We drove to my MILS on Boxing Day, after packing up our entire house into three bedrooms so that our floorboards can be sanded and oiled while we're on holiday. Lucky our housesitters like takeaway food, because Dave ripped out the kitchen sink. "So they can sand the bench, hon."
Dave has this wonderful habit of barking orders at everybody around him; he is the boss of a lot of people at work. Sometimes I humour him, and march around the house saluting. The other day, in line at Gloria Jeans, I shouted "I AM NOT YOUR APPRENTICE." The fallout from shouting at your husband in a crowded shopping centre is very bad.
It is very, VE-RY hard to try and keep everyone happy at the same time, on a family holiday. I always forget this. And remember it when I am impersonating a busted pressure cooker. Max is bored all the time, Tim pines for his forgotten iPod, and Dave enjoys regular timeouts and goes for runs on the beach while I am trapped at my MILs house. My MILSs elderly partner is a cranky, bitter old man who is living the last of his days out in spectacular frustration. He went on a verbal tirade at the television set last night, when a report came on about Elton John and his partner having a baby with the help of a surrogate. His homophobia floored me - "THOSE kinds of people." I was disgusted at his disgust. There is no love lost between us.
Oh, as for Rocco?
Rocco has run away twice, both times brought back by different people who live down the (busy) street. He climbed up on to the highest shelf of the bookcase crouching, because his head was so close to the ceiling. If a heavy chair hadn't been in front of it, the whole thing would have fallen over and he would have been seriously hurt. When I tell him something he doesn't like, he responds by making a gun with his fingers and telling me calmly, "I kiw you, mummy."
When he gets disciplined, he responds by doing a poo on the floor, then running through it.
He has thrown so many things out of the car window the past few days.
I am at my wits end. WITS.
His last performance was an hour ago .... refusing to go to sleep, then doing an enormous sloppy poo all over the carpet and running through it, cupping it in his hands. SERIOUSLY??!! This has happened so many times the past few months - my sisters tell me to buy gaffer tape for his nappy. I will.
I went in and cleaned it up again. I totally love it! I smacked Rocco on his bare bottom, hard. I can count on one hand the amount of times I've smacked him. I was hit a lot as a child, so rarely do it to my children. Dave gave him a smack a few weeks ago too .... for doing a huge poo on my PILLOW.
This morning I woke up to mouse shit on my bedside table. I cleaned it off. Do you have any shit in your life? I am the *best* shitcleaner.
We are due to fly to Bali in a few days. Rocco has never been on a plane. (To the people we will be next to on the plane ... I am so, SO sorry.)
Right now, I am sitting in the local library, typing this out on their computer. In a huff. I have decided to split the five of us into two tag teams .... both taking turns in minding Rocco, so at least half of us can have a good time.
On my way walking here, I looked down at my feet and saw that Rocco's poo was squelched and smeared between my toes.
Santa Claus bore gifts featuring a certain favourite spaceman:
My sister Leigh's daughter Billie is a gifted artist, at the ripe old age of seven. She continued to colour in long after the other cousins swung on swings and played in pools:
Tommy, Joe, and Max. Three rough-house stinky boys, all punching and rumbling:
Linda and Dave:
Linda, Leigh and my mum all gave me the best Christmas present I have received in years ..... I got to be a GUY on Christmas morning, and go with all the husbands out on the boat. While they all stayed behind and prepared the banquet of Kings.
I've had a tricky time, the past few months ..... bottles of wine have whispered to me. Beer has mocked me. I ignored them, of course ... but still. It's not something I wanted to admit, especially on my blog. So don't tell anyone. Staying sober can still be a weeny bit hard. I hate the feeling that I'm missing out. "I can create my own fun!" I keep telling myself. "I met Bono! I can do anything!" "Do more meetings!!"
So I did and I have and it's all ok, of course. My sobriety remains unbroken and I choose to continue on this path. But I just wanted a bit of fun ... some time out, instead of staying in the hot and sweaty kitchen being a slave. (Can't the boys cook, one year?)
I was given a day pass out. My brother, brothers-in-law, husband, and stepson all had a go before me. Twisting and turning on the wakeboard and kneeboard, jumping around off the boat in Gymea Bay. I was giddy with freedom - they were all, "This is so awesome! Let's go faster!" I was all, "This is so awesome! I don't have to cook."
Then it was my turn. I jumped into the water and screamed. "SHAAAAARRRRRRRRK!!!!!" There wasn't one, but it felt like there was. I nearly got out, but told myself to just get hardcore. So I did.
I kneeboarded my way around Gymea Bay, the token female screaming her way across the water, having the time of my life. Doing gangsigns, peace-outs, flipping over waves .... all in my undies because I forgot my swimmers.
Best sober Christmas time EVER.
I got home and gave my sisters and mother copious grateful kisses. They loved that I had a great time, then told me that Rocco had done a poo on the hardwood floor.
I was *so* glad I didn't have to clean it up.
Then we all ate a huge lunch and it was grand.
Then we went to Dave's family Christmas across town. Note to self: Do NOT do both of our families in one day ever again. Too much.
Now it is Boxing Day and everybody is cranky, over-tired, and exhausted.
Thank goodness Christmas only happens once a year.
After three painfully, dreadful long minutes of running around frantically, checking every aisle, voice raising hysterically ... I heard his unmistakeable voice.
"I here mum. MUM. I here."
How did he get there? No idea. (Mother of the year ... who snaps a photo of their kid dangerously next to POOL CHLORINE??)
It's frantic time, isn't it? Even when you know you've done everything and checked it twice. We are spending Christmas at my sister Leigh's house, she of the Magic Backyard. I covet it .... all I have is stupid four acres of national park. I'm writing the Inaugural Barrie Trivia Cup Quiz, there will be plenty of History of the World jokes, dead dad jokes, and all the dysfunction in between. Max lent me his lego trophy, 2cm tall. It's perfect.
Thank you so very much, for the love and comments on the last post. I've received a number of emails, from people who know immigration consultants, people who have friends who can help, work advice. I'll pass them all on to my friend. I have no doubt she will be ok - she will make it over here, legitimately. And I will cook her dinner one night, and our kids will play together. My mum rang me yesterday, in a break from her work. "Right. Tell your friend to get on a plane and come straight to me. I mean it." And she did mean it ... and I know you all did too. Thank you. There's always light, to balance the dark.
I love what Louisa did on her blog recently ... organised for a huge donation of toys and gifts to be sent over to the refugees in detention on Christmas Island. I found myself reading tweets and facebook messages from my fellow Aussies who were pitching in to help. The power of social media in Australia is only just beginning to be harnessed in ways like this. It's beautiful.
I miss Max. My other sister Linda has kindly had him at her house for three nights. I can't wait to see his teeny freckles on his nose, hug his gangly body. He came with me last week when I was getting my eyelashes and eyebrows tinted at the beautician .... stood up over me when it was all on my face and said, "MUM! That is CRAZY! .... Can I take a photo?"
I said sure. So he snapped a few photos, and the beautician walked back in and busted us. I told her that my son wanted to show me how strange I looked, and she laughed. After twenty years of getting this shiz done to my face, I finally saw what I look like:
I look like Liza Minelli.
The beautician was SO cool, she's about 50 ... best plucker in town. Max ended up showing her how to play a few games on my phone, so she was popping all these noisy bacterial bubbles named Fred, and getting instructions on how Angry Birds works. I love it when people let their guard down.
Hope your Christmas doesn't suck. Let yourself let your guard down.
Christmas is peak drinking season. Using these key ingredients, you can make a great drink for the recovering alcoholic in your life:
Some hunks of lime, fresh ice cubes, a big fat sturdy glass, and some mint from the garden. Most importantly, you need a good quality sparkling mineral water. (Not the cheap stuff .... the bubbles are too big and nasty.)
I like to put lime in first, then cubes, then mineral water, mint, ending with some more lime. And I like to slug said drink back with gay abandon. It can feel odd, being the only one not drinking alcohol at big functions and parties - occasionally I even drink out of a fancy glass. Sometimes I chew on the mint, for a bit of a breath-pick-me-up.
So simple, so YUMMY.
TIP: If you find yourself standing next to a recovering alcoholic this Christmas ... and you are drinking champagne, do *not* make a big deal out of this. Do not turn your head sideways and raise your eyebrows, mouthing the word "sorry!" Why are you sorry? Why do you pity?
Chances are, the more you pity a recovering alcoholic ... the more she pities you. She's too busy living her dreams to be sad about not drinking.
And for the love of Pete, try not to fix a drink for the practicing alcoholic in your life. This is what I have been know to look like, after a few days festivities from years past:
Can you believe I STILL managed to pick up?
On a serious note, if you or somebody you know needs help to quit drinking, there's a lot of help.
After a lifetime of everything that happened, my mother and I walked into the stadium together.
Stadium concerts like this are amazing, especially when you get there early and soak it all in. The Greatest Show on Earth.
Jay-Z's set was spectacular. He asked the crowd to do diamonds at one point ... mum obliged.
As promised, I taught her how to do gangsigns. She's 63. If you look closely, you can see how arthritis has bent her little pinkies. Arthritic gangsigns.
We were nervous and excited and hugging and clapping. There is a cavernous tsunami of water and backwash under the bridge of our relationship. But we sat there, holding onto each other, laughing. Mum said, "Oh I'm just sad. I don't want it to start, because I don't want it to ever end." I told her I was *so* her daughter.
I had a walk around near our seats, stood overlooking a walkway, pondering my shadow. My shadow that I can't outrun .... the shadow who I have now made friends with. It flipped me a peace sign, and I flipped it one back. We stood there for a while, staring at each other.
A few guys walked past, carrying suspiciously expensive and shiny guitars. Hmmm. Wouldn't it be cool, if this was where U2 walked out into the stadium?
Would it surprise you if I told that this was where U2 walked out into the stadium?
Do you believe in Big Things?
For the next few hours we were transfixed, enthralled, enlightened, heightened. I hardly sat down. I knew every lyric of every single song. Having been to every one of their concerts since 1989's Lovetown, the 360 was kind of like a retrospective. Full of imagery of tours past ... the spaceman, the mirror suit, the glitterball. Footage of the four guys from the early eighties, squeezing into that strange little car.
A complete circle.
This was the best concert of their Australian ones. Electrifying. (I have long said ... everybody needs to go to a U2 concert at least once in their lives.)
I had Revelations, throughout the concert. About where I am; the kind of person I want to be. I listened, nodding.
Big Things are happening, next year. Wonderful, life-changing things.
This is what receiving a Revelation looks like ...
This is what singing your heart out with unashamed abandon looks like ...
This is what the morning after looks like ...
Remember a few posts ago where I wrote about the song Love Rescue Me and all it meant? Yeah - Bono sang it at the concert. They haven't played that song in public for twenty years.
I cried, and told mum he was playing it for us.
He was. I know it.
(Aside: Mum and I must have then looked like a couple of weepy, loony goonheads because the chicks in front of us clocked our tears and stricken faces, and kept looking at us. AND LAUGHING.
So in the middle of the amazing moment, I leant forward real close, so that the next time the meanest one turned around to look at us and laugh again - and she did - she got the shock of her life. She got a wild-eyed redhead up in her face. "Is something funny?" I asked, nay - demanded.
She shat her pants and shrilled out, nothing! And didn't look at us again. Ner.)
Much, much more happened. It was just the ants pants - the vibe, the Mabo. Bono described it best towards the end:
U2 play in Perth tonight. I hope they talk about the boat carrying over a hundred refugees that smashed into rocks and disintegrated at Christmas Island .... it has stunned me into silence all week. Isn't it a national tragedy? Is there anything being put into place, to ensure sobbing Iraqi men don't hold their babies above their head in the water, shouting "BABY - DYING." The death toll is 30, and rising.
This is 13 minutes from the concert the other night. (I didn't film it.) All I Want is You morphs into Never Tear Us Apart morphs into Love Rescue Me.
Still scarred from his big brother’s recent birthday where he didn’t get to open ANY presents, Rocco almost tackled the big box. “MINE!”
Luckily, it was his .... a really cool, brand new, Smart-Trike Zoo 3-in-1, courtesy of Smart-Trike and Australia’s own Mother Media.
He ripped the paper open, eyes wide. I called Dave out to help me put it up. “Hon, I’ll do it – can you just point me in the right direction?” (Knowing full well that he would take over and put together the whole thing, like he always does.)
Rocco ran around the back deck. “My motorbike. MY MOTORBIKE!” He grabbed the cargo holder and put it on his head, launching into a rousing rendition of Bob the Builder.
Grabbed the seat. "MASK! I a monster, mummy. BOO!"
It wasn’t even assembled yet, and already providing loads of entertainment! He even helped dada put it all together.
At one point, Dave forgot the mudguard, had to unscrew it and put it on. Rocco started to cry. “Don’t you break my bike, daddy. It’s MINE!”
Finally, it was done. It took about ten minutes to put together, which was pretty cool.
I told Dave I’d be reviewing it here, asked him what he thought.
“Well hon ... I’m a little disappointed in the turning circle. How can he do burnouts?” He was not joking, at all. I am actually pretty *glad* our two year old can’t do burnouts. Yet.
But he can transport his precious cargo.
Dave assembled the trike to suit a 2-year old ... the great thing about the Smart-Trike is it can suit children from the age of 10 months, with three different ways it can be assembled:
The trikes are $179, they come with a drink holder, phone, sun shade, bag, and four great designs to choose from.
Rocco is allowed to keep his trike – thank goodness. Imagine trying to take this away?
Disclosure: We received this trike for free, courtesy of Smart-Trike (That link is showing some great online deals.)
It became a matter of intense urgency that I take both my boys for a walk. No car, no stroller, no games or even an umbrella. Just us three, walking in the rain.
We needed to get out feet wet together. I needed to stop rushing .... the most often-used two words I use with my kids: "Hurry UP." I let them stroll. Meander. Mosey .... and mooch.
It was heaven. Our heartlights shone brightly, warming us up. Nothing was more important. I have neglected them, I know it. I thought back to the night before Dave and I went into our respective hospitals ... me to birth Rocco, him for exploratory surgery to see how bad the cancer was. The most important thing in the world to me that night, was not to talk to my sisters up at the table; or hold Dave's hand.
It was to teach Max how to play Uno. That was me, being a good parent, right in that moment. Not howling, like I actually felt like doing. It was spreading my huge belly on some cushions on the floor, calmly showing my guy one of my favourite card games when I was a kid. Pretending everything was ok. He loved it .... we have never played a game of Uno since. It was the only one. I found the pack again recently, shoved into the bookcase. I threw the whole pack in the bin, wastefully. Angrily. (My whole life since that time feels like the hugest mess. One day I will be ..... better.)
Last week I drove down to Ogilvy in St Leonards, to host a panel with two other Australian mumbloggers on how PR agencies can best do blogger outreach. (Um, Mrs Woog - where you been all my life?)
My accidental blog has found itself on the crest of the blogging wave in Australia. I used to work in advertising, and I used to live in St Leonards. I drove past my old house and shuddered at the memories .... remembered how my old boss shouted into the lift when I left my advertising job in disgrace: "Eden, get help!"
I walked into Ogilvy with sweaty palms - but remembered I don't have anything to hide, because they've probably read my blog. Strange. It went well. Many years of recovery meetings have made me a good public speaker. They are all so nice there .... good-looking and talented and smart. (cough cough LUCIE cough) I wished I had a proper career, back in my day. Almost.
Last Friday I went out on the town with some beautiful women and it was a blast. My heart is open for business again ... good friends are a real blessing. They didn't forget me, after these few years in self-imposed exile. (Kings Cross is waaaay shiner than I remember it. Also .... why do young women of today dress so slutty? It was hard, picking the real hookers from the fakes.)
This past weekend a little girl came to stay at our house. It was hard because it added a different dynamic to our group of ratbags ... and Rocco annoyed the hell out of her. I felt love and empathy for her, this damaged tiny Soul. We went to the doll aisle at a toystore ... I saw rows of Barbies and Bratz. (Are Bratz not terrifying to mothers of girls?) We decided on one together, then we went to the chocolate shop, then stopped at three parks on the way home. She declared it the best day ever.
I wrote my first (and probably last, at least on this blog) product review. It will go up here in a few days. I hope that's ok.
My mum and I are going to see U2 together on Tuesday night ... two more sleeps. She bought the tickets for us. I'm going to teach her how to do gangsigns, and live-tweet the concert. We are giddy with excitement. My mum and I used to lie down on the cheap nylon carpet floor, at a pokey rented house in Camden, during the last year of the eighties, and listen to "Love Rescue Me." And cry. We would tell each other that one day, the last verse would come true for us. It HAD to. The night of my wedding I looked at her and told her that the last verse had come true.
So there is all of that, and much more, happening right now.
Yet, the most important, vital thing ... was taking these two boys for a walk. Listening to their stories, opening their hearts, watching their discoveries. Max showed Rocco how to make a fairy garden, as I had taught Max years ago. Rocco wanted to explore everything, insisted on walking barefoot, and then got tired so we had to give him piggybacks.
Mozzies feasted on our ankles. I almost fell over and Max saved me.
I think that's what love is, taking it in turns to save each other ... over and over again.
For the first time in my life, I have a list of new years resolutions. There are so many ways I can be better, can change, do things differently.
It even has a title: "MORE FAIRY GARDENS."
The last verse to "Love Rescue Me" by U2:
I've conquered my past
The future is here at last I stand at the entrance To a new world I can see The ruins to the right of me Will soon have lost sight of me Love rescue me
I need to get out of the house right NOW before Dave gets back with the kids .... I'm driving down to Sydney to go to a karaoke restaurant, with some dear friends. Hitting the CROSS .... haven't been out there in a long, long time. (Nervous laugh.) I have much to tell you - so much has happened! But first, I really needed to tell you this.
Nine years ago, the clouds parted and some random angel trusted me with this guy:
Obviously, there had been some kind of mistake. But I wasn't giving him back, and had some kind of inner transformation in the blink of an eye. I was home. For the first time ever.
Worried about how Tim would cope ... but he was just beautiful with him. Still is.
In learning how to look after this guy, I learnt how to look after myself. It had to be him - only him, who could cut through my layers. (There were a lot of layers.)
Max, one day you will find out the hugeness of my huge love for you. I hope you will think that's pretty cool. I hope I don't make *too* many mistakes along the way, and I hope I will be quick to apologise when I do. I love how, about ten minutes ago, you swatted a mosquito and said 'MUM! I heard its bones break!' I love how you wish all the bubblers at school had cola in them. But guess what mate ... if they did, it wouldn't be so fun, after a while. Too much of a good thing isn't always good for you. (Trust me on this one.)
You had your bi-yearly birthday party yesterday. There were thirteen noisy nine-year-old boys running around my house, doing stinky poos in my toilet .... we will be outsourcing your next party.
"What? I had NOTHING to do with this." -
I promise to take you to see U2 on their next tour. I promise to look you in the eyes more. I promise to be a better mother. I promise to always promise to be a better mother.
You are magical.
Max, the tricky thing sometimes is to not point out how good you've got it. Parenting is hard. I want to say 'You are so lucky! You are so spoilt! Both of your parents are still together and we both love you so much ... do you know how lucky you are?'
I guess you will realise that of your own accord one day. And just enjoy your childhood, in the meantime.
You got home from school today and begged me to search for "The Poop Song" on YouTube. So we did. At last count, we've watched it seven times, laughing louder at every viewing.
Happy birthday - your last one as a single digit. What?
One day, I will correct you when you call your heart your "love heart."