Sorry, not Sorry.

Hello and welcome to Carole’s List Of Things She is No Longer Saying Sorry For.

This is not a complete list, amendments can and will be made as fucks decrease.

  1. Parenting. I love my kids so bloody much and I’m a fabulous mother. I am not a perfect mother but I am damn good at the mothering I do do (haha doodoo) and I will continue to try and be the best possible parent I can be and meet their needs.
  2. Being a feminist. Women have always received the shorter end of the stick. Women of colour way more so. This is not something that we are even close to sorting out and until then I will push my feminist agenda and challenge you and pretty much tell you you’re wrong if you think that things are better than really shitty for us.
  3. Not being a good enough feminist. Because I’m still learning, and I will use the wrong language and I’m happy – eager, even – to learn the appropriate terms, approaches and understandings that are rooted in feminism. I’m an enthusiastic and constant pupil.
  4. Not really loving doing lots of outside things. I love bush walking with my family, and I love going swimming at beaches, lakes and rivers. Hell, we’re even whittling away at putting together a camping kit but actually, I don’t want to do outdoors type things all the time. Even sometimes now I do them because I realise it’s a fantastic thing to model to my children. Yes I realise this is contradictory to this list and my point but I don’t give a fuck. I love Netflix and my couch.  Which brings me to;
  5. My love of terribly fabulous television. I try really hard to get into the Netflix docos that everyone loves. I have watched a few and really enjoyed them but at the end of the day, I’m likely to always choose the Kardashians. They’re a goddamn well oiled publicity and business machine and pass me the whittikars, let’s do this.
  6. Eating food that isn’t always great for me. I love chocolate. It’s bloody terrible for me and can get out of control but I adore it. I also love meat and dairy and although I try to source these thing’s as ethically as possible, it won’t stop me eating them if they’re not always so.  I am trying to manage my portion sizes and sugar intake as both of these can get way beyond my control when I’m stressed, which ends in me feeling like shit. I prefer a whole food, low meat, dairy and sugar diet and will adhere to this as much as possible but won’t cut them out completely because M&M’s go well with a Marian Keyes novel. But also;
  7. For wanting to lose weight. I am on WW (formerly Weight Watchers) at the moment and I really like using this system. I don’t feel confident about my body at this size and there is a history of heart disease in my family. I want to drop some of the extra weight I’m carrying to feel happy and healthy.
  8. For not loving exercise. I just don’t. I do it, because it’s bloody good for me and really important (see above), but I don’t like it. I want to model exercising to my children because I feel like it’s super important for them to see this as a regular, routine part of our lives (see number 4 for fucks given about contradictions). I do quite like yoga and a good brisk walk, particularly with company, but I draw the line at that. Don’t even get me started on team sports.
  9. For not knowing as much stuff about our country and the world as I really fucking should. I don’t read the news. I do read instagram. I should probably follow the news ON instagram to learn about the things I need to but it’s really not as interesting as celebrities. I will likely work on this one a bit more when I have children that need less of my brain power, so never.
  10. For caring about what I look like. Clothes are important to me, nothing gets my blood pumping like a good shop. This can be online, in a mall, at an op shop or at some faffy boutique. I love figuring out my style and changing things up as I feel like it. I watch red carpet events for the clothes (and the celebrities, see number 9) and I will fill up Pinterest boards with a ton of ideas about how I would like my closet to look. Fave pastime.
  11. For not caring about how I look. Sometimes I don’t care, and neither should you. Bra’s are the work of the devil.
  12. For my healing journey. A bit deeper here, folks, but super important. I am a work in progress. I am struggling with my identity and where I fit into this world. I am coming out of 20 years of using substances of some sort to unwind and 25 years of relationships that I constantly put others first in. I am finding my voice and trying to work out what the hell I do next. I will be hard work and I’m completely ok with you stepping back if it’s too much. But it’s necessary so I will head down, plow forward and just hope that I don’t fuck up too much. Or that if I do fuck up, I do it spectacularly, with musical numbers.

K, that’s it for now. Love you guys, thanks for reading.

C xx

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The Glorious Mundane

It’s 4.31pm on a Wednesday. Hot and sticky, the kids run under the hose after being pried off the couch. Kindy has taken it out of them but the heat has propelled them up and seeking cooler pastures. And anyway, they’re kids, it seems a 15 minutes rest gives them a whole days worth of energy again.

The counter is cluttered with the debris of the day. Books, paperwork, a crossword book. The ever present loaf of bread and container of peanut butter. A cup of chamomile tea steams gently, beckoning five minutes of rest. A one pan wonder of seasonal vegetables and home kill sausages cooks in the oven, filling the house with the aroma of my childhood. The floor is littered with the contents of the plastics drawer, chucked out gleefully by the baby as he sat inside it. I can hear whoops and hollers as children run in and out, in and out, in and out.

“Don’t run in the house, it’s wet and you’ll slip!”

In and out, in and out. Piles of favorite books clutched to their chests as a game gets underway. I type this from the kitchen bench, and glance up and across to my neighbours kitchen window. They’re away, and I add the task of checking on their chickens to my mental list.

  1. Prepare for Playcentre business meeting
  2. Bake something for the lunchboxes
  3. Make notes for costumes
  4. Read through first scene in play
  5. Check chooks

A mix of Trevor Hall and Florence Welch play on Spotify. I move across to the table to put away another pile of folded washing and my bare heel hits the floor. I wince as the crack in the skin widens with the pressure. Number 6. Moisturise heels. Pedicure? Idle thoughts about a day of pampering. It’s our wedding anniversary on Friday. Mind shifts to preparing for that. 7. Organise wedding anniversary.

The food smells glorious. I should add something green. Peas, peas will be a surefire winner. I put on the peas, pull the baby away from the oven and check the big kids.

“10 minutes till tea”

“I love you” my son says. “Can we have an iceblock after tea?” asks my daughter. Baby on hip, I move back towards the kitchen. A sip of chamomile, not steaming anymore, but soothing nonetheless.

It’s nearly evening. Bedtime will happen with books and a music video on YouTube. The kids love musical theatre clips which not so quietly thrills my husband and I to the core. The strains of Matilda the Musical and Hamilton bounce off the walls, alongside our excited children.

Back on Spotify, Florence is singing about the Dog Days being Over.

They sure are, my friend. They sure are.

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“Angels speak of a thing called bliss, close your eyes all we’ve got is this” – Trevor Hall, Wish Man

Born Identity

I went off on this weird tangent yesterday. I needed to clean my nose ring and I made a mental note to grab some pure alcohol from the potting shed (which is where everyone keeps their booze, right?.. Ha.. Back story, it used to be my husband’s distillery but he’s stopped making booze and only has a bit lying around to clean with). Anyway, it occurred to me that I hadn’t considered whether that was a thing I did anymore – use alcohol for those purposes. Like, what if the mad urge to drink the spirits came over me and I glugged it back? Could I manage it?

It sounds nuts, but this is how I operate. I’m a woman of extremes. I’m a Leo in a Leo house, an extroverted extrovert, most comfortable in groups of people and when performing. It hasn’t been until I had kids that I could actually take solitary time to regroup. Previously, I always needed people around me and would seek this out in a panic if I was faced with alone time.

The extremist in me has had an interesting time of sobriety. I realised recently that in the nearly eight months since I’ve stopped drinking, I have attempted, rejigged and sometimes abandoned several different personas. I think the search for self is a fairly human thing. We all want to know where we fit into this world, and we constantly seek out like minded individuals and environments. But in my case, not only was I attempting to find sober Carole, I was attempting to ignore the sobriety bit and turn myself into someone who didn’t drink for different reasons.

That’s vague, I’ll elaborate. I’ve always had a passion for eastern spirituality, so one of the paths I found myself exploring was Buddhism. I even attended a meditation run by a Buddhist nun. It was incredible, and it really reinforced that something in my soul yearns for that connection, and really affiliates with the eastern philosophy. However, what I was doing REALLY was trying to be Carole the Buddhist. Who doesn’t drink for pure, spiritual reasons. It sounded better than Carole the 35 year old mum who used to drink so much she slurred through her children’s bedtime stories.

I was ashamed of the Carole as I knew her. I thought she wasn’t good enough. She had a drinking problem and had put her and her family at risk with her choices. I wanted to distance myself from that Carole and recreate myself into someone I could be proud of.

I went on to do this with my food choices as well. Again, my preference is a high plant based diet, with low dairy and meat as ethically sourced as I’m able but I thought if I became vegetarian, or vegan, then the not drinking could come from a lifestyle choice – pure body, pure mind, zen af etc..

This went on an on. Always stuff I was already into, but at a Carole extreme. I attached myself to friends who I thought were living life so much better than I was, and tried to emulate them. I Marie Kondo’d my wardrobe to become a minimalist, I followed everyone on instagram who lived the time of life I longed to have. I yoga’d and meditated and tried to ban myself from the chick lit I adored in order to be intelligent, making better choices Carole. Anything was better than alcoholic Carole.

Funny thing though, friends.. It didn’t work. RIGHT! Are you shocked? Yeah nah, me neither.

The reality is, I needed to love Carole as she was, warts and all. I needed to lean into my sobriety and my alcohol overuse disorder because it, like all other things, had shaped who I was. Pushing past the deep feelings of inadequacy and despair around my choices was key to this process and that sucked. Big time. And I’m still not awesome at it – it’s a journey, right?  My goals at the moment are around being really authentic and granting myself the grace to sit with and forgive past events.

So here I am. Just over here, with my Ganesha statue and Ayervedic cookbook that I peruse while I watch Dance Mom’s. Planning high plant based meals for my family but including a beautiful venison steak gifted from our neighbour.  I’m aiming for balance 😉

For those of you who are in early days of sobriety, do whatever you need to do to stick with what feels good. I don’t regret chucking myself headlong into these endeavors, they fine tuned what I was really passionate about and provided a welcome distraction. But don’t forget you, because you are amazing.  Exactly as you are.

Love, C x

Today

We are taking a break in our usual programming for me to use this blog like a diary and type out all the ranty things in my brain because

a) writing helps me process and I’m a faster typist than hand-writer (sacrilege!)

b) if I don’t put it somewhere I’m likely to go and hide in the harakeke at the bottom of my property and rock back and forth while mainlining coffee

I’d bloody love to think that today will end with a few wines. Sometimes sobriety feels like I have nothing fun anymore. I KNOW this is ridiculous, but it gets in my head and I get more and more resentful and angry at myself. Why did I have to have a drinking problem?? What a DICK! Etc. etc..

Logical Carole knows that alcohol doesn’t fix things. Logical Carole realises that in order to actually give my mind and body the rest it craves is to step away and step down. But in the thick of it, it’s a difficult mindset to shift.

I’m grumpy today. Grumpy at my kids, who did nothing wrong. Snappy and irritable, glued to my phone while they’re glued to the tv. I’m a better parent than this, but sometimes it feels harder than is is because I build it up, attach historical or simply fictional grievances to supplement my growing annoyance. My kids are wonderful, but they’re full on and I don’t feel like I have the energy for it today. Which, in turn, makes me feel MORE guilty for being a shitty person in such a privileged life.

Privilege has played a big role in my constant feelings of inadequacy around my alcoholism. The thought that how DARE I have problems when I have so much is one that hammers away at my brain. But addiction doesn’t discriminate. Addiction doesn’t care that I’m an educated middle class woman, the wife of a lawyer and a former social worker. Addiction doesn’t care that people like me don’t believe it can touch them. Because it bloody can. It dances around me, taunting and mocking, reminding me that I’m not such hot shit after all.

Well, it’s not going to win. I may be an irritable, instagram browsing, tv and snack providing lazy mum today but I’m a sober mum. I’m fuelled by too much coffee but I’m not fuelled by gin. I HAVE to take these as wins, or else I sink into it.

So whatever way today goes, it will go that way without booze. I would like to say it will go that way without chocolate but lets not kid ourselves.

Love you guys, stay truthful x

C xx

No wine – hu dis? The revised version.

Ok, I’m sorry. I left you all with that ridiculously cliff hangery bollocks and then radio silence. I know, my bad.

I’m going to follow a different path to share my story, mainly because I hadn’t considered the extent of impact the method I’d chosen may have had. It was hard to delete my last blog post, and even harder to get rid of the next one I had so carefully crafted, but I still feel like I can tell you what’s been happening without including other people.

One thing – there is definitely childhood trauma that is simmering closer to the surface than I could have ever known. I am very aware and motivated towards nurturing this. Please don’t think changing direction is a denial tactic, I am certainly pulling on the love and support of those close to me, as well as granting myself grace to work through this.

So, sobriety. Super fun times, right?

As I said in my last blog, the 16th of June 2018 was my last drink. A gin and tonic (possibly/probably several) on a Saturday night. I had tried sobriety about six weeks previously and it had lasted three until I decided I could moderate. Haha. Hilarious.

As seems to be a pattern in my life, nothing in particular marked that Saturday as any more or less in my drinking life. I don’t know why I decided that was it, I just did. And I haven’t had a drink since. I took myself off to the GP, got a referral to Alcohol and Drug and finished up six months of working with an incredible psychologist who gave me so many wonderful tools and insights to support my healing and I’ve had a fabulous support network of friends and family.

But, it has still fucking sucked.

I mean, it has and it hasn’t. Sobriety is a funny beast, in that there is so much wonderful clarity that comes hand in hand with ridding oneself of a mind altering substance. Realising the impact it was having, in ways you hadn’t even considered, regaining your dignity and integrity, never having to worry about hangovers or ‘what did I say/do’s?’. BUT, I’m sober. I don’t drink. I choose not to drink because when I do, I cannot control it. I put myself and my family at risk and I was unhappy and angry.

I spent my 20’s imbibing several different substances. It was a mix of single/student/flatting life. I wasn’t responsible for anyone but myself and whats more, I was surrounded by people living exactly the same way I was. I adored this life. The people who I met in this life are still my best friends and family today and I can hand on heart say I loved my 20’s and lived the way I wanted to. I got my social work degree, I moved islands a couple of times, I had a couple of long-term boyfriends and a few not so long term whatevers and I just generally enjoyed life. I practically lived at the theatre, doing show after show, and when I wasn’t doing that I was traipsing around the south island with my best friend in whatever car we could nab, exploring different locations and stopping to rest our hearts and heads in Blenheim – her home and my spiritual home. Life was choice and I have no regrets.

I got married at 29, to the love of my life, and had my first child at 30. I fell pregnant again when Tilly was 9 months old and had George when I was 31. We had a busy and full life, Phil worked long hours and I took most of the Monday to Friday responsibility of the house and kids. This was something we had agreed to and I was happy doing. What I didn’t bargain for, was the absolute emotional upheaval of two things in particular. Going from one child to two and the death of a close friend just days after I had George.

Now, those of you with kids know what those postpartum days are like. Exhilarating, exhausting, incredible and super SUPER hormonal. When Jayde died, something in me burst wide opened, something that was already fraying at the seams in those emotional post birth days just ripped apart and tumbled around me. I cried and raged and cried some more and it was SO HARD. I was angry at myself for being so emotional, I was angry at my husband for only taking three days off to be with us (in his defence, George was two weeks late and he couldn’t take anymore time), I was just so furious and devastated and the only thing that made me feel better was gin.

Now, I’ve realised since this that I have been carrying the impact of my childhood, a 20’s riddled with substances, two pregnancies and births and the death of a friend without really MANAGING the impact of any of this. My knee jerk reaction was anger and anger had always been presented in my life as verbal and physical violence – by family and partners – so I didn’t realise that anger could be nurtured and loved the same way other emotions can.

But then.. Well, then I calmed myself with drinking. I had always been a drinker – hell, we’re saturated in a culture that normalises it at every turn – but this time it was different. Phil had been distilling spirits and brewing beer so there was plenty available, and I made use of that. I would start mid afternoon, I would have several drinks before Phil got home and always have one poured when he walked in the door to explain the smell on my breath. He started noticing, asking how much I’d had, commenting on my slurred conversation. I always had an excuse, though. Mainly children (more on THAT later) but also, mid 2016 we decided to move from Christchurch to Feilding and the responsibility of organising both our home and rental for sale, plus organising the move fell predominantly to me, so drinking went hand in hand with that. Fast forward to living in Feilding and a diagnosis of postnatal depression and the drinking still wasn’t any better. In fact, it was worse – much worse. I fell pregnant with our youngest and here’s the real kicker. I couldn’t stop drinking during my pregnancy. I cut down substatially but didn’t manage to cut it out.

I think that’s when I knew, like ABSOLUTELY knew that I wasn’t ok. I was so lonely, and worried and I had no idea what to do. Giving up booze for the rest of my life seemed inconceivable, but I was also so sick and tired of hiding my drinking, half ass parenting my kids and lying to my husband. I was sick and sad and stuck.

I need to stop for a bit now, it’s flipping exhausting sharing this, but I promise I’ll come back and share the rest! x

Love, C

2019

It’s been almost a year since I’ve written anything here. And holy actual shit SO MUCH has happened in that time.

In no particular order;

  1. We had our third baby! Hooray for Fergus
  2. I stopped drinking. More on that later
  3. My kids got BIG
  4. I took on more responsibility within Playcentre and while quietly kacking it am not doing a very terrible job so far

Today Phil said to me “do you love to write?”. “Why yes I do” was my reply, which started off a chain of reflection… Why wasn’t I writing? What did I want to write about? Did I want to write at all? Where would I even start? I figured going through the ol’ blog was a good place to start, so I yanked it up with the intention of deleting, faffing with and jooshing up Penny Lane Parents to fit with where I was headed next.

Then I fell down a rabbit hole of old blog reading and was all why would I delete this? These posts, which at one point I poured a lot into, shaped who I was now and getting rid of them would be to fiddle with the integrity of what I was trying to relate – truth, humour and stories.

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Big kids!
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The new guy x

So I’ll keep them. And I’ll re read them from time to time and it will be a wonderful collection of memories and mammaries (#somuchbreastfeeding) to shape my path ahead.

Stick around team, I’ve got more to say and I reckon you’ll want to hear it x

C xx

Zero Waste, Baby 

Staying with the theme of reduced/zero waste, I thought I’d write a wee checklist for new mama’s who are wanting to minimise their waste.

Disclaimer: these suggestions are based on my trials and experiences. Feel free to add any suggestions in the comments! Also, new babies can be a shock to the system so don’t undertake anything that will stress you out ❤

Cloth Nappies and Wipes

We have used cloth mostly full time since our 3 year old was 4 days old. I suggest reading up on some different types and working out what may fit your little one. There are some fantastic Facebook pages that are chock full of information including brand discussions, benefits of different materials, wash routines, tips for extra absorbency etc. You can also get some fantastic deals in the buy/sell nappy groups.

I found a good wash routine intrinsic to my success with cloth. I would rinse, dry pail, do a pre rinse and then a wash. This still works for me, two kids later 👌

As for wipes, there are many options, but I found a roll of Chux cloths cut to size work a treat.

Buy Secondhand, Buy Quality 

It’s so easy to get carried away with purchasing baby items but the reality is, they really don’t need that much. A safe place to sleep, a few swaddles if that’s your jam, some burp cloth/muzzies/all around useful squares of cotton that become your best friend and some good clothing basics is a great start. I love Nature Baby, but I don’t love the price tag, so I trawl Trade Me and Facebook for all the bargains. Because babies grow so much in the first few months, I’ve managed to find a bunch of gorgeous, organic cotton basics in fabulous condition at a fraction of the price. I’ve also just purchased a bunch of flat white nappies at a steal, which will be used for everything but can be turned into rags when we are done.

If you do buy better quality items second hand, it’s fairly easy to on-sell, therefore reducing the amount of goods being bought new! Win!

Play Time 

For when bubs is a wee bit older, google Heuristic treasure box to check out some awesome ideas for play. Some suggestions that we used are; wee wooden utensils (spoons, honey dippers), preserving rings, ribbon, egg cartons, shower puffs, pot scourers, measuring spoons and so on and so forth.

Obviously use your common sense around age and supervision requirements. Perhaps save the scissors till they’re a year at least.

😉😉😘

Bath Time 

Generally, babies don’t need any bath products, but if you do like a wee bit of something then the likes of Ethique and many other NZ companies do gentle shampoo/body wash bars for littles. With a light scent, natural ingredients and zero plastic it’s a zero waste thumbs up 👍👍

Dinner Time

Another for older littles 😀 It’s incredibly easy to make baby food and you can have fun with it too! Combos of puree fruit and veg are super duper simple and can be frozen and popped into a wee pot or the microwave when needed. I enjoyed adding a bit of light herb to my pepe’s kai and I used silicon trays from KMart, which froze a portion roughly twice the size of a standard ice cube tray. 

If finger food is your thing, steamed veges were a hit in my house. River Cottage does a fab Babies and Toddlers recipe book which I have used a ton. The content appeals to my homemade heart as it’s simple, nutritious and delicious

I think that’s all for now! I’m super keen to hear what other’s have done/are doing as my zero waste focus is definitely a journey. Also, links to fave suppliers or products would be fabulous.

Happy hippie-ing, y’all 😉😉

Love,

Carole x

A big thank you to the lovely mama’s of Due November 2017 for allowing me to pick their brains on this topic. Arohanui ❤