NIGHTMARE ON SALE STREET

We took the plunge and decided to sell our family home to capitalise on the crazy growth in our area. In doing so, we had to find a rental house to live in while we looked for our next home. People say moving house and selling a house are two of life’s most stressful events. To be honest, I think finding a house to live in might rival both.

We spent all of last December and half of January this year attending inspection upon inspection to find a suitable rental house. We trawled through numerous listings on the internet, many of which had beautiful photos, but in real life were dumps. Many places were run-down, a lot were too expensive for us, and very few met our expectations. And the paperwork to apply for one of these places… horrendously tedious. We did end up finding a small townhouse that mostly fit the bill and the process of packing up ten years of living began shortly after.

Can I just say that even as someone who lives by the Kondo philosophy, the accumulation of junk over ten years was surprising. I mean, it shouldn’t be given my children are the only grandkids and are doted on by both sides. And even with the regular spring clean that I do with the unwanted toys, I still had to get rid of a truckload of unwanted goods.

Also, no one tells you about the sadness of leaving the family home – a place of familiarity and security. There were many nights I lay awake, restless in thought and questioning our decision to sell.

After moving house, I jumped into sprucing up our old home for listing. A good number of hours were spent cleaning, weeding and mulching to get the surrounding gardens looking respectable. After the gardens were done, I got professional cleaners in to give the house a once-over. It was a complete waste of money. They did a poor job, damaged the paint on feature walls and stainless steel surfaces with their harsh chemicals and caused me more money in repairs as a result. Tradespeople were in short supply so we ended up hiring the first available handyman to fix the repairs. He did a pretty shoddy job. Eventually, after about three weeks, I had the house in a reasonable state for sale. I was ready to hand over to the real estate agent and be done. How wrong I was!

My elderly neighbour started the process of selling her home a few weeks ahead of us. We’ve been neighbours for ten years and over that time, we’ve traded gifts and birthday wishes. We have shared many conversations about family and well-being. Selling our houses at the same time wasn’t supposed to be an issue. But it became a problem and I was blindsided by my neighbour’s cold brush off. Money changes people!

Suddenly, I found myself with a dead rat in my yard on the first open house inspection and illegally dumped hard rubbish in front of my sale board on the second. Now, I’m not blaming anyone, only pointing out that it was a rather big coincidence that my first inspections were marred with incidents. My agent kept calling about noisy neighbours trekking through the house and callously opening and slamming cupboards. It became apparent that I had offended someone and instead of approaching me with concerns, I was propelled back to high school antics and group mob mentality intimidation tactics.

On the day of my neighbour’s auction, I sent a text message wishing her all the best despite my better instincts telling me to avoid poking an angry bear. I genuinely wanted her to get a great sale. I forced myself to attend the auction for information gathering and was confronted by a group of neighbours who were loudly voicing their displeasure, seemingly about me. These normally level-headed people formed an angry mob by feeding off of each other’s negative energy. They aimed their collective frustrations at me, someone who they didn’t know from a bar of soap. Why were they all so angry?

After waiting on tenterhooks for retribution from neighbours for the treasonous act of daring to sell my house at the same time as my neighbour, my house finally sold today without a hitch. No one came to yell obscenities or try to disrupt proceedings. No one even bothered to come except my neighbour, who seemed like she was back to her old self. We traded a few words and all seemed well. Whatever bee under her bonnet was gone and her hive of supporting neighbours had settled.

I am beyond relieved to put this saga behind me. No one should ever go through a trifecta of life’s most stressful events, let alone add a bunch of agitated neighbours to the mix. If I’ve learnt anything from this experience, it’s that I don’t give myself enough credit in my ability to face life’s challenges. I let self-doubt and anxiety take root in my psyche more often than not. So, next time life throws me a curveball, I’m going to remind myself that I’m a capable person with years of experience under my belt, both with successes and failures. Whatever happens, I know that I’ve given my best, and in the end, that is what matters the most!

Copyright © 2022, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

PRIVACY POLICY

GIVE ME A SIGN

When I was six-years-old, I was gifted a pocket-sized bible and rosary beads. I can’t remember how they came into my possession. If I had to guess, I’d say I probably received them as part of enrolment at my first Catholic primary school. This bible didn’t have any real meaning to me until I grew older and started understanding what it meant to live below the poverty line. 

This tiny bible became my lifeline. I clung helplessly to this book, hoping it was the answer to all of my family’s problems. At night, I would read through the bible and seek meaning from His words. I would recite the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary fastidiously before bed and pray for divine intervention. When my dad lost a job and became depressed, I would pray to God to find him another job to help pay our bills. When my mum would cry at night thinking that no one could hear her, I would pray to God to ease her suffering. When we moved from one rental house to another, and I had to attend yet another school, I would pray to God to give me the courage to make friends. When we became homeless, I prayed to God to hear my cries.

At sixteen-years-old, that Bible no longer evoked the same power of belief. My parents had become bankrupt. We sold everything. The only house my parents ever managed to buy, and the place I called home for three whole years, was the first to go. I moved schools again and lost all of my friends, the few I had. My mum had to beg and borrow money from people to pay for a temporary roof over our heads. I stopped searching for a sign that someone from above was watching out for me. I stopped praying for divine intervention. I stopped believing altogether.

My mum implored me to return to Church. She begged me to believe in a higher being, even if it wasn’t to be the God I knew. My mum just wanted me to believe in something, but I couldn’t. To this day, my mum still reminds me of the importance of believing in something greater than ourselves.

And to be honest, from time to time, I do still find myself looking for signs. Perhaps not in the same way that I did when I was younger, but signs nonetheless. I look for confirmation that I’m on the right path in life and making the right decisions for myself and my family. For example, I’ve been plagued with uncertainty since I made the decision to end my career as a pharmacist to pursue a career in adult education. I’ve worried about my abilities to complete the studies required and the chances of finding work as a new mature-aged graduate. I’ve been searching for some kind of sign that this was the right decision to make. 

A few days ago, while having a hot chocolate with my five-year-old son at the local bakery, the couple beside us struck up a conversation. We talked about all sorts of topics, from pet ownership to school to work. Now, if you know me in real life or from what you’ve read here on this blog, you’ll know that I suck at conversations and can come across as a bit stilted and unfriendly. So, to find out that the couple were not only training managers at a teaching institute but for them to offer me a job as a teacher was unexpected, to say the least. We exchanged details, and the lady insisted I call her when I finish my studies and was ready for work.

While it might not result in anything, it was the sign I needed to ease my mind and reassure me that I am in fact on the right path. And while I am no longer a believer, it is comforting to know that perhaps there is someone out there watching over me regardless.

Copyright © 2022, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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CHUMP CHANGE

There is the ‘fun’ parent and the ‘chump’ parent. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about, don’t even bother pretending that there’s no such thing. The ‘fun’ parent is the one who says yes to ice-creams for dessert on a school night, sides with the children for takeaway when dinner has been organised and spends more time with the better versions of the children. The ‘chump’, aka usually the mother, is treated like an emotional punching bag, expected to front for active duty 24/7, and rarely gets the appreciation they deserve.

I’ll give you an example of how I am the ‘chump’ parent. This morning, instead of waking at some ungodly hour, our 5-year-old son slept in. His sister and dad were in the kitchen having breakfast while I was on the potty. Our son woke up cranky and a bit alarmed to be alone in the bedroom. He hates being left alone anywhere and is basically afraid of his own shadow.

This was the interaction that followed:

From his bed, he yelled out “Mummy! Come!

“I’m on the potty!”

Whimpering ensued and with more force, he screamed “Mummy! Come NOW!”

“I’M ON THE POTTY!” I mean, come on! You can’t rush these things!

Not getting his way immediately, he had a meltdown of nuclear proportions.

“MUMMY! MUMMY! COME NOW! I WANT YOU TO COME NOW!”

You’re probably wondering why he didn’t ask the ‘fun’ parent to come, right? Why didn’t his dad go check on him? Because the ‘fun’ parent is also the clever parent who knows to avoid and not indulge a cantankerous child who woke up on the wrong side of the bed and in the throes of a temper tantrum. No one sane would bother to entertain this situation, no one except for the ‘chump’ parent. 

Later in the day, I got another reality check, a reminder that I was the ‘chump’ parent. We were sitting on a bench on the edge of the prep playground waiting to pick up our son from school. Today was his second day of prep transition where he got to meet his 2022 prep teacher and classmates. As there were forty-odd parents milling around the exit of the classroom, I was worried that our son wouldn’t be able to see us sitting so far away, so I moved to stand closer within the middle of the crowd. My husband hadn’t seen the need to move and stayed on the bench.

The children were told to wait on the verandah until they could see a parent and to inform their teacher before leaving. As I was frantically waving like the embarrassing parent that I am, our son had no problem seeing me. After notifying his teacher, he started running toward me clutching a piece of paper in his hand. Anticipating a hug, I smiled and bent down with my arms wide open, ready to embrace him.

Imagine my surprise to see him bypass my outstretched arms, veer left of me and continue towards his dad, who was sitting on the bench across the yard. I quickly dropped my arms and stood up. Awkward!

It wasn’t a deliberate act on his part. He was simply excited to show his dad, the ‘fun’ parent, the art he made during class. But geez, talk about epic burns! I wanted to clap and say, “Well played Sir, well played indeed.”

A friend of mine witnessed the encounter and burst out laughing, which made me giggle instead of being mortified with embarrassment because let’s be honest here, my son basically performed the equivalent of a fake high-five to me.   

I asked my husband if he saw what transpired, to which he replied, “Yeah, it was pretty funny. You should blog about it.” Hah! Of course, I was gonna blog about parental embarrassment. It’s the only way for me to process – a problem shared is a problem halved and all that.

Anyway, on the walk back to the car, our son engaged in an animated discussion with his dad about his time during prep transition. I tried getting in on the conversation by asking some relevant questions. 

“What kind of things did you do?”

“Who did you sit next to?”

“Do you know what your teacher’s name is?”

Maybe I wasn’t asking the right questions. Perhaps my voice sits in a frequency range that’s incompatible with our son’s hearing. More likely though, he has selective hearing and by selective, I mean he point-blank ignores me. Rude much? My husband does make an effort by reminding the children not to snub me, but it’s grating to need the favourite parent to intervene on my behalf. It’s even more annoying that I need a third party involvement to get the children to spare me a few minutes of their attention. This is another example of what a ‘chump’ parent has to deal with. 

Anyhow, it is a hard pill to swallow knowing that you’re not the favourite parent. Being the ‘chump’ parent doesn’t always feel good and can be pretty bruising on the ego. Apparently, people say that children will often act poorly with one particular parent, often mums, because they feel safe and secure in your love for them and so, are comfortable letting loose with their emotions. 

But here’s the thing, when our children are hurt, sick or in need of comfort, they come to me. It’s in those moments that they relish my warm hugs and comforting touch. And it’s in those moments that I know, without a doubt, that I mean more to them than just being a ‘chump’ parent. 

Perhaps I’m looking at this all wrong. Instead of thinking of myself as the ‘chump’ parent, maybe it’s high time I consider myself the ‘comfort’ parent.

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