Tuesday, August 23, 2016

'The m-word'


Although I don't want to jinx anything, I'm pretty sure I can confidently announce that the 'down' phase has finally gone. Hoorah!

I know it has been a tough few years with both Mum and Dad passing, but as I'm fast approaching 46 - and have noticed a few, let's just say body changes over the past year and a bit - I fear that the ups and downs I have been feeling lately may not just be grief-related. I think it may also have something to do with, well, hormones. As in (oh GOD, am I really about to write this?) it could be, perhaps, ... menopause?

Geez, I hate writing 'the m-word' because it makes me feel really OLD. My GP told me about eighteen months ago that there is a pre 'm-word' stage that can last for up to ten years. TEN, people! Certainly, the last time I felt this hormonal was as a fourteen year old girl who was new to the whole 'having a period' thing. I remember snapping at my best friend one time while we were sitting and talking on my bed - my period was in full swing and I felt awful - and she said, 'You know, I'm not sure I can be around you when you have your period.' I immediately apologised then promptly burst in to tears. I needed my best friend more than ever during that time, and I didn't want to lose her, but by the same token I just couldn't help myself. It was as if I was possessed by the devil himself, and as the words escaped my lips, not only couldn't I believe I was actually saying them, it seemed beyond my control to stop them from coming out!

For that first year or so, every time 'that time of month' came around, my mood swings would take over and turn me in to a complete and utter cow. For a day or two, anyway. Eventually, thankfully, the mood swings settled. I guess it was just my teenage body getting used to all the hormone changes.

Oh, the ups and downs of womanhood...

On one hand, I am completely comfortable with the idea that my child-bearing years are slowly but surely winding down. Since the birth of Youngest Son almost ten years ago, I have not once felt the need to have another child. In fact, I knew it during my labour with him. I remember standing against the bed, holding on to my swollen belly as another contraction hit, and thinking, I can't ever go through this again. I. Am. DONE. There are just some things you know, am I right?

However, if my hunch is correct, and my recent mood swings are to do with 'the m-word' fast approaching, I'm not sure how I'll cope going through those down periods. Especially if they are going to make a habit of swinging by occasionally for as long as my GP seems to think they could. I mean at 45, I'm certainly not getting any more patient with age, let me tell you!

In any case, all is good again for the moment, so I'm going to embrace that, as well as the spring that has returned in my step these last few days.

While I can, anyway. *crosses fingers*

J
xox

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Stuck


I continue on in this funk that I thought would have lifted by now. I'm never down for long. I have my moments, then I move on. I am, in general, a pretty happy person.

In actual fact, I thought that by last Sunday, I had almost fully recovered and things were looking up. That's where writing about your feelings can help. Getting it out, admitting things aren't okay and 'talking' about it can clear the cobwebs, you know?

But I found myself on a particular low yesterday.

I think it mostly has to do with my dear Mum. I have been thinking and talking about her a lot this past week, and after talking about her death again yesterday morning with someone (without getting upset at the time, I might add), I found myself driving home afterwards from the conversation and spontaneously bursting in to tears.

In particular, I can't get the image of my Mum dying out of my head at the moment. It's the first thing I wake up thinking about, and as much as I try to shake it off, I just can't. Although I'm so glad I was there for my Mum, watching her die was the hardest thing I have ever done, and not an experience I'd like to repeat any time soon. (Or ever thank-you-very-much.) The memory of it stays with me, and partly, I want it to. I don't want to completely forget it, but I don't want to remember it with great clarity either. In fact, I'm glad that after the first 48 hours had passed following her death, the memory of her final minutes wasn't as painfully vivid as it had been immediately afterwards. I think the brain is great at protecting you from the things that really hurt. I have a friend who had quite a bad car accident; she drove in to a back of a truck. Doesn't remember a thing about it. At the time, the doctors told her it was her brain's way of protecting her from those, no doubt, incredibly horrifying final seconds leading up to the impact.

Grief really sucks. Just when you think you're feeling better, it draws you back in. I know, from experience, this first year will be the hardest. All the 'firsts' are the hardest, and there's just one month and ten days to go before all the 'firsts' are finally done.

I think I'll sigh in relief come October. I hope so anyway.

J
xox

Saturday, August 13, 2016

This too shall pass


Apart from the odd post here and there, I pretty much stopped writing about parenting when I finished up Mummy Mayhem. There comes a time in your childrens' lives when you realise it's not your story to tell. Writing about toilet training and three-year-old tantrums is one thing, but as your kids grow and so does their awareness of the world (not to mention the Interwebs), it's time, in my opinion, to stop writing about them.

But I can still write about being a parent.

Parenting can be REALLY hard. There are 'those days' that unwind us on occasion, no less me over the last couple of weeks in particular. The Queen referred to the year 1992 as her 'annus horribilis'. That's what the last two weeks have been for me, with everything culminating in me 'having a moment' in my car on the side of the road last Thursday - head down on the steering wheel and great heaving sobs escaping uncontrollably. All because one son forgot his school shoes; a fact only discovered once we were driving up to the school gate. After a slightly longer than usual drive from home that morning - almost an hour - it became the straw that broke the camel's back. (I managed to pull myself together, make a few calls, and in the end he was only ten minutes late - a gorgeous friend offering me shoes and a nice, long empathetic hug.)

Except that it wasn't just about the missing shoes at all.

Over the past few weeks the household has become a breeding ground for a dreaded lurgy that has taken all of us down one by one. When you're sick everything seems worse, right? Emotions and reactions are heightened. Tenfold. Even the smallest of things seem big. Add to that, I'm about to embark on a challenging month ahead (more on that another time) and, well, it can all seem a bit too much at once. I haven't reacted well at times.

Sometimes I'm the best mother in the world, sometimes I may not be the worst, but I feel pretty damn ordinary. I lose my *$%#, you know? Probably because I'm human. Doesn't make it any less disappointing to me though.

I think I'm particularly tough on myself because this is what I do all day, every day. I can't blame pressures at 'work'. I can't blame being time poor because I'm studying. I should be able to do this with ease, don't you think? But some days, I just feel so overwhelmed by everything. There's always something that needs fixing, you know?

But maybe, doing this gig without the kind of 'outside' help that only an extended family can provide (Mr A is great when he isn't at work and the like) is exactly what adds to the problem. For the past almost fourteen and a half years, I've had to do this without the benefit of a little extra help from a grandparent and/or sibling from time to time. I know people will probably read this and think, But you're at home all day and your kids are at school - it can't be too bad! That's true, I am, and most of the time it isn't, but I'm not sitting at home all day every day watching daytime television and eating donuts by the dozen. I'm 'working'. Household chores, but work nonetheless. I don't outsource anything. In fact, the closest I come to getting help is ordering food online every few weeks or so!

I do, however, enjoy the odd catch up with friends and I'm on my paddle board as much as possible (to me, that's my 'run' or 'gym session' or 'tennis clinic'), and I have taken a 'day off' on occasion to shop or watch trashy tv or sleep (mostly when I'm sick). But I am working otherwise.

Mr A works (like, outside the home!), and over the years he has traveled quite a bit for work, so it has always been up to me to shoulder most of the 'every day' parenting. I can't tell you how many times a work trip overseas unfortunately coincided with a sick child, and I just had to suck it up. I couldn't call on my parents or my sister or an in-law to perhaps swing by and just play with one child for an hour or so while I wiped up the vomit of another. Never. EVER.

As a consequence, it's me my boys call out for in the middle of the night when they're sick. It's me who caters to everyone's social and school obligations and coordinates it all, and it's me who has to ask them 343 times every afternoon after school to start their homework. *face plants*

I suppose eventually, the ongoing pressures and demands of parenting sometimes catches up with you. Certainly, it seems to have caught up with me lately.

But I love that old saying: This too shall pass. Because I know from experience it will, and I am always quick to remind myself that I'm not the only one with these challenges. Many are in my shoes. And then there are the mums and dads who are working and trying to coordinate everything around all the same stuff I do. I'm lucky in that regard. I do get time to myself to regroup. I know it's only up from here.

Parenting fails and days that just go from bad to worse remind us that we're human and we need to whinge sometimes. And you know what? It's not such a bad thing to show our kids that we have feelings too. However, we also need to be grateful for what we have, apologise for our outbursts (I've apologised a lot over the last couple of weeks!) learn from our mistakes, and move on.

Moving on now...

J
xox