This is a bone of contention for me. I was asked when I was going to have kids continually, for many years. It didn’t help that due to endometriosis, my abdomen swelled and at times I did appear pregnant. At the time I didn’t know that I would require IVF to have any chance of pregnancy, nor that it would be a decade-long odyssey. When people asked about my plans, I felt frozen to the spot. I was already worried about the possibility of infertility, and feeling as though I had to explain myself compounded my fears and pain. It didn’t end when I was undergoing cycles of IVF either. I was regularly asked if it had “worked.” It was akin to being re-traumatized. The pain of it all was overlooked as others made glib jokes. They also commented that I wouldn’t know what business, life nor love were until I had a child.
The queries didn’t end when I had my daughter. Soon after her birth, people started enquiring as to when I was having another. There was advice on not leaving her an only child. There were smirks and comments about how one child turns out. There was criticism and pressure all around me. I almost died trying to get myself prepared via surgery for further IVF. The trauma caused me to plunge into menopause prematurely. Still, the questions kept coming, as did the criticism of having an only child.
I can say with all honesty that as much as I love my child, I applaud that she is becoming an autonomous human being. As each day passes, she is a step further toward independence. I spend 24 hours a day with her, yet we aren’t joined at the hip. I have my interests and she has hers, and we make time for both. At every opportunity, she is off with her friends having fun. It would be co-dependant to expect her to fulfil me, to make me a whole person and to seal a gaping psyche. No child can do that. I had her out of love, with the understanding that she would leave one day. I am the same person I was before, only stronger and braver. I go out more and wont put up with toxic behaviour for her sake as well as my own. I didn’t have her to define me.
I have a friend who is expecting twins. She announced it to me the other day. I had noticed her swollen belly a while back, but didn’t comment. It wasn’t my business. If she was indeed pregnant she would tell me in her own time. She could have had a litany of maladies to explain her tummy, endometriosis included. She already has a few kids, and is tired of the insensitive jokes and commentary at the other end of the spectrum. You can imagine what she is subjected to. It is an extremely sensitive topic for many reasons, and a hugely personal one. If somebody questions you about when you are having kids, offer them no answer if you are uncomfortable. Smile wryly and move away. You already know what it is to nurture, love and toil.
Dear Lily June has nominated me for this wonderful award! I am so thankful, my friend. Thankyou!
Here are the Rules:
Make a post thanking and linking the person who nominated me and include the Liebster Award sticker in the post. [Check! See above!]
Nominate 5-10 other bloggers and notify them of this in one of their posts. [See below!]
All nominated bloggers are to have less than 200 followers. [Oops! I have no clue. Oh ye, gods of the Liebster, forgive me and be merciful.]
Answer the 11 questions posed by your nominator, and create 11 different questions for your nominees to answer. Or, you can repeat the same questions. [I’ve got my own, thanks.]
Copy these rules into your post. [Done and done.]
I have no idea how many followers I have, as I don’t follow the stats. I am just very grateful for you all!
Here are the Questions asked of me:
Have you ever experienced deja vu before? If so, when? I have had many experiences with deja vu. When I am going into the city, meeting strangers and also when my senses are heightened, I get the distinct feeling that I have done it all before.
Do you believe deja vu comes from premonitions into the future or recollections of a false past? If you look into quantum physics, our time-line continuum doesn’t exist anywhere else. It is quite fascinating that you may be sensing people who lived a century ago and they may be thinking of those who come after them at the very same time.
What’s one day or moment in your past you wish you could relive over and over again (in the style of the film Groundhog Day)? The day my I found out I was pregnant and the day she was born.
What’s one day or moment in your past you’re glad you only had to live through once? So many! The day of my fall, the many spinal surgeries, etc. Sadly, I still have nightmares and flashbacks on occasion.
What’s one thing you never get to do, but wish you could? I haven’t been able to skate, ride a bike or horse since my spine was broken, and really wish I could do those sort of things with my daughter.
If you were to have one thought every year on your birthday, what would it be? ‘I am incredibly blessed.’
If there were a day every decade you could indulge in any vice, habit or hobby with no consequence, what would you choose? (Caveat: You can only indulge in it one day every decade, but as much as you want that whole day.) Probably try my luck with a flutter! In everyday life the consequences of gambling aren’t worth it.
What’s the best part of growing up/getting older? Feeling comfortable with who you are, and not accepting any nonsense.
What’s the worst part of growing up/getting older? I have to work hard to keep my bones strong. I definitely feel more pain due to prior injuries.
If you were forced to stay one age forever (a la Kirsten Dunst in Interview with a Vampire), what age would you choose? The age I am now.
We have read about people’s morning rituals with great interest. They seem seamless, calm, orderly. My world is the opposite. I have scores of de-cluttering books standing forlornly on my bookshelf (and under the bed). Despite my best efforts, my house isn’t orderly. I blame the fact it is tiny with no storage. At the end of a busy day, clothes are thrown in a heap on the floor, toothbrushes and hair brushes are abandoned by the bathroom sink and a pile of books and magazines I intended to read are scattered around the bedside table.
I swear at my alarm, usually set for 6am or earlier. I stumble to the shower, where I perform a sacred ritual. I crouch over and let the steaming water hit the stiff and agonizing points on my spine. “You can do this. You are going to have a beautiful day,” I state with determination. I process whatever abstract imagery has been brushed into my dreams, then stagger to the kitchen for my instant coffee.
Yep, instant coffee. Quick and easy.
I grunt as I survey the piles on what should be a dining table, and sit down to sip my coffee.
The tiny lounge room is full of errant treasures. The birds are tweeting for their breakfast, and the guinea pigs are squeaking. I fill their bowls with yummy food, then get my daughter her breakfast. She has the same thing each day, soy rashers cooked in olive oil and a glass of milk. She is a radiant bundle of energy as soon as she wakes. My breakfast consists of whatever is easiest. Sometimes I will make up a container of energy balls in advance, consisting of dried fruit, seeds and nuts. If I have been too busy, I may throw some veggies and fruit in the blender and have a smoothie. I remind myself to take medication to keep my sugar levels even, sustain my bones and keep my pain levels under control. If we are at home all day, I wont bother brushing my hair, nor changing clothes. I iron about twice each year, carelessly tossing crinkled clothes into an ironing basket to be dealt with later. I gravitate toward clothing that doesn’t require ironing each and every day. I refuse to look at the ever-growing piles pocketing the house. We have to get to work. Mid-afternoon, a quick clean is accomplished. More often than not, we are out of the house by 7.30am and on a train. We may not get back until late, and the cycle of discarded clothes begins again. I have had to let go of any ideals of perfectionism I previously had. You can have everything you want, just not all at once. The time will come all too soon when I have an orderly home, and my chick will have flown the nest. Educating, writing and being together is what matters at this point in time. She won’t remember (I hope), that she couldn’t properly see herself in the streaked wardrobe mirror, nor look out of a clear window. Sometimes, I am called to dress up for an occasion. This means I throw an outfit together, brush my hair and put on some makeup within twenty minutes.
The chaos is the same as the orderly, you can’t have one without the other. Often, they are both on offer in the one day. That’s okay. I know that I am advised to chant and meditate, do forty minutes of yoga and cardio. I know I am meant to plan my day and start off calm. I know too, that it creates stress when I hold a vision of what a morning should look like. I just roll with it now, and the mornings are okay, as am I. It’s enough to wake up. It’s more than enough.
The Development Effect is a new business, set up by two remarkable women. Their modus operandi is to inspire, give back to their community and empower women and girls. I was privileged to be asked to talk at their inaugural event a while back. I sat alongside Michelle Cashman, an extraordinary singer/songwriter. Michelle has been there. You know, ‘there,’ that horrid place of loneliness, depression, anxiety and chaos not of her making. Not only does she write songs which reach deep into your soul, she creates podcasts to uplift others who have been through the fire. Her blog can be found here. To listen to some of her incredible songs, follow this link. When you are going through the fire- the heat searing your flesh- you tend to wonder what the point of it is. Often, there isn’t a point. When your flesh has cooled and you are alone with your wounds, it can give you leave to demand that your pain mean something. To be able to write, sing and talk about the fire gives it such a meaning. You will inspire others, and they in turn will inspire. Perhaps the fire itself is a pointless and cruel pit of flames. Perhaps that doesn’t matter. What comes after, that is what is important.
Last night, I noticed a message from a fellow blogger. She implored our community to send comments of support and love to a woman she didn’t know, but was terribly worried about. I went to the blog she was referring to and saw a photo of a gorgeous young woman. Her dark tendrils of hair and the faraway look in her eyes were reminiscent of a model from a Raphael painting. She wrote about being battle-weary, of finding comfort in the notion that she may quietly slip away. She was saying goodbye. Many people were concerned about this stranger. We need her in this world! Messages of love and support were sent. Please hold on. I have been there, sweetheart. I know how it feels to be done with this world and all the anguish contained therein. I wanted to fall asleep forever. I thought that my life would have to expire in order to slay the demons slowly killing me. I never imagined turning eighteen, let alone thirty! My attempts (plural), were executed with the help of a medical manual and many prescription pills. I had to be resuscitated, was in ICU, and in coma’s. Nobody was more surprised than I to awake. It took a long time to feel thankful that I hadn’t succumbed. Before these attempts, I could see beauty. It was presented outside of my realm. In music, art, other people and their pretty lives. It seemed inaccessible to me. I know what you felt last night, for I have felt it too. You get to a point where you feel like you are committing an act of mercy, by setting those you love free of witnessing the torment you have been facing. Setting them free to start anew. That is scary territory; when you believe that you staying is worse for your loved ones than you leaving. I am so proud of this young woman, for telling us what she was feeling and why. That took enormous courage. We were strangers at the beginning of the night, and by the time dusk had smeared the sky with cinnamon-hued light, we knew you.
Many years have passed since I last woke in Intensive Care, furious that I had been saved. Many years have passed since I felt I had no place in this world. My days are filled with wonder and mirth. I laugh at the silliness of some of my encounters. Others have me weeping in the shower. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss any of it. My daughter growing, having a beloved colony of guinea pigs, meeting friends by the river, riding buses with groomed elderly ladies, seeing in another year… The list goes on and on. There will come a day sweetheart, when you shall be glad that you are here too. Keep talking and please keep writing. Life won’t be filled with darkness forever. It is merely the background for the painter. They shall fill it with stars and swirls of blue. You will be in the foreground, in all your Raphaelite beauty.
Stephen Fry sent this response to a young lady who had reached the end of her ability to cope.
I would tell my younger self to hold on tight. As a teen, I had to fight to retain my sanity, my heart and my life. I refused to put up with nonsense, nor manipulation. I would walk away, and if I couldn’t leave, I would fight. Fight for the right to live my life in the way it was ordained by the moon and stars before I had even arrived. When one is having continual operations and intensive periods of rehabilitation from such surgery; when one can’t work because of the above, you find yourself vulnerable. Grateful that people are willing to chat briefly to you, grateful for a lift or an invitation to dinner. My boundaries were blurred and I was overwhelmed by any crumb of kindness shown me. I would say to that girl, ‘honey, you can trust your instincts. You have a right to leave any form of cruelty, and run from any lack of empathy. It isn’t worth the pain you will suffer by staying. Trust your first impressions, and measure the benevolence or otherwise in a person’s conversation. It’s laid bare on the table, and your ears aren’t deceiving you. Years of your precious life will be squandered on trying to understand the intricacies of toxicity if you don’t run.’
Groups will be disbanded, and you will move in new circles. People not meant to be in your life will leave, not before offering a few sharp scratches to your already scarred psyche. As you grow older, you will tolerate less nonsense, and savour the real people. Those who weep with you, hold your hand, laugh with you and are present. They want your company for no other reason than that they celebrate you. No masks required.
I wish I could erase the memory of the walking wounded who caused you more pain. I wish you had turned away, no explanation needed nor offered. You didn’t, and its okay. You have resurrected that teenager, the one who was selective about who received the key to her inner world. You have given out multiple copies of the skeleton key. Happily, those who have received this gift unconditionally love you. There is no more hurt to be had. You have yourself, first and foremost. You can love the whole world, without letting it all inside the inner sanctum. Some will appreciate the chandelier, the candles, the frankincense oil, the violet walls, the poetry and art, whilst others would only try to disassemble the sanctuary. Careful with yourself, young woman. You have to firstly love yourself in a manner that will then mirror how others love you. You have yourself forever.
To register for home schooling in New South Wales, you need to apply online. Bostes then get in touch, and arrange a visit. I frantically put together a program for the year, ensuring curriculum targets are achievable. I have just had my review and was given two years accreditation, of which I am thrilled! I journal what my daughter has studied each day so I can keep track. I have been flawed at the wonderful reactions I have received since I started this journey. Everybody has been so supportive, and it has certainly made the going easier. I was worried that I would receive negative comments, though thankfully they haven’t come. My daughter sees friends most days, and sometimes asks for home time, as there are so many excursions we can go on! We usually start around 8am, and do a solid four hours before lunch. My daughter goes to singing, drama, guitar and gymnastics lessons on top. I am thrilled with her progress and relieved that I made the right decision in home schooling. As a parent, you second-guess yourself (frequently), but the proof is that her confidence has returned and the pressure has eased. There is nobody to compete or compare with, and she can absorb information in her own time.
Sydney has a very active home schooling community, and we are blessed to have met many wonderful kids and parents. In three terms, she has acted in plays and attended performances at the Opera House and Casula Powerhouse. She has visited May Gibb’s home, been involved in a sports carnival, toured the Opera Centre, Sydney Observatory, Wildlife World and attended a science workshop as well as puppet-making. I have to be organized, to keep up with it all! I start my writing when her school day finishes, and often get up early to do so too. We have a comfortable routine. I love doing life with this kid, and I am definitely smarter as a result of absorbing information!
Here is a poem about home schooling from one of my daughter’s friends. I love the perspective of an 11-year-old!
So much a child.
Without the school uniform,
Without the Smiggle bag,
Someone who’s not the norm,
Without the shop’s latest tag.
Home schoolers, Home schoolers,
That’s who we are.
Friendly with people of every age,
Each of us a shining star.
Free, not in school’s restricting cage.
We’re all unique,
We’re all ourselves.
We’re all home schoolers,
That’s who we are!
Not much revered,
Sounds like me, sounds like you.
But, whoever I want to be,
Is there something cooler?
Well, I’ve decided: me.
-Jemma Julian, 4/09/2015
For many kids, it’s the perfect fit. To be able to devise a programme that caters to your child’s interests is a blessing. Wherever we go in Sydney, there are friends to visit and fun to be had.
In the past five days, I have seen four performances! Spamalot was the first, and it contained some wonderful Monty Python skits and songs. I was delighted to take my daughter, and she roared with laughter throughout. A friend’s son was onstage, and to see the happiness on his face filled my heart. It is one of life’s gifts, to see a young person in their element. I also watched a group of talented kids perform skits based on the environment. It was poignant and funny, much like life. We also saw the 56 Storey Treehouse with a group of young theatre-goers. What an imagination Andy Griffiths possesses! Finally, I saw Les Mis with a very dear friend. Now this particular friend was by my side throughout my many cycles of IVF ten years ago, guiding me and consoling me. I met her through an online support group. Our daughter’s adore each other, and we have such fun when we meet up. This friend has gone through hell this past year. I would do anything to vanquish what she is enduring. She is irreverent, cheeky and really rather naughty, and it has held her in good stead. Her stubbornness is the stuff of legend. She is also incredibly short, so I decided long ago that she is a keeper.
It sounds silly but it felt rather rebellious and decadent to slink off into the city for a big night out mid-week. It shakes up your world, in a very good way! I got home at 1am, and it was well worth the hell I paid today! To see her laugh, relax and enjoy herself was priceless. I cant take her burdens away entirely, but she laid them down for a few precious hours. We talked about crap and chuckled at our own hilariousness. This is the lady with whom I went to see Vivid- the annual extraordinary Sydney light show. We were having such a good time, we couldn’t be bothered wandering about to see the pretty lights. She was enough. She always will be.
Ten months ago, a friend asked her doctor to be referred for a mammogram. She hadn’t felt a lump, and had no other symptoms. She wasn’t in the age bracket where they are offered free of charge. She knew she wouldn’t feel peace until she had undergone the screening. They found a lump, and within a week, she had undergone a mastectomy. She took her kids to school that morning, and myself and another friend held her hands as we walked her back to the car. She was going straight to hospital. I didn’t want to let her hand go. I would have given anything for her not to have to endure what was ahead. In the months ahead, she underwent a course of chemotherapy and then radiotherapy. It seemed like an endless night, and there were many days when she languished in bed, too spent to communicate. The day came when the treatment finished. It had begun swiftly and brutally, then one ordinary day she walked out the door after her last treatment and into daylight. An ordinary day for all but her. Changed forever. She offered me a lift to the train station on the way, and impatient drivers refused to make room for her to turn onto the road. She joked that she was going to lift her wig, and holler, something along the lines of “now, do ya think you could let me in?!” All these silly people, thinking that their time is so important. Unable to wait five seconds to let a good woman in. The storm changes you.
Her family arranged a surprise picnic to celebrate the end of her treatment. It was held on a thirty degree day in Spring, a slight breeze tempering the heat. Perfect. She walked up, crying. This is for you. We are assembled for you. We couldn’t step in for you on the days when the thought of more treatment seemed unbearable. We couldn’t take your discomfort away. We can do this. Your daughter’s made a glorious cake and cookies, and we enjoyed an Australian BBQ and salads. You got through it, sweetheart. The dark night of the soul has passed. Her message to others is to routinely check yourself. To have the necessary screenings, if only to put your mind at ease. It is harder to feel comfort in burying your head in the sand, when you have a friend that has saved her own life by not doing so. Cheers to you, my darling. I look forward to enjoying many more Australian picnics with you.