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About not having a job.

If one more person tells me I need to get myself a job, I just may implode.

There are several reasons for this, the first of which has something to do with why other people, women in particular, feel that being employed is the be all and end all of life -

that a stay at home mother has little worth and nothing to give to society.

I wonder how we all came to be so close-minded, why we attack our own kind,

why money is seemingly everything and how others belittle the work that people who are at home do.

I cannot judge anyone.

Mostly, I love being able to stay at home

but I come from a working background.

I’ve worked full time, part time and casual right up until I could no longer hold down a job, with all that was going on with Ivy.

My own father told me I would be useless unless I had a career, chastised me, when I refused to return to work before Lily had turned one

and so staying home for me has been difficult at times.

When you have been brought up being told that you will be nothing if you do not have a career by a man who only realised the importance of family on his death bed,

it is easy to feel worthless and non- contributional, especially when my older kids work on weekends and I am left at home with the washing.

Some days I long to use my mind for something challenging.

Sometimes I’d just like the acknowledgement of working as part of a team, being seen as me and not somebody’s mum.

Some days I’m just driven to distraction with boredom.

After the washing and the picking up and the cleaning, I am left to my own devices and occasionally it becomes self destructive

and I berate myself for not being able to figure out a way to hold down some form of employment too.

Some friends insist that I just do ‘anything’ to bring in some income into the house.

Others suggest that I return to midwifery – that I must somehow find a way to go back into the profession I trained in.

The thing is this:

how?

How can I return to work?

Is there such a place out there that caters to someone like me?

Today, for example, would any employer have let me drop everything to pick up Ivy when she became too tired to be at school anymore,

would they have excused me from my duties while I attend multiple doctors appointments at the most inconvenient of times.

I doubt it.

Is there a company out there who would employ someone who suddenly needs to leave work for up to three weeks at a time, while their child is in the hospital,

one who would not be uncomfortable with the uncertainty of when it would all happen again and how much I would be able to commit to my position.

No, or at least, I am yet to find somewhere.

In  less than a week Dave will be without a job.

After nineteen years working in one company he was downsized.

He and I have talked things over repeatedly and know that this is ultimately going to be the best thing for him and for our family,

even if things are tight for a bit.

We did talk about my going back to work, doing a bridging course to return to nursing

but in the end it was decided that it would be better for everyone if he remains the income earner.

Better for him because of his own sense of self worth (he is madly applying for as many local jobs as he can)

and better for the kids because, well, because adapting to having a working mother and a stay at home dad would be interesting and stressful all at once

and we all feel that added worry is not what they need right now.

I’m by no means belittling Dave’s place in the family  -  he is a man who can and has held the fort when Ivy is in hospital

but for some reason the only question the kids feel confident in asking their father is ‘where’s Mum’.

Besides that – I just want to be there for them.

Also, with Ivy’s circumstances being unrelenting and unchanging I feel that I need to be there for her as well.

Which leaves me in the category of being ‘unemployed’ in the eyes of many, which also translates to worthless to society at large apparently.

I liked to work.

I did.

Admittedly, I hated having to leave my kids (who doesn’t)

but once there, I worked hard and enjoyed it.

However, not working doesn’t make me useless or unproductive or any of the labels that society pushes onto a stay at home parent

it just means that most people don’t see, understand or appreciate all that I (and thousands of others) do in each day

and there is no income for it.

 

Dear Will,

Dear Will,

My son, I wasn’t going to write about you this year.

Can you believe that?

After last year, I thought that I would just let the celebration of you, the pain of you

go

but I can’t.

I thought that I would want to do something big for your 10th birthday -

what would you have enjoyed, I wonder.

Your sisters suggested that ten was a time for laser tag and game park parties

or going bowling

or something like that.

We sat around the dinner table and pondered for a long time,

talked about memories of our own tenth birthdays and wondered how Ivy and Noah might spend theirs.

It was comforting.

I thought that I wanted butterflies on your birthday but it turns out I don’t.

What I want is to be with everyone

- so I can feel whole,

while I remember that a big  piece of my heart is always missing.

I want the sunrise of your tenth year

and the sunset

and water

because I can’t have you

and so, that is what we’re doing, my boy, to celebrate your tenth birthday.

I am going to walk along the beach and feel the wind whisper to me

about  my blonde haired,  long legged imaginings of you

and hope that I can see you in the clouds.

 

Happy birthday, Will.

 

Labelled.

 

When I was a newly minted nurse working in the wards of a busy hospital the doctors scared me.

I dreaded them coming around God-like and superior.

Especially the cardiac doctors.

They petrified me.

In fact, they had most of us on that ward jumping.

They were bossy, rude, expectant and loud

and the worst part of it all is that we had been taught that we were to take everything the doctors doled out.

As a midwife in training, the old school nurses taught us to anticipate the doctors needs before he or she needed them.

If you were not on the ball when an anaesthetist came to put in an epidural then there was no help for you.

The visiting obstetricians had strict instructions as to when they would be contacted and you were in a lot of trouble if you jumped too soon.

After working with cardiologists I still had the doctors on that proverbial pedestal.

I was still somewhat in awe of them until one day I had to advocate for a labouring woman.

The doctor wanted to perform a vacuum extraction because he deemed the young mother to be ‘too tired’ to push her baby into the world.

I thought she most definitely could do it on her own

and because she did too, I argued the point.

It was the first time I had not only stood up for another but also for myself in a medical arena.

Still, that was not the end of my fear of doctors or my holding them in some kind of demi-god status.

I met doctors over the years and allowed them to push me around,

question my ability to mother my own children,

openly and vocally pass judgement on my body and my health

and dictate how I would treat the kids when they were unwell.

I was not that squeaky wheel mother, just as I was hardly ever the opposing midwife.

I was all about keeping the peace, in fact I felt proud that I was able to keep an open and balanced view on things -

not rock the boat

until Ivy and Noah came along…

mostly Ivy.

The other day, as David and I were having a discussion with Ivy’s not-new-anymore doctor, she mentioned that she thought I was bossy

and I have to tell you I was shocked and  hurt that she felt that way (and evidently the paed felt the same way, I would find during that same conversation )

Me, bossy?

No, not me.

I wasn’t one of those demanding, jump-up-and-down mums

except, it seems, that I am

or that I have become a loud advocate for my daughter.

At least in the eyes of the medical professionals who look after my family.

I’m not sure how I came to be this way.

Too many nights in the hospital?

Too many dealings with doctors who I felt were not doing the right thing for my kids?

To many unknowns and coming to that understanding that pinned down, concrete plans made me feel more in control of things in a place where I had none, perhaps.

Did I just get sick of being pushed around one day.

Did I just grow up and realise that doctors are only human – just like everyone else.

Apparently, I am the squeaky wheel mother and have been for a while.

I’m not sure how that makes me feel.

Do I like it?

No.

Will I keep advocating for Ivy, now I know what the doctors think of me?

As a person who has grown up always trying to please other people, always trying to find a happy medium to be able to stay balanced and keep other people satisfied

I want very much to put my head in the sand, or sew my mouth shut so that I could be my idealistic self -

so people will like me, accept me, be pleased by my actions

but the truth is I won’t stop just because they see me as a bossy boots, if that means that Ivy (and all of my children) get what they need.

It’s my job to be her voice when she hasn’t one for herself, to be the Mama Bear when something has not gone the way it should -

just as it was my job to stand up for that young Mum who was being bullied into an unnecessary intervention.

I guess in a way, I’m  sorry that I make the doctors feel pushed around, that they perceive me in such a way

but I’m also  kind of sorry that I didn’t find my voice sooner too.

100 happy days 9/100

 

This makes me happy: for months while Ana (anorexia) came to stay life was silent.
Everyone was silent but Maddy was the quietest of all as she battled to own herself once more.
There was no music, no singing that used to fill the spaces of my home and my heart.
She tucked herself away in baggy clothes and blankets.
It was as if the sun had stopped shining but this is Maddy now – this morning.
Her beautiful voice echoes through the house again and her smile lights up the room.
#100happydays 9/100
What has made you feel happy this week just gone ?