Moving On Up

Last week I found out we were moving for my husband’s job. It wasn’t a surprise,  I knew he had applied, but the fact he got the job was a shock. Not because he doesn’t deserve it, simply because we had been told there was little chance of getting it due to the fact we’re already in the district.  So I wasn’t prepared for the news, and now, a week later, I’m only just beginning to process the fact that some time in the next couple of months I will be starting all over again in a new town, 4 hours away, where I know no one. It’s a little daunting to say the least.

It’s not as if we’ve never done it before. We moved from the UK to New Zealand and from there to Perth. Then, barely two years later, from Perth to where we are now, a small mining town in the middle of the desert. I have, remarkably, managed to make friends everywhere I’ve been. It’s difficult, I’m shy and anxious about meeting new people, but I do it. Mainly because I know my children need a good social role model. But this time, for whatever reason, I feel more anxious than ever.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve had some bad experiences with friendships in the past. Getting past the initial getting-to-know-you phase is difficult. It’s inevitable that it won’t always work out. Sometimes you simply discover you have too little in common to build a friendship. Sometimes you discover that the person is a raging psychopath. Sometimes you don’t really know what went wrong. Maybe I’m the raging psychopath and I just don’t know it. Whatever the reason, it’s hard. It’s like those first few months of dating, trying to impress one another, wondering if you’ve said something to offend them when they don’t call or text back, hanging out for the next invite to a ‘play date’….or maybe that’s just me? God, I hope not! The thought of doing that dance again, trying to build a new support network and find people I can rely on and trust, is simply overwhelming.  Knowing that I will once again begin friendships only for them to crash and burn or fade away is, honestly, a little debilitating.

I’ve met some truely wonderful people here and made some, hopefully, lifelong friends. And that, I think, is the problem. Partly because I realise how lucky I’ve been to find such good friends and I’m not sure I can be that lucky again, and partly because I am worried I’ll lose those friends. I’m not great at making friends, but I’m even worse at keeping them. Keeping in touch is not my strong point. I don’t like to speak on the phone, if I’m honest I don’t really like talking in person. If I could do all my communicating in writing, I would. Writing gives me time to compose my thoughts, to frame my words and express how I’m feeling far more coherently than I ever could in a conversation.  I’m also way funnier in writing, or at least I like to think I am. But not many people feel the same way (about keeping in touch, not my wit. But probably that too). If they’re not active Facebook users, or happy to hear from me once or twice a year, then the friendship will invariably end. Hopefully I can work on that. Hopefully I can manage to maintain the friendships I have made. Only time will tell.

Despite these reservations I am looking forward to moving. In many ways I’m looking forward to starting fresh. As I’ve mentioned before, this town has more than it’s fair share of ‘interesting’ people, plus just plain rude people. Tonight my husband and I went out for dinner with some friends who have just arrived in town.  We had a fantastic night, it was great to see them and it did make us wonder if we are doing the right thing. But then, towards the end of the night, one of my husband’s work colleagues joined us. Well, the group of people who happened to be there at the same time as us. I’ve met this guy on several occasions and it seems to me that he goes out of his way to exclude me from conversations and blatantly ignore anything I say. He’s an arrogant prick. It’s people like him that put me off socialising and it’s people like him that I hope to escape when we leave. That’s wishful thinking, of course. Wherever we move we will encounter people who irritate and annoy us, and who we simply don’t like. That’s just how the world works. I am hoping, however, that a bigger town will mean it is easier to avoid these people. Or perhaps I will learn to be less sensitive and more discerning, to stop giving people endless chances when it’s clear from the start that they’re idiots.

For now, though, I am going to enjoy my last few months in this town with my friends and try not to worry about meeting new people. Fuck it. It’ll all work out fine 🙂

Congrats Nat and Jack

My niece is getting married today and I can’t be there. Therefore, today is a day of hugely mixed emotions for me. I am overwhelmingly happy, excited and joyfully tearful at the thought of Natalie walking down the aisle with my big brother by her side and walking into the arms of her soul mate, Jack. I know they are made for each other and I couldn’t imagine a more wonderful occassion, coming almost 3 years after he proposed on the day they welcomed their beautiful daughter, Jessie,  into the world. But I  can’t help but feel a sense of longing and sadness that I can’t be there, at least not physically, I  am, of course, there in spirit!

It has been 12 years since I last graced the shores of the UK with my presence and, until today, I have had no desire to return. I miss my brother, sister-in-law and niece immensely but I was never meant to live my life in Manchester. Natalie and I were like sisters growing up, there’s only (almost) 6 years between us. I remember when she was born, and being incredibly jealous! She got me in to trouble when I was a kid who didn’t want to play with a “baby” and I repaid the favour when I led her astray as a teenager. When I first left the UK we would talk for hours and hours on the phone, it was as if we had never been apart. This has changed as we’ve gotten older and started our own families, we talk infrequently but still with so much laughter and passion it never feels strange. And if course technology allows us to watch each other’s families grow from afar whilst feeling like we are right there with them. Although our physical closeness may have changed I know our emotional and spiritual bond is as strong as ever, and always will be.

I remember when Nat and Jack met  I remember sitting on the spare bed (because it was the early hours of the morning and Steve was sleeping) of my home in Auckland talking for hours about her new man. I could hear the excitement in her voice. Not long after, Nat joined me and Steve in Vegas for our wedding. We hadn’t seen each other for 5 years and we had the most amazing time – so much so that it’s  where Nat and Jack are honeymooning! I heard more about Jack on the holiday than anything else and I knew they were meant to be together.

Fast forward almost 3 years and I finally got to meet Jack when we were lucky enough to have them come to visit us in Perth, shortly after the birth of our daughter, Kate, and while Natalie was in the throws of horrific morning sickness with Jessie. I was so excited to finally be meeting the man I had heard so much about. And he certainly lived up to expectations. Jack’s love and affection for Nat was immediately apparent and I was irresistibly reminded of my own relationship with Steve. They laughed so much, mainly at Nat and her incredible naiveté, I have no idea how someone so smart can be so gullible! But it was never nasty and always taken in good humour. I was so happy to see them starting on their journey together and so very sad to see them leave.

It would be another 2 years before we saw each other again, last year, in Thailand where my entire family came together to celebrate my sisters 50th
birthday. I got to see what a beautiful family Nat, Jack and Jessie had become and how amazingly hands on Jack is as a father – something that shouldn’t surprise me because the Earnshaw women would stand for nothing less 🙂 Once again we had to say goodbye, with the added sadness of knowing that Kate would not be growing up with Jessie as a playmate. I can imagine they would be like sisters, just like Nat and I are. Even during that short trip.they became best of friends and Kate still talks about Jessie. I am sure that when they next see each other they will still be firm friends.

Which brings us to today! Today is the day that Nat and Jack finally become husband and wife (I say finally but they’ve done it much quicker than we did, I had to wait 11 years!) I wanted this post to be humourous and amusing, reminiscing about the past, but I fear it’s turned out to be purely sentimental. It’s rare I write about how I feel about people (unless it’s a rant…I should probably adress that…) but if any day is the day for sentiment and emotion, today is it. If Steve and I hadn’t been blessed with having Tom, we would have been there, I can promise you that! But as we can’t I wanted to write this small dedication to you both on your very special day. We are thinking about you and wish we could be by your side.

So of course I want to say Congratulations. But I also want to say Thank You. Thank you, Nat, for being more of a sister than a niece and for always being there for me, even across oceans. And thank you, Jack, for making someone so special to me so happy.

I hope you have the most amazing day. You deserve it

Xxxxxxxx

Captain Judgey McJudge-pants

Today, my husband and I had a wonderful dinner at a beautiful restaurant overlooking the Indian Ocean at sunset. The fact that we were joined by our energizer bunny 3 year old and a teething 6 month old only slightly dampened the romance. Who am I kidding?! It completely dampened the romance. Nevertheless, we had a relatively relaxing, very enjoyable early evening ‘date’. But as I sat, feeding my 6 month old fries, I was transported back to my first mothers group and the incredible differences between my niave first time mum ideals and now. I vividly remember saying to one of my friends, about another mum in the group, “I can’t believe she’s feeding him chips! It’s so unhealthy!” Oh, how things change!

I admit, I am a judgemental person. I definitely don’t suffer fools gladly and have an extremely low tolerance for bullshit. This may or may not have been (ok, definitely has been) an issue when it comes to making and maintaining friendships, but I am trying to change that. Because no one could meet my exacting standards of humanity, least of all me! Pre-kid me would, undoubtedly, have found some trivial flaw in every one of those mothers and refused to have anything to do with them. Now, post-kid me, fully appreciates that it does indeed “take a village” and that, said village, will (and should!) include a whole host of personalities, stengths and interests. Although I draw the line at anti-vaxxers. No village should include those.

So how judgey was pre-kid me? Previous friendship deal breakers would include (but not be limited to):
* Conservatives 
* Bogans
* Hippies
* Overly sporty people
* Reading 50 Shades of Grey
* Not reading at all
* Watching the Kardashians, The Bachelor, Jersey Shore [insert reality TV show of choice]
* Drinking during the week (I’m currently enjoying an ice cold cidar. It’s Wednesday night)
* Naming your child anything from the bogan checklist  (think Chelsea, Sharnelle, anything hyphenated)
* Rats tails and bro-hawks
* Excessive tattoos and piercings
* Not knowing the difference between to, two and too. (Or any other grammar faux par)

I could go on if you like, but you get the idea. I was a dick.

Just think of all the people I missed out on because they didn’t meet my criteria! And all that from a far-from-perfect socially awkward, overweight, uber-geek who always considered herself to be the epitome of liberal tolerance. If I had a time machine I’d go back and slap myself.

Ok, so, obviously I still judge people. Everyone does. Especially women. And especially, especially mothers. We raise our eyebrows when someone does something we wouldn’t do ourselves. The parenting debates are endless and well established (breast vs bottle, co-sleeping vs CIO, daycare vs SAHM). As a first time mum it felt like I had to pick sides and align myself with like-minded mummies. But to be honest, with two kids, there’s very little that I have a definitive opinion on because I know how different each child can be. We do what we need to do to survive motherhood and not fuck up our kids too much. But I’m still concerned about people judging my choices. Of course I am! I was Captain Judgey McJudge-pants and have only just recently been demoted to Corporal Judge-a-little-less so I know that the judging is real. But it’s probably not as bad as I imagine. After all, did I really think less of the mother who fed her first child chips? No. Not at all. I didn’t even remember it until I found myself doing the same thing and flushed with embarrassment at the memory of my judgement.

So, being less judgemental is my ongoing struggle. A quintessential first world problem. There will always be things I judge people harshly on, the aforementioned anti-vaxxers being a prime example, but unless it’s something that affects me and my family I resolve to let it go, to look past that one issue to the whole person. Of course, that whole person may just turn out to be a dick and I will judge them accordingly, there’s nothing I can do about that!

Inspired by the Crazy

As a stay at home mum in a (very) small town in country WA I’m no stranger to, let’s say, interesting characters. This place seems to attract them. Or perhaps it’s me that attracts them, after all I can’t in all fairness suggests that I never encountered such volatile personalities elsewhere. And as much as I quite emphatically claim to hate drama it does seem to have a habit of catching up with me.

Take tonight, for instance. A rather dull Facebook conversation with the mothers from my playgroup quickly deteriorated into an unnecessary debate about religion (stemming from the seemingly innocuous suggestion that someone bring sausage rolls on Friday – Good Friday). I should know better than to engage in these things but, alas, I foolishly believed that the participants in the conversation were sane and able to take a joke. The conversation proceeded as follows:

Innocent commenter (making a joke): We’re all going yo hell anyway!!

Me: I’m not, it doesn’t exist 😉 [note the winky, smily, emoticon?? Yep, normal people see this as a lighthearted signal]

Crazy person: Watch what you’re saying, you’d better be careful [I’m paraphrasing, I deleted the conversation for my own sanity but those words were used]

Me: I’m very open about my religious views. I don’t think me saying that it doesn’t exist is different from a religious person saying it does.

Crazy Person: blah, blah, blah….offensive….blah, blah, blah, rant, rant, rant

*sigh*

So, no biggie in the scheme of things, not exactly an interesting or explosive argument but a good example of how I seem to rub people up the wrong way. Crazy people, at least. I managed to work in an extremely religious company for 3 years with my views well known to everyone and not one person took offense at that comment. Not one. And these were people who didn’t even believe in evolution. The crazy woman last night? Doesn’t even go to church.

Then again, she’s clearly easily offended. This woman (I kid you not) wants to pull her child from school because they sing “5 little sausages” and, as a vegan, that offends her.

Well, do you know what offends me?? People who shove their beliefs and ideas down other people’s throats but refuse to even entertain another person’s opinion. Hell, that’s not even what happened here! What happened here is someone made the deliberate and conscious decision to take offense at an otherwise lighthearted comment. Presumably for the sole purpose of arguing. Whatever. I’m done.

So you’re wondering what the point of this rant is, right? Well, thanks to that frustrating exchange and my subsequent Facebook rant I came to the realisation that my explosive rants have outgrown Facebook. They need their own page. And so here it is! I have, in fact, been intending to start a blog for some time as an outlet for all my musings (they won’t all be rants, I promise) so I should really thank Crazy K for inspiring me to finally put (virtual) pen to paper and rediscover my love of writing.

So, here’s my thanks. Thank you for being the most abrasive, opinionated, egotistical person I know. Thank you for taking offense when none was ever intended and when no other sane person would see it. Thank you for, basically, being a douche, an asshat and an all round irritating human being. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!