February 18, 2010

And Then I Cried....

The tears stung my eyes as I drove home from the doctor. The appointment had been fine -- everyone was healthy, everyone was happy - I was just exhausted. That day alone I’d dropped two kids at two different schools, come home, stripped three beds, done three loads of washing, taken Toddler to the supermarket (where she’d lain on the floor screaming because I wouldn’t given her a second Kinder Surprise), rushed home, put her to bed, done two hours of work, changed three pooey nappies in succession, picked up my son from school, rushed home, supervised his homework minute by excruciating minute (given his murderous antipathy to homework), rushed out for the doctor’s appointment, kept Toddler busy with some filthy toys whilst we waited, and now, at 6m, was rushing again to pick up my daughter from my mum’s, from where I would take all the kids home to a house still strewn with shopping bags, wet laundry, and no dinner.

I was exhausted.

I love my kids, desperately. I feel immensely grateful for them every day of my life. And I have always been prepared for the hard work that is involved in raising them. Sometimes, though, the endless slog just weighs me down, until I feel like I’m walking through water, until I long to break away from the Mumminess of it all and just be me for a day or so, unshackled by responsibilities. But that’s not going to happen. Not for another 18 or 20 years.

It’s the relentlessness of parenthood that gets to me, the fact that you can never clock off. Even when you’re on a break, even when, for a moment, all kids are occupied, you are always on call. And 99% of the work is hideously mundane – school lunches, laundry, tidying, ferrying the kids around from school to activity to home again. “But you chose this, Mum,” my son pointed out to me one day, when I told him I didn’t want to clean up his mess. “You wanted to have kids. It’s your job!”

“I did want kids,” I responded crankily, “and I love you guys more than anything. But that doesn’t mean I wanted to cook, clean and tidy every single minute of my life. That’s not what motherhood should be about!’

That night, I hung in there until the kids were in bed. Then, as I was stacking the dinner dishes, I started to sob in earnest. “What’s wrong?” asked my husband, coming up behind me. “Did something happen?”

“I’m TIRED!!!” I howled. “I can’t DO it anymore!!!!”

He put out his arms. “Come here,” he said soothingly, and gave me a cuddle me. “It’s okay. Why don’t you just hop into bed?”

“Because I’m TOO TIRED!!!!” I cried. He laughed. And led me to the bedroom.

I sobbed for about ten minutes straight, lying on my bed in my clothes. And then suddenly, I didn’t feel like crying any more. We watched a bit of TV, and then I curled into a ball and went to sleep.

And by the morning, I was ready to be a mum again. Till the next breakdown, anyway.

57 comments:

  1. boobelah. You are supermum.

    And you know what ? no one in their right minds "hops" into bed. Only frogs but they sleep on lilly pads and it is much easier to hop onto a lilly pad.

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  2. I hear you Kerrie, we all feel like that my kids are now teenagers & it does get easier in some of the physical ways, but still there are struggles everyday & it is exhausting! But I wouldn't have it any other way! Hang in there! xo

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  3. Totally relate. In fact that's what I did last night. Except
    I flopped on sofa. And husband finished work at 1am, so he missed the whole thing :(

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  4. I only have the one child, but being a single parent means I feel like you felt at least three times a week. I rarely let myself cry - because I'm supposed to be TOUGH, dammit! - but the sheer weight of the responsibility drags me down sometimes where I completely forget who I am unless I am the planetary mother figure orbiting around my son's endless needs.

    And then Sunday comes, when he sees his father for six hours, and suddenly I miss him with all my heart and soul. It's nice to have the 'me' time, but I'd trade that to have him with me in a heartbeat.

    Being a mother is a strange dichotomy between intense love & devotion, and endless work and responsibility. Yet it's a testament to our love as mothers that if we were offered a way to go back and change it all, we'd never choose to do so.

    Being a mother defines who I am, and nothing else in my life matters unless I succeed in that role. I wouldn't change a thing.

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  5. But, but. You're a famous writer and blogger. Don't you have a maid and butler ? No wonder you're tired . You need to get syndicated and then the dollars will roll in, and you can lie back, and be pampered. Right ? Right........

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  6. I could've written this. Except for the, yunno, not writing as well as you do thing. But other than that, TOTALLY.

    Hope today is a better day!

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  7. My day sounds like yours:
    toddler one too many treats on Tues so awake at about 3am (she doesn't go back to sleep). Could vaguely hear her singing sweetly to herself in her room and thought it was a ggod sign until found the yogurt she had served herself at some stage of the morning.
    Go to work after somehow managing the morning (oh yes, washed hear for the first time in a week).
    After school take 1 child to gym, then drop another at choir back to gym, 2 trips to supermarket (one after school for snacks, one after between gym and choir to buy dinner). Home work. Dinner. Clean house for cleaner to clean today (yes, I know I'm lucky on this score). Bed midnight.

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  8. I had that day too - only instead of crying, which would have at least been cathartic, I just go crosser and crosser and crosser. Until I'd disappeared behind a wall of crossness that nobody could breach. But today is a new day and the vacuuming can wait.

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  9. Yep, here too, plus add in work. Arrgghh - when does this treadmill stop, I want to get off. Can't even have a sick day in peace!



    imentand - when you are trying to back peddle a on a statement or comment really quickly. As in "No, I meant this not that"

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  10. I think we have all been there. I was a blubbering mess when child number 3 was about 4 years old. She was uptight and demanding. I related living with her to living in a mine field and not knowing if the next step you took would cause a massive explosion.
    I was exhausted and becoming depressed and finaly started feeling dizzy, a lot.
    My wise GP checked me over and prescribed some "me time" - movies, exercise, going out with husband and friends.
    He then gave me a referral for my daughter to see a child psychologist - the best thing we ever did. She was extremely anxious and frustrated. The psych helped her learn to put things in perspective - yes, even at such a young age. We had about 12 session over about 18 months and it was wonderful.

    Hey, I still get tired and sometimes teary. But I can see the light at the end of any tunnel these days :-)

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  11. I honestly don't know how you mums do it! I am in complete, respectful awe!! Hang in there! It sounds like you're doing a GREAT job!!

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  12. This is not helpful - at all - but you're definitely not alone. In fact, I try to limit myself to once a week - preferably behind the kitchen island if the kiddos aren't in bed before the tidal wave crashes. But then that incredible build up of tension and exhaustion subsides and I go back to organising the seemingly endless loads of laundry or similar mundane mummy-task.

    Hey, wait! Aren't those days the reason Girl's Night Out were invented?

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  13. Although I only have one child I really relate to that feeling of not ever being off the clock. Not long after my son was born, that was the feeling that floored me the most. It freaked me out that there was no out! Ever.
    Someone who i admire and trust very much said to me "we can equally love and resent our children. And the most we should hope for is to do a good enough job". Even though it was confronting to hear the part about resentment, the overall message of what she said made sense, and was very reassuring.

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  14. You are the most amazing lady I heve ever met and I have not had the privilege to meet you in the flesh.

    Being human is hard enough. Being a Mum is something I can't even begin to comprehend. What you do on a daily basis is remarkable.
    I can't lay claim on motherhood, but I am friends with single mum's and let me tell you, I am worn out after an hour of running around with one toddler!

    Life is overwhelming sometimes (all the time in my case), but you get to see the rewards of raising children. You see them grow, learn, become the people they will be later in life. You get to witness a miracle. I think that is something we all forget... Being a Mum is being part of a miracle that is life.

    Well, those are just thoughts.
    Much loves and many more hugs.

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  15. Motherhood - the unpaid, 24/7, heart-wrenching, highly emotional, complicated, never-ending job requiring the patience of a storybook saint ( I don't have it) & world class diplomacy skills (still in development) & a bottle of wine EVERY day.
    Sometimes I feel like one of those people who can still feel their missing limbs...I am sure I have an invisible umbilical chord to my 3.
    I have struggled with the enormity of the role for the past 27 years and still it continues to ask so much of me.
    I only wish I had had access to the amazingly supportive community available to us all via this incredible blogoshere, back then.
    I just constantly remind myself that I made 3 of the best human beings I know and that's a pretty damn good reward!

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  16. Ahh refreshing, a mother who is not pretending to be mother of the year and it making it all look like a piece of cake. Because it's just not. Better out than in as they say. I cry at the most inappropriate and stupid times. Like watching a magician show at the hospital last week. The show was hilarious, my kids were laughing their guts out and there I was sobbing like a loser up the back. I couldn't understand why because by my very nature, I just don't cry, I am almost embarrassed to.

    You are an amazing mum!

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  17. Oh, I feel your pain Kerri...and it seems half the blogosphere does too. I have one of those days about once a fortnight, when it is just TOO MUCH and motherhood seems a little bit too much like indentured servitude... the kind where you never pay out your contract. I find a morning off - a day is better - where I do a coffee/op-shop/back to bed loop is about all I need to re-calibrate.

    Plus, it's important to lose it in front of the husband occassionally, otherwise all of that relentless, constant work is INVISIBLE. Chin up, buttercup. Hope you're feeling better.

    PS my verification word is DYKFULAS, which seems like it could be a helpful thing for you to shout, 3 times, loudly, today.

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  18. Given 90% of my blog posts are devoted to this EXACT topic it was so good to read here. Particularly from someone I admire so much (yeah I do.Might as well admit it) thank you for your honesty, because with 3 small ones of my own, a husband whose away alot and just beginning a journey into writing that you are so brilliant at, it helps me to keep hoping. MWAH!

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  19. Kerri,

    Me too.

    And reading your blog makes me feel like a little bit less of a disaster area.

    Carol

    :) xxx

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  20. Relentless is right! Lucky our moods are so fluid (like our tears!) that 5 minutes after Meltdown Ground Zero we are pinching and raspberrying their little faces and feeling those flippity little butterflies jumping around in our tummies when we think of those precious, infuriating angel-devils.

    Your stories are Sharing Tonic, Kerri xox

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  21. Yep, yep and yep!

    All of that and more ...

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  22. Kerri I was nodding throughout this. And crying. Because this is my life. Relentless, mundane and all that. And yes, I did choose it, but it doesn't stop me from feeling overwhelmed, even resentful sometimes. Every morning is a struggle to get two kids to school with a toddler in tow after making breakfast and lunches, home again to tackle the chores that NEVER STOP, attend to the grocery shopping, bill paying, vaccuuming etc, back to school for pickup, then off to ballet/tap/doctors etc, then home and OH MY GOD I forgot to organise something for dinner. Then its homework, baths, arsenic hour, bedtimes...and by the time they fall asleep, I do too, with no time to unwind. Tomorrow I do it all again. Of course I love my kids. Of course they bring me so much joy I wish I could bottle it. But sometimes it is just so damn all-consuming I feel like I'm sufficating. And then I cry. And then the kids say "don't cry mummy". So I stop. But the suffication doesn't....

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  23. Me too - thank you for making me feel normal - far out I have my own triangle of madness going every evening where point A is son (6) and homework who if I do not supervise each minute decides his time is better spent building a power station with all our odd and broken electrical bits and possibly his mattress, point B is daughter (4) and food who if I dont supervise each minute decides we need a compost of her food under her dolls house and that she would look much better with her face coloured in red texta and point C dinner prep etc for rest of family - did I mention that miss 4 can not eat what we eat or near us as it smells too ewy, I want to cry now in anticiption of tonight

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  24. I believed it was nigh on impossible to describe that all encompassing feeling of exhaustion, mental and physical, that comes hand in hand with motherhood- but you, Dear Kerri, have managed to so eloquently. And your husband? What can I say..the perfect response.

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  25. I'm not sure if this is helpful but hopefully it is....I've been there and done that and had days where I wondered why on earth I ever had children.

    BUT then they turn 18 and become adults and you get to meet up with them for coffee or shopping .... and they still come to you when they want advice or just a hug .. and it is all incredibly worth it ...every single mundane day.

    The joy you get from seeing your children grow up to be adults you can be proud of is undescribable...

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  26. Have only just seen this because I was too busy yesterday coaching my son's school swim team and managing his cricket team and putting the washing out and hauling it back in again and cleaning up breakfast and making dinner and making lunches and making time so my husband feels he gets his share of me too and trying to do my own writing and sorting out my daughter's latest friendship crisis and getting online to pay the bills and hearing reading for an hour at school and... actually, I guess you probably get the point.

    I have my shouty moments too, particularly when someone wants a French braid with beading at five to nine. But you know what? It's definitely better when they're all at school, so you can look forward to that. And one day we'll probably even miss it...

    Until then, sleeping helps. You have a divine husband! Shouting does too, in a pinch. xxx

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  27. Your honesty is wonderful Kerri. Days like that suck, I'm glad you were able to have your cry and release.

    Often these emotions can leave us feeling less than adequate, it's nice to see you pick yourself up and get back into it. x

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  28. It all changes with ages & stages, hang in there. I was reading the whole post thinking you were going to announce you were pregnant with a 4th?? Then we'd have something to talk about to add to the list of things to do.
    My husband gives great hugs, shame he's not around. You'll get there, some days are just bigger than others. Love Posie

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  29. How lucky are you dear Kerri to have your lovely husband who just seemed to know what to do. A big Koala stamp for your hubby.

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  30. Tell hubby to set aside some funds for a cleaner.

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  31. I hear you. Thankfully we have this fantastic community of mothers just like us online, who know. And that helps.

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  32. I love this post, its honest, and true, and at the end reading it I cried too... because we all have those days, we all feel like we just can't do it anymore. And you know what? That's OK because we're human. Sometimes it is too hard, it is too much, and the more we all say that out loud, the better... no more of this I'm on top of it all the time veneer... so thank you Kerri from the bottom of my heart for writing so beautifully about the days we would rather not remember. xxx

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  33. OH MY GOD. WHAT am I in for.

    Seriously though, this is wonderful and very honest. Wow.

    I am hoping all the housework and children-work doesn't get to the point where it prevents you from having the time to write...

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  34. I read this and my heart felt for you.
    It must be a tough job being a Mum - I don't think we give mothers enough credit.
    Well done on everything you do for your kids.
    Take some time out this weekend, see a movie, pamper yourself x :)

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  35. wow... this is such an honest post. thank you.

    i often try to put myself in the shoes of my friends who have had children, and i get a panic in my heart that echoes this post. i honestly don't think i am cut out for it, which saddens me, as i also know there is a wonderful upside that i will never know.

    i am in complete and utter awe of those of my wonderful sisters who do have children and do such a wonderful job at what i can only imagine must feel so thankless so much of the time.

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  36. Been there....and still doing that...

    It so sucks sometimes (and sometimes it's the opposite of sucks) xx

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  37. Little Girl From East St KildaFebruary 19, 2010 at 8:33 AM

    I want to come to your place and take care of you. Can't help myself. I remember how hard it was.

    Kerri, you should rename your post to 'And then he kissed her.'

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  38. I read this yesterday on the train.. And I cried.. Sometimes you just gotta fall apart.. Then you put yourself back together again.. It is hard, and the relentless task of being a mother is. not. easy. Crying is sometimes a release. Hope tomorrow is a sunshiney day for you.... xxxxx

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  39. I reached the last line and already had tears in my eyes because I get it. Every few days or weeks or whenever...I get it. "keep calm and carry on"

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  40. Helen put me onto you as I am crying in whoop whoop for a host of reasons not disimilar to yours ... ain't life grand ... we really sometimes just need a good cry - a circuit breaker ... thanks for sharing le xo

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  41. Yep, been there, felt that and cried those tears of exhausted despair. But we are mums, we fall apart quietly, then while the wee ones slumber we pick up all the pieces, stick them all together and start afresh the next day. I hope that next week sees you in brighter spirits lovely. xx

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  42. Yes, me too, been there - in fact am there now...*hugs many*...(oh and children cannot use the 'you chose to have us' excuse...it is decreed...once they are old enough to tidy their own mess they do so. Or the bloody should - *mutters as she get sharpener for son from two meters away*

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  43. I know I am going to get flamed for this...but please, GET SOME PERSPECTIVE.....

    You mum's that are home ALL day do a bit of housework, get the kids of to school and then fluff about on the internet think you have it tough...I don't think so.

    Be grateful you don't have to work or worry about how you are going to feed your kids. Be grateful you live in a big fancy house and can send your kids to private schools.

    I mean c'mon. You have one toddler at home, the others are at school, how hard can it be???

    And yes, I do have kids and I work...fulltime.

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  44. Anonymous... Shpanonymous!!! put your name to your comment and stand by your statement. My only real response is to quote you right back to you.

    "I work...fulltime."

    Us mums (no apostrophe required as it's a plural and not a possessive)who work full time at home face entirely different challenges than those who work full time elsewhere. Respect please. It's a tough job.

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  45. Dear Anonymous,
    Thank you for your comment. I do indeed put my good fortune into perspective. I am grateful every day for having three healthy, beautiful children. As someone who lost a beloved sister, I am keenly aware of how precious this is.
    I am grateful for the opportunities my husband and I have had so that we can work our arses off to get into a nice house and put our kids into good schools.
    Now, for your information, I do work part time as well as look after the kids and home. But even if I didn't, it doesn't matter, because stay at home mums work incredibly hard.
    Most importantly, Anonymous, you know nothing of the sacrifices I have made, and difficulties that I face in my daily life, because I choose not to share them with the whole world. But it's not just me. EVERYONE has issues. EVERYONE has challenges. So remember that before you are so disparaging of another's life.
    Kerri

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  46. I had tears in my eyes after reading your post, and I can't even really identify with it! But I thought it was really beautiful of your husband to let you get it all out and get some sleep. I hope I am able to find a man who is so considerate, kids or no kids xx

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  47. I'm not suggesting stay at home mum's don't work hard. I am a mother of 4 children so I certainly understand the level of strength and work it requires to parent.

    What I am saying is that it is offensive for someone with your level of privilege to continually whine about how tough you have it.

    Have you thought about how women in Redfern or Cabramatta might think about your blogs? I don't think so, but hey I guess they are not really your demographic are they?

    Why don't you get a clue and leave the little bubble you live in. Go and talk to women who experience poverty and racism and disadvantage. Go and talk to community development workers, who are employed for peanuts but dedicate themselves to those on the fringes of society. Write about the empowering work they do so that you can educate some of your readers.

    But somehow I think that's all a bit hard and it's easier to bury your head in the sand and write about Simon Baker, contact and all that other important stuff. Why not use your intelligence and the opportunity you have to implore others to do something to initiate change in our country so that every citizen has an opportunity to live a life free of disadvantage.

    I don't begrudge people who work hard and attain a certain level of success and wealth and I am realistic to understand that there is always going to be levels of inequality. I just don't think it's necessary to play the "woe is me" when in fact you have it pretty good.

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  48. Anonymous,
    I'll respond once more then I'll just delete your comments as they are so offensive and inaccurate.
    FIRSTLY: I studied social work for 4 years (during which time I did 3 long term placements with the highly disadvantaged) and then worked in the field for another 3 years. You didn't know that, did you?
    SECONDLY: I write, for the most part, humorous stories that make people laugh. That's what I do. And I get dozens upon dozens of responses telling me how much people relate, how good it makes them feel to know they are not alone, or simply how thankful they are to have had a laugh in the middle of a difficult day.
    THIRDLY: Many of my readers live in hardship and poverty. They, too, are entitled to a laugh, and they do not resent me for not also living in poverty (though if you have an idea that I am wealthy, you are sadly mistaken).
    FOURTHLY: To tell me to go out and use my skills for another purpose makes as much sense as telling a baker to use his skills to build houses. I am a WRITER. Not a politician, not a social worker (any more), not a teacher. This is what I do. And I use my skills to give people a laugh, and, hopefully, a sense that they are not alone. So far the only person who has had a problem with that is you. So perhaps don't read my blog.
    Kerri

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  49. Little Girl From East St KildaFebruary 21, 2010 at 10:12 PM

    Anonymous, I so dislike people like you who think they can accurately judge others when in fact they most horribly misjudge everything about another person's life. I think Kerri touches a chord with so many people. She makes them laugh and she makes them cry and she warms their hearts, but most importantly they delight in her insights, and enjoy sharing in her life.

    Anonymous I would like to give you a big slap on the hand that types your really stupid and nasty comments. You are most horribly rude and offensive, and I am not Kerri's mother. But I would love and be proud to have a girl like Kerri as my daughter. And by the sounds of you I would most definitely not like to have you as my daughter, but then you would most definitely would not like to have me as your mother. We really would not get on.

    And Anonymous if you wrote a blog, no one would read it! I think it is time you stopped reading Kerri's blog or just read it and take a deep breath and don't leave any comments. Anyway why in the world do you continue to read Kerr's blog? You obviously don't get her writing or her life or really much anything about her.

    And I do believe Anonymous your comments have annoyed me before.

    Kerri go girl.

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  50. Little Girl From East St KIldaFebruary 22, 2010 at 5:48 AM

    And in addition, Anonymous ..........

    The more you write, the more sadly pathetic, illogical and ridiculously simplistic your comments become. I would think there is a huge amount of anger and jealousy behind your comments. It is time you got up off your high horse. The disadvantaged of Redfern or Cabramatta don't need you to represent them. They need someone with manners, dignity and intelligence. You do a huge disservice to anyone who has suffered poverty and racism. It is clear by your disrespectful tone and language, and the simplicity of your arguments, you really need to take some time out.

    Perhaps it is you who needs to do some talking with those who experience poverty and racism and hear what they really need and want. They certainly don't need and want you to trivialise their lives with anger directed at those who may have more than them.

    If you are a community development worker, you need to get some help yourself. You are carrying so much anger that you are heading for burn out.

    And if you are a community development worker you need to talk to other community Development workers because you have really lost the plot. Berating those whom you think are privileged is not how it works.

    And if you are NOT a community Development worker it is time you went and had a talk with one, so that you can understand the true meaning of empowerment and education. It is so easy (and now I will use some of your words) for you to 'fluff about on the internet' and think you are accomplishing something important as you berate others.

    As an ex Community Development worker, and someone who has worked in the areas of disadvantage and disability as well as in areas of trauma, I have some credentials in the area. Disparaging those who you perceive to have more than you achieves nothing and helps no one.

    And as someone who has been on the other side of poverty, racsism and trauma, I would hate to have someone like you trying to help me.

    Kerri don't take Anonymous' comments off your comments section. Just don't respond to them anymore. Let them just sit there and self-destruct!

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  51. Kerri I haven't had time to read your blog for a week or so and I missed this one, but OMG it is my life at the moment too! I am constantly on the verge of tears and struggling to keep my head above water! getting my 4 boys back to school has been such a huge job and now with 4 lots of homework and just keeping them fed and having the right uniforms ready every day with swimming bags cricket gear rugby boots etc etc it's crazy. And my poor toddler just witnesses my mayhem each day and I feel she is getting the worst of me. AND I have given up chocolate for Lent, (I say this as I unwrap an easter egg) OH THE GUILT! Although, mother guilt is so much worse than Catholic guilt!

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  52. Just got around to reading this as I have been too busy being a mum this week! Brilliant!!! Thanks so much, love your blog!

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  53. This is my life. It is a cycle and always ends in a melt down of which i sob for about 1/2, then i am perfectly fine until the next melt down in about 4 - 6 months time! My husband is fully aware of this cycle and is always very supportive of my mummy, can't take this or do this anymore melt down!

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  54. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

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  55. This is my life. It is a cycle and always ends in a melt down of which i sob for about 1/2, then i am perfectly fine until the next melt down in about 4 - 6 months time! My husband is fully aware of this cycle and is always very supportive of my mummy, can't take this or do this anymore melt down!

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  56. I think we have all been there. I was a blubbering mess when child number 3 was about 4 years old. She was uptight and demanding. I related living with her to living in a mine field and not knowing if the next step you took would cause a massive explosion.
    I was exhausted and becoming depressed and finaly started feeling dizzy, a lot.
    My wise GP checked me over and prescribed some "me time" - movies, exercise, going out with husband and friends.
    He then gave me a referral for my daughter to see a child psychologist - the best thing we ever did. She was extremely anxious and frustrated. The psych helped her learn to put things in perspective - yes, even at such a young age. We had about 12 session over about 18 months and it was wonderful.

    Hey, I still get tired and sometimes teary. But I can see the light at the end of any tunnel these days :-)

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  57. I hear you. Thankfully we have this fantastic community of mothers just like us online, who know. And that helps.

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