Monday, June 25, 2012

Second guessing and the sweet spot

I went to a party on Saturday night (which happened to be brilliant - haven't done an all nighter in a very long time) where the only person I knew was M. It was an engagement party for one of his friends, and a gathering of people that hadn't seen each other in a while. Lots of conversation and catching up and laughs.

I got asked three questions A LOT. "How long have you and M been seeing each other?" (which was quickly followed by, "and we are only meeting you NOW?") "Are you and M going to have any kids?" and this one - "What do you do?"

My response of "I am full time mum" was for the most part followed with another question - "What did you do before?" I worked in a bank for fuck's sake. It was incredibly important. I was a manager in the financial services division, responsible for 20 other staff, and ensuring that people's superannuation and investments didn't get fucked up. (No I didn't actually say this, but I must admit when I got asked this question for the second time it was the dialogue going on in my head.)

Not everyone dismissed the last 16 years of my life by wanting to know what I did before I started the job of growing small human beings into big ones. I had some lovely conversations with a couple of people about my job as a mother, and who were quite happy to look at pictures of my greatest achievements.

I'm fairly certain that the people who asked "What did you do before?" weren't intentionally overlooking what I am doing right now. It was a question made automatically because mothering doesn't make money.  Thankfully, I'm evolved enough after 16 years to not let that question take away how I feel about making the choice to mother full time. It did annoy me - but more as an interesting sociological kind of observation.

Is it any surprise then that so many of us mothers feel so undervalued at what we do? 95% of the time I second guess everything I do as a mother. Which leaves only 5% where I feel like I hit the sweet spot, just like a tennis player does when they hit that ball and it does exactly what they want it to do. It seems, that in general society really doesn't value mothering as a job. What a shame. Because personally I think that while its the hardest job in the world, its the one that deserves the most recognition and admiration.

Next time you meet someone new and ask THAT question, listen to what they are doing NOW, don't be so quick to want to know what they were doing BEFORE. Its what they are doing now that is important.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

I got an award. Which was very timely, as I have been feeling quite naff of late. 8 weeks - heading into 9 of being sick with some complaint or another will do that to a girl.

Anyway - Jess over at Tattoo Mummy passed on the One Lovely Blog Award to me. Thank you gorgeous, I'm flattered.

 It requires that I tell you 7 things about myself and then  pass on the award as well.

Here goes....

1. I hate, loathe and despise jelly. Even writing that makes me shudder. I can't stand how it wobbles, or glistens, or is all smooth when you put the spoon through it... oh god have to stop now.

2. I'm loving my hair sick at the moment. Its taken ages to grow. It feels wonderful, and makes me happy.

3. I used to be arachnophobic, until I moved to Queensland and was living here by myself with my two year old daughter. Every insect is bigger in Queensland. I didn't want her to develop my irrational fear of them, so I sucked it up, and dealt with any spiders that presented themselves in my environment. It worked, because she isn't afraid of spiders - snakes on the other hand...

4. I over think EVERYTHING. I'm working on NOT over thinking everything.

5. The predominant colour in my wardrobe is red. Its been my favourite colour forever. I worked at St. George Bank for ten years in another life. That was when I developed love for other colours. I was glad when I left so I could continue my love affair with red.

6. I hate scary movies. I mean seriously Why put yourself through that?? I have enough fucked up things going on in my head without deliberately adding to the mix!

7. At the end of September M and I are moving in together... which fills me with excitement and terrifies me all at the same time.


the award goes to... drum roll please.... (agonising 30 second delay..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Looking for Myself Sober
Mum on the run

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Supporting Teenagers with Education, Mothering and Mentoring

 My youngest child started school this year. Which meant that I was at a loss with what to do with myself. Ideally, I want to return to the work force, but in a capacity that is going to be fueled by something I am passionate about. And there are lots of things that I get on my soapbox  am passionate about. Add to that, not having been in the paid workforce for a long time, I needed to foster my own self confidence in my ability to be in  an outside-the-home-working experience.

After several different encounters with my daughter's friends where they needed an adult that was supportive and non judgmental, I went looking for what was around in the way of helping young women who are either pregnant or have babies. Serendipity stepped in, and I fell across an organisation called  S.T.E.M.M. Supporting Teenagers with Education, Mothering and Mentoring

   "Our multi-award winning program supports pregnant girls and young mothers in a safe, non-judgemental environment with individual support plans developed by trained case managers.

Each girl will be given the opportunity to develop life skills, parenting, self-worth, healthy relationships, pre & post birth plans and physical & emotional well-being.
In partnership with Education Queensland, TAFE and the University of the Sunshine Coast, girls will be able to engage with learning pathways towards certified outcomes.
All girls are given the opportunity to develop their mothering skills through access to a variety of experts involved in maternity services, breastfeeding, child health and Child & Youth Mental Health Services (C.Y.M.H.S)"
I went to an information session, and volunteered. Everything that they are doing felt right to me, and my own personal journey has given me both skills and tools that I know can make a difference. I've been working there since the beginning of the school year. Because I have hurt my back recently I haven't been there for the last two weeks, and I'm missing it terribly. 
This morning, my partner sent me a text telling me that he had read an article in the Courier Mail about S.T.E.M.M. and that it was in danger of closing due to lack of funding. 
I'm distressed to hear this... compounded by the fact that last week I read that the Queensland Government spent closed to a million dollars for featuring floating eyes that look like children's drawings.  Close to a million dollars spent on a piece of art (that from what I have read, and seen, no-one wants!!) compared to $110,000 needed to keep a much needed program running. I don't get it. At all.
So while the Queensland Government has forked out nearly a million dollars for some floating eyes, S.T.E.M.M. is in the midst of preparing for their major fund raiser, Christmas in July. This years theme is going to be Arabian nights.

There will be a 3 course meal with canapes on arrival. Entertainment includes Kelsey Rimmer who appeared on The Voice. She is an amazing young woman, with an incredible voice. There will also be a band, belly dancers, a silent auction of art works, and other items that have been donated for auctioning.
When was the last time you went to a Ball (or costume party - dress is either formal or costume)? When was the last time you got all frocked up in something glamorous? When was the last time you reached out and did something for someone just because you could? That's what you would be doing, reaching out and doing something to make a difference by buying a ticket, and going to this year's Christmas in July. Get a table together. Spread the word. Make a difference, and keep this program running.
Can't make it to Christmas in July? Make a donation of either money, or something to be auctioned off at the event. S.T.E.M.M is also  in urgent need of volunteers to provide “modelled mothering” in both the baby and the toddler crèches between 9am and 2pm Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays during the school term. Contact STEMM directly on 54597376 or 0447202061 if you can be of assistance. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Recently, Alison Tait, over at Life in a Pink Fibro, released an e-book of stories written by 32 bloggers, talking about things they didn't tell you about parenting. Its 4.99, and all proceeds are going to Foundation 18. Foundation 18 "exists to improve the quality of life of orphaned and underprivileged children, by providing them a safe environment in which to grow whilst educating them for a brighter future living in harmony with their environment. Established in June 2010 by Australian humanitarian and conservationist Cate Bolt, Foundation 18 Indonesia (in partnership with Project 18 Inc., Australia) is a non-denominational, not-for-profit, non-government organisation dedicated to the physical and emotional nourishment of children."

With all this conversation going on about the things they didn't tell you about parenting, it brought to mind my own parenting journey. Having no good role models of my own, caused me to actively seek out information about how I wanted to parent, along with a few good in the flesh role models found along the way.

The first book I read, that wasn't just a development guide for children, was Virginia Beane Rutter's Celebrating Girls: Nurturing and Empowering Our Daughters It really laid the foundation of how I wanted my relationship with my daughter to be, and thankfully is.

From its opening paragraph

The word celebrate comes from the ancient greek word melpo - meaning to sing, to dance, to praise! I offer this book in praise of girls, to help nurture and empower them. It addresses the question of what we can do to enhance our daughters' femine selfworth.

I was hooked. A funny thing happened while I was reading this book. My own feminine self worth was nutured and empowered as well.

As my daughter navigated her way into her teens, things changed. This girl/woman who stood before me was fraught with pushing towards me, and pulling away from me. I found myself on unchartered ground as a parent, and had no idea what to do. Again I went seeking for guidance, and information.

After seeing a review in a magazine article about teenage girls, I got a copy of renowned child and adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg's Princess Bitchface Syndrome: Surviving Adolscent Girls. Before Laura arrived firmly in teenagehood, I remember seeing it on display at bookshops and thinking, whoa, that's a bit harsh. Once she had arrived, I thought it was a pretty apt discription.

The book is described

In this hard-hitting book, Michael Carr-Gregg focuses on the special trials of raising adolescent girls today: what to do when your previously quiet, loving daughter becomes a restless, rebellious stranger who behaves like a responsible adult one day and a vampish brat the next.
Part of the problem is that girls are becoming sexualised earlier, and their physical development is shooting ahead of their cognitive capacities. By the time they turn 13 they look like they're ready for anything – but they're not. Yet, argues Carr-Gegg, many parents are surrendering their authority and allowing their daughters to be fast-tracked into pseudo-adulthood. We appear to be losing it when it comes to parenting our girls and it's time to grab back the reins.
This book is a must-read for every parent with an adolescent daughter.

It discusses things from a practicaltity perspective. Which was great, but I needed more, something to help me navigate MY feelings at my daughter's blossoming physical development and sexuality. Thankfully Virginia Beane Rutter wrote another book, basically picking up where the previous one had left off, Embracing Persephone: How to Be the Mother You Want for the Daughter You Cherish .

An editorial review of the books says

Rutter (Celebrating Girls) employs the ancient Greek myth of Persephone--who leaves her mother, Demeter, each winter to be Hades' wife--to underscore the cyclical nature of the relationship between mother and daughter, in which separation and reunion are recurring themes. The analogy works well, and Rutter effectively makes the point that a mother must accept her daughter's coming of age while remaining constant and supportive. Rutter's text is practical, offering solid advice for use in the contemporary world of adolescent girls. She covers such topics as sexual issues, body image, drugs and peer influence, suggesting that mothers must be open to the realities of their daughters' lives while offering honest advice. She also urges women to recall their own adolescence in order to provide guidance and empathy. Rutter's comforting message regarding the pattern of loss and return inherent in raising an adolescent of any gender rings true, and a final chapter addressing the mother's own self-discovery in coping with "empty nest" syndrome is also reassuring. Mothers will find this an insightful book on the subject of raising teenage daughters as well as a helpful guide to their own self-reflection.

Once again Rutter's book helped me not only to understand what was going on for my daughter, but help me identify the things that were, and still are, going on for me. This book sits on my bedside table, and is one I am returning to often at the moment.

When Laura was 13, my best friend's mother, a woman who I admire greatly as a mother, and who has greatly influenced my own mothering, gave Laura and I Kaz Cooke's Rough Guide to Girl Stuff.

It is described as being

...written especially for girls in their teens and has everything they need to know about confidence, friends, body changes, shopping, clothes, make-up, pimples (arrghh), sizes, hair, guys, embarrassment, what to eat, moods, smoking, why diets suck, handling love and heartbreak, exercise, school stress, sex, beating bullies and mean girls, drugs, drinking, how to find new friends, cheering up, how to get on with your family, and confidence and handling money. Each girl can read about subjects at her own pace to inform herself and make up her own mind about when, or whether she is ready to embrace certain choices. The option of how to say "no" is always explained. Each chapter includes facts, hints, inspiring lists, hundreds of quotes from real girls, and details for over 350 websites, books and other information. With over 600 pages and heaps of cartoons, and written in consultation with more than 70 medical and practical experts, Girl Stuff provides up-to-date and indispensible information.

It is a brilliantly insightful book, that has created many departure points for conversation with Laura and I, and I highly recommend it for anyone who has a teenage daughter. I have brought several copies for many of the teenage girls in my life.

After several incidents where my daughter had come to me in regards to a friend who either thought she was pregnant, or was pregnant, or her expressing concern about the self harm her friend(s) were committing, or another friend who was obviously struggling with an eating disorder, and left me feeling an overwhelming sense of What the? and Why the? A book that helped give me the laugage to use with my daughter, and her friends, was The Secret Lives of Teen Girls: What Your Mother Wouldn’t Talk about but Your Daughter Needs to Know by  Evelyn Resh, Beverly West.

When I read in the opening pages the following:

As a health professional, I became frustrated and a little bewildered about the often needless dramas that I saw unfolding every day in my examining room. This frustration led me to ask some tough questions. Why was I diagnosising so many 14 year olds with STIs? Why were girls cutting themselves, starving themselves, and courting disaster with having unsafe sex? When did the fashion sense of 13 year old girls become so sexually explicit? Why are teenage girls so bent on keeping secrets from their parents? And why aren't moms reaching out to their daughters and talking to them about what is really going on?

It is that last sentence that I still have reeling through my mind. I find myself in the fortunate (and at times not so fortunate) position of being my daughter's confidante. I am fairly certain she doesn't divulge all things to me, but she does come to me in times when she knows that she needs help, either for herself or for a girlfriend. Everytime she comes to me in regards to a girlfriend, my first and foremost thought is Why aren't these girls having these conversations with their mothers??!! Why aren't these mother's having conversation with their girls???!!! But that's a topic for another blog post.

Have you read any books that have helped you navigate your way through being a parent?

Stay tuned, I have a blog post coming all about the boy/man....

who are these people?

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Who are you people? Say hello, please. Pretty please with strawberries and cream on top...

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