Things that make you go, “Hmm.”

Sometimes families are wonderful. I love my ‘little’ nest of people and the small menagerie we have accumulated. Sometimes they drive me to distraction or make me long for a distraction, sure, but they are there and they love me. They tell me so. In words, in teacups, in cooking, washing, technological assistance and cleaning up cat poo.

Sidenote: I am a grown woman with 4 children but I cannot clean up after cats without gagging. This appears to be my kryptonite. Which, when you think about it, makes far more sense than actual kryptonite. Pretty green stones vs icky cat mess. It’s a no brainer.

Anyway. Love is obvious in these and many other ways in my household.

Throughout my extended family, love is shown in other ways. We don’t live in the same city, so visits are always wonderful. Phone calls, texts and emails are also appreciated. Invite me to stay. Pay for a trip. Buy coffee. Hug me. Talk. All say, “I love you.”

My in-laws are a mystery to me. They say “family is everything” but I’m left wondering when inaction speaks louder than words. And even of words, there are few. Mostly mine.

The kids and I will be in town for these dates. Let me know when we can see you, please.

Nothing.

Arrive tonight. Let me know when we could catch up.

Nothing.

?????????

What is going on? I do not understand. No acknowledgement. Certainly no possible plans. Just nothing.

Hmmmm.  I’ll try Facebook. I’ve seen your posts, I know you’ll see this.

GROUP MESSAGE:
Kids and I arrive tonight for 7 days. We are planning our time and would love to see you. Will you let me know what might work please?

An hour later, I receive one (of 6 possible) replies:

I’ll let you know. Busy with work as I’ve been promoted.

I get it. Work is busy. I know that in my own life. But 24/7 for the next week? No time for coffee? Hmm.

A day later:

***** has left the group.

Well, that’s pretty clear.
And after that:

One (who is widely considered THE most unreliable in family) writes:

How long are you here for? I’d really like to introduce my new partner. My phone number has changed since last time so if you’ve tried to text me, I didn’t get it. New number is *******. I’ll call tomorrow when we can work something out.

Well, seems like the same old deal. It’s always this way. He’s rubbished by many family members and sometimes drives you nuts, but he ALWAYS makes time for us. ALWAYS. Actions, right?

The week before, having received no reply via text, I created a Facebook event for the youngest’s 3rd birthday. His actual birthday is just days after we go home, so why not get everyone together for a little cake? Right? Nope. Not a single rsvp from the same people. Friends from my high school days, some of whom I know better now via FB than I did at school, have replied in the affirmative. Family in law? Not one. (This happened for two consecutive years!)

I don’t know what else to do! For my own sake, I couldn’t care less, but for my children and my disappointed husband, I care a lot. What message is this sending them? Hmmmm.

Let me tell you what I’m hearing:

– You aren’t worth my time.
– I don’t want to see you.
– I don’t care that you live at the other end of the state.
– Niece? Nephews? Grandchildren? Who?

And that hurts me for their sakes.

What I want to do is tell (some of) them where to go. I want to send them this rant. I want to go visit and say it straight out. I want a reason. I want my husband to feel like a valued family member. What I want to do is tell (most of) them to stick it.

What will I do? Probably make a phone call and try to squeeze ourselves in. Make children visit so they can be roundly ignored for the allocated hour; or be told how naughty, rude, goth, lazy etc they are.  Try to make polite conversation and hope that I can communicate, pleasantly and perhaps too subtly, how important family is to us.  This will be agreed with and then ignored again til next time. Try to comfort my husband by playing nice and making more of an effort to insert ourselves where it appears we aren’t wanted so that others don’t look bad for not having seen us.

Things that make you go, “Hmmmm.”

Veritas,

Eski

Underneath It All

If you, like me, have battled, are still living and expect to keep dealing with depression, and if you, like me, have children who also have anxiety and depression as a constant illness, then you, like me, should not listen to “Dear Evan Hansen” music alone in an office at the end of a long week.

If you don’t know the story of Evan Hansen, you can find the full run down on the Wikipedia page. Warning: I’m likely to give away at least some of the story here.

Until recently, I didn’t know of it either, but my daughter started to share the music and I noticed a theme running through the lyrics. Although the story is not scene for scene the story of my family, too many of the lyrics ring true. Here’s the parts of the first song, sung by two very different mothers, both trying to negotiate normal families, social anxieties and, unknown as yet, suicide attempts.

****

Can we try to have an optimistic outlook, huh?

Can we buck up just enough to see the world won’t fall apart?
Maybe this year, we decide
We’re not giving up before we’ve tried
This year, we make a new start
Another stellar conversation for the scrapbook
Another stumble as I’m reaching for the right thing to say
I’m kinda coming up empty
Can’t find my way to you
Does anybody have a map?
Anybody maybe happen to know how the hell to do this?
I don’t know if you can tell
But this is me just pretending to know
So where’s the map?
I need a clue
‘Cause the scary truth is
I’m flying blind
And I’m making this up as I go
Another masterful attempt ends with disaster
Pour another cup of coffee
And watch it all crash and burn
It’s a puzzle, it’s a maze
I tried to steer through it a million ways
But each day’s another wrong turn
-happen to know how the hell to do this?
I don’t know if you can tell
But this is me just pretending to know
So where’s the map?
I need a clue
‘Cause the scary truth is
I’m flying blind
And I’m making this up as I go
As I go

****

Now I am aware of the normalities, anxieties and ideations of my family, I think, and I am flattened once again, knowing that I have still not been successful in ‘fixing’ those. So, alone in the office, I cry. And sing along.

Were this anyone else’s post, I would be hitting the comments button and assuring them that no one’s mental health difficulties are my responsibility, but parents and significant others in my situation will testify that it isn’t as easy as telling yourself that. That’s my baby, despite the age; that’s my responsibility.

I used to be able to kiss it all better and now I cannot even slightly improve your outlook with a million hugs and kisses; ongoing psychiatric or psychologist appointments or 20 iterations of medical prescriptions. I hear you. I see you. I love you. And yet, that isn’t enough. God formed you, I carried you; and I would carry you in my arms again if that would mend your broken heart/soul/feelings/brain/self-worth/mental health…….but it doesn’t and I can’t.

I feel responsible because of the statistics that I have seen. Approximately 1 in 7 young people experience an affective depressive disorder (beyondblue.org.au) in Australia. Children whose parents have experienced the same are 4 times more likely, and children who have one or more grandparent who have experienced mental health issues are apparently 20 times more likely to experience some sort of mental health concern than others. How could I not feel responsible? This has been my story. And now it’s an inheritance.

Mostly, mostly, I don’t get stuck in this state. I don’t know why today is different. Perhaps because I feel alone when I’m surrounded. Perhaps because I am tired and need a good sleep (for a few weeks). Perhaps it is musically induced melancholia. Perhaps, and not so surprisingly, perhaps it is my depression coming to the fore in response to all of the above. Whatever.

Mostly, mostly, I live a Nike slogan and JUST DO IT. Whatever it is on the agenda for that day and planning for the next few. Just the same as people everywhere ad infinitum. I’m not alone in it, for which I am grateful and neither are you, for which I am exceptionally grateful.

So, what now?

Now I pack up my today; pick up another child and go home. Now I buy bread and milk and ice cream, because they are the essentials tonight. Now I wipe my face, put on different music (duh) and then cry by myself in the car, wipe my face again and smile hello as I greet my family. I’m going to be ok and, God help me, they will, too.

So despite ‘evidence’ seen from outside, we will keep doing what we think is right. We won’t push for employment and we will ignore or face down detractors who believe we are enabling millennial entitlement. We will smile, a little stiffly perhaps, at those who believe, “If you just….(insert your values here)” it’ll all be ok.

And maybe every now and then I will cry with and for my family and make all the plans, suggestions and appointments (even with bloody Centrelink) that I think will help in any small way. And I will write my fears and feelings – and lyrics that I think 5 Seconds of Summer should record. And despite my best efforts to the contrary, I will listen to musical soundtracks like “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Be More Chill” (don’t ask, the trend is actually alarming me). And I will keep going. And I will be ok. And that’s what it is to be honest, and live and love. And that’s good.

**An hour later**

I have travelled the gamut of emotions in the past 60 minutes.

I picked up the recently employed child who offered to buy me dinner – win! We had a wonderful time and I felt a bit better, which was nice tonight. However, as I have explained, I am exposed to new music via my children, and tonight was no exception.

“Mum, I really like this song and I don’t really know why. Can I play it to you?”

“Sure.”

I’ve linked the song he played below. Your job now is to decide whether my reaction was:

A) understand immediately why he liked the song and proceed to have discussion on the merits of music genres followed by singing along to John Denver and The Proclaimers (separately, ’cause that’d be weird). This interspersed with buying previously mentioned milk, bread and ice cream.

B) crying silently with my face tilted slightly away from the passenger seat because the song describes and repeats what my eldest has tried to describe and repeat, underlined by minor chords. This interspersed with buying previously mentioned milk, bread and ice cream.

C) both A and B and wanting to vomit and gripping the steering wheel tightly in an attempt to distract one pain with another.

THE SONG

The ice cream was mediocre btw.

Modesty – is it just for girls?

Why do we teach girls and young women modesty? Huge amounts of resources are put into educating (mostly young) women to dress modestly, to be polite and to attract boys with their personality rather than their body. Books, music, social media posts, entire Facebook and Instagram pages and a bunch of other stuff is dedicated to this topic. Why? Y’all are teaching the wrong people!

I hate that young girls are taught that they have to careful on how they attract boys or what boys notice about them. It’s wrong. Though I’m sure it’s out there, and it definitely should be, I’ve never encountered this same level of educational resources and encouraging media educating boys and young men to respect women for their brain, not their body.

Even within Christian circles, I don’t see this. There isn’t a whole section at Koorong for boys called, How to Look at Her Eyes, Not Her Chest. Why aren’t there books, music, social media posts, and entire Facebook and Instagram pages dedicated to educating young men to notice her personality and not her tight jeans?

Young women shouldn’t have to worry about where guys are looking and what is noticed about their physical appearance. We should be teaching our boys to have self-control, not to exploit insecurities and to put respect first.

I know there is a very small amount of this sort of thing being taught, but I don’t believe it is done well enough or to the extent that it needs to be. This idea of respect is only shown very subtly to boys and it’s done in a very summed up and harsh way:

“Sex is for marriage and if you even notice that she has boobs you’re going to hell.”

I know that many young men, including myself, experience the guilt of noticing a low cut top. We’re taught that physical attraction is evil and wrong. It’s not. It’s human. And it’s okay. There is a difference between lust and noticing and we need to make sure that men, young and old, are taught to know and value the difference between them. Boys and young men also need to be taught how to show affection that isn’t always physical, but that you don’t have to feel guilty for finding her physically attractive.

#ThatChristianVlogger suggests that noticing that a woman is attractive is not a sin, but lusting after her is. He outlines his reasons, quite soundly, in this video.

So, what are your thoughts? Who needs to do what?

Much of this post was originally posted to Facebook by Harrison Seydler.

The Need Of The Hour – Lead Article from ‘The Dawn’ Volume 2, Number 9.

Sydney, January 6, 1889

THE great need of the hour is for men and women who are not afraid to take hold of active practical work against the growing immorality of the age. There are plenty of persons who applaud the good deeds of others and yet what are they themselves doing? Martha K. Pierce, LLD, in a little tract, which constitutes No. 9 of the social purity series, issued by the Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association, asks such persons a number of very pertinent questions which are worthy of most serious consideration. Did you ever think how dangerous a thing it is for us to attend a meeting, where evils are talked about, and to read articles about them in papers, and get into an agonised state of mind over them and yet do nothing? There is no surer way to deaden moral energy. I fear that this is the danger of the hour.

We are feeling dreadful about it all, but are we doing much to stop it? How can we sit in our safe churches and lecture halls and listen in a perfect ecstasy of indignation to denunciation of faraway evils, when we might know if we would, that in the next street some work as diabolical calls to heaven for vengeance. How dare we go home and quiet ourselves into obliviousness to disagreeable things with the hope that sometime women will have the power to do something in some safe and effective and eminently proper way to prevent these shocking things? How many of us are contenting ourselves now with praying that somebody else will do whatever it is “advisable” to do at this juncture? If we could only see ourselves as the pitying eye above sees us when we try to put celestial aspirations into the straightjacket of propriety, we would humble ourselves in the dust, realizing our utter unworthiness to receive those fleeting visitations of the Divine. There is real work before us.

Are we watching the train on which bewildered girls are being hurried to a future so terrible that those who love them can have no hope except that Death will find and secure them soon? Are we sure that the pretty sales-woman who waits on us so patiently during an afternoon’s shopping, is not wishing that she had some good, safe friend to go to for advice about some acquaintance whom she half distrusts? Is the servant girl so kindly and justly treated that she does not go to unsafe places for the scanty pleasures that her life of drudgery knows? Has our grumbling at the sewing girl’s bill made her wonder as she turns to go to her home, whether it would be so very wicked after all to accept the protection of some man, who, dissipated as she knows him to be, is the only person who seems to care whether she starves or not? Have we taken pains to secure the confidence of the silly daughter of our careless neighbour, that we may give her an effective word of warning? Is there a place in our town in which any hopeless woman could shelter? And have we taken pains to have its location, and purpose so well advertised that no one could fail to know of it?

Have we joined hands with every other woman in our neighbourhood who can be interested in this work (and what true woman cannot be?) that we may help each other in lines of effort that cannot well be carried on by other individuals? Are the laws against abduction, kidnapping, and other crimes allied to the traffic by which our sisters are enslaved, put in force in our locality, not spasmodically, as peculiarly distressing cases happen to come to public notice, but every time they are violated? Are we trying to gain for womanhood such a direct influence in the body politic that officials will find it to their advantage to enforce those laws, and to guard the interests of women as scrupulously in all ways as they now do the interests of the voters upon whose support they depend? And whatever else we do or leave undone, do we speak in season the well-deserved and sorely-needed word of praise for the ones who dare to be the first in any line of this work?

*************************************************************************************************************************

Louisa Lawson penned this article for her female readers almost 130 years ago. The call now, directed at both men and women, must read exactly the same! How sad for such a nation as ours to have changed so much, but yet so little, in over a century. Surely there can be no fewer community-minded citizens now? Do we still, as Mrs Lawson suggested, feel that someone ought to do something about ‘those poor folk’ who have not the blessings we ourselves are so richly equipped with? Or do we do it ourselves? I know all too well there are no fewer in need now than then.

Is this a task which you would like to undertake and yet find yourself with no knowledge with which to go forward? Here then are causes and organisations with whom you may partner to ensure you meet (some) of the NEED OF THE HOUR.

Days for Girls (daysforgirls.org)

A practical service to girls and women all over the world, groups or individuals produce washable, reusable sanitary items so that, exactly as it says in the name, we can secure more ‘days for girls’. Days for education, days for work to sustain their families, days of dignity and recognition and hope. Consider your freedom to just ‘duck in’ to shops to purchase sanitary products for yourself or someone you love. This basic right is something not afforded to all. As you will realise as you peruse the ‘Days for Girls’ website, many women use shockingly unhygienic or relatively useless items in an effort to manage their menstruation and have access the opportunities that we too often take for granted. There are stories of ongoing failure and poverty due to the lack of such a seemingly insignificant item as a sanitary pad. The shame and taboo of women’s issue is prevalent in more countries and cultures than not and the indignity and mistreatment of women is horrific. Consider the story of one 12 year old girl who, when presented with the DFG kit, was ecstatic that she would no longer have to offer ‘favours’ to a male adminstrator whose role included distribution of donated sanitary products. How can you help to buy back days for girls? Every girl, everywhere, period.

Raw Impact #rawimpactorg

Consider families all over the world for whom poverty is generational. Regardless of the initial cause; famine, genocide, war – civil or international, these families spend a great deal of time and energy each day simply surviving. Simply finding enough food to support some growth of their children, finding shelter that most of us would NOT consider adequate and working hard to maintain life and existence. A few minutes spent meeting the families aided by the ongoing work of RAW Impact on their youtube channel will open your eyes to the real life examples of these families. It will also give you hope and a real vision of how these seemingly insurmountable challenges might begin to be overcome, one piece at a time, when you believe, as RAW does, that #everypiecematters And when you believe that, and recognise that YOU can make a difference, this might just be the way you’d like to impact your world for good.

I was fortunate enough to be a part of a team of women who travelled to Cambodia in April this year to deliver women’s health classes and Days for Girls kits. You can watch our video here.

These are only two of the numerous organisations around the globe for whom people matter, for whom others come before self. It does not take a genius to understand that things don’t change unless YOU do. Things don’t happen without people power. I’m sure there are so many wonderful organisations that you have been privileged to know and work with. Perhaps you would like to share these in the comments below so that others might choose to assist their world in a real way?

Veritas,

Eski.

12 Years A Slave

I watch this movie in horror and disgust and admiration. Horror that anyone calling themselves human could possibly treat another in such a way; disgust at those of ‘my’ race who could do so or stand by; admiration for those brave, mistreated people who survived and those who were brave enough to stand up and say stop.

I cannot leave the volume at one level and so I raise and lower the sounds I hear. I lean close for the words, those of courage and determination.  Down to almost mute in anticipation of the violence. 

I am sickened by the acts that are shown in only this two hour period. If this is the case in this short a time, how disgusting then the years of reality? I cannot bear to think about it, yet I force myself to continue to watch because I know this example is one of many. I know similar action and inaction have happened in my country, my state. 

I watch because I want to feel horrified and disgusted at what people have done. I want to remember it. I want force myself to acknowledge that these atrocities happen still and will keep on while people like me stay silent.

I watch this vitriol and violence against human beings because I am afraid that sometime past, I believe without intent, I have been racist or otherwise treated one less than another, less than myself. If I have, I will not anymore.

I will not stand idly by. I will be aware. I will speak up for injustice. Even if I am afraid. I will.

Universal truths are constant. It is a fact, an undeniable fact that what is true and right, is true and right for all. White and black alike. Mr Bass – 12 Years A Slave.

Extreme Do-Over! A fairy story for modern times.

I want to tell you a story. 

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, in an ordinary suburb, a woman – let’s call her Sally.

(Or, to be honest, it is me.)

Anyway, a woman, strategically organised jobs for her family so that everyone was doing their share. She was so considerate that she allowed her family their choice of chores and allocated what was left to herself. Now this woman has never been renowned for her particular abilities in terms of housework. In fact, she reduced her immediate family to hysteria when she landed a Home Ec teaching position. She is possibly one of the least domestic people we know. However, for the short term, the chore sharing went well and everyone was in clean, folded clothing.

A little while ago though, her life filled up more than usual and something had to go. Sighing disappointedly, she removed the self-replicating, rapidly increasing mountain of clean, unfolded clothing from its normal slothful position on the lounge room couch/floor to the hidden confines of her small walk-in wardrobe. What a relief to have this monstrosity invisible to anyone who dropped by. Now she only had to wrestle with it once a day in order to find her outfit. As happens with self-replicating life forms, however, the mountain grew and grew as days passed. Infuriatingly, no housework fairy tiptoed in at night to do it for her. In fact, not even one fairy tale creature crossed her path to offer redemption in exchange for the soul of her first born or her undying affection. Bah, humbug!

More time passed, but the woman knew she would conquer the ever widening pile soon, or die trying. As is often the case in these moral tales, time moves more swiftly that we bargain for and moment is lost. Yesterday, the clouds of the oncoming storm released their deluge upon the home of the poor, unwary woman and her family. (Literally, a pipe from the hot water service blew inside the wall between the laundry and the back of the wardrobe.) For long hours, the storm raged. (Possibly 5 hours til her husband and kids returned home.) The woman’s wardrobe, then (carpeted) bedroom, the hallway, then the (carpeted) bedrooms of the (4) children, the (carpeted) loungeroom and linen press transformed from dry, to damp, to swamp over the space of one afternoon. Upon returning to the dwelling, her longsuffering husband found frogs croaking, dragonflies skimming and a mountain of once-clean washing, steaming in the (carpeted) estuary (2 inches deep) that had been their wardrobe.

In a valiant attempt to stop further damage, said husband attacked the source with gusto. (He turned off the water.) He and the children, frustrated with the limited capacity of their mop, thought laterally and used the already wet washing (towels and quilts first, then everything down to undies) to soak up as much of the excess water as they could. It must be noted that on its travels the water had surged and back washed through the cat litter tray and so these once-clean items were now pungent and aromatic. What a delightful scene greeted the woman when she returned from inspiring the minds of the future. A tired family and a gruff wizard in plumbing kit were still at work determining the source of this evil. Holes were blasted in walls until the copper culprit admitted its guilt. (A 2 millimetre wear in a weld.) Captured and replaced with a sturdier guard, the culprit was wrapped for The Insurer’s inspection and the family once agin bent their backs to shift sodden, smelly piles of washing to the relative safety of the cork floor in the dining room. 

Fearing for their safety, and comfortable sleep, the husband manhandled (cause he’s a man) the thankfully dry mattress to the outside room and they, their youngest child, a couple of cats and an attention seeking dog attempted to sleep whilst still listening out for The Insurer’s promised vacuum wielding water diviner. Who promptly arrived at 10 the next morning while they were out. 

The woman long (3.5 hours) regretted her laziness as she slaved over huge, costly ($85 total), roasting machinery (laundromat). What had once seemed a fine plan now tortured her day off and her slim purse. She knew that laziness was not the answer. When she arrived home she found herself and her family surrounded by towering fluorescent orange dehumidifiers and fans with such gusting power they bellowed throug the hallway like an engine of a jumbo jet. Ah, the peace; the tranquility; the sarcasm!

The woman’s patience was tested further with a call to The Insurer who requested that she provide evidence of ownership of her 10 year old bed frame, two spare mattresses, numerous secondhand bookcases and desks and a, now structurally questionable, MDF toddler bed in the likeness of a well-known, blue, British steam locomotive. 

So, although this vicious attack of liquid was not the woman’s fault, she felt sorely tried by its ramifications. And the washing mountain? I hear you ask. Clean, dry, partially folded and safe.
And still in the back of the car.

Absolute verity,

Eski Caterpillar 💦

Housework? I Say No!

Mine is the sort of home where guests for lunch present – apart from menu planning – the added unspoken question as to whose job it will be to clear the dining room table of its drifts of paper, unopened letters and things that people dumped there on the way in from school.

And that’s the way I like it! (Mostly)

Thanks to Annabel Crabb for this eye opening, truthful, realistic and freeing article.

Lesson to my Daughter.

Dust bunnies everywhere – and they are – I salute you. I’m off to sprinkle glitter; sew Hulk costumes; read stories; watch tv; play Lego or any number of the thousand and four things I’d rather be doing than housework.

🐛