• All About Fern
  • A Married Woman

    I thought it was our ninth, but no. It’s only been eight years. Only. It feels strange that I’ve chosen to use that word, because to me eight years is forever. I’ve never stuck at anything for this long.

    Our anniversary was yesterday. It was up to me to organise something, but I couldn’t really be bothered organising something. Last year the husband spent a lot of time and energy searching for the perfect restaurant, and then when we got there the restaureteur accused me of being pregnant. Which I wasn’t. So that kind of sucked. Remembering that I thought, Screw it, we can just go out for burgers and bowling.

    Burgers and bowling is us, really. The husband got to wear shorts and jandals; I got to wear overalls. We didn’t have to pretend we were anything or anyone we’re not. Frans and Fern, we’re not exactly high class.

    In the end the bowling didn’t happen, because the place with the burgers (terrible burgers, what even) was hosting a quiz night. I very kindly let the husband answer pretty much all the questions; he very kindly let me drink over-priced beer. I did answer the question about The Bachelor though, because I’m actually a little bit obsessed with that show right now. God knows why.

    Marriage is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I rushed into it, you see, young and full of some guy I hardly knew’s baby. The night I realised I had a baby on board I told him he was going to have to marry me. I didn’t mean it, but I meant it.

    He proposed officially when I was big and fat and round. A jewellery box on my pillow. A hand written note. I was wearing pajama pants, but I guess he didn’t mind. I said yes. We planned a wedding. We said I do in front of many, many people. That’s just what you do. Or what we do. Did.

    When times are tough between us I remember what I said, full of hormones and fear.
    You’ll have to marry me now.
    And I wonder if I pushed him into this. I wonder why he stayed. I wonder if our life full of children is what either of us would have actually chosen, had we taken just a moment to stop and think before we jumped into our life together.

    But the truth is I’d be lost without him. I doubt I’d ever have grown up. He is my opposite. My anchor. My conscience. He is the voice of reason when all my reason is gone. Sometimes I complain that he doesn’t talk enough, but the truth is I love being the one saying all the things. My voice can be strong, but it hates to compete.

    I love our humble life. I love living within our means. I love the children we have created and the memories we have made, and I love how far we’ve come. I love that I have a husband. I love that my husband has me. And as if all that gushing isn’t enough, I love that we are we.

    – Fern xxx

  • Family
  • Saying Goodbye

    It’s a strange feeling, returning to life as normal after saying goodbye to someone you love forever. I still can’t wrap my head around it, the way people are, and then they aren’t. The way they just stop. Even when you know it’s coming, it’s still a shock. I thought I was prepared for it, and then my dad rang me to say that Grandad was gone and I couldn’t even make it down the hallway. I fell to my knees, then down to the floor, and I sat curled up over myself and I sobbed and I sobbed and I sobbed.

    On Monday we celebrated my grandfather’s almost 90 years of life in the best way possible. Surrounded by family and people who cared, we heard stories of a man most remarkable. I barely cried at all through the speeches, they were so full of joy. It was the sort of funeral that made you want to break out in applause. Well, it was until the end. I could have done without the end.

    I’d written something for Grandad, and I’d hoped to read it at the service. But that was against his wishes, he didn’t want a fuss, and only two people were permitted to speak. So I cried about that, and got angry too, but then my sister said, “Just read it to us.” So I did.

    I stood in front of my family, my mum, dad, brother and sisters and their partners; in front of my aunty, uncle and cousins, and I read my piece and it was perfect. And once it was done, I was at peace. I’ve said my goodbyes. I shared them with the people who mattered most. And that’s that.

    So now I’m back home and it’s normal but it’s not. I’m fine but I’m not. I checked Instagram and my sister had posted a photo of Grandma and Grandad and tears pricked at my eyes. They were whole and now they are half. Grandma is and Grandad was. That’s the way life goes, it’s to be expected, but that doesn’t make it easy. That doesn’t make it okay.

    I named my son after my grandad. I named Maurice for Maurice. And now I hear his name and I say his name, and my heart crumples for a moment. Just a moment. I know it won’t last forever, and I’m glad it won’t, but I’m dreading it too. I’m dreading the day the name Maurice feels fine again. I loved him, you know? I don’t want to let that go.

    – Fern xxx

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    P.S. I’m behind on my 100 Days Project. I wasn’t going to allow myself to get behind, but then I thought, Screw this. I’m going to my grandad’s funeral, who gives a toss about sorting sh*t out. So I’ve had two days without working on it, and I’m just not sure how to proceed. I might play catch up today. I might fall off the wagon completely. Maybe I’ll just continue and pretend those two missed days didn’t happen. I’m not sure. It just doesn’t really seem that important anymore. 

     

  • Babies
  • I Don’t Have Kids (Guest Post)

    This guest post was written by someone very dear to me. It was my idea, I wanted her to put these words down for me, and I am so honoured that she actually agreed to share her thoughts and experiences with us all. I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in your own little world, to assume that everyone you meet wants and has the ability to live a life similar to your own. But really, we all need to stop and think about what we’re saying to people, about what sort of information we’re demanding from them. No matter how close you feel to a person, you can never really know what they’re dealing with, and how their experiences may be affecting them. I think we can all learn a thing or two from this beautifully written post…

    Fern messaged me recently and asked me to write about how sucky/annoying/stupid it is to have people asking about if/when you plan on having babies. I almost said no. Not because I can’t relate to this topic, but because I have a whole lot of hurt about this topic. And it’s an extremely personal topic.
    It’s also something I never thought about when I was younger when I used to ask other people these same questions.

    I’m 36, and I’m married to a lovely guy. I always thought I’d have children when the time was right, now I’m worried that we’ve left it too late. And I’m worried that I’ll never be ready to have kids.

    Why? Because I have health issues – anxiety and depression (that i’m starting to get under control I hope) and other physical health issues. I’m also old enough to have heard all the horrible birth stories and the late night kids vomiting stories from all my friends. I know that having children isn’t a bed of roses. And I’m scared okay. I’m really scared of all kinds of things – whether I’ll have healthy children, whether I’ll like my children, whether I’ll be a good mother or enjoy being a mother. Honestly I’ve analysed all these things to death.

    In my early to mid twenties having children would have been hella wrong for me, I was in two really bad relationships (which I won’t get into) and was not mature enough to handle having a child. When I broke up with my horrid ex, I remember saying to my friend that it was okay because I still had time to have children. And she told me that my chances of fertility were dramatically decreased now. And that hurt a lot.

    I met my husband when I was in my late twenties, and he was studying hard, trying to get qualified to get a good job, which I really admire and respect.

    Over the years, people have pressured the crap out of us to have children. This was at times when we were on one small income, when we we were barely scraping by, when I was really struggling with my health and we weren’t ready to have children. And you know what people said, “Oh you’ll find a way to manage even on a tiny income.” Or my personal favourite, “There’s never a good time to have children, you just have to do it.”

    That’s just so disrespectful. Sure, it’s true if we had accidentally gotten pregnant at that time we would have made do. But I wanted my husband to get a full education, and for us to have some money coming in so that every day wasn’t a stress just to feed ourselves. How rude though to assume that our choice to wait was wrong, this is such a personal choice, why would anyone think they know better than the potential parents?

    I have huge respect for families who live on small incomes. I think you’re amazing, and I don’t have judgement around your choices, but for me this wasn’t something I wanted to do.

    Now we’re here, and we’re older than a lot of people who have had children, and all I constantly get is, “Don’t leave it too long.” Thanks for the reminder, I didn’t realise what my age was. Please, tell me again in case I didn’t know. For your information, with my health issues, we’re not even sure what my fertility will be like.

    I don’t want to get into a personal conversation with everyone who wants to comment on my childlessness. Because it hurts. I don’t want to get into the details of how I feel to someone I’ve only just met, or someone who isn’t a close friend. The fact is that I do want to have children, and being asked about it hurts. Seeing my siblings having children hurts. In fact, anything around having children just hurts at the moment. It’s just a lot of raw pain.

    Being in this situation has also made me evaluate the messages that are given to women. And I’m working on trying to accept the following: having children does not define me as a woman or as a person. It doesn’t make me less smart than other females, or mean I’m somehow lacking. It doesn’t mean that I don’t know what real love is (despite those annoying cheesy Facebook posts that I see pop up every few months in my newsfeed).

    I have immense respect for people who have children, as well as people who don’t have children. The heartache for people who want children but can’t have them is so very, very painful – and I feel for you.

    I also respect people who choose not to have children. That’s okay. There is nothing wrong with you, so please don’t let anyone make you feel less than. It takes great courage to go against societal norms. And if you’ve made this choice, I hope you have people around you to support you, because I know from childless friends that all you’ll hear from some people is “Oh, but you’ll change your mind.” Whether you do or not is your own business, and it’s noone’s business or right to tell you that your decision is flawed and likely to change. This is your life, not theirs.

    At the core of it, motherhood is about biology. Being a mother is the result (usually) of having intercourse with a male and getting pregnant. This is not an achievement, it is the result of biology. A result that some people try for years to make happen, but can’t.

    Being a good mother is another thing, this is a true achievement, and nothing to do with biology – in fact some of the best mothers didn’t even give birth to their children. I respect all mothers who have good days and bad days, and keep on trying to do their best for themselves and their children. I know so many good mums, including Fern, and I know it’s not an easy job, but it is a rewarding one, and I know that you love your children, beyond all else. I’m happy for you.

    As for me, I don’t know what will happen in the next couple of years, I’m just working on taking it day by day at the moment.

    So that my friends, is how I feel when people make comments or ask questions about having children. It’s okay to ask people if they have children, but please don’t ask them if they want to have children or if they’re trying to get pregnant, or any of the other myriad of comments and questions that can be hurtful.
    Peace.

  • 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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  • Babies
  • Why I’m Glad my Baby is Growing Up

    Last week I took the smallest one to get his hair cut for the first time. At 14-months-old he is very much a baby – still crawling, still breastfeeding, still waking in the night – and his hair is the one thing that makes him look even remotely toddlerish. Sandy in colour, it’s mostly straight, with a few subtle curls that come and go depending on the weather. While I loved the delicate flicks at the back of his neck, his hair had reached a point where it flopped down over his forehead and into his round, brown eyes. Yes, the hair cut had to happen.

    I immortalised this milestone, naturally, by snapping photos, filming a short clip for my weekly vlog, and asking the hairdresser to please put some of the snipped hair into a ziplock bag so I could keep it forever. What I didn’t do, however, was feel sad. Not once did I lament the fact that he is growing up. Not once did I utter the phrase, “Where did my baby go?” Actually, now I think about it, I might be one of the only mothers out there who is happy that time passes quickly, that babies become toddlers, that my youngest child will turn into a school kid before I know what’s hit me. Honestly, that thought excites me more than I can say.

    The thing with babies is, they’re a lot of hard work. Requiring constant supervision, constant feeding, constant changing, it all gets a bit overwhelming. Sure, it’s quite lovely to snuggle a newborn baby, but not so lovely is the broken sleep, the unexplained crying, and the feeling that you may as well live your life naked from the waist up because you’ve always got your damn boobs out. It might be fun to get down on the floor and play with a crawling baby, but introducing food, and dealing with incredibly mucky nappies, and attempting to fit your life in around naps and routines can be a bit of a drag. Maybe it’s just me, but I reckon older kids, though not quite as cute, are much more enjoyable.

    When I got pregnant with my second child (i.e. my first planned kid), I wanted a baby. I wanted the chance to relive all the experiences I’d had with my first, telling myself that I’d take more notice. That I’d enjoy it more. That I wouldn’t keep looking forward to the next stage, like I’d often done with my eldest. I was going to live in the moment, and I was going to love it. And, for the most part, I did.

    When I got pregnant with my fourth baby, I wanted a child. I wanted another little person to balance out our family, and to give my son – who was often left out by his older sisters – his own little playmate. And while I love my baby fiercely, I adore listening to his giggles and watching him clap his teensy pudgy hands together, I think I’m going to love him even more when he’s older. He’ll be able to play with his siblings, and tell me about his day, and walk beside me instead of having to be carried or pushed everywhere we go. He’ll learn to dress himself, to use the toilet, to sleep all night in his own bed. He’ll participate in our family outings, and he’ll make it through the day without needing a nap. Ten pin bowling, mini golfing, family trips to the movies… I can’t wait until all six of us can enjoy these things. Together. I can’t wait for my baby to become a boy.

    It’s true that infancy is fleeting. It’s true that I’ll never get this time back. And yet I’m happy that my children are growing every day. I still enjoy the stages they’re at, I appreciate who they are at this exact moment in time, but I will never be sad that they’re getting older. I’ll never wish I could go back to the newborn days. Each morning when I wake up it’s like I’m a step closer to freedom. Freedom to be less Frazzled Mum, and more Carefree Fern. Freedom to be me. Soon my baby will not be a baby. And I am one hundred percent okay with that.

    – Fern xxx

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  • Family
  • Fine, We’ll Just Stay Home Forever!

    When I chat to my friends about their weekends, they tell me stories full of excitement and adventure. It seems that trips to the hot pools, walks through the bush, and two-day getaways to cabins with no electricity are the norm for other kiwi families. Yet any time I’m asked how our weekend was spent, I’m forced to admit that we didn’t do anything aside from mowing the lawns and breaking up squabbles. Not only is it boring, but it’s embarrassing to have to reply that way. Even if I say, Oh, it was a lovely relaxing weekend at home, I just know whoever I’m talking to will automatically assume (correctly) that I have no life. I used to be fun, dammit!

    Yesterday, after a lazy Sunday morning sleep-in, I decided we needed to get out of our usual weekend funk. The husband and I agreed a family stroll around the local mountain would be a nice way to spend the afternoon. I would wear the baby in the ergo, and the three older children could walk, run and climb their way around the track. It was going to be so nice to get out of the house!

    We had our plans locked in by 11:30am, but between the six of us it took two hours to get ready to leave (which may or may not have had something to do with the fact that I wanted to do my nails). And then when we arrived there was nowhere to park. And then when we did find a park I realised it was two o’clock already, which was the time I’d decided to launch my YouTube giveaway, and I wasn’t willing to not make my video live and share the links on social media at the set time. So. I spent the first 15 minutes of our family outing on my (not very) smart phone. I definitely felt like a Bad Mum for that.

    By the time we made it to the base of the walking track, we’d been out of the house for an hour. A whole hour! Considering we’d taken so long just to get out the door, these 60 additional minutes made the entire excursion feel ridiculous. But, we were there. We were out. And we’d decided to take a walk, so we were going to take the walk. Never mind that the three-year-old was already melting down, crying and begging for hug after hug after hug (which I gave him, of course, because I’m not a monster, but crouching down to hug a small, snotty person when there’s already a small(er), snotty person strapped to my front is not exactly my idea of a good time). Yes, the walk was going ahead no matter what.

    I shouldn’t have been surprised that the track was busy, but I was. There were people everywhere. Most of those people walked a lot faster than our family of six, so most of those people wanted to pass us. On a narrow track. With steep drops on one side. Despite my constant reminders that in New Zealand we drive on the left so we needed to walk on the left, my children spread themselves out across the path, seemingly in an effort to block anyone and everyone who wanted to move faster than a snail. Do you know how many times I had to tell the kids to move out of the way? It was one million. One million times. Probably literally. Do you ever feel like you just want to punch yourself in the throat because you’re so sick of the sound of your own voice?

    We were halfway around the mountain when the wheels really fell off. The three-year-old was done. He was not willing to move an inch, and he was not going to stop crying unless his mother (ugh, that’s me) was hugging him. The second the hug ended? Tantrums. The girls had started whining by this stage too. They were too hot, too tired, too sore on one side. (That’s called the stitch, it’s normal. Try squeezing your hand on the opposite side. Oh it’s not working? Perhaps you could give it a go for more than just ten seconds…) In other words, the excursion was going perfectly. What a marvellous idea this walk had been!

    It took us two hours to make it to the end of the track. We were all tired. We were all grumpy. At least 50 percent of the family were close to tears. The seven-year-old actually wailed, “But I didn’t have any fun!” when we announced we would not be going to play on the beach because it was late and we needed to get home. I felt her pain (actually, I felt the exact same way), but I found it impossible to respond empathetically.
    “Well, don’t worry,” I announced in a very grown-up fashion (Yeah, that’s sarcasm). “We’ll never do this again! We’ll just stay home forever!”

    We picked up burgers for dinner and headed home, the baby squealing and the eldest crying. The tantrummy one somehow managed to fall asleep in his car seat (which sounds like a good thing, but the 10 minutes of silence was not worth the two hours of intermittent crying in the night due to the small change to his regular sleep schedule). I complained to the husband as I drove. How do other families do it? Everyone else seems to manage perfectly well when they’re out and about with their children. Are we doing something wrong? Will we really have to stay inside the house forever? He’s a smart man, my husband, but he didn’t have any answers. I hate not having answers.

    Dinner was eaten in relative silence. Children were bathed and dressed in clean sleepwear. Teeth were brushed. Stories were read. Four little people were tucked into bed. The weekend was over, and we were not going to miss it. And, even though it’s now Monday, the most hated day in the history of the world, I do not miss the weekend. Instead, I’m looking forward to a fresh start in a fresh week. And I know it’s going to be a good one because Miss Five will be Miss Six tomorrow! Oh, that reminds me, I’d better go and ring Cobb and Co. I need to book a table for dinner for a family of six…

    How do you get on when your take your little ones out for the day? Where do you go? How do you avoid the meltdowns? And why oh why am I expecting dinner at a restaurant to go smoothly?! 

    – Fern xxx

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