Not a normal New Year’s resolution

When you stand in front of a mirror what do you see? I see dark circles, spots, beginnings of wrinkles and a tired face. I don’t see an attractive person. I don’t look at myself and think I’m beautiful. I think the complete opposite. I think my face looks very rat like.

I am overweight. I have a fat face. I have fat arms and very fat legs. A jelly stomach. I don’t hold myself in high esteem.

This may come as a surprise to those who know me. I am the loud one. The funny one. I always tell my family Christmas presents will include a series of limited edition photos of myself. But I don’t truly believe I’m beautiful.

I can hide it with makeup. I can create illusions of light and glow and slenderness. I feel good when I wear makeup. Like I’m worth more.

But why? Why do I hold my self worth in my appearance? Why do I feel the need to point out all of my physical flaws? Sometimes when I’m out and trying on clothes in a shop a sales assistant will bring something in she suggests. I turn them away with a “Oh no I’m too fat for that”. She will always respond and tell me I’m not but I never believe her. Because I know I am.

But I’m tired of feeling like this. Having no self worth. Beating myself down because of my supposed appearance.

 

It’s not just me. We all do it. Why can’t we love ourselves a little more and realise we are pretty awesome people?

When I go shopping with my son and he sits in the trolley he always lays head on my arms and cuddles me as we walk through the shops. Because he loves me. He doesn’t care what I look like or how many spots I have. All he cares about is making sure my fart noises are up to scratch and that I believe he’s a scary monster when he roars at me. He doesn’t care that I’m at my heaviest I have ever been when he snuggles into me every morning when we get up extra early so we can watch cartoons and have some time together before our day gets hectic. He doesn’t care my hair hasn’t been straightened when he falls over and needs cuddles from mummy. He just loves me because I’m me.

So this year my resolution is to love myself more. To let myself actually realise that I do good and am good. Appreciate myself. Hopefully this journey will include weight loss, but it won’t be by eating 500 calories a day. It will be with healthy nourishing  foods and I will be about making my insides just as healthy as my outside. I’m going to do things for me and enjoy myself. This past year has been very long and very tough and it has really taken its toll.

I’m going to love myself this year and you should too.

Your life can change in a second

I’ve rewritten the following story several times. I think constantly about how I can express my thoughts and what purpose my story has. Why do I feel the need to write something, and what will it give people? I still am not quite sure and I feel this is probably more for myself however I want to share my experiences over the past 6 months. These are my words.
Most people know Terry as a very loud, very grumpy man of few words. Not many people got to see the man who carefully ironed my pleated school skirt every day for primary school and called in sick to work at the last minute to support me in my clarinet recital where he sat front row and brought me tim tams after to celebrate. The man who worked extra shifts to buy my mum the special things she wanted, and took her flowers to a Pony Club Camp because he had missed her during our week long absence.
Growing up my relationship with Terry varied. As a stepparent he was already on the back foot with me; we had arguments, most of them stemming from the slightly ungrateful, argumentative, precocious child and then teenager I was. As I grew so did my respect and love for him and over the years our relationship grew from an arguing stepdad and stepdaughter to simply one of a dad and daughter. He helped walk me down the aisle at my wedding alongside my other dad.
It was not uncommon for me to see my mum and dad on a daily basis. My house is right on the way to their house and whether it was a random drop in for coffee or coming over to assist me in jobs I had talked them into helping me with; I saw them almost every single day.
I remember earlier this year there had been quite a few motorcycle accidents in our area – and I start texting or calling my dad every time I heard of one, to make sure he was ok. He always responded with a short “I’m fine”.
That is, until June 26th.
At approximately 7.20pm on Friday the 26th of June I heard an ambulance scream past my house lights and sirens going. I automatically reached for my phone as I did every other time and started texting my dad. I never finished the text as my 2 year old was calling out for something.
At 8.30pm I received a facebook message from my sister Ashleigh. “Call me, its about Dad”.
I turned to my husband and said “My dad has been in an accident”. I just knew. I called my sister straight away and she confirmed – that our dad had been involved in an accident. We didn’t know any details at all, but she said he was ok and in an ambulance on the way to hospital. I arranged with mum to pick me up on her way to town so I could come with her to hospital.
I spent the next 45 minutes on the road side waiting for mum. I felt so sick in my stomach and I just wanted to get into town. When mum picked me up we discussed the injuries Terry could possibly have, and thought he may have a broken leg and how mum had packed a spare set of clothes to bring him home in.
After arriving at the hospital we were taken into a windowless room where we waited for the emergency department nurse on duty to brief us. This is when we found out that Terry had no feeling in his legs. We were then taken to the cubicle where he was being attended to.
Walking into that room was the most horrible experience of my life. My dad laying in a bed, surrounded by a team of doctors. He had a neck brace on and dried blood surrounded his mouth. He was in so much pain, my mum asked one of the doctors if they could give him something for the pain and we were told that he had been given many drugs to help him, but due to his the extent of his injuries there was nothing they could do to help him.
Have you ever seen a movie or a news piece on someone who has been badly injured or killed? You feel sad for them but you know that’s something you always read or hear about. It never happens to you. That’s how I felt in this situation – it was something that happened in the movies or to other people, it never actually happened to you.
After Terry was moved up to the ICU our family took turns in sitting with him as only two people were allowed in at a time. Terry apologised for never telling us enough that he loved us, and we reminisced old stories about being woken up on Christmas Day with Terry sitting in the lounge room drinking beer at 6am HoHoHoing loudly to wake us all up.
The next morning Terry was transferred by the Royal Flying Doctor Service down to Brisbane for surgery and mum and I followed on a commercial flight to meet him at the hospital. We arrived just before he went in for surgery.
We came in thinking worst case scenario was that Terry would be a paraplegic. We met the surgeon performing on Terry and he proceeded to tell us we needed to prepare ourselves for Terry to not make it. He was in a bad state and they had to do a lot of work to fix him. They didn’t know if his heart could handle what needed to be done. Upon hearing this Terry asked me to write down where all the insurances he had were, and asked for a piece of paper to sign so he could sign everything over to mum – they had no will. He was in so much pain and struggled to speak, and he thought those moments were his last.
After Terry was taken into surgery we were given a private room to wait in. We were told that the minimum time in surgery would be 6 hours, if there were no complications. After 6.5 hours Terry was wheeled past. He had made the surgery! They did everything they needed to do and he was taken into ICU where he was kept in a coma and on life support to give his body a chance to heal.
This is where the journey and recovery began. We documented his progress with videos and photos on our facebook page; keeping friends and family up to date. Terry recovered from his smaller injuries and started his new life in a wheelchair, and was moved to the Spinal Injuries Unit where he currently remains – and will remain until March next year.
But this is not where the story ends. Before Terry’s accident I never understood what came with spending your life in a wheelchair and how it could affect you. It’s not just a case of sitting in a chair and wheeling around forever, every single aspect of your life is forever different. Everything becomes harder, takes longer and uses more energy. Simple tasks become big ones and you rely on others for help.
Whilst we create a happy public front, privately we struggle. I feel on the verge of tears most days, and have spent many hours crying; at work, at home, in the car, in the shopping centre and on the phone to my parents. You realise little things at random times; like how my son will never remember Terry being able to walk, he will grow up only knowing his Poppy in a wheelchair. He will never be able to get rides up the hill on Poppy’s motorbike screaming “Go faster Poppy, go faster Poppy”, just like my nephew did. These things may seem small, but for us they are huge. These things we took for granted and just assumed would always be there. They were ripped away from Terry through no fault of his own, and no hope of getting them back.
Recently I was driving my son to day care when I realised; this year my parents would not be putting their Christmas tree up. Christmas has always been a huge occasion in our family, and the putting up of the Christmas tree was a big deal. Whoever was in town from our family attended, and we listened to Christmas carols while carefully placing decorations under our parents’ totalitarian instruction. Christmas tree decoration was serious business. I called mum and we both cried, something else taken away from us.
My dad has worked hard his entire life. He always worked overtime shifts to support us and worked 13 out of 14 days. Even raising 5 children, we never went without. We had many privileges and were very spoilt. One thing I struggle with the most is that now after 28 years of raising children, the time that is meant to be easy and relaxing for him has been taken away. This is my parents time, time to wind down and spend our inheritance. Time to travel and spoil their grandchildren. Time to rediscover themselves and rediscover their relationship as a couple rather than as parents. There is currently nothing easy about their life. The things they should be doing are on hold indefinitely. Even when they get their lives back nothing will be the same, there will be restrictions and difficulties.
When you grow up your parents do almost everything for you. Nothing is ever too much and at some stage in your life the tables turn and you get the opportunity to repay them for what they did for you growing up. That time has come for us.
You ironed our skirts and did our hair,
You made our lunch and taught us to be fair.
You cooked our dinner and did the dishes,
And made us brush our teeth against our wishes.
You made us into who we are,
And when we called for advice you were never too far.
Now its time for us to help you dad,
When times are tough or you are sad.
We will be here, always by your side,
Repaying your love, time and never ending guide.

 

Chicken and chickpea stew

If you asked me 5 months ago what Kai’s favourite food was, I would have somewhat smugly told you it was chicken and chickpea stew. I don’t even really need to make a point of telling you I made this meal for him from scratch myself – because as a first time mum of course I would make all of the meals from scratch for my little angel on earth.

To be honest I only ever called it chicken and chickpea stew because it sounded way better than just chicken stew. Chickpeas made it sound more earthy, organic and wanky. Which is what I was going for because you know, it was made from scratch and wasn’t I better than everyone else?

When it comes to food for baby Kai – I had and still have big ideas. While my intentions were pure, it seems I turned into a food wanker sometime over the past few months.

Recently I told my friend who was struggling at meals times with their child that they just needed to be firm – children don’t have the ability to starve themselves when they are younger; they will eventually eat what you’re offering, you’re not a short order cook!

What a stupid piece of advice – while the info may be true, it’s the last thing someone wants to hear when their child refuses to eat everything placed in front of them.

The reality is we feed our kids what we can when we can.

My former angel and current devil spawn has thrown my life into turmoil after recently deciding everything I make tastes worse than the Parramatta Eels play football. So pretty much the worst food in the world.

Do you know how hard it is to force an 11 month old child into eating something they don’t want to. If there is something not to his liking Kai will pick the food up, hold it over his tray and drop it straight onto the floor. Or he throws it across the table.

Vegetables that are mashed, steamed, fried or covered in sauce are thrown away in disgust. Chicken, sausages, corn meat and lamb roasts that are lovingly prepared are smooshed into the side of the neverfail water cooler and rubbed through the hair in frustration.

Perfectly browned toast with vegemite, peanut butter, cheese or ham is carefully thrown onto the ground face first so it sticks down onto the tiles.

Gone is the advice given to friends about not being a short order cook and staying strong with making our kids eat exactly what we want them to.

I don’t care what Kai eats as long as he eats!

Last Tuesday I had a stroke of genius. I thought to myself – wow Kristy you have so much free time this afternoon; after all you only have 3 trays of cakes on in the oven, 2 pots of lasagne sauce simmering on the stove and the beginnings of a white sauce brewing, why not make a corn meat and veggies for Kai to eat because you know he just LOVES IT.

So off I go and use my final stove element to slowly cook a beautiful corn meat for my son.

I’m happy to announce he screamed and threw it all on the floor when I served it to him.

Go me.

I opened my fridge and pulled out my new best friend – a sachet of yoghurt. At only $54.95 a serve they are super affordable to be letting Kai eat them for three meals a day. Yoghurt, fruit mash and sultanas are pretty much all he eats right now. He sometimes will let me feed him a side of tomato sauce with some meat dipped in it. IF he is feeling generous.

Feeding children is so hard! There is no compromise with an 11 month old child. No threats of punishment or taking away of dessert will work – you just do what you do so they eat!

I guess the only saving grace in this whole debacle is that the yoghurt Kai now eats is organic – oh my god I’m such a wanker.

Devils Milk

The problem with being pregnant is that you have 9 very long months of planning what will happen once your little cherub has come into the earth. Even though you actually have no effing idea of what’s actually going to happen or what you’re supposed to do because you’ve never been a parent before.

When Kai made his entrance into this great land I looked at him and thought, “So, I own you”.

It was a weird and strange notion – this tiny little person was mine to keep, my responsibility and mine to care for. Even though you obviously know this is going to happen it’s weird when it actually does.

When I left hospital I couldn’t believe the nurses were actually letting me wheel out this three day old baby. With a smile and a wave they said goodbye and there I stood outside waiting outside for my husband to bring the Mercedes around (ok Toyota but oh well) and take us home. I didn’t get a manual, a pamphlet or even a scummy flyer with some HOW TO PARENT YOUR CHILD advice. I was on my own. What was wrong with these people?

I planned on breast feeding Kai until he was about 27. Even though I told people that I didn’t care between formula and breast milk, I REALLY REALLY wanted to breast feed him. I wanted that connection and I didn’t think formula would be any good for him. I wanted him to have the very best start in life and we all know formula was actually made by the devil and formula fed children were not as smart as breast fed babies.

Kai never settled into breast feeding. He never was one of those babies that would lay there content for hours on end having a good feed. He would hang upside down, cry, look around the room; do everything but latch on.

It was a really stressful time. I was given lots of super helpful advice – like being told that he needed to be fed in a quiet dark room – which was a revelation to me because before that I was taking him up to the local disco and feeding him there. I tried everything to get him to feed properly and increase my supply – I drank more water, ate boobie bikkies, pumped 24/7, blah blah blah, nothing worked.

When he was about 3 months old I bought a tin of formula. It sat unopened in my cupboard for quite a long time – a shameful secret I felt I had to hide away from people. It was such a mental mindgame, did I break and give my clearly unhappy, not sleeping baby formula or did I persevere with the breast feeding I had talked myself into believing was the only option available to me.

After about a month of sitting in my cupboard I opened the tin of devils milk one lunch time. I felt physically sick in myself that I had failed my son and couldn’t give him what he needed. I made up a bottle and gave it to Kai – and for the first time he drank a whole feed without complaining, crying or stopping once.

From that moment on I mixed fed Kai. After that first feed I no longer felt sick about giving him formula. I saw how much it worked and helped him, it was really a life saver.

The times that Kai was breast fed was not stressful, there was no crying from him or I and I could enjoy the experience with him.

Kai’s now going on 11 months and he is still mix fed. I have no plans to give up the breast milk anytime soon – I enjoy feeding him and having that special time with him. But formula plays a big part in his life and I don’t regret choosing to introduce it to him.

He is a bright, noisy, funny little man that is thriving and happy. He did lick the oven this morning when I had it turned on but I don’t think thats the formulas fault – its more likely the recessive gene passed down from his Parraamatta Eels supporting father (I liken supporting the eels to licking hot ovens – wrong).

Where’s my g-string leotard?

I think I’ve known ever since I was a young girl that I would never be a parent like my mum was. She was seriously mean. She made me eat my vegetables (ALL OF THEM), hang my towel up – neatly, and wouldn’t let me watch Home and Away with her when I was 7 years old.

I remember the Home and Away thing because I used to lay at my door and sing the theme song through the bottom crack of the door – “You know we belong together….”

All I would get from my mum was a “Shut up Kristy!”

My childhood was seriously traumatic and I knew from that moment on that I would never be anything like my mum.

Fast forward 20 years and I’m basically a Helen 2.0, just with better shoes and no perm. Oh and I don’t walk around in g-string leotard, but to be fair if I had a booty that would look good in one I probably would.

All of those stupid rules my parents had suddenly made sense.

I understand why towels must be hung neatly and dishes be put away in certain places.I lift the chairs to vacuum under the table and I don’t wipe all the crumbs from the bench straight onto the floor.

All those things that were magically done by my parents are now done by me.

Outfits that are worn for 30 minutes then thrown into the wash and clean clothes that aren’t put away and just put back into the wash because its easier, become my issue.

Meals that take hours to cook to only be turned down with a “I’m actually not really into lamb”, make me want to scream DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG I TOOK TO MAKE THIS MEAL FOR YOU! There are starving children in Africa!

Oh my god I really am my mother.

I have cushions on my couch that are just there to be looked at and not used – I often remove them from under my husband and return them to their sitting up position in their rightful place. He loves when I do that.

Speaking of my couch – that sucker took 6 months of saving and a months wages to buy. No food, drinks or dirty feet will ever see that couch!

Bedtimes are like a great gift from the lord above. I didn’t ever think I would appreciate sending my child to bed would bring such joy to me. I know at 7pm every night Kai will be in bed and that time is MINE!

I fantasise about what I will do with my time every night after 7 but in reality it really just is spent cleaning up the sweet potato Kai has thrown at the wall, washing the dishes and cleaning up all the toys so they can be tipped out all over the floor again tomorrow morning.

Ahhh the magical life of parenthood.

Excuse me while I fix my Celeste curls

My mother is a busy woman. She is a full time firefighter and also runs a travel business from home. While you’re probably thinking she’s the coolest mum around please know this. She wears crocs. She loves them and has a special going out pair.

Anyway.

Last week my mum offered to come and give me a hand to get on top of things at my house. “Sometimes things just get a bit overwhelming”, she said. “I can come over after nightshift and help you clean”.

Before I had Kai I worked out of town. I got home on Friday nights and would go straight to the grocery shop and get food, go home; cook, unpack, eat and go straight to bed. I had Saturdays to do chores and Sunday’s would be spent prepping to go back out to work early Monday morning.

“Imagine when I’m on maternity leave”, I told my husband. “Our house will be perfect because I will be home all the time and have time to do everything!”

Um wrong.

While I religiously wash the dishes and vacuum the floor, other non essential chores just don’t get done like they used to.

I thought I would have all this time to maintain a stepford quality house and still have time to put Celeste curls in my hair. If you’re wondering what Celeste curls are – they are the 70’s style curls a girl called Celeste does in her hair every day. Her hair is like a gift from the gods. I dream about her hair. I can’t even do them but every time I go to my hairdresser she knows I need Celeste curls put in.

When I was dreaming about my future stepford house and Celeste curls I also thought I would have a body to rival Miranda Kerr’s, so in hindsight I should have probably set more realistic goals.

Anyway, I digress.

I used to take pride in folding all of my washing the very second it came off the line. I couldn’t understand all these people with spare rooms full of washing to fold. “I actually love folding washing”, I would tell my friends, “So it’s not really a problem for me”. These days I’m practically doing breaststroke to get through the mounds of folding piled up in my room.

I would also scrub my bathroom floor on my hands and knees with a little scrubbing brush and vigorously scrub the shower of any nasty germs. These days I give the shower a spray with cleaner then wash away with water 10 minutes later. I’m only following what the label tells me to do after all.

I didn’t realise how many hours a day I would spend just being a mum. That shit takes time! Sometimes when my husband asks me what I did during the day I struggle to come up with much more than “Well I hung a load of washing… and played with Kai”. But that took all day.

I originally turned down my mums offer of help. “How embarrassing”, I thought. “I should be able to handle all of this myself”. But then I thought a little longer. I couldn’t even shut the door in the toilet without coming out to my son sucking on the bath wash bottle like it was a delicious fruity drink.

So I sucked up my pride and called my mum back and told her yes it would be great if she could come over. Even just to watch my baby so I could clean without distraction. She folded washing and played with Kai and I ran around scrubbing, polishing and cleaning my house for an hour and a half. And when we were done it looked fabulous. I also had a whole new range of clothes to wear I hadn’t seen in months. (PS if you’re my husband reading this; I have NO CLOTHES and must go shopping for new ones immediately)

Don’t feel bad when you accept help, we all need it sometimes. Except Celeste. I’m fairly certain she’s a hair angel walking on the Earth.

Pumpkin Soup

Before I start this entry I need to make one thing very clear. I love my baby. He is my little piece of heaven on earth and I don’t even care when he poops in my hand (This happened the other day).

But pregnancy sucks.

I did not enjoy one minute of my pregnancy.

I didn’t glow. I sweated. But that will come later.

My husband and I found out we were expecting when I was about 6 weeks along. Now I’m sure it wasn’t actually the next day but as far as my brain is letting me recall – THE VERY NEXT DAY I had an all consuming sickness take over my life.

This wasn’t a helpful little lose 3kg before a party stomach bug; this was serious.

Imagine not even being able to think about certain foods because they would make you power spew. Out your nose. It wasn’t just food though, I was sick all day every day. I struggled to even keep water down. I hated even my most favourite foods in the whole world. Like pumpkin soup. And I love pumpkin soup more than my husband.

Along will my sickness came a sense of smell that rivalled the very best beagles at Sydney International Airport. Im surprised I wasn’t headhunted by them to be the head drug sniffing beagle. Wow you’re probably thinking – how cool to have such a great sense of smell.

Wrong.

The world was like one giant thai sewer. Times a thousand. Walking into my local grocery store meant I had to walk around breathing in like Darth Vader trying to breathe without smelling anything. It didn’t work and I just looked stupid instead. And I still threw up 3 times.

I think the worst thing about this all was that I had to suffer in silence, I couldn’t tell anybody because I wasn’t yet 12 weeks along.

I used to sit in the toilets at work bawling because I was so tired and sick I didn’t think I could possibly go on any longer. I hugged toilet bowls like no person should EVER hug a public toilet bowl. And I didn’t even care.

Fast forward to the business end of my pregnancy.

“I’m so fat”, I used to cry to my husband.

“No”, he would say, “You’re just pregnant”.

Um no.

I’m pretty sure my unborn baby didn’t weight 20kg at 8 months. That was all me. I didn’t walk. I waddled. I couldn’t see anything below my belly button.

I was tired, cranky and I didn’t have a bloody glow. I sweated and I probably smelt funny too. I don’t think I’ve ever used so much deodorant in my whole life.

I’m not saying don’t get pregnant, but if there’s one piece of advice I can give – get a surrogate.

I used to think to myself – my baby better be good looking to make up for all this sickness. And guess what. He is. I think he’s part Derek Zoolander.

I’m sorry for being a judgey mole

Before I fell pregnant with my now 10 month baby I ‘changed my life’.

I ate healthy, I exercised and I lost 25 kilograms. I looked and felt fantastic. I wore short dresses, short shorts and flashed my midriff. 

When people asked how I did it I told them: “Diet and exercise… Who knew. Its really sooooo easy once you get started. I cant believe I took this long to do it!” 

If we are being honest with each other I felt superior to those who weren’t as skinny or as healthy as I.

I also scoffed at mums who didn’t lose weight immediately after birth. 

“Just go to the gym” I would think to myself. 

Seriously was it that hard? I knew that when I became pregnant I would be exercising the very next day after giving birth. My life was changed and I was holier than thou.

How wrong I was.

Ten months after the birth of my little man I sit here writing this. I am a size 14 and there are no short shorts, short dresses or flashes of midriff in sight. I am lumpy, bumpy and have dimples in my arms.

I don’t go to the gym every day; I got on the treadmill once last month. For 20 minutes. And I walked. 

I don’t watch every single morsel that passes my mouth. I eat pretty well, but I am not a calorie psycho like I used to be.

But you know what? I don’t care! I don’t care that I am overweight. Being skinny doesn’t make me a better person. It doesn’t make me a better mother. I would rather play with my son all day than spend hours in the gym. And I do! 

I know one day I will lose the weight I gained. But for now I am happy rolling around on the floor pretending to be a cat playing with my son. 

I’m sorry to those mums I walked passed and judged. The same thing is probably happening to me now and I don’t give a fk.