A Mother’s Day present to myself.

A PRESENT FOR
I wish it was booze, but I also don’t wish to get fired.

Well, it’s that time of year again, the time of massage vouchers, fluffy bathrobes, and homemade cards with amusing messages within. Mother’s Day, the annual day of thanking yo’ mama, is upon us again. Catalogues are abundant with ‘gift suggestions’, cafes preparing for a Sunday morning of extreme brunch trade, and children are creating heart felt messages of appreciation in schools across this great, red, dusty country.

So, you ask, what are you doing for Mother’s Day this year? What are your fantastic plans? Luxury clothing? French perfume? Lunch at a chef hatted restaurant? Something equally fantastic?

Well, no. Not quite. Instead of spending quality time with my family and children, I will be spending quality time with my coworkers. For twelve hours. Twelve. Hours. No offence to the fabulous people I work with, but this is not my favourite way to spend Mother’s Day. Nor any other Sunday, actually. I plan to compensate for this by purchasing and consuming the biggest, dirtiest, carb loaded burger of my career. With chips. The loaded variety.

hamburger-2253349_960_720
I anticipate that the burger I will consume in lieu of actual mother’s day festivity will be at least this big and greasy.

I have however decided to gift myself a Mother’s Day present of my very own. It’s something I need, which is great. But better than that, it is something that will cost me nothing. This should make my husband very happy.

I am pulling out of the competition for World’s Most Competent Mother.

Yep. I’m out. Done. Kaput.

Call me defeatist, and I will agree. Complain that I have lost my competitive spirit, that’s undeniable too. But the truth is, the damn competition is rigged. I’ll never win.

You see, whenever I win at one part of being World’s Most Competent Mother, I seem to fail at another. Working mum, who manages to juggle a demanding work role with the demands of mothering? Well sure, until I remember that I am also the mother who forgot to pay for the end of year movie day at school last year, leaving my daughter as the only kid who didn’t get to go. And let’s not forget the countless speeches/mini projects/homework tasks that I have had the best intentions for, but never quite found the time for. I’m clearly not effortlessly combining work and parenting when I forget to tell someone to take my kid to soccer training, either.

That’s not the only area where my win becomes a loss. Volunteer to coach my son’s soccer team? Win! Realise that this means that I will never be there to watch my daughter play in her team? Lose.

pirate cakes
This is as technical as my decorating skills get. And they STILL needed a close up filtered photo. Tasted damn fine, though.

I even fail at the things I thought I would be good at. I can bake a mean cupcake, and my buttercream is to die for, but my decorating skills leave a lot to be desired. There was that time I threw two full cakes in the bin after a decorating fail, and ended up at Woolies buying sponge cakes and Betty Crocker frosting as they were closing the doors at midnight. Or the time I had grand plans for a multi tiered rainbow cake, but ended up with a cream cheese frosted rainbow landslide, and hands that were dyed purple for a week. It took an awful lot of close up photography and filtering to make that monstrosity social media worthy, let me tell you.

CAKE FAIL
The great cake fail of 2012. Bake a dolly varden, they said. It’s easy, they said. Two cakes in the bin later, I’m at Woolies as the light go off, buying marked down sponge cakes and Betty Crocker icing. The icing literally slid off the cake. Slid. Off.

I make sure that my kids are surrounded by heaps of great friends, to make up for the lack of geographically convenient cousins in their lives. Kid socialising win! But then, I drink far too much beer with said friend’s parents – which I feel is also a win, but society (and holier than thou parenting types) kinda tells me is a fail.

IRRESPONSIBLE
Girl’s weekend away fridge. The cheese is a protein, dammit. Balanced as fuck.

See, no matter how hard I try, I can’t compete. I’m just not that kind of mother. I’m the kind of mother who remembers that they forgot to buy bread at midnight, and ends up breaking into the money box to pay for lunch orders. The kind of mum who lets my kids clean their own rooms, to their own standards, because I can’t actually be fucked doing it myself, yet again, only for them to destroy them, yet again. I’m messy. I’m loud. I let them watch “scary” superhero movies. I swear. I’d prefer to read a book than clean a kitchen.

I let my kids dress themselves most of the time, too. Which means my daughter is usually  a mismatched rainbow of layers, and my eldest son generally wears shorts long after the rest of society has deemed it cool enough for jeans. My youngest son is pretty well permanently dressed as a pirate. I feel that my kids are a win for self expression and individuality, but judging by the looks I receive regularly at the local shops, they are perhaps a fail when it comes to high society. Considering my husband still wears the cargo shorts he bought before my eight year old was born, and I frequently attire myself like a teenager from the ’90s, I guess that the fail is a family bonding activity. Which pretty much makes it a win.

messy kids
Pirate. Long sleeves, mismatched shorts. Miracle that is my daughter in coordinated outfit.

See it’s pointless, really, me even entering the competition in the first place. I wasn’t actually aware that I had entered, but somewhere along the way I found that it had grown around me. And I am so far from being perfect, that I can’t see how such a competition will ever benefit me at all. Worrying so much about what others think of my parenting, caring about whether or not my children/cakes/house/drinking habits are social media appropriate, it’s too much stress for me. So I’m out.

And I couldn’t be happier about it. Happy Mother’s Day, peeps.

Below Average.

BELOW AVERAGE

Academically, I was an irritatingly capable primary school student. I was quick to read, quick to write, and by all accounts the kind of kid who just ‘got’ it. I remember being the kid who was allowed to use a ‘proper’ lined exercise book for my stories, long before the other kids in my class. I was reading books that were far too mature for my age, because the age appropriate books were far too juvenile in their complexity for me. Everybody knows ‘that’ kid.

I won the academic award for my class every year. I was picked for extension classes, ‘talented problem solver’ camps, opportunity classes, selective high schools. I was in the top band for every standardised test I was ever required to sit. I may have been extraordinarily lazy about studying, however classroom learning came pretty easily to me. It still does, actually.

Socially, I was a bit shit. Actually, socially I was a lot shit. I struggled to make friends, struggled to keep friends, struggled to relate to my peers. I remember being five years old, and sitting outside the canteen, alone on a bench because nobody would play with me. A first grade student took pity on me, and played with me every so often at recess and lunch (thanks, Brooke!). Unlike the academics, the social aspects of school did not come easily to me.

It was pretty well universally assumed that my first born would be exactly like me. She was quick to talk, an early walker. She asked the most amazing and interesting questions, had a fantastic imagination. To this day, the things that kid comes up with blows my mind. And, unlike her old mum, she possessed an amazing ability to adapt socially, make friends, relate to other kids. I was excited for her when she started school.

The first few weeks were golden. The kid loved school. She made friends, firm ones, the friends that people who have friends keep with them for the duration. She was the well behaved kid, the sweet kid. The kid who put her hand up to help the teachers. The one who chased them down and said goodbye to them as she left the playground.

And then, the home readers came home. And the sight words. The basic maths. The public speaking tasks. She struggled with all of it. Really struggled. And I came down to earth, smashing full force into the realisation that my poor kid was finding it really hard.

Our first parent-teacher interview was horrendous. She was struggling. She was not meeting the mandated milestones. She was not fitting the mould. Words like ‘dyslexia’, ‘learning support’, and ‘assessed’ were spoken, as potential issues with my little girl. I was 8 months pregnant, and I barely held it together. I sat in my car after the interview, and cried. My heart was broken.

It was my fault, I was sure of it. I didn’t read her enough books. I didn’t spend enough time working on her writing. I worked too much. I missed the signs. I had failed my kid, my amazing, unique, precious little girl. I was a shit mum.

Every interaction with the school became an emotional ordeal. I booked frequent meetings with the teachers, to check up on her progress. And every time, when I was met with depressing news and disappointed eyes, I went to my car and cried. I quickly learned to dread the things I had previously looked forward to with excitement – report cards, reading challenges, public speaking competitions. No longer were they exciting experiences for my daughter to take part in. They became, in my mind, more things that my poor kid would struggle with. More quiet conversations about benchmarks and milestones.

We worked hard with my daughter, my husband and I. I created ‘sight word’ games, a whole box of them, and played them with her at every opportunity. We took home extra home readers, and read every single one of those dreadfully boring books a thousand times. I bought every additional resource I could think of. My husband created a sight word app for her tablet. I consulted developmental professionals, both formally and informally. Slowly, she progressed. I made a big deal of every progression, every improvement. Every new level was celebrated.

By second grade, it all seemed to start coming together. She was below average, sure, but only just. And, more importantly, she was progressing at a reasonable speed. Finally, things started to become a tiny bit easier. She was still the kid who struggled, sure. But the struggle was less concerning. The labeling of my daughter as a potential academic catastrophe ceased.

The stress continues for me, however. She’s in third grade this year. Naplan year. A standardised test, not for the benefit of the student. A test for the benefit of the government. In a world that is increasingly turning away from standardised testing as an accurate depiction of a child’s performance, subjecting a kid who has barely left the negative academic labels behind to a standardised test seems cruel to me. I don’t want her to do it. I already know what the results will be – below par. An inaccurate description of my dynamic, crazy, fun, little person. A standardised lie, impersonally printed on a crappy piece of paper.

There are other things, too. When your kid is average, or worse, below average, it is depressingly rare for a school to celebrate their achievements. There is no award at presentation day for ‘Consistently Not Quite Good Enough’. And, while she does try very hard, and is actually far more diligent with school work than I had ever been, she is still not progressing fast enough and impressively enough for even that to be recognised. Merit certificates for having a cheerful disposition only exist in Kindergarten. It really hurts when your kid asks you why she never gets awards. At eight years old, my daughter is already starting to believe the lies – that she is not smart or capable enough.

The fact that she is apparently below average, but not below enough for it to be a diagnosed problem concerns me constantly. They don’t offer much in the way of official support and resources to kids who are struggling, unless they are struggling with a firm diagnosis, it appears. There is a real risk that my little girl, who is interesting and spunky and opinionated, might be that kid who gets left behind. Slipping right through those cracks. Forgotten. Something I believe no child deserves, not mine, yours, or anyone else’s.

Intellectually, I know that my daughter will find her groove. She is incredibly creative, caring, well adjusted. She already speaks of a career in nursing, which makes her self awareness clear – she has the makings of a fantastic nurse. Emotionally, it is harder, because my heart is the heart of a mother. I want her every achievement noticed, recognised, rewarded. I want her abilities acknowledged. Knowing that they are not, and are unlikely to be for a very long time, feels like physical pain to me. It really, really hurts.

I have learned through this, that for the time being, celebrating and rewarding my child for her achievements will fall completely on me. I will stand by her side, her biggest fan. I will be proud of her, every single time she wins, no matter how small a win it is. I know this child better than any teacher, school, or doctor, ever will. That she fits no mould, I have no doubt. That she is capable of amazing things, I have every certainty.

One day she will be grown. She will be employed, successful, and fulfilled. The labels and struggles will be a memory. The inaccurate status of below average forgotten. One day, the world will know, that my daughter is extraordinary.

I will still be her biggest supporter.

Jeggings are the mum pants of the 21st century, and I am totally OK with that.

JEGGING POST
I look pretty much exactly like this when I wear jeggings. This virtually is me.

I was shopping with my daughter when it happened.

She had just been discharged from hospital, after a particularly nasty accident that involved a schoolyard game of tip, a very large door, and a finger caught in a hinge. She was feeling pretty battered and sorry for her little self, so I thought a trip to the “really cool shopping centre” (AKA Westfield Miranda) to spend her birthday money was just the ticket.

After a rousing hour long bear creation session at Build A Bear, I dragged Phoebe to Target. “We can look at Shopkins!” I suggested with enthusiasm. But she knew, as well as I did, that we were going to Target for one thing, and one thing only: jeggings.

I believe that Target jeggings are the superior jegging. I am tall with long legs, and they are the only jeggings I have found at a reasonable price that do not look ridiculously short on me. They have a kind and forgiving waistband that neither digs in, nor roles down. They are stretchy, but not so stretchy that they lose their shape. In my mind, Target jeggings are what all pants should be. And for $20 a pop, you can’t go wrong*. These jeggings are the poo.

So there I was, in front of a pile of stretchy denimy goodness, trying to decide whether I needed black jeggings, dark blue jeggings, or all the jeggings, when a group of younger women wandered towards me. They reminded me of me ten years ago (OK, fifteen years ago, shuddup already), meandering through the shops for pleasure, no urgency, no bored eight year old complaining that they wanted to look at Shopkins. They were shopping for leisure.

“Oh, look, jeans! Twenty bucks!” the first one commented.

They perused, and another girl picked a pair up, observing them critically.

“Nah,” she said, “they’re jeggings.” She looked pointedly at me. “Jeggings are, like, the mum jeans of the twenty-first century.”

The three giggled, and looked at me, battered child in tow, makeup free, wearing whatever the fuck I could find that fit the brief of fitting and being clean simultaneously. I may or may not have brushed my hair that day, I don’t know. And then they walked away, leaving me, my kid, and a pile of apparent mum jeans behind. They didn’t look back, and I doubt they gave us a second thought.

I didn’t know whether it was offensive or not. Are mum jeans offensive? Is being a mum and wearing jeans a bad thing? Is being a mum, and wearing amazing, comfortable, stretchy denim pants, that happen to look decent and actually make me feel good about myself a bad thing?

I decided, resolutely, that the answer is no. If jeggings are the mum jeans of the twenty-first century, sign me up and stuff me in. I am a proud wearer of mum jeans. Mum jeans are amazing. For so many reasons.

Jeggings are great for controlling the mum tum. When you have had that particular area of your body stretched to the extreme on several occasions, it stands to reason that it isn’t going to go back to it’s original flat state. A good pair of high waisted jeggings, with their amazing flab holding capabilities, have the ability to flatten that particular area to the point where it at least vaguely resembles the stomach of your early 20s. If you squint and look from an angle.

Jeggings offer a presentable alternative to proper pants. If I could rock my tracksuit pants and running tights every day, I probably would. Unfortunately, there are occasions in my life where dressing like my only clothing requirement is “don’t be naked” is not an option. My office dress code is ‘office casual’. Jeggings and whatever clean work top I happen to find, with boots or ballet flats, are a no-fuss, zero thought solution. Solution, people!

Ain’t nobody got time for buttons. Or zippers, for that matter. I have, on average, 2 minutes and 27 seconds to get ready in the morning. If I am lucky, I manage to have a shower. There is certainly no time for things like flamboyant hairdo’s, excessive makeup, and fiddly fashion items. Pants that I can literally pull on in one single move are the kind of pants that I need. Half the time, the general public is lucky I had time to put pants on at all. 

Comfort is a consideration when your fashion is functional. I have long abandoned the notion of fashion as pain. Uncomfortable pants, much like stiletto heels and anything with the word ‘bodycon’ in the title, have no place in my wardrobe. If I have to wear it, I damn well want to be comfortable in it. I don’t need waist bands that dig, denim as stiff as cardboard, or pants that require me to perform a ritualistic ‘tight jeans’ dance every time I put them on. I want to be able to bend, dammit. My jeans need to be ready, at a moment’s notice, to take part in a chase across a playground for a runaway toddler. They will have paint, vomit, and assorted food items spilled on them. They will be used as a convenient thigh high tissue for a sobbing toddler.

I recently conducted a focus group**, and discovered that not everyone shares the sentiment of the Target girls. My focus group was enthusiastic in their appreciation of jeggings. It appears that comfort and efficient fashion time management appeals to people from all walks of life. Who would have thunk it?

JEGGINGS AGAIN
Please enjoy this extremely poor photo (both in quality and composure) of me enjoying my Target jeggings. See the joy on my face? It has nothing to do with the pink dildo between my boobs, I promise you.

*This is not a paid or sponsored post. I have no affiliations with Target at all. However, if anyone out there happens to work at Target, and would like to send me a box of amazing jeggings, I won’t complain. Could you chuck in a nice jacket and some new undies, too? Cheers.

**The two people who have sat in the chair next to me while I have been writing this post.

The Eff Word

eff-word

Phoebe: Mum, Daniel told me that he’s going to call me the eff word!

Me: [sigh] Dan, it’s not nice to call your sister the eff word.

Dan: But, mum, Phoebe called me lots of eff words!

Jared: Eff word! Eff word! I want to sing the Gay Pirates song!

Me: Dan, what do you mean Phoebe has called you lots of eff words? How many eff words are there?

Phoebe: I would never call Daniel the eff word. I would never call anyone the eff word.

Dan: [frustration increasing rapidly] But you did call me eff words. It’s not fair! I hate this day.

Me: Dan, what do you think the eff word is?

Jared: Gay Pirates! Mum, sing me Gay Pirates!

Me: [loading Gay Pirates by Cosmo Jarvis on YouTube, handing phone to Jared] Dan, seriously. What do you think the eff word is?

Dan: [bordering on sulky tantrum] …..you know them.

Me: Yeah I do, but this time I want you to tell me, so I understand what you think the eff word is.

Dan: [staring reflectively (ok, blankly)] Ummmmmmm….. I want to hear Shut Up and Dance after Jared’s turn.

Me: Daniel! For crying out loud, what is the eff word? Stop stalling!

Dan: I’ll tell you if you let me play music on your phone. I want Shut Up and Dance. And that other song you know I like.

Me: Dan, I’ll let you play whatever song you like, just say the eff word!

Dan: [thinking for a while] OK. The eff word is………

Phoebe: You’re going to let him say the eff word? That’s not fair!

Me: Phoebe [warning glance] just chill. Dan, say the eff word.

Dan: OK. The eff words are…….. Fart [giggles]. Fanny [giggles more]. Fluff. Farty-fluff-fanny [hysterical laughter].

This conversation is pretty much my life at the moment. I’m impressed though, that Daniel doesn’t know the real ‘F’ word. Especially with me as a parent.

dan
Obligatory photo for cheeky cuteness factor

A letter to my son, who is definitely a big kid now.

a-letter-to-my-son

Dear Dan The Man (Best Boy),

It’s Sunday morning, your last Sunday as a preschooler. On Tuesday, you have your teacher interview, and on Wednesday, you begin your journey as a bonafide big kid.

I’m going to be honest, Dan. This letter is more for me than it is for you. Because there is so many things I want to say to you, but you are only five years old, and it’s your job to enjoy childhood. It is not your job to humour your old mum, or understand the complexities of the emotions that I feel.

dan-the-man2
When did you get so big?

I’m so excited for you, Dan. You are so ready for this adventure. The past few months, you have become increasingly bored. Restless. Your need for more is evident. You are full of questions, so many questions: why is night time so dark? What does that word mean? Where do dolphins go when they want to sleep? What animal lived in that shell? You long to learn, without even realising it.

I’m scared for you, too. You have your father’s stubborn determination, combined with my fierceness – a combination that leaves you naturally competitive, but prone to rage. It worries me, that this is all some people will see, when they see you. A ball of energy and frustration, which explodes, from time to time, with a force volcanic.

There is more to you, Dan. So much more.

From your father, you also inherited unyielding devotion. From me, the fierceness that fuels our anger is equaled by the fierceness that fuels our love. You are the little boy who waits for me at the end of a race up the driveway, to make sure I don’t have to come last. The boy who stood in front of a group of bullies at least twice your age, defending your sister after they had reduced her to tears. The boy who, after a particularly gigantic meltdown, will come to me in tears, so painfully full of regret for your actions that my heart breaks.

dan-the-man3
Such a joker. my Dan the man. It’s hard to get a serious photo of this kid.

Your naturally generous nature is one of my favourite things about you, Dan. When I take you for a “special day”, you always want to know: will I make sure Phoebe has a day with me, too? After your last birthday party, you divided your gifts, so that your sister and brother would not feel left out. You regularly give up the space in your bed, for your little brother’s night terrors, and your older sister’s fear of the dark.

You are funny, too, my Dan the Man. When I see you with your friends, you are the one hamming it up, telling the jokes, creating the fun. You know how to laugh at yourself. Perhaps you will be the class clown, and that’s OK with me – some of my favourite kids were the clowns, they grow up to be the best people.

I’m excited for you Dan, however I am going to miss you. I’ll miss our conversations, our lunch time cuddles. I’ll miss you when you are not holding my hand in the shops, when you are not running down the hallway with your brother, when you are no longer racing through the kids in creche to jump into my arms when I come back from the gym. Part of me wishes that time could stand still, and you could always be my little boy, cheeks flushed with enthusiasm, hair a mess from a life lived at full speed. But I know that you need to grow, and I need to accept it. Even when I don’t want to.

dan-the-man4
These walks home from dropping your sister at school, Jared on my back, and you holding my hand and telling me stories? I’ll miss them.

I will try my hardest not to cry on Wednesday, Dan. It’s such a mixed bag of crazy emotions, this parenting game. When I see you on Wednesday, your skinny legs and knobbly knees, your brand new school shirt two sizes too big (it’s really hard to find uniforms for a lanky kid like you), I know my heart will simultaneously sing and break. If you cry, I will probably cry too, and that’s OK.

I love you so much, mate. I love you so much, that last night I lay awake, desperately wanting to crawl into your bed and hold you tight. As your big, big day looms closer, I find myself hugging you harder, holding you longer. As I hold your hand, I try desperately to keep it there, safely in my own, because as much as I know you have to grow up, a big part of me is not ready to let go of you just yet. Tonight, I might let you crawl into my bed, and sleep in my arms, for just a little while, as you did when you were a little tyke.

dan-the-man-6
Cheeky, even as a baby.

I’m so proud of who you are, and who you are becoming, Dan. You and your big heart deserve all the good things. I can’t wait to see you achieve them.

Loads of love and tickle-kisses,

Your mum.

Your protector.

Your biggest fan.

Supportering The Sports

supportering
Nice balls!

This year, I’m coming out of the closet. This is hard for me to admit, so I’m sitting down, and I hope you are, too:

I like watching ‘The Sports’. The thrill of potential victory. The roar of the crowds. The friendly competitive banter. The wearing of ill-fitting supporter clothing. The joy when your team of choice does something good, the bitter taste of defeat. The entire experience is, frankly, exhilarating.

I’ve always been a “joiner”. I love being part of a team. And the beauty of being a part of the team that supports the team, is that it requires no special skills. Anyone can do it. And, they can do it with beer. Perfect.

My love of the sports was rekindled by my daughter’s enthusiasm. It started with the NRL, her grandfather’s viewing sport of choice. Then, the AFL, thanks to the generosity of the GWS Giants (free tickets are always welcome with a family of five). Finally, the A League, which makes sense really, us being a family of tragic soccer players. The kid loves nothing more than donning the colours of her team of choice, and joining the hordes for a rousing day of supporting. It’s pretty cute, and as the most enthusiastic adult sports supporter in the household, it was only natural that I would be the one to share the journey with her.

phoebe-sports-2
This kid loves the sports. She really does.

There is so much to enjoy about the sports. When a bunch of random people decide to unite to watch another bunch of people do things with balls, there is potential for real magic to happen.

And most of the time, it does. There was the time a supporter from the opposing side took the time to stop and comfort my daughter when she was overwhelmed by the screaming crowd at a local derby, for example. Or the time the man in front of my family turned and complimented me for teaching my children not to ‘boo’ the opposition. Or the lady who sat down and carefully explained the rules to us at an NRL game – I kinda knew them already, but her efforts were much appreciated.

Sometimes though, magic doesn’t happen. Because, sometimes, people are arseholes.

Take, for example, the time we took advantage of a family ticket, to watch the St George Dragons take on the Cronulla Sharks in the NRL. My daughter actually likes both teams, however the Dragons are her number one, and she was pretty excited to go to such a hyped up game.

A few minutes before the end of the game, long after it became apparent that the mighty Dragons were not going to emerge triumphant, we decided to beat the crowds and leave a little early. As I struggled, with three kids, a pram, and everything else that goes with children in public, a very drunk man dressed from head to toe in Sharks supporter gear staggered towards us. As the sea of blue laughed and jeered at a family of Dragons supporters leaving the ground early, this man leaned down, stared my seven year old daughter in the face, and screamed “Fuck the DRAGONS!!!!”

Fuck the Dragons. In a little girl’s face.His actions didn’t go down particularly well with the majority of the crowd, who responded by quickly dragging him away. I am the kind of person who sees red when you hurt someone I love, so I briefly considered hunting the prick down, and repeatedly punching him in the dick until he begged for mercy, however sanity prevailed and I decided to care for my devastated small person instead. She was OK in the end, thanks to some very kind supporters from both teams, who befriended her on the bus ride back to the station, however the incident will forever remain in my memory as the worst supportering moment I have ever encountered.

There was the time a guy in a beer line told me that “he would never root me”, because I supported the wrong team. This was our only interaction while in the line. To my knowledge, I had not done anything to give him the impression that I wanted to root him- I was just there, doing my “waiting to buy overpriced VB in plastic cups” thing. And the time that the lady in the seat next to me loudly told whoever she was chatting on the phone to that she hated it when she had to sit next to someone from the “other side”, giving me a pointed filthy so that I understood that I was the other sider she was referring to. And of course, there is the booing.

me-supportering
Just doing my thang, going for the wrong team. Completely unrootable, totally OK with it.

The booing of Adam Goodes at AFL games. The booing of referees who are doing their job. The booing of opposition’s coaches. At the most recent Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers local derby, the booing of the Wanderers goalkeeper – a recent transfer from Sydney FC, his defection appeared to be mortally offensive to the majority of the sky blue supporters. The booing in general, honestly.

Don’t get me wrong, the positive experiences and interactions my kids have had at the sports far outweigh the negative. The majority of supporters are pretty awesome people, who smile at cute kids in supporter gear, and go out of their way to be inclusive and welcoming, regardless of team alliances. Unfortunately it is often those few negative experiences that stay in your mind. The few bad eggs that ruin the sports for everyone else.

As a parent of children who play sport, and a person who plays sport herself, I spend a lot of time teaching my kids to be good sports. To win with pride, and lose with pride. I praise and reward their good sportsmanship. I encourage them to respect the opposition. To thank the referees for doing their job. I remind them regularly that it is OK to lose. Because they will lose, plenty of times, so I want them to be the kind of resilient people who are OK with it.

phoebe-sports
She won this award for trying her hardest, and playing a fair game. She’s a good sport. I plan to keep her that way.

When random strangers abuse my kid for supporting the wrong team, or boo us as we leave because the colours on our clothing indicate that we supported the team that lost, it makes my job of teaching my kids these things that little bit harder. You show them that losing a game of ball sports is something to be ashamed of. You show that that winning is more important than behaving. You show them that the other team are a pack of arseholes. Three things that are not true.

So, don’t be a dick. Don’t be the person who boos. Don’t be the drunk fuck knuckle that harasses small children and terrifies families. You can celebrate your team without denigrating the opposition. In my experience, it’s more fun for everyone that way.

Dear childless person who made a snarky comment about the “special privileges” I receive…..

open-letter

You are not the first person who has made comments about how easy I have it, being a working mum with three little kids. I dare say you won’t be the last. I’m not sure what led to your bitterness and jealousy towards “my situation”. I sincerely hope that it was not due to your own personal heartbreak, I hope that not having children was a choice for you, not an unwelcome situation forced upon you. Since you were so concerned with my life, however, I’m going to take the time to clear a few things up about life with a crazy job, and a bunch of crazier kids.

I don’t receive a whole bunch of financial “benefits”. I get the impression they were the kind of benefits you were referring to. There are plenty of parents who might do. Parents who need financial assistance, because supporting a family is financially draining. For the record, the only benefit I get is the child care rebate, which is not means tested. I appreciate it greatly, as without it working would not be as beneficial to my family.

I get that maternity leave might seem like a holiday for you. It did for me too, until I actually took ten months off work to be the primary carer for my first screaming small person. She suffered from silent reflux, like many little babies do, so she screamed from sunup to sundown. She also screamed periodically from sundown to sunup, and that kid was loud. If your ideal extended holiday is one where you don’t sleep, don’t shower, and rarely eat properly, well then yes, maternity leave was a brilliant holiday. Personally, I count a holiday as a period of time where I don’t spend the first six weeks bleeding from my vagina, the next six months lathering my nipples in Nilstat (ductal thrush is fucking painful), and the first year in a complete state of anxious panic about everything. Give me poolside cocktails, any day.

phoebe-newborn
Her beauty was undeniable, but all she did was scream.

Yes, I can understand why the ‘family friendly’ shifts I work may irk you. Unfortunately, it is close to impossible to find adequate child care for three children to cover a 24/7 rotating roster. The only way I could facilitate it at this time would be to put all three of my children into extended care for five days a week, which would cost me a  minimum of $42000 a year. After the rebate. I am sure you can understand why I don’t want to do this. Not only would the cost be ridiculous, given that I only work three days a week, it would feel pretty pointless. I actually like my kids, so I want to spend time with them. I don’t want them to go to childcare all the time, if they don’t have to.

I don’t think you would want my shifts, anyway. Who would actually want to work every single Friday night, in the history of Friday nights? While they might be reasonably ‘family friendly’, they are hardly social life friendly. What little social life I had is long gone. I’ve turned into one of those people who is overly friendly to supermarket staff, such is my desire for social connection. Believe me, it might seem cruisy from where you are standing, but it’s downright depressing from my perspective.

I’m not going to lie, I feel a little jealous when I see people like you, in clothes that are clean, from a boutique store, fashionably relevant. I can’t shop in fashionable stores anymore, because everything is high-waisted pants and crop tops, which do nothing for my squishy belly and saggy bosom. Women with manicured fingers, salon perfect hair, a full face of makeup. People who had longer than 12.5 seconds to spend on their own appearance in the last 24 hours. I bet you had two showers today! I bet you didn’t eat cold toast and a brown banana for breakfast! I don’t even like bananas, for crying out loud.

young-and-free
I was young and free once. Boobs perky. I even had time to find costumes for costume parties (the theme was ‘B’, I’m a big-boobed-bimbo)

I remember what it was like to go to work before kids. I would carefully prepare my food for the shift, take a shower, sift through my wardrobe for the most appealing outfit. I would catch up on a little TV, watch a movie, go for a run. When the time came, I would just……. leave. It was so simple.

This afternoon, after taking my kids to their swimming lessons, I came home, and threw an assortment of random leftovers together to take to eat. I threatened three kids with a month long electronic devices ban, if they didn’t tidy up the toy room. I signed a couple of notes, and chucked a long overdue load of washing in the washing machine. I scraped cornflakes off the floor under the dining table. I stacked the dishwasher. I sniffed the armpits of a cardigan, and deemed it appropriate for wearing, despite the fact I found it at the bottom of my clothes hamper. I ate a tin of salmon and some rice crackers while standing in the kitchen, foods chosen as they required minimum prep and utensils.

Fifteen minutes before I really had to leave, I started to leave. I calmed my seven year old, who was beside herself, because she is suddenly terrified of people she loves dying. I settled my five year old, who like clockwork decided that this very moment was the time to throw a tantrum about nothing in particular. And then I dealt with my two year old, who watched me put my work bag on my back, and threw himself at my legs, sobbing, screaming “No go to work, mummy! No go!” They all then followed me out and watched me leave, my seven year old riding her bike down the footpath, tears streaming down her face, following me until I left the street. Leaving for work is emotional. I feel guilty every time I do it, and I am anxious for hours in the lead up.

upside-down-p
This is as exciting as my social life gets these days. Also, this is how my seven year old watches TV.

 

I don’t want you to think that I hate it, I really don’t. I don’t want you to think I regret it, my quirky little family is amazing, I couldn’t imagine my life without them. And, while I am sometimes jealous of your life, your child-free, go drinking on a Tuesday because why the hell not, life, mine is OK too. Sometimes the grass seems greener on your side of the fence, sure. I get the feeling that you feel like that about my life on occasion, too.

I understand why it might feel unfair at times, when you see people like me getting treated differently because they have kids. I get why you might feel bitter that “your taxes are paying for my children”. So I would like to remind you of a couple of things:

My taxes are paying for my children, too.

When you are old, and grey, and senile, and your poo smells like dead animals, one of my kids might be the the person who has to wipe your arse.

Have a nice day!

Sincerely,

Person who you apparently resent, because she happens to have children.