Archives for posts with tag: father

I have to admit, there’s nothing quite like realising you have absolutely no fucking idea who you are anymore.

I think one of the best places to start to explain this is with a vague branch of “Criminal Law Science”- that of handwriting profiling or analysis.

I’ve always known something was up with my handwriting. Doing cursive or even printing required so much concentration to keep all the letters conforming to those around them.

I could start out a paragraph sloping forward with my letters, and by midway the letters would be leaning backward, or standing straight up. There was nothing wrong with my word formation, I knew which letters I wanted ahead of time, and knew how to form them, but the act of doing so was difficult and often my hand would run away with itself and create a sloppy looking text with letters that were awkwardly different from each other in style. A fat “d” followed by a pointy slash of a “y”. Circles and triangles and thick lines and elegant curvy loops.

I’ve largely ignored the problem since I learned to type in high school. (I learned to type on a manual typewriter with a ribbon, like Steven King’s Paul in “Misery”, and I’d love to be typing on one now, just for fun.)

The thrill of flinging that return arm across during the class speed-typing test!

So my point is, if I believe what the FBI says about handwriting analysis, I’m probably a criminal and most certainly have more than one personality.

I’m just too damned inconsistent to trust – lock me up – prob’s gonna go postal at some point.

At the other end of the spectrum is my suspicion that my problem is physical, caused by Magoo or an older sibling crushing my hand in an attempt to control my habit of sprinting into danger.

I once jumped out of the car, and ran full speed to the edge of the swimming hole in which my parent’s planned to take the family swimming. As a four year old non-swimmer I probably should have stopped there instead of jumping in to the deep water.

The car was still running, Magoo still undoing her seat-belt as I sunk slowly to the bottom, looking up through the crystal clear water.

Suddenly Princess appeared at the edge! Looking down at me with that same look she always had for me –

“You fucking spastic…”  she told me with her eyes, as she leaped, shaping her long elegant limb’s into a perfect safety jump and dragging me up out of the water.

Whatever the reason, my handwriting is suspect and 9 out of 10 FBI agents would shoot me on sight as a preventative measure.

For now I don’t think about that. Sometimes I imagine some random picking up a birthday card I have meticulously printed and smudged with fucking ink, thinking what a great effort some five year old has put into printing the card…

So this obviously relates back to me not really knowing who I am, right?

As I’ve grown older, I’ve thought about all the “Magooism’s” that have shaped my beliefs. Magoo is one of the many wonders of the world, baffling her children time and time again with her radical dives from far right into ridiculously left territory.

She is grey matter. There is no end to the convoluted logic that shapes her thinking. You cannot win. You will not win. You may as well just live with it and enjoy the good times? Luckily Magoo has the ability to laugh at herself, but only if she gets the joke, don’t even bother with sophisticated wit, she will eat you.

So Magoo believes that women her daughter’s are basically tarts who enjoy sex too much. (Women didn’t enjoy sex back in her day, they used it as commerce to get the lawn mowed and the garage cleaned out.) If you enjoy sex there must be something wrong with you, she didn’t raise any of her daughter’s to enjoy sex, and how dare we?

This from the woman who once held up seven fingers when I boldly asked her “..when was the last time you and dad had, you know….. sex?”

“7 months?” I said, incredulous that it had been that long, but then, as a young teenager, I knew their marriage was in trouble, and I considered that to be about right.

Shakes her head, “no”.

Turns out the dirty mongrel’s had been at it just seven minutes before I arrived home.

I reckon I get my honest nature from Magoo, I’ll give her that, she’s mostly very open and honest with me. (If it suits her. I’m sure you can see the enigma I grew up trying to understand?)

You can’t dress like a tart, you have to be charming and elegant and only wear colours that don’t make you look “sallow”. “Sallow” is Magoo’s favourite colour. She will tell me I look sallow all the time if I don’t stick to the colours she knows suit me.

You can’t be a slut. Only virgin’s can live a virtuous life and find a good man to marry.

Thanks to the Universe for providing me with my father, who took one look at Magoo’s stunning beauty, disregarded her inability to settle in one place, disregarded her many complexes and insecurities, and continued to disregard her until well into his later years when he finally admitted he might have paid her more attention if she hadn’t whined so damn much.

I think Magoo whined so damn much, because he always had his head stuck in a book and a haze of cigarette smoke clouding around his head – which pretty much describes who I grew up to be. “Smokehead Bookpants.”

He also had some fairly liberal views on human sexual relations. He talked about the fact that women in different cultures are sometimes brought up to value their sexuality and that the onset of menstruation was seen as an indicator of sexual maturity. Which meant that I was already “sexually mature” in some cultures, both ancient and modern.

He told me that our cultural evolution had shaped social behaviour in a way that made it difficult for a young girl to experience all the feeling’s of puberty, and observe the rules of her society at the same time. (My dad was a lot like Fitty is now, in that if you ask a question, you are going to get four hours of answer!)

My dad was brilliant, and not a month goes by when I don’t wish I could phone him and run a problem by him just one more time to hear his three point response.

  • What he would do?
  • What you will probably do?
  • What a complete dickhead would do?

It was genius, and you always knew what to do by the time he ran through his points! Of course sometimes I did what the dickhead would do… that’s why we do “teenager” isn’t it? To learn how to not dickhead?

I’m now a couple of year’s shy of my 50th birthday. Probably time to figure out that what my parents did or didn’t do, or said or didn’t say really has nothing whatsoever to do with the person I am capable of being now.

It’s amazing how many people who are around my age are having similar thoughts. Looking backwards for the answer to today’s issues or problems.

So to sum up, basically I believe that the opposing personalities of Magoo, added to the intelligent and thoughtful way Dad “adjusted” her theories, has resulted in me growing up with two complete sets of ideologies constantly asking each other “Are you for fucking real?” – As evidenced in my handwriting!

– Just your common garden variety confused person, who’d really like some more time to think about why I forgot to think for myself for around forty years, and does red really make me look sallow?

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Other-Mother recently commented on Facebook about having the best of both worlds. A week with her children, and a week without in which she can explore her own pursuits.

I agreed and said something along the lines of, “me too, but it takes me a while to get used to the silence when they leave!” <sad face>

The opposite is true upon their return. And this is where Fitty and I are most different.

The younger two arrive around dinner time on Tuesday nights, whereas 6 is still at his Dad’s until Wednesday. This schedule change occurred when 8 started swimming on Tuesdays. It works well because it gives us a night with 7 and 8 upon arrival, and a night with just 6 the following week. Confused yet?

Tuesday nights are usually fairly quiet. The kids arrive, we eat and settle into the evening comfortably. We catch up on all the various news for the last week, and they settle in. They’re off to school early the next day so the transition is quite calm for me.

Not so Wednesday.

Wednesday I notice all the extra things that are laying around that come with the arrival of 7 and 8. School notes, bobby-pins, hair elastics, wet towels, over-excited dog,  box of Playstation and games, breakfast dishes and toast crumbs. Just to name a few…

The bus pick-up in the afternoon is where the fun really starts. I head up a little past the time 7 and 8’s bus arrives, just to keep them wondering if I’ll show. (They usually dawdle for the first few hundred feet.) This also relieves a bit of the wait for 6’s bus which arrives 15 mins later.

From the second 6’s bus pulls up, the level of excitement builds to crushing levels. I am excited as I haven’t seen him for a week, 7 and 8 are excited because he’s their big brother, and idol. Pooh is excited for all of the above reasons. She begins to try and get out of the window as soon as his bus comes into view. (Even when the window is closed!)

The noise level in the car is so over the top! Everyone is talking at once. The dog is licking everyone, standing on their laps in order to poke her head out of the window and tell everyone the kids are home!

I LOVE it. I absolutely throw myself into the noise and roll all around in it. Sometimes it gets a little much, but it’s useless to try and control it. It’s a short drive. I can handle it.

We arrive home. EXPLODE out of the car.

The after school poop dilemma begins – 3 children. 2 bathrooms.

Someone “Shotguns!” a toilet. Someone else “Shotguns!” the other. Another squirms. Wait, there is a bonus! They are the first to discover what luscious home-baked treat awaits. (Someone has a new oven after 8 years of  Turbo life!)

GET OUT! OUT OF MY LIFE!

GET OUT! OUT OF MY LIFE!

Seriously – the adventures that damn Turbo oven and I had. (In a kitchen that is embarrassed to call itself so….) BIG <sad face> Another day, another post…

Back to after-school shenanigans, in-jokes and why Fitty and I differ?

Yesterday, it was requested that I make “Magoo’s Famous Lemon Shortbread“. A sublime treat that appears at Christmas (by donation from Magoo), and was only recently mastered by the youngest of her daughter’s.

7 is known as the “Floor Queen and Mistress of Eating Icky Things”- When Pooh was a very young Puppy, I cooked her own special “Pooh Food”. 7 stepped right up and tasted it after noting it smelled delicious! (Eeew – pet mince.)She will pick anything up of the floor and eat it, quoting the 10 second rule.  So yesterday, when I dropped a piece of shortbread on the floor while transferring pieces into the bikkie-tin, I jokingly called out –

“Sooo 7…… I guess you’ll want this Floor Shortbread?”

Prompting an over-exagerrated, ear splitting shriek-

“NOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooorghhhh!!!!” AND a very fast run into the kitchen from 8!

(Now to say that 8 “loves his food” would be a massive understatement. He LIVES for his food. He is going to be a CHEF when he grows up. He can hear the crackle of a chip packet or chocolate wrapper opening from a distance of over 3km’s. Straight after breakfast, he wants to know when lunch is..?)

We all collapsed into uncontrollable laughter. Several times throughout the afternoon, wherever a negative answer was required, we took turns screaming,

“NOOOOOOOOooooooooo!” and falling about laughing.

See, we created yet another ‘Family In-Joke’ right there! This one will probably last for years…

Fitty arrives home in the midst of our laughing and screaming. We’re watching You Tube, and laughing our heads off at “Conversations with my 2 year old.” Check it out, it’s uber funny!

So rather than roll into our gaiety he stands back and does those little nose puff laughs. It’s not funny enough for him to fully engage in a snort or a snigger.

Increasingly stressed by our antics, (we’ve had a fairly good time and are a little over-excited.) I can see he’s not quite on the same page, but he’s trying.

He logs onto his computer, turns his back on us until dinner time.

At dinner 7 loses her shit big-time. She can barely breathe while she crows with laughter. I forget what it was that got her going, (at 13 it’s shamefully easy to set her off) but once she got going, it was infectious!! She hooted, warbled, snorted and literally squealed, prompting 6 to start flapping his arms like a bird. This just made her worse.

You know you truly love a kid when you can look at her with her mouth wide open, peas and beans mashed into her braces, and feel an overwhelming sense of affection.

Fitty was trying to control us, but in the end it was just too funny. We pretty much all had tears in our eyes by the end of dinner from laughing.

The kids doing the dishes was a disaster. 7 was drunk with delirium, couldn’t focus and couldn’t settle into the task, prompting Fitty to go into “OVERLORD” state. He stood at the kitchen and yelled until all was serious! What a downer! (But a necessary one I guess.)

I was still enjoying the madness, but left the room lest I snigger and start the whole process over. I’ll admit to standing at the door, making faces at him – going all “Dad” on the kids.

Fitty will be fully into it by tonight. It takes him a couple of days to get back into the noise, the fun, the energy of having teenagers around, whereas I’m straight into it from the first moment.

After the dishes were done, we all sat down to play “The MOST Inappropriate Card Game” I’ve ever seen. I refuse to name it because you will judge me if I do. But I’ll hint to the extent of telling you that it involves using phrases (that probably never should be said out loud in front of a 12 year old), to match with sentences containing blanks. The funniest sentence wins the point.

We had downloaded the game before dinner and cut all the pieces out ready for later. The game also had 3 sheets of RULES.

If 4 had been home we KNOW we would have had to not only “play by the RULES“, but also sit still and silent whilst she read them out aloud to us before beginning the game!

4 is the “Family Game Nazi” so called for her strict adherence to rules, regulations and seating plans which must be taken seriously!

Last night when we sat down to play, the rules lay untouched and face down. Totally ignored. (It was a straight forward game.) Somebody said something to the effect of –

“Pretty glad 4 isn’t here for this”…

Which had us all rolling around laughing yet again. (Sorry 4, you know we love you.)

We settled down again, began playing, and 7 said in a creepy voice

This family has waaay too many in-jokes!”

blog june 26

I have been dreading the writing of this post. This tribute to my son James, stillborn in 1996, has been approached with much trepidation. I know I owe it to him to write this post, he is after all, one of my children.  I know it will be an emotional journey. I hope to achieve some kind of peace with the publication of these words. It has been so hard to sit down and start….. harder still to think these memories out onto the page.

You never really get over losing a child. You just move forward in time from the place you were in when it happened. Other things occur in your life, but at the base of your being, is a lost moment. A future being constantly mourned by the mother you would have been, to that child. I have been very reserved in my mourning. I don’t like to share this very private grief, as the emotional backlash whenever I speak of James is uncomfortable for others. They cannot possibly know what to say. Even mothers of stillborn children are at a loss with each other. We know we feel more or less the same way, but no two experiences are the same. No two mothers will grieve in quite the same way, therefore making it impossible to find comfort and closure. Ever.

James, whom my partner and I nicknamed Jimmy very early in the pregnancy, started out his life as an unplanned, but very welcome addition to our growing family of boys. I have never been able to explain how I knew that all my babies were boys before they were born. I. Just. Did.

I have often thought I might be slightly psychic, bear with me, as you will see what I mean.

My experience, especially with pregnancy, (my own and my very close associates), is that I always just know stuff about babies on the way. I can tell if you are pregnant before you reach for the test. Just ask a few of my friends and my sisters. I predicted both my sister’s first babies!

I just know,  I say “are you having a baby?” “No freakin way!” is usually the reply, then a few weeks later the announcements are made. I don’t know what it is. Science has enough information to research the phenomenon, and they say it’s a hormone reaction, or an ability to “smell” the change in hormonal activity and “sense” pregnancy. Whatever? I’m hardly ever wrong.

When I was about 28 weeks along with 5 I had been hospitalized briefly for some bleeding. Not a lot, but enough for my Doc to advise bed rest for a few weeks and then to take it very easy for the remainder of the pregnancy. I worried for the next 14 weeks, but 5 was born bouncing and healthy with no further problems two weeks past his due date. No interference, just a natural labor and birth from start to finish.

I knew about my pregnancy with James very early on. I could feel my body changing in the first few weeks. I didn’t even bother with a test. As 5 had been a very difficult baby, with his acid reflux, screaming and constant feeding for 10 months, and here I was pregnant again. I sensed trouble.

When I fell pregnant with James I recall being very adamant that we tell everyone straight away. I had a funny feeling in those early weeks. I can’t explain why it was so important to let everyone know. In hindsight I guess it’s plain to see. I wanted to share as much of his life as I could in the limited time I was given. It still freaks me out a little how I knew?

As we moved past the 8 week and 12 week period I began to feel in two very distinct minds about him. On one hand, we had passed those milestones without a hiccup and I was feeling good and healthy. On the other hand, every time I would pass my hand over my belly, I would get this feeling, “sick, sick, sick”. Especially in the shower. One day as I brushed my hair in the bathroom mirror, (and I will never, ever forget this moment), I had a clearly defined thought. That this baby was not going to make it. That I would have another baby one day, and that baby would be ok. It wasn’t so much like a voice in my head, just a very clear thought.

I know you’re all thinking what a kook I am, but I have trouble believing this experience myself. Only that it happened to me, can I know that it happened. I had been sent a message. A warning not to hang on too dearly.

If only I had listened, as I clung on so much more fiercely to my baby’s life from that moment on. I denied what I was feeling on the inside and clung to the fact that I had made it to 15, then 20 weeks, and there had been no outward sign of a problem. No bleeding. No cramping. I was enjoying a full nights sleep for the first time since 5 was born, and he had fully weaned himself before his first birthday. Things were going well, the only thing I couldn’t feel, was my baby’s movements.

This worried me, as 5 had been a terribly active baby, and I had felt the first flutters of his movements very early on. With James I never felt a movement. Not ever. I just assumed he was a lot quieter, or that my uterus was getting “old” and stretched and wasn’t as sensitive this time around.

We had our first ultrasound at 21 weeks. I looked forward to it, as I wanted to see this quiet little person who was making me so concerned. I wanted confirmation that everything was ok.

He who used to be was working out of town, so I attended on my own. It’s not the nicest feeling to be laying there on the table watching the face of your ultrasound technician darken, become hard to read. Frowning at her instruments, trying this way and that way to get a different result. Eventually she turned to me and said, “Your baby has a problem. I’m not getting any movement at all, and for a 21 week fetus, that’s really not normal. From what I can see there is a lot of dark material surrounding the baby, that is possibly an internal bleed.”

A fetal heartbeat was found to be present and strong, but the dark mass and lack of movement was a big problem. No other abnormalities were found at this time, however measurements were hard to take because of the “mass”. She sent me to my Doctor, who referred me to a Specialist in Sydney. A better, internal ultrasound was required so they could diagnose the problem properly.

He who used to be and I went off to Sydney with heavy hearts. We were still hopeful. “He had a strong heartbeat!” we would say to one another.

Again I found myself in that situation of being at the mercy of the ultrasound technician, this time with a team of Specialists in tow. Minute by minute the tension in the room grew. We knew at that point that the news was bad.

I got dressed and we went to consult the specialist for a report on the situation. In a tiny office, hours from our home, we were told that James suffered from Amniotic band syndrome. This occurs when there is an internal rupture of the amniotic sac, causing fibrous “bands” to form and constrict parts of the fetus. As the fetus grows the bands do not, often resulting in arm and leg amputations and fetal death. James’ case was complicated by internal bleeds that had clotted, forming around his body as he moved in the uterus. My poor baby had basically entwined himself in fibrous “ropes” of blood and amniotic fluid. This was why I never felt him move.

However the doctors couldn’t tell us how serious James’ case was, or give us an absolute diagnosis on the outcome. There was no way of knowing “exactly” where the bands were.

We were advised the best decision was to terminate the pregnancy then and there. We had an hour to decide.

We went to a nearby coffee shop. I felt numb. Totally disassociated. I was in shock, and already grieving for my baby. He who used to be, was calmer, and more hopeful. “They said he had a strong heartbeat. They can’t tell what’s really going to happen?”

He said only God knew whether our baby was going to be ok, and shouldn’t we give him a chance?

I was surprised by his hopefulness. He usually took the easiest way out of situations, and here he was encouraging me to hope. He couldn’t in clear conscience “murder” his own child. His feelings took me by surprise, I had expected him to agree with the doctors. Together we made the decision to let God decide the outcome. One way or another, James would be born. Not “terminated”.

Lengthy discussions were then held with the Specialists, who were shocked at our decision. “You could hemorrhage and bleed to death”, they threatened. I decided to take my chances. Ultimately my partner left the decision in my hands. I just could not stop the beating of my child’s heart.

I knew I lived close by to the hospital, and that if I had to I could get there in under 2 minutes. When you make a decision like that, you have to take your life in your own hands. Literally. But who was I to end his life, in favour of my own? Deep down I knew James probably wouldn’t live, but I hoped.

A little over 4 weeks later, my son was born sleeping in the middle of a March night. I was alone in the home. I can remember feeling strange earlier in the day, and had a strange dream the previous night.

In my dream, I was frantically drawing an invisible rope back into my body. I could see nothing in my hands, but could feel the weight of something. I was desperate to pull this rope back toward me, but the more I tried to bring it back, the more “rope” spun through my hands. It went straight up into the air. I awoke feeling upset and unsettled. I spent the remainder of the night tossing and turning.

This was partially the reason why I was left in peace for the next night. He who used to be had taken the 2 older boys out to our farm house for the night, to give me a rest. We both thought I was overtired and stressed, and as 4 weeks had passed since the Specialist visit, we had both begun to feel hopeful about James. Nothing averse had happened, he was still hanging in there. I really didn’t have any fears for my own safety at this time. I was just passing the days quietly, waiting for something to happen.

Around midnight I woke with slight pains and pressure. I knew what was happening and called the hospital, letting them know I would be there in a few minutes. I called He who used to be, and advised him to stay where he was with the children. I knew he wouldn’t be able to handle the upset, and in some strange way I felt that I would be stronger without him. I also told my best friend to stay away, she was extremely upset with me, and wanted to be there to support me, but I felt the experience would be too horrible to share with anyone….my baby was about to be born dead. I think I really wanted the experience to be mine alone. After all, it was I who had carried him, and I didn’t want to have to worry about anyone’s feelings but my own.

I knew he was gone, the dream had told me so. I arrived at the hospital expecting nothing else.

The pain of the labor was diluted by the drugs they gave me. So much my head swam. I suppose they do that on purpose, so that your emotions are dulled. I felt detached from the birth, but was able to ask questions and comprehend answers.

Yes, he was a male child. Yes he was stillborn. Yes he had died sometime in the last 24 hours or so.

I was asked if I wanted an autopsy. I was advised that I wouldn’t get my son’s body back if I wanted an autopsy. He was too small.  I was told his placenta was abnormal. His femur length abnormal, and his entire body was covered in blood clots and bands.

I lay in that bed in the delivery room, all night. The maternity ward was quiet. I was left alone, offered more drugs to sleep. But I didn’t really sleep that much. All I could think about was being given some time with my son. I had one tiny moment with him, just after his birth, but there were things I needed to see for myself.

They brought his tiny body to me the next day. I was given as much time as I wanted, and left in a room on my own with him. Hours passed. I held him. I unwrapped his blankets and committed every part of him to my memory. I told him I loved him, and I was sorry I couldn’t be with him.

In time we buried him, just the two of us and the Funeral Director. We felt our grief was very private, and didn’t want any friends or family with us on that day. Just James and us.

It was a long time before I felt that I could even go to a shop, buy food for us, without feeling like screaming. I don’t know how I held myself together in those weeks following his birth. I remember feeling numb a lot of the time. Having my other boys to look after helped, and it wasn’t all bad. I had brilliant friends, and great support from them. My family struggled to understand my grief. It wasn’t something my parent’s generation “talked” about, but they did their best.

5 was around 15 months old, and strangely at this time, when at no other time would he sit still, he allowed me to cradle him in my arms like a younger baby. It was his way of comforting his mummy, the only way he knew. The rest of the time he was 100 miles an hour, and so kept me busy along with his older brother 3. At five years old, my older son was curious and supportive. Comforting me by telling me how much he loved me. He wondered why he wasn’t allowed to see his baby brother, but he soon forgot about the pregnancy. Yet, to this day, is the one most likely to remember James’ Birthday and call to ask me how I am doing on that day. He remembers.

There isn’t an end to this grief. You never get over it, but you move past it. You allow yourself some sunshine, because without the sun, the world can be a cold, hard place to live in.

3 and "the Nut"

3 and “the Nut”

When your eldest child goes off to school, your emotions get the full work out. I considered myself lucky that I had another little one at home, and that eased the pain somewhat, but he was my little mate! He’d been right there beside me for so long I just didn’t know what to do without him for a while.

On his first day of school, I knew not to expect him to cling, I could see he was so excited. He actually wanted to say goodbye to me at the gate, I don’t think he realized he had to find his way to a classroom and all that, he just was in a hurry to “get to big school”, and leave me far behind!

I took him to his class and he just disappeared into a sea of small children. I looked around and saw the looks on most of the mummy’s faces. We all seemed to be wearing the same look. There were one or two crying, (and the inevitable mum of 5 who was flying in with the last of her brood, she didn’t stay long that one)! But one thing I could see was that we were all pretty much in the same boat. I sought him out to say goodbye and just about had to put him in a head-lock to get a cuddle and kiss goodbye. “Yes OK MUMMY! GOOD-BYE!”

I remember worrying about stupid things. What if someone hits him in the head with a cricket bat whilst playing cricket? What if he gets sick and nobody notices? What if the other kids are mean to him? The list of “what ifs?” are endless, and it took all my courage to leave him there that day. I have already admitted to being an over-protective mother, so I don’t need to tell you how I worried that first week.

He hated my over-protectiveness. He was so bloody independent! I used to argue with him in the morning about not doing his own lunch for school! He would always get up before the crack of dawn and do it himself! I wanted to do something for my little boy to get him ready for school, but nope, he was always ready before I got to him.

One thing that used to stupefy me was when he and I would go down to town shopping. The number of Mr’s and Mrs’s he knew! “Hello Mr Brown, how’s your little doggie?” he would say. We’d move on a few steps and I would ask him, “who is that? How do you know him?”

“Oh he’s just a friend of Grandads.” Or, “I met him at the school, he’s Ben’s Grandad.” My little boy knew a whole lot of people I had never ever met! The control freak’s worst nightmare? Not even knowing who my child was introduced to, or talking to?

I suppose I really should have been thankful for my independent little man. Considering the years to follow and the succession of hospital stays and babies, I reckon it helped him to deal with the separation from me. He always just dealt with things. He is so much like me, I guess. We are the same…. You just deal with what life gives you and you move forward.

Many years later, when I had begun to relax and had returned to work, (all 3 of my boys at school), I finally got that dreaded phone call.

“Mrs ______ your son ______ has been hit in the head by a shot put.” (yeah, that’s right, 9lb’s or so of lead straight to the head!) I was to meet him at the hospital.

I FREAKED! All my nightmares filled my head at once. I could barely see to drive, I went straight from work to the Emergency Department. There he was, a bit dizzy, a bit sick, but enjoying the drama nonetheless. Turns out he had decided to play catch with the shot put ball, threw it up in the air above his head, and of course the darn thing whacked him one on the way back down! He survived. We waited hours for a head X-Ray, which showed no internal issues or fractures. He was a very lucky boy that day.

I don’t know if my heart ever returned to a regular beat though!

One of the biggest moments in our lives came when 3’s biological Dad, (B.D.) came into his life. (Long story short -we had been a semicasual relationship which resulted in an accidental pregnancy). I was nearly 23, and decided to return home to my Dad’s to live and have the baby, a decision which suited his (B.D and B.D’s mother very well at the time.)

Finally after 17 years of not having ever known his “real” father, my son met him. I should at this time point out that the ex, was to all intents and purposes his Dad, and will always be his Dad. There is no substitute for being the man who raised you, who was there for you throughout your life. Biology or not.

3 and I talked often about the reality of meeting his B.D. one day, and when it finally happened we were all ready. (I’m pretty sure his Dad felt a little put out at the time, but 3 made sure he knew that he was still the only “Dad”!)

3’s B.D. traveled down from QLD to stay with us in our home. A big step, but as we had talked on the phone, and I was compassionate to their needs, we decided it was the only way for them to make the most of the few days they had. I hardly saw 3 that weekend, and that was ok, it was something that had to happen. And it was beautiful. All those wasted years, these two instantly fell in love with each other!

3 and his B.D.

3 and his B.D.

3 is all grown up now, the sum of all the experiences we had together, plus many of his own. He is a most wonderful young man. He has found love in the form of one unusual young lady, “the Nut”, as we call her, well, because (she is a bit nutty). We don’t actually know if this is the relationship that will take him through the rest of his life, but one thing I do know is that I love her. I always have, since the minute she walked through our door. But more about her some other time…

3 you have made my life wonderful darling, there are things I never would have gotten through without your strength, love and loyalty by my side. You may not realize it now, as you struggle through your 20’s trying to find your way to stability and happiness, but you are a fantastic young man. You have never been afraid of anything, and you’ve never let anything hold you back. I love you son. I just wish you’d learn to slow down and put all four wheels on the ground!!

no need to worry about 3!!

no need to worry about 3!!

I’ve been searching and searching, and yet I still can’t find MY Fitty! He is definitely in there somewhere, it’s in his eyes, every now and then a calm descends and there he is trapped behind that manic glare. Please oh please God, let him out!!

Seriously, I can’t take it any more. We are all exhausted just from watching him speed around!

I know I shouldn’t complain, after all, didn’t I just want him to stop being so cranky? Wasn’t that all I asked for? It’s been weeks since he’s been cranky, but this other whizzie fast guy is making my head spin. I can’t take another day of this madness.

My Fitty used to wake up slowly in the morning, and lovingly greet me with smiles and kisses. This other dude is long out of bed by the time I wake up, he’s already banged and crashed his way through the kitchen, raked the leaves off the driveway, checked and re-checked the weather report against his own weather predictions, ( he is ALWAYS RIGHT!!), and is standing at attention waiting for the rest of his family to awaken and take their orders for the day! There we all are rubbing the sleep from our eyes, yawning and stretching as we receive instructions from Fitty on “How To Live Our Lives”.

Fitty has always been a bit this way. I can remember numerous occasions where I’ve been so amused by his antics I could scream! For instance there was the time he bought a new straw broom. He was very proud of the broom, (as men are when they have been domesticated enough to notice that the old one is basically just a grass stem on a stick). He came downstairs one morning to find me sweeping the concreted area under our house. He watched me for a total of a second before telling me how I should do it “properly”. Of course I instantly fell in a grateful heap (yeah right!), and didn’t threaten to re-home the broom anywhere uncomfortable or anything like that! Not me, I simply stated that I was so glad I finally had someone in my life who could teach me how to sweep. Oh  Joy! Finally, after 37 years of life, raising my young family, cooking and cleaning, working and paying bills, someone could show me how to do it all “properly”.

Fitty recognized my tone and instantly ran for the hills! He knows how to interpret my sarcasm! “Has he learned anything over the years” you ask? Not really, so far he has taught me a wealth of useless information that I will never need, like:

1:  How to tell which direction the wind is blowing. Apparently this knowledge could save my life, as far as I can see it just isn’t that important. (If it’s blowing one way, it’s a hot day generally, and if it’s blowing the other way, it can be a bit windy and cold.) I always get it wrong anyway. “The wind does not ever blow in a south- easterly- north direction!” I am told sternly by Fitty.

2: How to find and identify constellations in the night sky (plus a lot of other crap about space). If I wanted to do that I would be a NASA Astronaut Fitty! Not a mother and hospitality worker!! The number of times I have mentioned how pretty the night sky is, and how bright the stars seem tonight, only to be lectured for an hour and a half about astronomy! Where is the romance Fitty? Can’t you just say “Mmm, isn’t it lovely outside tonight?”

3: Don’t even get me started about computers!! I only have to ask one tiny little question. One little thing that I need to know to help me finish a particular project. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t have to, believe me. Because every single time I do, I regret it! My head is absolutely brimming with so much technical information that I cannot move for fear of hitting the wrong key!  “You cannot fit 50 megabytes on a 10 gig ram”.  WHAT in the world are you talking about Fitty??

I could go on, but you would get very worried and call the authorities. Oh the cruelty! To be forced to learn things one just doesn’t want to know!

He is still wonderful. I still love him with all my heart, (and then some), he is still the best father I’ve ever known, and makes other husbands look like Boxing Day Specials in torn packaging! However I just wonder where he’s gone? Also if it isn’t too much trouble, can he come back now please?

T and Me.

T and Me.

Today is the day I get to catch a baby!

Seriously, having given birth several times myself, I have never actually seen a real live birth with my own eyes. I remember the nurses asking me if I wanted a mirror so I could watch my sons being born. I can also remember replying “”aaarrrggg uuuurragggh eeeeeee uuuummmph!??!” A negative response translated skillfully by said nurses. I deeply admire those women who are with it enough to focus on a mirror, or focus on anything, during labor. I was so busy trying to catch a breath and yell at the ex for expedient death, to bother with watching anything! So today I get my chance..

My beautiful wonderful best friend has asked me to be her support person during her Cesarian Section to deliver her second child. Her hubby fainted during delivery of their darling 2yr old daughter, and they are hesitant to let him back in. He is even hesitant-er!

T and I have been friends for over 10 years. We started out as work buddies, who bonded together almost immediately to fight against the cause of hard work and rude patrons. She totally had my back in every situation. In return, I had hers. T is an only child and was doted on by both her parents. One thing she always wanted, was a brother or sister. The relationship we have developed over the past decade has been full of fun and joy. Mostly. Thankfully we have been there for each other as we lost our fathers. Mine in 2002 and T’s in 2010. Her strength (which she doesn’t know she’s got), and her beautiful heart, her loyalty and her amazing smile, have gotten me through some of the hardest times in my life. T’s mum is also a very dear friend. I often call her my “other mother”, even though she is not that much older than I am. She mothers me anyway, and I can see that I am as special to her as she is to me. Thanks D for always being there for both of us.

I have watched T go through some pretty rough patches as she was in her early 20’s when we first met. Break ups and make ups, house mate issues and of course we had our times when, especially at work and under stress, we would lose it and tell each other exactly how we felt. This is why I love her so much. We are more like sisters than friends, as we have never held a grudge and have unconditional love for each other. We can go anywhere with each other, say anything, and we always end up closer than before.

You probably won’t believe this, but we are connected in a very unusual way. When T was pregnant with her first baby, I had all the symptoms. She had no idea she was pregnant! I was so convinced I’d messed up somehow and was miraculously pregnant that I bought a test and visited the doctor. Both assured me that I was off my rocker. (a) I was in my 40’s, (b) Fitty has had “the Operation”. I was convinced one of those little  suckers had broken through the barrier and found the one lonely egg hanging around my uterus to bully and pick on.

It was while I was telling T all about this that she suddenly went white. I mean WHITE and said,”omygodwhenwasyourlastperiod?” We, (as women who spend a lot of time together do) had matching cycles, and she always knew she was due for one, while I was being a bitch “on” one. So of course she used the spare test I had and went even whiter.

This time I was in Perth when T fell pregnant. Fitty and I were over on a conference for his work and the whole time I kept saying. T’s pregnant again. I had all the same symptoms but this time I was pretty sure what was going on. I called her as soon as I got home. “When are you going to tell me?” I asked. “How the hell do you know already? I only just peed on the stick 5 minutes ago!”

So there you have it. I am nuts.

I am incredibly lucky to not have suffered morning sickness and labor pains huh? T is one of those cases who just can’t deliver naturally. Shame, she thinks. I tell her she’s missing out on a Mac Truck driving through her abdomen every minute or so, and she looks at me like she doesn’t really believe me….I think it’s a a good thing she’ll never know if I’m lying or not.

I’m off to the hospital now, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be a far more spiritual person when I get back.

I think I’m finally getting there, after long weeks of rest and incredible pain, I am able to get through a day without having a lie down. My pain has decreased to the point where I only need half the medication I was on. The best news is that I get back to work on Monday. Cannot wait, life has been very slow these past months. I have been practicing for next week by going out for long days, shopping and visiting friends. So far I have been able to return home and not reach straight for pain killers, but instead I’ve been doing a bit of housework and cooking. It must sound stupid to healthy people, but just to be able to walk at my normal speed, without limping around, is making me so very happy!

I have to attribute this improvement to my lifestyle changes. Giving up smoking and eliminating processed food from my diet has been noticeably responsible for my improved health. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet was developed initially for Chron’s sufferers, but it’s effective in treating many ailments of the intestinal tract. I strongly urge anyone suffering from similar problems to check it out. It is very difficult at first, but I now really enjoy my fresh food. There are no packets or packages in my life, and the taste of real fresh flavours has changed my way of thinking about food. I really enjoy a fruit salad for breakfast, and as I am still unable to eat meat, (each time I end up with awful stomach cramps), have really begun to explore the wide range of vegetables available. I’ve met so many new friends and people who are able to help and advise me on getting the right nutrition. This truly has been a life changing experience for me.

Not much happening at home, all the kids have gone to the ‘others’ for their week, and Fitty and I have been alternatively playing nice, and arguing about whether or not he needs nicotine replacement! We finally got down to the nitty-gritty last night and talked it through. We’ve come up with a few strategies to help him get through his “craving” periods, (that is when he starts frothing). I suggested deep breathing and “alone” time, and he thinks this is a good plan. It’s true what they say about the hardest part of over-coming a problem, is admitting you have it in the first place!!

I’ll let you know how this works out…

Fitty is a really great guy. I’m not just saying that. He is the nicest person I have ever met. He never makes me feel like I am unloved or unsupported, and he is a truly wonderful father. All 8 of our kids would attest to this. However he is probably a bit too clever. He knows so much about everything! I am reminded constantly of my father. He was also a very well educated and clever man. Knew everything there was to know about anything I ever asked. When presented with a personal problem, Dad would always give me 3 options. What he would do, what an idiot would do, and what I would probably end up doing. This was such a great method that I employ it with our kids whenever I can. I was always able to find an option that suited me, and knew instantly what not to do. My father is no longer with us, and I miss talking things through with him. The number of times I have reached for the phone when something exciting or bothersome has happened!! He was always my go-to person, and I miss him so much.

Fitty is much the same, is able to support us all through our rough times, and still be the same smiling happy man. The thing is, when you are such a nice person, it’s rough to be told that you aren’t being so nice lately. He has trouble admitting to negative feelings, and will swear black and blue that he is fine, there is nothing wrong with him, but if everyone could just stop annoying him things would be great. You see my problem now don’t you?

Last night was a break through, I may have had to hammer it into his head, but he now understands what he’s been like to live with. Setting up those few strategies will work for us, as we are on our own for the week, and stress levels will be quite low.

Tomorrow I will be doing something so special, so amazing that it brings tears of joy to my eyes just thinking about it. I cannot say too much, as I am a superstitious little devil, but I can tell you that it will be the best thing I have ever done!

Healthy Dinner

Healthy Dinner

It’s a very quiet house I have woken up to today. Fitty has returned to work, 7 has gone to a friends house for the day and 6 has gone to the local skate park to hang out with friends. That leaves lil old 8 and me at home to enjoy the peace and quiet.

I still haven’t gotten used to this new medication I’m on, seems to make me want to sleep half the day away, which is really annoying! I miss my bird songs in the morning, and watching the sun come up. Will just have to start going to bed earlier I guess, hopefully not to wake at 3am again.

I think I may finally be getting re-wired in my brain to stop reaching for the old convenience foods, and reaching for something healthy instead. It would appear by the lack of fruit in our bowl that the kids have too. This is so good to see. 8 is a little on the chubby side, and I have been encouraging him to make better food choices for a long time. It was a lot harder when we kept a range of processed food in the house. Fitty and I decided that when they got through the current lot of crap, we would begin to replace it with smarter choices. It will be a lot easier when they return to school, we will just pack their lunches, and if they don’t want to starve, they’ll eat them!

Currently 6 stands in front of the fridge staring at all the fruit and vegetables, looking for something that won’t take any effort to make, and 7 and 8 are just as bad. They seem to still be searching for the easy food. I think this is many parent’s problem as well. Kids aren’t really into food preparation. Sometimes 7 and 8 get excited and help their father or myself cook, but not very often. Kids have become used to reaching for a wrapper, ripping it open and getting that instant satisfaction. Most fridges and pantries are full of these kinds of foods, biscuits, puddings, yoghurt –  you name it, it’s probably full of sugar and fat and has little or no nutritional value. It’s much better to reach for a piece of fruit, although you must provide a good selection, make sure some of your fruits are lower in sugar than things like grapes and watermelon. Apples, pears, peaches and oranges are all good choices.

I believe I have never eaten better in my life. I eat only things that I know haven’t been processed or added to in any way chemically. This means spending a little more money, but I really have some good motivation in terms of my recovery and health issues. If I want to continue getting infections and being unhealthy, then I can always return to my old diet.

This eating plan originally started out as a desperate measure to stop my body from getting terrible infections and ending up requiring hospital stays and surgery. It is now about so much more than that. Fitty and I have discovered through research and talking to people in the know, that most of what our children eat is not even digestible for them, full of chemicals and food that is not really food? This made us really stop and think. We are much more comfortable now, knowing what the kids are eating, preparing good healthy meals for them from scratch, and allowing them to “forage” a bit for their snacks.

In this day and age it is usual to see dad out and about with the kids shopping, doing the school runs, cooking, cleaning and basically sharing the household tasks. If you are an enlightened male, then you probably do all these things and more without even thinking. You expect no credit, and you don’t think the situation is unusual or unfair. With a majority of households now depending on both parents salaries to meet the cost of living, it has been necessary for these changes to occur, but just how far does this exchange or sharing of traditional roles go in YOUR household?

Growing up, my own father was a businessman, and my Magoo (Mum), a traditional housewife. She cared for the home and family of six children, and he brought home the bacon, so to speak. I can only remember a few times Dad was physically involved in my upbringing, and most of these were a bit later on in life. He was an authority on everything, a charming and extremely intelligent man. A success in most everything he did. Magoo was a great mother, kept the house rigidly tidy, cooked all our meals and snacks, and taught us art, music and humor. When it came time to raise my own family, these traditions were so ingrained that I didn’t know a different way. Then I met Fitty…

Fitty is an enlightened male. He has always been the most domesticated man I have ever known. Watching him with his children over the past 24 years or so has instilled in me the respect I will have for him forever. It’s been a joy to share the tasks of homemaking with him and our family.

However, Fitty’s standards are a little lower than mine. I cannot count the number of times I have put the milk away after him, as one does get sick of that sour taste in coffee, and I’m always putting food back in the fridge. He will leave food out for hours! Hasn’t he heard of bacteria? Food poisoning?

I love and appreciate all the things he does, but I just find myself doing them again most of the time. Not everything as he  cleans quite well, but he’ll use the same cloth to clean and then wash up. This just drives me crazy! I keep telling myself how lucky I am, again and again, but this mile high standard that I have is not easily met. I literally have to stop myself from re-hanging an entire line of clothes, just because he hasn’t done them the way I would have. I constantly ask him if he washed the vegies, (have eaten enough dirt thanks!)

I wish I could just relax and stop being such a control freak. You can’t have it both ways. I have discovered, either you accept the help, or you get stuck doing it all yourself!

Is any one else out there an ungrateful B like me?