I became a new mum, but I didn’t have a baby…

Last weekend I became a new mum.

But I didn’t have a baby!

My youngest daughter, and last child still living at home, left to head overseas for 7 months to perform on cruise ships.

I am so proud and so excited for her, but it hit me hard. Harder than I was expecting.

Yep, my nest is now empty, but it was for half the week anyway. It wasn’t like she was home every night and she was always busy, so I’m used to her not being physically here.

But she was always coming home at some point. Or calling to ask something, or calling to check on me and find our where I was (yes the tables do turn!).

What has hit me is that I am a new mum.

I am not the same mum I was this time last week.

I am now a mum who has raised her kids and they have left home.

Now I feel like someone who is a mother, but not a day to day mum.

I am fully aware that raising strong, independent and courageous women was always the end goal, but that doesn’t mean I am ready.

I feel more unsure of myself right now than I did the day I brought by first baby home from hospital.

I remember placing the capsule in the nursery,  looking at Scott and saying “What now?”  This is exactly how I felt on Sunday.

I held it together at the airport but when I got home to my quieter, cleaner and emptier house, I looked at the same man, 22 years later and whispered through my tears,

“What happens now?”

I feel empty. And yet my life is full.

I feel unsure of my identity. And yet, I have a life where I am Lisa, not Mum.

I feel this ache in my soul for every minute I didn’t appreciate or the minutes I thought I would have more of.

I keep wondering if I did enough. Have I sent them off with enough life skills, memories and advice?

It’s not a logical process, it’s a gut wrenching physical one. I have loved being a mum and I have been bloody good at it.

I have put a lot of thought into who and how I would be when the time came for my nest to empty out, but it didn’t prepare me for the actual event.

I won’t come home and see 16 cups, 10 plates and 9 forks on the sink (not in the dishwasher) and many bodies on the lounges.

I won’t hear arguments and singing from the bathroom, which has taken on a golden glow from the fake tan and bronzing powder.

I will no longer be called on to fetch more toilet paper, settle a dispute over clothing ownership or help with life’s big issues, like wedges or stilettos.

My washing basket will no longer be overflowing, my house will stay cleaner and I will not have to fight for the remote as much.

We will also be able to holiday on the Amalfi Coast in Italy each year with the money we are saving on sanitary products.

It’s actually sounding OK……

I did calm down (much to Scott’s relief) after an hour and a half of really ugly crying. Like U.G.L.Y.! I tried to eat an omelette to distract myself and nearly vomited. You get the picture.

Poor Scott, he probably wanted to have a quiet moment, maybe a tear and reflect on how his life would now be different (in reality, he probably just wanted to get back to his football reporting), but he was really supportive.

He walked at a steady pace around me, not making eye contact, like you would walk around a wild animal when you’re not sure if it’s going to strike. He empty bins, cleaned things and did really random chores.

When my crying had calmed to that hiccup breathing, with moderate sniffing, he approached cautiously.

“Why don’t you do some writing, do something for your blog?” Bless, he was trying to offer a distraction, trying to be positive. Did it work? You be the judge……

“I can’t write my fucking blog because I don’t have a fucking computer. That’s right everyone else has one but Paige just left, Morgan doesn’t live here anymore and you use yours all the time. So, yeah, thanks for that!”

Insert more crying here.

The following sentence proves what an amazing man my husband is and how much he has learnt by living with 3 women for many years,

“Let’s go and buy you a computer”.

The poor bastard would’ve bought a new car, moved house and I think I could’ve milked it for a new puppy.

He was desperate. There was a crazy lady in the kitchen and he wasn’t convinced she was leaving any time soon.

Soooooooo, I’m writing this on my new computer. I may have been distraught but I am not stupid!

Life is getting back into routine. I love FaceTime and I can see that my baby is doing well.

I also have my oldest daughter living about 20 mins away, so I will now put a lot of pressure on her to see me more. I will bribe her with brunch and shopping. I will cry if needed.

I say thank you to the beautiful people in my life who saw through my bullshit façade and knew I would be a wreck. Your support, messages and advice have been invaluable.

To the man who helped fill my nest (sounds weird but I’m going with it) and now gets to share it with me while it’s empty, I thank you. You are my rock and I know the group message we have added you into is confusing and foreign, but you persevere. We will even let you use the thumbs up emoji.

I’m getting used to having more free time. In fact,  I’ve got to go now.

I have Pilates, then I’m getting a mani-pedi,

I had to fit it in today because the life drawing class I’ve signed up for was overlapping with the interpretive dance group I’ve joined. I’m just trying to figure out when I can fit in “Drumming and chanting for sexual growth”.

Oh and of course the house is now empty so Scott and I are nude all the time!

Lisa XX

 

Our baby as she left to take on the world. XX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say what you mean.

As we charge head first, at high-speed towards the silliest of seasons, I plead with you all to please read between the lines a little bit this Christmas.

Families, old wounds, alcohol and food comas can be a disastrous mix, resulting in severely crossed lines. Add to that, families that don’t see each other very often and a rug that is filled to overflowing, with the remnants of Christmas past, that have been swept underneath, and you have got the perfect storm.

What I’m asking (begging) you to do this year is to stop and think “What do they really mean?” before you respond in a less than positive way.

For example, you turn up at your mum’s place and you are 20 minutes late. You cop the “Why are you late, everyone’s here, we are waiting on you”. You instantly get your back up, have 3 quick drinks (10.30am) and spend the rest of the day being just a little bit pissed off.

But what if……

When you got the door 20 mins late and your mum had a go at you, you stopped and you thought, “What does she really mean?”

Of course you are actually 20 mins late so she means that. But why is she reacting so badly to something that happens all the time?

What she really means is “I miss you, I’m so happy you’re here and when you are late I worry that you are not as looking forward to seeing me as I am to seeing you”.

If we stop and think before we react our reactions would be very different. You would probably have given your mum a hug, apologised for being late and had a really good day.

Or there is the grandmother who wants to cook her desert that no-one really likes. Let her cook the dessert. What it really means is-

“My mum used to make this for me at Christmas. My childhood memories are fading and this is my way of connecting with her and them.”

Have a spoonful of the desert!

It’s the present your Aunt buys you that would suit a 15 year old. You cringe every year and then throw it away when you get home. What it really means is-

“This present represents the last time I got you something that made you smile and I felt like we really connected.”

Say a gracious thank you and then donate the gift to charity, so your Aunt can make someone smile again.

I have learnt over the years that when people react negatively at first it’s usually fear based. I’ve had to stop myself from doing it with my own kids as they have grown up.

The first time my daughter came home and told me she was travelling overseas on her own, my first reaction was to try to talk her out of it, until she could find someone to travel with. But that was my own fear coming to the surface. I was proud of myself for sharing in her excitement instead and letting her know how brave I thought she was.

As a parent it is sometimes a hard thing to do, to catch yourself before you give a reaction that may bring conversation to a standstill. You want so badly to protect and yet you have to let go.

It’s bloody tough.

My eldest daughter recently moved out of home for the first time. I’ve struggled with gaining a balance between not letting her know how much I will miss her because I don’t want to dampen her experience or expressing all of the emotions at once.

I’m torn between attaching myself to her leg to stop her from walking out the door and packing up her stuff with joy as I envisage my new meditation space.

Being so conflicted made it hard to approach things in a calm and non emotional way so I went with –

“Come over and clean out your old room, it’s a pig stye and I’m sick of this stuff lying around.”

Of course what I really meant was –

“I really need to move forward and embrace the new situation. But when your room looks like you are coming home at any minute it makes me feel like I’m in limbo. Let’s clean out the space together so we can process the changes that are happening.”

She will wake up this Christmas morning in her new place, without us. We are happy for her, but still a bit sad for ourselves.

I will however not be having a go at her for not being at home on Christmas morning. Instead I am taking my own advice (for once) and letting her know that I am proud of her for being independent, I will miss her bed hair and sleepy eyes around the Christmas tree in the morning and she is always welcome to watch Love Actually and drink Bailey’s on Christmas eve.

I’m not perfect and I certainly don’t get it right all of the time but I am gaining a better understanding of the feelings you get when you are no longer the most important part of someone’s life. There is a delicate balancing act going on at all times between your logic and your emotions.

I will be a more understanding towards other people in my life, who may not have the words or be comfortable enough to say them.

Let’s make the effort at this crazy time of the year to say what we mean, in a thoughtful and sensitive way. Easy!!

Lisa XX

 

 

 

My first bird is leaving the nest

I was reading back through my journal that I have been keeping since I had my children and it is entries like the one below that make me glad I have written consistently over the years.

Today has been a day for reflection.

My first born is moving out. I know as parents we joke about this day and the party we will have when it happens but in reality that’s not quite how it has felt today.

I am beyond proud and excited for her and I know she will be more than ok, but she will be more than ok without me.

I find in our busy lives we have little time for reflection.  With my journal I can reflect at any time and have a fantastic reference book of my own life’s experiences.

I look forward to being able to share these stories with my girls and then with their children. I know I would’ve loved a book filled with stories about me as I was growing up.

I fear that had I not kept this journal my memory would not have served me as well as I would have liked.  This is highlighted for me each week when I forget half of what I need at the supermarket.

09.11.2000

Today Morgan lost her first tooth.

It has been loose for about a week and I can’t believe it lasted as long as it did. 

The tooth fairy has just taken it from the fairy box she had placed it in and replaced it with two dollars. 

Two dollars seems so trivial an amount to place in the box for her tooth.

How can you put a price on the love and growing up and joy we have given and received from her since that tooth first came at the age of 3 months.

The sleepless nights as it formed in her gums, the red cheeks and constant drooling as it decided when to appear and the gorgeous grin with the dot of white when it finally came through.

How has one small piece enamel really made me think about my time mothering and about how fast this precious time is going?

It has been such a big month for Morgan (Not to mention the emotional turmoil for me).

She is into the 3rd week of her orientation program for primary school and she absolutely loves it.  Just to see my first-born going off to school like a little girl ready to face the world makes me want to wrap her in cotton wool like her tooth and put her away for safe keeping.

She is a full head taller than the other kids and she is just so smart that I am proud and sad at the same time.

I am so proud of how she handles situations and how she reacts with the other kids.  I wonder some days if I was that sure of myself at that age, then I remember how painfully shy I was and I am glad of her confidence.

 I try to be supportive of her and yet I just want to protect her forever from the world and anyone who would dare do the wrong thing by her.  If she is at all as worried as me about going she hides it well. 

She is excited by all she is learning as she should be, yet she asked me why the other kids didn’t all talk to her.  I asked her had she made the effort to talk to them and she just looked at me and said no but they should talk to me.

Paige is really going to miss her big sister when she is at school and I think Morgan will miss her too.  She feels so grown up being able to tell Paige all about school. 

I am looking forward though to having some one on one time with Paige and giving her a chance to develop her own personality with out her big sister monitoring her every move.  She is so funny at the moment and we are having some interesting outfit choices as she wants to dress herself more often.

Nana is convinced she has no nice clothes and that everything in her wardrobe is mismatched, but that is just the way she likes it.  She told her kinder teacher she likes to dress like the rainbow.  Who wouldn’t?

I never for one minute thought that being a mother could fill me with so many conflicting emotions, I am so joyously proud and in love with my girls but, like a mother in the jungle should any predator try to get near my young and hurt them, I will tear them limb from limb.

Everything I wrote in 2000 still resonates with me today.

Do yourself a massive favor and keep a journal or just note things down over the years. You will never regret having these memories to look back on.

Go and take on the world my gorgeous girl.

Lisa XX

 

The hidden stories

Last night I took my Mum out for her delayed Mother’s day gift.

We went and saw a show by an Australian performer named Todd McKenny (google him, he is fantastic). He was performing the songs of the legendary Peter Allen.

Peter Allen had always been a favourite of my mum’s. We grew up listening to his albums. We knew on cleaning day that we would put it on, loud, while we cleaned the entire house. Mum would dance with the vacuum cleaner and sing at the top of her lungs.

As the cleaning came to an end we would all meet in the lounge room to belt out, “I still call Australia home”, as the house sparkled around us.

Mum had met Peter Allen when he was touring Australia and he stayed in a motel that she and dad were managing in Tasmania. She saw his concert numerous times and says he was a lovely man. It’s her dinner party story.

I decided to get tickets for mum because I knew she would love it and I though it would be  a bit of fun.

What I didn’t know at the time of purchase was that this night out would prove to be an enlightening evening for me.

I had a profound moment of seeing my mother as a woman, a young mother and someone who, just maybe had things in her life that still haunted her.

I picked mum up early in the afternoon and we made our way into the city. We walked the alley ways and window shopped around the city. No time limits or deadlines. Just walking and chatting. Luxury in our busy lives.

We had an early dinner at the casino where the show was being held. Mum felt a bit naughty having a drink in the bar and then having a flutter of the pokie machines. All before 6pm!

The show began and Todd was really entertaining. At times I forgot that he was not in fact Peter Allen. We were having a wonderful time and mum was singing up a storm.

The first half was coming to a close, when the house lights dropped and a slow song started. I didn’t know what the song was at first, but mum did.

I heard a sound that I’ve never heard before. It was low pitched . It seemed to escape her without her even noticing.

It sounded a little like pain.

As I watched out the corner of my eye I saw her wipe away a tear.

She looked far away and not aware of me beside her.

Although I was sitting next to my sixty something mother, I saw a young women who was remembering experiences that made her sad and had caused her pain at some stage in her life.

The song was released in 1976.

My mum would’ve been a young mother, with a three and four year old. Living the nomadic life of a navy wife, with a husband who was absent for long periods of time.

I connect with her fear, her uncertainty, her struggle to be strong when, maybe she didn’t want to. I connect because I have experienced this too.

I imagine the hopes and dreams she may have had for herself but had never seen them come to fruition.

What did she want to be when she grew up?

How did she imagine her life being when she got older?

I don’t know because I’ve never asked. I’ve spoken about it with my girlfriends, co-workers and strangers. But I’ve never asked my mum.

I realised in that moment that I, like my children, had assumed that my mum’s life began with motherhood.

She became a mum and all that had happened before no longer existed.

Her heartbreaks no longer hurt, her dreams no longer mattered and her image of herself needed to change. How self centred we children are.

My mum is not one to dwell on regrets and her glass is always half full, but don’t we all have those moments? Those sliding door situations, that make us wonder, what if?

I have always respected my mum, the wonderful job she did raising us and the adoring Nana she is. Now I truly connect with her woman to woman.

We have outgrown the parent/child relationship and we are now two women who have similar life experiences and we say connected because we want to.

I never asked her what was it about the song that hit a nerve, because that’s her story. If she wants to share I’m ready to listen. I took her hand and squeezed it. I’m here.

The song ended, she took a deep breath, turned to me and smiled.

I felt honoured to receive that smile, because on some level it was like she was putting her memories away and focussing on her reality. She didn’t look disappointed that her reality was me.

See below if you would like to have a listen to a beautiful song.

Lisa X

Mother’s Day

Today Mother’s Day is being celebrated in Australia.

I am a Mother and I will be celebrated.

I’m expecting brunch (because I organised it), maybe a gift and some lovely memories shared by gorgeous children.

I know that I am guaranteed these lovely stories because I will guilt them into telling me.

It’s called the “my favourite MUM memory is……” game. I love playing it. We also play it on my birthday.

I will then reflect on the joyous times, memorable events and body changes that have come along with motherhood.

I will share memories of a time when my breasts sat high and perky on my chest, when I didn’t have to share my chocolate and when sneezing didn’t require me to do a pilates style contraction of all core  muscles.

I will probably end up doing a fair share of the cleaning up and make own dinner.

And you know what? I’m ok with that.

There are so many moments throughout the year when my girls tell me they love and appreciate me in so many ways and they probably don’t even know it.

It’s a message in the when they are on the train telling me to have a great day.

It’s an unexpected cup of coffee in the morning made just the way I like it.

It’s getting home to all the washing folded and the dishwasher unpacked, with no nagging!

The moments I treasure the most are the ones that they don’t even realise matter.

I have also learned to notice the moments that also matter for our tech savvy youngsters.

A tag on Facebook in a meme or video that reminds them of their childhood. Even if most times it depicts you being a lunatic or making fun of you or their siblings.

They were thinking about you and took the time to let you know.

You follow the same people on Instagram and you get tagged in one of their posts by your child. “This is so us” or “You would do this”. I know it doesn’t sound like much but it is.

Your child knows you and what makes you laugh or tick.

My children are adults now and I am sure that if the connection hadn’t been built with them as children then these moments would not be happening.

Nothing will replace reading books on laps and cuddles on the couch.

Taking the time to get to know their friends and listening when they speak.

Think of all the things we would like from our children on Mother’s Day, respect, appreciation and the feeling that we are known.

These are the same things our children need from us as they are growing up. Not just on one day because we are reminded but everyday, because we want to.

Happy Mother’s day to all women who raised their own, someone else’s or love their fur babies.

Lisa X

PS- I’m grateful everyday for the man I chose to make me a mum!

mothers day pic
The girls and I circa 1999. Obviously contouring and blush were not so popular!

 

 

 

 

 

Make it all count

Donna Penny has written a book called “Why my mummy?” to explain to her son Kai about her terminal cancer. There was no resource available in bookshops.

I implore you to google her, read her story, let yourself feel and then donate to the crowd fund that has been set up to have this book printed.

I am in awe of people who are able to channel their energy and limited time into something that will not only benefit their children or family, but leave a lasting resource to help many others.

Donna, your story made me smile, bawl like a baby and encouraged me to to live more, make more memories and shout about how much I love those closest to me from the rooftops. I thank you of the important reminder.

It got me thinking. What advice, message or wisdom would I want to share with my girls?

I’m so blessed to have seen them grow into amazing young women. Strong, determined, funny, genetically mystifyingly gorgeous, kind, empathetic, stubborn, hardworking and smart young women.

To say I’m proud is an understatement.

I also probably pass on way too much information for their liking as it is but, there’s more.

Your happiness is your responsibility. Don’t let anyone else control it. Others can share or add to it but you get the final say.

Your body is the vehicle that will get you to all the places you need to go in life. Take care of it, fuel it, respect it and make sure others do too.

Dance, sing and be silly. Laugh until you cry and your stomach hurts. It feels so good to let go.

You only get one vagina so take care of it. If you are ignoring it, so should everyone else!

Be a good friend. Keeps someone’s secret and trust someone enough to tell them yours.

Spend money on good bras and undies. Trust me as gravity takes it’s toll you’ll be glad you did!

If you choose to get married, marry someone who makes you laugh and challenges you mentally. Oh, you should really, really love them and tell them everyday.

If you choose to have children, give yourself to the experience and never regret a moment. You get one chance to raise your babies, kiss their toes, smell their hair and fall asleep with them.

Learn to cook at least one great meal. More importantly make your house a place that is welcoming and full of laughter. If you can’t cook serve lots of wine so no one notices.

Learn to budget.

The rule to dressing is boobs or legs. Choose one to expose, but never both.

Over the years I have given much advice, in many forms. Dance, song poetry and not to scale diagrams. But I know that it would never be enough. I would be angry, I would feel cheated and I would be so sad at the thought of not seeing my children become their adult selves.

To wonder have I done enough, did I make enough memories, did my kids know who I was?

For the women who have faced this battle with such grace, dignity and class, I am in awe of you and I will honour your memory by remembering you and the example you have set.

I will be forever grateful and I will keep you in my heart and thoughts. You have inspired me to be more present and to live in the moments I am creating with my family.

Please donate to Donna Penny’s crowd fund, or find a women’s charity that strikes a chord with you. Donate your time at your children’s school or volunteer at a local hospital.

Be more present and be grateful for every moment we are privileged to experience.

Lisa X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emotional reactions

I think I have “Parental Emotional Exhaustion (P.E.E.)”.

Might need to re- think the acronym……

Anyway, it’s a condition I believe I have had for a while and the last few weeks have convinced me.

I have witnessed so many milestones and received so much good news recently that I am unsure how to process it all. I respond at the correct time and share the excitement but I always feel like I need some alone time later to fully process all that I have heard.

My dilemma is…….

As a parent I am so proud of all milestones my kids reach. I’m just as proud when I hear they have nice manners and are kind as I am when they achieve the “big things”, but I’m struggling with how to react to each new announcement.

images

I feel as is I’m failing to covey just how immensely proud and absolutely in awe of them I am. My heart is so full it could burst and as they are speaking to me my mind keeps recalling moments that I knew would lead here.

That look of steely determination from a 5 year old learning to master a new dance move or the magazine obsession of a 13 year old who told me she was doing research flash through my mind. These moments were the building blocks to what I see before me today and I can’t comprehend at times how blessed I am to have been a part of it.

I try to give a response that let’s the girls know I hear them, I’m proud of them and I will be there for the ride with them. But in my head I’m wondering am I making the right face, am I excited enough, should I high five them or is a hug more appropriate?

I know that running at someone and chest bumping them is not seen as congratulatory. I see all mistakes I’ve made in the past as an opportunity to learn.

3ff7145

I’m self editing my emotional responses. But why?

I believe my P.E.E. (really need to workshop that) is being exacerbated by a number of other factors. These conditions are forcing me to edit my natural responses to good news and times of celebration.

I try not to cry too much. I have U.C.S. (Ugly Criers Syndrome). If this is a situation that leads to a photo opportunity I don’t want to be red and blotchy. I’m working on having that one perfect tear that falls perfectly down my cheek. #cryinggoals

If I’m having a bout of N.S.B (No Sports Bra) there will be no jumping. The possibility of causing concussion to myself or someone close is too big a risk. No-one needs to see that.

I do also suffer from V.A.U. It’s a condition when your first question upon hearing about a trip is to ask about vaccinations and underwear. It’s manageable but I don’t know if I’ll ever be cured.

I know there are times when the girls wished I’d edited my responses more and rightly so, I probably should’ve, but I will now make more of an effort to edit myself less. (That statement has just scared the life out of my family.)

images

I will go with my first instinct when I hear amazing news and I will cry, scream and jump with joy more.

If you happen to see me red faced, blotchy eyed, boobs-a-swinging and talking about the “underwear to day of trip ratio” (see **), then you will know I’ve had some great news.

Lisa XX

** the underwear ratio in it’s worse case scenario mathematical form – 

U=X x (2c + 3s + 5d)

U=underwear needed for trip, X=days of trip, C=change of clothes in a day, S=change due to excessive sweating and D=spontaneous diarreah.