Tag: opinion

{From the Vault} Just wait until you have kids! Said no Kez ever.

I just found this post in my drafts folder – dated October, 2013 (the Little Mister was almost 2). I think it’s still relevant now – especially as I’ve experienced quite the journey with secondary infertility. I have occasionally heard the words, “At least you only have one child. I have (insert plural number here). Just wait until you experience it!” as a way of telling me that I have it easier and have no idea. Sure, I probably do have it easier in some ways – I definitely have it easier than someone who wants so badly to become a parent but cannot. But I’d also argue that the challenges I have faced have not been a cup of tea or a picnic or a walk in the park either. I know I wouldn’t wish my challenges on somebody else, that’s for sure. Both myself and every other parent/person have had our own journeys and they’re both likely to be as unique and as valid as each other’s. Someone will always seem to have it better than us and some will always have it tougher than us. It’s not up to us to judge what that’s like for them and whether they’re suffering enough. It’s not a competition. I try to keep myself in check about this all the time…  

Fellow (erm…probably female) parents…do you remember being pregnant for the first time? Do you remember feeling bone weary tired and uncomfortable sometimes (or all the time for those less lucky?). Do you remember the late pregnancy insomnia? The aching and the need for some kind of body pillow arrangement that your partner dare not disturb? Do you remember those times you told someone about how tired you were and that someone had kids and that someone kept saying, “Pfft. You just wait until you have the baby. Then you’ll know the meaning of tired.”

You know, with that tone that says clearly, “Ha! This person has no idea!” followed by an evil laugh because you know they’re secretly enjoying the idea of you suffering in the near future.

Remember every time you opened your mouth and someone would say, “Oh you just wait…”

“Oh, that’s nothing. You just wait until you have the baby…”

“Oh, you just wait until they’re crawling…”

“Oh, you just wait until they’re walking…”

“Oh, you just wait until the teething…”

“Oh, Terrible Twos? There’s Terrible Threes…”

“You just wait until you have two kids! Oh, you have two? Well, that’s nothing compared to three!”

You know what I mean. Some of you might even have a person you know in mind when you read this.

Look, these things are fine in the context of a positive conversation between friends/family members, but what I’m referring to is those who have quite the case of the snarks. That person who is competitive or condescending.

I can’t promise I won’t ever say any of the above things at some occasion (in the right moment hopefully with the right person at the right time with the right tone), but I can promise that I will never do it with the intention of making someone feel like their experiences are less valid because they’re not parenting a child yet. Or ever. I also sincerely apologise if I’ve ever unintentionally p*ssed someone off.

I’ve just never understood that attitude.

I mean, what’s their point? So they’re further ahead in the parenting game and always will be. That’s fine. Good for them. If they have any useful advice or humourous anecdotes we can relate to and feel better about, that’s really great. But what’s the point in bringing us down while we’re learning?

When you’re f*cking tired, you’re f*cking tired. When you’re struggling, you’re struggling. When you’re juggling, you’re freakin’ juggling.

When you love a child or care about children, that experience is real. Even if it’s not your own child.

I look back on my life BC (Before Child) and I think about the times I was bone tired. Did I take some freedoms for granted? Absolutely!! But were my experiences valid, real and necessary to enjoy/live through before having a child? Abso-f*cking-lutely! Imagine if we all spent our whole life leading up to having children, stopping ourselves and saying, “Oh, this pales in comparison to when I will have children.”

That would be ridiculous, yeah?

I remember staying up all night frantically finishing university assignments, feeling like my whole future rested on the success of my studies. The pressure, the stress, the late night panicked phone calls from fellow students about group assignments. I would spend weeks in a daze, just wondering when the hell I would rest and then when “holidays” arrived they were spent worrying about the rest of my life (the part that had been neglected).

I remember the stress I’ve been through when terrible events have happened. The constant juggling – family, friends, university, work, self care, my relationship, etc. Having to say no to things. Having to feel like trying to find the right balance is a nightmare. Realising you can’t please everyone.

All of those things were real. Doing it tough when my husband lost his job – not having disposable income. That was real. Just like it’s real when a baby comes along and it costs a lot to keep them in nappies and formula and god knows what else.

And what about those who cannot, or choose not to, have children? Are we smug parents saying that none of their life is valid or complicated or real? F*ck off!

We’re all in different stages of life, making our own different decisions. All of us deserve respect for where we are. We all have our paths to follow, new things to learn. All in due time.

I feel sorry for those who will try to convince us that life is going to be horrible when pregnant or when we have children. Sure, there are some crazy times to be had (my path wasn’t exactly ‘glowing’), but those crazy times are for everyone to experience for the first time themselves (if they ever do). For all of those times, there are so many other blessings that make parenthood worth it.

Having a child has really made me learn a lot about how deep your love can be. It’s this pure, unconditional kind of love I didn’t know you could feel before I had a child. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t know what love was beforehand. I’m just experiencing a new kind of love. When some parents say, “You can’t know what love is until you have a child”, I do get what they’re saying, but that’s not a very nice thing to say around people who don’t have a child!! They do know what love is. Sure, they might not share the experience of having your own child but that doesn’t mean that someone without children doesn’t know what unconditional love is. Or what it’s like to care for someone who will test you constantly.

We’re all running our own races, facing our own challenges. All of our journeys are just as important and as challenging as someone else’s.

Style rules that we need to break.

Recently, I have been reflecting on my own personal style. It has become apparent to me that the things I wear may have evolved since I was a teen but the essence of who I’ve always been is still alive and kicking (the recent 90s throwback trends have not helped haha). I have always loved a rock n roll tee-shirt, ripped everything, black mini skirts and bright colour in my hair (something the 12 year old me was peeved about my mum not allowing)! I have days where I feel like laying low with a casual look that blends in and I have days/nights where I want to go all out and get glammed up. Sometimes I’m super feminine. Sometimes I just want bad ass grunge.

I’m married, I just turned 33 and I have a kid who goes to a private school. While this shouldn’t factor into my daily wardrobe choices, it really really does (even when my kid and husband are nowhere to be seen).

I get scared of judgement if I go out on a bit of a limb. Obviously I am mature enough to understand what’s appropriate vs what is wildly inappropriate in certain settings, but I’m talking about personal style rather than say a person dressing like a stripper at a school function for example!!

I am constantly surprised by the old school attitudes towards women who dare to dress differently. I’ve seen women torn apart in the media for daring to look sexy – “She’s a mother now! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!”

What year is this???

Like being a parent stops you from ever being allowed to bare any hint of cleavage or to go out and have a good time while looking gorgeous, because for once you got babysitting and time to actually put an effort into your appearance!

Coupled up girlfriends have faced comments like, “If you’re dressed like that, you look like you’re out on the prowl!”

What the actual fuck? Isn’t that a slightly sneaky version of slut shaming???

Can’t a woman dress for herself in something that makes her feel gorgeous without people believing it’s an invitation for men to have a crack?

Sometimes I get scared. Do I look like “mutton dressed as lamb” if I wear that ripped tee? Is it OK for me to wear pleather? Does my hair look ridiculous with the splashes of turquoise? When will I be too old to do as I please?

I’m not actually very wild, by the way. I look quite ‘respectable’ by old school prude terms. I just have a hint of rock chick about me on good days (i.e. days where I feel confident and actually have more than 5 minutes to put myself together). But I want to be braver. I think perhaps I’m too dialled down to the point where I feel like I lose who I am and I get frustrated. I think I could get away with being dressed a little more like ‘me’, but I often don’t out of fear.

I have so many style crushes on women who break the ‘rules’. Sometimes it’s because I wish I had their style, but mostly it’s because I wish I had their courage. I wish I could just not give a fuck what people might say/think if I dare to be different.

I think it’s time to throw out the ‘rules’ based purely on a person’s age, gender, marital or parental status. We should be thinking about what fits, flatters, shows our personalities and makes us feel awesome.

I have a feeling that like me, a lot of my friends dress down when they really feel like dressing up or that they dress up when they really want to dress down. That makes me feel sad. We should dress however the hell we want and celebrate each other for it!

I love when one person has the courage to just be themselves – it makes me feel brave too. I think it’s contagious.

I hate when I feel over-dressed/under dressed and keep comparing myself to other people. I hate when people make passive aggressive remarks about someone’s choice of high heels. Or ask them “aren’t you cold in that?” when the person is perfectly comfortable. Why do we do that to each other?

A friend told me that she was told that mothers shouldn’t wear short shorts. My comment back was along the sarcastic lines of “Yeah, you have to be careful because your uterus might fall out after all that birthing of children.”

Seriously. WTF.

I hate that some men think we’re dressing just for them if we put an effort in, and that women perpetuate this myth by telling each other not to be too pretty or daring or not to show boobs AND legs at the same time – god forbid.

I say that if you look and feel good (whatever your shape or size), if you can carry off a look with an air of confidence and dignity, then fuck the rules! Rules are made to be broken! There are always exceptions!

Every memorable style icon I can think of broke the rules at one point or another. That’s how they stood out and became so admired. Let’s remember that!

Now I must go and try very hard to take my own advice.

What is your personal style? Do you feel like you’re truly able to express yourself? How do you feel about the ‘rules’? 

All of the thoughts. All of the feelings.

Today I will mostly just let these pretty, wordy, image-y thingies that I found on the internet speak for themselves. Partly because I’m exhausted and partly because I want to leave it up to you guys to interpret these quotes (and apply them to your life) whichever way you want.

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Just think of how much energy we could save if we just focused on the new, positive way of doing something. It can be human nature to resist even positive (or inevitable and unavoidable) change, but sometimes embracing it can be a good thing for everyone.

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For me, this is about integrity. It’s the tougher times that really bring out your true colours. Stay true to your values no matter what. You can’t go around proclaiming heroic attitudes and beliefs, if you don’t actually put them into practice when it really matters. The every day.

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I don’t want to be a victim. I want to be a survivor. I want to know that despite the obstacles thrown at me, I can choose my own destiny.

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Duh.

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Do I want to protect my child from failure and icky feelings? Of course. But should I? Not always. I want to grow human beings who feel confidence in themselves (not waiting for mummy to dive in and rescue them or take over because she doesn’t believe in their abilities). I want them to know the world doesn’t revolve around them (by dropping everything for them at whatever cost at whatever time). I want them to be considerate, resilient and solve their own problems, giving them a very important sense of empowerment. I want them to be independent and make good decisions.

So that’s quite a mixed bag for this Friday.

What’s on your mind? 

x Find Awesomely Unprepared on Facebook x

Oh, that’s funny. I don’t remember asking for your advice.

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The other day was fun. I ventured out of the house with my Little Mister (17 months) for the first time in three days. We were headed somewhere reeeeallly exciting.

Kidding.

We went to the supermarket where I feel like the very least they could do is add my name to the lease, because I friggin’ live there.

The Little Mister was really excited to get back out into the world again, after our huge trip to visit relatives across the country. Everything was so thrilling. He was pointing left, right and centre at every item down every aisle until I would tell him what they were. He was chatting and giving me the kind of cuddles that make you feel simultaneously like you’re going to burst from all the love, but your back is starting to hurt as you huddle over the front of the trolley.

Who doesn’t love a happy toddler in a supermarket? Seriously. Who?

About halfway round, he started showing the signs that he wanted to find the goodies in my handbag. He was getting quite persistent, pointing and grabbing at it, his face all earnest and determined.

I knew I had three choices (based on the environment and the contents of my bag).

1. Don’t give him anything, letting him whinge and cry all he likes. Great for discipline in most places…except a supermarket with a trolley half filled with groceries.

2. Give him snacks to keep him busy and quiet.

3. Hand him his dummy.

I chose option number three. I had my reasons. All of which were valid and seemed suitable in the context of the Little Mister’s particular situation at the time (I’m deliberately choosing not to explain myself in great detail here because the point of this post is to express that we don’t owe anyone and everyone explanations for our parenting choices just because they’re choosing to judge).

The Little Mister allowed me to finish my grocery shopping (quite a large haul to replenish stocks since we got home from our trip) and we were having a really lovely time together.

I chose the closest check out, which happened to be attended by a lady who has always given friendly service and says a smiley hello to the Little Mister. I thought today would be no different, but no. She spied that dummy and she had an agenda.

We’d hardly exchanged the polite, “Hello, how are you today”s, when she launched into it.

“Ooooh,” she said in an ominous tone, “You can have real problems with those [dummies]. You’ll have to hide them away and throw them out. They get addicted.”

I shrugged it off, thinking that she was simply trying to commiserate and that she meant well (she has young children).

She continued to look at the Little Mister’s dummy with a shaking head and look of disapproval.

I politely (because I’m so people pleasing like that) said, “He’s pretty good. He just needs it in the supermarket haha.”

Awkward, nervous mummy jokes are my thing. Noted by the strained, “Haha?” at the end.

“They like it when they’re teething,” she continued, “but you should give him rusks instead.”

She scanned my items while not breaking eye contact with the dummy – not even for a second.

“Tut tut tut”.

Seriously. She tut tut tutted.

By now I wasn’t being very warm and friendly anymore. I wasn’t being rude, but I wasn’t being very receptive.

It wasn’t so much what she said that made me feel annoyed, so much as who she was, what her relationship with us was (ie there isn’t one) and the way in which she stared my son’s dummy down and looked at me like I was a hapless idiot who was clearly making a big mistake and one day that mistake would bite me in the bum.

Here’s the thing, dudes. Body language totally makes a difference. It says so much more than words can.

I did not take so well to being judged by a near stranger and given advice that I knew would not be helpful (in context because he’s MY kid and I live with him/know him/care for him). When I didn’t appear to want her advice, she got a bit cold. Well, screw her. She could have her opinion. We all have opinions. It’s just about knowing/deciding whether it’s appropriate to air them or not. Having an opinion doesn’t mean we’re all experts or that we know all of someone’s story. It doesn’t mean that the recipient has to take on our unsolicited advice (or else it’s a disapproving look for you, love). I just wanted to finish buying my exorbitantly priced groceries and get the hell home for the Little Mister’s nap!

I handed her my shopper rewards card and she said, “Oh? You have a card?” with a surprised tone that almost bordered on sarcasm.

Yes, lady. I have a card. I don’t always have it with me, because I share it with my husband. You really need to stop paying so much attention to me each week. I want impersonal, clinical service (perhaps with just a hint of a warmish smile), please, but I’m not telling you how to do it!! I don’t know your life!!

On the way home (all of a five minute drive) I was fuming. Apart from the over the top “THIS IS GOING ON MY BLOG – SHE WILL RUE THE DAY SHE MET ME!” thoughts, I realised that this lady who is normally very kind and keeps things friendly might have her own sh*t going on in her life. Perhaps she was projecting her own parenting frustrations and perceived failings onto me. I was a soft target. There is no excuse for it, but I do realise that the Little Mister looks at least six months older than he is. At this stage in his life (almost a year and a half old) there seems to be a huge difference between 18 months and 2 years of age in development (based on my observations of the children I know). The poor kid gets judged based on a 2 year old (or older)’s abilities/developmental stages. So unfair. I feel that it’s something I’m going to face more and more with my little man’s height, full head of hair (and I mean FULL) and bright, inquisitive, conversational eyes. He’s fine without a dummy for 90% of the day and we have so many positive little developments, milestones and things we’ve done well in the day that cannot be noticed by a judgemental check out lady while she scans our food items (no matter how much she stares).

The transaction was finalised and the check out attendant said, “Bye. Have a nice day.”

Like the life had been drained from her soul.

I think she knew she had lost me during that exchange and I almost felt sorry for her.

I’m not fuming anymore. I’m just sitting here, eyebrows raised, thinking about how funny it is that we feel entitled to tell others what we think of their situation (even if we don’t know the half of it). Who do we think we are? No-one asked us!

Have you ever received judgement and unsolicited advice from a stranger? How did it make you feel? Please share.

Tragedy and innocence lost.

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Warning: Some readers may find content of this post distressing (mention of the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy) – please consider this carefully before proceeding.

 

This morning, like many other people around the world, I woke to the news of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting* in Connecticut, USA. With social media so prevalent in our worlds these days, this international news reached me before I had even managed to open both of my eyes completely, while the Little Mister had his morning bottle and I had a chance to catch up on my twitter feed. As I clicked on news story link after news story, read the sad tweets of my twitter followers/followees, I began to feel a deep sadness.

I wasn’t going to blog about this tragedy, because I didn’t want to add to the thousands upon thousands of online pieces analysing the situation. I also don’t want to upset anyone further (which has resulted in my above warning). However, I am not going to talk about gun control (although I have my own very strong opinions). I am not going to speculate over the identity of the shooter. I am not going to speculate on what the shooter’s motives were. I am not going to use this as a soapbox for me to stand on in any way.

What I am going to say is that my heart and my thoughts are with all of those affected. The families of the children who were lost. The families of the adults who were lost. The friends of those who didn’t make it. Their families. The whole community around the school – Newtown. Everyone who has ever lost a child or a loved one of any age, especially because of violence, who will no doubt have some terrible feelings triggered by this horrible event. My list could go on and on. My heart feels heavy right now.

This really affected me from the standpoint of being a parent who has the most precious little son. I look at him and I see his innocence. His joy in everything. He doesn’t know anything about the evil in this world yet. A part of me wishes that he will never have to, but I know that it is an unfortunate but necessary part of growing up. I feel for the parents who have to explain to their children that the world is not always a good place. I feel for the surviving children who will be scared and anxious, feeling the safety of their worlds fall out from underneath them. The grief they will have trouble processing at such a young and tender age. I hope for them that they receive all of the help, love and support they need to deal with something so terrible. Not just now but in years to come.

This brings to mind my own (although smaller in scale) loss of innocence. When I was eight years old (and I warn any readers who went to primary school with me that this may trigger some memories/feelings before continuing), I lost a dear little friend. I won’t go into much detail about that tragedy, but I will say that it was at the hands of his abusive father. I myself have always had a very loving and caring father, and I was innocent and naive, believing that all fathers were loving, caring and protective of their children. After my friend’s death, besides coming to terms with the fact that the same buddy who had turned up at my birthday party only a while ago wasn’t going to be coming back, I wondered if my father could suddenly do to me what my friend’s father had done to him. I thought that his father might have suddenly turned evil out of nowhere that horrible day. I didn’t realise this was the result of longer term abusive patterns (I can say this firsthand as I witnessed the bruises much earlier – I just didn’t add it up at the time in my 8 year old brain – nor should I have been expected to as I came to realise years later). I worried for nights on end and eventually my dad (and mum) realised what was happening. It was time to explain to me that my dad would never ever do something like that and that some people do horrible things, but they are not most people. That every dad should be kind, loving and never hurt his children. From then on I started to sleep better. I felt safe taking car rides alone with my dad again. My loving, caring dad. I realise this was probably a really big deal to my parents at the time. I can now imagine how tough it would have been to see their young, innocent child realise not all of the world is good.

This is why I feel for the families of the children who survived and the remaining family members of those who did not. This is the worst imaginable way to discover that the world is not always a good place.

As I look at my Little Mister, I wonder when he will learn that people can do horrible things. I can only pray that he doesn’t find out in a way as devastating as the direct experiences of these people affected by the latest shooting massacre.

I am going to hug my Little Mister so tight today and I will be thankful that for just a little while I will not have to explain to him any of these things.

If you have been watching the news and you are not sure how to explain the situation to a young and inquiring mind, here is a link to an iVillage Australia article that talks about making your explanation about the shooting age appropriate.

RIP.

*the details in this linked article were current and up to date when this post was published but may change over time as the story develops