the suppository of all wisdom

Recently, us Wilde Things were struck down by a zombie flu. The sprogs fell first, and I made a few unkind jabs about Boyo suffering from Babyman Cold before I was hit by a tsunami of pain and misery. If I didn’t find karma such a horribly offensive concept¹ I’d possibly believe I’d brought it on myself with my sub-optimal empathy. I have never been as sick as I was a couple of weeks ago. 5 days in bed. 5 freaking days!

Once the worst of it was over I still felt too traumatised by the experience to make jokes, especially the joke in the title of this post, but now I think sufficient time has passed that I am fully prepared to make jokes at my own expense for your reading pleasure.

So, as I said, the sprogs were the first to fall. Girlie, as usual, was very stoic. She’s so good at being sick. She calmly² takes herself off to bed where she quietly rests until she feels sufficiently well enough to return to humanity. It’s really fantastic from the perspective of someone taking care of her, but it doesn’t make for a very interesting story.

Boyo, on the other hand, OH THE DRAMA! It’s gripping. Boyo royally sucks at being sick (hence the Babyman Cold jokes)…

One afternoon, before I was slammed myself, Boyo lay on the couch under the ugliest rug in the world and bellowed at me “Muuuuuuhuuuuum I don’t feeeeeeel verrrry well!” (on loop, with the occasional “I haaaaaaaaaave a headaaaaaaaaaache!” thrown in) for 45 minutes. Forty-bloody-five long, painful minutes. I was outside hanging washing on the line when he started. I knew he was as comfortable as I could make him, having been given suitable and sufficient pain relief medication, laying on a comfy couch under an ugly but very warm rug, and having a water bottle with him… There was little else I could do so I continued to hang the laundry out, expecting that he’d stop. He’s got stamina, I’ll give him that. When I had finished hanging out the laundry I took a deep breath, gritted my teeth and came inside. With all the restraint that I could muster I kindly reminded Boyo that I understood he was feeling rotten, that there was nothing more I could give him to make the pain go away, and that perhaps he might give his headache a chance to disappear if he stopped making that awful, loud, bellowing noise. He got it eventually, and then his snotty, tear stained face asked for a cuddle. All was then forgiven, because even if he is a horrid patient, he’s pretty damned cute.

A couple of days later I was beginning to feel a bit yuck, and so began my five days in bed. Most of it is a blur, and to be honest I think I sucked at being sick this time too. Usually I like to think I’m pretty brave, I’ve had several surgeries and I think I have behaved pretty reasonably during recovery from those…

This flu though, oh my good earth! I’ve never been so sick in all my life. I dosed up on pseudo-ephidrine, paracetamol and ibuprofen (because I’m not a hippy anymore) then I lay in bed groaning and being generally pathetic while Monsieur Lapin Blanc did all the domestic things. MLB says he knew I was really sick because I wasn’t talking. Normally I could talk underwater with a mouthful of marbles and I wasn’t talking, I was just being a useless, complaining blob of sick.

One night, maybe day three or four, I called my Mum and in very Boyo fashion, I cried at her.

“I’ve never felt more sick in all my life. The pain killers are doing NOTHING. No. That’s not true, they are doing something. They’ve made me constipated. Waaaaaaaaah. I can’t cope with being snotty, cough-y, achey and have a clogged up bum too. What can I doooooooo?”

Mum is a registered nurse/registered midwife and Mum is my Mum, so she knows how to fix everything.

Much like I had said to Boyo just a few days before (the parallels are astounding), Mum said there was nothing more we could do about my pain if I was already taking pain relief, but she could help with the constipation… Mum suggested two options. I could take Coloxyl®, but I know they take about a day to work (unlike a close personal relative of mine who recently took 6 Coloxyl® in 12 hours because she didn’t know that [insert LOL here]) or I could use a glycerine suppository, which she has in her medicine cabinet in bulk because of the whole midwife thing³.

Having tried neither option before, but having very recently heard the story of aforementioned close personal relative’s experience with Coloxyl® overdose, and having heard no stories about glycerine suppositories I decided to choose the latter. I was desperate to relieve at least one of my sources of discomfort, and glycerine suppositories are squishy bullet shaped things that are essentially just like a gummy baby, they’re cute and harmless right?! Let’s just forget, in a sick and irrational haze, the fact that administration of a suppository is up one’s arse while administration of Coloxyl® is oral. I’m not sure WTF I was thinking because, aside from the longer wait for Coloxyl® to work, I’m sure a sensible dose of any oral laxative would have been my preferred choice had I actually considered the options.

So Mum comes over with the suppositories, I cry at her about how terrible I feel and in a moment of clarity I remember where Boyo’s dramatic tendencies come from. I mention this. We laugh because I’m a drama queen but not too much because it makes me cough and I don’t like that because I’m a drama queen. Mum offers to insert the suppository for me. Awwwww fuck. No thanks. That’s going a bit too far, I’m not THAT sick! Mum leaves, imparting the wisdom to aim the suppository at my belly button, to make sure I get the right angle. Mum is the suppository of all wisdom.

So with Mum gone, it’s just me and the suppositories.

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I’ll spare you the details from there on, but I’ll impart a bit of my own suppository wisdom…

  1. These work very fast.
  2. They are very effective.
  3. I don’t think gummy bears could do what glycerine suppositories do.

 


¹Too many wonderful people I know have had awful things happen to them and I just can’t believe for a second that it’s through any fault of their own.
²Those who know her know that Girlie’s default state is neither calm nor quiet… ever.
³The first poo after giving birth is a frightening concept, one could be forgiven for believing one’s insides will evacuate through one’s anus, so having super soft poo is pretty helpful.

If you would like to try your luck at being the suppository of all wisdom, have a look at Stop The Boats.
posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (2)

the get active challenge

Hey Groovers!

For the past couple of months I’ve been using fake book a fair bit less than I used to. I don’t have the application on my phone so I have to open up my lap top to log on and after spending many hours on computers at work* I just don’t feel terribly inspired by that thought.

I’d have to have been living under a rock though, to be unaware of the #icebucketchallenge. Admittedly, it did take me longer than most to cotton on but I’m up to speed now (unlike my shitty internet which is ridiculously slow, thanks iiNet #firstworldproblems #amiright).

So I stumbled on the ice bucket challenge a few days before someone nominated me to do it a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t done it. I don’t know that I will do it but, since the nomination I’ve been thinking about it a bit.

I’ve been involved, on and off, in various direct action activist campaigns for at least a decade now and I’m all across the awareness raising and publicity stunts. I think it’s great that the ice bucket challenge has raised awareness of a horrifying disease. It’s an undeniably clever publicity stunt. People are noticing it and people are talking about it.

For every friend who has posted a video of themselves being drenched with icy water there was at least one friend posting criticisms of the campaign.

  • People aren’t donating money.
  • The money people are donating isn’t being spent on research.
  • The money that is spent on research is spent on animal testing.
  • Water is being wasted.
  • That shit is annoying and really fucking irrelevant…

 

So like I said, I’m all across awareness raising, it’s super important to get your cause out there right? I am concerned though, that a bunch of people have chucked a bucket of cold water at their heads and then pat themselves on the back for their activism. How many of those who participated in the challenge actually donated money? How many of those who criticised the campaign got involved in a way they believe is more meaningful?

See, by now you know I think awareness raising is good, and I think donating money to “good causes” is better, but I truly believe that volunteering your time and energy is the best gift you can give to a cause that’s close to your heart.

So instead of, or as well as, chucking buckets of cold water at each other let’s get active in our communities.

If you can spare it, flick some cash in the direction of a charity that does work you can get behind.

If you’re able, donate some blankets to a homeless shelter, or buy a sleeping bag and give it directly to someone who’s roughing it on the streets.

If you’ve got the time, volunteer at a soup kitchen, a community garden, a youth centre, an aged care facility, a community centre…

Whatever! Think about what you’re passionate about, what you think your community needs to be a better community, and work out how you can help make that happen. Everything we can offer counts. Collectively we can make change.

Some of the campaigns and organisations I’m really passionate about include:

Suicide prevention – today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide has rocked my life several times since I was a teenager and for many years I’ve told myself I’ll volunteer with a suicide support service when the sprogs are older and I’m able to commit the time and energy required. Check out lifeline.org.au (13 11 14) which is a national crisis support and suicide prevention service or thesamaritans.org.au (13 52 47) which is a WA based crisis support and suicide prevention service.

Refugee rights – my favourite grass roots refugee rights group is the Perth based Refugee Rights Action Network (rran.org) and I really get into the work the Melbourne based Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (asrc.org.au) do too. There’s heaps of activist and advocacy groups Australia wide though, do a bit of research and get informed. Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in an international disgrace. You can write letters to politicians, you can meet with politicians, you can hit the streets with RRAN, you can get along to activist and advocacy group meetings, you can write letters to asylum seekers detained in immigration detention facilities to let them know you care (never understate the power of reaching out like that).

Domestic violence – check out womenscouncil.com.au for info on some DV support services in Perth. Check out the Reclaim the Night movement, see if there’s one near you. Lobby politicians to make this an issue. Donate to women’s refuges. Talk about this issue. Just talking about it is so powerful.

Look I could preach at you about things I think are important for an age. An absolute age. I’m one of those bleeding heart hippy types. The point I’m trying to make though, is that you can do so much good in your community with your time and your money, even if you don’t think you’ve got much of either to spare. In the time it’d take you to film yourself being soaked with icy water you could make an online donation to a charity that does great stuff. If you’ve a bit more time than that to spare you could write a letter to a politician. If you’ve got more time again you could volunteer somewhere excellent, even for an hour a week.

I challenge you to get active. I promise it’ll make a positive difference to your life, and to the lives of others.


 

 

*In kimba news, I have a job in a really great community legal centre now – yeah boy!

posted by wildecrafted in activism and have Comment (1)

confessions of an ex-housewife

Almost three years ago I wrote this post in which I ranted about the difference I perceived between stay at home parents and housewives. Now I’m revisiting that post to eat a massive slice of humble pie…

Firstly I must apologise for the gross overuse of exclamation marks in that post!!!!!!!!

Secondly, well, despite my assertions otherwise I totally was a housewife and I am paying for it now.

One thing I did get absolutely right in that post was this bit:

I have temporarily given up my career to parent our children…

As a result, while Bean’s earning capacity has increased, time spent out of paid employment has meant my earning capacity has decreased. That is a significant sacrifice to make for my family!

Between finishing high school and having my children I spent much more time studying than I did in paid employment. In my first year out of high school I studied one year of a three year advanced diploma in theatre lighting design, after that first year I left to study an advanced diploma of naturopathy, and on completion of that course I worked for a while in the south west of WA before traveling to Northern NSW to do a permaculture internship. All of these things were really interesting and I gained a lot of life experience while studying them, however I never really established a career in these or any other fields before Girlie was conceived.

During my relationship with Girlie and Boyo’s father I didn’t have paid employment. I stayed at home with our children and I did the lion’s share of the housework. I was a housewife.

Now that we are separated and I have become the sole, full time carer of the sproggets I am really paying for that choice. While their father left our relationship with a useful qualification and an impressive CV I left with one (economically) useless qualification and a bit of two other qualifications, all of which I had before we began our relationship anyway. During our relationship their father was able to further his career significantly with my support, and I thought that was 0k because it was all going to benefit our family and I knew it would be my turn next. Unfortunately I was naive and my turn never came. I left before I got my turn.

I now rely on a parenting pension and child support while I study to gain a usable qualification so I can independently support myself and our children in future.

While I am entitled to receive child support payments to help care for our children the reality is that I haven’t received any money from their father since February. The child support agency told me they’d get onto it immediately, but their idea of immediate is three months and counting. Due to his comfortable income the mythical child support that I receive from the sproggets’ father is an amount that causes my parenting pension to be reduced to just covering my rent and nothing else. Since February I have been relying on loans and charity from friends and family to put food on the table while the sum of my overdue bills is now in the hundreds. There is no guarantee I will ever see the child support that I am owed, that our children are owed.

If I had chosen to study or do paid work while I was still with my children’s father, instead of being a (fucking) housewife, I would have far more control over my life right now.

I would not be relying on external and unreliable sources of income.

I would be able to put food on the table.

I would not have overdue bills.

I would not be borrowing my father’s second car.

I would not be borrowing school uniforms for the sproggets because I have been unable to buy them their own.

I would not be answering every request with, “No, I’m sorry, we can’t afford that.”

If I could change anything about my past it would be the choice I made to stay at home with our children and believe that I would be rewarded for that*.

In the wake of last week’s announcement of the Abbott government’s proposed budget I am despairing even more than I was before.

I may have made a financially misguided choice to stay at home with my children to the detriment of career advancement but after finally having the courage to leave an unhappy relationship and embark on a course of study to enable me to establish a career,  I am now in a position of having to question whether I can afford to complete the university degree I am currently enrolled in. As a university student and as a sole parent I will be shafted by Abbott’s budget.

They really don’t want to support people to better their situation do they?


 

 

*It utterly disgusts me that our culture does not value the work of child rearing. I shouldn’t regret my choice to be a full time carer to my children when they were babies. With regard to the impact my choice had on their early childhood, I have no regrets, but I am bitterly sorry that we currently have a reduced quality of life because of that choice and I am terrified I will not be able to financially recover from that choice.

 

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have No Comments

where ya been?!

Bonjour mes amis!

Once again, there’s been what seems a lifetime between posts…

For now, at least for this post, I’m back. Back to tell y’all where I’ve been.

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The time of my hiatus from blogging has been a big one for my small family. Bean and I separated last year and navigating that has been difficult. It’s something I haven’t wished to write about in detail on a public forum because it’s not just my story, it’s Bean’s story too. Since Bean and I are no longer “we” and “us” I don’t believe it’s my right to share our stories in the way I used to on this blog. Our separation and its aftermath consumed my life for quite a time so it seemed easier to stop writing publicly than it did to write about anything and everything but the changing landscape of my family. Oh but now there is so much to write about! There are so many things to share that I think it will take a good many posts to bring y’all up to speed…

I’ll go with the “in a (very big) nutshell” approach for now so as to cover as much ground as possible in one post.

Last year I began a degree at university. I’m enrolled in a double major in community development and social + developmental psychology. I love it, it’s so many shades of awesome. After 6 years of stay at home parenting it was so refreshing to spend time talking to other adults about things that weren’t my children. I started uni a week after Bean moved out of my home, it was an intense time, but I’m proud to say I nailed it and I got consistently great marks.

The sprogs and I now live in the inner city of Perth which has been a huge change from living in Albany and Geraldton! We moved here, with Bean, in December of 2012. I’ve been in this house now for longer than I’ve been in most of my other adulthood homes. I love this house so, so much. My landlords are fantastic and I have relished the chance to care for this beautiful, old house. I had permission to paint inside recently, it’s an ongoing project as funds permit but I absolutely will be sharing a ridiculous number of photos of this house here on the blog. I’ll also be able to start telling tales of some adventures in the garden now the weather has cooled enough for plants to have a chance at establishing before being burnt to a crisp by the hot Perth Summer sun. I’ve already begun to potter around out there and I love the way it feeds my soul.

The lifestyle here is lovely. The CBD is a short walk or bicycle ride away and I have some wonderful local friends. The sprogs are both at the local state school, and while it’s not my ideal to have them at school at all (my ideal is unschooling/natural learning/life learning), it is a really lovely little school and they are both delighted with their teachers. It’s working well enough for our family right now.

I really, really miss living near big trees and breathtakingly beautiful, secluded beaches, but we live near a gorgeous big park with Morten Bay Figs and two large lakes that are habitat for turtles and birdlife. I also do get the chance to recharge in the bush every school holidays when the sprogs and I go on Interactive Adventures Camps.

It was October of 2012 when I started back as a volunteer at “camp” after taking a 5.5 year break to have the sproggets. Camp has been a huge part of my life for half of my life, and I am massively grateful to be able to share it with my sproggets now. I will be writing about camp a lot, although words really can’t express what camp is and what it means to us. Many of my very favourite people are friends I’ve met at camp. We are going on camp next week and we are all very excited. In the interests of the nutshell, and in doing justice to camp, I will stop writing about it for now but do stay tuned for more about camp in future posts…

My dear kombi Brigit is currently mid way through a restoration of sorts. She’s in a workshop now awaiting a fresh paint job after having extensive rust repair work done. I miss her pretty hard and I think my first drive in her after I get her back will be one of the sweetest experiences I’ll ever have. I am so looking forward to it.

Perhaps the biggest news, and certainly for me the happiest news, that I have to share is the introduction of a new character to my blog. It is with great pleasure I introduce to you, “Monsieur Lapin Blanc”.

 

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This man is utterly delightful and all three of us Wilde Things love him almost to the point of chest explosion.

His blog moniker is French because, no prizes for guessing, he is French. I’ve been half arsedly learning French for about 7-8 years now but this man, this white rabbit, well he’s a pretty good incentive to try a bit harder.

Monsieur Lapin Blanc has come into our family with an open heart and enriched our lives in many beautiful ways. He is so wonderful to us and we are blessed to have him. In choosing to be with me he has also chosen to give his time, his energy and his love to helping me raise the sproggets. I believe he is an excellent role model for them and he is a complete dag, which means he fits in perfectly here. We relish the time he is with us and when he is not with us I miss him like an idiot misses the point.

So there, dear readers, is as concise an update as I am able to give. We are happy, we are well, and I am back!

posted by wildecrafted in education,journal and have Comments (7)

how i became a refugee rights advocate

This morning on twitter I retweeted this tweet,

“Lebanon has received more #asylum seekers from #Syria in last 24 hours than #Australia has in all of 2013. #auspol”

by Kon Karapanagiotidis, founder and CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne. Very soon someone I don’t know responded with this,

“@wildecrafted @Kon_K Who cares? You can bet they won’t be housed in air conditioned luxury & paid welfare in Lebanon #notourproblem #auspol”

Who cares? I care!

I’ll admit that lately, for the same reasons I haven’t blogged in almost seven months, I haven’t been keeping up with the news about asylum seekers & refugees or the awful race-to-the-bottom politics of the two major political parties in Australia like I used to but my values have not changed.

When I was 21 years old I went on a convergence from Perth to the Baxter Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) just out of Port Augusta in South Australia. At the time I didn’t understand the history of mandatory detention in Australia, and if I’m honest I didn’t really understand why I was going on the convergence.

I first heard about the convergence when I was at a friend’s house, we were sitting on her bed eating highly nutritious mi goreng two minute noodles when I noticed a poster on her bedroom wall that was promoting the 2003 convergence to Baxter IDC.

“Shell, what’s Baxter?” I asked.

Between mouthfuls Shelley told me what Baxter was and we talked about people who had fled persecution and wound up in prisons here in Australia, detained indefinitely without charge or trial. I knew some of this stuff, I’d seen it on the news at my parent’s house but I didn’t yet know that there were people standing up and saying it was wrong.

It was a couple of weeks later when I was hanging out at a feral little bunker of awesomeness called Groovy Space (the home of a local junk percussion band) that my friend Scoutt told me that another convergence to Baxter was being planned and it was happening in a few weeks. She asked if I wanted to come.

There were around 80 of us on the bus from Perth to Baxter. It took us 28 hours to get there, the bus had two drivers who took turns to drive and to sleep in a bed at the back of the bus, we stopped infrequently.

For the three days that we were at Baxter I experienced more than I could have imagined when I signed up to go. I saw a friend, who was well known for his non-violent direct action (NVDA) workshops, get punched in the face by a particularly aggressive police officer. I saw people trampled by horses. I saw helium balloons popped by cops holding pins. I saw the cuts on the face of a fellow Perth activist after his face was rammed into the ground by the police officer who arrested him. I heard our friend tell us about how he’d been arrested because he was holding a camera that had recorded the police brutality and of how the film was wiped clean when he received his camera back. I saw asylum seekers climb onto the roof of the detention centre and heard them call out to us. I chanted “AZADI” (which means freedom in Farsi) with the hundreds of other activists who had come from every state and territory in Australia to protest Prime Minister John Howard’s cruel policies.

While all of this was certainly powerful it was the experience of keeping an overnight vigil at the front gates of the centre with a small handful of the hundreds of convergence attendees that really affected me. We spent the night huddling together under blankets, running on the spot and doing star jumps in an attempt to stave off the chill from of the cold Autumn night in the desert. We discussed anything and everything, always mindful of the people detained in the IDC we sat before. As the sun rose that morning I was struck by the beauty of the vast desert sky. As I stood to face to rising sun the stars still glowed in the dark night sky behind me. I felt free.

The children, the women and the men who were detained at Baxter IDC could not see the horizon. They could not see the simple beauty of the morning washing over the desert. They were not free.

It was in that moment that I knew, I really knew, why I was at the convergence. It was at that point that I understood my own privilege in a way I never had before and it was at that point that I silently vowed to myself, with tears in my eyes, that I would fight for the freedom of those seeking asylum in Australia. They deserve freedom as much as I do.

We won some things during that period of the refugee rights campaign, and in 2007 when John Howard was finally defeated by Kevin Rudd we all had high hopes. Unfortunately since then we have seen a return to policies every bit as inhumane as those of the Howard era.

Thursday June 20, 2013 is World Refugee Day. This Sunday (June 16) the Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN) are hosting a rally calling for an end to the mandatory detention of  asylum seekers and for an end to the awful policy known as “The Pacific Solution”. I will be there, with my children, because the least I can do is spend a couple of hours of my weekend marching for an end to mandatory detention and the closure of offshore immigration detention facilities.

 

posted by wildecrafted in activism and have No Comments

the end of an era?

Hello folks, hasn’t it been a while?! I seem to be making a habit of this whole not posting for a long time before posting a big long update with promises to avoid such lengths of time between posts in future. Well, I’m not making any promises tonight but oh do I have some updates for you!

Since my last post we successfully left Geraldton and we have been in Perth ever since. We have been staying with my Mum and at first we were making regular trips down to Margaret River to search for a home to rent, but then I started having other ideas.

I thought it could be good to go to uni, there’s an old dream I’ve had for most of my adult life that I sorta thought I could probably revisit, which would most likely mean we’d be staying in Perth. Then I wondered how the whole uni thing would work with homeschooling, and decided it wouldn’t so I shelved the idea and resumed looking for a rental in Margaret River. Then one day a few weeks ago I was visiting with a couple of friends and something in my subconscious prompted me to ask them both for more information about the Reggio Emilia inspired school their children attend. Of course I knew a bit about the school already, they’d raved about it for years and I even went to their excellent musical fancy dress quiz night fundraiser a couple of years ago, but I was asking this time with added interest because perhaps, maybe, I could just entertain the thought of sending the sprogs there…?

Ludicrous! We’re homeschoolers, right?

Well, maybe not anymore…

One of the friends arranged for Bean, the sprogs and I to have a look at the school that same afternoon and we discovered it was actually a pretty awesome place which had us thinking that perhaps it could be a good option for us.

A few days after our mini tour the school hosted an evening talk by Tim Gill which, while not telling me anything I hadn’t heard before and certainly not challenging my current values regarding children and childhood, affirmed my feelings that I could probably feel pretty comfortable sending the sprogs to that school.

The classrooms are not like conventional school classrooms, the children don’t have their own desk until end of term/year do us part, instead they have shared tables where children can do desk work as well as couches and mats on the floor. They have a playground called The Wild Space which is dirt, water and uneven surfaces – all the glorious things you never see in children’s playgrounds these days. They play with mud and have a school fire pit. Their school motto is “Listening to Children”… It’s a school, yes, and at the root of it all my educational ideal is natural learning not school, but I have to think about what I want from my life too. I can’t devote myself to homeschooling the sprogs if it leaves me feeling empty and unfulfilled. I really want to go to uni to realise that old dream of mine, and so for that to happen I need to let go of the homeschooling dream (for now?). This school seems to be the closest we’ll get to our educational ideal while not actually homeschooling so we’re giving it a go.

We know four families who are part of the school community and we feel comfortable with their positive assessments of the school, the children as well as the adults, so Sprout is having a trial week there next week. At the end of the week, if she is happy and we are happy, we will enroll her in full time* preschool next year and Moe will probably attend their three year old program 2 days a week.

Bean has been away at work the last 9 days, he’ll be home again from Monday night until Friday morning before he’s away another 11 days (11:3 fly out roster until early January). If this school thing works out we’ll be staying in Perth and needing to find ourselves a more permanent home than my long suffering Mother’s house. More exciting adventures afoot for The Wilde Things.

Aaanyway I reckon that’s enough huge news for one post, I’ll update you on the uni thing if/when it happens…

Wish us luck for school next week, I wonder if we can be organised enough to get there on time with all the bits and pieces that we are supposed to have with us?! That’s probably the most daunting part for me.

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*Every Wednesday the students from all years, including high school, finish at lunch time so the teachers can do weekly professional development sessions. I’m really excited that if we go with this option we’d still have some time together during normal school hours to visit places that are usually quite busy outside of normal school hours, or to just hang out together at home.

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comment (1)

the beach across the road

Here in Geraldton we’ve been living in a suburb called Beachlands. It’s full of old fibro houses and it’s a bit ugly, but there’s no other houses between ours and the beach. There is our road, a big wall, a four lane highway, a train track, and another road, but no other houses so that makes it beachfront right?! Ha.

We’ve only been to the beach a handful of times since we’ve been here, much less than once a week on average. There was a time where I was ducking over there for a solitary walk as soon as Bean got home from work but then his hours changed for the Winter and it was getting dark by the time he was dropped back from work each day so the walks didn’t continue.

Bean’s hours have changed again and it’s starting to warm up a bit here now. The last few days it has been hot. In fact, last night was so hot I slept in my undies with the ceiling fan on. I’ve been joking that it must be Geraldton’s comfort tax on my enjoyment of the beach yesterday, because we really enjoyed it.

Yesterday was the second consecutive day we wandered over there after Bean walked in the door at the end of the day and it was just lovely.

The sprogs played chasey with the waves, I scrunched my feet in the sand, we talked about what next… and we’re none the wiser after talking about it. Really, what next?!

I left the sprogs digging a pool at the water’s edge with Bean and went for a short walk up the beach. Even though I’ve been so lonely up here and I’ve been craving companionship I have felt desperate for time alone too. I’ve felt overwhelmed by the mundane nature of daily life up here. I’ve felt that my life has revolved around making food, cleaning up after the sprogs and entertaining the sprogs with little to no outside input. I’ve been on autopilot for a while now, not really conscious of what I’m doing but just acting out of habit.

In the last few months I’ve had many low points in my interactions with the sprogs and expectations of them, and myself, that are not based in reality.

The walk yesterday evening, however short it may have been, gave me time to breath and caused a shift for me.

This morning I woke feeling more refreshed than I have in a long time and I felt enthusiastic about spending the day with my sprogs.

Maybe it was the walk? Maybe it’s the knowledge that I’m leaving here in 5 short days? I don’t know, but whatever the cause I’m grateful for it.

The sprogs and I went to the green grocer this morning and stocked up on bananas, strawberries, watermelon and apple. We came home long enough to pop it in the fridge before heading out again in search of a paddle pool. We found one at the second shop we went to, twenty dollars thank you very much. Perfect.

We got home and the sprogs had a little rest while I inflated the pool so when they woke up it was ready to be filled. They hoped in with the hose feeding cold water in while I bucketed in scalding hot water from the tap. As one of the billions of buckets I carted was filling up I remembered the hippy bubble bath we bought yesterday and chucked a bit of that in too. The warm, bubbly paddle pool kept them amused for a couple of hours! When they finally got out we watched an episode of Grand Designs together on ABC iView before they decided they wanted to hop in the pool again about 10 minutes before Bean got home from work. The second time they were in there I decided it looked like so much fun I got my clothes off and jumped in with them.

I started swishing up the water and got some serious bubbles happening, we were a pile of bubbly giggles and it was so much fun. I think I’ll have sore arms tomorrow from all that vigorous water swishing but it was so worth it and the three of us are looking forward to more bubbly fun again tomorrow.

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a beautiful sunny day trip

A week or so before Sprout’s 5th birthday this past July we got a brand new car, a Toyota Prius C (funny little hatch back hybrid petrol/electric car). We took it for a maiden voyage to Kalbarri, 150km away from Geraldton, just for the day.

Neither Bean or I had been to Kalbarri before, and obviously the sprogs hadn’t either.

We were suitably impressed. The day was warm and sunny, the people were happy and helpful… with the single exception of the racist git at the fish and chip shop who revealed his racist git-ishness after we’d bought our dinner from him.

When we first got into town we had a hot bevy at one of the cafes, grabbed a new sunhat each for Sprout and I then we took a drive out to some gorges. The Prius did very well on the gravel roads despite being a city car and the sproggets were happy enough to look out the window and be merry since the new car most definitely still had novelty value.

The gorges we were at were very exposed and quite busy so we weren’t so keen to have our lunch there. We got back in the car and found somewhere a little way down the road that offered shade, some water to dip our feet in, and a few less people.

After lunch Bean was itching to check out the surf break Jake’s Point. There was a large rock pool at Jake’s so while Bean was taking photos of surfers and cursing the fact that we couldn’t fit his surfboard into or onto the Prius the sprogs and I had a look in the rock pool. There were a few interesting shells, a crab and a seastar that was unfortunately already dead.

It was windy at Jake’s and the sprogs were getting cold because they’d got their kit off and had a paddle in the rock pool. I chucked a little tanty about not wanting to sit on a beach watching people surf & worrying about how close the sprogs would get to the edge of the rocks so Bean reluctantly agreed it was time to go.

We headed to another couple of beaches for a quick look but my absolute favourite, and the one we spent the most time at was the last one we checked out. Since it’s been a couple of months I can’t recall which of the colourful names this beach had been blessed with, I like to hope it was the one called Rainbow Beach (or something to that effect)…

We parked at the top here and walked down a path in a small gorge to the small, sheltered section of sand & tiny crushed shells.

It was such a magical place, although the sign at the end of the path warning us that lives had been lost at that beach reminded us of the danger in the beauty that lay before us.

We climbed the beautiful sandstone rocks at the far end of the beach to look out to the ocean.

We found ourselves standing next to some rushing water. Dangerously beautiful. We watched the water come in and go out with the tide.

Bean and I held tight to the sprogs hands, taking in the sights and the smells of the sea air before we headed back down to the beach to look at shells.

The sprogs and I managed to make a rainbow with the little crushed shells around us while Bean explored some little nooks under the cliffs on the other side of the beach.

The sun was setting, our tummies were grumbling and we knew we had to get back up that path through the rocks so we started to head back in to town to find some dinner before the drive back to Geraldton.

We found the aforementioned racist git fish & chips which we thoroughly enjoyed eating while watching the sun slip into the ocean at the town beach.

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on five years of unplanned motherhood

I started writing this post in the two weeks before Sprout’s birthday in July this year. It has sat unfinished in the drafts folder since then. It is perhaps a bit lengthy and heavy to be the first post in over a month, but the subject is one I have found myself thinking of a lot in recent weeks and, well, it’s my blog so here it is in all it’s lengthy, heavy, jumbled glory. Obviously it’s a fractured, incomplete snap shot of how I feel about mothering. At the same time that it’s complex it’s over simplified. Words on a page will never do justice to how I think and feel, and can’t begin to paint an accurate picture of five full years in the life of three people.

 

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 I did not intend to become a mother when I did.

Something many people know about my family and many more don’t yet know is that our eldest child, Sprout, was conceived the first time Bean and I had sex!

We had known each other a couple of years before developing our relationship from acquaintenceship to friendship and then romance and it was two and a half weeks into that new romance, which we were both enjoying but certainly not serious about, when I learned I was pregnant.

I told my closest friend first. I met her for lunch just hours after I found out, and I said to her,

“We haven’t been together long enough to deal with this!”

Her reply has rather characterised the journey I found myself on.

“No, you haven’t, but you’re going to have to deal with it.”

She was right. No matter the outcome we had to deal with it.

While I am pro-choice, supporting a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy for any reason, abortion was not an option I wanted to pursue myself. This I knew even before telling Bean of our pregnancy.

That afternoon I asked him to come to my house after work despite agreeing that morning when we parted company that we wouldn’t see each other again that day, because of this he knew something was up.

When I told him his response was,

“Oh… Shit.”

We spent a few hours discussing our options. One he suggested which I had lumped with abortion as not being an option, was adoption. His mother had offered her first child for adoption, so it seemed a reasonable option to him. For me, it seemed more painful than the prospect of abortion.

No. I was going to raise that baby myself, should the pregnancy go to term & result in a live birth.

The following 8 1/2 months were an absolute rollercoaster.

Our non-committal fling became suddenly serious.

Bean and I had chosen to stay together, seeing no good reason to separate simply because of an unplanned pregnancy. We were still enjoying each other’s company so we figured we may as well continue with our new relationship while that was still the case.

We called our foetus “Snottygobble” after a silly conversation we’d had about how so many of our hippy mates named their babies after trees – Jarrah, Karri, Wattle, Wandoo, Marri, Oak, Ash… We decided our baby would be calld Snottygobble after a small shrub that is native to the south west of Western Australia.

We often joked about our situation together and with friends, and we still do today, but the reality for both of us was (and is) not a joke.

Our relationship was hard. Being pregnant was physically and emotionally draining, something that Bean couldn’t, and in reality didn’t really want to, understand. Bean moved in to my Mum’s place, where I was staying, when it became clear we weren’t going to find a rental in the competitive rental market at the time. I was worried, I didn’t want to be living at my Mum’s place when I was about to become a mother myself. I was supposed to be an adult! Also, I was planning a home birth yet had no home of my own. Bean went out several nights a week and stayed out really late, often until sunrise or later, always coming home drunk or hungover. I began to seriously believe I’d be a single Mum, sometimes I look back on that time and wonder why I didn’t boot him out then, why I put up with his immature ways of hiding from the truth of an unplanned pregnancy. We both dealt very differently with the fact that we were to become parents in a few short months and we were incapable of supporting each other effectively.

My Mum ended up deciding to buy an investment property which we were to live in. Mum took me with her to look at a couple of houses, she went with the first one we looked at. It needed painting, and my elder sister suggested some no VOC clay paints which meant I could do some of the painting even though I was pregnant. My sister came most days with her own 3 month old baby while her elder child was at kindy, she worked hard to have the house ready for us to move in to with time for me to still get my nesting instinct on. She was such a huge support during that time (and many other times in my life!), I called her several times in tears over something Bean had done or a miscommunication between the two of us.

I came to feel a fondness for Bean, but at the same time I resented him. He wasn’t the one that pregnancy was happening to. He could still walk away at any time and regain the life he’d lost. He was still clinging to the life he had before we were together, minus the picking up at parties part. I felt so scared that he’d keep doing it after our baby was born, that I’d have no support from him.

Closer to the end of my pregnancy Bean began to decline invitations to go out, I was not up for going out as much as we’d used to and he was starting to choose to stay home with me rather than leave me home alone. Still, we didn’t really talk seriously about the elephant in the room – the big belly between us.

The first time he held our daughter after her birth I felt a shift in him. He began to become the father I had hoped he’d be. They now have a very strong bond. If I’m honest I sometimes think it’s much stronger than the bond between me and Sprout.

Our relationship was still a rollercoaster. Bean did some very hurtful things that caused a lot of damage and I spiralled into a deep depression.

Breastfeeding Sprout was intensely painful and a huge source of grief. Ever since I was a young child I’d known I would breastfeed my babies, I was breastfed until two years old and I intended to do the same for my own children. It never occured to me that breastfeeding might be less than easy, less than perfect. It’s natural, it’s the way babies are supposed to be fed so it should be easy, right? So very, very wrong.

Sprout had a tongue tie, it was misdiagnosed until she was 6 months old.

For the first 6 months of her life I went to breastfeeding clinics, maternal and child health nurses, lactation consultants and GPs seeking a diagnosis and a cure for the pain breastfeeding caused. I was diagnosed with thrush, vasospasm, “red haired woman’s nipples” (they’re apparently very sensitive?!), imaginary pain and bacterial infections. I took so many different remedies both pharmaceutical and natural. I hated myself for being broken and not having boobs that just worked. I stubbornly continued to breastfeed, despite the physical pain and the emotional turmoil. In hindsight I’m not sure that it was the best thing to do, but then I’d probably be saying the same thing now if I had chosen to give up breastfeeding.

Finally, with help from a friend and her friend who is an ABA counsellor I found a care provider who diagnosed the tongue tie and another care provider who believed breastfeeding was a good enough reason to divide a tongue tie. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. This breastfeeding hell could almost be over, and then I could get on with being a normal breastfeeding woman. I could get on with enjoying mothering.

Under 6 months of age a tongue tie can be divided with ease in a paediatrician’s rooms. Unfortunately, Sprout’s wasn’t discovered until she was just over 6 months old so she would require a general anaesthetic in hospital. After 6 months babies are too aware and it’s too risky to put scissors into the mouth of an older baby. Sprout went on a waiting list at the children’s hospital and at 10 months old she had the proceedure done.

Unfortunately it made little difference to the pain I experienced. By 10 months she’d worked out how to get the milk from my breasts, I had a huge oversupply and so she had become lazy in her feeding. I was shattered. I’d hoped and wished and willed that moment to be the end of my breastfeeding woes. I went on to feed her until she was 21 months old when I decided that enough was enough, I couldn’t quite make it to 2 years. I believed by that stage that any good that breastfeeding her was doing was being undone by the way I had been unable to cope with the constant pain. Breastfeeding became an exercise in emotional detatchment, not the bonding experience it was supposed to be.

The breastfeeding problems, while huge and at times all consuming, were just another layer to the overwhelming desperation I felt. I was so lonely there in the suburbs with my new baby. I was the first of my friends to have a baby, so I drifted apart from a lot of them once I was stuck at home with this child I hadn’t really planned to have. Friends were busy working during the days and socialising with each other during the evenings. I pushed some of them away because I couldn’t bear to show them how poorly I was doing. I wanted to be seen as someone who had it together, someone who had taken an unplanned pregnancy in her stride and become a wonderful mother. Not the scared, overwhelmed, ill-equipped, crying mess that I really was.

I made some new friends who were mothers, all with similar views on parenting as me. I felt simultaneously grateful for those women and also so afraid they’d decide I wasn’t worthy of their friendship that I pushed a lot of them away too.

Sprout was a delight. She was, and is, happy and funny. My Mum always said, and still says, she’s full of the joy of life. I agree with my Mum on that one, Sprout is certainly joyful. She’s also very intense. She’s incredibly social, she’s very smart and observant, she’s loud, she’s attention seeking, she’s high energy. She needs a lot of stimulation, a lot of interaction, and a lot of physical exercise to maintain a level of calm that I can deal with.

A month after I weaned Sprout we began trying to conceive another baby. We tried once, and we succeeded. Sprout’s very high energy personality was revealed to me in fullness a short time after our second child was conceived.

Once again, my good friend hindsight tells me that perhaps I needed to spend a bit more time with Sprout before having a second baby, she was still a baby herself after all. I really wanted to have a second baby though, I wanted the chance to get breastfeeding right – I could have given myself more of a break before I started again. I wanted the chance to be a confident and experienced Mum, not a scared and unsure new Mum – I could have given myself the chance to become Sprout’s confident Mum.

It doesn’t matter anyway really, even though I was able to be more confident as a second time mother to a new baby I’ll always be a first time mother to Sprout. My poor eldest child who will cop all of my most experimental parenting. My poor eldest child who I was, and am, grossly unprepared for.

We’ve had a really rough start, at times I’ve thought I should have made the choice to terminate that unplanned pregnancy because this mothering gig is too hard and I feel like I’ll spend my whole parenting career fucking her up. I know I don’t really feel that, but oh I never knew how hard being a mother could be. I wouldn’t trade her for anything, my difficult, joyful, loving, frustrating, funny, clever and delightful Sprout. Completely unplanned and yet completely loved.

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a brief fling with television

The house we’re renting for our short time in Geraldton is furnished. Not one single item of furniture in the house is to my taste, but whatever hey? We’re only renting it for four months and two of them have passed fairly incredibly uneventfully already.

The house comes with television. Three of them actually.

This is the first time Bean and I have ever lived in a house with television. Neither of us owned a TV when we got together so we saw no good reason to change that once we started living together. Blissfully we’ve lived without TV, relying on our computers to view TV shows and movies online when we wanted.

Last year, while living through a wet Winter in the tiny shed, I introduced the sprogs to Playschool. When we needed a change of mood and heading outside or to another room (we didn’t have another room!) was out of the question I’d put an episode of Playschool on the computer, buying half an hour of mental space for me and entertainment for the sprogs. Before this they’d had very little exposure to screens, always at other people’s homes.

Moving to a house with TV was a bit weird for us, it gave us another thing to do, but it was a thing we’d actively chosen not to do before now.

The (only) thing I love about this house is the amount of storage space. We have such a small amount of stuff here with us that we can’t possibly fill all the cupboards with it so there was plenty of room to put the wall decorations* into an unused cupboard where I don’t have to look at them and there was room in the same cupboard for two of the televisions also. Brilliant!

The third, and (by far) the largest television was in the loungeroom. It took up about 2.5 square metres of floor space (at least a quarter of the available floor space), the chairs all faced it and it constantly demanded attention, whether it was on or not.

We got a little sucked in to it, what with having no friends locally and being tempted by it’s awesome time passing ablities.

The sprogs watched a bit of ABC for kids. It became a more dominant feature in our lives where our previous screen time experience  was all about watching an episode or two of a chosen show before continuing with other screen-less activities. The TV was turned on and they watched whatever was on. They watched TV to pass time, using it as a fast forward button on the day rather than as a tool to enjoy a specific program.

There were shows (always children’s shows) which scared the sprogs and caused nightmares later on, but Sprout would always get upset if I turned the show off. Moe never really got so sucked in, if the show didn’t interest him he’d walk away and find something else to do.

For Sprout though the TV became a bit like a drug. Understandably, she was (is!) bored, there’s little for them to do at this house between the times we’re out and she wanted to pass the time. She became aggressive and violent, particularly immediately after the TV was turned off. Her capacity to enjoy time spent doing other home based activities diminished, her desire to do anything other than watch TV diminished. She began pleading and bargaining for more TV time.

The final straw for me was when she hit Moe for standing in the way of the TV. I was worn down by all the begging, I was irritated and overstimulated by the overwhelming images flashing before our eyes, the loud noises, the silly voices – children’s television is a lot brighter, louder and more intense than it was when I was a child.

That night I asked Bean to help me move the TV into one of the storage spaces and move the sprogs toys into the loungeroom.

It seemed so silly that their toys were in the sleep out, farthest from the main living area than any other room in this little shack, with no heating and flimsy fibro walls while the massive eyesore of a TV was in the heated loungeroom.

In a short time we had the TV out of sight and the toys in its place. The sprogs were delighted the following morning to wake to their toys in an already warm room.

There have been some questions about the TV, but they were answered and we’ve moved on. We’re back to the occasional episode of Playschool or some other short children’s show on the computer, with Bee Movie** showing most days while I’ve been sick this past week.

There are certainly times I wish we did have the TV set up so I could turn it on to a channel designed for children and have some peace myself, but the reality is that the break isn’t worth the angst at the end of it, nor does it feel like a break when there’s irritating TV noise in the background.

I’m glad we had the brief fling with TV, it had been so long for either Bean or myself that we’d forgotten what we didn’t really like about TV before, so it was good to be reminded. It was good to see such a huge impact on Sprout’s behaviour, which we were able to discuss with her and she was eventually able to recognise in herself. I’m glad we can now say we know rather than merely suspect that selective viewing, rather than turning on a TV and watching whatever is available at the time, works far better for our family.

 

*Wall decorations that made me cringe were not to my taste.

**The only children’s movie the sprogs aren’t frightened by.

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