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Showing posts from June, 2010

Fitting In

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Coming back to Australia when I was almost 15, for many years I felt like I didn't really fit in (I probably still feel that a little - see my previous post ).  I felt that I didn't quite 'get' all the social nuances of relationships.  I was unsure of how I fitted into this new world. This is a very, very common experience for MK's.

But you know what I've learnt?  That this is not just an experience for MKs.  This is an experience of human beings.  Talking to my friends who have always lived in Australia, there are still things that make them feel like they don't quite fit in.

Perhaps it was not being cool enough at high school. Perhaps it was feeling not as clever as other friends.  Perhaps it seems that everyone else at church is really connected and they don't feel connected.  Perhaps all the other mums at school are involved in a busy social life and they aren't.  Perhaps it is thinking differently about something that everyone else seems to ag…

We Need to Talk About Kevin

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Out of all the books I read last year this was the most memorable.

Written as a series of letters by the mother of a boy who has committed a Columbine-type massacre, to her husband, it is a very intense book.

This boy is a very difficult, demanding and unusual child from birth.  Despite doing all the 'right' things the mother finds herself unable to make a difference to his personality.  She quits her job to be at home with him when the nanny doesn't work out (an understatement).

This book made me think about how much control we actually do have over the outcome of our children.  In this day and age so much pressure is put on mothers to be doing all the 'right' things so that our children are well-balanced, reaching their full potential adults.  Surely we blame the parents when the child turns out to be a mass murderer.  Isn't a story like this every parent's worst nightmare?

This book wrestles with the very real tension between children's personaliti…

Parenting older kids isn't easier - just different.

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As I move towards having a teenager in our house, I've been finding myself asking my friends with older kids,  'What's it like?' and 'Am I going to survive?!'.

The common theme is that parenting continues to be demanding and draining but in a new way.  It is more emotionally tiring and you experience anxiety like never before.

I'm starting to enjoy feeling less physically tired as I come out of the baby stage.  I'm enjoying having children who can take themselves to the toilet, get themselves dressed and feed themselves.  I'm enjoying the fun of having older kids who I can have a laugh with, share a book with, discuss 'Masterchef' with!

But I'm starting to get a small insight into what the next stage of my life will look like.  Longer days as children stay up later.  Less time in the evenings on our own as a couple.  More stress about getting school work done.  Anxiety about friendships.  Lots of driving children to band competitions/ch…

What you actually need when your first child starts school

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When you enrol your first child in school, you attend the information sessions, negotiate the mystery of the school uniform shop (do I buy the big bag or the small one?  How many pairs of trousers?) and just generally feel stressed and confused.

However, here's what I think you actually need when your child starts school:

1.  A big box of envelopes and a big bag of change.  Every second day there is a note that needs handing in usually with a small amount of money included.

2.  An electronic organiser of some kind which beeps to tell you what day Library/Sport/Folk Dancing/Animal Husbandry is on and what equipment your child (LOL - my apologies - that would actually be you, since you're the one who gets into trouble when they don't bring the right stuff) needs to take.

3.  Ten hats - they lose one about once a week.  Remember:  'No hat, No play' actually means sitting in a shed, in the shade, feeling like a social outcast at lunch and then your child will of cours…

"There's no such thing as a free lunch in our house"

I had a conversation many years ago at a dinner party with a man who was sitting next to his heavily pregnant wife.  Expecting their second child he told me that his wife would be back to work after six months leave because (I quote) 'There's no such thing as a free lunch in our house'.  I was a bit taken aback at the time because I was at home full-time with three little kids so I assumed he probably wasn't that impressed with my efforts at contributing to the family income.

Over the years I've spoken to many women who are juggling work with children simply because they feel they should.  They don't need the money.  They aren't working because they love their jobs.  They just think they should. They should be a financial contributor to the family.

I've always been quite intrigued by this because I never thought that because I'm not earning money that I'm any less of a contributor to our family.  I always thought that when I go back to work it…

How to make a new friend when you're a grown-up

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A few more thoughts on friendship coming out of my post on being a MK.

Developing new friendships as we get older can be confusing.  Finding someone we actually like and find easy to get on with can be hard work.  Developing a real friendship in the midst of all the acquaintances.  Or, as Seinfeld helpfully points out, it can feel like dating. You like them.  But they seem to have lots of other friends. You try to initiate social interactions.  They don't reciprocate.  So even if you find someone you do like they may not always be as keen!  It's not always a straightforward process.

There's a temptation (as I've experienced with my No 4 child starting school ) to say 'This is TOO much!  I can't do this anymore.  No more new relationships'.  And it makes sense in lots of ways.  Invest time in those relationships that you know are good and strong and reliable.

But I've been the new, friendless person so many times in my life that if all the people I met …

A woman's worth is more than her earning potential

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Another day, yet another article assessing women's worth by how much they earn.  Arrgh.  In May a 'Good Weekend' article in the Sydney Morning Herald, titled 'Long way to the top' made me want to scream.  Apparently feminism is failing because there are still only a small percentage of the huge pile of qualified women in high-powered corporate jobs.  And I imagine it's women like me that are stuffing up the statistics (I've got a few university degrees lying around that are currently going to 'waste').
I know that the point of the article is to show how women are simply not being promoted into higher level jobs, but it also places a high emphasis on how much women are worth.  And once again women's worth is measured by her earning capacity.  The dollar value that can be associated with what she does all day.
And it's this that makes me wonder exactly this type of feminist position is supposed to be achieving.  I don't want to be a man.  I …

How being a MK has messed with my mind!

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One of the great things about getting older is that I feel a lot more settled with my life story.  I don't feel so reticent to share it with others.  In fact, as I've got older I'm valuing more and more my childhood rather than desperately wishing I'd had a 'normal' childhood in Australia.

I lived in India between the ages of 5 and 14.  My parents were missionaries and we lived in a Bible college in a little Indian town in the middle of India.  Between 9 and 14 I went to a British boarding school for missionary kids which was a two day train trip away from home.

When I was almost 15 I started attending school in Australia.  I had a posh accent and soooo desperately wanted to assimilate - quickly.  I lost that accent fast and started to try and learn about life in Australia.  What it meant to be Australian.  A real Australian.  Not just one that celebrated Australia Day and ate Vegemite.  It wasn't easy. I found the later years of high school a long journey…

So I'm not alone then ...

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Often when chatting to other mothers they'll say, 'Oh Jenny, I'm so glad it's not just me'.

I've been thinking a lot about the 'oh it's not just me' phrase, especially after writing this blog and having women repeatedly say they feel less alone when they read my struggles.  I'm glad that my hopelessness provides that service for you all! :)

It's the aloneness that it is hard.  It's the feeling that I must be the only one who is stressed out by my kids trying to get out of the house in the mornings.  My child must be the only one who throws a tantrum at age 11, because they didn't get to have a friend over.  I must be the only one who feels lonely being at home all day with a small baby.  I must be the only who battles to get their kids to brush their teeth (every, single, DAY).  I must be the only one who has children that fight.  I must be the only one who has a five year old who won't eat breakfast.  I must be the only mum wit…

Party fatigue

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So it's birthday season at my place.  We have birthday parties every second year and this weekend I'm up to #3 party for the year.

I know I'm supposed to be really good at parties and love them because I'm a mum.  Except here's a little secret I'm sharing with you.  I'm a bit over the whole thing.

This will be party #22 we've put on for our kids.  And this is actually only the beginning.  Our oldest is not even a teenager.

Fundamentally it is because I'm selfish and I just need to stop being selfish, but here's why I'm weary.

I'm not good at cakes - my son's four year old cake was a plane but in reality looked like a prop from the set of the TV show 'Lost'.  The plane sunk in weird places and looked like it had crash landed.  I feel the cake pressure because my mum always did great cakes (and whether that is true or not I don't know - it's what I remember).  I can do OKish cakes but I do feel a bit embarrassed by my …

Weekend away with the girls

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OK - I do feel a little bit mean writing this post since it's about my child-free weekend in Melbourne.  I feel a bit mean because I'm aware that so many of you have small children and never even go to the toilet on your own let alone a weekend away.

However, in the spirit of sharing my life with you, I don't want you to miss out on the fun stuff (even if it is only vicariously).  Perhaps it will give you hope for the future.

I flew to Melbourne, stayed in an apartment in the city for three nights with a group of women that I was in a book group with for many years.  Quite a few of our number don't live in Sydney so it was a reunion in lots of ways.

We walked and walked and talked and talked!  I like walking especially if there are lots of interesting, new things to look at (and it does not involve whining children).  My favourite was our outing to the State Library of Victoria.  I wouldn't have even known about this library except that Rowan downloaded this pic…