May 2008 Archives

Joy O Joy

Dear Finn and Holly

The week leading up to Mother's Day was as inauspicious and gloomy as my mood. Your Dad, for various reasons, came home late in the evening, every night from Tuesday to Friday. Saturday he announced he would have to take off with his mates for a couple of hours, as it was bottling day at the brewhouse. Uh huh. Both of you to add to the fun, haven't been so well, not sleeping or eating well, and loudly expressing your displeasure at many things. Your mother's attempt to do anything other than carry you around or play Hi 5 DVDs endlessly has resulted in particularly enthusiastic and all consuming soliloquys from each of you.

To be absolutely clear, your Mum was not a happy camper.

Saturday culminated in a pizza fest with some of the other brew enthusiasts. When one of them commented "in the nicest possible way" that I looked absolutely exhausted, I think the nadir of my week had really been well and truly reached. Big thanky poo to you, most observant one.

Saturday night was no better than the previous five nights, with you, Holly waking up every hour until your Dad finally took pity on me and dragged you away to sleep with him on the sofa bed. Not that you did much sleeping. Or if it was, it was cunningly disguised as yelling. I took you back at dawn to give your Dad some peace. Somewhere amongst the dreamy lightheadedness that comes with lack of sleep and the knowledge that I was wasting precious downtime, I wondered what the hell I was thinking when I had kids. Why would anyone ever do this to themselves? Within the thunderstorm blackness of my sleep deprived mood, I really couldn't think of a single compelling reason.

Later on your Dad and I gazed blearily and red-rimmed at each other over a cup of tea, and he said Happy Mother's Day. Oh yeah. He hoped that I appreciated my present, which was the five hours of sleep I had between 1am and 6am. Funnily enough I did. It had lightened the load considerably. From then on the day got much better. You, Holly, slept in the car. Your Dad bought me a very cool book and a very strong coffee, and later on in the day we had fish and chips sitting by the rail bridge watching the trains go by, which by your expressions of excitement Finn, you think is the best place to ever eat dinner. Your Dad even bought me a half dozen enormous and delicious natural Tasmanian oysters, even though he despises them, in all their snotty glory. He knows I love them, in all their snotty glory.

In retrospect this week can't have been much fun for you two either. A visit to the doctor yesterday revealed that you both have ear infections, and you Holly, have a perforated eardrum. You must have been in quite a lot of pain. To add to your misery you seem to have produced four teeth in the space of two weeks, and you seem impervious to panadol. It does go quite some way to explaining all that yelling. It doesn't make it any easier to deal with, but it does explain it.

In your sickful states you are clingy and grumpy and demanding to an exhausting extent. You drain me of all altruism and replace it with a going-through-the-motions uncaring care of the needy. By the end of the day I really don't like you. I don't want to spend any more time with you. The saving grace is the knowledge that being your mother is seldom like this, and that this is possibly as bad as it gets. Underpinning all of this is the whammo. The reason I couldn't see the other night. The joy of being a mother, a parent. It may sound trite, but it is something so biological, so visceral that it is impossible to explain. Completely incomprehensible to those who don't have kids. Even in your darkest most painful times you reach to your Mum and Dad to protect and nurture you and kiss it better, as we reach to protect you and soothe you. It is a cycle of give and take, love and loss, life itself. It can be the best and worst feeling in the world.

You love me unconditionally.
It makes me want to try to be the greatest Mum in the world.
Just so you can be proud that I am yours.


Out in the open

Dear Finn

The one thing I guess I never realised about having kids (who am I kidding? one of the many things), was how much in the limelight being a mother would make me. How many people in the world would now be staring at you, and at me, and thinking and talking about what their eyes tell them. For a person who likes to remain the observer this has at times been a bit of a struggle.

I guess it shouldn't have really come as any surprise. As soon as I became pregnant, everyone wanted to know everything, and everyone had an opinion names, baby items, was that really alcohol in my glass?, wasn't I big/small/swell/glowing, did I really want a coffee? and what was my weirdest craving. All of it after the hundredth time, becoming remarkably dull. Thinking about it, I should've just gone with the...I have an inoperable tumour, and thank you for bringing that up. But it's not become a bit of a tall (big fat round) poppy and other people get so happy FOR you...your fairy godfather Mikey blubbered like a big girl when I showed him your ultrasound. Luckily I didn't have too many of the people who think that pregnancy means they can wipe their hands all over my tum without asking...although I did meet some wacko in New York who after he had politely asked if he could touch my bulging puku...proceeded to tell me that pregnant women turned him on! His wife standing right beside him, what could I do? Thankfully a short trip to NY NY.

So on the whole I've had not too bad a time of people giving me their unwanted insight into parenting as they see it, and how it differs markedly to my views. That is until recently. Maybe my-don't-mess-with-me demeanor has softened somewhat...fallen into the cavernous wrinkles caused by sleep deprivation no doubt. Maybe I'm now doing things so heinously wrong they just can't be left without comment. I'm not sure, but these people have left it to a stage where I do actually have a modicum of confidence in my ability to mother, and they really piss me off.

The other day we took Holly to the Dr. It turned out she had an ear infection, but no mind. She's better now. The Dr gave Holly a wooden tongue depressor stick to play with while he examined her. When we got back out to the reception, I put Holly on the ground with her stick to play with while I paid the bill. The stick ended up on the floor. There was a lady...complete stranger, commenting on how cute Holly was. Fine. Used to that...all good. Paid bill, threw Holly back into her stroller, along with the stick. Get the comment...was I really going to give the stick back to her when it had been on the ground? I think I saw red there for a moment...but all I said was YES, GOOD GERMS. She shuddered, as if she could feel the bugs crawling over her skin, and looked at me like I was the worst kind of mother. I walked away...and resisted the urge to tell her about HOW WRONG she was, and how she knows NOTHING about NOTHING, least of all BUGS and IMMUNE SYSTEMS. I did talk about her for most of the day though to anyone who would she can be pleased she had some affect. Stupid cow.

Lapping up some evil evil GERMS

Two days after that, we had a pretty interesting toilet training time. Off we went to our favourite babyccino establishment, which apart from being perfect in all things coffee and service, also happens to be on the main street of our cosy little neighbourhood. Now a couple of times now, you have decided that you need to go wees when you get there. It does have a toilet out the back, but with me alone, the need for the door key from staff, Holly and the stroller and narrow doorways, and my uncertainty about how long you can hold on...we always end up standing by the edge of the road weeing in the gutter. And it's been fine, no comments, although thinking about it now, next time I might just grab Holly, ditch the stroller and try and make the toilet. Anyway, on one of those days, the stress of being forced to go in the gutter made you need to go again about 10 minutes later when we were down the street playing on the big concrete gecko. I thought this was fine, as it backs onto a garden so I just pointed you that way, and off you went. But after that I couldn't help but notice an old couple, also sitting near the lizard and the conversation they were having. The woman was telling the man about how she had told an old guy off the other day for peeing in public, and how, if it were inappropriate for an old guy to have a public slash it must be just as inappropriate for a small boy. Again SO WRONG! But I sucked it up like a buttercup, and pretended I didn't hear a word. And then mentioned another STUPID COW to anyone who would listen.

But it all got me thinking. About parenting in general, and how hard it is especially the first time around and how much harder it is with people thinking they have some sort of right to judge and comment on other people's way of doing things. I think about how I judge other people's parenting based on what I read in the media or see down the street and about how that's probably just as bad. I think about how you do the best you can on any given day, and depending on a huge variety of factors, you might get things right or you might stuff things up a bit, and you move on, make a mental note to try better next time, and hope there's no lasting damage.

There are many ways to parent and there are many routes by which a child can become a responsible balanced glorious adult.

Well on my way to being GLORIOUS

I do my best.
I hope when you're old enough to understand, you'll see it that way as well.