Not to harp on but …

My OCD can’t even deal

I’m tired.

Not just “Whew! I’m pooped!” but really, really tired. That deep-in-your-bones fuzzy head itchy eyeballs what the actual fuck tired. The tired that, unless you’ve had children or a chronic fatigue-type condition (which I’ve had … whilst wrangling a 6 month old, a 2 year old and a 5 year old … dear God, how am I still alive??), you don’t actually know what I’m talking about.

After six pretty easy-going months, Little Miss has decided to become a really shit night sleeper and I am trying desperately to figure out why and how to fix it.

On the plus side, her day naps have improved considerably …

I told NIH I was fine but perhaps that’s overstretching the truth a little, as an incident this morning may have proved.

We’ve moved to a larger place, which means we have a spare room for visitors.  It’ll be so much nicer having visitors now  in an actual house rather than three tiny rooms and an even tinier bathroom but we still suffered a of lack of bedding. The double blow-up mattress has had few complaints so far but there are times when we need to pull out the old single mattress from under our bed to accommodate more bodies.

For some visitors, a mattress on the floor is ok. It’s a pretty comfy inner spring mattress of an ample size – I’m now suspecting a King Single after this mornings’ efforts – but for others, it’s a little harder getting down and back up from that level.

Which is why we thought investing in a single bed frame and having the bed set up permanently made perfect sense. After all, Little Miss will eventually be sleeping in it … if she ever deigns to sleep again.

We ordered one of a reasonable cost and elegant design and it arrived the other day. Sweet.

I put it all together yesterday and it’s really solid and stable and looks good. Even sweeter.

After yet another disgraceful night of broken sleep, I thought I’d haul out the mattress and make it up today – even though our visitors don’t arrive until next week – so that NIH has somewhere to retreat to in the meantime when the all-night part-ay gets too much. After all, the poor guy has to go to work and act reasonably coherent whereas I stay home with a small person cares little if I’m coherent or not as long as I feed her. Sometimes I can even sneak in a nap if the planets all align.

So I dragged that cumbersome bastard out from under the bed and into the spare room. A touch more exercise than I’d prefer with so little sleep – it made my head spin a little but so far so good.

I lined it up next to the bed frame. All systems apparently are go, Houston.

Now, just to take a deep breath and lift that heavy mofo up and slide it on …

Fudge popsicles. It’s about an inch too long.

Not to be outdone, I puffed and squeezed and managed to slot it in between the header and footer … but it kinda looks like a caterpillar doing the wave. I could have cried.

I may have cried ….

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Taking notes

I can’t really put my finger on why I feel compelled to blog. Just like that option about relationships on Facebook, it’s complicated.

I do like to think of myself as a storyteller and if I can get a few laughs along the way, all the better.

Perhaps Mr Morley, my 6th Grade teacher, is part of it. Even since he kindly but succinctly critiqued my attempt at a retelling of “Goldilocks & The Three Bears” – Michelle, I appreciate your hard work but your writing is verbose – I’ve felt the need to hone my writing skills.

Maybe it’s a way of quieting the voices in my head. I find putting thoughts into words on a page brings clarity and some sense of order.

My love affair with blogging actually started about eight years ago. I was going through (what I hope will be) the most disastrous time in my life. I had the trifecta – career; family; marriage – all in the shitter. There’s no nicer way to put it. Everything was crappy.

I was suffering deep anxiety and depression at the time (of course, had no idea that’s what it was) and I credit taking up writing in a journal for helping me through those really tough days.  I committed to writing one page per day, last thing at night.

At first, it was so very, very trite. My entries read like that nasty classic “What I did in my holidays”. It was just a recount of what I’d done for the day.

At the same time, I discovered you could actually do this on the internet and I started my own blog – The Blah-Blah. Nothing controversial. No deep inner revelations. No dark secrets. It was just like my journal – dull and boring and nothing at all of the real me in there.

Some time later I re-read both the early days of my journal and my blog, knowing full well what was really going on, and I could see how much of a liar I was. There was no hint of any distress at all. They were positively dripping with sweetness and ‘hail-fellow-well-met”.

Lies. Lies. Lies.

Then the shit really hit the fan. My dad died. And all the crap came spilling out as life as I knew it exploded around me.

Finally, my journal did what it was supposed to do. It released all the pent-up angst, all the hurt, all the sorrow. Some nights I struggled to condense it all onto just one page.

Unfortunately, my blog took a turn for the worse as well, diving into diatribe. I took a good look at it one day and deleted the whole thing. It had become nothing more than a moan about things that were either out of my control or of my own doing. I felt embarrassed to have all that out for public display.

I kept my journals (there ended up being 5 of them) buried in the back of my cupboard for a few years. I made NIH promise to find them and burn them if I died. He knew everything about me so I wasn’t worried about him reading them (it’s one of the reasons I love him dearly – he knows it all and loves me anyway) but I worried about anyone else finding them.

About three years ago I did a big spring clean. Life was relatively good – there was still that pesky little issue with infertility but apart from that, I loved who I had become and where I was in life.  I pulled the journals out of the cupboard and flicked through them all.

Oh, that me was so sad and lost. Even now, I get a lump in my throat thinking of her. She was a total mess.

So I ripped them apart and burnt all the pages, even those heart-wrenching entries just before and after my dad passed away. The journals had served their purpose and I didn’t need to hold onto all that pain anymore. It was past time to let it all go.

I started “Creative Midlife” as a way of discussing my journey from librarian to graphic designer. It was meant to be a showcase of my work whilst being an amusing little aside at my life – a token diary without too much angst.

I decided to be real but not offensive. I wanted to write stuff that might leave me vulnerable but at least be my truth. I didn’t want to be a liar anymore.

It’s interesting to see how the blog has evolved around my life – first as a foray into a vastly different career, then as an IVF war veteran, then an immigrant to a different country and now as a second-time-around mother. I’m so glad I have kept a written record of the highlights. Sure, it’s not been all wine and roses but still it’s been good.

I don’t think I’ll be deleting it any time soon.

Breastfeeding Categories

There’s so much information around about breastfeeding nowadays but something rarely discussed is the fact that no two breastfeeding sessions are quite the same. Sure, the mechanics are comparable but every feed is an adventure and you’re never quite sure how it’s going to go down.  As a former librarian, I have been known to enjoy a bit of cataloguing in my time, including the selection of appropriate subject headings and classifications. This post has been brewing in the back of my mind for some time and finally I think it’s ready to be shared.

Of course, every baby is different but here’s the 7 Breastfeeding Categories I’ve become all too familiar with over the past 16 weeks:

1. Blind Freddie

Sometimes called “The Tiny Octopus”, this one is part of the newborn phase.  It’s characterised by the eyes closed, head wobbling, mouth gaping, arms flailing baby that is desperately seeking yet not quite finding the nipple. Meanwhile, you’re desperately trying to hold them, move the flailing arms out of the way and guide them to said – usually excruciatingly sore – nipple that’s RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM, all with two hands.

Solution: Someone that you don’t mind getting up close and personal with your boob to shift those arms out of the way comes in handy – or grow an extra set of hands yourself. Whichever seems more achievable.

2. Drowning Man

Usually occurring (at least in my experience) in the wee small hours of the morning when the ‘girls’ have had a 7-8 hour break and are fully charged and ready to rumble. Baby latches on and gets more than bargained for. Cue coughing, choking and splutterings galore accompanied by startled looks and whole body flaps like a good-sized fish encased in terry towelling.

Solution: Fight against the flapping and sit baby up with a cloth to catch the overspill. Wait til baby stops gasping like a goldfish that’s hurled itself onto the lounge room floor. Discuss with baby how there’s a tube for eating and a tube for breathing and it’s a good idea not to get them mixed up. Start again – but this time, lean right back and let gravity make it easier on the poor little mite.

3. Babysutra

Once baby feels they are master of your domain (between 3 -4 months), they’ll start to experiment with different positions. That’s fun. For instance, did you know you can breastfeed standing up without a sling? Either did I until Little Miss decided that was the ONLY way she was taking it yesterday. For the past week, I’ve experimented with different positions in an attempt to appease the small dictator. For instance, she’s now decided that she prefers her feed from the right side lying down … which is fine when we’re home but not so much out in public.  I tried the football hold to see if it was about angles but she’s so long now that it was just ridiculous. Even she thought so (I could tell by the long-suffering look she gave me just before she yelled). I strongly suspect it’s so she can lie on the floor, eat and watch TV over my shoulder all at the same time. Hashtag multitasking like a boss.

Solution: If you can, go with it and try different positions. It makes for entertaining stories when hubby gets home and is far better than suffering the Bucking Bronco.

4. Bucking Bronco

They said they were hungry and it is about time for a feed. So how come they latch onto the nipple, only to rip themselves off a few seconds later and bounce around like a bucking horse trying to dislodge its rider, all the while yodelling like the Lonely Goatherd? Who knows? Babies are fiendishly fickle.

Solution: Try another position (see Babysutra). If that doesn’t work, try burping. If it’s still no good, tuck the girls away and change tack completely. If you’re feeling particularly cranky, you can tell baby that she’s not getting out of it completely and you’ll just be serving up the same dish later. She’ll probably fix  you with an “I don’t care” stare but at least you’ll feel better.

5. Drunken Pirate

Baby comes at your boob like a swashbuckling sailor, complete with one-eyed squints and attack cries of “arrgghh”. Boob is grabbed and motor-boated with delight before latching on. One arm wraps around the back of you and pinches the skin underneath your armpit while the other heads up top and beats on your chest. There’s groans of pleasure, lots of lip-smacking and even a few heave-ho’s between boob changes before collapsing in a milk-drunk heap with the nip hanging out one side of the mouth.

Solution: Nothing. Drunken Pirates are highly physical and very loud but generally good-natured. If you are feeding in bed beside your partner in the middle of the night, you could move to another room … but why should you be the only one to suffer?

6. Pervert

Similar to Drunken Pirate but less boisterous and more exploratory. Baby licks the nipple before latching on … then pops off … then licks … then latches on … etc etc. Meanwhile one hand is delicately stroking the skin under your armpit while the other is lightly caressing top-side. All this is done while baby has positioned their head so they can eyeball you intently. Whilst one understands baby is exploring and making sense of the world, one can’t help but feel slightly toyed with.

Solution: Pray they’ll grow out of it … or try not to make eye contact if it’s really creeping you out.

7. Snugglebunny

This is the classic Hollywood version of breastfeeding. Baby snuggles into you, eventually wrapping her entire body around you as she grows longer. Hands are similar to the Pervert position but there’s no creepy stroking – they’re just there, warm and soft and lovely. Eyes are closed, latch is perfect, feeding is pleasant and quiet.  Ahhhh bliss. When it happens at the 2am feed, there’s nothing quite as calming and peaceful. You find yourself gazing with bleary-eyed adoration at the little angel, and not even minding being woken in the middle of the night. Best of all, they finish with a sigh and let you put them straight back into bed without a whimper … or a loud and grunty poop.

Solution: Soak it up and enjoy it for as long as it lasts. In reality, they are little babies for such a preciously short time and you’ll actually find yourself looking back wistfully on this part of your life … once you’ve had enough sleep, that is.

Dark side of the baby

Before I go ahead and tarnish the up-til-now perfect reputation of Little Miss, I’d just like to reiterate how awesomely placid this kid is. She takes everything – and I do mean everything – in her stride with barely a whimper. From a few days after birth, we’ve taken her out and about and generally conditioned her to sleep whenever and wherever.

Ten days ago, she was woken at 1am, had a boob thrust in her mouth (no complaints there) then tossed in the car for a 1.5 hr drive up to Auckland, stuck in the sling, hauled to the airport, into a plane, across the Tasman, slung in the sling, hauled from International to Domestic, cuddled by Aunty and Uncle, back in the sling, onto a small pocket rocket before being greeted by lots of family she hadn’t met yet and a heat that she was not entirely familiar with. Travel time from whoa to go was approximately 14 hours.

She was magnificent.

Hardly a fuss was heard.

A wee little trooper.

Then she had days of being tossed around like a small cuddly football (it’s her own fault for being so cute, I reckon) as we made her introductions to all and sundry.  You have to understand – this kid is a miracle. We had people with their fingers crossed for years for us to hit the reproductive jackpot and finally all those positive thoughts coalesced into Little Miss. Consequently she was quite popular with the locals and let’s face it – everyone loves a baby.

 

Then the whirlwind week was over.

We were up at 7 am to say goodbye to her big brother at his work (and get one last coffee from him – he’s an amazing barista!) then troop around to family for breakfast then catch up with bigger brother before heading to the airport at 1 pm.

Then it was: sling – pocket rocket – sling from domestic to international – sleep on couch for 1 hr – sling – plane across the Tasman … and here’s where we start to break down …

She was a little grumbly on the plane. Nothing a boob didn’t fix, but we sensed a storm approaching. Fair enough, too. It was 11 pm NZ time so waaayyy past her bedtime. She eventually passed out in my arms about 45 minutes before landing in Auckland.

Then it was sling again so we could have enough hands to grab bags.

Still good.

We got through baggage and customs really quickly and were heading towards the shuttle bus area in record time, just taking the opportunity to do one last nappy change before retrieving our car and driving the 1.5 hrs home to Hamilton.

It was 12.30 am.

We took her out of the sling in the baby change room and she proceeded to goo and gaa and be smiley-cute while we changed her and told her she was our favourite baby because she’d been soooo amazing – not just for the flight but for the whole holiday.

It was a Kodak moment. Seriously.

Then we went to put her back in the sling for the last time.

And that, Officer, is how the fight started.

I think we can all agree that we’d really pushed the patience and good will of the poor little tyke and she’d handled it all with grace and aplomb. But that last tussle into the sling was the final straw for her.

She was in and I was doing up the clip on Daddy’s back when she arched her back and screamed so damn loud I thought a banshee had suddenly appeared in the room.

Uh-oh. Houston … we have a problem.

The wailing was less ‘cry-of-pain’ and more a roar of absolute fury. In fact,  she screamed so loud she actually choked herself and stopped breathing briefly.

Meanwhile, we’re frantically trying to figure out what’s wrong with the sling set-up. Was her arm trapped? Was her leg bent? Was there something sticking into her bum?

But no. She’d just reached her absolute limit and was letting us know in no uncertain terms that she was “Not. Happy. Jan!“.

Unfortunately, we needed her in that sling or we wouldn’t have enough hands between us to get her and bags out the door and onto the shuttle bus. Briefly, I wondered how the hell we were going to do this with a miniature Jack-Jack in tow.

I pulled her out and gave her a hug while Daddy checked everything over and gave the all-clear. Then we tried again.

This time, she cried and wrestled briefly but must have been all out of strength from her previous mini-explosion. Tired, miserable and all done in, she buried her head in her dad’s chest and passed out from exhaustion.

We breathed a sigh of relief, grabbed everything and got out while the getting was good. She slept the whole way home, through a final nappy change and into bed.

Watching her lose her shit, even if it was short-lived, was impressive though. Good to see the kid has a bit of bite!

Committing to it

I’ve been planning this post for a while now, as a celebration of our upcoming visit back home to Oz. It was just going to be a list of all the things I miss about home – Smiths original potato chips; Allens Jelly Beans; teabags with string; decent free television channels;  a bathtub and straight roads being my “Top 6 Things I Miss About Home”.

But recently, a group discussion made me question  how I really felt about our life here in New Zealand.

At our last weekly Space session we were talking about the principles of respectful parenting and asked to share an experience that we’d found challenging but eventually succeeded at – the point being that our babies are constantly meeting challenges but will get a great deal of satisfaction out of succeeding on their own and at their own pace.

I shared my experience of finishing my degree whilst raising three kids, managing a home and working simultaneously – it took me 10 years but I eventually got there and it’s something I’m immensely proud of.

Others related stories of sky-diving; having twins and coping largely on her own and travelling overseas alone. But something one of the ladies shared really struck a chord with me.

She talked about the time she made the decision to really commit to settling and making a life in New Zealand. It was difficult, she said, but in the end she realised that she’d been here long enough that whichever way she went, she was going to miss someone.  That resonated with me and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

In the famous words of Peter Allen, I still call Australia home, even though it’s been over a year. In my mind, I’ve realised I’m still treating this time in our life as a brief sojourn overseas and haven’t committed to the idea of living here ‘forever’.

The other day NIH and I were discussing what we’d do if we won the lottery and our lists were fairly comparable – pay off the mortgage currently giving us grief; travel around NZ and really see everything (we’ve barely scratched the surface!); buy a bigger car; find a bigger place to rent – but then I finished off with “or move back home”.

NIH stopped and looked at me. “Really?” he said, “I haven’t actually got to the place where I think of going home yet.”

Maybe it’s because I miss my ‘big kids’ so much.

Maybe it’s the emotional and physical demands of a new baby combined with the financial stress of one income to tackle a mortgage and rent.

Maybe I’m just bad at commitment.

Whatever it is, I’m not quite there yet.

When I use the logical part of my brain (rather than the purely emotional sooky-lala side), I realise that moving back to Emerald is not the solution.  As NIH put it, we’d be taking a huge step back rather than moving forward.  The only things I miss from there are my kids and friends.

So if we did move back to Australia, we’d be living somewhere with a more favourable climate … but I’d still be in the same boat, missing the kids and friends.

And I’ve realised I actually rather like it here. The climate suits me. The surrounds are beautiful. We have access to all sorts of services and events that make life more interesting. I’ve even started to build a community of mums with bubs as well as strengthen good friendships from work.

All in all, where we are is really good … I just have to commit to it.

Daddy knows best … apparently

Once a week Little Miss and I attend Space – a support program designed to facilitate connections with other new parents and their babies whilst exploring developmental milestones through baby’s first year.  Each week has a designated topic linked to activities such as singing, reading and craft. It’s brilliant and we love it!

Recently we covered the topic of “What does baby hear?” and we went around the room stating what our baby seems to respond positively to.  To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about Little Miss’s preferences regarding music until then, so last night we did a bit of experimenting before bedtime.

NIH suggested I start with the song we’d played for her a few times in the womb. We’d tried out a few and hadn’t really found one we liked (ok, one that we agreed on) so I had to ask him to specify.

“Metallica,” he said in an “of course” tone.

“‘Enter Sandman’? ” I scoffed.  “I don’t think that’s really a suitable lullaby.”

“Yes it is,” he replied, “Go on, try it.” then went off for a shower.

Muttering to myself that father, in this case, does NOT know best, I totally ignored him and started playing a selection of songs from a recent Facebook post I’d saved called “17 songs to help settle your baby that won’t drive parents mental” .

She stopped whinging to listen to Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” and didn’t seem to mind Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe” but to be honest, I don’t think she could have cared less about Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah”, no matter how soulful it sounded.

NIH came back into the room.

“Did you try it?” he asked.

“Pffft. No!” I replied.

[Cue baby starting to arc up again]

NIH looked at me and raised his eyebrows in that way only he knows how. It says “I’m right. You know I’m right. I’m not going to argue with you or force you to comply but still … I’m right.”

I sighed (loudly) and with no grace whatsoever found the song on YouTube and pressed play.

The little bugger shut up instantly.

“Just a coincidence!” I grumbled under my breath, avoiding his smug smile.  To prove my point, I flipped back to the next suggested song on my baby lullaby playlist – Coldplay’s “The Scientist”.

Turns out she hates Coldplay. With a passion. And she’s not afraid to demonstrate it.

“Bloody co-conspirators,” I grumbled and switched back to Metallica, whereupon she went back to sucking peacefully on her dummy with a drowsy stare that signals sleep is on the way.

NIH and I smiled delightedly at each other … this could be fun …

I’m not ashamed to say we toyed with our daughter’s emotions last night, flipping back and forth between the two songs and watching her reactions. It was, without a word of a lie, freakin’ hilarious.

She’d settle right down for “Sleep with one eye open; gripping your pillow tight” then start the wind up for “Nobody said it was easy“.

I’ve given birth to a heavy metal freak. Daddy does know best after all.

Oh baby!

Damn!

I believe I’ve previously touted the amazing health system in New Zealand, focusing in particular on maternity and after-birth care. I’ve experienced the most amazing support from the time I realised at 8 weeks that perhaps I should actually go to a doctor and get checked out since I seemed to be ‘still pregnant’ (usually we’d make it to 7 weeks tops before miscarrying).

Australians are uniquely blessed to be considered ‘honorary kiwis’ if they decide to move to NZ and plan on staying more than two years. This includes cheap doctor visits; free antenatal care from a registered midwife up until six weeks after baby is born; free ongoing support from Plunket after baby arrives and being able to get prescription medication for only $5 a pop.

Now, before I go on, perhaps I should do a shout-out to my older kids …

Hey guys!  Mummy is about to tell all about something that could be construed as embarrassing so feel free to look away! Look away now!

I’m going to talk about contraception … and in particular, the prescription I picked up from the chemist yesterday. You may have noticed the photo. That’s the ACTUAL BOX … or should I say “boxes” – all 12 of them.

Yep, 144 stolen moments of Confident Pleasure right there. And I say ‘stolen’ because that’s what happens when you have a small child that may wake up at any time and demand attention.

To be honest, when the midwife first brought up the topic of contraception post-baby, I scoffed. Firstly, the baby in question was only two weeks old and I was currently undergoing a stark reminder of the consequences of sex. Secondly, did she not realise how much of a miracle this little bundle was? The idea that we (and by that I mean ME) could actually conceive another child seemed ludicrous. And yet … lightning has been known to strike twice.

I don’t like chemical contraception (and all versions of it certainly doesn’t like me) so to alleviate their concern and show that I was moderately responsible, I opted for the good ol’ Love Glove.

Yep, I got a prescription from the midwife for 144 Frangers. One gross of Frenchies. French letters. Dingers. Rubbers. Sheaths. Raincoats. (Oh yes, I am loving googling all the slang terms for condoms but in the interests of my mum have kept it to the clean ones!).  And I got them all for the bargain price of $5.

Since life has settled down somewhat and the baby is now nine weeks and showing signs of sleeping longer through the night, sex may be a topic of conversation again. Even though I’m not sure we’ll even use them, I decided that perhaps I should get that prescription filled yesterday, if only to see what a years’ worth of condoms looks like.

I don’t know who was more flustered – the chemist handing over the ‘package’ or me trying to stuff the damn thing in the tray underneath the pram.

When I got them home, I took a photo and sent it to NIH at work with the caption “DAMN!”.  He was suitably impressed.

The instructions on the label say “USE when required”. I’ve checked the Use By date and fortunately we have until September 2021.

Thank god for that.

Drinks with the girls

Last Friday night I met up with two girlfriends from work for drinks and a catch-up. Of course (as with most of my expeditions) there was some minor drama beforehand to add to the excitement.  I won’t go into detail but suffice to say that due to circumstances out of my control, I had 20 minutes to get dressed, prettified, say goodbye to the baby (oh … and NIH), drive, find a parking spot and walk the 5 minutes to the bar.

Challenge not only accepted but achieved. What can I say? It’s a gift … and there was the promise of wine and gossip at the finish line!

For two hours we shared a bottle of wine, some hot nibbly food and chatter. It was such a treat for various reasons:

  1. I was out in clothes that I hadn’t fit into for some time – and not to boast but I think I looked pretty fine for someone who, up until 7 weeks ago, looked like Moby Dick’s twin sister
  2. The clothes were not chosen according to how discretely I could pop a boob out (although some may argue that’s precisely how you should dress for a Friday night out on the town)
  3. I got to spend time with two lovely women who make me laugh, keep me grounded and fill me in on happenings outside my temporary but very narrow world
  4. Hot food that I could eat without interruption
  5. Wine. Enough said.

My life at the moment revolves around a small, squinty-eyed dictator who calls the shots … and I’m ok with that. It’s all part of motherhood.

However, for a brief two hours I was just Me. And that’s something we mothers tend to put on the backburner – sometimes for so long we forget where we left it. Having a baby can be a very isolating experience if you let it so as a “Do-Over” mum who’s been through this before, I’d like to say “Don’t”.

Don’t forget who you are.

Don’t put off catching up with the outside world from time to time. It would have been far easier for me to just cancel, considering what was going on that afternoon but I had made plans and by golly I was going out, even if it meant I was late and it was only for a little while. Once you start down the road of opting out if it gets too tricky, it gets harder and harder to turn back. It’s ALWAYS going to be tricky with a baby. Work around it.

Don’t ditch your mates from BB (Before Baby). You need those girlfriends without kids just as much as you need girlfriends in the same boat as you. They not only remind you of who you were before but also give you a chance to talk about something other than sleeping, pooping or feeding. Make the effort. They are totally worth your time.

Take a step out of your routine of feeding, changing nappies and coaxing the little darling to go to sleep and do something for yourself.  It refreshes your batteries and makes you appreciate motherhood all the more.

Terrible confession

Not just for funsies

Way back when I was a girl, one of my jobs was to take the garbage bag out to the wheelie bin that would sit behind the shed until bin day. We lived in Northern NSW, where sugar cane is a big industry. And with sugar cane comes cane toads.

Cane toads were prolific in our area, even in suburban back yards such as ours. Invariably, I would have to take the garbage bag out at night, walking across the grassy yard using the lights from the house as my guide in the darkness.

I did this in a sort of hop-skip-try-to-float-above-the-ground way as the worst feeling in the world was accidentally stepping on a cane toad. Or so I thought.

I was wrong.

Not long ago … I stepped on my baby.

That right there was definitely the worst feeling in the world.

“How on earth could you step on your baby?” I hear you cry.  As simply as this:

I had her on the floor on a blanket, having a stretch out and enjoying time NOT in my arms (or maybe that was me enjoying the time).  I got up to get a drink and came back and stepped over her … almost.

I was wearing some seriously comfy floppy pants. Unfortunately they’re a little long for my stubby soccer-player legs. The end of one pant leg slipped under my left foot and tripped me in such a way as to interfere with the planned trajectory of my right foot, shortening the arc considerably and re-configuring the landing site to close proximity to darling Little Miss’s left ankle.  In other words, I tripped on the stupid-arse pants and planted some of my foot on hers.

The yell she let out was magnificent.

I scooped up the poor little monkey and hugged her close, sobbing “sorrysorrysorry”.  She settled much faster than I did  and I spent at least an hour afterwards hugging her and repeatedly checking her little foot to make sure I hadn’t completely squished it.

Happy to say she’s fine – although if there’s any issues with it as a soccer player in later life,  you are all sworn to secrecy.

It’s only now I realise the dual purpose of those mats with the mobiles built over the top. Those foam pipes are not just for her amusement but also for protection against clumsy oaf mothers.

Massively Multiplayer Real-life Role-Playing Game

I’m struggling to align my mental image of myself with my new role as SAHM in this Massively Multiplayer Real-life Role-Playing Game called ‘Life’.  You may have heard of it – like World of Warcraft only without the healers to come and get you back in the game after you’ve accidentally set yourself on fire.

It’s nothing new. I’ve been here before and asked the same hard-hitting question:

“What the Sam Hill will I do with myself while the baby is sleeping that will make me feel clever and worthwhile and maintain the shreds of sanity I’m barely hanging onto … but doesn’t involve cooking, cleaning or craft?”

In the olden days of my first time around as SAHM,  I discovered study and I really do attribute it to keeping me from going completely ga-ga.  I started my Bachelor of Science (Library Technology) via Virtual Campus and of course, fell pregnant midway through my first semester. Never one to let a mere trifle as children stop me, I carried on for the next 10 years, cutting back to one unit a semester when life got complicated (i.e. had another baby) until I finished.

Once I’d completed that sucker, I was hooked and went on to do a few other courses and diplomas related to teaching, editing, proofreading and graphic design.

The only one I didn’t see through to the end was the teaching grad dip. One round of prac finished me. I had three kids at home already – did I really want a class full of them as well?

Looking back, I note that I started them all at a time where I was struggling with my identity and self-esteem. Some people drink and take drugs. I get my jollies from assignments. Drugs would probably be cheaper (just ask my accountant about my HECS debt)  but hey, my addiction fills out a CV really well and makes me look smart.

This SAHM do-over, I vowed to take a different path from the norm. I would get involved with mum’s groups and baby play-based education sessions. I would take the baby for long walks in the pram. Leave baby home with Dad occasionally and go out for Friday afternoon drinks with the girls.

I would not sign myself up for more study and would definitely not spend countless hours at the computer with the baby asleep (or waving its arms frantically in hopes of gaining my attention) in a bouncer at my feet.

If I were grading myself on how I’m doing so far, it would look like this:

“Welcome to Stay At Home Motherhood … again.

So far your efforts to get out and socialise are to be commended and you seem to be tracking well for achieving some semblance of regular adult conversation and interaction – even if it is baby-centric. Excellent work. Keep it up.

I see you’ve arranged to get together with former work mates this week. Please remember that whilst your world revolves around your baby’s bowel motions and cute smile that may or may not be related to said bowel motions, not everyone will want to hear about it.

A simple “Baby is still alive. Husband and I still talk to each other with words of more than one syllable. I am a little tired but all is good” will suffice.  Try engaging interest with topics other than your baby such as world politics, the state of Kim and Kanye’s marriage woes or, if desperate, the weather.

However … I see you’re getting into the blogging again and I wonder if this is a wise choice?  That baby is only going to take vigorous bouncing at your feet for so long before she really jacks up. Please arrange an appointment to see me about this before it goes much further.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, someone is waving their arms at me frantically …