Friday, December 20, 2013

Sharing is Caring.

Well, well, well.
Quick summary. I emailed my Aunty Kate with my story Mummy. Asked her to please show my 96 year old Grandpa, who is, quite simply a wonderful, good, kind man. I spoke to him about a week later, he encouraged me to share it, asked it he could share it.
I had a few glasses of wine and thought It Was Time. I tried to post just the story on Facebook, couldn't, so instead posted the link to Mummy on this blog.
I've been writing this blog for over 3 years. It's like a private public journal, where I write my truths, knowing only a few friends will read it, maybe some strangers. It has kept me honest, it's become a 'hobby' and has made me pay more attention to the quality of my writing. I love to write and when I read back on this blog sometimes it hurts, often I laugh, always I'm proud. This is mine, these are my words, my stories. My life.
Only once have I publicly linked it on Facebook. I am afraid of people judging me, of putting myself out there, of (god forbid) someone not liking what I have to say.
Wink wink. Bring it on.
So I post it at 10 on a Monday night. Close the computer, go to bed.
Tuesday morning. 11 Shares. 20 comments. 300 views.
Wednesday morning. 700 views. Comments on the shares.
Thursday morning. 900 views. Many likes. Comments on the blog.
900 views! Of my story. My words. My boys, shared with 900 people.
I've been overwhelmed by the love. People have been overwhelmed by my story. They have said wonderful things. They have begun to understand. They have empathised. They feel compassion.
This is more than I could ever have imagined. And I am humbled and delighted.
Thank you.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Holiday

The kids and I are currently in Adelaide for a 10 day holiday at my Mums. She sold her big house in the Adelaide hills and bought a much smaller duplex in a beachside suburb - thank you cheezuz.
We are 10 minutes walk away from everything, shops, cafes, pubs, beach - compared to the 30 minute walk to not much in her previous suburb.
I'm loving it. We are 3 days in and have been to the beach everyday and it is glorious. Sunny, sandy, surfy, shelly. I feel like a child again, in a grown up sort of way. Collecting shells for sandcastles, chasing the kids around, splashing about in the salty water. I feel healthy, happy and relaxed.
I said as much to my darling first born today and he replied  thoughtfully 'well, you don't look any worse mum'.
Thanks dickhead.
He and Mum are the best of mates and have been watching old episodes of Mr Bean together for 'resting time' in the afternoon. The sound of them giggling/chortling/cracking up is like music to my ears. It's brilliant.
Yesterday Maggie and I laid down together after lunch. As we drifted off to sleep she whispered to me 'My Mummy. My Mummy here'. She sure is kid, she sure is.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Community Dinner

I reckon there is 100 people easy. Kids, trendies, refugees, locals, staff.
I'm 5th on the schedule sheet.
We eat dinner, sit through a lady who talks about community gardening, a bunch of kids get drama awards, a lady sings the blues, a young girl sings some pop.
Then it's me. On the stage, spotlights in my eyes, microphone in my face.
I read it beautifully. Less than a minute in my gorgeous Maggie joins me on stage and spends the entire performance wiggling around my legs, enjoying the extra attention. She centres me, makes it more natural for me to tell this Mummy story.
I had been nervous people would get distracted and would talk amongst themselves. They didn't. They listened, and laughed, some even cried.
I get a huge round of applause. I walk off stage and a lady reaches out to me, tears running down her face. This very day she had put her own teenage daughter on a plane to go overseas for a month. My words had meant so much to her, today. Strangers stop me, compliment me, I even get some cuddles. My kids and my Josh look so proud. I am so very proud.
If I could bottle this, I'd make a million bucks. More.
I was scared, but I did it anyway. It feels bloody marvellous.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


I've been terrifically busy being an adult lately, so much so I haven't had much time for blogging.
First things first, I've gone slightly mad and decided I don't like public speaking so much that I should do more of it! So I wrote (more) about my time working in Immigration Detention and then read my piece, Mummy, in front of about 20 people at a 'Feast of Stories' evening last week. I was terribly nervous, and barely glanced up from my paper as I read, but nobody booed and I didn't wee my pants, so SUCCESS!
Now somehow I've volunteered to read the same piece at a Community Dinner tonight, where there is usually about 100 people. I'm still nervous, but confidently so. I will have friends and my family there, so I'm planning on both looking up from my paper AND being amazing.
I've posted 'Mummy' on here, if you have been reading this blog for a while you will be familiar already with much of the story but....too bad. Read it anyway ;)
I read a great book last week and I would like to recommend it. It's called 'The Fields' and was written by Kevin Maher. It's set in Ireland in the early 80's and the central character is 14 year old Jim Finnegan, the youngest of 6 kids and the only boy. It was funny, terrible and had an ending you will either love or hate. I loved it.
My next recommendation is a film called Enough Said. It stars Julia Lewis Dreyfuss AKA Elaine from Seinfeld and James Gandolfini AKA Tony Soprano. It was a lovely film and I was blown away with the acting by the 2 leads. I did not know they had it in them to be so soft and warm. I laughed and I cried and that is such a winning combination.
That's all for now. I'm off to visualise my award winning performance of my spoken word piece. Peace.


It started as just a job but it ends as a beautiful goodbye.
I worked as a support worker, for children in immigration detention. We called them UAMs. Un Accompanied Minors. Any person under the age of 18 who had come to Australia by boat, seeking asylum, without a parent or guardian.
I worked in a small house, full of teenage boys, it had a big yard, and was surrounded by 3 razor wire fences. The boys came from many different countries, spoke many languages and believed in many different things. Some spoke English fluently, others, none at all.
As the weeks passed, we got to know one another. We learnt to communicate, most often with smiles and laughter, but soon enough we could speak small amounts of one anothers languages. 
I'm taught to swear in several languages. Occassionally I would shock them with an insult – I'd say - come on goosalah – get to English class. Goosalah is a Persian word for baby cow and the boys thought it hysterical. We laughed a lot. It became my favourite language.
They called us by our roles. Officer. Driver. Teacher. My job was to support them and guide them in place of their parent. So I was called Mummy. It took some getting used to, but before long, I relished it.
I would cajole boys out of bed in the morning. I'd humbug them to eat their vegetables and to have less sugar on their breakfast.
The days passed slowly. They went to afternoon school for 4 hours each week day. They received English and ‘about australia’ lessons each morning.  We played pool, we drew, we painted, they would play soccer, or watch movies. We played cards, did jigsaws. They had very limited access to the internet or to phones. I would have to lock mine away each morning before entering the secure facility. The days passed slowly.
We learnt about one another. We spent a lot of time just talking, the boys would translate for one another when necessary. I heard some stories that were desperately sad.  I pat their backs, I sat quietly with them. I tell them about my own children and they delight in my stories and ask me every morning – how is your family mummy?
We spend a lot of time playing ping pong. I often win and for a time I think that possibly I’m quite good at this sport. Soon enough it dawns on me the boys are too polite to let me lose. I’m annoyed, but also touched.
Everyday I look forward to work, always, I am sad to leave them.
They have many things. Just not family. Just not freedom.
There are constant goodbyes. Boys turn 18 and are moved quickly to ‘big camp’. Sometimes they are just transferred to another centre. A few lucky ones get released to community detention. Everybody is just waiting, for news, for visas, for freedom.
3 months in, one Friday afternoon the boys are called to a meeting. They will be transferred the next day to a larger centre, in Tasmania. They have time to pack, to call their families & let them know.
My colleague, the wonderful Ibu, an Indonesian grandma who has worked this job for much longer than me calls to tell me the news.
Ibu, I say, I am too sad. I don’t want to say goodbye. I know I will cry and I don’t want to upset them.
She growls me. What do you think will upset them more? Mummy Clare crying to say goodbye, or Mummy Clare not there at all?
I am ashamed.I tell her -  I’ll see you tomorrow Ibu.
We walked in together a few hours before they are due to leave. They look shell shocked, confused, vulnerable. But so very happy to see us. We speak mostly with our eyes, our gestures. I am free to touch more than ever before, so I rub backs, ruffle hair, hold onto forearms. My stomach is hollow and I feel a deep sense of loss – we were just starting to know one another. We were just beginning to trust.
One boy won’t leave his bed and another sits forlornly on a chair, with tears rolling down his face. I am finally, legitimately a bleeding heart, wounded by these feelings.. We help the boys to fill in exit surveys. Age. Language. Best thing/worst thing about our service. One of my favourites sits with me. Age -16. Language – Farsi. Best thing? You are Mummy, he says and I am overwhelmed, my chin quivers and my tears spill out. No cry Mummy, he says. I smile through my tears. Mummy is a baby today, I say, and as always, we laugh together. Delam Barat Tang Mishe Pesaram, I tell him. He knows the English words. I will miss you my son.
All too soon the bus is ready and we say our final goodbyes. Finally I am able to wrap these boys up in my Mummy arms, to comfort them like their own Mothers would. Everywhere people are hugging, crying, showing love. Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Athiests. We are people who connected and who are now so sad to say goodbye. I am heavy hearted,, but oh so humbled to be a part of this.
 My heart breaks, for myself, for these boys, but most of all for the parents of these kids, who were brave enough to let them go. I cannot imagine, but can only hope that if one day, my own children are far from me, may they always have someone who will care for them, who will cry with them and who of course, will laugh with them.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Good stuff

Some good news.
1) Xiao Chai Hu Tang. A chinese herb recommended to me that has improved my Ross River Symptoms enormously. I've been taking it for 2 weeks and feel like me again. And that feels preety bloody good.
2) 2 job interviews, 2 job offers. I know. My grin stretches from ear to ear. What a legend. Saying no to one was difficult, but saying yes to the other was bloody brilliant.
3) 4 days in Sydney training for new job. Staying in a lovely hotel, meeting excellent people, learning new skills and preparing to start the next phase of my working life. I am excited!
4) Coming home after 4 days away. My daughter running to me and I scoop her into my arms. I am madly in love with my lot. Possibly the luckiest person alive.

Something else happened while I was away. Fate intervened in my life in a most wonderful way.
4 weeks ago one of the boys I had farewelled so sadly to Tasmania emailed to tell me he was being transferred to Sydney. He was being moved to Community Detention - living in a house, in a suburb, with a youth worker and 5 other boys of similar ethnicity and age.
I found out 2 weeks later I would be going to Sydney for work. Arrive late Monday, 3 full days of training, leave early Friday. I decided not to tell him I would be there. I can only stretch myself so far. I did however, ask for his new address. He told me. I checked my maps app twice. Surely not. He would be living 3.4 kms away from where I was based for the 3 days. Not only that, but one of the boys he lived with was another I had grown very close to during his time in Darwin.
I emailed back to say I was going to be in Sydney. The boys sent me their numbers. They wrote back several times to say they were happy that they would see me soon. I was almost more excited to see them than I was at the prospect of my new job.
After the first days training I walked to the boys home. I rang them when I was halfway there and they walked to meet me. What a sight for us all to approach one another on that busy Sydney street, free and happy. So happy. They took me to their home, showed me their photos, their rooms, introduced me to their friends. One of the boys cooked a traditional lamb dish and we laughed, we reminisced, we ate together. It was one of the best nights of my life. Finally we hugged goodbye, this time without tears and I left, feeling wonderful. Another memory I will never forget, involving these gorgeous boys and the role we play in one anothers life. I have been truly blessed.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Goodbye Mami

They are informed at 4pm that in 20 hours they will be transferred to a different centre in another state.
My Indonesian colleague, Ibu Rita calls me to let me know. I had been expecting the news, but still I feel shocked. Sad. Angry. I am not scheduled to work that day.
"Ibu, how can I say goodbye to them? I feel like crying. I don't want to make them sadder than neccessary. I don't want to worry them. Maybe I shouldn't come." I say to her.
"What you think make them sadder?" she growls me. "Mami Clare come to say goodbye with tears in her eyes, or no goodbye at all".
I'm ashamed. "Ok Ibu. I'll see you tomorrow."
We surprise them. The 2 Mami's come in an hour before they are due to leave. They look a little shell shocked, confused. Vulnerable. But so very happy to see us. We speak mostly with eyes, with gestures. I am free to touch more than I ever have, so I rub backs, ruffle hair, hold onto forearms. I'm sad. It's a hollow feeling in my stomach, this loss of people who I am just starting to know. Who trust me.
Finally I am a legitimate bleeding heart, because this hurts more than work should.
I don't want to worry them with my tears, despite several boys already becoming visibly upset. One won't leave his room, another sits forlornly on a chair with tears rolling down his little face. I am both humbled and honoured to be here. Several times my eyes brim but I laugh it off. "Mami baby today" I tell them.
One of my favourites, a big dopey cool kid from the middle east comes to sit with me. We are filling in 'exit surveys', asking the boys about the best & worst things our company provide. "What is the best thing?" I ask and he smiles at me and replies "You are Mami". And I am overwhelmed, my eyes are full and my chin quivers and my voice can't speak. "No cry Mami" he says, and I pat his arm and smile through my tears and I feel devastated but thrilled with his answer.
Eventually the bus is here and we are saying goodbye. I'm delighted to finally be able to wrap these boys up in my Mami arms, to comfort them like their own Mothers would. Everywhere people are hugging, crying. Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindu's. It's so very moving, I'm so privileged to be here. Finally my dopey boy finds me and I wrap him up. Delam Barat Tang Mishe Pesaram, I whisper to him. He knows the English words. I will miss you my son.
I hope that ever if my own children are far from me and they need comfort that someone does the same for them. Cares. Laughs. Cries. Comforts.
Then they are gone. I am so very sad, but so truly blessed to have been here. I will never forget these boys and I will certainly never forget this goodbye.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Filling the Silence

I have learnt much about myself this past 2 weeks.
The Ross River (RR) is encouraging me to feel my worst, physically and occasionally mentally.
So far I have not had a single positive conversation about RR.
"How are you Clare? Not at work today?"
"No, nope, having a bit of time off actually."
Awkward Pause.
"Actually I've been diagnosed with RR...."
"Oh no. Oh that can last for ages can't it? Oh my mate had it and he was fucked for months."
"Oh no. I had that in 2000. I was fucked. I couldn't do anything. I needed anti depressants by the end of it. Oh mate. That sucks."
"Awesome!" (The one guy who's answer I appreciated.)
Possibly I should just stop talking about it. Suck it up, press forward and not mention I'm not feeling particularly well.
It's just the thing is.....
This past week has been immense. It hurts to walk, alot of the time. My pace has slowed by almost 50%. I'm really noticing that. I can't hold a good conversation. I feel like a mute. Like my brain is in slow motion.
Let me tell you, I pride myself on the quick retort. The Quip. My savvy wit. My cheerful demeanor.

Well for the past 7 days I've completely lost it. I am not me. I am not making people smile, in fact I am bringing them down with my shit news. RR and I lost my job.
"Yes, your right, it couldn't have happened at a better time."
"Yes I plan to rest."
"Yes isn't it fantastic I will be home more for the kids."
Not really.
One thing I have noticed, is that now I'm quieter, other people are louder. They say more. They fill in the silence. Which, it turns out, is something I have always, unofficially, attended to myself. It's been quite interesting, noticing how much more some of my 'quieter' friends have to say now that I'm holding back. Or should I say being held back by these nasty little RR germs that are traumatising my ankles feet and knee (just the right side).
So in order, this is what I've learnt.
I like to fill silences.
I also like not to fill silences, especially when I'm poorly.
Some people talk shit.
Possibly in my silence filling speak, in the past, I too have spoken shit. Possibly.
Going downstairs takes way longer than going upstairs. Surprising.
It's cool to watch the new Seth Rogan film at the cinemas at 10.30 in the morning. I tell you, me and the other 3 stoned people in that theatre laughed and laughed. 'This is the End'. Terrific.
90 minute massages are infinitely more amazing than 60 minute. It was my birthday this week and I needed a treat. I also like to get out of the house when the washing is piling up, especially when, as per this week, I was feeling poorly. Sadly it wasn't the cash only lady friendly place I've come to enjoy so much, but still, amazing. Just not quite as red cheeked walking out afterwards, but still very satisfied.
I've watched Madmen, Freaks & Geeks and old episodes of Offspring. I've cleaned the occasional cupboard and a couple of mirrors. Being lazy has never felt so right.
Pretty much, in terms of weeks in my life, it's not been great. Living with pain sucks. I'm nervous about this continuing. However, I've survived this week in fairly good spirits and in fact I'm quite pleased with my response to these new 'challenges'. I am a fucking trooper. Just a bit quieter, but that might be nice...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Damn it.

I lost my job today.
It actually hurts to write it, it's hard to make these words flow.
Nothing dramatic. No huge mistake, no bitter feud, no problems...
Just a reshuffle of who goes where. There are so many people in detention that they need all the rooms they can, to squeeze all the people into.
So the boys I have been caring for are moving to another centre and where I currently work will become some kind of transit centre where families stay for a few weeks before transferring to the next place. Meaning my 5 days a week 9-2 shift is debunked. All over red rover. Gone.
There is certainly more work for me as a support worker. Sadly this work is what one might call shift work. Start times are either 7am or 3pm. You can imagine how terrifically they fit into a school Mum's life. So fuckingbullshitbumbumfuckthis. I'm out. I'm not happy. My manager isn't happy. I'm a bloody valuable asset to my company. Just not a 9-2 one.
It couldn't have happened at a better time for 2 reasons. Number 1 is the slight problem of my positive diagnosis for Ross River Virus. I know, I know - it can last for ages and intermittently pop up throughout the rest of my life. I know. Especially because thats what people tell me, everytime I tell them I'm RRV Positive. It's fucking depressing. Worse though, is the joint pain, that starts in the bottom of my feet & travels all the way to my spectacular Mama hips. It aches, it causes me to walk like an old lady and that it has become my normal is quite sad.
This will be a big journey, but I'm ready for it.
The number 2 reason I have to be grateful for bowing out of the ever fluidly changing world of immigration is that times are getting tough. Nobody seems to know what will happen, least of all the people running the show. So my role as a support worker is going to get harder and more stressful and possibly very depressing. Certainly for the clients and more than likely for the workers. So maybe it's a good time to get out. Before the going gets too tough.
But damn it I was good at it. I loved it. I really care about what happens to those kids.
Damn it Damn it Damn it.
Now to spend a day with my family, the best remedy of all when my spirit is laid flat. I am continually reminded that when days are dark, I still have so much to be grateful, and thankful, for.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Resurrection

I'd like to say I got through my week at home with the kids relatively unscathed....but I didn't.
Saturday morning I felt off, sore muscles and very painful joints. I had been to the Chiropractor for the first time in about 18 months and he had mentioned that I may feel a bit sore the next day. I sure did!
Monday I was no worse, asides from walking like an invalid when I woke up in the morning - my legs were stiff, my feet hurt to touch the ground, my ankles slightly swollen, but after a few stretches & walkabouts I was okay. Besides - I was taking the kids camping on Tuesday night with some other amazing/crazy Mums and it was super exciting & there was a ridiculous amount of organising to do. Oh the pressure of packing a car and taking your kids bush for 2 days. A lesser woman might have cracked, me - I just ate a lot of chips and ignored the yelling.
Once we were on our way it was fantastic. Maggie fell asleep 20 minutes into the 2 hour drive and Leo is one of those magnificent children who can stare out a car window and be perfectly content. Mama here thought it was a perfect time to pull out my old Tori Amos albums and boy did she sing us to Litchfield or what.

i’ve been looking for a savior in these dirty streets

looking for a savior beneath these dirty sheets
i’ve been raising up my hands drive another nail in
got enough GUILT to start my own religion
but what if i’m a mermaid
in these jeans of his with her name still on it
hey but i don’t care
cause sometimes i said
sometimes i hear my voice
i hear my voice

(silent all these years)

Seriously, she really spoke to me when I was a teenager. It was really powerful to listen and sing and remember who I was back then, how much music meant to me and my identity.
So camping was fanastic. A great group of Mums, a couple of Dads, heaps of kids and my crowning glory - setting up &; taking down a 3 person tent myself. High fives, thank you. Not to mention the 500 metre walk to the top of a waterfall that was extremely tough, especially considering Ms Maggie was by my side and on my hip for the entire duration. (sidenote - she walked/climbed almost half of it - I've never been prouder. That kid is something else - just have to direct her powers into positive endevours...)
However I woke up the next morning after a fitful sleep, with a very itchy arm. That soon progressed to 2 itchy arms, stomach, thighs, legs, feet. I was covered in red welts and felt as though I may possibly implode in agony. Fortunately someone had a hayfever tablet that settled me for a time, I bathed in the thermal pool & cranked the cars airconditioner and headed for home.
The kindly pharmacist assisted me with some adult phenergan for night and claratyne for day. I was dead on my feet by 5pm, asleep soon after. The next day I felt dreadful, still covered in welts & like I could sleep for a year. Those of you who have children will understand this was, in a word, impossible. I took Maggie to daycare & Leo got to hang with his strange looking Mum for the day.
I know, beauty is only skin deep.
I googled my symptoms, not a terrific idea. Auto Immune disorders here we come. Went to the Docs, he found my rash fantastic, which was quite nice. He prescribed me a slow release pain killer for the joint pain and got a nurse to take about 6 vials of my lovely blood. Hello mosquito borne viruses.
The various drugs kicked in and I started to feel slightly human again. I slept again that night for about 14 hours, probably twice what I usually do! The next day I dosed up, again I felt better. Thank you legal pharmaceuticals, I love your work.
2 days on I am completely off all pharmaceuticals and feeling much better. The rash has disappeared, I'm slightly tired but that's normal. 7 days on I'm terrific - feeling healthy has never felt so good, or valued.  I will call for my blood test results (fingers crossed they don't call me first...) next week but in the meantime, hallelujah I have been resurrected. Seriously - who has the time to be sick? It sucks. Really wish I'd taken more photos though - my sexy leg shot hardly does my hives justice. 
So I survived, both my children and a mysterious illness. But damn was I happy/grateful/excited to be back at work on Monday. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

I've got a good feelings

I've had several good feelings this past week...
My Mother In Law has been staying with us looking after Leo during the school holidays and she has been magnificent. I trust her, admire her, enjoy her and love that she and Leo get to have this time together.
Alas she is leaving tomorrow and heaven forbid I am back in charge of my 2 children for 5 days straight. Aside from feeling quite sad that I won't see my refugee boys for an entire 9 days (2 weekends + 1 week) I'm slightly nervous at the prospect of entire days with me vs kids. Best case scenario we enjoy relaxing fun days together....worst case we have more of the sameness from this past week - a 2 year old with slightly demonic phases that only appear when Mother is around.
I'm confident that I am a good parent. I'm certain that I love both my children and would willingly give up my own life for either of them, should the need arise. However, lately, Ms 2 almost 3 has been throwing such rage filled tantrums, involving headbutts, scratching, biting and screaming (oh the screaming), ONLY when I am around, that my sense of I am complete woman/domestic goddess/earth mother has evaporated. Instead I feel a mixture of embarrassment, helplessness and oh fuck I could seriously throw you off the balcony.
Fortunately I did see the Dalai Lama IN THE FLESH last week and he reminded me that compassion, forgiveness and mindfulness are Uber Important. The best weapon I have when she is throwing a mental (oh, excuse me for not being P.C.... but seriously, it's fucking mental) is to imagine the Lama is in the room. This is particularly useful in increasing my mindfullness skills and NOT throwing her off the balcony.
So surely a week with both my children will be TERRIFIC and if not at least I will get to practise and increase my skills in compassion, forgiveness and what...oh that's right, mindfullness.
In other news, I was slightly concerned that my expensive Berlei bra was allowing my nipples to shine bright like a diamond through my work shirts. Working with teenage boys, you can imagine this was a little unsettling, for all of us. Damn you Darwin, your humidity and your hard working air conditioning units. So I bought 3 new bras in different colours for $10 each from Cotton On. Great shop. Thick Bra material. Monster push up. So now I no longer have nipple issues, but it does feel as though my boobs are now located under my chin. The boys seem happy, and as always pleased to see me, so either we are all relieved I'm no longer headlighting them or my Mrs Robinson look is working a treat. Like I said, it's a good feeling.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Right Stuff

Several times this past few weeks I have managed to 'get it right'.
This is a written record so it can never be forgotten.
Hubby went crabbing on Sunday. This meant I was at home with a clingy 2 year old, an 'I don't know' 7 year old, and an extraordinarily untidy house.
I got a load of washing on and played 'toys' for over an hour before my temperature started to rise. I mean seriously, as if I ever get to go crabbing.
For the record I never wish to go crabbing, I was just having a low moment.
Ideally I could have plonked the kids in front of a dvd for 90 minutes and cleaned that damn house.

Sadly, my children are going through a 'I hate what he/she wants to watch and there will be no peace in our home if he/she continues to watch it' with one another, so dvd's are not the old friend they once were.
This is what I did. Cut up some cheese and veggie sticks. Mixed up some olives, threw together some ham & butter sandwiches, minus the crusts, packed it all up in the one Tupperware container I've ever really liked, put our camping chairs in the boot and drove 5 minutes down the road to our local park.
We bought poppas and chips to share from the corner store and wait for it, wait for it....
We sat at the park for near on 2 hours, playing, chatting, sitting. The weather was glorious, the park was quietly busy and I felt like possibly the greatest Mother ever.
Yes the house is still in something of a state. However the washing keeps getting done and again, I'll take that as a win. It could be worse.
My work life continues to throw both challenges and great moments of joy at me. In one day I have had the pleasure of introducing 3 teenage boys from 3 different countries to the magic that is The Goonies. Wonderful to hear them laugh at the same scenes that still make me laugh. At the same time I am struggling to deal with a young man's desperate plea for answers - how much longer will I be here? When can I live in the community? Why can't anybody give me an answer?It was frustrating, humbling and unsettling. I left work that day and came home to that clingy 2 year old, who I snuggled and cuddled and spooned the heck out of. I have never been so grateful, or so full of love for this noisy little demanding creature who is my Maggie.
That would have been my conclusion to this ode to patting myself on the back, however my technological prowess has reminded me that even on our best days, we can still fall flat. I really, really like the above song by Florence & The Machine and have in fact been wearing out the soundtrack to The Great Gatsby, both in my car & at home. The version I have so smugly selected for this blog, however, is terrible. Unfortunately, it is beyond my skills and powers to remove the fucking thing from this post, so we are all stuck with it. My apologies.
Yes I've posted it twice. Concluded.

Friday, May 17, 2013


I am a support worker for kids in detention. They come from many countries, including but not limited to Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Iran, Vietnam. They are mostly boys, under the age of 18, who have travelled here, by boat, without parents.
Some have no parents. Some have one parent. Many have 2 parents. Just not in Australia.
Some have nothing but a plastic bag with a change of clothes.
Some have designer sunglasses and expensive shoes.
Some have stories of war, missing fathers, uncles, brothers.
Some have never been given a chance. By their community, their government, their society.
Some just want a good education.
Some didn't want to come here at all. Presumably desperate parents put their children onto boats because it was all they could do.

Some are illiterate. Some speak several languages.
They range in age from 12 - 17.
Here are the positives.
They made it here alive.
They are safe. They have a bed to sleep in, 3 meals a day plus snacks.
They have facilities that include televisions, computer games, pool tables, pingpong, computers.
They are taught English. Some go to school.
They have support from many areas. Support Workers. Welfare Officers. Medical Staff. Case Managers. Teachers.
This is wonderful. I am proud that I live in a country where this is what we do, what we believe in. Compassion. Education. Diversity.

Yet one thing is lacking. Freedom.
They are housed behind 2 wire fences. There is always 2 officers on duty.
They can roam freely around the compound, roughly about 1000m2.
They cannot leave.

They are housed with anywhere from 10-30 other young men. Some have been in detention for over 6 months. Nobody can tell them what comes next.
It is a pleasure to work with these boys. Most call me Mummy, a term I used to abhor but now find sentimental. They are generous, fun, strong individuals, who often have nothing in common but a dream of freedom in Australia. Once the boat trip here would have been the hardest part of the journey. Now it is this. Detention. Jail time without an end date.
It is not compassionate, it is cruel.
It is the most amazing experience of my working life to know these boys. I am humbled everyday and feel richer and wiser for knowing them. I only wish there were more Australian citizens who could experience it, particularly those ignorant enough to hate a group of people they know nothing about.
I am ashamed of our current government for letting this happen. I am terrified of a new government fucking things up even further. And I am very worried about what this initiation into Australia will do to these young men who want nothing more than their freedom.

Friday, April 19, 2013


This past week several things have reminded me of what it is to be ALIVE...
Initially it was the breaking in of my new work shoes. Mother trucker those heel blisters are quick to form, strong in stature and determined to create pain. Talk about HELLO I'm alive my feet can vouch for that.
I lasted a day in them, now I'm back to my black asics sneakers that I've jogged 100k in and my big toes peak out the end. Damn they are comfy. My job entails a never ending variety of things, including and most often games of ping pong, badminton, walking, talking and chilling so surely running shoes are better equipped for such activities than Flats. Damn Flats.
Feeling alive #2 occurred yesterday afternoon when my across the road down one house neighbour decided to shout at me and my dog as he walked past our house. The amazing Jess does not appreciate pedestrians, unless she knows them as friends or they live directly next to us or across the road. Grumpy old man neighbour does not fit into either category and thus Jess feels it necessary to warn him away from our premises. As I walked toward Jess telling her to quiet down I heard him say something, something I felt was possibly unkind. "Pardon?" I say, giving him a polite but wary smile and placing my hand on my good Dog's head. "Well it's getting a bit beyond a joke" he says "Your dog is barking early in the morning and during the day, it's too much". I stare at him, a mixture of surprise, distaste and annoyance.
Many things run through my mind, both during the encounter and afterward. I'm thrilled to say I managed to speak none of it but hold the combined look for as long as it took until he carried on his merry way. I was left very unsettled, worried that our dog is a terrible nuisance and I am a terrible dog owner.
Can I just follow that sentence with the truth that is our dog has been to obedience class for over a year, she is walked every day & has been her whole life and my Mum has been staying with us the past 10 days and says Jess barks maybe twice a day & only at strangers passing by.
Moral of the story is she is a good dog and I am totally a terrific dog owner.
Yet I still felt this strange inner turmoil, this uncomfortableness that there should be such conflict between us and our neighbour, who we have actually never spoken to before.
Then Josh came home, I filled him in on the terrible goings on and he said.....
What a Dick.
Problem solved. What a Dick indeed. Sadly for said neighbour he is now officially off my friendly wave list and he is going to have to live with both that and my gorgeous barky dog.
Suffer in your jocks, Dick.
Finally this week has been a sad one, with people bombing the finish line of a marathon, earthquakes in the middle east, clients I have grown semi attached to leaving my workplace and a friends father passing away suddenly. It all reminds me of how fleeting this life is, how lucky I am to be safe and loved. Thank you for reading and may all of you, including grumpy old neighbour, love and be loved as much as we can for as long as we may.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Working Week

I am 3 weeks into my life as a part time working mother. I should write that with capitals....but
I am so freaking tired.
My body, my head, my mind.
So much to take in, to give out, to learn, to live, to do....
I love it. I love having to be somewhere at 9am, I love being relied upon, I love talking to so many different people throughout the day.
I had not realised that this was what I was missing.
I love the car ride from work to pick up kids, that solitary 10 minutes to prepare for the next shift.
I love that the time that I have with my kids is richer, funnier, happier.
Which is not to say that's how all of our time is spent together.
Maggie has been throwing some truly magnificent tantrums. It's like Paranormal Activity has control of her body. Somebody call an exorcist. Help! My daughter is possessed by a demon....
Full respect to her for them, and fortunately, so far they are Private Shows only, just for us lucky few who live with her at home.
Leo has been crying wolf about being sick for school, a completely new phenomenon. Most mornings from me he gets a bit of sympathy, a gentle prod in the right direction followed with a suck it up and get ready for school. He is fine.
I'm alternating the times I pick them up after school, so we have a small amount of solo time together whilst we go to pick up other child.
I've managed to squeeze in a whole week (and by that I mean 4 days, it is Easter) of waking early & taking the dog for a walk. This has occurred two weeks running and I'm thinking I might be close to making this a habit. I've even managed to ramp it up to a 3k jog plod a couple of mornings, impressive, yes, I am.
We were supposed to go camping but it has rained more in the past week than it has this entire Wet season so we stayed home instead. I've done some gardening, some drinking and even some pot smoking. Having a terrific time. Not getting quite as much done as I dreamt I would, but the floors got cleaned today, the soil looks healthy (such a sense of achievement in helping dirt become Better dirt) and most importantly our little family is all together driving one another mad with love.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I just finished this book, A Fault In Our Stars, by John Green.
Love. Teenagers. Cancer.
When I say finished it, I mean absorbed it. Through my eyes and straight to my heart.
It was beautiful, sad, hopeful, funny, desperate.
He may be my new favourite author. A rival to the great Johnathon Tropper. A funnier James Frey.
I attend a monthly bookclub, where I consistently drink too much wine and stay up far past my bedtime. But it is all worth it for that night out, talking books.
Last month we read Magician, (Raymond E Feist) a classic fantasy book that is ridiculously big, with terribly small font. An exciting story, but tempered for me due to far too many characters with long winded names and titles from many made up places. Hard to keep track of them all.
Last year my favourite was a book called Loving Frank, written about the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It was 'historical fiction', an amazing story with a terrible end. If you read it, whatever you do Do Not read up on him beforehand. Total spoiler.
I'm eagerly awaiting the final instalment of the Sookie Stackhouse series, which is to be released soon. I'm determined to finish 'All That I Am', by Anna Funder, which has been on my bedside table for many months now.
At least it hasn't yet been relegated to a drawer, like 'The Life Of Pi' before it, or 'The Happiness Trap' by Ross Harris. Some people keep sex toys in their bottom drawer - mine is more a spot for books I just didn't love enough to finish....but maybe I day.
Next for book club is 'Sweet Tooth', by Ian McKewen. There is a small chance this will be a little too high brow for my low to medium brow size, but I'll give it a shot. Just in case I'll be off to my local (library) shortly, to see if it's in stock.
In the meantime next cab off the rank (book off the shelf?) is A Fortunate Life, AB Facey. They say it's a classic, and if that's what They say, then I'm definitely in.

Monday, March 4, 2013

What a week

What a week.
A Job Interview. A panel of 3 and me. Nerves running through me like cocaine, but I manage to pull it off. Said some good stuff, some great stuff and some oh fucking hell what was I thinking stuff.
Not a lot of eye contact as we said our goodbyes and confirmation of a 'thanks for trying but...' came this morning via email.
Screw You Anglicare, you bastards.
Seriously, what a great organisation though. I would have loved to work there.
Anyway, onward and upward.
My friend recommended a Chinese Massage place to me. It's located in Wagaman, next to a take away shop and a corner store. I booked in for a 30 minute session last Tuesday.
Oh good lord.
Best massage ever. Half way through she pulls my knickers down & gives me the greatest back/bottom rub I've ever known. I swear there was nearly a happy ending.
I'll be back.
A group of friends and I have been gathering 2-3 times weekly & exercising. It's fun, hard and motivating. I'm blessed to have good friends & it's lovely to spend quality time productively with them. Eg sweating & laughing ourselves silly.
Finally, re work, I've had an email this morning from my current workplace offering me a position 2 days a week, as a support worker for Unaccompanied Minors in the Detention Centre up here.
I am bloody delighted. I do believe the universe is working with me, or possibly I am working with the universe. Who knows?

Friday, February 22, 2013

28 Days

So I'm near on 28 days of Greatness and there is much to write about.
I'll start with the sadness. As a teenager, I had a close friend who was beautiful, tall, quiet and kind. I loved her, envied her (she was seriously beautiful) and made some pretty awesome memories with her. When she turned 18 I was still almost 6 months away from 'adulthood', so I found myself spending more time with her younger sister, the gorgeous Kate. Not quite as beautiful as her big sister, but  gorgeous, fun and warm. She became my friend.
Over the years I have become quite close with all of Megs family, they are beautiful and kind people. The same time Maggie was born, Kate was diagnosed with a brain tumour, about the same time I started blogging. I started emailing Kate, telling her silly stories of my life as a MILF.
Mother Incredibly Longing Freedom.
We maintained our correspondence, sporadically, and the last I saw of her was at Donno's funeral. She was cheeky, kind, warm and clever. Not to mention beautiful.
She died last week aged 31. It's taken my breathe away. My eyes leak and my heart hurts to write it, to say it, to know it. It seems impossible. Implausible. She was wonderful and she was young. So young.
I went to Melbourne for her funeral. It was sad, and beautiful. I feel a heaviness I didn't expect, a sadness I can't comfort. She was so much, and still she died.
I will remember her forever as a cheeky smile and a twinkling eye. Her Mother held me, after the funeral service, and her strength was enormous, her maternal instinct so huge that she wanted to comfort, which she did. This is being a Mother. For the first time in a long time I was wordless.
As an ode to Kate, I will honour her with 2 completely awkward moments that occurred whilst away. The first was while sharing a hotel room with my Mother, we decided to watch a movie in house. The Kids Are Alright. Spoiler alert. Terrific film, except for the completely excruciating scene where the lesbians are getting down and dirty with one another whilst watching male gay porn. Awkward. Say no more. The second was on my return home, my plane stopped in Alice Springs for 30 minutes. My lovely big brother, the chef, came out to meet me for the stopover. I was showing him some photos on my phone I had of some amazing mexican food (Mama Sita, Collins St? Shit Hot) I had eaten the night before. I was flipping through them happily when we stumbled upon a self portrait of my bottom that I had taken 3 nights earlier, as for reasons only clear to me I had gotten a spray tan (what's the etiquette on funerals & spray tans? Is there one? If so, I was unaware, and goddamn it I wanted to look healthy, and brown, ok?) and after a few drinks with an old friend I had staggered back to my hotel room (sans Mother, she arrived the next day) and taken a few selfies. Including one of my really white bottom. My big brother isn't a huge talker, so he didn't really ask any questions, but it was seriously....awkward.
I still haven't deleted the photo and I'll never be able to delete the memory, nor sadly will he.
I'm not sure how to end this, except to say 28 days is a short month, but much has happened. I've never felt so grateful or blessed with what and who I have. Not to mention I should seriously think about copywriting my MILF acronym, awesome.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


It's been 11 days since I came clean with myself about all the shit I'd been hanging onto.
All that shame - you know I was actually embarrassed of myself? Ashamed of things I had done. Guilty because of them. Self loathing as a result.
What a fucking relief to expel that from my head.
Turns out we all have shit we hold onto. It's never as bad as you've thought it to be.
I was left with a strange sort of emptiness. I'd look in the mirror and instead of seeing ugly I I'd reach for thoughts relating to losing weight, being an idiot  or being a failure. I could not find them. They would start and then kind of peter out...They seemed so pointless? Like foreign objects. Completely unnecessary.
I can say with certainty there is little to no value in referring to one's own self, in one's own head, as an idiot, or a failure, or even as a fat pig. You heard it here first.
For the first time as a grown up I felt safe in my own head. I trusted it.
What a fucking relief.
I have to say maintaining that state of being has not been entirely easy. There have been several moments this past week when I have heard the old familiar refrain in my mind of 'you are not good enough'.
I would buy into it, but it was seriously hard work purging those demons out of my head, not to mention the couple of thousand dollars I paid for the I acknowledge them and move on.
I can tell you that having a 6 year old refuse to get out of the bath because he isn't allowed to watch Transformers is quite trying. 45 minutes. That's a cold bath. I chose to be impressed with his passion (and no he still didn't get to watch it).
A 2 year old who insists I stay in her bed with her until she falls asleep. By insisting, I mean throwing a bluey, hissy fit, barney, complete wobbly for a continuous length of time if I dare leave the room.
I have chosen to enjoy the serenity of laying next to my precious girl while she falls asleep (god knows she's not going to want me in there in 10 years time).
The never ending responsibilities of being a wife and mother. The at times overwhelming amount that needs to be done. Trying to put myself first isn't easy. However, now that I've minus-ed the guilt from my head, it's a whole lot more rewarding. And possibly that is putting myself first? I'm working on turning that refrain from 'you are not good enough' to just 'You Are Enough'.
What a fucking relief.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


No not Amen. Ahem, like I'm sheepishly clearing my throat.
I have completed my 4 day Greatness In You Seminar. There are many things I could say, many stories I could tell. But I won't. All I can say is this.
There is Greatness In Me.
Quite alot actually.
I've managed to free myself of rather alot of "emotional baggage" in these past few days.
It turns out it was all in my head.
Who knew?!
So this post finds me smiling, calm and ready.
Ready for..... whatever.
My main concern now is what on earth will I blog if I don't have all that self pity and angst to fall back on?!
I reckon I'll think of something ;)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Evening Of

Tomorrow I go on my first holiday by myself in 5 years. I'm almost overjoyed at the prospect of boarding a plane....without any children.
All I need is a book and some earphones.
Where I am going is another story. Off to find the Greatness In Me, 4 days of seminar spent...
Peeling my layers off like an onion?
Discovering My True Self, my True Potential?
Releasing my inner demons?

I don't know what it involves, but I'm hoping the end result is what I'm looking for. I'm hoping it makes me a better mother, a better wife. That I learn to trust myself and my decisions, that I become my own best friend rather than my bloody worst enemy. That my somewhat cloudy vision is cleared.
Tonight, the eve of, I find myself feeling various shades of anxious.
I'm concerned those demons might be real, and if I confront them, release them, they might be too strong & will eat me up.
Can I just add here we have been playing a few fantasy xbox games in our house and that imagining could be related ;)
I'm worried I won't like who I discover under those layers.
I never use the onion core when cooking, never.
What if my issues, my problems, my dramas are nothing? What if I have wasted all this time worrying on them when they were actually NOTHING?
I have a feeling this could be true, and it might be a good thing. We shall have to find out.
I'm also concerned my family, who on the one hand I am so pleased get to live without me for a few days, will actually enjoy the experience. What if things go wonderfully while I'm away?
The answer to that should be 'fantastic'! Which it sort of is, but it's also sort of WHAT!?
What if the problem is me?

So I'm terrifically excited, terrified, anxious and happy, all in the one.
I will ache for my children, those 5 mornings I'm away from them, but I will also walk each day at 7.30am barefoot on the beach and I will relish every step of it.
See you on the other side...

Monday, January 21, 2013

10 out of 10

We have now loved each other for 10 years.
A decade of laughter and joy, happiness and fun, some sadness, loss, change.
Still the beginning of what is to be a long and loving friendship, connection, romance.
He can still make my tummy flip over. He always makes me laugh. He looks much the same as he always has, with perhaps a few extra grey hairs and slightly (only slightly) a little more tummy.
He is serious, yet silly, strong but vulnerable and he is smart and wise and wonderful.
I am so lucky to have found him. So lucky to have him love me, and for me to love him right back.
He is a kind and patient father, cheeky, warm, understanding. Our kids are so lucky.
He is my best friend, my lover, my ally. We have created in each other a partnership, with our children a family. It's more than I ever dreamt of.
I love his hair, his eyes, his smile. I love to make him laugh, to watch him with his kids, I love his work voice, his strength, his know how. I love him! It makes me smile to write this.
So here is to the next 10 years. And the next. And the next. And so on.
Happy Anniversary JK x