A friend keeps telling me to find what I am passionate about… but the problem with this, is that he won’t seem to listen to what I tell him…

If I were to post on social media ‘What’s my #1 passion?’, 95% of people would respond with ‘reading’… because I do love reading…. but reading is an escape. Reading has always been an escape. It’s never been a passion.

So what am I passionate about? I’m passionate about life.

Apparently that doesn’t count.

Ummm… yes, it does.

Because he’s wrong. Most people aren’t passionate about life. Most people go through the motions. Most people die at 25 when they get that mortgage or find ‘the one’… when they begin to dig those pickets into the ground and to settle for the safe path that lets them simply exist…

But I want to live. I want to shout at the sky and laugh at the wind.

I have excuses not to do this of course. Four of them. Some people call them children 😉

But they are simply excuses to exist. Excuses not to take the chance and to live my life. Excuses to simply exist.

I watch so many friends, content to exist… and i wonder what it is that means I cannot. Why can’t I be happy to leave those pickets in place. To have the mortgage and the career and the 2.2 kids and the family dog…

Why do I want so much more???

Because we have one life. One. And I want to teach my kids to grab that damned bull by the horns and to ride it til you fall off. I want them to know that you do not need to follow society. To stay in the safe choices you made because you’re too damned scared to shake the shackles.

If one more person tells me they’re staying for the kids… or because their partner is a nice person… or because…

Because they are scared.

Because life is incredible and frightening and OMFG, I get it! It’s freaking hard! It freaking sucks some days. There are days when that tunnel is so damned dark that I can’t believe there will ever be an end and I’m not sure there was ever a beginning…

But then I remember something… I’ve never been afraid of the dark. And I’ve never been afraid of the storms. And I sure as hell am not afraid to live my life and to go out with a smile on my face. To be lying in that bed at 95 remembering that time when… rather than wishing about that time when…

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Mummy shaming…

Some days, being a mum is the hardest thing in the world… and I wish I could go back in time and change it all… but most of the time, it’s the greatest blessing of my life.

I’m tired of the constant judgment and the constant input. I’m tired of the fact I have to do so much of it on my own. I’m tired of having to always be the one to argue about showers and teeth cleaning and eating something sensible and cleaning up their room… and I’m tired of teens and their attitudes and their complete lack of gratitude.

But I love the snuggles and the smiles and the need to tell me about their day… the breakfast in bed after a tough night… the giggles and the secrets… and those amazing moments when you see them succeed… or the teens have blinding moments of adult-ness.

I’m sitting with my laptop, enjoying the peace of a day at home with no-one for the first time in what seems like forever. Listening to the renovations next door, the washing machine beeping insistently, and Spotify blasting whatever random playlist I selected this time.

I should click over to my work tab… or I should hang out that washing… or do some housework… exercise… garden… All those shoulds life hands us… But I’m sitting on my bed with my laptop, contemplating a nap or reading a book… so completely decadent in a world that glorifies being busy.

Yesterday, I dropped my kid at school… watched so many dads dropping theirs off… and as the sadness for my own children coursed over me… that they’ve never been so blessed as to have a dad who would drop them at school each morning… the guilt that I chose a dad for them who would never do this… as all these feelings washed over me… through me… the radio began a segment on mum shaming – mums who criticise and condemn other mums for not meeting all those expectations, for not being them.

I know there are mums who complain about me stopping for thirty seconds in the No Stopping zone to let my kids out each morning  – a good mum would park and walk their kids into the school… but would they? Wouldn’t a good mum teach their kids a little independence? And wouldn’t a good motorist move along quickly rather than parking and chatting for 45 minutes each morning so we are only left with the No Stopping zone? The radio prattled on… some mum had written something… a blog? An article? Something… about the shaming… that she doesn’t dress well enough, doesn’t drop her kids to school because she leaves for work so early, that she never sees her husband so a divorce is imminent, that she places her career before her kids…

Ah… the judgment! So as I sat in sadness, reminiscing that my kids deserved a life which involved someone other than their mother doing everything, this poor mother sits in judgment for not doing everything…

When did we get to this point? When did we decide that if you aren’t doing it my way, you’re doing it wrong? If you aren’t doing everything, then you might as well be doing nothing. But this is the really crazy thing… All these mums I know who care about my thirty seconds in the wrong parking spot, who think my kids have lunch orders too often and their lunch boxes just aren’t healthy enough, who comment that my kids don’t do homework and that I apparently wear too much black… all these mums… all these people… the well meaning family members and friends…

They don’t understand…

I stopped caring such a long time ago about what they think… What bugs me now is just that they feel the need to let me know… just being helpful of course… doing the right thing… But I’m sorry people – just what are you actually doing to help? Come back to me when you want to have a coffee and hear me rant about the 17 year old who thinks the world is just so damned hard, or the 15 year old who thinks his opinions need to always be stated, the 10 year old who smiles sweetly as she does exactly what she wants, or the dragged up 8 year old with a heart of gold but the stubbornness to try a saint…

I stopped caring when my world shattered and all I seemed to find… no matter which way I turned… was judgment. No help. No shoulder. No bottle of wine and clink of crystal to deal with the heartbreak.

Judgment.

All the failings as a mother. As a wife. As a friend. As a daughter. As a sister. As a basic person.

I can list them all for you. Tell you my flaws in detail. You can’t shock me with them – I’m well aware. But you don’t understand… none of it matters. When your world shatters… it’s the one lesson you walk away with… I survived this, and I can survive anything. I survived this on my own, and I can survive anything on my own. There is nothing you can possibly do that is worse. Absolutely nothing. Your judgment means nothing. A fly that simply won’t leave. Yes, I’m aware of it. No, I don’t care. Because all those things that matter to you… all those foolish rules and regulations that make everyone the clone you need them to be… that judgment that simply validates your own position in society… Absolutely none of that matters.

I am a mum. Sometimes I adore my kids and sometimes I want to run away. I screw it up royally far too often, but occasionally I seem to get it right… and at the end of the day, they’re all still talking to me so far, so I guess I’m doing okay….

First post!

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

I have started this blog so many times…

The story comes from my now 10 year old Baby Dragon (yes, my children are all from days of yore). She was listening to Peter and the Wolf one day when she was maybe 2 or 3… there’s a part where the narrator is describing the instruments and what they represent… and he said “and the duck, by the oboe…” to which she piped up – How silly! Ducks don’t have elbows!

One of those gorgeous kid memories… at the time, I needed a title for a blog and that became it. This blog has passed through many themes, but ultimately, it has always been about my kids…

So here I am… once again writing my first blog post.

I’ll see how I go once more writing a mummy blog – as trite as that seems to be in this world… This is for me. Maybe for my kids one day.

I have Miss Princess, who wants to be a Belle, but is secretly a Merida – currently 17 and just finished school last week – already struggling with the realities of life – that if you want money, you need to work… and that can actually mean 5 days a week… and that you can’t just be too tired… or skip it and go to the beach or shopping… Ah… life…

Fifteen year old Master Knight who enjoys telling me all the things I do wrong – he’s helpful like that. He’s my extremist. Going through life with a strong sense of right and wrong, black and white… hacking at anything in the way to protect what he thinks is right… not always realising, or being open to the idea, that maybe he has it wrong… or maybe there is grey…

The 10 year old Baby Dragon breathes fire when you least expect it. People tell me she’s a garden fairy, skipping through life in the flower bed… but they haven’t seen the twinkle in the eye… felt the stillness in her breath when annoyed… This one is my sleeping dragon, lazily watching the world with a half opened eye… until you poke and prod her enough… then, snap! You are burned to a crisp, bitten in half.

The Wizard is my dragged up fourth child… currently 8 years in age… He doesn’t follow the rules, and doesn’t deign to even argue them with you. He simply creates his own rules and his own magic.

I am mother dragon, of course – protective of my brood… but the moniker was actually given by their father who referred to me constantly as the old dragon to them… I twisted it so long ago… Who wouldn’t want to be a dragon?!? Who wouldn’t want to soar above the world, snapping in half or burning to a crisp, anyone who annoys them?!? A dragon is never, ever an insult. And so… our characters were sorted… and the personalities seem to still sit well…

It’s funny how the universe just keeps delivering… Once you stop forcing it :p 

I find people come and go… A simple ebb and flow… And I’m enjoying the shifting sands…

There is a part of me that longs for some of the connections of my past… It’s such a deep yearning… But I let the memories slide, slipping through my fingers… 

Because my world is full… My days and nights filled with love… Threads weaving together… 

That is my zone most days… Simply living now and enjoying the amazingness life has to offer… A part of me misses the passion, but so much of me is simply enjoying peace for a while…

And I miss some of the people from my past with such passion… For such a long time, I was searching to replace those connections… Finding others to fill the gaps… But, of course, that’s not possible… And I’m okay with that… Because the people with me now create new threads to weave through my life… And whilst their colours are not always as vibrant, the sturdy fabric warms my soul… 

I don’t have the energy to be annoyed with people for too long anymore… Those that hurt me, deceive me, betray my trust… All that negativity seems to flow away so easily, too… Frayed threads… Some will mend… Some will simply taper off… Others will leave a snag… 

I am watching the fabric of my life weave around me… Twisting together threads that tangle through my fingers… Watching others entwine themselves… And the universe seems to constantly deliver the colour and texture I need each time… 

Years ago, I had a couple who were friends of mine. Actually, they’re still friends of mine and married now… But this story is set 20 years ago and they were dating. 

He and I would argue. Two headstrong people refusing to back down. Who knows what we argued about. Anything and everything. Back when we were young and new the black and whiteness of life. 

He would tell my friend she had to choose. Him or me. So she would sneak out, telling him she was out with other friends, and we would only see each other every other day rather than every day. 

And I would be fed up… Sometimes furious… Because as I would tell get over and over, I would never ask her to choose. 

Friendship isn’t based on maybes. It’s not a case of – I’ll love you forever, but only if you do and say what I want… I don’t place criteria on my friendships. Actually, I do… Don’t set out to hurt me or the ones I love. But that’s it. 

We no longer argue, this guy and I. Maturity, world weariness, acceptance of differences… Who knows. He still occasionally irks me and I’m sure I infuriate him… But we let it slide. 

And I find, as the years fly by faster and faster, that I no longer have the energy to fight for people to stay in my life when they don’t want to. I want them here. That is a certainty. But I have learned, my greatest lesson thus far, that you cannot make someone love you the way you want them to, no matter how much you desperately want it… And that even though they don’t love you the way you want them to, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you with everything they have… So I accept their words. I accept their heart. But I don’t have the energy to fight with them to stay if they really want to go. 

My truth…

I hate fighting with the people I love… and I can’t vent about it here because I know you will read it… and I don’t want some passive aggressive war aimed at inflicting pain from behind a keyboard…

I don’t want to hurt you.

I adore you.

But…

and this is the bit you will not stop and listen to…

You are not here.

You have made your choices, and I have come to terms with those…

But now you have to let me move on with my life.

Ultimately, this is love…

I want to meet someone and fall in love. I want to have a future with a maybe. I want passion and adventure. I want to fall in love! With someone who loves me, too. I want someone who makes me a priority in their life. Who is there for the good times and for the moments when my world is crumbling. I want someone who I can call at 3AM. Someone I can introduce to my friends. Someone I can tell my hopes and dreams to. Someone I can wake with in the morning.

And maybe that someone won’t be forever… but maybe they will!

But I want to try. I want to have that experience. I want to have that maybe.

And I am greedy… but so are you… because I still want you in my life. I don’t want to lose you from my life again…

But you need to let me move on… you need to let me fall in love… and you need to be happy for me…

I started to write this to a friend… I speak to him every single day. He’s currently going through a marriage breakup, and I try to be there for him… because I know how it feels to have noone at the end of each and every day… just someone to talk to and rant to and pour those crazy feelings out to…

We’ve known each other for over 20 years now… We met in a club – my friend was picking him up (for me) because she thought he was cute. That’s what we did. We’d go out. She was in a long term relationship and I was single. So she’d find guys and pick them up on my behalf… The best kind of wingman! 🙂

Anyway… he and I talk daily at the moment, and a couple of days ago, I made a flippant remark about having a 17 year old who had to confess she couldn’t drive because she wasn’t sure she had a zero alcohol level after a party the night before, and a 14 year old who at least gets his weed from his friend’s parents, so at least I know it’s not laced with Ice… It was a flippant remark about not taking any parenting advice from me, unless it was to tell him how I’d screwed up…

He was stunned… but he tempered it down to a ‘surprised’… And it struck me… we don’t talk about our kids. Not really… He knows my marriage was very ordinary, and he’s heard moments from it, but he doesn’t know the extent… and I haven’t told him… So he knows it wasn’t great… but he knows nothing about the rest of the dramas in my life… and not many people do… I think it’s actually one of the things I enjoy about our chats though – it’s his dramas and none of mine – just a few odd commiserations and similar stories to divulge…

And then, this evening, my sister messaged me out of the blue… and we texted a few messages back and forth… real messages… We haven’t spoken in over a year. There was a time when we were incredibly close, but the last few years have been strained…. and finally, it just wasn’t pleasant talking any more… So tonight we chatted, and she finished by telling me she loves and misses me… and I couldn’t say it back.. because it would be a lie…

So I’m left wondering… I know I compartmentalise – far too well some days… I can talk about things that have ripped my heart out, as if I have no emotions involved at all. So perhaps that comes across at times… but then I wondered, after talking to my sister, a thought I have had a lot over the last couple of years… Is something inside me simply broken? Am I just so used to being hurt and discarded and betrayed by those I love the most, that I have built so many walls and there’s no longer any windows… Or am I in fact in a better place, where I just don’t have time, energy or inclination for those that drain me… even those I love….

So my message to my friend was about me…. my children… my dramas…

I know I sometimes may seem too flippant, too abrupt, too unfeeling… but in fact, the opposite is true… I feel far too deeply and I care far too much for the people I love. I am that friend that will drop everything and turn up on your doorstep if you need me. I am that friend who will drop everything and appear with food, wine and a night of my undivided attention when life just seems too impossible. I am that friend you can call when you’re broken down at 3am on the side of the road 3 hours from me, and I will get in my car and be there. I am that mother who leaves a dinner to drive my daughter’s friends home from a party, to 6 different addresses taking me over an hour, just to know they are safe. I am that friend who will pack up a new baby as I’m still talking to you on the phone, and have begun the 4 hour trip to your house when you ring and tell me your husband has just walked out the door after 26 years because he’s now in love with someone else. And I am that friend who will leave my phone volume on so you can call or text and wake me at 3am when you’re feeling alone.

And I am the mother who will leave my phone on all night and sit up talking to my 14 year old about nonsense, convinced he is doing it simply because he hates the world and knows how exhausted I am… so he wants me to hurt and to suffer too… and I am that mother who needs to believe that a part of him just needs me to prove that I do love him, and that staying awake, somehow for him, proves that… and never quite knowing if this is the night that he NEEDS me to talk to him…

And I am the mother who stays awake until 2 and 3 in the morning to get my child off the bus, the mother who drives my child’s friends home when they all descend from a bus with no parents to collect them…

Ha… I am simply singing my own merits… but I am that person. My skin is not as thick as people think it is. Words shatter my soul. Accusations that I am not the friend that is needed, destroy me… no matter how mild the comment. Yes, this is my issue, not yours…

So, I could not write that to my friend after all… and I tried again…

The last few years have been hard… more than hard… I left the marriage from hell, but I didn’t realise that the aftermath was so much worse… another friend going through a nasty divorce told me the other day, on the eve of his court case, that if he’d known, two years ago when he left, that he would have to endure the last couple of weeks, he wouldn’t have left. His ex has destroyed his life in every way she has known how, and he still would not have left… Yet for me, I could never have undone it. Never, even for a heartbeat, have I regretted leaving. I simply regret not leaving earlier. I regret what I have put my kids through. I regret knowing I can’t undo the damage.

So I have the ex from hell… although, to be fair, most of the time he stays away now. Someone told me it’s because our son now lives with him, so he has to be around all the time and play the doting dad and husband to the new family. Perhaps… But he leaves us alone for the most part. He’s still manipulative and that still infuriates me, but the intimidation and threats have stopped…

My 17 year old is in her last year of school. We have always had a great relationship, but cracks are showing at the moment… I could be completely off base, but I think she resents the horror she’s had to live with, and she blames me for a large part of it… But she won’t talk to anyone, not even her friends have ever been party to what she has been through… Bottling it up… Eventually, the cork will pop though…

My 14 year old has so many issues, I’m not even sure where to start. He’s happier where he is than he has been for a long time… but the last 2 years have been hell. The violence. I can’t explain the violence. How can you? How can you tell people that in November, he grabbed a glass from the kitchen sink. I grabbed his wrist as he tried to smash it. He screamed at me to let him go so he could smash it and cut my throat and watch me bleed to death… and how do I tell people that it took me back to my own mother pointing a knife at me and telling me she just wanted to stab me in the heart and watch me die… How do you tell people that this is the child that lies and steals and hurts… that would walk past his sister and punch her in the face… or destroy everything in her bedroom… that he annihilates everyone with words… and when the words run out, he uses his fists or feet or whatever he can get his hands on… How do you tell people of the nights, so many nights, of sitting awake, terrified that he would decide tonight was the night he would stab everyone in their beds… How do you tell of never, ever being able to leave him with the others because he would look you straight in the eye and say to you – you can leave them, but I can’t guarantee I won’t kill them… How do you say all these things and so many others to anyone…

How do you tell people of the days and nights you have spent hours on the phone talking him down from wherever he is at. From killing himself to killing everyone in his house to killing everyone at school. That when he stood here bleeding on my couch from the fresh slashes on his arms, all I could think to say, in irritation, was – don’t get blood on my couch… Of the tears I finally shed when the blood wouldn’t stop flowing and the look of satisfaction mingled with disgust as he saw… His words – this is because of you… Of the times now when he will Facetime me to show the cuts aren’t too deep… How do you explain how it feels to see your child’s arms and legs from 400km away, on a tiny screen… to not be able to reach out to him, to have absolutely no idea what to say to him, to not b able to stop it or fix it… Or that now – I’m not cutting anymore mum, you’ll be happy…. so what are you doing instead? Oh, I do smileys… A smiley is with the cigarette lighter – you burn yourself… Burns are deeper, they leave scars, they’re easier to get infected… But hey mum, I’ve stopped cutting like you wanted… so you don’t have to worry I’ll cut too deep anymore… Or do I tell of him picking fights with the most frightening of people he can find, wanting one of them to finally snap… or dangling from the roof of a 4 storey building by his hands… or smoking cigarettes and weed and drinking anything they can get their hands on… or… where do I start, and where do I finish…

Or perhaps i try to explain the bit that absolutely no-one understands… of the four kids… THIS is the one I thought would never leave… This is the one who was in counselling from before the marriage ended, trying to help him cope with the destructive relationship he had with his father… This is the child who has always needed that extra bit of love… this is the child who begged me to let him live with me forever, who couldn’t stand sleepovers because he had to sleep in the same house as me, who wanted both our ashes ultimately spread over the ocean so we could travel the world forever, together… and then he left. As simple as that… well, not quite… first, he made our lives hell. He did everything he could to make me hate him… because he doesn’t believe anyone does love him, should love him… At one point, broken, sobbing, I shrieked at him – what have I ever done? What have I ever done that is so bad, you could hate me this much? His reply… You gave birth to me. You’re the reason I’m alive… How do you explain this to yourself? Let alone to someone else…

Or do I talk about the 9 year old, so hell bent on keeping the peace she will tell anything at all they want to hear, and do anything at all to stop an argument… regardless of the consequences. The child who goes into meltdown if you even look at her too crossly…

Or the 8 year old who has an amazing analytical brain, but still can’t read and write… who refuses to eat anything other than 6 basic foods… whose behaviour is escalating… and we’re about to embark on the merry-go-round of specialists to find out what is going on, and what we need to do about it…

Or do I talk about me… and my exhaustion… Do we talk about the fact that very few people will still love you at your worst, they’ll just complain when you don’t love them at theirs. They won’t hear the words you say or the words you don’t say… they’ll only hear the perceived hurts you’ve inflicted… Do you try to explain this to them? Or do you realise that it just doesn’t matter… Do I tell them that 2 months ago, I walked into a doctor’s surgery for a pap smear, and walked out with a bunch of referrals and suspected problems, where the broken toe was the best of the bunch… That the lump in the breast turned out to be nothing, they think, but we’ll keep an eye on it just in case, because it might be deep seated or too small… or the skin cancer that they THINK they got all of, but lets do regular checks for the rest of your life in case we missed a bit and it spreads…. or the uterus that they can’t actually find any cause for, but isn’t cervical cancer like my best friend died of a year ago (and do I tell that? The endless loss… the phone in my hand to call… or of going back finally to visit recently, and for the first time ever, she wasn’t there…), but they can tell me that the average uterine wall is 3mm at the start of the period, and mine was already 17mm a week afterwards… but they don’t have a reason, just that my body is giving up on me… or the low iron that should rectify when the blood loss is sorted, but that is currently leaving me drained, tired and emotional… or about the high blood pressure and low pulse rate that apparently means my heart is not working effectively… Do I tell them all this… just to have them ‘fix’ it by telling me it can all be fixed with surgery and medication… but none validate how I am feeling. None understand that I don’t have the time or energy to fix my own failings, when it is all needed to hold together my children…

Or do I talk about the fact that I have worked and studied forever… That for years, I have either worked two jobs, or worked and studied simultaneously. All with kids underfoot. All whilst being heavily involved in the life of a country town. Secretary of swim club and soccer, registrar and recorder for little athletics… Involved in every major event in the town and half the smaller ones… traveling constantly for the children – school, sport, family… Until finally, a couple of years ago, I started to stop… I left the country town, I stopped being involved, I stopped travelling, I stopped working two jobs, I stopped studying, and finally, I stopped working at all. I simply… stopped.

Which part of the story do I tell… Because when I start to tell the story… I lose track of the pieces… because there are so many… and when I try to gather them, I realise… I don’t want to tell them my story. I don’t want to share the pieces. I don’t want the judgment. I don’t want the opinions. I don’t want the solutions…

This was the other thing I had tried to explain to this friend… He was saying how lonely he feels… Anyone who has ended a marriage, or anyone who should end their marriage, knows it… that deep seated loneliness… where you just want someone to snuggle with on the couch, no more… someone who wants to know how your day was… someone to make you chicken soup when you are sick… someone who cares that you are being ridiculous… someone who listens to all the boring bits, simply because they are important to you… So we know how that loneliness feels… the knowledge that even though you might be there with the person you have married, they’re not the right person… and you miss the warmth of being with someone you love…

But i am passed that stage… I am okay with my own company… For me, I want someone who makes me a priority. Someone who believes that my happiness matters more than their own, because I will believe theirs matters more than mine. Someone to hear about the boring bits of my day, to hear the stories from my past, to listen to the inane thoughts that traipse through my mind… I want that…

But even more… if I went back in time… the thing I would choose first, for the father of my children, is a man who will love them more than he loves himself. A man who will place their welfare before his own comfort.

Because that is the part that is hardest at the end of some days… Someone who loves them all as I do… someone to occasionally do the hard parts of parenting… to occasionally be the bad cop… to sometimes argue with them to go to bed, to clean their teeth, to eat their damned dinner… Someone to fight with them about whatever drama and meltdown occurs this time… Just someone to occasionally pick up the slack… someone to say to me – hey, you’re doing okay… you’re not the worst mother in the world… and it’s okay… Just that. It’s okay…