This year my family has had four surgeries, one to fix my youngests teeth, two leg surgeries to correct my eldest sons deformity and one to remove a very large lump from my leg. And later in the year we will find out the timeline for the third leg surgery for my eldest.
So life this year has a little bit crazy, with each surgery there has been recovery, physio appointments and it is all being juggled amongst our everyday life.
Most people who check up on us comment on our crazy life/crappy year/how do we cope etc. However while we have had our ups and downs in general I feel we are managing well. Which made me start to think…is that because this is just the new normal?
At different stages of life I think your “normal” alters. There are things that you never think you would do that just become part of every day life. Think of major milestones in your life and each of them probably altered your normal – first love, moving out of home, getting married, having children there are so many of them. For me I add separating from my husband and getting my sons diagnosis.
And while my new normal is busy, crazy and often exhausting it is also what makes me who I am today. I am stronger, more determined, understand my core values better, and prioritise what is best for my family.
So while I would change some of the reasons why this is my new normal I also try to appreciate the good points of it.
And look forward to the next new normal – who knows what that will bring. Hopefully a little less crazy and a little more me time!!
The last couple of weeks I have been feeling angry, lonely and unsupported. I feel this way every now and then – it is a byproduct of being a single working mum of two boys especially where one has a serious health condition. As a result I know I get snappy, grumpy and tears and sometimes there is just nothing to hold back the emotions.
But I am getting better at recognising I feel that way and that I am may be overreacting (although I can’t always stop it)
So last week I attended a ditch the mummy guilt webinar by Cass Dunn which was really good, and very appropriate. It felt like she had been listening in on some of my conversations and thoughts. Lately I have been much better at self care – exercising at home as it is too hard to get out, eating better, spending more time with the kids (new things every day as per last post). But the webinar made me think about the fact that I need to do more to show my boys that sometimes I need to put me first and that it is ok.
So how am I going with ditching the guilt? I am trying to question my decisions less, I am trying to get my boys to help out more, and I am trying to focus solely on the boys when I am with them and not feeling guilty when I am not doing stuff with them (quality over quantity).
My big win though happened a couple of days ago. I have been separated for just over three years and as he works varied shifts and days in his job I have always been very flexible with when he sees the boys. And as his shifts often change I change plans so the boys can be with him or come home to me when he has to go to work. This time when he cancelled a weekend he was supposed to have the boys I advised I had plans that I could not change as I have organised a night out with friends I haven’t seen for over a year. This means the boys have to go to my exs mums for the weekend which they will not be happy about. I felt the guilt start to creep in but stopped it. I deserve a night out and, while they may not enjoy their weekend, they will get a better mum as a result. And maybe as a side benefit they will realise a few of the things I do to make their weekends better.
So it is still a work in progress but one baby step at a time I am going to reduce the mummy guilt and I hope it is better for all three of us.
Last week my boys were at their dads for the week as it was the second week of the school holidays. The house was quiet, the dog was restless and the million jobs I had planned to just didn’t quite get there as I worked too many hours. However not having to do dinner and bedtime routine every night meant that I had more thinking time as well. And one thing I thought about was how easily our life has fallen into a rut. Routine is necessary in my house – single working mum of two children with one having a serious health condition that means constant hospital visits. And sometimes it easier to take easy options than push for changes and listen to complaining and meltdowns. But something had to change – boundaries and comfort zones need to be stretched a little. Changing things in a house that thrives on routine can be like putting a puzzle together. Trying different pieces and connections until something fits.
So when the boys came home I told them every day we were going to do one thing that we either had never done before or had not done for a long time. Sometimes it would be big, other times small but it would be every day. It could be to do with what we eat, watch, play or where we go. I was worried about how they would take it but should of known their first suggestions would be a trip to Queensland (where we had gone two and a half years ago) and to America where they have never been. So the first few days will be my choice.
So we are now three days in to our something new every day and it is going really well. We are connecting more, trying new things and they are feeling really positive about it. And what have we done?
Day one. We made pita bread chips to have with dip. Started simple but they loved them, ate them straight away and want to do it again
Day two. Started watching a kids series none of us had seen before on Netflix which was based on the movie Turbo. We all sat and watched it together, my eldest put down his IPod and we had some laughs (they wanted to watch another episode today)
Day three. Played a new card game I had bought called Mars Needs Heroes. It was easy to play and lots of fun so we ended up playing two games of it.
I am certainly not expecting every day to go this well, especially when I start trying different foods. But at the moment they are loving the idea and I am loving stretching our boundaries and finding some bright moments in each day.
Last Sunday I ran through St Kilda in my underwear.
Possibly I should add more details to this story!
Running through St Kilda in my underwear was for the Cupids Undie Run which is a fundraiser for the Children’s Tumour Foundation of Australia. This foundation supports families impacted by Neurofibromatosis (NF). This is the disorder my eldest son has – he has NF2 which is the rarer form.
The fundraiser raises much needed funds for treatment, family support and research.
Many people have asked if I was embarrassed to run in my undies or said how brave I was. What they don’t understand is that as a parent you feel helpless when you can’t help or fix what is wrong with your child. So the thing I can do is help with funds. And if embarrassing myself for a short time helps raise funds then I am in. This is the second year I have done this and I will continue every year until a cure is found.
Bring on the embarrassment – I am going bigger and better every year. Because I would do anything to take away the stress and pain my beautiful boy suffers.
When did the definition of strong alter to meaning you don’t need help?
I am proud to be a strong person. I have had many ups and downs in life like the rest of us, and for the last few years it feels the downs are certainly outweighing the ups. However, I pride myself that I do not give up. I have a bad day and then I pick myself up and do what needs to be done. I have two young boys that count on me and I am not afraid of hard work. I also hope that I am a good example for my sons and my nieces in showing that you can make things happen for yourself. They may not appreciate it now but I think (hope?) they will when they are older.
Last week I had lunch with a friend at work who I only catch up with about every six months. She made a comment that I have heard many times in the last couple of years about how strong I am and how “I’ve got this”. Then she made a further comment “you have always been strong but you let the men in your life make you weak”. It is certainly something I had thought about before. And I am determined that any future relationships will be different. My strength and character should not change because it might upset the men in my life.
It seems though that being strong equates to others as I can do it alone, no help required. And some days that isn’t so. Not having a support system in place gets tough. Days like today finding me sitting in the car after dropping the boys at before school care and yelling/tearing up at my frustration at doing it all alone. At the fact that young children can change well laid plans in a heartbeat – fights over what to wear, phone calls from the school over sick children, arguments over eating dinner.
I don’t want to change my strength or determination, I will continue to be a role model for my kids and I won’t pretend to be weak again……but sometimes it would be nice to share the load. Or at least have someone to convince my kids to eat what I cooked.
I am a light sleeper.
I always have been and over the years it has got worse. Having kids obviously has a big impact on sleep, add to that a separation, child with chronic health issues and being an over thinker/worrier and an eight hour sleep is a pipe dream.
For some reason 3.00am seems to be the time I often wake during the night and then is when the brain and thoughts start ticking away. Sometimes it is a particular topic based on events occurring in my life at the time but often it is very random.
I decided to keep track of the weird places my mind goes at this time of night over the last few nights and share them for your enjoyment. Be warned in the light of day some of this does not make sense.
- How do I fill the gaps in the ceiling in the back room of the house without the gap filler falling out? (I am currently renovating my house)
- If I want to reduce screen time in my house what ratio should I reduce it by before it effects the amount of peace in the house?
- How do I best help my eldest son who suffers a lot with anxiety that is increasing due to his health issues?
- There is a charity gala for the NF (the genetic disorder my son has) – if I go on my own will it be a way to meet people or make me feel more lonely when they are dancing and I’m alone?
- Where do I find an 80s outfit for my girls night out in a couple of weeks?
- How do I get my kids to try more food especially healthy food and why do kids hate green food?
- What should I bake this weekend?
- Do I need a hobby or to do a course and when do I have time?
- If they say you should work in your passion to be happy then what do I do if I don’t know my passion?
- I need to start a business that will allow me to not have to get my kids up at 6am and be gone for 12 hours a day…….what is that business? (Many weird and wonderful thoughts on businesses at 3am)
- Did I give tattslotto the correct details as no one has rung me yet?
No wonder there isn’t much sleep happening – who has time. Luckily having a child that didn’t sleep for his first 11 months gave me a lot of practise on surviving on little to no sleep.
Those who read my last post would now that after I had some surgery done my parents had come to stay to help me out for a few weeks as I was very limited in what I could do. And that my children were struggling a bit with the change of routine.
Today after three and a half weeks my parents have gone home. I have greatly appreciated the help they have provided as well as enjoying the break from being the only cook in the house. However today as I worked from home in a silent house I realised how quickly I have adapted to being the only adult in the house. To being able to set things up how I want them, run the house in the way that works for me and my boys, and not be judged for my crazy OCD like moments. My mum was shocked that all of my pegs are one colour and that my ensuite vanity is always set up with everything in exactly the same place. Surely I am not the only one with odd quirks!! Thank goodness I didn’t mention I need the TV volume to be on an even number.
I have been separated for two years next month and while it was strange at first after being married for 12 and a half years I have very quickly adapted to being on my own. We have set routines that work for the three of us, our life is crazy and busy but we all get each other. We drive each other nuts one moment, and the next minute are having a dance party in the kitchen. And most importantly have a house full of cuddles, laughter, fun and forgiveness.
So this morning when I got home from dropping the boys off at school I made a cup of tea and took ten minutes to sit in silence on my own for the first time in weeks before starting work.
And how did the boys and I spend our first night back to just the three of us? Eating bowls of pasta in the lounge room while we watched TV before reading books together in our pajamas – Perfect!!