Thin line

I dumped my brain on here the last few days. I haven’t done that in a while, I try not to. It makes people feel uncomfortable. It makes me feel weird.

I want people to understand that the little things each day shit me just like the next person but I also want none of us to forget that while we bitch about picking the slow queue again in the post office or the idiot driver who pulls left to turn right (what the FUCK is wrong with people) there are so many bigger fish to fry.

Sure, I spend a large portion of my day trying to ignore the worries and stresses I have about Oscar.

Sure I, as a mother, spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about my boys, particularly Felix as he hits high school and enters a decade of becoming a man all while negotiating puberty, school work, who he wants to be, believing in himself, becoming more responsible, comprehending consequences on a far grander scale that what happens if you flog your brother again, having fun.

I didn’t really have fun as a teenager, my life was a pretty intense one with mum working her arse off and dad being absent but expectant all at the same time. When it all went pear shaped one of my aunts told me I had to grow up now, be responsible for mum, to be sensible and to help. Having fun and being a ‘typical teenager’ doesn’t really come into action when someone says that to you when you’re 11. I was the good Christian Girl going to not one but THREE youth fellowships (really covering all bases) and while it truly did get me through a lot of my teenage rage the pay off was guilt. I look back and think much of my adolescence was spent holding my breath. For the next bad thing to happen, for not being good enough, for letting people down.

Where do these emotions come from? I think they largely come from self, I can see it in Felix, but they are then compounded by external factors.

Fast forward a few years.

Fast forward to now.

I just can’t shake this feeling that I have done it all wrong. I mean, who the hell at almost 40 lives with their mother? Who at almost 40 has to ask for a hand-out from their in-laws to pay for car repairs? Who at almost 40 reduces three of their children’s bank accounts to zero to pay for car registration?

 

I’m doing it all wrong.

 

Where did I imagine my life to be at this stage?

Well, not living rent-free with my mother for one.

Not living pay-packet to pay-packet for another.

Not having to accept charity from friends.

 

Someone said to me the other day that accepting charity from others, help from people is about being humble and that having humility is the hardest virtue to learn.

 

In the last two weeks people have:

– looked after and cared for my children unconditionally

– picked up my kids from school and pre-school and looked after them for me without question

– texted me to say they’re having my kid over for a play, no discussion entered into (so so good)

– dropped off food parcels for my family including homemade dessert

– dropped off food parcels for me, to me, in the hospital

– brought me chai lattes at the hospital and hung out to talk shit and make me laugh

– taken my kids to and from footy practice

– dropped off a toiletries and cleaning products care package – anonymously. With one of those double Cadbury Family chocolate blocks in it. That I’ve hidden. And won’t be sharing. Maybe.

– sent us a crate of Gourmet Dinner Service meals that I keep looking at and bursting into spontaneous tears over. Because re-entry into family life after 12 days at hospital is just as hard, in some respects, as 12 days in hospital.

– sent me texts and tweets and Facebook shout-outs telling me you’re thinking of us, willing us a swift trip home

 

I have been humbled by all of it. Blown Away. Driven to tears at people’s love for us, for me. Bolstered by people’s generosity of heart and spirit.

I know we are blessed, that I am blessed to have a world so full of love and friendship. Plenty have pointed out to me they wish they had family and friends to help them out in times of need (subtext I am so lucky) and they need not fear me not realising, appreciating and being infinitely grateful to have so many holding on tight to the safety net under me, ready to catch me as I fall.

I know everyone has wanted to do this because I know when I see a friend struggling I want to do something, anything to ease their burden just a little.  Sometimes it’s words, sometimes something I’ve made, sometimes my hilarious company. (Remember when I was funny?)

 

So why is it sitting so uncomfortably with me?

Somehow all this makes me feel like I’ve failed.

Having to accept help is about having failed, of not being able to manage, of not coping.

I feel I’ve let everyone down.

That I have done it all wrong.

There are so SO many should haves swirling around in my head.

 

We have some family friends who are the most beautiful people in the world, but bad things happen to them all the time – a child off the rails, poor health, financial stress. There is always a feeling of unfairness when they are talked about, that they don’t deserve all this, why does it happen to them?

I do NOT want to be that family people talk about.

And yet I totally know we are.

I DO NOT want to be the sympathy card. The “Poor Kim”.

SO I just want you all to know I won’t let you down.

I will try harder.

You will not have to keep picking me up  or carrying me.

I will not let you down.

I will not fail.

 

Onward.

 

 

Eating the elephant, bite by bite.

I think this post might need a public health warning – that here be deep thoughts and reflections. It is not meant to be depressing but just to say there is so much to be done. That indeed, every small thing each of us does matters. That one sponsoring of a child or volunteering with Youth off the Streets or baking a cake for a friend who’s feeling down – it all matters.

But I also think we need to be demanding more from our leaders – thumping our fists until we get brave, visionary leaders willing to make the hard hard decisions and manufacture real change from the top down. A fish rots from the head – great leadership equals a great nation, likewise lacklustre, short-sighted and self-serving bureaucrats gives us greyness.

I’m kinda sick of the greyness.

||

I haven’t been that nice to my kids these last few days. With the good of reduced meds – no side-effects, improved libido, a return of my creativity, ENERGY – comes the bad – quick to anger, emotions ON THE LOOSE.
I have joked that I now realise why I was medicated – to be able to cope with our living arrangement and Oscar. But I’m not really joking.
I have been apologising to the boys for me being angry so easily. So often. For the poison that can just roll off my tongue before I even realise it.
I have been really struggling to be patient with Oscar.
Today he totally wigged out. A complete and utter screaming, crying, wailing, fighting mess of a meltdown. He didn’t know why and does not have the capacity to reign it in. It went on all day, from around 8am this morning until the last teary wake-up he had at around 11pm.
By that time I was just crying big lumbering tears with him, incapable of understanding what the fuck was going on, feeling so so guilty for just how short I’ve been with him this last week, my heart aching for him and his own confusion as to why he was behaving like this.
Someone had posted a picture to Facebook yesterday with the tagline, ‘my child is not giving me a hard time, they are having a hard time’ and HOLY CRAP PEOPLE why not administer some physical blunt force trauma to me as well because the emotional stuff is well and truly covered.

::

This last week had my friend Eden in Africa with World Vision.
Just like that.
She was in Niger to see – and thereby raise awareness – the famine that is gripping the country and the plight of its people.
Many people commented and rallied around Eden, pledging support and sponsoring children.
Doing something.
She does not profess to have the answers or the solutions. The problem is bigger than huge.
I don’t understand how this has been allowed to happen, over and over again.
Famine, war, death, more famine, more trauma and on it goes.
Oscar has a friend who comes from Africa, his birth nation I am not sure but he and his brothers and sisters were brought to Australia to be by their mother’s side, who herself had been brought here for medical treatment by a Catholic missionary service.
I see them here, their mother now dead, being raised by people with so much love in their heart, so much generosity of spirit they are raising four children, three of which have additional needs when they were at a stage of their life their own children were just flying the coop.
These children, full of laughter and life. Who would they be, what would have become of them had these remarkable people not come into their lives.

Can you imagine being a mother watching her children die in front of her from a lack of food or water? or from a completely treatable, nay PREVENTABLE, disease?

At the blogging conference last week I was reduced to weeping tears from one mother standing in front of us sharing her story of her son Avery, who died inside her.
One mother.
One tragedy.

Multiply it by HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS.

I haven’t sponsored a child, I haven’t donated money. I’m really conflicted over this. Yes, each of us doing something small adds up to something big. But. In my brain there is a but. What are the governments doing in these countries? What is happening at an international political level?

I think each of us doing whatever we can is critically important. It keeps us engaged with the world on a much deeper and beneficial level. But if it’s just us with pick-axes while the powers that be sit by in their idling front-loaders, we’re not going to get very far. The bandaid on a cankerous sore.

So much at stake by shaking up the status quo.

A few weeks back Four Corners ran a program about the brutal austerity measures being metted out in Ireland. About deals struck which somehow see the people who can least afford it now being the ones made to ‘tighten the belt’ to make up for the gross excesses and greed AND MISTAKES MADE at the top of the pile.

Isn’t that like punishing your kid because you’re tired?

The pressure, the expectation for us as individuals to be doing something is not misguided, I believe it ties firmly to my own political belief that no one gets left behind, but that it stands on the battlefield for humanity without the back-up of the senior forces that are world leaders and nations of power just seems unfair and downright unacceptable.

Every day everyday people stand up and make a difference. I’m just so sick of people in positions of political power and clout not doing the same thing.

::

Today we drove down to my Dad’s and Chef made me listen to a podcast called Two Chefs – or some such – out of the States.
Did you know, that of ALL the pork and chicken produce sold in the USA, only ONE PER CENT of it has been produced in natural surrounds – ie, outdoors, SUNLIGHT, room to move.
ONE FUCKING PER CENT.
In Australia it’s still ONLY THREE.
ONLY three per cent of the chicken or pork products sold in our country have been raised in a NATURAL environment, with SUNLIGHT.
In the US, the Defence Forces have reported that recruits are not reaching the fitness standards within the timeframe that they should be because they are NOT GETTING ENOUGH NUTRIENTS in their diet.
In the US there was an eColi outbreak in an organic spinach crop. How could an effluent born disease be transmitted by plant matter? Because an intensive feedlot nearby had contaminated the water table. That’s how.
In the third world they’re malnourished because of famine. In the developed world they’re fat but malnourished because of corporate greed.

++

A few weeks back I went to an event in Sydney’s gorgeous Centennial Parklands to learn about the Vicks Breathe for Life is supporting Save The Children in Bangladesh by training local women to become nurses and providing immunisations and antibiotics to bring down the dramatic child mortality rate in that country.

//

I watched Samson and Delilah for the first time last night. I spent most of the movie feeling nauseous – for the petrol sniffing, for the brutal reality it portrayed.

::

There is so much that needs to be done, so much.
Violence.
Greed.
Abuse.
Poverty.
Hunger.

Irrespective of where you live.

//

In 2009-2010 there were MORE THAN 286,000 reported cases of suspected child abuse in Australia. There are different reporting thresholds for “risk of harm” and “risk of significant harm” – wouldn’t it be a relief to just fall into the former rather than the latter.
Surreal.
From that 286,000, just over 131,000 cases were finalised, there were 46,187 substantiated cases of child abuse and just under 36,000 kids were in out-of-home care.
46,187 substantiated cases of child abuse.
Emotional abuse
Neglect
Sexual abuse
Physical abuse.
I’m trying to imagine how you can visualise that number. I guess imagine a Swans game in Sydney at the SCG versus a Top 8 team. That many.

Here we are trying to keep kids alive in third world countries from hunger and disease while the flip side sees a developed rich country such as our own we actually abusing their children ourselves?

I just don’t get it.

So I’m not going to sponsor a child in Africa, not because I don’t think it would make a difference but because for me, there are children here than need my help, whatever that may be and in whatever form it may take. That’s how I want to help.

::

There’s just so much to do.

No one gets left behind.

Onward.

Shuffling deckchairs on the Titanic was more productive.

Is there anything more scintillating that reading about someone else re-organising their home? Without photos? I doubt it so stink it up dear readers, I doubt it gets much better than this. This is what the last two days have been for me.

Our living arrangement is the housing equivalent of the mini and the clowns at the circus.

As most of you know, our house is a living Ode to Ikea with quite an alter of Ivar shelving. GOD I hate Ivar shelving. What was bought as a cheap ‘until we have more money’ has now been the cornerstone of our decor since 1995. Yes, that is correct. 1995.

SO I tried to (finally) (after 14 years) paint some of them. My goal was to repaint our green wall blue, to paint the majority of Ivars in hi-gloss white and one in a bold canary yellow. I was attempting the canary yellow. It was a fail of epic proportions. I can’t go into it. I’m scared is all.

SO, I ditched that plan.

Instead, a 5×5 Expedite was moved from the hallway outside our room to serve as a room divider in our back room. The tall Ivars were then relocated to where the Expedite had lived and now houses all the books in the house  bar the cook books which form quite a display on the Expedite. Resplendent with strategically placed vintage Fowler bowls.

I know. My sense of style. Breathtaking.

The other side of the Expedite is home to crappe.

The Norbet (an Ikea sideboard) is now along the wall and home to lego (of course) and all the TV, gaming devices.

THEN – I realised the disaster shelves could work in the bigger boys’ room along with our vintage armchair recovered in… IKEA… fabric. So that happened.

Then I had to deal with the pavers out the back. A victim of the painting fiasco. A cause of major grief for particular family members. This involved a 3mx3m area, LOT of turps, a scrubbing brush and me. Yeah.

There are now a number of baskets and boxes of things that don’t fit anywhere. Our bedroom is a disaster zone.

Curiously the house is no bigger.

Oh, and there was tending to chickens and guinea pigs.

 

Here ends the BORINGEST POST EVER.

 

 

Onward.

 

 

 

Win a New Ford Territory for a Year and $5,000

The tears don’t stop flowing.

Washing up, when the boys fight, staring at a computer screen, when someone tries to help.

None of it helps.

Five hours in emergency at Mona Vale Hospital, about forty five minutes in the back of an ambulance (they’re surprisingly roomy), four hours in emergency at Sydney Children’s Hospital and then 24 hours in the oncology ward (only place with a bed, plus neither of us had a cough, cold, runny nose, recent exposure to contagious viruses or … lice!) .

Felix and I have just spent an unexpected two days in hopsital due to him having appendicitis.

A normal Friday morning after a horrible night of being up to Grover twice, Felix twice and Jasper once saw Felix got up in tears complaining of a really sore tummy on the lower right side. I just knew it was appendicitis. Like those new cars with the inbuilt sensors to tell you you’re about to rear-end that even more fancy car behind you in the school pick-up line, mother’s just ‘know’ these things.

Oh sure, there are the times your batteries are running low and your inbuilt sensor is out of whack and you just think your kid is such a whinger when indeed they have actually broken their finger/toe/arm, but mother’s just know this stuff.

But the tears, my sense of being about to lose it, have caught me off guard.

It has been an unexpected reminder of just how stressful and adrenalin-orientated having a child in hospital is.

I have cleaned and rearranged the back room, trying to stamp my presence back on the family unit.

I’ve repacked the dishwasher – what is it with people being so useless at stacking a dishwasher the right way – and cleaned up the kitchen. I’ve made the kids breakfast just the way I know they like it and all through it have found floods of tears coming from nowhere.

And then I find I am crying for everything.

For how many times I have been through this with Oscar and how ‘used’ to it I have become. How dented, scratched and scraped I’ve been over the years as we go through another procedure, another surgery, another appointment, another another another. I cry that now I’m too tough on Oscar, not showing enough care, love, sympathy for each knock along the way. Heartless.

For how having another child in hospital with something as mainstream as appendicitis feels like the first scratch on a brand new car and I cry for realising how weathered, how damaged I am. I don’t notice the dents and scratches anymore except for the occasional run of the hand over the memories and trying to recall which incident caused what scar.

For everything that has gone on here in the last month I am now too scared to tell you all for fear of even more judgment from those who are supposed to know me best but from their comments, texts, emails and assumptions know me so little.

For the upheaval that is ahead of us that I have no idea of  how we will manage.

For the promise of a whole new chapter for Chef and I and our boys that has, yet again, been cut from the story. Put on hold for maybe a spot later in the book. But who knows. Maybe that chapter will never fit this story.

For what I feel is blind corner after blind corner on the road I’m travelling when just a few weeks ago I felt like the road was finally straight and the sun shining warmly on my face.

For while I should be focused on my boy with the sore belly I am having to deal with managing the expectations and needs of others – like when you know you’re just driving to the shop but have to keep checking your mirrors and intersections for those motorists who are not.

 

And when I feel I can’t stand it anymore I realise I am still going.

Still driving.

Still willing myself and my family forward.

 

I want to scream at some people, stomp my foot, cry and wail and shut the door on the world.

But no. I go on. Ferrying this family of mine as safely as I can through whatever weather is outside.

Drive Kim, drive.

 

My old school motto keeps coming into my head: strive for the highest. A saying our principal used to say to the swimming team before a competition is not far behind it: swim up and over the edge girls, up and over the edge.

 

Felix is fine. On the mend. A little teary as such a shock and an anaesthetic can make you.

He has also finally showered. Small blessings.

The rest of the boys are fine. Glad he is home. Glad I am back. Playing and fighting as if it had never happened.

 

I realise that the car may be scratched and dented, the floor marked by myriad journeys and questionable food stuffs and sand, so much sand, but it still goes. It’s perpetual motion is not in question.

I will be fine. The tears will subside, I will dust myself off and keep moving.

 

Onward.

Further developments

It appears that with Miami Vice Guy the look gets more relaxed as the week goes on. Today’s shirt was definitely not ironed (this of course endears him to me) had even more buttons undone and the mullet-in-a-wind-tunnel was really quite awry.

The back, in perhaps an inverse relation to his appearance, is getting better – so long as I do nothing except the floor maneuvre.