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A rocky path

3 Feb

Happy Thursday eve to you all – or whatever day and time it is where you are.

I was hoping to tell you all to hitch a ride with me over to my new home. But things have transpired (boring, formatty, interwebby things) that mean that’s not possible tonight. By tomorrow, I hope I can give you the formal invite. Not a lot has changed about the blog, just where it ‘lives’ now. But things will change. Change and improve and grow. So I’m excited.

Tomorrow, we’ll go. Okay?

I’m in a strange mood tonight. I have heard some news about the child of a dear friend. Some news that was unexpected. Unsettling news. Upsetting.

So I am left feeling shaken. And I am reminded of what a blessing my two boys are. Of how I would move heaven and earth to ensure that they have everything they need in order to go out into the world and become young men. Even now, with each passing day, they get further and further away from needing me.

But sometimes, our children need us more than we ever anticipated. And it’s harder than we could ever dream. And we wonder why it is that this precious child should have been given a road ahead that is not as easy as the road that others are walking. And we wonder if we are up to the task of leading them on that rocky journey.

Here’s what I know. We ARE up to the task. Because God never gives us more than we can handle. It’s just that sometimes, we might wish that God didn’t have so much damn faith in us.

So tonight, I am thinking of my dear friend. I am thinking about what lies ahead for her and for her youngest child. I am looking ahead to the future with her. I can see what she sees – a rockier path than first imagined. But I also see, as I know she does, too, the promise of the future. With knowledge comes power. And I know that she will arm herself with every available piece of information so that there is no stronger force. She will be the suspension cushioning the impact of her little one’s journey.

Once again, thank you for coming along on this ride with me.

Fair Play

30 Jan

“Can I come, too?”

Four little words. And with them, a crushed dream.

I was in the kitchen. Maybe I was scoffing down sour cream and chives potato chips, maybe I wasn’t. Not the point. Point was, when I looked down at my ankles, no-one was circling them. The kids were – gasp! – otherwise occupied. They were playing. There was no screaming. And I was not involved in any way. Heaven.

I saw a chance and I took it.

But fuck me if that damn safety gate at the top of the stairs doesn’t squeak like a motherfucker. And then –

“Can I come, too?”

I was trying to run silently down the stairs but there is no silent running. Not really. And the smallest of movements from me will cause my children to prick up their ears like a deer in the woods. Like little fucking deers with supersonic fucking hearing.

All I wanted to do was take a piss alone. And if, once the solo piss was done, peace and calm still remained above, then I might think about putting some washing away. So, you know, selfish shit.

But no. I was busted. And even though I threw promises of a speedy return over my shoulder as I ran (silently, I tell you!) away, I knew that LD would stand at the top of the stairs shouting at me (‘Mumma, I need my blue bike! Where’s my blue bike, Mumma? Mumma, I want strawberry smoothie, cup of milk and juice. Mumma? Mummaaaaaaaaa?’) until I got my arse back upstairs. And that would alert Zee to the fact that I was gone and he would proceed to rattle the safety gate like a prison inmate and scream.

So what did I do? I pissed like I was going for an Olympic record and got the fuck back up there. Of course I did.

But I’m telling you, when I can take the opportunity to hide from my kids, I do. Oh, you better recognise. I hide and I’ll hide again. Because there is only so much I can reasonably be asked to take before my blood pressure causes me to spontaneously combust.

In one of my hiding sessions today (in Zee’s bedroom – they’ll never suspect!), I read an article by Mia Freedman about how she hates to play with her kids.

It got me thinking. I never even dreamed of discussing that on The Little Mumma. And I pride myself on telling the whole story, no matter how unpalatable it might sound to others.

But clearly, I am all messed up about the question of play.

There are two conflicting arguments, as I see it.

The first is that you should play and engage with your children as much as you can. Play is how they learn and your time is the most valuable thing you can give to your kids.

Wise words from friend I greatly admire:

“It’s so easy to get caught up in all the pressures of the day that we brush our children aside. Next time your kid comes and tugs at your leg to come and play, drop onto the floor immediately and be in that moment with them. That’s all they really want.”

The other argument is that kids have wonderfully vivid imaginations so by encouraging your child to play alone, you are fostering this gift. An important part of a child’s development is the ability to play alone.

Wise words I read somewhere, one time:

“Children of today are given every conceivable toy or otherwise plonked in front of the television, and their imaginations are suffering because of it. Their inability to occupy themselves is a direct result of having their every demand met by someone (or something) else.”

 Reading both those sets of wise words back to myself, is there any wonder I am confused? They both have merit.

So then it’s a matter of striking a balance between the two. The only problem is that the kid you just played Postman Man with for the last fifteen (torturous) minutes, doesn’t understand why you are now withdrawing the playing. LD just didn’t respond as I’d hoped when I explained that I was simply “fostering the precious gift of your imagination.”

But who am I kidding? I have never played with my kids for a full fifteen minutes. I have to stand with Mia on this one and profess that I fucking hate it. And when I do get guilted into it (“Hey Mumma,” curls little hand around mine, “you wanna play dinosaurs…for a little bit…” looks forlornly to the ground, refusing to meet my eye lest I spot the extent of his manipulation), I am renowned for making the dinosaurs lie on the ground to nap.  

So I don’t know why I have never admitted it before. Maybe it’s because I consider myself a fun and vibrant mum. Hell, I am fun and vibrant but for fuck’s sake, I don’t want to crawl around on my knees being a lion. I refused to be a cow in drama class back in my university days (“..really try to feel the weight of your udder hanging between your legs..”) and it’s clear that nothing has changed.

Playing is painful. And, SHIT, I need my roots done!

So here it is. I hate playing. I don’t want to play dinosaurs or postman man or Buzz Lightyear. I don’t want to go to the park and if we go to the play centre, my preference is that the kids disappear for the entire duration so that I can catch up on some OK! magazines.

 I feel bad. But it’s nothing this beer won’t fix.

 Do you play with your kids? And enjoy it? Tell me about it….please?

Stay Mum

16 Jan

I was standing in line, waiting to pick up some photos.

In front of me, a woman stood with her infant son in a pram. The baby was very young, maybe two months old – maybe less. The pram was rearward facing so the baby could see his mother. I could see both the baby’s face and the mother’s profile.

The baby was an outrageous cutie. And at that wonderful age where he is just beginning to really communicate. He was cooing and smiling, raising his little eyebrows at his mother.

I was so enamoured of this darling baby that I would not be surprised if I spontaneously ovulated, then and there. He was GORGEOUS.

But as my body prepared for conception, the baby’s mother remained impassive. And it’s not that she didn’t see him. She wasn’t distracted or looking elsewhere. She was looking right at him. Staring, almost vacantly, as though regarding a stranger. His little eyebrows jumped up and down, his little mouth working to form sounds. And all the while, his mother stood motionless, expressionless. Not responding.

It was so incredibly odd.

And sad.

Could she have been someone who just isn’t a gushy baby person? Sure. But even then, she might have engaged in some way with her child who was so clearly trying to ‘talk’ to her.

This woman was not only unmoved by her son’s cuteness but almost removed from the entire situation. She was….vacant. She observed the baby. But she didn’t interact. She had a haunted look, like she was outside of her own body.

It was the strangest thing.

And I haven’t been able to erase the image from my mind.

I wanted to reach out to her. I wanted to make some kind of connection. I wanted to tell her she had a beautiful son.

But I remained silent.

I had the strongest feeling that this woman was suffering.

But I just shut up.

Because who the hell am I to ask her if she’s okay?

After LD was born, I was euphoric. Cloud nine stuff. It was dream-like. I was so in love with my son and my situation. It all just worked and when it didn’t, I trusted myself to get through it. I was, I must say, amazing. I was chilled. I don’t do chilled. Of all the things I am, chilled? No.

But by the same token, I felt the fragility of being a mother. There were times when I felt I was walking an emotional tightrope. And as I sat cradling my newborn son, in those very early days, I was sometimes overcome with what a responsibility this tiny life was and how frightening it was to think that he was entrusted to me, hormonal and raw and discovering a new realm of exhaustion as I was. I thought about what it might be like if I removed my support network. If I replaced a loving partner with an abusive one. If substance abuse, mental illness or entrenched unemployment were part of the equation. I imagined taking everything that I needed and relied on away and I came to see how people will do things that we could otherwise not fathom. And it scared me.

So I was filled with a powerful empathy for other mothers. It felt natural to engage with them. And for the most part, I found other mums reciprocated.

Until December 2007. It was the Christmas rush and I was mailing something at the post office. They were crazy busy. But I was still euphoric and floating a couple of centimetres off the ground. LD was being angelic in his pram. LD was always angelic in his pram.

A woman entered the post office. She had a very, very little baby with her and she carried him in a Baby Bjorn strapped to her chest. The baby was screaming. Absolutely screaming. The woman was packing something into an envelope and addressing it. She jiggled and shh shh’d the baby every now and then. The baby continued to scream. And the woman looked like she was about to splinter into a thousand tiny pieces.

I could see that once she was done, she would have to wait in the long line to pay.

I approached her.

“Hi,” I said. “Can I give you a hand?”

I thought maybe I could stand in line for her and pay while she soothed the baby.

“No!” she snapped, not looking at me. “Can you just go away please.”

I recoiled as though she had struck me. I was stung.

“Okay,” was all I said and I got the fuck out of there.

In the minutes and even hours afterward, I tossed the situation about in my mind. Of course, I was hurt. Fuck, I was only trying to help. But then, who the fuck was I to interfere? But then, what kind of idiot carries a tiny baby facing outwards in the Baby Bjorn? Everyone knows newborn babies like to snuggle into their mothers. But how the fuck do you know what the baby likes? Maybe the baby hates being in that position, you fucking know-it-all. But then couldn’t she just take a minute to cuddle her baby and then keep on doing what she was doing? But who’s to say that baby hasn’t been crying for six straight hours and the mother is just trying to run some fucking errands and the whole thing is hard enough and now you’ve blown in like fucking Mother Theresa and made her feel like a fucking failure. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

So. This time around, you could say I was gun-shy.

It wasn’t as though I was going to tell this woman I thought she needed help. Of course not. I wouldn’t have even asked how she was feeling. What kind of presumptuous fuck would that make me? But I felt so strongly that I should connect with her, just for a moment.

Honestly, I don’t know what’s appropriate. And while some women feel the same bond of motherhood I do, others won’t. So I said nothing. Maybe wisely.

But I do regret not telling her how beautiful her son was. Because he really was. And I think, no matter what, she might have got a kick out of that.

Home Dutiful

20 Dec

Before kids, Groundhog Day was a funny movie starring Bill Murray and that awful chick, Andie what’s-her-name. Now, it has taken on a very different meaning. Only now do I understand how torturous it was for Bill to live that same day again and again, not least of all because he was given chance after chance to get it right and still, he kept fucking it up. Oh Bill, I am feeling you now.

The hardest thing for me is the relentlessness of life with very small children. Of having to be the adult when, inside, I feel like running to my mumma. No matter how good a day you just had, it all gets swept aside for the new day. Yesterday’s successes don’t count. You’ve just got to do it all again. But this time, you do it with the knowledge that there’s no way you’re going to top yesterday.

So the slate is wiped clean – a great thing when the day you just had sucked arse and bullshit when you just nailed everything. It’s all gone. Whoosh! Although maybe not in your mind. No, in your mind, you’re still living out the glory of yesterday.

~

The 3 Year Old: “Mumma, wanna come play farm animals for a little bit?”

The Little Mumma: “Noooo, honey. I played farm animals yesterday. Remember? And I made the funny pig face and we rolled around on the floor giggling and it was a totally bonding moment of togetherness? Don’t tell me you’ve already forgotten we played together yesterday. Yesterday was EPIC!”

The Mister: “Babe, what’s for dinner tonight?”

The Little Mumma: “Hahaha! You’re such a kidder, honey! I made dinner last night. Oh man, that dinner was good, huh? And I had it in the slow cooker by midday. Good times. ‘What’s for dinner tonight?’ he says. Hahaha! That’s so why I’m with you, babe. Because you make me laugh.”

Of course, I have never actually had either of those conversations. Out loud.

 Good days. For me, a ‘good’ day means that I have ticked all the MUST DO boxes. There was food, people bathed, wore clothes, nappies were changed, used dishes were, at the very least, rinsed and stacked in the dishwasher and, if I was really hitting my straps, the kids and I may have smiled at each other briefly. A good day.

But in truth, a good day simply means I kept up. With the happenings of this one day. My head remained above water for the duration. But it’s ultimately a stand alone event. It cuts me absolutely no slack for tomorrow.  I still have a huge backlog of things I reeeally need to do. But crossing things off a mile-long To-Do list does enter into the good day equation. If I actually crossed something off the To-Do list, that would constitute an upgrade. That would be a GREAT day.

A good day is nice to have. But it doesn’t change anything. The reward is in the day itself. It has no bearing on the future.

Conversely, a bad day can haunt you for months.

So, I don’t know. Being a stay-at-home mum is…..boring. You know, sometimes, it just really is. And if the most you can hope for is a good day, a day where things didn’t go backwards, then it’s not always easy to find the rewards.

My biggest problem, as I have discussed previously, is that I just want to do so much. And so much of that stuff is seriously hampered by having two kidlets under four looking to me to be Mumma. Which is, after all, who I am. With two tiny ones, that is my gig. And the days I surrender to that completely, putting aside all other aspirations, are the days that are not just good but even nice. When I am truly in the moment with my kids, that’s actually really, really nice.

 

RMTT #14 – The Buried Dreams Edition

9 Dec

With every ounce of my being, I love these little people. I made them with the love of my life, and we made them from love, and I love them. I do. I would not trade them for all the tea in China.

But maybe that’s because I’m not a huge fan of tea…

At the moment, they absolutely define me. One is three and a half years old. The other just turned one. So life is all about them right now. It has to be. And it should be. And day to day, that fills me up.

But I have just been looking at an old friend’s Facebook page. Years back, we took some acting classes together. We clicked instantly. (No, this isn’t another story about Kat Stewart although would you believe it, she does pop up later). Time marched on, I had a couple of kids and she is still hugely proactive in building her career as an actor. As rightly she should. She is extremely talented.

So I just watched her showreel – several minutes worth of clips of her best performance work. And it was brilliant. She’s gorgeous and fabulous and talented and her reel sells her wonderfully.

I was happy for her.

As well as feeling like I had a giant emptiness in my belly, as though someone had just socked me. Even now, as I type, I feel it creeping up into my chest.

I am filled with….what? Envy? Longing? Regret? I don’t know. All of it.

I was thinking about dreams recently. Not the kind you have while sleeping but the kind that grow like a seed inside you. In my twenties, I was good to my dreams. I believed in them, I fostered them and nurtured them the best way I knew how.

Having children was also a dream of mine. One I am very happily living out. But what of the other dreams?

“Having kids doesn’t kill your dreams. It buries them alive. With a mobile phone that keeps sending you text messages – “Hey, remember me?” “I’m not dead!” “Help me – I NEED to get out!”

I wrote that down in my notebook a while back.

Not everyone feels that way. Some people were born to be a mother and in becoming so, they fulfill their greatest dream. They are content.

For me, becoming a mother is a dream come true, too.

But I am, and have always been, a person with lots of dreams. I want to do EVERYTHING.

Ticking the mother box is awesome. A blessing.

But there are still so many other boxes.

So, I was happy for my acting friend. And overwhelmed by a sense of longing to be back in that world even in some small capacity.

But dreams don’t die unless you want them to. And with acting, the truth of it is that until I am dead, that dream can continue to have the potential to be fulfilled. In fact, as I get older, the talent pool is rapidly shrinking – most people get out if they haven’t ‘made it’ by the end of their twenties. But women in their twenties are the most over-represented demographic in the acting world which means it is the most competitive age bracket in which to be attempting a career. Being in my thirties may actually benefit my acting career.

So, there ahead in the tunnel, a light.

Of course, I experience residual guilt after these ‘episodes’. My kids are little gifts from above. Little bastards, too, sometimes but gifts. Treasures. And it’s hard to reconcile the overwhelming love I have for them, the joy that goes with being their mother, with the competing desire to be someone else, too, someone separate.

There is no answer to any of this. Tomorrow, these feelings will have subsided and I will still be a mum to two of the most beautiful little boys on the planet. And my dreams will be tucked safely away in my soul, waiting for a rainy day.

In the meantime, I suggest you watch this*.  And remember the name – Elke Osadnik. She’s going to be a star.

* Kat Stewart alert!