I think that’s a given. Or a known. But although it is known that chicks whinge, not every (or many) guys seem to know what to do with that (beyond feel hounded, criticised or nagged) and not every (or many) woman accepts it’s OK for her to do that or always knows how to just be when you are not the whinger but the recipient of the whinge. Which is all cool I guess, and perhaps the easiest way to handle this would be to stop whinging. But I’m sorry. I can’t. I’m not really complaining. I’m just telling a collection of dramatic stories with certain aspects highlighted which (I think) demonstrate my point.
My point, most recently has been this. Parenting is hard. Going on holidays with lots of kids is kind of an oxymoron to the words holiday and relaxing. Blending families is hard. I need to talk about it. Most and best to my sisters or my friends or my sister-friends, but if they are not all available I will attempt to talk about it to anyone who might offer an ear. Or Facebook as a general recipient. Just for the purpose of sorting my way through all the conflicting thoughts I am having whilst simultaneously having a magnificent and epic family holiday and trying to parent lots of children, and have a relationship with a guy I see a pretty great future with and all in 90%+ humidity, away from home.
We had an epic holiday. I intend to write another story about it because it was amazing. The tropics are incredible. The landscape, the heat, the rain, the way to light filters through the green. The green. I am not used to so much green. The people. Watching my girls experience new things and navigate relationships. And whinge. Listening to my girl’s whinge and trying not to see them as ungrateful brats because they are just sorting their way through all the things they are thinking and feeling. It’s just that five kids and three adults is a lot of people with thinking and feelings to try to navigate. And sometimes I am brilliant at that, and sometimes I am not.
Once, many moons ago, I realised that I had been the whinging chick at barbecues at lot. I was unhappy in my marriage and the only place I seemed to be able to talk about that was socially. Once though, I sat through 2 hours of another friend and her marriage woes at a barbecue and left feeling sad and a bit shattered and I made a decision not to be that person anymore. And that if I was so unhappy I would change my situation. I didn’t plan to end my marriage, but in the effort required to change all the things that were not working, ending the marriage was the only thing that worked. And then I stopped whinging about him and us and just got on with doing what I needed to do be OK.
Right now I am not unhappy. Last night at a barbecue I was telling (I thought) a series of anecdotes about our recent family holiday – including getting caught in a flash flood, the time he saw a snake, trying to supervise 5 kids competing with each other in a swimming pool and the one fight we had in 15 days – and one of my (super lovely) friends said “But did you enjoy the holiday?” and I stopped and said “Have I been whinging a lot?’ and she said “A bit” and smiled in that way which didn’t make me feel judged, just loved, but I think perhaps I had worn her out. See I wasn’t seeking solutions. I would like it to be easier and I am impatient about that, and quite often I am selfish and want time and space to myself and I feel things deeply and I need to talk about that but sometimes my intent is misinterpreted. Not by her, just in general I mean. So I could stop, I could stop talking, but then I would be lost wondering if it was just me who felt what I felt.
Right now I am not unhappy, but I am sometimes scared. I have blended a family before and now I do not see those girls often, the ones who I considered to be my family too. When I was away on holidays some of my friends saw those girls and sent me photos of them having breakfast together and immediately I teared up. Because they are not my girls (but they are) and I miss them. And that is nothing to do with my old relationship or my new one, or the new children I am trying to blend with. It’s just sometimes I cannot handle the constancy of the needs of my own children or myself. Sometimes I am here right in the middle of my life doing what I need to, and sometimes I am somewhere else entirely.
Our one fight on holidays (which I think is pretty epic by the way, and a testament to his calm and patience) was after he asked me how I was going and I told him. Mind you, this was when we were camping out and had just spent 3 hours driving around without snacks (the landscape was amazing, I got to travel in a separate vehicle and talk station talk and not hear the whinging kids) and we were all tired from not much sleep, and I had just cooked dinner in the camp kitchen in the sweltering heat suspecting that none of the children would like the meal, and the kids were fracas. I’m not sure what I said but I’m pretty sure I whinged. A lot. And he heard me say all these things I do not think I said. And he took all that on board. And felt shitty. And then I was completely frustrated because I just wanted to have a whinge without hurting anyone’s feelings, and turns out I did. I may have also had a tantrum then, which was too much for everyone (tantrums do not count as whinging BTW, they are just tantrums and are not very effective forms of communication).
I think this is OK. I think it’s OK if it’s about trying to sort your way through all the thinking and feeling. It’s sometimes hard to share the intent though and not be interpreted as unhappy or unappreciative or ungrateful (especially when you are tired or premenstrual or haven’t had much of a chance to sort your way through all of it before the whinge by whinging to someone else first who is a women and totally gets where you are coming from). But sometimes I feel unhappy or tired or scared and it’s best I acknowledge all of that because the version of me who doesn’t? She is quiet. And I would be more scared of her. And all the things she is thinking and not saying.
Intent is everything. But sometimes you have to sort your way through everything you are thinking and feeling before you can even get to intent. It would be perfect it was the other way round. But if you always did everything with the right intent how would you know this?
Chicks whinge. It’s just a form of talking. Some of my funniest moments are mid-whinge. Like when I said I thought fireworks were a bit boring. I’m sorry. I can’t stop whinging. I’m not really complaining. I’m just telling a collection of dramatic stories with certain aspects highlighted which (I think) demonstrate my point. Fireworks do go on for a really long time though don’t they? It’s never the grand finale soon enough. And the kids whinge almost the whole time you’re watching. Especially the girls.
I have had what could only be described as a sensational year. Which is not to say it didn’t have it’s challenges, but if you told me that by the end of 2015 I would be here I may not believed you EXCEPT that I was clear that here is where I wanted to be, I just didn’t quite know HOW it was going to happen.
The greatest lesson in manifesting what you want? Be totally clear in your intention. As specific as possible in what you want. And then let the hell go of however or whatever you think needs to happen to make it happen. And then it will. Probably about the time you have accepted that it’s OK if it doesn’t happen or that you don’t really need that thing.
Case in point. I have a Camilla Caftan. Well actually I have 2, so lets say I have a Camilla collection. In November 2014 I wrote a Camilla on my list of things I would want “when” my business was flourishing and I could afford to treat myself. It was something I thought would be a luxurious treat. I spoke about it to one of my friends just once I am sure, and for my birthday this year my beautiful friend’s all put in and gave me a voucher from the Camilla store in Perth. Manifested it right? I got the voucher in June, but didn’t ever seem to be in Perth long enough to get to the store. Until early December when my guy (manifested the shit out of him too!) and I were heading down south for a wedding. So we went and I tried on all the blue ones (because there are so many and they are all so beautiful and I thought if I just tried on the blue ones I wouldn’t get to confused). When I went to sort out payment of my magnificent caftan, there was some shuffling and helpful guy carrying the bags and such, and it wasn’t until we got in the car and were on the road I realised there were two caftans in the bag, both shades of blue. It pains me to admit that I thought perhaps an extra one had been put in my bag by mistake and I openly told my guy that “I don’t think I can tell anyone”. Cool moment when you basically admit you would steal a $600 caftan to the person who just brought it for you. Fortunately he just thought I was funny. So I very clearly stated my intention was to own a Camilla. In the end, it was probably not something I would have spent my money on (not yet, as there are still more important things I’m investing in to keep my home running – like air-conditioning and the mortgage – and my business going) but somehow I ended up with it anyway. And not just one, but two. Yet if in November a clairvoyant said, “Your friends will buy you one and your boyfriend (who did not exist yet) will get you another one on the same day as a surprise” I may have thought she was on crack. Truly. And I love them and feel truly blessed and cherished, but it’s almost as though I didn’t get them until it wasn’t this thing I was chasing.
Case in point 2. I have a committed boyfriend. Well actually I have 2, so lets say I have a boyfriend collection. Sorry. Poor taste in jokes.
In August 2014 I was 6 months into Gap Year. I was still reeling from the whole gross ending of my previous relationship and still a bit stunned about how shit I felt about that. I was not sure I wanted to “call in the one” but I signed up to do a program calling “Calling in the One” even though the name of the program wanted to make me vomit. I guess I signed up because of something else? Given the name, you’d think it would be the delivery of “The One” but I think it was actually the bit about not being so messed up by all the past that stuff that was appealing. If I sorted that and the direct result was delivery of “The One” I could probably cope with that, but if I at least felt better about that past stuff (lying, cheating, betraying not-the-one) then I’d be a much happier person. So I wrote down, very specifically, what “The One” would be like. At first it was more about what (or whom) he would not be like, but then I got clear that I really needed to focus on what I wanted first if I actually wanted to manifest it. I was pretty clear. And then I just got on with sorting out all the other stuff that needed sorting out (like my house, my business, my children, my friendships, me) and didn’t really think another thought about HOW this person would or could come into me life. A couple of times I thought perhaps I would have to try internet dating, but fortunately had the excuse of Gap Year as a way of NOT signing up. Because I REALLY, REALLY didn’t want to. I didn’t want to date at all actually. Ever. And guess what happened? The only person I had to date was him. And he pulled off the best ever 24 hour date day for my birthday and as far as epic dates go he has won. I won’t share all the specifics of what I asked for (in case you all realise how great he is and try to steal him) but at my most shallow I asked for someone with hair, good dental hygiene and generally had his shit together. Boom. He’s so much more than that, and that has very little to do with who I am. Except that who I am seems to be whom he likes. And I had to be her first so he could see her and know her and like her.
And then there’s all the other cool stuff that happened in 2015 to me and mine. You don’t have to read it all; it was more for me really…
Here’s 2015 in dot points (without dots because that’s too formal):
I do believe quite early on the first day of the year I was running around the streets of this town trying to get in the nightclub after lockdown time, trying to convince the bouncers that although I was dressed in my mum-slut, gold dress I was no threat and old enough to be their mother. They still didn’t let me in.
Renovated my studio into the kickass Biznest Studio
Did a lot of SUP yoga
Hung with our wee cousins and convinced their parents our town might be the best place for their childhood
Got rejected at the Post Office for an out-dated passport photo
Did a spectacular chicken-themed photo shoot with the talented Emma Hutton
Wrote a blog about sunnies. This blog. A guy I kinda knew would send me a Facebook message about this blog post. Just like God said.
My website www.fleurporter.com went live. Straight after I had a mid-afternoon espresso martini. Alcohol, coffee and self-promotion resulted in a massive panic attack. Luckily my website was shit-hot.
WON the Gap Year bet. Scored $100 for not kissing/sleeping with/filling the gap in any way with any men (or women) for an ENTIRE YEAR.
Made a new “friend” with the guy who wrote to me about the sunnies blog. It’s only in inverted commas because of what it became, but he was determined to be my friend. Quite a shock to me really, even though I’d asked for that.
School started – Had a kindy kid, and Year 1 and Year 6. Miss 11 became a student councillor.
My bro came to visit, made him do SUP yoga with me.
Launched my FIRST EVER INCUBATOR 8 WEEK PROGRAM. With 7 people in it. My thing. My thing. So my thing.
My biggest girl left home to go travelling to Vietnam. Forever I thought (I quite like that as I write this, she home again for 5 weeks). I did the letting go as a mother thing again (and will do it again when she leaves in 3 weeks).
There are lots of rabbit photos.
Watched 50 Shades of Grey and refused to talk to my “friend” about it unless he reconsidered our status (see below for outcome of this conversation)
Ended Gap Year with the guy who had been my “friend”. Mostly because he was friendly and seemed like a better option that anyone I might meet at the nightclub or on Facebook. Oh, OK he did connect with me through Facebook that is true. The night involved home-cooked dinner and a motorbike ride in the rain. And more interest in my dating life than EVER (I guess what would happen if you’ve banged on about Gap Year for so long). Was not sure what would happen, but the more I face-stalked him with my friends the more I realised that I may have been delivered what I asked for. Freaked out silently on occasion (good freak out).
Flew to the Gold Coast for my first Business intensive with my coach. Had twenty bucks when I got there. I may have cried and said I wanted to work at McDonalds. They still tease me.
Got a new tattoo. It says ‘she flies by her own wings’ in Latin. Yep.
Made my first video. A whole series on overwhelm and how to stop it stealing your soul. It’s pretty good even if I do say so. My lovely Au Pair edited it. Oh the talent!
Did 3 Ignite Leadership seminars. Or 4. Crikey, they all roll into one big fest of amazingness!
Went to an Ed Sheeran concert. Was blown away by his raw talent.
The brown hair girls came to visit and I remembered that no matter how it is love could be real and true. So nothing changes and everything changes, and one day in the unfolding of everything else (all the else of every that hasn’t unfolded yet) all will just be as it should be. And the sisterhood will always exist, just by default of the fact that however it came to be and what happened next we are all women, connected by threads that do not ever end.
Danced on stage at Secrets in the Garden. Even though I am not a dancer. Totally rocked a bucket list.
Did lots of aerial yoga. Figured I am a yoga slut.
Went to two weddings with my love. Tried to be a hot date.
Ran 4 more Incubators. FOUR MORE!!!
Fought with my children about shoes more than I ever imagined I would have to.
Accepted I have a boyfriend. A super, cool one. With hair, good dental hygiene and his shit together.
Hosted two Biznest Intensives in my Biznest Studio in G-town!! Can’t tell you how this is favourite kind of work (and feels like not-work). Can’t tell you how incredible the women are I work with.
Went to my first rodeo in a flanno and drank my first (in a very long time or my living memory which could mean I drank them before when I was already drunk) Emu Export.
Had my 41st birthday and was gifted a Camilla caftan (see above)
Went to Bali for a helliday.
Ended up with an accidental Brazilian.
Said goodbye to our gorgeous au pair Taylor, even though none of us were sure we would ever leave Bali. Ash cloud.
Picked up our next gorgeous au pair Marina. I was so ill and hellidayed out I thought perhaps she might want to leave. She stuck around. Thank goodness.
Started back at the gym. Got a fit core. Found out I like Pilates. Lets not talk about exercise at this moment. Will get a fit core again in 2016.
My little sister and her family moved to our town. Felt like a massive win! Nephews and lunch dates without any of our kids. So grand.
Epic 24-hour date day. Flight to Perth. Room at the Crown. BMW from the airport. My biggest girl. 3 of my friends. Tickets for us all to see Gurrumul.
Gurrumul live at the Perth Concert Hall. Like breathing magic.
Gold Coast again for the next Business Intensive. Had more than twenty bucks. Missed all my connecting flights home. 2015 was not the year for planes.
My children turned 19, 12, 7 and 5. Holy shit. How can I still be 23? They are miraculously special.
Saw The Waifs in concert. All my life all wrapped in one concert.
Have 2 dogs, 1 cat, 2 rabbits, 9 chooks and now a fish. Currently babysitting a guinea pig. Did a bit of kangaroo day-care during the year as well.
Taught lots of people to sell their souls. Well you know, sell from a place that feels good.
Had many epic family afternoon teas.
Made a few birthday cakes. All the same chocolate cake recipe. Still made me look good.
Went to the post office once. This is a fairly considerable event. I even have a photo of it on my phone, which is how I know it happened.
Went to Melbourne for my brother’s 40th. Had a massive night and ended up falling down the stairs like a “sexy baby giraffe”. Which is good I think. Took me a week to get over my hangover. Our flight was delayed due to a massive problem with the toilets and the aircon on our plane. We had to get a new one. Plane.
State gymnastics competition in Perth for Miss 11.
Trip down south for wedding number 2. Got a Camilla collection. Oh soooo bless-ed.
Year 6 graduation. Yes, it’s a thing. Tear-making.
Incubator Graduates Christmas party. I may have got stuck in my Camilla trying to demonstrate how to turn into a sarong (for when I’m next in Bali and plan to wear my $600 sarong around the pool, instead of the $2 one from down the street). This is possibly why dots points are too formal for this post. It was a work do after all.
Epic first ever motorbike and boyfriend photo shoot. Didn’t even know that was on my bucket list!
Christmas with my girls on the 24th. Christmas with my guy & his family on the 25th.
BBQs. So many BBQs because it’s summer.
Friends. So many friends. Too many to start singling out. But you know who you are and how much I love you in my world.
I’m not sure I’ll even drink on New Year’s Eve. I have my girls this year and I’m not going to attempt to break in after lockdown at the night club. I’ll probably hang out with some of my kids and my guy and fist-bump manifesting and all it brings.
The greatest lesson in manifesting what you want?
Be totally clear in your intention. As specific as possible in what you want. And then let the hell go of however or whatever you think needs to happen to make it happen. And then it will. Probably about the time you have accepted that it’s OK if it doesn’t happen or that you don’t really need that thing.
Here’s to 2016. The Year of Expansion. Not about doing more. About being more. And then that’s all. For now.
I didn’t actually ever think I suffered tension around menstruation. Except the tension I feel about that actual word. It’s just ugly. Almost as bad a perimenopausal . Gag.
Anyhoooo, not the point of this. I just want to talk about my ignorance of my own moods and thank all the crazy, nasty PMT bitches in the world that make my own PMT look sweet. When I have tried to point out to my favourite guy that I do, in fact, have PMT he just smiles and tells me he can’t really tell. I don’t think he’s lying, I’m just thinking. Well. Crazy-bitches above.
I just know, usually in hindsight, that I have had PMT because I have gotten unnecessarily enraged by a trip to Target with only 2 of my four children, and at some point in the week previous to my period have called my children the worst swear words known to me (not to their faces, but in my mind or to my closest friend whom I can say anything to. And to my favourite guy to try to prove I have PMT. He doesn’t bite).
Here’s the thing about PMT. The ONLY person who is allowed to talk about it is the woman who is (in denial) of experiencing it. At the time she is allowed to mention she may have PMT after she has smashed an ice-cream container into a million pieces after dropping the chook food on her thongs on the way to the chook pen. Whilst muttering “you stupid fucking cunt” under her breath loudly (oxymoron, but she thinks it’s not a big deal until she checks no-one heard). The dogs look a little shocked but are not sure they know what the words mean, just the tone.
If you are another women, you can have a laugh with you friend after she tells you about it. If you are a man NEVER. EVER, EVER use PMT or any reference to anything about periods, monthly moods or hormones or it is likely you will get your oesophagus ripped out. And deservedly so. Later (like the week after) when or IF she mentions it, you can have a little laugh together about it but only about what she says. Your own jokes or references have no place in here. At all.
That’s all. I’m pretty sure I have PMT this week as something may or may not have happened with an ice-cream container yesterday and with a trip to Target. I have also cried at a couple of things on Facebook which are not really worth crying about, but feel serious. I also feel incredibly fat and can’t stop eating dark chocolate and even though I said not to when my favourite guy brought me a hot chocolate sauce waffle cone from Maccas the other night I nailed the entire thing whilst complaining about being fat and ugly and loving it. Please don’t talk about it to me unless I mention it first.
And thanks again crazy-bitches. I guess you did the ice-cream container thing when other people were around?
I want to tell a story about yesterday. And then perhaps it will make sense.
My youngest daughter – the JBaby – turned 5 yesterday. It seems crazy to me that my littlest little is now 5 years old. How did that happen? How could I have foreseen where 5 years would take us?
The day before her birthday in the afternoon she was tired after a massive morning play-date and apparent “nerves” about her impending birthday.
We disagreed over her hitting her sister (as in, I didn’t think it was appropriate as I do with most man-handling of your siblings) and I sent her to her room, and one the way as she flounced she yelled out “You are just a fuckin!!!!”. Later she accused me of being a “Ditch”.
When she calmed down enough to speak about it (and I had stopped wanting to retell the “Fuckin” story over and over) she say she was feeling “Frusta-rated, Nervous and Excited” about her birthday. She finds me very “frusta-rating” and often “selfish” in the way I talk to her and that I won’t let her slap her sister for going in her room (even though I asked her sister to go help her find her pyjama’s).
So we ate some dinner because I felt that hunger was driving most of the swearing and after that she was a lot calmer and even joyful. She often says to me she has “Joy” in her head (she’s watched “Inside Out”) and if there was a word I would have always used to describe her it was joyful. But now she is 5. And sometimes she is not at all about joy, and has strong opinions and ideas and doesn’t want to be bossed around by her 7-year-old sister.
On her birthday she got another bike (because the one I brought for her last birthday is still too big). She’s an awesome bike-rider. She put on a new sparkly dress and new green sandals and rode the bike around and after boiled eggs in bed (she only eats the white, which drives me crazy) she left for school.
After school we had planned a birthday Olaf Pool Party. Invited a few little friends from school and family and some of my friends and her sisters’ friends. And here’s how yesterday went for me…
After the super early morning start, bike (built by my favourite guy), breakfast in bed, new dress and much excitement, my lovely au pair took girls 3 off to school. I managed a shower and started my work call at 10am. I found another one of my people (she was on that call) and she’s doing the next Incubator. We had the BEST conversation, but the most exciting bit is that I know (in my bones) that I can help her get what she wants. Fist pump. Then I walk to one of my favourite local coffee shops, Flowvitality (so much goodness in one word huh?) for a coffee with someone who is studying to be a Life Coach and wanted to interview me (funnily enough she’s seen me all over FB) about being a coach. I spent an hour with her talking about many things, but mostly how some people need to hear her message so she should just start now and trust that she won’t get delivered more than can manage, and if she does it’s OK to say ‘I don’t know the answer to that but I’ll find out and get back to you OR I’m not sure I have the skills to help you with that just yet but this person is amazing at that’. She hugged me after. I hope she starts soon. Before she’s ‘ready’ (because you know, when are you ever ready?). Then I walked home and had another call with another person who’s totally my person and wants to work with me, so we have a plan in place so she too can get what she wants. So many words, and so many ideas. These people found me through my writing and the amazing creature that is Facebook. And they are so my people, which makes conversations with them SO easy.
After that I was a bit talked out to be honest and had to have a quick lunch break, and get focussed on some other businessy tasks. I’m getting a PA on Monday because suddenly there is not really enough time for EVERYTHING and I really can’t do everything, nor do I want to. As I’ll illustrate further in just a minute. And then I wrote.
Then it was 3pm and I came out. The birthday party was scheduled for 4pm. Here’s what was done:
- The house was clean, the platters of food were made and in the fridge, the Olaf birthday cake was made, all the shopping was done, the outside patio area was clean and decorated with balloons and Olaf things. My incredible au pair had done ALL of this. She was also off picking the girls up from school.
- My swimming pool was sparklier than it has been in a while, with a new cleaner set up and going. My pool company did this, Splash, owned by my sister-in-law (lets not get technical, because the words are out-dated, but she’s the sister of my ex-husband and the aunty to my girls)
- My brother-in-law (lets not get technical, because the words are out-dated, but he’s the guy who is the Dad of my sister’s children, and my children’s uncle) went and got the gas-bottle filled for me for the BBQ. I am a sexist pig but I couldn’t do this because it’s a man job.
- My mother-in-law (lets not get technical, because the words are out-dated, but she’s the Mum of the father of my three youngest children and she’s their Nan) made the most spectacular Olaf piñata, plus a sponge cake, and a cute Olaf costume for JBaby (who didn’t wear it until the end). It took about 30 minutes for 25 kids to break that thing.
- My favourite guy (the real guy, lets not get technical AT ALL) built her bicycle and cleaned the BBQ and cooked 48 sausages and supervised plenty of swimming (I think it was the quiet chair he liked).
- Miss 12 controlled the shit out of the party games, like a boss (I guess her Mum taught her. Eeeeeek) and musical bobs and musical statues were a hit.
- Everyone came and had fun and brought gifts (thank you SO much, they are beautiful and all the treasures were out at 6am on the trampoline) and danced and swam and smashed that piñata like it was an evil thing. It was intense, but amazing.
And do you know what I did? Cleaned up the pool yard, picked up some dog shit (I really can’t get anyone else to do that, even though my gardener does do it when he comes) and made everyone cups of tea/coffee/water when they arrived. AND before that? Sold my magic to people so they can get their magic out, inspired a young person and was simultaneously inspired by her and wrote for no reason except I had something to say.
So my question to you is what does a good mum look like? In your definition? And does doing everything serve you or it possible that there are people who (in their version and their way) can love and support and help you to do what it is you were put her to do?
I am so blessed and so grateful for the people we share out life with. I am so thankful that they love my children, and share parts of themselves with them, and help me because we are family (lets not get technical, but that is how it works right?). I dreamed of creating a solid foundation for my children and me. And perhaps I didn’t see at first how many people were connected to that. That it is not us in a solitary unit, but a community of people who can manage a crazy-ass 5th party however that looks. And it looked GOOD.
They were lying in bed. She had been talking a lot about all kinds of things. Stories. The world. All kinds of things.
Then she went quiet. He sounded sleepy and it was late. They said goodnight, and probably kissed because she always wanted to do that before sleep.
He reached out in the dark and touched the back of her neck.
“Hey,” he said, “can you promise me something?”
“Sure, what?” she asked.
“Can you promise me you’ll never stop talking to me?”
“Yes, sure” she said, smiling.
It was quiet.
Then she said “Can you promise me you’ll never stop listening?”
He said, “I’m a really good listener”.
And she smiled in the dark and imagined all the stories she had yet to tell.
*NOTE: This is a purely fictitious post. If you think you recognise anything familiar about any of the characters in this post it’s purely in your imagination. No-one was harmed in the telling of this story. Except possibly one mammary gland.
Once upon a time there was a couple who lived in a seaside town and were both biological scientists (amongst other things). He was a lot more scientific that her. And proper. He was a lot more proper and spoke with intelligence and forethought. She forgot sometimes to use the correct scientific descriptions for things, and just used the dirty version, and often said the first thing that came to her mind. He would call her “potty mouth” she would say stuff with the f-word in it. A lot.
INSERT David Attenborough-style documentary music and landscape panning here.
One evening the male of the species came over to the female’s territory.
It was getting close to the time in the female’s monthly hormonal cycle when she would experiences menses (fuck I’m sorry I had to write that word, but there isn’t even a better one) and she was experiencing what could only be described as a slight agitation and aggression for no obvious reason. The male of the species thought it would be fun to tease her. This was usually well received, except when her hormones made her want to rip other peoples oesophagus’s (oesophagiii?) out, especially ones who teased her). On a couple of occasions she “playfully” attacked him with her phalanges in the form of fists.
Later they moved from the communal part of the cave to the private sleeping space, at which point the male of the species thought it would be fun to say “You should be nice or I might abstain from having sexual intercourse with you”.
The female was observed to completely lose her shit and ask incredulously “Did you just say sexual intercourse? Did you say that? Because if you even say that again I will never, ever let you do anything to me ever again.” He was observed laughing. He embraced her in an affectionate cuddle, but when she winced he said “Oh sorry did I squash your boob?”. She suspects he may have said “breast” but was grateful at least he didn’t say “mammary gland”. Then he said something about a time she may have squashed one of his “testicles”.
And, because she was so concerned at some point he might say the word “ejaculation” she ended any form of continuation of copulation and told him she might write a blog about it. For someone who would prefer the quiet life, he’s a very good sport.
When they stopped talking all kinds of great stuff happened (about which there really aren’t any words) and although he has no desire to talk dirty and she has no ability to sensor herself, that has no bearing on the end result. She just wants him to say “ass” instead of “bottom” but mostly just loves the way she makes him laugh.
Blanket apologies seem a bit naff, however as I am now dating someone who I can very clearly see fits the ‘nice guy’ category I am very aware that some kind of apology is owing (or some kind of self-forgiveness is necessary here).
If you ‘dated’ (I’m using this term very loosely because I don’t actually think I ever went on a real date in my life before this guy) me once and are already wondering if I’m talking about you, let me just say this….if you are wondering, you aren’t one of the ‘nice guys’. You would know because your post-dating me would have left a sour taste in your mouth because your niceness scared the shit out of me, so I royally fucked it up. You’d know because I was the girl who dirty-danced with your best friend that time you brought him to visit because the combination of cold-medication and alcohol made him look heaps like Patrick Swayze. And therefore. I was Baby. You’d know because after you invited me to come and meet your family one weekend at a big deal community event (but before the family meeting weekend happened) I ‘accidently’ slept over at my male friend’s house after eating too many prawns and drinking too much beer. You’d know because I would have invited you post-breakup to New Year’s Eve and then danced with everyone else and two other guys had a fight over me and I ran away and pretended I had no idea who either of them were. I wouldn’t have told you I broke up with you because when we were dating I met someone who totally would never have committed to me at a party where I was dressed as a Ulysses butterfly, and he flirted with me and so I made up a story about your Mum not liking my daughter as the reason for it not “working out”. I wouldn’t have told you that actually, the possibility of you was way too much for me, so I found a million other reasons why you weren’t right, like the fact you didn’t know how to load a sheep truck.
It’s so naff that it was always “it’s not you, it’s ME” but it really was. I just had no freaking idea consciously until lately (like you know, Gap Year). See, the thing is we (as in my siblings and I, but also possibly most kids of my generation) were basically not taught how to date or how to find good people to love, or anything. We were just told not to have sex with people and expected somehow that that would work. I want my daughters to know that sex is good and beautiful and OK, but that you do it with people who are kind and respect you and respect themselves and generally want the best for you. Just being expected not to have sex in this world is not going to happen. Your children are going to have sex with people. Possibly lots of sex with lots of different people. And they should know that it’s OK, but that you should love yourself enough first to not make poor choices about who to share that with.
This whole nice guy thing is not about sex. It’s about vulnerability and how terrifying it felt for me to be in a situation with someone who cared if I was OK, who respected me and my body and my desires, who was generally interested in getting to know me, and GOD FORBID who maybe really liked me. The closer I got to a ‘nice guy’ the sooner I would end it in some lame and predictable way or another, whilst lying to myself that the young dude on the skateboard was worth the trouble. The meaner a guy was to me, or the less interested, the more comfortable I was with their attention when, or if, they decided to bestow it upon me. Sometimes this man in my life just adores me. I can tell. And sometimes that’s a bit scary for me. I may have half-jokingly told him he should be ‘meaner’ to me, and he looked really confused. It’s confusing.
Here’s the thing about femininity -it takes a long time to get brave with it. I’m getting braver but there are times where I’d just prefer not to be that vulnerable and feel all those feels about that stuff. But mostly I love it, and even with the last mean guy I found a way to do it better and more than before. He treated me the way I expected and that was OK with me because that’s what I expected. I didn’t get scared with him very often except all the times I wanted him to adore me and commit to me and he didn’t (which was all the time) and so I didn’t use my vulnerability bravely enough to just ask him. And then I would have known sooner, and I would have been ‘safer’ sooner instead of ‘safe’ in the not knowing.
And so the apology winds its way all the way around again back to me and then to them, because to be honest ‘nice guys’ you didn’t do the wrong thing. I hope you went on to be ‘nice guys’ to women who knew they were OK and expected nothing less, and didn’t give up on the nice guy thing because a tall blonde chick with honestly NO IDEA made your niceness seem lame. She was just lame and not very brave, and she had some super-hard lessons to learn about lameness and bravery (which you may be pleased and vindicated to know she learnt). The other guys and life taught her that.
It doesn’t change anything. There is no regret there. Just time that had to pass and things that had to happen because this is how it’s meant to be, because if not it would have been something different. And it’s not different. It’s like this.
So not naff. Just brave and stuff.
Someone from Sweden reads my blog regularly. I know this because you can see what countries the people are from who read your posts, which is pretty cool. When I see Sweden in there I feel a bit funny (not haha funny, funny weird) so this post is for you Sweden.
I have only really known one Swedish person in my life (the other Swedish person was very nice but was connected to the original one, which meant that I found it hard to let her be the reason to forgo my doubts about Sweden). After my experience with (the original) her I may have thrown the (Swedish) baby out with the (Swedish) bathwater, which is very disappointing. And for that I am sorry Sweden.
I never liked cool drink, so the fact that she had a stupid (unforgettable) name didn’t mean I had to stop drinking cola, but I will be honest and say I haven’t been to Ikea since. Which is ridiculous.
If the person from Sweden reading my blog is her Mum, I want to say I’m sorry I was unable to be a better house-mum and protect her crazy-ass from my ex who must have pursued her crazy-ass relentlessly. I have no doubt she had a part in it, but if it was anyone other than him I wouldn’t feel as responsible. As the mother of a 19 year old I know that they often need love and guidance, and although I believe I gave her that, it may have been misinterpreted.
If the person from Sweden reading this is her sister, let it be known that I really thought you were cool and I hope you didn’t believe everything she said about me. I think it was to make herself feel better about the situation she found herself in, but I am only presuming.
If the person from Sweden reading my blog is unrelated to the girl with a name like cola, I’m sorry for being so anti-Sweden, perhaps one day I will stop and get on with my own great life and one day desire to visit your country and imagine it is not full of people like the one Swedish person I (thought I) knew.
And now, here’s what I want to say you, girl with the name like cola. I am glad that you got away from him. You are 19 and I am 41 and what that whole thing did to me was almost too much at 40. I am old enough to be your mother (which by default means he was old enough to be your father, vomit) and as the mother of someone who is only 6 months younger than you (vomit) I had so many things I wanted to say to you when I realised what had happened. They were mostly like WHAT THE FUCK? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU/HIM? but once I stopped freaking out they were this:
- Can you not see that a man capable of doing what he did is not a good man to pin your future on? Probably not at 19. I may not have been able to see that at 19. But if you want more for yourself and your life then hopefully you have realised that by now.
- Do you not know the sister rule? It’s not actually the sister rule, but the rule of womanhood – the sisterhood of women who love and protect each other. Do you not know how badly you spat in the face of the sisterhood by your actions? That is the bit you are responsible for. The bit where I have no doubt he relentlessly pursued you (because remember, this is how he got me) is his, and that bit will forever carve out the path of his future. I hope at 19 you find a way to change the path that carves out in front of you, because it has so long to go and it could be amazing. It may seem strange that I would want that for you, but I do. My own daughter is only 6 months younger than you and the possibilities for her make me so excited. I do not want you to have a shitty life. But you must stop doing shitty things.
- He didn’t change. Not after that. Don’t ask me how I know this or what I know, but I do, and I wanted to tell you so you would know too. I don’t think it matters now.
I thought, oh how I thought, I had let go of this and all the things it meant (the things I made it mean), until I saw the one person from Sweden keeps reading my blog. When we first saw your profile on Au Pair World he said “oh no, not her, she’s too pretty”, and I laughed because I was not insecure about having pretty girls in my house (we’d had them before and my oldest daughter is one of the prettiest). Also (I am sorry Sweden) I actually don’t think that weird no-eyebrows, wispy hair, orange skin, fish face pout look is pretty (but I am a women and obviously BLIND!) I am sorry I did not listen, and somehow you got mixed up in the mess that was the end of us. And then I am forever grateful that you did because it was the one thing that meant there was no going back ever. You were like the sacrificial lamb, but I promise you I had no idea that it was possible. I hear you have found your way free of him, and for that I am glad (a lot gladder than I thought I would be back when I thought I didn’t care about any of it). You two could make me famous yet, it’s such a great story. Such a cliché. Such middle-class suburban trash style. Gold really.
So here’s what I’m doing, just getting this all out so that I’ve been completely honest with Sweden about my poor feelings. Isn’t it funny how long things can bang around in there never quite being unresolved? This is me resolving.
I still don’t want to go to Sweden but perhaps I’ll go to Ikea again this year. I have managed to get a new au pair and a new boyfriend and all that is going great. I will probably never get another Swedish au pair or a 19 year old Swedish boyfriend. That’s probably going a bit far. I’m sorry about that Sweden.
The difference between men and women is fascinating to me. Perhaps because some of my biggest challenges so far have been within or about relationships and it made sense to try and make some sense of all the stuff I didn’t understand. I now co-present the relationship section at a leadership seminar and work as a relationship mentor and am surprisingly chuffed at how much sense I’ve made from the nonsense. I’ve written all the stuff I’ve learnt about relationships here in a sensible fashion, but this post is more the nonsense. Unsensibility.
The real guy and I have been together for about five months. It started with a discussion from two fairly cautious beings about firstly “being friends” (his idea) and then perhaps moving into something “casual and see how it goes” (his idea but prompted by my decision that I had enough friends to hang out with and most of them didn’t send me pictures of sunsets or make me flustered at the school cross walk). Since then we have not discussed our relationship status at all, however we spend generally 3-4 evenings together most weeks, do combined family stuff with our kids, have met extended family and friends, have booked two family holidays in the next 12 months and generally seem to think each other is pretty mint. I think it’s fairly obvious that we are not having a casual relationship.
Now (aside from being a woman) I have this particular thing where I often don’t discuss things that are on my mind. I like to wait until the right time. I’d hate to been perceived as needy. I don’t want to cause a fight. Whatever lame excuse I give it. Really it just means that I avoid certain conversations because I’m already at the end of the conversation (the one we didn’t have). I know, women are nuts, but if you are a women you need to embrace this about yourself, and if you are a man you need to accept this even if it’s completely nonsensical.
So I did the leadership seminar on the weekend and inspired and empowered many people to have conversations they need to have and to own truths about themselves and to be real. The good news is, we don’t get to work at such seminars without getting our own personal development hammering over the weekend and at some point (about midnight on Saturday night because we were all still up talking) the conversation got around to me and my ‘not having conversations’ thing. When I finally got home and lay my weary head on his hairy chest teary with exhaustion I may have made some random comment about having things to say I don’t say but that I had run out of words. He may have been relieved but he very kindly patted my head (he does this, it’s my favourite thing).
Anyway on Monday morning we spoke about it again. Firstly though I asked him if he’d ever had his ears pierced. His eyebrows pretty much spelt out WTF. See I had a sore earring hole and I really wanted him to share the experience with me and understand my pain. It wasn’t a serious relationship quandary about his potential piercings and mullet from the 90’s that was going to mean something about the future of our (not at all) casual relationship. Women really like to share experiences (good and bad) and be understood. Anyway he hasn’t ever had an earring so cannot understand my pain or my reason for asking the questions. Major man/woman difference RIGHT HERE. And see how I threw that extra bit of detail in there. Women do that too.
Anyway then I said there are these things I don’t say which I should. He said he’d like to know what they are (he’s like that, it’s my favourite thing).
So here’s how it goes:
ME: Are we in a relationship?
HIM: (surprised, perplexed perhaps) Welllll…..yes. I mean I thought it was obvious?
ME: Well I’m a woman and I need…
HIM: (interrupting but in a good way) You need more validation than that?
ME: Yes. And for me that would be for our relationship to be Facebook Official.
HIM: (picking up his phone and getting on Facebook) Of course.
ME: I’ll have to confirm that it’s true (picking up my phone and confirming his Life Event change that includes me is, in fact, true).
ME: Thank you for doing that (smiling).
HIM: Thanks for confirming it was true.
But here’s the thing (I did tell him this too, but am sick of the ME/HIM format so am just writing it like this) because we hadn’t had the conversation (which was obvious to him but mattered to me and was not obvious) I had the conversation with myself and often this conversation ended with him saying the wrong thing (like “no, this is obviously a casual relationship and that’s all I want” or “Facebook is a stupid way to validate our relationship”) and then we’d have to break up. So basically, like a woman, I ran to the end. You know, like how when someone is late and you are already at their funeral in your mind? Yep, like that, just at the funeral of our relationship. Nonsensical right?
And that is the short version of the story (another difference between men and women because if you are a man and have read this to the end you will not think this is short. At all. And that’s OK.) But that’s how you get Facebook Official. When you’re like in your 40’s and so grown up. Seriously. I definitely thought I’d be cooler by now.
Yep. It’s going to be whinge central. So if you’re not bothered with whinging or my middle-class Bogan drama please stop reading. If you feel the need to tell me to feel grateful for the opportunity to go on overseas holiday and that I have healthy children, please just don’t. Not today. Not ever. I appreciate the thought and my life, but that was not really a holiday. It was like all the things not relaxing in one massive two-week event.
I think I like holidays. I have this image of my children and me on holidays in the tropics. I’m relaxing by the pool reading some kind of light, trashy novel – newly massaged and pampered with some kind of oversweet cocktail in hand – while my children frolic in the swimming pool happily. We are all relaxed. The food is cheap and yummy. We all get along and feel grateful and appreciative for the opportunity to go on an overseas holiday all together, and love each other dearly. So here’s how it really went.
Before we even left home the children were fighting. I had argued with Miss 11 about how many shorts to pack (6 seemed like too many). Her look of death is terrifying and I see it at least twice every day.
We crammed 6 of us plus luggage into a 7 seater car and drove for about 5 hours – fighting the whole way over technology, space, what to eat, needing to go to the toilet, water bottles and stuff.
We made it to the city, picked up a 7th person, and crammed 7 people plus luggage in a 7-seater car. Made it to the airport. Got out, got checked in, got through immigration, spent $50 on completely shit food for the plane. Waiting. Waited. Flight delayed. Waited. Flight cancelled. Volcanic ash. Rebooked flight. For 3 days time. Stuck in the city. 7 people, all very disappointed. Me the most adult of the lot and having to handle the disappointment the best and not really feeling like doing that.
Spent the night at our friend’s house who had to farm out her children to fit us in. Booked into a hotel. Stayed in the city, in a hotel, in the cold, with no warm clothes. Spent another $100 on completely shit food for the plane, just from the supermarket not the airport. Did all the things I planned NOT to do on holidays like driving myself around, navigating, parking, buying breakfast food, spending all our holiday spending money on city things and not crappy Bali souvenirs.
I did catch up with some lovely friends in here, but I’m not going to talk about the good stuff because that was not part of the HELLidays. That was part of the holidays, which made up about 20% of the entire event.
Caught a flight. The airport was way busier as was Immigration. We were all much less gracious than the 3 days before but we made it. Yay.
Kids so tragic by the time we arrived that the first attempt to leave the hotel and go down the street for cheap and yummy food was met with anarchy. I took youngest two back to our hotel for swims in the pool and food, and necked two pina coladas in 3 minutes and briefly felt relaxed.
Straight up the next morning after the breakfast buffet (definitely holidays and not horrordays) we went for cheap massages. I accidently got a very dodgy Brazilian. You can read about that beauty here. I should have learnt but spent the rest of the holiday getting cheap beauty treatments that were, to be honest, cheap and mostly nasty. So I can’t complain.
I don’t shop with my children at Woolworths at home, so not sure why I thought the Discovery Mall with young children would be fun. It wasn’t.
I thought I would get to read a few books by the pool. I didn’t. In fact I believe I sat by the pool in total for 15 minutes (except that one really wicked time we hung out with my sister and her family at her resort in their cabana and drank coconuts).
The food was so cheap. They only ate hot chips though, and there were never enough of those. So we supplemented them with Oreos and juice mixed with sugar. Mostly just sugar and things unidentifiable as nutrition. I ate Mei Goreng every day, which was a great thing. That was holidays.My children do not really like each other most of the time. They all (all four of them) want my UNDIVIDED attention AT ALL TIMES. Yes. I know. The maths is totally shit.
I think I thought I would be relaxed. I wasn’t. And then I go the “whine-ass bird flu” of all times and haven’t stopped whining, sneezing and wondering if my brain will ever work again. Perhaps I will never be fun or funny or clever again? Perhaps my days of greatness are over, wiped out by one simple relentless helliday???
So there you have it. We got home; even though our flight was delayed by 5 hours and we had another night in the city before we drove. Our beautiful American au pair from the last 10.5 months left us in Bali to fly home, and we picked our new beautiful French au pair up in Perth. I hope she doesn’t go back to France before the “whine-ass bird flu” lifts or she will think I am really lame. I cried when we got home to our house after a 7 hour trip (including stops to see koalas & kangaroos and then eat fish burgers) because we had no food and I realised that I HAVE NOT COOKED for the last 10 months, and my cook was somewhere on a plane on the other side of the world and I would have to cook my own dinner!! I cried! (BTW – She is so many more things than just our cook, but with the “whine-ass bird flu” it’s impossible for my brain to write all the lovely things I want to say about her. But I will soon). Luckily I found some leftover Bolognese sauce she had made in the freezer and just had to cook the pasta. And we ate. And nobody else cried.
Everything is going to be OK. Even though I swore that I would never take my children on holidays together ever again, today I booked our next holiday for this time next year and had discussions about another mid-season holiday as well. So this “whine-ass bird flu” had obviously shortened my memory. I got my eyebrows done and a REAL, PROPER nail job by an actual beauty therapist and I am starting to look better. I told her the story about the Brazilian, but am still too horrified to show anyone. It’s patchy. It’s so very, very wrong.
And right now I have 1.5 hours with no children as 2 have gone for a sleepover with their Nan and one is at gymnastics. I got straight on my MacBook and continued the whinge I started yesterday but felt too fuzzy to complete. I like the way my fancy Bioseaweed nails look while I’m typing. I am a shallow, whinging, middle-class Bogan and I am sorry.
Here’s to the hellidays. Hope they get better soon.