Friday, August 11, 2017

Confessions of a Single Parent

Last weekend I went to Auckland. I was lucky enough to have a talk with Simone about our unexpected lives, lives that never in our wildest dreams we thought we would ever be living. It was such a relief to talk to her. It made me realise that I have not one person in my every day life who is living the same life as me. Talking to Simone made me realise that I'm not failing, I'm just doing the best I can, the same as every other single parent out there. I don't believe anyone decides they want to parent by themselves, when we are growing up, each and every one of us have hopes of finding someone to share life with.

So doing it by yourself is frankly, a rude shock. Sometimes I see people on social media whose partner is away, tagging their photos #singleparenting. Let me tell you, that is NOTHING LIKE SINGLE PARENTING. (Yes those are shouty capitals). Single parenting is doing every single thing by yourself. Ugh. And then feeling like you are failing the whole time. Let me tell you, nobody judges me as badly as I do myself, I am constantly second guessing and hating myself for all my decisions. 

Being a single parent means that you do all of the parenting at your house. All of it. This is an actual photo of the rubbish and recycling situation in my kitchen right now. It is Annie's job and she has procrastinated all week. She's actually doing it right now because I promised to help her make donuts. Could I have done this job? absolutely! would it have been easier? Hell yes! honestly its a 2 minute job, if done each day. 

But what would she learn?? She would learn that if I leave something long enough Mum will do it. So no, I won't do it for her. Am I doing it right? who knows?? not me that's for sure. I'm just trying to teach my kids how to be contributing members of society.

While I was away Mr W staying in our house and fed the animals for us. He also took it upon himself to completely clean and organise the room of the Resident Teen. It was amazing. I had been bleating on to the Resident Teen for weeks. That room smelt bad, and I kept saying it seemed like a homeless person lived there. I cannot tell you what a relief it was to have that done for us. It was incredible. Both the Resident Teen and I were amazed. We are now both working together to keep it better. Having Mr W do that meant that I didn't have to back down from my stand but gave grace to the Resident Teen to start again. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for some help and support. Hopefully Mr W is not scarred for life after that experience. I think he might be :(

Last weekend I went away (as I mentioned). I went to Auckland to see a friend who is undergoing treatment for cancer. I chose to do that, instead of registering and warranting my car. Who knows when I'll get money to do that? maybe in about three weeks?? Goodness knows. See what I mean about decisions?? It's tough I tell you. But it was worth it to see my friend, you gotta do what is important.

I've reconciled myself to the fact that clearly it's going to take a long time to dig myself out of this money hole. So a few months ago, I started buying random jars at the opshop for $1 or $2. Every week (no matter how tight money is) I buy at least one pantry ingredient. Finally it is starting to pay off. I have also started making treats from scratch. We always have homemade toffee now for an emergency sugar fix. We always have some nuts. We have popping corn so we can make pop corn. It's little things, but it is making a difference. We are possibly eating healthier now we make all our own treats.

I sometimes joke that when this phase of my life is over (and I'm sure things will get better eventually), I never want to eat another sausage again. Ever. Ever, Ever. But in the meantime they are cheap and versatile and filling for the Resident Teen. Also (just by the way) why do the cheap foods have yellow and red packaging?? It's almost like they colour code food the cheap food!! don't get me wrong, we are super lucky. We have a nice home, I have a full time job, and we are mostly doing ok. Well we were going into debt fast, but we are going slower now. And yesterday I finally (two years later) paid of the arrears for school activities. It's the little things. 

At least now when I do have some money, I mostly make good choices with it. It's taken a while, but slowly but surely I'm starting to feel like we might actually make it. The problem is, it is 100% up to me whether we do or not. Falling off the rails is so close at any point. For example this weekend I could just easily go back to bed and sleep, but if I clean the fridge, do the dishes, do 10 loads of laundry, vacuum the house, empty the rubbish, feed the chickens, make meals, make donuts with Miss 8, do the seven hours of work for my day job that I didn't do yesterday because the kids were sick, make the Resident Teen (who has a bad dose of the flu) some hot drinks and find some painkillers, bind three quilts, make the beds, do some baking for school lunches and cook the pumpkin that has started to go off sitting on the kitchen bench.... if i do that stuff, then next week will run smoothly. 

That's what being a single parent is all about. It's relentless. And it's on repeat. 
So don't judge me if I drink Coke Zero and don't exercise. Ok? 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Looking back (but still moving forward)

This photo came up in my memories. Beautiful Annie on her first day of kindergarten.
Sometimes I miss my old life. Not that I want to go back to that life, but I think it is ok to say that I miss the simplicity of my old life.

I miss having someone else to share parenting with,
I miss having enough money,
I miss my kiddies living in the same house all the time,
I miss having someone to go to bed with each night,
I miss my friends that I never have time to see now
because I work full time.

There's things I don't miss of course, and I love my new life,
but I think it's perfectly acceptable to acknowledge that things are different
and sometimes that makes me feel sad.

Change is painful. I guess that one day this new life will fit more comfortably
 and I'll manage it better on a day to day basis. 

Let's do this.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Hold your head up high and don't be afraid of the dark

Today was a hard day. I know that life will get better and one day I will look back at these days but I don't ever want to forget these hard days. . I hope that I'm proud of these hard days, I hope that I look back at my younger self and say, "they were great decisions deb, you needed to do that".

But today my heart hurts and I cried a lot of tears in the bedroom when the kids weren't looking. Why doesn't life come with a handbook? why don't we know how things are going to work out?? How can we tell that the big life decisions we make are going to turn out ok?

Part of me wants to lie on the floor and kick and scream and the other part wants to hide in the corner under a blanket. I don't feel brave and I don't feel strong. I'm worried and I'm scared. And I feel very alone. 

However Reuben cooked dinner for the second time this week and Annie emptied the dishwasher and put away her clean clothes. I got paid for some extra work and I went and brought us ice cream. The cats and the hens are fed and the dog is napping on the couch. I'm going to write a website for a rock band. Life goes on. 
At the end of a storm
There's a golden sky...
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Now is the winter of our discontent....

The school holidays are over and the kids are going back at school. My parental guilt level can go back down to the normal level. One day I'll look back at this time and {hopefully} realise that it didn't matter quite how much screen time the resident teen had over the holidays, but right now I do feel guilty about it. Life is a great juggling act and as a one income producing family, I'm struggling {and failing} to keep everything in balance.

A side benefit of the school holidays was that the second week when Annie was at her dads, I was able to work longer hours at work and so I didn't have to work on the weekend. It was great. Also it was TIPPING down with rain on Saturday so we stayed in our pyjamas all day and binge watched Sense 8. I also finished block 6 of the #eppparty and sewed seven of my #icecreamsoda blocks. My mind is feeling way calmer this morning that it did at the end of last week. So good.

I cannot wait for spring. I want to start growing things in my garden, I'm determined to succeed this year. I just want to eat tomatoes and cucumbers and fresh herbs with crusty bread and cheese. I want to make pesto and salsa verde and cook on the bbq. Man I'm so freaking over winter. 

Last week I had lunch with James and yesterday I got to hang out with Chrissy and Jacob. It really is so cool to have been all the way through the parenting process and reaping the benefits out the other side. It's such a relief to see that they have turned out amazing, in spite of all my many short comings. Really I'm amazed about what fantastic human beings they turned out. How does this even happen??

So anyway, even though it's winter and I'm so freaking over it, even though life is hard and sad and difficult on so many fronts. There are good things and today, I'm holding onto those. I'm going to drink lots of hot tea, write a ton of good copy today. We are having hot soup for dinner.
And tomorrow the sun will get up a tiny bit earlier. Spring will come.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday thoughts about contentment.

I stopped at the local dairy on the way to work this morning to get milk for the folks in the office who drink milk in their tea (not me). I love this little dairy, just down the road from work. To me it looks exactly like a dairy should. All red, white and blue with lots of signs stuck all about it's little self. The boy inside, always talks about the weather and always tells you to have a good day.

I really like working in Addington. I like being near this little dairy, also my favourite opshop is just down the road and there is some interesting buildings around. I like being near the trains and I like being near lots of places to buy good coffee.

I was thinking as I walked across the road in the freezing cold that I am one of those people who don't like change. I love my house and my family and my job. I love my pets and I love my friends. If i could, I would hardly change a thing. 

I thought, for a person who doesn't really like changing things much, I have changed a whole lot of things in the last few years. It's amazing what you can do, if you just take little steps and keep moving in the right direction.

All of that I thought as I waited for the traffic and crossed the road in the freezing freezing cold. I am grateful for my life and where I am at. Sometimes it is hard, sometimes I am sad, I'm pretty much always poor. But I'm content. And thankful.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Possibly the whingiest post ever...

Winter is hard people, isn't it? I can't be the only one. I should be writing 500 words tonight about "Exercise as Medicine" for a website because I had a couple of hours off work today for a funeral, but I just can't make myself. First of all, I'm not inspired by the concept of "Exercise as Medicine", nope, not inspired at all (don't judge me). Also I'm tired and the day has been long, I think I'll work tomorrow night.

Outside right now winter is hurling itself at the house. It's 2 degrees, but it probably feels like -6. Ugh. I'm already dreading dragging us all out the door in the morning. This winter is pulling out all the stops. I only see daylight on the weekends (i am not exaggerating) and it's really getting to me. I know it is only July but man, spring cannot come soon enough.

There has been a lot of home baking this winter. I want to know, how on earth do people eat if they can't cook? I'm so so grateful that I can. I remember spending many a Saturday afternoon baking as a teen. I wonder (with hindsight) if it drove my mum crazy? I know that I was ridiculously slow because I remember it taking hours to make apple shortcake. I must ask mum sometime, and thank her for letting me because it really helps to feed that bottomless pit which is a 15 year old boy.

Speaking of the boy, gosh parenting teens does not get any easier. I mean he's a good lad and all that, but he's a teenager. Teenagers are noisy, smelly, selfish, loud, untidy and selfish. I have yet to meet a teen who doesn't fit that criteria in some way. Sometimes you just have to have a strong drink or do some angry banging of the pots and pans to vent some of your frustration. And then other times they are just a complete delight to have around, chatty and helpful. It's like parenting roulette though, you literally never know whether you will be told to fuck off or given a hug. Sigh.

So there you have it. Winter is harsh and it makes all the little things that might not bother you normally seem like enormous obstacles. So excuse me while I hug my hot water bottle and listen to the weather beat against my house.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Football is football and talent is talent. But the mindset of your team makes all the difference. (R Griffin III)

I decided last year that Annie needed to learn to play a team sport. Chrissy and James did, and Reuben would of but we kinda missed the boat. But Annie, I was determined. She's the baby of the family, and really there's no competition for her at home, so I wanted her to have the experience. I played Netball and Softball at school when I was a kid and I loved it. I was a horrible player with zero skills, but I was enthusiastic if that counts. So Annie plays Football. Plus Mr W loves football so that's a bonus because at least someone knows what is going on.

Today we dragged ourselves out of bed in the FREEZING cold and went off to football as we do. I don't know why, maybe she was tired; but today was not Annie's day. At one point she got hit by the ball and she lost the plot. She was not what you might call a contributing member of the team for the rest of the game.

On the way home I had a chat with her. You know, one of those mum chats that start off with "I was very disappointed..."

I try hard not to be one of those parents who say I want you to do this because I say so. So I explained how in a team everyone has to work together for a good outcome. Even if we don't feel like it. It's kind of like our family. We all have to pull together or nobody is winning. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person on my team and the opposition are all going strong.

I never imagined myself as a Football parent standing on the sidelines in the freezing cold. It's a whole new world for me. I want her to have fun, but what I really want is for her to learn to keep going when things are hard, to look out for her teammates and to support them on the field. I want her to learn how a team mate will back you up and how there's always someone cheering on the sideline. I feel like it might take a life time of Saturdays to learn these lessons, but I'm hoping they will stand her in good stead.

Or sometimes like today, maybe we just learn that we have good days and bad days and it's ok we can try again next week.

A lot like life right now.