Like most mothers, I turn into Xena Warrior Princess if anyone so much as thinks about hurting my children; a fully-grown bear would hesitate to take me on when I’m in rabid-mother-defending-my-children mode. Unless…
Read the article here
When I was at senior school, back in the dim mists of time as far as my teenaged daughter is concerned, we were given Gerald Durrell’s book My Family & Other Animals to read. I remember quite clearly been offended by the title on behalf of his family. I thought that it was grossly unkind if not downright rude to not only group his family in with the animals they all had but to call them animals in the first place. I mean, I knew that technically we are animals but there’s a vast difference between knowing that and calling someone an animal. That was really not very nice.
Fast forward forty years or so and I’m totally on board with the title of the book. I’ve got four kids and a husband. The title of the book is completely accurate.
I rarely take life seriously…
That’s a complete lie. I try not to take life seriously but sometimes (quite often), I do take things very seriously as they happen, but when I look back, then I see the hilarity in life.
I mean sometimes, yes, I totally get the whole inappropriate giggles that used to get my into a lot of trouble as a teenager. When I first began all this personal development work and had my first stint as a group coach, one of the group members really got offended when I laughed about something that had happened to her. I wasn’t being mean, but it was funny. She didn’t think so. She told me that in her opinion (humble or otherwise) I was a sociopath, unable to relate to other people, and furthermore I should psychiatric help if I was ever going to be able to form solid relationships with people. Right. Well, that little “contribution” burst my bubble for a little while but then I reverted back to my old giggly ways.
The universe recently presented me with a very interesting moral dilemma. A big one. It’s really, really fascinating to see what went through my head.
And, by the way, my kids are going to be mortified when they read this, but that happens sometimes in life, doesn’t it?
I don’t want to name anyone or point to anyone here, so I’m going to name the child that I was having the conversation with as W (a letter with is not related in any way to any of my children) (and it isn’t X, it’s way cooler).
I heard the ping of a new text from one of the kids; I glanced at the message on my phone, but decided to answer it on my iPad because it’s easier to type. Only I couldn’t follow the conversation on there because it went like this:
Child W: [the message that I’d glanced at on my phone about our recent phone call]… followed by a string of other messages that didn’t make any sense and which I didn’t remember sending:
I’ve always loved horses, so it was only natural when Kira expressed a desire to learn how to ride, that I enrolled the kids into riding lessons.
I have to go onto a bit of a side track here: if one kid did something, then most of the time, they all did it. Extra curricular activities were just too tricky to handle if all four kids were doing something different, so while they all did something they really wanted to do, they also had to do things that maybe they weren’t so interested in. In this case, Kira really wanted to learn how to ride and the boys were interested (and turned out to be great horsemen, just not interested in riding as a long-term prospect). Keeley, aged 2 or 3 at the time, just loved it.
Like anyone who’s been around horses for a while, we’ve had some complete doozies. There were horses who were great but totally unsuitable, there were horses that were great, but they didn’t like their owner. There were horses who were perfect in every single way. Most of the time.
I’ve just finished my first “Abs, Butts & Thighs” class. You know you’ve had a good leg workout when you have to hang on to the handrail to get down the stairs. Tomorrow is going to be interesting, to say the least.
I love feeling physically fit and being physically tired, it’s one of the reasons why I’ve exercised my whole life. When I did the interview for the Daily Mail recently, about women who’re the same weight now as they were in their 20’s, the quote about me was that I “take inspiration from Kate Moss”. No, I don’t. What I said was that I relate to what Kate Moss said about nothing tasting as good as skinny feels. I’m at least 15 years older than Kate Moss, how can I possibly used her as my inspiration since she didn’t come onto the scene for years after I was on my path to health & fitness?
I had a surprising conversation with a friend yesterday when she said, “How are you? And I mean, how actually are you, with the whole menopause, hormonal thing? We say ‘how are you?’ but we never really get specific.” And she’s right.
I’m in this bizarre space where I’m flitting between pride, excitement, severe worry and sleepless nights. And we’re nowhere close to the time of The Event.
Last November, Keeley asked if she could go on exchange with school this year. “Sure!” says I, keen for her to spread her wings and experience the world in all its diverse glory, “Where do you want to go?”
“Somewhere warm,” says Keeley, who’s a cold-blooded creature like myself, “So I’m thinking maybe Fiji or… what about Colombia?”
Okay, Colombia is a bit left field, I didn’t expect that. Fiji I can understand, it’s close to Australia, she’s been there before and she likes it. England I’d expect, France definitely, possibly Canada, but Colombia? That's an interesting choice. Why Colombia?
I went to the laundry twice on holiday. Hoping to forestall at least some of the post-holiday pile of washing. But no matter how hard I try, no matter what hopeful strategies I put in place, a few hours after we’ve arrived back home, my laundry looks like a volcano that’s spewing smelly, slightly damp, filthy clothes, whose aroma indicates that new life is beginning to burgeon within its mass.
I met a lovely young woman on holiday recently, who proudly announced to me that she does an average of five loads of washing a week. FIVE! Most of her friends have two loads of washing a week maximum, but she has five. I think she mistook my stunned silence for admiration at the amount of washing she produces, and I was definitely admiring, but not in the way she thought, just in a more wistful, wouldn’t-it-be-wonderful kind of way. Five loads of washing A WEEK! It’s unimaginable. Three days of hard work and approximately 18 loads of washing later, I got to the bottom of this weeks’ pongy post-holiday volcano.
I’m not talking about leaving your lunch behind when you head off for school or work here, I’m talking about vomiting. Puking. Barfing. Chundering. Praying to the Porcelain God. Regurgitating. Spewing. Upchucking. Throwing Up. Doing the technicolour yawn.
I have been blessed with a child who can do all of these things WITH STYLE. The girl has class. She can hit a moving target at three paces with a steady stream of highly toxic, foul smelling, stomach contents, the stench of which no washing machine or cleaning compound has ever been able to remove. This girl is a Master Hurler. Literally. She makes the kid in the exorcist look exactly like what she is: a kid. A mere novice in apprenticeship to renowned Masters of the High Art of Expelling One’s Lunch With Velocity.
My youngest daughter, Keeley, is very, very clever, with a wicked sense of humour and a knack of seeing the absurdity in people’s behaviour, but she also has a few areas of… let’s call it confusion.
We were in the car on the way back from our diving trip, salty, tired, thirsty and in dire need of a shower, but Keeley was on top form, entertaining us with stories of school and life in the boarding house. “I love Ms P [the boarding mother who’s now moved to another school], right, but I won’t miss the prayers she used to do. [Keeley’s voice drops a couple of octaves and takes on a solemn, sonorous tone] Dear God, thank you for all the girls in the boarding house. Thank you for Annabelle and her English exam. Thank you for Jessie and her Maths HSC. Thank you for Lucy who played really well in hockey this week, she did an amazing job [pause], even though we didn’t win and we’re bottom of the table. Thank you for Sophie, who washed the dishes for the first time on Tuesday without being asked…”
I made a half-hearted commitment to myself that I’d kind of journal/write every day during these holidays so I could record what’s happened better. I haven’t managed it yet. Been too busy. This is Club Med, there’s a gazillion things to do all the time! In fact, in just sitting here, writing this piece, I’m missing yoga. Okay, that’s not something heartbreaking for me, I must be one of the few people in the world who doesn’t find yoga relaxing and rejuvenating. Personally, I just find it boring and dull. That’s not very enlightened of me, I know, but I suspect that, all things told, I’m not very enlightened anyway, so we’re all good, I can miss yoga and my soul will still be just as unenlightened as it was before.
One of the things I love about spending one-on-one time with Keeley is the little things she comes out with. Like yesterday.
The kids went on a weeks' camp in the bush last week, and because it's done as part of the Army Cadets program, it's proper camping: set up your own hoochie, carry your gear, cook your food, no showers, etc. At the end of the camp, each of the platoons creates a War Cry which is then performed in front of all the students and judged by the teachers & instructors.
It's an intense competition with the winners gaining a lot of prestige over their rivals.
The girls of 7 Platoon (I hope I've got that right!) spent two days coming up with the words while they were marching, kayaking and canyoning, and an evening crafting the moves to complement the music and words. One of Keeley’s friends, Issy, is new to the school and was a little concerned about how she should behave. The school (TAS) was a boys’ school until 3 years ago and still retains a lot of the boy-ish behaviours, which is one of the reasons the girls & I love the school.
One of my great long-distance driving Stay-Awake tools is singing along to Robbie Williams. At top volume. I can’t sing for toffee, as Keeley so graciously confirmed once. I was happily squawking along to some swing tune or other, aiming for the high notes and missing by quite a long way, trying to do the harmonies – which, to be fair, I am quite good at for some obscure reason – but getting it wrong half the time, and, not wanting Keeley to miss out on all this fun, particularly as she’s the family musician, I enthusiastically urged her to join in; I was having so much fun, I was sure she would, too.
“No, it’s fine, thank you,” she says. I implored her to chill out, join in and enjoy herself a little. I know she can sing, why doesn’t she participate in the family singalong? It’ll be fun! “Because,” she says, “it’s really annoying when you hear people try to hit the right notes but then end up singing off key.”
Right. Bemused a little by the criticism inherent in that sentence, I finally consoled myself by singing for a while. Off key, of course.
What do I want?
I shook myself, trying to regain some semblance of control of what was going on inside my head and quell some of the more strident voices that are clamouring for attention. Get a grip, I told myself, these are my thoughts, I am in charge here, it’s time to stop. Just stop, okay? What is it that I actually feel is right for me? Take what John thinks out of it, take what Keeley or Kira think out of it, what do I want?
Oblivious to the Pacific Ocean, its surface glassy and sun-kissed, its waves dotted with tanned, fit surfie-types who had succumbed to the ocean’s seductive call to come and play (and possibly drown or get bitten by a shark), I continued my stormy stomp down the beach, completely unaware of the sand massaging the tension from my feet but uncomfortably aware of the sand scrubbing away the remnants of the blisters there. Blisters that I got after a beach walk a few days ago, when I crossed the carpark while wearing no shoes.
I got up this morning, as grumpy as all hell, headache from sleeping in the wrong position, irritated about how my day was looking and generally feeling altogether crap. I’m 55 years old; how do I end up doing things that I don’t want to do? How does that happen? Why does my life not look like I want it to?
I decided last weekend that I’m going to rewrite my book. In case you don’t know, I wrote a book about a year ago, with what is for most people, the most interesting topic they can talk about: themselves. My book is about
I got home from the supermarket the other day only to find that the bottle of milk had leaked all over the floor of my car. I was not happy. Fortunately, it was only on one of the removable carpets and not in the boot. I would have been really cross if it had gone all over the boot because that would have been much more difficult to clean. I got the offending bottle out of the bag, put it in the full sun, and told it in no uncertain terms “Let’s see how you like THIS then”. The bottle sat there contritely, filled with remorse, crying more of its contents over my driveway.
About 12 months ago, I was sitting happily writing an article when I felt something on my ankle. I looked down to find a big Huntsman spider making its way up my leg. With a shriek suitable for someone who was being
I started writing this 5 days ago. FIVE DAYS! It is NOT like me to half finish an article. Okay, yes it totally is like me, I’ve got half-finished articles all over the place, but that’s because they haven’t flowed; this one was FLOWING. Unfortunately, a bigger flow came along because motherhood called and when that flow hits you, it takes over your entire life…
I’ve spent two of the last three days going to Armidale to pick up Keeley from school. She’s having her tonsils out on Monday and it’s her birthday tomorrow. All in all, a big weekend. I’m hoping that the attitude and reticence is anxiety about the operation because right now, I’m putting up with quite a lot of teenage ways of behaving that I normally wouldn’t tolerate for more than about
You know, sometimes life can be such a bitch. And I can sit here and moan about it all - the hot flushes, the weird rashes, the raging hormones, the sleepless nights - and, trust me, I DO moan about it occasionally, and then I get the giggles about it all. The things that we go through (and that we put ourselves through) are quite hilarious. I don't know about you, but I made such a MEAL out of being middle aged. I was totally stopped. I thought there was nothing else I could do with my life: I was too old, too out of touch, too slow, way past it. There was just no point in trying something else; I'd been out of the workforce for 20 years, there was no way I could get a decent job and I certainly didn't want to redo my professional qualifications. Besides which, I'm basically unemployable: I'd last about 5 minutes in someone else's company before I started taking over, let's face facts.
The thing is, why was I even CONSIDERING working for someone else? I'd had my own businesses, I'd been involved in our developments, I'd done numerous renovations for profit but
If you're on this website, it's highly likely you're a woman aged between 40 & 65, who's staring down the barrel of the rest of her life, uncertain as to what the hell to do with it.
Welcome to the MAWS of life.
'Maws' in the dictionary means 'jaws' or 'mouth'. In this case, it's my acronym for 'Middle Aged Women's Stuff', although originally I had it down as 'Middle Aged Woman Syndrome'. It's that point we get to where we've been doing everything for our family, the kids are leaving home/have left, we're looking at an empty nest, and the rest of our lives, and we find ourselves a bit lost. What on earth are we supposed to do now? We can't even remember what it is we used to want for our lives, and we certainly can't remember how to put ourselves first, right?
Hi! I’m Karen O’Connor, hormonally-challenged, menopausal writer, blogger, self-confessed sarcasm enthusiast, mother of 4, wife of 30 years, destroyer of souls... no, wait, that's just in the mornings...
***We would like to note that some of the posts on this site may contain affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something that has an affiliate link, we will get a commission from it. Not all items recommended on our site are affiliate links. We only recommend items that either we have used and tried or we have researched as much as we can. Thank you for your trust!
Please go here to read the full disclosure page.