• 100 Days Project
  • Sorting Sh*t Out – Day 54

    The Jewellery Box

    I don’t even know where to start. I picked my jewellery box for my day’s sh*t sorting because I thought it would be piss easy. I wanted to do something that would take five minutes, and I was so sure it would only take five minutes. I mean, I don’t even need a jewellery box. I hardly ever wear jewellery. I don’t own any fine jewellery. I figured all I’d have to do is dig through and throw out the broken stuff, and then put the box back up on the shelf and forget about it again. Simple.

    But then I opened it.

    At first I was all, Oh wow, what a lot of junk.

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    But then I started taking everything out and I could have cried. I could have cried. There were things in that jewellery box that I’d completely forgotten about. There were things I thought I’d lost forever. And there they were, just waiting for me to open the chest and gaze upon them. My treasures. They are still mine.

    I found the gold bracelet my grandparents brought me back from Spain, the one I wore only twice because it was a little too small. The one I secretly promised to myself that I would pass down to my daughter some day. The one I just realised I actually can hand down to my daughter, and that I can do so not just some day, but any day. I can make that dream come true.

    I found the silver charm bracelet my parents gave me for Christmas, the one that made me feel so valuable, so whole, like I really was somebody important. I loved the way it fluttered around my wrist, the way the charms jingled together, the way I couldn’t pick a favourite charm. It’s still here.

    I found the tiny brooch my mother-in-law gave me when she found out I was carrying her son’s child. Feet. A pair. The exact size of the feet of the child inside me on the exact day she presented it to me. Did I ever tell her how much it meant to me? Probably not, I barely knew her. I barely knew her son! But she accepted it, accepted me, and gave me that brooch. And I love it.

    I found the rose quartz pendant my husband gave me when he asked me to marry him. I already had a ring, I’d made him buy me one for Christmas because I was knocked up and I needed a f*cking ring. So he bought rose quartz to replace the one I’d lost, and he left it on my pillow, in a box, with a note.
    Will you marry me?
    Of course.

    I found the barefoot sandals I made for myself the year I went without shoes. I found the necklace my dad brought me back from Albuquerque. I found the ring a castmate gave me at the closing of the best stage play I’ve ever had the pleasure of performing in. It felt like I was finding pieces of myself.

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    As it turned out, I actually did find pieces of my daughter: two more of her baby teeth were rattling around in there. That part was pretty gross.

    – Fern xxx

  • All About Fern
  • If You’re a Jerk and You Know It…

    I’ve been putting off writing this blog post for a while now. Why? Because someone told me that I was a bit of a jerk, and that made me feel like a complete and utter jerk. Even though I was the one that first said perhaps I sounded like a jerk… Okay, wait. I think I should go back and start from the beginning.

    A week or so ago I filmed a video for my YouTube channel so I could link up with #VlogStars, which is something I do every month. #VlogStars is hosted by Aby and Amy, a couple of amazing bloggers, who set a theme or assign a list of questions for people like me who enjoy blogging and vlogging. This month they asked us to complete The Blogger Tag, for which I answered 11 questions about my thoughts and experiences as a, surprise surprise, blogger.

    As always, I set about answering the questions (which I will list below) as authentically as possible, while attempting to keep my energy levels and enthusiasm up, and my rambling and over-explaining to a minimum. It’s not easy to strike the right balance, and I fear that this time I didn’t quite get it right. Maybe it’s just because I was in a rush to get my video filmed. Maybe it’s just because I’m not as good at expressing myself as I’d like to imagine. Either way, when I got to the end of my tag video I found myself worrying that I’d made myself sound like a bit of a jerk. So I voiced that. And people responded. And while a couple of them assured me that I’d done just fine, I’m not a jerk and they know it, one person agreed.
    I love you and your points were valid, they commented, but you did come across like a jerk…
    And someone gave it a thumbs up.

    I don’t know why I took it to heart, after all I was the one who invited people to let me know whether or not they reckon I’m a jerk. But it made me feel bad. It made me feel like I had done something wrong. It made me think I should take down my video, that I shouldn’t be linking up to #VlogStars this month because I’m not a nice blogger. And then I thought well, maybe I will still link up, but I’ll just explain myself better in the blog post I write to go with my video. But now that I’m here, sharing my thoughts in text rather than on film, I don’t feel like that’s the right thing to do. I wasn’t trying to put anybody down. I wasn’t saying that I’m better than anyone else. Sure, I said that I have strengths that others don’t, but everyone has their own strengths. In fact, I can guarantee that everyone reading this has strengths that I don’t. That’s just how life is, don’t you think?

    So despite my original plans for this blog post, I’m not going to go through each answer I gave and explain why I gave it. Instead I will just say that blogging is bloody hard work, and that while I think I’m a pretty good writer, I don’t think I’m a very good blogger. Not by a long shot. In fact, I’m almost certain I don’t have what it takes to make it big in the blogging world. At the end of the day, correct spelling and good grammar can only take you so far – the ability to blog with originality and flair is much more important.

    – Fern xxx

    The Blogger Tag questions:

    1. Where Do You Blog?
    2. Where Do You Find Inspiration For Your Blog Posts?
    3. How Long Does It Take You To Write a Blog Post?
    4. Do You Plan Your Blog Posts? How?
    5. What Kind of Camera Do You Use? What Editing Program?
    6. Do You Use a Notebook To Track Your Ideas?
    7. How Do You Take Your Pictures?
    8. What’s Your Favourite Type of Blog Post to Write?
    9. Who Knows About Your Blog?
    10. Are You an Organised or a Messy Blogger?
    11. Biggest Blogging Pet Peeve?

    Vlog Stars Badge

  • All About Fern
  • Too Much Information

    I’ll never forget the time my dad said “T.M.I” and my sister and I just about lost our minds laughing. It was awesome. But anyway, that story doesn’t really have anything to do with today’s post. Today’s post is all about me, and my decision to go ahead and share way too much information about myself for this month’s #VlogStars linky.

    Hosted, as always, by Aby from You Baby Me Mummy, and Amy from Mr and Mrs T Plus Three, #VlogStars is a blogging linky party that’s open to anyone who uploads videos to YouTube. I’m not sure who’s idea it was to do the TMI Tag, but it definitely was a lot of fun to film! Feel free to join in, if you’d like to – I’ll leave all the questions below my video.

    “I don’t eat sugar, but I wear sugar…”

    Questions:
    1: What are you wearing?
    2: Ever been in love?
    3: Ever had a terrible breakup?
    4: How tall are you?
    5: How much do you weigh?
    6: Any tattoos?
    7: Any piercings?
    8: OTP? (One True Pairing)
    9: Favourite show?
    10: Favourite bands?
    11: Something you miss?
    12: Favourite song?
    13: How old are you?
    14: Zodiac sign?
    15: Quality you look for in a partner?
    16: Favourite quote?
    17: Favourite actor?
    18: Favourite colour?
    19: Loud music or soft?
    20: Where do you go when you’re sad?
    21: How long does it take you to shower?
    22: How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
    23: Ever been in a physical fight?
    24: Turn on?
    25: Turn off?
    26: The reason I joined Youtube?
    27: Fears?
    28: Last thing that made you cry?
    29: Last time you said you loved someone?
    30: Meaning behind your Youtube Name?
    31: Last book you read?
    32: The book you’re currently reading?
    33: Last show you watched?

    – Fern xxx

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  • All About Fern
  • Let’s (Not) Talk About Sex

    It was a while ago now that the email came through: The beauty editor of a nationwide parenting magazine had found my blog and wanted to know if I was interested in being featured in a piece she was putting together. Would I mind answering a few questions about beauty products and routines? Of course not! In fact, typing out my replies was an absolute pleasure.

    This morning I got my hands on a copy of the actual, real magazine that actually, really has my name and my face and my words printed in actual, real colour on page 98. It was exciting. It was cool. But when I saw that I’m considered a “well-known Kiwi mum who blogs” I almost exploded. I’m well-known? Me? Most of the time I feel like I’m just talking to myself!

    It’s confronting, to say the least, to suddenly realise that anybody, everybody, has free access to my life. For the most part I ignore the fact that there are people watching my videos and reading my posts, but when you see your picture in a magazine, or (true story) one of the school mums approaches you and says, “Oh I enjoyed your vlog about your daughter’s birthday gifts!” it all starts to feel very real, and very, very public.

    Don’t get me wrong, I know what I’ve signed up for, and for the most part it’s exhilarating. Over on YouTube I can literally watch my numbers, both in terms of subscribers and actual viewers, grow. Here on my blog I’ve been enjoying reading through the comments you leave me. But every now and then I feel the need to pause and reevaluate my choices. Are blogging and vlogging in my family’s best interests? Am I disrespecting their privacy? Will my kids grow up to resent my decision to share my life, and theirs, on the internet? I mean, I’ve already spoken about the fact that I fear I’ve been inadvertently putting my children in danger. Am I really doing enough to keep them safe now?

    Whatever the answers to my questions may be, I’m not really willing to stop what I’m doing. I feel like I’m onto a good thing here, that these “hobbies” of mine can and will take me in the direction I want to be heading in. I do, however, have every intention of stopping and thinking before I post, before I vlog, before I share my innermost thoughts and feelings. The thing is, I know what sells. I know that there are many parenting bloggers out there who’ve made a name for themselves by discussing their sex lives, or their relationship issues, or what their vagina is like now they’ve given birth. And while those topics may result in a huge increase in traffic, discussing that sort of thing is a path I flatly refuse to head down. My kids will grow up and they’ll use the internet. No doubt they’ll check up on me at some point. I would hate for them to ever feel embarrassed or disturbed by the stories I’ve told. I just can’t do that to them. Ever.

    So far I think I’m doing okay. A few months ago I went through and privatised a whole bunch of videos I’d uploaded to my channel due to safety concerns, but I think I’m on the right track now. Though the kids’ faces have slowly started appearing in my vlogs again, though I have definitely been sharing some of their experiences, I do feel like the stories I’ve been telling are my own. And I’d like to think that I’ve been sharing them with care and respect. Sure, all parents embarrass their kids at some point, it’s inevitable. But if I can manage to limit that shame to in-person experiences only, then I’ll feel like I’ve done something right. Fingers crossed I can actually pull it off…

    – Fern xxx

    I’m featured in the latest issue of Little Treasures magazine. Look out for me!
    Or, if you don’t yet have a copy, stay tuned for a giveaway over on my YouTube channel.
    It’s coming very soon!

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  • All About Fern
  • Oh, how I loved the 90s

    I was born in 1983, so technically I’m an 80s kid. Technically. In reality, however, I have a much stronger love for (and memory of) the 90s. Boy bands. Girl bands. Furbys and Tamagotchis. I can’t help but think back to that decade with a great fondness…

    It was with genuine pleasure that I took part in #vlogstars this month (hosted once again by Aby and Amy, thanks ladies!), for which we all completed The 90s Tag. I was really happy with all the memories I was able to share in my video, though I did stuff one question up: Dress For Less was definitely my favourite clothing store back then! I must thank my sister for reminding me of that.

    If you’d like to take part in #vlogstars you are most welcome to join in. I’ve listed the questions down below.

    – Fern xxx

    The 90s Tag Questions:

    1. Favourite Disney film?

    2. NSYNC or Backstreet Boys

    3. Favourite music artist?

    4. Favourite candy/sweet?

    5. Weirdest fashion trend?

    6. Favourite game console & game?

    7. What would you watch after school?

    8. Favourite book?

    9. Favourite clothing store?

    10. Best 90s memory?

    Vlog Stars Badge

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  • All About Fern
  • Depression is Forever

    The problem with depression is that it stays with you forever. Once upon a time, a good 12 years ago now, I was so depressed that I did nothing but lie face down on the carpet for an entire day. That was it. I didn’t cry, didn’t eat, didn’t speak. I just lay there. Numb. Swallowed by an invisible fog. My mum ended up dragging me to counselling, which kind of helped in the end, but I do remember my first session lasting only 15 minutes, because I simply had nothing to say. I was broken. It wasn’t that I was sad exactly, it was more like a part of me had disappeared.

    I guess I’m one of the lucky ones, because that missing part came back eventually. I scraped myself off the floor and began making a life for myself. There were a few bumps in the road. Highs. Lows. But then I got things figured out and I headed off to university. I made friends. I met a boy… And the next thing I knew I was pregnant. Oops.

    I went into my first official antenatal appointment feeling excited and hopeful. The midwife, her dress purple, her nose pierced, had a long list of questions she needed me to answer. My name, my age, any known diseases, and depression: Had I ever, at any point, suffered from depression?
    Yes. But I’m fine now. 
    I felt embarrassed, but she just smiled at that, and nodded her head. Then she told me there was a good chance I’d get it again.
    Just so you know. 
    Why would you smile while saying that to someone?

    I’m not completely irrational. I understand why my midwife needed to tell me that I was at risk of developing postnatal depression. But that warning, along with gentle reminders from my doctor, has haunted me for years. I am At Risk. One day I might find myself unable to do anything but lie on the carpet. I could end up breaking down in front of my kids; falling, falling, falling into a deep, black hole… But what can I do about it? It’s said that knowledge is power, but knowing depression is an illness that could come back at any time seems to be doing me more harm than good.

    It’s no secret that I haven’t been feeling particularly happy of late. My moods have been low, my disposition less than sunny. But when I was talking about my current outlook with a friend and she responded with, That’s the depression talking, I was shocked. Am I depressed? Have I let my guard down and allowed the darkness to seep back in? I thought I’d simply entered a rough patch, that my lack of joy stems from feeling like I need a little more from life. But maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe I am unwell. Maybe every bad thought I’ve ever had, and will ever have, is actually just the black dog scratching at my door.

    The more thought I give to it, however, the more firmly I believe that sometimes life is just a bit crappy. Surely feeling disillusioned or unfulfilled when things aren’t the way you’d like them to be is relatively normal. I’ve been expressing the fact that I’m not exactly overjoyed with my lot right now, because that’s the truth. I could be a hell of a lot happier, yes, but that doesn’t necessarily equal depression. If unhappiness is circumstantial, like mine is, then doesn’t that mean the unhappiness is justified? Even if I did go to my doctor to tell her I’ve been feeling down, I don’t believe she could do anything to make me feel better. Unless counselling or antidepressants are going to magically put my husband on the same page as me, or somehow turn my Bachelor of Arts and lack of significant work experience into the most impressive qualifications possible, then they’re not going to help. They just won’t.

    Still, depression (whether real or imaginary) has this hold over me. I remember a letter my cousin wrote to me when I was at my worst, in which she included the acronym FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. That’s a lot of what depression is. It’s FEAR. I get that. But because I’ve known I have depressive tendencies for such a long time, I’ve ended up growing into a person who mistrusts every thought that crosses their mind. Would I really be happier if we lived in a bigger, safer, drier home, or if I had the opportunity to embark on a well-paying career, or is that just the FEAR talking? Or maybe I’m just hormonal. Or overly emotional. Maybe I’m just living in a fantasy world. How does anyone ever really know? I feel like I’m constantly doubting myself, never quite able to figure out what’s real and what’s FEAR, never knowing for sure if I’m thinking like a healthy person.

    Some days I think it would be nice to be medicated. Not because I feel like I need it, but because then I could just stop wondering. I remember what it was like taking anti-depressants, replacing one blinding fog with another. There was less anger and sorrow, but there was less of all the other emotions too. And though that prescribed numbness doesn’t appeal to me at all, the thought that I could just quit worrying about the depression swallowing me again is tantalising. I could be free.

    Other days I think that I’m doing pretty damn well for myself. I’m not my happiest, but I’m still achieving things. I’m right here working on my blog. I’m sticking to my YouTube schedule. I’m rocking the hell out of my new direct sales business. I’m exercising and eating well and I’m incredibly close to hitting my goal weight. None of that sounds like the actions of a depressed person. None of that suggests I need to be talking with my doctor. On paper it all looks as though I’m functioning just as I should be. No one is expected to be over-the-moon happy all the time, right?

    No, it really is the doubt that’s getting to me lately. It’s awful to go through life unable to trust your own emotions, constantly feeling like you’re not capable of making good decisions. Constantly wondering whether or not your expectations are realistic. And I can’t help but think that depression, whether it’s actually affecting me or not, is not all FEAR. I feel like some of it is truth. My friend says that thinking, What’s the point? is a sign of depression, and it probably is. But if I’m looking at the crumbs all over the floor only 20 minutes after I finished vacuuming, then surely that exact thought is justified. My head tells me that waking up and thinking, Great, here we go again, is a symptom of depression, but when I’ve woken up to my kids screaming and fighting, while the baby cries to be let out of his bed, then I’m pretty sure that thought is understandable. So what’s the verdict? Am I depressed, or do I just need a complete change of scenery?

    As always, I don’t have any answers. Maybe I am depressed. Maybe I’m not. Either way, there is some good news, and that is that I am strong. This whole depression thing is going to follow me around for the rest of my life, most likely, but I am willing to accept that. I’ll be Okay. I can talk about it, blog about it, share my thoughts in my YouTube videos. I can still get out there and do the things I want to do despite the ever-lurking cloud. I can push past the FEAR. I’ve made it through massive upheavals, car accidents, unplanned pregnancies, and worse, and I can make it through this too. The good thing about bad times, is that (usually) the good times are not too far away.

    – Fern xxx

    If you’ve ever felt depressed and/or you have some tried and tested pick-me-ups I’d love to read about them in the comments section below. 

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  • All About Fern
  • What Makes Me Me

    I join in with #Vlogstars every month. Hosts Aby and Amy set a theme, or a list of questions, and vloggers from all over the world film and upload videos in response. This month we were asked to share 10 things that define us as people. Wow. Tough. What are the things that make me me?

    I watched a few videos before I made my own, but I didn’t feel right just listing the objects I use the most, or the things I enjoy doing like other participants did. I feel like I’ve shared all that sort of thing before anyway. And surely the person I have become is actually a culmination of all the things I have ever done. I mean, that’s kind of how life works, right? I can’t be the only person who regularly thinks, Oh my god, every moment of my entire life has lead me to where I am right at this very second. Can I?

    I took the liberty of tackling this month’s theme in my own way, because being different is good. At least, that’s what I tell my kids. I talked a lot, so ended up splitting my 10 “things” into two videos. I hope you enjoy them!

     

    Vlog Stars Badge

    Another thing that makes me me is my desire to make the world a better place by helping other people out. In this spirit, I am hosting a fundraising event over on Facebook this weekend, and it’d be great if I could get as much support as possible. I will be running an online Jamberry party, with 20% of the purchase price of every order made going to a young girl who was born profoundly deaf, and is in need of a cochlear implant.
    If you don’t have plans for this Saturday evening at 8pm (NZ time), I would love to have you participating in this special event.
    Jurnee’s Jammin’ Online Fundraiser

    – Fern xxx

  • All About Fern
  • Searching for Balance

    This morning, while trying to decide what to blog about, I started feeling guilty for sharing the not-so-nice side of my life as a full-time mother. I’ve had friends withdraw from me for being “too negative” in the past (yeah, depression will do that to you), so I’m well aware that many people would rather not hear about the bad stuff. I suppose that’s why most family lifestyle bloggers focus on the good bits; I wonder if that’s why some of my posts end up being ignored…

    I feel a bit angry, actually, that I’m feeling bad for being true to myself. I keep thinking that I should be allowed to share my stories honestly, without worrying about whether my readers find them uplifting or not. But the truth is that I want people to return to my blog, and I want them to leave me comments, and if I keep going on about the negatives then that’s just not going to happen. Something’s got to give.

    So, while walking home from the school run, my boys in tow, I made an effort to focus on the good. The sun was out and the children were content. Mr. Three was holding my hand. A truckie tooted his horn when he saw us pointing at his load. That small gesture, coupled with my son’s delighted laughter, lifted my spirits. My heart felt full and I felt happy. That is how motherhood can be.

    But then we got home and reality hit. The laundry pile is overflowing, there are dishes all over the bench, and the carpets need to be vacuumed. Again. I could get those jobs taken care of today, but I’ll have to do them all over again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. And so it will continue. Indefinitely. That is how motherhood is.

    Right now the baby is asleep and Mr. Three is watching Thomas. That is good. I am at my computer. That is also good. But I am still surrounded by mess and it is bothering me, distracting me, making it difficult to concentrate on my writing. My mind keeps taking me to dark places. Why am I pouring so much energy into this blog? Why am I bothering with YouTube? Where are these projects actually going to take me? I listed them both in the CV I created for a job application last week, and I was rejected almost straight away. No reason was given (Thanks, but no thanks!), so I’ve been filling in the blanks myself. Any idiot can start a YouTube channel. A million parents write Mummy Blogs. It doesn’t matter that I’m working hard on it, because it’s not original. It’s not clever. It’s not a job. I feel like I’m wasting my time.

    Next week I will be taking a break from posting and uploading. I need a moment to reflect on the choices I’ve been making. I need to figure out how I can bring more balance into my life. I need to know whether or not it’s possible to keep the house clean and the kids happy while pursuing my own interests. Right now I’m finding I don’t have enough time in the day, and I’m constantly playing catch up. I keep telling myself I’m working, but is this work? Or is it just a narcissistic hobby? Hopefully, by taking a step back, I’ll be able to figure it all out. I might even return with some more positive stories to share…

    – Fern xxx

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  • All About Fern
  • Get Me Out of Here!

    Last week my baby turned one. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, we didn’t make a big deal of it. There was cake, a gift or two, and that was about it (aside from spending a lot of time gazing at him and kissing his little peanut head and feeling like I couldn’t possibly have created a more perfect mini human). I was glad I’d decided to keep the festivities low key, quietly celebrating the fact that we’ve survived the first 12 months. But now that my very last baby is in his second year of life, I’m facing a completely different challenge: I can’t stop thinking, Now what?

    I’ve been a full-time mother for eight years now. Eight. That’s longer than I’ve ever stuck with anything. And though I’ve always kept myself busy and my brain active through study, work experience, blogging, and theatre, the fact remains that I’ve spent a quarter of my life at home, building my family. And now that it’s built, my family is complete, I’m feeling impatient. I’m ready to move on. I want to see what the world has to offer me.

    When I share these feelings with the people around me, I’m encouraged to work from home.
    Why don’t you go back to working on your book?
    Just throw yourself into Jamberry, you’ll love it.

    You’d never forgive yourself if you got a job while the baby is still so young anyway.
    I get where they’re coming from. I do think babies need their mothers. I know that my kids have benefited from having me at home. But I really, truly, honestly do not want to be here anymore. I just don’t. And the more I think about it, the more I’m realising that my kids would be better off having a mother who works, because I’m pretty damn sure that mother would be a lot happier, and therefore a lot nicer to be around.

    Two weekends ago I was in a bad place. Realising I was ultra stressed (i.e. unable to stop yelling at the kids), the husband decided he’d take the three biggies out for the day to give me a bit of space. It was great, of course, but the second the kids got home again it was like nothing had changed. They filled the house with their little bodies and big demands, and I went right back to being the impatient and grumpy mum they’d been avoiding. I felt awful. Have I become such a horrible mother that five whole hours away from my kids still isn’t enough?

    Last weekend, however, I went out. I left the husband and the kids at home, and I met a friend for lunch and bowling. We ate and chatted and laughed. I threw balls at skittles, and jumped around in excitement when I knocked them all down in one go. After that I went to the supermarket, all by myself, and took the time to read the labels on the back of all the packets, to really think about what I did and didn’t need to buy. By the time I got home late that afternoon, I was actually pleased to be there. I was in a good mood. I was a good mother. I was calm and patient, and even suggested that we play board games together as a family. Which we did. And it was nice. And I realised as I sat laughing with my kids, that there had been a  big difference between my breaks: The former had been respite from the children while staying at home; the latter had given me time away from the children and the house.

    Unfortunately there is no simple solution to this problem. I want to go out and stay out and do things for myself on a regular basis. I want to get a job. But I can’t just go and accept whatever’s on offer, because if I’m not earning a decent wage I’ll only be working to pay for childcare, and that seems pretty pointless. Not that I’m interested in doing any old job anyway. I want a good job. I want a career. And other than keeping an eye out for vacancies that are advertised online, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do about that. It’s already been made clear to me that if I want to work for a newspaper or a magazine I’m going to have to get a journalism degree…

    So I don’t know what my next step in life will be. I had a plan in place when my first three babies turned one (for two out of three that plan was having another baby…), but this time around I feel uncertain. Will I go back and study some more, or will the perfect job appear at just the right moment? Or will I sit with these feelings for a while, and then realise that I’d like to stay home for a few more years after all? Either way, I should probably stop obsessing over it. For now I can focus on this blog, my YouTube channel, and my new Jamberry venture, while looking forward to the day that I get to leave the house, alone, on a regular basis. It’s got to happen eventually, right?

    – Fern xxx

    Did you go back to work when your kids were little? Or have you been a stay at home parent for years, like me? I’d love to hear your stories and experiences in the comments section below.

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  • All About Fern
  • Finding My Tribe

    I’ve been boycotting mothers’ groups for a few years now. Unlike their sisters, I have never bothered taking my sons along to play group, coffee group, music group, or any of the other weekday morning activities targeted at preschoolers. Partly it’s laziness, but mostly it’s because I’m a bit over all the baby talk. Comparing notes on how long everyone’s babies are sleeping, how toilet training is going, and whether or not our kids are advanced (seriously, a mother once told me her three year old was a “Boy Genius” because he counted to four) just doesn’t interest me anymore. I want stimulation. I want people to ask for my name, not just my kids’.

    It’s a bit stupid though, my aversion to all groups mumsy, because I’ve actually been quite lonely since we moved from a small town to a big city three years ago. I did make an effort at first, going along to Home Birth Group and La Leche League at my midwife’s suggestion, but these days I’m almost always at home. And that means I’ve made very few friends. So while I’m avoiding stress by refusing to run around like a madwoman in order to get across town in time for a class/group/session at 10am, I’m not really doing myself any favours. It’s not like the rushing and the risk of boring conversation would be worse than feeling alone and empty at home. At least the boys and I would be doing something.

    A few months ago I went to a La Leche League meeting for the first time in forever. I wasn’t exactly excited about going, but a friend (yes, one of the few) had invited me along and I knew it’d be my only chance to see her. So I went, and it was fine. It was good. Okay, it was actually kind of great. And when I walked back to my van afterwards, I realised I was feeling happy. I’m talking, bounce in your step, chatting away to your baby, driving home with a little smile on your face, happy. So I decided to go back the next month. And then, yesterday, I went back again.

    Today I’ve been mentally shaking my head at myself for being so close-minded for so long. Socialising with other mums is awesome! I walked into that meeting yesterday and instantly felt at ease. Everyone was friendly and down-to-earth, and though we’re all facing our own challenges, there was a hell of a lot of laughing going on. No one acted like life is all sunshine and rainbows. No one asked whether my son is sleeping through the night yet. No one claimed their child is academically advanced. We simply sat, conversed, and offered each other support; I can’t remember the last time I felt so uplifted.

    While I’m still not in a hurry to take the kids along to a Mainly Music session, I’m definitely reevaluating my blanket decision to avoid all mothers’ groups. I’m sure there are plenty out there that I’d find just as painful as I’ve told myself they would be, but La Leche League has shown me that good things happen when like-minded parents come together. So although playgroups at the local Plunket rooms probably won’t do much for me, I am willing to keep my eyes and ears open for other groups that sound like a good fit for my family and me. Not that it matters too much now, because I feel like I’ve found my tribe. I’m really grateful that LLL has given me the sense of belonging I hadn’t realised I was missing.

    – Fern xxx

    La Leche League is a support group for breastfeeding parents. Meetings are held monthly, and though there are set topics or themes, the floor is always open for mothers to ask questions or share their concerns, should they have any. Check out the LLLNZ website for further details!

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