Wednesday, April 09, 2014

What's going on...

Did I mention we bought a house? We bought a house and moved in at the start of December, just in time for Summer. We live near the ocean and spend a lot of time on the beach. I'm in Australia, I'm living the ocean dream. I'm delighted. So many childhood dreams coming together. I can step out on the deck and watch the waves, smell the ocean and hear the waves on a windy day. Really, life is good. The kids are settled and really happy. Husband works from home and seems to be comfortable - he's still anxious but copes.

We've been tackling small but expensive upgrades. New blinds so we can get out onto the amazing deck without fighting through heavy, broken aluminium things. Covered all the gutters thereby evicting dozens of sparrow squatters. This week we had 16 small but overgrown trees removed. Many of them growing over an overflow pipe that is supposed to be clear. I took before and after shots if you're curious.  I just got that pile of mulch cleared into the vacant space, in two days - in the rain! Luckily my neighbour was happy to take about 10 wheelbarrows full. Next step is to put in some fruit trees and nut trees then some raised beds and then I'm going to grow my own veg. What's weird is I have clear childhood memories of my parents clearing out the backyard, putting in a veggie patch. They must have been a bit younger than I am now but only a few years, and that lasted a few years. I'll have to ask why they gave up.

My Mother in law arrives tomorrow along with Husband's Aunt. They'll be with us for a few weeks. We're thinking of how many things we can show them in that time, but hopefully they won't mind a few days just walking the beach and being at peace.

If I'm being honest - I live in Hippie/Hipster/Fitbod town. This is surfer's paradise. The entire culture around here is based around the waves. We see barefoot people everywhere - I mean everywhere. If stores had a "No shirt ,no shoes, no service" policy they'd go out of business. Locals don't wear shoes. Locals are barely out of swimwear. Any number of ocean sports are a hub here. It's a training ground for Ironman competitions. My doctor told me recently how he was out surfing and a few penguins were riding the waves with him. His apple tree was decimated by parrots and he thought it was wonderful.

This is what moving to Australia was supposed to be all about.

Not the city life. Not the 'burbs. This oceanside Nirvana. I hope the family coming to visit will see this and know, fully understand why this is home. I truly feel at home here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

If you're on Pinterest you may have seen pictures of cut lettuce stumps being regrown on the windowsill. "Never throw out!" "Grow salad in your kitchen!" Well this sort of thing. You may have thought, like me, "No way that'll work. Why haven't we been doing that forever?" and I just got some romaine little gem lettuce so why not, I'll have a go.

A week later and wouldn't you know...

There's a Little Gem Romaine, and a "Sweet and Crunchy" type; older and recent end added. A ginger shoot as well because...well why not. I need a pot for that, it'll become my new house plant. that's more likely a death sentence. I'm ok with getting things to grow outdoor, but I kill houseplants. Just not attentive enough.

So this was an interesting experiment. Doubt they'll last the coming winter, but we'll see.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Stay-at-home-mom, bullied at bus stop

The headline was enough to grab my attention. I was willing to jump in and defend one of my own. What kind of person bullies a SAHM?? The article was written by Jessica Stolzberg for Salon on Nov 7th.

I read the article and found...very little bullying. What I found was a huge chip on the shoulder of the author. I read a story of an over defensive reaction to one woman’s inquiry. Perhaps the tone of the question was wrong but bullying with a question? That’s a bit oversensitive. I think the real bully is Stolzberg, and she is bullying herself.

The author and I have something in common, we both have issues with being a SAHM. We both have feelings of guilt that we aren't working and contributing to our full potential. How we deal with that guilt is very different. I have felt the weight of explanation as to why I'm a SAHM of school age children. When someone asks what I do all day I do not interpret their inflection of "Can I ask what you do all day?” as an attack. Like Stolzberg I became a SAHM out of necessity, not choice. I would love to be in the workforce building a career and working with other adults. However I'm not the main breadwinner and my husband has the opportunity to earn a large salary in a major company. His job is demanding and requires travel. Traditional marriage roles came into play and I took on the role of full-time homemaker and full-time parent to our two children to allow him the chance to be fully be engaged in his career*. I was frustrated at first, feeling like I had to take the back seat to his career to become a housewife.

Don’t think for a minute this doesn’t jar with my feminist ideals on a daily basis. I also had a mother who worked full time and tells me how I “Lucked out” in my situation as a SAHM. Always toned with dash of jealousy and a pinch of disappointment. How hard she worked to give me education and opportunity and I chose motherhood and wifely duties. It’s like she’d birthed me right into the 1950’s she’d been emancipated from.

Here’s a fact: Feminism was fought to give women the choice; the choice to have a career or family or both. There should be no judging for which path we choose. We make these choices because we now have the freedom to make them. I am grateful that one day I can still go out and work and have a career - our lives are not on hold or interrupted because we are now being responsible for raising children, even if they are teenagers. Equally we should not judge ourselves harshly for choosing the traditional path. Being mother, partner, wife, supporter is not going backwards. It is selfless in face of the opportunities we could have to be the support for our loved ones so they can grow and develop.

This is not something to be ashamed of or made to feel lazy for choosing. Stolzberg and I have a job that is 24 hours on call. We are at the immediate disposal of the family 24/7. All the jobs a parent does, all the jobs of home management and organisation. We are the personal assistant and representatives of our family.  No one judges the fireman as lazy because they’re not fighting fires 40 hours a week and only a moron would think a fireman does nothing in the hours between fires.

Stolzberg doesn’t need a ready answer or excuse when someone asks her what she does for a living. She doesn’t need to feel guilty for not earning a wage. She doesn’t need to feel second class to career women. Doing these things perpetuates the lie that SAHMs aren’t valuable or worthy. I’m glad she has a large group of friends who support her because it sounds like she needs them. But really what Stolzberg and what other SAHMs need, is to give themselves credit for the work they do. To understand that those women who have to work full time and don’t get the level of quality time with their kids as we do, probably feel a lot of guilt too. Perhaps they’ll act out and it’s reactionary and in no way should have an effect on how we feel about ourselves. And if the other woman is a genuine nasty person who judges SAHMs as lesser beings who are lazy for not having a career then really, she’s the one we should be feeling sorry for. She’s not being valued as a parent herself or feels being a parent is unimportant because she’s lacked good role models. Who knows, it’s her problem.

SAHMs are not the norm anymore. Being available for our families 24/7 is a luxury that we should be thankful for this chance; grateful that we have this unique opportunity. Many families do not get to have this precious time with their kids. We should embrace this time to be with our children while they’re young because they’ll be adults and on their own before long. I don’t want to be looking back on this time thinking I should have been with my kids more. You can’t get this time with your kids back. Someone who thinks staying home to raise the kids, even when they’re older, as unmotivated has some serious issues; but their real issue isn’t with the parent, it’s with themselves.

 *He is not a bastard for this, by the way. He’s hard working, devoted and loving and has his own guilt issues about not being as available for the family as he’d like to be.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

P(ost)MS, it's a real thing too.

It's that time of the month. It's that time when I feel like jumping off a cliff. Like drowning in the bath. Like walking and not stopping and until my knee bones hit the pavement.

For decades there's been articles and talk about pre-menstrual syndrome. I don't have that. To be honest, those days before my period are the best. I suddenly wake up, become organised, energised. I'm the happiest and most alive that week before my period. No I get post-menstrual depression. About 6 days after I finish the clouds descend. I can't think straight, I can't remember what I was doing. I get headaches and nausea. Then the worst days hit and I'm consumed in a fog of misery. An all-out pit of depression worse than I've ever felt. I know it only lasts a couple days. I've documented my moods on my phone diary for a couple years now - well ever since I got an iphone. I noticed the trend. Sometime after menstruation but before ovulation I want to run away and hide from the entire world.

Exercise doesn't work. It'd fine for health and everything else but not this hormonal rift. I'm like a goldfish, what was I saying? Dreadful. Hopeless. Cannot contemplate work or dare be accountable for anything. I worry about driving.

A spoon falls on the floor and it's as if the world conspires against me.

I know it's ridiculous! I know having those feelings or thoughts is silly. There is an over reaction to some things I do have to talk myself down from. Doesn't mean I don't feel the full force of those emotions, regardless.

I spend half the month dealing with and the aftermath of this event, and the other getting ready for it. Doctors aren't helpful, there's nothing really that can be done apart from using a low dose oestrogen therapy which isn't recommended because of the high risk of breast cancer my family history poses.

It's at its worst today. Cannot speak, cannot feel close to my family, cannot wait for the minutes to tick away until I can go to sleep. Can't cook. Can't clean. Can't shower. Can't move. But I do if I have to, I mean I did drop off and pick my daughter up from school. I smile, I talk. I put on a mask and walk among them. I did my volunteer time with the class literacy group. I feel on the edge of crying, screaming, vomiting but do none of these.

It's only a couple of days.

Eating my weight in tryptophan.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Edited seven pages and panicked; where's the next two chapters?
I wrote those.
I remember writing those.
Why aren't they here?

Could I have written them in my notebook and completely forgot to type them in? Think think think!! I was in the cafe, old people kept asking me "What are you typing?" I complained inwardly about how people should fuck off and mind their own business and I bet if I was a man they'd have assumed I was working and not have bothered me but because I'm a woman they had to query what I was typing as if it was any of their fucking business and what I was doing was of no importance!

Then I pulled out my notepad. Ah, the notepad!

OK, where's the notepad?

Not this one. No. Nope. How many of these fucking things do I own? 6. found it the sixth time round. Then for some reason, I'd started writing at the back of the notebook. I'm not left handed; I have no idea why I would do this but I nearly put it down and went looking for more when I thought to flip it over.

Eight pages of notes and beginnings.

Seems I've been replaying these conversations and mechanics over and over in my head so much I thought I'd actually typed them into a form of draft.

I have not.

Although relieved they are not lost, and that I have a clear path to go down, I am disappointed to find I'm not as far forward as I thought I was.

Still a step forward. Will also begin to consolidate notebooks and label them to save me having that panic again. No more hoarding stationary!!
Just a small rant.

I hate bad commercials. I hate them mostly because they think we are so stupid we won't call them out on their bullshit. We really need to let ad agencies know when they've failed. Do they really think we don't question their strategy. Don't answer that. I'm aware that a proportion of society are TV drones and don't question anything, otherwise alex Jones wouldn't have an audience.

This is a new ad that annoyed me this morning;

Not only do they twist a mother's guilt of providing good nutrition for our kids, they play that we could be causing malnutrition. For kids who are choosing not to eat healthy food. This is a behaviour issue, not a systemic lack of a food source. Parents shouldn't cave in to the "won't eats". Mothers despise throwing out perfectly good food. The waste of money, effort and lack of appreciation. Yes I'm sorry but Moms get pissed off that folks won't eat the food we cooked. We would rather be doing something far more fun, like reading a book, than cooking for a bunch of unappreciative whingers. That said, all the stuff thrown away could have been used as leftovers.

It's the insidious threat of malnutrition that stings the most. If someone has a kid that genuinely hates all food and/or gets gag reflex or reflux from eating then in those rare cases a supplement could help. But not for every kid! Just make your kids eat. Be sneaky, pureé everything, they'll never know. Trust me. Or, I don't know, expose the kids to many different types of foods and then remember which ones they liked and make those things more often?

Then, to top it all off, Sustagen is Nestlé product. I don't want to go into a secondary rant about the evils of Nestlé in the third world where real malnutrition is real problem.

Point is, the ad is so easily talked away, so quickly dismissed that it seals for me never buy a product from them. Any parent who thinks giving kids a glass of high sugar vitamin water instead of real food is a moron.