I’m in the thick of newborn life again. And while I am LOVING being at home (I’d love to say not being at work, but I’m still doing two of my three jobs from home. Yes, yes I am insane), I do find these early weeks of newborn life are a bit like Groundhog Day. Same shit, different day. Get up, feed (well in our case, attempt to feed. The only time this kid cries is when he sees a boob coming at his face. The only boy on Earth to not want to be near boobs. I get they’re a bit used buddy, but shit, at least be polite and humour me), deal with bodily excretions, make goofball faces and get deadpan looks in return, play on the playmat (that’s me, he just sits there staring at me like I’m a dick), rush around madly doing the washing, cooking, cleaning and other kid wrangling while the baby is asleep. Rinse and repeat.
It has been a hectic last few weeks. Hectic! Adjusting to this new life of ours, dealing with nasty random viruses, and keeping said infected germ factories (aka: the girls) away from the baby, watching an ever-growing list of things to do steadily grow, downing wines. You name it, we’re dealing with it!
When things get hectic, plans tend to go by the wayside. Some of us handle this ok and roll with the punches, others, like yours truly, tend to get in a flap about it. I *may* be a teeny, tiny bit anal about my routines, and about marking my to-do list off.
So it got me thinking. What makes some of us rollers, and others flappers? What’s your style? Those terms sound rather crass, don’t they? Totes my style.
Think about these questions- how would you respond?
1.The house looks like a bomb has gone off. In fact it probably has- a bomb of toys, detonated by tiny hands throwing crap all over the shop. Your friend rings (or texts. Because who rings these days?!) and says “what’s up? How bout I pop around in 20 mins?” Do you:
(a) Respond- ‘sure thing, you’ll just have to navigate the maze of toys on the ground’ and just put the kettle on in preparation?
(b) Get really annoyed that you’ve been given 20 minutes notice, pace the house for 10 of those minutes muttering under your breath, panic and start throwing toys in a cupboard (that will most likely burst open smacking said friend in the face as they walk by. Penance for giving 20 mins notice in your mind), while responding ‘sure thing. Can’t wait to see you! xoxo’ (because even though you want to throttle them, kisses and hugs are mandatory to end a text).
(c) Just not respond. If you pretend the message never came through, then it didn’t, right?
2. You’ve got an appointment you have to get to in 15 minutes. You’ve prepped, you’ve sorted the troops out. You’re on top of this shiz! Then one of your cherubs decides to spill vegemite toast (because we ALL eat vegemite, right? And it’s Murphy’s Law that something so heinous would stain a shirt just before you have to leave) all over themselves and then the other has a toileting accident. AT THE SAME TIME. It’s kismet. And if you’re cherub free- let’s pretend you spilled something on yourself. We’ll save the toileting accidents to protect your modesty. What do you do?
(a) Laugh it off. No biggie. You’ll get there when you get there, these things happen.
(b) Stand motionless, paralysed by frustration. Noticing a twitch in your eye, you think you may be having a mini stroke. Curse Murphy for such a shitty law, panic about missing the appointment, and the chain of events that results from rushing and being late. That’s it, the whole day is ruined now.
(c) Pretend these things didn’t occur. Throw new clothes at one, hide the vegemite stain on the other. Smile and nod people, smile and nod.
3. You’ve budgeted to within an inch of your life. You know what bills come in when, your money is sorted. Feeling rather chuffed with yourself, you feel like it’s all covered and heck, at this rate you might be able to take the family on a holiday! To a caravan park an hour up the road, but hey, it’s still a getaway, right? Then you get an unexpected bill in the mail… in the form of a speeding fine from your delightful partner. Do you:
(a) Chip your partner for not following the road rules, but reassure that it’s all ok. It will work out somehow, and you’ll just have to budget a bit tighter for a few weeks. The caravan park will still be there.
(b) Begin plucking your eyelashes out, because it’s less painful than dealing with your reckless partner. Your voice quivers with rage, whilst simultaneously panicking about where the hell this money is going to come from, given the money tree out the back ain’t producing the goods. Curse Murphy’s Law once more and you’re convinced that Murphy is specifically out to get YOU.
(c) Shove it to the bottom of the bill pile, down a shot of whatever alcohol is close by and deal with it when it’s due.
If you find yourself gravitating toward (b) then welcome to flapperworld. I’m right there with you. Though of course we’re not that flap-extreme. Much. Cursing Murphy’s Law is mandatory though. Flappers need advance notice for everything. They need a notebook and a pen for obsessive list-writing. They are the planners, the organisers, the sorter-outerers. It’s a word. For real. Spontaneity, while it sounds awesome, really isn’t their shtick. When that routine is thrown, even the slightest, the flap begins. And the melodrama. And the mountains out of molehills shit.
If you’re more of an (a) person, you’re a roller of the highest calibre. Nothing phases you. Breaking a sweat isn’t in your vocab. Shit happens, and you’re ok with shit happening. You shake it off, shake it off (ooh ooh… yeah try getting that song out of your head now…), and rolling with the punches ain’t no thang. People rocking up at the last minute? Come on in! Stuff going haywire? Not a worry.
And what about the (c)’s? Classic avoider. Like kids do when they’re really little- ‘if I close my eyes it’s not really happening, right?’ It’s akin to being a flapper on Valium. Rather than getting upset, they just block it out. Put fingers in the ears and go all ‘la la la la laaaaa’. While it feels nice in the short term to avoid shit, long term it is a big ouchie. The shit doesn’t go away, and that ick feeling in the pit of an avoider’s stomach doesn’t go away.
So ideally, we all want to be rollers. How do we get to divine roller status, without having to listen to Cat Stevens or spend a weekend in Nimbin? It’s not easy. My flapper self still struggles with rolling. Things I would say to a friend (but of course I can’t do for myself. You know, like the best kind of advice….) that might help would be to just chill out, relax, prioritise- what really matters? Is it a big deal worth flapping about? And what if you did just let it happen? Let that friend come over, or clean up the kids and run a bit late? Is the world going to end? Will your friend disown you because Toys R Us vomited in your lounge room? Will you be condemned because you’re 10 minutes late for your appointment (let’s face it, you’ll be like 20 mins late at least… but hey if you say 10 minutes you don’t feel as bad so let’s roll with that)? Challenge the flap- things might actually turn out better if you roll, you know? Or it might go to shit, but let’s not worry about that right now.
I think we put so much pressure on ourselves to have our shit together, and to be ordered, and to present a nice, ‘together’ us, that we often end up in a flap about stuff we don’t need to flap about. Friends don’t care if the house has exploded in toys and crumbs (unless it’s like from an episode of Hoarders), appointments normally run late anyways, it’ll alllll work out. Kids have been sent to test our flapability, I’m sure of it. They are like heat-seeking missiles when it comes to mess, and tardiness, and delays.
We can roll. They’ll roll when we do. And in the meantime there’s wine. There’s always wine.
How about you? Are you a roller or a flapper? Or just avoid the whole shebang?
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’m still here! Just a little distracted at the moment by this fine specimen….
He decided to join us last Thursday, and clearly taking after his Mother, in a very impatient fashion.
Things I’ve learned so far:
Following last week’s vomit of sadness at watching my biggest little lady wander around a party trying to find some acceptance, I put on my big girl pants (AKA ate my body weight in ice cream and chocolate and cuddled her to within an inch of her life) and looked at what we could actually do to turn things around for me her.
While we need to let our cherubs sort this stuff out for themselves sometimes, we’ve also got to be able to skill them up to handle it. Create a little bag of friendship tricks if you will. And given the main trick in my bag is wine as a social lubricant, I’m thinking I might need to go and revisit some ideas to help her out a bit better.
I think sometimes we feel like this stuff should just organically ‘happen’. Like a flower that just blooms all by itself in the sun. Or a rainbow unicorn that flies through the air. No? You don’t see them in the air? Shit. Could be just me sorry.
My first born cherub is all things sugar and spice. Truly. Not even biased. She has always been that little lass who sees the best in everything and everyone, she loves every.single.person that she meets. She will run up to people she’s met once and embrace them with the most loving, warm cuddle. She loves to be snuggled and takes such good care of others around her. Sure, she can be whingy, whiny and catty at times, but generally, she’s this warm bundle of love and is one of the happiest, most positive kids I’ve ever met. How she came from me is anyone’s guess.
The flip side to having such an emotionally attuned and soft child is seeing how others treat her. She never wants to upset anyone, and so often won’t stand up for herself. She’ll go with the flow, and do what others want to keep the peace, or to be included. One of my biggest fears for her starting school was handing her over to life- giving her over to the harsh realities of many a girl squabble and not being there to help her put the smack down on.
Yesterday I saw firsthand some of the things my lass is being subjected to. And man, that’s hard to take.
I recently received this email* and felt compelled to respond.
Dear Dr. Sash,
I recently returned from a conference, feeling pumped and oddly much calmer and less shouty than usual, having had my very first time away from my cherubs. My husband on the other hand was just about in the foetal position, having dealt with 2 days of incessant whinging, whining and fighting. Strange coincidence, no? Anyways, upon my return it came to light that my youngest cherub decided to help herself to a five-finger discount of a pink bracelet whilst walking through the shops on the way to get some lunch. She had a little handbag with her, and by the time my husband had even become aware of what happened, they were home where she was unloading her loot. Sheesh. The kid is 3 and a half for crying out loud. Is this normal, or is this the beginning of a Winona Ryder-esque klepto life?
Feeling more shouty already Mum.
*NB This email may or may not have been written by me. To me. The cherub may or may not have been my firecracker Miss SP.
Well, feeling more shouty already Mum, I can understand your pain. Hashtag facepalm. Stealing is an issue that can crop up with kids from time to time, and often as parents we get a bit panicked about it all.
One thing we need to factor in is their age, when working out the best plan of attack. Little ones who are uhhhh, let’s say about 3.5 years old like exhibit A above, often are still in that phase where their little brains are all about ‘gimme gimme gimme’. It’s lack of impulse control at its best. They want, they take. There’s no conception of the higher moral ground of taking something that’s not theirs, or understanding there has to be a financial exchange. They are starting to get the idea that you can’t take other people’s stuff- but things in a shop can seem like fair game to them. No one is holding it, it’s just sitting there, right?
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.