Post 88

Post 88

The feature photo is a dragon fruit cactus. Boy 2 has a diverse palate and will try absolutely anything that is put in front of him. He has a soft spot though for fruit. A friend of his bought a pink oval shaped fruit to school to show my boy. If you think of a pear it is a similar shape. The flesh of the fruit that boy 2 had a taste of was white with black seeds and has the consistency of a kiwi fruit. Apparently the dragon fruit that has its origins in Mexico, is full of numerous nutrients, including Vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, fiber and is high in antioxidants. From the first spoonful my youngest boy loved dragon fruit. So much so that he wanted to start growing them. We live in a sub-tropical area and the medium to large cactus seems to grow well here.

We were travelling home from western Queensland and boy 2 was yelling at us to stop the car. Now my boy gets car sick so of course we pull over at a ridiculous speed, because we have been there and done that with vomit all through the car. He wasn’t car sick at all, there was a fruit shop on the side of the road with dragon fruit plants for sale out the front. So after the initial “are you kidding me” had worn off. My husband went and purchased my son two dragon fruit plants.

He has nurtured his plants, he has fertilized them, and watered them and at one point even built a bamboo fence around them to protect them from our dog. He has sculptured them so they now look like works of art.

In saying all of this and how delicious the fruit is and how artistic the plant looks, we found out recently that it can take up to six years for the plant to bear fruit. My boy has a long wait for his treasured fruit, but I am sure he will enjoy the first bight after all of his hard work.

Post 84

Boy 1 is not here for the week, he is sweating it out in western Queensland with my dad. He was keen to go and stay with my Dad for this week, I think he thought that if he went out bush he would be given a little more freedom and not have his nagging mother on his back.  Because that is all I feel like I have done the last few weeks as well. Constantly reminding him of homework, assignments, work, cricket, cricket training, wearing the correct uniform to school, stop wrestling with your brother, don’t talk back, blah, blah, blah.

No wonder the kid jumped in the back of my dad’s car and barely said goodbye, after I wrapped him in my arms for longer than he was comfortable with and peppered kisses all over his face. He is not a touchy, feely kid so this show of affection didn’t sit well with him. My arms and heart ached when they drove out of my driveway, I stood there in bare feet and my nightie – because that is how early they had to leave, and watched the silver V8 four wheel drive power down our street. I text and left several message on both of their phones that first day, but with limited service where they were going I didn’t receive an answer. I finally talked to my dad about 12 hours after they had left and my boy was in the shower. I reminded my dad that his eldest grandson loves a long, hot shower and to remind him not to use all the water. I got the usual “he’ll be right” from my dad. He has been gone 3 days now and I miss his energy and presence in the house. I miss his face and his demands. I talked to him this morning and my heart melted at hearing his voice. He was absolutely fine and his usual self. He was getting ready for the day and sounded too busy to talk, but I piled on the questions.

“Are you ok?”

“Yes”

“Have you been sleeping ok?”

“Yes”

“What are you doing today?”

“Changing tyres”

“Please remember to drink lots of water”

“Yes, its going to be 44 here on Saturday”

“I will ring you tonight from work”

“Ok, gotta go”

“ok love you lots”

“bye”

“Bye, mate, love you”.

Post 74

Post 74

This week I feel that I’ve been the mother that continually makes demands from her kids. It really did feel like every time that I spoke to my
offspring, it was too ask them to do something.

 

“Put your tie and belt on”

 

“get ready for school.”

 

“get ready for work”

 

” have you got your homework”

 

We had a blow up about an assignment that was due in and it was not great, it was no where near the standard that he is capable of. Sitting at
cricket today, my head wanted to explode in frustration with the way my boy was playing cricket, he wasn’t playing to the best of his ability and was walking around the pitch waving his bat and not hitting the ball. I was the crazy mother on the boundary telling
him what to do. “Run”, “hit the ball”. My other boy was sitting with me laughing his little head off. This was after I had lectured him on the perils of borrowing money from friends and to never ever do it again. He had borrowed money from a friend to buy
a pencil with a rubber on the end at the school bookfair, I had told him no that he wouldn’t be buying a pencil from a bookfair and if he wanted to contribute to the bookfair he would be buying a book.  I was trying to teach him the lesson that if you don’t
have your own cash, then you save for the item or forget about it. I had the very same conversation with boy 1 when on the way to work on Tuesday. He his at the age (14), where he believes that everything in our life should revolve about him and that he is
entitled to absolutely everything that he lays his eyes on. We have set a limit for him to reach in his bank account before he is allowed to spend any money. This will be his emergency fund and this is the least amount that always must be in his account. He
thinks that this concept is ridiculous and that he should be able to spend whatever money he sees fit.

 

Everyday this week has felt like a battle, some ending in wine and a whinge to my husband.

 

I read an article on Facebook – by Rachel Stafford from the New York times, 10 ways to Salvage a bad morning before parting ways.

The last few sentences got to me : Day after day, you provide countless doses of love without even thinking about it. That sacred collection of loving gestures far outweighs this mornings clothing drama, and the 7am meltdown

Day 17

Day 17

 

Father’s day today.

We spent the morning at the beach and had a delicious brekky at a café down the road from where the boys had been surfing.

I sat on the beach and watched my husband and kids having ball in the water. He taught them to read the surf, how to surf, how to body board.

This afternoon I watched them fixing the wheels and trucks on their skateboards. He taught them that, he showed them how to ride skateboards, showed them how to look after them and fix them.

My dad came for a visit this afternoon and my boys automatically walked up to him, shook his hand and asked how he was. He taught them that, they see how he greets people and they copy him.

This afternoon my boys were talking to my Dad about our Valiant and the mechanics of a 1975 model car. He taught them that, he spends time explaining the mechanics of the car to the boys while they work on it.

Tonight when we had finished dinner, the boys got up and helped clean up, they cleared the table and wiped the dishes. He taught them they need to help (they roll their eyes and whinge when he is here making them do it, but when he isn’t here they do it automatically).

Before we got married, I couldn’t wait to have this man’s babies. He has been an involved and active dad since day one. He changed nappies, rocked them to sleep, taught them to ride bikes, catch balls, he has taught them manners and respect, he has taught them to look after and be responsible for the animals we have, he has shown them that men cook, clean and be the housewife while I am at work, he does the school drop off and pick up, he has volunteered and been involved in their sporting teams.

Above all with every small thing he does for them, he is showing them, he loves them and they love him.

Happy father’s day.

 

End of day 17

Found out my dad likes peanut butter and jam on a sandwich.

One detail closer to starting a project with a photographer friend.

Day 3

Day 3.

This post will be short and sweet as it is 11.41pm. I have just walked in the door from work. I am physically and mentally exhausted, I am freezing cold and my nose will not stop running. I want to go to bed.

I was driving home rocking out to AC/DC Who made who, trying to think about what I would write for this blog post. I mean I could obviously talk about the lack of discipline that I am showing already in the writing of the blog posts for my 100 day challenge. Cause well its day 3 and I am frantically writing at now 11.44pm, so that I will have a post for today.

I thought about writing about how I mentioned to my husband that I needed more lemons (cause of my head cold that is blocking up my whole head and even making my teeth sore). He went to the markets at the end of the main road this morning and came home with a lemon tree.

I also thought about discussing and doing some research on parenting siblings and how to help them deal with conflict. This morning I stood in the sun, with a cuppa of herbal tea and a box of tissues, watching them set up milk bottles and boxes as targets for their sling shots. Arguing and name calling, pushing and shoving arose and I was determined not to go and interfere so they could resolve their own conflict.  I walked away to get more tissues and they were absolute best mates again.

I could have written a whole blog post on the design of ballet flat shoes and how although pretty with a skirt and black tights, should definitely not be worn when you are working on triage and end up doing 10,000 steps for the shift.

 

End of day 3

Had a nice morning in our back yard with the family

Worked with some great people – who made me not think of sore feet.

Mumma at the beach

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Dressed in cut off shorts, t-shirt and jumper, big sunglasses and blonde pixie hair that I ran my fingers through before leaving home. I Embrace my inner lizard and climb the wooden rail and take up a spot on a sandstone rock to soak up and enjoy the little bit of warmth the winter sun provides, while my family surfsin the ocean below. All the surfers and body boarders look the same in with their black wetsuits and white boards.  I am nervous with my boy’s out there in the expanse of ocean, but they love it. They don’t care about the size, temperature or being the small, amateurs amongst the adult locals.
A woman in her late teens dressed in cut off shorts exposing a leg tattoo that skims her knee, long hair piled on top of her head in a messy bun, a jumper with bikini straps hanging out the top,  her little boy on her right hip and her left arm full of towels and bags followed her partner carrying a surf board down the wooden steps to the sand. She sets her load down on the sand, strips off her jumper, and starts unloading a bag with a hat  and board shorts for her little one. Her little guy starts walking in the car tracks lining the beach.
Looking at the ocean I am silently cheering on one of my boys as he catches a beautiful wave all the way to the beach. (Lucky I didn’t loudly cheer like I wanted to. It was not one of my boys.)
A few minutes later in between a stream of surfers and body boarders, another family walked past me baking on my piece of sandstone rock. 
A woman in her late twenties dressed in jeans, shoes and socks, jumper, scarf and a backpack. Her partner behind her with a little boy and surf board in one arm and towels and a bag in the other. The lady shakes out a towel and has a seat.  The partner sets down the little boy, towels and bag. Arranges a towel for the little boy, grabs his surfboard and runs into the surf.  The Mumma pulls out a phone and an Ipad, she hands the Ipad to the little boy and starts tapping on her phone.
As I watch the ocean and try to identify my family, little boy one runs to the edge of the water and plays tag with the waves, I can hear his belly laughs as the waves almost touch his bare feet. Next to him his Mum writes with a stick in the wet sand.
My husband catches a great little wave and flings himself into the water as the wave ends.  I know that it’s him from the colour of his wetsuit and the way that his foot sticks up as he duck dives. 
Little boy two runs to copy little boy one, his mum puts down her phone, picks up little boy two places him back on the towel with the Ipad and dusts off his shoes.
My littlest boy comes out of the ocean, with a slight purple hue about him.  I peel myself off my rock and meet him at the stairs. He is frozen and can barely speak, but tells me he had heaps of fun and runs to the car to get changed. 
As I try and find my other boy in the crowd of surfers,  little boy one races away up the beach with his mumma pretending to chase him.  Little boy two hasn’t lifted his head from the Ipad screen.   My littlest one comes up behind me and puts his freezing cold hands over my face and laughs his little head off.

Womens choices – you can do anything but not everything.

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It has been brought to my attention that I have chosen quantity over quality.

 

I am a wife

I am a mother

I have a household to run

I have extended family

I have lots of great friends

I am working two jobs

I am studying

I am trying to write consistently and regularly

I am trying to practice yoga daily

I am trying to be all that I can as a woman.

It would seem that I am spreading myself thin, trying to do everything and only doing a half assed job of it all.   I have had a shitty week, with this dilemma. I have been emotional, angry, ugly, determined, motivated, tired, and defeated. I have wanted to stand out in my yard and scream a big “fuck you” to the world. I also wanted to curl up in a ball on my bed and wail like a baby.

Well isn’t this a first world problem.   All of this choice.

I mean FFS, I physically, emotionally and mentally can’t do it all. I am pissed about it. The guilt of juggling work and wife/mother duties. The selfish me wanting to study and write over putting washing away. Wanting to sleep in my own bed instead of going to work at 11.00pm. But also wanting the money that the night shift brings so I can send my kids to private school. Having a rushed, tired, post night shift wine with a friend, before racing home to cook dinner, while kids are at sports training. I want to be the loving, devoted, kind, caring, attentive mother, that doesn’t screw up her kids. I don’t want them to hate me for my crap choices when they are grown men. I want the nice clean and tidy house with mopped floors and immaculate laundry room. I want it to feel like a home. I want the love and respect of my husband, but want to tell him to bugger off so that I can do it all on my own.

I have probably just pushed back feminism 120 years, with my moaning about choice and having an abundance of it.

So what am I going to do??? Ohhh who knows, keep doing what I am doing. I am about to dash to the grocery shop- because we are out of toilet paper. Perfect example of too much going on to even remember to buy loo paper when I did the groceries. Shit housewife.

Every family needs a farmer

This picture was posted on Instagram this morning and it inspired this post.

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Early this year 80% of Queensland was declared in drought, with early stages of el Nino meaning drought breaking rain in winter and spring were highly unlikely.

One particular lady always says when I ask if the skies have blessed her property yet. – “We are one day closer to rain.”

I want to talk today about the stewards of the land that contributes to owning, caring and managing 61% of Australia’s land mass. Ninety four percent of these custodians actively use natural resource management. These people live through this el Nino phenomenon, as well floods and fires and are bonded together as communities because of these events that contribute to life on the land.

From what I have experienced as a soft city slicker, life on the land is as unforgiving as the weather and not for the faint hearted. These men and women that raise cattle, grow crops and provide nourishment for their city cousins have chosen this life and what a life.

I have visited this place when the air has been so dry and hot you would think you were baking in an oven, so much so that your lungs burn and I got sun burnt from hanging washing on the line for 5 minutes. Smashing lips together so that you don’t accidentally swallow 1 million flies, wind and red dust sting and burn your eyes if not wearing sunnies. The ground feels baked under your feet and the heat can be seen shimmering just above the ground.

Wind blowing through the 6 layers of clothes that I tried to wiggle into, while lying in the warmth of the bed with flannel sheets, two blankets and a doona, nose and eyes running from the freezing air. See soft city slicker – who is on the long road back to Brisbane after a maximum of 5 days. Despite my little whinge here, I truly treasure the time spent at the end of a dirt road, where the closest corner store is 45 minutes away and the local hospital is over an 1hr away.

Bushies are generous, open and welcoming they make anybody present feel like a close friend, big-hearted in always offering a meal or a drink. Wonderful funny and interesting conversation is always involved when hangin out with this lot. Picture a place where you know all of your neighbours, and these neighbours are kilometers away, but your friends with them. A place where on the day that the Bathurst 1000 is raced you channel the celebrity drivers speed and intensity and race around a fire that’s straight from the depths of hell and 20 of your neighbours and friends help you while it burns hot and ferocious and fire balls claim thousands of acres of your land. Where you buy 8 seater cars so that you can take turns in carpooling to school, swimming, grocery shopping, home from boarding school or Brisbane. A place where your neighbour will call in to drop off your mail, which usually consists of groceries and anything that can be ordered on the internet, and leave hours later after helping you pull a calf from its mother’s womb, or grabs a wine or beer and helps you do the rounds of your property checking water or feeding drought ravaged cattle or doesn’t leave until the roar of the tractor engine finally is music to your ears. A place where after a dust covered day’s work, you load the kids into the back of the 8 seater car and head to the biggest dam in the community where all your neighbours and friends are to share a beer, a swim , go for a ski. A location where mobile service is limited and when you come together with your friends, you actually talk and communicate with each and enjoy the visit.

When the flooding creek traps you on your own little island for days on end with no outside communication, dust covered boats are launched into the flood waters to check on neighbours and friends and make sure everyone is safe and feed. A place where parents are happy to drive hours for their kids to participate in sport and extra-curricular activities. Drive an hour, one Thursday night a month to reach the local book club where a good book, wine and more friends await, one night after having to deal with a cow in the side of your car.

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Now I am only talking about 1 tiny community of the 134,000 farm businesses in Australia, 99 percent of which are family owned and operated, that supply 93% of Australian families food. I have shown a very small slice of the estimated 35,100 women who live on farms and work outside of the home, not to mention the 16,500 women that work exclusively next to their husbands.

I haven’t touched on the fact that farmers with a tertiary degree has increased 6 fold since 1981.

I also failed to talk about the stats that in farming communities there is such a great sense of community that 39% of people in the bush are volunteers compared to their city cousins at 19% and these figures don’t include non-registered volunteering.

While I have portrayed a community that supports each other and is connected, this is not the case in every community. Stats show that agriculture / farm workers are 1.6 times more likely to commit suicide and that there is a farmer every 4 days taking their own lives.

Six hours south west of Brisbane, in the shire of the Maranoa is a fabulous community of people who I have grown to love and respect over the past 11 years that my sister has lived there. I hope that I have shown a small part of their lives justice in this piece.

Boy in the green pyjamas

I spy you through the privacy shutters on the window. You’re curled up next to the woman that you love most in the world on a stark white, stiff, uncomfortable hospital bed. I watch as you whisper sweet things in the ear of the woman who draws strength from your presence. Your hand clutched in hers is an anchor that grounds the agitation and darkness that’s lurking in her eyes.

I’m caught by you for my spying when you look up and catch my eye. I want to apologise to you, I have interrupted a private moment. A moment of comfort you gave the lady when you soothed her concern over her breakfast and promised her warm milk with her corn flakes. This small gesture of routine changes the emotion in the room from dark and heavy to bright and carefree. The cartoons on the tv compete with the laughter in the room, while a race is on to see who can eat cornflakes the fastest. The hospital issued sandpaper – otherwise known as tissues, wipe my tears and running nose that have drawn attention from my co-workers, who role and shake their heads at me. “What the love in that room is overwhelming” I say. Again I am graced with more eye rolling and shaking heads.

I turn back to spy once more, the primal inner caveman in you is out in full force. The dynamics have changed with the introduction of a social worker and a Doctor to the scenario. The woman in pink flannel pyjamas is frantically trying to fix her appearance, you are a sentinel beside her. The doctor in his casual jeans and polo shirt looks as though he would rather be anywhere else in the world than in this room, and the social worker with her clipboard and list, red glasses and look of determination on her face looks ready to battle.

You obtain the upper hand, you have done this all before that much is very obvious, and your voice is like steel hard and unyielding. “I am a good boy, we help each other do everything and if we can’t do it the ladies from the church help us. I am a good boy at school and always do what my teacher tells me”. You take a big deep breath, your hands clenched at your sides.” Mum walks me to and from school every day, we eat dinner and breakfast at the table and our house is clean”.

Jesus, this is way too much, now I am openly crying next to the photocopier. Even my hard ass co-workers are showing emotion.

The lady in the red glasses strikes, “where is your family and why don’t they support you?” “ I left when I was a teenager because I wouldn’t let my step-father do unspeakable things to me”.

Ok I’m out, I tell my co-workers I am going for my break.

Once I finish my break, I walk past the room that held love, sadness and determination, to find the bed made with perfect hospital corners and sheets so tight that I could have bounced the change from my caramel latte off it.

I quickly scan the discharge notes to find out they have been given a referral for support and a cab voucher to make their way home together.

I wish I could have held that chubby little 7 year old face in my hands and told the boy in the green pyjamas, that he was a boy wise beyond his years, and that he should be very proud of himself.

Day One

Summer has officially started for me, even though in Australia summer officially starts on 1st December.

I originate from a dedicated cricket family, my grandfather founded the cricket club in his home town, and my Dad followed in his footsteps, he was a successful all round cricketer, in one game he took 6 wickets, and my Dad, is still faithful to the Australian game. I recall as a child having our television, locked to Kerry Packers Channel 9, to watch every 5 day test and every single one day game, the worst of all for me was the Boxing Day test in Melbourne.

For people who don’t know cricket, it can be an extremely slow game of 11 players essentially playing a bat and ball game, where the aim is to get the most amount of runs, while keeping as many of your wickets as you can, this can go on for 5 freaking days. I have memories of streams of tears flowing down my face in frustration on sweltering days, and being forced to hang out in our lounge room, to watch these tortuous games with men standing around in white clothes, hitting a red ball with a piece of wood that is shaped as a cricket bat. Sounds traumatic doesn’t it. Fast forward 20 years and with this devoted line of cricketers, I was forced into becoming a cricket tragic. I now have two boys who are so devoted to the game that when they play and win a game, the emotion displayed is the equivalent to winning the Ashes (this is the pinnacle in cricket for an Aussie). At the moment we spend about 6hrs training a week, and then 6 hrs every Saturday playing the game.

So why am I ranting about cricket? Because today “The Gabba” in Brisbane, hosted the first day of test cricket between Australia and New Zealand (yes a test that goes for 5 days), and I was there (AHHHHH). Believe me when I say that is a good AHHHH.

I am extremely fortunate to also have a dear friend who is also a cricket tragic – actually probably more than me (that’s saying a lot), so we spent the day at the cricket.

So what did our day involve? Oh where to start…..Weeeelll lets start at the beginning. Brisbane city council offers free transport to the game, from selected locations for anyone with a ticket to the cricket. So we took advantage of the council’s generosity and took an early bus, to the game. This is after mum duties, of getting our kids safely tucked away at school so we can go and enjoy our day, watching men in white, hit a red ball with a piece of wood. Our aim was to grab fabulous seats in the member’s area and more importantly be settled with a cup of coffee, watching the first ball of the game being bowled. We totally missed all of the above, because the bus took the longest way possible around the city to eventually arrive at the cricket grounds (Sounds like a bad start to the day doesn’t it.). Due to our unfortunate bus trip, we rushed, like almost ran into the stadium, to try and find seats and see what was happening in the game. Well, who should we run into, but one of the best fast bowlers and one of the most talked about Bollywood stars in the world – Brett Lee. What a sweet and generous man to indulge a couple of Mumma groupies in taking selfies with him and then shamelessly posting them on every social media site we are members of and tagging the hell out of them. What a fabulous start to the first day of a five day test, where at lunch we went and spoiled ourselves with a glass of champagne each, of course this is after visiting the coffee van lady. Only to find ourselves in the “man bar” as we called it. As we elegantly sipped gorgeous $19 sparkling wine, and scrutinised the crowed, only to find that we were the only women surrounded in a bar full of beer swilling men lined up out of the 18 + area waiting for a sausage sizzle, while listening to a live musician belt out songs from the 70’s, like Piano Man by Billy Joel, and I was educated on the fact that Madonna was not the first person to sing American pie.

After lunch we watched David Warner rack up his 13th test century and New Zealand struggle to keep the Aussies under control in the field.

We had to depart our member’s seats at tea (3.00pm) to catch the bus, the long way back to the car so that we could pick – up kids from school. Oh, but we will be back tomorrow, cannot wait to see what day 2 involves.

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Twenty-one days

I contemplate our lifestyle as a Fly in– Fly out family and it isn’t about the money. I’m increasingly worried about Scott’s mounting frustration and tension with being away for twenty one days.

Twenty-one nights in a single bed that feels like a piece of concrete. I know he craves, our queen- size bed, with his big strong body curled around mine, holding me tight, not having to wake at 4.30am. No line-up for breakfast, lunch and dinner, his stomach turning at the sight of what is on offer. I can’t wait to sit down and savour a home cooked meal with him.

Twenty-one days of running along the fence line, because the gym overflows with the same people that he lines up for meals with.

Twenty-one times of blowing in the breathalyser, despite having no access to alcohol.

Twenty-one days a month 600kms away, to support us. Transported by a car, plane and bus to get to the 400- man camp that he stays in. The compound could be mistaken for a jail. I know that after a long and detailed process, the gas that is being extracted is only used for domestic use. To top it off, working in 50 degree heat and minus zero temperatures.

In this next swing, I will not spend Easter with my husband, he will miss our oldest boy’s cricket grand final and our youngest boy’s school recital.

The screen is black, the ring tone bleeps as I anxiously wait for Scott to hit connect. I mean, how ridiculous that I am anxious, he is my husband.

As FaceTime connects I see the green eyes and scruff that details a strong jaw. His face beams at me and I know that my face has an equally blinding smile; my eyes sparkle with tears I will not shed. “Hey beautiful, no crying,” he says. Oh god, my heart melts seeing his face and hearing his voice at the same time.

“Hi babe, so I need to interview you on fifo!”

“Yes dear, what do you want to know?” Scott sighs, sounding exasperated. He loathes talking about work and being away. Preferring to spend our time together hearing about home.

“Babe, before we start on this interview let me have a quick chat to the boys.” As I listen to Scott laugh and talk to our boys about school and cricket. I am eternally grateful for modern technology. Jack sits at our much- loved kitchen table, with his dad on FaceTime working through Year 8 maths homework.

Toms laughs as he talks to Scott. “Yes, mum’s doing the dishes!”

“I wish I was doing the dishes with you babe,” Scott yells through the computer screen. The dishes have always been our time at the end of the day to chat and catch up. Now text messages, phone calls and FaceTime are our way of catching up.

I grab the laptop and make my way to our bedroom, so we can chat without interference from the boys.

“So what do you hate about fifo?”

“Seriously, that’s your question?” His unconscious movement of running his hand over his short back and side’s haircut signalling signals his pent- up frustration. “You know the answer to that. It’s fucking shit.” Beautiful green eyes hardening, jaw tense and eyebrows drawn in so far they nearly touch. “It pisses me off that I don’t get to come home to you and the boy’s every day. I want to be home for Easter.” Swipes his hair again. “I am here working my ass off, dealing with idiots that couldn’t organise a piss- –up in a brewery. Working on a public holiday with no penalty rates. After twenty one days I hate the ass holes I work and live with. I did five hundred squats today. Five hundred times I had to squat down and tie off cable. Because some idiot ordered the wrong equipment and refuses to send it back. It’s bullshit. They want us to work harder and faster, with no additional tools and resources.” I scan over his chest and face as he sits rigid and tense on the single bed, as he swipes his hair.

“We got told, that there has been 9 suicides since Christmas, that’s nine blokes that who killed themselves. Fifo and everything that goes with it did that.” (My stomach sinks and I consider the poor men that got to that point, and the families left behind to deal with that devastation.)

Abandoning the questions I had prepared, we chat and catch up about home. Scott now lounges casually on the single bed and his smile reaches his eyes. It makes me think of last month when I picked him up at the airport.

He crossed the zebra crossing dragging his bag behind him at a furious pace, the backpack used as a carry -on slapped against his back, black cap pulled low down over his green eyes. I could see he had no intention of making eye contact with anyone until he reached me. He made sure to wear the black t-shirt that I love. It shows off just a peek of his tattoos, on the arms I adore. Dressed He was dressed in his low slung jeans that hang off his gorgeous ass perfectly. Scott reached our four- wheel drive that took us camping for that break and wrenched the door open. I just about jumped the seat to get to him, I had missed him the past three weeks.

Bringing me back to our conversation he laughs. “Mel, you need to go babe, I can hear the boys arguing.”

My whole body slouches in sadness, tears slip down my face at having to say goodbye. Scott’s eyes are full of love and with a beaming smile across his face. “Love you, babe,” he declares as he hits end. His image is frozen for a second on the screen while the connection drops out. As I stare at the image, I am the one left feeling frustrated and tense with Fly in and Fly out.

Cricket mum

Cricket Mum

It’s 5.00am on a Saturday morning, the heat and humidity are oppressive even at this hour. I shuffle into the kitchen an addict seeking a hit, hunting my drug of choice

The two things that contribute to my survival, especially on Saturday, are;

  1. Coffee: I can’t form a sentence until the first sip of glorious liquid has been consumed.
  2. Shower: I’m not leaving the house without soaping up my body first.

With the above, the check list every Saturday morning of the cricket season includes: whites soaked and ironed to perfection, lunch packed, two folding chairs, five litres of water, two bottles of Gatorade, one giant tube of sunscreen.

Why do I put myself through this at an obscene hour? Because from October to March, my blond- haired boy aspires to be the next Brett Lee with his bowling; he possess the ferocity and passion of Mitchell Johnson as he powers down the pitch to claim wickets. His under-14 cricket games are taken as seriously as Michael Clarke takes The Ashes.

My Saturday cricket buddies (aka other parents) are a good bunch.

The coach is a high-school deputy principal. He pushes the boys and has a quiet, tough-love influence that is astounding to watch.   He’s led them to three premierships.

Jim, assistant coach, also our next door neighbour. The supportive and encouraging one.

The drop-and-run parents of triplets in the team; no idea who they are.

The older parents in their late 50s . He’s blind with a cane. She asks him every time their boy does something significant, if he saw it. Some days I want to yell “No, he didn’t. He’s blind.” Other days when I have had more caffeine, my eyes fill with tears at I tear up at her commitment to share the experience with him.

The single Dad of two: my kindred spirit in caffeine addiction. He always has my back when it comes to coffee.

The divorced couple who sit at opposite ends of the field and send messages to each other via the children.

The passive-aggressive competitive couple. Our kids went to kindy together and now the same high school. I avoid her by burrowing into my camp chair. When she does corner me, I feel my teeth grind.

Over the past three summers we have witnessed the benefits of participating in Australia’s iconic game. Mateship, working as a team, the art of graciousness in winning and losing, responsibility and leadership — and I’m not talking just about the kids.