Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Farewell, And Thank You.

My new blog address is www.mogantosh.com. And this essay explains why. It's long, indulgent, my way of processing. Forgive me. x 

When I started blogging, six years ago, the baby vomit was milky-fresh on my membership card to the mother club. Ivy was five months old and Keith and I had just moved from our city flat to a little timber cottage with tank water and a composting toilet a couple of hours and a thousand lifestyle-miles away from our old friends and family. We were new parents dropped head-first into a new life.  

Small-town ways were new and confusing to me. So was motherhood. One day I googled ‘five-month-old baby stinky neck’ when the smell rising from Ivy’s face every time I kissed her (many hundreds of times a day) was becoming strange and unbearable. Several thousand answers instantly returned.  Turns out you have to get right under those delightful folds of your chubby baby’s  neck and excavate out the grime that accumulates there, or else it will begin to culture into– my apologies - neck cheese.Who knew? I had no baby-mama friends nearby to ask. This was pre-Facebook hive mind, Keith was travelling a lot for work and I really felt lonely. One day, I started writing a blog with the vague understanding that it was an online diary of words and pictures that could keep far-flung relatives and friends updated about our daily goings-on.

I found Ivy endless comedic, and I adored her, so I scribbled away, examining my new life as a parent, and eventually, I started exploring the blogosphere. I found other like-minded bloggers, and they found me. My blog began to grow and change, as blogs (and babies!) do. We added another baby, our beautiful boy Ted, and then another, the sweet Georgette. My blog became a record of domesticity, my long days spent inside this little house with one, two and then three small children underfoot. I recorded the tears and the laughter and the chaos. (Ah, the chaos.)

Ivy’s path through toilet training (I thought of it as the Wee Wars) is there. Once she did a poo in the hallway just to see what it looked like, and another time she refused point blank to go to the toilet at the park, and then crawled into my car seat and let the rivers run. Her sudden toddler rages are recorded; her delightful, eccentric imaginary world and her sudden and passionate embrace of all things pink, sparkly and bedazzled (much to her mother’s dismay) is recorded too. Her development into a bookish, funny schoolgirl is all here.

Little Teddy is captured on these pages. A mellow, easy-going baby, he cried so little that the first time he threw a baby tantrum, at about three months old, we put him in the car and started driving to hospital. Luckily, he calmed down and we were able to turn around before I had to shout in the emergency room ‘My baby is crying, damn you all to hell! He’s been crying for twenty minutes! eHe’s Run every test you have, and screw the expense!’ Funny little Ted, with his odd speech patterns, who insisted at two that his name was Trixie-Jeff, and loved magazines, and evolved into a curious and meticulous person. Do houses have skin? How do you say ‘slippery’ in Spanish? Are my little round poos really meatballs?

Recorded, too, is my pregnancy journey with little Georgette, which from the first trimester was a tough one. ‘Are you finished spewing yet, Mum?’ asked four-year-old Ivy as she watched Peppa Pig and failed to develop the skill of empathy. ‘I want some more cheesy toast.’

The kids were hard work, the car broke down twice a week and my body, bit by bit, crumbled under the strain until in the third trimester, the ligament in my pelvis separated and left me weeping and waddling through the final weeks like some kind of deeply depressed, obese duck. I whinged and moaned and vented my complaints onto my long-suffering blog, and my loyal and kind readers supported and encouraged me.   

Halfway through that pregnancy, my niece Autumn was born with severe disabilities. She died two months later, and in my blog I recorded my sorrow and the deep admiration I felt for my brother and sister-in-law who walked that heartbreaking road together with such grace and love. 

Finally I waddled into hospital and our adored Georgette March was born. She slept and breast-fed like a champion, and for a period, we absolutely felt suspended in a bubble of incredible good fortune – three healthy children, a happy relationship, a blessed life. I wrote about it all. Then, at ten weeks Georgie fell from a shopping trolley and suffered a head injury.  It was a nightmare, and I wrote about it as we nursed George and cried and opened our hands to an unknowable future.

My first year of being a mother of three is recorded on this blog. It was a tough season. The joy Keith and I felt in being parents gave us our steady foundation, but everyday life was often difficult. Teds asthma was bad. Ivy began school. My back problems worsened and Keith started his own business. Little Georgie went about the business of growing up;  one day babbling words, the next day eating mashed pumpkin, the next running through the halls.  She brought us incredible joy. I wrote about our love for her.

Life was busy, highly scheduled and always felt one bout of gastro away from complete meltdown. In between vacuuming compost from the floor of the car and tackling Mount Washmore (in a constant cycle of grow-and-shrink on the end of the lounge, and on glorious, transcendent occasions actually disappearing altogether for full minutes at a time), I cooked and made Play-Doh and read books about space and drew pictures. All of this life, gloriously domestic, wonderfully happy and heartbreakingly difficult, has been captured on this blog for five years.

Keith role as Best Supporting Actor has run like a sub-seam through these pages. He shows up here and there, happy to have his life mined for comedy, supportive of my decision to write publically about our private life, and always the central steady fact of my life:  the love of my life, without doubt. Our relationship is here:  our ongoing fight against selfishness, the work of allowing each other to grow as individuals while keeping the separate entity of The Family – the myth of it and the actuality too - our core around which all else revolves. In tandem we have sprouted grey hairs and wrinkles and creaky bones; our badges of glory; the scars of battling midnight wake-ups and baby viruses and sleep psychosis.

As for me, I am here in neon technicolour. My faults and my virtues, laid open for the world to see (and comment upon.) My gradual, stumbling evolution from a fiercely independent perpetual adolescent into a middle-aged mother-of-three with a poorly tended bikini line and a powerful commitment to optimism.  From me to uterus, you might say.  I hope I am wiser – at least, I realise now how much I have to learn about myself and the world. My children have brought me to my knees with rage and love and humility and gratitude, and writing this blog has enabled me to reflect upon and explore that. I will always be grateful for that, and I think the process made me a better mother.

But like any mum-blogger, I have had to reflect over the years on notions of privacy and independence and rights. I have always drawn a certain line in the sand about the parts of family life I choose to write about. My personal line of over-sharing is much further along than many, and like many bloggers, I suspect, I am captivated by the details of the lives of others, those intimacies that let us glimpse how alike we are, rather than how different. For me, TMI is never TM.

Becoming a mum, growing actual people inside your skin and feeding them from your body, means a blurring of that line between you and others. I suspect this is why blogging is so appealing to new mums –when you are sent through the shape-shifting wringer of pregnancy and birth, you stagger out the other end in a different form. Through examining the minutiae of domestic life with these miraculous tiny creatures, we try to figure out our new identity.

But as time passes, children become less us, and more them. I feel that change. My children gnaw away at my apron strings with their sharp little fangs, and shred them bit by bit with every passing month.  

I see my role as caretaker, as minder, as an emotional bodyguard, of sorts.  I want to guide and protect these kids during their fledgling years, to help them navigate the tricky waters of adolescence and to launch them out of the nest into adulthood with confidence, good health and useful habits. The ability to play an instrument, to behave with kindness, to cook a casserole, to laugh in the face of adversity. (All at once, if my training is wildly successful.)

It’s because I want to be mum to Ivy and Teddy and Georgette, rather than chronicler, that I have felt increasingly torn about this blog. There are many aspects of life that I choose not to explore here, in order to protect the privacy of my family, and this means that this picture of life (while authentic) is not complete. It is edited by me, seen through my own particular (comedy-tuned) lens and so, inevitably, it is just one version of the truth.  This doesn’t worry me when I think about pre-school life. Capturing the stories of these years is like a gift to the kids, I think, an archive of their lives pre-memory that they can keep and share in time with their own kids. (My grandchildren. Excuse me while I put my head between my legs for a minute and take some deep breaths. )    

As my kids grow older, my relationship to this blog is not so simple. Their stories belong to them, after all.  Their ideas are not the same as mine, and their perception of an incident is not the same as mine. I am raw and inappropriate and outspoken. That’s okay with me. It’s the kind of person I am, and I think sometimes it makes me a good writer. But while I’m happy to be an outrageous writer, I wish to be a thoughtful mother. I don’t want to become the mother who mined my children’s lives for comedy and drama to meet my need for validation from an audience. If for no other reason than Keith and I would rather spend our retirement funds on Mediterranean cruises than on uncomfortable therapy with angry offspring. 

This is not true for every mummy-blogger, by the way. Many writers don't perhaps share so freely of themselves, they draw a line further back in the sand, and so they don't need to police their boundaries in this way. But I am pretty much an open book, and so I think it’s a good time for me to stop being the archivist of my children’s everyday life, to thank them for an early childhood full of joy and humour and wonder, and hand the reins of their stories back to them. 

Yet, I love blogging. I love the immediacy and intimacy of the form, I love the community of bloggers, and I love to write.  Plus, I am a middle child and I need attention. To that end, I am going to start again, recalibrating how I write and what I write about, and I am going to see where that decision takes me. I’m happy to share (too much) information about myself, but I am going to re-boot my boundaries around how I talk about the kids and Keith.

I want to keep writing, to explore the world inside the home, and look deeper into how other people manage family life. I want to share things that have made me laugh, and things that have made me think, and people who have interested and inspired me.


The readers of this blog have been my intimates throughout the last five years. Thank you for reading, for commenting, for supporting and encouraging me through these first magical, wonderful, terrible and transformative years of motherhood.  I hope to see you over at Mogantosh for much more comedy and drama and tragedy and curiosity and absurdity. If you move on, thanks for being a comrade as I was fired in the oven of motherhood. In truth I might be a bit of a wonky pot at the other end.  But beauty lies in the imperfections after all. 

In the words of wise beardie Leonard Cohen: ‘Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything: that’s how the light gets in.’

My new blog: www.mogantosh.com. 

x


Monday, August 26, 2013

Oops, Complaining, Again.


Come on, antibiotics. Do your thing.

It's been three months or so now of night-and-day coughing and fatigue and a pale, wintry depression. I am limping through laundry and supermarkets and swimming lessons and the neverending hunt for school shoes, struggling to find my good humour. I just can't get well. I went to the docs today and he's put me on antibiotics. If they don't work, a lung X-Ray. 'You know', he says, 'for cancer or whatever.'

(It was funny.)

But sweet cheeses, enough of the complaining.

Instead, here's a snap from a bushwalk this weekend with the family, to see the spring flowers in the National Park. The weather was glorious, George adorable. 'Dadda back! No, Dorja walk! No, dadda back! No, Dorja walk!'

Happy week ahead, my friends. May there be more sunshine and less shouting. Wish me luck that the wonders of modern medicine will kick this chest infection of mine in the clackers.

x

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Let Me Direct You Somewhere Wonderful

If you are not already reading Eden Riley's blog Edenland, I suggest you make your way over there and enrich your life. Eden is always an incisive, bitingly honest and funny writer, no matter what the topic, and at the minute, she is making sense of life with Bipolar Disorder.

She's flawed and fabulous. Bravo Eden. All the best.

x

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Theatre (That Wasn't Funny)

We are sick.

As dogs.

Sick as mangy, syphilitic, rabies-ridden, starving, nasty garbage-gang dogs. A bout of gastro hit the house on Saturday night - the night I was performing in my short play. Yes, ridonkulous. This is life when you have three kids in daycare and preschool and school. The bugs, they keep a-coming.

I spent most of the night in my dressing room with my head on a chair, gripped with horrible nausea. I couldn't run lines with my co-performer, watch other acts or hang out with the friends who had come to watch. I couldn't really talk. My body was shutting down, processing the flu I had been fighting for a week, stage-nerves, and the building momentum of a gastro bug. I just stared into space and worried about the kids and willed the minutes to pass until it was over and I could go home.

As I walked onstage, I felt cold and sweaty. I didn't know if I would remember my lines, and I couldn't be sure I wouldn't throw up out there.

But under the lights, the powerful effects of adrenalin surged through me. I sang, I acted, and I felt the warm thrill of watching an audience respond to lines I had written, voiced so beautifully by my friend and co-performer Al. They laughed, they cried, they clapped. All the while, up the back, I watched Keith and my mum grin proudly. It was really an amazing experience.

After the show, Keith and I headed straight home where we mobilised the gastro-plan: stripping ghastly, stinky beds (poor Ted threw up in his sleep), showering kids, setting up the mobile field hospital of buckets and towels, and then, and only then, the adrenaline wore off, my grinding nausea reached a peak and I started vomiting too, with Keith not far behind.

This gastro bug landed on our flu-depleted systems, and we are just wiped out. Keith and I have been as bed-bound as is possible with three small children, and I am feeling very grateful to my Mum and Dad today. Pop took on sick Ivy on Saturday night, so that Keith and Mum wouldn't miss my show. She sat up in an armchair with a bowl and watched the footy with him. Today, they took Georgie, the only thriving human in the bunch, so that we could have an easier time of it at home. It's been a very long time, if ever, that Keith and I have both been so sick at once. It's been very low-key. Watching Cake Boss,  playing games of Uno, using my limited energy to get  chicken soup and crackers and soda water into my poor sick beloveds.

I feel very happy that I stretched myself creatively to make something new. But christ on a handcart, am I glad it's over. Roll on spring. Roll on recovery.



(And I will definitely be getting a flu shot next year.)


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Perfect (Shit) Storm

At times, the relentless forward-motion of the household is overwhelming, is it not? I feel like the cobwebs are looking accusingly at me with their veiled little eyes, and I don't know whose stupid idea it was to clean the window in the lounge because it has now thrown every other window into terrible, filthy relief.

We are in something of a perfect storm this week, with two kids birthdays, lot of work commitments and the flu.

Critical laundry only ( as in items that have been pissed or vomited upon.)

Nothing could make me feel better.  Well, maybe dirty Jamie Oliver.

Monday, August 12, 2013

For Georgette, On The Occasion Of Her Second Birthday


Darling Georgie,

Happy birthday to you! It's all a bit of  mess round here. I have the flu, still, and the scramble to get your birthday cake on the table was epic.  Still, it seems only fair, since your arrival tipped us into chaos. Before you, we could see chaos from where we lived, but we only visited sometimes. Now we've got season passes.

You have no problem adding your noise to the cacophony in this monkey house. 'I too! I too!' you tell us constantly. 'I cook! I walk! I dwaw!' Whatever the big kids are up to, you want a piece of it. You love to dance, and your favourite song is 'Babooshka'. You love Iggle Piggle and your beepy and your nummie, big tuddles, your books and your brother and sister. You can swim in the bath happily for an hour, and love sliding down your slippery dip with one of your furry friends. Impressively polite, little George, you are even grateful when we change your nappy. 'Sanku Daddy! Sanku Mama!'

Independent, you won't hold my hand in the street, and you are clearly a comedian in the making, cracking yourself up with your own funny walks and the voices you give to inanimate objects. When you're not happy, you make a face we call 'the angry bulldog', and your soft, soft cheeks still look like you are storing nuts for the winter. To me, you look like a May Gibbs drawing.

Most of all you love Dodo and Puppy (who are you are clutching in this picture I snapped today.) 'Is Dodo your best friend?' I asked you this morning as you perched him on the chair next to you and pretended to feed him Weet Bix. 'No fweind!' you said 'Sissa! Is a six.' 'Dodo is your sister and he's six?' I asked. 'Yes.' you said and made him talk. "Arro!' This cracked you up. And me too.

Happy birthday adorable toddler! (Or, as you like to sing: To You Ip Aray!) You're the light of our lives and we love you to bits.

XXX Mummy.


Friday, August 9, 2013

My 24-Hour Bubonic Plague (Dramatic? Moi?)

Even though I have not been hanging out in Californian National Parks with my furry friends, I still think I came down with the Black Death this week.

Wham! It laid me sideways.

I'm in recovery now though, thanks be to kind husbands and incredibly good two-year-olds who let me lie in bed for most of the last two days with my head under a pillow. George trotted in and out. She would climb up and hang out on the bed for a while, playing on my phone, watching Iggle Piggle on my computer, talking to herself. Then she would say 'Bye Mama! See you morning!', flip off the bed backwards and wander off.

Those 2 days in bed were such a gift - it could have gone so badly the other way (I'm painfully reminded of the time I had gastro and a two-year-old Ivy laughed and imitated me as I threw up into a bucket. Then she demanded toast. )

And so: apple cider vinegar. Horseradish and garlic tablets. Lotsa water. Extra cuddles for my empathetic toddler.

Any other immunity-repairing ideas?

x


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

42: The Meaning Of Life Birthday

In the last few weeks Keith an I have both turned forty-two. A good, solid age. Should we be blessed with the requisite four score, we are smack in the middle of our lives right now. 

Middle age, what ho! 

I made Keith a piano cake, as befits this beloved, darling, tinkling fool o'mine. 



I also made some creme brulee with the chefs blowtorch given to me by my wonderful mother-in-law. (Impressed the hell out of my little soux-chefs.)



We are in a fast-paced, high -traffic season of life right now. One task trips on the heels of the last, the forward-motion is constant, and there is never quite enough time to do everything we need to do. Plus, I spend at least forty five minutes a day looking for socks. Oh dear god, the socks. Is there any solution to the sock problem?

We spin around the sun. Life is wonderful.

Keith coaches the under 7's soccer team while carting a baby on his hip.


He stops for ten minutes at lunch to watch one of Teddy's frozen experiments evaporate in the winter sunshine.


Me, I am writing a short play, and performing it with my friend Alicia at a cabaret night in Wollongong. It's set in a toilet. Here is Al, cleaning the main prop. It's true, the theatre is really as glamorous as they say.


Everything about this caper makes my feet sweat with terror, but that's 42; at least for me. Lots of the white noise has dropped away. The fear, the anxiety, the inner critic. I have a solid base in this little family, this loving community who support me whatever happens. Plus, I am almost entirely sure that nobody ever died of shame. I'm pretty sure. At worst, we're a humiliating flop, and given a little time... that's comedy!

The second half of my life is opening up before me. I want to grab it, slap its perky arse, shake the coconuts out of its uppermost branches, and enjoy it as much as I can. Life can only be understood backwards, said Keirkegaarde, but must be lived forwards, and here I stand, in the middle, the perfect vantage point to see both forwards and back. To learn from the past, and gather courage for the future. The view looks beautiful to me.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Burning Fanny.

This morning at the coffee shop, Sally the owner said to the man beside me 'Did you go to Bernard Fanning last night?" I didn't hear that. I heard 'Did you go to Burning Fanny?'

In my head, I immediately thought that somebody had put on a feminist Burning Man. My first thought: God, that is SO Wollongong. My second thought: I can't believe I missed it! 

I asked Sally for details. She set me straight and then we both bent over and honked and leaked salty water from our eyeballs. I'm still laughing, but also, I'm thinking my brain might have stumbled upon something pretty special. 

Burning Fanny. 

Watch this space.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Date With Hawkey


Actually, it was a date with Keith, last Friday night, but Bob Hawke was there. Grumpy, impressive and incredibly hirsute, that's my take-away. Bob was alright as well.

We were at a Labor Party function celebrating the 30 year anniversary of the Franklin Dam environmental campaign. Run by these guys, in case you're interested. Bob talked the small crowd through his memories of the campaign. My friend Carol (political animal, goofball and seriously impressive woman) invited us, and I found it fascinating to check out the politicos in the room and swan about a little, pretending I spent my days in more lofty pursuits than wiping poo-bums and cracking jokes on the internet. White Anglo Saxon middle aged men in suits were robustly represented, in case you were worried about them. During Hawkey's speech, Keith's pocket somehow switched on the Winnie The Pooh app on my phone, but other than that, I think we got away with it.

I had a few whoite woines, and then Keith and I caught a taxi downtown and ate tapas. We had such a good time. I may have waved my wineglass and harangued Keith at some length over the patatas bravas about the importance of being politically engaged and tried to convince him to become sort sort of solar energy go-to-guy. In the morning, Keith asked me if I was still planning on becoming a Labor activist.

Who am I kidding? I can barely activate the microwave.

Great night though.

.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Chuck Wagon

This post was originally published in Practical Parenting Magazine, June 2013

Last week I put my foot down.  Six year old Peanut, who had spent the day at school and then the afternoon making flower potions, was refusing to eat her dinner. She was bunging it on. I was sure.   ‘I feel nosey’, she moaned. ‘She means nauseous’, my husband Keith translated.

‘No, Peanut, ‘I said firmly. ‘You will eat that salad.’ She gazed wanly at me but I stood strong. There was a standoff. ‘NOSEY!’ she said. ‘Nope’, Keith answered. We winked at each other, pleased at the firm and loving boundaries we were setting together. And then Peanut threw up, copiously and violently, onto her dinner plate. When the heaving was over, she raised her head, eyes glittering with the thrill of victory, and probably fever, and spluttered ‘I told you I was sick!’ I don’t think I have ever seen her so happy. Keith patted her head and I fetched a tea-towel, and when our eyes met this time, the unspoken shared message was ‘Together, we will burn in Hades.’

Oh, vomit, you evil nemesis. You have been my constant, stinky companion for the last two weeks. All three kids have been sick, and the soft furnishings and I have been spewed on from every possible angle. I am so tired of washing linen and bleaching floors. So exhausted from days spent patting backs and rocking while the washing machine hums steadily in the background and the Mount Washmore of unfolded laundry grows terrifyingly tall.  I long for a mini-break to a pristine, antiseptic room with the freshness of Scandinavia.

But vomit, it seems, is part of the parenthood deal. And it starts early. I remember one day when baby Peanut lay kicking and gurgling next to Keith and I as we sat on the floor, eating lunch in a patch of sunshine. Such a charming domestic scene. ‘Eep!’ I said. ‘What sauce have you put on this chicken? Is that parmesan?’ I tasted it again. Ooh, bad.  ‘I didn’t put any sauce on the chicken,’ said Keith. I inspected the little pool on my plate, and realised, hopelessly, that the baby had thrown up on my lunch and then I had eaten it.

It gets worse. On the freeway a few months ago, I had all three kids loaded into the back of the car when Pudding, in the unpredictable manner of baby humans, vomited violently without warning. ‘Oh! Oh! Oh!’ shouted theatrical Peanut. ‘It stinks! I can’t stand it! It’s disgusting!’ I shouted her down from the front. ‘Stop it, Peanut!’ I said. ‘We can’t do anything about it now. Stop being such a drama queen. Just! Calm! Down!'

Peanut pulled it together, and we all moaned quietly as the cheesy fug filled the car. Pudding was unperturbed by the fact that she was carpeted in gastric juices and began to quietly inspect the food particles in her lap. The unthinkable happened. She began to pluck out the choicest morsels and eat them.

That was when Peanut and I both lost it. ‘No she’s not oh my god she is I can bear it don’t look don’t look in the name of all that is holy DON”T LOOK AT THE BABY’ we cried in horror. And there we were, on a freeway, screaming while the baby ate her own vomit. And while we screamed, we laughed.  Which is, when I think about it, a fairly accurate snapshot  of mothering three children under seven. Screaming with horror. Laughing hysterically. And vomit. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mini Masterchefs

My two big kids are getting into watching Masterchef with me this year, and they have developed a desperate attachment to Rishi. They love him! Ivy even begs me to let her practice separating eggs just like him. (She's gotten pretty good at it too.) Their watching nights are Sunday and Wednesday, and the off nights, if the show is on, they are prone to scurrying out from their room to sneak forbidden glances at the TV and ask me 'Is Jules eliminated? How did the chicken turn out?' Ivy even called lamb a 'protein'. yesterday. I can't tell you how happy this makes me. 

I have been training these kids into their roles as my little soux-chefs for years. Years I tell you! 

 

We played Masterchef last week. The kids set all the toy food up as the pantry, and I gave them two minutes in there and a challenge along these lines Best Dinner Ever! Super Yummy!  They raced around making bizarre combinations of food, and then when I said '10 seconds to go! If you'e not plating up, you should be!' they both wildly threw food onto plates and presented it to me. We had one immunity challenge and one elimination challenge, and then we staged the grand final. I judged the winner as Ted, mostly because Ivy was less likely have a massive losers meltdown. 

Ivy made immunity pins and Masterchef signs for the judges seats. It was the best game we've played for some time. I read this blog post recently from an American ex-contestant. Ermegerd! The horrors! Can life off-screen for the Australian players be like this?   


Friday, July 19, 2013

Good Stuff For The Weekend

Warm your cockles: an eighty-one year old tells a tale of long lost love. It's funny and fabulous.

Have you been keeping an eye on the Pitch Drop experiment? I have (nerd alert). Guess what? It dropped! 

When a broadcaster is on the other side of the mike, they know how to give good interview. Richard Glover is charming and funny here  (and gets extra points for adoring his fabulous wife.)

Breakfast quesadillas. Yes please thank you.

When you tell your kids they are 'naturals' and 'gifted', are you helping them to fall apart when they fail at stuff?  Interesting stuff.

Tootsie is in my top ten favourite movie list.Top five even.  So I loved this Dustin Hoffman interview where he explores his feelings about playing a woman on screen.

My friend Shelley mines history (so you don't have to!) for attractive, interesting deceased folk in her hilarious and edifying series The Hot And The Dead.

Finally, this spoken-word piece on breastfeeding is moving and wonderful.

What are you up to this weekend? Right now,  I am excited about getting my birthday blowtorch on the creme brulee I just took out of the oven. After that, we've got a lot of soccer, a visit from Grandpa, some kid parties, a big old pile of washing to fold, and some writing projects to crack on with. Plus, a date with the final Mad Men episode (season 6).

Sounds good yes?


Hope you have a good one too. x



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Manland


Big footy game last night. Keith went and watched it at the local RSL, and he told me about the atmosphere when he got home. 


There were about twenty guys there, he said. Not a woman in the joint. They all had a beer or two and occasionally yelled at the screen. At one point somebody carried around a tray of party pies. 


When the game was over they peeled off from the group one by one and made their way home. I was interested to explore that. 'Did they say good bye, or just go?' I asked Keith. 'Yeah, said goodbye, but just, you know, peacefully,' he said. 'I am confused,'  I said. 'Why didn't you hang around for another half an hour and kiss each other a few times and start a few new conversations and laugh like witches?' 


'That is not our way,' Keith said. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Wrong Daughter

Huzzah, we are on the mend, but Keith and I are both feeling a bit frazzled after this weeks sleep disruption. In fact, last night Keith made perhaps his worst decision so far in our six years of parenting.

There has been a lot of coughing from the kids at night. Croupey, asthmatic, worrisome midnight coughing. We've been doing a lot of creeping in and replacing blankets and administering water, and a lot of lying in bed, listening to the hacking, and postponing that awful moment of actually leaving the warm nest.

Last night I lay listening to Ivy cough and splutter for ages before I said to Keith 'I think we should bring her in.' He was wasted with sleep. 'In here with us?' he said. 'Yeah', I said, 'in the warm.'

'Kay' he mumbled and staggered out into the hallway. To my horror he turned left, instead of right, and a moment later he appeared, carrying the wrong daughter.

'What are you doing?' I whispered in shock, as he tucked Georgie in between us. She snuffled with surprised satisfaction, and then Ivy started coughing again, and Keith realised what he'd done. He froze and we lay in silence for a moment, as the enormity of his stuff-up dawned upon us.

'Come on George, that was fun, wasn't it?' he said quietly, as he tried to carry the baby back to her room. 'Little visit to Mummy and Daddy, and now back to bed!' Of course she wasn't having any of it. She screamed blue murder and he had to get up and sit watching the cricket with her for an hour before she went to sleep again.

She woke up later in the night and wailed again. I went in to find her standing up in bed. 'Out dere!' she shouted. 'Out Daddy! Out Daddy!' I fear she may be expecting a midnight cricket party with Daddy every night from now on.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vacation Flu

There are some sick puppies in the next room. As in three kids barking away with croup in their beds. Me, I've got a headache and a sore back, and I'm annoyed that in all m y school holiday planning, I forgot to factor in the inevitable bloody vacation flu.

Teddy has been worrying us for a fortnight with his asthma, which has ramped up, day by day. The cold aggravates it, so he's been wandering about with a hot-water bottle tucked down the front of his puffy 'asthma coat'. And by 'wandering', I mean 'hopped up to the goolies on Ventolin and loony as all hell'.

Yesterday, his cough worsened and worsened. Keith and Georgie had both gone down with a throaty cold virus. George had kept us up all night needing in the rocking chair, and then partying in the bed between us. When she would sleep for a stretch, Ted would throw off his blankets, get cold and activate his asthma.  Keith, who is usually great at midnight kid-wrangling, was dead to the world. By morning, I was a wreck. I checked my email in the morning, thought my own witchy hair was a spider that had dropped on my face, and slapped myself in the nose. At the coffee shop, the girl asked me 'Name?'and I started at her for a good four seconds before I retrieved the information.

Ted spiralled downwards throughout the day. Keith was working in bed while Georgie slept and the big kids and I watched 'How It's Made' on Netflix (our new favourite show).  Ted's cough became more and more frequent and I held him on my lap and tried not to panic as he struggled to breathe. When he threw up, I made the call.  Hospital time.

I stuck my head in to break the news to Keith. He was buried under blankets on a conference Skype, and he muted the other eggheads while I told him I was taking Ted to emergency.

I cleaned up the worst of the spew, threw a tea-towel over the spot, grabbed a book for Ted and headed out the door. Teddy begged 'Don't watch how toilets are made, Ivy' as we left. Ivy looked thrilled to be left with full control of the remote and no supervision.

The hospital run was scary, as they always are. Ted fell asleep or passed out as we got near the hospital and I had trouble waking him up. After a few boring and frustrating and miserable hours, they loaded him up on Steroids and Ventolin and home we went, grabbing a pizza on the way.

Back at the house, Keith had been struggling to manage the kids while lying in front of the heater with his eyes closed inventing 'challenges' for Ivy like 'make some toast and bring it to your sister.'

When Ted and I staggered in, George had been pouring milk all over the dining table in a toddler version of Weet-Bix that did not involve a bowl. It was carnage.

It's taken me all day to restore order, and right at the end, my computer dropped and smashed its screen, so not only do I have to try and write using the TV, but I can't even go to bed now and zone out by watching  Sister Wives on Netflix.

Er me gord. School holidays suck.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ivy's Op Shop. Come Now! Come Then!

Ivy has spent the last couple of days planning a shop and it opened at the end of the driveway today.  She sold oranges, cards, jewellery and a lucky dip that contained home-made rulers and poetry.

'Mum, I am imagining a line of people stretching right up the road,' she told me last night. I thought I'd better manage he expectations a little. 'There might not be that many customers,' I said. 'It's a pretty quiet road.'

'No,' she said. 'I think so many people will come and they'll be, like...' She started pretending to walk along the road. 'What's this? Ivy's...what? Op shop? Wow! What is she selling? Oh, yes, jewellery, and lucky dips! Great! Wow! Awesome!'

'Well, it hope it works out for you, ' I said.

When Ivy set up her table she was thrilled to write SOLD across the 'cards' section of her sign. She had sold all her card stock to Nanna and her Aunty Sam the day before. Sam bought my favourite, which had a crying person on the front and the cheery phrase Sorry! Inside Ivy had lettered To: and From: with spaces to fill in the names and the transgression. Sam gave it back to me that night on my birthday present. 'Sorry!' she wrote. I didn't buy you a birthday card.'

Ivy and Ted sat and waited for the rush hour.



It was, as I feared, a very quiet Sunday. 








What else could I do? I quietly called Nanna and Pop. Good old Nanna and Pop. 




Nanna closed her eyes as instructed and rummaged in the lucky-dip. She fished out a poem. It read 'Love.  Love.  I love my dove. My dove in love with me.' Morally spurious, but very sweet.

Ivy invented a sales cry. 'Ivy's Op Shop!' she and Teddy shouted, at any sound of a distant car.  'Come now! Come then!' They spent hours sitting at their little table at the end of the driveway valiantly calling for custom. There were a few staff problems. At one stage - it was hard to get the full details - somebody drew on somebody else's paper and somebody yelled in somebody's face. Teddy took his break. He stomped past me at the door and I watched Ivy do a tragic sales call. 'Ivy's Op Shop!' she wailed, voice trembling. 'Come Now! Come th-e-e-e-en!'

In the end, a young couple walking their dog stopped and bought some items, and that marked the close of business. I would myself have called it a pretty failed business model, but Ivy was delighted and says she is going to run the shop every weekend from now on.

Nanna and Pop are going to go broke.




Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Excuse Me, I Think There Has Been A Terrible Mistake

This post was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, May 2013

As a single person I was hopeless at looking after my own finances. Paperwork was always lost, and bills were always paid late. Periodically I would enthusiastically begin new ‘systems’ to manage the admin of my life. This bit was very enjoyable: notebooks, highlighters, Post-Its, steely resolve. This time! This time!  Within days the system would collapse.

And here I am now, the custodian of three small children. Suddenly I have to keep track of the most enormous amount of administration. There are school reading diaries and fundraising documents and fees. There are permission slips and vaccination schedules and sports registrations. It is like a tsunami of paperwork and it all makes me want to shout ‘Excuse me! I think there has been a terrible mistake! You have mistaken me for another kind of mother!’

I do occasionally (okay, frequently) forget the school lunch and/or the school hat and/or the lunch-order, but I have never forgotten to pick the actual child up from school yet. I think that’s pretty good. But where are the prizes for that, I wonder?  Who raised the bar so bloody high that it became expected for school mums to all be super-organised PA’s for our demanding child- bosses? Was it always this way? Did my lengthy, indulgent, enjoyable pre-parenthood years just give me a false picture about what being a proper adult really entailed?

In lots of ways, motherhood has asked me to step up and be better. More patient. More compassionate. Less uptight about defecating in front of an audience. Able to juggle hot-button questions like ‘Is God real, Mum? Like Santa?’ even before I have had my pint of morning coffee. And as I enter the kids-at-school years, motherhood is asking me to get my act together and stop behaving like a secretary on my final warning.  Motherhood is requesting, in fact, that I become a grown-up.

There is a theory that I like that says that bad habits can’t be ‘undone’; just over-ridden and replaced by good ones. The brain sets in place the neural pathway of any habitual behaviour, and each time you do the naughty thing, you reinforce and strengthen it. The only way to build new habits is to practice and practice until you create an alternative, equally strong neural pathway. I have spent my adult life reacting to paperwork by putting my fingers in my ears and saying ‘lalalalala!’ and my brain has become very used to that strategy.  But now it’s time to stop.  And once I get started, there are other bad behaviours to address. 

I will replace my takeaway-latte addiction with organic green tea. I will replace fruit-and-nut chocolate with kale smoothies. I will stop averting my eyes from the kitchen floor and wash the kitchen floor. I will catch up on my yoga exercises instead of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. First things first: the administration.  Step One: stop putting school paperwork on the floor of the car to gently compost with the takeaway coffee cups and lonely sultanas.  Step Two: Create a new system. This will need equipment!  Step 3: Buy highlighters, notebooks and post-it notes. Step 4: Definitely stick to system this time. Definitely.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Electric Blankets And Dr. Damn Drew

This winter is sending me into a state of gormless hibernation. I have so much to do, but I can't crack on with any of it. When I can escape the jobs and pleasures of family life, all I want to do is snuggle with my electric blanket and watch Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab on my laptop. (hangs head, accepts shabby overcoat of shame.)

And yet.

These school holidays are upon me like a young Labrador, and I am determined to do a better job this time than last. I am armed with a Sulky Tax (10 cents per raised eyebrow, snarky comment or unreasonable whinginess), a Rewards Jar (movies on week 2 if I fill it with enough good-behaviour pasta bits), and a commitment to bringing my own best self to the project.

We're going to bake butterfly cakes, explore some projects from this website of wonders, read A Wrinkle In Time and hang out with the cousins.

As long as I can tear myself away from Dr Drew and that damn warm, warm blanket.

If you have any school holiday tips, fire away. Also, Dr. Drew. He's got something. Like, something special, am I right? No? No?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Farewell, Google Reader

Google Reader ends on Monday. Nada, adios, no more. If you are feeling sennimennal, you may enjoy this lovely piece, where a writer examines his life through the feeds he no longer needs. And if you would like to follow my blog on Bloglovin, you can click on the little widget to the right.

I'm in bed willing the sticky-outy bit on my spine to retreat back into its correct place on my anatomy so I can go ahead with my afternoon plans, which include the long, long overdue taming of my witchy locks at the hairdresser.

Please, baby George,  stay asleep for another hour.

Please, spine, behave.

Please, Australia, get your political shit together.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Thinking Woman's Crumpet

I have quite a thing for Russell Brand. In this interview he puts three morning TV presenters in their place, firmly and masterfully. Ooh. La. La.



Also, I'm getting really excited about Before Midnight - I love Julie Delpy. I'm thinking Keith and I might have to have a couple of catch-up date nights revisiting the last two films in anticipation.  Ethan Hawke did a great AMA on Reddit recently. He's a thoughtful man.

Finally, a Tim Minchin interview on The Nerdist podcast. I love this guy, composer of the most unromantic love song ever.






Sunday, June 23, 2013

25/52: A Portrait Project

An attempt to capture the spirit of my smallest baby Georgette, by documenting her in a photo every  week         for a year. See more at Jodie's 52 Project.  


One of the best things about having kids is dressing them in hand-me-downs, especially ones that hold special memories. Georgie is at the end of a long line of local little girls, so her wardrobe is an eclectic mish-mash of pre-loved goodness, and somebody at the school drop off is always having a nostalgic moment remembering their own child in some part of her outfit. This coat came from my old friend Sal, who wore it in the early 70's. Right now she is pregnant, so this coat will wing it's way over to Lausanne to dress another toddler in a year or two.

Thanks Sal!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Being The Mother Of A Son

One of the many wonders of my life is my four-year-old son Theodore. He is affectionate and noisy, warm and curious and kind, and I will never forget that first moment he was handed to me in the hospital. Red as a beetroot, and covered in blonde fluff, he looked like an angry orang-utan. Joy burst over me. A son! My son! My little boy!  It was electric, that moment, and something of the magic of it has never left me.

I take my job as his mum seriously. What his future holds, I don't know. Will he be a travelling minstrel? Petty criminal? Hairdresser? Molecular geneticist? At the minute he has rock-solid ambitions to be a baker with a shop called Teddy's Yum Yums, where I have a permanent table,  but, sadly,  I must face the the fact that this may not unfold as planned. So how should I raise this boy? How can I try to equip him for life? I have a few ideas. 

1.    1. Supply him with books.
I    I am told that the day will come when my barnacle boy will no longer beg me for cuddles (cue the sound of my breaking heart).  Apparently when boys reach a certain age they lose the ability to speak, and you are forced to interpret grunts and facial twitches in lieu of actual conversation.  For years now, I have been building a massive weaponry against this adolescent wall o’silence. It’s called the bookshelf. My teenager's collection, which grows with every school fete and Salvos visit, covers the spectrum from Judy Blume to Puberty Blues to The Outsiders to Bukowski to Nick Hornby.  I hope that opening up many worlds to my boy will help him to understand the lives of others, and to give flight to his dreams. I hope that in tough times, when he feels he cannot share his worries with anybody, that books will help him to feel less alone. I also hope that the wide sea of relationships he can explore in books will give him a more realistic picture of sex than the images he is likely - heartbreakingly likely -  to see on the internet. I take the job of supplying this alternative narrative of sex and relationships through fiction very seriously. It’s not like I anticipate easy conversations on the topic with thirteen year old Ted. ‘Sit down, darling. It’s time for Mummy to talk you through the layered gender politics of lady-bush.’ Um, no. Yet, I think the grip that the porn industry has on the net is viciously strong, and the messages it sends to young people are false and damaging. I don’t want to be creepy with my kids, but I am not afraid to let The Joy Of Sex (original Euromuff edition) be creepy for me.
     Of course, I hope Teddy’s instinct will not be to eschew reading altogether. I imagine, in fact, that this might be a pretty sweet rebellion against his nerdily eager, bookish mother. (Note to self: be cool, tool. Be cool.)
2.    2. Be happy in his masculinity.
Guilty as charged, yes, I am raising this boy to be a feminist like his wonderful dad. And like his dad,  I want him to feel proud that he is male, with all of the biological and social machinery that make men the fantastic creatures they are. I want him to glory in the strength of his body, and the magic of male friendship, and the man-flavoured thinking styles that will provide contrast to the thoughts and imaginings of his sisters. I feel lucky that this boy will be bringing his man-baggage to the family table, and also that he can carry all the shopping bags in from the car. (I’m told he will eat four cows and a half-ton of Weet-Bix every day, starting pretty soon, so this seems only fair.)
3.  3. Cherish his emotional self.  
It’s important to me to help Teddy to find ways to express his inner life. Music can be wonderful for this, so I’m going to try my best to have him learn at least one instrument, and I’ll pass on the cathartic wonders of really just belting the balls out of a  power ballad.    I hope to teach Teddy the language of feelings, helping him to pick through his worries and fears until he feels more at peace. I want him to know that vulnerability can be strength.
4.    4. Be his soft place to fall.
In the final reckoning, I cannot protect my little  boy child from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and mean bosses and bad decisions. He’s going to hit the wall sometimes, have his heart stomped, fail painfully. My main aim is to be here to hug him and talk to him, make him laugh, stroke his fluffy head, as long as I’m alive, no matter how big those arms and legs get. He's on his own for most of the road he has ahead, but I have these few years to do what I can to smooth the path. Me, and his amazing, thoughtful dad, who will be a beautiful role model to the little boy he loves so much. 
Several other bloggers are writing today about being the mother of a son, Lexi's idea,  a group response to the awful fanny-bashing that went on last week here in Australia. Read and enjoy. x

Meet Me At Mikes - meetmeatmikes.com
Kootoyoo - kootoyoo.com
Sadie and Lance - sadieandlance.blogspot.com.au/
Pigeon Pair - pigeon-pair.com/
Hugo and Elsa - hugoandelsa.com/
Checks and Spots - checksandspots.com/

Monday, June 17, 2013

That Time Ivy Cuddled The Dalai Lama

I'm in bed as I write this, bone tired after a 5am start to the day, weary with that kind of fizzy, adrenalin-dump exhaustion you feel after an emotional experience. 

This week, Ivy has pulled out her first two teeth, graduated to a big bunk bed, and this morning she was incredibly lucky to be included in an on-stage panel with the Dalai Lama at the Young Minds conference in Sydney. 

It's all happening so fast! 

My little baby!

Ivy asked the Dalai Lama a question. 'My favourite book is Nim's Island,' she said. 'What is your favourite book?' He thought as he held her hand. 'I like books about space,' he said. Ivy was utterly tongue tied up there under the lights, big eyes taking in the cameras, the microphones, the huge audience, the smiling man in the big orange dress... She was so brave, so little, smiling her gappy smile and pulling nervous comedy faces. The Dalai Lama cuddled her. He sat her on his lap, and he held her head and blessed her. All the while, Keith, Ivy's two grandmas and I watched from the audience, bursting with pride as we clutched each other and told everybody in the surrounding rows 'She's ours! She's ours!'



For me, it was a rite of passage, of sorts. That was my little girl up there, having this profound and meaningful encounter, this  experience that she will remember long after I'm gone. I felt the weight of time. The wondrous gift of being the guardian, the champion, the minder of a small human. I imagined the unexpected paths that Ivy might lead me down, and I felt so lucky to have the chance to be watch her life unfold, however it may.   


Friday, June 14, 2013

This Funny Lady Made My Ribs Hurt

Sexting? Arkward.



One-night stand,  through lady-glasses.



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

22/52: A Portrait Project

An attempt to capture the spirit of my smallest baby Georgette, by documenting her in a photo every  week         for a year. See more at Jodie's 52 Project.  



Jazz up your outfit with a  hat.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

Muddy Good Times.

Three in gumboots played together today. George is into everything the big kids do. I too! It's her mantra. I too! I too! She wrecks everything, of course, and I have to remind her infuriated siblings what they were like as toddlers. Ivy, banging her head on the floor in anger. Teddy, shouting 'You are bum!' at anybody who annoyed him. So sweet, these toddler moments, so hilarious in the retelling....so nerve-shredding at the time. 
Life with little ones. 


In the mud of the front yard  Ivy decided to build a wall with the fallen oranges off the tree. Ted and George collected mud for her. 'Oh my god,' Ivy said. 'If this works, it is going to be the best thing I have ever built.'


It didn't work.


But it was a good time. 


Friday, June 7, 2013

Pictures of Poo and Other Dark Corners of The Internets

Life, she busy. The term is cranking into top gear, as this mother so hilariously described this week. Perhaps my favourite part is where she shares some tips on managing homework readers: 

“No, we don’t have to read tonight.”
“YES WE DO!!! MRS. BURKE SAID!!! WE HAAAAVE TO!!!”
“We already read.”
“NO WE DIDN’T!!! YOU ARE FAKING ME, MOM?”
“When I talk to you during the day, that’s like reading. You have to listen to the words I am saying and then make sense of them. It’s really hard work for you. It’s called auditory reading. We’ve been practicing all day. I’ll write the minutes down in your log.” 


A note came home from our school this week asking parents to remind children not to use the library computers to look at inappropriate content. 'What happened, Ivy?' I asked with perhaps unseemly excitement. 'Somebody googled something really naughty.' she said. I pressed for details, and she thought for a while. 'Like, 'pictures of poo' or something like that.' 

Oh, my little darling, I thought. Never grow up. 

It's been a bit of an up-and-down month, emotionally. This mother beautifully describes the sense of being occasionally 'paralysed by it all'. The existential pain of housework, and the relentless forward-motion of parenthood.

Life is so good. But it is hard work too, yes?

I am downloading an episode of Mad Men for tonight. I shall apply it as a soothing balm to my minor worries, along with hazelnut chocolate, a cup of tea (or three) and an early night in preparation for a quick visit to see my little sister in the countryside. I wish you the same small joys this weekend, but however strong the temptation, you must resist the urge to google 'pictures of poo.' It is the absolute worst possible thing on the Internet.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

This Is Working At The Public Library.

1. A pair from the University of The Third Age sit at the table next to me. When Lady Senior first describes her personal project of learning Esperanto, I think 'Oh my god.  When I retire, I am so learning Esperanto.' Twenty minutes later, 'For the love of fuck, please stop talking about Esperanto before I stab myself in the eye with a pen.' Also, flirting techniques for seniors: 'Oh, you so don't look like a grandmother,' followed by a tone adjustment to Low, Earnest, Really Listening levels and adding 'And are you fully ready for that change in your life?'

2. Stupid hipster barista gives me a dirty look when I asked him for more coffee in my coffee. A cup of foamy milk is not a latte, dude. I am not the twit here. You are the twit! You are the twit! Say clever and cutting things to him inside my head. Actually not very clever. More like 'You think you're so good. But you're not.'  

3.  Accidentally pour hot coffee on self and shriek 'Fucky fuck! Fuck!' Quietly accept dirty looks from amorous seniors. Bad library behaviour. I am the twit. 

4. Apply Pomodoro Technique to writing work and struggle to focus for twenty minutes. Sadly realise have the attention span of an adolescent chimpanzee. Unfortunately have more responsibilities. 

5. Check time for optometrist appointment and think about frames for reading glasses. Realise that while mocking seniors next door, I am in fact, tripping, metaphorically, on the heels of their orthopaedic sandals. 

6. Mmmmmm. Orthopaedic sandals.

7.  Seniors are leaving, perhaps for the early bird dinner special at the club.

8. Mmmm. Schnitzel.

9. Young man with wild hair has just set up his laptop opposite mine and is now eating Jaffas by the handful. This is why I love the library.

10. Stingy young bastard is not offering any Jaffas and now all I can think about is Jaffas. This is why I hate the library.

11. Totes! Awks! Male Senior just turned and stared intently at me for an uncomfortable moment. Was he thinking about his 'personal project' and forgot to turn off his staring gaze? Have I been mumbling out loud again? Or, sick of talking about Esperanto, is he turning his Casanova stylings to the coffee-stained, muttering woman to the left in the 'outfit'?

9. Realise that while I have been gently mocking seniors in my head, they have spent all morning engaged in light erotic banter and unpressured research. Meanwhile I have a busy afternoon in front of me full of cooking, cleaning, chaffeuring and refereeing who 'started it'. I am the twit. I am the twit.

10. Mmm. Retirement.   

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Pain Of Motherhood

This post was originally published in Practical Parenting Magazine, March 2013 (and as I post it, I am nursing the tender rib I injured reading the baby a bedtime story. Family life! Yes, it is a wondrous blessing. But it is also a fucking health hazard.)

Last year sometime, during the lengthy, stinky process of toilet training my son, I was quietly washing the dishes and thinking about blueberry cheesecake when a sudden screaming battle erupted in the bathroom.  It turned out that three year old T-Bone had been struck with a sudden desire to use the toilet, and found it occupied by his five-year-old sister Peanut. He was new to bathroom etiquette, and his solution to the problem was to push Peanut off her perch, mid-stream. Sibling war erupted, and in the heat of battle one, or both of them, pissed on the floor, which is when I ran in, slipped on the puddle and broke my toe.  That’s motherhood in a nutshell right there. Half drama, half comedy, and you can forget about dignity. You left that back in the birthing suite.  

I remembered this incident recently now that my toddler has taken to slapping me in the face when I read the wrong book/get the wrong cup/mortally offend her in some other inexplicable baby way. And something has occurred to me. We all know that becoming a parent is an emotional journey.   Whole forests have been sacrificed to furnish the books that explain in what ways you will be emotionally changed and even scarred by motherhood. This is true: anxiety, rage, all of that angsty stuff comes with the territory.  But mainly, motherhood brings incredible joy and wonder and transformative, powerful love. Yes! Hooray for motherhood!

And yet… there is a dark side. Along with the emotional pain, your children will inflict a lot of actual bodily harm upon you too.  There is, of course, the straight-up agony that comes with pregnancy and birth. Heartburn. Sciatica. Caesarean recovery. Blistered nipples. Torn perineums. But also, there are many mundane, routine ways for your kids to beat you up, from pulling your hair to kicking you in the genitals (a common and terrible experience for dads, I’m told.) 

For instance, T-Bone gave once me a black eye with a chicken drumstick.  I’ve also had what is sometimes called ‘toddlers wrist’ caused by a chubby two-year-old Peanut experiencing separation anxiety. She was only happy when carried, for so far and so long that I had to wear a kind of medical arm-Spanx for the duration. Pudding, now 18 months old, ended our breastfeeding relationship when she repeatedly bit me on the nipple. (The pain was bad, but the anticipation was worse.) Currently she’s obsessed with reading, so she hits me across the head with a board book (an underrated weapon with very pointy edges) whenever I stop, regardless of how much I explain that I must, at some point, chop some vegetables and hang washing or else we will be living in squalor, reading Ten Little Fingers by candlelight while cockroaches nibble our filthy toenails. But Pudding doesn’t care about my reasons. Babies don’t negotiate. They move straight to physical assault.


It says something about how absolutely bewitching children are, how much unconditional adoration the heart can have, that we endure treatment  that would have us calling the police should another adult  inflict it. In short, it’s really good that babies are so damn adorable. Otherwise, they would all be arrested.