Tonight I put on my Christmas martyr pants, stood on my Christmas martyr soap box and let it rip.
“I am doing EVERYTHING around here to get ready for Christmas and no-one else is doing ANYTHING!!”
“Like what?” came the reply from my rather shell shocked family.
So I listed all the stuff I have been doing or will do in the lead up to 25 December:
My martyr list
Buy four presents and cards for friends of my children who selfishly decided to be born in December.
Buy 50 chocolates Santas and 50 small Christmas cards for my children’s classmates.
Buy a Christmas present for the kids’ tennis coach.
Buy Christmas gift bags to carry all the Christmas stuff to school.
Make over 60 brownies as presents for teachers, school crossing supervisors, after school care carers, workmates, family and friends.
Write 40 Christmas cards to family and friends.
Source and buy Christmas presents for my children. Track down the one doll my daughter wants that has sold out everywhere, so I’m forced to buy it online. Then the wrong one is delivered. Then I panic that the correct one won’t arrive on time so I ask my lovely workmates to keep an eye out for it in the stores. Then I really panic and decide to buy another one just in case. Then the store sends me the correct one plus the second one I bought; and my workmate buys me one too. So I now have three dolls.
Book my children in to school holiday program for January that needs to be booked and paid for in December.
Buy a Kris Kringle gift.
Buy new Christmas lights for the Christmas tree because the cats ate the lights last year.
Buy the cats a Christmas present.
Get up at sparrow’s fart to line up to have photos of the kids taken with Santa.
Book in for a spray tan, manicure, pedicure and hair cut before Christmas.
Book kids in for a hair cut before Christmas.
Make sure the kids have nice outfits to wear for Christmas Day.
Would you believe it’s taken me about three weeks and at least 12 failed attempts to actually sit down and write on my blog? I’m not even sure I can call it my blog anymore, as it’s probably disowned me due to terrible neglect.
I imagine my blog sitting on the top of my computer monitor, swinging its legs and waving its arms around at me each time I’m sitting down bashing away at the keyboard, doing anything but blogging.
“Shhh!” I say. “I’ve got nothing meaningful to say to you yet.”
“Shhh! You’re a reminder of when I had time to sit down and gather my thoughts in such a way that they were worthy of sharing.”
“Shhh! Everyone is writing really articulate blogs and I just..can’t..put..words..good..together.”
But today I have found a sliver of time to sit down and check in.
Today I have raced out of the office to pick up my son from school because he was looking very green and complaining of a headache and sore tummy. And for once, I didn’t grab some work to bring home with me.
So here I am. He’s tucked up in bed asleep and I have a house to myself – for a bit.
I’ve been thinking a bit about perception v reality lately.
Recently at work I’ve had people tell me that I am scary! It threw me at first. I really never thought of myself as being intimidating enough to provoke fear into grown men!
Me? Scary? Surely not. I’m a pussy cat.
But when I think about it, I think I can be scary at times even though I would like to think of myself as someone who is approachable and nice.
My scariness comes from my low b***shit tolerance.
Since becoming a Mum, I’ve noticed that I have no patience for time wasters and people that generally make my life trickier than it needs to be. So I may be a bit forceful and direct. Sorry.
Believe me, underneath that so-called scary person is someone who wants to do her very best at work and to produce good outcomes for everyone.
So, if I am a bit direct and sound as though I am picking away at your ideas, it may be because I know I have to race out of the office in five minutes to pick up my little boy from day care and I don’t want to be late because I’ve missed him all day and can’t wait to get home and be with the rest of my family. Working Mum guilt – same old story.
Or, more than likely, I am struggling with an enormous workload; operating under my normal haze of exhaustion, and your incompetence is simply making my job harder than ever!
I’ve just cleared out my closet. And the big, heavy suitcase that was housing my ‘one day I’ll get back in to’ clothes.
And it felt great! I was pleasantly surprised that some lovely items now fit and can return to the fray, while others had to be kissed goodbye (some particularly beautiful pieces that I never should have bought as they would never look good on me, were literally kissed!)
It also made me take an unexpected trip down memory lane.
I had to smile when I came across some pretty Alannah Hill pieces. I remember when I went through my Alannah Hill ‘pretty-as-a-picture’ phase. I bought everything I could on eBay and at the warehouse sales ( I STILL can’t afford to buy her clothes full price!). I was single, living in Southbank in the CBD and working in the city too. My life revolved around me, me ,me and catching up with friends.
They made me think of the city in summer and weekends spent in beer gardens, lusting over some tall, lanky boy with messy hair that would flop into his eyes. He knows who he is! Hee Hee. Actually, that lanky boy is now a married father-of-one and not a terrific catch come to think of it.
I remember wearing those clothes and lamenting that I wasn’t as tall and skinny as the Alannah Hill girls in the shops, knowing deep down that some of the clothes didn’t flatter me, but wearing them nonetheless. I was caught up in my own little inner city single world whereI floated about in whimsy clothing. And I was really happy!
And then I came across the clothes I bought for my engagement party. I remember throwing caution to the wind and spending lots of money on the size 10 (!) clothes.
I also remember that in the lead up to the party, my husband-to-be was getting worried because we couldn’t afford an engagement ring and the pressure was on to have something on my ring finger for the night!
A few nights before the party, my gorgeous Greek Yaya who lived next door, took me aside and let me look through her jewellery to see if I could find something I liked. And I did. It was a ring that my Pop had given to her for a wedding anniversary and she never really liked it. But I loved it. And that became my engagement ring.
There were some ‘what were you thinking?!’ fashion disasters in there too! I really wish someone had sat me down and told me that although most of my friends who were tall and skinny could wear the latest trends I COULD NOT! I think I held on to those ones in the slim hope that I could somehow lose heaps of weight, and grow a few inches too!
And then there were the fat clothes. They made me saddest of all. I remember wearing them after I had gone back to full time work after having two kids. I remember wanting to hide away because I didn’t know my body anymore, but I knew I DEFINITELY didn’t like it.
And then there were the clothes that I had to buy after losing lots of weight, and then putting it (plus some) straight back on again. The failure clothes.
Now all these clothes are in a massive pile on my bed and will go to an opportunity shop and I hope make someone else really happy.
I feel good looking at the pile and realising that even though I am still very much a work in progress, I know my mind and I know what suits me. Not just in clothing, but in life generally. I know what I like and what I don’t like. What I will put up with and what I won’t, and what I hold dearest of all.
Now I have lots more space in my closet to buy new things! But I have my fingers crossed that it’s onwards and upwards from here on – no more Thai fisherman’s pants that made me look two foot tall and two foot wide; or thin, spaghetti strapped silky tops that made my shoulders look like a wrestler’s!
Just mature, elegant threads that will make people stop and think, “Wow! Angie has really blossomed into a mature woman who has got her whole life under control!” I think those kind of clothes are called ‘dress ups’.
Well, the one who has come back in after having a cold, that is.
And not just any cold, mind you. It’s winter down here in Oz and from day one I came down with what I think was the flu. But I worked through it for two weeks, forcing myself in to work due to tight deadlines.
It hung around for about 4 weeks. And then just as I was getting better my daughter and I came down with gastro. And I kid you not, it hit us both at exactly the same time – 2am on a Tuesday morning. She came into our room at about 1am saying she had a sore tummy. We sent her back to bed. I had been struggling with a bit of a gurgling tummy at the same time.
Then at 2am she yelled out and when I raced in to see her, she had thrown up all over herself, her bed and her bedside table. I managed to get her to the bathroom sink to throw up some more, then changed her out off her dirty clothes before it hit me too. I had to send her to get her Daddy while I continued to throw up – for a few hours.
All the while, I have been struggling to get a grip on my extra studies. It’s exhausting, but I’m doing OK. But it’s taking a massive toll on my energy levels and my marriage.
I have not been a good wife.
Once the kids are fed and in bed, I’ve been jumping jump on the computer or reading my textbooks. My husband goes to bed first and I follow. And then all I can do is have a hot shower and collapse into bed.
See? I’m a bad wife, right?
Last night I thought I’d make a huge effort. I had a hot shower as usual, but this time I shaved my legs, put on some body lotion and went into bed. I was so cold that I told myself that once I thaw out, I’m going to make the move and seduce my husband. And wouldn’t he be happily surprised!
The next thing I knew it was 1.30am and something was tapping me on my shoulder.
I opened my eyes and found myself looking in to my four-year-old son’s face. I screamed out a mighty yelp and my husband did the same. Once I recovered I put my son to bed and then realised that I must have fallen straight to sleep the minute my head hit the pillow. I did actually think “Oooh, I should be daring and make my move now!” But the lure of sleep was too strong.
Do you think you ever reach a time in your working life when you are confident in your abilities?
I had the day from hell at work yesterday and it reduced me to a blubbering mess and eroded all my confidence in my ability to do my job.
One of my responsibilities is to proof read and edit my organisation’s publications. I had recently completed a major project against conflicting deadlines and was quite proud of myself for managing my workload so well.
But yesterday when I walked into the office, my colleague met me in the doorway and said these ominous words, “You may want to turn around and go back home.”
Not a great way to start the day, eh?
As I walked in, I saw my manager holding the publication I thought I had done so well with. Her face was stormy and I could tell she was mightily pissed off. She is normally very understanding and laid back, so I knew it was serious.
She told me that I had left out a high level manager in the section that outlined the organisation’s structure. It was one of those mistakes that is so obvious and silly and I had absolutely no excuse as to how it happened.
Well, I DO have excuses, but that’s just what they are – lame excuses. I have been struggling with a yukky cold/flu for three weeks; we had lost two days at work due to a major event and I had actually relied on the approval of the author of the report to assume it was all correct.
All very viable excuses, but certainly nothing exonerating.
As I was standing there dumbstruck, all I could say was “How did that happen?!”
And my manager’s response through gritted teeth was, “I don’t care HOW it happened, just fix it! The CEO has noticed the mistake and I am really angry about this.”
And that’s all it took for me to suddenly feel two inches high and like a work experience student. It wiped out my 10 + years in the communications industry, my previous successful projects and my wealth of experience. I felt like a failure and just wanted to cry.
Luckily the tears held off until my manager went in to a meeting. There’s nothing worse than crying at your desk at work. Especially when you are a female. It makes you look weak and stupid.
Thankfully I have a great team of women who rallied around me and made me feel a lot better. And they also told me in a caring way, that if I cried again they’d have to slap me!
So I sucked it up and went about correcting the mistake.
But it got me thinking if there does come a time when you can shrug these things off, buckle down and correct the mistakes and move on without feeling like a failure.
I am nearly 40 and get rattled by the way my confidence in my work skills is still so delicate that it can be crushed by an angry look from my manager!
Will I ever grow up?
Luckily I have a day off today, so when I return to work tomorrow, all may be forgotten and forgiven. Until the next time….
Suddenly, being a stay at home Mum looks very appealing!
Welcome to our humble home. Leave your health at the door and be prepared to be surrounded by coughing, sneezing and the soothing sound of gurgling phlegm.
The main reason I haven’t blogged for a few days is that I am battling the mother of all coughs. And when I’m not coughing, my chest is rattling with phlegm and I’m struggling to keep my eyes open at the end of the day. Oh, and I’ve got my period too. Can life get any better? Yes.
Reading back on what I’ve just written, I’ve realised I’ve already mentioned phlegm twice. So can you tell that we’re all sick and phlegmy??
Work is so busy at the moment and one of the reasons I got myself this sick and run down is because I was trying to deny I was getting sick because I couldn’t take break from work. And I can’t even look after my own sick kids because of my workload. I feel like such a failure.
Both kids were home sick today and my husband had to stay at home to look after them. Tomorrow he has to work and so do I – and it kills me because I know the kids would both benefit from another day home. But what can we do? I have three things due this week and no-one else can do them. And if I fail, then it will only make me look as though I can’t manage my time.
So I either fail as a Mum or fail as an employee.
I’ve definitely failed as a wife. It’s been weeks since I’ve given my husband a good cuddle. It’s very hard to feel sexy when you cough all night and then have to knock yourself out with cough mixture full of codeine.
Oh, and I think I failed as a school mum tonight!
All day my tummy had been bloated from something I’d eaten. Then I had a work event and was struggling with a sore tummy while trying to be super sociable between dashing off to the toilet. Thank you IBS!
Straight after the event, I went to my daughter’s parent/teacher interview. Half way through it I felt my stomach start to clench and I suddenly thought “Oh no. I need to go to the toilet and I can’t concentrate on what the teacher is saying!”
I tried to focus and ignore the painful cramping, but I just couldn’t. So I had to interrupt her and say I had to go to the toilet!! We had pretty much finished and so she tried to wrap it up by asking if I had any concerns or questions and of course I said no. Luckily my little girl is doing beautifully at school, but I was so embarrassed. Imagine knowing you were cutting short chatting to your child’s teacher because you had to run off to the toilet!
Should I put a little note in my daughter’s school bag and apologise?