I’ve been absent, I know! I can’t really make any apologies for it, it’s a good thing for me. You see, I write when I’m in a bad place, so absence is a sign of positive things.
But I had to write today. Today marks one year since I made a change. A change that has hugely impacted my life, and the lives of my family.
One year ago today I had a Sleeve Gastrectomy. This involves my very awesome surgeon cutting away around 80% of my stomach. It is Bariatric surgery, performed on people who need some help to turn things around.
Sometimes I get told I took the easy way out. I didn’t. But you know what, even if it was the easy way out, does it actually matter? Bottom line is that I was once depressed, sluggish, riddled with health problems, and just floating through life, being a ‘bare minimum mum’. I am now excited, passionate, healthy, and full of life. So, does it actually matter?
The thing is, most people that say that either don’t understand it, or have witnessed someone post-surgery not treating their Sleeve with the respect it deserves. It is not a magic genie. It is not going to fix everything. You need to work with it, treat it gently, treat it with love – you’re in for the long haul together.
Anyway, without further ado, here are my before and after photos for the general public to see for the first time ever #terrified.
When I was asked to be a part of ‘We are the face of motherhood: A series on Postpartum Depression‘ organised by the amazing Jamie from Mommy in Flats I panicked a little. It was a no-brainer really, of course I will always say a big fat yes to raising awareness and ending the stigma surrounding postpartum/postnatal depression and anxiety but I got a little nervous that I wouldn’t have much to say because I realised suddenly that things were good. Things were finally feeling really, really good. In fact, I considered that perhaps I had bested the beast once and for all, and that I wouldn’t be lost in the darkness again. Ha! Life loves to remind me that when you have kids you don’t get to be in control of something like that, so after a while of living in blissful ignorance I got the sharp reminder that I needed and out came my post.
Love is perfectly rapping a completely inappropriate Eminem song from your teen years, totally in sync.
Love is letting your partner have the only towel left after you were too lazy to do a load or three of laundry.
Love is not asking where that receipt came from.
Love is sharing a smirk when a song with a private memory comes on.
Love is offering to change the baby’s nappy. The baby who is being reintroduced to lactose, and really probably shouldn’t be.
Love is going out into the thundering storm to save the pram from running away because you know your partner would sob if it was lost. It’s practically an extension of you at this point.
Love is cooking salmon for your partner even though you hate the smell and the taste, and you have no idea how to cook the little pink blob.
Love is having inside jokes that would sound absolutely ludicrous to everyone else.
Love is not pointing out how terribly mismatched the kids outfits are, because your partner is so proud of their styling efforts.
Love is accepting your partners family as your own, genuinely loving them and considering them just as important as the family you were born into.
Love is understanding that some days (most days) your partner makes zero sense. Their crying makes no sense. Their anger makes no sense. Their brain makes no sense. That’s ok, you’ll help them make sense of it.
Love is listening to ‘The Sound of Silence’ on repeat because it makes your partner smile. Even if it is making you want to shove something sharp and pointy into your brain just to get a break from hearing it.
Love is getting up in the middle of the night to hang the washing out because you know if your partner doesn’t have their ‘sucky-innny things’ clean and dry and ready to work hard holding in all those rolls they may just lay in bed in the foetal position and refuse to be seen by the general public.
Love is when your partner climbs into bed and snuggles into you and you do everything in your power to ignore your brain screaming ‘I just don’t want to be touched anymore today, I’m all touched out!’
Love is not pointing out that the number on the scales is going up, and instead making some smooth remark about it needing new batteries.
Love is telling your partner you’re totally into the sexy bald look and genuinely growing to love it, because you love them.
Love is letting your partner squeeze that huge zit on your back because you know they’re some sort of freak who finds pus fascinating.
Love is having late night showers in the dark together, no funny business, no talking, just enjoying the quiet and each other’s company.
Love is holding hands while you walk through the mall, reminding each other that you have a lifeline, an anchor. Even though your mind might be shaking with anxiety over how you’re possibly going to afford the new school shoes that are needed, you know you’re not in it alone.
Love is not always romantic walks on the beach, or long, latenight phone calls from under the doona where your parents won’t hear you.
Love is not always flowers, and chocolates, and jewellery.
Love is not always a handwritten note, sometimes it’s typed.
It’s Monday, the start of an amazing, incredible, fruitful week. Right?
I have a busy week ahead, full of play groups, school runs, work, and study. I keep surprising myself by having little moments of bliss, where I realise that I’m actually enjoying my life. It has been so long since that happened I almost didn’t recognise the feeing. Things are going well, I hope I didn’t just jinx myself.
No way. It’s definitely all good, I won’t let it change. I mean, how can anything be bad when I have this little goofball for a son?
I do have one dilemma however. I’m enjoying my work in childcare so much that I’m considering changing my direction at Uni. I don’t know if I should put my writing on pause and focus on getting further in childcare (which I can see being my career, like writing, and not just a job), or if I should keep going the way I’m going and become more educated in childcare second. It’s a huge decision and I’m genuinely torn.
I love both fields equally. I’ve never felt passionate about anything, and now I have two passions. What in the world?
I never had the drive to do anything specific in school. When people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I said ‘a mum’. Well I’ve succeeded there. I had no follow up plan. Hubby was pretty much always going to be a mechanic (though I know being a pilot would have satisfied him more), I always envied his passion and drive. Now I don’t know what to do with myself.
I feel like a leaf, floating down a river, hoping I’ll wash up on the right bank. But which bank is the right bank? Which side of the fork do I follow?
Today is a good day. Sometimes the good days feel few and far between. Perhaps that’s not the case, perhaps my brain only recognises them on the odd occasion, perhaps my mind isn’t able to celebrate all the beautiful little things in life.
That’s my brain though. Sometimes I’m a glass half full kind of girl, and other times I want to peg the glass at the wall and yell at the person that brought it to me. What a fun character, right?
I love you, but I love you for different reasons now that we are actual adults, you know, adultier adults.
I love you when you change a nappy that smells like satans breath.
I love you when your muscles glisten with sweat as you Gumption away Mr 2’s latest wall art.
I love you when you cook different meals because one has to be gluten free and you don’t want to see your little man in pain (and up screaming all night).
I love you when you let me sleep in even though your eyes are hanging out, you keep forget the kids names, and you just tried to put a bib on the cat.
I love you when you talk me down from an anxiety attack. Most would run for the hills, or tell me to harden up, but you always know how to bring me down softly.
I love you when you wash every piece of linen we own after food poisoning has taken us out.
I love you when you tell me that you think I’m beautiful even when I haven’t showered for two days and I’m wearing your ratty old shirt and granny undies that are four sizes too big.
I love you when you go in to settle the terrors for the thirty-fourth time that night.
I love you when you speak up and say ‘I just can’t go back in there, they’ve broken me’ because we’re a team, and I’ve got you.
I love you when you read to our children. I know you don’t like reading. I know it makes you feel awkward and silly. You do it for them anyway.
I love you when you play computer games with a child on each knee. I love you when you teach the boys how to play and I love you when Mr 4 comes to teach me how to land an aircraft,because that’s all you.
I love you when you perfectly lip sync the ‘Trolls’ movie. I also cringe though, sorry.
I love you when you sing and dance while you clean, like a better-version of Tom Cruise with a symmetrical face and without Scientology.
I love you when you watch something boring or gross on Netflix and I end up watching Good Mythical Morning on my phone. Then you stop watching your zombie crap because GMM is more interesting, and we realise that we should have just put it on in the first place and agree not to let you choose anymore.
I love you when you shave for work every morning because you want to look professional, even though we both know at heart you’re a bearded beast.
I love you when you discipline the children so that I don’t have to (for the twenty third time).
I love you when you recognise that even though I will only be working once a week, that doesn’t make my work any less important to me than yours is to you.
I love you when you tell me to study. Even if I do spend most of the time doodling ‘my husbands a jerk because he’s making me study’.
I love you when you talk about my grandfather. It kills me that our children didn’t get to meet him, but you did and you help me keep his memory alive.
I love you when you get home from work, tell me to go and have a rest, and brace yourself for the onslaught as three boys come flying at you from every direction and I run like I’m being chased by a mass murder.
I love you you get excited about me watching 50 Shades of Grey because you think that I’m going to come home wanting to pretend you’re Christian. Mate, it was one time.
I love you when you sleep walk. When you jump out of bed yelling at me to run because ‘they’re coming’. When you roll around the ground so ‘they’ don’t see you. When you laugh about it while I tell you of your adventures the next morning.
I love you for so many more reasons, but at least one child needs me so I have to leave it at that.
I love you. I just really, really love you. I love you so much I want to squish your cheeks and never let you go.
I love you more, but I love you differently.
I love you for the gross things, the boring things, the necessary things, the real things.
I love you for navigating your way through this ridiculous, crazy, life with me.
So I’ve just finished doing the grocery shopping and I’m sitting in the car, in the air-con but still sweating more than any lady should, and I just don’t want to move. You know?
I feel so bogged down.
Grocery shopping is bittersweet for me. Oh my lord do I love the alone time. Seriously, it’s incredible to have a couple of hours (hell yes I take my sweet time) to just be an adult. Doing an adulty thing, without the Trolls soundtrack blaring in my ears. That’s the sweet part.
The bitter part is that I have to farewell a dear friend that I quite simply do not get to spend enough time with. Money. Yes, yes I know, money is private, I shouldn’t talk about it. Eh, that’s the same thing people tell me when I talk about depression, and I haven’t stopped yet, have I?
Money is like Bigfoot in my house. You can see the signs that he was here…there are groceries, there is toilet paper, there are gigantic footprints in the snow – BUT YOU NEVER SEE HIM! Just when I think I’ve got him pinned down someone needs a specialist appointment, or the cat gets in a fight (we name her Khaleesi and it’s like an invitation for randy tomcats to come and try to put her in her place #womeninpowermate), or some breaks a shoe, or the bloody kids expect to eat again! It’s exhausting. I’m so tired of having to worry about something that is so vital.
I’m tired of having to stay logged into NetBank while the cashier is scanning my items so that I don’t go over the $23.47 in my account. I’m tired of having to drink crappy coffee because Moconna costs more than nappies. I’m tired of panicking when the kids ask for the odd takeaway dinner, and then I have to say no and watch their little faces drop. I’m tired of not being able to go on date nights even when someone offers to baby-sit because we can’t afford the petrol, or movie tickets, or milk for the baby-sitters coffee. I’m tired of not spoiling my husband on Christmas, or his birthday, or Valentine’s Day because we agreed early on that it just isn’t a possibility. I’m tired of having to do a walk around Woolies just to let the kids get a piece of fruit from the kids basket. I’m tired of complaining about it. I’m tired of hearing myself thinking about it. I’m just so damned tired.
Look I know there is more to life than money. I know my kids can still have a great childhood and that love is the most important thing…blah,blah,blah. That doesn’t make it easier. Sometimes all that helps is a good old fashioned whinge-rant.
I start work this week. Once a week I will Carmen the employee (my super power is excessively talking about my kids, pretending I know how to act in an adult situation, and eating without sharing). This is my first job in nearly five years and whilst I know we need the income, and I really have to do it ready or not, it’s still hard to come to terms with. Ideally I would be in Uni full-time, smashing out my Bachelor in record time and getting a job that pays a stupid amount of money, but I have kids, so nothing in life is that simple.
Little blessings they are – going to eat me out of house and home, I’ll be living in a box on the street, in a four year old bra that’s three sizes too big for me, with hair resembling Cousin Itt, and my feet will be so black it’ll look like I’m wearing shoes #fashionstatement
Thinking positive, thinking positive – I am grateful for the bottomless pits that are my sons, that cause me to spend my whole pay on food. I am grateful that I need to buy toilet paper because that means they are keeping regular. I am grateful that I have a car to get around in, and spend copious amounts of money on for ridiculous things like petrol, and rego.
Oops. I guess I’m not in a very ‘silver lining’ kind of mood. Maybe later when I’m shoving my face full of the salami I just spent this weeks rent on?
Until then, I’ll keep on searching for Bigfoot, that jerk owes me a flat white.
You know, I knew I would. It wasn’t good. It’s my first one and I just didn’t ‘get it’. I also have a thousand and one excuses about why I failed, some valid, some a bit of a stretch, but it doesn’t matter. Bottom line is, I did fail.
But it’s totally okay because it was the submission of the fist draft so I get another shot at sucking! Yaaaay #sarcasm.
I just bought more expensive, healthier yoghurt pouches that I really can’t afford and I told my kids they can’t eat them.
I know, I know, you’re all like ‘uh Carmen, why did you buy them if they can’t eat them?’ Let me tell you!
It is because #biggestlittle starts pre-school on Monday and I’m already bracing myself for the lunchbox guilt.
We are a relatively healthy household. In June last year we cut out most of the basic junk from our lives (sweets, soft drink etc) and since then we’ve made additional tweaks here and there to hit that next level ‘healthy home’ – swapping regular flour for coconut or almond flour, giving sugar the flick, making spreads from scratch, actually making everything from scratch when we can.
But seeing some of the supermum lunch boxes that kids get these days has me feeling a little low.
I don’t even know why I’m panicking. Possibly (read: definitely) because of old mate anxiety. Our kids usually choose tomoatoes over lollies, they’ve never had soft drink, and they live for the free fruit basket at Woolies. There’s really not a big adjustment to be made. But that nasty little voice in my head is telling me it’s not enough.
Please don’t think that I’m sitting here all holier than thou looking down on others who choose to do things differently. No, no, no. It took us a long time to get here, and we are far from perfect. The kids still get the occasional Maccas meal and spend Christmas getting hyped up and Boxing Day crashing down. Easter still involves chocolate (and yes supermarkets, I saw you stocking the shelves with brightly coloured foil covered animals whilst the garbage trucks were still straining under the weight of scrunched up wrapping paper and empty Shopkins blind bags), and birthdays are still all about the cake.
The point I’m trying to make is that we are a healthy home and I still feel incredible pressure to provide a very specific kind of tucker for the little tacker. I’ve been Youtubing, Googling, and Pintresting my fingers off. My most used words may now be ‘lunchbox’, ‘Sugar-free’, and ‘kids’ ( kids because otherwise I get a heap of mason jar salads perfect for the office!)
I feel strongly that some of the pressure is good. No, seriously! Sometimes pressure is a good thing, because it makes me try harder. I strive to do better for my family.
And other times it just makes me crumble. I break, and instead of trying my hardest to adapt I retreat, sometimes literally – jumping into my bed and assuming the foetal position.
We need to find the balance. Not everyone is in the same place and that’s ok, it’s not my life, not my children, not my circus.
Of course children should eat healthy, nutritious foods, we all know that, but we shouldn’t shame those who don’t have the same mindset. We are all on our own journey. Perhaps we could gently see if someone is open to advice while being careful not to have a condescending undertone, or we could share our advice to the public in a place they can see and leave it in their hands.
My kids will have healthy lunch boxes majority of the time, but some days I just won’t have the energy to do anymore than a jam sandwich, an apple, and a biscuit and I shouldn’t have to feel guilty about that. No one should.
Strive to be healthy, cook together, make mistakes, try new things, and make sure you laugh while you do it – we’re making memories and creating lifelong connections with food here!
The Simpsons say you don’t make friends with salad, perhaps it’s time we consider that Homer may not be the incredibly sexy, intelligent, healthy role model he was so clearly designed to be.
Disclaimer, because internet – I am not saying that we should ever ignore situations where a child is actually being neglected. #commonsense #hopefullythatsobvious