t. Especially when you don’t.

My brother and I did it tough. With only Mum to raise us we missed out on a lot. The newest gadgets. The coolest clothes. The nice house. The new car. Travel. A father. A mother. Because what happens when there’s only one parent is that parent has to spread themselves so thin that you’re really being raised by half a parent.

Yet it never felt like that. My mum did the best and most committed job she could possibly do. Which may not make her the greatest mum in the world. 

But she’s the greatest mum in my world. 

And that, is all we can ever hope our mums to be.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

ding, ding, ding....

"MUM!!!!!!! He hit me!!"

"MUM!!!!!!! He's annoying me!!"

"MUM!!!!!!! I'm bored!!"

"MUM!!!!!!! [insert some other infuriating comment here]

So... what DO you do when after 4 days of school holidays your kids want to kill each other and you're sick of breaking up the fights??

You HELP them :)

Forty minutes of slogging it out together and they're best mates again.

Now they are sitting together on the couch sharing a bowl of popcorn and watching ABC3.

That's a weird 'bloke thing', right?

Friday, 12 April 2013

Frank, my dear, doesn't give a damn

“You’ll never guess who just walked into the shop”

That’s how the phone call from my very good friend started today. It sounds delicious doesn’t it? Who? I almost squealed, excited. Hopeful for some gossip.

“That bitch, Deidre Smith*”

Oh. Not so delicious. Not gossip. Horrible, confronting and painful news.

Deidre is the wife of the man who molested my friend’s two children when they were very young. She is the mother of my friend’s ex-defacto, her children’s step-father. She is the woman who didn’t participate in the molestation but knew about it. Turned a blind eye to it. Kept quiet about it. Enabled it. 

She is the woman that my friend and I HATE.

It’s a strong emotion, I know. But it sits real and heavy in our guts. My friend, let’s call her Molly [because I don’t actually KNOW anyone called Molly] has grown children now, but at the time of their abuse they were both under 5 years old. Molly didn’t know what was happening then. But Deidre did. SHE KNEW. And we hate her for knowing and for sharing cups of tea with Molly and smiling in photos with Molly’s kids and for getting on with her life,seemingly unaffected.

There are many, many resources for childhood victims of molestation, sexual abuse and rape. There is support. There is a general level of public understanding and empathy. In our culture, at least. As there should be. But often, it is the family of the victims that are forgotten though they suffer too. Make no mistake the ripple effect of child molestation is more like a tsunami... some people drown, some people never return after being swept away and homes are destroyed.

In Molly’s case, her suffering is threefold. 

First she has had to endure almost crippling guilt at the realisation that this happened ‘on her watch’ and SHE HAD NO IDEA that it was happening. It wasn’t until her children were grown up that they finally revealed to her what they had suffered as preschoolers. 

Secondly she has had to deny her own deep, burning desire to exact revenge on her children’s abuser AT THEIR EXPLICIT REQUEST. 

And lastly,it is her ongoing struggle to support an adult son who battles debilitating depression and agoraphobia as a result of the horrific acts against him as a toddler.

There was never any reason to suspect the man who molested Molly’s children. I’m going to call him Frank because that’s actually his name and it feels good for me to ‘out’ him, albeit under a shroud of anonymity. Frank was a lovely man. He was friendly and funny and charming. He had good relationships with his friends and a pleasant, happy wife. Two successful, grown [childless] sons. He looked after his home well and loved Molly’s kids. AND THEY LOVED HIM TOO. Molly could barely believe it when she finally found out what had happened, it seemed so unlikely.

And that’s what I’m here to tell you. It’s not always obvious when children are being molested. In fact, it often isn’t. In this, real-life, example I can tell you the following truths:
  • Those kids WANTED to visit Frank. EVERY TIME.
  • Molly TRUSTED Frank.
  • Neither of Frank’s grown sons gave ANY INDICATION that something was ‘not right’ with their dad.
  • Frank’s own wife welcomed Molly’s kids into her home and turned a blind eye when Frank visited them in bed. And the bathroom. And the shed.
  • Molly’s kids showed NO SIGNS of being uncomfortable or scared of Frank. 
The other truths I can tell you are these. When a child’s innocence is stolen by sick bastards like Frank, it affects the rest of their life and the rest of their family and the rest of their family’s lives. When pricks like Frank get their revolting paws onto babies, hearts are ruined. When disturbed fuckers like Frank are left unchecked, scars are formed and futures are destroyed and hatred grows and grows and grows.

My final truth is this. Sometimes sick fuckers look like nice guys... and girls. Sometimes the only thing standing between your child and some disgusting pig is you, your gut instinct and your perceived over-protectiveness. It is your responsibility to be ever vigilant with your kids. Don’t assume you’ll KNOW that there’s something going on. Hundreds of thousands of people have proven how easy something like this goes undetected. In the case of Molly’s family even her two kids didn’t know it was happening to the other.

My friend Molly hates Frank and she hates Deidre too. She was happy to hear that he suffered before he died. She was happy to know that his last days were not easy, just as her son’s days are not easy either. She had nothing to say to Deidre that day. She was paralysed with rage and her voice was strangled with betrayal. But Molly’s ready for her when she comes again.

And Deidre better watch her back.

*Deidre Smith is a make-believe name for a real-life monster.

Please, if your gut is telling you something isn't right with your little one... seek external help. Follow the links in this blog or contact your state government department listed here.

"the world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil
than from those who actually commit it"

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

My life is an infomercial

I had a friend stay with me last week and on the way to bed the other night, she stopped me as I passed her in the bathroom.

"What's this?" she asks me holding up a gorgeous brown bottle 

"Oh that's a new product I bought online a couple of weeks ago" I say exclaiming "I loooooove it!!"

"It smells gorgeous" she says "I love the packaging, and it's made in Australia!"

"I know. I've been using it for a couple of weeks now and have really noticed the difference. It's so gentle and doesn't leave any residue at all. Plus it is plant-based with no nasty additives"

"Can I try it?" she tentatively asks. I can see she's excited so I nod. Enthusiastically.

And so she grabs the gorgeous brown bottle and sprays THE TOILET.

"Wow, it's beautiful to use. It smells so fresh and clean where can I get some?"

And that is how I had one of the most depressing conversations of my life. Talking excitedly about bathroom cleaner, no matter how sensational, was not something I ever expected to do. Ditto writing a blog about it, yet here I am.

I've got a new cleaning product. I bought it online and I love it. I've never bought cleaning products online. I've never given any thought to cleaning products, to be perfectly honest, except to consider their impact on the environment. But I would not consider myself a 'greenie' by any means. It just appeals to me to be aware and to minimize my impact without compromising fragrance. Needless to say I have never cared enough about my impact on the environment to clean with vinegar or baking soda. 

Anyway, even though I know this reads like an infomercial, I swear I haven't been sponsored to write this post or even gently encouraged. I just actually love the product and so far THREE separate visitors have loved it too. Seriously, I should become a rep for it.

These are the two products I bought...

Boys Bathroom Cleaner [but I use it on ALL the bathrooms, not just their stinky one]

Counter Intelligence Surface Spray - lovely fragrance AND a play on words. WIN!

You can find them here.

Now I've just gotta find myself a life... and some new friends.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Mummy Tantrum

Do you know what sucks? 

How, once you have kids, someone's priorities come second. Sometimes it's Mum's. Sometimes it's Dad's. It doesn't really matter - it's always someone's. And in our house, it sucks, 'cause it's MY priorities that take the back seat. Like my life isn't as important as anyone else's. My goals aren't as pressing and my needs aren't as necessary. And though I don't want to seem petulant, I just feel like stamping my feet and yelling "I'm important too!" 

Yes, I chose to take time away from my career to raise our kids. Yes, I'm happy I did and I'd do it again. Yes, I know someone has to be the bread winner and at the moment I'm not winning any more than a few slices but for fuck's sake, I want to start bringing loaves home again. Except I can't because I'm the family 'go to'. I'm the one that needs to drop everything when the shit hits the fan. 

Even when it's not my fan. Or my shit.

It's 11.45pm and my eyes are hanging out of my head but it's the only quiet I've had all day to just sit and write. Which is one of MY needs that isn't as necessary as everyone else's. I couldn't when the kids were at school because I had to work and deal with some family 'shit'. I couldn't after I picked the kids up because I had to get them ready for soccer because Dad got held up at his far-more-important-job so couldn't make it home in time. I couldn't when we got home because I had to cook dinner. I couldn't after dinner because I had to finalise a year 3 homework project with a nearly 8 year old. 

I know I should be in bed. Catching on the sleep deficit I've been living with for, I don't know, eight years now. I know I should be resting but my rest isn't as important as everyone else's. Everyone else is asleep. In the beds that I keep clean with a full tummy of the dinner I cooked. 

I didn't do the bath and bedtime routine though. I was lucky tonight. I ASKED for some TIME OFF so I could get some of my stuff done. And it was granted. 

Lucky I tell ya.