Being A Cleaner – All That Glitters Is Not Gold

As much as I would love to be a full time SAHM, unfortunately our finances wont permit it, so because I didn’t graduate high school, learn any new workforce skills, go to university or even take any short classes, and because I simply don’t have time to do any of those things at this time, I clean the homes of families who can afford my services a couple of times a week to tie up the loose ends.

I actually find cleaning another persons home very therapeutic, especially the first time I go to some ones house to clean. When I get there it is dusty, a little bit untidy and in desperate need of a refresher. The lady who needs her home cleaned often has other things planned for that day, probably for two reasons, the first being they simply don’t want to get in my way, the second being when they come back, their home smells and looks wonderful! When I leave everything is clean, shiny and spotless. I LOVE getting that “Thank you so much, every thing is PERFECT!” Text message or phone call and it inspires me to do more. I will clean inside your cupboards, I will scrub your grout, I will clean your window tracks. I will clean the crap out of your home!! And all because you appreciate the hard work I put into it, that alone makes the sweat which ran down my back and into my bum crack totally worth it!

The fact of the matter is, every now and then I will get a ‘boss lady’ type who seems nice on the initial meeting before the first clean, then when I get there to clean on the first day, I find the bitch switch is on and I think,

“This is not the shit I signed up for!”

One lady in particular comes to mind. She was a full time stock rep for  dental companies. She had two teenage children living at home, one who was drinking a beer when I got there one day and lied about her age when I asked how old she was. Turns out she was 14, and she came with a smart mouth. This home looked like it had already been cleaned when I got there, so there was no challenge, no satisfaction upon leaving her house, and definitely, no “Thank You” note upon my return, only more requests, which I filled diligently due to my perfectionist nature.

One day this woman told me I needed to do a better job on the cleaning, and I am usually very open to this, I like to do a good job and if there is something extra someone would like me to do on my visits I will try to get it done, time permitting. When I asked her if there was anything in particular she would like me to work on she huffed and said “Everything.” That was the day I knew I wasn’t going to do my very best, in fact, at that very moment, as I smiled my widest smile behind gritted teeth and said,

“I will make your house sparkle today Honey!”

I had a mental image of throwing glitter up into the air, in every room of the house, into every corner, onto every surface, onto every carpet and rug and stomping it in, into every wardrobe – but leaving the money on the bench, because I finally just achieved that good ‘satisfaction’ feeling, and that feeling was priceless. This sparkly herpes of the craft world (because once you have it you can’t get rid of it) was going to be the bane of her existence for years to come and as I hid in one of the darkest corners of my mind from this dickhead for a few seconds, I giggled, and then straightened my face and walked away with my cleaning bucket. Her home did not get a spit shine that day, it got a basic clean. But that moment in my mind, while watching with fascination as the sparkly glitter fell I thought,

“This must be what crazy feels like.”

It was a good place to be in that moment.

A couple of weeks later I found a lump in my boob which had to be removed, and while they were at it they would tuck in a bulging hernia on my belly button meaning I wouldn’t be allowed to clean for 6 weeks. She fired me because I told her I wouldn’t be coming in during that time despite her putting in her best effort to persuade me to come in anyway. I’m not usually relieved when someone no longer requires my services, but this time I was.

Since then I have had a couple of ladies be a tad disrespectful, meeting these kinds of people comes with the job, and I have let those clients go because at the end of the day I want to do a good job and assholes are not what I would call an inspiring bunch of people. It is liberating but it also creates a win-win situation for both my client and I. I do love my job, and it will stay that way.

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Living In The Shadow Of Bipolar Disorder

Life at home for me and my brother when we were younger was different to other kids, but I didn’t know it yet. My Mum had undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder and so she was either over-medicated with Valium for agitation and anxiety and would sleep or be completely out of it all the time. She would become addicted to this medication. Or she would be un-medicated and all over the shop, swinging from anger to pure hopelessness and helplessness. She would also swing from overly controlling to neglectful at the drop of the hat. If we did something naughty the belt would come out and she would unleash a torrent of anger. One thing I am grateful for is the fact that children are very resilient.

My brother and I would spend a lot of time out of the house, at parks, at shops, we would spend time around other friends, we made some wonderful memories and got to experience life to the fullest while out and about, exploring, mastering our outdoor environment and going on our little missions and adventures.

As I got older I realised things were not right. Mum would go on her anti-depressants, she would be ok for a while, but then she would end up having to come off them because they made her feel like, and I quote,

“Throwing rocks through all the windows and screaming.”

My brother would run away from home at least twice a year and sleep in abandoned cars at the rubbish dump or on top of the school lockers. I was an angry teen at home but I was so out of touch with the way I felt, I didn’t know why I was so angry and spiteful. At school I was horribly bullied because all my life I learned I wasn’t allowed to behave the way I wanted to, I had to do what I was told and agree with everything others said and doing that at school makes you a target because you are seen as weak. I look back now and realise it was because I felt like I was a burden and therefore I didn’t feel like I had the right to be who I was.

In 2007 my brother was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. He was spending his fortnightly pay within two days on polo shirts, expensive colognes, DVD’s, expensive lunches, he would sit down with a bunch of strangers at a pub and shout them drinks, and then he would run out of petrol, not be able to get to his job, and then he was fired. It was a vicious cycle which endured for years. He had at one point been homeless and before that he always bouncing from house to house because his housemates couldn’t deal with him.

One day my Mum of all people suggested he may have Bipolar. So off I went to the doctors with him for support and added my two cents worth as to why he may have it. After a psych appointment it was confirmed, he has Bipolar Disorder – Type 1, the most savage of them all, with rapid cycle and mixed moods. It was this diagnosis which sent Mum back to the doctor and psych, and it was confirmed, she has type 2 Bipolar.

Looking back I think my Dad may have had Bipolar as well. I would sometimes wake up at night and hear him sobbing, and when I tried to comfort him he would push me away. The last time I saw him I was 6 years old, then we moved to another state, we had a couple of phone conversations, then I never heard from him again. My brother rang me last year and told me he died from lung cancer, I was so sad that I never got back in contact with him again but there’s nothing you can do about that when they’re dead, I just had to move on.

For whatever reason, I seem to have so far escaped this curse but I carry around a bit of ‘survivor guilt’. My brother has recently lost his marriage, his house which he and his wife bought, he doesn’t get to see his son as much as he would like because she has moved on, she is happy and she now lives 4 hours away. He is now living with my Mum and our Step Dad who don’t really get along like a house on fire, in fact, I thing my brother sometimes wants to set the house on fire when they argue. He is on Government Payments. He can’t get a job yet because he is rapid cycling at the moment despite being on medication, and there is no way he will be able to hold onto a job at this time. I can’t bring up any painful memories otherwise he breaks down, shuts off and pushes me out of his life for a couple of years.

My Mum can’t remember anything in between 1990-2003, she has lost a lot of her precious memories during the most crucial and formative years of our lives due to her long depression cycles. I know she mourns for the parent she could have been, wanted to be, but just couldn’t do it in her undiagnosed state, and for that I feel truly sympathetic towards her. I know if she could go back and change it all she would. I imagine she has times where she cries and begs God to take her back in time so she can fix everything. This is why I could never resent her or hold a grudge against her, she was truly helpless, more so than us when we were children.

And here I am, my husband and I have been together for nearly 11 years now, married for almost 6 years. We have three beautiful, well adjusted boys. We don’t take drugs, we don’t drink, we don’t bash each other, we have been doing the same jobs for the duration of our relationship, we have a very loving relationship. We’re not perfect but we work well together. All five of us. I try so hard to change the cycle of neglect and abuse for my children, and I am so proud that I think I may be achieving that! But the guilt remains and I don’t know why. I love to help my Mum and Brother, encourage them, I love to love them! They are my family. Watching them fail is hard, and watching them rebuild themselves again is met with mixed feelings of pride but also uncertainty.

I guess I just wish so much happiness for them, and I guess that because I am so happy with my life at the moment, how things have gone right for me so far that I wonder, “Why it am I so lucky? What did I do to deserve it?”

Looking Like The Perfect parent

 

I am one of those artistic, creative mums who is disorganised and dishevelled 90% of the time. I don’t have any routines in place and I struggle to find a balance in the home between cleaning, sewing, working and spending time with the children. I do however, look longingly at the parents who look as though they can do it all. All their children are nicely dressed with pigtails, plats and spiked hair and the mums themselves look relaxed and in control, they seem to know all the right things to say, they cook elaborate meals for their family, they have a mortgage with nice things in their neat and tidy home, beautiful gardens, they work, they play and I have to say, looking at my mismatched pieces of furniture in my rental, my budget for my fortnightly pays which don’t go very far, my piles of ‘stuff to be sorted’, texta on the walls, being an uninspired cook in the kitchen, my children with fold lines on their shirts and brushed but unstyled hair, I’m a little jealous!

It makes me wonder why I am the way I am. I think the problem lies at my core, I’m not an especially patient person and while most people take comfort in them, I don’t like routines as I like to feel inspired before I tackle something, routines do not allow for that. It means I have to wait, and by the time I get around to it I don’t feel like doing it any more and it becomes ‘just another job’ on the to do list. It’s a feeling similar to that of being my own star in the Groundhog day movie. I think the next reason is probably because I’m a perfectionist, I like to go that extra mile to make my projects and duties special, they have to be just right but that means I put a lot of extra effort into the things I am doing, and this means extra time needs to be taken to achieve satisfaction.

In the grand scheme of things maybe being disorganised isn’t so bad, my children are happy, well mannered individuals with their own thoughts an opinions, I don’t pretend to be awesome at anything in particular, in fact I will have a laugh with my friends about how disorganised I am and I love this as these are true friendships which are hard to find. I am an open book. I love how the people in my life can take me as I am and still love me for all my ‘flaws’. I may not be rich money wise but my family and I are rich in spirit, and at the end of the day I wouldn’t swap it for anything!

 

The Magical (And Slightly Terrifying) World Of Toddler Shows

 

As I sit with my toddler and watch Yo Gabba Gabba, Teletubbies and The Night Garden with him I look at the characters and wonder…

“What the hell are those things?!”

As they dance around, teaching children about situations and how to handle them I realise I can’t even define them. Visually, they don’t represent an animal or a human in any way. Yes we had “Gumby” as a child but that show made no mistake, it was just plain abstract and weird, the soundtrack included. I grew up with Sesame Street where you could say,

“That’s a fairy, that’s a vampire, that’s a bird, that’s a woolly mammoth…”

So as I watch the fat teddies with human faces, the dolls which talk but their mouths don’t move, and the green monster with the extra long arms I look at them and wonder, are these weird looking things supposed to make small children comfortable about looking under their bed at night, and not worry about what may be lurking in their closet? Because honestly, if I saw something like that hanging around outside my window at night, or saw them in my room doing their thing, or if I came across one of them in a dark alley, I would without a shadow of a doubt… shit my pants.

Raising Sons – A Mothers Fear

Being a mother of three boys has brought me a lot of joy. Boys seem to be more about getting out there, exploring and mastering their world on a physical level with a the kind of bold I have only seen in a couple of girls. They approach challenges and obstacles with a sense of confidence and resilience and are never too afraid to try it again, even with a broken arm in a cast! They are little warriors, carrying their blades inside their shirt on their backs, they are loyal soldiers fighting for their world against aliens from another world in their console games, they are their favourite Fast And Furious characters as they run their matchbox cars down a hand made ramp in the kitchen, they are champion gymnasts as they do their flips on the trampoline, they are good guys or bad guys as they play cops and robbers with their NERF guns, they are MMA fighters as they spar each other at their local martial arts centre. They put their all into what they are doing at the time, filling a role as they play. Boys are simply amazing. So why am I afraid for them?

We live in a world now where things are different from when I was a child. We all had that violent neighbourhood boy, that boy who’s parents had split and the parent they now lived with was never home or didn’t care. He would act out in the most horrendous ways. That boy who was never taught how to respect another person, that boy who was never taught any manners, that boy who didn’t know how to control his anger. That boy who was not taught self worth. That boy who at his core just wanted someone to give him love and boundaries at the same time, but never got it because he was that kid was “damaged goods” and so you weren’t allowed to play with him anymore. That boy who went to prison in his late teens because he stabbed someone at a pub. When I was young there weren’t many of those boys around, they lived out a lonely existence or only had one friend who was in the same situation, and when we came across them we were usually in a larger group, all we had to worry about was the strange adult in the car who might stop and entice us to come closer. These days, we have to worry about “that boy” because he is many, and they are absolutely everywhere, and they are hanging out in a group at a park near you.

My oldest son is 10 and by most definitions he is ready to start walking to school on his own, walk to his friends houses on his own and ride his bike to the park to play on the jumps, he is ready to meet his friends at different parks and houses. Yes, he can look both ways before crossing the road and knows not to talk to adults who approach him which is all we needed to be able to do to access freedom. We as a society are armed with information on how your child can protect themselves from “the white van man” but there is little information on how to stop your child from being harassed by a group of older teens, and that is probably because there is no way to do it. These boys are looking for a fight, and smaller kids are no exception.

I wonder what the world has in store for my boys when they can drive a car, when they can go to the pub or night clubs, when they can go to parties, it is the violence of this day which scares me. All I can do is teach them to walk away from a fight they don’t have to engage in, but arm them with skills in case they are cornered.

In the grand scheme of things I am looking forward to them beginning their life of fun and teenage shenanigans, that is what being a teen is all about! I made some fantastic memories as a teen and young adult, I want them to have that and I refuse to take that away from them. I am doing my best as a Mum to teach them to be street smart. My Husband grew up in the rough part of Birmingham so he is giving them some fantastic advice, I just worry about them going into a world which I don’t know much about anymore, and which no longer makes sense to me. There will be a time where I just have to sit back and watch as their life happens before my very eyes.

It wont matter if they are 10 or 40, my heart will always say “Be safe little ones, be safe.”

Go The *BLEEP* To Sleep!

Being the mother of three boys holds individual triumphs and challenges for each child. My oldest child is a social butterfly, he loves being around friends, it is the main thing which makes him really happy, but he doesn’t do well at school. I suspect he has ADD but trying to get him diagnosed in Australia is like trying to run through a maze while you are blind!

My Middle child is imaginative, creative and super intelligent, which makes him manipulative, god help anyone who gets in the way of what he wants when he goes after a dream when he is older! He had a speech delay up until the age of five which was very challenging, and it was really sad seeing him get frustrated when others couldn’t understand what he was trying to tell them. His speech is perfect now, in fact he makes up for lost time being the most chatty child in the family, asking endless questions which I often have to look up on Google to answer. While these are/were some pretty big challenges, there was one day in time which changed everything. While trying to make my youngest have a day time nap, he climbed over the top of his cot and ran out laughing, taunting us even. We were flabbergasted! How the hell did a one year old do that?! But it was also terrifying as it was such a long drop down so we immediately took the side rail off and turned his cot into a big boy bed, since then, nothing compares to what my youngest child has brought to the table! My youngest child JUST. DOESN’T. SLEEP.

So here is the hilarious part. My oldest two were quite happy to climb into bed at the same time every night with their teddy and bottle and fall asleep, it was pretty easy and I have to admit, I thought I was the shit, ready and willing to pass on my expertise to anyone in earshot who had trouble getting their kids to bed at night. I thought the trick was simply putting them to bed at exactly 7pm. My youngest, however, is different. He wont sleep during the day unless I drive him around for half an hour, and when I put him to bed at 8pm, the same as the other boys, he spends three to four hours getting up, coming out of his bedroom and running away when we try to catch him to put him back into bed. It is just so much fun for him! And to make matters worse, he is up at the crack of dawn, recharged and ready for action, and once again, I am running around after him, one eye open and the other half closed, bags and mascara under my eyes, hair all over the place, dragging my feet as I tell him not to climb on the coffee table, and not smash his cars against the wall of our rental, and not bang on the pots and pans this morning PLEASE!!

Now I have tried desperately, many things to implement bed time. I have tried setting up a routine – bath, book and bed, but it was a catch 22. If I read him 20 books before bed it wouldn’t be enough, but if I read one or two books to him he would spend the next few hours chasing me around with yet another book. I chose to read him two books for the routine, this went on for three months before I gave in and let him watch Teletubbies on my laptop at night. This worked for a little while, but he was soon up and about again, looking for trouble.

I tried the whole Super Nanny method for another three months, you know, the first time they get up, you tell them it’s time for bed, take them by their hand and lead them back to it, then after that you keep getting up and just taking them back to bed with no eye contact, no reaction and no words. No dice.

I have tried changing his diet to only natural foods. Absolutely nothing changed, if anything he got more cheeky and had more energy.

I have now just resigned to the fact that he is a night owl. His Daddy is a night owl who has trouble sleeping at night and is often up until 3am, sleeps until 8am and he is perfectly fine when he wakes up which is mind boggling to me, someone who needs at least 8 hours sleep at night, and if I don’t get it, I wake up feeling a little… stabby. He helps with him but he gets frustrated as he too wants time to himself at night. I know that feeling.

So how am I keeping my sanity? I just keep telling myself it will get better with time. He is only two years old, but he is smart. It brings to mind a saying, “The smarter they are, the harder they are to train.” With this in mind, all I can say is FANTASTIC. I can’t wait for toilet training. It is going to be AWESOME.

Spring Cleaning My kids Rooms – Oh The Humanity!

Every time I decide it’s time to spring clean my kids rooms I must have a plan in place, they must be out of the room and totally, 100% enthralled in something else. Why? Let me fill you in!

If you have ever tried to work with a child (hahaha) while planning to throw away all the broken crap they’ve hoarded over the years you will know that everything is precious. That Manny The Fix It Guy saw which has no batteries and doesn’t work even if you replace them… Precious. That scrap of paper with a few rainbows, stick figures and colourful scribbles on it… Awesome. That bunch of boxes that were glued together at school which was supposed to be a train but looks more like a badly designed cottage… Special. Even that cheap ass wind up figurine they got from Maccas from the Bee movie which has over time has lost all its arms and legs… Apparently that’s a keeper. It has been so long since they played with any of those things that even I don’t remember what is it, where the hell it came from or even that they had it in the first place, but they’ll throw it across their room in an attempt to find the toy they really want to play with and without even a second glimpse.

At the end of it all you come out of their room with sweat on your forehead, stains in your under arms on your shirt and just when you weren’t expecting it, adding insult to injury, another drop of sweat runs down into your butt crack. You’re haunted by mental images of all the broken, non-functional, non educational, pointless, useless toys they still have in there. You’re silently seething with secret plans to go in later to hunt down every last one of those fucking things and THROWING THEM AWAY! Or even easier, burning the house down! Insert crazy, maniacal laughter here.

So how do I make this job easier and less haunty? Put them in front of the babysitter – the Xbox, proceed to tip out every box of toys onto the ground in the middle of their room and then go on a keep, ditch, sort, and put away rampage!! I must then sneak the bin bag outside through the front door while they are distracted. When I have finished wiping down all the walls, bed frames, windows and window tracks and book cases, and I finish off with a good vacuum, then I go and get the kids. Luckily they love a fresh, clean, sterile room. Little do they know is that I have thrown out 50% of all their crap.

And that, my friends, is how I manage the spring clean in my kids rooms. It is so much easier. My children have a clean, easier to tidy and organise room and I still have my sanity at the end of it all.