Letting Go Of The Shit In Your Life

NC and her friends had a sisterhood meeting the other night. She and her tight band of millennial girlfriends, who have recently experienced a spate of more trials than tribulations in their journeys through young adulthood, decided they needed an intervention. After a rough few weeks of new jobs, new-people stresses, cockroach infestations, the cost of avocados and Ubers, men issues…and men issues, they decided to exorcise their demons by sacrificing the drunk backpacker passed out on the floor beneath them and having a big girlie overshare.

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Now I know that I do drop the ‘E’ word and ‘A’ words (entitlement and avocado) in connection to my millennial children quite often on this site, but perhaps the world from their perspective doesn’t look quite as rosy as I would like to believe.

 

Obviously, I have not been made privy to what evolved from the girls’ session, although I remain confident that give my daughter a week, a slap-up meal at our local Japanese and a month’s supply of vegetarian lasagne, her loyalty will crack like a walnut. But what I do know is, each girl wrote down four toxic things that they want to remove from their lives on a piece of paper and then they burnt them ceremoniously in a dish – followed by ten minutes of panic when they remembered about the recent fire ban in NSW.

 

And what I have been given permission to reveal is that number one on NC’s agenda was PTSD – and no, I haven’t screwed her up as well as my son (not that much, anyway) – where the acronym stands for Pre Traumatic Stress Disorder, and relates to her generation’s fear for Gen Y’s future in terms of how we are killing each other and the planet, climate change, the increasing gap between rich and poor etc. There is no doubt in my mind that relationships, men, and sexism would have also been on her list –  particularly as she was still recovering from her company’s selection of a man to lead their IWD conference that week – which may explain the smoking Ken doll and pins I found in her bag the next morning.

 

Anyway, our debrief the following morning made me think about two things: what I would have ejected from my life at the age of twenty-three, and what I would lob in the bin right now, at the age of fifty-something.

 

Personally, I have few memories of my early twenties other than the consumption of vast amounts of alcohol and cigarettes; dependencies that have obviously left their mark in terms of the culling of my brain cells. I didn’t take life too seriously back then, other than donating my time to a few coin collections for the university Rag Society, making tea for the vegan student militants camping outside McDonald’s (because their leader was pretty hot), attending the odd lecture (because the lecturer was pretty hot), and watching various renditions of Welsh poetry (because the poet was pretty hot). In truth, I was pretty shallow and hedonistic back in the day. And in hindsight, perhaps if I’d recognized those unresolved grief issues rooted in my addictions, sober me might have found more time and energy to change the world and bemoan the price of avocados.

 

And what shit would I let go of, today?

 

My anxiety, which stops me doing so many things that I know I would enjoy.

My lack of self-belief that is linked to the anxiety that stops me doing those things I know I would enjoy.

 

Hmmm.

 

My box of regrets, most of which are so embarrassingly first world and entitled: the if onlys seated in family issues, the houses we lost money on, the careers and businesses that never took off, the smoking when I knew the risks…

 

And finally… the men who think they believe in equality, call themselves feminists, swear blind they’d never stand in the way,  hurt or discriminate against them, and yet whose behaviors demonstrate they clearly have no fucking clue.

 

They’d be torched.

The Perils Of Letting Your Kids Go

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Life definitely gets easier as your children grow up. You get to sleep again, go out again, enjoy free time again, but letting them go also has its drawbacks. When you release them from the nest and the clutches of your taloned feet, it means that they are free to make their own decisions, and sadly, sometimes those decisions are misguided.

 

I will hold up my hand and admit to you that I am that parent that sends links to Kurt of stories of kids that have overdosed on drugs. Worse, I attach subtle comments, like ‘Don’t make me this mum.’

 

And that’s why I feel so devastated for the parents of the young girl who was involved in a scooter accident and died in Bali this week. Because as parents of adult kids, we’ve all had sleepless nights and those ‘what if’ moments when our children don’t come home on time or don’t call when they say they will, and in the end you realise that the only way you move forward is to take the fatalist’s view of ‘what will be, will be.’

 

Anyone who has visited Bali will know that the scooter is the main form of transport over there. Until you’ve witnessed the horror of whole families, (as well as extended family members with groceries),  perched on the back of ONE scooter, you’ve never really experienced Asia. Safety helmets don’t seem to rate highly, either.

 

It’s the same in other poor Asian countries because the scooter is one of the cheapest modes of transport and add in infrastructure limitations and over-population problems, it makes sense for the locals. Less so for tourists. Certain statistics suggest that one Australian tourist dies on a scooter in Bali every nine days, which is f..cked up when all they are trying to do is embrace the culture.

 

For the over-anxious, among whom I am a master, ‘never get on a motorbike’ is up there with ‘don’t ever wear dirty undies’ (in case you get in an accident), ‘don’t lie on your CV’ and ‘never take pills at festivals’ on my ‘Non-Negotiable Things I Have Taught My Kids Not To Do’ list, something I have rammed down their throats since I first allowed them to leave the house by themselves at sixteen.

 

I’m not naive to think that they will adhere to these recommendations, of course, but I hope that the threatening sound of my voice in their head at that ‘shall I or shan’t I’ moment might make them think twice.  

 

The point is, when we’re not fully informed about the culture of a country, as much as it might be tempting to embrace all facets of its identity, sometimes it’s best to leave TF alone – like you do in countries where they serve delicacies such as fried tarantulas and cockroaches. And I know that goes against the grain of just about everything I said in my recent post here, about overriding fear and doing what you love – so sue me – I’m a woman and can be fickle whenever the fuck I want.

 

Coincidentally, I’m currently experiencing those early, nail-biting days of Kurt’s first month on the streets on his P plates. Unlike when NC first passed her driving test – when I’ve no doubt she was nudged at the lights a few times for slow starts, perhaps even pulled over for driving under the speed limit – I’ve noticed that the male approach to driving is very different. Their testosterone levels seem to put them back in the Land That Time Forgot and they become the hunter on the road and any brain development that should have taken place over the last however many centuries is temporarily lost.

 

I suspect that a decade worth of indoctrination from Jeremy Clarkson and his arrogant machismo has not helped either and that Kurt secretly believes he is the Stig.

 

Each time he takes the car and it is not returned to the front of the house within minutes of his anticipated arrival, I pace the hallway, imagining the worst. Last night, as I waited behind the front door for what I believed would be an inevitable knock from the police bringing bad news, in desperation, I texted his friend to see if he was with him – one of the most shaming acts the helicopter parent can resort to.

 

‘MOMMMMMM!’ Kurt said when he called me back immediately afterwards, and I could almost feel the heat from his cheeks down the phone line.

 

‘Well, answer your bloody phone next time!’ I responded, ‘AND NOT WHEN YOU’RE DRIVING!’