Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Thoughts on love, marriage, partnerships and the elsuive boyfriend/girlfriend issue.

In preparing to meet our new baby I have been reading lots about how children impact relationships, so I thought maybe I would share something that isn't about that. This is just what I have discovered so far into my own marriage, some gripes I have and some good old whinging. 

1. Having a boyfriend is not the same as being married (or in a de facto relationship).
I'll say straight up that I'm not convinced in the sacrament of marriage. It certainly isn't everything, and getting married just to get it over and done with is stupid. In most of my circles, being married is a faster process than usual. On the other hand, my friends and family who aren't married but do live with their partners are seen as the package deal, just as us old marrieds are. Legally wed and de facto are one and the same in my book.

I get kind of annoyed when people decide that their boyfriend or girlfriend is as good as their husband or wife, or "we're pretty much married". No you're not.The piece of paper doesn't make you wedded to your dreamboat though, but doing life together does (and doing it separately doesn't). When we got married we went from living over an hour away from each other to suddenly living in the same house, making all of the decisions together, sharing money and having each other's backs (even when one or the other didn't deserve it). I don't think you need to live together before you're married though, but when you don't, you often see most of the good stuff and little of the bad. I don't just mean bad hair days (or fat days as I like to call them), but dealing together with trivial issues, and big stuff sure helps. In the two years we weren't married, Stephen and I had plenty of dates, planned our time together and did the fun stuff because we would only see each other a few days a week. Once we were married, it was really hard for us to take time to just be a couple and not two people living in a house who happened to love each other a lot.

If you had said this to me at the time of our engagement though, I would totally disagree. We did make big life decisions together and plan things, and take holidays, but you do this with friends and family too. There is a huge difference, seriously.

2. Other people's advice is not about you and your partner.
I've said often that before our wedding we received a lot of advice, most of it was pretty unhelpful or didn't make a lot of sense to who we are as a couple. Things like never go to bed angry (or do) was already something we had been doing forever. Date nights seemed kind of laughable (they're not now), and to be working towards staying married to not get divorced seemed kind of fruitless.

The thing is, two and a bit years in, I haven't forgotten that the advice we were given hasn't suited who we are, and said volumes about the people who said it. My standard advice to about to be wed couples is to be the first one to say sorry, but really, that only applies in our little world. In some relationships, this isn't a choice, and I guess I need to word it better by saying 'compromise is choosing to surrender, or at least meet a quarter of the way'.

3. Changing people after marriage is stupid. And what's with Stupid Husband Syndrome?
There's one trend I'm noticing - people who are married don't change, but their partners try to make them do so anyway. Essentially who I am now is very much who I was ten years ago, or even as a child. We really don't change personalities and interests, just our nature (good, bad and indifferent) changes. Experience and knowledge changes us too, but not really enough to say 'I am a completely different person'. Has my focus changed? Yes. For me, Guides has been a huge interest in the last few years, but working with young people has not. Have my values changed? Yes, because I have seen more of this world and accept that my own faith journey is vastly different to others. This is stuff that can be influenced though. See the world together, talk about changing values together.

The small things though, like my love of beanies (Stephen calls them tea cozies) and Stephen's insistence of wearing skivvies when he is sick and in bed for the day, don't need changing, even if they are a bit irksome. And how I relate to someone, whether it is making them something they like to eat or indulging them in something like to do, doesn't change just because their significant other is on some weird process of changing them.

I refuse to allow Stupid Husband Syndrome. As far as I am aware, my own husband looked after and cared for himself a long time before I came on the scene. He doesn't know everything, but neither do I, and that's no need to create some great tall tales about how stupid men are. Yes, Mere Male section of Women's Day, you're going into the bin.

4. Just because a couple is married, doesn't mean you'll be friends with them.
This is such a mistake.
As much as married life is very different to the single life and the dating life, the idea that A Married Couple automatically becomes friends with Another Married Couple is crazy. We have friends from all over the place who are at different stages of their lives. And that is totally cool and okay. We don't want to be stuck on The Married Table at a wedding. We want to be with Our Friends or Some People With Similar Interests (PS no, marriage is not an interest) or People We Have Known For A Long Time. Assumptions are silly, the end.

5. Not everyone gets the package deal, and that's okay.
I have a friend who kept verifying that his then girlfriend was invited to things he was invited to. Of course she was, but I didn't have her number and I just kind of thought they were a package deal anyway. I guess he had a point though, not everyone sees it that way. People with partners tend to though with some exceptions, like that guy.

Then again, if you're the only one with a significant other in your group of friends, it can be hard to be upfront, or maybe you feel you don't have to. I remember being highly disappointed when showing up to a Girls Night Out with a friend's super annoying boyfriend tagging along for the short lived evening. It wasn't really anyone's fault, just she didn't say anything beforehand, and they didn't have a problem with it, though we did.

All these things aside, Stephen and I do plenty of social things separately. Footy days are almost always a Lisa free event, dinners out with the girls are always a Stephen free event. He doesn't enjoy girl talk, I don't enjoy making small talk with girls I don't know, easy solution.

The only advice I'll give on this is to ask before you bring someone somewhere they weren't invited too, unless it's kind of obvious (like a barbeque or a house warming or something that 100 people on Facebook have been asked to attend).

I think that's it for me. I'm certainly no all knowing woman in the ways of the married world, but so far this ride has been pretty sweet.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

National Volunteers Week: My elevator speech for volunteering with Girl Guides.

It's National Volunteers Week! If you have ever thought about working with young women maybe Girl Guides is the place for you.

In the last two and a half years I have learnt so much from Guides, made incredible friends, had the opportunity to travel and help support girls in their efforts to be educated, to advocate for causes and to challenge themselves on a weekly basis.

Guides has been an incredible foundation for who I am and has helped ground many of my values and beliefs. Any questions, please ask below... Or you could do what I did and explore the Girl Guides websites for yourself. Xx

Some useful links:

Girl Guides National Website

Girl Guides South Australia

Traveller's Tales Sangam 2014 Be The Change

All those things I thought I'd never do.

Today it's Week 22.5 of pregnancy, and somne things have changed a lot since... well, 22.5 weeks ago.

I had a lot of ideas about pregnancy before now, and I decided to, well, debunk my own myths about what I thought I would be/do/act.

1. Not eating things you like is stupid.
As soon as I found out we were having a baby, I happened to have an appointment with with my dietician a week later. What she gave me could fill a book. There was a long list of don'ts and a short list of dos.  I never thought I would happily forego my love of shaved ham, or feta cheese or soft serves. Not to mention, my all time favourite breakfast out dish - soft poached eggs on toast. But then, I was making these decisions when I was only responsible for one person - me, myself and I. Just like I believed sugar making kids hyper was a lie (it's not), things changed really quickly.

Instead of being that Person Who Makes A Huge Deal Out Of Not Being Able To Eat Stuff You Unknowingly Serve To A Pregnany Woman, I say nothing, because, rude. And I just eat something else.

I also started taking vitamins, because, that makes sense.

2. Ultrasound photos... really?
On Monday we went to Before You Were Born Imaging to have 3D and 4D ultrasounds done. The main reason was that our ultrasound for 20 weeks wasn't especially clear. It turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. An instrumental version of Yes, Jesus Loves Me (preceded by Pop Goes the Weasel) played and it was really at that point that I'm actually going to be a Mum. Our ultrasound photos are a bit special, but not posting because I find it a bit of an overshare.

3. Online parenting forums
I always thought I would be one of those Mummy Forum Stalkers, but everything I have seen in the last few months has scared me away from stupid baby forums, along with their bloody weird acronyms (BFP= Big fat Positive pregnancy test... the hell?) and hyper competitive parenting... Ugh. Can't deal.

4. Knowing the gender of the baby
Lots of people told us that we wouldn't want to know. We know now, and it's a massive secret but kind of nice too.

5. Cute nicknames
My friends and myriad of acquaintances have nicknamed their unborn bubbas some really weird things. Mostly food related. Pumpernickel has not featured on a Facebook status update, and probably won't.

6. Changing cat litter
One thing I was really looking forward to was not changing cat litter. Well, the swap finally happened this week. Gloves seem to do the trick.

7. Lifting heavy stuff
I did a lot of STUPID stuff the week before I found out I was with child, including moving the sports cupboard across the back porch, throwing myself at the ground for derby and lugging boxes around the house. All that stopped at the start of February and I'm lucky to work with awesome people who don't make me lift and do silly things.

8. Being Little Miss Sleepy
I really wanted to be one of those fun pregnant ladies, but it looks like my raging days are over. Early to bed, early to rise, lots of siestas and sitting in front of the television doing sweet nothing. Well, sometimes knitting. I always like to be busy, but more quite time has been good for me, not to mention the fact that the baby is more active when I'm resting so I can enjoy little kicks until they become big ones.

9. Pregnancy Photo Shoots
Until a month ago, having a pregnancy photo shoot seemed like a massive waste of time and money. I'll probably go to Impressions and have a $29 shoot, but basically, I like looking like a pregnant lady and I would like one flattering photo of myself.

10. Hating maternity clothes
 Maternity clothes are horrible. I went to City Chic and bought some bigger stuff (harem pants, a stretchy tee, tights and jeans which are still too big), but I mostly hate all of them. My quest to go 400 days without buying new things has failed a little, but only from necessity.

11. Watching One Born Every Minute
Lots of ladies I know love One Born. I was petrified of having to have a Cesarean birth (in fact, I still am), and I thought watching the show would help. It didn't. But you can watch highlights from my favourite episode here, because, who doesn't need a cute outfit while in the birthing pool thingy?

I soon discovered that while all the births were different, it was essentially the same thing, and I didn't need to keep stressing about it. Phew!

12. Bonding with other mums
I haven't been as good at bonding with other mums.
Okay, kind of a lie. Mums I already know and like I have been happy chatting to. But I can't suddenly look at all mums and be like 'Wow, you are a super woman because you are a mum'. Sorry, you picked someone in the wrong field for that.

I have kept saying that men and (and women who haven't been pregnant) keep asking if I have had any cravings. No. I just like juice drinks a lot and get hankerings for pepperoni pizza.

But one thing hasn't changed... 13. Say no to the bump photos
There is one thing I have stuck to: NO BUMP PHOTOS!

Sensible cravings. Mmmm. Potatoes.
I don't care what someone looks like week to week of their pregnancy. They might enjoy that. I certainly didn't want to compare bumps with Baby 1 and Baby 2 (torturous for all viewers). But I also didn't want to put myself out there. I already had a good belly before I was pregnant, and now I still have one. I feel different because I am, but I don't need to show the world that I'm... uhhh.... showing. (PS - showing sounds gross).

I also feel that bump photos could also be an invitation to pat the bump, but there are only a few people who get away with that (namely women, my family and someone who has touched my tummy on a regular occasion, which is only Jon when he makes it wobble). I suddenly don't love being touched and hugged by people I'm not close to, or I am close to but aren't good on the hugging bizzo.

I wonder what else will change after the baby actually arrives?! Scary thoughts.

Anyway, that's it from me. For now anyway.