I've been told I'm not a 'real' mother because I don't see my son every day

Sure, we all hear about the great single parent juggle. The not-getting-to-school pick-up on time because that deadline loomed or that meeting just went a bit longer than normal. The ‘oops’ I forgot it was dress-up day.

But there is something that has become much more prevalent and makes me feel a touch more inadequate as a single parent.

And I’m not talking about being a parent who isn’t home every afternoon. Or that I don’t cook trays of muffins. We’re over that. That’s been discussed a zillon times.

This is about that I have, like so many others, unconventional family lives and that, quite honestly can make me feel really awkward and plainly incompetent.

When perceived ‘normal’ families talk about what they get up to each day, night, weekend, holiday, all as a big happy family, it has actually made me feel physically sick and incompetent.

The way I provide for my son (as his dad does too) isn’t the usual way we hear that so many other families do.
There is not sitting around at home with dad, mum, the kids and the pets, having a laugh, watching a movie together and cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

Sometimes, to be honest, I find this incredibly difficult and quite frankly, just soul-destroying.

I hear of family units talking about their ‘perfect’ lives – twirling off on a holiday somewhere, going camping, taking a caravan down the coast somewhere or really amping it up and going on a big trip somewhere exciting.

I shouldn’t feel like this. I mean ‘us’ single parents as a ‘we’ shouldn’t compare our lives to other family lives.

But I do. I just sometimes think, am I totally hopeless and stuffed this whole parenting thing up altogether?
I hear some mums talk about a big weekend with a zillion cousins, aunts, sisters, nieces or nephews and think, boy, that has never been me.

Sure, I have had a few women roll their eyes and make little digs because we, like many other ‘shared’ parents, have week-on, week-off arrangements.

I once walked into a room and caught the end of a conversation of, okay, I have to say it, stay-at-home mums: ‘Well, what would Melissa know? She’s not a real mother because she’s not with her son every day,’ one said. I quickly turned around, ran to the loo and burst into tears and made a quick excuse to leave.

I would love to say I actually don’t give a stuff about what anyone thinks. But deep down, I do.

At this point, the beautiful and strong teenage boy we are bringing up has a resilience, maturity and empathy that we could not have ever dreamed of. He ‘gets’ the fact that mum has to work, which often has me working unconventional and not, 9 to 5 hours. He gets the fact that Dad HAS to work too.

So when we add all of that up, he knows that when he is at school the structure he has there is something that neither of us could probably provide if he arrived home at 3.30pm.

Having been brought up in public-housing myself and having certainly not come from any kind of moneyed background, both his Dad and I have saved and saved to make him a Monday to Friday weekly boarder.

This will hopefully continue until year 12, but that is always in lap of the bank balance gods.

The relationships our son has forged with fellow school buddies and that extraordinary structure he has, the one where he knows his homework is done at a certain time, dinner is eaten at a certain time and bedtime is also at a certain time, doesn’t worry him in the slightest.

I know this choice and decision is not be for everyone – boy, I’ve seen heard those raises eyebrows – but most importantly, for our son, it works for him. And he is the only person we need to worry about.

You know what, it is just ‘our’ life. Not conventional. Not ‘normal’.

Yes, it often makes me feel inadequate that why would I even make an entire tray of muffins when there’s only me. Or just my son and I at home to eat them. But we laugh. We love. And we’re just roll with all the punches.

I love a piece once written by Ariana Huffington: ‘Vacationing With my Ex’ – about herself and her ex-husband celebrating a 12th anniversary: “That’s how long we’ve been divorced,” she said, “one year longer than we were married.”

Huffington went on to say that “just like marriage, divorce isn’t easy either, and ours has been no exception. But even though we no longer had a marriage to keep us together, we had something even more powerful — our daughters. And, spurred by our mutual devotion to them, we have made a huge effort to work through all the difficulties and be friends.”

The foursome, as a family, make sure they spend Christmas Day and both of their girls’ birthdays together as a family every year. And she admits that, with a lot of hard work, ‘we’ve grown closer and closer.’

They have managed one vacation to Greece all together, since being a ‘split’ family, and I just loved the feeling her words and sentiment gave me.

I just love that yes, we can all, somehow, oddly and only very, very occasionally can create a quintessential family unit. And she admitted not even letting each others pet peeves get in the way when they were on their family vacay.

Ok, it’s not a for-everyone situation, as so many splits are more bitter that buoyant, but boy, what a a damn clever idea.
It actually made me smile and realise that there are a hell of a lot of us single parents out there, just giving it our absolute best shot.

And that’s all that matters. Minus the muffins.

This piece of Melissa’s was first published on whimn.com.au


Hairdresser Sends Staff to Counselling Course as Clients’ Emotional Issues Spill Over

RECOGNISING her customers pour their hearts out to her staff on a daily basis, Melbourne hair salon owner Lauren MacKellin is enlisting her staff into a counselling course on how to manage the emotional needs of her clientele.

The Vision Blonde salon owner has decided to take action, sending her staff to a course on how to deal with others’ problems.

“Every day my staff are taking on my clients’ problems and each day is an emotional rollercoaster for them,” says Lauren.

“What my staff need is a hand in how to effectively help, to know how to nurture our clients’ emotional needs along with their own.”

Hairdressers and their clients share a very close and trusting relationship, and thanks to social media, social interaction with your hairdresser is now becoming even more valuable.

“At the end of the day, my employees are as important to my business as my clients, and I need to look after the needs of both. It’s not just about the needs of their hair”.

According to clinical psychologist Georgia Foster, being in “the chair” while someone is nurturing you not only makes you look better, but it also makes you feel good.

And the mind enjoys the attention; off-loading can be a way to release tension with someone who is not in their everyday life.

“A hairdresser, like any other profession that involves a one-on-one interaction, can often trigger burnout due to the demands of being a ‘free therapist’,” says Georgia.

“The best strategy is to find ways to ‘brush off’ clients’ problems by taking proper breaks when possible, going off-site or after work, finding ways to break the state such as a big walk or an exercise class.

“Any profession where you are one-on-one for a period time similar to a hairdresser can have client burnout too, such as beauty therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, pilates and yoga teachers.

“They all – to a certain extent – have to expect some level of being a ‘friendly’ therapist, but equally need know when to stand back and not take on board too much.”

Georgia really commends Lauren for her efforts as an employer in contacting her to counsel her staff over Skype.

“Employers need to put in place tools and strategies that give staff the right communication to know when and what to say, and when to retreat or change subjects,” adds Georgie.

“It’s important that when the staff feel supported, the domino effect means the client is happier too.”

A few helpful tips from Georgia Foster:

•Listen and be non-judgmental

•Don’t act surprised if you hear anything that shocks you

•Let them know you are not a qualified counsellor and suggest an appropriate support system

•Never commit suggesting a way forward, as you are not trained

•Encourage outside stress management tools such as a yoga class or meditation class

•Find a worse story to talk about that makes them become more grateful

•Try and turn a positive spin on the situation

•Find funny things to talk about that breaks their emotional state

Georgia Foster will be doing a one day seminar in Sydney this Saturday, May 27.

First seen on news.com.au

Source: news.com.au


Do We Really Need Clear Plastic Jeans?

OK, each to their fashion own. But totally clear, plastic jeans?

I mean, are fashion design teams so desperate for a ‘new’ idea they’ve taken to using one of the most uncomfy, ridiculous and ridiculed ‘fabrics’ as the basis of a pair of jeans?

At a time when plastic consumption is, well, supposed to be one of our chief conservation and biodegradable concerns, suddenly we’re supposed to be wearing the stuff?!

Perhaps Topshop is going all Aldi on us and meaning for us to double out new plastic fantastic jeans as a reusable shopping bag as well.

It was just moments ago we here at news.com.au were lamenting the arrival of plastic knee, cut-out jeans (say what?).

In retrospect, the clear plastic panels at the knees of these little beauties are serious haute couture in comparison to what has just landed on the Topshop website.

So let’s just workshop this fashion moment for a minute.

Plastic is hot. Plastic sweats. Plastic jeans will need something else worn underneath them to avoid us going all Kardashian and having us show off every bit of our butt-butts.

For a cool 100 bucks, plastic jeans will not leave you cool at all. In fact, they may even cause a little body weight slippage. Or an unfortunate thrush-type situation that won’t be pretty.

Can you imagine the pen stains that just may make their way into them if you wear them to the office? Let alone your colleagues and train-travellers’ stares and whispers.

OK, so on the flip side. Yes, there actually IS one.

At least they are a wipe-down proposition. One spilt drink and baam! Grab a baby wipe or a bit of Spray n Wipe and you’re set to go with no pesky, lingering stains.

On a production note, the 100 per cent polyurethane jeans — that’s techno speak for plastic — are given a kind of style cred on the Topshop website as they invite potential buyers to ‘think outside the box’.

The straight-leg style is called the ‘Moto Clear Plastic jean’ and is ‘ideal as a statement piece for a festival or costume party’. Hello Burning Man! What a pity Coachella has been and gone.

As well, the jeans have ‘classic pockets detailing and are cropped at the ankle bone’. Phew! Thank god the ankle has been saved from the perils of plastic adornment.

Look, of course there are going to be some cool-skoolers who rock a thong, denim shorts or granny undies underneath or some coloured tights or, hey, maybe, nothing at all.

But I can’t help think that by Topshop occasionally ‘dropping’ pieces like these into their stores, they win. I mean, we’re all talking about them.

And *that* is the name of the ridiculously competitive fashion game.

You can talk about plastic jeans, thrush and any other fashion nasties by following Melissa on Twitter and Instagram @melissahoyer

First seen on news.com.au

Source: news.com.au


Meet the Stallone Girls Who Are Far Prettier Than Rocky’s Post-match Face

FIRST there were the Hadid sisters, Bella and Gigi. Now there are the Stallone girls who have literally gone one better and announced their joint arrival on the modelling scene. It seems being an It girl is no longer a solo operation.

The trio — Sophia, 20, Sistine, 18 and Scarlet, 14 are the daughters of Sylvester Stallone of Rocky fame and his model wife Jennifer Flavin.

They grabbed everyone’s attention at this year’s Golden Globes where they were collectively the Miss Golden Globes and there has been speculation ever since about their next move.

“For me, I think everything after that came because of it,” says Sophia, 20.

“I think all of the jobs we’re getting from it, and the attention, and buzz, I think it’s so cool.

I think standing up on stage and seeing all of my favourite stars, was really crazy. I saw Ryan Reynolds, and then Blake Lively, and then I looked next to me and … Jimmy Fallon. I was star struck, I was shaking, I couldn’t stop.”

The trio’s latest outing is as the faces for the Australian leather brand, The Daily Edited.

“It’s so much fun [fronting a campaign together],” Sistine told news.com.au.

“We like doing shoots together, but the fact that this is a campaign just totally upped the ante,” she said.

“It’s so special,” Sophia added. “To represent such an amazing brand with my sisters is fun,” Scarlet said.

Alyce Tran, the co-founder and CEO of The Daily Edited said it was part of the brand’s philosophy to work with up-and-coming talent.

The campaign has just launched in Australia and internationally. The range is available from Robinsons, Singapore and has just launched in Saks South Coast Plaza in Los Angeles. It’s available online at shoptde.com. as well.

THEIR STYLE

Scarlet thinks Sistine is kind of funky and Sophia’s is comfy.

“I would say my style is simple,’’ she says.

“I would say Sistine’s style is unique, different, because she can pull off pieces that really not everyone can pull off.

Sistine thinks her sister Scarlet is hilarious: “She’s the funniest person I know and Sophia is the intellectual.”

A MYSTERY

“I think the Stallone sisters are a mystery,” says Sistine, 18.

“Because we are still coming up and nobody really knows anything about us,’’ says Sistine, 18.

“And people have all of these perceptions and ideas of who we are, and when they meet us they’re like, “Oh, you’re actually kind of nice!” And we’re like, “OK, thank you!”.

“I think we’re a mystery, because we’re only starting up now, ever since the Golden Globes we’ve got a lot of buzz, and a lot of attention, so I think that it’s a snowball effect, and we’re still gaining momentum in this industry, so I think we’re still not really known yet.

“So I think that’s cool, that we can’t start from scratch here, and build up who we are. It’s cool, it’s the start of something new.

FAMLY TIME

What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

Sistine: ‘We’d much rather stay in and wear sweat pants and hang out.’

Sophia: ‘We just order in food and watch movies together. We have these movies that we can watch that are in theatres.’

Scarlet: ‘We are definitely not that family that says, let’s go hiking on a Sunday morning. We’re not that, we’re like, “Let’s watch another movie like we did the last 5 weekends!’

DAD’S FAME

Did you know he was famous?

Sistine: ‘I don’t think we realised it until we were old enough to understand. We would go to premieres when we were little, and we’d think they wanted to take our photo, but they weren’t there for us. When he won the Golden Globe [Best supporting Actor] last year, it was a proud moment.’

MODEL MUM

What about your Mum? You seem very close to your Mum?

Scarlet: ‘We’re all extremely close.’

Sistine: ‘She’s the fourth sister.’

Sophia: ‘She is so caring. She drops us off every day to school. Went to every single basketball game, every school event. She is there every moment in our lives. She is just amazing; we hope to be even half as amazing as her.’

First seen on news.com.au

Source: Melissa Hoyer


Surrogacy Journey Told in New Book, Designer Baby

JAYSON Brundson and his partner Aaron Elias were nervously waiting at the airport ready to bring their newborn to Australia when the worst happened.

After enduring years of paperwork and emotional stress, they finally had their baby — born to a Thai surrogate — in their arms.

But someone had tipped off local officials, and they were detained at Bangkok airport for “human trafficking”.

Their situation was delicate, as the couple had chosen a surrogate in Thailand just before the abandonment of surrogate baby Gammy made international news.

In the wake of Gammy, the Thai Government ordered an audit into IVF clinics which led to closure of the All IVF Center, which Aaron and Jayson were using.

Their surrogate, Supaphorn, was already pregnant.

After the audit of the IVF clinics, the lives of 50 Australian couples — Jason and Aaron included — were thrown into total disarray.

“It was only after intervention from the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, who arranged a pact with the Thai Government, which then agreed to allow pregnancies already in progress to continue,” says Aaron.

Aaron said the pair were devastated, and in limbo for months prior to the Thai and Australian government’s intervention, as at one stage, there was every chance they wouldn’t ever be able to bring their son home.

Fortunately, once the governmental issues were resolved, the pair travelled to Bangkok to be at the birth and to bring home their son, Roman. But leaving Thailand wasn’t an easy ride.

“We absolutely abided by new legislations, arduous protocol paperwork and with aid from the Australian embassy and various Thai officials we ended up with a safe return,” said Aaron.

“But en route, someone tipped off Thai customs to our departure and we were detained at the airport for ‘human trafficking’.

“We couldn’t believe it”, Aaron said, recalling the nerve wracking day at the airport.

“We were pulled aside, basically interrogated and asked where the ‘mother’ of our baby boy was.

“We quickly called our beautiful surrogate Supaphorn, who had signed all the appropriate paperwork, so she could come to the airport to reiterate the situation.

“There were last minute negotiations between the Australian Embassy and Thai officials who cleared the charge 15 minutes before the plane was due to take off, so we finally made the trip back home with our new baby.”

It had been a long journey to parenthood for the couple, who have been together for eighteen years.

Fashion designer Jason, and his partner Aaron were regulars on the party scene — enjoying the high flying life of parties, models, and celebrities.

But beneath the surface they had always wanted a baby. They struggled through years of health problems and their business going bankrupt before their dream of parenthood came true.

Aaron has now written a book about the couple’s journey Designer Baby: A Surrogacy Journey from Fashion to Fatherhood.

“I really wanted to write the book so the whole story, from beginning to end, could be told.

“I talk about it all, from Roman’s biological mother, to our Thai surrogate mother, the nay-sayers, Jayson’s fashion business going under during the GFC, his 3 year cancer treatment, the pressure of keeping the pregnancy quiet and everything in between.”

While the marriage equality discussion is still a hot topic, particularly in Australia, ‘gay’ parenting and surrogacy is an even hotter one.

But Aaron says it doesn’t matter what critics say, fatherhood is his “calling”.

“I am a better man today and with Roman in our lives, we are complete, a family,” he tells news.com.au

“He made us understand what it means to have a father’s unconditional love for his child.

“There is nothing else I want more now, except his wellbeing and to be the greatest father in the world to him. I will give my life to him.”

Designer Baby: A Surrogacy Journey from Fashion to Fatherhood. from Impact Press hits the shelves on April 1

First seen on news.com.au

Source: Melissa Hoyer

*Melissa Hoyer has been asked to speak about this ‘modern family’ at the book’s launch