Depression; My Story

I’m not one to seek professional advice about my self, but when I do, everyone knows its serious.

I’ve been depressed for 8 months now. My friends saw it building, I stopped laughing as much, stopped socializing as frequent and stopped helping other people.

I’m a person that always helps others in need even if I’m in more dire straits then them. I love good company and having fun, laughing and talking in general. But it all changed at the end of last year.

Nothing traumatic had happened in other peoples eyes, just my own. I’m not going to go into detail on what happened but instead I’ll say what I feel.

I felt lost and alone. Even though I’m surrounded all the time by people.I started to feel lonely and useless. Unwanted even. I was getting taken advantage of. Money, vechiles, even clothing. There was no positivity in return. No thank you. No appreciation. No gratitude.

But what I got in return was nastiness, and horrible lies about me. When I was told this, I broke down and cried. I was so angry, hurt and confused. But it proved what I was thinking all along. What I thought off how they thought of me was true. I was a nobody.

Yes, my depression started because of one adult. An adult that whenever he needed help I was always the last person he called but I was the first person to help. I always offered help, financially, or vechiles or food. I did what any parent does and go without for them. And my greatest strength was my weakness.

So many nights I would cry myself to sleep. So many days I would stay in bed, lost in my thoughts. A nasty voice had moved in, telling me that I don’t need to talk to anyone about it because they don’t care. I stopped talking to my friends and became a listener. That voice telling me they don’t care for my opinion, they don’t want to hear what I want to say. They don’t want to know what Netflix show I recommend or book or movie because they have no interest in it.

The voice continued to tell me not to bother my husband with my problems because he will always choose me last, no matter the dilemma. That he is too tired to deal with my crap. Then it worked its way to the children. Saying it’s my fault that some of my stepchildren moved in with their mother, they think I’m mean, that I am raising them like my mother. That I’m exactly like my mother. That they don’t respect me. They don’t care for me. 

Then it got nastier. The voice told me why I was really there. I was only the maid. I was only the cook. I was only the laundress. I was only the cleaner. I was only the ATM. I was only the babysitter. I was only there for sex. And for a while, I believed that.

My friends noticed I was sad. They noticed I no longer cracked jokes, I no longer smiled or laughed.

I turned down invitations for parties, girls night outs, bbq’s, any social gathering. I was in my pajamas by 3:30pm everyday, showered or not. I would cook dinner, serve everyone out but myself, then I would go to bed by 6:30. But I would never fall asleep before 1am.

I spent 45 minutes crying in the boot of my hatchback at a family outing, away from where anyone can see me. I would cry in the toilet or shower so I wasn’t being asked a million questions. I would drop the kids to school then go straight back to bed.

So I sought out help. I started on anti dreppesant tablets. I started seeing a physiotherapist. I spoke to her about my problems. And when I finally told a stranger they longer seemed important. My problems sounded silly, petty even. But it was the voice in my head again telling me that.

I started to feel better, even though I wasn’t eating still. I had lost 5 kilos in a month and lived off coffee. I wouldn’t snack. I wouldn’t sit down with my family at meal times because I felt like I was a disappointment to them all. That I was the problem. That I was unwanted and unloved.

My clothes were getting too big, my husband noticed that, as much as he noticed me playing with my bras that were now too big as well, I had to constantly keep pulling my pants up, my loose shirts that looked nice on me were now too baggy.

I looked sad and sick in my face, which I covered everyday behind make up so I looked happy and healthy.

I had good days. I had horrible days. But everyday was me laying in bed lost in my thoughts, crying. It may have been for five minutes or hours.

My husband didn’t know what to do. He had never seen me like this before. He had never gone through this before. 

But recently, another voice broke out in my head. Strong and stern. Willful and powerful. It was the opposite of the first one that was nasty, vindictive, controlling and manipulative. This strong voice was mine. The one I had before I went downwards.

It was my voice but it was my husbands. It was my children’s. It was everyone that I hold dear and near to me. And what it said was powerful to me. It was remnants of memories. Reminding me of what good friends I have. What a supporting family I have. It said stuff like “you are the exact opposite of your mother.” “You are passionate and so thoughtful.” “You have the biggest heart I know. You have a heart of gold.” It was all the “I love you” and all the hugs. It was all the smiles I have received and given. “You are not useless or unwanted.” But the strongest and loudest of them all was mine. “GET UP.” 

I obeyed and got up. I showered and washed my hair. I washed the clothes, the dishes, the floors, the rugs. I worked. I sociallised again. I laughed and smiled. I cuddled and let out more I love yous’ and played. I went out with friends. Hubby and I started going out again. I still see a shrink, I still take my medicines. I am eating again. But in all this, I still have a battle in my head, the good verse the ugly. But the odds are looking good. 

Because I love my life, I won’t change a bit of it. I love my family. I love my kids. I love my work. I love what I do. I LOVE my life. I may have depression, I may have a battle with it for another month, six weeks, two years or longer. I don’t know. But I don’t care because I am happy right now. 

I keep myself distracted by baking and cooking. Doing housework. Looking after my kids. I work with kids. They make me happy and they can be so funny. I go out with my friends and have fun. I watch movies I never seen before, I count while I knit or crotchet. I play video games, I work, I volunteer. I am a busy person and I will be damned if I’m going to lay in bed wasting my life on one problem when I have so much more to look forward to and to enjoy.

I have so many new and happy memories to create. I wanted to laugh again. To smile. And when I decided to get up and do something productive, my husband compliment how much he missed my smile. My friends also complimented how much they missed my laughter. My children noticed I was getting happier, I was in a better mood each day.

I may be depressed but I’m not letting it win. Because a hell of a lot more people like me then people that don’t. Because people are interested in what I have to say. Because I make people laugh. Because people do enjoy my company.

So screw you depression. You may be here with me, but you won’t be here forever because I will win. You may hold a few bad moments of my life but my happy days, my fun days, my awesome days, they outweigh my bad days. The best memories of my adulthood are fair more superior to my bad memories from my whole life.


A letter from a step parent.

So I have had the black dog barking at me for a while now and some days are better then others. But all April and May (minus a couple days) have been hell. 

I’m not going into details to why, but this is more or less a reminder to think of other people when you make decisions.

I’m in bed by 330pm. I’m not eating every day – or week. The spontaneous crying over literally nothing. Then there is the anxiety too. 

But as I battle the demons in my head, I’ve had a few recaps of previous memories I have forgotten about, and some decisions I have made in good faith and some proving to be wrong and I feel myself regretting some of these decisions. So here are a few things I want each of you to know.

  • I have social anxiety. If you haven’t picked up on that yet, sorry, but you haven’t been paying attention.
  • When, not if, but when I do have a conversation with you, please meet me half way. My husband knows this, my younger kids know this. But for everyone else, it is a huge battle for me to not only talk, but holding the conversation or starting one is really hard for me.
  • To my kids and step kids. I tried so hard and I still am trying, but please remember the parent over rules the friend when asking me for advise, talking to me, or even living in my house.
  • All those times over the years when I said no, it wasn’t because I don’t love you, it wasn’t because I was being spiteful and it wasn’t because I wanted to say no. It was because you were starting to intrude in peoples personal space, you were being annoying to me or someone else, you were asking for stuff I didn’t have the money for, you were asking for too much at once, we had no way of getting you there, or you were taking advantage of us.
  • As a child, teen, even a young adult, and adults, you don’t understand until you have a family to raise, to keep a roof over your head, clothes on your back, shoes on your feet, gas for your hot showers, electricity for your games and phones and to cook your food, food in your stomachs, petrol to get to work and schools, and an education in your brain. That to me is more important than brand named items, outings with your friends whenever possible, keeping up with the Jones’s and even club sports.
  • As you got older I tried my hardest to step back a bit. I let you all out more and longer, I trusted you all to do your homework and assignments without my “nagging”, to be home by curfew, to be honest, to make the correct choice in food without me looking over your shoulders, to tell me or your father where you all are and where you are all going. And because of that, you all earned my trust in that. You never faltered or lied. You all were honest. And that’s how I planned on raising you all, to be honest and open.
  • But, and it is a big but, half of all these little kids I have been raising for 12 years have grown and graduated. And as proud as I am of you all, and trust me, if I was any prouder I will burst, you have surpassed me and your father, but I am highly disappointed as well. I couldn’t ask for a better family when you were all children, toddlers and babies, but how hard is it to ring? To visit? Especially when one basically lives around the corner at a friends house? The other is down the road every Sunday. One goes out of his way to visit his grandmother but can’t drive a further 3 minutes and doesn’t tell us his around till after he leaves.
  • Your father and I scratched together money for years before we became financially stable, to feed you all, to spend our last $20 on medicine. We supported you all through relationship break ups, friendship break ups, financially, let you all move in and out repeatedly, put up with all the bad choices that were made, lend you anything you all needed for a day, week, a year, when you asked us to buy a washing machine, a car seat, frying pan, a new bed, we did it, without hesitation. When you all asked for a room to be painted, a bed to fix, fix a dryer, buy the food for your little parties, we did it. When you need a lift three hours away, getting you a job, needed to be picked up two hours away from home, needed medicine, nappies, a car trailer, we did it. A couple of those may have taken a few phone calls, we may have owed a few people a six pack, we may have cashed in on a favour or two, but we did it. No second thoughts. There was none needed. Why? Because that’s what parents do. We look out for you. 
  • A thank you would be nice. And there are plenty of ways of thanking people. You can say it. You can show it in a hug. You can buy flowers, beer, chocolate, a thank you card. You can show up to events we invite you to. You can visit without it feeling like a chore. You can message us back when we text you. Ring us back when you missed our calls. Reply to the message dad commented on your Facebook photo. You can help out around the house. You can ask if anything needs doing, from changing a light bulb, checking the oil in the car for me, changing the batteries in the smoke alarm, offering to babysit your younger siblings, offer to fill the car and bike tyres, to even mowing. Bring your kids around and let them play outside, let them laugh, let them stay without you watching like a hawk. Because that’s how you show your appreciation towards someone that helped raise you, that would do anything for you, that tried their hardest, that prayed that every decision made was a good one. To some one that treated you like their own child, their own flesh and blood. To some one that had arguments with family and friends defending you. That’s how you show your appreciation to a parent and step parent. When I get asked how many kids do I have, I PROUDLY count you all, blood or not.
  • I just wish you will tell me happy mothers day. I wish you would ring me for my birthday. I wish you could see the hard work I put in. I wish you would acknowledge me. I wish I mattered.
  • You do not thank some one by sitting in front of a screen all day everyday and not offering to help pay for the internet bill because you put us over our quota. You do not say thank you by telling us the house is a mess from the younger kids and not offer to help fold washing, or sweep the floor. You do not say thank you by only appearing at dinner time, eat your dinner and not offer to help with dishes, clean up the table or help even help distract the kids.  You don’t say thank you when I have done your washing and its all folded for you by leaving it there for two weeks. You don’t say thank you by ignoring us, talking smack about us to your mates/partners or by being down right rude and arrogant. Because that was not how you all were raised in my household.
  • Do not invite everyone in front of us to a function and not invite us.
  • Do not whinge you don’t get invited because we got sick of asking you to come do stuff with us and you keep turning us down.
  • Do not use your own kids as an excuse when I can use the same one but I don’t.
  • Do not whinge your younger siblings resent you and don’t listen to you when you can’t make the time in the day to visit them. Seeing them for 5 minutes every 6 months does not count as a visit when you do come over.
  • Do not judge your other siblings on their mistakes when you are making the exact same one.
  • Don’t say one thing and do another. That’s being a hypocrite. Seriously, it is, look it up.
  • Do not let your partner/s have a higher say then you when its your side of the family. And vice versa. Just because the girlfriend don’t like us doesnt mean you have to cut us off. Family is more important than a 4 month old relationship.
  • Do not tell us we are lazy when we have been working since it was legal, my job may be unpaid, but it was hard work trying to teach you and raise you all, obviously I missed teaching you all about respect.
  • Don’t tell me to get a real job, I volunteer, I contribute to my community and I LOVE what I do, what do you think keeps me sane? What have you contributed to your community?
  • In my household, you were all raised to do chores, to clean your rooms, do dishes, help your father mow, help him fix things, help me cook and bake. In my household, you were raised to think of others before yourselves. But as you all got older, it all went. And all your father and I got were rude, arrogant young adults that do think of others before themselves except for when it involves your father and your stepmother. 

Then there are these to are for everyone in my family.

  • Don’t force me to attend to functions all the time. My anxiety has gotten worse since I saw you last.
  • Don’t talk to me about something I told you last time I saw you when you saw how upset I got the first time.
  • Stop expecting me to come to these functions every time.
  • Stop asking me and my family to expensive gatherings every time one is on. We rather a BBQ or picnics or beach or river trips instead of rock clubs, car shows, fetes and fairs, cinemas, and restaurants. Plus I have more kids with me then anyone else.
  • Stop expecting me to bring five bowls of food. Just because my family is bigger doesn’t mean they eat more. We have four adult children now, they can bring their own plate, and I only have one good eater, the rest are fussy and won’t eat it and I don’t eat lunch unless I want to, not when I am told to.
  • Stop expecting us to invite our older children when you all clearly see them way more then we do. Do it yourselves and let us know afterwards.
  • When we have reunions and large family gatherings, please, for the sake of my sanity, please have it some where intimate and private. Not open where every man and their dog can see us and all our kids are jumbled and lost. It is a huge accomplishment just for me to attend.
  • Don’t expect me to offer help when no one has offered it to me.
  • Just because I am smiling or laughing doesn’t mean I’m not depressed. Don’t tell me I’m not.
  • Yes I am on medication, I don’t care if its good or bad for me, I will let the doctor know when and if I do get side affects.
  • I’m on medication because I tried to deal with this unmedicated for a year to no avail, don’t tell me I don’t need it or its in my head.
  • I hate going out when my son is involved. I know his moods better then anyone else, I monitor his moods, I know a piss off button activated when I see it. Don’t tell me I need to be harsher. Don’t yell at him, he will not listen unless its from me or his father. Don’t expect any emotion such as hugs and kisses, he can’t stand to be touched by surprise. Don’t stir him up for the love of god. Don’t tease him, even when you are joking, he doesn’t understand your sense of humour. Don’t force him to eat, I have to deal with that meltdown every night, don’t make me do it through the day too – he will eat when he is hungry and when we get home because even though I tried explaining it to you all, you can’t force a child with sensory to eat.
  • Don’t plan something and lock the date in then tell me. If you want me to help you, let’s negotiate a date first. I am a busy person, no I can’t work around it, don’t expect me to drop my previous engagement because that date suited you better. If its a wedding or funeral or birthday dinner fine, bit if you want to do a gathering of lots of people, ask them what dates suits them. Don’t just expect people to turn up because you told them to.
  • If you ring me, expect the phone call to be short. Chances are I’m busy, um wrangling kids in, I’m “working” or I’ve hit my depression and I’m in bed already.
  • When I am out and you happen to see me, say hi. Chances are I won’t see you till you draw attention to yourselves. Don’t be rude, because if I do happen to see you and notice you saw me and walk off without a wave or smile, I will judge you for that. Because you will make me think I am in the wrong.

Now you all want to know why? What’s with all this? What’s the point of it all?

This. One of my children has Aspergers also know as ASD. He barely even sits on the spectrum. It is also known as high functioning autism. But what actually sits him the is his Sensory Processing Disorder. He suffers from anxiety, like when he knows people will touch him when we are out. He knows people will “tease” him. People will try and make him eat food he can’t swallow. People will then criticize me and he will hear it and it makes him slightly more nervous and anxious and upset. He will then have a meltdown and he knows we only got there, but the minute we get there he tries not to beg to go home.

His sensory is worse. He doesn’t eat a lot of foods. He can’t stand the touch of certain materials. He use to freak out at loud noises, but we have gotten real good at that one. He hates his routine scrambled because he has a layout of a timetable in his head of what he does and for how long, all in his head. He can’t sleep unless he is in his own house. He can’t sleep unless I am home when he goes to bed.

I’ve walked through me front door from my girls night out before finding him on the top bunk against a window waiting for me(but he refuses to sleep there when we have a guest over for the night), behind his bedroom door, even in the hallway. But that only happens when his father is home with them.

I had a babysitter one night when me and my partners plans have crashed on the same night and he had to attend a work function and I had one too, when I came home late that night, I had trouble opening the front door and found my boy asleep there. He s babysitter explained what happened, which was what I had predicted.

Because of this one child my anxiety gets worse when we are out and about. I get questions in my head such as, who will set him off, will he eat, will he behave, do I have to attend? Stuff like that. Then we see the older kids and they have the galls to tell us we discipline him wrong, we baby him. Mate, we babied you. My parenting style has changed, I admit that, it is more relaxed and hell of a lot more confident then it was when I started. I didn’t start my parenting with just a baby. I started with kids from 11 down to a newborn.

      So when you see you parents next learn from my family’s mistakes and say thank you. Because it is hard work being a parent. But its not hard to show your appreciation. Please think about these as well if some one you love has anxiety. It is highly important.

      My anxiety has gotten worse because I now doubt myself on my parental techniques because of how my family treats me. Anxiety, social anxiety, depression, OCD, sensory. This is what I deal with, every day. Please be nice to your loved ones. Who cares if she is your step mum or he is your step dad. It proves they stepped up, they are trying. They are making an effort. 

      And my family, please remember all the things I tried to do to help you all. You all think it was just your father, but I was also calling the shots, not just him. I tell him to pick you guys up, I tell him to visit you, u tell him to invite you, I tell him to ask you if you need anything. I tell him to give you money. It was me in the shadows.

      Through broken bones to broken hearts. Chicken pox and the flu. Through good days and bad days. Getting you all from school to sitting down and helping with homework while trying to cook dinner.

      Taking you to the doctors to try and find out what was wrong with one child, get another on the pill, to help fix your migraines, your period pain, bent over backwards when you broke your legs. Waited on you hand and foot when you were I’ll. Emptied spew buckets and cleaned dirty jocks. Because that is what a mother does. Blood or not.

      I know I’m not your mother, but I tried to be a mother for you all when she wasn’t around. You were all so sad most of the time when I first met you all. I didn’t want to replace your mother, I just wanted to let you all know I was there and still am when you needed a mum.

      And I will still love you all as much as possible.  But guys, please stop hurting us.

      Keeping my daughter’s bullies at bay.

      My 7 year old Daughter has more of my genes than I expected.

      Despite both mine and Hubby’s genes are quite strong, I knew from the minute she was born, she had the one gene I had hoped and prayed for her not to have. 

      The dark body hair.

      The minute I saw her naked wet body I saw the thick patch of hair on the back of her neck and just above her tiny bum crack between two cute baby dimples.

      For months, every time I sat and feed her, bathed her, rubbed her down in lavender cream, I rubbed those patches in hope for them to eventually disappear like the baby hair on her head.

      But it didn’t work. I just wanted her to not have this bit of my DNA. And this is why.
      In Preschool I became self aware of how dark my hair was. Now I’m naturally olive in skin colour but Caucasian. I am Australian born, seventh generation on my mothers and ninth generation on my father’s side.

      I was bullied a lot at school, mocked and jeered at. But all were from boys for the time being. Even in front of their mothers. Even though they would get an earful about it, they would continue every other day.

      My hair on my head was dark brunette to nearly black, my legs and arm hair was black. Thick, long, bushy black.

      My family moved around a lot, not suburb to surburb in one town but cities away. I found it hard to make friends and when I did we moved again. I became socially awkward.

      But at every new school I still got bullied. I got teased. I tripped one day and scrapped my knee and that enticed new teasing like I tripped over my hair on my legs, I was mistaken for a boy with certain hair styles, or a wog which now it isn’t insulting but at 7 I didn’t know what a wog was.

      My mother wasn’t exactly supporting, but I can’t remember many happy memories from my childhood, just boring ones, sad ones and lonely and angry memories.

      At age 8 I highly recall an incident at school. I had no friends except my Neighbour who was 12. I was teased horrendously that I ended up breaking down and crying. The next day I went to school and at first lunch I was pushed down to the ground, my hair pulled, someone punched me while I laid there crying. I was only 8. And all I recall was them yelling at me to shave my legs.

      Then at second break the same day, the same group of kids were talking to the principal and I saw them point at me. The principal came at me and I got a revving for being racist. These group of bullies are aboriginal. They claimed they were provoked by my calling them black. I cried trying to state it wasn’t true and he rang my mother. I remember sitting on a bench crying when my neighbour came up and comforted me.

      I told my mother what happened but I don’t know what was done after that. After that day, I begged my mother for me to shave my legs.

      Four years of begging. I was finally allowed to shave my legs when I turned 12. And that was my 12th birthday present. A razor. That was it.

      I was a different school again by that time but I was still getting teased because of my dark body hair.
      And that is why I was at a crossroads with my 7yo daughter. My 5yo daughter was fortunate enough not to have this gene. So after many countless conversations with my husband, many pleads and stories of my childhood, many coffee dates with friends asking for advice, I decided to have a look at the chemists.

      Now I found the perfect electric razor but I didn’t have the money there and then for that item so I looked on till I found pads for hair removal. I ended up buying them and after numerous conversations in my head, I decided that my daughter has had enough.

      She was getting teased, she would cry all the way home about how mean people are, how they always pick on her leg hair and arm hair.

      I know damn well telling a staff member at school wasn’t working, telling her to snap back with a witty comment wouldn’t have it because she is too kind. Even when her feelings were getting hurt, she didn’t want to hurt theirs. I told her to smack one in their face but yet again she is to kind.

      So I sat down on the weekend with her legs on my lap as I rubbed circles in to her legs. After a while, it was making a difference. Her hair was falling out and straight away her self confidence came back. After a day at school after her legs became bare, she said she had a great day. Not a single person teased her about her legs. She didn’t cry once after school which was the first time this year and she was so much happier after just one day.

      Now I had a miserable childhood. I was sad and the problem could be fixed but was never solved.

      My daughter had the same problem and after a few months of researching other mothers with the same dilemma and some helpful advise from friends, I snapped when my 7yo came home crying yet again over her legs. So I solved the problem, I didn’t wait till it was socially accepted and she was of age, I didn’t wait till it was her 12 birthday and I defently didn’t wait till she was bashed because of some thing so stupid.

      So I might be getting in early with my daughter’s happiness, but I eliminated my daughter from being a target to school yard bullies and I don’t regret it. Her legs at 7 years of age was equivalent to a 13 year old boy.

      Its not something I will be doing with her every week, as it helps reduce hair growing rate, but it will be held of until absolutely necessary. So five times max a year, but if I avoid winter maybe 2-3 times a year because I don’t want her to have my problem at the age of 18, the start of adulthood and having to shave her legs every 2nd day, because it sucks!

      My daughters legs won’t see a razor for a few more years hopefully, so by the time she needs to shave her legs, I’m hoping its not as frequent as me.

      My daughter deserves a happy childhood and if it means getting rid of her hairy legs to prevent bullying, than so be it. She has an awesome network of family and friends and that’s some thing I never had as a child. And she also knows its okay to see some of them through school because some of the network are teachers and teacher aides that are my friends and I’m forever grateful to them, helping my girl when I can’t. And she also knows to see her favourite teacher in the whole school who is the most awesome and out going woman and i reckon she will make a wonderful aboriginal elder in our town many years down the track.
      It really does take a village to raise a child and my village, my village is awesome.

      Why helping at your child’s school will benefit you.

      So I was a homebody before my children started school. I had barely any friends and I was fine with that. After I left high school I was a real crappy friend myself and didn’t keep in touch with anyone. Plus I had my reasons with some people.

      So when my eldest started school I pushed myself out of my comfort level and forced myself to socialize.

      Than before I knew it, I had my other kids in playgroup. Than I was in the P&C. As years progressed and all my kids in school now, I help in tuck shop, I volunteer my days doing cake stalls, bbqs and other fundraisers.

      I made new friends, and every year I meet a bunch more. Every now and then we go out on Friday or Saturday nights at a tavern or hotel, or just have a quiet afternoon having coffees and chatting before school pick up or meet at ones house and the kids play together.

      Most days are awesome. We laugh as we tell stupid stories of ourselves or husbands. We babble on about our kids. We have music playing as we sing and dance while making school lunches for tuck shop. Our atmosphere can be so infectious that a staff member or too will join us on the travels from one room to another. Or we get called in to the hall and have adult vs kids netball match or listen to their school captain nomination speeches. We even get kids at the back door of tuckshop at playtime asking if we can join them in basketball.

      We know nearly every name of each child as they greet us, make cards for us, and thank us is whatever we do.

      And some days my time with them doesn’t end once school does. I would get home than spend the next four hours on the phone chatting and gossiping about stuff we couldn’t say earlier. We would slightly neglect our kids or housework, only half listening to our children screaming for attention so they can ask some random question and letting your dinner over cook as you realize the time of night and you need to bathe your kids as you quickly hang washing but the whole time talking about such and such is seeing so and so and blah blah was saying this and that today.

      Volounteering my time at my children’s school has helped me in so many ways. I’ve become a looser parent, I’m more relaxed. I have an awesome network of parents that I’m grateful are my friends that I can lean on and ask questions and advice.

      I know most of the teachers and other staff at the school and understand the ins and outs. I have great conversations and know where my children are in their education. I get tipped off when they are getting awards and get results back early from their tests and report cards.

      Plus being in the P&C has many perks besides having new friends. I get notes and fundraiser forms earlier than most parents so I can help more and have more time to do so.

      You also get to know other kids. The beautiful kids. They are smart and intelligent and just awesome because over time as you get to know these other children, you become proud of them when they achieve something and disappointed when they misbehave. I always had a joke around with some seniors last year and already miss them. But I also know they are doing great in high school and I am proud of them for trying their hardest.

      Joining my children’s school community was the best choice I’ve made. I’ve become less awkward socially, more forward. Less judgmental and more compassionate. I have awesome new friends that whenever we are together we have a great time. I’ve got some pretty good friends that are also teachers and teacher aides at the school, and even for a small community, it feels like a huge family.

      The school maybe small, but their hearts ain’t. The staff are wonderful.

      I use to help with reading as well and helping teachers to get these little bundles to learn to read is amazing. The way their faces light up when you walk in the classrooms! (The kids too)

      Plus you get to keep an eye on your child. Learn his friends, his habits, his behavior. After all, school child is completely different to home child.

      So I highly recommend to get out there. Have a go. My friends from my kids school range from 27 to 55. We love volunteering, even if its once a week. I love going, saying hello to everyone, applaud students on parade, have a chat with the girls.

      Get out there and have a try! It will be some ride! 

      How camping can be just as awesome as any other holiday.

      Something everyone should try is camping. It doesn’t matter if you sleep under a tarp, in the car, a tent, camper trailer, caravan or cabin.

      It doesn’t matter if its free or $90 a night. Or bush, national park, beach, dam or river.

      But what matters for me is my sanity of having a tranquil weekend. I tell my kids to take a toy each, board game each and a good book. Because where we are going there will be no tablets, phones or DS’s. We will be socializing and connecting without the distraction of electronics.

      When I go camping we swim, fish, walk and play games. We have to drive to the nearest toilets unless we make our own. We have shelter for shade and mesh for the floor. We have blow up mattresses everywhere, clothes thrown through the tent and wet towels scrunched on the ground in rocks, sand and dirt.

      Our chairs set up in the water, a portable stereo blasting tunes and the relaxation of watching turtles surface barely a metre away as all the kids paddle the kayaks down stream to be unseen and unheard till their stomachs growl.

      Whereas the younger kids who can’t swim stay in the inflatable boat tied to the bullbar of the cars under the shade, their faces multiple colors of white, red, green and blue from sunscreen and zinc as us adults sit back with our preferred drinks of beer, coke or coffee.

      With babies on our laps in such a relaxed position they fall asleep with the tide drifting past. The quietness of fishing and dragging to shore your catch, not caring if it is a turtle, catfish or bass, holding it carefully and showing the little tots what it is as they pat it and help you release it back.

      The kids laughing as they have their buckets, catching baby fish as we light up the gas camping stoves prepping lunch. Teaching the kids the fundemantal basics of sewing to repair the drag nets after they drag out fresh water catfish. And constantly reminding each child like you are a broken record telling them to top up in sunscreen and drink plenty of water. Adjusting our chairs, following the shade.

      Preparing the aeroguard for mosquito’s as the sun starts to set, making sure the torches aren’t flat and getting beds ready. Cooking snags and onions on the frying pan and changing the gas cylinders. Dinner at 4 or 5 pm so there is no cooking in the dark and letting the kids snack on junk till they pass out from exhaustion after complaining how hot the tent is and they can’t sleep from us adults talking.

      The fire crackling that everyone wanted but no one used, as we laugh over little inside jokes. Changing into dry clothes to sit in a wet chair. And in between these slither thin pieces of heaven, there is always one child crying from being sunburnt, one whinging they are bored, another saying no one is playing with them, and the occasional argument over the kayaks, fishing rods and the last pancake from breakfast six hours ago and the chime of “not me” when we ask for the dishes to be done.

      I’ve encounter more snakes in a day trip then this weekend, but I expected snakes because of the bush and the weather. But I have a huge fear of spiders. Its something I have slowly been dealing with. Start small with the redbacks and small house spiders. But I am now able to get small huntsman spiders. I may still squeal like a bitch but I get the job done. Unless its bigger then my hand. Then the house, kids and bills are his.

      But this weekend I have come across not one or two but so far three bush huntsman’s and one was in my tent!

      Now they are harmless. Yes I am aware of this. But it is unnatural in my opinion to have eight eyes, eight legs and be that hairy as well. And they are fast things too. Just when you line up your slapper (Australian term for thong- the footwear not underwear), the little bugger runs.

      As the huge moon rises, and peace flows with the river, all you can hear are the occasional mullet jump, the turtles run into water, crickets and night birds. Owls hooting, small finches feeding their young, the occasional duck and her brood. The quiet voices from other sites and the fire crackling. And fingernails to skin. From mosquito’s.

      I know I will go home with sore feet, stone bruises, scratch marks from scratching in my sleep and one hell of a messy car. And the constant shudders of that bush huntsman. But when I do go home, I am looking forward to MY toilet.

      The night carries ominous splashes as the adults grab their soap and head for the water under the moonlight. Chairs line the shore line with towels at the ready with squeals of women shouting something touched their legs and the occasional swear words as turtles accidently get stepped on in the darkness. And one bit back. That was a hoot. Not a peep is heard from any child except their little snores.

      I have to admit set up, pack up, meal times are stressful. Kids nipping at your heels for food, attention, random questions that have you questioning your DNA offsprings.

      There are the occasional fights and spits. And tantrums, mainly from babies and toddlers. But a warm milk at night and a long cuddle fixes most problems with tired children. Its next to nature to pick up a random child on our campsite not caring if the child is yours or not, stuffing a biscuit in their mouth, a large cup of water, whipping their wet clothes off, fixing up a nappy and within minutes they were asleep on your lap as you continue to chat, smoothly rubbing their belly or patting their back.

      And to wake up and repeat the day again tomorrow, kids dragging plastic chairs to the tree swing to reach the rope, fighting over the first kayak paddle, checking crab pots. The flicking of lighters to light the stoves to boil the kettles. Teaspoons tapping coffee cups and eskies opening for the milk as the younger children rub their sleepy eyes and howling for breakfast.

      But this is relaxation for me. When I am with my family, my extended family and friends. With laughing and cuddles of little arms. Its like a small family reunion that lasts all weekend.

      It was needed for me to get out of the house for the weekend. A nice break from a hectic month. Its exhausted me, its stretched me, but it was needed for me.

      A letter to my husband.

      Dear husband,

      This year will mark 12 years. But we only lived together for 11.

      That first year you were a single full time father. You brought kids into this relationship and I provided new ones as the years went past.

      But now our youngest is at school and your not at work today.

      No, I don’t want to cuddle in bed all day watching movies.

      No I don’t want to ask what do you want to do today and you reply an hour before school pick up.

      I seem to forget sometimes you were a single parent for a while. Nearly four years before I came along.

      So when you have the day off, I don’t want you to fold half a basket of clothes to look busy, then leave the folded clothes on the floor and couch.

      I want you to make them breakfast. It takes me 20 minutes to drink my coffee and wake up and function from my horrible lack of sleep. That’s why I am out of bed at 6am.

      While I am in the shower shaving my legs because its too hot for long pants, please feel free to help zip up zippers and tie shoes.

      While I make their sandwiches and fill their lunch boxes, please help me by doing the dishes.

      While I brush and do our daughters hair up nice and tight and braided and off their shoulders to help prevent catching headlice, there are three Barbie’s, a dressing gown, 4 cushions and a blanket plus those folded clothes that need to be picked up and wool everywhere because I had to teach our son how to knit before this afternoon.

      But you seem to be out of routine, you seem to have forgotten how hectic a school morning is. Please don’t lay on the bed playing poker on your phone telling the children to clean their rooms when one is screaming with no socks and shoes on and her hair half undone from it getting caught in her dress zipper. Another sulking on the couch trying to tighten the Velcro on her shoes and the third well, he jumps out of bed and he is ready for school.

      Now husband, I know you hurt yourself and the pain will subside. Only one more hour than you can see the doctor about it, but please don’t lay in bed barking orders when I’ve been doing this for 10 years with a pain threshold slowly moving up to a permenant 7 out of 10.

      Now I have to find my other shoe before I have to leave for work and take the kids to school, so please just remember, its not hard to help. So please walk in my shoes on the days I can’t do housework and had the opportunity. On the days where we just have to do it, despite the pain.