I ran into a dad at kindy pick-up today. I knew his wife was due a few weeks before me (like… NOW! Holy shit… I’m next….), so when I saw him I was excitedly rambling and wanting to know how she was. The mum is a lovely lass, and we’d chatted a while back about our bumps. She’d mentioned she was having a girl, and so they’d thrown out all the boy clothes in preparation (they have a boy the same age as Miss SP).
Me: “Oh gosh, has she had the baby yet?”
Him: “Yep! Baby is here!”
Me: Squeee! “Oh that’s fantastic….what’s her….”
Him: “…..another boy”
Me (my face by now is contorted into a ‘do not compute’ look): “Oh wait, what? Huh? I thought you guys were having a girl?”
Him: “Uhhh huh. So did we”
Yikes. Cue me preaching the virtues of having same gender siblings and how awesome it is (because IT TOTALLY IS), and how boys rock pink anyway so it’s all good. He got it, but I could tell it’s been an adjustment for them. And you know, there’s possibly some disappointment thrown in there.
We hear a lot about gender preferences, and in the media we hear about these ‘outrageous’ controversies of people selecting gender, or even the notion of gender being available to be selected. And many react with outrage. It’s a sensitive subject. And raises all sorts of ideas about morals and values and human life etc.
Ever had the urge to scream while simultaneously pulling your hair out and stomping your feet Hulk-style over something seemingly innocuous?
Ever wanted to throw an object really hard at a wall because you’ve just had enough of the crap. Only you’re not quite sure just how bad the crap really is?
No? Yeah, me neither *shuffles feet awkwardly whilst looking at the ground*
I am loathe to admit it, but I have a short fuse. That has become even shorter with the popping of children. I’d like to think it’s as cute as this:
But it’s more like this:
I have next to no patience at the best of times, but lately? There’s not even a fuse there to be lit. It could be a tiny irk, a whiny voice, a stupid question, making a decision, food…. anything really, it just rubs me up the wrong way and I get that ick. And a screech might be found to escape my mouth. Occasionally hands thrown in the air are witnessed also. Because by doing such an action, it will magically make everything change for the better, right? People stop and listen to you, shit gets done. Surely?
How short do you think your fuse is? Are you a:
Fuse Master– I am the zen of zen. Nothing really bugs me that much. I can let a lot of stuff slide. The most angry I get is a gentle shake of the head and an ‘oh deary me’ muttered under my breath.
Garden variety fuser– I’m pretty good at keeping my shit in check. I have a fuse, but it takes a bit before it is fully lit and I explode. I can explode pretty darn good, but that’s mainly reserved for A grade jerks and kids who insist on spilling the entire contents of a jar of glitter on my carpet.
How-dare-you-even-ask-me-that-question fuser- Fuse? What fuse? I wouldn’t need to worry about a short fuse if people weren’t so infuriating. And the sun wasn’t so bright. And the grass wasn’t so crunchy. And food prices weren’t so high. And kids weren’t so….kid-like. Just don’t look at me like that, ok?
My fuse and I are at odds of late. If we were a Facebook relationship, it would be ‘its’ complicated’. Hormonal, bloated and tired do not help one’s fuse. Just sayin’. But I have realised of late my fuse was pretty damn short to begin with. And that guilt cycle? You know the one- fuse shortened=explode=eventually calm down=feel like a jerk= guilt=repeat. It’s on a constant cycle and it’s not a nice one.
Firstly let’s just be clear- take the guilt away from it all- anger isn’t a bad thing. It’s ok to feel angry!! The emotion itself isn’t a positive or a negative thing. It’s what we do with it that’s the issue. And half the time we’re aware that screaming like a banshee whilst jumping up and down isn’t actually going to change the situation. It’s good to vent and get stuff out, it’s not so good to scream and rant. So we need to channel that anger and let ourselves calm down so we can do something with it.
Did you know that chronic short fuse-it is (it’s totes a thing) can actually lead to heart disease, make you vulnerable to diabetes, insomnia and blood pressure? (see here) So in a nutshell- short fuse ain’t cool.
Can we grow our fuse? Or are we doomed to pluck our nosehairs in frustration forever (don’t pretend you haven’t plucked a nose hair. It’s painfully addictive. And they’re there…)?
It’s a conscious decision to make grow a fuse. To not react so quickly. And a good thing to model to our kids, and partners. Because monkey see, monkey do. Grown ups included.
So what do we do?
A few things:
Stop.Yup. Stop. Right now. Picture that big red stop sign smacking you in the head.
Calm down– Reeeeelax. Slow that breathing down, squeeze the tension out of your muscles.
Understand the emotion behind it all– Anger, and that short fuse, normally are just the surface level emotions for something else going on deeper. So a lot of the time anxiety drives anger. Worrying about being late, worrying about not getting stuff done on time etc. Anger normally represents not having your needs met. Like, the need to be listened to. ARE YOU READING THIS KIDS? Even though you can’t read yet… yes I am aware of the irony…..
Get a reality check– is it really that bad? Do you really need to lose your shit over it? In 5 years time will it mean a thing?
Sort out an alternative– what else can you do beside losing your shit? Laugh it off? Problem solve? Talk to someone? Go for a run to clear your head?
I realise that the acronym there is SCUGS. Rolls off the tongue, yes?
So there you go, when the fuse is short- SCUGS it. Don’t say I don’t give you anything quality.
How’s your fuse? Do you SCUGS it? Can you lend me a bit if you’ve got some to spare?
I’m madly cramming for a work deadline. So of course, I go and put a blog post together here instead. But while I was reading a bunch of jargon, I came across this:
‘don’t let your entire life hinge on one element’’ (Niven 2000, p. 71).
He asserts: ‘‘Your life is made up of many different facets. Don’t focus on one aspect of your life so much that you can’t experience pleasure if that one area is unsettled. It can become all you think about, and it can deaden your enjoyment of everything else—things you would otherwise love (p. 71).’’
And it stuck in my head. How true is that?! Clever dude.
Sometimes we put all our eggs in one basket. At times inadvertently, other times deliberately. But basically what strikes me about that is if we put everything into one single thing, we’re going to be unbalanced, and other areas are then going to suck.
One prime example comes to mind for me. Now, let’s take this one gently, because it can ruffle some feathers. Parents who live through their kids. They put everything into being a parent, they forsake other areas of their life for their kids, and you know what happens? Their kids grow up, they fly the coop (as they should), and parents are left feeling empty. They cling to their kids, and their kids get fed up and get the f outta dodge. For realz. The number one thing I’d see when I worked in high schools was parents who weren’t ready to take a few eggs out of the kid basket and kids who became resentful. It was a bad cycle.
No one is disputing that kids are a big part of life, but they can’t be the one element we hinge our lives on. Same with work. While work takes up a huge chunk of life, and we like to take a sense of pride and identity with what we do, if that’s our one element, then what the hell are we going to do when it’s gone?
Did you know the highest rate of divorce actually occurs when people retire? Because. Eggs in one basket. People get so caught up putting their eggs into their children, their careers etc (sounds a bit wrong when you put it like that, doesn’t it?), that when the kids are gone and the job is done, they look at each other and think ‘omg who the hell are you?’
Sometimes when we hold things up so closely to our faces, we go cross eyed. We can’t see what’s around us- we can only see this blurred mush in front of us. We need to just pull that thing back a bit so we can see the other great things that are around.
Our lives need to be a bit like a page from Where’s Wally. We need to be able to have the perspective to look at a bunch of things. Sure, sometimes we have to focus on smaller areas, because they need our attention. But if we only look at one section of the page, we’re not going to find Wally.
That clever dude Niven? He’s got a nifty little book out- and I found a naughty little pdf of it right here. Handy little thing to flick through.
Have you ever been caught out with all your eggs in the one basket? Or are you more of a ‘I play the field with my eggs’ kind of person?
Children. They’re adorable. They’re cherubic. They’re hilarious. And sometimes they can be total shits. Let’s just put it out there. I love my darlings with the fire of a thousand suns. I’ll defend them like the Mama lion I am if anyone wrongs them. But I know they’re not total angels either. And I know they can do stuff that just annoys the crap out of others.
You know how we’re in this society where there seems to be so much god damned pressure to ‘look on the bright side’ and ‘think positively’ and ‘be grateful’, while showing the world how #blessed we are? Well, turns out it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
I mean, sure, we need to live in the now, and it is so important to focus on what is going well as opposed to just looking at the shit going wrong. Nobody disputes that. But, not everything has to be awesome all the time. Nor do we have to ‘find the positive’ in every.single.thing. Sometimes crap happens, and we have to acknowledge that. Friends, I present to you, depressive realism.
It’s been a long day. I’m madly rushing trying to tidy the house, do the washing, unpack from work, get all the things done. And there’s this little noise buzzing around. It’s incessant. At first I brush it off, thinking I can block it out, there’s just too many things to do today. But it continues. Louder and louder it seemingly gets. Like that pesky mosquito that comes buzzing by your ear. You want to ignore it, but that sound is so grating and ick, instead you want to spend your time trying to squash the crap out of the mosquito.
This sound is much louder than any mosquito though. And it drags on. And on. And ON. I’m trying to give myself a pep talk to rise above it all.
“Ignore it lady. Shake it off. But not Taylor Swift style. Damn, now I have that shit song stuck in my head….”
But it gets louder. It’s following me everywhere I go. Not even a bit of Tay Tay can get me out of this one.
“Muuuuuuuuuuuuum. I waaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnt thhhhhhhhhhe bluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuue onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnne. Itsnotfaiiiiiiiiiiiiiir”
Whining. From that little cherub that you spawned. That seemingly gorgeous face and angelic eyes spewing forth this painful, grating monologue of angst. Over nothing. From the wrong coloured plate, to siblings getting first turn, to not having the right shoes, to having to brush teeth (JUST BRUSH THEM FOR FUCKS SAKE. YOU WILL THANK ME ONE DAY).
It’s a killer, right?
I try really hard to move past whining. And I know what ‘the books’ say to do. But it can be really tough some days.
This year has been a hard slog. Not gonna lie. I have work piling up and I feel like life is a perpetual hamster wheel of stress. Same stress, different day. It seems like as we get older we scream at life to slow down, only it doesn’t listen to us and likes to speed up instead. Bastard.
Even when the work is piling up though, and we feel overwhelmed, sometimes we have to just STOP and take a breath, and look at what’s around us. Right here, right now. Last year, each Monday I’d have my fuzzies- taking the time to appreciate something, or try to do something nice for others. Just taking that fuzzy moment- to say something nice or to do something nice selfishly makes us feel good too. And helps others. We’re like freakin’ Mother Theresa’s when we fuzzy up.
I’ve needed to get out of my head, and I’ve got a couple of cherubs who need their Mama to be with them, even for a part of the day, so we’ve been out and exploring what’s in our own backyard.
Have you ever just gone out to find different places where you live? It’s like discovering hidden treasure sometimes. Or realising you have stashed a chocolate at the back of the fridge and totally forgotten about it until now. Winning. You forget about the mundane, about your own issues, and you appreciate what’s around you. A genuine fuzzy right there.
I think we’re pretty lucky here in South East Queesnland. We’ve got everything at our fingertips. Brisvegas is like a country town that had some steroids. Truly. It’s still got a fairly low key vibe, chilled, but with the perks of a capital city. And now with H&M. My life is complete.
There’s lots of places that Brisbane is known for- Southbank, Roma St. Parklands, Kangaroo Point. Allll the pretty. But sometimes they can get a bit nutso, so it’s good to find some more hidden gems around the place. I get fuzzy when I’m not packed in like a sardine.
To the east of us we have the super cute Shorncliffe. It’s like driving into a quaint little town, it feels so removed from a capital city. Beautiful water, a little mini beach area and a pretty darn cool playground. Because, what place is complete without a playground? It’s now our goal to find places with playgrounds. Pubs, cafes, you name it. Keeps us all happy. Moora Park was where we stopped off for a bit. Because. Free fun. I’m alllll about the free fun.
Can I let you in on a secret? Aside from having to pop a watermelon sized baby out of my vajayjay soon enough, my big fear is breastfeeding. It’s not been a success for me over the years. At.all.
We talk a lot of breastfeeding shaming that goes on, but I can tell you there’s almost an equal amount of bottle feeding shame that one endures. Because apparently when you bottle feed your child, you’re practically murdering them. They’re going to grow up to be illiterate sociopaths via the bottle. Think of the children! Shove a boob in their mouth for crying out loud!
I did. I really, really did. And I could not feed my children fully. With my first, she was premmie, and didn’t have a sucking reflex developed. It was a hard slog. I tried it all- with every lactation consultant under the sun helping. I vividly remember one day sitting in the feeding room of the special care nursery- one boob stuck to a pump, the other one being squeezed to within an inch of it’s life by a nurse- trying desperately to get milk supply happening.
Ever had those moments, where someone asks something of you, and while you’re not really feeling it in your heart of hearts, you go along anyway, because you don’t want to disappoint?
Or you see a group of people that you think would be awesome to be accepted into, or hang out with, and so you find yourself doing and saying things to get their approval?
Or you spread yourself so damn thin in an effort to appear useful and helpful to others?
You’ve been bitten by the Purple People Pleaser. He’s a hungry sucker. Big bloated and self-important, he likes to fill you with self-doubt and an over-exuberance for putting others first. Don’t worry, I’m right there with you. I am so, so, so guilty of being a PPP. I teach others not to do it, but then I go and do it myself. Hypocritical psyching since forever.