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

a-letter-to-my-son

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
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

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.

Fuck you, Mummy Wars!

mummy-war

mummy-war

I’ve posted before about my feelings about the “Mummy Wars”- basically, I think they’re shite. For some reason, at a time when we should be building each other up, the media seems hell bent on pitting us against each other. And it clearly works, given the amount of nasty and snarky comments I read from hot-headed keyboard warriors in the aftermath.

This week, the social medias were awash with mummy war inducing tripe. Awash. From stay at home mums vs. working mums, to breast is best, and how and where we should be letting our children sleep, the mummy ‘news’ pages did their best to ensure that every mother felt guilty this week. It’s a pretty impressive feat, when you think about it. These pages work so damn hard to make us feel like shithouse parents, and generate so many nasty, unmoderated, mean spirited comments, yet we keep going back for more.

I got caught up in it the other day. I commented in a discussion on a bit of click baity garbage. Soon after someone else commented, and unintentionally (I assume) tore me apart. I don’t even think they had seen what I had written, but their comment essentially labelled me as something that I definitely am not. And it hurt. My feelings were hurt. It was most unpleasant.

I vented to my husband, who looked at me like I had grown an additional head. “Why are you getting upset about throw-away comments from people on the internet?” As much as I hate to admit it, he was right. So I made a decision.

I’m boycotting the Mummy Wars.

Clicky baity news sites, you can keep your ridiculous, shame inducing, nasty comment causing, bullshit. I’m not going to click on your bait. I’m fucking done with it. I don’t wish to read your passive aggressive articles, which are obviously written to ruffle feathers and generate toxicity. “It’s not toxicity, it’s conversation” , you say, but that’s not true. It’s just an outlet for people to bully, hurt, and offend other people. Mums ragging on other mums.

At the end of the day, I don’t care if you want to stay at home with your kids. I don’t care if you choose to work, or have to work, or want to work. If you eat your placenta, lotus your birth, breastfeed your kids until they are in primary school. Feed them organics, feed them fish fingers and frozen peas. It’s OK with me.

Unless it is clear to me that you are physically or emotionally harming your kids, it is not my place to be involved. It’s really not the click bait brigade’s place, either. So, as long as they keep posting shame inducing tripe, I’ll keep boycotting.

Mummy wars are ridiculous wars. While we are wasting our time, bickering over meaningless shit, and belittling complete strangers for simply having a different parenting style to our own, actual bad shit is still happening. Sixty women have lost their lives, this year alone,  through acts of violence. Asylum seekers, including women and children, are stuck in island purgatory. These are the issues that we should be outraged about on the internet. Not whether or not another parent feeds their kid toddler formula.

Feel free to stand with me and proudly declare: Fuck you, Mummy Wars! Fuck you, and goodbye! Farewell, and don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out! Be gone!

Or don’t. Seriously. I don’t really care.

mummy-wars
From me to you, Mummy Wars.

 

Baby-free zone

baby-free

baby-free

Yesterday, I took my middle child to his first kindergarten orientation day. Surrounded by crying and unsure kids, my newly minted five year old walked proudly into the class, fearless and unphased, with barely a look in my direction as farewell. I realised in that moment, that my little boy was gone. Dan the Man is a big kid now.

dan-the-man
Bona fide big kid, right there

I had a similar moment with my youngest, the day before. After sharing a hilarious anecdote about JJ on Facey (they’re always hilarious when you are the parent), I posted a photo of him that related to the anecdote. Suddenly, when I looked at his shaggy hair, his little face, and his long legs that hint of lankiness to come, I realised that I was no longer looking at a baby. My littlest baby is my littlest boy.

I don’t have a baby anymore. Not one.

My seven year old daughter is “like, totally over Frozen”, my five year can count to 100, my two year old is speaking in ‘understandable’ sentences. Not a single baby between them. My days of bottles, high chairs, change tables, and teething toys are over.

It’s fucking fantastic.

I hear so many mothers lament their baby raising days. I know women who hold the babies of others, and tear up with the realisation that their time with tiny scrunched up faces, and yellow, curdy milk poo are over. I am not these women. When I am handed the teeny, wiggly bundles that friends have birthed, I am overcome with relief that I get to hand them back and sleep through the night. As cute as they are, little babies are not my thang these days.

jj-long-legs
The long legs that gave the game away. Asleep, yet still clutching his beloved ‘happle’

I was at a birthday party recently, with the parents of a bunch of kids that Dan is going to school with. We were discussing the approaching orientation day, and it was generally agreed upon that the appropriate reaction to such an event was sadness, wistfulness, and possibly, tears. I couldn’t help but chime in.

“I’ll be so excited that Dan is going to school, I’ll probably stand at the gates and high five the parents.”

Everyone laughed, ha ha, that Rissa, she’s such a card. And I guess I am, but the thing is, it was true. I am not sad in the slightest to watch my middle child growing up. This orientation thing, this kindergarten student 2017 thing, is something I plan to celebrate.

I love watching them grow. Sometimes, I feel like I am watching a movie, at the edge of my seat: what will happen next? Where will they go? Who are they going to become? I love hearing my daughter’s almost-tween conversations with her friends. I adore listening to Dan practicing counting to 100, just because his friend knows how to. I delight in seeing JJ walk up to a group of little kids, “I play game too?”

pp-flex
My first baby, now a bendy, speedy, dreamer of a kid. She’s going to be Prime Minister one day. Watch out, world!

They are growing up, and it means so many things. It means that they will get to try so many new things. It means that they will learn that they are not so good at touch football, however they are fantastic at turning cartwheels and navigating monkey bars. They will learn to win games, and races, and competitions, and they will learn to lose a few along the way, too. They will learn how to navigate conflict, the value of a true friend, the value of being a true friend. They will break rules, bend rules, and new rules will be created just for them.

It means some pretty awesome things for me, too. Perhaps many will find it selfish, but it means freedom. Freedom from being a little person’s slave. After three kids in five years, they are growing up, and it means I get to remember who I am. Not Rissa-Phoebe’s-mum. Nor Rissa-Dan’s-mum. Just Rissa.

One day in the near future, I might be able to get an eyebrow wax without a captive audience. I may even manage to find the time to get a pap smear, without it requiring far too much coordination, and far too many babysitting favours used, for me to bother. I might apply for jobs that I have put off looking at. I might have time to turn some of my ambitious dreams into actual realities. I might get to actually read a book that doesn’t have pictures or large print.

Lately, the husband and I have been talking about flying to an exotic location for our 10th wedding anniversary. It’s 18 months off, and it’s starting to feel like it might just be achievable. A week, just him and I. A whole week of grown up activities with grown up people. It sounds so amazing, I can barely even bring myself to dream about it.

It seems unpopular, my excitement. It feels like people expect me to be sad that my babies are no longer little bundles of joy. But dammit, I just can’t pretend that I am. Maybe it’s just my weirds hanging out again, as they have a habit of doing so frequently. I think that maybe more people feel this way than I think, it just happens that I feel it louder.

Life is for living. I don’t want to yearn for the past, not just yet. And I don’t want to wish my children were something they no longer are, either. Excitement is infectious, and I want my children to feel it for their own futures. This wild life ride would be boring without it.

The “Me Time” Problem

me-time-header

me-time-header

Recently, I have noticed a number of articles imploring women to slow down. Take “me time”. Sit back, and smell the roses. It appears that, now that we have told everyone that women can “have it all”, we have discovered that having it all is exhausting.

While I understand that the authors of these articles are well-meaning, and their advice to slow down is somewhat sensible, I can’t help but feel harassed by their message. It feels like yet another thing to put on my ‘to-do’ list. Another reason to feel guilty as a parent. Another thing to fail.

“Me time” is great, if you are in a position where you are privileged enough to have the means to facilitate it. I’m not going to lie about this, I do have that privilege, to some degree. My family is well supported, so I am able to have the odd night out while my kids are taken care of. My income is high enough that I can afford a reasonably pricey gym membership, and the associated costs of the creche that the gym provides. But I know that I am exceptionally lucky in my circumstances.

Even with the privilege of adequate child care, and a supportive family, “me time” is not easy to facilitate. To earn the kind of income required to support a family of five in a city like Sydney, my husband and I both work full-time. I’m a shift worker, which complicates the situation even further, as I am often working through the night, and over the weekends. Our time together as a family is often restricted as a result. My kids have birthday parties to attend, sporting commitments, doctors appointments, swimming lessons. We are busy.

And we are not alone in being busy. Everywhere I go, I meet another parent, rushing multiple kids to multiple locations, eating pasta out of plastic containers in cars, counting a large skim latte and a protein bar as lunch. In a city like Sydney, families with two working parents are the norm. I know parents who are both working two jobs, while still rushing their kids to gymnastics, tutoring, and little athletics.

“Me time” costs money. Even putting my kids in the creche at my gym a few times a week costs me a minimum of $32 a week. An amount that I can work into my own budget quite comfortably, however it would not be manageable for many families. Other options are even more expensive – occasional care in my area costs $10 per hour, per child – which can quickly add up to more money than many families can afford to part with.

Even free “me time” has a cost. My family often comes to my rescue while I work, or when I have to attend appointments. However, my parents, in-laws, and sibling have their own lives too. I want them to enjoy spending time with my kids. I don’t want them to feel burdened by my children. I am lucky, to have their support. Many families have little support, some none at all.

So what do we do? How do we deal with the lack of me time?

From conversations I have, and people I know, we take what we can get, and make the most of it. For me, that means eating my lunch (or dinner) at my desk, so I can wander the city and pretend to have a life on my meal break at work. It’s not how I would spend my time if I had a choice, but it’s better than nothing. Sometimes, when it’s warm, I spend my break reading a trashy magazine in a park. I take an extra ten minutes, and read the news sites in peace after going to the gym. I make the absolute most of those rare weekends when I am not working, and my husband and I have been gifted care by one of our relatives. I get a coffee after I get a pap smear. I walk the scenic route home from the supermarket, and try to enjoy it, regardless of the heavy bags I am carrying.

“Me time” is important, and I am sure that most people would take it if they could. Unfortunately it’s not always possible. It’s  not always going to happen, and certainly not in the way that many opinion pieces and blog posts seem to think it should. This isn’t something we should feel guilty about. It’s just the way life is.

And, if you find that someone you care about reacts angrily to your “me time” suggestion, perhaps it would be beneficial to not be defensive. They probably do need some me time. Perhaps they don’t have the resources to facilitate it. Perhaps they are uncomfortable with asking for help. A friendly ear, and a shoulder to cry on might be just the thing they need.

 

Plastic Fantastic

plastic

plastic

I have fake boobs.

[Pauses for dramatic effect]

I grew up surrounded by well endowed female adults. On top of that, I was a reasonably solid build. So I took it for granted that I too would hit that magical, awful, awkward stage of puberty, and come out of it somewhat unscathed, and sporting a fabulous pair of my own knockers. But the damn things wouldn’t grow.

Well, one of them did, somewhat more than the other. So I sort of had one boob, but even that boob was pretty disappointing. I would optimistically say that I was capable of filling out a ‘B’ cup, but the reality was that the only thing filling it out was the shoulder pads I had cut out of an op shop blouse that I had bought because it was “totally grunge”. I hid my shame, and my lumpy, shoulder pad filled bras, under baggy band t-shirts, and flannelette shirts from Lowes – it was the 90’s and I was the epitome of 90’s angsty teen fashion. I convinced myself that I was a late bloomer.

I was not a late bloomer.

My state of flat-chestedness became an all-consuming preoccupation. I would not wear singlets, they were too hard to pad convincingly. I loved playing sports, but I hated wearing sports bras- they took what little I had, and made it non existent. So I wore padded bras under sports bras, much to the amusement of teammates when it was discovered. Even as I grew into a young adult, I was painfully aware of my titless status, and my wardrobe was carefully and painstakingly chosen to conceal my exiguous chest- draped tops, halter necks, cowl necks, any neck, as long as it alluded to the illusion of breast tissue.

Being a titless wonder affected me socially. I was terrified of intimacy. I would complain to my friends that I was perennially single, while simultaneously sabotaging any opportunites of the relationship kind that arose. I was terrified, that if I let a man too close, he would discover my secret, and that I would be exposed, both physically, and as the breast fraud that I was. It terrified me right through the first couple of years of my relationship with the man who became my husband.

It wasn’t just the lack of cleavage. I am tall, broad of shoulder, and until having three kids, reasonably slim of hip in comparison. I had other friends as titless as me, but they made up for their lack of breast with distinctly feminine figures, broad hips, narrow waists, slender legs. It felt to me that I had lost the lady lottery, in all respects. Instead of curves, I had leg muscles and a pair of shoulders that could carry a small fridge with ease. As practical as that may be, I felt epically ripped off.

On more than one occasion, I was addressed by a stranger as “sir”.

It probably didn’t help that I worked in a traditionally male industry. It also didn’t help that this industry required me to wear a uniform that was pretty masculine in appearance.

 

Most of the time, when a random male (it was always men) addressed me as such, it was usually to my back, and they would recoil in embarassment the minute they realised, apologising profusely, muttering about my hair being tucked under my cap, or something similar, as they made their hasty retreat. But occasionally, the commenter was a real arsehole, and would laugh in my face. Or even worse, call out to their mate.

“Oi, Davo! It’s not a ‘he’, it’s a ‘she’!!!!”

“No shit, Bazza!”

Chuckle, chortle, snigger. You get it.

I mean, it didn’t happen often. But it bloody well did happen.

At 25 years old, I did what I always promised, and nobody expected: I took myself off to the hospital, and got myself a boob job. It wasn’t a secret. It was a celebration. I gave my boobs a party, complete with champagne and a titty cake. I bought them a new wardrobe, complete with padding-free bras, and plunging necked tops. I wore those silicone beauties with pride and confidence.

I’m 34 now, and I have had fantastic boobs for nearly ten years. Three pregnancies have definitely changed them. I still love them. The shiny newness has worn off, and these days I guess it isn’t common knowledge that my assets are far from natural. Generally, when I mention my boob job in passing conversation, it is met with complete surprise.

“Wait……. whaaaaaaat? You had a boob job?!?!!!”

[look of shock] “You’re kidding me, right? You?”

“Can I touch them?”

“You have fake boobs? But you don’t seem like the type!”

I get the last one a lot. I’m not ‘the type’. Since I have fake boobs, I guess I am ‘the type’, but I do understand what they mean. ‘The type’ is pretty, perfect. With a 365 day spray tan. ‘The type’ always has their eyebrows waxed, fingers manicured. ‘The type’ doesn’t only wear makeup when she can be arsed to slap it on, she artfully applies it every day. Her hair is shiny and straight, and is only shoved back into a pony tail while she does yoga in a fancy gym. ‘The type’ is always dressed in clothing that is 100% on trend. No, I am certainly not ‘the type’.

I also find that people like to question why I bought boobs. Like, did I do it to attract men? No, I really didn’t. I was already in a long term relationship, with a man who already loved me. I didn’t need boobs for that. I have even been asked if I was trying to prove something – a question which confused me. Prove what? And to whom? Again, no. Not the reason.

I did it because when I looked in the mirror, the person who stared back didn’t look like me. In my mind’s eye, I had breasts, not porn-star big, but big enough, all along. I did it because I was tired of feeling like my body didn’t accurately represent the person I wanted it to. I did it because I am a woman. I did it because I wanted to.

Plenty of people find the idea of plastic surgery abhorrent. I am sure that many people who are reading this think that I’m vain. Or conceited. That’s OK.

I don’t care.

You can think what you want, about me, about my silicone breasts. It doesn’t actually matter to me. Because my boobs are one of the best damn things I have ever done in my life. I’m proud of them. Proud of myself for making the decision to do what I wanted.

This is my body. I am privileged enough that I had the chance to do what I wanted with it. I still have that privilege every day – I dye my hair bright purple, wear the clothes that make me feel happy. I don’t have tattoos (I’m pointedly ignoring my obligatory tramp stamp), but I wouldn’t discount me getting some in the future. They are my choices to make. My choices. My body.

Plastic surgery is more common these days, even more than it was ten years ago. You can get rid of your mummy tummy, buy a designer vagina. You can even get the fat sucked out of your arse, and injected into your breasts, like every old joke about migrating fat turned into reality. And perhaps, it isn’t for you.

But maybe it is, and that’s OK too.