marriage

Are You a Sex Ninja?

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There are those who like to boast about their sex adventurous selves. They get busy on planes, trains and buses. Skyscrapers, ski lifts and roller coasters. In stadium crowds, nightclub dancefloors, and public swimming pools. (Eww) They revel in being Sex Daredevils…
We did it up against a tree while we were mountain hiking!’
‘Oh yeah? Well we did it hanging off the side of a cliff UPSIDE DOWN while we were abseiling, so there!’

Oh puh-leeeaze, you bore me.

Sure, people who get their thrills sexing it up in various exciting places simply because ‘we’ve never done it HERE before!’ …have some great death-defying (not to mention shame-defying) sex and yeah, we could all do with a few more death-defying moments in our lives… BUT you know who really deserves our awed admiration for their sexifying skills?

Sex Ninjas. People with kids. People who must overcome extreme odds and excruciating adversity (i.e the company of children) – so they can get busy.

Ask any couple with children living in their house, particularly young children – ‘So how do you manage to still have a sex life when you’ve got a crying baby that doesnt sleep…a toddler who keeps coming to sleep in your bed…teenagers who stay up half the night playing XBox…?? Sex must be impossible for you two!” Sometimes they will snap at you “What sex life?? We dont have one.” (And then you must offer to babysit their children immediately so that poor couple can go out and have sex enjoy a romantic date.)

But other times, a couple with too many children will give you a wise look and say, “Ahhh but nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough…we find ways to make it happen…” Listen and learn young grasshopper…listen to the Master…’

These people – are Sex Ninjas. They have mastered the art of quick quiet sex ( in cupboards, showers and garages)…urgently satisfying encounters when babies are sleeping or children are watching a Disney cartoon…secret sensual meetings in cars parked in the driveway (praying the neighbors dont call the police)…They can find fireworks in a laundry room and blow your mind in a kitchen amidst dirty dishes. (Daayum, dont you wish you could do that? I myself cannot ignore dirty dishes in favor of mindblowing activities.)

For Sex Ninjas, ‘anytime anywhere’ must be their mantra – the unpredictability of children dictates it. They have no time for all that Cosmopolitan stuff about #GettingInTheMood and #SettingTheSexualTone. Ha. Those things are like fluffy bunnies and pink cotton candy – cute if you can have them but not essential.

Not only that, Sex Ninjas are so dedicated to their craft that they can soldier forward and complete their mission – even after being interrupted by a puking child with a sore tummy, the smell of smoke as a teenager burns the dinner, or two feuding siblings banging on the bedroom door demanding their parents referee their battle.

When Sex Ninjas get the house alone to themselves – the most earth shattering things can happen because that time, space and privacy is so precious and strange to them. Heck, just being able to do it in your own bed is so exciting that rollercoaster sex just cant compare. The same happens when Sex Ninjas get a weekend or a holiday away from their children. That couple at the next table who cant keep their hands off each other? Probably Sex Ninjas who have successfully escaped from their prison wardens children. Cut them some slack. Buy them tickets for the nearest roller coaster.

In conclusion, Sex Daredevils are very nice to be with – if you are planning on spending a lifetime on roller coasters, planes, trains and buses…in nightclubs and stadiums…and abseiling down mountains UPSIDE DOWN.

But if you’re planning on letting some children live in your house then I recommend you find a Sex Ninja. And learn how to do the wild thing together in cupboards, showers and garages. Even better – find a Sex Daredevil and introduce him to the ways of the Ninja. It will require much training, mental and physical exhaustion, and most of all – that indescribable thing called LOVE (because let’s face it, the only reason why you would WANT to still have sex with someone when you are knee deep in diapers/poop/tears/dishes/laundry/XBoxArguments- is because you reeeally love ’em)

So yeah, the path of a Sex Ninja aint easy.

But it’s worth it.

(Or so they tell me. Im still an ASPIRING Sex Ninja-In -Training…)

Freeze Your Family for Easter

This conversation just happened.

“It’s the long Easter holiday weekend. I’m looking forward to our camp at the beach with the kids, aren’t you?” he asked.

“No. I’m not,” she said. Actually, it was more of a ‘she snarled.’

Surprise. “Why? What’s the matter? It’s a holiday! Time to relax and enjoy family time,” he said. Still clueless.

“Are you kidding me? I’ve been at home with four children going on four straight weeks now. First, they were home because the pinkeye epidemic cancelled all the schools, then it was time for school holidays, then two went back to school but the other two have runny noses and an ear infection.” (pitch and tone of voice getting louder…higher…screechier…bordering on manic)

“Oh,” he said. Subdued. “I see.”

But she’s not done. Hell no. She’s still going. “I don’t think you DO see. You leave the house everyday. You only have to be with these demons for an hour or so at the end of the day. I have to listen to them, referee them, organize them, clean up after them ALL FREAKIN DAY. And when I lock myself in my cave so I can write, they keep knocking on my door, pestering me. Wanting to breathe my air. I hate this.”

He listened. He  pondered. Then he had a bright idea. “I understand. You need a break. Why don’t you go out for the day on your own, leave them here with me?”

“No. I don’t want to have to go somewhere else to be happy and alone. This is my cave, my space. I hate going places. I want to breathe and think and savor my space by myself. Right here,” she wailed.

He had another bright idea. Because he’s a decent man and he does try. “I’ll take them all out for the day and leave you on your own. How about that?”

“It’s Easter Friday. There’s nothing open in Samoa today. Where are you going to take them? What are they going to eat? What are they going to do? All day?” she demanded.

“Don’t worry. That will be my problem. You can just sit in your room and ummm… breathe your air…talk to imaginary people in your stories…or whatever it is you need to do, without anyone bothering you.” He was trying extra hard to be helpful and hopeful and understanding.

Too bad it didn’t  work.

“Nooooo! What kind of a mother would I be if I kicked all my kids out of the house? You can’t take them and just wander the wilderness all day – because I want the place to myself. That would mean I’m selfish and horrible. Its the holidays. I should have fabulous activities planned for them. A good mother would think its fun to be with her children. I don’t want to be a bad person.”

He was well and truly bewildered now. “So what the heck do you want then?! I don’t get it.” He threw his hands up in the air. “Having us here is driving you nuts. But chasing us away makes you a bad person? You can’t be the worlds best mother AND want to get rid of your children at the same time. It doesn’t work that way. What do you want?”

“I want a freeze machine. So I can zap them like Han Solo in Star Wars. That way I can have them all at home with me but keep them in cold storage. Just defrost them when I want a hug. Or need them to do the dishes. Totally painless of course.” And then she mused on that happy thought for a while.

While he was horrified. “You want to freeze your children?” Then an even more dreadful thought. “And your husband too?”

No reply.

“Whaat?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Who does that? Who even thinks of stuff like that?”

Who indeed. ..

Please tell me somebody, somewhere in the universe – has frozen thoughts like this? #BadMother conversations like this one?!

 

 

 

Don’t Shame Us. Don’t Shut us Up. (How to better support and empower a survivor of Sexual Abuse.)

This blogpost needs a content warning for rape, abuse and swearing. And it’s really long.  

Since writing publicly about my abuse four months ago, I’ve had to deal with a myriad of different reactions – many positive, some negative, and a few downright horrible. Some of the fall-out from my writing caused shockwaves that I didn’t anticipate and a few personal relationships in my life didn’t survive. I’ve had to do a lot of self-care to cope. I went back to therapy (YAY! for awesome therapists who help you make sense of stuff), put my novel on hold, spent time with my amazing sisterhood of friends (YAY! for the compassion and wisdom of friends who help you navigate the storms of life), focused on my little family and getting the Fab5 settled into their new home and schools, prayed more, and treasured being with the Hot Man more. (When he wasn’t running/swimming/biking…)

Life is back on a more even keel for me now and as I reflect on the messy last few months, I’d like to share some examples and insights of HOW we can support and empower survivors of sexual violence when/If they speak out about their experiences. This is very important to me, and not just because I am a survivo

Fourteen years ago, I was a teacher in a Samoan high school. I’d made it a habit to include abuse awareness in at least one (if not more) of my class discussions/topics, every year, for every group of students I taught. Part of the discussion would always include the encouragement to seek help if they were being abused, to not keep silent. That year, a young woman responded by writing an essay for my eyes only – about the fact that she was being raped at home by her brother in law. She’d told her mother and gotten slapped in the face for her “cheekiness”. This student wept in my office and pleaded with me not to tell anyone. Not the police, the Principal, her parents, no-one. I arranged for her to meet with a local therapist but she wouldn’t go because of fears her family would find out. I badly wanted to report her abuse, to get her away from her family. But at the time, there was no Support agency for young survivors and I’d heard horror stories about how the system in Samoa was failing young people in similar situations – families that beat and rejected their children who made the mistake of asking for help. The situation weighed heavily on me and after many meetings with this young woman, I chose to honor her request and do nothing.

I’ve regretted that decision ever since. Regardless of the inadequacies of the Samoa justice system, I failed that young woman and I’m ashamed I didn’t do more. I’ve often wondered what could I have done differently? Every time I write about this issue – either directly via my blog or woven into one of my novels – a part of me seeks to atone for my failing, and hope that somehow, in some small way, my words can help someone out there who may be in a similar situation as that former student.

Encouraging people to speak out about their abuse is one thing. What we DO with that and how we respond is another. I’ve made mistakes in how I support and empower the women in my life regarding this issue and I’m still learning how to be a better ally and advocate.  I’m guessing we can all do better and be better at this. Which is why I’m sharing the following –

What you should (and shouldnt) say or do to an abuse survivor. (According to Lani because everyone’s experience is different and so these may not be true for others.)
1. Don’t get angry and confrontational, demand, “Why didn’t you tell me?!” 
It can take an incredible amount of courage (and pain) for a survivor to tell someone, anyone – about their abuse. Many keep silent for years about what was done to them. We battle feelings of shame and fear. We worry what people will think of us if they know the truth. So it’s not helpful to react with accusing questions. You may be shocked by their disclosure and you’re hurting because you love them but you need to deal with your hurt/anger separately and not rage at the person. THEY are the survivor and their feelings and safety should be your priority. I had people react with anger because I’d never told them about my abuse – it hurt their feelings. Because they didn’t agree with the public way I chose to talk about it – it embarrassed them.  For them, my abuse was buried under a mountain of their angst.

2. Don’t victim-blame.  “Why were you at that party?…Why were you in a car with him?…What were you wearing?…How were you dancing?…Why didn’t you fight him?…Did you scream for help?…How many beers did you have?…” It doesn’t matter what a person wears, how late they are out, where they go, how loud they laugh, or even how much alcohol they consume – it is never their fault if they are raped. I have friends who have been assaulted and then had to deal with questions like these, from family, friends, police and doctors.
3. Listen with your heart and offer validation. My abuse article was read and shared by many people who then used social media to discuss the issues. Some of them said things like this:  “How do you know she hasn’t made this up just so she can get extra publicity?…She’s probably just trying to sell more books…So typical for a celebrity to say she was abused…Yeah, if she really meant it, she would name her abuser and take him to court…Even if it’s true, why would she talk about something so private unless she wanted attention? She’s only trying to further her career by being open about something so shameful.”  Yes, people really do say things like this about, and to, abuse survivors. There are some people in this world who really do believe that a woman would invent a rape/abuse experience for attention. ( Because yeah, everyone wants to run out and buy a Young Adult romance novel the minute they find out it was written by a woman who was sexually violated when she was a kid. I always feel that way about child rape, don’t you?) And yes, it makes you famous when you go public with child abuse. So “famous” that for a while, everywhere you go, it’s like you have a brand stamped on your forehead, a flashing neon sign: “VICTIM HERE…SOILED GOODS…DAMAGED… CRAZYWOMAN WHO WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT YUCKY STUFF…” And sometimes, people aren’t sure how to talk to you, and can’t look you in the eye because the whole thing makes them uncomfortable and its so triggering perhaps, for their own experiences and issues. So they avoid you. Or call you a liar. Or try to make you shut up. Anyone who’s spoken publicly about abuse can tell you that it’s not fun. It’s not the kind of attention anyone wants.

Many survivors have spent a lifetime questioning their  feelings. Repressing their memories. Some  have spent years pretending that abuse never happened. So when they finally are strong enough and brave enough to admit it, to themselves and to others – please don’t doubt them. Don’t shame them. Don’t shut them up and shove them back into the darkness. Some of us aren’t seeking retribution or that elusive thing called ‘justice’. It’s not about WHO abused us, WHO didn’t protect us better, and what should be done to those people. We just want to be listened to. We just want to be believed.

4. Don’t try to dictate a survivor’s journey of healing. An example – a journalist that I didn’t know, contacted me via Facebook, asking if I would do an interview with her network, about my abuse etc. I’d already done several interviews with journalists that I have worked with in the past, people I was familiar with and felt comfortable about talking to on a very sensitive topic. I didn’t want to do any more media so I politely declined this woman’s request. She wasn’t happy and accused me (among other things) of only wanting to discuss the issue in forums that I could control. Like that was something bad. I’m disappointed that a female journalist would try to pressure/bully me. I made the mistake of assuming another Pasifika woman would have more empathy.

It’s vital that a survivor feel safe and empowered. She knows what it’s like to not have control over her body, to be violated and manipulated. Never pressure a survivor into talking about her experiences. Let her disclose information at her own pace, in her own space and time. Let her decide how she wants to proceed, what she wants to do next about the abuser etc.  Trite advice like, “It’s in the past. We don’t need to talk about it.” and “You need to forgive him/her so you can heal and get over this” is not only superficial but also offensive.

It’s amazing to me how some people think it’s okay to tell a survivor how she should feel. One friend said, ‘You’re so angry these days. You should stop being angry.”  Another friend said, ‘Why do you have to let people see your hurt? You should keep it to yourself. It’s making people uncomfortable.’ My response to them? I’m not here to make you feel comfortable and I won’t deny my feelings so you can keep pretending that abuse doesn’t happen.

The thing is – some days, yes I’m angry. That I was raped. That I thought for years it was my fault. That I believed for the longest time it made me damaged goods. I’m angry there isn’t more support for survivors in Samoa, particularly for children. I’m angry when teachers perpetuate rape culture and tell my daughters they need to cover their shoulders so they wont tempt boys to sin. I’m angry when people who are supposed to love me, continue to treat my experience with contempt, dismissal and avoidance.

Other days, I’m just sad. That I carried this secret burden for so long and let it shadow my life in so many ways. Sad about how it has impacted on my marriage to a pretty awesome man. Sad for survivors who continue to suffer in silence because they haven’t got the support networks I’ve got, helping them to heal.

Then, other days, I’m happy. Grateful for the healing my faith offers me. Exuberantly happy that I’m not afraid anymore. I used to think my abuser was watching me all the time, standing outside the window waiting to see if I would tell on him – because then he would hurt me. I truly believed that, right up through my twenties and early thirties. When I finally wrote about it and told “the world”, I broke free from the fear he’d chained me with. I rejoice in my strength and give thanks for the love of a patient partner and truly fabulous children. On a good day, I give thanks for being a woman, and glory in my fierce, fiery (often chaotic) creativity.

I get more happy days now then sad, angry ones and I’m able to be more at peace with all that has happened. But I will never give up my right to feel whatever I need to on this journey. As one survivor expressed it –

I will talk about MY abuse when and where I want to. I will be angry as much as I need to. I will grieve for as long as I have to. I will be happy, how and when I fucking well please.

5. Be kind and compassionate. (A little obvious I know but trust me, some people need it spelled out for them.) Apart from the negative stuff detailed above, I received many messages of support and encouragement. Extended family wrote to share their love and concern, some apologizing that they had been present in my childhood and never knew what was happening. Friends called to listen, laugh and cry with me. Some brought me love in the form of homebaked delicious treats. Total strangers shared their own stories of abuse with me and thanked me for being a voice for that which they couldn’t share themselves. I’ve been so moved by the wave of kindness I’ve received. Darren and the Fab5 literally kept me alive in my darkest moments in the last few months of mess, with their love and support. A couple of examples from outside the family, that stand out for me:

*A boy I dated over twenty five years ago, who I haven’t seen since, somehow read my blog and wrote to express his gratitude for sharing my story. He has daughters now and this issue is such an important one, he said. He went on to add, “I’m sorry I didn’t know about your abuse. I’ve been trying to think back to when we dated and remember if at any time, I may have done something or said something to you that made you feel uncomfortable or hurt you in any way. If I did, please forgive me.” Considering that we were fourteen back then and “dating” in Samoa meant we only saw each other at church and exchanged notes – his sincere message meant a lot to me. If your partner is a survivor, she will need buckets of your patient understanding, especially when it comes to intimacy in your relationship. Some days she’ll be totally fine with everything your sexilicious self has to offer her. But other days, she may not even stand to be in the same room with you and your touch may make her physically ill. Therapy can be a big help for both of you. Respect for her boundaries is key.

*A beautiful niece said, “I didn’t know that happened to you Aunty. I’m sorry. I love you and Im so proud of you for what you wrote.” That’s it. No long speeches, nothing flowery and expansive. A few simple words is all it took for me to feel validated, loved and empowered. Her words made me cry. Especially when contrasted with the utter wall of silence…or the spewing vitriol of others – who I thought would offer compassion. When a loved one tells you her story, and you are at a loss how to respond? Keep it simple. Tell her you love her. “I’m here for you. What do you need from me?”

*I went to an Awards dinner in Auckland and a TV3 journalist/news presenter who I’d done an interview with before, was the MC. At one point in the evening, he came to our table and was introduced to everyone. He complimented me on my blog. People wanted to take a photo and so he stood between me and another woman. The photographer told everyone to move in so we’d all fit into the picture. The others obliged by moving closer together but then the man turned to me and hesitated. “Is it alright if I put my arm around you and move closer?” he asked politely. I said yes, so he moved for the photo and then asked me again, “Is this alright?” That’s when it hit me. He was being mindful about my comfort level with people getting in my personal space, especially man-people. He’d read my blog about abuse. And possibly my blog about hating social greeting hugs and kisses. At first I was mortified by this realization. I felt like I had that neon sign on my forehead: FRAGILE and DAMAGED.  For a frantic moment, I wished I’d never told anybody about my abuse. See Lani, now everyone thinks you’re a freak!  But then, I shoved that remnant of shame away because there’s nothing wrong with wanting to have clear boundaries for one’s body or personal space. I shouldn’t be embarrassed that I don’t like random people hugging or touching me without permission. That man’s simple act of courtesy and respect for my boundaries and my experience, was an empowering thing for me. A reminder that being a survivor is not something I have to apologize for.  Thank you Mr Campbell.

Supporting a survivor isn’t easy sometimes, especially if you have your own unaddressed issues with sexual violence in your past. Knowing this, helps me to be more understanding about the people in my life who haven’t been able to walk with me on this journey. It’s my hope and prayer they will find the strength to seek the help they need to deal with their own painful experiences.

I’m grateful for the support and understanding I’ve been given from so many different people. May we all strive to be better allies to the survivors in our lives and better advocates for their empowerment.

(I’ve used the pronoun ‘she’ throughout this blog post but only in a general sense because as we all know, boys/men  and fa’afafine are raped and abused also.)

When He Doesn’t Love you Best

A long time ago, the Hot Man promised to love me above all others. Above all else.

But that was before he got his Holden Crewman.

holden

But I must admit, it is beeyootiful. Im half in love with it myself…

When we lived in New Zealand, the Holden only got brought out of its sacred space in
the garage on weekends and special occasions. The Hot Man would drive it to visit family and do errands but we could never go to our movie date night in it. ‘Because someone might steal it. A two hour movie is a long time.’ And of course I NEVER drove the Holden because I’m a crappy driver. So I would drive my people-mover van and loved it. (That baby’s got sensors and cameras which made reversing and parking sooooo much easier.)

Then we moved to Samoa. We couldn’t bring my van but the Holden got a sacred space in a shipping container.
And then there was a slight conundrum. The Holden is the only family vehicle we have here. The others are for the Hot Man’s steel fabrication work. We cant get another van until some money falls out of the sky. And the Hot Man doesn’t want his Holden anywhere near a construction site. Which means, who has to drive his children everywhere in the Holden?

Me. The crappy driver.

He tries to be cool about it, but I know it gives him great anxiety, wondering every day if he’s going to come home from work and find his precious car with a scratch. A scrape. Smashed. I’m pretty sure he checks it daily. And the manner in which I take care of his precious car is one that causes him great concern . The local high school was having a car wash fundraiser the other Saturday so I pulled in and had them wash the Holden, thinking that the Hot Man would be pleased to see it so sparkly and clean. Ha. The man just about popped a blood vessel freaking out about it. “You let a bunch of strangers touch my car? What if they used abrasive cleaners and scratched the paintwork?” So now I drive a filthy Holden, because on a matter of principle, I am not worthy to wash it…

If I had any doubts of where I stand in relation to this car, they were dispelled this morning. The Hot Man was driving out in his work truck when he caught sight of me staggering under the weight of a box of books that I was lugging to put in the Holden. I put them on the hood of the car while I went to unlock it. The Hot Man brought his truck to an abrupt halt and leapt out with a look of great consternation.

Oh, how sweet! He doesn’t want me to carry these heavy books by myself. He’s thinking about how I have a weak back and shouldn’t be lifting heavy things. So thoughtful and kind. What a babe!

Such were my thoughts as this athletic Ironman machine of symmetry with abs of absolute fabulousness, came running towards me. *dreamy sigh*

But it was not to be. *Insert sound of scratched broken record HERE.*

He grabbed the box off the car and said accusingly, “How could you put that box on my car like that?! You’re going to scratch it.” Then he frantically studied the paintwork and wiped at it. Furiously.

“How could a box scratch your bloody stupid car?!” I asked. Incredulous.

“It’s the way you chucked it on there. I saw you. You threw it so roughly. See! It’s put marks on the car now. You have to be more careful…blah blah blah.”

Then he patted his car, said goodbye to it and drove away. Giving me one last resentful look.

Me and my weak back – that’s PERFECTLY FINE BUT NO THANKS TO YOU – watched him go. Amazed.

Then, when he was out of sight? I kicked the tires of the bloody stupid beautiful Holden. Take that, you spoilt brat of a car.

And now I have a sore foot.

Marital Dischord in Paradise (Or, When Your Partner Gets On Your Nerves)

Today marks one week since we arrived in Samoa. And its taken exactly one week for the Hot Man to conclude what I suspected he would…
      “Its kind of stressful having you all here. And expensive!” he said in exasperation. “When its just me I can work and train without worrying about other people. I can just buy simple food for dinner like taro and a can of tuna from Siaosi’s shop.”
      This may have been prompted by an incident which took place when he came home from work the other day bearing fa’alifu taro ( baked taro in coconut cream) and two packets of kekesaina (local doughy cookies made with flour and water etc and seasoned with soy sauce and sugar.) He bought these items EVEN THOUGH i had told him on the phone that I’d cooked dinner and baked banana cake, chocolate pie and chocolate chip cookies. Okay, a bit extreme in the kitchen there but Im really trying to embrace this Domestic Goddess thing and to be honest, its making me very tired. And grumpy. Especially when my husband comes home with bought readymade food. Aaargh! So I was a little “sharp” with him. As in, kinda witchy. (but with a capital letter B.) And he wasnt happy about being told off by a sweaty, grouchy, tired wife. So yeah…maybe that prompted his complaints about how stressful it is living with me again.
     Even though i knew this conclusion was coming, it still rankled. “Oh yeah?! Well it aint no picnic for me either. In NZ i had the whole room to myself and i could stay up all night writing and sleep half the day because there was no psycho-athlete getting up at 6am to run 15k, making me feel like a lazy slug. And…and…and…and…you keep using my towel and so when i go shower, my towel is already damp and i HATE that!”
      But of course I wasnt done. Because of course I must verbalize ten extra complaints for his every single one. “And the reason why it costs more when we’re all here is because Im trying to feed SEVEN people and I have to shop at stores where a yoghurt costs four tala and breakfast cereal is twenty tala. And sure we could all have taro and tuna for dinner but we would need to buy twice as much taro and at least four cans of tuna which are 3.50 for one…so do the math…and blah blah …and it doesnt help if you go buy blaardy kekesaina that we dont need!”
      Yes, this is what happens when you dont actually co-habit with your partner for several months. When you only see each other on weekends every few weeks and youre in a rosey, loving (vaguely lustful) haze. You’ve missed each other so much that neither of you can do any wrong…and money is no object. And silly little things like using the wrong towel, or buying unnecessary treats are not annoying at all. And a wife who prefers to stay up half the night and sleep in the day – isnt a sign that shes incredibly lazy (or ignoring you.)
     Yep, twenty years with this man and getting used to each other and getting “in-synch” is not a painless, automatic thing.
      But today was better. Because I went to sleep early last night (midnight instead of 2am) and i cooked nothing today – so Im not tired and irritable. Instead, Im determined to be a nicer, kinder wife. #promisesPromises
      But i surely hope he brings home some taro and kekesaina today because we’ve got nothing to eat.

When your Six Yr old Wants a Boyfriend.

Some conversations with a six year old just NEED to be preserved for posterity.

This morning, Bella was feeling wistful. “I want a boyfriend.”

I was horrified. “What!? Why? You’re too little. You don’t need a boyfriend.”

“You have Dad. I want my own boyfriend,” she replied indignantly.

I tried to be understanding. “But why? What do you want one for?”

“Because a boyfriend can clean the house for you and help you do all your work. Then you won’t have to do any jobs. If I have a boyfriend I will have a super helper to do all my work.”

“Whaaaaat?!” Where did this child get such an idea from I wonder?

But she’s not done. There’s more. ” And I will get a clever builder boyfriend so he will build me a play house and a playground and a castle with a slide and a movie theatre in it. And he will snuggle me whenever I want him to. And go clean the house whenever its dirty.”

I am speechless. I think this child is making an overly astute observation of me and the Hot Man’s relationship.

Sexilicious Men (and houses) – When Fantasy meets Reality

The nice thing about being married to a man who owns his own construction company, is he can design AND build your house for you. The Hot Man is freakishly clever like that. How lucky am I??? I went out with him for his sexilicious self and had no clue he actually had like…skills…talents…housebuilding moneymaking potential… But then that’s the thing about only marrying people for their sexilicious-ness, everything else is a surprise. (Or disappointment as the case may be…)

But I digress.  We’re moving back to Samoa in a few months and since we sold our old home,  the Hot Man has to build us a new one over there. He was getting a little stressed, worrying about the costs and hassle of relocating. (As he does.) And I was blissfully thinking of how wonderful its going to be to go home. In other words, not thinking about such MINOR details like money, packing, or building a house in the blazing hot sun. (As I do.) But  I am not a cold, heartless wife. Oh no. I noted his concerns and rushed to assuage them. Magnanimously.

“Daahling, don’t worry. We don’t need a big, expensive house. No, no, no. All we need is a little space to call our own. As long as it has a roof on it, we will be fine. As long as we’re all together. Why, a little bungalow in the bush is all we need!”

I had delightful visions of something like this…rustic and reserved.

aNewHouse

Somewhat comforted, the Hot Man started the design plans for our new house. And I felt good about being such a good wife. And continued fantasizing planning our new life in our new home in Samoa.

After a week or so of designing, the Hot Man showed me the design plans. I studied them carefully. WTFudge?

“Umm, but daaahling, where’s my office? I cant write books without an office. And that office needs to be air conditioned. How can I write hot romance stories when I’m dying in the tropical humidity with sweat clogging up my computer?”

He said something about the astronomical cost of electricity in Samoa. Pffft. “That’s why we’re going to have solar panels on the roof to power our air-con. That’s why you need to make a much bigger roof. We need more area for the solar panels. Yes, I know a solar heating unit costs lots of money but just think how much money we’ll save in the long run. And we’ll be eco-friendly too! Maybe we could have wind turbines in the front yard as well….”

I studied the plans some more. “This can’t be right. The kitchen looks like a cupboard. How can I cook food for seven people in a CUPBOARD?”

He reminded me that I don’t actually cook food for them anymore. “Alright then, correction – how are the teenagers going to cook food for us all in a CUPBOARD? You have to make that kitchen bigger.”

I studied the plans some more. “There’s no way this house is going to fit us. You can’t expect all those demon children to share a room. They will KILL each other. Rip each other to shreds. Or I’ll kill them because of all the bickering they’ll be doing, distracting me when I’m trying to write books in my air conditioned office.”

More studying of aforementioned defective house plans. “No, we need another bathroom somewhere. Especially for when we have visitors. And parties and sultry summer night BBQs.”

He reminded me we never have visitors. Or parties. And he didn’t know what a sultry summer BBQ was but he was pretty sure, we’d never had one of those either.  “You’re hermit woman, remember? No friends, remember?”

Why must sexilicious men be so rude?!

“But I might be different one day. I might want to host scintillating dinner parties and tropical buffets with lots of intellectually stimulating conversation. And lanterns hanging in the trees in the garden! Lots and lots of lanterns.”

He wanted me to know there were no trees in the garden of our house site. In fact, there was no garden either. Just a wilderness of bushes, vaofefe and broken beer bottles ( because the neighbourhood has been using the empty lot as a drink-up spot.) “And I know you’re not going to plant a garden Lani.”

Well, he at least got THAT right. I don’t do gardens. “We can make the children do the landscaping. It can be their creative project. Oh! But maybe we could fit a teensie weensie swimming pool in the yard? For YOU daaahling. For your training for the Ironman. Wouldn’t it be useful for you to have a pool right in our yard to help you achieve your athletic dreams?!” (See how I did that!?  Clever #GoodWife, right there. The blessings in heaven are piling up, I can feel it!)

The Hot Man sighed and looked dejected. While I was swept away with visions of our new house. Which now, looked like THIS!

aVilla

Doesn’t this look like a house of a woman who hosts scintillating dinner parties? With Martha Stewart-like décor and My Kitchen Rules-type cuisine? I could be that woman! Anything is possible. Right?

At that point, the Hot Man gave up. “We can’t afford to build a new house. Forget it.”

“But where are we going to live then?” I wailed.

“With your parents. Maybe your mum will let the kids sleep in the fale in their garden.”

Nooooooooooo! I thought about Little Son and Bella driving my mum nuts and just like that – the rustic, reserved two-bedroom shack just got a whole lot more attractive.

And the Hot Man went back to his design drawings with a big (sneaky) smile on his face.

Why You Shouldnt Ignore Your Husband

When you dont listen to your husband when he tells you NOT to drive his car in Samoa because the radiator needs to be fixed…and then you drive it a lot and smoke pours out of it…and its about to blow up…so you go have a cafe breakfast and wait for it to cool down –
When all that happens, make sure you find two fabulous women in the parking lot and one stops cutting the hedge with a sapelu (bush-knife) so she can open the hood (because uh…you have no idea why the damn car lid is jammed and won’t open) and the other fabulous woman gets the massive bottle of water she carries in HER car for HER radiator emergencies so they can fill up YOUR car. Thus averting a disaster of fiery epic proportions, the most fiery of all being your husband blowing up when you have to tell him you blew up his car because you were fiapoto (a knowitall, wannabe-smarter than anyone) and didn’t listen to him.
This has been a Public Service Announcement for #FiapotoWomen Everywhere who might be tempted not to listen to their very clever partners.

When Your Husband Runs Away From You

asics

I used to say that the only way I could ever get a holiday from my Demented Domestic Goddess duties – was to get pregnant. Because then I would have to go live in New Zealand for a few months before and after the baby busted out because I have a small problem with sustaining an alien lifeform (I nearly die every time.) A rather extreme way to get a little ‘me-time’…

Now, the Hot Man is our resident ‘Demented Domestic God’ for a few months and he’s decided to cross a few things off his bucket list while he’s at it: a triathlon and a Half-Ironman.  So in between laundry and dishes and making sure everyone brushes their teeth – he also bikes, runs and swims a lot. It makes him very tired. And a little grouchy too because he has to reach a certain weight so he can’t eat what he wants to.

He’s been doing a fabulous job with the Domestic Duties though, making it possible for me to write lots. ( And eat lots…) Until he tells me that he has to go to Samoa to run in a half-marathon and get some training done in the humidity there. He’s going away for ten days, he says. So I can acclimatize, he says. It’s essential preparation for the Half-Ironman in August, he says.

Okaaaay, I say.  So he makes his flight bookings. Excitedly.

Then he tells me, when he comes BACK from his half-marathon, he has to go BACK to Samoa nine days after that so he can do a triathlon there. And be there for another ten days. So I can acclimatize, he says. I can’t do the Half-Ironman later in the year if I don’t do this triathlon first, he says. You know the roads there are very different from here in NZ, I’m taking my racing bike so I can get used to the terrain there, he says. We don’t want me to have any accidents in the Half-Ironman, he says.

No we don’t want that, I say.

So he makes his flight bookings. Gleefully.

I watch him pack all his gear. The bike, the protein powder, the carbo bars, the energy gels, the shoes. He’s excited and I’m excited for him. For the most part. It would help if he didn’t look so damn happy about the thought of escaping from us and the laundry and the dishes and the making of school lunches…

I wish I’d won the lottery  so I could afford to go with him. (Actually purchasing a lottery ticket would probably have been helpful with that.) I wish we didn’t have five children who needed looking after so I could go with him. I could drive alongside him while he runs on the road, blasting encouraging music, throwing water at him – all while I eat panipopo from Siaosi’s shop. While he’s recovering from his event, I could be meeting up with my girlfriends, Kristin and Kathy  for sundaes and gossip at McDonalds. ( okay, so we’re too old to be ‘girlfriends’ but you get the idea…) What a shaaamahzingly awesome trip it would have been. If I had gone.

But I didn’t.

Because I’m not the one who’s an athlete. Because I’m at home with the five children I gave birth to just so I could go on ‘holiday’ each time. And get a break from the rest of the children.

I’m such an idiot –  what I should have done  – is take up running. And run AWAY instead.

 

HIS Turn to Roll Around Naked in Chocolate Sauce…

I hated it when people assumed that because I was a full-time, stay-at-home mother – therefore I had oodles of time on my idle hands and I spent my days rolling around naked  in chocolate sauce, waiting for the Hot Man to come home for lunch…surprise honey! Not.  Indeed I have blogged at angst-filled length about this hatred and overwhelming loathing for such assumptions. (Read angst-filled, loathesome blogpost from a Demented Domestic Goddess here.)

But you know what I now hate EVEN MORE? When my husband takes over as the full-time parent and stay-at-home Dad for a few months so I can finish my next few books and people make even worse assumptions about him. Because he’s a man. And because I’m a woman. And because I’m ‘just’ a writer and that’s not a ‘real’ job anyway.

The Hot Man is the cleverest man I know. ( But thats because I havent met MacGyver. Or Dr Seuss. Both very clever people, or so I hear.) He can design and build everything from a fence, to a house, to a gymnasium, to a hotel, to a mini-mall, to a warehouse, to a school hall, to a church…you get the picture, right? The man is a building genius and makes enough money to get his wife all the Diet Coke and Doritos she could ever wish for. However, he’s on leave from his genius career because he wants me to finish my next book (before the Zombie Apocalypse preferably.) He said, “You’ve taken care of our family all these years so that I could pursue my career. Now its my turn to do the same for you.”

It’s not easy for anyone to switch jobs, especially not when the new job requires that you perpetually clean, cook and wash for a family of seven people with a perpetual smile and emanating love and happiness. The Hot Man is the driver, homework supervisor, head chef, laundry specialist, chief cleaner, President of Discipline and Order, Law enforcer, Peace keeper, family shopper, accountant, bedtime story-reader, prayer-time boss and more. He’s only been in this new position for a few months but he’s thrown himself into battle 100%, making it possible for me to sit on my backside all day and write. (and eat.)

Im very grateful that I have a partner who’s willing to take over in the home for a little while so I can get my books done. Which is why, its driving me up the wall when friends, family, strangers and blaardy idiots alike – get on the Hot Man’s case about his new (albeit temporary) calling in life.

They ask him stupid things like, “So what do you do all day? Don’t you get bored of sitting around doing nothing?” (I really want to hire an assassin to abduct such people and leave them on a deserted island WITH five children. And a cellphone. So I can call them up and ask, ‘What are you doing? Are you bored yet? Had enough of doing nothing?” And then hang up the phone and let the assasin carry out the rest of their contract.)

They say idiotic things like, ‘Aren’t you scared your wife will be the boss of you now?” Or “How can you be the man of the house if she’s the one working?” (Clearly these are people trapped in a time warp and nothing I say will save them from their stupidity.)

Other beauties he gets asked, are – “What if she leaves you because you’re staying at home all the time? She might not want you anymore because you’re not earning any money.” To them I say – there is nothing sexier than a man who has cooked dinner, read bedtime stories to a five year old AND offered to get you some ice cream. Not to mention, that unlike my lazy self – the Hot Man is combining full-time parenthood with training for a Half-Ironman event – which means the man cooking dinner in my kitchen is flexing some pretty impressive musculature while he cooks… check out the ab’s, woohoo!

It continues to bemuse me how much OTHER PEOPLE love to have an opinion about how me and the Hot Man have chosen to parent our family and structure our relationship. How badly OTHER PEOPLE just cant resist  butting in with their busybody selves. Especially when they want something. They want the Hot Man to drive an hour one way, every day – so he can do their renovations. And they get mad when he tells them he has to ‘discuss it with my wife first because she’s the one working right now and my first priority is the children.’ They demand to know, WHY does he have to discuss everything with his wife? And WHY can’t he just hire somebody to look after his kids so he can do their renovation job?’  Perhaps to such people, the raising of children is something THEY are happy to leave to a television. Perhaps they don’t understand how much time is required to actually listen to a kid when they come home from school wanting to tell you everything about what they got up to in the playground, who hit so and so, who drew a cat when they were supposed to draw a pig, or who called so and so a stinky bum… Perhaps they have no clue how much work is involved with making sure teenagers grow up to be half-way decent members of society – because they’ve never parented a kid. Or five. And I sure as hell don’t appreciate complete strangers trying to tell my husband how he should communicate (or NOT communicate) with his wife.

No, I am unimpressed. People – its the 21st century. You do realize that men AND women have flown to the stars and back? Right here, right now where I’m standing – we are fortunate to live in a place where men AND women can choose what they want to do, how they want to live, love and laugh, how they want to parent. You don’t have to agree with our choices, or like them. Just like I dont have to agree with or like yours. But it would be wise to keep your nosey-pokin’, busy-bodyin’, bossy-pantsin’ opinions to yourself. It’s called – being respectful of other’s and their choices.

As for me, now that I’ve finished ranting – I’m going to see if I can convince the Hot Man that he should roll around naked in chocolate sauce. (Not.)