Bacon, Dee Why
This week I’ve bee marvelling at my resilience, reflecting on this year and how well we have all come through it.
Let’s recap for the cheap seats shall we?
– Mum’s second hip replacement in February which revealed a lesion on her first hip replacement.
– Having two bulging discs in my lower back
– Oscar’s bilateral foot surgery and recovery
– Chef being fired
– Chef getting a new awesome job and a wickedly good place but taking a more-than-substantial pay cut
– Mum falling over on one of the ramps we’d installed for Oscar and being rushed to hospital
– Dad having arthroscopes on both knees and then a knee replacement
– Researching high school options for Oscar and the wait on hearing if we were successful in our first choice
– My inlaws being overseas for six weeks
– Chef having a motorcycle accident
– Mum dislocating her hip and requiring emergency surgery to complete a revision (ie a replacement of a replacement)
– My inlaws going away for three weeks
and then I realised that perhaps I wasn’t coming through all this as unscathed as I had thought:
– the lower back is still not tickety boo, with pain often shooting down my legs or banding around my lower abdomen
– the return of acne break-outs to rival my teenage years
– a complete inability to stick to any weight-loss related activity
– painful big toes my GP suspects is early stages of arthritis
– suspect hernia (which it isn’t but most likely referred pain from the lower back)
– the rearing of the ugly head of mood disorder issues (remarkable curtailed by the introduction of Team Berry)
and more recently
– inexplicable chronically painful left ankle with pains shooting down my foot and up my leg all the way to the hip on a fairly constant basis
– an incredibly painful lump in my left underarm which over the weekend multiplied to about six incredibly painful lumps under my left arm. I tried to squeeze one last night and almost passed out from the pain. Idiot.
– a rising anxiety about the onset of warmer weather (no really, I’m having heart palpitations about it. Seriously.)
I had a whinge to Mum today which, granted, was particularly selfish considering she’s recovering from major major surgery and trapped in a rehab hospital and has just missed out on going to Europe but she responded as only a mother can.
You see, apparently, if I could just lose 10 kilos I would feel so much better.
Because my mother said it of course I didn’t say, ‘no, actually, I think a lot of this is stress-related’ I just fell even further into the hole of ‘oh dear GOD I am so huge and physically repulsive’.
She suggested I could put the whole family on a diet and make it a project! Like making a quilt! Or crocheting a rug! Come on guys! Let’s all diet! Together!
You know and I know that on a level she is absolutely bang on the money. To lose weight I need to stop shovelling food into my mouth as a comfort and counter-weight to the stress in my life. To lose weight I need to get off my arse and start moving more. Doing both these things would improve my fitness, my waistline and my mental health.
But it just hurts to have someone say it out loud.
OH OH OH – and tonight, just as this fug was well and truly descending on my head, I realised a whole section of one of my molars was missing. Awesome. Dental work.
Cue: head hitting table.
every now and then I get this wave of overwhelming joy at being a mother.
I’ve just had one now and had to document it.
It wasn’t over anything in particular – in fact, I just gave each of the boys a multivitamin – hardly some Hallmark moment.
It is the reality that I carried each of these children in my belly.
That I brought them into the world.
That they are my responsibility – from the most mundane of ensuring they have a jumper with them as the weather cools to deciding their schooling path, deliberating the value of invasive medical procedures to the most wonderful of giving cuddles when they’re hurt, scared, tired or just in need of a snuggle.
It’s a wondrous thing this being a parent.
Moments of mind-boggling frustration and exasperation, dark days of wondering why on earth you had children in the first place (getting fewer and farther between as they get older I must say), the most crushing physical and emotional exhaustion and then moments when you think your heart may well burst with love, pride, happiness or laughter.
I have no idea why this morning giving my boys a multivitamin brought this on – we’re staring down the barrel of a bog standard Sunday – but there you have it.
Yep, quality parenting in profile.
In February 1998 we had Oscar, which was a bit of a surprise because he wasn’t due until April. Six weeks later we got to go home and one of the first things I did, apart from standing at his cot watching him sleep for a ludicrous periods of time, was go to my first mother’s group meeting. Everyone gasped at how little he was, which also caught me by surprise because not only were we used to it, he had cracked 2kgs and we thought he was SO BIG!
Anyway, Saturday night saw five women from that original group get together for dinner and well, it was just so lovely, restorative, informative, bolstering.
All of us had horror stories to share. Everyone had the ability to laugh at themselves and particular parenting moments when they’d either lost their shit or misplaced it momentarily.
It was one of those female evenings when you can just vent, offload, advise, reaffirm, discuss, laugh and just listen.
And you know what, we’re all on the cusp of the next stage.
Our ten year olds are throwing us curve balls on an almost daily basis. One is having absolute grief at school with bullying (my goodness girls can be BITCHES), one wanted to know how to spell condom, some are crying in that ‘I don’t know why I’m crying’ genre, someone’s child had skipped out of scripture and when the school rang to inform her mum, her first response was, ‘wow, I didn’t know she had it in her,’ which the school didn’t seem to think was the correct answer and one has recently written a note to her mother saying she is too meddling and ruining her life. Already!
It’s like becoming a parent all over again.
And I’m just so pleased I have these women around me for the coming years.
I’ve been a parent for just over 10 years now and it ocurred to me that I am now at a place in my parenting where I would have been with my career had I started breeding at 35 rather than 25. A few promotions, a solid understanding of your profession and your skills, still room to grow but happy and confident in what you do. But boy, it has taken those full ten years to get to that point.
Sure, we were thrown quite the curve ball with Oscar’s pregnancy and his mongy chromosome, cerebral palsy and profound speech disability (I still have occasion to think to myself ‘me! with a child who can’t talk! how ironic!’ – but don’t worry I have similar thoughts with Felix and his ‘issues’ with spelling) but I was not expecting the restlesness I felt with becoming a mother.
I had always wanted children and always wanted a tribe and yet there I was feeling trapped, incompetent and isolated. Everything was hard. I felt like I was permanently going insane and each day was just a case study in how to keep your shit together. Or not. I saw little reward and a relentlessness that made me question what on earth we werer thinking when we agreed we wanted to start a family.
Isn’t that sad? It makes me sad. I know there were good times in there – I have photos (and memories) to prove it – but oh the guilt and feelings of complete inadequacy combined with very little – that I could see at the time – reward.
But that whole experience was so typical of me. I expect myself to be good – no, the best – at everything I do the instant I turn my hand to it. The very idea of making a mistake to me was not acceptable. The notion of learning something, of being a beginner has taken me an awfully long time to come to understand and appreciate. I see exactly the same attitude in Felix and OH LORDY how I’m trying to help him learn it decades earlier than I did.
Those years were filled with excrutiating heartache as we climbed every mountain of development and diagnosis with Oscar. Chef and my relationship weathered more storms than I think any relationship should endure. I estimate three times we very nearly seperated in a five year period.
All the while I was working in the paid workforce as well in jobs I found unrewarding in terms of my bigger life picture. In the last few weeks I’ve read three interviews with artists and authors who mention they were offered a well paid corporate or likewise gig but how they turned it down. Is that what I should have been doing? Who the hell knows. Everything in my life felt ill-fitted.
And then I returned to a full time salaried position which I adored. And things started to fall into place. Both the boys were at school and Chef and I had come through those years the stronger for it.
And then I fell pregnant with Jasper. I was back at work four months after he was born and everything was tickety boo for a few months. It was like having your first child again but without any of the angst. With perspective. It all fell apart when I yet again was trying to do everything and be everywhere because that’s what us working mothers do.
The twelve months following his birth were probably the most stressful in my life. Which kind of came as a surprise. And then, as we all know, I really hit rock bottom.
I adore being at home with my boys. I don’t actually want to be doing anything else. I keep thinking of business ideas and that I must get to that creative writing but then I mooch around with my little fellas and the day is gone.
Oh sure, there are still exactly the same relentless, mind numbing moments there were when Oscar and Felix were little.
That while it shits me to tears how Jasper will take everything off Grover and claim ‘it’s mine’ the fact he says ‘it’s bloken’ and can sing all the songs to Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in tune melts my heart over and over. That Grover still wakes once a night. That Jasper is capable of a full blown temper meltdown in the space of a millisecond. That Felix has mastered the art of the pretend cry. That Oscar still has toileting issues. That the whole sibling ‘he looked at me’, ‘but it’s mine’, ‘stop it!’, ‘muuuuuum Oscar’s annoying me’ is so well rehearsed it’d rival the longest running Broadway show.
In some ways our life is harder now than it was when I was also working. But do I feel totally blessed for having this time at home with my children with the eyes, the brain and the experience to see it for it’s truly hilarious, wonderful, delightful, touching moments as much as the hair-pulling frustrating ones?