Why do I feel lonely and lost these days? Why can’t I seem to figure out what my professional contribution to society can be? Why do I not seem to have friends here that I really connect with, who get me and who I get? Why am I so homesick?
I have three beautiful, happy boys who bring me joy—they truly do. But as any parent knows, they also whine a lot, they seem dissatisfied with much of what I work so hard to do for them; the two older ones argue with almost everything I say and with each other, seemingly constantly sometimes. I find myself stopping to listen and smile when I hear them playing well together—it seems more rare these days and I can’t seem to defuse their frustrations with each other effectively, no matter what parenting articles I read.
Unlike so many mothers whom I have always greatly admired and felt somewhat jealous of, I need more in my life than full time mothering. I lose myself when I only attend to everyone else’s needs. I need appreciation for a job well done. I need recognition, measurable progress in what I’ve accomplished each day. I wish I didn’t, but I can’t really get around the fact that I do.
I think that’s why my work/career/professional struggles are getting me down so much lately. For 14 years before this move to Australia, I worked in retirement communities. I was good at it. I enjoyed it. I was respected in my field and I made good money.
Since I’ve come here, I just can’t figure out how to get back into that field. Now, I realize I haven’t tried as hard as I should. Life gets in the way. I’ve sent online enquiries to senior living companies asking about their jobs in marketing and sales, with no response. I’ve sent a few online applications for activities/recreation/volunteer positions, with no response. I’ve called one nearby community and asked to volunteer—no return call. I’ve asked the few people I’ve met who work in the field about the positions, and they don’t seem to know anything about them—maybe they don’t exist here?
I keep telling myself the best way to find out is to just drive around and walk into communities and ask. But, I’ve always had a kid in tow, or was about to have a kid in tow, so I just never got around to it.
Friends at home say I’m awesome for moving to a new country and learning a new profession and starting my own business. But it doesn’t feel very awesome. I learned the new profession partially out of necessity. I never wanted to run my own business. I don’t enjoy it and it’s not going well. In fact, right now, it seems to be failing miserably. I’m paying to do it. Try as I might, I can’t get people interested in it.
I do love yoga—it’s been a passion of mine for years, and the more I learn about it, the more passionate about it I feel. But people in this area, just don’t seem to get it. Yoga is not as popular around here—I don’t even know many people who do it, or who are physically active as a priority at all. I think that’s partly why I feel disconnected from the friends I’ve made. I’ve rarely been to a yoga class here with more than a handful of people in it, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I can’t get many people interested in my classes, much less my classes for their children.
I just have a hard time fitting in with people who don’t prioritize healthy eating for their families, who don’t prioritize fitness on a regular basis and who don’t get the purpose of yoga. I hope that doesn’t make me sound snobby. I don’t intend it to. I’ve made friends for the past 4+ years with people who are different to me in those core areas, but have other things in common—being a mother, living in a foreign country, but I just don’t feel connected, so I’m guessing that’s the reason why…??? I could be totally off base. I do admit I have met a few people who are health and fitness oriented and am still not clicking with them either.
It often seems to me that people don’t like me over here. I never seemed to have that problem before moving. It is very likely all in my head, but I just seem to rub people the wrong way when I don’t intend to…??
I know I could connect well with my husband, but he’s frustrated in his job, too and we don’t see each other until late in the evening when we’re pretty much too tired to talk about much. He is wonderful and we do try. We both know we need time together. But it’s difficult, because that costs money. And when I’m not making any money, I feel bad spending $80 to go out for two hours together and get a drink each and an appetizer to share—bleah!
I keep meditating and reading about creating my own joy, realizing that my life is just as it should be in this moment and to find peace in the present. I’m honestly trying! For whatever reason, it’s meant to be right now that I’m paying to try and teach yoga, that I’m contributing nothing meaningful to my community in terms of professional employment and that I’m working my tail off for no positive outcome. That’s hard to embrace! But I will keep trying…..For now these musings of a crazy person just help me to get it off my chest.
Where do I even start?! I haven’t updated this in over 3 months. I have a good reason—I have a beautiful, 6-week old baby boy. However, I’m getting ahead of myself….first to quickly recap the time leading up to our little Samuel’s birth:
My brain is mush now and it’s hard to remember. My days are filled once again with spit up, dirty diapers, sleepless nights and the smell of a newborn asleep on my chest. It’s hard to remember what they were like before. It’s as if he’s always been here. I feel strongly that we’ve been waiting for him—as hard as this time is, he melds right into our little circle of love, just like he always had a space waiting for him. He has.
Anyway, I digress, again. Get used to it! June was quite uneventful, other than preparing for Sam’s arrival and wrapping up my kids’ yoga classes. That was very bittersweet. It’s always hard to leave behind the known, the routine, and prepare for the unknown, the loss of control. I know at the time it’s happening that I want to return to teaching, but it’s also in the back of my head that I really don’t know what the future holds and I can’t say anything for sure.
We had our last little getaway as a family of four–a weekend in June on beautiful Stradbroke Island with friends. We saw lots of unique wildlife and enjoyed the busy two days immensely. Then we had our treasured friends from Boulder in town visiting their family, and got to spend quality time with them as well.
I had my first three nights and four days ever away from my little crew of men in early July for my yoga teacher training retreat. It was wonderful, although very demanding physically and mentally. It was great to be able to have that time to be away, and the boys enjoyed themselves immensely during their “vegetable-free days”. 😉
The retreat was over the 4th of July weekend, so for the first time in my life, I had to forgo celebrating the holiday, which was also bittersweet. It was a great reason to miss it, but also a little sad. Several people wished me a happy one, though, which is so kind.
We enjoyed a relatively slow paced two weeks of school holidays that included our first Disney on Ice. Also, thanks to the help of dear friends, Steve and I enjoyed our last date for a while—a low key breakfast out in Brisbane one morning. It’s funny—we were both enjoying each other, but could also feel the apprehension in the air as we were well aware of the uncertainty and changes to come, getting ready to meet the new member of our family.
My sweet friends threw a beautiful baby shower for me on the 11th of July. I have missed family incredibly throughout my pregnancy, so it was great to feel such an outpouring of love from my “family” here. It was my first truly girly baby shower, complete with a color scheme, games, fancy food and decorations, and I loved it! I am so humbled by the work they went to and the turnout.
It’s ironic—when I was pregnant with Drew I thought baby showers were completely lame. We bought our house a few months before he was born, so instead we had a combined baby shower/housewarming for all friends, men and women. It was fun! Then Zach was born so soon afterwards that our friends instead organized a meal delivery system, diapers and groceries for us, which was just what we needed. Now I cherish time I can sneak in with girlfriends and relished every minute of that shower. J
On July 23rd, my sweet Drew was officially diagnosed with asthma. It is nice in one sense to finally know for sure and learn how to deal with it, but also always sad to find out your child is less than perfect. I have to wonder if there’s anything I could have done to prevent it, if there have been times I didn’t help him enough when he was struggling to breathe. I am really bad with “What Ifs” and mother’s guilt. I’m working on it…..Hopefully, he will grow out of it, and even if he doesn’t, there are a lot worse things in life and we are very fortunate. It doesn’t slow him down–the two of them ran their 1st 2k race the Sunday before Sam arrived.
As for my pregnancy, it got a bit bumpy in July. On Sunday the 5th at my retreat, I started to worry about the baby’s movement. I remember being paranoid about that in my previous pregnancies so I ignored it, knowing that odds were that everything was fine and I was being psycho. I was still a bit worried at my next appointment that Wednesday, the 8th, which the whole family attended. They put me on some fetal monitoring and then reassured me that everything was fine.
I started to worry about movement again on Friday, the 24th, (37 weeks) and thought I was noticing quite a few painless contractions and feeling very nauseous. I figured labor was starting, but then nothing happened. I was about to call the doctor on Sunday if things hadn’t changed, but then I felt better. Monday and Tuesday were up and down. I was worried about all of the above, but then I’d feel better.
Wednesday morning, the 29th, started out good. I had an appointment and was worried about driving the hour each way alone with how tired I’d been feeling, so offered Zach a special “Mommy and Zach” day before baby came, which thankfully, he agreed to (he almost refused me!). We walked Drew to school and back and then I started feeling sick again. We drove down, had a nice morning tea and then went to the doctor. I told them how I’d been feeling and my doctor saw me have a contraction on the exam table (turned out I’d been having more than I thought I was—some of them, like the one he saw, I just thought were the baby sticking out on one side) and noticed baby’s heartrate was low.
He put me on fetal monitoring, which ended up lasting for about 2 hours, instead of the initial 30 minutes. They told me I was having regular contractions and baby’s heartrate was getting low often enough that we needed to do the C-section now. I was in labor.
Then everything started happening! My doctor’s office is connected to a hospital that I hadn’t planned on going to, because it was so far from home. Steve was near home, at work, and Zach was with me—what to do?! I have to say that in my teens and twenties, I would never have believed someone who said they could find comfort and companionship in a 5-year-old, but I absolutely did. My little Zach was an absolute gem during all this and it was wonderful having him with me. During the monitoring, he found a soccer game on TV (he’s a sports nut) and cuddled up next to me in the hospital bed to watch. When it all got chaotic, he was patient, well-behaved, unquestioning, trusting, helpful and concerned. It was beautiful and I will remember it forever.
Steve got moving and this is when the incredible outpouring of love, support and help from our friends began. It would go on for the next several weeks. I arranged friends to bring Drew home with them from school. My doctor is a friend of ours and his family offered to take Zach and so did one other friend in that area. However, thankfully, we reached our dear friend’s mother, who lives an hour away and who was set to come watch the boys on August 4th, the date my C-section was scheduled. She dropped everything and left right away to come get Zach, and then headed off through rush hour traffic to our house, where Drew met them and she stayed the night. She made them lunches for school the next day and took excellent care of them. The same friends that kept Drew that afternoon, picked up the boys for school the next day as well, and then this dear woman cleaned our house and did our laundry before heading back home. Just incredible!
After Zach left, it wasn’t long until I was prepped for surgery. I have to acknowledge that preparing for the C-section was terrifying. I will never go through that again. With the one I had with Drew, I had been in labor for so long that it was all a blur. This time, I was alert. Everything is so sterile and medical. It doesn’t feel like you’re about to bring life into the world; it feels like something bad and scary is happening—you’re about to be cut open. I hated it. Thankfully, yoga and meditation helped me—the idea of impermanence. I focused on breathing through the scariness, remembering that it was just a brief time and at the end of it I would have my baby.
The surgery itself, body being cut open and stitched up again aside, was the most beautiful, peaceful birth I’ve had. They lowered the sheet so I could see my precious boy just as he came out, and then I was able to watch everything else that happened, including Steve cutting the cord. I didn’t get sick from any of the medications this time and my arms were not strapped down. Therefore, they were able to bring Sam to me and I held him on my chest while I was stitched up. He even started eating! That’s the only time I’ve been able to hold my baby to me so soon after his birth and I will cherish the experience.
The scary part is that our precious Samuel Sullivan Charles was small, too small for so late in the pregnancy. It turns out my placenta was not in good shape—much of it was dead or inflamed, and they were surprised the little man was getting any nutrients at all. He was also covered in meconium. It is just perfect that I had such excellent care and I had my appointment that day and he came out when he did. He is our little miracle and we couldn’t be happier to have him with us.
Because of his size and because he was slightly early, he had a bit of trouble with his blood sugar initially and some jaundice, but nothing major. He was able to stay with me the entire time I was in the hospital and the stay was pretty uneventful. Sam was born at 5:35 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29th and we brought him home on Monday, August 3rd.
We Face-Timed Patti and the boys as soon as we could that evening after Sam’s birth. They were thrilled about their new brother and couldn’t wait for their visit the next evening to meet him. We called the next morning before school as well and she told us that all morning they had been talking about Sam, wondering what he was doing as they got ready, how he felt, etc. Gorgeous.
Several people have asked me to compare the birth and hospital experience here to the ones in the U.S. I received excellent care in both countries and overall it was much the same in each. There were a few minor things that I preferred over there, and a few little things that were better here. We are very fortunate to be able to live and give birth in such safe, wonderful places, so we have nothing to complain about.
I had been worried that by having the baby in this farther away hospital, I would be lonely during the stay with it being too far for friends to visit. I was pleasantly surprised and touched to find out this was not the case. For one, my stay included a weekend, so Steve and the boys were able to be with me more, which was great. We made sure the boys were our first visitors on Thursday evening and Steve and I enjoyed the time before then to get to know our new son. A couple friends did make the hour drive to see us, and then a couple others that we knew in that area were now able to come as well. Steve’s family lives in that area and was able to be more involved this way also.
In the hospital and since we came home, as I said before, we have just been overwhelmed by the kindness and help from friends. We have had numerous home-cooked meals and baked goods brought to us as well as gifts. People have been helping me with the school runs, so I have not actually had to do them too often this term. I have had visitors, friends giving advice, listening to me cry, helping me to get out and run my first errands with Sam and even trying to do my chores. They’ve also watched our big boys for us to give us extra time to rest.
As I said, my friends are now my family and I am so grateful for them. I had been so nervous to have a baby without my parents around and I have really felt their absence. So many little things that we never even realized they were doing at the time to make things easier for us, are now apparent in their absence. Therefore, the fact that we have been so surrounded by love, support, kindness and generosity has been an even bigger blessing.
My Mom isn’t even approved to fly this distance since her hip surgery until sometime this month. I keep hoping they’ll just show up on our doorstep, but I know that won’t happen. Just 12 ½ weeks until we leave for the U.S. and in the meantime we are all so thankful for technology. Face Time and texts get us through.
A positive for me, is that this experience has made me feel like a big girl, a grown up. As with the move overall, having a baby in another country has made me realize that Steve and I are a good team and we can do anything. Our little family (well, not so little anymore!) has become a tight knit unit and we are there for each other and help each other through whatever life brings.
Along this line, I have been so impressed by what big boys my big boys have become. They are so helpful and amazingly understanding about how I need to spend my time right now. And the love! The love they have for this little baby is unbelievable. I have to say that’s been one of my favorite parts so far about having another baby, watching the unconditional love and devotion they show to this little person. They make it clear that he is truly a part of our family that just hadn’t arrived yet. He belongs with us and we love him to bits.
So there we have it. It’s been three months—6 weeks of preparation and anticipation, and 6 weeks of complete whirlwind and adjustment. Sometimes I can’t believe that a vegetarian yoga teacher is a mother of three boys—in 10 years they’ll likely be getting into fights and wanting to eat steak all the time and I’ll be telling them to meditate and offering them green smoothies! 😉 We just don’t know what life will bring us—heck, it’s also hard to believe that I’m even 38-years-old, a mother at all, living in Australia, teaching yoga—all of it—who would have known?! But what a beautiful life it is.
Breathe. Remember to breathe. “If you don’t breathe, you die.” That’s what my yoga training teacher tells us and thank goodness for yoga, because otherwise, I don’t know if I would have had time to breathe last month. But breathe I certainly do, and in actuality, I am breathing in so much joy and so many blessings right now that it seems like too much for just one person. I have enough right now; my cup truly runneth over and I am happy to share it around—I hope I can!
It’s been an action-packed month and I feel a sense of peace even now by “forcing” myself to sit down and get my thoughts on the screen. It seems like all this started happening out of nowhere, but I do realize that it actually is happening because of a lot of persistence and hard work that I’ve put forth and chances that I’ve taken. It’s just incredible that it’s all happening at once!
Although I had asked at my playgroup and Drew’s school if I could practice teaching yoga, it felt like I was just too busy and unprepared to firm up the plans. I hadn’t even finished my assignments yet from the Level 1 training to get my 1st certification—how could I teach without having done the planning for the hypothetical situations in the homework?
Well, this new spontaneous (huh?) me, just decided one day that if I didn’t set a date, I never would and I wanted this to happen. I truly believe that something/someone/some force is truly leading me this way. So I set the date of the 24th at playgroup and the 31st and 1st at the school. Done! Only now, in addition to my two hours of work from home, which are in addition to my 2 days of work outside the home and are for some reason difficult to find the time to do (that seems crazy to me, but I promise it’s true), I still had the yoga homework to do AND now had three classes to prepare to teach in an area I’ve never taught before! Smart move, Mommy! PLUS, it was the month for Halloween (which Drew and I must have been on some version of holiday speed trying to prepare for) AND just 4 weeks prior to the 40th birthday party I’m hosting for my husband. I really do put all this on myself; I’m a complete wacko.
(I just have to say that my writing tonight keeps getting interrupted by Drew’s itchy butt needing my attention. If tonight is going to be my first experience with kids’ worms that seem to be so common here…..let’s just not go there. Yuck!)
Anyway, all three teaching experiences turned out beautifully. It is incredible how children respond to yoga. Watching them lie calmly in meditation after having crazy fun with them trying to imitate different animals fills me with joy. It really does. Maybe I deserve that hippie nickname I so often get! I had a ball and I hope they did, too. I spent all of this past weekend in the Level 2 training, which was another inspiring experience. I have now set up practice teaching sessions at Zach’s daycare and with Steve’s teenagers (Yikes! I haven’t even learned that age yet, but I think I can do it—he wants less than 30 minutes anyway and I think it could really help them.) I have another set of homework to complete, too.
At the same time, my yoga teacher said she’d like me to help with writing for her business, an opportunity I do not want to pass up. Aside from the fact that it’s a way to get more experience and exposure in writing AND yoga, it’s subject matter that I am passionate about for a woman that’s a true gem. She is an incredible person and anything I can do to help in her passion, which is becoming my passion, is a great opportunity.
Also, the guy I’ve been helping with website and course materials for his cyber security business now wants me to continue working for him indefinitely, instead of finishing this week, which was the original plan. This is immensely flattering as well.
Then, as if my cake didn’t have enough icing, an article I submitted back in June to a local parenting magazine, about my identity crisis related to moving here, just got published this week! Ironically, at a time when my identity feels the strongest it’s felt in close to 6 years—isn’t life just amazing?! What’s also ironic is that it didn’t get published here. It’s in Sydney and Melbourne editions of the magazine, but not Brisbane or other, smaller cities.
Finally, to just completely spin me out, I won the sweep today at work for the Melbourne Cup race and got the $45 prize. Haha! I don’t even know if I wrote that out correctly. I have no idea what’s even going on! The big Melbourne Cup horse race is the first Tuesday of November and I described last year in my blog how incredible the experience was at work—being provided with a huge lunch and free alcohol in the middle of the work day, sitting around for two hours and watching a 3-minute horse race. It’s awesome! Every country should stop a work day once a year for something so nonsensical (maybe not horse racing because I really don’t like seeing animals mistreated, but for something….doing so can honestly only spread happiness.)
Thankfully, to bring me back down to earth a bit, a children’s story I submitted to Highlights magazine in the U.S. did get rejected today. So I do know that I’m still human. I think Drew might be most upset about that one, but I told him we will work on the story he wants me to write about fairies during our big trip next month.
Did you hear what I said?! Yes, our BIG trip is next month! Woohoo! So glad to be able to say those two little words—next month. Seriously, 18 months is too long to go without seeing my parents. I don’t like it. And we’re all just so excited to see several family members (meet our new nephew/cousin!), friends, mountains and snow. We are all looking forward to the adventure.
It’s very clear to me as I write this out that these numerous blessings and sources of joy are all about ME, good things happening for ME. That seems a bit selfish. I sometimes wish I could be one of those mothers who experience complete satisfaction and bliss from the transition to motherhood alone. I’m not one of them. I don’t know why, but I’m not. But I don’t feel guilt about all this good happening for ME, because it all makes me a better mother, because it makes me a better person. I’ve learned that, although my kids and my husband are sources of immense joy for me and I cherish so many special, everyday moments with them, that I am just plain nicer to be around when I have something that is all “Kathleen’s” to focus on. Right now I get that boost from exercise, writing and learning to teach yoga.
And speaking of yoga—the learning to teach part has also led me deeper into a practice I have enjoyed for 13 years. In the last year or so I’ve started exploring and learning more about meditation and Buddhism and all of this learning is really helping me right now. I’m learning to be a more positive communicator, a calmer person, more relaxed, kinder, more empathetic. So pursuing my own interests doesn’t just benefit me even if it does sound selfish at first. It benefits everyone around me.
Zach was in the middle of a tantrum the other day and I calmly but firmly said, “Zach! Remember your breath!” I’m not kidding—he stopped. He calmed down and communicated his issue. It may have been coincidence or it may have been that my focus on learning about breathing and staying calm is helping more than just me.
On a lighter note: Halloween! I do get frustrated at the backlash I experience directed towards this holiday, as well as the overall religious and multicultural intolerance I run into in this area. It is all quite new for me. But I am going to focus on the positive right now and emphasize how many more people around us happily joined in our celebrations and silliness this year—many for their first time! That made it an even more fun experience. Drew spent most of the month making decorations to hang around the house. The kid moves so fast—I would find an idea online for a craft and he’d be hitting me with requests for all sorts of outlandish supplies so he could create what’s in his head at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday, while I’m still drinking my tea, so I’d show him what I found online and say, “Maybe we can make this later today.” He’d come back in 20 minutes with the finished product and wondered what other ideas I had. I’m not kidding. It’s gorgeous. And it’s exhausting.
My beautiful parents sent each boy 3 costumes this year. They arrived in September and were the cause of much excitement and fun in the house with all visitors as well. We went to a Halloween party on the 19th and I found an idea online to be the Queen of Hearts—very simple using an old dress and buying a kids’ tiara and some felt pieces to cut into hearts and pin on. Well, to Drew, this was incredible—“making” your own costume. He had to do it. The three lovingly mailed costumes got shoved aside and he got into high gear creating. Of course you have to support that! That’s what Halloween is all about. My favorite part about the holiday is seeing what creations people come up with. We finished my costume about 10 minutes before we had to leave, so that night, he hurriedly put on ALL of his swimming gear to be a “diver” and the next weekend we helped him (mainly Steve. He’s so good at that stuff!) use a trash bag to become a swamp creature for the big Halloween carnival, which is so much fun. Then on Halloween day, he decided to wear the “wolfman” costume he’d received. We also had a very happy Buzz Lightyear at two events and a friendly dinosaur on Halloween day.
We trick-or-treated with friends in the evening, which was great fun. And in the afternoon our local little main street organized a safe Halloween trick-or-treat event for the kids for the first time ever. Apparently, one of the business owners is American and wanted a proper Halloween experience for his kids. It was a lot like the Munchkin Masquerade in Boulder and it was a blast! Such a community-building event! I think it’s safe to say that Halloween has officially arrived and been welcomed with open arms in Australia! Complete with a sausage sizzle in the street—it just wouldn’t be Aussie without one!