Lessons from Mum

Mum

My baby will never get to meet my mum, but there is still so much I want them to learn from her. We were complete opposites and so I feel like it’s such a loss for my baby that they won’t have her unique guidance in their life.

Where she was strong, I am weak. Where she was brave, I am scared. Where she was wild, I am meek. All I can do is keep my mum’s memory alive for my little baby and hope that I can impart all the wisdom and life lessons that she would have.

Here is what I know my mum would have taught her grandchild:

The importance of learning
My mum was kicked out of just about every Catholic school in Melbourne by the time she was 15 and then pregnant at 16. It’s fair to say she had a wild side! Because of her lack of education, she was adamant that us kids would have a good education. Me and my brothers were all lucky in that we did well academically at school (PE was a very different story though…). Back then we didn’t have labels for kids who struggled in school and misbehaved and most teachers just pegged them as bad or stupid kids. My mum had a great affinity with these kids and spent countless hours at the school helping them with their reading and writing. She refused to give up on any kid and never made them feel stupid because they couldn’t read. Even when they acted out, she didn’t get upset with them or judge them, her only focus was making sure that they had every opportunity to learn and that they knew they were worth the effort.

How to have a good time
Compared to my mum, I am a total stick in the mud. She was impulsive, silly and maybe a little crazy (OK, pretty crazy). She didn’t plan things, she was late for everything, she was too loud and often times a complete embarrassment to me. She just didn’t see the point in following the rules of life (as long as it didn’t hurt anyone). She loved nothing more than laughing hysterically until she fell into a coughing fit or wet her pants. When she started laughing, you would start laughing too because her laugh was just hilariously infectious… and because you knew she was going to wet her pants!

Don’t let people push you around
She didn’t put up with people pushing her around and she certainly wouldn’t tolerate it if anyone did it to her kids. I was an incredibly shy kid who was pretty much scared of my own shadow. If she ever thought I was being mistreated or missing out on anything, she would march over and sort the situation out. Many a teacher, doctor, shop assistant, extended family member or school parent would cop her wrath if they thought they could get away with pushing me around. Even when I was well into my 20’s (OK, maybe even my 30’s) she would hear about something that had upset me and try to work out how she could sort it out for me. It might make her sound overbearing, but she just hated to see people who couldn’t stand up for themselves get pushed around.

If it was important to me, it was important to her
My mum always made sure I knew that my feelings were important. Maybe it was because she really wasn’t that much older than me, she remember what it was like to be ignored or not heard because you were just a kid. Our family didn’t have much when we were growing up, but if I really wanted something, even if it was frivolous like an ice cream cake for my birthday or 90210 pjs or a fluro ski headband (WTF was I thinking?), she would move heaven and earth to make sure I didn’t miss out. Often to my poor dad’s frustration who then had to find the money for these treats! I wrote more about it here at my old blog all the way back in 2008. She would stay up late sewing clothes so I had something to wear to the school disco and wouldn’t be teased. She paid attention when I said I didn’t want to go to sports day and be humiliated. She would drop me off in town to hang out and spy on my crush, even though we had no money for petrol. In hindsight I can see that none of these things really matter, but they mattered to me at the time, so she made sure it was important to her too.

Being different is OK
She was different to the other mum’s in our very small country town and she was judged quite harshly by a lot of people. She swore, she smoked, she didn’t go to church, she wore pyjamas all day, she laughed too loud, she made dirty jokes, she dyed her hair crazy colours and she wore big jewellery. That might not sound crazy, but back then in our little country town it was outlandish behaviour. She didn’t change who she was though because other people didn’t like it. Not even slightly. If people didn’t like her the way she was, then she simply didn’t want to be around them. It was their problem, not hers.

Being a mum is an important job
She loved being a mum, it was all she ever wanted to do (and be a grandparent). She thought kids were important and raising them was a privilege. She never acted like she needed more or that being our mum was a let down. Even when I would snottily make it clear that I was going to be a career woman, she didn’t mind my attitude and just said she would gladly look after my kids so I could go and have a career. She saw value in her role in the world and wouldn’t let anyone take that away from her.

Maybe that last lesson is more for me than my baby. As I am about to become a mum, I want my kid to know how much I will treasure that role, even if I am not perfect, I will be doing my best. Just like my mum.

Me and mum

Why I Decided to have a Baby

I’ve been blogging for a long time now, over 10 years on and off. So if you have been reading for a while, you might have heard me say that I wasn’t planning to have kids. I have never felt a strong maternal urge to have kids. I didn’t ever grow up assuming that I would have my own family. It was just never that important to me. Like marriage I suppose, I didn’t need it to be happy.

As the years passed and I turned 30, nothing changed. My biological clock didn’t start ticking. I had a great life without kids and I didn’t think I needed to change anything. AJ and I have a blast together and I was surrounded by good friends and family. Plus, I was working on finding a good place in my career, managing my weight issues and enjoying a new-found love for travel and experiencing life.

I think that another factor in my lack of biological clock was that I always had a reverse mother -daughter role with my mum. My entire life she was severely sick with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. I cared for her and was the only one who she would listen to, who could get her to take her meds, who she would let visit her in the psych ward. I think I was the only person who didn’t judge her and gave her unconditional love. Like a mother would I guess. So I didn’t ever feel like I needed to be a mother.

Then, after my mum passed away, I decided that I could never ever have kids without my mum. It was non-negotiable. All my mum wanted was to be a grandmother and I hated the thought of having kids and her not being here. I still hate it. Then as the fog of grief cleared slightly I felt such a big loss in my life. I had such a massive hole which used to be filled with family.

You see, after mum passed away, my older brother became estranged from our family and my younger brother and his wife moved 900 kms away. My dad had always lived far away and had remarried after divorcing my mum years away. I have only ever had sporadic contact with my extended family every few years. Suddenly I felt like I had no family. I didn’t realise how much I needed my family until they were gone. That is where the urge to have my own family started.

I don’t want this to sound like I decided to have a baby because I was lonely. It was much more than that. It was about creating a family for me and AJ. I wanted to have those happy family memories of my own, Christmases, family dinners, laughter and tears. I wanted to love and care for and be part of a family again.

I didn’t need to convince AJ. While he was happy with our life the way it was, I knew he would be up for the adventure of having kids. Plus, I always knew he would be the most amazing and supportive father in the world and it was almost a waste for someone like him not to be a father!

I was still petrified about whether I was making the right decision. Was I letting grief and fear and loneliness guide my decisions? How was I going to do this without my mum? Was I going to be tired and stressed and broke for the rest of my life now? How could I cope with changing nappies, snotty noses and the chaos and mess that comes with kids? I don’t know the answer to any of those questions, but I am happy that I have this baby in my tummy and that in 5 months we’ll get to be his/her parents.

Week 16: 3 February

This week I finally told people at work that I am pregnant. I didn’t really plan on telling my boss just yet, but an opportunity came us where we were having a big talk (i.e. she was telling me off) and it was the right time to tell her. She then proceeded to tell my team a few days later because she said if I wasn’t going to do it, she was going to tell them. So that seemed a bit weird. No one believed her at first, which has been a common reaction. I am not sure why this has shocked everyone so much?!

So now just about everyone I am close with knows I’m pregnant. It has been such a weird and awkward experience telling people I am pregnant because it feels like such a personal thing to share. I really hate talking about myself normally and now I am getting so many questions (which is lovely of people to care) but I feel quite uncomfortable. Has anyone else felt like that?

How far along:  16 weeks, yay! Ive been excited to get to this point. It seems like I am really getting there. Next milestone is 20 weeks. 🙂

How big is baby: The size of an avocado, which is weird when I have eaten avocado for lunch every day this week.

Sleep: The insomnia hasn’t been too bad this week, but sleep has been a bit lacking due to the very early mornings for my long commute to work.

Symptoms: Just so bloody tired. I have found myself pretty much done for the day at 3.00 pm and barely able to function after that. It might have more to do with the heat and the commute to work than the baby. Also, I feel like my hair looks like shit lately, is this a pregnancy thing or just having a bad hair month?

Best moment of this week: AJ got a new job, which has nothing to do with the baby, but I am excited for him. Unfortunately this means he won’t get much paternity leave, but hopefully he’ll be able to take 2 weeks off when I have bubs. I have a feeling I will have my hands full!

Miss anything: I’m still missing my mum. Ive been trying not to think about it, but I had a horrible dream on Saturday morning that my gran passed away and my mum was hysterical because it meant that I didn’t have her or my gran to be there for me and the baby and she was worried about me. I woke up sobbing and just haven’t felt good all week. My gran is actually alive in real life, but she hasn’t known who I am for 5 years and can’t really communicate with me at all. So even though she’s still alive, I miss her so much too. It’s just really bought home for me that I don’t have my mum or gran with me. It doesn’t help when so many people keep saying things to me about my mum. People just assume my mum is still around and will help me with the baby and I have to correct them. The HR girl at work was awful because she was pushing me to give her a date for my return to work and I said it would depend on childcare and she flippantly said “can’t your mum just babysit?”, which was just annoying on a number of levels.

Movement: I’m not feeling anything. Maybe in the next few weeks.

Food cravings: Nothing too much, just dry/carby foods and fruit. Nothing weird. I am trying to eat better this week after eating sooooo much take away while we were moving.

Anything making you queasy or sick: No issues this week, but I still can’t stand the sight of chili, onion, capsicum, tomato, mints, coffee and pepsi max. That’s been consistent for my entire pregnancy.

Gender: I still don’t know, I always think of it as a little girl, but that’s just because I want a girl!

How’s your mood: Don’t ask! Oh dear, its been a bit tough again this week. I have felt teary and emotional all week and just not like myself. I am blaming the hormones.

Looking forward to: Just fast forwarding through the next 4 months and being in my new house and having a big fat baby bump.

The Bump: I can really feel it now when I am laying in bed, but no one else can really see it yet. Now that people at work know I am pregnant everyone keeps saying that they can’t believe I am 16 weeks pregnant because you can’t tell. I think it’s quite normal not to have a bump until about 20 weeks for your first pregnancy. Obviously I have a bit of padding for the bump to poke through yet.

bumpie-2

Psychic Adventures Part 2

You are going to think I am so crazy when I tell you this story, but trust me, it’s not as weird as it sounds.

Not last Saturday, but the Saturday before, I was drinking my cup of tea on the balcony and wondering what to do with my weekend when I received a phone call from a number I didn’t recognise (terrifying) .It was my aunty, my dad’s younger sister, who I have spoken to about 5 times in the last 20 years.

She told me that in recent years she had discovered a gift for psychic readings and was a medical intuitive. She had heard through the family grapevine that I had issues with my fertility and asked if she could come and do a reading for me.

To say that I was shocked was an understatement. No one on my dad’s side of the family has reached out to me since my mum passed away or even included me in most family events. I have kept my fertility issues private, except for one person in the family who obviously sprung a little leak. Not to mention the fact that she claimed to be a psychic medium. Crazy right?

In saying all of that, I really appreciated that she put herself out there to try to help me. She was willing to drive from her tiny country town 3 hours away to my apartment in the middle of the city. I was totally blown away. So I gratefully accepted her offer.

Really, I was just hungry to see if my mum would come through. I knew without a doubt that if there was any way for my mum to contact me, she would be there. She was always one of those mum’s who would move heaven and earth to be there for her kids or stick up for them, much to my constant embarrassment as a child!

I actually saw a psychic earlier this year and really felt like I got a lot of peace out of it, so I was very open to doing it again. I actually just re-read over my notes from that reading and noticed one prediction that had come true, that I would leave my job and have a new job by June. Interesting.

So my aunty came over that afternoon and it was an amazing experience. I know that a lot of people don’t believe in this stuff, but after the experience I had, I believe 100%. There is just no other explanation for the things she told me. My mum came through right away and it was such a relief to communicate with her. I just needed to know that she was OK and that she watching over me.

My aunty knew my mum when she was younger, though had not seen her in many years before she passed, but she was aware of my mum’s mental health struggles. Given the very hard times my mum had and her difficult relationship with my dad’s family, my aunty was afraid that my mum would come through in a darker way. Thankfully, my aunty said that my mum came through happy and at peace. I mentioned this to AJ afterwards and he said that he always thought of my mum as a happy person, but that must have been because he always saw her around her kids and that made her happy. It made me feel to so good to hear him say that about my mum.

My mum and my pop came through together and it was just so amazing to communicate with them. I miss them both more than words can express and I felt safe and looked after with them again. My mum spoke about all of the things I did for her. My aunty and I were both crying. I think the whole reading was actually harder on my aunty than on me.

The messages that came through were very similar to the psychic I spoke to earlier this year. It was a lot about looking after myself and not worrying about my older brother who is troubled and estranged from my family. Worry for him consumes me and my mum wanted me to step away and focus on myself, my new house and my relationship with AJ.

My aunty also did a medical intuition reading and she diagnosed every ache and pain from the exact place of my plantar fasciitis, my rotator cuff injury, my spasming lower back, my recent onset of migraines and my fertility problems.

Now, my aunty had heard that I had fertility problems, I didn’t tell her what they were, but she said to me over the phone that she assumed it would be inflammation and that she has seen it in other women. I didn’t correct her, I thought I would wait and see what she said when she did her reading. She immediately said that it wasn’t inflammation at all and that I had lots of cysts on my ovaries. She could see that I don’t get my period and described it is ‘dry’. Well, she was spot on. I have PCOS, cysts on my ovaries and I don’t get my period or ovulate.

She also mentioned a lot a pain in my breast and it was the main issue coming though. I don’t have any pain in my breast, so I am not sure what this is about. I wonder if my mum somehow projected this through my aunty because she was always worried I would get breast cancer because my grandmother and (another) aunty had it. Of course now I am experiencing weird pangs that I am 99% sure are in my head. OK, maybe I am a little crazy.

She was able to offer suggestions for different foods that would assist me (honey, lemon, broccoli), foods I shouldn’t eat (capsicum, onion, tomato), things I should do (yoga and drink more water). I guess they could apply to most people, but it’s always good to be reminded of these things.

Put simply, this experience helped put me at peace somewhat. I needed it and it definitely eased some pain for me. I also just felt overwhelmed that my aunty drove all that way and did that just for me. I don’t have much contact with family and it just meant the world to me. My mum said in the reading that she bought my aunty to me and I believe it.

 

55

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Dear mum,

I can’t believe you are 55 today. I still vividly remember planning your 40th and then 50th birthday celebrations like they were yesterday. It’s the third time your birthday has passed without you here now. I don’t think it gets any easier. Dealing with the constant feelings of loss and sadness just becomes a new normal.

You have missed so much this past year. There have been so many changes in our little family! My little brother and his wife moved all the way to Sydney for work, I started building a new house, I was made redundant from my job, my older brother became estranged from our family, I got a new job and I bought a new car. So it’s been a good and bad year. I know it would have been a lot easier to cope with it all if you were here.

The biggest thing that has happened to our family is that you are expecting your first grandchild. No, it’s not from me! Your youngest son is expecting a baby with his wife in October. I am so happy for them, but it has been really hard news at the same time. I know how badly you wanted to be a grandmother and so it just breaks my heart into a million pieces that you aren’t here to experience it finally.

There is no one is the world who wanted to be a grandparent more than you did. Ever since I was a little kid I can remember you talking about being a grandmother. You had us kids so young that you decided that you would probably make a better grandmother than mother. So you talked non-stop about “when I have grand kids” all the things you would do better. I wish I had bothered to tell you that you were actually an amazing mum and that you had nothing to make up for. I’m so sorry that your grand kids won’t have you in their life.

I’m at home in bed sick today and I have no doubt that if you could, you would be here making me soup and cleaning my house so that I could rest. That would make you happy on your birthday. You loved to be needed by your kids. Instead, I will go and buy your favourite white flowers and think of you.

I want you to know that you are so, so very missed.

Love ya mum.

xxoo

Read 54 here

 

 

 

Life Moves On…

After I published my last blog post freaking out about my new job, AJ sensed that I was anxious and asked if I wanted to go for a drive. It was late on Sunday night, but I needed to get out of the apartment to try and calm my thoughts.

We seem to always have our best chats when we are just driving around and looking at the city lights. Normally one of us will convince the other that we need a chocolate sundae from McDonald’s. OK, normally its me that makes the case for a sundae. And a cheeseburger.

We decided to go for a drive to my new office and plan out all the different routes I could take to get there from my current apartment and my new house when I move. I found it strangely calming to get organised and know exactly where my commute would take me (and find the best bars close to my new office).

As we kept driving and talking, AJ said that he had been thinking about my mum that week and how proud she would be that I got this job. It meant so much to me that he acknowledged her and how she would feel about my achievement. There are so few people in my life who knew my mum. I find that I crave acknowledgement of her existence and how much she meant to me.

I had been thinking a lot about her all week and felt so sad I couldn’t tell her about my new job. The last time I got a new job she sent me these flowers because she was so proud of me.

roses

My mum left school when she was about 12 and had her first baby at 16. She didn’t have an education or a career, but she was adamant that those options would be open for me. Whatever I chose to do, she would support me. I know she would have been proud of this new job and telling everyone she met in the supermarket or pharmacy that her daughter got a new job. She would have made it sound much more impressive than it actually was, but there would be no way she would believe that it wasn’t the most amazing job in the world. I did love to make her proud.

I find change so hard to deal with these days. It feels like every little way my life changes moves me further away from my mum and the life I had when she was alive. I know AJ really understands this because he lost his dad 9 years ago. I feel so lucky to have his support through everything that has happened with my mum. Thank god we have each other.

2 Years

Today is 2 years since I lost my mum.

I miss her so much every day.

It doesn’t really get easier, you just learn to live with the sadness and loss.

It is a difficult day to remember, but it’s also impossible to forget.The whole month of March is fraught with feelings of anxiety, fear and loss. I want to honour my mum by remembering her and what she went through, but it is still just too hard to face, especially today. I know she’ll understand if I just do my best to get by.

mum and me beach

Our last photo together at the beach near our house