Sunday, 29 July 2012

Parents are human, too

When I was a little girl, my parents were gods.  They could do everything, they knew everything, they made everything better, they could fix just about everything, and they also had the ability to upset me more than anyone else in the world - being sent to my room, being smacked (because it was the 80s and it was okay to smack back then.  Hec, it was even okay for other parents to smack other people's kids if they were being rotten!), being told no, being made to eat all my veggies.  

Then when I was a teenager, there was nobody more dorky than my parents.  My dad didn't help himself through this period because he wore safari suits to work every day.  I kid you not!  I squirmed when I was trapped in the car with my mum because she'd take the opportunity of my inability to escape to talk to me about the birds and the bees, and periods and boobs, boys and bras and all things that this 12-year-old hated talking to her mother about!  That was what Dolly magazine and best friends were for!  Many-a-time I hoped the car seat would open up and swallow me to make the awkwardness end!  My parents didn't understand me, they had no idea what I was going through and I just wanted them to stop talking to me!

Then, in my early 20s, I started to appreciate my parents - my mum, especially.  I started to realise just how hard my mum worked raising me, my two sisters and brother.  I remembered with new appreciation of the times mum stayed up late baking patty cakes for some random school event the next day.  Or how hard it must have been for her to get out of bed every morning, probably exhausted and wishing for two hours more sleep, to come and wake us up, always smiling and happy to see us.  The regular phone calls, endless love and hugs.  And she did it just about single-handedly while my dad worked every second he could.  In my 20s, and coming into my later 20s, I realised how blessed I was to have my mum as my mum.

Now, as a mum of my own, I'm seeing my mum in another new light.  She's human.  She made mistakes because she was making motherhood up as she went along, as we all do!  As I am now.  She lost her temper; she put her foot in it and said things she probably instantly regretted; she got upset; she got frustrated; she didn't have all the answers.  But she absolutely did the best she could.  She's amazing!  I love spending time with my mum, unlike my teenage self.  I love talking to her and just "hanging out" together.  I know my time is precious with her.

And I also realise that my daughter probably won't realise these things about me until she's a mum herself.  She'll think I'm wonderful and amazing while she's little.  As a teenager she'll probably go through a phase of not wanting me to meet her at the school gate and wait for her at a respectable distance.  I'll be dorky and totally unfashionable in her eyes.  Then she'll probably mellow out and like me again in her early 20s and get to know me a bit better.  But when she's a mum, I hope she will realise, as I did about my mum, that I'm human, I love her more than my own life, and that I'm doing the very best I can, every day - even when I get frustrated, am over-tired, put my foot in it, get angry or frustrated.  Because I'm only human.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Dumb people have it better

Dumb people have it better than smart people.  Let me explain.  I was pretty average in high school grades wise, and I had to work hard for the average grades I got.  But I sure as hec didn't want to fail - I wanted to be the best student I could be - so I worked hard for my Bs and Cs.  I stayed up late studying, I got up early, I used to bug the smart kids to explain things to me for the 100th time if I didn't get it in class.  But there were friends at school who didn't study, didn't seem to try in class, goofed off but aced their tests every single time.  I used to get so annoyed at the unfair brain balance going on!  My 14 and 15-year-old self felt totally ripped off!

But I realised tonight that being "dumb" has actually served me pretty well in life.  I learned to have a fighting, goal-oriented drive right from the beginning - and I'm blessed that I've always had goals and a strong work ethic, which I thank my wonderful parents for.

If I wanted to achieve something, I had to set a goal and haul butt to get there.  I always have.  I rarely give up - like a dog with a bone.  But someone who has never had to try very hard to achieve something often struggles when things in life don't happen easily.  "What's going on?  Why isn't this just falling in my lap? This has never happened before!". It could be setting a goal in the first place;  it could be knowing how to break the journey down into smaller steps; it could be knowing how to get back up after being knocked down.  But for a "dumb" person, that happens plenty!  I fall over plenty!  And I know to just get back up, put my head down and keep pushing - like a battering ram!  But that's come with time and experience.

When I was in grade 10, I used to pray all the time for God to make me smarter.  "Please God, make me smarter.  I could do so much more in the world if I was smarter.  I promise to do so much good in the world if you only make me smarter."  And then one morning I woke up from a dream I couldn't remember, with such a clear message - "Be happy with what you've got."  "Right God," I said.  "I got it.  Thanks."  And off I went, being mostly happy with the brains I was given, even if that meant a C+ on a test I'd studied days for!  (But then there were a few little tears and tantrums when I didn't ace the subjects I was good at because I knew I should have done better and kicked myself for it.  I'm an over-achiever.  Have I said that yet?  Though I still suck at and get baffled by paperwork.  Gah - too hard!)

But then I went to university, found my niche and rocked!  "Oh my goodness!  I'm not dumb after all?  I'm actually smart and good at something?  Well, I'll be darned!"  And that's the thing - I found my goal, I found my niche, I worked hard and I aced it!  I'm still in the industry I studied for at university and while I may still lose my job, it's not because I suck at it.

Albert Einstein (allegedly) said (because we all know how reliable Google is):  "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

I'm not sure where I'm going with this post, except to say thank God I wasn't a genius at school.  I'm tougher and stronger for it, and it's made me stubborn in that regard.  I never would have learned to work as hard as I do if I'd been one of the "smart" kids at school - if everything came easily.  So thank you God for not making me "smarter".  I am one hell of a fighter though!  Amen!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Think before you think

I went for a run tonight, in the cold and rain.  That is so unlike me.  I can't begin to point out the differences with the girl who went running tonight, and the girl who would have been snugged up in her winter woolies, baking comfort food on a night like this.  Mind you, that girl is still around, and after a quick shower after tonight's run, I'm back in my winter woolies and looking through the pantry to see what I have to bake with!  We're one in the same, and this "running all weather" girl must have always been in there... just silenced with laziness and comfort.

Now, back in my young and stupid days, when I saw someone like myself tonight - out running, in the rain, at night - I would have thought something along the lines of, "Oh, pa-lease!  Go home you idiot!"  Now, older and slightly wiser, when I see someone out running (or any exercise for that matter), I say something like, "You go girl/dude!"  And give them a silent high-five as I drive past.  I admire their effort.  They're out there doing something about their weight/fitness/health issue.  The redder their face and less 'exercise-like' they look, the more awesome I think they are!

But I got thinking tonight - how many people are out there because of a personal demon of some sort?  Perhaps, though it's cold and raining and dark, they're out running to stop themselves drinking alcohol?  Or gambling?  Or hitting their child?  Or to redirect some anger at someone in their household, so they don't explode and can handle the situation better?  Or maybe they're just like me - a busy working mum with only a small window at night, a few nights a week, when husband comes home, to shoof off out the door and to hell with the weather!  Perhaps they just want to lose weight, get fit and meet their personal deadline, too?

And it applies to so many other things too - the cranky person at work (you never know what's happening for them at home, or what they have to go home to); the way someone is dressed at the shops (perhaps those are the only clothes they own, or they're dressed in really short shorts because they woke up that morning feeling fantastic about their legs and butt!  How many other girls feel that way when they get dressed in the morning?!  Most of us (me included) spend a great deal of time trying to cover it all up and play tricks to redirect the eye with chunky accessories!).

We're all out there, doing our own thing, with our baggage and issues.  We can never run away from them - we just all pack them differently to suit our location, destination and how many transfers we've made, and we usually get much better at carrying them, too.  Even at night, in the rain and cold.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

I am what I eat

So this week at work was a bit rough.  Not the work part, or the looming job cuts.  It was rough because this cold week, I discovered that none of my bottom-halfs fit me - slacks, skirts or my 'good' jeans.  If I can get the zip up, they're not comfortable and it's probably not a treat for those around me to see me wearing them, either.  Throw a pair of stockings into the mix and you have one very unattractive and uncomfortable wardrobe disaster!  And so it was this week, I discovered my 'double tummy' - that thing that happens to fatter tummies when you wear clothes too tight, that kind of cut you in the middle, so you have a noticeable 'crease' in your mid-section - a top tummy, and a bottom tummy.  It is VERY unattractive!  And this is the first time in my life that I've had it!  I've always been slim and trim, and even when I thought I was fatter, I can't remember this happening!

It's no great mystery as to why this new physical change has occurred.  I eat too much.  I love food, and I love to eat and I love to cook.  I also graze off my daughter's plate when she's done with it, instead of putting it in the bin.  I know just about all mothers do this.  It's good, heathy food and would just go to waste.  But add that little bit of food, a couple of times a day, on top of your own food (plus cravings) and there's hundreds more calories for my body to cope with.

My running progress is actually going pretty well (following Couch to 5km -, after a big break a few weeks ago when I was sick.  I'm venturing into "tough land" now in Week 5 - jogging for eight minutes straight!  Mind you, I might not be going very fast, and someone power-walking to the train would probably overtake me, but I'm keeping it up - I keep jogging until my little App lady tells me to switch to a walk.  My goal is to be jogging 5km non-stop by August 2.  Why August 2?  Well, I'm participating in the Bridge to Brisbane 5km event ( on my road to Boston Marathon stardom in six years time (before I'm 40), and as my incentive to keep going, my husband has promised to buy me a new pair of sneakers one month before the event so I can break them in - provided I'm running 5km one month beforehand!  I'm wearing the same beat-up sneakers I've had since 2003.  I bought them in Canada.  I have a sentimental attachment to them.  I get attached to strange things sometimes, like my old washing machine, but that's another story for another day.  While these old sneakers are holding together pretty well, I am longing for those new sneakers!  I will make it, if only to have a decent light pair of sneakers that are actually designed for running!  My legs won't know such joy!

But I don't exercise enough at the moment to burn off the "calories in".  I'm not loving my body right now, but as God so lovingly and kindly reminds me - it's all there and it all works!  And of course He's right!  I have two legs that work, two arms, internal organs all present and accounted for, and in the right spots.  And they all work!  So stop the fatty pitty party!  I might not be as small as I used to be (and anyone just has to see a picture of my full-term baby belly to understand why that balloon was never going to shrink back into place!).  But I'm not fat.   I'm "fatter" - not fat.

And I also got to thinking what my daughter will learn by watching my petty body issues play out.  I don't want to teach her by demonstration that what you look like is never good enough - just a few more kilos; just a wax job here and a dye job there; oh, I can't eat that...  So many mums (and dads, but more so mums) pass on their body/self image issues to their children.  I want my girl to love who she is.  I want her to see her mumma go out running because it's good for me - physically and mentally; making a goal and working towards it.  I want her to see me eat lots of healthy food, and a few treats occasionally. I want her to see me love and respect myself and the body I have. Monkey see, monkey do after all, yes?

So, the running will continue; the body issues will hopefully fade with continual reality checks; and one day (namely September 2), my girl will see her mummy cross the finishing line of her first fun run of many more to come!  Then we'll all go out for lunch to celebrate - good, delicious and treaty food - and spoil my husband to thank him for giving up his special morning so I can run!