Reflections on motherhood...


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Telemarketers - the scourge of those who are home during the day...

This little rant isn't exactly about motherhood.  It's about those people who conspire to keep you from your FULL-TIME OCCUPATION of being a mother.  Yes, that's right folks, I'm talking about telemarketers.  For those who don't believe they exist, come and spend the week at my place, and answer my phone for a few days.  I think someone's marked our number with "suckers live here".

Or at least used to.

You see, I used to be one of those polite people who would wait for the long-distance "hello? hello?" and then listen, again very politely, to the person on the other end, before saying, "no thank you, we just don't really need discounted holiday accommodation in Australia for $125 right now."

Then my politeness factor decreased, and I started cutting them off before they got into the schpiel: "Look, I'll save your time, I'm not interested." Click.

Then [interrupted while trying to get an overtired Milkbaby into a bath]: "I'm really busy right now [screams from Milkbaby], I'm not interested." Click.

And now, I barely wait for the long distance pause, the telltale click on the line and the "hello?" before I hang up, WITHOUT SAYING A WORD.

At the moment I save the expletives for after I've hung up.  Usually I've run from the other end of the house to answer the phone - the exertion of that alone (usually with babe on hip) deserves a swear word or two.

I'm sure it's only a few more phone calls (and a few more sleepless nights) before I let loose on the hapless sod on the other end of the line.  Either that or start trying telemarketer pranks.  Here's a few of my favourites:

In perfect English say: "I don't speak English, sorry". Click.


Telemarketer: Is Mr. (someone) home?
You: No he's in the back yard digging a hole, he's been out there for 6 days.
Telemarketer: Is there a Mrs in the house?
You: No, I haven't seen her for 6 days I don't know where she is, sorry!


If they are selling windows, tell them that you live in an underground sod house.  Or even if they're not selling windows, tell them that anyway.  You might as well be.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Motherhood lesson #1

Never, I repeat NEVER, undo a nappy without wipes handy, unless you know exactly what's inside...

I was getting Milkbaby ready for his bath.  He was standing, almost naked, at the bath, excitedly leaning over and watching it pour.  I blithely whipped off his nappy, only to be greeted by... yes you guessed it... a GIANT poo.

Obviously my sense of smell had failed me.

I looked around the bathroom for the wipes, knowing that they were handily tucked in my handbag.  Beginner's mistake.

Before I had finished yelling "Darling I need some help in here!!!", Milkbaby had somehow gotten himself covered, from head to toe, in poo.  I'm not joking.  He'd reached down and spread the poo over his cheek and into his hair.  I immobilised his poo-covered fingers, but then he decided to use his feet to spread it.

And then somehow, there was poo on the bathroom floor, poo on Milkbaby's fresh bath towel and poo on me.  It took two of us to clean him up enough to be able to put him into the bath.  Somehow he knew not to drink the bathwater.

And so I repeat: never NEVER de-nappy a child without wipes handy, unless you know what's inside (or not inside) that nappy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Square carrots: adventures in solids

As his nickname might suggest, Milkbaby's a tits man.  He continues to show very little interest in food.  Mealtimes for him range from being a boring distraction to a form of unusual torture.   During which time he practises smushing the finger food I've given him, dropping things from his high chair, blowing water and food raspberries, and garroting himself with his bib (he hates bibs with a passion, and I don't really blame him).

Thinking, somewhat simplistically, that better eating = better sleeping, I called the Well Child nurse in desperation.

"He's not really eating that well." I said, fighting back tears.

"I'd better come for a visit, and watch you feed him.  Then we can make sure his mouth is working."

"Right.  Okay."

"Do you have baked beans?  We can give him some baked beans for lunch."

"Ahm, no, I haven't given him baked beans yet.  I thought they were a bit sugary and salty."

"Well maybe scrambled eggs then.  What kind of baby food are you giving him?  Does it have carrots in it?"

"Um, err, (fumbling with a jar and searching for the "correct" answer), well I mostly give him homemade stuff and yes I do sometimes give him steamed carrots."

"Okay, good.  It's just there's a brand of baby food that has square carrots.  Babies don't like square carrots."

"Umm, right. No I don't think I've been giving him square carrots."

At this point I was thinking "SQUARE CARROTS?!  I think the problem is bigger than [insert inappropriate swearwords here] square carrots!!"

And so she visited.  And we watched Milkbaby:
  • smush finger food
  • drop things from his high chair
  • blow water and food raspberries
  • garrotte himself with his bib.

Then she said "have you heard of baby lead weaning?"

Given all the finger food at Milkbaby's fingertips, I just about said "yes I have, have you?"  Instead, I just said "uh huh" (extreme fatigue was setting in by this point).

Finally she said "well his mouth is working fine, and he seems to know what to do - you might just try giving him three meals in the afternoon.  Lunch, afternoon tea and dinner."

I smiled and nodded.  It's the best response in these types of situations.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More on sleep (or the lack thereof)

We all want what we can't have.  It makes life truly unfair sometimes.

My DH asked what I wanted for my birthday.  I said one full night's sleep.  Just one. He smiled and said, "anything else?"

I settled for asking for a new hoodie.

Despite boldly proclaiming that "when Milkbaby is ready to sleep through the night, he will", I have to confess to continuing my search for the holy grail of motherhood.  From cry-it-out to co-sleeping, I feel like I've read just about every expert perspective or opinion.

Sleep (chiefly the lack of it) is still the most talked-about topic at my coffee/play groups.  We swap tips on what might have worked (but who really knows), groan in sympathy at someone's story of an extremely bad night (or succession of bad nights), brag (just a little) and celebrate when someone's baby is regularly "sleeping through", and discuss the latest guidebooks we're reading.

In desperation a few weeks ago, I borrowed The No-Cry Sleep Solution from the library.  The premise is nice, but some nights, preventing tears at bedtime in either mama or baby is very very difficult.  And it has some nice ideas in it too, nice in the way you might use the phrase "nice for some".  I'm not going to claim to have truly followed "The Solution" to the letter ... it's more that I have incorporated some of the techniques into my evening/nightly routines.

Mostly to no avail.  And even if we have a "good" night, I am left wondering what I did that worked, when in reality I probably had nothing to do with it.  So the same routine is repeated the following night, with (of course) wildly different results.

As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

That makes sense.  Parenthood is a special type of madness.

Best advice so far?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Occupation: Mother

Arriving back from holiday last month, I stared at the customs form, faintly baffled by what to write in the blank boxes following Occupation or job:

I ran through the possibilities with Milkbaby, who, strapped into the frontpack, could not escape my musings.

On leave from high-flying government job?  Ex-lawyer?  No, hardly current.


Nah, too American 1950s (despite that fact that I am actually in possession of an excellent canning system...)

Housewife?  I have an aversion to the term "wife", but I thought house-spouse sounded a bit too Dr Seuss.

Stay-at-home mum?  Caregiver?  Blah...

Milkmaid?  Night-comforter?  Short order chef?  Bath lifeguard and soap administerer?  Swimming coach?  Storyteller?  Wardrobe assistant?  Washerwoman?  Nappy expert?  Ruskmaker?  Cheerleader?  Household safety inspector?  Sometime blogger?

Or (d) all of the above...

I thought briefly, with pity, about the public servant who would have to do something with my answer.  Then I wrote, in my best capitals, M O T H E R.

"That'll mess up their database", I muttered to Milkbaby.

Because how will the Government's statisticians distinguish between mothers (ie, those who do all of the above), and mothers or muthas (ie, the non-childbearing bad-ass ones)?

Picture the database entry person sighing, "Mother - my ass".  It seems the technical term is "Unpaid Family Worker".

I couldn't find the statistics on how many "mothers" arrived in or left New Zealand last year.  In fact I couldn't find any data on the occupations of comers and goers.  I guess the question helps our customs officers to screen arrivees.  Writing "mother" as your occupation suggests you're probably harmless (that is, unless you write "mutha").  However, writing "terrorist" or "spy" or "operative" may raise a few eyebrows.

When I rejoin the workforce, I might just continue to use MOTHER.  It's a full time occupation, after all.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Enjoy yourself

Me, to Milkbaby: "The sooner you start creche the better buddy.  I'm pretty much over this motherhood caper."

Milkbaby: "Ohm"

DH: "You should enjoy it you know, there's not much time before he starts, and it'll go so fast."

Me: "There's nothing enjoyable about it."

Milkbaby: "AAaaeergh" (frustrated scream, translating as "would you stop trying to shove that bloody awful porridge down my throat and let me go and play on the stairs")

Me: "Yeah buddy, I feel the same way - I've had three hours sleep and now Dad's giving me a lecture on how I should be enjoying myself."

DH: "I'm not giving you a lecture."

Me: "It is a bloody lecture!  Stop pushing my bloody buttons!"

Milkbaby: "AAEEeerrgh!!!"

Me: "Please would you eat something?  Come on, it's really tasty."

And so it goes.  That was breakfast.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Daylight savings (or, teaching a baby to tell the time)

Ugh, this morning's 5am wake-up call reminded me how much I dislike daylight savings.  Even if the waker-upper cutely showed no sign of fatigue and was certainly not fazed by the fact that it was still dark.
In principle, daylight savings is probably a good idea.  It means that we get an extra hour of daylight in the evenings in the summer months.  BUT ... the time change wreaks havoc in every household with small children and dairy cows.  A bedtime that was a reasonable 7pm becomes 6pm, and suddenly bathtime is no longer so much fun.  A wake-up time that was an unreasonable 6am becomes a downright rude 5am.  
Just as dairy cows can't wear wristwatches, babies can't tell the time.

Strangely, parents don't feature much in debates on the introduction or extension of daylight savings.  The Opposition did, however, express some sympathy for women when daylight savings was introduced in 1927:
It will bring no happiness to the women of New Zealand who live in the backblocks. [the Bill] does not make the case for now requiring the wife of the working-man to get up an hour earlier in order to get her husband away to his work.
Luckily for us women, in the last century or so, men seem to have developed the skills necessary to get ready for work all by themselves.  

That just leaves the babies.  If anyone has any tips on teaching a 9-month-old the time, let me know.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Who said moo?

I've become an expert at animal noises.  Ask me what sound a goose makes and I'll let out a honk before you've thought of the right sound yourself.

My proficiency in this area stems from repeated readings of Milkbaby's current favourite book Who Said Moo?.  In it, Red Rooster roams the farm, interviewing each animal to see who responded to his cock-a-doodle-doo ("someone said moo, was it you?")

The Noisy Book has also helped me perfect a number of animal and household sounds (I love the silence of "the snail does nothing but move its elegant feelers").  

So on my way down the garden path yesterday, I heard a distressed "buuzzzz", and went to investigate.  It didn't take me long to find the source - a large bluebottle fly, being eaten by a very large praying mantis.  

It went like this: 
BZZZZZZZZZZZ Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, bzzzz, bzzzzz, bzzz bzzz bz bz bz...

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