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Working Life

Quick drying trousers an essential wardrobe item for the organisationally challenged working mother.

As usual my disorganised approach to life has come back to bite me in the bum.

HUGE day yesterday with a 7.45am meeting with the Principal of the High School where Princess Child will be going next year. The child is a little anxious about the idea of going to high school so I reassure her with the usual platitudes of how great it will be to meet new friends, how the teachers won’t yell at her ’cause she’s a really good kid (even the Principal wasn’t able to back me up on that one “I can’t guarantee teachers won’t raise their voices if the class is getting a little noisy but it doesn’t happen every day”).

I was up at 5.00am because operating under the prevailing chaos theory which is the core of my existence I hadn’t finished the paperwork – dear Lord the forms you have to fill out just to get into a high school – I can’t find the birth certificate – I run out of time to complete two of the forms – I’m beginning to fear a detention. I also imagine the Principal having an aaahh moment when she recognises I’m the mother of the Hippie Child who has been known to wear quite a few detentions, all completely related to disorganisation – forgetting the homework, not having her hat, not remembering the sports uniform for PDHPE. As I stride into the school foyer paperwork flying, pen in hand madly scribbling, jacket hanging from one arm as I try to finish getting dressed I imagine the Principal thinking “now it all makes sense – the Hippie Child has no hope of ever getting on top of things with THIS as an example”. We survive the inquisition interview, I’m reasonably relaxed after all they took Hippie Child so it’s not like they can knock this one back.

I’m only 15 minutes late for work (yay) and the rest of  the day is fairly laid back until that moment when I realise I’m off to a meeting at 6.00pm tonight. Hippie Child is joining me at work at 4.00pm to go shopping for “horror” clothes for a birthday party this weekend.  We have half an hour until it’s time to pick up husband – there’s a mad dash around the shops – she keeps talking Emo (is that Elmo’s cousin or what)? We end up with ripped black jeans, black midriff top, interesting jacket – I think I’m leading her more towards Madonna circa Desperately Seeking Susan but she seems to think she can make it work.

I throw the family into the house at 5.30 and race around trying to find my one good pair of work pants – the one pair that don’t have the hem coming down or the top button missing – and realise in my rush to the Principal this morning I’ve left them in the washing machine. I run the iron over them in a pointless attempt at combating the damp and as the family calls time “it’s 5.49” I put them on anyway. Suddenly I have a flash forward to what an incontinent future may feel like. Polyester doesn’t take that long to dry does it?

I rev up the heater in the car, directing the heat to my legs, the car steams up and I can’t see where I’m going, I wind down the window and endure the blasts of cold air on my face as my legs broil.

Arriving in town, I walk really fast hoping the wind resistance will enable the last of the drying to take place.

Surprisingly, it seems to work and by the time I waltz into the presentation, almost on time,  über professional me has dry pants!

One day, one day I swear I am going to be on top of things. All responsibilities completed ahead of time and the bloody washing sorted.

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Growing Up Country

I grew up in a country town surrounded by blue-grey hills where houses sat on wide streets and had big backyards. In a time before the internet, digital TV, Skype and mobile phones when living in the country meant existing in an insulated time warp.

We had:

  • Two TV channels. The ABC and the local one which played programs years behind the Sydney channels.
  • Two radio stations. The ABC and the local one which played hits from decades past, with a strong country and western flavour and accompanied by the stock report and the funeral notices.
  • A movie theatre which went through long periods of being closed down, although when they were open we managed to catch the blockbusters of the time Star Wars, Grease, ET. We just caught them long after the city folk.
  • There were very few concerts. Although Jon English, in skin-tight jeans warbling Hollywood Nights, was one musician who braved the wilds of the bush to put on a performance in the closed-down movie theatre.
  • We weren’t a multicultural hotspot, the one Chinese family ran the local Chinese restaurant and just before I left an Indian family moved to the area and opened a, you guessed it, Indian restaurant.  Other than that it was burgers and chips from the takeaway or if you wanted to go posh you went to the restaurant attached to the local motel and had prawn cocktails, steak diane and chocolate mousse.

Socialising usually involved whichever sport you played – and trust me you needed to play a sport. Or, if your Dad was in Lions, it was going to the fundraising BBQ’s. You mixed with everyone, old and young.

It was cold in winter and hot in summer. Nobody had inground pools in the backyard, although a couple of lucky kids had the round, above-ground variety.  If you managed to score an invite to their house you spent the arvo bombing each other or freestyling in circles. Otherwise it was the town pool or the dam to try to beat the wilt-inducing temperatures.

We got ourselves to and from school. We rode bikes to our mates houses and nobody worried about where you were until dark.

We played in places we shouldn’t and made our own fun from whatever resources there were at hand, old cans, rocks, sticks.

When we got into a pickle we figured a way out with the help of our friends. Look you got up that tree you can get back down, just put your foot down a bit, you can do it.

There was only once we had to resort to calling on the adults and that was ’cause we needed an ambulance.

It was a childhood that built resilience, adaptability, imagination and a distinct lack of pretension.

When I moved to the city at 18 the friends I made were country kids just like me.

Where you a city kid or a country kid?

Winning the lottery

Well the 70 million dollar jackpot went off last night. Three people managed to get almost 25 million dollars each. I’m still clinging to the notion that I could be one of them. One was from New South Wales and my mobile phone isn’t charged so the lottery people could have tried to contact me while I ate chocolate, watched Missing and went to bed way too late. Sleeping the night away blissfully unaware that I now had enough money to legitimately buy my way into the George Clooney dinner party.

They say money doesn’t buy happiness but I reckon 25 million dollars has to dull a lot of pain.

The last couple of days we’ve played the “if I win the lottery” game. You know the one where for a few moments you get to live every dream you have ever had? Mr Shambles immediately heads to the luxury boat builder, I take off to the airport – look out world here I come! What would you do if you suddenly had unlimited funds?

The mathematicians were out in force last night – with their killjoy statistics making it clear that my one ticket with four games had, well a snowball’s chance in hell of taking off the big one. Is it a sign of an optimistic personality that even knowing the chances I still play the game? All I hear is the one in … that’s it one person has to win … whose to say I can’t be THE ONE?

If you won more money than is reasonably healthy would it change you? Would it change the way the people around you behave? What happens when you can no longer bond over struggle street? Would you tell anyone that you had won? I’m not sure I could keep a secret that big.

Then of course there’s the children, it’s character building to have to do learn a trade, complete a degree, survive crappy jobs, sell your soul to the bank. Would you remove that experience for them?

Oh the decisions! Well, I’m off to charge the phone and you know, go to work,  better not burn my bridges, just in case I’m not the “one winner from New South Wales”.

Not Sure I’ve Mastered the Self-Help Advice

If you are going to write a book I reckon self-help is a pretty lucrative sector of the market. While the authors in the literature genre struggle to make a dollar from their beautifully descriptive, emotionally challenging works of fiction the self-help crowd have the mighty dollar flowing in. They have learnt the skill of a multi-pronged approach – take one great idea, whip out a book, package up a seminar, hold private consulting which you can charge a bomb for ’cause you are a best-selling author, develop on on-line members course – there is no limit to the marketing options.

To this day I find myself drawn to the self-help section of the bookstore. The titles suggest ways to solve my financial problems, create happiness, unearth my life’s passions, fulfil my secret ambitions, manage my relationships. The solution to each one of my life’s dissatisfactions seem to lie on the shelves of the self-help corner.

I’ve spent a fortune on the books and here’s the result of my attempts to live their advice.

Mothers of young children can find some “me time” by losing their perfectionist tendencies – ignore the dishes in the sink and take 30 minutes to yourself.

I may have embraced this one a little too enthusiastically. A bio-hazard team remains on constant alert to fumigate our house due to my neglecting household duties to blog, read and write the great Australian novel.

The Power of Positive Thinking

Like Pollyanna I’ve tried to think happy thoughts, always looking on the bright side of life. Unfortunately bad, sad and shitty things happen even when you are sitting in the garden chanting to yourself “I’m feeling positive we can overcome these challenges”.

The Law of Attraction

You attract success to yourself. Yes you do and then you proceed to question whether it’s the right thing for you and decide you just really can’t manage with all your other responsibilities and then wave it goodbye while you fluff about.

A Budget is the Key to Retiring With Millions In the Bank

So help me the budgets I’ve written. Unfortunately, they never seem to add up so I tend to forget about them and go back to juggling. Retiring with millions in the bank is no longer an option – unless my blog suddenly goes viral and develops millions upon millions of followers and I figure out what the whole “monetising your blog” is about. Retiring at all is looking doubtful. Meanwhile the children’s inheritance is a mortgage-from-hell with the hope they can sell the unfinished house for as much as the bank is demanding. Note to self, don’t die until you’ve built up some equity in Shambles Manor (and at least got the flooring down).

Discover Your Passion And Your Life Will Be Perfect

Really helpful if your passion could be something that brings in some cash.  I, however, managed to acquire a passion which doesn’t pay well. Hello to the other trillion wanna-be-writers out there. My failure at the budgeting rules (see above) means mortgage-paying activities are ahead of the passion every day.

Communication is the Key to Relationship Harmony

This one assumes you spend time with your significant other in a setting not involving interrupting children, misbehaving dogs, and a to-do list stretching metres.  Communication tends to involve dealing with the current crisis, tossing a coin to see who is cooking dinner while the other collects a child from band, sorted, moving on. We do communicate though  – just this morning there was lengthy discussion over who forget to buy milk.

Are you a self-help junkie? Has any of it worked for you?

No sick leave for Mums

I’ve opted out of my real world job today.  Given in to whatever this bug is I’ve managed to acquire. Made a phone call. Sympathetic colleague told me to take care. Tomorrow I’ll return, fill out a sick leave form, and our super efficient administrator will pay me as normal while calculating my leave hours. People will politely enquire if I’m feeling better. It will all be very civilised.

However, here at home I’ve searched high and low but be buggered if I can find a sick leave form for motherhood.

I may not be well enough for the job that pays the mortgage but the one that gives me grey hairs is still demanding my time and attention.

Reminders issued from my bed on the lounge – have you got your soccer boots? What about the change for the bus? No? Oh alright, let me get up and find that for you. Now I’m up I may as well pack the lunches. Look at the time – you are not going to make it to the bus stop unless I drive you.

It’s only when we are in the car that Hippie Child queries if I’m going to work. ‘Cause I usually head off to the office in trackpants, a stinky t-shirt and my Ugg boots. I’M SICK PEOPLE. HAS ANYONE NOTICED??? Apparently not.

Finally, the house is quiet. Just me and the dog. Why is he scratching? Great, the dog has developed a rash that looks particularly ugly,  the vet needs to look at – will they do an appointment after five when my husband can take him? It’s doubtful.

On my many visits to the bathroom this morning I have leapt over the pile of wet towels on the bathroom floor almost taller than a two-year-old, finally I can’t ignore it any more and as I’m home I’ll just pop them in the washing machine.

I need a coffee, something warm, while the kettle is boiling I see the splashes and spills of  last nights dinner are still decorating the stove top, I start wiping down, which of course leads to the bench top where the remnants of breakfast are coagulating, so I keep on scrubbing.

Settling back onto the lounge I notice the school newsletter that one of my darlings threw out of her bag as she rushed out of the door, I don’t know why I read it, there were a pile of magazines I could have gone for and not one of them would have anything I needed to do in it. But no, like some sort mothering junkie I read the newsletter. The information night for the high school is tonight at 6.30. We should be going and taking Princess Child. We did it for Hippie Child. But you are always more proactive with the first.

Princess Child is already in a state about going to high school. A supportive parent would be making sure she gets to the info night to help calm her fears. OK, she’ll have to miss dance. I’ll have to pick up husband from work at 5.00, Hippie Child from soccer training at 5.00 – yes I know I can’t be in two places at once but that’s never stopped me before. Home, dose up on drugs, head back out again. Or maybe I can bribe her with that book she wants me to buy to just go with her Dad? I’ll work on my strategy after I have a little nap.

The little nap is rudely interrupted by a telemarketer wanting me to change my mobile phone plan because I’m paying way too much with my current provider. The phone line to India is a little dodgy but in essence this chap can save me hundreds of dollars, he’s sure of it. I explain I’ve got a terminal illness, flusinuspoo, and couldn’t commit to a two-year plan because we don’t know if I’m going to make it to tomorrow.

I’m awake now so I may as well hang out those towels.

I think it would have been easier to have just gone to work.

Right, phones off the hook. I’ve set my alarm for 3.00 this afternoon. I’m going back to bed and checking out of mothering obligations for the next five hours. It’s just five hours that’s all I’m asking. Wish me luck.

Anzac Day

Today was Anzac Day here in Australia. The day was established as a memoriam to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli during World War 1. The odds were stacked against us in an impossible battle and it wasn’t a victory. At the end of the Gallipoli campaign 8,709 soldiers from Australia and 2,721 from New Zealand had died.

Anzac Day is now an event for remembering those who have died in all of the wars we have fought in over the years.

Lest we forget.

Grateful

Grateful – adj – warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received, thankful.

Why are there some days when it is so difficult to conjure up gratitude? When all around you see the difficulties of your life and fail to appreciate the good stuff that is still happening.

After a particularly grumpy time I saw this Grateful Linky over at Maxabella Loves and decided that to help get me in a better frame of mind for the coming week I better play along.

What I’m grateful for …

1. The paddock. I’m grateful that the developers haven’t yet got to the paddock behind our house. So of a morning when I sit at my computer trying to think of blog topics I can look to the left and see kangaroos and cows enjoying the green, open space.

2. The sun. I’m very grateful that the sun is finally shining. The brightness, the warmth and hopefully the chance to try some clothes are all good things.

3. The blog. I’m grateful that by exploring this blogging world I find things like grateful linkys which force me to readjust my thinking and improve my connections with the real world.

What are you grateful for today?