Category: blogging

How do I turn this damn thing off?

It’s been quite a while since I posted last, unless you count my response to some trolling. Mel has been gently requesting that I write something, and gently reminding me that “it’s supposed to be our joint blog but I do all the work.” Code for “I really want you to blog, now, yesterday, last week even.” My usual response is along the lines of “I’ll blog when I’ve got something to write about.”

It seems that time has come for me to get off my blessed assurance and crack to it. It does take quite some effort for me to write, while words seem to flow freely from between my lips, getting them out of my fingers is a whole other story. Feelings of inadequacy and the overwhelming sense that it needs to be perfect usually prevent much from happening. Let it be know, it’s something I’m working on, and most likely always will.

Lately, something has been happening in our home. Something that I’m not proud of, and I am trying to change it. I’ve been losing my cool with our eldest son, Lucas. For a while there, it was almost as though if he coughed, I would tell him off, yell, send him to his room or, dare I say is, give him a smack. I’ve only ever smacked him on the backside.

Am I proud of it? No.

Did I grow up with the same kind of discipline from my parents? Yes.

Do I hate them for it? Not at all.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m happy about getting my butt smacked, because lets face it, no one really is as a kid. You hate it. Dad and I were having a talk about discipline once, and he mentioned that when we were smacked as kids, it was more frustration on their part than anything. And it is absolutely true. There are only so many times you can politely ask someone to put their shoes away before you start to sound like a broken record. And trust me, both Mel and I try not to sweat the small stuff, but take it from me, that shit adds up. Real fast!

Everyone has their own opinions on parenting, and it’s all well and good to have opinions, however, what might work for your family and circumstances might be completely the opposite for another. Is it OK to lose your cool at your child? No, I don’t think it is. Have I done it? Yes. Very recently in fact. I did it such a monumental fashion that I’m sure the neighbours were filling out father of the year nominations for me. Did it make me feel better? Not one little bit. I actually felt worse.

It was weeks and weeks of pent up frustration that all boiled to the surface in one spectacular explosion of a verbal tirade. One that ultimately says a heck of a lot more about my attitude towards Lucas in particular, than it does about his actual behavior. The end result? ‘Daddy, can I take a truck to bed?’

It all kind of hit me. What kind of role model was I setting for him? Blaming my son, who is 5, for my lack of self control. It just started to sit wrong with me. I won’t lie to you, he is sometimes not an easy kid to look after. He is highly impulsive, doesn’t listen, does whatever he pleases, regardless of what we ask him, and some days, he just will not stop talking. It has a tendency to wear you thin after a while.

As most of you are well aware, I do a bit of reading, not as regular as I would like. After some talk about leadership with one of my business mentors, I came to a simple solution. If I want to lead my team to victory, I first need to lead my house. And to lead my house, I need to lead myself. Real leadership comes from leading yourself and others will naturally follow you. Not by telling people what to do. That defines a boss, and not someone that I aspire to be like.

What does this all have to do with parenting? Well, my young padawan, parenting is just another form of leadership. While you might not be directly engaged in ‘parenting’ (ie, 1 on 1 time with your child), everything you do, in and out of the home is parenting. Its 24/7, 100% on all the time. It’s hardly a job, it’s life. Whether we like it or not. Once the kids are in bed and you put your feeit up for the evening, crack a stubbie and snap off a couple of rows of dairy milk, yup, you’re still parenting.

Recently, I came to the realisation that I just didn’t want to be like that any more. Not just for my own sake, but absolutely for Lucas’s sake. He

deserves better than that.
So I have started to make a committed effort to lead myself better. To be the kind of father my boys look up to, and aim to be like. To be the kind of man that if we ever have a daughter, I would be happy for her to marry.

It hasn’t been easy, some days are harder than others. The things I do are pretty simple though. I usually stop what I’m doing, take a few breaths, remind myself that it isn’t his fault, he’s just a kid and he is wired a little different than most, and really, does it matter in the grand scheme of things?
He’s got a great personality. Loving, caring, zest for life and can find wonder in the smallest of things (a dead jumping spider for example), so I reckon that it’s a damn good start.

As parents, our kids will always do as they see us do, not what we say. We need to make sure our actions match our words so that we don’t create confusion in developing minds.

I’m by no means a perfect father, nor do I ever think I will be. I am however committed to improvement.

I’d love to hear what tips and strategies you guys use to keep calm during those stressful parenting moments!

Cheers,
Chris

 

 

Good Riddance 2016

2016 – Definitely Not an Odyssey

Well, 2 days into the new year and it feels largely the same as 2016!

I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that by some kind of divine intervention, the coming of a new calendar year is somehow going change them (new year, new me). Or that it may  bring them some kind of different life. As though there is some kind of divine being in control of their fate, a ‘Sky Wizard‘ if you will!

I’m not about to start waxing lyrically about how I’m a pessimist, or a realist (of which I am neither) or any other kind of ‘ist’ really. If I was forced to choose one like my very existence relied upon it, I would be somewhere between optimist and opportunist.

For me, I strongly believe that we are in full control of our own destiny. We are our own Sky Wizard, and as such, it’s up to us to get about fixing the things we don’t like. And let me tell you, there was a lot about 2016 that was not to like. I’m sure everyone has their own list of reasons that 2016 could fuck right of and your probably damn well happy that it has!

However, on the other hand, there was a lot about 2016 that was to like, a lot!

2016 was a year of change for us in the Edge household. The first half was pretty mundane. Work was pretty straightforward, Mel was plowing through her pregnancy (and bags of chips) with flying colours. Lucas was getting in trouble looking under the toilet doors as school (to see people wee), and we were fostering rescued Greyhounds. By all accounts, most likely an average 6 months in an average Australian family of 3.

The second half of the year was where things got interesting.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the highlight of my (our?) year was finally getting to meet Flynn. You can read the story of his Birth here. He is an incredibly sweet, calm and easy going little boy. He has brought a sense of calm to us both that we didn’t know before, both Mel and I love him dearly. As we do both of our sons.

Mel had made the decision to take a full 12 months maternity leave after Flynn was born. A decision that had (and still has) my full support. When Lucas was 6 months old, Mel made the tough decision of returning to work. Even though things have worked out fine, has always felt that this was the wrong thing to do.

And you know what, even though money is tight, we shop at Aldi, and no longer eat meat, things have been great! Both boys are thriving, Mel is a lot more relaxed (most days) and she has an incredible bond with the boys that is completely different to mine.

I reckon anyone that claims to be a perfect father is fooling themselves, but not fooling anyone else. Parenting is hard work! It’s the hardest bloody thing I’ve ever done. And it’s a heck of a lot of responsibility. I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel this way? It’s our job, to care for, nurture and mold this person into the kind of adult that will be able to function in an ever changing society. That’s some heavy shit right there! I’m flat out most days just getting myself to do the things that I need to to get through my day. Brush my teeth, shower before work, no sugar in my 4th cup of coffee for the day. And that’s before 8am.

For my brother and I, we grew up in a pretty typical household. Dad worked (a lot), Mum did the household stuff, and we went to school. Both my parents are fantastic. They sacrificed everything to bring us from the UK to Australia in 1989, so I’m not about to get on my soapbox about how my childhood was hard, and that it’s not my fault that I am the way I am. But it is you see. Yes, Dad was quite authoritative and at times dictatorial, but we were kids. Pushing the boundaries, testing the limits and creating chaos wherever we went.

Do I want to be that kind of parent to my boys? No. Am I? Sometimes, yes. And it’s not until it’s too late, that I realise that I am slipping back into learned habits.

I’m sure by now you’re thinking ‘Why the bloody hell is he banging on about his daddy and 1989 when this is supposed to be about 2016?”. Well, I do have a point, and I’m getting to that (Shush Mel, my stories are important, however meandering.)

Back in October, we had Lucas assessed by a pediatrician. A pediatrician that charged us $400 to have us and his teacher do all the work for her. (I’m definitely in the wrong line of work.) Long story short, she came to the conclusion that Lucas has symptoms that suggest he has ADHD. I say suggest because I’m still not convinced, or i could just be reluctant to label the boy. Nonetheless, he does behave different to other boys his age and has issues recognising boundaries and when Mum and Dad are feeling the pressure of a constant barrage of begging for the tiniest morsel of our own dinner. Coincidentally exactly the same as his.

He can be an incredibly sweet boy, and has an amazing zest for life that i think all adults forget. Life has a nasty habit of making us get way too serious about things, and we can sometimes forget to have a sense of humor.

And here it is, the point of the last few paragraphs is that coming out of 2016 and in to 2017, we’ve had a lot of changes in our household. Quite significant ones at that. Most notable is the obvious additional mouth to feed (good on you love, you’re boobs are doing a great job!), we’ve had a significant drop in income while an increase in expenses and lastly. We’re having to completely redesign the way we parent. And it is unquestionably more of a lesson for Mel and I than it is for Lucas.

So here I am, jumping on the bandwagon that is full of people that proudly chime “Fuck off 2016!”, as we launch into what I’m going to call “Fuck yes, 2017!”

That’s all for now. I’d love to hear what you have said goodbye to in 2016! I’m sure you’ve got your own stories to tell.

If I’m not back in 5 minutes. Just wait longer!

To the Man who failed me..

Three words come to mind when I think of my Dad.

Narcissist, Selfish and Liar.

These days I have developed a love/hate relationship with my Dad, and to be frank with you it is leaning more towards hate. Growing up  I lacked a positive male role model and this was pretty evident when it came to the type of man that I would attract. There is this understanding that Father’s often influence the men we choose as partners. Thankfully, after several dud relationships and a lot of self love I was able to find and marry a genuinely lovely man and now share two gorgeous boys together.

Dad failed me before I was even born. When my Mum was several months pregnant with me, she discovered that he was having an affair with an another woman/women. I don’t know much about what actually happened during this time, but I remember being told a by Mum. She phoned him at the local Pub and threatened murder if he did not call it off! I was only a couple of weeks old at this point.

Dad failed me as a child.
He was an alcoholic, gambler, womanizer and chain smoker. Thinking back to when I was seven or eight, I remember coming home from school, and I was made to run to the laundry to fetch a bucket for him to vomit into. There was this other incident where I came home with my Mum to find him passed out naked on the floor of our lounge, head phones still attached to his head. This was the norm for us. Each afternoon after school, I would be given a gold coin and spend at the local Milk Bar. This was mostly done to keep me out of the house so he could drink until he was drunk. I also forgot to thank him for high dental bills due to regular fillings. Thank goodness for Health Insurance as I simply could not afford the bill.

His alcoholism was so bad that he hid his cans of beer in the cistern of the toilet and threw his evidence over the fence, into the back alley. There were so many, they required several large garbage bags after a neighbor demanded them removed. At the peak of his addiction he drank methylated spirits just so he could get that hit. He almost lost his job as a signalman for the Victorian Railway because he often went and continued to drink at work.

For obvious reasons his addiction placed pressure on his marriage to my Mum, so the fights and arguments were pretty gargantuan. I would be screaming, tears streaming down my face yelling at them to stop fighting. Mum once knocked him unconscious with a vacuum pipe, and even though it had a huge bend in the pipe it still continued to work well. I once got in the way of their argument. Dad grabbed me by my hair and aimed it at our glass sliding door causing it to crack. Plus at the peak of their fighting, knives were once drawn. Dad was warned by the Victorian Police that if another DVO was submitted then he would be removed from the home and would likely spend a short period of his life in jail. This was my life…

Dad failed me as a young woman.
Thankfully by then Dad had given his alcohol addiction away. However having an addictive personality it was always replaced with something else. I was troubled, and made very poor and uninformed choices, mostly because of my toxic home environment.

Have you heard about the cycle of domestic abuse? This is what I learnt and experienced during my very first relationship with a boy. I was fifteen when I first met him, he was a good eighteen months younger than me. Looking from the outside, he came from a well off and intelligent family however he was an abusive, controlling, manipulative and jealous young man. I was never given insight on how to respect myself or gain the respect of others, especially from boys. Looking back, its sad that I would have preferred to spend time with an awful boyfriend than be with my family. Plus the fact that nothing was done to help me.

Dad failed me as a woman.
Dad continued to have affairs, and this is what broke the camels back for my Mother. I was and remain thankful that their marriage was finally over. It was sweet relief, because honestly it was all I ever wanted. I wanted normalcy, I wanted the dysfunction to end, and most of all I hoped that I would have a better relationship with both my parents. There has been turbulent times with my Mum, but our relationship has just continued to blossom. I love her dearly, and it is nice to know that she is so thankful to have me as her daughter. However the relationship I now have with my Dad has only deteriorated further. Mostly after the way he treated my son Lucas when he was last visiting. He is known as Grumpy Poppy which is just sad.

Dad has failed me today.
I have two gorgeous sons, one he has met and one he is yet to meet. You see, I live in Perth and he lives in Brisbane so there is no denying that the distance is great. But, his partner and her mother will be flying to Perth next year, and he has decided not to come. He was even offered to have his flight paid for by his new mother in law. This broke my heart, and yet after having a confrontation with him he still chooses not to come. I have gotten to a point in my life where I think to myself if he was just not related to me, I would not pursue a friendship at all. So…why should I pursue a relationship with a man who chooses not to reciprocate my love?

What I am thankful for today. I am thankful for who I am. I like me…no, I love me. If it was not for my dysfunctional upbringing, I would not be the person I am today. I am a helper, I am a doer, and I love those who love me unconditionally. I am thankful that my sons have a positive role model, and I am thankful that I have a husband who respects me.

Thank you Dad for teaching me resilience, compassion, empathy, developing a thick skin, and having the ability to speak out. However I am not thankful for how I acquired these traits.

I feel better, I needed this post.

Much love

Melanie xx