I am officially an old bag. Today I turn 50 and I’m trying hard not to whinge. For it is a privilege to be 50. My friends who died of breast cancer in their 40s would love to be where I am. And so would the kids who were robbed of their mothers.
The beautiful sick kids I’ve met at the hospitals I work in who left way too soon didn’t get to be adults at all. And the families and friends of my darlings Veljko, Mark and Anthony who died in their 20s would love to know them in their 50s. Those guys would have aged like fine wine if they’d had the chance.
I don’t feel that different, but I look in the mirror and I see age creeping up on me. I was born on a Monday, “Monday’s child is fair of face,” but my face looks like it needs more sleep. And my knees creak from all the stilt walking, gymnastics and dancing drunk in stupid high heels over the past 35 years. I can still have fun with my kids, my best friends, the families I meet through my work and I share great love with a beautiful heart. But there are things I’m worried that I haven’t done yet. Maybe I won’t get to live in New York or drive across Africa. Maybe I won’t be brave enough to sail across the world. Maybe crazy life goals are in the past. Maybe I won’t sing with Kermit or be the next teen superstar.
I share my birthday with fabulous people like Twiggy, Jeremy Irons, Frances Farmer, Mama Cass, Daniel Lanois, Nile Rodgers, Jimmy Fallon and Alison Sweeney from Days of Our Lives, darling. Today is also International Talk Like a Pirate day.
At 50 I’ve realised that the cocker spaniels I’ve had in my life may be the only dogs I own in this lifetime as I can’t afford to buy a house.
But 50 brings great rewards. I can sing, dance, laugh and love, I have fabulous kids, and I’ve given up people who drain me of precious energy. I have no time for those who don’t contribute to improving our world. So hit the high seas for some hijinks you swashbuckling scoundrels. I’ll be wearing my new earrings that cost a bucaneer. 50 is swell.
Last Sunday I posted a picture of me wearing a T-shirt with the words
REAL MEN PAY CHILD SUPPORT
emblazoned across it. There was a big reaction. Some men reacted with the predictable ‘not all men,’ and one friend responded like this,
Nothing but a walking sperm donor, he doesn’t get to be honoured with the title of DAD. I have nothing but respect and awe for the strength and perseverance you’ve shown in being both mum and DAD. Too bad some other men are so fragile as to think you are talking about them.
Another response was,
When men who don’t pay child support are shamed, they tend to retreat from discussion and challenge on the subject. They go into a defensive stance that blocks out even mild inquiry about their responsibilities, let alone an outright attack on their claim to manhood.
Which made one poster so mad, they said,
Why don’t the good men encourage these men to man up to responsibilities?
Can men can hold other men to a set of values? The ‘men’ I know who dodge paying for their kids have no values and feel no shame, they’re not capable of it. And their families don’t hold them to account. They come from a long line of men who avoid responsibility and any kind of admission that their behaviour needs to change.
When a woman lives in constant financial stress, lying awake night after night wondering how she’s going to get by, worrying if the electricity is going to be disconnected, knowing she will send her children to school with sniffles because she doesn’t get paid if she takes a day off work, her kids suffer. The children become stressed because their mother is not present. She’s not focused on her kids, she’s too worried about how she’s going to pay the rent and when she’s going to get a good night’s sleep.
What annoys me most is the people who aid them. How does a ‘man’ go from earning $120K per year then within a week have a taxable income of $28K? How does a ‘man’ declare a taxable income of $19K a year when his rent and bills total more than $30K? How do these liars sleep at night?
I understand not respecting or trusting your ex, but making your children suffer? I don’t get it.
On Friday I posted a picture on Facebook of me wearing a T-shirt saying ‘Single Mothers Rock’ with my daughter at her school Father’s Day morning tea, with the caption:
What do you wear to the school Father’s Day breakfast when the father does a no-show? My favourite T-shirt #subtle #singlemothersrock
I hadn’t woken up that morning thinking I’d make a statement with my outfit, but when 350 people liked the photo it made me think about how we bring up my kids in 2016. Lucky I didn’t wear this T-shirt
My girl was in tears when her father wasn’t there like her friends’ dads; really how hard is it to schedule your work diary and show up to primary school for an hour for Father’s Day? And that is the easy part of parenting. Not going to the mother or father’s day breakfast at school is a missed opportunity for extra helpings of love from your kid. It is sad for her, but very predictable for me, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. I’m disappointed for her because I had a very committed dad, so I know what it feels like to be showered with love from your papa.
There were other single mums there, even a few grandparents, luckily our school puts the invitation out to anyone who is a special person in each child’s life. It’s hard for the kids who don’t have two parents. Then I heard about a woman banned from attending Father’s Day celebrations at her son’s school because she was the wrong gender. The father of the child lives overseas. Why can’t they include that mum as a VIP guest? In the 21st century maybe it’s time to get rid of the gender specific events at schools.
Today I’m going to the footy with a devoted dad to celebrate his special day because I think it’s important to say thank you and well done to our loved ones. So Happy, Happy Father’s Day to all the beautiful dads, including those like my wonderful papa Jack Pollard who are fathering from the skies. I know he’s watching over my beautiful girls and I was blessed to have a dad like him.
Dear 11-year-old child,
I know you’re really busy saving the world by watching people playing Minecraft on Youtube all day, but I’d like to ask a favour. Could you please catch and keep the following Pokemon people/creature/alien/thingies/whateverthehelltheyare?
Cleandyourbedroom a saurus
Oddishwasher won’t empty itself
Clefairy liquid over the sink and wash the dishes
Remove the Vileplume from your sister’s walk on floor-drobe
Meowth and change the kitty litter while you’re at it
Machop up some veggies for dinner
Rapidash to the bathroom to hang up your sisters’ wet towels
Slowpoke the dunny brush around the toilet
Weedle your way out of whinging about housework no more
Thank you great light of my life
This year I’m starting to feel older. There are signs. Plastic surgeons are now following me on Instagram, looking for business. One day I went to work wearing no make up and three people asked me if I was unwell. My youngest child has also been helpful while looking at family photo albums.
“Look at that photo mummy, you have no crinkles.” Thanks for the reminder about my ageing face honey, I think you caused some of those crinkles.
One night a few months ago she was ill, and I held her over the bath to catch her vomit. When she stopped I swung around to wipe her feverish head and a strange woman stared at me from the mirror; a grumpy, frowning, middle-aged harridan holding a sickly-looking kid. Oh God, it was me. I’m sure I’m still 15 years old checking for pimples, how did the old bag take over my body? Do I exorcise her with Botox and skin peels? Some days I long to be young and dumb and pretty.
My lack of fashion sense doesn’t help. Mostly I am a slovenly mother, which is unfashionable in the current air brushed social media perfection climate. My winter look has been Patty and Selma flannelette pyjamas, stained t-shirts and no bra. I should make more effort with my appearance, my look is either dragged through a bush backwards hair or trying to put on as much make up as a drag queen. But I don’t want to be 49 years old and still dressing to impress a male, which is strange for a woman whose shelves are filled with feminist literature.
I do hope I’ll grow wisdom by the time I’m 50, because I am at an age where it is easy not to give a rats any more. My skin is dry and my arse is sliding down the back of my thighs. I wish I had the energy to care. I may be stating the obvious for those of you in your 50s and 60s but losing our youthful shimmer is challenging.
Some mornings my youngest stares at me then looks in the mirror.
“I want hair like mummy monster,” she says. I look at her, at my mangy head in the mirror, then at her again. Is she taking the piss? Having children is exhausting but my kids have also made me a better person. Youngest has improved my wardrobe. We went into a op shop last week and she said, “This is a nice cougar dress for you mummy.”
People tell me I’m full of it. I think they mean good advice, so in the coming weeks I’m going to dish out advice for my friends who are feeling a little self-helpless. This week’s post is about healthy food for your kids. Actually it’s not, it’s about my gluttony because feeding children year after year is as dull as Donald Trump. I’m going to help you get a summer-ready body. Just joking, as if I care what your body looks like, I’m too busy feeding my face.
What we consume in summer is not that important. What we eat in winter is of great consequence. At the moment eating is my favourite hobby after sleeping and inhaling chocolate. After a cold northern summer sojourn, where I ate croissants every day and drank some kind of alcoholic beverage every night, I’m fading away to a shadow on the waif diet, too much coffee and not enough cake. I must eat more bacon and egg rolls now I’m back home living with my vegan children. Luckily my youngest is still a carnivore, thank the Lord (whoever she is). Last week my two eldest kids were out when I got some groceries home delivered, and I discovered that the supplier had given me a package of extra fatty porky goodness to sample. Spying it, my baby girl said,
“Mum can we eat some bacon because my sisters aren’t home?”
“HELL YES,” I squealed because no matter what they say, Facon or Veg-acon or whatever they call it is not the same. All those products labelled vegetarian sausages or burgers or tofu or whatever other flavourless stuff that gets churned out in a factory is called tastes like cardboard shavings.
My girls have made me watch some harrowing films lately and I hate what the meat industry does to innocent animals. And I really am very sorry little piggies, you are cute, and the way you are farmed is wrong, I just wish you didn’t taste so good.
Once upon a time a lovely hairy mother lived with three not so little tweenage pigs.