My Crazy, Curious, Kind, Compassionate, and Rarely Quiet Kids

I’ve had four kids, and am raising three. One lives with my parents as his needs outstrip our ability to manage him. The three hilarious and strangely well-adjusted parasites that remain in the care of my ex-husband, and our formidable and fantastic tribe, make me laugh every single day. They are aged 14, 12, and 5. Two of them have my face, and one looks a bit like Will or Mike (those two look sooooo similar) from Stranger Things. He also looks a little bit like his father did at his age.

Daniel enjoying some deliciousness in 🇯🇵 Japan spring 2019

We are a motley crew. Most of our public outings include dance routines, ad-libbed singing to whatever songs may be wafting through the mall, supermarket or amusement park lucky enough to host the hobbits West. We. Are. Loud. We are kind, complimentary to strangers, observant of hilarity wherever and whenever it presents itself, and we are perfectly happy to catch the eyes and confused or slightly scared looks of strangers. We are a team of tyrants who will not tolerate injustice, insist on honesty, and aren’t afraid to have a laugh at our own expense.

Daniel rocking my vintage Prada shades while Steph makes noise… while I survey the beauty of New Zealand 🇳🇿

I’ve been home now for about four days or so since my last major overseas jaunt for 2019.  The Love I have for my chosen homeland bubbles up and exploded out of me in an expletive laden rant as I traversed through the mighty Waikato on our way to the Bay of Plenty for a rhythmic gymnastics competition that Stephanie-Jane actually kicked some serious ass in.  Coming up over the saddle between the Hauraki plains and BOP sent me raging loudly with such colourful collogues as:

“Jesus Mary AND Joseph Daniel and Steph, just look at those HILLS! They don’t even look real. That hurts my brain. How are we so blessed to live here? OMG! OMG! OMG! Do you see the light beams bouncing off the forest over there? LOOK AT YOUR BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY! LOOK AT IT!”

My enthusiasm is always met with utterly unrelated observations about brain hemispheres, grave social injustices, or, sometimes dark jokes about ennui and depression from Daniel.  Steph is more prone to shrill yelling, because she pretty much yells at the top of her lungs when she wants a thing, until she gets the thing, then simmers down until a wave of desire for the next thing takes hold and the yelling resumes.

Luckily, this bullshit behaviour is reserved only for me.  They don’t even pull out the big guns of assholedness I have been privy to this weekend for their dear old dad.  They save it for me, I am assuming, as a punishment for the vast swathes of time I spend abroad, and a clear reminder that they do indeed, Love me dearly, and my own eccentricities have not gone unobserved; rather clearly noted and expertly simulated with sardonic stealth.  These kids are comic geniuses with very different schticks.  They are also unafraid to speak freely of their fears and feelings, no matter how fucked up either of these things may be at any given time.

Accurate portrayal of me reading their memes

Now, don’t even get me started on my kids’ friends. They are all kinds of clever and quirky and fantastic. There’s something about being the mom who simply does not give a fuck what other people think or say that has earned me a firm foothold of trust and tenderness in the hearts of all of the kids chosen tribes. Well, we’ve kinda established that Daniel pretty much doesn’t have any friends except for Ben (the incredibly detail oriented, and perhaps slightly OCD tour guide who joined us on Daniel’s 14thbirthday trip to Japan) because he’s pretty much only ever had room for one friend at a time for as long as any of us can remember. Steph, on the other hand, has several gaggles of gregarious and gloriously giggly guys and gals. Mostly gals to be fair. Her social circle is vast and varied and she hangs with creative kids who now reside around the planet. Her two major social circles in New Zealand are her Gym girls and her Junior High posse of perfectly pained pre-teens. These girls are shoveling all kinds of shit and insecurities, while Steph wafts wanton through her weeks, shrieking at me and me only when she neeeeeeds something to happen. I adore her very loud friends. They are all taller than me, they are all very clear on the fact they will always have a home and a hug with the super weird West clan. They remind me in many ways of my own group of friends, only far more vanilla. None of the kids nor their social circles have any interest in veering very far off the tracks. They are drug and alcohol free, do not drink coffee and only “spill tea” (this is what their ritual of spilling secrets and sharing their deepest fears and problems among a safe and secure circle). I Love each of these kids like they were family, and for most intents and purposes, they actually are family. We have found each other in a crazy world, and I suspect I will support and cherish them all in one way or another for as long as I breathe.

Then, there are my kids friend’s parents.  Love, respect and earnest strain and parenting pain bind us together.  There’s no need for anyone in the world to know what troubles these kids are facing, nor the lengths their legendary parents go to protecting and guiding the greatness that is contained in their offspring.  But we share our struggles openly, honestly, and without judgement. I suspect the reason my kids’ parents confide in me so readily, is that I am so open with being a complete fuck up a lot of the time.  We are all doing our best, with unique and challenging children.  Some of them are feisty, some shy, some angry, some have a tendency to lie.  But they are all actually really great kids, and not raging too far in the face of social conventions or norms, rather, they are all kids with convictions, unafraid to disagree with the world, their parents, or society.  They even have the ability to respectfully stand up to one another, which, at this stage of development is very rare indeed, as this is the stage in our lives when friends and social acceptance are the holy grail of existence. They’re a good bunch.  I just hope that their disinterest in all the trappings and poor choices presented through peer pressure continues.  

I may be downplaying some of the heavy shit we have been through together over the years.  My kids are far from perfect.  My eldest son is a proper pessimist, daughter is a diva, and my baby boy Jamie has absolutely no ability to use an inside voice in any situation.  He’s possibly the cutest and cuddliest human I have ever met though.  This kid will rage at you for a solid 30-40 seconds when he’s overtired or hangry, and then come bounding up into your arms apologizing for his mean words and expounding his undying adoration for his less than perfect parent (that includes his other mum and dad, the Nanny Lou and her husband Mike).

So, tomorrow I am off again on an epic road trip with two of my goddesses across the country finalizing the details for an international EV extravaganza in November.

Three more nights away from my babies, and home for two nights, then down to Wellington with my magnificent ex-husband Phteven.  This time next year, I have every intention of taking my children out of school for a semester and settling for a month in each of their favourite cities, and just being their mother and writing every day. 

It’s Beginning to Look A lot Like… Fuck this shit.

It’s Beginning to Look A lot Like… Fuck this shit.

We have officially reached December and the undeniable start of the seriously silly season.

This is my devil’s advocate blog to counter the usual sickly sweet bucket of rainbows and unicorn farts you will find on my other blog page. I totally believe in holiday miracles and the triumph of the human spirit and shit… But I also want to share with you just how tired and disillusioned I am with the commercialism and unreasonable expectations at this time of year.

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I urge you to consider joining me, as I take it all with a grain of salt. Feel absolutely free to say fuck it to the holiday season. Or go ape shit and put tinsel in your hair and sing Christmas carols at your desk all day long. Do what feeds your soul, but know that there is no law that states you have to abide by any of the traditions or buying mountains of stuff.

This time of year drives stress levels sky-rocketing. Families fight, friends feel lonely, left out or overwhelmed. Older people can feel isolated. Finance companies prey on people who have been fed bullshit and believe they are failures if they can’t provide a Christmas with all the trimmings to their family. That kind of scavenger mentality sends my blood boiling in a big way.

So I generally like to lay low and get a lot of rest and peace while the world around me goes bat-shit crazy in a commitment to commercialism and conspicuous consumerism that crosses cultures and borders around the planet.

Malls are adorned with holiday decorations, playing locally unseasonal and also an entirely unreasonable amount of Christmas songs featuring snow and sleigh-bells and so forth. These trite tunes waft through speakers while mildly to morbidly-obese post-middle-aged men are donning sweaty satin santa suits and scaring children for hours each day. Those poor fuckers who sign up to be a mall Santa spend weeks in the trenches and I am thoroughly impressed with their patience.

And don’t get me started on the poor bedraggled parents. Nervously waiting to see if their little bundle of joy will sit calmly or lose their shit completely at the sight of Santa. Especially the first timers. I can spot them a mile off. Their dewy skin and rosy cheeks caused from all the rushing about, and their saucer sized eyes, wanting so much to make magic moments happen for their offspring. The whole mall Santa gig seems to be a somewhat sadistic right of passage to me now. By the time you get the fourth kid, chances are you will be happy to give the whole ordeal a wide berth.

Meanwhile, in the homes, offices and workshops of New Zealand, workers are working longer hours building momentum that will climax in chaos and failing to meet countless unrealistic expectations from a variety of sources. Parents and caregivers who have foregone financial recompense to raise the next generation or care for family or friends are on the front line of this stressful season. They are braving supermarkets, toy-sales, and Christmas wrapping queues across the country. I salute you! And I won’t be joining you.

We also get to run the gauntlet of Christmas parties (and subsequent hangovers), BBQs, parades, pageants, pleading for pointless playthings and emptying out of pantries across the country. I had several years of being the drunkest girl at many of these parties because I have issues with moderation, and ended up looking like a right twat.

We are all rushing headlong toward the nationwide commercial lull that happens between Christmas Eve and sometime in mid-January.

We do this every fucking year, and then just when we have thoroughly recovered we have to start the whole sordid ordeal over again.

I say fuck this shit. Fuck it right in the most consistently conspicuous corner of the corporate cluster fuck that has been bringing us to our knees and making us all feel inadequate for decades.

Who said we had to do this shit anyway? I can celebrate my spirituality and spend time with my family like a boss, with or without spending a fortune.

The reason I sound like such a sour bitch about the holiday season is because I am in recovery from a serious and stifling Christmas addiction.

I used to hoard the 75% off Christmas decorations from boxing day sales and dream of getting them out of the box and decorating my home and welcoming people in for eggnog and perhaps a cheeky mistletoe snog.

The turning point was, strangely, having children.

The first Christmas with my nearly one year old baby boy disappearing under a mountain of gifts with a look of confusion on his beautiful young face broke something in me.

He crinkled up the discarded wrapping and played in boxes and basically ignored the expensive and educational goodies we had lovingly chosen and wrapped for him over months and months leading up to Christmas morning.

Kids don’t give a flying fuck about your ability to buy them shit. At least mine don’t. They want you to watch them do tricks on the trampoline and climb trees. They want mid-week morning snuggles and days off work spent playing on the beach or in the snow or even just staying home and mucking in around the yard.

So put down the fucking credit card, close the fucking laptop, turn off those social media apps and chill the fuck out. Sit your seriously tired ass down for a quiet moment with someone who makes you laugh, phone someone you love and tell them you appreciate the shit out of them. Do the kind of shit that feeds your soul but keeps your bank balance in check. If you want to go all Martha Fucking Stewart, knock yourself out. But please don’t feel like you have to.

D.

p.s. Merry Fucking Christmas