Archive for the ‘motherhood’ Category

One out of the box

Friday, December 7th, 2012

So there was yesterday and then there was today. Thankfully.

I have said many times here how much I love where I live, but today I really did. Our plans were cancelled after the wild child spewed all through his bed last night. (Hmmm maybe some indicator to the performance he put on yesterday.) And as an aside, when I went down to him very early this morning, he had spewed in the bucket overnight, by himself and hadn’t woken us up. Man sometimes kid really surprise you.

Anyway, we had to cancel our plans so we could just do whatever we wanted. So we walked. He happily rode, bubba happily slept in the pram, and of course the dog loves being out and about. We decided on the way where we would go and even though we ended up at the park, initially we had it to ourselves. Eventually others joined us and I just happened to know all of these people. Se we just talked. Kids played happily, sun shone, adults talked. Remarkable and fabulous.

Home for lunch then off to the beach. Again we just checked out the wind at a few spots and ended up on our fave beach with noone else. It was a stunning day, perfect for littlies at the beach. I stood in the shallows laughing at the antics of one running through the waves and the other happily splashing himself in the face. We dug holes, we ran, we snacked, we chatted and we even left before there were any tears from anyone.

Now in other peoples houses this is the day done, not so in my fourteen hour days with no sleep. So even after all this fun we still had time to watch some telly together (I may have even closed my eyes for five minutes!), bake muffins for the little girl next door who has just broken her arm, play tennis and read some books outside with our warm out of the oven muffins.

Today was just wonderful, bliss even. Not sure if it was manufactured or just chance and of course the weather had oodles to do with it. But it was one of those days when I did really get that idea of treasuring your children while they are little, because it is such a fleeting phase.

Today at least I really did want it to last forever.

 

 

What having a dog really teaches your kids.

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

We have a Golden Retriever named Harper. He has the biggest head anyone has ever seen on a dog. I know that because every one that has ever met him tells me this. He is beautiful, but mad. Who would’ve thought that the dog would set the pattern for this family?

Obviously we love him, even when we give him to the in-laws to take home for a holiday once a year. It gives my husband a break from the barking. It doesn’t bother me that much, the barking does a bit, but I’m not quite so worried about what my neighbours think. He gets a walk every single day. Somehow we fit this in and always have. He sleeps inside at night, he gets fed good quality dog food twice a day.

But the sad thing is, that is about where the love ends. You know those ads where the dog is in the middle of the family in front of the christmas tree wearing a bow and they are all cuddling him? Yeah, that’s not us. It would be more like us posed for a one second moment that is worthy of a photograph and then the dog is on the bench eating the cookies we have carefully prepared for Santa and the kids start bawling, and the dog gets yelled at and sent outside. That’s more like our house, except we wouldn’t bother posing for the photo in the first place and the dog would still eat the cookies and the kids would still crack it.

So instead of having a dog and all of the wonderful childhood experiences that go with that, in my house having a dog teaches my kids a few lessons I really don’t need them to learn.

The Pecking Order. There is always someone lower down the order than them. In our case it is the dog. Poor thing gets his hair pulled by the baby, locked around the back by the toddler who is equally ball obsessed and yelled at by the adults for barking. He comes last. We try and teach the kids not to be physically mean to him, but when they watch us telling him to shut up for barking at the guy over the back fence, or the posty, it’s probably a confusing message.

Sharing. If the two boys aren’t fighting over a toy or who had it first, then inevitably the toddler will be fighting with the dog, and usually about a ball. Both are equally ball obsessed. The retriever certainly lives up to his name, but he’s selfish and a bit dumb. He gets the ball, runs off and refuses to bring it back. This happens everywhere, in the backyard with tennis, at the beach, the park, the oval. Usually we just carry a few balls with us, but if either one has his heart set on a particular ball, then you are in for lots of tears,  yours and the toddlers.

Spew. My dog, like my kids, (again I could never have imagined what this dog was going to prepare me for!) spews a lot. The vet says it food, he’s not worried, it’s not like he’s bulimic. And the one good thing about dogs and spew is that they lick it up. Gross, but at times helpful. Now if this lesson transferred to my kids to say if you make a mess then clean it up, then sure I would be grateful. But when it transfers to “Mum, Harper spewed and now Tully is trying to lick it up”, then not really the kind of morning I was hoping for. Again, you don’t see that on any of those Tissue commercials!

Barking. In short this lesson has been embraced by both of my children with gusto – the more noise you make, the more attention you get. Dog barks, we go out and get him. Toddler stands on the trampoline / fence / gate screaming, we go out and get him. Even the baby has mastered that noise that features in ‘Dumb and Dumber’ as “the most annoying sound in the world” and whips it out in every single car trip.

So I know you picture the gorgeous dog and kids all hanging out on the beach in the summer just laughing and playing and having a ball, and that happens, every time we go. But it lasts about 5 minutes. The minute a ball comes into play, lunch gets brought out, someones else’s dog runs over to play or the bub falls in the massive hole the dog has dug, other beach goers stop admiring our beautiful dog, and instead start admiring their own patch of beach that is dog free.

But look it’s not all bad. At least my kids have one positive from growing up with a dog, if they are ever out in public and feel the need to poo on someones lawn, I’m absolutely certain they will find a plastic bag, pick it up and throw it in the bin. Now that’s a skill everyone needs to know!

The great teacher

The toddler hustle

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

This is my new dance move. Seriously, I’m good at it, really good. If you have a toddler you will know what I’m talking about. No actually scratch that. If you have a boy toddler, then you get it.

We went to a two year old’s party the other afternoon. It was pretty rainy so it meant the madness took place inside. It began with my two boys, the hosts two boys and then eight other little girls. Have you ever seen little girls at parties? Well you know how at adult parties, the girls are dressed up, sitting and talking with their friends, yes, well its the same when they are little. Boys, not so much. Not my boys anyway. One is still a bubba, so he just crawls around and the aforementioned little girls cuddle him and talk to him. The three year old, starts off fine. And then the older boys arrive. Cue wrestling.

Now I teach teenage boys and I totally get the male desire to wrestle, they never grow out of it, hence kick-to-kick at backyard parties. Notice how even the grown men have to bump and push and tag and fall to the ground in a heap. But if you only have little girls, then boys wrestling can be pretty overwhelming. So my afternoon turns into the usual directing the toddler away from anything that looks like might end up in wrestling, or tackling or fighting. Balloons become sources of competitive marking and kicking and punching, yep even balloons.

And so I hustle, away from the sword, over to the mower, off the bed with the others wrestling, outside to the trampoline. Just a constant diversion away from one source of trouble to the next. Negotiate. Distract. Bribe.

And when it all gets too much and your son is clearly the worst one at the party you leave. You almost feel them exhale as you walk down the drive and you know that you have done everyone a favour. Not just for leaving, but for allowing them to feel for an afternoon that “at least my child isn’t like that.”

 

As women aren’t we all supposed to support one another?

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

A friend asked me this the other day. Yes. I agreed, wholeheartedly, without reservation and instantly. And then I started thinking. We should, but we don’t.

Support, for me, is not agreeing to everything with fake smile plastered on face and then walking away saying and thinking otherwise. Sometimes it is this, for those we don’t know very well, for those whose problems are things we have never experienced, for those we only see a couple of times a year. This is courtesy, or laziness, or disinterest, depending on the circumstance. Support, is listening, really listening, perhaps offering advice, or shared experience, or an alternative. Support is checking in to see if she is okay. Support is making her feel okay, even when things are not. Support is making genuine offers of help. Support is dropping off dinner without dropping in. Support is respecting that she has asked you to be a little bit quiet while the baby sleeps, or not turning the TV on if her kids don’t watch TV, or not bringing bags of lollies and cakes over if her kids don’t eat too much sugar.

So I guess what I am saying is that support is about respect. We all have ideas about being parents that we value and maintain. These vary, from mother to mother and between children even, but everyone is entitled to have these ideas, and we have a responsibility as women to respect these. Unless these are hurting their kids or your kids, life would be easier if we could just accept that these are the decisions these women have made and allow them to be. I have amazing women in my life. None who disrespect my parenting choices, some who challenge them in a really meaningful, helpful way, but all who make being a Mum in their presence as easy as it can be.

Except for one.

My mother. Now, my mother is a fabulous mother and we all grew up well fed, well educated, nurtured, challenged, with manners, etc. However, for some reason since she has become a grandmother, most of this seems to have disappeared. My mum is also a primary school teacher so she has that endless patience and game playing stamina that is rare in the adult world. My sons adore her as does her niece and when I have asked her to, she has happily had my children. But this is pretty rare as we live a couple of hours away. And while she is supportive of me as a mother, her sense of entitlement as a grandmother outweighs this every time. And so in my calm, thoughtful way, (ha!) I brought this up.

It’s a tough bridge to cross.

After a night of a late bed time and a very early morning rise, that she managed to sleep three hours through, a day of sugar, yes’s, and ‘he doesn’t have to’ to every one of my attempted limitations, I snapped. It was rude, harsh and abrupt and in her defence she had no idea it was coming. But for me it was really difficult. Here I was, working really hard to be the best Mum I could, with what felt like absolutely no support at all from her. But on reflection, what it was really about was feeling like any of my parenting ideas weren’t being respected.

It’s really hard. I hope and try to be supportive and considerate and respectful to all of the women around me being the best Mum’s they can be, and feel like they are all doing the same for me, but when it comes to the woman who should have my back the most, I feel like she is standing behind it with my three year old, laughing her arse off. I get the sense of entitlement that grandparents have. They have waited all this time, they are not their children, hand them back, yada yada, but surely if they are really interested in the best for their darling grandchildren, then supporting their mother is the best thing they can do. Isn’t it?

Some days I wonder why I leave the house.

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

It’s true. Some mornings are shockers. Breakfast has ended up on the floor, while you haven’t managed to have any yet. The baby has become target practice for the three year old, you’ve had three lots of tears already, some yours and when you look at the clock you realise it is only 8 oclock in the morning.

Let’s get out of the house you think, as though fresh air and a change of scenery will somehow imbue your toddler with the serenity of a buddhist monk. So you pack the pram, dress the kids, get out of your pyjamas, grab a banana and some money for an urgent, life saving coffee, get the dog, forget your phone, run back in, forget water, run back in, answer phone, put the toddler back in the pram, ask for fifth time whether he wants you to carry his bike, smell poo on the baby, run back in to change him. Start over.

So eventually you get out of the front gate. By now the neighbours are rolling their eyes at each other over the fence and exclaiming that “children these days….” as their teenagers wander out the front gate and up to catch the school bus. You feel your cheeks flsuh as you walk down the road, mad at yourself for losing your temper again, and a bit guilty that you have given in and let the three year old play a game on your phone, just  so you can berate yourself silently in your head for five minutes about being a terrible mother.

And then you finally get wherever you are going.

Dog runs off, eventually returns covered in a thick black substance that seems to glow with some radioactive vengeance. Baby squirms around in the pram , no longer happy to be at the whim of his older brother’s attention span, and the toddler finds some fascinating tree that he has to work on and you cannot possibly go anywhere else. Some strangers arrive to your delight as there is another adult to distract you from the boredom of returning the toys that come flying out of the pram and searching through the reeds for the missing dog.

Cue angry, selfish, rude three year old. “I don’t want that girl to be here. She has a mean face”. Oh fantastic. So now instead of having a five minute conversation, I am wrestling the octopus back into the pram, or on his bike away from the offended strangers. Dog still hasn’t returned. Baby is now fully cracking it. Toddler is bawling.

It’s only 9am. I ask myself again, why do I bother leaving the house at all. I could have enjoyed this foul mood, grizzly baby and hyperactive dog at home.

And then I remember why I left the house, because it’s only 9am.

 

Working (as in getting paid by an employer rather than just do every job in the house) Mothers

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

My boss has asked me what I plan to do next year about work. I can go back to work if I like, but he can only offer me three days, not two as I had hoped for. I am really torn. It’s a much more difficult decision that I thought it would be. I’ve been seeking advice from friends, my husband and other mums about what to do about deciding what my life will be like next year.

I went back last year to teach for three days a week. I also did tutoring and managed an online university subject and on one of the days off I looked after my friends little boy as she was kind enough to do the same for me. We were also renovating our house. Needless to say, I was pretty busy. And pregnant.

Some of the work stuff I loved, some not so much. My days at home, I loved. I really enjoyed the company of my wild child and all of his adventures in between. He still had day sleeps so days were filled up quickly with catch ups and play dates and activities. When he slept, I worked. It was hard but the money was desperately needed for the reno and the paid maternity leave from my work and the government was awesome!

But now I have two it is different. We have no family so all my day care costs money. And the kind of day care I love, with a dear friend who is just beautiful to my son, in her house with her kids, is just too expensive for two on a teaching wage. And the thought of packing bags, with lunches and nappies and getting me and kids dressed and out the door three mornings a week by 7.30 am hurts to think about. A nanny has crossed my mind, but again it’s lots of effort for a bit of pocket money at the end of the week.

So what is the alternative? Commit to staying at home for another year, or more. I love my children dearly, but would we all go a little mad staying at home together? Kinder next year is only 2 hours a week for my three year old, and the baby will be that busy, five minute activity age. Summer is fine, who can’t handle going to the beach every day? But winter, not so much fun.

And of course there is the money to consider. Do I go back for a year, with the intention of hopefully having another baby at some stage? Then I can access maternity pay, extend my leave for another three years and actually stay home for the busy kinder year and even my son’s first year at school? I have my whole life to work. I’ve managed to find lots of other ways to entertain myself and exercise my mind these last three years, I could do it again. I love teaching, but not all of it. Would I regret going back to something permanently when I could just pick up a few days of relief teaching here and there? And how hard is it to make a decision in August about what you will be doing in February?

It’s a touch choice, but I absolutely know just how lucky I am to even have to face this choice. Some mums have to go back to full time work. Others don’t have the luxury of considering part time as an option. My husband says its totally up to me. I think that’s what is making it just so hard to decide.

My baby boy has had his first crush

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

My son has fallen in love.

One of my most amazing, inspiring, funny, fascinating friends came to stay last week. She is laughter and lightness and love. Without any of her own babies yet, she has arrived back in the country to meet countless others. She has had to laugh at the not-so-funny-unless-you-are-their-parents-toddlers, get spewed on and pooed on by babies and listen to millions of stories of sleep and eating and behaviour that must have been boring her senseless.

Yet when she came to stay with my boys, and spend some time with other friends who live down here and their kids, she embraced it all with a smile. In fact she embraced it so well that my three year old fell head over heels – want to sit on her lap, drag her outside to play, climb in her bed in the morning – in love with her.

It worked a treat, for three days he did every single thing I asked of him, she was the bribe. Even when she wasn’t here, she was the bribe. Now I get it. She is adorable with an infectious sense of humour, candour and concern in her conversations and a solid listening ear. Of course he would adore her. She taught him tricks, played ballgames, laughed at his gags, and watched him dance.

But then she left. He didn’t see it coming. In fact he was asleep in the car when I kicked her out. And when he woke up, the tears flowed. His poor little heart was broken. She hadn’t even said goodbye. (We both agreed it would be better this way) Thank goodness for that I’m sure she thought as she retreated to the land of the adult, with complete conversations and sleep ins.

But for me, I couldn’t have asked for a better first crush for my precious first born. If he falls in love with girls like that for the rest of his life, I couldn’t be happier.

 

The House of Penis

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Yes that’s right, I am officially living in the House of Penis. Two sons, a husband, and a male golden retriever means that I am surrounded by four of them. It’s not the turkey necks that are the problem, it’s all of the testosterone and the boy stuff that goes along with them.

I love boys. I teach boys. I married one and I gave birth to two. And I grew up with two younger brothers that I still adore. Boys are funny and wild and energetic and active. They do rather than say. They run rather than walk. They open it to figure out how it works and smash it on the ground to see what will happen. They jump and run and climb and throw. They are naughty, repentant and forgetful. They love their Mums and want to be like their Dads.

But sometimes they are uncommunicative, rough and insensitive. Not all of them, not all of the time, but they can be. Even though my two boys are so little, they are already so different. Is it because of how they are being raised? Is it because of the order they fit into the family? Or is it just because that is who they are? My second baby is cuddly and clingy and cries as soon as someone else cuddles him. In this house, that won’t last too long. It’s lovely that he loves his mumma, but it’s important that he has the courage and tenacity to explore and push boundaries just like his brother. And hopefully in time he will.

Boys have a licence to get dirty, wrestle, be unable to sit still for too long. They are expected to love sport, play outdoors, build, create, laugh and go silly. I want my boys to have this. But I also want them to love books all their lives. I want them to be able to listen to other people. I want them to dance and sing and dress up. And eventually I want them to be able to cook for themselves and enjoy sharing it with others, and then clean up afterwards.

As their Mum, it’s my responsibility to teach them all of these skills, to nurture the talents they have and expose them to new ideas and experiences. I look after them most of the time so I get the gig of showing them what to value, how to behave around others, how to practice manners, all while trying to make sure they are having a fair bit of fun. And I’m the talker in the house, so I hope something they do learn from me is how important it is to communicate, to express themselves, to be heard. In my family it’s a girl thing, but I’d like to break that mould a little.

Their Dad’s job is to teach them to pee standing up and how to treat women, he’s a bit of an expert in those areas. Then maybe when the boys grow up, they can teach their Dad a few tricks of their own.

As for the dog, well he still can’t cock his leg and we can’t seem to shut him up. But then again he has been spade, so he’s probably a bit confused about which path to follow. And while if there is another baby that happens to be boy I would be absolutely wrapped, the next pet we get will definitely not have a Willy Wonka.

Breastfeeding you fickle beast

Friday, July 13th, 2012

I got mastitis for the first time this week. It sucks. As you would well know if you have ever had it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m into breastfeeding. I fed my eldest to twelve months and the bubba is seven months and still going strong. And I know all the advantages of it. Hell, if you have had a kid, you would be a rare person that hasn’t had all the beauty and benefits of it rammed down your throat.

Yeah sure, it gets easier, yeah sure it’s not for very long. But without a doubt it is the hardest thing I have ever had to learn to do in my life. And no-one tells you that.

I’ve got a few friends about to squeeze out their first watermelon and I wonder how much truth they really want when it comes to breastfeeding. My friends with kids are about 50/50 for breast to bottle. All have tried breastfeeding, with enormous dramas and horrible guilt and fear and trauma associated with it. None of them found the decision to bottle feed babies easy. And yet, for most, it was the best thing they could ever do. For them, but more importantly, for their babies.

As a nervous, pregnant, expectant parent they send you to hours of classes on birth. Essentially this takes one day of your life. Of those hours of classes they spend maybe one or two on breastfeeding, without telling you that this takes hours of your day for many, many weeks. It needs more attention. It needs more honesty. I know why the slogan isn’t ‘breastfeeding is brutal’, but it bloody should be.

Obviously, this is not the case for everyone. Clearly! If it was, we wouldn’t persevere. The best way to describe breastfeeding my first born is to liken the inside of my babies mouth to being filled with razorblades, and my nipples to being scrubbed with steel wool. And that is no exaggeration. Yeah, yeah, I know, I wasn’t doing it right. You are supposed to feel a toe curling pain for a few seconds. Mine was minutes, every three hours, for three months. The only reason I didn’t stop was because I was too stupid to know how to wean and no-one would help me work it out.

It got better. Obviously, or I wouldn’t have kept going, or tried again with the second. This bubba is much better at it. Thank God. Coming out of surgery when he was ten days old, he knew how to do it, pretty much all by himself. Survival instinct I think. And now seven months in, sure, it is pretty easy. But it does mean I don’t go anywhere for more than two hours without him. I get up, to every feed, every night. And this is all the immediate problems, not to mention that my boobs had already shrivelled to two swinging socks with sand in the bottom of them after the first. This time round I will be able to sew pom poms on the bottom and have a permanent scarf!

Call me a sucker for punishment, but if there is a third, I will probably drag out the tried and true, faded maternity bras again and breastfeed. Why? Because I love having strangers see me with my saggy boobs poking out, have my father-in-law ask about the feeding, enjoy the trappings of demand feeding over night for months. No, I probably will, because I’m lucky enough that I can.

Unless of course that evil creature mastitis pays me a visit again.

 

When good kids go bad…

Friday, July 13th, 2012

My son embarrassed me today.

Not a first for me, nor for many others , but it’s one of those things that doesn’t get any easier no matter how many times they do it.A bit like farting in public really. Other people are laughing because it’s not them, but you are definitely not.

Today we didn’t even leave the house, friends came to us. Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I socialise at all. He is usually better at other people’s houses purely because of the distraction of new stuff and the threat of going home. Normally he is not too bad at home, especially when one of the boys coming over is a really good buddy of his. But today he churned out all the greatest hits!

He fought over toys, pushed, yelled, chucked himself on the floor, played away from the others. And all the while the bubba was crying and unable to settle. Could be the latest lot of vaccinations, the medication from a stunning bout of mastitis I am recovering from or just picking up on the vibe of his feral big brother. I’m sure my friend was thinking, wow this was really worth coming out in the rain for! When she left I actually realised I had probably made her day. At least she could walk out thinking, well my kids can drive me mad, but at least they are nothing like that! At least she could walk out.

Some days you wonder if the activities are more for you than for them. He loves these kids but obviously, after a very restless night last night, he was too tired to be able to put any limits on his behaviour. I can’t blame him really. Sometimes I would love to yell really loud in someones face when they piss me off, or snatch the thing off them I want, or push in the line, or hell, even lay on the floor and clench my fists. I’ve been hanging out with humans for a while now and I regularly find it tough to control myself. Why should I expect him to, when he is three?

Because I don’t like being embarrassed, or failing, or not having some semblance of control of my offspring.

Later in the day he proved to me just how little control I have, but how much influence. He woke up in the car driving out to check the surf and the first thing he said was that he will go surfing there soon, with his little buddy he had been hanging out with this morning. And then later tells me off for yelling because he would like me to use my ‘nice voice’. It seems some of the message may have got through, I just need to make sure I’m using my nice voice when I am trying to teach him.



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