me and my mama

My relationship with my Mama has been tentative and sometimes extremely volatile over the years.

When I was little I wanted a Mother that was like all the others appeared to be. I wanted love like everyone else seemed to get. I wanted understanding like I thought other kids got from their mothers.

I pretty much wanted my mother to be different than she was. Not all of her, just the bits I didn’t like.

As the years have gone on, and I had my own children, I still wanted her to be different. I still wanted her to understand me differently.

I also despised her for not protecting me.

Little did I realise then, and have only come to realise recently, that I am guilty of doing to my mother what I don’t like others doing to me.

Wanting me to be different than I am.

And you know what … when I stopped wanting her to be different than she was, I got to see her real beauty, not just tokenly appreciate the things she had done for me.

You see, my Mama is quite an amazing person when I stopped wanting something else … when I actually took a step back and looked at her properly.

Not only did she raise 2 children on her own in spite of the hurdles she had faced with both mine and my brothers fathers … she chased, exorcised, actively sought after and conquered her own demons whilst raising us.

I’ve learnt over the years, that theres a huge difference between parenting well and seeking out the ‘better’ … for yourself and your children … whilst you are nursing your own wounds. And we all carry wounds. No-one is immune to that. And that is what my Mama did. She strived for better, from herself and from us. From me. All her, what I perceived then as criticism, was her way of getting me to think about what I was doing and where I was going. She wanted better for me.

As for not protecting me … I’ve also come to realise that she did all she could and all she knew to do to protect me. She is not accountable for another persons filthy wretched being. She’s not accountable for another persons actions. They are.

I recently helped my Mama move from her little house to another. She’s just retired and her new place is about 15 minutes away from me. In another lifetime that would have been horrid. But now, I embrace it. In fact I absolutely love having her down the road and round the corner from us.

Over the last few days I’ve helped her unpack and de-clutter / re-organsie her living space. I’m good at that sort of shit. Really good. But what was even better was spending time with her.

As we went through all her things, we did this process I do so it’s easier for those that don’t want to let things go, let things go. We look at every item and do a practical count of things; if theres more than 2 things we have to look at what they’re all there for. Usually its got to do with memories. With each item, my Mama had a memory attached to it. I heard all her stories of all the things she held memories of. The things that were the most memorable, or that she absolutely loved, those things she kept and put on display instead of hiding them in a box. I think she enjoyed the process instead of it being painful. I used to criticise her for her clutter and disorganisation, because I didn’t like it and I wanted her to be different. But by the time we were finished, I got to see the beauty in all the things that she loves.

I love my Mama. I appreciate her deeply, now, for who she is.

She is amazingly intelligent; holds a degree; has completed some brilliant research; has gone back to study to pursue her love of art; she is a beautiful artist; a gritty activist; she’s a devoted and loyal woman with a deep deep passion for what is just and what is right; she abhors injustice and greed.

What more could anyone want in a role model and in a Mama?

Lastly, my Mama has always lived on the bones of her ass. I didn’t realise how much so until I lost my income and had to look at how I spent money; what I actually needed versus what I wanted; what was really important. Mama always fed us and clothed us; she always paid her bills and still had money left over to give to others. She sewed and bottled; baked and cooked; she saved and spent less. She was always careful about where every penny went. But I don’t recall her ever complaining about being broke … she just got on with it.

And while I have always heard people complain about the amount you receive when you retire and how little it is … because my dear dear Mama has learnt to live on virtually nothing all her adult life … retirement looks like manna from heaven. Most people would sniff at 30 or 40 dollars ‘extra’, but my Mama is living large … for her, she has hit the jackpot. Mama has never drank or smoked or eaten exotic foods or bought exotic clothing … she’s never gone on expensive overseas holidays or ordered overpriced gadgets to ease her ego; she’s never bought a brand new car or a brand new anything for that matter … she’s always lived minimally. And now … she can buy an extra block of cheese, and her favourite fruits, and some raw milk, and a steak … she can go for a coffee at the cafe if she chooses and buy an extra pot plant if she wants … she can even give the mokos a few dollars if she wants.

For all these reasons and a shitload more … I am forever grateful that my Mama is my Mama. That she is the perfect Mama for me. That I still have her here to enjoy. That she is close enough for my crusty anxiety ridden ass to get to every week. That I’ve figured out how important she is and can enjoy every moment with her, now.

Love you my Mama xoxo

Response to Property Management Services in NZ

As we have found out during our journey, there are no governing bodies which oversee a ‘Property Managements’ actions in this country. Which means there are no avenues to go down to lay an official complaint re rental properties. And that does not just apply to a renter, but also the ‘owners’ of those rental properties with a Property Management Service. This doesn’t apply to Licensed Realtors who deal with selling properties, who also have a rental section within them, as a formal complaint can be laid with the business.

I have always taken care of my rented homes, like they are my own. I have never, ever defaulted on rent payments or failed to inform the landlord of faults or wear and tear situations. When I leave a house I’ve been renting I leave it in better condition than I found it. When I am looking for and applying for a home to rent I provide all necessary documents, references and monies and am always open to being asked questions.

I expect the same courtesy from those I rent from.

From a long time, renter’s perspective, I understand that there are some unsavory tenants and I do believe that there should be measures in place to filter out those who are not going to take care of a property or pay their rent.

I also think however, after my recent experiences with what was supposed to be our ‘recovery’ move, and the Property Management Service that we had the displeasure of dealing with; that there should be a system whereby potential tenants are able to ‘vet’ a Property Management or landlord before they rent from them.

We started viewing properties around the Horowhenua beach districts in early 2013 and had viewed multiple properties by early 2014.

Early 2014 we found what appeared to be a suitable property to rent, through Rentables Property Management Ltd, Levin. We moved in March of 2014.

Our first ‘red flag’ presented itself a few days before we were due to move. We had paid our deposit and went to sign the papers and bond forms. We had also agreed to clean the property inside, and be reimbursed for doing so. We made it clear that we wouldn’t be officially moving in for another week as that is when our current tenancy expired. Rent payments would start the week after, as we had paid a week in advance. The tenancy agreement was signed by one party and what appeared to be a receipt was included in the document. It appeared that the monies we had paid them were paid to the Bond, meaning the refund of the current bond would go to them to pay for rent in advance and letting fee.

Upon entering the property that day, to clean, it was noticed that the water was running a rusty-brown color. We rang the Property Management and let them know, stating that as we hadn’t been told of this, and didn’t know, we were not prepared to move in until it was fixed, or alternately, withdraw our application. They stated that we could have free rent until it was resolved. This was a verbal agreement not a written one. So we moved.

We also moved with the understanding that the property would be tidied up outside and rubbish dumped and all cosmetic flaws would be remedied within the first month. It wasn’t cleaned when we came to move.

Cutting an already long story short; we spent close to $500 to clean up the property. Fix cosmetic flaws/damages and dump rubbish. We were never reimbursed for this even though we had sent emails to say what we had cleaned and a running tally of the hours.

After only a few months of being there, we were given a 90-day eviction notice after informing the Property Management on several occasions that the water tank was leaking and had not been fixed properly; the roofs in all buildings were leaking causing further damage to walls and wiring, and a retaining wall was giving way.

We also had a longstanding ‘disagreement’ with the amount of bond money lodged. When I tried to remedy this on numerous occasions we were told that we owed rent money. The ‘free rent’ verbal agreement and the ‘receipt’ in the tenancy agreement had come back to bite us on the ass. We paid what we didn’t really owe, in the hopes that this would settle the situation.

Eventually we took the Property Management to the Tenancy Tribunal for failing to lodge the bond in its entirety, and being evicted in retaliation to requesting repairs. We won with regards to the bond and eviction with the eviction being revoked. It was noted at the hearing that it was illegal to re-rent a property that was technically uninhabitable, if the owners/Property Management were not willing to fix it. It was also illegal to give notice to tenants who were doing what was required of them by law – to report faults.

What we didn’t notice at the time of the hearing, was that the Property Management Service, had changed our ‘move in’ date as mentioned in a ‘minutes of meeting’, which I didn’t attend and my partner didn’t realize was a ‘meeting’. This came back to bite us on the ass as well, when we finally moved from the property. Technically however, the Property Management lied in the Tribunal, but because we didn’t notice it till later, all the proof we had, made no difference.

About a month after our victory of sorts, we were then given a 42-day notice as the owners had then decided to sell.

As we looked for a new property to rent we were shown some filthy and severely damaged homes, to be rented out at $250 plus per week. None of them looked like they were presented on-line.

We finally found a modest, inexpensive home, through Property Brokers Foxton. We were deeply grateful for the honesty and professionalism that was shown to us by them. It went some way to restoring our faith in people!

We prepared to move and had the first house immaculately clean and tidy due for inspection. We were then told that the Property Management Service wouldn’t release our bond because we owed rent. We asked why we hadn’t been informed of this prior to the inspection and were told to check our dates.

We did and found the lie that had been presented to the Tribunal. But we couldn’t do anything about it as the dates were noted on that official/legal document. We ended up having to pay nearly $200 in ‘arrears’.

We decided to let it go after we tried to lay a complaint with Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment re this Property Management service. It was then that we were told about the no governing body situation, and that there was no place to lay a formal complaint. I stated that this was ludicrous as in you could lay an official complaint about virtually anything from a bank to rude customer service. Apparently the situation was ‘being looked into’, but as it stood at the end of 2015, legislation remained the same regarding Property Management Services.

My concerns have recently been re-raised after we had a situation with an older family member being declined an application by a Property Management in this area. Apparently the ‘owner’ didn’t want to ‘clean up’ the property as was requested by the applicant. Instead ‘they’ chose to roll with another applicant who was happy to have the property, as is, where is, so to speak.

My concern, after experiencing trying to rent a property in this area, basically comes down to these points:

  1. If a ‘owner’ pays a rather hefty fee for a Property Management Service to maintain their property, select and filter the right tenant, do house inspections quarterly; how is any property left in a mess or damaged? We met the ‘selling owner’ of our previous house when they came to pick up their property. They were aghast at the ‘decline’ of the house, realizing that this had been a long-term steady decline. If I was that owner, I would’ve been wondering where and what my annual fee had exactly been spent on, because it was surely not maintenance, repairs or general up keep! And then on top of the owner’s annual fee, the tenant pays a rather hefty bond to get into that property. Why are we being asked, or left with an obligation to tidy or clean up a house and its premises if we want to rent it?
  2. It would appear that while renting in the city requires references, monies and an inclination to stay long-term or sign a short-term lease; there is no such courtesy here. Yes, an owner is well within their rights to sell their properties when they see fit; but if they know that their properties are possibly not suitable for habitation, why are they renting them out in the first place?
  3. It would be good to have a ‘list’ of reputable and undesirable Property Management Services, nationwide, so renters can ‘vet’ their services before choosing one. As new comers to an area, we relied heavily on a Property Service that knew the area. We didn’t know anyone to ask about suitable property services and would have appreciated some kind of filtering system to roll with a good one.

All of this caused enormous stress on the both of us and while we had to deal with it; it did make me wonder, if we had have been elderly or our disabilities had not been manageable; what would this type of stress have done to us and what would our options have been?

girls pain, moko two and steady decline…2009

She was having trouble with the inlaws…and domestic violence…she felt trapped…shit those were the killer, kicker words for me…feeling trapped. I booked her and moko a plane ticket and brought them home. In hindsight…oh great hindsight…it may not have been the most appropriate thing to do; but I would die trying to protect her…and moko. What it took a long time to realise though, was I couldn’t die trying to protect her from herself. My girl had demons of her own…and they were rearing their heads…and she was in pain. It took a few years for her to start grappling with them…like me…she turned to the alcohol and tried to drown herself in the protection that it gave.

Her partner followed her down…and they ‘reconciled’ and moko number two was on her way.

Life was…hard…fucking hard…with all of us under the one roof again. All the things that had been unresolved between us, came flooding out…lots of anger…and their was plenty of that between myself and my partner as well. And my little girl…well she was in the middle of it all…again.

Work was…ratshit. Well, I was ratshit really, and work just added to that. In the wonderful world of hindsight, this is where stuff really declined for me…and the pressure of…everything…started taking its toll…more. I had more time off work and while I was putting on a little bit more weight I was starting to feel confined and tight…what I know now to be anxiety. I was overloaded…in my mind and emotionally.

There was an incident on the floor that had tipped everything over the edge for me. We had a team change and I was working with people who I didn’t know and didn’t particularly trust. Their practices were what I deemed to be enormously unsafe…especially when it came to their colleagues. My practice on the floor with the kids and my colleagues, was as anal as the rest of my life…but it made me hugely safety conscious. On the day of the incident we had a team of four on the floor and one in the office. The one in the office was supposed to be monitoring everything…us and the kids…the wings, the doors, the ‘incident’ or time out room…and they’re supposed to be communicating with us via RT all the time.

We had approximately 12 kids at the time…15 was a full unit. As well as monitoring the kids themselves, our job was to be monitoring the undercurrents…what was happening amongst the kids…tensions…and nipping stuff in the bud before it began. As we were returning across the courtyard back to the unit one young fullah twacked another…just low key…a jab that was more about setting the scene for something larger. He had planned it so that when we were waiting for the doors to be unlocked, and were vulnerable, he was able to go undetected, supposedly. Because our team was new and complacent really, he did go undetected…except for my ever watchful eye. On our other team, we used to line the kids up outside the door before it was unlocked, and they had to stand there until everyone was quiet and accounted for. No one moved until we all had a line of sight of each other and a head count was done.

This team didn’t do any of that, and this kid knew it. We were all over the place…the male colleagues were laughing and carrying on with each other and the kids and not taking any notice of what was going on. I RTed them to let them know what was happening, but one had his earpiece out, one had his RT off and the other two weren’t listening. By the time they had unlocked the door and all the kids had bumbled through, along with the staff, a couple more jabs had been dealt and this kid was eyeing me up. I did what I’d been taught and waited till the majority had hit their wings and then isolated this instigating kid…I called for assistance from one of the staff and he didn’t hear…I called for the time out to be unlocked, and it wasn’t…and all the time this was happening this kid was getting cockier because he knew I wasn’t being listened too. I ended up shouting at him and swearing him all the way down to time out, unlocking the door myself and ushering him in. The loud voice and swearing had caught him off guard as I wasn’t a yeller by nature at work, and swearing at the kids was against all policy! But it was enough to save my bacon that day. All the while, a guy from my previous team had been on a break and he heard my call for assistance on the RT…he checked in and got the rest of the staff to assist…finally.

When we did a room check, this kid had all the gears for a full on mini riot and the will to do it. He wasn’t a large kid but he knew enough about the system to get his way to the top of the pecking order, quickly. And this was his way of doing it.

An incident report was written which didn’t reflect any of the deficiencies in the team. I was brushed off when I voiced my concerns later that night. And for me, this set me into a tail spin at work. I didn’t feel safe, and I didn’t feel backed up. I ended up going back to office work…programming and analysis. And I was fucking good at that…but I still didn’t feel like I was making the difference I wanted to be making. I spent three months designing software of sorts, that the whole place could use…to record each kid, their stats, their family and or caregivers details, their crimes, their presenting issues, their psychologist reports…and what they needed to be programmed in before they went to court, or home, or out of our gates into the big wide innocent communities they had come from. As far as I know they still use it…but not for what I wanted it to be used for. It was supposed to be a tool to assist with rehabilitation while the kids were with us…to track them and their progress…but ultimately to help. As far as I know, it stores information now.

Towards the end of the year I started getting sick again…this time it was freakier…and I felt out of control again. I had originally got labyrinthitis, supposedly from the poor air circulation in our offices. Then it turned into Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo…bad fucking vertigo in other words. The world spun with every movement. And I felt way way out of control.

As I struggled to gain control and balance and get myself well…our second moko was born. A beautiful little girl with the brightest eyes. She was koros baby really…he absolutely adored her…still does 🙂 So with all the turmoil came a silver lining in the form a precious baby girl.

seasons for everything…2005

We started a new year in a new place, and a small town…me and my little girl; when I say little…11 years old :). She caught the bus into town, early in the morning and I’d drive 40 minutes south to catch the train, to travel another hour or so to University. I was doing my major papers by this time, and I’d switched my focus to Criminology. I also started a Security Course…being the ever practical me, Criminology in theory was all good…but how was that going to out work in the real world…and there was no way I was joining the police force…the poupou , along with most other government departments, weren’t my favourite types of establishments; and I wanted some practicality to what we were learning in Crim. However, there was no cross over really…Crim theory is just that. How it translates into real world is…well, unrealistic, I think. As far as research goes, its awesome. But research on its own is pointless if it doesn’t translate into the ‘doing’.

My little girl enjoyed her school…still doing the bilingual thing…and culturally she thrived in this type of environment. I was kind of dreading taking her out and putting her into a mainstream school, which I knew I needed to by the time she hit college. Because she wasn’t a fluent Maori speaker, and neither was I, she was unable to be integrated into an all Maori school. Those rules are changing slightly now…but for then, it sucked ass. But we did the best with what we had. I had decided to move her into a high decile school…not sure if that was a smart thing in hindsight…but at the time, the reasoning was that she had her culture down packed; her language was good and she would continue that in college…and then she could learn the Pakeha ways. I thought she needed too because this country is predominantly run as a Pakeha nation. They like to believe it is multi or bi cultural…but its not. It has a token element…but we are definitely not partners in the running of this nation, as was stipulated in the Treaty. So I thought it was important for her to learn…how to be Pakeha too. Or how to survive it anyway.

My little girl could quote the treaty in parts; I had made sure I taught them as much as I was learning. She knew her Articles and the essence of each. She came home one day, and a girl on the bus had said all the Maori should go back to where they came from, that this country was theirs (European). Apparently this midget of mine, stood up in the bus aisle and let rip the history of our nation…when Maori had migrated here, when Pakeha had come and what diseases they brought with them, annihilating over 2/3rds of our population…the articles of the treaty and that it was in fact her that should be going back to where she came from. Apparently all the Maori kids on the bus were grinning from ear to ear, hearing this half pint spit her history without a hiccup. Needless to say, her opponent didn’t have anything else to say other than…shut up…not the best come back.

I found studying our history had made me seething-ly angry. It’s hard to figure out what to do with that kind of anger…so I started painting. And I painted and painted. And the thing I discovered with art…is that its not only cathartic, but that its received better by the viewing public, than if I had delivered a speech on equality and righting the cultural genocide that Maori had endured. Instead peeps looked, tilted their heads a little…stood back, looked again, tilted the other way…hmmm ed…then would usually say…beautiful 🙂

I met my current partner during this year. It’s not often you feel…well I feel…a connection with someone almost immediately. But I did with him. That’s not to say we haven’t had conflict…but we’ve always gone back to when we met…just to see and feel, if that connection is still there. So far, it has been.

One devastating event occurred this year…that changed the face of our family…my Nan died.

Nan was old school…obviously. And she had a ton of flaws…but who doesn’t…I can say that now, that she’s gone…but there was a long time when I just didn’t get her. Now…I get her…and I wish I had showed her I loved her more, when she was here. But I guess, she knows now.

Nan had the most beautiful flower garden…it was the talk and admiration of the whole town :). She taught herself how to do flower arranging and she’d volunteer her services for virtually anyone who needed flowers to be done. She also taught herself how to do hairdressing and set up a salon at the back of their house and she’d see to the community’s hair needs. Quite the entrepreneur my Nan.

But that was the era too. Post World War 2…lived through the Depression…and just got on with shit. They were a hard old bunch. Their wounds seeped in a different way than ours presently do.

Her and Grandad married after the war and went on to have 3 living children. She carried 6 times though, I think.

Nan just had the most beautiful way about her…caring…empathetic…intuitive. She’d pat your hand as you spoke about what was ailing you…then she’d come up with some smart solution…or quote…followed by the cup of tea that ‘fixes everything’ and a piece of sponge cake.

Nan endured a pretty horrendous life of suffering…rape, neglect, incest, abandonment…and she worked hard…found solutions…ended up depressed, medicated, shock treatment…she worked hard…found solutions…watched us all make stupendous mistakes…cried, grieved, cried some more…worked hard…found solutions. She was, is, a truly beautiful soul.

And when she died…well…that era…it cracked. Nan and Grandad were, always there. Always the place to go…to sleep…to be heard…cuddled. For me it was some type of security. Sure there was other bad memories that came with their place…but I loved the 5am start…you’d hear Nan’s vacuum cleaner doing the rounds at half five and by the time we got up…8ish…the washing had been done, hung out and was on its way in 🙂 There was 1030am cup of tea and biscuit time, 12 noon lunch…on the dot. 330 afternoon tea time…5pm bath time, dinner time and then the news. You could set your watch to that routine…and I loved that.

When she died, Grandad carried on with that routine. I get now that he was grieving in his own way…but it seemed cold and callous. We weren’t allowed to take her home…to her bed…to her cat…so we stayed at the funeral home with her.

Where they were living at the time, the funeral home there, was used to Maori practice that sometimes doesn’t quite fit with Pakeha practice, so they were used to having people stay with the family at the funeral home. It had a kitchen and lounge room, similar to a Marae.

Someone stayed with Nan all the time.

And we cried…grieved…told storied…sang abit…grieved.

She’s still hugely missed. She was such, is such, an integral part of all our lives one way or another.

My big girl lived with her for a while, and while I had issues at the time with her not being with me…now, I can see that my girl is better…richer…for having lived with my Nan. She shares her caring and compassionate streak.

It was a heart-breaking time…and I remember the moment she left this earth. I was on my way back from University on the train. I didn’t usually fall asleep. This night I did. And when I was waking…I felt her go. Then my phone rang…and I didn’t answer. I knew she’d gone, but I hoped I was wrong.

When I got home, I rang my mother…who said Nan had been flown to the hospital in another town…and mid flight, she had died. Same time as I woke up.

What was cool…was Nan loved the thought of flying but had never been on a plane…it was her final ride 🙂

xxoo

little things, a semi empty nest and a duo…2004

The best things, for me, are sometimes just the plainest and simplest of things. Even though I was uncertain of myself…slightly unconfident in areas; deeply in debt…just from living…I was able to drive anywhere, anytime…to visit friends and family…I went to the girls Saturday morning netball games…and their practice sessions. I went to all their school events…even including the dreaded school camps! I took them on cheap holidays…usually a ‘sleep over’ in the lounge of a friend…or Nana and Grandads. I loved cleaning up and getting them and me organised. When we were really broke and the washing machine broke down, we couldn’t replace it, and I didn’t want anymore debt, so we washed by hand instead…and I taught the girls how to do their washing by hand…just like their Great Nan would have. When the car broke down…we had to walk. When I couldn’t pay the power bill, I’d wait for the girls to go away for the holidays and I’d turn off the power and eat weetbix for two weeks…then pay the power bill off and buy groceries for when they returned.

While that stuff seemed hard at the time…it was good. I enjoyed it…I enjoyed teaching them the basics of living…appreciating things. I enjoyed the simple things…I still enjoy those things. You can’t buy that sort of thing 🙂

Oh, and I never moaned about my hair after it had grown back. Never…ever, moaned about it. Bad hair days are good hair days…if you have hair 🙂

I hated with a passion, the welfare system though. I still do. I appreciate that in our country it is available, definitely. I don’t appreciate being treated like some filthy pedo for applying for it. But I needed to, and I endured it…I’d say to the kids…’this is here for a temporary, emergency measure. To utilise as a hand up, not a hand out’. But it was demeaning and demoralising. That’s why I sit on $35 a week compensation and don’t go on welfare…I haven’t got the stamina for that place again. Bastards.

As I continued to study, and work part-time and do all that Mummy things…I got busy…just life busy and good busy. But as my big girl started freaking out more and I knew she needed more, I decided to stop doing Youth Work and cleaning for the church. Which ultimately added to the decision to leave the church altogether.

If I truly believed the Bible, at that stage, then I believed that charity began at home and to set my own house in order instead of nosey-ing around in everyone else’s. I thought this would have been completely understood and supported…but it wasn’t.

Which got me thinking about religion and god and church…again.

After ‘leadership’ issues within the church, I made my final decision and told the head dude at that time, that I was outskis…that it wasn’t a personal thing against them, but that I needed to do the girls and me. I was ‘gently’ reminded that I would probably end up in hell as would the girls…’but always feel free to drop in for a cuppa’. Pfft.

Friends stopped calling…real friends remained. Reminded me of when I gave up drinking really pfft. Bastards.

My big girl was bouncing…off the walls…out the windows! One night a friend found her down the road, down the side of the embankment, drunk and passed out. Her tipuna were watching over her that night…the friend that found her had wound down the passengers window to throw a cigarette butt out and saw my girls legs sticking up.

I asked her father for help with her…that she needed a man around that loved her…and if not around, then just to ring her, support her. He refused and said she was my problem and if I hadn’t left him she wouldn’t be like she is. Little did he know.

But her Aunty offered to take her for 6 months. They had a job for her up there and the offer was for her to work, save some money…whilst being surrounded by those that loved her…this Aunty really did, as did her cousins…and then when she was ready, she wanted to go to Australia and her other Grandfather had offered to help her with a job. She wanted to work and experience another life. And to get away from the influence she was gravitating towards and the reminders that lingered at home.

At first she wasn’t to sure about the Aunty option and I hadn’t told her father wouldn’t help. Then after another bout of ‘lets jump out the window and come find me drunk some where’…shes was given an ultimatum. School, home…no drugs or booze. Save…get her own place. Or go to Aunty’s and do work towards what she was wanting to do long-term. Her reply was along the lines of ‘fuck you Mum’. So I booked her a ticket and flew her up to Aunty’s the following day.

It was hard…I so wanted to be able to do for her everything that I knew hadn’t…and I wasn’t able too. I get now that some of it was teenage-hood…with a ultra dose of the fucked shit I had been dealing with my whole life. It was like a big bad nightmare re-running…watching her…trying to guide her…trying to be a good Mummy…knowing that I was losing the tentative grip that I had on our tentative relationship.

She did really well with her Aunty for a few months…really well. She loved working and earning her own money and she was awesome at saving. She’s always been a really hard worker, my girl. Then one night her father took her out on the piss…got her rotten drunk…spent her money…packed her up the following day and brought her back to me. What an A grade Asshole.

I’d never talked badly about their father, to their faces. I may have even made a few excuses for him. But I just knew that they already had enough to deal with, with us separating, and then going from me to their Nan to their father and then back to me. But this time it was super-duper hard to bite my tongue. I spent a couple of nights with my good mate and bitched about that bastard till I felt better! Didn’t change him; didn’t take away my girls hurt…but it made me feel better. (Btw I don’t refrain from calling him like I see him anymore…they’re old enough to hear what they need too, and deal with it as they need too).

She was hurt. Really hurt; disappointed.

She had a bit of money left, so she bought a plane ticket to Oz and left a couple of months later.

It was a painful transition. In hindsight to, I suppose it was like the whole semi empty nest saga…but weirder, as she had been to and fro for so long…there was guilt attached to her leaving I guess.

Her sister missed her too. I decided to move. I was due to start study in another town…a new university…so I wanted to be somewhere a little more accessible. And I really just hated going into my girls room and not seeing her and her things there.

I cried…we cried…for weeks.

We went and stayed with my good mate for a month and then found another house, in another town, that was still accessible to my little girls school and was easy to travel from, to uni.

So mine and my little girls journey started…as a duo.