Springtime Down Under

Although it seems weird in my head that it’s happening in late August instead of March, I can definitely tell that spring is arriving here in Queensland.  The days are getting longer as well as warmer and more humid.  New plants are blooming.  The bugs are back—something weird crawled up the wall of the tub while I bathed the boys the other night and I had a cockroach in my kitchen sink for the first time in months—yuck!  I also have to wave my arms out in front of me like a crazy person whenever I walk out in the yard to clear away invisible spider webs.  The best part is that our house is becoming more like an actual house instead of a refrigerator.  Someone told me that the reason they don’t worry about heating their homes here is because winter is pretty mild and it really doesn’t last long—to that I say—Whatever!  One day spent in an ice box that is not a tent when I’m not camping is one day too many for me.  I have been cold, in varying degrees, in my house since sometime in April and that is very clearly long enough to benefit from a heater!!!  And not just a piddly space heater so your teeth don’t chatter violently while you shower—a bona fide furnace! 

The lack of heat brings me back to the subject of my unhealthy family (I promise you that my theory that illnesses last longer here because people are breathing such cold air all night is true!).  A few hours after my last post, I ended up in an Australian hospital for the first time, in the Emergency Room with Zach.  He got croup again and could not stop coughing or vomiting at home.  I had been pretty terrified to enter a public hospital, but am pleased to report that he was cared for quite well; we were all treated very well, and, it did not cost us one cent.

I think it must be true cross culturally that nurses in general, and healthcare employees overall are just caring people, no matter what country you find them in.  I also think it is true cross culturally, that if you puke at the check in desk all over yourself and your mother, you will get treated right away, bypassing the waiting room.

The only part I was not impressed with was the discharge.  They just told us to go home; that was it.  No written summary of what happened.  I still don’t know exactly what medicines they gave him.  No instructions on what to watch for and how to care for him for the next few days.  I didn’t like that. 

So we spent another weekend at home, quiet, crabby and exhausted.  Thankfully, friends came to us on Sunday for lunch using our brand new (used) grill (BBQ here—you go to someone’s house for a BBQ and then BBQ on the BBQ, but no actual BBQ seasoning or sauces are ever used).  Even though the congestion and sinus issues seemed now to have been passed on to me, it was still nice to interact socially for a bit, considering my only time out of the house in four days was an ER trip.

We thought we were all ok to go to work and school on Monday, even though by that time I had a significant cold.  People at my job were shocked I was there which seemed odd to me—it was a cold.  I am used to going to work unless I am relatively nonfunctional and that has always seemed expected.  It is definitely nice to be part of a work environment that encourages us to go home and rest when we are sick, but it’s not very practical when I don’t have any paid sick time built up because I have already missed so many days of work.  In any case, Drew’s teachers called me and said he was coughing uncontrollably and should go home.  So I left early and picked him up and we snuggled on the couch and watched movies the rest of the day.  He slept 13 hours that night and never seemed too sick.  I let him sleep in and we all went back the next day, just for a shorter, more relaxed day. 

On Wednesday, it was clear that neither of them was feeling very well and I wasn’t either.  We had a bad day!  They fought pretty constantly, and although I did my best to ignore them and pretend I was home alone resting (yep, Mother of the Year here), I found myself screaming at them and separating them and taking toys away most of the day.  Steve walked in the door that afternoon to find me in the bathroom bawling, with Drew who had just pooped his pants and peed on the floor.  I felt so unhappy and so isolated and so guilty that I felt unhappy with motherhood and not fond of my children, especially Drew who seems so bad sometimes that I worry he is going to turn into a bad person.  I have gotten used to texting and skyping but I miss the sound of the phone ringing and people to talk to.  I ended up emailing a dear friend that night and she wrote the sweetest, most uplifting response back, reminding me that I have people in the world who love me, it’s just that they aren’t all right down the street.  She also called me the next morning on Skype and even though we couldn’t hear each other or say much over our kids, it was still a nice way to start the day.

And, amazingly to me, that day, Thursday, and today, have been absolutely delightful.  This is what I just cannot fully process about motherhood.  How is it possible that the same thing that makes my voice reach decibels and tones I never knew existed and causes me to lose my temper so completely and feel so beaten down, unappreciated and useless, also be the thing that makes my heart swell bigger than I ever thought it could when watching the expression of delight in a person that I helped to create?  How can I one minute wonder why someone like me ever became a parent, and the next day realize how empty my life would be if I wasn’t?  How can I be so miserable eating a meal with two people who smear food all over, drop it on the floor and make rude demands of me every few minutes to get them something else, but then experience a happiness I never knew possible with one of them on my lap while the other rests his head on my leg?  It’s just incredible….and maddening.   No wonder all mothers are complete wackos.

Anyway…..Thursday not only brought me my adult contact for the week with Playgroup, but I was also able to watch Drew doing things that made me wonder why I ever worry about him becoming a bad person.  He has such a beautiful soul, such a happy spirit. 

When Steve got home from work, he asked if I wanted to take a 15-minute walk by myself.  I was in the kitchen and started to say No, that I was already working on dinner, and then suddenly thought, “What am I? Nuts!” and I put my shoes on and left!!!   I told him when to put the chicken in the oven, but other than that, I couldn’t even remember if I had left anything on the stove.  It was a gorgeous evening and a great way to recollect myself.  This morning I was able to get back up and exercise again—it may sound weird, but that just helps me start my day in a sane way and feel happier and better about myself. 

Hopefully, we will all feel pretty good for a while now.  I am excited because September brings us social engagements!  We have plans, already now, for something pretty much every weekend—a combination of Steve’s older friends, and a couple new ones, and our own little family getaway when Steve has a break from school.  I am really looking forward to all that.

In keeping with the theme of connections and technology and changes, I have to admit something that I’m a bit embarrassed about—something that I enjoy more than I ever thought I would and that I use probably a bit too much now and that’s Facebook.  I got on it a few years ago at the request of a friend but thought it was odd and never really did much with it.  My last year in Colorado I used it more, mainly because my gym ladies scheduled our girls’ nights out using it and I didn’t want to miss anything.  J  Since we came here, I have really begun to enjoy it as a connection to home—it’s the way I found out what’s trendy, what’s news in the U.S., what’s going on with friends and family.  But since coming back this time, I’ve gotten even more enjoyment out of it through ‘talking’ with people on it.  I don’t like that it’s often just a way to brag and doesn’t show the reality of life because it’s only the good.  For me, I actually get moral support from it as well.  When I can put on there something that’s going on with us and have friends and family respond to that and then respond back to them, it just really makes me feel like I’m connecting with people more than I would do otherwise now that I am living here.  When someone gives me a boost, or an encouragement, or even ‘likes’ something I said, it just helps me know that person remembers me, cares a bit, wants to stay involved in our lives.  I feel the same when I can interact with people through their posts and photos as well.  It’s a quicker and easier way than phone calls, Skype, long emails to just check in a bit, exchange a few words with a friend and it really helps me.  Like I said, it’s a bit embarrassing, but I’m honestly embarrassed about less and less these days.  Whatever works for me right now, I’m going with it! 

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