Dadinating the Country Side

The Trials and Tribulations of Living the Dream

Partners and Antidepressants

This post follows on from a guest post by The Mamanator. You can find her post here

I don’t quite know what I’m feeling. There’s a jumble of little voices going on in my head as the news hits me.

I am a failure.

I haven’t done enough. I’ve let things get worse. I haven’t been supportive. I haven’t talked enough. I’ve been to caught up in my own crap. I’ve been selfish.

I am relieved.

Help is coming. This could turn things around. It’s manageable. This means it won’t be so bad. This will help get through a tough time.

I am worried.

What if it gets worse? What if it doesn’t work? What does all this mean? What about side effects?

I am ashamed.

Why am I thinking so much about me? You’re supposed to be the strong one. The support. The rock. Stop being so weak and selfish!

The Mamanator has been afflicted with depression for most of her adult life. For a time she took medication to manage it and one day she got to a point where she didn’t need it any more. Coming off medication was a big thing for her. It helped in our plans to have children, it made her feel powerful and in control. It made me feel like I was a good husband, supportive, strong and true.

About a month ago she went back on antidepressants. Continue reading

Caffeine and Antidepressants – by The Mamanator

Why do people like this have children in the first place? How will the children feel when they grow up and learn that they pushed their mother onto antidepressants?
 it’s also cowardly: popping pills as an easy way out, instead of facing up to the responsibilities of adulthood.

Mark Latham writing for the Financial Review “Why Left Feminists don’t like Kids”

Hi, I’m the Mamanator. I have a university degree. I am happily married to my best friend. I have worked in emergency services administration, the public service, customer service and hospitality. I have volunteered with arts groups, theatres and community services. I have acted, danced, sung, debated and protested in public. I love sci-fi, fantasy and historical crime. I harbour a guilty love of The Simpsons. I am a budding greenie and homesteader. I am about to open a Family Day Care. I am a feminist. I am a stay-at-home parent. I love my two children with an intensity I did not know could exist. I have dodgy ankles and shoulders, some trouble with my hearing, a sulphite allergy, asthma and depression.

I have just gone back onto antidepressants. Continue reading

Sometimes it’s not hard….

Kid’s are nothing if not inconsistent.

Last night I was solo parent. I was on my own with the two kids while The Mamanator was at a meeting. I thought it was going to be hell on wheels. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I thought I’d have a ripper of a funny post to write-up.

Little turds were complete angels.

Let me set the scene. I came straight for work to a local pool. The Lad has a weekly swimming lesson each Wednesday night at 5:30pm. The Mamanator had a meeting to attend at 6:30 that night, so the plan was that The Mamanator and The Lass would meet us at the pool. The Mamanator would then head to her meeting while I got the kids home, fed them, washed them and got them to bed.

I had some handicaps. Dinner was cooked, The Lad was tired and I’d only have to bathe one child. Nonetheless I was looking on it with dread. Being outnumbered is never a good prospect.

I was suspicious as I pulled up. The kids had been quiet in the car. Too quiet. I thought they might have fallen asleep, but it hadn’t. I sensed a conspiracy was afoot. Especially as they pair of them were very patient with me as I got them out of the car and got them inside. I set them up with dinner and we ate.

No food fights. No “YUCKKY!” followed by squealing. No running around the house like a kangaroo on espresso. It was calm, civil and the kids ate a heap. My spider senses were tingling. I was sure the next challenge was coming and coming fast.

It was time to bathe The Lass. The Lad didn’t need a bath due to having just been in a pool. I got him into his pyjamas while I ran the bath. I knew this part would go badly, it was a change in routine. Usually after a bath I’d take him to bed and read/sing/cuddle while he nodded off. But tonight it had to be different.

“Lad, go and climb into your bed and I’ll come to see you when I finish with The Lass’ bath”.

I braced myself for the high-pitched typhoon I was certain was going to strike my hears. I closed my eyes. Then opened one of them after nothing happened. He’d gone. He’d gone to bed. On his own. What the???

So I got on with it. Washed The Lass who enjoyed her bath. Didn’t try to drown herself (she does this once a week), or hit her head on the spout. She was enjoying herself so much that I barely noticed The Lad come slinking back into the bathroom. He wanted to know when I was coming in to see him, and looked so forlorn that the only course of action available to me was to cease the bath and get on to bed.

Now this was hard. The normal process here is I palm off The Lass to The Mamanator for a quick feed before bed while I’d go read stories to The Lad. Tonight would require something different.

I tried lying down between the two and singing. It failed miserably, so I had to change tack. I couldn’t cuddle the pair at once, but I could divide and conquer. I scooped up The Lass and walked her around singing gently. The Lad could see and hear me as I paced the room, and was very calm and settled. I think 15 minutes passed before she nodded off.

So I took The Lad over to his bed, cuddled him and sung to him as he nodded off. I even had time to feed the cats (he fell asleep while I was out). All was well. The kids were asleep. I hadn’t yelled. I hadn’t imagined getting in the car (without the kids) and driving to Queensland. I hadn’t skipped a beat.

And it was only 7:45.

How am I supposed to write a post about that? (see what I did there?)

So, if I had any advice from all of this?

It’s easy – expect your kids to basically set the house on fire and they’ll behave perfectly.

More seriously: If you have a night coming up that you think is going to be difficult do your best to be calm, organised and kind to yourself and your kids. They might surprise you. And if they don’t, you can reward yourself with a night-cap at the end of the struggle.

How to vote

There’s a queue. Always a queue. I’m waiting in it while The Mamanator guards our pack – the two children are with her. The Lad is running around a playground while The Lass pushes herself up to stand, waddles 10 steps and then decides the ground is a better place to be.

I shuffle along, as The Mamanator did 10 minutes earlier, moving towards the trestle table in the hall. On it sits an enormous book, a list of name upon name upon name. I know my name is in there and when I approach the desk I give it to the folk behind the table and watch them rule a thin black line through my details to say that I’ve been taken care of.

They hand me papers and a pencil, motion me towards a row of cardboard booths that remind me of a street of terrace houses, and show me what boxes to number. I go into my secluded booth and write some numbers in some boxes. I’ll see some names I recognise, some I don’t, but I do my best to number them, fold it up neatly and place it in the receptacle so it can fly away to be processed.

And for some reason I’ve just written an event in the future as though it was a memoir.

That’s how I imagine it’ll go in 2 weeks when I vote in Victoria’s state election. And sure I’ll complain about it. 2 party system, no major points of difference, no party that I feel truly represents me and I’ll complain that the electoral system doesn’t change anything.

But this time it will be different. This election is the first time I’ll be voting in front of my children, who at the ripe young ages of 1 and 3 will get their first little look at representative democracy in action.

I started to develop a keen interest in how parental politics influence children’s future voting habits all of the sudden because feeling responsible for their food, safety, warmth, cleanliness, intellectual development, character, morality and all the rest wasn’t enough. No, I wanted to reflect on how I might effect my children’s attitudes to politics and civics.

Apathy is on the rise. More and more people in Australian vote informally (over 5% of ballots cast in last years federal election were informal, the highest rate in 30 years). Membership bases of political parties are falling, and I worry about it. I worry because I think that it lets our politicians get away with more. I worry because it moves discussion away from substance and into 20 second news grabs and quotes. It reduces the depth of our engagement with our own country and lowers the standard of politicians, politics and debate.

To quote a yank: “A properly functioning democracy depends on an informed electorate” (Jefferson apparently).

So what are parents role in all this? I started looking at the Electoral Commissions reports into youth attitudes to political culture and voting in Australia. I wasn’t interested in whether kids voted for the party of their parents (although it’s worth noting that a lot do), but rather looking at where kids growing up get their information and perceptions about politics and about the voting process. And guess where it comes from chiefly: PARENTS! Yay!

For all my moaning and carrying on, I like voting. I like that our leaders are elected and I am grateful for the fact that I live in a country where the populace can sack the government (or even just the individual member) if they are unhappy with them. I am well aware of the fact that it isn’t that simple, that preference deals have led to people getting into the Federal Senate of about 0.51% of the popular vote. I know the senate election paper can almost reach to the moon and back these days. I know the system is not perfect, but it’s at least consistent, independent and scrutinised to within an inch of its life. I also like that it’s compulsory.

So while of course I’ll bitch and moan about politics and politicians (we all have that right too) I want to instil a sense in my children that voting is a good thing to do, as is exercising some control over the politics of our own land. I want them to see what is involved, to see politicians campaigning for their seat, fighting for their communities and giving locals a voice. I want to take my kids to “meet the candidate” nights when they are older and local party debates. I want them to be able to name their local member, because that’s the point of the Westminster system. And I want them to watch Anthony Green spend hours getting very excited about a whole lot of numbers on election night because their dad is actually a bit of an election geek too….

Talking about politics is years away yet, but honestly it’s something I’m looking forward to doing. Does that make me weird? I also really want to end this post by saying “Yes we can”….

(Yay did it).

Is this something other parents think about? Have you taken your kids to the booths with you? What was it like?

Work life balance (or imbalance)

It’s hard to juggle family and job. Work life balance they call it.

Sometimes I get an emails from home while I’m at work. Shopping lists, a brief update on the kids, maybe even a photo. Week before last I got this:

PLEASE PUT YOUR WHITEBOARD MARKERS AWAY!!!! The Lad HAS DRAWN ON EVERY SURFACE IN HIS ROOM, EVERY TOY, THE FLOOR, THE DOOR AND ALL OVER HIS LIBRARY BOOKS. I was tryingbto put The Lass down for a nap. I need to be able to leave him for 20 minutes without this happening!!! Continue reading

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