Mumsy’s Lament

Anyone who tells you that caring for a baby is the hardest job in the world hasn’t cared for a young adult.

That might seem like an odd opening statement, but stay with me here. I am in no way saying that caring for a new life, tending it’s every need, heeding it’s every whimper and seeing three o’clock in the morning, every morning, for what feels like an eternity is not difficult. It absolutely is, and I’m not planning on going back there, ever, but here’s the thing. Short of a serious health situation, when your child is young almost everything can be fixed by a cuddle and a bandaid. As Mother, you are fixer supreme of all things. Whether it be a scraped knee, a broken toy or a lost teddybear, they come to you all teary-eyed and snotty-nosed and they have absolute faith in your ability to make it better .. and make it better is what you do. The demands of parenting a small child are high, but for the majority of the time, the answers are easy. Not so when parenting a young adult.

I was what you might call extremely bloody lucky with my teenaged son. He never seemed to become a teenager, at least not in the same way that my wide-eyed, terror-stricken friends and colleagues spoke of. My son is self-contained, by which I mean he’s a hermit like me. I know that this is not necessarily something to celebrate, and rest assured that when he is called upon to be social, he does have the requisite skills. It’s just that he chooses, most of the time, not to be. Again, like me.

I have rarely had to deal with teenaged mood swings, door slamming or grunting. There have been no (known) issues with alcohol, drugs or law enforcement. He may have struggled, but he made it through school and he is (and I know I am his mother so no one is going to believe this is objective in any way, shape or form but I don’t particularly care) one of the coolest people I know. I told him he should put that on his resume. “My mumsy says I’m cool.” He thought that was funny, and that is why he is one of the coolest people I know.

Maybe it’s because for quite a large chunk of his early life it was just me and him against the world. Sure, I had family to help me, but I was a single mother, and we operated more as a team than a parent and a child. There have been times over the last nineteen years when I have had to pull on my parent boots, but for the most part we are a co-operative unit, and that is one of the things about our relationship that I most treasure. It also makes things difficult as he takes his first strides into the big, bad adult world.

I’m sure all mothers, or at least most of them, have trouble pushing their baby birds over the spikey edge of the nest and encouraging them to fly. Some more than others, (and I fall squarely in the first camp) do so with white-knuckled terror and against ever fibre of better judgment they possess. It is hard to step back and let go of their hand. It’s been hard enough to realise that hand isn’t little and covered in dirt and chocolate any more. I am having trouble finding where I end and he begins. I don’t feel irrelevant or unnecessary in his life. We haven’t come to that point yet. I just feel afraid .. for him and what challenges, fears and failures he may face, but mostly because I’m not sure that I have done everything I needed to do to prepare him for life as an adult.

My job as protector, comforter and supreme fixer of all things is over. I’m not sure what my role is now. I know that I cannot make the world work the way that he wants it to like I could when he was little. I know that I can’t spare him the hurts and hardships of reality. But .. I really wish that I could. Sometimes I wish that I could scoop him up, bounce him on my hip, pat him on the backside like all mothers seem to do instinctively even though no one ever taught us, sing him a little song and .. just for a little while .. make everything alright again. Make him feel safe and reassured in the knowledge that mumsy can fix it, everything is going to be alright.

But mumsy can’t fix it anymore. Now is his time. All I can do is something my Dad has told me ever since I can remember. “Pick him up, dust him off and set him back on the path.”. Harder said than done, Dad. Now I understand.

Categories: Things I Think | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

It’s a travel blog!

I’ve started putting together a blog. Yes, I know, another one! Here will be the story and photographs from our recent adventure in France and Italy. Being a blog, it will read back to front, so if you want to start at the beginning, this is the place to be: You can work your way forward from there. There isn’t much to see yet, but I will be adding to it over the coming weeks. Cheers.
Categories: Things I Think | Leave a comment

One from the vaults ..

Because it amuses me and therefore may possibly amuse someone else, I decided to dust off an old, old post from another blog long, long ago. Read it and chuckle, or be annoyed at my self-important wordiness. Either way, it’s better than trolling comments. (for the most part)

One simply must express oneself ..

It seems that no matter which vehicle I choose to dredge the depths of my mental sludge, one thing remains ever constant. At the finish, I am the crusader. I am the “warrior for fairness and truth”. This happens without fail. Allow me to expand upon this notion.

Currently, I find myself stridently shouting to be heard (metaphorically speaking, as there is no actual verbalization involved) on a game forum. This is a game that I have been playing for a little over six months now, and having stumbled across the forums attached to it, found myself inevitably drawn into the fray. “Ohh, here are people. Here is arguing. Let my opinion be heard!”

You see, it’s all about me. It’s always all about me, no matter how I dress it up or explain it away. This bunch of strangers arguing over pointless rubbish in all reality makes no nevermind to me, yet I simply must be heard, and doesn’t my arrogant, self-important opinion get cranky when not shown the reverence it deserves? My long-suffering companion is subjected to my ranting and pontificating with regards to these troubled and misguided forum-dwellers. Daily he is forced to endure my bitter annoyance at the display of outright indifference to the golden wisdom which I so generously impart. I am repeatedly surprised, though I am quite sure that at this point he is not, at the continuing refusal by these people to acknowledge my presence, let alone my well-thought-out contributions.

What surprises me even more is that I give a damn.

All of this has taken me some distance from my original point, but you must allow me my digressions. It isn’t as though you really have much of a choice. Oh sure, you could leave. Go hang out on Facebook and give the thumbs up to the ceaseless, inane postings of your buddies in some vain attempt at convincing yourself that you actually have a social life, but where would be the fun in that? At least I will give you a point to argue.

So, the crusader, you ask? Yes. I was getting to that. Quite besides the fact that I clearly love a good argument (not to mention the sound of my own voice), I do tend to inevitably find myself in the position of “defender of truth”, which sometimes means taking up for the underdog, and sometimes means taking arms against a sea of ass-kissing do-gooders against said dog. I am a veteran of chat rooms where I invariably found myself in such a position, and now, in these forums, I find myself similarly situated. I have to ask myself “Why?”.

Where does this pressing need to be heard come from? From whence does this desire to be right, this need for validation arise? Of course these are not uncommon desires. Everyone wants to be heard and validated. Everyone wants to be right. But my need goes beyond a casual yearning. It’s a forceful, driving desire and all opposition must not only be defeated, but ruthlessly crushed and beaten into submission. I don’t only want to be right; I want you to see the absolute folly of ever arguing with me in the first place, and by God I’m going to make you see it.

I think something is desperately wrong with me.

Categories: Things I Think, Things That Amuse Me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I am not a girly-girl

It’s confirmed, and it’s nothing I didn’t already know. I am definitely not a girly-girl.

Firstly I want to say that all of my primpers and preeners this morning were absolutely delightful, and if you’re considering getting your hair done at the Healesville Living and Learning Centre’s Beauty School, I thoroughly recommend that you do. That being said, oh my lord what a morning. I really do not know how anyone ever enjoys going to the hairdresser.

I am a casual kind of girl; I’m all about jeans, t-shirts and ponytails. I’ve never enjoyed dressups, I’ve never had my nails done and I seriously dislike the idea of massage, spa treatments or anything of that ilk. So picture this, if you’re so inclined .. jeans and ponytail girl surrounded by hairdressers and hairdressing students, all eager to hack off my extremely long locks and pretty me up for my French wedding adventure. I know that it seems like I enjoy a good chinwag, but my level of comfort with a keyboard and a screen is not an accurate reflection of me in social situations. I’m shy, and awkward, and in no way outgoing, so being thrust into a chatty, bustling environment full of well-meaning ladies trying to fill the distinct lack of conversation whilst snip snipping away was more than a challenge for my poor, anti-social noodle.

Then there was the pile of hair.

I’ve been thinking about chopping off my hair for quite some time now. I can count the number of times I’ve been to a hairdresser on two hands and I have never let students have at my tresses before today. It had gotten ridiculously long and it was well past time, but sitting in front of the mirror looking at the freshly cut left side of my head compared to the still lovely and long right side .. I have to admit I was afraid. It was far shorter than I had envisaged. I haven’t had short hair since my mother used to stick a bowl on my head and cut around it. Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration. I just looked like that was what had happened. After being snipped it was time for foils. I really wish I had taken a picture of that fantastic look, but let’s just say – I wouldn’t have looked out of place at Carnival, or maybe at some slightly bonkers production of CATS. CATS who got stuck in a trashcan filled with goo and aluminium foil. What was left of my hair stuck out in tufts and spouts whilst I pondered the likelihood of picking up alien transmissions via my metal-wrapped head! All around me students were practicing on dismembered heads and watching with interest at the torture being perpetrated upon me .. then I had to pee. Wonderful. Nothing does more for your professional standing in your place of work than wandering around dressed in a cape and covered in foil.

Next came the washing, then the rinsing, then the washing, then more product. After being shown a plethora of lovely coloured strips of hair from which to choose, I decided it best to leave it up to the expert. Our trainer and qualified hairdresser. After all, I trusted her to chop off my locks, so I figured in for a penny, in for a pound. As it turns out she knew exactly what she was doing and the finished “do” is quite lovely, despite being far shorter than I ever would have chosen to go. Everybody gasped and cooed appropriately and even though they were all very nice and very professional, I was well and truly over it all and ready to get back to my quiet desk in my quiet office.

I’m glad that I did it. After all, it gave me something to blog about, which was what I was thinking as I sat there smiling and nodding, trying not to seem rude as the chatty young ladies tried to engage me. Below are two pictures, both of them taken today. Everyone keeps telling me that I look younger, which after the trauma of the last few encounters with the mirror is a very nice thing. I don’t know though. What do you think?

Categories: Things About Me, Things I Think, Things That Make You Go Hmmm | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Do you know the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man?

Has your face ever felt like a bag of warm water hanging off the front of your head? I know; it’s an odd opening question, but as I drove home from taking young master to school yesterday morning through eyes too bleary from sleeping far too little, it occurred to me that that was exactly how I felt. Don’t get me wrong; a nice hottie bottle at the foot of your bed, or if you suffer from nasty back issues as I do, in the small of your back, can be a lovely thing, but there is little complimentary to say about having said same dangling from your cheeks.

As take off draws ever closer, and as my sketchy knowledge of my French counterparts grows, I find myself becoming increasingly aware of my general lack of fitness, and I don’t mean just in the running marathon sense. I mean in a more holistic way. I am not that far shy of forty and it is starting to show. There are aches, there are pains, there are odd little thingies that never seemed to be there before .. and I am referring to more than the multiplying strands of silvery hair and the road map which appears to be enveloping my face. I creak when I move and there is a disturbing old person type of noise every time I am forced to hoist myself out of a particularly soft chair. Oddly enough, there never seems to be an old person close by.

Over the last five or so years I have given up (to varying degrees and with varying success) smoking, alcohol, junk food, excessive carbohydrates, saturated fat, cows milk and almost any other vice I may have had at any given point in my life. With the exception of caffeine and salt, I’m pretty much junk free most of the time. All of that sounds wonderful (and horrendously boring), so riddle me this: why am I still getting old? That was not the deal at all. I’ve been keeping my side of the bargain, for the most part, but I’m still driving home at eight am with a bag of warm water hanging from my cheekbones (or where my cheekbones should be) and eyelids that feel like sandpaper. I can’t lie on my belly, propped up on an elbow for too long or my shoulders start to scream and I get a headache. I can’t sit at a desk for too long or my back starts to scream and I get a headache. I can’t play video games for too long or my eyes start to hurt and I get a headache. I wear glasses, comfortable shoes and sensible cotton underwear. I try to drink plenty of water and take my vitamins. I attempt to convince myself that I do yoga. Still, I have a headache all the bloody time, it’s just a matter of which kind and how severe. I’m pretty damned tired of that too, let me tell you!

So what’s the point of all this whining and griping? Well, it’s to ask a question really. How do you all deal with getting old? As I looked at myself in the mirror last night, face covered in some slop that made fantastical claims of rejuvenation and God knows what else, and after having scared the bejesus out of the cat, I wondered what kinds of remedies are out there to help us grow old gracefully. Yes, I am aware that I could “just Google it”, but where’s the fun in that?

Oh, and here’s a picture of me in all my puffy-faced glory. If you are in the middle of dinner, I do apologize.

Categories: Things About Me, Things I Think, Things That Make You Go Hmmm | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Oh Croydon .. you make me feel old.

If you live in, come from or have an affinity for Croydon I apologize in advance and warn that you may wish to find something else to read now before I make you mad. I am afraid of you and your townsfolk .. no, seriously .. so let’s agree to disagree and go our separate ways.

If you’re still with me .. what a grey, miserable place to wander around is Croydon. I admit that I did not spend very long amongst its slightly dingy buildings and even more dingy looking inhabitants, but wow.  There really is only one word. Scary. I would love to illustrate what I mean here by the addition of a photograph, possibly using Instagram so I can seem all arty and interesting. Alas I cannot because I was, quite frankly, too scared to point a lens at anyone for fear of being beaten to death .. for sport.

We were blissfully unaware of the lurking danger as we wandered through the back streets, chatting about nothing much and searching for the travel agent where we were meeting Linda, the bearer of our tickets to adventure. (That’s me trying to be enthusiastic and excited) A shrill screech from somewhere to our left shattered our pleasant discourse, and a furtive look around confirmed my gut reaction. “Don’t look, just keep walking”. Good advice.

I’ve been considered snobby in my time. I’ve been considered rude, angry and plain weird. The truth is that I am primarily shy and non-confrontational. The “Shazza’s”* hanging about out the front of the shops in the main street of Croydon are frightening, and I am a grown woman. If I hadn’t had my 6’4” son with me, I might have headed into the nearest establishment and cowered. I live in a town with its own population of “scary young folk”, and I generally have no problem walking around on my own, even as the light dims and the real weirdos come out, but this was something else. No wonder they play that god-awful “Muzak” on the streets. It’s a vain attempt to keep the trouble-makers away.

All of this leads me to one very simple, very painful realisation.

I have become .. an old person.

*For the non-Australians – “Shazza”: nickname for Sharon and generally used to indicate a rough or unrefined woman. See also “Sheila”.

Categories: Places I've Been, Things I've Seen, Things That Freak Me Out | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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