Mind Holiday

For most of my life, I have sat down and read a chapter or two of a book every day. Now I can’t remember the last time I picked up a book that wasn’t for the kids. Life got so full of responsibility and obligation that reading for pleasure suddenly seemed like an unproductive use of my time.

Sometimes, I’d walk past my bookshelf and my fingers would wander over the spines of my favourite worlds. I’d be hit with a pang of twofold guilt; the guilt of neglecting Fitz-Chivalry and his Fool, and the guilt of more important responsibilities that loomed over me while I selfishly contemplated reading.  When did I stop allowing myself to have free time? When did I let mother’s guilt become so all encompassing? I often find myself saying, “I need a holiday from my mind.” But that’s exactly what reading is. It’s brilliant.

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A few of my favourite things.

I had a moment in my kitchen today, when I looked around and didn’t know what I was there for.  The laundry was done. Dishes? Done. Beds were made, rooms were tidy, so what was I meant to be doing? A little voice inside me squeaked, “Read a book!” I heard it, it was quiet, but I heard it. I drowned it out with a louder voice that boomed, “DO SOME BAKING! START DINNER NOW! COOK EXTRA FOR THE FREEZER!” So now we have chocolate slice, cinnamon buns and three days worth of dinners. Which is great, but I could have made myself a cup and tea, put my feet up and read a book. How delicious does that sound?!

I’ve decided I’m going to make time to read. I even went to the library and chose three books. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised I’d fucked up. All three books were chosen because they relate to something I want to achieve. I was suppose to get lost in a world of fiction, instead I came away with “Rewire Your Overanxious Brain”, “The Power of Negative Emotion” and “The $50 Weekly Shop”.  Not exactly light reading, but it’s a start.

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Relaxing in the Inferno

I keep telling people I don’t like Summer but today I realised that that is not quite accurate. I love Summer. What I don’t like is having to do stuff during Summer. Summer Days are made of ice-blocks, laying down, reading books, napping and some sitting. Those other days when it is scorching hot and I have to do stuff (such as working, cleaning, shopping, parenting) those are not Summer Days, those are Inferno Glimpses. During Inferno Glimpses, I am sweaty, irritable and probably whiny. I’ll say “Fuck it’s hot,” approximately 500 times and consider shaving my head.

Blessedly, today was a Summer Day, and it was glorious. Not a cloud in the sky, not a job to be done. Well, I did do some housework or I would have burst a blood vessel, but mostly I ignored things that could be put off until tomorrow. I read, I watched children playing, I took my school work out in to the sun and feel asleep on it. I even managed to get a slight tan on my legs which haven’t seen the sun for several years. I know tanning isn’t the greatest idea, especially in New Zealand, but my legs really were looking frighteningly corpse-like, and some melatonin is needed to hide the many bruises that I’m accumulating from work and general clumsiness.

Another thing that I love about Summer Days, is dinner preparation. I whip up a couple of salads in the morning, chuck them in the fridge and that’s most of the work done for a few days. Cook a handful of drumsticks in the evening and you’re done.

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A beautiful Summer garden. It’s enough to make you want to tear your sinuses from your skull.

 

The down side of course, is Summer allergies. They’re not affecting me too badly so far this year, just a bit of an itchy nose, but my poor son… He’s sneezing, itching his skin and eyes, and his nose is pouring. Phenergan doesn’t seem to be doing an awful lot to help him and it’s making him miserable.  Today he was having his own Inferno Glimpse and I saw a  scary little of myself in his temperament.  If tomorrow is just as brutal, it might be time for a doctor visit for something a little more heavy duty. Like a deep-sea diving suit.

Maybe You Should Count to Ten?

This working mama business is tough! Sure, tons of women do it, and a lot of them do it a lot rougher than me, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m finding it a bit hard. I’m no Wonder Woman of the 21st century; I’m just me. And sometimes “me” is the person wishes she could stay in bed for a week, playing Tomb Raider on an old Playstation console – ahh to be a kid again. But sadly, I’m not, and my Playstation was sold off many years ago, probably to pay for cheap nasty vodka.

On my most hectic days, I’m finding myself being increasingly snappy at the kids. I hadn’t noticed how grumpy I was being until I caught myself berating them for a relatively minor act of non-malicious vandalism. I’m a fairly strict parent. No means no in my household, and I don’t budge for whining or begging; tears or tantrums.

Unless I’m wrong.

And sometimes Mum’s are wrong.

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Ahhh fuck it….

Saying sorry is not easy, but I think it’s one of the most important words a parent can say to their children. We all mess up, and it’s important for kids to know that, and to hear what a genuine, meaningful apology looks and sounds like. They need to be shown that ‘sorry’ is not just a word, it’s the beginning of an action toward change. My kids now know that Mum is still trying to adjust to her new schedule, and is a little more tired in the evening. They know that I’ve been a bit short tempered, and that it’s not their fault. They know that I’m going to try better and as per the advice of my wise elder child, next time, I’ll count to ten. A few early nights wouldn’t go astray either.

Home Sweet – *cough, cough – ack! groan…*

Here we are, all moved in, but still so much to do. I can’t completely unpack until the wardrobes have had a thorough clean, but it’s home, and I love it. The kids love it too, which is great. I’m amazed at how well they’ve coped with our separation. Little Man is young enough to adapt to anything, and Miss is taking it in her stride. She’s a little sad about not living with her Daddy, but she’s happy that he has to take time off working when it’s his weekend to have the kids. She’s looking forward to getting to spend real quality time with him. I think it’s a win-win for everyone.

Little Man and I both have been struck down by some wretched virus, which is taking some of the fun out of moving house. Poor little guy is a bit of a wreck and Nanny is driving over to take care of him for a couple of days so I can work. Not that I feel like working, but, you know, responsibility and being a grown up, blah blah blah.

Ex bought around some TV dinners because he thought I wouldn’t feel like cooking; which was really, really nice of him, but it took all of my willpower to suppress my inner bitch and not snap, “would have been nice if you’d given a fuck every other time I was sick”. Last time I was sick, he told me he wanted a divorce.  But I am not Inner Bitch, and she is not me. She just hovers a little too close to the surface every now and then. Today Inner Bitch is taking advantage of my weakened constitution. I must be nice to Ex, he’s being nice to me.

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People often tell me how wonderfully we get on and how funny we are together, which is nice, but not entirely true. The truth is, like any relationship breakdown, there was a reason it ended. No one ends on a happy note. We have years of resentment and anger bubbling away under the surface. We both believe that the other is more at fault (he totally is). I think I’m a little better at keeping my anger in check than he is, and he makes up for his “moments” with generosity and practical help. The anger has already begun to dissipate, but it’ll probably never be entirely gone. It’s good finally being out from under the same roof, we rule our own domains. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still have a drink and share a joke every now and then.

Taking Charge, Sort of…

Instilled with inspiration from generations of tough bitches, I decided to take my destiny into my own hands. No longer was I going to wait for job opportunities to present themselves, or go begging at the doors of fully-staffed establishments. I said, fuck y’all, I’ll do it myself. To Vista Print I went, and made some attractive and eye-catching fliers. One for dog walking and pet sitting services, and one for cleaning, specialising in oven cleaning, ordered, and on their way. The oven cleaning idea was a stroke of genius from a friend who had a lot of success the same thing. I made glorious plans to market myself. I patted myself on the back, and congratulated myself for taking charge. I’m so damned good.

Then Ex rang to tell me about a job advertised on the local buy/sell Facebook page. Housekeeping four hours a week. Sounds perfect, I thought to myself. Something a little extra on top of what pet/cleaning work I can rustle up. I sent off a private message to the OP. I think almost every single mother in town applied for it.

The next day I saw an ad for ‘Part-time Gardener Wanted’. I called immediately and without thinking about what I was going to say I was presented with a machine. I left a bumbling message in which I repeated myself and mentioned that I don’t meet one of the criteria they had listed (stupid, stupid, stupid!) and promptly forgot about it.

At lunchtime, I got a message asking me to come in for an interview for the cleaning job. I was short notice, but I wasn’t doing anything interesting. I met a very nice couple, and their gorgeous little dogs, one in particular who liked me a little too much. I politely told him that i was only interested in being friends. By the time I got home, I had a message on my voicemail telling me that if I wanted it, the job was mine. I guess I interview amazingly well, because they had to cancel all the interviews for the following day. I GOT A JOB!! It’s small, but it’s a job!

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Then, the phone rang. It was about the gardening job. “You sound fantastic, I need to meet you!” said an enthusiastic voice. We chatted away for a while and she spoke about how important it is to have flexible work when you’re a Mum. We discovered that her grandchild goes to Kindergarten with my son. We spoke about my daughter having special needs and that sometimes I need to be home with her. She was not in the least deterred. I’m going to see her tomorrow. Could I soon have two jobs!? I don’t want to get ahead of myself too much, but things are looking up.

And if it doesn’t pan out? I’ve got 200 fliers and 500 business cards headed my way.

The Slow Demise of Patricia Bateman

I always imagined myself as a childless professional, flitting from affair to affair as I pleased. While my friends looked forward to meeting rich husbands, then shooting babies from their vaginas (their own, not their husbands, that wouldn’t work) while languishing poolside at home like docile bovine, I dreamed of being a corporate lawyer. Money hungry and devoid of meaningful relationships. A simple parade of willing and attractive young men, who I could enjoy for micro-flings as i saw fit. My bizarre child self had American Psycho ambitions – a female Patrick Bateman, but perhaps a little less homicidal. Unfortunately, I was wracked with a nervous disposition that would trample these sociopathic dreams in to the mud.

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Instead, the strangest series of events happened. I dropped out of school due to crippling near-suicidal depression and got a job at a fast food restaurant . At 19, after several years of fun and self-destructiveness, I met an older man. He was funny, smart, opinionated and financially secure. We quickly moved in together and married shortly after my 21st birthday. This isn’t going to be one of those “I married too young and it was a mistake” stories – I regret nothing. We had epic fights, but we also had a shit ton of fun in those early years.

Eventually I decided it was time to get qualified, I was never short on brains, and I still had dreams. Husband however, wasn’t prepared to make the sacrifices that I needed him to make in order for me to achieve them. I don’t hold this against him, they were huge sacrifices involving leaving his job and everyone he knew in order to live in a town best described as Jack Frost’s arsehole, all while financially supporting my full-time study.

Husband, had dreams of his own. He wanted children before he was 40, and time was ticking.

Kid’s had never been on my radar before, in fact, they terrified me. Now here I am, eight years later, on the brink of divorce (all the cool kids are doing it, you know) with two weird and wonderful children. Life would be a lot more secure if I had some kind of career, but I’m glad that I took the road I did. It wasn’t the plan, but sometime the universe knows best. I’m lucky to have been able to spend the last seven years as a Stay-at-Home-Mum. My kids have needed me at home, particularly my daughter who has ADHD and High Functioning Autism. But she’s in school now, and my son starts school in November, and I’m staring down the barrel of single-parenthood, so I have to start looking for work.

Kids still kind of terrify me though. I’ve seen Children of the Corn.

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Let’s get it on Motherfuckers!

This is my blog about how sometimes life is there simply to punch you firmly in the face. Everything you had planned, everything you thought to be true, was gone. In my experience, this is not a one off event, it’s something that happens over and over again as you try to navigate your way though your existence. And there is jack-shit you can do about it. The only thing left is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again.

So here I am. Starting again. The first day of the rest of my life and all those annoying inspirational quotes that secretly miserable people share on Facebook (don’t you fucking hate those?). Only this time, I’m starting again with two little human beings, two cats and a bird in tow.

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Oh, and no job.

But, one always finds a way. In hardship, there is often much ridiculousness to be found. Finding the humour in any situation is the key to hanging on to the last little remnants of sanity. I have no doubt that i will have many hilarious and bumbling lessons to learn along the way. If I can keep laughing at the ludicrousness of my chaos, perhaps, just maybe, I can pull this off.

Let the adventures begin!