Own the Wallow.

I’ve been reading a lot of articles recently about mothers coping with life (single or married), and general “here’s how I survive the week” or “focus on the essentials to get by” type articles. I do like them, often there are good types but on the whole they are generally self congratulatory and I’m sure in reality only are working for the authors some times. And of course, don’t get me started on how dads are the sidekick or help make things worse in these.

Personally, I can say with honesty I’m failing at keeping my shit together at the moment. As you may know from reading my posts, I do a lot of prep work, and try to organise my time and household in smart ways. That doesn’t change the fact that there is only so many straws that poor camels back can take before it breaks. It IS ok to not cope, and I think it’s important to be able to express it, because the first step to fixing something is acknowledging there is a problem. 

I am lucky enough my fiancé loves me as much as she does, and deals with my kaleidoscope of moods as I struggle to cope with everything, as I lose it because the tyre pressure light came on in the car – because too many goddamn things have gone wrong lately and no matter how hard we try it feels like when you put on cheap ass bandaids and then wash your hands and they come right off. You just want to swear – a lot.

I spent a lot of time today thinking about if I should or need to seek professional help, perhaps use my employee assistance program at work, or even get some anger management counselling. But shit, is it so wrong that I’m not coping that great? Am I not allowed to feel bad because things are tough all round? I don’t think I need my feelings validated or explained away. I need solutions and that means to keep on truckin’ (or in this case – keep working on solutions for each and every issue as they come).

Can I do less around the house and with the kids like a lot of these articles suggest? Sure. Will I? Probably not. In a very popeye way – I am who I am. I need to have a clean house, for the kids to have what they need in terms of an involved and attentive parent, for good healthy food to make it to the table at night. These are my core basics I need to feel like I’m winning at life in some way. Yep, I need to find some things to back off of, and I’m trying. That being said, I need to allow myself to feel shitty, overwhelmed and hard done by, without wallowing in it. Live it, acknowledge it and try to fix shit.

Most of all I can’t lose sight of the wonderful idiot woman who loves me for some stupid reason, and those amazing kids who forgive me my hulk smash (not literally) moments. Forgetting all the bad crap at the moment I am one blessed DAD.

Advertisements

Multi-family Dynamics

I’ve found it really hard to write anything for the past few weeks. Life since the accident has been difficult to say the least. My fiancé has a constant barrage of continuing health issues, recovery, doctors and specialist visits, and then all of the associated dealings in regards to insurance, licensing etc. On top of that is normal life – financial concerns with her out of work for a while, and now back working part time, the stresses of my job, and then of course – the kids. 

The last couple of weeks has opened my eyes up to the fact that the kids are dealing with so much of their own. It breaks my heart whilst also making me proud for the way they deal with life. Very conflicting emotions. Our youngest is dealing with the dynamics of her father’s family vs our family. For such a young girl, it’s obviously difficult for her to realise her place in each family. Especially of course, because in her fathers – she is the eldest, and in ours, she is the youngest. She also has four parents with their own mannerisms, and ways of doing things to deal with. What she might take for example, as anger, because I might have a frown on my face (and perhaps when she sees that on her dad’s face it means anger), is actually me running the household, getting kids to put away their clothes while I make dinner and clean up the kitchen, or try to get us all organised and out of the house on time. She’s so young, and I know all we can do is keep talking to her, reassuring her, and know that in the long run she will realise where she fits in and the dynamics of each household and parenting teams.

 

She also unfortunately, is seeing relationship cracks for her dad. He doesn’t seem to do a good job of keeping their relationship issues away from the kids. From what we can tell (and yep, I admit we only have a 5 year olds feedback here), it seems her father and his partner tend to have fairly public fights in which she disappears with the other kids for a couple of days to get away from it. That has to have her wondering why her siblings are being taken away from her and why her effective “step-mum” doesn’t want to be around her. She hasn’t expressed those feeling yet, so hoping she’s not at that point. It’s a tough one, because without the full story we can really only try to assure her they will work things out and everyone fights but it’s about being able to sort it out and move on.

 

Our youngest boy is dealing with his new school like a trooper, forming new relationships with friends and teachers. On that side of things, he couldn’t be happier. But, as does happen, he seems to be having issues with separation from his mother now. Given it’s been so many years, I find this weird and he doesn’t seem to want to, or doesn’t seem able to talk about it. I just have to give him time I think, and keep reminding him we are here to talk and we love him.

 

For our eldest girl, she has moved to the extension classes in her school. We couldn’t be prouder, she has achieved so much in the last couple of years. Her academic improvement is astounding. On the whole she is dealing with high school like a champion. She is making new friends, being invited to houses and parties, and handling increased responsibility at home really well. I am just cautious because she’s so emotional like me, and I know it hurts her when things go bad, especially if she has bad experiences with other kids at school. I am trying so hard to teach her to be resilient. Fingers crossed there.

 

Then comes our eldest boy, or, if you think of him how he sees himself, our young man. He’s a frustrating beast. He shows such maturity in some areas, for example, he seems very able to cope with life and change, and is brilliant at school and forming personal relationships. In other areas, like responsibility (sometimes), or with his relationships with his siblings, he can act like a 5 year old boy. Very frustrating 🙂 All in all, I think he’s doing an amazing job with life, and with coping!

 

All of the above being said, the older three are all dealing with the ever changing and unsure dynamic they have with their mother. Our eldest is on very rocky ground and finding her way of life to be hard to deal with. They all have some serious expectations placed on them by their mother, and consequence of not meeting those (as in, punishments or being told off) weighs heavily on them. I feel so bad because one of the big issues for me in the marriage was that feeling of “treading on egg shells” with her – constantly. Living that way makes you very anxious, and the kids are expressing the same type of feelings to me, about their relationship with her. I try to offer advice, but I feel like if I couldn’t ever figure it out, how can I advise them? I’m just hoping that I’ve learnt enough from my experiences that some of my advice makes it easier for them.

 

Family dynamics, and different rules/lifestyles have to be some of the biggest confusing factors for children of separated/blended families. As parents, we have to remember how hard it has to be for those little humans to reconcile the differences and feel at home in both environments. As long as they feel safe, comfortable and loved in both environments, I like to think they can deal with the differences.

Play centre or pain centre?

We’ve had so much rain in the last week, and as always it seemed Mother Nature was timed precisely to school hours (around 8-9am, and again at 2:30-3:30pm). It got so stormy come Friday afternoon I ended up picking the kids up from each of their schools (we have 3 different schools the kids all go to). Two of those schools are just a couple of blocks away from home, but with the way the weather was umbrellas were useless. When you combine this with the accident, the poor kids have spent so much time indoors at home, I’m surprised they didn’t end up killing each other – or us killing them. 

On Sunday we took them out to a play centre to burn off some energy, which is you can imagine was as packed as the shops on Christmas Eve. Somehow we fluked it and scored the last table so we could at least have a coffee while the kids played. It ended up being a couple of hours of pure frustration. I think human nature, in both kids and parents, shines through when you visit one of those hell holes.

 

The centre is fairly typical, you have an under 5’s area, some big climbing areas with tunnels and slides etc., and then they had a gigantic inflatable slide with kind of stairs up the side. It was about 4-5 metres high, so when the kids come down, it’s at a decent bit of speed and obviously not for little ones. Of course it’s only obvious to parents who maybe don’t want their 18 month old to get kicked in the head by larger children flinging themselves down. To assist in taking something fun and turning it into a bruise and tears festival, children of all ages decide to act like it’s a jumping castle and bounce around directly under all these kids barrelling down from up high. Where are the parents during all of this chaos? Nowhere – because apparently “Play centre” means “Day care” to them. The parents are off in la la land whilst the poor staff are engaged time and time again to sort out the chaos of undisciplined selfish brats (who obviously take after their parents), and even have to rescue a traumatised kid from the top of the contraption. Gold star parenting all around.

 

Then of course, there was the helicopter parent. A mum who decided her precious little child who was barely able to move around on his own should be on this slide with all the big kids. So she gets on it again and again, (barging past the HUGE sign proclaiming no adults allowed for safety reasons) and proceeds to take her child up the top and jump down amidst all the little children. All of this with no socks on, despite the need for socks being made abundantly clear on entry AND over the loud speaker continually. These types of parents who believe their child is above it all and more deserving than everyone else really get my goat. Finally, mum of the year got told off by the staff (after an annoyed tip off by someone to the staff, maybe me – I will neither confirm nor deny said rumour), and after a few minutes of embarrassed and annoyed conversation with the other people back at her table, then went off to the other climbing area with the big kids coming down the plastic slides – and helped her precious boy to play at the BOTTOM of the slide and try to climb up, continually. After annoying people there for some time, she finally got the hint and took him to the under 5’s area, and being so precious, she followed behind him by half a foot through all of that play area, blocking the way with her substantial frame for all the other kids. Asshole parenting for the win.

 

The day also bought up the usual annoyance that is a hotly debated topic in parental society “climbing up slides”. My kids have been bought up on the clear premise slides are for going DOWN only, unless no one else is around to be annoyed by you climbing up. I think 75% of kids have been told “do whatever you like no matter who gets hurt or the fact that other parents are PAYING for their children to have fun, and not be upset”. I’ve read a lot about this online and people try to hide behind kids needing “resiliency” or about teaching them to work around the problem, or work it out between them. It’s just all a big excuse for parents who can’t be arsed managing their children, or who suffer the delusion their kid is more deserving than all others. If you want your kid to have everything to themselves, book out the centre for the day – cough up the money. Otherwise, teach your kids some manners, some disciple, and some social skills so they learn to play well with others.

 

Play centres are a clear sorting bin for parenting styles. You see it all, and always walk out thinking “why do I put myself through this again and again?” The answer of course is, on the whole the kids love it.

Brain me damage-amage-amage.

I unfortunately have not been in a mindset to write for the past few days. Since my fiance’s car accident I have been working from home, looking after her 24×7, and it is our week where we have all the kids together. I can say categorically, I am exhausted. I am very glad it’s Friday, and I’m hoping Sunday we can have a pajama day. It’s due to be wet and rainy anyway, so hopefully board games, video games and movies will be on the cards for Sunday.

We have a family BBQ planned for Saturday for some time now. The kids are being very supportive and are going to help me be ready for it. My fiance is doing a lot better every day, but still very limited with her motion and has no energy. Recovering from such a serious accident takes a lot out of a person. It’s like her body has gone into power save mode, trying to redirect all her energy to healing.

I do have to admit, this has been one of the more trying weeks of our lives. The stress of managing ourselves, our emotions, finances, the kids, work and the future – it’s a hell of a lot. Thankfully the insurance company has been great and we know we will not be slugged with property repair bills from the power company or anyone else.

It’s times like this when you see the true side of a lot of people. We have had people reaching out constantly, offering support, understanding (e.g: a lot of people at my work), and general well wishing and following up to make sure my fiance is OK. It has been very sweet and definitely helps you feel less alone.

Our biggest worry this week has been the kids. We’ve had some of the kids not seem to understand the seriousness of the accident and injuries, which has resulted in some pain in the ass behavior, which of course is the last thing you need in a time like this. Our eldest daughter got overly worried, and I get the feeling she is maybe overly concerned still but I will keep tabs on her to make sure she’s OK. In a week or two, hopefully my fiance’s progress will ease her mind.

The kids of course, also don’t get the impact to our lives. The financial hit is massive, stress of dealing with recovery and all the admin relating to the accident, whilst managing our lives. It’s so hard to articulate to them without making them feel like they need to do something, or feel guilty for some reason. I’m also having to say no to some requests for time with me because I’m stressed, busy, or exhausted. Other times I’m killing myself putting a smile on my face and playing Basketball with them so they feel everything is normal.

I’m just trying to ride that fine line where I want them to understand, and try to be a little more helpful. I know we’re going to have to make it up to them once everything IS back to normal – find a way to say thanks for being such great kids through a hard time. We are so lucky, firstly that she survived without permanent injury, and secondly that we have such wonderful kids to help us get through this tough time.

Kill Your Idols

Ok so this posts topic is actually an awesome song by the band Static-X (RIP Wayne),  but it jumped to mind with how I’ve seen people act these last two days.

As you may or may not know (if you don’t, then follow me and read my other posts – go on, do it now!) I’ve spent the last day and a half in hospital with my fiancé who had a serious car accident. From the emergency room, through to the wards, I’ve had to bear witness to countless people denigrating nurses and doctors almost constantly.

It ranges from paranoid people with serious mental health issues who seem to think the staff are trying to kill them, to angry morons who feel like the staff are their punching bags and slaves, to just ordinary chumps who don’t get nurses aren’t the cause of their issues and are trying to help them.

It has made me feel frustrated and angry watching these disgraceful displays of self centred, entitled, rude behaviour almost constantly. The nurses are complete angels for how they put up with it, even when I can see they are pulling long shifts, getting bugger all sleep and coming back to do it again.

I know people take their problems out on those we love, but as a society people seriously seem to have the mentality that if someone is in employment which sees them helping or serving people, that the person is automatically beneath them and deserves contempt. I cannot stand this attitude. You see it with waiters, checkout staff, charity collectors etc. People with no right, feel they DO have the right to treat these workers like they are beneath them.

Of course nurses are human beings with feelings and no matter how well they hide it, you can see after every interaction with one of these people they are less inclined to pay attention the next time, which makes the aggressors even worse because they start feeling justified that they aren’t getting the attention they fed they warrant (with their Queen of England complexes). This sends them on a spiral where it just gets worse for everyone involved and everyone around them.

All in all, it takes a special person to be a nurse, and to not be an asshole. To be honest I don’t think I’ve encountered a nurse to date who may have even been gruff to me, but didn’t end up being nice when they realised I was giving them the courtesy and respect they are due.

So, the next time you want to take out your problems on someone, maybe think about why you are where you are and take some responsibility to behave like you would want to be treated. Remember their jobs are tough, they are often understaffed and over worked – and they are your mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers – they are humans with feelings who try damned hard to help the ungrateful all day every day. Gotta love em.

It Rains AND it Pours

In the Chinese zodiac it is the year of the rooster. I believe this may be inaccurate. It is more like the year of the festering boil. For the second time already this year, my beloved fiancé has nearly died again. This time, she was behind the wheel of her car which is now completely trashed courtesy of a head on collision with a power pole.  She is now laying in hospital with a fractured vertebrae. (Amazingly this was the worst of it).

Unfortunately she has amnesia of the events leading up to this, however it is highly likely she experienced a critical drop in blood sugar and effectively blacked out. If you haven’t read my post “near death experience”, go check it out to get a background in my fiancé struggle with type one diabetes.

This latest incident brings its own fresh batch of problems, including my fiancé losing her license because of the nature of the medical concerns about the accident, to us becoming a one car family with kids in 3 different schools, and with my fiancé being able to get to work once recovered. Due to the incredible nature of my beloved, I know she already feels large amounts of guilt over this, and I just hope she trusts my love for her and knows as long as she’s alive and with us, that is the most important thing.

We haven’t told the kids yet, they love their step-Mumtobe, and would worry incredibly. Hopefully she will be home by the time they come back to us this week, and can be bought up to speed whilst seeing she is ok. Rest assured we will take the necessary steps in our lives to try to make sure none of us have to keep worrying and that step-Mumtobe is around for the kids forever.

Oh and this is what happens to an iPhone in a back pocket in a car crash:


I wonder if Apple would believe it just happened like a Samsung exploding? 😛

EX-Cruciating Interactions

I’m going to put it out there to the world – I don’t particularly like my ex-wife, and yes, if I didn’t have to talk to her or see her again my life would be easier and happier. I can hear the “OMG’s” from everyone through the screen already. Yes, I’m voicing what I’m sure she thinks about me, and most of you other divorcee’s are thinking and feeling. It’s that part of us that exists, and we try to supress for the good of the children. It’s that part of us we feel we should be able to rise above, be forgiving, and be a better person. 

Bollocks to that. We can’t all get along in life, and there is a good reason you are divorced. Yep, I totally get there are some amicable divorced couples out there (and I am jealous, that’s awesome), but on the whole, most of us are out there putting the smile on the face and being the best role model we can for our children. Take it easy on yourself. Allow yourself to feel what you feel when the kids aren’t around to see it. If you don’t, it will eat at you and you will be more likely to arc up at something your ex says or does, because you supress it.

 

I think I am a pretty damned good Divorced Aussie Dad. I manage to keep my temper and attitude in check when dealing with the kids mum, I am able to be compromising, considerate, and even go out of my way to be generous and helpful when I can. In the long run, the kids will appreciate it – I am sure of this. I know the kids worry about how their mum and I interact, so I am always positive when I talk about her, and I always down play ANYTHING the kids feel might be “difficult” if it involves their mum and I interacting. I try to make them remember their mum and I have their best interests at heart and we will always do what we have to do for them. From what I can tell, I think the same thing mostly happens in reverse on her side too.

 

It doesn’t mean I don’t cringe when the phone screen lights up with her name. I still wonder what the hell I am in for when I see a text message, or even worse – a phone call (because it must be important if it’s not an email or a text). I try to not be defensive, and be open to what she wants to talk about. I think the two of us have that working well for the most part nowadays. If I know we have to interact in person (like have a chat when I drop the kids off, or turn up to a school thing), I want to run away. It is so uncomfortable, but of course I do it for the kids. I always make sure I am polite, force a smile, mind my P’s & Q’s and generally make it a pleasant experience for her and the kids. Of course, I’d rather be sitting in a corner gnawing my own arm off. It’s also extra hard because I can never predict the mood from her end. She can be happy and personable one time, and walk past me and barely acknowledge my existence in another. I don’t like the inconsistency, it adds tension, and I’m sure the kids notice it.

 

All in all, you can’t control others, only yourself. I figure if I display the same good behaviours consistently, the kids will grow up appreciating the effort (eventually!). I will never buy a Christian mentality of turning the other cheek, loving thine enemy and all that kind of rubbish. We DAD’s and DAM’s (Divorced Aussie Mum?? should there be an N on the end? hehe) are allowed to feel how we feel, and I do believe it’s healthier if we acknowledge this – but – we do need to be responsible parents, control our emotions and interactions with our ex’s for the kids’ sake. The easier and quicker interactions occur, the less time you have to deal with your ex in the long run anyway!