I love a list. But not these ones.

I’m turning 30 this year. I don’t have much to show for it, besides a startling number of hats I don’t wear, and several pairs of jeans that don’t fit me. Any milestone birthday means you are confronted with lists of ’30 Things You Definitely Have To Do By 30 Or You’ve Basically Wasted Your Youth’ (hot tip – we already know we wasted our youth). You know what I’m talking about. Those lists that tell you to ‘Make sure you’ve watched a sunrise in the Maldives while hand-feeding rescue turtles’, and ‘Pay off your debt’ (HAHAHAHAHA). A lot of those kinds of lists are – I’m just going to say it – unachievable to most regular people. If you’re like me, and you hate ’30 Before 30′ lists, join me as I rip one apart. This is for those of us who sometimes find it overwhelming just getting through the goals for the day, let alone half a lifetime.

1. Travel somewhere you don’t know the language. 

Ok, this is not a great start, because I have actually done this one, but it is not necessarily the starry-eyed, exciting adventure that it always seems to be painted as. It’s scary, it can be really lonely, and it’s usually fucking expensive, despite the related list of ’25 Ways to Travel the World With Only $25 in Your Pocket’.

2. Stop holding grudges.

How dare they. I will hold a grudge ’til I die. Probably of a stomach ulcer from holding said grudge, but honestly, a grudge is probably the only thing in life I can really commit to.

3. Feel the rain on your skin.

Spare me. We’ve all been caught out without an umbrella, we’ve all been rained on. It’s not romantic and whimsical. It’s damp and inconvenient.

4. Treat yourself to something really expensive.

This just seems 100% trivial to me. Sometimes, spending $40 on a shirt seems absolutely frivolous to me, other times I will spend that much on novelty greeting cards and not even blink. Once I bought a quite expensive handbag without a second thought, and then the next week agonised over whether or not I needed a three pack of socks for $7. If you have the means, once in a while, buy yourself something you really want, but don’t necessarily need. Whether that is a chocolate bar at the checkout, or a full velour tracksuit à la J.Lo circa 2001, you do you. If you don’t have the means, call me. I can always spring for a Snickers.

5. Attend the Olympic Games.

This is just taking the absolute piss.

6. Pay off your credit card debt.

How is one to do this if one has just travelled somewhere they don’t know the language, bought themselves something really expensive, and been to the Olympics? Seriously.

7. Learn the lyrics to ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ by R. Kelly.

This was honest to god on a list I read. If you were born pre 1990, you probably know all the words anyway. If you weren’t, and you don’t, don’t fucking bother. Space Jam is awesome, but R. Kelly is revolting, and I’m still trying to scrub ‘Ignition (Remix)’ from my brain.

8. Make music

The only music I can make is playing ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ on the jumbo xylophone at the playground, and that’s only because my kid can’t tell when I fuck it up. Does that count?

9. Wear more colour.

I shan’t. There is a breed of people who wear grey, black, and white, and we will not change. However, I did just buy a green jersey, so maybe I’m full of shit. (Spoiler alert: I am)

10. Find something you’re really good at.

I have dreams that one day I’ll try something for the first time and I’ll just be an absolute natural. Like, maybe one day I’ll be a champion ski jumper, or a world-famous whittler. I’m guessing there’s probably a bit of hard work involved in becoming really really great at something, which is probably why I haven’t yet.

11. Jump more often.

Pardon?

12. Write a book.

Look, I have seen all the typos in your bloody facebook posts. Don’t write a bloody book ok?

13. Watch 100 of the IMDb top 250 movies of all time.

Ok. This one sounds fun. BUT. There are veeeery few comedies on that list, so really prepare yourself for some harrowing viewing. Also, the list was compiled based on user-submitted ratings. Just keep that in mind, and ask yourself if you want to watch 100 movies recommended by strangers who rate stuff on the internet…Maybe instead ask five friends to recommend five films each. At least then you have someone to blame when you hate them all.

14. Keep a list of books you want to read and work your way through it.

I have a list like this. It won’t be completed by the time I die, let alone by the time I’m 30.

15. Find a way to wake up in the morning that you don’t hate.

This morning I woke up with wet pyjamas because my 3 year old peed in my bed, so to be honest, this is probably a great goal for me personally.

16. Go on a blind date.

Sure, Meghan and Harry met on a blind date, but let’s be real: your friends don’t know any princes ok? Blind dates are not usually fun. They’re usually set up by people in relationships who don’t understand that Bridget Jones’s Diary is not a documentary about single people.

17. Get married.

Come on. I know my limits.

18. Spend time with children.

You can do this if you want to, but children are tiny psychopaths. I say this as a mother and a preschool teacher, so just trust me.

19. Learn to gamble.

I have ZERO interest in gambling. I can’t even hold onto money that I’ve earned, there’s no way it would end well if I felt like it was all a game. That’s why I’m so shit at Monopoly.

20. Do something that scares you.

I am scared of stilt-walkers, and those street performers who stay really really still until you walk past, and then they try to shake your hand or something? I’m not doing either of them.

Ok ok, so that’s only a list of 20. But that was gruelling work. I’m very aware now of my failings as a 29 year old woman. I’m fine with it though, because even though I might not have run a marathon, or seen a Broadway play, today I got the washing off the line juuuust before it started raining, and that’s the sort of victory I can get behind on a wet Thursday afternoon.

 

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Married at First Sight, aka the black hole that sucks up my nights.

If you’re not watching Married at First Sight Australia at the moment, what are you even doing with your life on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night? (Probably a fucking lot, actually…) This is the last week. Questions will be answered. Who will stay together? Has Davina developed a conscience? Does Dean even know what feminism means? Will Troy’s laugh get its own spin-off show? All will be revealed. Here is my stream of consciousness while I watch the final ceremonies (if you’re behind at all, I wouldn’t read on…unless you don’t mind spoilers, in which case, knock yourself out).

Tracey and Dean

Dean is like ‘so traditional’, and like, so likes a man to be a man, and for a woman to stay home and pop out babies. He makes jokes about other men sleeping with Tracey, doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with making plans to hook up with another woman behind her back, but is also like, suuuuch a feminist you know? He’s also a 34 year old white man who thinks he is a rapper called Visionz, so. That tells you all you need to know about him. He ends his speech at the final ceremony with the only display of emotion we see from him that isn’t feigned outrage when he gets called out on his sexist bullshit – he cries when he tells Tracey that he loves her. Nothing wrong with crying mate but, in the words of the White Stripes, you don’t know what love is. Tracey talks a lot about trust and betrayal and betrayal and trust, and forgiving Dean and bombshells and being blindsided, but has stayed with him every single week. At the final decision, she drops her own bombshell and SAYS SHE CAN’T SEE A FUTURE WITH HIM, and honestly, I wasn’t even this proud when my daughter started walking.

Patrick and Charlene

I THOUGHT CHARLENE WAS SAYING LEAVE AND SHE DIDN’T GUYS! YES! Never mind that I’ve already looked up whether they stay together…let’s not get into that. Charlene’s confrontational dinner party style is also me after five drinks, so I’m all about that. Patrick is almost a dream, but he needs to stop taking his laundry to his mother’s house before he’s full dream.

John and Melissa

*ALERT* JOHN IS LETTING HIS GUARD DOWN *ALERT*. Honestly, if I had a dollar for every time someone said John didn’t talk about his feelings…well…I’d wonder where that eleven dollars came from. Anyway. Melissa is in her 50s and wears out of control heels and extra AF hair extensions, and I am here for it. John was on the show last season, and disappointed his ‘wife’ by not being a Polynesian man or a gluten free cake. So. He lucked out with Melissa. They have found each other, and I am so glad. It means that when I am 52 and Married at First Sight NZ is onto its 30th season, I can apply in the hopes of finding someone too. Never mind that I will be twice the size of Melissa with half the charm. Let an old woman have her dreams.

Ashley and Troy

When your couple name is Trashley, you’re probably in trouble before you’ve begun. Who are all these people Ashley is talking to that are telling her Troy is such a great match for her? He’s always touching her tummy, and kisses by lunging at her and using his tongue like he uses his toothbrush. I don’t know a woman alive who would be into that. I think she has had Stockholm Syndrome this whole time, and someone needed to give her a safe word so she could GTFO. If she’d said yes to staying with him I would have had to personally stage an intervention. Troy ended their ceremony with his trademark fake laugh, which no doubt reassured Ashley that she made the right choice.

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Sarah and Telv

No YOU’VE got something in your eye. Yes guys. Yes. I can’t bring myself to look up whether or not these two are still together because I’m not ready for the torment if the answer is no.

Tomorrow night there is a reunion dinner party and HOLD ME BACK it will be the highlight of my calendar this week. (Sorry to my cousin whose 21st is this weekend – that’s a close second)

(Ok a distant second. But still second)

(Also, I know this show is trash OK? I have serious reservations about the judges’ experts’ intentions, I don’t think their matchmaking process is very rigorous – last season they matched two guys together who had nothing in common, for no apparent reason other than ‘uhhh they’re both gay?’ – and it is on four nights a week. Which, for anyone who has an actual life, is ridiculous. I do not, so here we are)

From the mouth of my babe

This will be updated regularly because my kid is out the gate.

  • ‘Your tummy is squishy like slime eh Mum?’
  • Someone called her heinous because she was throwing a tantrum, and she said ‘I’m not a penis’
  • ‘I put a booger in my mouth’
  • ‘Can you see my face? I’m angry’
  • ‘I don’t like tractors, I like washing machines and vacuum cleaners and building’
  • She was showing someone her heart shaped glasses and they said ‘love-hearts’. She said ‘no you don’t love hearts, you love triangles’
  • ‘I don’t fart with my bottom. I just do poos with my bottom’
  • ‘You are being adicklious’ (code for ridculous)
  • ‘Can I ride on a camel when I’m bigger?’
  • ‘We don’t touch peoples’ boobs eh Mum? We only look at them’
  • ‘Can I smell you?’
  • ‘Mum can I pat the baby?’
  • She was frowning while she went to the toilet, and when I asked if she was ok she said ‘yes I’m just getting poos out of me’
  • We walked outside on a cold morning: ‘Brrr, it’s a bit chimney’
  • ‘I’ve got two girls. They’re called Menassy and Bejinny’
  • ‘Mum look at my hands. They’re beautiful eh?’
  • She found a dead butterfly on the lawn, and was carrying it around in a container. I bumped into the container, and said ‘oops sorry’. She said ‘say sorry to my butterfly’, and when I did, she said ‘she’s not talking to you because she’s dead’
  • After having curry for dinner: ‘Mum does my wees smell like curry?’
  • ‘There’s bird poo in my eye’ (there wasn’t)
  • ‘Mum I like your boobs’
  • ‘Mum do you know squids have a beak under they fanny?’
  • ‘Mum can you move the sun out of my eyes?’
  • ‘My grandpa was swallowed by a chicken’
  • I told her her hands were freezing, and she said ‘yeah because I’ve been in the freezer’
  • ‘[My daycare teacher] is naughty because she locks me in a cage’
  • ‘Im just pretending to be a girl’
  • ‘Love you my gorgeous dear’
  • ‘What is the purpose of your face?’

You are not what you eat

There is a weird thing that we do as people who eat stuff, and that is assign moral value to food. I have no doubt that everyone reading this has used language like ‘bad’, ‘naughty’, ‘guilty pleasure’, or ‘cheat meal’ when referring to something they’ve eaten. We’ve probably also all said something like ‘Oh man, I was really bad yesterday and had fish and chips for dinner’, or ‘You are so good, having a salad for lunch’. That’s because it’s a short leap between labelling food in a negative way, and labelling ourselves in the same way because we eat that food. I’m aware that they’re only words, but words have power, and the way we talk about what goes into our bodies affects the way we think about them. The more we imbue food with shameful and negative connotations, the easier it is to feel the same way about ourselves when we eat it.

Most adults understand what healthy and unhealthy mean – and somewhere, we transmuted those into meaning ‘good/bad’, and ‘clean/dirty’. And the more we’ve done that, the more we’ve accepted that we are good or bad, clean or dirty, depending on the food we eat. Somewhere along the line, we have also convinced ourselves that the ‘bad’ foods make us bigger, and the ‘good’ foods make us smaller. If the bad foods make us big then being big must be bad, and if the good foods make us small, then being small must be good. It’s a false equivalency, and it’s an insidious and persistent lie that diet culture sells us: that our bodies are a reflection of our morality. And it’s fucking bullshit. Just to be clear here, I have no interest in what anyone eats, or what size anyone is – eat salad every day of your life, or consider donuts a food group, whatever works for you – but remember that what you eat doesn’t determine your worth. Your moral value depends on many things, but the ratio of Snickers bars to kale smoothies you’ve ingested in your lifetime is not one of them. Eat the fucking cake. Drink the fucking coconut water. Enjoy the chips or the chickpeas, but know that your food choices don’t make you better or worse than anyone else.

There is a similar narrative which tells us that ‘food is fuel’ – existing to help us get those gains, lose that tummy, grow that ass, and that’s fine. But food is more than just fuel. And we have to let ourselves be OK with that. Food is fuel, but it’s also celebration, comfort, enjoyment, togetherness, nostalgia, and sometimes, the only thing that’ll get you through a fucking rough hangover.

(I know that most people who read this know me personally. And those who know me personally know that I am not a slim woman. I am not now, and I never have been. Chances are I never will be. I know that some of those people who know me personally will read this and have thoughts like “LOL she’s just talking shit because she’s fat, maybe she should try eating less bad food every week trololololol”. I won’t label food, but I will label those people ‘bags of shit’)

This isn’t Hyde Street. 

I don’t know how, or why, or exactly when, but at some point in the last few years, I’ve started to really give a shit about the way we treat the planet we live on. I’ve always cared – tried to reduce, reuse, recycle, but as I get older, it all seems a little more…pressing. Maybe one day humans will be colonising Mars, but I reckon it’s a pretty safe bet that in my lifetime, and yours too, Earth is it. And man, are we doing a good job of fucking it up. This planet isn’t like a shitty student flat – we can’t just treat it like a dump and find a new one next year. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but an eviction notice from Mother Earth means…um…we die. Shit is serious.

Something that nearly made me shit myself when I read it was the prediction that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. WHAT?! If that thought doesn’t register with some alarm in your brain, then you are either heartless or a bit on the thick side. So here’s something you can do about that. New Zealand (and the world) can do more to cut down on plastic shopping bags. And that means you can do more. You can pick up reusable bags at ANY supermarket and use them FOREVER. You’ve probably got them lying around the bloody house already. That or some kind of tote bag/cooler bag/cloth bag/anything-but-plastic bag. Before anyone starts to have a hernia at the thought of having to buy reusable shopping bags – just stop. A $20 outlay for 10 bags you can use forever ain’t no thang. Especially not compared to the guilt of feeding plastic to sea turtles and dolphins. And before that hernia starts to re-emerge at the thought of having to remember to keep those reusable bags in your car, spare me the tears. If you can remember the names of all the Kardashians and their significant others, the 13 most effective ab workouts, or how to create the perfect contour in 22 easy steps, you can remember to take your reusable shopping bags to the fucking supermarket. The only thing worse than being a dick is being a lazy dick.

Another thing that’s super easy to remember is to take a drink bottle with you when you leave the house if you think you might need one. A proper, heavy duty, last-for-ages, BPA free number. It takes 3-7L of water and 1L of oil to make a 1L plastic water bottle. That. Is. Fuuuucked. That’s like a recipe asking you to put five cakes into a bowl, mix them with eggs and flour, bake them for 40 minutes at 220, and then you pulling one effing cake out of the oven. WHAT GOES INTO IT IS NOT WORTH WHAT YOU GET OUT OF IT. New Zealand’s tap water consistently ranks among the best in the world – so fucking drink it. ‘But I don’t like the taaaste’. Stop it. You whiny baby. Buy a water jug with a filter. Keep it in the fridge. Job done. The initial cost is nothing compared to what you’ll save by not buying a fucking water bottle at the service station every second day.

There’s more. There’s way more. Don’t litter – and maybe pick up a piece and chuck it in the bin once in a while. Turn shit off when you’re not using it. Don’t leave the tap on while you brush your teeth. Stop using plastic wrap. Get a reusable coffee cup instead of chucking away a disposable one every day. Wash your hands with cold water (For real. When it comes to handwashing, warm water isn’t doing anything cold water can’t). Take shorter showers. Try to eat a couple of meat-free dinners a week. Stop collecting bloody junk mail. Eat seasonally and locally when you can. Throw out that rank facewash with the microbeads. Recycle. Give a shit about where your dollar goes, because where your dollar goes shows what you give a shit about.

‘But I can’t do all thiiiis’. No. Stop it. Whiny baby again. Maybe you can’t do everything. But you can do something. And something is better than nothing. Make a conscious effort to improve the footprint you leave on this planet because (to paraphrase), we don’t inherit this earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. And I don’t want to explain to the kids of 2050 that the reason there are no sea turtles or dolphins anymore is because I needed a plastic bag to carry a bottle of fucking Evian.

The Weight.

Usually, when people ask ‘how are you?’, the answer comes pretty naturally – ‘oh I’m fine, thanks, how are you?’. Because whether you’re happy, sad, tired, hungry, worried or stressed, ‘fine’ implies that you’re coping. You might be vaguely homicidal, but you’re handling it. And usually, when I say I’m fine, it’s because I am. But sometimes, when I hear ‘how are you?’, my mind goes blank because sometimes, I am not fine.

I would like to preface the rest of this with three points:

1. I do my very best not to complain about single motherhood (to most people anyway. Some probably wish I’d shut the fuck up). I try not to mention that I am tired all the time. That I cannot pee in peace, or finish a meal without interruption, that there are tantrums in my household almost daily. And not always from the two year old. I try not to mention the times that I have been told no one will date a single mother, and the times that, against my better judgement, I have believed that (my better judgement is pretty solid though, and always comes raging back soon enough to remind me that I don’t actually give a fuck – even if it is true). I try not to mention how lonely and isolated I sometimes feel. I try not to mention the desperate, all-encompassing, constant anxiety I feel about raising a daughter in this world. By myself. And I try really hard not to mention that sometimes, I feel like I am doing a shitty job.

2. I know that I am lucky. I know that some people would kill to have children, and for whatever reason, it hasn’t happened for them. I know that I am lucky my daughter is here, and that she is healthy. I am lucky that we have a place to live, food to eat, people who love us, and time to spend together. I know it could be worse. I know I don’t have a monopoly on the parenthood struggle, but that perspective is not always easy to keep.

3. I love my child. With everything that I have, and everything that I am. I love her so much that the thought of not being able to keep her safe and protected forever makes me feel physically sick.

All that being said, I don’t know many single mothers. I know even fewer who have small children. And I know even fewer than that (if any) who don’t ever have the respite of another parent taking their child for a week, or a weekend, or even a day. So I don’t know who to say this stuff to. That is not to say my child and I don’t have time apart, we do. I go to work, and she is not there. Sometimes I will have a night out, or a weekend away, and she is not there. But even when she is not there, I feel the weight of responsibility – is she behaving? Will she sleep OK? Is she actually just a nuisance? – I feel this deeply and acutely, no matter where I am, no matter who I’m with (or who she’s with, for that matter), and no matter how many vodka sodas I’ve had. I am it for my daughter. And sometimes that is too fucking much.

People say to me, quite often, that they don’t know how I do it. The short answer is ‘because I have to’. The longer, more complicated answer is ‘I don’t know either. Because sometimes, I don’t think I am doing it. I feel like I am failing. Failing myself as a woman, and failing my daughter as a mother. Sometimes I wonder how I will make it through the day without imploding with unexpressed anxiety, self-doubt, rage and fear. Sometimes I feel like a fraud because, like I mentioned above, what do I really have to be down about?’. I know people mean well, and I wholeheartedly appreciate the sentiment, but sometimes I really don’t know how I do it either.

Sometimes though, I am surprised by some external reminder of how it is only inside my head that I feel these things; that maybe, despite feeling exhausted and overlooked and useless and anxious, that is not what comes through. A friend whose opinion I respect a lot told me recently that he likes the way I’m raising my kid. That I’m killing it (the raising part, not the actual child). Being a parent isn’t often about external validation, but sometimes it is nice to hear. And sometimes, when it might feel like you’re drowning under the weight of it all, it’s a very welcome lifeline.

Anyway. Enough about me. How are you?

I am way ahead of you…

At the end of a very brief romance approximately a year ago, I was told ‘yeah, I didn’t really wanna deal with a kid’. On a date once, I was told ‘at least you have a pretty face’ – the very obvious implication being that that was all I have. I was reintroduced to a friend of a friend recently, who told me he remembered my ‘big bum’. While speaking to a friend at a bar once, his friend sent him a text asking why he was ‘talking to such a fat cow’. I had someone tell me recently that he laughed at my writing ‘mostly for how bad it was’. I’ve been told several times that ‘guys only talk to you because you have big boobs’.

I honestly do not know what the point of being such an asshole is. Because, the thing is, there is nothing on that list that I haven’t already thought about myself. Sometimes I don’t want to leave the house because I worry I look like a fat cow with a big bum. I wonder all the time whether my daughter and I will be a team of two forever (though we all know three’s a crowd, so I reckon that’d be alright). I have had boobs since I was 12 years old (pretty old for a cow), and I’ve always had a fear that they’re the only reason people are talking to me. Every time I write something I am filled with crippling self doubt, because I know so many wonderfully talented people, and I wonder ‘why would anything I say be worth their time?’. The joke is on the guy who told me I had a pretty face though, because most days I don’t even have that.

For most of us, it is a hard enough battle to be kind to ourselves without having to fend off insults from others. I have never given anyone permission to speak to me like that, so why have I given it to myself?

Unless someone is the kind of raging douchebag who talks about ‘grabbing women by the pussy’, there is absolutely no point in slinging shit at them, because most people are their own worst enemies and their own biggest critics. Don’t be an asshole. Don’t tell someone they look tired, because whether they are or not, you telling them that will make them tired. Of your bullshit. Don’t be the person who makes someone’s day worse, when maybe it’s taken them all the courage they have to get out of bed. Being a dick doesn’t serve anyone. I’ve never felt good after saying something nasty about someone, and I’ve definitely never felt good after saying something nasty about myself. So let’s stop fucking doing it. OK?

And just by the way, (forgive me for breaking our newly made promise so soon), someone who does talk about ‘grabbing women by the pussy’ shouldn’t be in charge of a knife and fork, let alone an entire fucking country.