Reflections on motherhood...


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Milkbaby and my heart fly

As he's longer a baby any more, I gleefully took advantage of Milkbaby turning five to book him on a flight to his grandparents' place as an unaccompanied minor.

Taking it all in his stride, he nonchalantly kissed me goodbye, and strode onto the plane with the tribe of ELEVEN other unaccompanied minors (it was school holidays).  I tried to play it cool.  The other parents seemed to be doing the same thing, over-cheerily waving goodbye and shouting last minute instructions to their small people as they handed over their boarding pass and stood in a group together.

Finally the gaggle of children formed a semblance of a line (as instructed by the steward!), and walked off down the gangway in a semi-orderly fashion.

The other parents seemed to wander aimlessly.  I stared at the plane, thinking it unlikely that he'd be looking back at the building, searching for me from his window seat.

Before turning to leave, I thought about that quote, the one bandied around about parenting, something about having your heart walk around outside your body.

- quote: Elizabeth Stone, photograph copyright
(It took me ALL DAY to find this photo, so appreciate the cute for a moment.)

Bet she never thought about flying.  I could get my head around my heart walking around outside my body, but getting on the equivalent of a large tin can and flying - in the sky - 1200kms away?  That is some next level shit.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Nursing strike!!

This baby is on strike.  That's it.  He's had it with working for his food.  His other demands, as represented to me by the Working Babies' Union, include:
- healthier dinnertime rations
- freedom from brotherly displays of affection and bothering
- ability to yank the cat's tail
- being read to, on demand, for as long as he pleases.

The lone member of the Working Babies' Union, flanked in solidarity
by members of the Downtrodden Childrens' Union.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I've been forced to bring in a strike breaker (boo, hiss):

Five days in, the nursing strike continues.  I continue to offer milk at all the usual and many points in the day The Sailor may care to nurse.  His reactions range from mild disinterest to all-out extreme rejection.  If he could talk he'd say something like:

"Don't even THINK about unclipping that bra and putting me in that nursey-nursey position.  WHAT? Did you not even NOTICE I'm NOT interested?!  Get that NIPPLE out of my FACE!!  Ugh I can't even stand the SIGHT of you." [screaming, back arching, general carrying on]

Geez.  Was it something I said?

To my relief, in the dead of the night, and completely passed out asleep, he will have milk.  As if being mostly-asleep and in the dark means that the strike continues unbroken.  As soon as there's a hint of daylight he's all "What? You thought we were back to NORMAL?  Well you thought WRONG!  Get that nipple out of my FACE already!"

The main problem with this strike is that bedtimes now do not get the benefit of that last drowse-inducing snuggle, or indeed much snuggling at all, since The Sailor has not yet worked out that making a fuss and carrying on is not conducive to sleeping.  Though nor will a nipple in the face convince him.

I've contemplated a worker lockout.  But I'm not ready.

I may even contemplate arbitration.  Expert (medical) advice suggests mouth discomfort caused by an ulcer - but I suspect this is now an excuse rather than the reason.

Whatever the cause, this mama refuses to accede to the demands of the Working Babies' Union.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Time - the long and the short of it

When you become a parent, it dawns on you that sooner or later you will no longer be around. Perhaps it dawned on you before becoming a parent, but something about becoming a parent makes it starkly real, slightly horrifying.  Time speeds up.  One day, you're at home with a newborn, all bewilderment, exhausted love and never ending piles of laundry, and then boom, he's about to start school, all backchat, skinned knees and running for the sheer joy of it.  This is the type of time that goes too fast.

Are we there yet?
Time also slows down.  Some days it drags like the long hungry walk home from school in the baking hot sun with your kid sister.  You. Are. Never. Going. To. Get. There.  This type of time is known as are-we-there-yet? time.

Then there are the nights.  The nights stretch out before you like a black abyss.  You are unsure whether this is the seventh or the fifteenth time you've gotten up, You are pretty sure you spend more time in pjs than day clothes, and you smell, just faintly, of sour milk.  This is night time.

The five stages of baby bedtime
Then there's bed time.  Sometimes it closely resembles are-we-there-yet time.  You enter the five stages of baby bedtime.  The first is denial.  You book a time in the evening to leave the house.  You tell yourself that your baby reliably goes to bed at 6.30-7, so you should be able to leave the house at 7.15.  In technical terms, the parent is trying to shut out the reality of their situation, and begins to develop a false, preferable reality.  This is denial.

The second is anger.  Once in this stage, the parent realises that denial cannot continue.  Surely this can't be happening to me tonight.  It's the only night in the last year that I need to get somewhere by 8pm and the baby is babbling and wriggling like he's snorted coke.  Perhaps I shouldn't have had that third cup of coffee today...

The third is bargaining.  This stage involves the hope that the parent can somehow bargain their baby to sleep.  If I do this bum-patting routine one hundred times, the baby will be asleep by then.  Just start counting.  You may or may not get there.

The fourth is depression.  During the fourth stage, the parent begins to understand the certainty of never getting the baby to sleep.  It is, like, NEVER going to happen.  You have possibly been patting the baby's bum for at least three hundred pats, your arm is about to drop off from the effort, and you have no idea how long you've been in that hell-hole of a bedroom.

The fifth is acceptance.  That is, the baby accepts the inevitability of sleep and finally, finally drops off, or you accept that it's never going to happen, bring the baby back downstairs to play some more, and cancel your plans.  He will sleep when he sleeps.

That is the fives stages of baby bedtime.

The time warp
Then there's the time warp.  This can happen at any time, day or night.  It commonly occurs at bedtime.  You might think you've been in that room doing that bum patting routine for three hours.  Turns out it was 15 minutes tops.  Or you might say "I'm just popping out to the supermarket to grab some milk."  Slightly giddy with freedom, you get a little distracted in the supermarket and surrounding stores.  You get home three hours later.

Travel time
Then there's travel time.  Each journey is carefully planned and timed to coincide with nap-time.  You know you need to leave THIS INSTANT or there is going to be HELL to pay.  Or you should have left two hours ago.  You're screwed.  The car journey is going to be a white-knuckle scream-fest.  You wish you could time travel.  Preferably back in time to that moment when you had a perfect body, very few responsibilities, and a bit of disposable income.

It may only have been a brief moment, but it's one you'd like to savour again.  Much like many other moments.

So, white-knuckle scream-fest or not, savour this moment, as it'll be over before you know it.  The lifetime equivalent of fifty more bum-pats.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How did you get here?

Not in the metaphysical sense.  If you can operate a computer, you probably have at least a basic understanding of the chain of events that led to your arrival on this planet.

More in the google sense.  How did you find this blog?

I get the stats.  I know the google chain of events that led you here.  And let's just say some of you weren't looking for a mummy blog.

Some of you were looking for information on co-sleeping.  Or a picture of co-sleeping.  Here's another, taken for posterity as the last co-nap of maternity leave.  As you can see, the baby's nose is dangerously close to my armpit.  Lucky for him, we live in the 21st century, where personal hygiene is not a matter to be taken lightly.  Nor is co-sleeping for that matter.  I wasn't really sleeping anyway.

In cinéma vérité fashion, the camera focuses on
the armpit of doom.

Some of you googled Miss Lily White.  My deceased cat, creme de la creme of burlesque dancers, or vintage fashionista extraordinaire.

Some of you googled Santa Claus.  Sorry about that.  Instead of mistletoe and snowflakes you got this post on Santa Claus and other lies.

Some of you googled "poker" and "boobs".  Or "hot poker pain in breast".

Not sure everyone was after the same thing there, but hey, you learnt something about mastitis right?

Some of you googled "Elisabeth Badinter".  What can I say?  I can see the appeal.  Badinter = Badfeminist.

Some of you googled "breastfeeding positions".  I hope my drawings were enlightening.

Yesterday I added a new one to the mix.  I call it "the dancing Grumet".  Picture one wriggly baby, dancing and feeding.  Oh the unmitigated joy.  And today I witnessed "the calf".  This is the one where the baby, behaving rather like a milking calf, pulls at the nipple, then nuzzles and nose-butts the udder with impatience.  Moo.

Some of you might have found a link to my blog on Kiwi Mummy Blogs.  A very large number of you found your way here via Rhonwyn Newson's article in the New Zealand Herald.

Some of you googled no mum is an island.  

And some of you googled "".  This one is beyond explanation.  

However you found your way here, come, stay a while, sit by the fire.  Leave a comment or a suggestion.  Enjoy, or travel onwards through the big wide web until you reach your destination.  Watch out for hot poker boobs on your way... they're worth steering clear of.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Santa Claus and other lies we tell our children

Last week I came across a blogger who claimed that they didn't have Santa in their house because they don't tell their children lies.  And because Christmas is not about Santa, it's about God.  Um, hello??  Old white guy with beard, lives and/or flies in clouds, just "knows" if you've been naughty or nice, is watching you all year...


Yeah yeah, I know, there's more to Santa than that.  For a start, the guy he's modelled on was once a real person - Saint Nicholas.  Sure, his image seems to have been misappropriated for dastardly commercial reasons.  If Saint Nick was around these days he'd probably be living the high life on the proceeds of his lawsuit against Coca-Cola for portraying him as a ruddy fat bastard in their latest ad campaign.

Coke Time: otherwise known in my house as
Wine Time.

Santa, like all white lies, serves a very important purpose.  And that purpose is to allow the gift-giver to remain anonymous, so either a) that uncreative gift of socks and a hanky can be blamed on Santa; or b) as your child unwraps the latest toy, everyone is focused on the sheer delight beaming from his face, rather than the chagrined faces of his parents, who are wondering how they will pay the credit card bill in January.

And you know what else?  A bit like God, the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, unicorns and whatever else you believe in, Santa brings just a little bit of magic into our lives.  And it's magic that makes a childhood.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

On why I write

This is one of those blog-linkup things, wherein I've been nominated by another blogger (thank you Rachiebee) to write a blogpost about why I write.  And at the end I'll nominate two more bloggers to do the same.  If you follow the trail back you find some quite interesting blogs.  First in the virtual breadcrumb trail is Rachiebee - her blog really is true to its description of being a picnic of thoughts.  When I read Rachel's blog it's like she's right there in the room with me, as it's written exactly how she talks, which is to say in a bubbling stream of consciousness, full of delight and wonder at life.  I love listening to Rachel talk, mostly because I'm sort of quite introverted and don't do chatter, but I'm very happy to listen to someone who likes to give voice to all their thoughts.  And I could listen to Rachel all day.

Why do I write?
I write, I think mostly, to make sense of, and make fun of, my world.  At age thirty, I found myself in charge of a small human being, and very much not in charge of the thoughts and feelings that accompanied that new role.  My first blog posts were timid, a testing of the waters.  I kept my blog secret for quite a while, before sharing it with my mum.  Buoyed by her encouragement, I pressed on, finding a voice and style that suited me.  My blog posts often, but not always, use some combination of humour, some research, and some pithy reflection on the whole subject.  I like the discipline of a blog post, of having to get my ideas out there in 1000 words, to bring everything together in a neat, organised and thoughtful way, and having to find some pictures which neatly illustrate what I'm saying.  And secretly, I quite like watching my blog stats, and seeing how many people stumble on my blog every day.  It's not many, but hey, at least it's being read by someone.  And maybe, just maybe, my sons will one day read my blog and gain a new appreciation of the young woman who was their mother (and why she so frequently lost her shizz with them).

How does my writing differ from others in its genre?
My blog is most definitely a "mummy blog" (or a "mommy blog" if you're in North America), though there is a part of me that feels quite uncomfortable about that label.  There are many different types of mummy blogs.  I would say that one point of difference in mine is that I make a point, usually, of not blogging directly about my kids.  Usually I use something about their development or recent behaviour as a jumping off point for a post - but I try not to prattle on about the clever thing they did today.  Some stories are too good not to share, but for the most part I use them to mull over some aspect of the broader context or relevant research.

How does my writing process work?
It's pretty stop/start.  If I have an idea for a post, I try and get it down as soon as possible, with some notes on what I was thinking.  Then, when I have time to come back to it, I will write a bit more.  At any one time I have around 4-5 pieces I am actively working on, and I have another 30 or so draft posts in various states of completion, some of which will never see the light of day.  When one is getting near to completion, I'll often stay up late feverishly working on it, reading it, rereading it, adding photos, and checking it.  Even once a blog post is finished, I'll often leave it overnight before I post it, just to be sure I'm happy with it.  My time alone is minimal, so I write when, and where, I can.  Today I'm writing this post from the waiting room at the doctor's surgery, where I'm waiting to be seen for what I suspect is tonsillitis.  Writing is better than reading those germ-laden and outdated mags anyway, and it is a welcome distraction from people-watching.  The waiting room is crowded and there's a young woman across from me sobbing into her hands while her friend rubs her back.  I'm trying not to stare and hoping she gets seen by a doctor really soon, since we all know it's bad when you can't hold it together in front of 30 people in the waiting room. 

What am I working on?
Urgh, too much.  Lately I'm working on balancing motherhood with working, and trying not to lose my shit with my kids because of the sleep deprivation.  Did I mention that I'm really tired?  I'm working on getting more sleep.

I am struggling with this, first because I don't have many blogger friends, and second because I don't like to force this self-expose of bloggery on the ones I do know.  However, if you're looking for some interesting reads, I recommend Tui Mamaki's blog on her adventures in Bulgaria - her writing is lush, like her gorgeous singing, or this new blog by another mama - she has an original and irreverent approach to healthy food.  Blog on!

Monday, August 4, 2014

History lessons with a four-year-old

This afternoon, driving home from a big morning of playing at the park, the news on the radio reminded us that today is the commemoration of 100 years since the start of World War One.

"World War One?" asked Milkbaby, from the back seat.

He often overhears snippets of the news and makes comment; yesterday the weather report was "showers easing overnight" and he said with a giggle "there was sneezing in the night??!".  Oh how we laughed.

"Yes darling, it was a big war one hundred years ago.
"But why, mama?
"Umm, that's a good question.  Let's learn all about it this afternoon, okay?"

I'm floundering here.  The sad thing is, I'm a history major.  But how do you explain the causes of the First World War (or any war, for that matter) to a four-year-old?  The first thought that popped into my head was "some damn foolish thing in the Balkans", but I held my tongue as various ideas, phrases and images from long-ago-crammed exams bounced in my head.

As we pulled up, I thought I'd personalise the war conversation.  More fool me.

"Your great great grandfather was in World War One.
"My great great grandfather?"
"Yes his name was Albert Alfred.  He was killed in France."
[looking upset] "He died?"
"Yes darling, he was shot on Vimy Ridge" [Mama blunders on]
[bottom lip quivering and eyes getting moist]  "But he's died?"
"Yes" [realising that maybe this topic is too heavy and wondering how I can back out of it]
"But ... I wanted to play with him" [the pre-cry whine is threatening his voice]
"Oh that's really nice honey.  It's sad isn't it.  War is really sad because lots of people die.  What shall we have for lunch?"  [How's that for a mid-conversation-subject-change??]

I might have made a mistake here.  Or perhaps opened up a little door to a lifetime of curiosity for history.  Whatever the case, this conversation and the afternoon's activities (drawing a picture of Albert Alfred, watching historical footage of WWI, and poring over the world map discussing which countries were involved and where the major fighting took place) opened the question floodgates.

"But where was he fighting?"  In France, at Vimy Ridge.
"He was in Canada?"  No he was from Canada, and went to France.
"But how did he get there?"  Good question... by boat.
"But who went with him?"  His army mates, his Battalion.
"How old was he?"  I'm not sure, I will check and let you know in the morning.
"I think he was 36."  That's probably about right, he was probably about the same age as me and daddy because he had four young children.  [holy crap, FOUR children?!!  I checked: he was 35]
"But, mama?  You couldn't play with him?  And Cal couldn't play with him?"   No darling, we couldn't play with him either.  He didn't come home from the war.

He didn't come home from the war.  As I walked out of Milkbaby bedroom after blowing more goodnight kisses, it was this I thought of.  He didn't come home from the war, leaving my great grandmother with four children, the youngest of whom (my grandfather) was just two.  FOUR children!

The moral of this story?  Know your facts before starting a conversation with a four-year-old.  On any subject.  And be careful when discussing the war, his eyes might not be the only ones getting moist.

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