Middle Age Is About Making Important Choices

I knocked back some paid work last week. Not that we’re rolling in money and I can pick and choose the hours I want, but this time my choice was based on my health. I knew that working five days a week in three different fields would have undone all of the good I got from my holiday.

I know how lucky I am to have that option, but that’s because we have made choices about the way we live. We sold the family home and rent an apartment now, and the old man is we’re careful about what we spend. In the past, both of us have struggled with stress and anxiety – which have been exacerbated by our problems with Kurt – and so we are well aware of our limitations.

I believe fervently in the importance of recognising those when it comes to your mental health, particularly in middle age when menopause can trigger anxiety and reduce our tolerance for working with dickheads for someone else. Sometimes, when I listen to friends who constantly moan about their jobs – and who are fortunate to have those options – I want to shake them and ask them exactly what they’re waiting for?

I am aware that there are people out there – mostly self-employed – who love their work, and that perhaps my view sounds somewhat narrow-minded. But I learnt about the fragility of human life very early on, and I’m also fortunate that I can do some of my paid work from home.

Instead of working on those days I was asked to, I took my first dip in the ocean since the end of winter. I lay in the water like a pig in shit, looking up at the blue sky, and acknowledged how lucky I am. The water in Sydney doesn’t get higher than 24 degrees and it was predictably icy, i.e. enough to shock my body into questioning what the fuck I was doing. Nevertheless, it was clear, bathed in sunshine, and personally I can’t think of any better experience.

So I won’t be getting that new dining set to replace the one we’ve had for over twenty years, which is now so old it has come back into fashion – much to the old man’s delight. But I did experience another of life’s precious moments, and without being maudlin, who knows how many opportunities I’ve got left to do that.

When Hormones Get In The Way Of Your Work/Life, Family Balance

Ever feel like God was having some kind of sick joke when he coordinated the onset of menopause with the metamorphosis of happy children into entitled, grunting teenagers? When Hormones Get In The Way Of Your Work/Family Balance We all strive for the perfect work/life, family balance but it’s not easy to get that balance right when there are effectively four adults living in one house, ravaged by the dictates of hormones.

And that precious balance can get completely fucked up by the smallest things: like when the food shop hasn’t been done in eleven days and you end up having to pay an exorbitant amount of money at the local shop for milk, bread and bin bags.

I seriously need a housekeeper or a ‘wife’.

I don’t need a cleaner – our little apartment only needs twenty-minutes of concerted effort to turn it from bedlam to show home via a superficial surface clean that I’ve invented which would even fool the mother-in-law. And to be honest, we’d miss that fine layer of dust if it suddenly disappeared from the lining of our nostrils.

But it’s all that other shit, like ACTUALLY getting the dishwasher TURNED ON and EMPTIED; like removing the wet washing from the washing machine and putting it into the drier; like having the luxury of time to clean and divide the recycling into the relevant fucking boxes so the dustman don’t have an epi when he collects it.

I know I only have myself to blame. I should be treating my children like serfs now that they are legally old enough not to fall under the protection of child services. But to be fair, they do their own washing and feed themselves on those days I’ve completely given up and refuse to come home.

The problem is that we all work long hours – well, apart from Kurt who is having a sabbatical from life and in the process of ‘finding himself’, using simple self-help strategies such as eating and sleeping all day. So, you see, once the main priorities have been dealt with, such as walking the Princess four times a day, (who now I’m really time-poor, insists on sniffing each blade of grass before dumping her load), cooking, cleaning and moaning about life, it doesn’t leave much time to enjoy life.

And we’re all super-cranky as a result.

Even the Princess, whose every whim is catered too. Everyone knows dogs have ADHD, but I never realised they suffered from peri-menopause too!

Raging hormones are responsible for a lot in our apartment – sometimes it feels like the Big Brother house, such is the dangerous smorgasbord of dual personalities on display. We have one VERY angry, lethargic teenager with the appetite of ten athletes, one lovesick twenty-something whose biggest fear in life is failing a test, an even ANGRIER menopausal mother and a father who is just coming out of his third midlife crisis.

So what’s the solution? Well, funnily enough, Annabel Crabb has come up with one in her new book ‘The Wife Drought’. Forget about farmers needing a wife, apparently WE ALL NEED A WIFE if we want a better work/life balance. In other words, the optimum domestic set-up is when the main breadwinner has a non-working or part-time ‘wifey’ at home, who deals with all that OTHER frustrating shit like when you’re trying to make a deadline and the dog decides to vomit on the carpet. In the fifties, when many women didn’t work, the ‘wife’ used to manage the domestic chores and so prevented the type of family melt-downs that are so common these days.

In our house, if I haven’t told the old man to ‘fuck off’ within half an hour of us both returning home from work, I would start worrying about the status of our relationship.

I’m not suggesting that everyone can afford a part-timer in the family, but something has to give. The mélange of Kurt’s teenage growth hormones dictating to him to eat and sleep all day, (and in doing so, directly challenging my resentful and permanently ANGRY, menopausal hormones that justifiably feel that if I have to work my ass off, so should everyone else), are having a seriously detrimental effect on my sanity. My walking-dustbin-for-a-son eats us out of house and home, so even that wonderful feeling of elation at the sight of a FULL FRIDGE that I occasionally experience once a week, (and yes, I do know that’s incredibly sad!), is a temporary one, quickly dismissed once Kurt and his friends have raped and pillaged its contents.

http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/502218055

But at least the old man takes it all calmly in his stride and feigns the superiority of the sage yogi as he escapes the domestic trenches to sit beneath his faithful invisibility cloak, that has always protected him from the ravages of parenthood and hormone-driven storms… for all of five minutes, usually, before he erupts too and we all laugh at him callously when he storms off to the bedroom for his therapy in front of the golf.

How’s your work/family balance working out for you?

Work/Life Balance And Fifty Shades Of Domestic Chaos

Women do the bulk of the share of housework. FACT.

 

Apple juice
Apple juice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Women do not enjoy housework and do not have a natural, innate flair for it. It is not ‘women’s work‘. FACT 2.

 

Yet unfortunately, in our house, things are no different. Because I work part-time and the old man pretends to work full-time (apparently eight-hour lunches and golf days constitute REAL work), we have carefully worked out an agreement where the amount of housework we each do is pro-rata-ed, based upon the hours we work.

 

Obviously, this agreement needs some remodelling occasionally.

 

For example, dealing with bin juice will NEVER be my domain – even when we both retire. Women don’t do bin juice, just as men don’t wipe bench tops.

 

But sometimes my bosses get over-zealous about their profit margins and my accountability (yawn!) and throw our careful planning out with the bath water when they spring extra work on me and I have a run of several HUGE, fucking exhausting days. At the end of which, the only thing I am capable of doing is thinking about Tyson’s chest in the shower on I’m A Celebrity with a big silly grin on my face, and slurping wine noisily and sucking the chocolate off Maltesers in bed.

 

It’s only Thursday and already this week has been MASSIVE.

 

It began with the major disappointment of the Libspill result on Monday, which was only compensated by the timely addition of Tim Robards’ chest to the Celebrity Jungle.

 

I do worry that Tyson may be losing too much weight to maintain his shower drool-ability and as he has no discernible personality, it could end badly for him. 

 

Then the old man dumped a work dinner on me mid-week, where I had to either bite my tongue or sip more wine each time I was tempted to have a pop at my husband in front of his colleagues.

 

Which is why I need to whinge about that old chestnut of balancing work and home AGAIN, because I’ve noticed over the past three days that when I work more than two big days on the trot, the whole house goes to shit.

 

You see, in spite of fact that there has ALWAYS being a washing machine in our home, no-one but me knows how to work it – although the whole family is very proficient at bemoaning their lack of socks; not one of them is capable of cooking anything unless it starts its life in a tin; and as for cleaning – don’t make me fake-laugh and pee my new Calvin Klein pants.

 

It must be so nice to be them – to come home from a hard work of toil to an ordered, chaos-free home, where a content, ‘fed, watered and walked’ dog awaits, where there are plumped up cushions, and the inviting smell of home-cooked food smouldering cooking in the oven.

 

Rather than the chaos I walk into.

 

Home work not started and due the next day; wet towels draped on every inch of flooring; a cockroach feast of empty chip bags and cereal boxes strewn all over the coffee table and a dog that is on the verge of self-combustion from the agony of holding onto a full bladder for too long.

 

And then there’s dinner to think about, which is when I have to stifle very bad thoughts about adding dog food to the pasta sauce or getting the dog to wee in the apple juice.

 

Normal reaction?

 

Or has trying to balance work with family turned me into a vengeful psychopath who might just come home one day, suddenly reach crisis point and react irrationally to that first wet towel on the floor I trip over and in vengeance roast the dog for dinner?

 

This week I’ve decided that it might be safer to transfer my mental energies to Tim Robards abs.

 

And no, in answer to your question, Kurt, it’s not PMT.

 

 

 

And Do YOU Have A Life, Like Your Husband?

Controversial, I know, but would there have been as much media interest if Phillip Hughes had been a woman, my daughter asked me in the car this morning?

 

‘Harsh’, I responded, secretly proud of her inner feminist sensitivities.

 

http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/176640394

 

Being the complete cricket ignoramus that I am, I’m ashamed to admit that I’d never heard of Phillip Hughes before last week’s incredibly sad turn of events. But everyone in the world knows who he was now.

 

And who could fail to be sucked in by those big, brown puppy-dog eyes and the huge, cheeky grin of the sportsman, who not only won the hearts of his fellow team mates but also those of a nation? Apparently he was an awesome cricketer too.

 

And it’s only right that his death should be ruminated over and that he should be eulogised.

 

But NC had a point.

 

How many times in my life have I attended a party or dinner on the arm of my husband and never been asked what I do? 

And Do YOU Have A Life, Like Your Husband?
Amara – Dinner Party 1954 – Found on Flickr.com

 

No-one is interested in what I do, but they are always eager to ask the old man about his day job and successes. Is that a gender thing – in that men talk about work and sport and women apparently talk about housework and children (?) – or is there the underlying assumption that because he’s a man, he must be successful/do something interesting?

 

He’s an accountant.

 

Whereas, in my case there seems to be the assumption that what I do is either a) too dull to warrant discussion b) nothing c) JUST raising kids d) too awkward to ask.

 

Which riles me because what I do is SUPER interesting, ACTUALLY, if any of those insular, uninteresting losers actually had the ounce of personality, creativity or manners required to ask me about it.

 

I could bore them for hours with my tales about houses.

 

Because I do have a life outside my husband and my children and some fairly outrageous opinions, and what galls me the most is that in many respects it’s been a harder journey for me to achieve my successes than him.

 

I’ve had to cope with vaginal stitches in the photocopying room, leaking breasts and I’ve had to give presentations on no sleep, yet it has still been expected of me to perform at the same level as him.

 

Which is why it is so frustrating to be overlooked and patronised.

 

Whatever men do, seems to be newsworthy, yet the only time women overshadow men in the media is when they take their clothes off or when they are painted as the freaky female success story of the corporate world.

 

I might not sit in a boardroom for work but I am still a person, with a career and a life, and to be honest, I’m far more interesting than my husband.

 

Ask me about it, sometime.

Woman Seeking GENUINE Work/Life Balance

Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On a scale of one to ten, my stress levels are at a Gordon Ramsay ‘ten’ at the moment.

 

Work has gone into overdrive recently and once I’ve done my duties as a mother, domestic slave and family therapist, there is no time left for ME.

 

And I resent it. There, I said it.

 

I need ME-TIME. I need time to offload on my blog, watch a trashy movie, drink more than two glasses of wine and fantasise about hot, young men. At the moment I’m having to donate precious ME-TIME to the impossible task of matching socks, cooking uninspiring food and refereeing between the rest of the dysfunctionals.

 

Why can’t my work/life balance stay at a level I’m comfortable with? I’ve resigned myself to the hours I initially agreed (as employee, wife, mother, aka Super-Slave) to designate to each different department of my life, but the minute one area begins to demand overtime I begin to crumble with the stress.

 

I never pretended to be a fucking saint!

 

And meltdown is not a pretty sight in my case. Put it this way, I make Ange in ‘Girl Interrupted’ look normal.

 

When I begin to crumble mentally, the symptoms and abstract behaviour can become very disconcerting. Particularly for the dog. I become completely non-tactile (except with wine bottles and chocolate), monosyllabic and I have a tendency to curl up in the foetal position either under my desk or preferably with the Princess in her dog bed, and rock. If the phone rings I begin to shake uncontrollably and I do crazy, irresponsible things like pretend I’m taking the Princess for a walk when really I’m going down for a quick Chardy at the local bar.Woman Seeking GENUINE Work/Life Balance

 

Not really, but I would if I could get away with it.

 

I don’t manage stress and anxiety very well, so when I get up early to work BEFORE my first fucking 8am meeting (WTF!) and the old man mentions that he hasn’t got any clean socks, it takes all my patience not to ram his dirty ones down his throat until he chokes on his own vomit and dies.

 

Too far???

 

Remedies I have found to have some success include:

 

Chocolate

Wine

Wine

Chocolate

And then there’s wine….

Oh, and sobbing loudly in the car along to Michael Buble’s ‘Hold On’.

How do you cope when your work/life balance gets screwed up?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Women Really Want To ‘Have It All’?

Can Women Really Be Bothered To 'Have It All?'
Housework Hell by Alysa Pakkidis

This week I have decided to question the premise of women ‘having it all.’

And I’ve decided that ‘having it all’ isn’t ‘all that’.

Because the Perfect Mother medal in my cupboard and the ‘thank you’ email from that bitch of a client, hasn’t brought me the fulfilment I thought it would.

‘Having it all’ has its limitations.

It’s not like I’ve even lost any weight from the stress of it, which begs the question of what exactly I am supposed to be gaining, apart from a highly fraught existence.

There’s certainly no work/life balance to speak of.

The old man dared criticise my aptitude for house cleaning this week – a bit rich considering my pleas for a cleaner some time ago (here).  I knew something was simmering, because he develops this very loud tut when he’s cross. He tutted first when he had to empty the recycling bin, and then again when he discovered that I hadn’t ironed him any clean shirts for work.

Obviously I ignored the insinuated criticism.

After a few wines he grew some balls and came out with it. He said the house looked like the ‘back streets of Calcutta’.

Which I felt was a bit harsh.

Admittedly, the kitchen did look like some earthquake had hit the North Shore during lunch, but in my defence, it is the school holidays at the moment and our precious teenage babies can’t be expected to clean as well as grow, can they? I didn’t think the milk had been left out THAT long – I carried out the sniff test and it passed for hot drinks.

He was obviously just having a bad day. Apparently he was down a few seconds on his running time home from work and you know how maddening that can be?

Frankly, I couldn’t give a flying fuck about whether the house is clean or not, but it still stings to be criticised.

But made me realise that I’ve got too many balls in the air at the moment.

Trying to ‘have it all’ is exhausting sometimes.

We women are always trying to be the perfect mother, friend, colleague and partner. Sometimes it’s fun to rebel, kick off your shoes, become a bit more Bohemian and let the mess reproduce, the loo roll run out or create meals out of canned food.

Not that he didn’t have a point about the decaying sweet corn under the fridge.

But inevitably something has to give when we find our backs against the wall and the stress levels begin to escalate. My rule of thumb for coping with stress is to prioritise, and those activities that I derive the least pleasure from (like exercise and housework), have to be put to one side.

It’s quite amazing the squalor one can become accustomed to when push comes to shove.

I used to be proud of how organised my chaos appeared, but these days even my chaos is struggling to breathe. And the reality of ‘mum can’t do everything’ has hit the family hard. Because the bed linen doesn’t change itself and the clean washing doesn’t actually shimmy its way from the laundry to their drawers.

Calcutta might actually be an accurate analogy.

I admit that I’ve been putting myself first for a change.

After fifteen years of child-rearing, when at times I felt as though I had lost my own identity and become just someone’s Mum, I want some ‘me’ time now.

But now that I’ve put myself first, I feel guilty that I’m letting everyone down. Isn’t it strange how we women always feel like we’re failing?

Is ‘having it all’ actually worth it?

So there’s currently an embargo on cleaning in our house.

Anyone who needs a shirt ironed or food cooked can either hire a cleaner or do it their bloody selves.