Confidence thrown out with the placenta?

Sometimes I wonder if they threw my confidence out with the placenta. Or even a little bit each time. Like the midwives and obstetrician all get together as they’re stitching whatever part of my body back together, and they say “Ooh, let’s take away her ability to make new friends!” or “Why don’t we get rid of those interview skills?” They rub their hands together and with a little tug and a toss over the shoulder it’s gone for good. Bye-bye job interviews, new friends, and even the ability to look your son’s school teacher in the eye when she’s complimenting you on being a super mum as you “have three children, including a BABY and you still manage to help with fundraising and attend open classrooms at the school”.

As I ponder all of these things, I sit here FREAKING OUT. You see, I had this silly idea that I could apply for a scholarship a few months ago. I fit the criteria, so why not give it a shot? I set a reminder in my calendar to print off the application form in February, I got some amazing references, one which literally brought a tear to my eye, and I submitted everything before the deadline. It’s not a huge monetary figure, but when one is not working, they do not turn down free money, right?

So now here I sit, a few hours after receiving the phone call. I have been selected for an INTERVIEW. At first I thought it was great, but then I couldn’t shake the weird nervous feeling. I used to look forward to interviews. I was one of those sick sadistic people who got off on being asked difficult questions. Or maybe I was just too far into myself back then to realise that interviews were the work of the devil. I used to have a heap of clever answers all ready to go in my head, and I even coached hubby through some interviews too, jealous that I couldn’t sit them in his place. I honestly thrived in those situations and was a natural.

But now I’m DYING. I can’t talk myself up anymore. I stutter. I go into a fumbling mess. I try to talk, and when nothing comes out in the right order, I try to make up for it with my hands. They wave around in front of my face, totally out of my control. My hands are like two flapping fish … very much out of water. I am my hands, that fish – gasping for air. Do you think they’ll give it back to me if I write to the hospital and bribe them? Why is it that only a year out of the workforce can send someone back so far? If anyone has any tips (or vodka, or maybe even duct tape for my hands?) I’d be grateful.

Sincerely,

C.

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Back to school.

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She walks through the school gate and looks around to see who else was early on the first day of the school year. There are lots of small children running around chasing each other as a teacher calls out for them to “SLOW DOWN!” Off to the right, three boys sit on the concrete, facing each other swapping Pokemon cards. Two smaller girls sit beside them; the older one has taken out the younger girl’s ponytail and is attempting to re-do it herself. There are long strands of straight black hair blowing in the warm summer breeze, and the more the older girl tries to gather the fly-away hairs, the more she sets free.

After standing by the gate, gazing around, she slowly makes her way over to the metal benches by the fence and sits, resting her back on the fence while she waits for the school bell. She looks at her watch and notes that there are only a few minutes left until the bell rings.

As she rests her head back on the fence and ponders what today will have in store, she notices a boy who looks to be about eight years old standing in front of the water bubblers with a sullen look on his face. He’s standing in front of his father, who is dressed in a crisp black suit and white shirt with a purple tie. The boy has tears in his eyes and lifts his chin up towards the sky as if he’s willing them not to fall. His father is pointing at him and leaning into his face, almost spitting his words in anger. They’re too far away for her to hear what it’s about, but it’s clear the man is angry. The boy says nothing in return, but the father keeps digging his index finger into his chest and the boy keeps trying to keep his tears at bay. What appears to be the boy’s mother joins them from the car – a shiny new black BMW – and teeters over in her sky-scraping black patent leather heels. She smooths her suit jacket as she approaches them and looks to the man with pleading eyes. He immediately storms off and returns to his car while the mother puts her hand on the boy’s shoulder. They exchange a brief farewell and she joins her husband in the car just as the bell rings.

Everyone runs to the assembly area and picks up their bags to put on their backs. The school captains stand out front and lead the school in morning prayer. She can’t take her eyes off the boy. He’s struggling holding back the tears and just as one falls, her heart breaks for him.

As a mother, she just wants to hold him tight. She blows her boys a kiss each and heads back to the car for another day at home with text books of her own and a baby girl to distract her.

NEW YEAR’S TRADITIONS

I’m originally from the UK and have been living in Australia since the early eighties. Having spent a few of the Christmas holidays over the years back home with family, I’ve become familiar with a few English traditions and I decided that this year (or last year), hubby would carry out one of those traditions at our place in Australia.

So just before midnight, hubby opened the back door and let 2014 out. He then walked around the front of the house carrying some salt, coal & bread through the front door. This was to encourage the new year to bring enough food to eat (bread), enough money (salt), and enough warmth (coal) into our home. I’ve always thought this tradition was kind of sweet and somewhat therapeutic so I’ve decided we’re going to continue it through the years. Growing a family in a home which is made up of two very different nationalities, I think it’s important to be able to bring both cultures and traditions into the lives of our children. Oh and I decided at about 3.00 this morning that Strawberry Daiquiris are going to be our own little tradition too. Happy New Year!

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“The Santa Lie”

The last few weeks I’ve seen a picture being shared around social media. This picture is a message to all parents to please keep less fortunate children in mind when shopping for presents “from Santa”. The idea is to make one or two small gifts from Santa and if you chose to spoil your child, do so from yourself instead. It suggests that children will compare what they are given from Santa and those less fortunate will feel disappointed that Santa was more generous with other children.

My first thought was “how dare someone else suggest how I choose to share the magic of Christmas with my children”. My second thought was to read some of the other comments being shared around social media. Yes, I can see there may be some benefit to each child being treated equally by the big guy in the red suit, but do children REALLY compare gifts? How about we teach our children a little humility and discretion instead? Isn’t talking about “what you got” the essence of bad manners anyway? And not every child wants the same thing, so how can we all possibly try to keep on the same level in terms of size or price of gifts? The whole suggestion that we need to be mindful of how much we spoil our children at Christmas seems a little ridiculous to me. Let’s teach our children to be mindful of others and not brag instead. They then learn a lifelong attribute and are better people for it in the long run.

I’ve also noticed a whole new debate being argued by some people: the “I wouldn’t dare LIE to my children, so my kids know that Santa isn’t real” debate. I am in shock. I’m not talking about children who are old enough to have figured it out on their own or even heard the rumours in school, but I’m talking about parents of two and three year old children. Since when is it so bad to create a fantasy and give our children a little bit of magic once a year? Do these people HONESTLY live their lives not telling one single white lie? Do they answer “yes” when their partner asks “Does my butt look big in this?” When their five year old child comes to them asking when they’re going to die, do they honestly answer that they could die at any moment, or do they console their child and respond with a comforting “You’re not going anywhere as long as I have anything to do with it”? Are we really THAT concerned that we shouldn’t lie to our children, that we’d sacrifice such a magical experience which won’t last forever? Since when is working hard and spoiling our children with a little white lie once a year so bad?

If you think it’s such a bad thing, then perhaps you need to watch “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and do a little soul searching.

Love and Laughter

My husband rocks. No, really. I’ve not been hacked, it’s still me and he honestly rocks!

I was thinking today of all the times he’s made me wet my pants over the years. Sometimes it’s been begrudgingly on my part. You know when someone is being so cheeky that you try to keep a straight face, but inside you’re just bursting to cry with laughter? There have been many times where I’ve tried to be angry at him but it very rarely works. He just makes me laugh.

First, there is the “car-waft”. When we were first dating and we’d pull up to traffic lights in the car, he would promptly wind down his window while fanning his face and pointing at me. If the car was close enough, he’d even tell them “Awwwww she farted!” No matter how many times you’d shake your head and deny it, you could tell by the look in their eyes that these people do not believe you. After all, even if you DID do it, you’d still be denying it.

Next is the “salad sandwich”. My husband is Lebanese and I am English. His family and friends are the most welcoming and hospitable people I have ever met. If you shiver, they will try to force you to take the jumper off their shoulders. They often show their love through food, and much of their lives revolve around sumptuous feasts. Even to this day, when we pull out the barbecue to cook the kids a few sausages for dinner, my in-laws start asking who we’re inviting to the “barbecue”. And it’s said like you’d say “wedding” or “christening”. Anyway, whenever we would visit his friends who still lived at home (and even his parents in the early days), they would always offer us food. I’d politely shake my head and say “No thank you” and hubby would say “She was just saying she wants a salad sandwich”. The lady of the house would always without fail, excitedly reply with “You want a salad sandwich? I make for you!” I’d then smile and explain that no, we had eaten on our way over, then he would lean forward and say “She’s shy, she’s going to tell you she doesn’t want one, but she really does”. This would then result in AT LEAST twenty minutes of “Are you sure?” and “I’m happy to make one for you” while hubby would sit opposite me snickering at my discomfort.

Another one he’s got me with over the years is the “shopping list edit”. Imagine this: You’re heading out to the local supermarket with several items on your list. You have a toddler who sits in the trolley scribbling on the shopping list, and then you bump into someone you know. You’re stood there chatting away and they look down at the note pad with the shopping list and scribbles and you realise hubby has added a special item which won’t be found in the medication aisle next to the condoms. Your list now looks like this:

* Bread

* Milk

* D**k suck

* Baked Beans

* Yoghurt…

You’re smiling at the person in front of you while they look down at the notepad encouraging your toddler to keep drawing. The only thing you can do is start jolting the shopping trolley from side to side in the hope that their eyes can’t focus enough to make out the new addition to your shopping list. – Not. Cool. (My son’s neck is getting better by the day, I promise).

I’m sure there are more, but I’ll leave you with those gems for now. And it has to be said: Sorry ladies, he’s taken! 😛

Cancer, please don’t take my friend.

I don’t know what to say but know I need to say something. I’m lost. I’m angry, scared and upset. A friend of mine has been battling breast cancer and a myriad of related ailments for a few years now and it seems the end is near. I’m scared for her, as I know she’d be scared too. I’m upset that her two boys aged six and eight will grow up without a mother. I’m lost because I have no idea what to say. The tears are flowing, and my heart is aching for her, but I can’t put how I’m feeling into words. I just know I need to write.

My friend (we’ll call her “S”) had her second son the same month as I had my first, so we were in the same birth group on a parenting forum. From there, she drifted off when the majority of us moved over into a private Facebook group. Our group stayed active and from her Facebook profile it appeared that S had suffered a miscarriage. I contacted her and reminded her that we moved over into a private group and that we were there for her if she needed people to talk to. She accepted my invitation and one of the first posts she read was one from another friend whose boss was dying from breast cancer. This friend urged us all to check our breasts.

From that moment, things moved fast for S. She found a lump, then had a mammogram, then a biopsy and was scheduled for surgery within a few weeks. She had an extremely rare type of breast cancer which had grown very fast. S received treatment, which appeared to be successful and after a long battle, she was in remission. The medications and treatments had led to weight gain, hair loss, and her body would never look the same again following a double mastectomy and reconstruction, but no matter what, she was always so positive and to many, was the most beautiful person in the world.

I guess what gets to me the most are the similarities between S and myself. It could very easily be me saying goodbye to my loved ones. She’s a few years older than me, had two boys first, two years apart then had a miscarriage. I guess I looked at her and thought “that will be me two years from now” … until the cancer hit. For her, that lost baby is the reason she was able to get treatment in time and extend her life, to gain a few extra years with her boys. For me, I was blessed to go on to conceive the girl we both always wanted. Why though? I was certainly no more deserving than she was.

Tonight I fed my baby girl with tears falling on the pink muslin wrapped around her. Then I burped her on my shoulder with the only movement coming from my sobs while I pondered how extremely lucky I am. S has been given a few days to live. To hold her boys, and say goodbye to many who have been blessed to have known her. Why do bad things happen to good people? I’m scared for S and I can’t imagine how hard these next few days will be for her. How do you spend those last few days with your boys without being an absolute mess? One thing I do know is that S will do it. She is one strong woman and she will do what many people couldn’t. She always has.

To any women out there reading now: CHECK YOUR BREASTS!

This post is dedicated to the most amazingly strong and inspiring woman I will EVER know. I love you. xx

There’s nothing virtual about virtual friends.

Forging internet friendships is similar to internet dating. There’s the honeymoon phase, where everyone is mindful of each other’s beliefs, respectful of differing opinions, and generally live by the notion that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. There is often a “first meet” where everyone attending obsesses and “Face-stalks” the others’ Facebook profiles hoping not to look too lost when they enter the meeting place. Then after the initial “meet”, what if you don’t want to see them again for whatever reason? It can often be more difficult than breaking up with someone. Trust me. I’ve been there before and have a quirky Facebook friend complete with three meal pics per day and video workout demonstrations to prove it.

For the most part, I’ve been lucky in the virtual friendship department. When I use the phrase “virtual friends”, the only thing “virtual” about them is the fact that the friendships were built in cyber space. Not sitting face to face often means you can be more open and honest. Maybe it takes away the fear of judgment. After all, if you can’t see the person, who cares if they’re judging you or not? Maybe it’s because you always have the option of removing yourself from their life with a click of the mouse. Or the fact that you’ve come together with something in common, like the birth or loss of a child. Either way, these friendships can often be more fulfilling and meaningful than real life friendships. Once the initial “first meet” nerves are out of the way, the door is opened to many wonderful life-long connections. As a group, there will be ups and downs, losses and gains, but at the end of the day, each and every person has a support network behind them whenever they need. That is priceless, and I am forever grateful.