Dadinating the Country Side

The Trials and Tribulations of Living the Dream

A letter to myself – 10 months ago

Dear 10-months ago self,

You’re pretty scared right now. Your daughter is 2 and a half weeks old. Your son is 21 years and 11 months old. You poor poor thing. You’d just gotten into the groove of one, and now there are two. I wanted to share a story with you that might help you get through the coming weeks and months. I won’t detail the struggles, you’ll find out about those yourself. Instead let me tell you about what happened this morning.

The Mamanator had to run a couple of errands in town. Our son got his gumboots swapped with another kid while out and about yesterday, they are identical to his boots, just a size smaller. So she was going to swap them back, then buy some stuff to make jam and come home. She left the kids at home with me.

I was unphased. No seriously, I didn’t find it a bother at all. You may find that amazing…. Our son is toilet training right now, so he was running around with no pants and no nappy on. It was hilarious, and at times awkward (skin touches skin in peculiar ways when there are no pants….). Our daughter, who crawls now, scoots around happily most of the time and is rarely malcontented.

The Mamanator gave the girl a top up feed before leaving to ensure I wouldn’t be faced with a hungry child who doesn’t eat much solid food yet, and away she went. I was still in my pyjamas, and had Stoically accepted that was not going to change. It was okay, the only people I had to impress were the kids and they don’t care what I wear.

So she left and we played. We played and played. We played with trains. Then before we started playing with the next toy I made The Lad pack up the trains. Yes, you can do that now, you are pretty awesome.

The Lad has this game at the moment where I set up a “forest” using some wooden trees that came with that train set and then, he then smashes them down with his toy recycle truck. I’ve tried to point out the irony more than once, but he just doesn’t get it. One day…..

I read him a book. The same book. 3 times. In a row. It’s about a bunch of animals that DEFINITELY DO NOT LIVE IN WIND IN THE WILLOWS, no they live in “Ferny Hollow”, a completely different WASPy English village occupied by a toad, a badger, foxes and other assorted creatures. It’s COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

The Lass was pretty content most of the time. She played with that felt doll you got for The Mamanator when she was pregnant. She played with blocks and soft toys. She tried to eat all the trains and then she beat the crap out of the cats. She had a great time (she’s an independent little thing).

There were scuffles. She pulled apart the train track. She wanted to eat the fire engine. She knocked over the forest. But none of this lead to a major meltdown, The Lad doesn’t arc up generally, provided you don’t arc up.

After about an hour and a half of this The Mamantor called with a flustered apology for taking so long, she was still in town. Guess what you said. See if you can pick:

a.) Oh my god, the kids are on fire get back as quickly as you can before we all die.

b.) That’s okay, take your time. I’ve locked myself in a room to get away from it and I’m feeling very peaceful. No idea what the kids are doing.

c.) SDF:LKHGE:DSLKDHF:SDLKFH (the point being that you have lost the power of speech and simply spluttered down the line).

or d.) What? It hasn’t been that long, has it?

It was d. Somehow and in someway this morning things just clicked. Sure the house was a mess, sure you were in your pyjamas, but you were dad and being dad was your job. Don’t worry, you still got stuff done. You changed nappies, got your daughter dressed and managed to unload/reload the washing machine (with nappies no less). So The Mamanator got to do this:

A coffee and a kindle and no kids. She was happy....

A coffee and a kindle and no kids. She was happy….

 

 

You also got The Lad to do a poo on the potty, had no toileting accidents and used the Internet to teach yourself the chords for “On Top of Spaghetti” on the ukulele. Seriously, you will pick it up and start playing with it soon. And you know what? It was fun. You enjoyed your kids and you were there for them. You made the time and the loved you for it.

So here’s what I want you to remember:

  1. If you can’t get to a kid the second they start bawling don’t worry. Their head’s don’t explode, and the will learn to wait.
  2. You can’t be in 2 places at once, and you can’t do 2 things at once. Accept it, do what you can and move on.
  3. Your kid’s won’t accept your explanations, but keep making them. One day they will understand.
  4. Playing “Upside down” with The Lad when he is completely pantsless is an awkward view… Very awkward….
  5. It get’s easier. It’s never “easy” but it get’s easier.
  6. They don’t share. They just don’t. The best you get is The Lad will snatch something off The Lass and then throw a soft toy at her head saying “Here, you can play with this one!” or similar. I’m sure he’ll get it one day….
  7. There will come a day when getting the kids to help will actually make a task take less time. (I don’t know when that is, but I’m sure it will happen one day).
  8. You’re a dad of 2, you lucky bastard.

Anyway, I’ll leave you to discover what the coming months hold. I just wanted you to know that you will find your feet. Even if it’s only for a morning, because who knows what tomorrow will bring? Enjoy watching them grow. The Dadinator (from the present).

Things you can’t ignore. Cancer.

Men are very good at ignoring things. I don’t know why exactly, no one does, but I do know that I’ve been guilty of it myself. On a macro-scale this translates to a lower rate of doctor visit among men, generally shorter visits and greater likelihood of death across all age groups when compared to women. So men are generally less healthy, see the doctor less and die more than women. I’m going to take a stab in the dark and postulate that these three things are related.

About 2 years ago I had a health scare of my own. Actually it wasn’t really a health scare, it was just a little niggle that made me a bit worried. You know, I wasn’t SCARED or anything. It was something that popped up from time to time in the past which I had dutifully ignored as a card carrying male of the species. It was embarrassing. It was nothing. It had gone away on its own before. I just passed a bit of blood when I had a bowel movement, no big deal.

My father had colon cancer. It struck him when he was not much older than I am now. They caught it and cut it out of him, he even avoided a full colostomy (and colostomy bag). He was lucky.

I sometimes wonder about it. Did he ignore it? Did he think it would go away? Did he look into the bowl of the toilet, see the unmistakable red tinge and worry the way I did sometimes? Was he scared? Did it even happen to him? Did he notice at all?

I’d Dr. Googled myself in the past. I’d ummed and ahhed about seeing someone about it, about doing something about it. I’d worried about it. I’d never actually taken any action though. I was a young man. Healthy. No other complaints, it was probably nothing…. RIght?

This time something was different though. This time I had two little blue eyes staring at me every day. Two little blue eyes which held in them such love and which bestowed on me such a burden of responsibility that ignoring it was no longer good enough. My son has made me a better man in so many ways, this is one.

So I did the only logical thing. I spoke to The Mamanator. I talked about this problem that I’d had for years, kept secret and ignored. Suddenly because I’d talked about it once talking about it again to the doctor was no longer as big deal. I also spoke to my own mum about it, asked about dad, asked about the family history and gathered information.

Then I went to see the GP. He was understanding, he downplayed the risks given my age and general good health, but he suggested seeing a specialist simply because of the family history. For a man to develop bowel cancer in his 30s as dad did is unusual, and increased the likelihood of a genetic factor being involved. This in turn increased the likelihood I had a genetic predisposition to the disease.

I met the specialist some weeks later, who was equally optimistic, but he also made it clear that I would need to get this checked regularly for the rest of my life. Checked the hard way….

So every 3-5 years of my life I’m going to undergo a colonoscopy. I’ve had 1, and it was bloody awful. The procedure itself isn’t a big deal, I was placed under a general anaesthetic, so I don’t remember anything about it. Given what they have to stick up where, it’s probably for the best.

The lead up was torture though. 3 days of fasting where your diet becomes progressively more restricted till you’re living on bonox and miso soup. Then you drink the special drink the night before the procedure and it clears out EVERYTHING in your system in spectacular fashion. It was awful, and apparently made me into a crotchety grumpy-arse (pun intended) for my wife to cope with for those last couple of days.

But I did it, got checked and all was fine. I know I’ll be back, and I’ll put myself through it again, but I don’t really mind. It’s a necessary step I take to ensure that I don’t go through what my dad did. A bit of unpleasantness every few years seems a pretty small price to pay to nip cancer in the bud.

But now to switch focus to another part of the body……

I’m writing this post because my blogging buddy Alison over at Talking Frankly asked me to write something supporting two outstanding Sydney gentlemen, one of whom is a personal friend of her’s. They have undertaken a walk from Sydney to Melbourne (900km) to raise awareness and money for the Melanoma Institute of Australia. Melanoma is even easier to ignore than blood where it shouldn’t be, and it took me years to sort myself out and get myself checked.

These two blokes are both melanoma survivors. Details of their journey and why they are doing it can be found on their web page here. They want to raise money, but also get people to go get their skin checked. You can follow their journey (which ends today) on Facebook here. They aimed to get 900 people to get checked during their walk, here’s what they posted today:

Skin Checks

Not only did they meet their target, but 18 people who really needed help will now get it because of what these guys have done. That’s enough for me to call them legends.

Their walk ends today, but the importance of keeping on top of your health doesn’t. So go get a skin check, talk to your doctor and keep an eye on your skin.

In fact, if you’ve got any niggle that makes you worry or makes you lose sleep don’t ignore it. I’m talking to you male readers.

And to Jay and Andrew I say congratulations, I hope my former home-town welcomes you with open arms!

Do you have a niggle? Something that worries you? Or do you know someone who does? Go see a doctor, you have nothing to lose except anxiety.

Please help spread the word and share this one around.

Moving to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches: Our orchard

We had a dream before we moved here of an orchard. An orchard full to the brim with lush greenery sprouting fruit with fecundity and seasonal regularity. We put an orchard on the same level as Solar Panels and chickens when we plotted and eventually made our Tree Change, we wanted to grow our own fruit, make our own jams, bottle our own preserves and even dry out our own fruit leather (home-made roll-ups).

This year was the year, it was going to happen.

Finally this could be us:

Continue reading

Salami day!

I am not vegetarian. I understand why people are, and that’s cool. I am not. I find meat delicious, but I have never “worked” with meat until Saturday when I tried my hand at making Salami. (Also, if you are vegetarian, this post is probably not for you as it contains photos – not gruesome, but still of meat so, fair warning!). Continue reading

Bedtime

Every night you gently encourage your little one to sleep. Then sometimes you cajole them. Some nights you argue with them. Some nights you raise your voice. Some nights you have to leave the room to collect yourself. Every night is different. Every night is the same result, they go to sleep. Some nights later than others, but they get there.

There are the nights when you walk up and down the house, wait for them to nod off only to have them scream at you when their head touches the cot mattress. There are the nights when they stir again and again and again. There are nights when their eyes flick open as soon as you move a muscle, and you have to start all over again. There are nights when you fall asleep before the kid does. There are the nights when (for some bizarre reason that no one can discern) they sleep perfectly well.

Continue reading

« Older posts