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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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’)

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.