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

 

 

Wife of a Navy Sailor

It is approaching my husband’s seventh year as a sailor for the Royal Australian Navy. One thing I have learnt during these six years of our relationship is how I have developed resilience, patience and a thick skin. Because let me assure you, that it has not been smooth sailing.

It began six years ago in Melbourne. Where Chris and I chatted online, met and we pretty much instantly fell in love with one another. Chris was approaching the end of his trade training period and during our first date was quick to let me know that inevitably he was going to move. There were a couple of destinations on offer and Perth was his first choice. I had an open mind and was willing to see where it led. When the time came and he was arranging the move I jumped on board. Shortly after, I gave up my job, said goodbye to my family and committed to moving to a new state.

We had moved, settled into our first home, I got a new job and yep I fell pregnant. It was completely unplanned. We were just a couple of horny people who sucked at contraception. Again, we rolled with the punches (sometimes figuratively as those hormones were wild) because it would be unavoidable that he was posted to a ship. Not long after I said farewell to Chris when I was about half way through my pregnancy with Lucas. Chris went on his first overseas trip to support those requesting early leave, and I think he was gone for about five or six weeks. Peace of cake!

It wasn’t until Lucas was born that shit got real. Chris missed out on so many of Lucas’s milestones, especially during his first year. Sadly he didn’t hear Lucas say his first words, or see when he first crawled, and the worst was his first birthday. Because Chris was absent from his life, even when he was home Lucas only ever wanted me which just put further strain on their bond.

Our first real deployment, back in 2012 where Chris was absent for three months..

So to put things into perspective, there is a belief that family members are only absent during a deployment. Wrong! The preparation can be just as long as a deployment. At the beginning of 2014 Chris was absent from his family on and off for a total for 18 months. Yes 18 months! During this time there were weekly running’s, a combination of training drills and assessments. Chris and his crew were sent to search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, making matters worse. As it was a delicate matter there was little to no communication. Families would only receive a weekly email from the captain of the ship to advise that morale was high.

Lucas was not ready to say Goodbye. Our last 2014 deployment.

Later that year, they deployed for the middle east and three weeks into the stint I became incredibly ill.  On my 30th birthday I developed cholecystitis and pancreatitis caused by a gall stone attack. I had been having these attacks for a couple of years, but oddly thought it was just a bit of heartburn so I never addressed it. I was hospitalized after tests concluded that I was really sick, and I was a mess. There was little to no family support and I needed to care for a demanding two year old. I was knocking on my neighbours door in tears because I needed help, and once I was spoke with the surgeon it was inevitable that I would need surgery.

Now began the daunting task of getting Chris sent home. I can assure you that it was the most stressful thing I had ever experienced. We were told over and over again that it was not considered serious enough to warrant a flight back home. I was on a strict no fat diet because I could not risk another episode, because lets face it pancreatitis is something you can’t mess with. I lost several kilograms and developed an anxiety disorder.

Chris was doing everything at his end, but no one was listening. He has even threatened to get drunk in every port just so that he could get sent home. I remember speaking with a woman from DCO’s hotline. For reasons I don’t know said to me that my friend’s would feel honoured, yes honoured, if I asked them to care for both me and my son. My mouth gaped in disbelief, did she actually say that to me? I wanted my husband and it was his responsibility to care for Lucas and I.

It wasn’t until I received support from a Chaplain that the seriousness of the procedure was fully realised. Thankfully Chris was sent home, I had my surgery, and thank the heavens that he was posted home as I spent three days in ICU and later transferred to another hospital for a follow up procedure. Since then I have not been able to cope with my anxiety, and now require medication to keep it at bay. Another stress inducing episode of Navy wife life, is the Navy wives.

It was like high school all over again, friends left as soon as they came. And what I mean by that is when your husbands were no longer working together on a ship, friendship was void. This had happened several times, it was so bloody upsetting and infuriating. I am serious about friendships and lets face, it we’re all far too mature for the dramas that lie within the circle of their lives.

Chris spent further time away in 2015, and during this time we started having our first home built. Something always went wrong when he was away, it was like Murphy’s Law or something. I always relied on the support of other people to ensure that the house was up to scratch. Another hole to add to my bucket of anxiety. Thankfully Chris has now been posted ashore for over twelve months, and good thing too otherwise we would not have been able to conceive with our gorgeous little man Flynn. Not long now until discharge and we can gain better control over our lives.

That’s all for now.

Much love

Melanie xx