This is where I leave you

I felt it appropriate to name my last blog post after my favourite movie.

I also wanted to post it on Feb 29. Bonus Day. Leap Day.

Yes, that’s right. This will be the final post for my beloved, My Brilliant Foot, the blog formally known as a Beer, a Whine and The Spirit.

This has not been an impulsive decision; I’ve been thinking about it for months. I have decided to finish up, based on my need, desire and readiness to keep moving forward with my life.

I’ve been planning this weekend for a few weeks now. When I realised Feb 29 was on a Saturday, I casually sidled up to Mum and asked if I could possibly have the whole weekend off from the kids. Mum being Mum made it happen, so I booked myself in to a hotel in Spring Hill for two nights, and here I am, writing my final blog post.

I began writing this blog on the 1st of July 2008, when Frith and I had just moved to Melbourne for him to begin his Degree in Medicine. We were newlyweds and the world was ours for the taking. Those early couple of years were filled with random musings, sharing our new life in Melbourne, our traveling adventures, our trips back to Brisbane and the like. It moved on to pregnancy news, then moving towns, then new baby news, then moving, another baby, moving, baby, move, baby….. you get the idea.

I dabbled in some creative writing here and there, but it was mostly all about documenting our lives, sharing the joys of having our children, and giving an insight into an unusual lifestyle.

So much of my life from the last 11+ years can be found in these pages. Sometimes I’ll be telling someone a story, and then I think “oh I blogged about that, I can show them photos.” Sometimes the kids will ask me something, and somewhere in the 1438 posts I’ve written, I can find the answer. Sometimes I even stumble upon posts I can’t recall writing at all, but love reading over. And quite often a post will pop up in a search I’m doing, and then another and another, and an hour later I’m still reading old stories I’ve written.

Obviously the last two years have centered mainly around losing Frith, and the impact that has had on me, on the kids, and on my family and friends. They have been some of the most raw posts I’ve written; often after a glass or three of wine, sometimes through tears blurring my vision, often with me wondering who is reading and if it will help anyone, or just me.

The content will always be here, like an old friend, and I can’t convey to you how important it has been for me these past 11 years and 8 months. It has been so therapeutic; cathartic; getting the words out of my head and onto the page. I have had several realisations as things have been pouring out of me, and often at the end of a post, I feel lighter, more clear, and better than when I started.

I love writing so much, I need it in my life, and this won’t be the last you hear from me :-). I do plan to keep writing, in a different format yet to be determined. I’m playing around with a few ideas at this stage, and I promise to keep you informed of any developments.

Finally I want to say thank you for reading. Some of you have been here from the start, others have joined along the way, some of you I’ve never even met. Thank you for your kind words of love and encouragement; thank you for sharing your own stories with me; thank you for relating to me and thank you for indulging me. It truly has been a gift that I will always be able to look back on; that the kids will be able to look back on, and that will always be a part of me.

See you soon.
Renae xx

Two photos

For weeks leading up to my 40th, I composed my speech in the shower, and added to it here and there, writing things down as soon as I dried off. I rehearsed it over and over, convinced that I could be present when speech time came around, and would deliver it with feeling, eloquence and all the love I had for everyone who was at my party.

It didn’t exactly happen that way, and although I have no regrets, I do wonder if it would have even been possible to have been more present at the time. I was so overwhelmed with joy and love and gratitude and all the feelings, and I just couldn’t quite find the words to do those feelings justice.

I do hope that you all know how much you mean to me and how much fun I had on the day. Which brings me to the two photos. Some of you may not have realised, but I had a professional photographer there for a couple of hours over dinner/speeches, and the photos are incredible. The two photos I want to share with you, in my mind, capture the essence of my party, for me at least.

Here’s the first one:

These two wonderful people had never met before my party, but found themselves sharing a drink and a laugh together; this moment in time captured forever. I just love it so much. It means so much to me that my friends get to know each other and realise how awesome they all are. I know that friendships have been formed over the years at my parties, and I hope that at my 50th, or sometime before, these two people will be there again, drinking, laughing and having a grand old time.

And then this one

Captured during the most epic rendition of Happy Birthday I’ve ever heard, and surrounded by my four gorgeous kids, and many others. I was honestly overflowing with joy at this moment, and it was a hard act to follow.

There are so many things I want to say to you all collectively, and individually, but I will end this post with the end of the speech that never eventuated:

Two years ago, I was in a fog, and I just had to put one front in front of the other, hour by hour, day by day. Nearly everyone who is here today, was there for me then, helping me find my way. Some of you helped in incredibly huge ways, many of you will never know how you helped with a kind word, a timely hug, spending time with my kids or some words of support and encouragement.

Last year was all about survival. I added to my army of support, and I had to start finding ways to bring some normality to our lives. Day by day, week by week, I had to not just survive, but for my kids sake, and for my sanity, start finding joy again.

The future, surrounded by you all here today, and so many who are elsewhere, is looking pretty incredible and for that, I thank you.

I’ve had so many conversations with people so far this year about the promise that 2020 will surely bring. I am of the same opinion. 2020 is going to be a big one. Let’s do this 🙂

10 things on the 10th

The decade that was

1. Officiated at 19 weddings and attended even more

2. Had 4 children (this one, this one, this one and this one!)

3. Lived in 11 houses (Newman College Melbourne, Wangaratta unit, Mount Beauty, Wangaratta House, Townsville, Ingham, Mount Isa, Rockhampton temp house, Rockhampton house, Woody Point Mum and Dad’s, Brighton.)

4. Broke 4 bones in my foot (including the stress fracture I’m currently sporting!)

5. Celebrated 40 birthdays as a family of 2 then 3 then 4 then 5 then 6 and made at least 50 cakes!

6. Bought 2 houses

7. Lost 1 husband

8. Went to 5 funerals

9. Owned 4 cars

10. Wrote 1339 blog posts

What will the 20s hold for us all?

Happy 2020

It’s been a busy day around here. My parents, in their usual awesomeness, have had the kids since Tuesday afternoon, so I’ve had 2 full days and nights to do whatever I choose. NYE was spent with Frith’s mate Ben which was exactly what I needed – a few drinks, easy conversation, a couple of rums at midnight followed by some Brooklyn Nine-Nine. NY day was spent with Kate, and we watched shows and movies all. day. long. It’s been years since I’ve done that, and it was just what I needed.

Today it was down to business. I completely went through all of the kids toys (except the Lego – I only had a day not a month!!!) and sorted and culled and organised to within an inch of my life! With the help of my friend Chris, and a visit from my friend Alison (bearing gifts of Prosecco!!) I got the two rooms and most of the living area done. It felt like such an achievement. I also checked the mail late in the day and received my very first 40th gift and card from my dear friend Kat. So so special.

I’m completely shattered tonight. I microwaved some leftovers, had another glass of Prosecco, and kicked back to watch some Parks and Recreation. I watched it years ago and it’s like an old friend I like to re-visit from time to time. Tonight’s episode was when Leslie and Ben get married. I actually blogged about it the first time I saw it 3 years ago!! (Scroll to the end for wedding photos 🙂 ) I bawled again, because it is just the sweetest episode, and it got me thinking about how we all need a Ron and an Ann and a Ben and Leslie and a Chris and Tom and Andy and April and Donna and even a Jerry in our lives. And I am so fortunate to have them all; to have you all.

I have so many people holding me up and keeping me going every single day with messages of love and support and encouragement; I have people who love my kids and want to spend time with them and teach them things; I have people who will let me vent and complain and whinge and get things out of my head; I have people who let me ugly cry on them, getting snot and tears all over their clothes; I have people who I can depend on who come through for us time and time again.

I know how fortunate I am to be surrounded by some of the best people around, and I want you, need you to know how grateful I am to you all. Thank you and I look forward to an incredible 2020 xxxxx

My Chance

I don’t always get it right, hell none of us do. That’s not the point of parenting. The point is to do our best; to show up for our kids; to be there, I guess? Sometimes our “best” falls horribly short. Sometimes we yell and scream at the tiny humans we swore to protect; sometimes we hear the harsh, impatient, tired words coming out of our mouth, and know that if someone else spoke to our kids the same way, we would be horrified, and want to shield our child from that person in that moment.

Some of the hardest times of parenting can be the continued and repetitive, monotonous lessons we try and teach our kids, hoping one day they finally get it. Sometimes they surprise us. Some of the best parenting moments for me, is seeing them put the things that I have tried over and over to teach them, in action…. finally…..

I have seen Chance growing up so much lately. I know I am particularly hard on him and his behaviour, being the eldest child; I expect so much of him and from him, and I often forget that he is still just a kid. My big nine-year-old boy. I have seen him at the start of a storm, where a year ago he would have melted down and lost his cool. He still does that from time to time, but the meltdowns are few and far between now, and all he needs is some space, and a bit of time, and he will come and apologise and speak to me in a calm voice.

The other evening, at the start of such a storm, I saw him with tears in his eyes, take some deep breaths to calm himself, saying out loud “it’s okay”. This blew my mind and I had a big chat to him afterwards about how proud I was to see him do that.

Sometimes parenting is banging your head against a brick wall. Sometimes it’s lying next to your child on a soft pillow with a full heart. I wish all of my fellow parents out there in the trenches, a soft pillow/full heart experience in the lead up to end of school and Christmas. What a joy it is.

My big boy, August 2012
The other day. I was teaching him how to be hilarious…

10 things on the 10th

10 things I’m grateful for

1. This blog. I started writing 11 and a half years ago, and it’s documented most of my marriage and all of my kids lives. What a gift to have it all in one place to look over whenever I want.

The first photo ever on my blog

2. My community, both online and in person. The comments and encouragement and love I receive are always so heart-warming and sometimes exactly what I need to keep me going.

3. School Mums and Dads. Part of my community, for sure, but a special mention needs to be made. I have so many people happy to help at the drop of a hat, and the same people ask me to help with their kids as well, which I absolutely love.

3. My kids. They get me out of bed, metaphorically and literally, every single day. They need so much from me, but give back in spades.

The boys birthdays this year

4. My immediate family of Mum, Dad, Kris and Kate. They are the world around the kids and I, and I couldn’t survive without them.

The kids love when they visit!

5. My health. Even though I’ve been unkind to my body this last year, it is still doing a great job. I’m gradually working towards getting it back in better working order.

6. My cousins and extended family. I grew up with them and they are some of the best people I know. I’m just lucky that I get to be related to them too. Can’t wait for Christmas Day!!

7. My friends. Oh how blessed I am in this department. I have the absolute best people in my life and I appreciate each and every one of you.

8. My house. Even though I didn’t absolutely love this house when I first bought it, I’m loving it more and more as the months go by. Yes I wish it was a little bigger, and that there was a huge tree or three in the back yard, but you can’t have everything. It’s great for us and will be amazing as the kids get older as well.

9. Medication. The new meds I am on are making me feel normal and nice and optimistic and hopeful again. It’s as though I’ve woken up after a year in a foggy cloud. It’s good to be back.

10. A good bedtime routine with the kids. Frith and I worked very hard on this over the years, and I’m pleased to say I have continued with it on my own. All the kids are in bed by 8:15pm and mostly asleep not long after that. That makes me pretty damn happy 🙂

I know there are so many more things in my life to be thankful for which is a blessing in itself xxxx

10 things on the 10th

“Stuff’s been happening” edition

1. I’m in full Christmas card making mode and it’s delightful! Instead of drinking wine and watching old 90s movies, I’ve been drinking tea and listening to podcasts as I craft away. Last night was the best – Dax Shepard interviewing Zach Braff. Could I be crushing any harder??? I think not 🙂

2. Julius got a very big boy hair cut. We are all still getting used to it. Not to mention the big boy confidence (read: attitude) that has come with it!!

3. My three boys all around the same age, side-by-side 🙂

4. My photo wall is being added to and I’ve been hanging things all over the house! My house is really feeling like a home.

5. Darby has had some pre-prep mornings and is really really ready to get stuck into it!

6. I really try and buy things second hand as much as possible, but it just didn’t work out, so I bought these flat packs and spent my Friday night putting these bad boys together. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty damn proud of myself!

7. I’ve really been drinking a lot more tea in the evening, but sometimes if it doesn’t cut it, I’ll pop a bit of this in as well. It’s my absolute favourite and still to this day, reminds me of Nanny.

8. I’m learning to Embrace. Embrace everything about myself, right here, right now. I haven’t quite decided if it’s out of laziness/lack of time, but my greys are seriously coming through right now, and I’m not minding at all. My vanity will no doubt get the better of me sooner or later, but right now, I’m all “grey hair, don’t care.”

9. These two went Trick or Treating for the first time ever this year. We have enough lollies to last a year! So crazy! But they had fun with the neighbourhood kids so it’s hard not to get behind it.

10. Yesterday and the day before were good days. I felt as though I had returned a little bit. Not back to my old self, (that’s not my aim) but back to some semblance of normal. I was happy for no particular reason. I was productive and optimistic about the days ahead. For the first time in nearly two years, I had some hope. And gee it felt nice. I’m trying not to over-analyse it. Maybe it’s the new meds, maybe it’s just the new me. Either way, it was nice to just be me.

Full Disclosure

I’m not doing great.

Last night I felt so sick I was in bed by 8:15pm and asleep by 9pm. I was exhausted and completely over everything. This morning the kids were actually amazing. They were helpful and kind to each other, but I was still utterly spent. We walked and scootered to school, and I dropped the boys off at kindy. As we got to school, Chance realised he had left his show and tell at home. I was irate. I had reminded him about it before we left, and yet he’d still forgotten it. I could feel the tears coming. After huffing and puffing about it being his responsibility, I told him angrily that I would go home and get it for him. Tears were escaping my eyes, but I hid behind my floppy hat and sunnies.

I prayed I wouldn’t run into any of my lovely school mum friends. (Sorry ladies 🙁 )

I went home, grabbed the bag and drove it up to school. When I dropped it off, I was kind and loving, as I would like the kids to be with me and each other. I told Chance I love him and that I would see him in a couple of days.

So I’m not doing great.

But it feels good to say so.

I’m working closely with my psychologist and my GP. I’m tired of feeling this way; this lack of hope and joy is kind of a buzz-kill. And as I’ve mentioned, it’s easy for me to hide, as I’m good when I’m with people. But not so good when I’m just with my kids. I get tired and frustrated and irritated and I wonder if I’m always going to feel this way; I wonder why I feel this way and what I can possibly do to turn things around.

It actually pisses me off greatly, being pissed off (seemingly) all the time.

Thank you to everyone I’ve been leaning on more so than usual.

I listened to the Armchair Expert episode with Brene Brown on the drive down to the Gold Coast today. Side note: I’m in love with Dax Shepard. Oh my heart! And my head! One of the heart and mind-blowing moments I had was about how to be a fully functioning member of a society, it’s not about being completely independent, it’s about being someone on whom others can depend.

I used to be that person. For better or worse, that used to be a huge part of my identity; of what defined me. I was dependable; I was available to help out; I was always looking for ways to be of service to others, and it filled my tank; it filled my heart; it make me feel useful and valued and loved.

That is a huge part of me that I feel like I’ve lost in the last two years.

I also lost the identity of being a wife.

To say that I’m having an identity crisis is putting it lightly. Yes I’m a mum. I feel like that is my only remaining identity. And that is really hard. I love being a mum. LOVE it. But I can’t just be a mum. I need to regain some sense of myself.

But I’ve also changed so much since Frith died. It’s not about feeling like my old self again; I have come to realise that will never happen. But if I can have snippets of my old self; moments; flashes of joy; that will be enough to sustain me while I get to know Renae 2.0.

Of course I will bring my history with me; probably even most of my baggage, but I’m hoping to offload bits of it here and there as I continue along.

Oh boy. What an unload. The people-pleaser in my wants to reassure you that I’m fine. I guess I’m not fine but I’m okay. And I’m going to get better. (I have to keep telling myself this.) And if I offer to do something for you, please let me! It will help me as much as I hope it will help you.

I’m off to a Hen’s night, then a wedding on Sunday. Big time tank-filling coming up. Much love xxxxx

Flashback Friday (on a Saturday!!)

Don’t judge. I’ve been busy. Also I generally don’t know what day of the week it is anyway…

Whilst in Melbourne (blog post to come. Also Orange trip blog post to come…) we headed down to Sorrento for a night to catch up with the splendid Aunty Alida and Uncle Wayne and family. I met these gorgeous rellies of Frith’s in Melbourne, back when we were only dating, and considering moving to Melbourne for Frith to study medicine. I knew I’d hit the family jackpot with them, and it made the decision to commit to the Melbourne move much easier for sure.

The family house at Sorrento was a place Frith and I frequented in our time in Melbourne, and this trip brought back so many memories.

Me and the fire pit circa April 2009. Pre kids.
Me with the same fire pit a decade later. With booze. 🙂

I love how, in this post, I’m all “oh I’m so glad I’ve had this holiday from my exhausting life of zero children and a reception job with very little responsibility and my nights of 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep blah blah blah.” Ha ha. At the time I’m sure I thought I was tired and needed a break. So adorable…

I also love that our nephew Nathan was there with us back in 2009, and again in 2019. Back then, as a 14-year-old, Frith was giving him wheelbarrow rides and teaching him how to light the fire. It was fun to reminisce 🙂

It was so great to be surrounded by family, with the kids playing together and being looked after by our little crew. One of Frith’s cousins’ husbands was taking the kids on trailer rides on the back of their ride-on mower. Unbeknownst to me, Chance asked if he could have a go at driving the mower. Jez so kindly gave him the guidance he needed, and taught him about a wide turn to avoid colliding with the tree. It was such a small thing to do, and Jez probably didn’t think twice about it, but for me, what I saw was my son who no longer has his Dad around, having yet another wonderful male role model in his life.

It meant so much to us both, in such different ways and I’m so grateful for extended family playing their part in our lives.

Thanks guys. You are all kind and amazing and generous and loving and wonderful, and we will visit again soon. I promise xx

10 things on the 10th

World Mental Health Day edition.

Well, it’s a random edition, but it just so happens to be World Mental Health Day today, which is timely really. You see, I’ve been struggling a lot lately, and I have most people fooled (unintentionally) that I’m doing quite well when I’m actually not. Come to think of it, and I’m just realising this as I type, the reason I can be so convincing, is that I’m at my best when I’m around people; others energise me, so it’s easy to “be okay” when I’m with other people. It’s the nights that are lonely and thought-provoking that can sink me. And it’s happened to me before.

My dear friend and Mental Health Awareness advocate, Kat, has been with me every step of the way, and includes my story as part of her public speaking engagements. She’s a bloody legend and is very open with her story.

Anyway, welcome to another random 10 on the 10th. Sorry I missed last month. I’ve been hiding in a non-writing hole.

1. Happy Birthday Uncle Felix! And happy birthday Erica for Sunday! You and your lovely family are such a blessing in our lives and we had the most wonderful time with you in Orange. (Also, happy birthday to my neighbour Shey for Friday and my Mum for Saturday!!! :-))

At the top of the Pinnacle in Orange
When you gotta go, you gotta go, and Darby always has to go!!!

2. Chance and Quinn and I, along with my nephew and his girlfriend, are heading to Melbourne today for PAX. (There were too many links to include!!) We will be there until next Tuesday, and Chance is just beside himself with excitement about all the video games! Quinn has, as usual, got her poker face on, but I’m sure we will find some fun stuff to do. Darby and Julius are staying with Mum and Dad while we are away (yes, I have the absolute best parents) and I think five nights is the longest I’ve been away so wish us all luck!!!

3. A few months ago now, I de-registered as a Marriage Celebrant. After the two most incredible weddings last year – one where I got to marry Frith’s best mate to his long time love, and the other where I got to marry my best friend Beth to her wonderful partner, I knew I was done. I was asked to do a couple more ceremonies but I just couldn’t bring myself to say yes, so I knew it was time. It was a fun run, but it’s time to find something new.

4. I had an allergy test done the other day, which required me to stop taking my antihistamines for five days beforehand. FIVE DAYS GUYS!! IN SPRINGTIME!!! It was so brutal. I was getting tested for a potential seafood allergy, as I had a reaction a few months ago to something that blew my face and sinuses up!

Form an orderly queue gentlemen!

I had the skin prick test done and luckily it came back all clear!!! Still doesn’t explain what I reacted to but I don’t care – I can eat prawns and crab, so that’s the main thing!

5. I joined The Bay Health Club (fancy name for “the gym”) and it’s the first lot of classes I’ve been doing that is even close to my beloved Fit Mums. I’m not expecting miracles, and I’m certainly not putting pressure on myself, but if I can make it three times a week, I’m super stoked. Bring on the guns!!

6. My absolute favourite thing to listen to on Spotify is the Ultimate Covers album. Even the kids know all the songs now. Winning!

7. I messaged my friend Kate the other day, saying that no matter what I do or plan for the kids, there’s always one who isn’t happy and how it was so frustrating. She came back with a different way of looking at things: “75% are happy. That’s a B+.” I’m happy with a B+.

8. My photo wall is coming along nicely. I have a whole lot of frames and a whole lot more photos to print, but yes, it’s coming along nicely.

9. I had some intentional self-care on Tuesday morning with Darby and Julius at my local coffee shop. And as a bonus, one of my school mum friends was there with her little boy so we had a nice little coffee break. The fact that Julius threw an epic tantrum on the way home and it took us 20 minutes to walk 150m, well, it’s all part of the fun, isn’t it? Lucky he’s so damn cute.

10. I visited my GP today, due to the aforementioned struggling, and it dawned on me that I really thought being on medication would be a much more temporary thing, and that once we decided what I should take, that would be it, and the dosage would be just so. I have been up and down on it since mid last year, and I’m still having to tinker. That’s the thing about the beast that is depression – there’s no fix-all solution; there are no easy answers, and having a good GP can literally make or break you.

Something I’ve been speaking to a new friend of mine about lately, is how we are both better at giving advice than taking advice, and we are particularly bad at following the advice we give others, even if it’s exactly relevant to us. I love being a person that people want to confide in; it makes me feel useful; so if you need to talk and you don’t know who to start with, send me a message. Or reach out to someone you trust. There’s always someone who has an idea of what your going through, and not feeling alone in your struggle is a big step.

“Happy” World Mental Health Day xxx