So after yesterday’s debacle, where I bared my soul and my chubby sequin-clad thighs by re-telling the horrendous memory that I’ve been tortured by for nearly 30 years… only to find out that something entirely different happened to what my brain told me, I figured maybe we could use it to our advantage and look at how we can mess with support our kid’s brains and get some more factual memories cracking.
My inner nerd is coming out here when I say the whole memory storage and retrieval stuff is pretty fascinating. The brain is this big mushy blob that does some freaky shit. The way it can encode information, chunk it, store it away for eons and then pop it back out when we’re triggered- it’s amazing when you think about it.
For a long time we had this assumption that kids don’t remember much. I mean heck, I’m lucky to remember my name most days, so recalling stuff when I was a little kid? Well that’s like asking me to go 9 months without wine. Oh wait…. I think I’ve repressed the last 9 months. That’s my brain trying to cope with another harrowing memory.
We all have it in life sometimes, don’t we? An idea, a plan, something that we hope for, and we try to attain it. Sometimes things get thrown in our path though that might get in the way. And sometimes those things seem so big that we wonder if we can even continue on the path.
With the little setbacks, we move past it, look back and wonder why we stressed so hard over it. But then you get those big giant setbacks, and they can rattle us.
Sometimes they have us questioning the universe, and they feel like we’re stopped in our tracks. However, they don’t have to stop us in our tracks.
Today’s Wellness Wednesday message is brought to you by ‘take your own freakin’ advice for once you douche’.
So yesterday we had our check-ups; me with my obs for the very last time. I was legitimately sad that I wouldn’t be seeing him again. I love my obs, he’s a sarcastic son of a gun and we’d trade stories from the front line.
I love him, but not enough to have another baby. DONE. SO SO SO DONE.
Mr. OT also had his 6 week check-up, with the amazing paediatrician that we fell in love with when Miss DP was in special care and diagnosed with a ventricle septal defect. He’s amazeballs. We switched to him after having a paed who would give me panic attacks if I saw her in the corridor of the hospital. It was the right move.
I was expecting to be in and out of his office in a jiffy, with him lavishing praise on the gorgeous little creature sitting in the capsule before us.
I forgot that he’s actually a specialist and it’s written into their medical oath to be at least 30 minutes late for each appointment.
So 30 minutes later I expected to be out of there in a jiffy with a clean bill of health for Mr. OT. Which we did. Kind of. The doc checked him over, and I mentioned that the little guy sometimes seems like he’s shivering- his little jaw quivers, even when it’s 31 degrees. So the doc looked at him further.
“Ahhh yes, looks like he has clonus”
Say what? I give him a half puzzled, half panicked look, while trying to remain cool and calm. No one wants to hear their kid has something. Unless it’s a ticket to MENSA.
Doc proceeded to explain in a very patchwork fashion what clonus was (I think hiding all the gory details for my benefit), but was quick to add that he was sure everything would be fine and Mr. OT would grow out of it. He also added “I know you’re going to look this up when you get home, but I’m pretty confident he’ll be fine”. He knows me too well.
Can you imagine living each and every day having to lug a giant weight chained to you? It might be sitting on your shoulders, making it impossible to stand properly. Or sitting on your chest, making it impossible to breathe clearly. Or maybe chained to your leg, making it impossible to move. It’d suck balls, right? Well often that’s what it feels like each and every day for people dealing with mental health issues.
Only we can’t see those heavy burdens that they carry. They look like they’re walking fine, talking fine. They might smile and chat, laugh and hug. But those heavy weights are there, and they can be suffocating.
Isn’t it funny that in 2015 we’re still so in the dark about many things? Many simple, basic things. One of those things is mental health. We’ve come so far, but yet still so far away from a cohesive understanding, and decent support for mental health issues. We still think of it as some weird, taboo thing, something many try to sweep under the rug, or discount as ‘not really being a thing’.
I’ve been banging on a lot about kids friendship lately, but you know this stuff doesn’t just stop at childhood. It becomes something that happens throughout life really, doesn’t it? We make friends, we grow close, shit happens, sometimes we pull through, sometimes we change and grow apart. It’s never really easy to deal with.
For most of us, we love having friends. You know, those like-minded people who just ‘get’ us, who we can talk to about things and make a dick of ourselves around and it’s ok.
As adults, sometimes it can be even harder to make and maintain friendships than when we’re kids. Because there’s so much stuff going on. Moving, changing jobs, going in different directions, family and kids taking over time, and everything else in between.
In adulthood though, we need friends more than ever. To help when the going gets tough, and provide support to deal with… life. And selective hearing exhibited by children and partners. Holy shit, that is a killer. Social connectedness has been proven time and time again to be uber important in overall happiness and wellbeing.
Have you ever seen a little kid’s athletics carnival? It’s the best. BEST. When the littlies go running- there’s no strategy, there’s no designated lanes- it’s just run like the wind and laugh your head off at the end. They run into each other’s lanes, and don’t really pay attention to what other people are doing. They just run. Run where they like, and they have FUN.
Then somehow we forget about the fun part. We start looking at what others are doing. We are given a set lane and we stick to it, watch out if we deviate from the path. And shit gets serious. Like warming up, wearing the right shoes, doing that weird jiggly jump thing at the start of the race before you get in the start position (I’m sure it has a purpose. It just looks a little wanky, you know?).
I am super guilty of this. I’m forever looking at what others are doing, and before I know it, I’m running their race. Huffing and puffing trying to keep up, or accidentally bumping into their lane because I’m not looking at where I’m going. I don’t give up though. Because I’m insanely stubborn. To a fault. Eeep.
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.
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?
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.