I Was Not Always This Old

 

When you come into my room, just who do you see? You see a grey haired lady, looking back at you with a tired and weak smile. You look around and see a bunch of photos and trinkets that I’ve collected over the years. But is that all you see?

If only you could’ve gone back in time and met me when I was your age. Like you, I had big dreams. The world was my oyster and nothing was impossible. I walked with purpose, with my head held high. I had so much life in me and I was unstoppable. This grey haired lady you see in front of you, was once a stay at home mother, champion ballroom dancer, a nurse, a midwife, a teacher. I might have even protested in a rally or two.

I’ve had wonderful friends. In my group of friends, I’m pretty sure I was the funny one. We laughed so much, our bellies ached. We would sit and talk on the phone for hours. We went shopping, tried on the latest dresses, did our own hair and danced to Jailhouse Rock

I’ve lost touch with my old friends. And as I sit in my great big arm chair, I find myself wondering where they are right now. Do they ever think of me? I wonder if they miss me? Oh my god, we had so much fun.

I had my insecurities and had days where I lacked confidence in myself. Like you, as confident as I was, I’d look in the mirror and asked myself, “Am I too fat? Am I too skinny? Am I too short? Am I too tall?”

I was strong and I was beautiful, but that’s not what you see right now, is it?

I’ve had my heart broken and cried myself to sleep. I’ve also loved with all my heart, and fortunate enough to have someone love me back. I’ve looked into his eyes and thought, “How did I get so lucky?” But I’ve also looked into another man’s eyes and thought, “I can’t live like this anymore.” 

My husband is gone. The man I’ve spent nearly my whole life with, is now gone. I now watch TV all alone in this room, and sometimes, I still turn to see if he’s there. Like you, we had children, dreams, goals and plans together. 

Like you, I was a daughter, a grand-daughter, and a mother. But I’ve surpassed you now as I’m a grandmother and a great-grandmother. I see a lot of myself in my daughters and grand-daughters. I see, in their eyes, the same worry, pride and happiness for their children that I had for them when they were younger.

Now I’m old. I’m very old. My bones creak when I try to walk. What’s happened to me? I used to dance, swim and run around with my children. Now I’m lonely, I’m weak, and I need your help. I wish I didn’t need your help, but I do. I haven’t got a choice. Please know that I get very embarrassed when you have to take me to the toilet. 

I had a beautiful home. It wasn’t much, but it was still my home. I had lots of wonderful and even sad memories in there. I’ve cooked and cleaned and wiped up spills that my children and grandchildren made. I’ve now lost my home and all I have now – is this room, this room was allocated to me. I no longer have the freedom to do what I want. I’m only allowed to have my most precious things with me in this room, to remind myself of the life I once had.

When you see me, please remember, I used to be like you. I was not always this forgetful, not always this weak and I was not always this old. 

 

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My Night Away On My Own

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All set for a relaxing evening!

In May this year, I was inspired to write my very first blog about Mothers Day, about how so many mothers wanted to spend that day relaxing on their own. No kids. I don’t understand it, your children are the reason why you’re a mother, why would you not want to be around them on such a special day?

I came across one of my old Facebook posts from a year ago. It was about my birthday and how my husband got me a hotel room for the night. He knew he wasn’t invited, this was gonna be a one-woman partaaay.

I had two babies who were 18 months apart. I was exhausted from them, I was exhausted from working at the nursing home and I needed to rest and most importantly, I needed some silence.

So, for my birthday, I asked… For me to be on my own. And I got it. Adam booked me a room at the Hyatt Regency. My mother in law asked, “Don’t you want Adam to join you? You’d enjoy it more if he was there, I can babysit the babies for you.” I answered, “How would this idea be relaxing for me? I want a room to myself so I don’t have to talk to anyone, touch anyone, be touched by anyone or to be woken up by snoring.”

We compromised a little on the day. Adam and the babies came to the room and hung out for a little while. We all had McDonalds for dinner and then they had a little bath. It was raining heavily and I could hear the raindrops hitting the window pane. How relaxing! Then the babies started crying. No, stop crying, this is meant to be relaxing for me. So I said to Adam, “Right, you three need to leave for me to really enjoy this birthday present of mine.” I walked them all back to the car, gave them kisses and sprinted back to the elevator.

First thing I did when I walked back into the room was fill the bath with very warm water and some bath bubbles. I took my clothes off and laid in there and listened to the running water from the tap. Aaaaah. Wait. I can hear the loud TV. That’s not relaxing. So I grabbed a towel, got out and turned the TV off. See, if Adam was here, he’d want to watch TV and he probably wouldn’t let me turn it off. Back in the hot bath. Aaaaaaaaah. Silence. I never realized silence could sound so beautiful. 

I then laid in bed with nothing but my bathrobe on. I was all set, I had a new book and a family size block of chocolate in bed with me. I found the room service menu, picked up the phone and ordered tomorrow’s breakfast for 7.30am.

I turned the TV back on and flicked through the channels. As I’m mindlessly watching TV with no interruptions, I sent a text to Adam to say goodnight and that I loved him. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even ask if the babies were alright! I started on my block of chocolate, with nobody asking me for a piece or more. This whole block of chocolate was MINE! All miiiiiiine!!

Wait, what? It’s 3am, and the TV is still on. Did I fall asleep? What time did I fall asleep?? I looked around me and I saw that I didn’t touch my new book and I had eaten 3/4 of the family size block of chocolate. Dare I do this? I broke off another piece of chocolate, ate it, and fell straight back to sleep again.

I woke up at 7am. I walked over to the window, pulled the curtains apart and looked out at the grey skies. So it didn’t turn out to be this “one-woman partaaaay” I had envisioned (I’m not even sure what I expected). Did I enjoy this hotel room? Was it worth the money? Did it live up to the expectations of having time on my own? Yes, yes and a resounding yes. I hopped back into bed to watch the morning news. Nobody’s asking me for a bottle of milk or breakfast. No one is crying or whining about something. Apart from Karl’s voice on The Today Show, the room was silent.

The door bell rings and the hotel waiter has my breakfast.

“Gooooooood morning! Where would you like your breakfast Ma’am?” 

I stood by the door and stared at him for a few seconds. I fantasized dancing around the room (like Sister Maria in the Sound of Music) and bursting into song, “Aaaaaaaanywhere! Surpriiiiise me!” 

And again the waiter asked, “Ma’am? Your breakfast? Where would you like it?” 

I quickly blinked my eyes back to reality, Oh sorry, um, on the bed please, thank you.”

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“Aaaaaaaanywhere! Surpriiiiiise me!”


A full cooked breakfast in bed. Sausages, mushrooms, eggs, grilled tomato, bacon and 3 thick cut slices of white bread with a slab of cold pure butter on a little dish. They even put an assortment of little jars of jams!! I didn’t have to cook it and yet it’s sitting on my bed. Just for me. I start digging in. It’s just me, Karl and Lisa from The Today Show.

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“I didn’t have to cook it and yet it’s sitting on my bed.”

That was the single most relaxing night/morning I’ve ever had. That was a year ago. Would I ask for the same experience again for my next birthday? Probably not. Not while this experience is still so fresh in my mind. Maybe again when I’ve forgotten what it’s like? Whenever I tell this story to my friends, I’d always say I’ll never forget how beautiful the sound of silence, sounded. 

I highly recommend this to all mums out there who feel burnt out, tired and exhausted from the demands of everyday life. Yeah yeah yeah, you still love your husband and your kids. But you just want some time on your own to recharge. And sleep on a King size bed, with clean and fresh, ironed sheets. That’s what I had and I’ll never forget it. Or when I do eventually forget, then maybe it’s time to do it again. (I might even allow Adam to join me this time, wink wink.)

 

 

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To My 2 Sons


Dear Sons,

  1. When a woman says no to sex, please respect that. You have no right to convince her to change her mind. No means no.
  2. Be kind to her.
  3. Be respectful to her.
  4. Don’t ever call her nasty names like “bitch”, “slut” and “whore”. In fact, don’t call any woman those names. 
  5. You shouldn’t have to shower her with money and gifts all the time, because if that’s all she asks for, then maybe she should find someone else who thinks that’s all it takes to have her.
  6. You know the saying “Bros before ho’s”? Yeah, that advice only applies to immature fools. Stand by your woman.
  7. Not all women are nice. If she’s not nice, walk away from her. But be a gentleman about it. Your happiness is important too.
  8. Never hit a woman. Ever.
  9. Never emotionally blackmail a woman.
  10. Never use money to control her.
  11. You can have lazy days. But don’t be a lazy person. 
  12. Treat her as your equal. You both bring your own strengths and weaknesses into a relationship.
  13. Don’t cheat on your woman. If you don’t love her anymore, at least respect her by breaking it off before seeing someone else.
  14. You see how your dad/stepdad treats me? Treat your woman like that. EXACTLY like that.
  15. I don’t care if your new girlfriend says she’s on the Pill. Use condoms. Protect each other.
  16. If you go to your girlfriend’s house, look for her parents and greet them. It’s called RESPECT.
  17. If you want to marry your woman, go to her parents first, and ask for their permission.
  18. I’ve raised you to do your chores. So don’t expect your woman to do it all.
  19. Make decisions together. 
  20. When you have children, be affectionate to their mother. Show them how much you appreciate and love her. Your children will learn from your actions and treat her the same. And in time, they will treat their other halves the same.
  21. If she is a stay at home mum, remember that her job is just as hard, if not harder, than yours. When you come home, she’s gonna want to talk. Let her talk, listen to her. 
  22. Cook occasionally. If you can’t cook, offer to buy take-out once in a while.
  23. Organize a date night (or lunch) with her regularly. Without the children. Hold her hand from across the table.
  24. When she’s had a child, her body will change. Respect it, her body went through unimaginable things to bring another human being into this world.
  25. Remember, when you’ve got your own family, your woman must now take first place. I’ll be here to support you, to love you unconditionally, but I will be stepping back from my role and let you be the man I’ve raised you to be.

“The best people let me talk without judgement and without pity”

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Donna contacted me through my website www.120fingersandtoes.com and requested for me to interview her. She wanted me to help share her experience with postnatal depression and how she learnt to overcome it. Donna is a wife and a mother of two children. And before she had their first baby, she suffered 5 miscarriages.

Postnatal Depression

Donna discovered she suffered from postnatal depression roughly around 8 months after the birth of their first child. Her baby had to be breastfed every 2 hours, 24 hours a day. She said she felt angry all the time and was constantly tired and frustrated. Her baby would cry and wanted to get picked up but Donna would get angry at her. Her husband would say to her, “You can’t talk to her like that…” And that would make Donna even angrier.

She felt very isolated, and that no one understood what she was going through. She felt like everyone was seeing it very differently to how she saw things… “But I was the one seeing it differently, I guess.” Although she felt like she had a very good support network, she felt she had no one around to help her. But she knew it wasn’t how they were, she knew it was how she was feeling. There’s been times when she’s thought, “They’d all be better off without me, I’m ruining everything.”

Donna also experienced a lot of anxiety. “If I had to see anyone out of my normal routine, I’d get really stressed out about it, then I’d pick a fight with my husband, hoping he’d say ‘right, we’re not going.'”

Donna’s husband, mum and sister were very concerned. They all suggested for her to see a doctor. She laughed, as she recalled what she thought at the time, “Fine, I’ll go see somebody and prove them wrong!” So she went to the doctor…. and bawled her eyes out! After talking to Donna, her doctor spoke to her husband to make sure she would get home safely. She felt bad, that people thought she was suicidal and would hurt the baby. She said she can now understand how some women could be driven to do certain things, just out of sheer desperation and exhaustion. We both talked about how we heard that exhaustion is used in criminal warfare as one of their torture tactics!

She recalled a time when her first child was about 13 months old. Her baby would cry and Donna would scream and swear at her. She then thought to herself, “Oh my god, why am I talking like this? Then I would feel really guilty, sit there and bawl my eyes out for hours. This child is going to learn to be this way and I realized I was being a bully to her.” Donna recalled another time when, out of anger, she wanted to say something to hurt her husband. So she said, “You know, last night, I thought about leaving you.” Only to have her husband reply, “You know I thought about leaving you too.” She laughed, saying, “Are you serious? I thought… Shit, I’m that much of a bitch, he’s going to leave me! I was just being a bitch to get him upset! That really upset me.”

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Support

Donna says she now sees a very good psychiatrist, one who has shown her different ways to deal with her feelings, taught her how to cope and change her way of thinking. She’s taught her to see what’s really important in the grand scheme of things (does the house REALLY need to be super clean when someone comes over?). She felt that talking to her psychiatrist has been very liberating for her. She also meditates and when times are stressful, she’s found that reciting the Lord’s Prayer over and over again, has had a very calming effect on her.

Donna also takes medication to help with her PND. She takes 10mg of Escitalopram a day. She giggled and called them her “Non-psycho pills!” “So many people say you shouldn’t be on medication, ‘You don’t need it’. I’m like, well, clearly I do! I figure if I’ve got a headache, I’ll take an aspirin…. if you’re not feeling well, take something to make you feel better.”

“I couldn’t have asked for a better husband.” Donna’s husband is very patient. Having learnt from their first baby, when they had their second, he did a lot of the night time feeds, made sure Donna got enough sleep and was looked after (awwwwwww!! *applause*). She also has a very good group of friends that support her. She’ll never forget that one of her friends had said to her (after Donna started on her medication), “I didn’t realize how ‘NOT’ Donna you were until I’ve seen you on your tablets, and how ‘back to normal’ you are now. I didn’t realize how sad you really were.”

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What Do You Want The World To Know?

“It is OK to talk about how bad you feel. Nothing is ever too bad that it can’t be fixed or helped. Postnatal (depression) does not discriminate, it hits the strongest and the weakest, it hits the confident as much as those who have little confidence, hits first timers and those with one or more kids. You have no idea it’s coming and often no idea it’s there. But boy, does it play games with your mind and your life.”

“Women are strong, we can endure many things but the best way to heal is to talk and to have support. No matter what was said to me during my times of sadness after losing a baby, it was helpful. The best people let me talk without judgement and without pity. And remember your partner is going through it too.”

Thoughts

If you met Donna for the very first time like I did, you would not have thought she suffered from PND. She is funny, bubbly and so full of life. Every woman going through PND, while they experience similar feelings, are all in different situations and circumstances. And we all use different ways to cope with it.

Thanks Donna, for sharing with us your experience and I hope someone out there going through it may try one or all of your methods of coping. Donna, I wish you and your family all the best!! Oh, and thank you for taking the time out on your birthday to see me!!

You Can’t Tell A Mum Has Postpartum Depression By Looking

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In this article “You Can’t Tell A Mum Has Postpartum Depression By Looking”, you will find plenty of photos of happy mums but who were actually going through postnatal depression. Women find it so hard to show the world how they really feel inside, as the depression alone makes us feel like we have nobody to talk to, or if we did speak up, others might judge us.

Those who don’t understand might say things to us like, “But you should be happy, you’ve got a beautiful family.”, “You’re so lucky to have a beautiful child.”, “You should be grateful for what you have.”.

WE KNOW ALL THAT.

Do you think we CHOOSE to be depressed? Hell no! But that’s what we’ve got. We’ve got postnatal depression. It is A THING. It is REAL. We don’t ask for it to be part of some “club”.

After reading that article, it made me think of a photo shoot we did together as a family. My husband and I had our last child, I knew that we were now done having children. My husband and teenagers hated photo shoots but they did it because I wanted them done. And they knew, if they rejected the idea, they would have had to deal with me. I would’ve cried, I would’ve said nobody cared, and that none of them were proud to be a family unit. None of that was true, but that would’ve been something I would’ve thrown at them. They knew it, and I knew it.

It was set to be taken at Trigg Beach in Perth, Western Australia. Just before we left the house, my husband and I weren’t actually talking to each other. There was tension. I don’t remember why, but I remember our anxiety levels were pretty high. My husband wouldn’t dare say anything in case I’d lose the plot over something. Everyone was walking on egg shells around me.

We got to the beach and waited for the photographer to come. We sat by the rocks. Everyone was quiet… My teens were playing with the two little ones. My husband and I were on the edge the whole time. And then I burst into tears. Why? I can’t remember. I just cried. Then I cried some more.

I get a phone call from the photographer to say she’s arrived. I dry my tears, put on a smile and we all performed like show dogs and posed for her. So here are two photos from the photo shoot. I want everyone to know, that no matter how we look like on the outside, or on photographs, it doesn’t always mean it’s our true selves at the time.

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Thankfully, this is all behind us now. With the help of medication, I no longer suffer from postnatal depression. But please don’t judge those who choose to or choose not to take medication for their depression. We all have our battles inside our heads and all we need is your support, friendship and to not judge us mums. If you don’t know how we feel, just ask, but most importantly – be sincere.

 

A Shout Out To My Amazing Husband

My husband Adam and I are equal partners in raising our children. No, I’m not better than him, my power as a mother isn’t greater than his power as a father. I know everyone gives mums so much credit (rightly so) for raising children. But I just want to say, my husband should get the same amount of credit as I do.

I cook, he cleans up the kitchen after (with help from the teens). We both clean and tidy the house whenever we can. He does all the garden work (I still flatly refuse to learn how to use the lawn mower so I’ll never have to mow the lawn, ever). We both wash and hang out the laundry. I do the ironing. He showers the little ones while I cook dinner.

He works full time, I work 3 nights a week. He comes home from work in time for me to leave for work, so he’s there for the kids. He picks the older kids up from football and netball training when he can, picks and drops them off to their friends’ or to the train station etc.

I cook dinner every night and he cooks breakfast every weekend. He doesn’t just “help out”, we SHARE the work load. We are partners that support each other. He doesn’t come home from work, crack open a beer, sits on his ass and watches tv, which many men do. Instead, he plays dolls and trains , hide and seek and made-up adventures with Miss 4 and Mr 2.5. He’s pretty good at kissing their ouchies better too! 

We both work and run a very busy household with 4 kids and I couldn’t do it without him. No way. In fact, I go to work for a break from the kids!

He’s an amazing husband, dad, step-dad, son and brother. His only faults are his snoring that could cause a minor earthquake and his farts could cause paint to melt off the walls. 

So I just want to say thank you Adam, I couldn’t do it without you. You’re amazing, we are all so lucky to have you. I love, love, love everything about you. Thank you xxx

I Don’t Like My Two Younger Kids Today

“So much love”

Yeah I love them. But today, they’re being douchebags.

Miss 4 and Mr 2.5 have been at each other’s throats from the second they’ve woken up. Screaming at each other, clawing at each other’s faces and just arguing about EVERYTHING. Then comes the crying and then the whining.

They’ve fought over rocks, over toes touching the other’s bed, over the cubby house, over the train, a doll, lunch, the laundry basket, the bikes, their personal space etc

“Muuuuuuuuuuuum, he’s not shaaaaaaaring…”

“Well, you don’t share with him so WHY DOES HE HAVE TO SHARE WITH YOU????”

Positive thoughts. Breathe. Be positive. Positive parenting. Buddha. Dalai Lama. Maggie Dent. Happy place. Meadows. Smile. Breathe. Count to ten. No, count to twenty. 

“THAT IS ENOUGH!!!!! STOP FIGHTIIIIIIIING!!!!!”

Of course they both start crying because I’m screaming. Like I’m the biggest bitch in the world. Oh yeah, I’m the bitch, I’m the horrible witch you read about in your books. I’m your worst nightmare.

YOU TWO, ARE JUST A COUPLE OF DOUCHEBAGS.