Monday, April 28, 2008


Yesterday we went to a park where a brass band played in the rotunda and great big dahlias overbalanced in a single bed. It was sunny and cold and reminded me of what winter will be.

It was good to be out of the house after a week of illness. I was down with 'a virus' (thanks $70 doctor visit) with complimentary bacterial throat infection (oh, another $70?, well, sure); Al had the classic tonsillitis, which feels rather less childish than its ice cream and jelly connotations suggest. The girls have been low grade sick for weeks.

The last days have been horrible. It's hard when one party is sick; it's impossible when both parents are down with no-one to step in (my brains dribbled out of my ears after the fourth hour of children's television). But mostly, being ill threw into relief how utterly unhappy we are in our lives at the moment. The girls remain ... oh, difficult. We have almost no money. We can't find cash for a new pair of shoes for Al, let alone to send our kids to a school we feel good about. I work long hours on a professional wage, pay awe inspiring amounts in tax, and yet I have one pair of jeans and they cost $7, and I can't afford to get my hair cut. All the things I love - eating out, yoga, theatre, new books - have gone. It's hardly the underclass and we're not near to eviction or starvation - and I still have my painting - but our buffer has gone. As I've written about before, I've been frugal as a choice but now it's enforced and as much as I wish I could say otherwise, it sucks. It's grinding and boring and worrying.

When we decided to have kids we decided that one of us would stay home with them. We realised we would be taking a financial hit through this choice but that was okay because I really believed that for our family this was the best way, the path to a measured and free childhood for the girls, and a happy and relaxed family for us all. It seems those best laid plans are algey, and we're enduring the annoyances and rather larger sacrifices for not much at all. The girls are patently not happy and nor are we.

At dinner the other night Lucy said, "No-one likes your soup, Mum". I cried. It summed up how everything I've been trying for seems so irrelevant to my kids (yeah, I know, welcome to parenthood); Lucy doesn't want a slow childhood, she wants a pony and swimming lessons and as many dinosaur books and movies as I can fit in her bedroom (Nell, I don't know - she really like tofu and dogs). I feel like a loser: I'm a breadwinner who can't make enough money for my family to live on, a mother whose kids hate her meals, a hippy who wants to buy shoes, and my waist measurement puts me in the high risk category for diabetes.

I'm forgetting what we're trying to do here. ...


belinda said...

Wow does it sound like you have had a bad week. Feeling like you have no money is never fun all I can do is offer support and remind you just because I child has the "I wants" it doesn't mean she is missing out. It may not seem important to her now that home is safe, stable and a parent is always available, cause well thats the way its always been, but the foundations you are laying now last a lifetime and will hold her in good stead for the future.

Hope you feel better soon
Kind Regards

Kez said...

I have no suggestions, I just feel your pain. {{HUGS}}

blue milk said...

Wow, you're having a shocker of a time, you poor thing, that bit about "No-one likes your soup, Mum" - oww, that sounded terribly sad to be on the receiving end of. (Would make a good post title though, Lu is rather eloquent).

I don't pretend to know what your decision should be but I offer the following thoughts - don't make any decisions while sick, being sick takes over everything and really infects your outlook... and from where I sit on the outside looking in your life looks quite divine at times, will you look at this all differently 6mths from now or is this really a serious need for change manifesting?... and this advice I once received from a stay-at-home father friend of mine when I was agonising about working and putting my daughter in daycare...

- You make decisions as a family unit, everyone benefits from the family unit and everyone has to give a bit to the family unit. Lauca would prefer to be with you than at daycare, but she’ll also benefit from a happy, well-adjusted mother. Think as a family.

- Life moves too quickly for needless regret and self-doubt, by this time next year you will have a whole new set of trade-offs to be weighing up. Make this decision and move on. Guilt gives you nothing and eats you away from inside. Re-visit this decision only if the trade-off doesn’t work anymore.

I'm thinking of you.

Jenny said...

Lucy completely( and naturally) takes for granted what she has, a stable , loving home to grow up in, so ofcourse she asks for things, it's what children do. It doesn't mean she expects to get them or she will suffer if she misses out.She's only three, she's just a baby.
A house full of sickness makes everything look bleak but I'm sure it will get better again.
I made a soup the other night that was declared a close cousin to something rather nasty and that was by a 15 year old. What do they know?
I know the lack of money is really hard especially when everything else seems awful too.But really I don't think you need to give the girls any more than they are getting now. Give yourself a break, they are tiny little tots, they have the luxury of staying home with their dad,they have a safe warm home and a hard working loving mum. What more do they need?
And if you can't afford all the out of the house stuff you just have to find a way to make your home life more stimulating and there's always the library.
Don't expect everything to be perfect or even to be appreciated.
That comes much,much later along with more helpful criticism along the way.
Sorry, I've gone on a bit but we have lived with very little money for a long time and I know it can be a frustration if you let it get to you.

radical mama said...

Dealing with the complete lack of gratitude in parenting and marriage is the hardest part for me. I hope you guys can find something that works for you. We're always trying to figure that out ourselves.

Victoria said...

Sending you a computer hug.
The kids will get easier as they get older. Little kids are always getting upset about something, anything, it's their job!
p.s. I'm sure the meals you make taste better than mine..

innercitygarden said...

My kid rejects my lovingly cooked organic veggies and free range chicken in favour of weetbix. And dry biscuits. Really, they're pretty much all little ingrates. Knowing that is the reason I don't throw the Effing Veggies right back at him. Sometimes it's a close call.

It sucks being sick and looking after kids. Sick kids are revolting too. Children's television for hours on end will make your brain bleed out your ears. This is all to be expected. It's not just you. I've got all my family close by for support, only one kid, and it's still rough.

I nearly burst into tears last time I went to the doctor when they told me they don't bulk bill any more. Right there in the crowded waiting room.

tamara said...

So sorry to read you've all been sick. Much sympathy to you; you've got the quadrella of parenting/family/sickness/money woes going on there.
We live in the hills in Melbourne, and I think it's that first testing cold patch that sends everyone's weak bits ill. For Weeks. We've had the runaround like that too.

I, too, think that your children don't know what they have, because you've always been so careful to give it to them. Only when they grow up (...and possibly have children of their own...eek I sound like my mother!) will they 'get' what you've given them.

And I agree, it's not fair. I want my parenting accolades NOW, not when I'm sixty. I stay home and parent, my partner works. I cook organic, sometimes home grown meals that my children refuse to eat. They tantrum, demand things, get sick and revolting and keep me up all night and I do hate it a lot when all this is happening, too.
- Long way of saying, you're not alone. We too have the "whose turn is it to save for shoes" debate, and we are not the 'poor' classes. We're about as middle as you get.
Hope you feel better soon, all of you.

zose said...

oh man, my daughter told me once that i couldn't cook. i couldn't help it, it was very bad of me, but i threw her glass of water over her head.

it was very bad of me, but she had just gone too far.

as for waist measurments, EVERYONE i know, who has had babies, has failed this one, except one friend who is 5' 2 and tiny no matter what she does.

tea and sun to you from me and my own miseries :/

Gillian said...

Sending you something warm and undefined - such a personal blog to comment on, I am cautious with what I suggest or say.

Relatively recently, I cut myself some slack. Gave up a whole host of extra-curricular jobs and associated expectations that I had of myself (long hard look that one, and ongoing) - I am now extremely poor, but I am happy and ta da, my son is happier and easier. Easier in that he is still capable of being the shit that he has the right to be, but my buffer is wider, more relaxed and flexible to take it and not lash/react so quickly and so much. Still happens, always will, but what the hell.

Perhaps yours is a yell from yourself that needs/craves to carve out, ruthlessly if need be, something that entirely rocks your boat . . . or floats it on the sea of your expectations of yourself.

I hope you are already feeling a bit better just from venting the stuff.


Janine said...

What a tough week. It's unbelievably awful when both parents are ill, so I do hope you and Al get well soon.

I think blue milk said this above, but don't make any decisions atm because being sick makes your whole world seem like crap. While you're getting well have a look at some of the lovely photos of you and the girls on here (especially the one of your lovely daughter running to hug you - I adore that pic), as a reminder that things will eventually be okay.

As for the money thing, I feel your pain.
talk soon, when you can.

p.s. I love the 'Lucy in the Land of the Giant (dahlias)' pic. Gorgeous.

Daisy said...

Big Hugs Kris! You know what though, I felt the same way a while back and realised that I have to write off the next 4 years - no more hair cuts, no more yoga,no more organic food (back to home brand) no more grass roots mags, no more Green and Blacks Maya gold chocolate, and no more clothes, undies and I guess I will be wearing and sewing up the maternity bras long after Ty has finished feeding. Then he will be at school and I will go back to work full time so we have two incomes and life will be finacially and mentally happy again! From one baby belly to another, you are not alone, we will get through this and we will laugh back at these hard times-hopefully with shiney new hair cuts and sexy bras! Put this blog entry in a time capsule and lets read back at it in 5 years time and see where we are at. You are 2 years ahead of me so when Nell is at school I will be dealing with the toddler stage. Now I'm off to eat something totally naughty in sympathy 4 u! xoxo

linsey said...

It's always hard being a parent, being sick and worrying about money just makes things seem more overwhelming. You're doing all the right things, but it's normal to sometimes feel rather desperate about our situations.

Most doctors will bulk bill if you ask them. I never can, either.

Rach said...

I read your posts and find so many similarities, like I am sure many parents do. We to have had days with Minnie when I feel like I am half a second away from smacking her and neither of us believe in smacking children. We have had days when living on one income is all too much and I am ready to put back on my 'good clothes' and head back to the office. There are days when Minnie is so terrible that for a moment actually don't care if she is in some crappy childcare as at least I don't have to deal with it (I am sure if parents are honest they all feel like this at times).
We are thinking of buying a house - not an expensive one but one that will make it so difficult on one salary but I am just tired of not having a garden for Minnie. She is her happiest when we are in TAS at my family home, running in the garden. But with me at home and us not earning a trillion dollars, it’s just all so very hard – much harder than I thought it would be.
My husband says that I shouldn't make big decisions when I am sick, or in a bad mood as I regret them after. Maybe when you are feeling better things won’t look as bad. I am off to the op shop to search for something to turn into something else to wear to a flash wedding...

Ariane said...

Much, much sympathy your way.

Everybody's said lots of good stuff, I'll just add that the number one complaint of kids is that their parents don't spend enough time with them. You are very unreasonable taking away their main source of complaint, they are forced to fall back on dis'ing the soup...

I really, really hope the week has progressed better for you.

sooz said...

I wonder how much of the comment you left on my blog about good and bad would have seemed real when you were writing this? (Very well put by the way - I was clarifying my post to a friend and made the same observation about no longer weighing up, feeling good and bad are perhaps unrelated)

I hope in it all the good was still there. It is really tough, and the rewards of choosing kids and a slow life are so invisible at times. Hard times. No consolation at all, but I do think it gets easier. Hang in there.

Ingrid said...

My wise and sympathetic friend says that even if children don´t appreciate it now, they will later on: In the mean time, eat chocolate.