• All About Fern
  • I Found Myself

    I got catcalled the other day.

    Striding down the street in the centre of town, my not-quite-two-year-old on my left hip, my imitation leather handbag slapping against my right. I was on my way to meet a friend. She’s shaved all her hair off too.

    Nice hair!

    It is nice hair. But that’s not what they meant. Two boys, pretending to be men. Yelling at a woman because she doesn’t look the way they want women to look.

    Gross.

    It’s funny that I wrote that out, because I can honestly say I didn’t care in the slightest that they yelled at me. In fact, there’s something quite comical about it all… I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but I think it’s mainly the thought that some young guy felt the need to comment on a 33-year-old mother’s appearance. Or maybe it’s just that there are men in their twenties who still enjoy yelling at people out their car window. Or maybe I have a terrible sense of humour. Who knows?

    I like having a shaved head. I like the way it looks and I like the way it feels. I feel more confident, more beautiful, more me. I feel like I’ve trampled all over pretty and left it behind me for good. I’m not some delicate little flower, I’m a freaking fern. Shade or sun, wind or rain, I’m gonna keep on growing.

    I mentioned in my last blog post that 2017 hasn’t been kind to me, and that in turn I haven’t been kind to me. But I feel like things are turning around. I mean, it’s only April. I’ve still got plenty of time to make this year my year. I’m ready to give it my all.

    Just before I shaved my head a friend got in touch with me to share a quote from Coco Chanel (of all people!)

    A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.

    Normally I’d snort at that – both the sentiment and the speaker – but it’s true. It’s bloody true. I shaved off my hair and I found myself. I found strength, resilience, and hope. Wherever you are, and whatever you do, I hope you can find the same.

    – Fern xxx

     


    Just in case you missed them, these are the head shaving videos that you totally gotta see.
    And FYI, it’s not too late to sponsor me either. 

  • All About Fern
  • I Didn’t Get The Job

    The truth is my eating is out of control. Chocolate biscuits for breakfast, potato chips for lunch, litre after litre of Coca-Cola. All the weight I lost last year is back. My middle is rounder than ever before. Still, I eat. And I eat. And I eat.

    I really hate 2017.

    This year was going to be my year for making the best of things. My plan was not to plan. To forget about new houses, new opportunities, new anything. I was going to be content with my life, and I was going to get through each day without telling myself I needed something new. I was going to be happy.

    Then I saw a job opening that I couldn’t not apply for. I applied. I interviewed. I sat on a bus for seven hours just to go in and meet with them, so I could prove that I was enough. Good enough. Cool enough. Worthy of a position within a design company. I got scared before my meeting and went and spent $640 on designer clothing. It was a lot, but it was okay, because I was going to get the job.

    I didn’t get the job.

    I sat at a ping pong table and answered all their questions. They asked me things, you see, but it wasn’t an interview. Oh no. It was just an informal get together where I had to take a seat and tell a group of strangers all sorts of things about myself. Fern as an animal, Fern as a wife, Fern as a daughter, Fern as a child… And I even told them about how Fern hasn’t always been my name. I told them my “real” name. And then I went back home on the bus, over eight hours on the bus that time.

    And I didn’t get the job.

    It was the ultimate rejection. It wasn’t just professional, it wasn’t just skill. It was about fit. Personality. Flair. And after all the personal questions, the friendly conversations, there was a minute-long phone call – it’s a No – and that was that. The end. Goodbye. And it’s almost like none of it even happened. But guess what…

    It happened.

    The truth is that I’m relieved I didn’t get the job. My gut tells me that something wasn’t quite right, that’s why the bus ride home was so awful. That’s why I knew it wasn’t actually going to happen. But the experience has affected me all the same. My brain is back to its old ways. What’s the point what’s the point what’s the point.

    What is the point?

    The truth is that everything seems pointless right now. The effort to write for you, upload for you, share my life with you – it’s pointless. It really is. What’s the point in adding one more voice to the millions of others already out there screaming Pay Attention To Me? Who’s really listening anyway?

    All these bloggers, all these YouTubers, what are they hoping to achieve? A few will go places, the majority will go nowhere. We share mediocre content about our mediocre lives, and we tell ourselves that if we just put it on the internet it’ll be important somehow. God, it feels so pointless.

    I keep searching for change, looking for the new. So now I have a shaved head, and some extra possessions, and a husband who’s not happy with the way I’ve rearranged the furniture. The shaved head’s okay, but the other two make me feel bad. So I eat. And I eat. And I eat.

    All the eating makes me feel bad too.

    – Fern xxx

     


    Oh, past Fern. You were so full of hope…

  • All About Fern
  • Eff off, February (March is going to be HUGE)

    February sucked big time. I’m not even being dramatic. It was the worst. I failed at not spending money, I failed at getting a job, and I failed to stay on top of my mental health (without going into details, I missed a couple of days of medication because I “got too busy” and didn’t get my prescription filled when I should have). So. I ended up spending a good chunk of my February crying, fretting, and consuming more sugar than the average 33-year-old woman eats in a year, let alone a month. And now I’m feeling a little bit fat. Again.

    It’s time to leave all that crap behind me.

    Today is the first of March. The first of March makes me happy. It feels like the perfect opportunity to start over; to quit talking about not spending money, and to start talking about other things. More interesting things. For example…

    I’m going to shave my head.

    I’ve always talked about shaving my head. Sometimes seriously, sometimes jokingly, and sometimes just to attract a bit of attention (women wanting to shave their heads tends to be a bit of a show stopper). And though I’ve always promised myself that I’d do it some day, I don’t think I ever once considered doing it that day. For me, head shaving has been a bucket list item that I wasn’t fully prepared to tick off.

    Well, eff it. I’m tired of thinking about it. I’m tired of saying One day. I’m tired of brushing irritating little baby hairs out of my face. I am done with living this hairy headed life.

    When I googled Shave for a Cure this afternoon, I discovered that March is the month. Aucklanders can sign up to get their heads shaved by a “celebrity” (I use quotation marks because this is New Zealand, so it’s bound to be someone lame), while plebs like me can just go along to Farmers where a random person will turn beauties into baldies. It all sounds kind of terrifying; I signed up then and there.

    Yep. I’m actually going through with this.

    There’s a catch, of course (there always is). And it involves money. Your money. If you’ve got some going spare, that is… I hate to ask, because it’s awkward, but the whole point of signing up to Shave for a Cure is to raise money for people with leukaemia and other blood cancers. Maybe you could sponsor me? I set my personal goal at 1k, which is ambitious, I know. But more than 500 people reckon they like me on Facebook. And more than 1,000 people sometimes watch my videos on YouTube. And though I’m sure there’s quite a large overlap there, I feel like I could do it. I think I might be able to raise that much. You gotta set yourself goals, right? How else do you determine whether you’re a winner or a loser?

    So the date’s locked in: I have 22 more days of life with hair, and then that’ll be it. I might look ugly. I might look man-ish. I might wish I hadn’t done it. But whatever happens, it’ll be okay. It’s only hair. It’s not forever. And anyway, none of that matters because there’s no going back now…

    – Fern xxx

    Click here to go through to my Shave for a Cure page. This is where you can show your support by sponsoring me!


    In other (less important) news, this vlog will answer any questions you may have about the aforementioned job that wasn’t…

    Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
  • All About Fern
  • I have a Hangover

    It’s not what you think. I wasn’t out partying last night. I wasn’t cuddled up on the couch watching Netflix and accidentally drinking one too many glasses of wine. Nope. This is all emotional. It’s the morning after the day before, and everything that happened – the things I did, I said, I thought – are making me feel sick.

    You have to treat emotional hangovers like real hangovers. You have to drink lots of water and eat all the food and make yourself cup after cup of coffee, even though you really don’t feel like coffee. You take paracetamol and ibuprofen, but you wish you could take something more, something that actually works. And all you can do is think back to the way you behaved and wish you’d done things differently. Why didn’t I ask this instead of that? Why did I think that was a good idea? Why, why, why?

    I’m the sort of person who’s confident in the moment, but full of doubt the second that moment has passed. I’m the kind of woman who laughs easily, but cries about it later. I like who I am, I’m happy being Fern, but when I’m hungover like this I can’t help but wonder if the real Fern is really who I want to be. Not that I can change that. Not that I want to change that. I don’t think.

    Today the baby is needy. I was gone for two days and two nights and now he’s clinging to me. Crying. Clawing at my chest for the milk he needs but doesn’t need. And I am tired. I missed him. I’m glad to be with him. But I want him to just be content, to go and play, to come to me for laughs and cuddles and a teeny bit of milk in the morning, and a little bit more milk at night. Is he hungover too? Did I put him through this for nothing?

    One of the things I love about life is the way I can look back and go, Yes. That is the thing that led me to where I am today. 

    One of the things I hate about life is the way I have to go through things and think, Yes. This is what is going to determine my future.

    Maybe it’s the creative person’s curse, but my mind lives in the future. It takes me to all the ifs and maybes and somedays, when my body is stuck firmly in the definites and actuals and right-freaking-nows. Right-freaking-now I feel sick. Right-freaking-now I am torn. I have to wait and I don’t want to wait. I have to get through today but I don’t want to live through today. I don’t want to be hungover.

    I wish I could just vomit and be done with it.

    – Fern xxx

     

    Run Jump Scrap!
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • A Fire in my Belly

    Something is happening to me. My month of no spending, my efforts to reconsider my relationship with money, spending, shopping, are stirring things up inside me. There is a fire in my belly. I am ready to change.

    After watching that documentary on minimalist living the other night, I searched through all the other docos Netflix has to offer, and added a bunch of them to my watchlist. “Fast fashion” had been mentioned in Minimalism, and I wanted to learn more about it.

    I stumbled upon The True Cost, and decided that’d be my entertainment for the evening. And oh, it made me feel sick.

    I was wearing a Kmart nightie. My favourite nightie. It’s black and falls to my knees. It’s comfy yet cute, with lace detailing and a faux cross-over at the bust. It makes my boobs look nice, and it makes my boobs easily accessible (for the baby, I mean). It cost me $18, or maybe it was $15? Either way, that nightie ticked all the boxes for me. It was cheap. I love cheap. Cheap is good, right?

    I don’t want to sit here and write out all the things I learned last night, because it’ll be better, more confronting, if you just watch the documentary for yourself. But because I know a lot of you won’t, let me just say this: A real human being, with real thoughts, real feelings, a real life, made the clothes you are wearing right now. They pieced it together, sewed it into life, and – if it was cheap – it’s likely they were barely compensated.

    Clothes are polluting our planet. Your discarded items are releasing toxins into the earth as they waste away (or not) in landfills. The factories in which our “bargains” are created are spewing filth into rivers, oceans, skies. You may have paid just $4 for your T-shirt, but what is the true cost? What the f*ck are we doing?

    I am full of a sort of jittery, gotta-do-something energy today. I feel powerless yet powerful. I have the means to change. The love I felt for Kmart just five days ago is fading. My flame of passion is dying out. I do not need things to be happy. I do not want a wardrobe full of clothing that could have cost a mother her life. Something’s got to give.

    Something has got to give.

    – Fern xxx

     


    It feels trivial now, but I uploaded this video to share the foods I bought to fuel my family for a week, spending $50 less than I usually would. If you’re after a more light-hearted watch, then maybe this’ll appeal…

  • All About Fern
  • Learning as I Go

    If you were to ask me how I was feeling today I’d have to answer with, Not great. It feels kind of weird sharing that, because no one has actually asked me, but whatever. I’m putting it out there. Sometimes it feels good to admit that life is a wee bit shitty sometimes.

    I’ve been in a funk all day. Grumpy and irritable. Impatient with the kids. Wanting to hole myself up in my office and work on things, but instead just sitting hunched over my desk, my neck strained, staring at my computer screen blankly.

    I ended up unfollowing people on social media, which is a bad sign. I only do that when I’m feeling truly down on myself. I sign into Instagram and I look at the photos posted by the women I am not and I think, I am ugly. I am small. I cannot do what they do. And it hurts. And when it hurts too much, I unfollow. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. I doubt that you will miss me.

    A couple of things have come to a head this weekend, which have led to my not so great day. Yesterday an old friend made contact with me, and it’s kind of put me in a spin. It’s weird because reconnecting was really rather lovely. But the truth is I’ve been avoiding her for a while now, telling myself that the past is the past, that I need to leave things, all the things, behind me.

    Despite my attempts to stay out of touch, we chatted a bit and we’ve both come so far. Finally. We are in good places. We have moved on. And now I’m realising that trying to ignore my past, pretending like I didn’t think about the person I was and the people I loved Every Single Day, convincing myself that reconnecting with those people would be taking a step backwards, was not exactly a healthy way to live. I mean, she was my absolute best friend for practically my entire life. And without knowing what she had become, I managed to convince myself that any contact with her would be Bad. And that gave me anxiety. That made me feel scared.

    Really, things are good now. They’re better for having spoken with her. And yet I feel terrible. It’s dumb, I know, but who wants to learn they’ve been believing things they never should’ve believed?

    The other thing is just the whole blogging, vlogging, content creating thing in general. I’ve been working really hard, you see, on establishing a community that I honestly reckon could be a truly amazing thing. I’ve been building a website, and setting up social media accounts, and trying to get people excited about it all. And while I’ve been doing that I’ve also been promising myself that this year I’ll share myself even more authentically in all my content, because authenticity rocks and so do I.

    But today I don’t feel like I rock. Today I feel like I suck. I shared things I was passionate about on my YouTube channel and people unsubscribed. I shared my ideas with my community and the response was underwhelming. I scrolled through my Facebook and Twitter feeds and I read post after post made by blogger after blogger and I thought, Well who am I..?

    Who am I?

    So I’m struggling a bit. Just for today. Or just for this week. Or just for this month. As always, time will tell. But I dunno, I just wanted you to know that. I wanted to be real. Because I really am trying here. I’m trying my absolute best. And I feel inadequate and I feel pathetic, but I still feel like I have something to offer. I know I have a voice. Today my voice is weak, but maybe tomorrow I will sing. Maybe next week I will roar. So I’ll keep on working, and I’ll keep on trying, and I’ll keep on being me. But if you’re here, if you’re reading these words, perhaps you could let me know?

    I am small today. I feel I am a child. I am learning as I go.

    – Fern xxx


    I embedded this in my last blog post, I know. But it’s relevant to the thoughts I’ve just shared, so I figured I’d chuck it in anyway. A mistake is only a mistake if you don’t learn from it…

     

     

    Run Jump Scrap!
  • 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. 

    bestandworstlinky fortheloveofblogwp

     

  • 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

    Blog-Fair-Button-3

     

  • 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
  • The Week From Hell

    I’m not going to lie, I had a terrible week. The worst. My husband was sent away on a five-day training course for work, which left me home alone with the kids. All four of them. I spent a lot of time crying, and very little time sleeping. I always thought I’d make a good independent woman, but now I realise I was wrong. The dark is really scary when you’re the person in charge of keeping everybody safe. Plus I resent having to do the cooking and the washing up. Everything was too much for me.

    The kids were back at school and kindergarten after their two week break, which probably sounds like I was living on Easy Street, but no. I was not. Sure, it’s nice and peaceful when your children are away for a few hours during the day, but the morning, afternoon and evening rush is horrible. There is so much stress and pressure involved when you’re in sole charge of organising five people. Preparing meals and packing bags, tidying up and brushing teeth, putting shoes on feet and loads of laundry in the machine… And it seems like it all has to happen at once! I was constantly rushing from one thing to another, and without another adult in the house I had no one to vent to. Being unable to voice any little annoyances meant they built up into big annoyances. And that meant I ended up sobbing on the living room floor when the three-year-old managed to smear poo across the seat of my cream-coloured armchair. Why must toilet training take so long?!

    The worst (and most ridiculous) part of my week was being all worked up about a competition I had entered. A competition! The logical half of my brain kept reminding me that a competition is a gamble, that although I had worked hard on my video entry I couldn’t expect to be placed in the finals, let alone win. And yet the competition consumed me. I kept checking to see if there were any new entries. I began making plans for how I would earn votes when if I made it into the finals. I sent voice message after voice message to my friend telling her all about the latest video, wanting to know if she thought I was still in with a chance of winning. Being a supportive friend, she assured me I was in with a really good chance; she expected I would make it through to the finals. And though I loved hearing her say that, it filled me with a sense of false hope. As a grown woman who has never stepped foot outside of New Zealand, I managed to convince myself that I deserved the family holiday to Fiji. I was going to get it! But, of course, I didn’t. I didn’t even make the finals. Why would I? I was mortified that I’d spent so much time agonising over it all. There’s nothing more embarrassing than sharing something you’ve created with pride, and then realising that actually, your efforts were quite pathetic.

    In amongst the chaos of mustering children and obsessing over a holiday that would never come to fruition, I was struggling with feelings of jealousy. I’ve been at home raising babies for eight years straight, and I often feel like I have nothing going on. We do live in our own home (which means we are lucky), and I did conceive, carry and deliver four healthy humans with relative ease (which means we are incredibly lucky), but it can be hard to feel grateful for these things when the people around you seem to have so much more. While I was at home alone, my best friend was embarking on a new career – her dream job – and having an offer she’d made on an enormous section accepted, which means that she and her husband can build a house. She is also looking forward to heading off on a two-week holiday in Europe in the very near future (and let me just remind you, I’ve never even been to Australia). Meanwhile, my younger sister is having a brand-new kitchen put in and is remodelling her living area (which is miles bigger than what we have, despite the fact we have three times as many people living in our house), my parents are preparing to jet off to the United States, and my brother’s brand-new home is currently under construction. Though I do not need to be reminded that I have more than a lot of (maybe even most) people out there, it is hard to keep sight of that when the people closest to you are doing, achieving and receiving so much. It makes me feel like a nobody. It makes me feel like there is no hope. Where is my life going? Yes, I want to be a writer, but sitting at home and posting little snippets of my life on a Mummy Blog (god, I hate that title) is not exactly what I had in mind.

    My mother has suggested that I start keeping a gratitude diary, and maybe that’s just what I need. I do have a tendency to wallow (in case you hadn’t figured that one out already, ha!) and could probably benefit from looking at things from a more positive perspective. So, although an interruption from the three-year-old (yes, that child again) has me close to tears right now, I will give it a go.

    1. I had a crap time without the husband, but now he is home and I appreciate his presence so much more than I did a week ago.
    2. Since I cried over his poo, Mr. Three has really stepped up his game in the toilet training department (the new Thomas the Tank Engine undies I bought him could be a contributing factor).
    3. The birthday party I was dreading taking the girls to yesterday actually ended up being a lot of fun. I spent the whole time gas bagging with the other mothers. There was a lot of laughing and a little bit of swearing. My favourite things.
    4. My YouTube channel is almost at 300 subscribers! I’ve only been making videos for six months, and I started from the absolute bottom, so I am proud of how far I’ve come.
    5. I successfully organised an ongoing collaborative series with a small group of vlogging women. This is a first for me, and I’m excited to see how it all pans out.
    6. I wrote my first ever guest post discussing my recent decision to give up sugar. This was posted over on my friend Glutey Girl‘s blog, and I have had positive feedback (the best kind of feedback, obviously).
    7. My new Facebook page is growing slowly but surely. I was dreading the return to FB, but so far I think it has been worthwhile.
    8. Even when I was crying myself stupid on Thursday evening, I resisted the urge to go on a chocolate binge. That is definitely a first, and is a huge achievement, believe me.
    9. Our broken ranchslider (that’s a sliding door, for those who aren’t from NZ) is finally fixed! Hurrah! The kids can open the door unassisted again.
    10. OK, so I didn’t make it into the finals of that competition, and I’m still practically dying to go on an overseas holiday, but! At least I don’t have to spend hours and hours hounding everyone I know (and even those I don’t) to vote for me. No doubt I would have become incredibly annoying with my constant begging, so knowing I can leave everyone in peace feels like a pretty good thing.

    Do you ever struggle as a parent? How often do you find yourself turning green with envy? And what is happening in your world that you are grateful for?
    I’d love to hear your answers in the comments section below.
    Come on, make me feel slightly more normal?

    – Fern xxx


    This is my first video in the Time For A Change collab. series I organised. Have a watch and let me know if you’d like to join in! The more the merrier. 

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