MORE THAN JUST A MATE- #BFF

As a young girl I wanted to be everybody’s friend. Now I’m 37 I’ve accepted that life doesn’t work like that. There are some people you just don’t connect with, there are those you may not like no matter how hard you try and there are some who won’t like you. At some point you may find out they have been saying things about you behind your back. The tears I’ve cried over ‘friends’ like that! If I could say anything to my younger self it would have been “Trust your instinct. Don’t waste time worrying about the ones who’ve let you down. Focus on the amazing friends you have been blessed with” And I have certainly been blessed with quite a few of these gorgeous people. One of them is celebrating her birthday today in England. I wrote these words for her:

I have heard so many words when talking of true friends

Caring, kind, full of love and loyal ’til the end

And you to me are all of those, each and every one

Yet there’s so much that they do miss, like a sky without a sun

The light and sparkle you shine on me, by knowing that you’re there

The love you show so endlessly is never hard to bear

You always want the best for me, so proud when I do well

Occasionally we disagree, but never do we dwell

If I am sad, angry or mad you listen and won’t  judge

But you tell me if you think I’m wrong – a persuasive gentle nudge

If I am happy, you cry for me – tears filled with ecstasy

Because you’ve been with me through it all, no need for empathy

So this is my way of saying to you, you’re more than just a friend

You’re the icing on my cupcake, mate and I’ll love you til the end!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Crushing Self-Doubt

I am participating in the Writing Contest: Writers Crushing Doubt. Hosted by Positive Writer.

When I first started writing in August 2015, I did so because I felt compelled to. With 2 toddlers keeping me busy my sleep deprived self was often pounding the streets of Sydney, double pram in tow. On these daily expeditions my head began to feel like it was bursting with stories about the craziness and often hilarious moments we were experiencing. Terrified I would forget it all, I frantically jotted notes down on my phone.

This overwhelming urge/need to write was something I’d never previously experienced. Every chance I get now – I write. I didn’t have a plan. My husband suggested a blog. I liked the idea of having my words recorded in a structured chronological order – but didn’t expect to share it with anyone (other than my mum).

One day, whilst flicking through Facebook, I noticed a friend had posted a question about whether to have more children. Having just written about this exact thing (To Three or Not to Three) I decided it was appropriate to share my article with that person. To date, the day I shared that link remains my ‘best views ever’.

insights

My phone went into overdrive, pinging nonstop as the notifications came through. Positive comments, likes and shares. It felt amazing. The ‘number of views’ graph on my website insights page rising as rapidly as my excitement. From that moment on I craved positive comments, likes and shares, continually checking-in with my insights. It was addictive.

I set up a Facebook page, feeling a little awkward calling myself ‘a blogger’. This was when the doubts first began to creep in. I was delighted so many people accepted my Facebook invite, but why didn’t more people accept? They don’t like it? They think I’m being annoying or worse arrogant, trying to be something I’m not. Who did I think I was? I’m not a writer. I’ve got no writing qualifications. I started to review the comments I’d had again. Just to make sure I hadn’t imagined the positive feedback.

I became obsessed. Each time a new post went live I continually checked Facebook for notifications. Once again the self-doubt began to creep in. Sometimes, convinced I’d written my best post I was disappointed when comments or lack of, weren’t reflecting that. I craved positive feedback for how good it made me feel and reassurance.

I decided to get more objective feedback by submitting my work to an expat website. They shared it and asked for more. Confidence restored, I became more ambitious, submitting pieces to various publishers . I have now been published on  various sites including The Babyspot, Kidspot, and Parent.co. I’m a regular contributer for Mamalode and Parent Talk Australia.

There have also been some rejections. Each rejection seems to allow negative self-doubting eeeby jeebies to creep back in, questioning my ability once again. I re-read the post. Make a few edits. Submit it elsewhere – success! Perhaps my writing style is just not suited to every parenting magazine or to the person who reviewed it on that particular day. If I re-submit it elsewhere and it’s unsuccessful then I may have to concede it wasn’t right for sharing however that’s not happened yet.

When I first started writing I decided I wouldn’t read other mummy blogs, I didn’t want to risk being influenced. It didn’t take long for curiosity to get the better of me. Constance Hall – so raw, honest and courageous, The Unmumsy Mum – so funny and she’s had a book published (my dream). The self-doubt gremlins returned, “I’ll never be as funny as them”, “they have thousands of Facebook followers, I don’t”, “I’ll never achieve what they have”.

With self-doubt comes guilt. I’m spending every spare second I have writing or reading about writing or trying to figure out what avenue to go down next with my writing or what course I could do if I had the money or the time. I feel guilt to my family that I’m being so self-indulgent by spending time writing, a hobby rather than an income generator.

I’d begun to notice that some people who were commenting on my blogs at the beginning hadn’t done so for a while. I also kept seeing that statistic glaring at me every time I visited the insights page ‘August 19th best views ever’. Surely after all this extra exposure and experience my blogs should be getting more views? I started to wonder if the reason my initial ‘fans’ were no longer commenting was because my writing style had changed or worse – they just didn’t like my writing anymore.

It didn’t make any sense. Their feedback had been incredible – surely I hadn’t changed that much in 7 months. I was still getting lots of positive comments, new likers and submissions accepted. I decided to write to some of those early commenters and ask them directly, explaining I needed them to be honest. The words of reassurance I received in return put a lump in my throat and tears to my eyes. ‘Honest’, ‘funny’ and ‘relatable’ some of the words that came back. The relief I felt washed over me like a tidal wave. So I’m not completely sh*t then? Apparently they read every post that they saw in their newsfeed. What became apparent was that Facebook wasn’t showing them all.

I write because I love to write. Whilst it’s become a cathartic passion for me, driven by an innate need to get these words out of my busy head it is also motivated by hearing of other people’s enjoyment they get from reading it. Therefore, I know I will continue to crave positive feedback and check in with my insights page regularly. What I have learnt is that whilst there will always be rejection and moments of self-doubt, I must focus on the reasons why I write and the fact that whilst my writing may not appeal to everyone it will always appeal to someone.

 

 

The Gift Of A Sister

Being one of 3 girls, I know what it’s like to have sisters. Growing up there were the obligatory fights and sibling rivalry however there were also hours spent happily together playing princesses, producing theatrical shows for our parents to watch and plotting our escape in order to run away together. As the youngest of the three, I tended to keep out of some of the heavier disagreements that ensued as my elder siblings went through their teenage years of angst and insecurity together. It wasn’t a conscious decision not to hang out with them much during that time, I was younger and not able to do many of the things they did, but I do remember witnessing some of the fights they had about clothes swapping/stealing and boys and was relieved not to be involved.

Regardless of what disagreements have taken place between the 3 of us over the years there is one fact that remains constant – we love each other and would protect and stand up for each other no matter what. Throughout our adult years we have shown solidarity towards each other at times of need and I have come to realise that one of the best presents my parents ever gave me was sisters.

When I found out that I was having another girl only 18 months apart from her older sister, I was ecstatic. To be able to give my first born the gift of a sister felt wonderful. I’m not saying a brother wouldn’t have been equally wonderful but I have no understanding of that. I hoped (and still do hope), that they will be best friends and show each other the same loyalty through times of need as I’ve experienced.

My eldest was 18 months when her sister was born, still pretty much a baby herself she didn’t really know what was going on. Now that she is three I have really started to see the bond between them developing and its heart melting stuff.

When the eldest has to be woken from sleep, it’s not a pretty sight. She grunts and groans, moans and sometimes screams. However, if I send her sister in to wake her up, she’s a different child. Squealing with joy and delight as her sister swipes her over the head with her chubby toddler arms. It seems she can get away with behaving in a way that no other being on the planet could do. When one is crying the other will rush to comfort them. Often it’s more of a rugby tackle to the ground and sometimes it will result in tears but the sentiment is there.

The youngest insists on doing everything her older sister does no matter how ridiculous, inappropriate or dangerous it is. Every day she attempts to put her sisters knickers on over her nappy, climb up on the sofa or high walls (much to my distress) and brush her teeth at the exact same time as her sister whilst both trying to fit precariously on a small activity table in order to reach the sink. As she is too young for toothpaste I perform the same ritual each day, pretending to put some of her sister’s toothpaste on her toothbrush.

It’s not just the youngest who looks up to and worships her sister. This love and adoration is reciprocated by the eldest and she too likes to copy her sister. She tells me at least 20 times every day “I love my sister, so much mummy”, “my little sister’s my best friend mummy” and although she does tell me that Daddy and myself are her best friends too, if she has lost favour with us the label is quick to be withdrawn. To date it’s never been withdrawn about her sister even though she takes her toys, food and often hurts her as she whacks her with a doll, pushes her off a wall giggling or pulls her hair. When the eldest goes to bed she needs to know which way her sister’s head is facing so that she can be the same.

We’ve been lucky to have our in-laws visit us in Australia from the UK for 5 weeks over the Christmas period. There were quite a few days they took my eldest for a few hours which meant some quality time for me and the youngest. As much as I appreciated the break with only one toddler to look after, I could see how much she missed her older sister. Often she would cry when her sister left then toddle around the house looking lost. She kind of got over it when she realised she could play with every single toy in the house and it would remain in her possession for as long as she wished it to. However, I sensed that this revelation was short-lived and didn’t compensate for the companionship and fun of being with her sister. The minute they were re-united they couldn’t have looked happier; the snatching toys and food, over-zealous cuddling, copying each other and giggling immediately returned.

They are young and I’m very aware that as the grow up together there will be many ups and downs in their relationship as they try to establish themselves and find their way in the world. They will no doubt experience many of the emotions me and my sisters have done through the years such as jealousy, anger, love and sometimes even hate. I’d love them to be best friends but I know that I can’t force that to happen, I will just have to step back and observe (perhaps attempting to steer sometimes) as their relationship develops over the coming years.

 

 

 

Pink Pear Bear

A Night of Blissful, Uninterrupted Sleep

Whilst our 1 year old baby has never been a good sleeper, she has certainly stepped it up a notch over the last few weeks. We are both sick which doesn’t help. Last night, when my husband kindly offered to do the night shift in my place, suggesting he sleep in the room with our little owl I jumped at the chance.

I would sleep (as usual) in our bedroom with our 2.5 year old who is a good sleeper however I wouldn’t have to get up throughout the night as I usually do which inevitably ends up with me sleeping in the babies’ room.

Words cannot express how grateful I was to him for this kind offer, ecstatic at the thought of a few hours’ uninterrupted and blissful sleep especially given I’m was feeling so poorly.

I went to bed placing my ear plugs firmly into position, snuggling down under the covers in excited anticipation of a wonderful, restorative, unbroken night ahead. In the words of Giggle and Hoot;

“Seeeeeee you in the morning”

Unfortunately it didn’t quite pan out like that.

First of all I couldn’t get off to sleep. Something I don’t tend to have much trouble with at the start of the night these days given I’m usually knackered from the night before. Not a regular user of ear plugs, it seems that with a head cold they make you even more aware of your Darth Vader breathing. Once I noticed my heavy breathing I couldn’t stop hearing my own thoughts spinning round and round in my head. I’m sure at least an hour had passed before I eventually must have drifted off to sleep.

“Nooooooooooooooooooo, stop it! I don’t like it”

I am abruptly woken. Startled I sit up and see our eldest is wriggling around in her cot shouting, obviously in the middle of a terrifying nightmare (probably involving her sister trying to steal her beloved pink unicorn or teddy bear).

She has had a few of these nightmares recently but usually earlier on in the evening. I remember the first couple of times I was quite alarmed by it and desperately wanted to pull her out of the cot, wrapping my arms around her to comfort her. However, I have heard that it’s best to leave them if they are asleep and on the few times she has had nightmares they don’t seem to last long before she appears to be back in peaceful Lah Lah land.

Once her screaming and fidgeting had stopped (it wasn’t for long), sighing I relaxed and lay back down. I’m pretty sleepy still so should drift off into a deep relaxing sleep easily and hey, one awakening is still heaps better than the usual 6.

I’m woken again, it feels like seconds later but I have no idea how long it’s been or what time it is. When it comes to sleep I have strict rules not to look at my clock so I don’t obsess about the amount/lack of sleep I’m getting. Having suffered with insomnia for a few months several years ago I’m fully clued up on what to/not to do when it comes to sleep.

‘’Dummy, dummy, dummy”

Dragging myself out of bed using my phone’s torch (I only recently discovered my iPhone actually has a torch feature, not sure how many years I have spent scrabbling around in the dark with just the light from my phone). I locate the dummy, pass it to her and hear her contentedly sucking away on it again like Maggie from the Simpsons

I crawl back into bed and attempt sleep again for the 3rd time of my so called unbroken night of sleep. I Feel myself getting slightly more stressed, the pressure building to get to sleep and make the most of my night off. Of course, I can’t sleep. This is exacerbated by the build-up of snot in my nose which is making it impossible for me to breathe (unable to take Sudafed whilst breastfeeding I stick to the old fashioned method of hankies and Vicks).

From this point on I drift in and out of a light and unsatisfying sleep, waking again for a sneezing fit and then again because I’d given up on the earplugs and heard the baby crying in the other bedroom. It’s now 5.30am.

Fearing the baby will wake the eldest (who usually stirs quite easily from 4am onwards if disturbed) and not ready to have her start her day yet, I admit defeat. I stumble across the apartment to the bedroom where my husband is trying to console the crying baby (she has serious attachment issues to Mummy that we need to work on).

And that was my night off, you can imagine what a night on duty is like at our house.

Fear not, my wonderful Mum is arriving from the UK on Wednesday and I shall be happily taking her up on ALL offers of help. Ensuring that both my husband and I get a few more nights off however minus any little people in the room.