Archive | February, 2009

You’re my world but where else can I go?

10 Feb

I was putting LD to sleep. It was time for his nap. Normally, he’d go in his cot with a bottle of milk, drink happily for a bit, piss and moan for a bit and then, that beautiful moment, silence. But today, I was indulging us both in the big no-no of putting him to sleep in my arms. I don’t do it often because ultimately, I am selfish and demand that my baby-free time (two hours, three max) begin as soon as that little body has been dispatched to its cot. What can I say, I must have been feeling especially maternal because he had finished his bottle and now I was just gazing at his little face, the luminous, wide set blue eyes rimmed with dark, dark lashes blinking, blinking, more slowly each time. I love that moment when he just has to give in, his eyelids heavy with the promise of dreams. The little rosebud mouth falling open with the breath of the sleeper.

Still gazing at this little piece of perfection (that I made – snaps!), at the crusted on weetbix between his eyebrows like a little breakfast bindi and it occurs to me, he is not enough. If a person has ever loved their son more, I can’t imagine it and still, as beautiful as my son is, as entertaining, lovable and charming, he is not enough. And by that, I mean, this can’t be all there is for me now. And suddenly, I’m crying. Big, fat, guilty tears. Because when you’re given a gift, something you’ve always wanted that you can cross of your list of dreams, you’re not supposed to start writing a new list. Are you?

Why am I feeling this way? Why now? I think it’s been a creeper. In the initial aftermath of birth and for a good 6 months or so thereafter, I was floating a couple of inches off the ground. My son and I just clicked quite naturally into our roles. Of course, there were challenges. I was a crazy woman, long on hormones and short on sleep. Occasionally, I had to tell B what a giant fuckhead he was and curb thoughts of leaving LD out with the recycling when he was on one of his rare (but annoying!) crying jags. The point is, even when it got tricky, I didn’t want to be anywhere else. I was content in the now. And Jesus H Christ, wasn’t that an amazing feeling?

In my previous life, I’d been an aspiring actor and thus, was in a constant state of want. I was always reaching out for something just beyond my grasp. It was an anxious-making way to live. Zero fun and yet I was driven to do it and couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what else I may have been put on this earth to do….aside from be a mum. As an actor, one is always striving to be PRESENT, to BE HERE NOW. And, in what surely must be an ironic twist (I’m never quite sure about irony but I know Alanis Morrisette had NO clue), as soon as I let go of that particular struggle and focused on what was in front of me, namely, LD, it all fell into place. I guess it’s not surprising though. Nothing demands immediacy the way a newborn does. It’s tricky to put them off until later. Tricky or like, something DOCS would probably label “neglect.”

The first hint that I was coming out of my baby-coma was that I became less sweet. Things started to bug me again. Like, for instance, my mum. Let’s call her Betty because she expressly forbids me to do so. Betty talks. A lot. Think underwater, brass monkeys sans ears….you get the picture. But in the post-baby bubble, the onslaught of Betty’s inane chattering just rolled right off me. Recently while watching a video of newborn LD, I was amazed at just how relaxed I had become. The screen is filled with a tiny, gurgling LD, B and I are obviously looking upon our son in wonder and meanwhile, in the background, Betty talks without pause about something completely unrelated but always related back to her husband who after years and years of marriage she still tries to “upsell” as though to a panel of judges. “Oh really,” I’m murmuring angelically, “Isn’t that lovely?” All the while, no-one can hear the sweet gurgling baby. Watching it back now, it was all I could do not to throw things at the computer screen and scream, “Shut the fuck up, woman! Get a sense of the moment and look lovingly upon your grandson like a normal person would and STOP TALKING!”

So I’m less sweet. But apparently, B informed me last week, I’m also less engaged. “It just feels like you disconnect from LD as soon as I walk through the door after work.” Which, to my ears, sounded like, “BAD MUM, BAD MUM, BAD MUM!” I told my next door neighbour, SS (Saucy Sally maybe?), who has a son roughly LD’s age and a big, fat gut full of baby number two. “Oh yeah, you do the ‘dump and run’ – that’s a no-brainer!” Vindicated, I went to B and told him, in no uncertain terms, that a. He is giant dildo for making me feel like a bad mum and 2. he has no idea what it’s like to be home with a toddler all day long and that if I ‘disconnect’ for half an hour (to selfishly go make dinner or GASP! check my emails) then it’s perfectly understandable and not an indictable mum-crime.

So back to my guilty tears which, with MacGyver like genius, I used to wash off the breakfast bindi. I adore being a mother. So much so that I want more little people. But I want more other stuff too. Betty tells me this internal struggle of wanting to be a mum but also a woman achieving stuff out in the world is nothing new. Which I know but it still helps to hear that you’re not alone. And it’s not as simple as just going back to work. God forbid! If I can avoid 9 to 5, I will! That shit breaks my proverbial balls. No, my dreams are far loftier. I have always dreamed on a large scale. Like supermassive. And it’s hard. A blessing, I’ve come to think, is the dream of a simple life. If only being a mother checked all the boxes for me. That would be bliss. But that’s just not how I was wired.

So I continue searching for the way to live my ultimate life, to reach my full potential and live as authentically as I can. With LD and B, I recognise I’m off to a cracking good start. But being a great wife and mother is just part of what I do well. And in the end, if I’m living my best life, LD and B are the big winners.

So what has motherhood taught me today? I’m a complex little human with lots of hopes and dreams….they don’t come away with the placenta. And neither should they.

You’re really getting on my tits!

2 Feb

LD has spent one and a half years on this earth. For 18 months, he has turned our lives upside down in the most wonderful and joy-filled ways. And also in ways that make me want to drop-kick him across the room like a footy.

And then there’s the breastfeeding, previously of the joy-filled category and now residing almost permanently in drop-kicking territory. I was determined to breastfeed my son. The advantages seemed obvious. But I was concerned that a) I would be physically unable to do so or b) that I wouldn’t enjoy it. Both a and b turned out to be non-issues and so began what, for a good, long time, was a lovely, amazingly easy breastfeeding relationship. Great! I felt great. Actually, I was probably even a bit smug. Look at me, giving my child the very best start to life and it’s a breeze! I am clearly a goddess with magical breasts of infinite goodness. And so, being a big believer in the concept of instant (or shortly thereafter) karma, it should surprise me not a bit to find myself here with a child who will release his leech-like suction from my nipple only with the promise of tasting his first beer in sixteen-odd years. Damn tits! You just had to be magical, didn’t you? Just look what your unrestrained beauty has done! So smug goddess, how d’ya like them apples?

Family and friends who were passive aggressive in letting me know that they thought I should breastfeed long term are now equally passive aggressive when they ask, “So have you stopped breastfeeding yet?” Apparently, whatever long term is, my 18 month old and I have passed it. And I’m not immune to what other people think. For instance, I never feed in public anymore. There’s the whole not wanting to induce vomiting in the general public but also because breastfeeding a toddler is akin to breastfeeding a monkey (for the record, that comment was formed purely on assumption, I have NEVER breastfed an actual monkey) – child swings from breast to breast, exposed mother thinks “If only I was on the back of a Harley Davidson right now” and the whole thing is ugly beyond belief….

 I knew I was always going to feed LD until 12 months but beyond that, I had my doubts about long term feeding. I think this was borne of a scarring experience Bren and I had when I was newly pregnant. We went to a couple’s home for lunch and were entertained by their lovely 21 month old, Blossom. She was a golden-haired little sprite….until she wanted the boob. Having never met the woman before, it’s fair to say we felt awkward when Blossom would unbutton her mother’s shirt and proceed to suckle at one nipple as she rolled the other between her fingers. In the space of two hours, Blossom must have gone in for the suck and tweak at least 10 times. She also ate a huge lunch and drank water and juice. So clearly she wasn’t hungry or thirsty. Boob had become a sport and mum had just resigned herself to it, often leaving her shirt open, tits akimbo. I swore NEVER, NEVER, NEVER.

But here we are, Luca is three months shy of being “far too old to still be breastfeeding” so what the hell is going on? It’s the reason for all your kids bad habits…..pure and simple “can’t be arsed”-ness. You’re tired, worn down and the bad habit is actually the easiest way, so bugger it – they eat hot chips, watch TV for 3 hours straight, juggle knives, ya know, normal stuff. But seriously, I’m one step away from staging an intervention on my little boobaholic. What will it take for me to get tough and reclaim my cans? In a word, vanity. Breastfeeding is NOT good for the breasts. Already, LDs preference for one breast over the other has left my once sweet and evenly proportioned fun bags distinctly lopsided. I have one power boob and a sad little atrophied one. It’s seriously gag-making (and don’t even dream about trying to figure out which is which. If I catch you staring just that little bit too long at my chest, there will be repercussions). A woman in her thirties with breasts as firm as mine? Well, you just don’t see something like that too often and now, that particular glory, all but gone. I don’t even have a funny metaphor to describe the non-firmness. It’s just sad. A damn shame and a total waste of a fine pair of 10DD knockers. I’m not tall and willowy, razor cheek-boned or exceptionally clever but fuck it, I had great tits!

And coupled with my vanity, the final nail in the breastfeeding coffin (eww, creepy). Having been denied the boob all but once first thing in the morning each day, LD now contents himself with copping a feel. Just like Blossom before him, it seems there’s nothing quite so comforting as tweaking a nipple when the mood strikes. I don’t know where to start with what bothers me most about this behaviour but let’s start with the fact that anyone with such poorly neglected nails (and I would know since I’m the lazy bitch who doesn’t cut them) has no business feeling around inside a bra. But no, my personal favourite, I think, is the nipple stretch. I think the record could hover around 3.6 cms. Now listen kid, I’ve done my bit. I fed you up good and proper with my finest blend. But here’s a quick lesson in breast aesthetics. Fulsome, ripe, buxom. Perky, firm, handful. All these are good in a breast. Notice the absence of the word “long”. Never in the history of the world has it been uttered, “I just wish my/her boobs were longer”. My breasts are not elastic bands so take your fiendish little hand off my Brad Pitts and give it a new home down the front of your pants like any self-respecting boy would do.

So what has motherhood taught me today? Smug breastfeeders should say ta ta to their tatas.

LD's first breastfeed. Thank God he knew what to do!