Dear 40…you don’t scare me one bit…

I remember when my mum turned forty. Shit it seemed soooo old. I was 14, and with my head up my butt (metaphorically not actually physically, I gave up ballet years before) meant old to me was anyone over the age of 25. Taylor Swift hadn’t even been born yet. But now it’s me knocking on 40’s door (November 10, if you’re asking)…it doesn’t seem half as bad. Could we say young, even? I can happily tell you I’ve so far managed to abstain from injecting botulism into my forehead or the cheeks of a dead pig into my face which means you’ll know when I’m pissed off with you because my eyebrows can still sit up in an upside down V at the top of my forehead and the tiny lines that sit at the creases of my eyes are there to remind me of the road maps of my life so far. Every one of them I’ve earned.

things get better, so much better...

things get better, so much better…

Even though my metabolism might have decided to all but give up on me, as have my ovaries and there might be far more cellulite making its way onto my thighs than I’d like…there is something quite enlightening to turning over another decade into demureness. My fondness for D’Auphinois cheese and a smooth Merlot, for one. My level of give-a-shit has depleted to almost nothing and gone are all those stupid years spent so indecisive in my twenties. Hanging on by a teeny thread are my thirties where I’ve discovered my faults don’t matter anymore. If I could tell myself anything it might be with each decade, the best is yet to come. I’d maybe warn myself of the shit that lies ahead but to treasure the wonderful moments that are gone in a tiny blink, too.

If Marty McFly really could travel back in time in his Delorian…I’d hitch a ride and this is what I’d tell myself…

Dear 10-year-old me: Yes life might seem shitballs because you’re growing up in a solo-parent home. Your brother leaves to live with your dad soon and it’ll feel like you’re an only kid. Sometimes that sucks balls big time. There’s gonna be heaps of stuff you want but can’t have – it’s character building. Your mum says so. You don’t know it yet but you’ve already made your friends for life and those three besties will be there for every one of your happy times and tragedies over the next thirty years. Just over halfway through this decade, you’re going to meet the boy who will change your life forever. Guess what…you’ll marry him one day, I know totally crazy huh? You end up leaving school and home much sooner than you should but it sure as shit won’t stop you fighting for your dreams.

Besties forever...

Besties forever…

Listen up, 20-year-old self: Your plans to travel the world will be put off for a while. Actually a whole decade but so much other stuff will happen it won’t even matter. You’ll land a top editing job on a couple of glossies and will love the shit out of it. That guy I told you last decade was the one, really and truly is and you’ll marry him soon. A couple of years later you’ll be in the hospital holding the most incredible thing you’ve ever seen…your baby boy. It’s going to be your greatest role yet, motherbood…so don’t wish away a single second of it. Not long after, your husband’s going to decide he wants to cross the Tasman. You’ll swear no for two years and one day, finally give in. Then you’ll never want to come back home…funny how fate changes you like that.

Dear 30-year-old me: I’m not sure how to tell you but this will be both the worst and best years of your life. One October day only just before your first year in your thirties, a call will come and take the wind from your lungs. It will completely kick your legs out from under you. They will tell you your husband’s been in an accident. You’ll fight with every bit of you but it won’t do any good. You will lose him. Yes, life will stop but trust me when I tell you you’re going to make it through. You have to. Over the next few years you will live in a blur never quite believing what’s happened. That pain you feel, it’ll never go away. But you know what? You might not believe this but a few years later, a man will come along who’s going to give you back the light you lost. He’ll ask you and your little boy to marry him and for the second time in your life, even though you’ll be scared to say it out loud, life will be perfect again. Don’t get too comfy. Soon you guys will learn the baby you so desperately want will come within a whisper many times but just as quickly fade away. It will take every bit of your fight to keep going back, again and again. What will be a complete mindfuck is that what was once so easy, now isn’t. You never even knew jackshit about IVF before but after three years, you’ll know more than you ever wanted to. Keep it up. You have to. One day it might happen.

all you need is love...

all you need is love…

Your biggest lesson in these three decades is to be grateful for all the good in your life. So yes, 40, you are so close I can smell you but you don’t scare me shitless…in fact I’m getting quite used to having you around – who knows, we might even become besties one day…give it time. Lov n’hugs Lady MamaG xox

The ugly duckling syndrome…

Ahhh here’s a little something that hugs close to my heart. This morning’s buzz article that refers to ‘ugly duckling babies who grew up to be celebrities’. Obviously I never grew up to be a celebrity (unless of course you count once coming second in a small town beauty pageant as celebrity)…buuuut I was one helluva fecking ugly baby.

This is clearly evidenced in the fact there are barely but a handful of photographs of my big bald ugly mug compared to the overflowing albums full of my gorgeously perfect and sweet older brother, with his big beautiful eyes and mop of lustrous (and more to the point, existent) hair. Bullshit you take more pictures of your first born…you merely take more photographs of your most good looking progeny. It’s science or genetics or something.

In prehistoric times I might’ve been eaten by my father, or the clan leader. Or maybe they’d have sent me away high up in the mountains. 

  My mother’s answer to my concerns towards the lack of photographic evidence of my upbringing was simply that by the time it came to me, her second born, the novelty of firing off a whole film on your Nikon had sort of worn off. It was the mid-’70s, everything was a fleeting moment. But I know the truth, she was simply ripped off with having one absolutely beautiful baby and one really ugly one. No need to be reminded of it. Permanent mementos never featured highly on my parents’ priorities. Neither did dressing me in anything other than my brother’s blue hand-me-downs and hand-knitted open-yolk cardi’s that did nothing except exaggerate my big shiny bald noggin.

So imagine my absolute glee to discover not only do Bey and I both share a love for her hubby’s heartfelt street lyrics but apparently we were both on the list of ugly ducklings. Just a shame one of us ended up with a ridiculously insane bank balance to make up for it.

To all the not-so-perfect-bald-as-a-badger’s-asshole bubs out there…looks can improve with age (or at the very least, hair and teeth) Lov, n hugs, Lady MamaG xox

Grief…so much bigger than a five letter word

I hadn’t known much about grief in my early life. Growing up we’d lost a pet or two. When I was in my early twenties, my cat, Tyson (god rest him) died and then my grandad (a truly great bloke – hard as nails but soft on the inside) was taken a few years after that.

Before I turned 30, I didn’t know much else of grief. Bit of a first time caller, long time listener you could say. My thirties have not been all that kind to me, belting like a Queensland hailstorm with more grief than one woman can possibly handle.

I’ve got a close friend who has her own shitstorm brewing in her life right now. She hasn’t lost anyone in the true sense of the word of actually losing them to death but she’s pretty cut up nonetheless. She’s lost the life she knew. She’s lost the future she thought she had. She even feels as though she’s lost her identity and now, in her very early forties, has to start over. She says she feels empty, alone, defeated. And possibly pretty shit-assing ripped off. As if everything she knew has just gone up in smoke. Her life unplugged. It’s all too familiar.

She asked me something I’ve heard so many times I could almost stamp it to my forehead but when you’re plunged into grief head-on, it feels better to talk to someone who’s tread the waters before you. ‘How did you do it…how did you keep going?’ she asked quietly. If you’ve got a spare thirty-eight hours or so, I can go over it in absolute blow-by-blow days of darkness but like everyone else who is going through their own pit of grief, you just do. Shit, you might not even feel truly a human at times, no actually make that all the time. Days go slow, nights even slower. Especially Sunday nights, which are utterly the most shitful day of the week. Everyone’s tucked up on the couch with their family – a spag bol in their belly and a glass of red in their mits. You’ll never quite know loneliness as much as when you no longer have that person who used to occupy the space beside you.

things get better, so much better...

things get better, so much better…

I’ve been doing it so long I don’t even realise. Shelving grief might not be everyone’s idea of healing – and certainly not a qualified psychologist’s view…but what’s the alternative? What do you tell your teary toddler who asks why his dad can’t get out of the six foot mahogany box he’s shut inside? Who asks if heaven has a door because he wants to go and find him. How do you keep going when you’ve had five cycles of IVF, nine failed embryo transfers and one early miscarriage that you thought really was the one that would work this time? As a widow and as a mum, you attempt to do as best you can and hope like shit you make it through another day. Each one is a tiny brick in the great wall towards healing. The pain won’t get any easier and the loss won’t ever go away. Grief will permanently occupy a firm position in my heart till my last breath.

Even though her pain is different to mine there is a certain sameness that comes with a woman’s grief when she loses the partner she knows and loves like a limb, an extension of herself. I’m no expert but all I can be is an ear and a voice. A voice of experience that life will one day be better. So so much better (a greater soul in The Vet who found me and helped me back on my feet again sure is testament to that). To anyone who has ever known grief like a second skin, big biggest hugs, Lady MamaG xox

Life doesn’t seem so bad…

This happy lil' vegemite is the air in my lungs...

This happy lil’ vegemite is the air in my lungs…

Why not give it another shot…? At least that’s what I told myself this month even though I’m damn sure last year I swore off Chlomid (and drinking, and KFC for lunch…and buying jeans). Pretty certain we decided to stick to trying ourselves until the Big Day comes when we have our last actual true blue IVF cycle. But things change, like the seasons (as does my mind), so like a good girl, I took my four little white pills each morning, as well as my good friend prednisolone (steroid) who has turned out to be not such a good friend, actually and then we thought hey, why not go all crazy ass on this cycle and whip in a little trigger shot too…you know, just to spice things up a little.

The trigger shot is meant to help boost your chances of actually ovulating and because I have currently also sworn off those stupid ovulation test kits (I cannot for the life of me work that little doowacky thing with the mini microscope) Fertility Gods Be Willing, this might be a better option. On day twelve, I stop in at the clinic and my favourite nurse – a lovely Kiwi girl – tells me she’ll quickly give me a shot of pregnyl. ‘This one might hurt a bit,’ she says before stabbing into the (once firm) fold of my tummy what may or may not have been one of those flying daggers they use in the circus. I don’t know because I never watch when the needle goes in. Hurt? FM, yes it flipping hurt! Not only did it sting but as the liquid goes in to my body I begin to wonder if I might just faint. Tough it up, chick I say silently in my head, you’ve had your nether regions disected by the somewhat large head circumference of your son you can handle this shit for sure. I pull my top back down and climb off the injection chair. ‘All good’, I tell her through clenched teeth…who am I kidding? It bloody aches for five hours afterwards.

Now it’s just a waiting game…like every month you sit tight for twelve days and try not to go bat shit crazy while resisting the constant urge to search up every possible early pregnancy symptoms you can feast your demented eyeballs upon. Not that I feel sorry for myself, there are people so far worse off than me.

We’ve got the boy and we are lucky. When I look into my 11 y o’s eyes…like the bluest blue of the ocean on a clear day, I couldn’t bare to ever not see those twinkling peepers again. A piece of me. My most treasured gift. My heart tenses when I think of the inconceivable grief suffered by a relative last year. There was a horrific fire involving her and her young children. Two made it out. Her and her youngest son did not. As she crouched on her bathroom floor trying to douse the heat from her own and the skin of her beautiful little three-year-old boy, somewhere during that time due to smoke inhalation, she passed out. If it weren’t for a neighbour breaking in to get to her, she would never have made it. She was rushed to hospital and placed into a coma in the ICU. For three weeks she lay still in a hospital bed before the doctors thought it would be safe to bring her out. The words she heard when she was woken would, I’m quite sure, have made her not want to wake up. Ever. Her little boy, the youngest of four, did not make it. Her gorgeous little brown-eyed boy had been buried while she was helpless and bedridden. She never even got to say good bye. This is not my story to tell but there is nothing like watching from afar as someone goes through the greatest grief of their life to make you realise your own problems are actually jack shit.

There is nothing more certain that death and nothing more crippling than grief. I hold the 11 y o just that little bit tighter when I think about that poor girl and what she has gone through and more so, what she faces ahead as the months and years slowly edge by.

It’s times like these I realise my own pain is nothing but a tiny distant blip in the radar of life. I count my blessings. Love n hugs, Lady MamaG xox

 

Three little girls…the greatest victims of all

allison

Tonight as they get ready for bed, brush their long hair, read their books and get a kiss goodnight, three little girls can rest easy knowing their mummy never chose to leave them. Throughout the Allison Baden-Clay murder trial there have been so many things that have disturbed, devastated and angered me but none more than the fact her husband, Gerard would rather have the nation, the community, her friends, her family but most tragically, her three daughters believing she intentionally took her life. But she never did. He took it from her.

Two years ago, on April 19, Allison put each of her girls in bed, the youngest she sung a song to before turning out the lights and closing their bedroom doors. They would never see her again. From the very first day when he reported her missing, Gerard seemed to me nonchalant, fake even. He was stoic, but then he had no reason to think his wife was dead…or at least that’s what he’d have us all believe. As soon as he emerged, two deep and bloody scratch marks carved into his lower left cheek…the crucial evidence that would later convict him and have Allison’s own mum Priscilla Dickie declare that even in death, her daughter was brave enough to leave a clue – the public was weary of him.

Ten days later, her body washed up on a creek bed, found by a local kayaker. Gerard was immediately on defense. The whole nation learned of her apparent ‘inability to cope with the pressures and demands of motherhood, of a marriage’. He wanted us to believe she was troubled, on medication, stressed and depressed. His family even buoyed his case reportedly recalling times when they’d visited her house and her curtains had been drawn. How many times have you forgotten to make your bed, fold the laundry or pull up the blinds before you’ve left the house? How many of us have sat around in our PJ’s until midday just because we felt like it?

If you take a look inside any normal family, you’re bound to find a mum who at times, struggles to cope. You’re going to find a mum who feels it’s all getting on top of her. It was just like that in Allison’s home. When she uncovered her husband’s affair, she turned to counseling. She chose to confide in her diary because she needed to write it down, get it all out. Ask questions, seek answers. She decided she needed to seek a doctor’s advice and medication. But what you wouldn’t have found in Allison’s home was a woman who was willing to take her own life. To abandon her children, her friends, her family.

Gerard wanted everyone to believe his wife was unstable. At times even an unfit mother. And certainly not his picture-perfect wife. He wanted us to believe she took her life.

Today as a jury of seven men and five women found him guilty of Allison’s murder, Gerard Baden-Clay has fifteen years to think about the lives he’s destroyed. He is guilty of murder, of lying, of deception but most of all of depriving his children of their mum. He is their father, it was his job to protect them, to love them, nurture them and keep them from harm. He did none of these things. Instead he took the person who meant the most to them.

Now three little girls have to live a life without their mummy, shadowed by the deep grief of their loss every single day. She never wanted to leave them. They were her world. As they tuck their heads into their pillows and sleep under the night sky there’s a bright star watching down on them, she knows some justice has been served and she knows her girls now know the truth…To make a donation to the Baden-Clay children you can help through the Late Allison Baden-Clay Children Appeal. Sanction Number CP5609 BSB 084 737 Account 133196502.

Bringing up the boy…why all mums of sons should read this:

one lucky mummy...

one lucky mummy…

I was having lunch with a girlfriend the other week when this gorgeous little tot stomped past us all dressed up in her pink tutu, black booties that came up to her knees (though not in a knee-high-black-boots-are-too-much-for-toddlers) kind of way and had clearly been raiding her mummy’s lipstick drawer. ‘Oh you so deserve one of them,’ my pal gushed. Yes, I’d love to have a girl and it’s no secret Lady Mama G loves a dress up or two, is insanely mad about all things makeup, hair and fashion and can plait hair like a Dutch barmaid but there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past 10 years (hopefully a thing or two more but this decade has been somewhat of a patchy one) is that you have to be so grateful for what you’ve got.

I’ve just come back from holiday with a very dear friend who has been blessed with three darling little boys. I’m sure when they’re all awake and banging on her head with a TV remote at 5am, they might not seem like such sweet little potatoes but for the most part they are the most gorgeous, loving, fun and completely rambunctious small men I’ve ever met. They were the butter to my bread on our holiday with their cheeky smiles, funny pig noises and unabashed ‘we’ve arrived’ loudness. She’s often told, ‘Oh you poor thing, you’ve got three boys’…but poor, pig’s arse! Would her burden be any less with three girls? Not really. The thing is we’ve got to be grateful for what we’ve got, though I’ll readily admit this little Dalai Lama-like revelation doesn’t always quell the need to pass down your life lessons on everything Madonna-related (that’s the popstar, not the Virgin one).

I love spending time with my gorgeous nieces and I’ve got oodles of them – some are actual family and some I just claim as my own. Dressing them up, painting their nails and sewing teeny tiny little fairy princess outfits for them with matching sparkly headbands, greedily grabbing at my fill of girlieness from the borrowed tiny precious poppets in my life but boys, lads, dudes and mini men that’s what I know. That’s my degree, bringing up a boy.

My 10 y o has taught me more life lessons in his short decade of a life than I’ve learned in the not-quite-three before he was in it. I love his unconditional heart that is considerate beyond belief. That he worries if he’s offended me and comes up with ways to make me feel better. I love that his creative and imaginative side come out (if only behind closed doors) and he still leaps around the house dressed as a masked crusader of good-doing, whipping his wand toward imaginary villains. I love that he believes – despite my attempts to prove otherwise – that Hogwarts does in fact exist and one day he hopes to go there…he even knows what train he needs to catch.

I love the way he mispronounces words and often uses them in the complete and utterly wrong context that might make meeker humans blush. That he reads books about wizards, witches and giants but just as happily learns of boys in striped pyjamas who were less fortunate than himself. The way he fist punches the air when he scores a goal in soccer, then rushes up to hug his teammates acknowledging the effort that got him there. How his face lights up at the mere mention of magic and that he diligently practices new ideas in his room before unveiling them to us in a show of trickery (even though for the most part you can see exactly what he’s doing) and then falling in a heap of laughter when you discover the secrets behind his slight of hand. That he will fish on any possible body of water and a scrap with his mates is forgotten as soon as it has begun.

I love that he is generous and kind, forgetful and completely useless at making his bed. I love the glint he gets in his eye when he’s planning a secret surprise and is so bursting to tell that he looks as though if he has to keep it in any longer he might actually pop. When he makes up his own jokes and then laughs himself senseless.

I love that he forgets and forgives just as easily as the blink of an eye. That he doesn’t let his past define him and always looks forward to the future. That his family mean more to him than anything on the planet…and that he tells us so. That even though The Vet only came into his life when he was five, he is his greatest and most worshiped hero. That his hugs and kisses come just as freely as the stars in the night sky.

I love how he never minds that I tell him what he has to wear every day and how he rolls his eyes but does as he’s told when I style his hair. How he tells me I’m ‘very good at hairdressing’ when I forget to book the hairdresser and am forced to cut it myself. That he trusts every single thing that comes from my lips because I am his mum. I love how he believes in tooth fairies, santa and that the boogey man will get him if he’s not back home by half-past-five. That one day he will make the most incredible husband, that he will never break anyone’s heart but that I worry how much someone might break his.

And one day I won’t be able to make his decisions for him any longer…he’ll do things that will put his life at risk, driving fast, leaping off perfectly good bridges,  dicing with danger, or traveling to far away lands where I might not hear from him for weeks on end. But I know when he does come back he’ll throw his arms around me just like he does now and I’ll remember why it is I’m so lucky to have a boy.   Love n’hugs, Lady MamaG xox

I’m running out of my lucky stars to thank…

shove it up your arse...

shove it up your arse…

I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve been ripped off more than a Glee kareoke remix when it comes to infertility. I mean shitfully ripped off. You get your hopes up, you really think it’ll be your lucky day this time. You chant the little mantra ‘it’s going to work, it’s going to work’ over and over inside your head. You put a little bag of pink crystals that someone gave you for luck under your pillow every night. You think when you hear a fave song on the radio on your way to the hospital that it surely must be a sign.

You stop drinking (okay, maybe not all the time) because you think it might hamper your chances of it ‘taking’. You don’t ride your bike (and it is a really pretty pink one with a big cherry seat on it) because you read somewhere that it might reduce your chances of the embie sticking. You don’t go on holiday because you (do have a slight fear of flying) but have also been told it’s not good to fly in the first trimester.

You pretty much put your whole entire life – and that of your family – on hold for as long as you’re willing to dedicate your every ounce of being to trying to procreate…which for us is now two years, twenty-four months or seven-hundred-and-thirty days.

You go to Ikea and it’s like there’s a goddamn dedicated baby aisle popping out newborns because on a Thursday morning at 11am (yes, my life is sad) EVERY single woman who has given birth in the past three months has decided to venture to Ikea for a flat pack cot, change table or $10 bath.

People still tell you it was easy for them to get up the knock. Nice. They even ever-so-helpfully tell you that ‘trying to have a baby is the fun part’. Excellent! If daily needles, maniacally hard out mood swings, masses of weight gain, hot flushes and days spent in floods of tears is fun, then yep…it’s like a day at the frickin’ circus.

You start wondering if you’ve done something that Lady B Karma might be slapping you in the face for and constantly look at ways you can blame yourself for yet another let down. Along with telling The Vet that (coincidentally you have also read somewhere among your countless supplies of fertility self-help books and memoirs) that you really don’t think he should be cycling every day because it’s not good for his swimmers (and not of the tog variety). There is every chance he will utterly resent you after pretty much removing all caffeine, gluten, dairy and now red meat from his life, what’s giving up one more thing anyway…

Yep, it’s real hard not to feel bloody well ripped off. To feel like someone keeps pulling out the rug from under your feet. And it’s even more hard to find the will to keep on trying and not just give up…words you’re not even supposed to utter among infertility circles. But bugger it, shit got me sad and I’m allowed to feel like I’ve just won lotto then discovered I threw the ticket in last night’s fire. Love n’ hugs, Lady MamaG xox