Archive for March, 2009

The choice of epic proportions

I read a post yesterday that profoundly affected me partly because of its content but I would guess even more so due to its eloquence and piercing honesty.

I had a bodily reaction as I read it and began weeping almost without being conscious of it. I had been wallowing in an unhealthy dose of self-pity due to my health (which hasn’t been great recently) and did not expect to be transported out of this darkish place. And while I was caused to weep, I wouldn’t say I traded one dark place for another. No, her words furnished a rawness in me about something I had not thought for some time.

I had an abortion a year before I met C. At the time, it was tough. Less about my decision but rather the deteriorating and scratchy relationship that was tied inextricably to it. We were in the process of exiting something that had just clawed at us for too many years. I’d gone back to it in a moment of extreme insecurity and confusion. Having left what was going to be my marriage for life, I was struggling to put back together the pieces of me. After 4 years of us having been apart, I went back to Matt trying to find the person I used to be before my failed potential marriage. Matt just made me feel so damn safe. We had stayed in contact during those years apart and he’d had a serious relationship too. But even during our time with other people, we still clutched the tendrils of our own failed relationship and I suspect we put it on a pedestal we both used to explain why we weren’t totally at peace with where we were and who we were with.

It felt very natural to go back. Too natural. I’d catapaulted myself out of one situation and instead of sitting in a dark place with myself and feeling all the hard edged steely cuts that go with that, I jumped into the arms of someone that could remind me that I still existed and that I had been actually someone in my previous life.

The inevitability of this re-pairing failing was painfully obvious. We were doomed but it still felt so goddamn good to be held again. And held by him. Then he left to go overseas for 3 months. And the day after he left, I did a pregnancy test. And it was positive. Deep down I know that I fell pregnant in order that our relationship could finally end. I know that sounds strange because had I made a different decision, we’d have been in each other’s lives in some form forever more. I got that. And that’s exactly why I made the decision that I did because I knew that the scratchiness of which we had grown so tired, would never truely go away if I didn’t. I also knew I’d never actually discover who I was if we didn’t extricate ourselves. He didn’t have the guts to do it and I guess in hindsight neither did I.

I did ponder my decision for a few days. I was ready to have a baby. I was worried that this was my time and another wouldn’t come along. But I knew.

Why this post struck me like a hurtling rock was because I haven’t given thought once to the fact I might have held another as I hold my boys now. I can’t imagine my life, or indeed myself, without these two magical souls in my life. I wouldn’t ‘exist’ in the same way. I clutch their corporeal form in order to feed myself. In my decision to terminate, I have realised that the person those cells were going to form, somehow didn’t have the right to exist because of what I wanted to avoid in my life. The callousness of that rings endlessly for me.

I know it’s not that simple. I know all about choice. I believe in it completely. But none of this helps me much right now as I think about who those cells would have been. I do know that I would have given myself in the same way that I give myself to my boys. I would have been deeply unhappy. I would have been lost. I would have been angry with the situation. All of which would not have helped that poor child. But, I would have held that person as I hold my treasures and that’s what hurts right now.

Earth Hour

How did you spend yours? Dear friends, family, generous food and a lovely drop (or two). Perfect.



Thus explained

The lovely women above us heard it all (except our baby crying – they heard not a whisper of this). They did hear a woman walking up and down our back lane on the phone to the police genuinely fearful of the welfare of our child. I’m not embarrassed and shamed that our baby was crying (note intermittently and not desperatly). I just think it’s amazing that we now live in a society in which babies crying is not accepted and is instead read as a sign that the baby is becoming deeply and psychologically damaged! Give me a break.

Apparently, as the two police walked away the male officer said “She (I) looked totally shattered.” Yes! because my baby doesn’t sleep, because I’m trying to fix it, because I’m trying to cope.

My baby is fine. He’s happy and healthy and he hugs me with gusto. No problem here officer.

…..and so they called the police

S’s sleep is simply appalling at the moment. After a few days away in which every nightly whimper was necessarily leaped upon and quietened with a bottle or a hug or his favourite back rub, he now expects the royal treatment and argues loudly and profusely if it is withheld.

We decided last night that we’d had enough (I’ve been over it for a while but C insists on them sharing a room) and moved A into the spare room so that when S woke and screamed blue murder he’d at least have some semblance of a chance to sleep through it.

S screamed at 10pm and at 12pm and then at 2.30pm he went hell-for-leather. After 30 minutes I went in, rubbed his back and gave him his dummy. Silence. For 3 minutes. 20 minutes later I was back in armed with a bottle thrust forcefully into his mouth. Silence. For good. I stumbled back to bed (now having been awake for almost 2 hours) and slowly drifted back to sleep.

Fast forward 5 minutes to banging on the window. Shouting. Our back grill door being fiercely rattled. I completely freaked out. C got up and we both tripped out the door to see what the hell was going on.

At the back door were not a bunch of armed robbers, desperately trying to get in and steal what little we have to offer (note robbers) but two police, a man and a woman.

“Um, we’ve had complaints about a baby crying.” (WTF. Yes babies cry….a lot)

“Yes, that’s ours.”

“A few neighbours have called to complain. Do you normally leave your back door open?” (Yes, hot summer night and the grill in front of it was locked).

“Um, no. I forgot to close it.”

“So the baby’s been screaming?”

“Ah yes, he’s a nightmare – we’re having a tough time at the moment.”

“Oh, ok. We’ll go then. You should keep your door closed at night. Sorry.”

Let me explain – we live in a gorgeous, friendly, leafy section of Sydney’s most notorious suburbs. Redfern has had a history of violence, drugs, you name it. I love it for its colour but really it’s had a bad rap for a reason. It’s the beat that no new policeman wants. You never stop. There’s always a call. Always an arrest. Always a fight. Always drugs.

So WHAT THE HELL is someone doing wasting our taxpaying resources ringing to complain ABOUT A BABY CRYING!!

For god’s sake, I can only imagine in an area like this, the police have to respond to every call which meantions the word ‘baby’ and that’s kind of comforting but I tell you what, they were so embarrassed and sorry as they left. We looked haggard. We were beat. And to get our attention, they’d been banging on the baby’s window. So guess you decided to go for his 5th yell of the night…….

It’s not my party but I’ll still cry if I want to

When the boys were away, I thought it the perfect opportunity to hit the town in a way I hadn’t for a looooooooong time. A friend was moving to another city, and I’d already planned to pop in to say goodbye. Instead, the boy’s trip meant that I could actually make a night of it. Dinner, drinks, drinks and then hopefully, some more drinks.

Well pre-dinner drinks and dinner were lovely. Just four girlfriends sitting around chuckling about the sweet earnestness of the waitress, comparing nail colours, counselling about the protocol of gay blind dates, lamenting our family situations, laughing, scrambling to get each other’s most recent TV/podcast/film/boy/job/life recommendations, eating spectacular sushi, missing absent friends and DRINKING.

We made our way to the party after a brilliant meal and that’s when things kinda started heading a slippery slope downhill. I’m very fond of the friend leaving town. We’re not close but he’s extremely funny, kind and smart and I genuinely love the time I do get to spend with him. He’s unpretentious but scary clever and pretty artistic so I guess I wasn’t surprised to walk into a room of hopeful artists, writers, muscians and wanna-be depressos. I wasn’t fazed. I had my friends. We were still drinking champagne. Fine.

Well, not really. See, drinking anymore than my standard 2 glasses was something very foreign and I’m not sure my body was really in coping mode so things started getting pretty hazy as soon as I someone bought me another drink. My now absent drinking ability really is such a shame. My friends  probably share drinking more than anything else in common. I’m lucky that they are also very smart, funny, warm and kind but we definitely bonded over our shared enjoyment of debauchery.

Anyway, things started sliding pretty damn fast into crap when I got stuck with a black-lycra-clad mistress, rolling her kohl rimmed eyes (didn’t that trend go out almost 40 years ago now?!) lamenting the fact she wasn’t “back in Paris”. Not just “in Paris” but “back” there, giving me no other place to go (I trust me, my quick mental exploration of other avenues was comprehensive) other than, “oh, when were you there?” OH MY GOD, possibly the world’s most boring, self-indulget, wanky, only-in-a-film-script, one-side conversation ensued. Yes she lurved Paris, her children were divine (she was a nanny but that was said in a whisper), her family was special, ‘they’ moved around Europe but ‘they’ loved Paris best, yes she enjoyed many lovers of both sex (really, who-the-goodamn cares about that stuff these days: just say lovers plural), yes she learnt to read Proust in French blah-blah-blah-blah.

I was ready to go home. She clearly found me as boring as I found her because I didn’t say much (she hadn’t noticed I’d fallen asleep in my champagne glass) and she managed to find an excuse to leave to ‘find her umbrella’???? Can’t she do better than that – another drink, date, cigarette maybe but UMBRELLA? Hey, that’s just how boring I am.

Anyway, it as all over after that. Bye Bye Birdie – into cab – key in door – onto computer to blog for an hour – into bed: all quite pissed. I’m not going to push myself anytime soon to put those party shoes back on. They don’t fit anymore, at least not in the same way, and I need new ones anyway with a slightly lower heel. I can’t keep up with the young uns anymore who all seem to be moving between Sydney and Paris to my disbelief and strange, quiet envy.

If I close my eyes…..

Chet Baker could be Pete Campbell singing…..and that’s just depressing. I heart Chet and snarl at Pete.

As days go by…..

The boys are away in Victoria for very important reasons. I’m stoking the home fires in their absence but for absolutely noone but me so it seems kinda pointless. Only a week ago did I dream of some respite, some relief in the form of extended sleep and lying in bed. A dream which implicity assumes that either the boys don’t exist (like in my previous life) or that someone kind enough has swept in and taken them off our hands for an indefinite period of time. Despite the fact we are very supported by family who help out when they can, the chance that either of these two things occurring is nil. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Then, what happens out of the blue? We get a call asking that the boys come down to Victoria when C goes for the court date. And me? I’m on my own, in the comfort of my own home for THREE days!! OMG……Talk about the heavens answering. When all the travel arrangements were made, I let my imagination skip round, planning highly indulgent days: books to be read, movies to see, sleep to enjoy, computer time to myself, no feed times, no bottles, no baths, no angry words with people under 3, bed to myself, food the way I like (ie in real sized adult pieces) and the list goes on and on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on.

Well…..the moment they were all gone, I howled. And howled. I always do. It’s this thing that happens whenever anyone I live with goes away. I’ve always done it when C goes somewhere overnight (rarely) and have even been known to do it when he goes down to Canberra for the day (soooo completey sad I know, no reminders necessary). And to be honest, while yesterday was a lovely day – I enjoyed a movie on my own, I sat in a cafe with mint tea and read my great book, I cooked the most insanely delicious soup for dinner, opened a nice bottle of wine and sat in front of my computer enjoying much coveted episodes of Mad Men – it all feels rather empty round here. Too empty. There’s rattling in my brain and in my heart that just isn’t there when they are around. I guess I’ve been  a bit knocked for six because I was sure that this was going to be the self-indulgent time I’ve only dreamed about before.

Most importantly, I thought that it would be a great time to tap into ME. You know, that person who isn’t someone’s mother or wife or employee or sister or daughter or friend. Just for a moment, I thought I’d enjoy a rare moment with myself. Well, surprises all round there but that’s for another day, another post.

Suffice to say, I’m desperately happy that they’re coming home tomorrow and I think, despite the fact S’s sleep is a bit precious at the moment cos there isn’t much, when I walk in the door late tomorrow night after work, I will walk into their room and wake them both to hold them. And that is a dream to be realised.

Eye candy




So my father-in-law is going to jail next week. He’s not your average criminal. In fact, he looks disarmingly like Santa Claus and most of the time, acts like him too. Particularly with the kids. His white beard is soft and amuses S for hours. His belly is round and perfectly shaped for the two boys to perch happily together playing with his ears and repeatedly removing his glasses. He’s funny and as generous as his current circumstances allow him. Sometimes he’s quick to judge but I’m increasingly convinced that this is generational thing and all people as the move past 50 begin to haemorrhage their tolerance for things in general.

Anyway, four years ago, my FIL’s business went bust and it was revealed that its financial controller (my FIL’s brother) had stolen millions of dollars to fund his rather tragic and unsuccessful gambling habit (I know that’s a tautology but hey, I’m trying to picture the ‘dream’, the seduction). So, many, many customers who had entrusted their money (and pretty much their lives) with the company lost it all. Yes, that is totally crap I know. My FIL knew for a few years that something was going pretty wrong but is from a generation of men (‘country’ men I might add) who refuse to let anyone know how bad something is in order to try and save face. So desperate to keep his jovial and highly respected reputation intact, my FIL moved money around the business for a long time trying to make sure all staff were paid consistently and that money didn’t ‘appear’ missing. In fact, he put a lot of his own money in to try and keep things a float. He remained strategically blinded to his brother’s behaviour and conveniently forgetful of his brother’s two previous bankruptcies. Who the hell puts a gambler and a bankrupt in the position of financial controller – all holy ‘writer-of-cheques’. Mmmmm…I guess that’s family for you. Cut a long tortured story short, four years ago, there was no money left to move. All of it was gone.

We found out when my parents in law were overseas on a trip. My brother-in-law worked for the company and discovered there was no money left in the accounts to complete a settlement. He rang his dad overseas. The next morning my FIL was missing. He’d left the house of friends they were staying at in Sussex, England in the hire car. Two days later my mother-in-law received a note from him. For 10 days we had no idea where he was and to this day, I’m surprised we found him alive. He’d rung home to Australia and we knew he was safe. Just. He’d tiptoed that fine line between life and death when everything in your world comes crashing down and any pride you were clutching to, finally extricates itself from your bent fingers and floats too quickly away.

For four years the police have been doing their research to try and find out what the hell went wrong. My FIL brother was sentenced to a 8 years prison term, 2 years ago. Only now is my FIL finally going to be sentenced. And get this. This is the crazy, crazy part – he’s likely to have a more weighty sentence (meaning more years in prison) than his brother despite the fact (and the police have issued a statement confirming and acknowledging this) that he did not benefit financially in any personal way. There were no new houses, lavish holidays, fancy cars or classy meals. His brother gave his daughter a $35,000 wedding, bought a hire car franchise for her and bought his wife a complete renovation of their home. They went on plenty of holidays and spent up big time. My parents in law have been bankrupt for four years. Have lived on the poverty line and only manage because we (and my sister-in-law) give them money. Otherwise they’d be in commission housing and pretty much destitute.

But I’m not spinning a sob story. In fact, I’m resolved (and so is my amazingly clear-headed and rational husband) that he did something so amazingly stupid and weak that he caused many people to lose what they held most dear – their quality of life and their family legacies. All because he didn’t want people thinking he couldn’t run a business or that he wasn’t who he’d always appeared to be (he was). C and I lament all the time that he hasn’t learnt much from what happened. He still is so reticent to speak about what happened that I truly believe he’s forgotten many important details. He never at any point disclosed anything to my MIL despite the fact she is one of the company’s owners. I don’t know how they are still together. He has caused her so much cutting pain with this silence that sometimes she finds it hard to breathe when she talks about it.

Nevertheless, I am desperately unhappy that my beautiful boys who absolutely adore their Pa, will lose him for many years and that when they finally are able to properly be a part of his life again, he may not be able to pick them up or cuddle them or teach them how to ride a bike or help them build rock pools in buckets or cook them custard or read them Thomas stories or introduce them to their first beer or take them to Eastgardens or visit rock pool beach with the puppies. That saddens me so deeply. I will miss him terribly and I will miss the role he has in our family’s life. He adores Cam and has always been so warm and welcoming of me. He remains his usual jovial self but just with more moments of silence and sometimes tears. We’ll see him in jail. A is already talking about it. Apparently they even have a playground where he’s going so we breathe a sigh of relief it’s family friendly (WTF?! A playground – did you know that? They even get foxtel. Go figure.)

So I’m kind of writing this as a strange tribute to Pa and I hope that his years inside don’t take away his smile or the twinkle in his eye, the boys love so dearly.

Midnight hour

So, I was lying in bed last night planning my post on how improved I feel health-wise especially since my dear naturopathic-friend-in-training gave me some incredibly useful advice on improving my immune system. Then, pow, I woke up this morning feeling catatonically tied to the bed, unable to move anything but my head. I feel like it’s one step forward, two back but it’s made me more determined not to compromise on the guidelines I’ve been given to improve this shitty feeling.

It didn’t help that the boys woke at 540am. They are still in the same room and have been for a week now. It totally sucks. But I’m not allowed to say that – I’ll explain later. They’ve had one night of ‘sleeping through’ where we haven’t had to feed, move, pat, get-into-bed with either of them. Otherwise it’s like having two newborns. Did I say it sucks? Oops.

Every time I complain, I’m accused of being ‘negative’ about the whole arrangement. And even though I know I have a slight tendency sometimes to veer towards the negative, this time I’m merely stating it like it is – that is, the arrangement SUCKS. This is all so the boys can have their own ‘playroom’ (S having given up his bedroom) but really it’s so all the toys have somewhere to go and C can look around the house and ‘pretend’ he doesn’t have kids. Really, it’s all for the wrong reasons and guess who’s paying for the whimsical fancy? Actually I’ve pretty much refused to get up in the night now having made my feelings about the arrangement clear.

Don’t you think that’s fair? If C’s sooo insistent on keeping things as they are despite the fact our sleep no longer belongs to us (AGAIN) and in the knowledge that sleep-deprivation kind of sends me over that nasty edge we all hate, isn’t it fair that he does the hard-yards? I still feel bad every time he gets up to them and lay awake guilt crawling all over me even after they finally go back to sleep, so really I’m not benefitting much sleep-wise anyway.

Anyway, moan moan I know but hey. So what are your thoughts on my refusal to even turn over when the inevitable wail launches into the midnight hour?

March 2009