The Miner's Girl

The best of both worlds. Life as a fly-in, fly-out girlfriend.

Category: Mumming

A problem shared, is a problem halved

Following on from World Mental Health Day, October is Mental Health Month, where we live, in NSW.

via http://mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au/

via http://mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au/

I’ve written about anxiety before for my Mining Family Matters column, but wanted to write about mental health here too asI think it’s particularly important in mining.

Data from the National Coronial Information System showed that in the three years to the end of 2014, 239 construction and mining labourers died by suicide, which was almost double the suicide rate among skilled construction trades workers.

Isolation, long-distance relationships, working long hours and separation from loved ones can cause additional stress and worry and accentuate pre-existing mental health issues, not just for the miners themselves, but also for partners and families.

I think that’s why the theme for Mental Health Month 2017, “Share the Journey”, resonated so much for me. Sharing is so important where there is a tendency to think that you have to ‘cope’ with everything happening and communication can be made more difficult due to remote working and distance.

With that in mind, I wanted to share with you a few of my worries, not only because a problem shared is a problem halved, but also because I think we often think we are the only ones to worry about these things, when in fact we’re not alone. So here goes…

I worry about Mini:

I think this is the part of becoming a parent that people don’t tend to warn you about, but from the moment of conception, daily (sometimes hourly) worry consumes me:

Is he too small?

Is he too big?

Why won’t he sleep?

Has he been sleeping too long?

Why won’t he eat?

Is he eating too much?

How many dried apricots is too many?

I’m pretty sure he has watched five episodes of Peppa Pig today….

And then there’s googling every bump and lump you find! Not to mention that every time he looks at me with that toddler manic grin, I wonder if he will turn into a mother-killing psychopath…. Maybe I shouldn’t have read We Need to Talk About Kevin…

Is he missing Daddy?

Which brings me to Mr Miner:

Is he missing Mini too much?

And then there’s obviously the dangerous job; I worry about him working underground, with big machines, driving seven hours each way… my heart can barely take it! And, of course, men die before women so combine that with the night shifts and the fact he’s older than me and I’ve pretty much written him off… the end is nigh!

I worry about work:

Am I doing enough?

Am I doing too much?

Can I get a balance? Does that even exist? (I’m pretty certain the answer is no.)

Financially I should be working more, but I feel like I should also be spending more time with Mini.

Do they think I’m lazy working from home? What am I missing out on working from home?… Oh the FOMO!

Oh, and I should really be writing another blog….

I worry what other people think:via http://mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au/

Why is everyone else so cool/young/pretty/well-dressed/fashionable/successful (according to Instagram, Facebook and all other reliable sources).

There is no way I have the right lipstick/eyebrows/handbag/thigh gap/jeans/job/garden/taste in music/life…. Aarrrggggh!

And then occasionally, I have to admit it, I worry about myself.

I need to sleep more, eat more healthily, exercise more, get that mole checked out.

How can I get my arms to look toned in a wedding dress?

Should I have studied something more useful at University?

Are my eyebrows on fleek? Do people still say on fleek? Etc, etc,

So the list goes on. Add to that some good old mundane concerns, such as; Is that tap leaking on our side of the meter or the council’s side?; Should I paint our bedroom grey?; and; Will Trump’s presidency actually result in WWIII? and it’s a wonder I ever sleep at all!

I realise some of these worries seem pretty small and petty and some of them are, but the point is that whether these are silly worries, or ones that cause great anxiety, talking about them can help.

via http://mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au/So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by a huge list of worries, or you think someone else is, remember to share the journey! Good social connections not only improve our overall mental health and wellbeing, they also build our resilience.

For more info on Mental Health Month, go to http://mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au/

If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide call Lifeline (13 11 14), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467) or a doctor today.

The RU OK? website also has great tips on how to start a conversation if you want to get talking about mental health .

Miner’s girl or mining Mum?

Copyright Minersgirl.com

Copyright Minersgirl.com

I think it’s fair to say that it’s taken me longer than expected to get back in the writing saddle. I knew things would change when I had a baby and I could blame my silence on the general craziness of surviving my first year as a Mum, but in all honesty, I have been nervous to start writing again.

I have always been slightly concerned that calling myself ‘Miner’s Girl’ looks as though I am defining myself by my partner’s career and could come across as; a) a bit old-fashioned; b) the antithesis of my actual feminist view; and c) just a bit sad!

When I started this blog there were no others for ‘partners’ that I could find. There were blogs for families, for mums and for miners themselves, but none for miner’s girls (or boys for that matter). And when I wrote the ‘about me’ section, I thought of myself as ‘sometimes single’, independent, free-spirited, confident etc. I was owning this lifestyle and loving the way it was working out and I wanted to be there for other women (and men) in the same position, who were at the beginning of their adventure and possibly finding it difficult.

But now I am not sure I feel like that – who am I now? Not that I’m having an existential crisis, but having just made the decision not to go back to my previous job, do I have my own life or am I just Mum and Miner’s Girl? Do I now belong to Mr Miner and Mini Miner and have no life outside that?

Before we had Mini Miner and even before I was pregnant, I wasn’t going to be one of those Mum’s, who didn’t do her hair, went out without makeup and wore daggy clothes. I was going to be a cool, young, fun Mum. But now I have mum jeans, mum hair, drive a mum car. I carry a nappy bag, push a stroller and have all the accessories, plus, at 32, I’m not sure who I was kidding with the young mum bit!

I was determined not to become ‘Mum’ and certainly not a ‘Mummy blogger’, mainly because there are plenty of great ones out there and there doesn’t need to be another (slightly mediocre) one.

So what now? I have been through a rigorous year of training and learnt some serious new skills. For instance, in one hour I can hang out washing, wash the floors, clean the bathroom, shower, dress and be ready to go with a toddler in tow. I can function on four hours sleep and I can act efficiently and calmly in the face of a major poonami. But I’m ready for something new, so what now?

Can I even go back to work? I would need a job within an hour’s travel of daycare, which excludes my old Sydney job. The jobs where we live now are few and far between for my skill set (talking about myself, oversharing and occasionally stringing sentences together). So that leaves retail and hospitality, which I would be happy to do, but I can’t be flexible with hours and the pay has to cover the cost of daycare in first place. And this is where my options run thin. I have huge respect for the single mum’s managing this struggle!

So here begins the frustration for so many families, and particularly mums. I had to give up my job for his job. When I say ‘had to’, I wasn’t forced, he didn’t make me, but as a couple it made more financial sense. It’s unfair on both of us as he should be able to have a year with Mini now, but I would have to go back to work full time and our income would still take a big hit. And if we were both working, Mini would be in daycare for 12 hours a day and I would be commuting and still having to do everything at home, a reality for some I know, but again this mixed blessing allows us the choice.

However, whilst I am slightly frustrated at the system and nervous about what comes next, I am very grateful for the opportunities and flexibility that the mining life (and Mr Miner’s hard work) gives me. I am going to enjoy Mini in his toddlerhood, enjoy being ‘Mum’ and hopefully rediscover Miner’s Girl, because I’m sure she’s still in here somewhere!

So there we have it. I’ve had my year (*ahem* 18 months…) off and it’s time to get back to it, to what I’m not sure, but hopefully writing this is a step in the right direction.

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