WELCOME TO MY BLOG!

You are probably wondering what this blog is about and whether you should continue reading.

This blog is essentially about my personal experiences as a parent and as a modern day woman, written as short stories that I hope will be relatable and offer some comedic relief.

I started journal writing as a form of cathartic release from all of the stresses of being a mother and day-to-day living. From doing this, I rediscovered my love of creative writing. As a mother of two gorgeous and adventurous cherubs, I oftentimes find myself in rather amusing and outright unbelievable situations, which quickly became fodder for my short stories.

Suffice to say, this blog will now act as my medium for journal writing in the form of slightly embellished short stories. At a minimum, I will be aiming for a weekly entry.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them!

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CHASING THE GOLDEN ARCHES

“Hey Grandma, did you know that Mummy let’s us have McDonald’s all the time? For breakfasts, lunch AND dinners!”

One loaded statement made from a mischievous six-year-old has led to a sit-down family intervention and my consequential misery.

You see, I’ve been banned from being in close vicinity of any McDonald’s franchise. I cannot use UberEats, Deliveroo or get a taxi to deliver any food from said establishment for a WHOLE month. It seems a bit much. It’s not like I have a problem or anything. Just because I like to eat a Big Mac and fries on many an occasion, doesn’t mean I have an addiction, right?

So to prove to my unnecessarily overly concerned family members that I am not part of a McDonald’s customer loyalty program and I CAN stop, I agreed to their ridiculous terms.


JOURNAL ENTRIES

Day One: Precontemplation

I’m banned. A WHOLE month.

No delicious Big Mac sauce will smear my upper lip. No fulfilling carb-load of fries to warm my belly. No feeling of cold soft serve will tickle my taste buds.

It’s ridiculous, utterly ridiculous! We all have favourite foods. What’s the point of living if you can’t enjoy a Big Mac once in a while?!

I feel such a deep longing; a profound yearning for McDonald’s. I miss smelling, touching and eating it. I feel terribly unsatisfied. Is this normal?

Week One: Contemplation

Hmm… I wonder if there is any truth to this whole addiction thing. Maybe not addiction per se, maybe just a habit. Nope, that word doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe overindulgence. Yes, that’s the word I’m looking for, overindulgence. Is it such a bad word?

I guess I COULD be choosing healthier food options. I DO have the kids to consider. I SHOULD be modelling good eating behaviour. I am a parent and that does come with responsibilities.

Gosh, I still want to stuff my face with McDonald’s. Why do I do that? I don’t really know. Do I have a problem?

Week Two: Preparation

Okay! Okay! … I admit it. I have a problem. I have a McDonald’s affliction. I have a Big Mac and fries obsession. There, I said it. I bet everyone is pleased with themselves.

I have a plan. I will avoid triggers that bring me to my knees. I will uninstall UberEats app. I will bypass all roads that lead within sniffing range of a McDonald’s franchise. I shall choose healthier take-away options. I shall remember to think of the kids and their health every time I feel the desire for a drive-thru. I will eat kale and like it! Maybe.

I am committed. Well, at least for the moment. I don’t want to get ahead of myself here.

Week Three: Action

I’ve discovered that it’s damn near impossible to avoid a McDonald’s franchise. They are everywhere, like a fruit fly infestation! Practically every route has a road that leads to nirvana. I suspect Siri has got it in for me.

Every time we are in a food court, I find myself unconsciously drawn to the powerful smell and only awaken from my trance when one of the kids tugs at my arm.

Many salads have been the victim of my frenzied stabbing. I’m cranky and prone to snappiness.

I’m withdrawing HARD. Will it get easier?

Week Four: Maintenance and Recovery

Have I been successful in avoiding triggers and temptations? Yes.

Have I broken the habit? Not yet. I still feel the temptation to stuff my face until I pass out from carb overload.

I think I’ll need ongoing support from family and friends to remind me that ‘I CAN DO THIS!’

Apparently, joining a community support program to reinforce recovery goals can be helpful.

Maybe I’ll look into joining McDonald’s Anonymous. I can’t be the only one with a penchant for Big Macs.


Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS

Guilt. Simply put, a strong emotion we feel when we have done something wrong; perceived or actual.

It can be an all-consuming and a powerful negative emotion that has the propensity to gnaw and shame.

As a parent, it’s become a plague that can’t be contained and has no cure. It’s dangerous unchecked, and one can only hope to recover when it strikes.

A week ago, our household entered what I called “Horror Week.” It started with Henry, my two-and-a-half-year-old, complaining of a sore mouth at bedtime. I did a quick check and dismissed his claims to tomfoolery. By two am, he had woken with a raging fever close to forty degrees and vomited.

Enter mother’s guilt. Should I have checked his temperature before bed? Should I have given him medication? Maybe I shouldn’t have pressed him to eat his dinner. Could I have prevented this?

After some medication, Henry’s temperature had reduced to thirty-seven degrees, and he had returned to his cheerful and chatty self. As I cuddled him in my arms, his eyes began to roll back, he became unresponsive and his tiny body started convulsing. Then his face turned blue.

I’ve discovered that in a crisis, I am NOT the cool, calm and collected person. Having done first aid courses means squat if when faced with an emergency, you freeze. Not only did I freeze, I was hysterical and couldn’t stop crying.

In that fraction of time, I honestly felt overwhelmed with negative feelings, and all I could think was “What if my baby dies?”, “He’s dying!”, “Please don’t die!”

Gary, my husband, had to calm me down repeatedly while calling the ambulance.

It was only when Henry’s seizure stopped and his colour returned, that I was able clear my thoughts and calm down. I know that his blue face will be burned forever in my memory.

The ambulance never made it to our house that night. They had deemed our emergency low on their priorities and after waiting thirty minutes, we opted to cancel and take Henry to the GP.

Henry caught both adenovirus and influenza A infection and continues to suffer with bronchiolitis. He battled with uncontrollable fevers and chills for six days. Mandy, my six-year-old, caught a respiratory syncytial virus infection, submitting to fevers and vomiting. I ended up with Henry’s adenovirus infection that resulted in a sinus infection. Gary was the last man standing.

I became the thermometer monitor, wielding it like a sword and sticking it into the ears of unwilling victims, should they be nearby.

I’ve witnessed two febrile convulsions with Mandy and now with Henry. It doesn’t matter that febrile convulsions are common or rarely have long-lasting effects. My fragile state cannot bear witness to another episode.

Guilt is a funny thing, especially mother’s guilt. It’s relentless and paralysing. It makes you feel like a failure as a parent. I hope that one day there is a cure for it.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

What’s the convention for housing guests? I’ve always pondered this. Who gets which bathroom or toilet? How does the shower procession work? What if your house guests have routines that conflict with yours?

It’s like having new roommates and learning their nuances. It can be unsettling.

We have house guests. This means some bed hopping. Hold on, that doesn’t sound right! What I mean is that we give up our bed to our guests, and the four of us are crammed into Mandy and Henry’s shared room. It’s either that or glimpsing half undressed people sleeping in the lounge room with my morning tea and toast. No thanks! So a little sufferance is necessary.

Night One:

Mandy and I are on the inflatable queen bed, Henry is in his cot and Gary is in the single bed (smart man).

I shuffle my body to relieve the tingling sensation in my left arm. Henry has my hand in a python-like stranglehold. I painfully extract my hand without stirring the beast and turn to my side, hoping to get a few winks. The inflatable bed squeaks in protest at my movements. Mandy stirs and wraps her leg around my torso like a koala baby to its mum. I guess it’s better than enduring her kicks and flinging arms to the back. I wake up way too early, tired and a little irritable.

Gary is snoring.

Night Two:

Same bedding arrangement.

Henry has rolled off his cot and snuggled to my front. Instead of sleeping on her side of the bed, Mandy presses as close as possible to me. I’m squished between the kids and busting to go to the toilet. I manoeuvre under the blankets to get out of bed, relieve myself and come back to see Mandy sleeping horizontal. I end up sleeping at the foot of the bed. I wake up grumpy, cold and stiff as a board.

Gary is snoring.

Night Three:

I insist on Gary and I sleeping on the queen bed, Mandy is in the single bed and Henry is in his cot.

I spend a few minutes debating whether we should move the single bed next to the cot instead of having the inflatable in the middle. In the end, we’re too tired to action our plans.

Gary and I snuggle. It’s nice. We chat about the kids and their antics. We fall asleep.

I jolt awake to see that Mandy has rolled off the bed and fallen on top of Gary. I have to lift her off of Gary and move her heavy lug back to bed.

It takes me ages to fall back to sleep only to jerk awake at the sounds of Henry screaming. Somehow, he had fallen and lodged himself between the inflatable bed and his cot. I’m surprised neither Mandy or Gary have woken with the noise.

After consoling Henry, I lay there wide-eyed and restless. I feel my body sink into Gary’s side and my face eventually rests at his armpit. The stupid inflatable bed has popped.

With perfect timing, Henry begins to fuss again and wants to sleep with us. I get off the sinking bed and end up awake most of the night; balancing on the edge of Henry’s cot and trying to coax him back to sleep.

I return to the now deflated bed on the floor. I haven’t slept, and I feel like a zombie.

Gary remains snoring!

House guests go home and I decide that perhaps witnessing people in various states of undress isn’t that bad after all!

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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DON’T TAKE THOSE FREEBIES!

I love freebies. It’s like winning the lottery, only with better odds. It doesn’t matter if it’s a free sample of haemorrhoid cream that I’ll never use or a brochure that will end up in my recycle bin. If it’s free, I’m attracted to it like a fly on a turd. It’s revolting, shameless and somewhat disturbing.

So as a professional freebie collection agent, I’ve learnt a few valuable lessons that I can impart.


Bananas, Nutella, Eggs, Weetbix, Milo, Vanish

I recite the words over in my head.

Coles Little Shop. The current bane of my existence. How has my life become so consumed by this madness?

I curse the marketing gurus at Coles for their ingenious campaign. Damn these super addictive gimmicks! It certainly hooked, lined, and sinkered the crapola out of me. I’m the perfect gullible marketer’s wet dream.

I went from casually getting a few collectables with the weekly groceries to religiously scrolling advertisements on Gumtree for trades and cheap buys. Never in my life have I dreamed of meeting a total stranger; another grown-ass adult, to trade or buy promotional toys. Yet, that’s exactly what I do, under the pretense of getting the whole collection for my five-year-old daughter.

I’ve secured a transaction with someone called MeiMei. She claims to have all six of my… ahem, I mean my daughter’s missing items at a steal. Is it too good to be true? Possibly.

As I park out front of the address MeiMei texted me and stare up at the massive apartment building, I reconsider the rationality of my actions. I have the kids in the car. No one knows I’m here, not even my husband. MeiMei could be an axe murderer.

I quickly rectify the situation by texting my bestie.

“Hey, I’m at x address. If I don’t text you in fifteen minutes, call the cops.”

There. Problem solved.

“Mummy, why are we just sitting here?” asks Mandy.

“I’m just thinking,” I reply. I text MeiMei to let her know that I’m outside her building.

My phone dings. ‘Meet me at Room 42, Level 2.’

The theme song to Jaws starts to play in my mind as I conjure up a whole host of bloody and graphic scenarios of my death. I get a cold sweat; my hands are shaking. I can’t do this! It’s crazy. There’s no way I can escape with two kids dragging me down!

“Mummy! Are we getting the Little Shop!” demands Mandy, exasperated with my procrastination.

I text MeiMei to meet us downstairs instead. It seems like the most sensible thing to do.

“Ok. I want you to lock the doors when I leave and call this number if anything happens,” I tell Mandy.

Mandy looks worried so I try to placate her. “It’s ok. Nothing will happen. I’m just being extra cautious.”

I mentally facepalm myself for putting us through this unnecessary danger and stress. I’m certainly not in the running for the Mother-Of-The-Year Award.

I gape at the person who just exited the doors. The Asian woman is wearing a pair of six-inch black platform pumps, bright pink bike shorts and a pink feathered crop top.

Woah. She can’t possibly chase me down in those heels. I’m probably safe.

“Here, you check,” MeiMei says. No introduction. No pleasantries. Straight to business.

I feel like I’m in a scene of Breaking Bad. I glance about nervously, hand over the cash and grab the goods before rushing back to the car. I forget to say goodbye; I’m that skittish.

I chuck the goods over my shoulder to my daughter and laugh at the absurdity of the situation.

Two weeks later…

I grab my foot and wince in agony. I look down at the offending object. Stupid Little Shop miniatures are strewn all over the carpet like landmines waiting to exact maximum damage.

Life lesson: What began as a freebie ended in unnecessary anxiety and a miniature Dettol bottle embedded into the sole of my foot. Nothing is truly free.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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MY STRUGGLE WITH SMALL TALK

Do you find it hard to partake in small talk? Does it make you feel anxious? Or do you have the gift of the gab?

There are so many factors required to have a successful conversation with another person.

  • Using exact words to effectively express your thoughts
  • Understanding body language and its nuances
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Finding a balance between listening and speaking
  • Showing an interest in the person and what they have to say
  • Offering interesting topic threads
  • Remembering to relax
  • Smile

If you suffer from social anxiety, being thrust into situations where you must engage in conversation can be scary. It might feel easier to avoid it altogether.

So why do I force myself to engage in conversation?

I recognise that to communicate and engage with others means social interaction. It means forging new relationships and strengthening others. It means developing my sense of self and belonging.

Ultimately, I don’t want my life to be consumed by my anxiety. I won’t allow it to tear me down. Therefore, I must engage.


Butcher: “Hello there!”

Me: “Hi.”

Butcher: “How can I help? What would you like?”

Oh my God, I don’t know. Shit, I better hurry. Shit, how do you say that word ‘enchiladas’.

Me: “Um. Six en-chill-a-dars please?”

Butcher: “My wife just took one of these last night and upped to Mildura.”

What? What did he just say? Am I supposed to reply? I just want to tick dinner off my list.

Me: “Oh. That’s a long way.”

Butcher: “She loves them. Drove after work last night and got there this morning.”

Okay, I think I’m supposed to say something here. Fudge if I know. Why is he telling me this? Breathe. Relax. You can do this. It’s just a conversation. Be normal.

Me: “Yeah, she must love them to drive that far.”

Did he mean she loves enchiladas? Is six enough for dinner?

Butcher: “My daughter lives up there and had her baby last night.”

How long does it take to wrap these enchiladas?! I feel my anxiety levels rising. This conversation is hurting my mind. New baby. Ok, so remember to congratulate him.

Me: “My husband loves your enchiladas.”

Butcher: “Thanks. My wife’s already saying she wants to come back.”

You seem like a really nice dude and I’m really glad you’re chatting to me but I suck at this and I feel awkward. Please have mercy on me!

Me: “My husband loves your enchiladas.”

Fudge! That’s not what I meant to say. I forgot the congratulations.

Butcher: “Uh, thanks?”

Me: “Um, congratulations?”

Oh my God, he did say his daughter, right? He looks young. I hope I haven’t misheard. This conversation is going downhill. Abort! Abort!

Butcher: “It’s my third grandkid. Here you are.”

Oh thank goodness.

Me: “Thanks. Have a great day.”

I need to get out of here.

Butcher: “You haven’t paid yet.”

Me: “You too. I mean, sorry I haven’t.”

Did I just say that? How embarrassing! I hope the next butcher isn’t as talkative.


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INNOCENT WHITE LIES

When is a lie acceptable? Are there degrees of lying? It is less of a lie if it’s a “white lie”? Or is lying just plain old lying?

What about telling your children that Santa exists? Or the Easter Bunny? Or the Tooth Fairy?

And if you choose to do so, when do you tell them the truth? That you have indeed, lied to them.

My parents didn’t give me fairy tales or half-truths. We were poor. If I got a present, they made damn sure I knew that they had scraped and saved every dollar to get me that ONE present. That one item would be a necessity; no frivolous toy; no gift wrapping; no card. There was no illusion of some old jovial fat dude climbing down a chimney in the middle of the night to place a beautifully wrapped gift under a Christmas tree. No Easter Bunny was pooping chocolate eggs on our lawns. And the Tooth Fairy? I was lucky to see the dentist.

Maybe that’s why I overcompensate as a parent. I want to give them the magic and fun that I didn’t get as a child. I want them to look back fondly at their childhood memories.

I’ll admit that a small part of me wants to conform to society norms. I don’t want my child to blurt out, “It’s a lie! Your parents are lying to you! There’s no such thing as Santa.”

I can ponder away the day trying to find reason and rhyme for my parenting choices. Inevitably, I will have to come clean with my lies.

We place the baby tooth into a plastic bag and put it under Mandy’s pillow.

“So the Tooth Fairy will come, take my tooth and give me a coin?” Mandy queries.

I can’t seem to look her in the eyes. “Yes, so I’m told.”

“What does she look like? How does she get my tooth if I’m lying on the pillow? How much money will I get? What happens with the teeth?”

Oh boy.

My brain scrambles for answers. I don’t recall seeing a “How to lie effectively to your child” section in the parenting manual I received from the maternal health nurse.

“Uh, no-one has seen the Tooth Fairy, so we don’t know the mechanics or logistics,” I reply. “Also, you get ONE gold coin per tooth. That’s all I know.”

Mandy contemplates my answers for a moment.

“Mummy, do you give me presents as well as Santa or are you pretending to be Santa?”

I pause. She’s at an age where her friends are probably discussing the rumours. This is the perfect opportunity to come clean, but then she’s likely to ruin it for her little brother.

“No, Mummy and Daddy give you presents as well as Santa,” I reluctantly reply.

“What about the Easter Bunny? Are you putting the eggs in the lawn for us to find?”

I feel the weight of her accusing stare. I shift uncomfortably. Mandy could become an excellent cross-examiner one day.

“Me?” I exclaim in feigned shock, “I don’t have time for that!”

“Hmm.” Mandy responds. She’s onto me. The jig is probably up.

“If you have any further questions, ask your dad. He’s the expert,” I deflect. “Hey, let’s read a book.”

I am the Master of Deflection and Timely Distractions.

“I think I’ll ask Ally tomorrow if she thinks the Tooth Fairy is real,” Mandy casually says. “She knows everything.”

I shudder at the thought of what’s to come.

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FIND YOUR STRENGTH

I walk down this well-trodden path, resigned to my fate. The sky is filled with dark clouds, threatening a downpour that will sweep me off my feet and drown me in its flood. There is no light; no rays of sunshine; no warmth. Despite efforts to protect myself, piling layers upon layers, I feel the cold penetrating into the depths of my soul. Winter is here. Well and truly.

What do you do when your mind begs to succumb to the deep pits of despair? How do you crawl out from the sinister tunnel of self-doubt? You’re in pain; mental fatigue; physical stress. You’re on the brink of shut down mode.

Oh, but The Show must go on! The children need to be fed, clothed and loved. The house should be cleaned. The bills must be paid. You have to turn up to work. People rely on you to function. Society expects your contribution. Life stops for no-one.

“Mummy, why are we going round and round?” asks Henry, my two-and-a-half-year-old son.

We’ve been driving around the neighbourhood for the last half an hour. At any moment I expect a police car to pull me over and write-up a ticket for public nuisance. I’ve taken the same roundabout ten times now and I see people peer out from curtains. I must look like I’m casing joints or seriously lost with directions.

“You need a nap,” I reply. The truth of the matter is that I need a nap but at this stage, I’ll take the consolation prize of a break. I am beyond exhausted, physically and mentally. Parenting is damn hard. It is relentless. You are on call twenty-four-seven, every day for at least eighteen years.

“Mummy, I need a chino!”

“Mummy, I did a fluff fluff!”

“Mummy, where’s Daddy?”

“Mummy, I want Donalds!”

I drive for another half an hour before there is silence. I park the car and rest my forehead on the steering wheel. It took everything I had to concentrate on driving without incident. I feel overwhelmed with the burden of responsibility. It creeps and climbs like vines, slowly choking and leaving me gasping for breath.

As I silently fall apart in the car, I realise that I need to seek help. I need to reach out to my village and remember that there are people willing to support and care for me, if only I ask. I need to pause to allow myself the time to recover so that I can gather the strength to continue.

Right now I’m merely existing, living day-to-day, going through the motions. I’m a grainy black and white. Instead, I want to be vibrant and colourful. I want loud and bright. I want to live life to its fullest.

Why? I owe it to my children and husband to be the best version of me. I owe it to myself.

For the time being, I’m reminded that after every storm, there is a rainbow.

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