The opinions of others

This conversation happened on my way into work in the other day. I had mentioned to a colleague how it was getting cold and I’d had to put lots of layers on my son to send him to childcare. “How old is your son?” he asked. “Nearly two” I replied. “How many days a week is he in child care?” I told him five. “That’s a lot” he said. “But you must finish early to get him most days.” I gritted my teeth slightly as I responded I didn’t and changed the subject to a topic that didn’t unintentionally judge my parenting choices. Now, this guy is actually very nice and I’m sure the questions came from a place of wanting to be helpful/sympathetic/understanding( ? ). I’m sure it wasn’t to make me feel like a terrible mother for paying other people to spend more time raising my child more than I do. A similar thing happened to my sister and brother – in – law when they were buying shoes for my nephew to send him to childcare five days a week just after he turned one. The woman in the shop was trying to be supportive/sympathetic/ close the sale when she commented on how hard that must be and how young he was to be in childcare that much. This naturally made them feel like really awesome parents making all the right life decisions for themselves and their young son (sarcasm). I am actually lucky to be able to work part time. I work a 9.5 day fortnight and I start and finish early two days a week. The reality is that I don’t often get out at my early finish time those days and when I do I try and pick up some things from the supermarket, run administrative errands or go home to make Hugh’s dinner so I can spend more time with him when I pick him up from childcare rather than in the kitchen. My half day off a fortnight I spend looking after myself. I get my hair done if it’s needed, I get my nails done. But I also do the washing, clean the kitchen, try and do some groceries if it’s needed. So Hugh is in childcare five days a week. Some days I can’t wait to drop him off, other days I’m crushed we can’t spend the day together. Some weeks the guilt that he has been one of the first children there most mornings and the last one there most nights is overwhelming but sometimes that’s just the reality of a family with two working parents. At the end of the day it’s my choice to do this. The same way other parents choose to stay at home, or work three days a week, or start their own business or whatever is right for them. In the age of social media, unqualified and uninformed opinions are rife it’s easy to question everything you do. Everyone, even strangers feel like they have the right to offer their own two cents worth without a second thought. This might be to justify their own child raring choices but more than likely it’s given off the cuff and never thought of again. Except for the person who the opinion has been given to. They stew and question and carry the thought around with them. Sometimes that’s only a for a few minutes, some times it might be a few days until they can reassure themselves that they are doing the right thing for themselves and their family. I am very comfortable with the choices we have made to work and put Hugh into full time childcare. He actually loves it there with his friends. His educators are delightful and his beautiful smile when we get there each day to collect him is the best part of my day. It’s not for everyone, but it works for us. And that’s my two cents worth if you’re interested.

Advertisements

Zombie Mum

 

CF84277A-C344-49D9-9737-7C1FF23C532ALife has been hard lately. My ability to do simple things has been severely hampered, my mood is shot and my will to do basic life tasks has been sapped by a nearly 2 year old who doesn’t want to sleep past 4.45am on any given morning.

The 1st morning of pre dawn wakups you bounce back. By the 7th morning you’re tired and railing against the world. By morning 21 you’ve crossed over. You’re not angry any more but you are putting your milk in the pantry, wondering if you packed your keys when you left the house while using them to drive the car you are in and your eyes are being held open by sheer will power and an unnatural amount of under eye concealer to make you look human. Not great, just passably human. This, my friends is the translation into full Zombie Mum.

Zombie Mum doesn’t cook. She eats toast for dinner, or her kid’s half chewed left overs. She drinks boiling coffee because she needs it or drinks cold coffee because she forgot she had it there. She pretends like she’s not sleeping with her eyes open in meetings and lives for the second her child puts his head down to bed so she can stop trying to pretend she is interested in the same episode of Thomas the Tank Engine she has watched about 35 times. She mindlessly caves in to the kid’s demands of biscuits and dummies and teddies and milk and whatever it takes for him to be quiet.

She and Zombie Dad pretend to lay down the law in the morning. “You can come into Mummy and Daddy’s bed but you have to be quiet.” Zombie parents then subject themselves to an hour of “quiet time” with a child in their bed who resembles an octopus with bricks at the end of all his limbs playing a game of continuous twister. Zombie parents tell themselves they won that battle and they totally laid down the law. Zombie parents are totes delusional.

Zombie parents have moments of desperation. Surely there MUST be a reason for the child’s continuous lack of sleep in. Is he sick? Is he hungry? Is he scared? Is he wet? Is he lonely? Is he hot? Is he cold? Is it too light? Too dark? Too noisy? Too quiet? Is he messing with us? Are we too soft? Too firm? Let’s ignore him! Let’s try and resettle straight away! Zombie parents are tired but they are very creative when it comes to sleep extending solutions.

Zombie parents love looking through Facebook memories of their fresh young selves. “Remember when we used to sleep in until 9am on a Sunday?” “No”. Good chat.

Zombie parents have a breaking point. They declare to each other this can’t go on and reach the very precipice of the absolute exhaustion and despair.

Kid is smart. It’s like he senses we can’t go on. Kid sleeps until 6am 3 mornings in a row and Zombie parents are refreshed, revitalised and re-humanised! Kid gets two milkshakes on the weekend for good behaviour and the world is his. Kid smiles and bides his time before creeping his internal alarm forward again. Kid loves Zombie parents. And against all the odds (or at least it feels like it sometimes) Zombie parents love kid.

 

 

The weird and weirder world of kids TV.

As the parent of a toddler it’s safe to say the amount of time I spend watching children’s television has significantly increased over the last 18 months. It’s been a long time since I have had such regular exposure to children’s shows and I’m not sure whether I’ve just forgotten about what children’s TV used to be like or whether I’m just getting old, but have children’s television producers all suddenly started taking crack?

I’ve just finished watching a show called “Small Potatoes”. For those without children the basic premise of this show is as follows; 4 animated potatoes sing songs that teach children life lessons. What. The. Fried potato is that all about. Can you imagine the pitch meeting for that. “Kids like chips right? How about chips that teach them it’s ok to be different”.

Yo Gabba Gabba is about a man dressed in orange lycra and a fluffy hat who carries around 5 characters in a boom box case. The characters come to life when he puts them in front a cardboard set. They explore experiences like “appropriate behaviour in a restaurant” and are responsible for the catchy tune (and by catchy I mean worst tune ever) called “You break it, you buy it” about what happens when things get broken in the super market sung by Anne Heche and the creepy boom box people. This gem was on at 5.30am for a while and can I tell you it’s confusing and confronting before I’ve had coffee.

The other issue I now have as an adult watching children’s shows is the lack of context or “pilot” episode to explain some of the glaringly obvious plot gaps, like the one in Little Roy. This show is about a regular non cartoon/non animated family who have a cartoon son called Roy. I am not joking when I say I actually spent 25 minutes trying to google if there is an episode that explains if Roy was born that way, are they supposed to be his biological parents or is he adopted, why does no one question that he is a cartoon who can change shapes and looks like a walking scribble on piece of paper? I’m ok with the paper kid, I’m not ok with the lack of explanation for those of us who might want to know a little more about the situation.

Other weird shows that Hugh loves includes Baby Jake (show about a baby called Jake who lives in a windmill), Bing show about a rabbit who has other animal friends who all have no parents but live with these odd soft toy looking Nannies that teach them things like what to do when your blankey falls in the toilet), and In the Night Garden. Don’t even get me started on that show and the crazy drug induced stuff that goes on there with the Ninky Nonk, the Pinky Ponk, the Ponty Pines, Upsy Daisy and Iggle Piggle. No idea what I’m talking about? Don’t worry, to be honest I don’t either and I’ve watched the damn show.

Fortunately Hugh’s favourite shows also include Thomas the Tank Engine and the Wiggles. I know trains don’t really talk and people don’t really wear the one coloured skivvy every day regardless of the situation, but for some reason I just feel like these shows are more grounded and don’t make me wonder about the sobriety of their creators. While they may not provide me with intellectual stimulation (and I have to put up with Tim raving about how rife the issue of nepotism is throughout every wiggles episode) at least I don’t have to imagine how much money some stoner has made off these ideas while I struggle to understand what’s happening on my TV.

Thank goodness they’ve changed the ABC programming lately so Curious George is in the 5.30am slot. A show about a monkey who lives with a man in a yellow hat is much easier to take before coffee than orange Lycra and Anne Heche.

The line between low and no…

Today’s post was prompted by a trip to the shops today. Not that remarkable really, I do it quite a bit. As I cruised around Westfield I happened to catch site of myself in a window and I realised that it was 3pm and not only had I not put make up on,I had also not brushed my hair or put any thought into my appearance at all. I fear I have officially crossed the line between low maintenance and no maintenance.

When I had Hugh I knew that the days of going everywhere in heels and a full face of makeup carefully applied were probably over, but I had convinced myself that I could become one of those stylish low maintenance Mums that you see on Instagram. You know the ones I mean, no make up but fresh faced, jeans and a t-shirt or work out gear but all colour coordinated and not dragged out of the washing basket then sniffed to ascertain cleanliness. I manage to pull myself together for work but on weekends you can bet your bottom dollar that what I’m wearing is whatever is clean (or can be passed as clean) and within reach. If makeup isn’t on by 8am it’s probably not happening at all and the chances of any hair brushing are slim to none. And don’t even get me started on how blasé I have become about shaving my legs.

For the first time in 7 months I am booked in to get my hair cut (seriously) and I must admit the no maintenance lifestyle I have fallen into is making a style selection tough. My requirements include

  • Should not require regular brushing
  • Must not require any upkeep (eg trims more than once a year)
  • Must be able to be tied back (top knot preferable)
  • Must be able to cope with not being washed for one to two weeks at a time as sometimes I forget.

As you can see this list somewhat narrows down my options and removes some of the more fashionable cuts I like on my ever growing Pinterest board. Unfortunately I have also taken a shine to the enemy of the low maintenance Mum, the fringe. Even in my maintenance hey day the fringe was my hair nemesis. I so desperately craved one but would regret the upkeep almost immediately. It got to a point with my last regular hairdresser that I had to make her promise never to cut me one even if I asked for it.

When the momentus haircut day comes I can see one of two situations happening. The first is that I will completely chicken out and ask for a small trim on the current mop and that’s it. The second is I can see myself losing my senses and leaving not only with a fringe but some sort of edgy hair do and intense colour that requires weekly upkeep that will never fit into my no maintenance lifestyle.

It’s a tough situation.

I am hoping the haircut will provide some maintenance motivation for me. I’ll never be ‘low maintenance’ Mummy but maybe I can start with a commitment to wash and brush my hair on a more regular basis. It’s not much but it’s progress.

Terrible Toddlers

D06A504A-7F75-4F72-A4F7-EB7418A600F3

Dear Readers,

I’m writing this from my home, which has come under the regime of a tiny but fierce dictator. Like his North Korean counterpart this dictator is benevolent one moment then positively psychotic the next with violence his latest weapon in his arsenal of tricks that maintain and support his all powerful rule.

In short, we now live with a toddler.

There is a general concensus of ‘WTF’ among my Mother’s Group friends as we all seemed to suddenly wake up one day with a small aggressive human living in our midst. The cute goo-ing babies are gone and in the places are the toddlernators, throwing their tiny weights around like they own the place. There are tantrums, random bursts of anger (for no apparent reason) wilful disobedience, outrageous demands (mainly for bottles or custard) and a slap fest that would not be out of place on a show called “The Real House Toddlers of Canberra”. Yes, it actually is that bad.

I longed for Hugh to grow a bit more so he could ‘do more stuff’. Unfortunately that stuff is counter productive to my sanity. I think we should have known the second he learned the word ‘no’ that things were about to go down hill.

”Hugh, would you like some lunch?”

“NO”

“Hugh, would you like a drink”

“NO”

”Hugh, can you please stop doing that for Mummy?”

”NO”

”Hugh, would you like to learn a word other than ‘no’?”

”NO”

I am becoming skilled at negotiating with a 20 month old. In these negotiations it’s hard as the person who holds the balance of power is also the person who can only say about 10-15 spontaneous and legible words. The rest are words they’ve repeated after you or unintelligible babble. Not easy to reach a mutually desirable outcome.

”Hugh, what would you like for breakfast this morning? You can have Cereal, fruit, yogurt or toast”

”Tstard” (Custard for those who don’t speak Hugh. Please note this can sound very similar to ‘Daddy’ but is generally said directly to the fridge door rather than at Tim”.

”No, you can’t have custard for breakfast. Would you like toast?”

”Tstard” (Said adamantly in front of the fridge)

”No sweetie, Mummy didn’t say that as an option.” See the negotiating skills. “ You can have yoghurt”

”TSSSSSTTAAAAAAARD” (Said whilst trying to open the fridge door himself. Thankfully this is still outside his capabilies)

”Hugh, Mummy said ‘No’.”

EPIC.F#$KING. MELTDOWN.

I’m talking real tears, open mouthed sobbing, snot pouring, wild flailing for about 5 minutes. Then…….

”Bottle?” (From Hugh)

”No baby, you had a bottle half an hour ago. You can have cereal?”

”BOTTLE!!!” (Ramping up earlier as we are already pissed off)

”No sweetie. No bottle”

MELTDOWN ROUND 2. Ding ding ding!

As I step over/around the flailing toddler EVERY MORNING I think back to the good old days when he used to be back asleep for 3 hours by 7.30am and life was easier. Sure, we got woken up every 4 – 6 hours for feeding but Mr Talk Back Sassy Pants hadn’t made an appearance and we could brush it off under the umbrella of “he’s just a baby, he doesn’t know what he’s doing”. When he makes deliberate eye contact  with you before he does that exact thing that you just clearly and carefully told him not to it’s hard for that “he doesn’t understand” excuse to fly. Oh he understands, he just doesn’t care.

Other things the toddlernator won’t tolerate include:

Holding a parental hand in the car park (“NO”), not standing on his chair at his dinner table (deliberate eye contact all the way), not throwing his food on the floor, being told he can’t smack his parents when he’s angry (he got a smack on the hand ONCE, because he tried to run onto the road. The retribution has been swift), being told he can’t have his dummy the second he leaves childcare, assorted other random things that at this point feel too numerous to mention.

I take comfort that this is just a phase, but I must say as the residents of this small oppressive dictatorship I’m not sure how much longer we can last under such an oppressive regime.

The only advantage we hold is that our over lord can’t make a bottle himself so we still hold some minuscule semblance of control.

God help us all when he can open the fridge.

 

 

Christmas

6A61B5CD-6729-4E09-880F-B9E37A8DACB1I was going to write a long post about Christmas but I decided to rewrite the words to a well known Christmas Carol “It’s a most wonderful time of the year”  Andy Williams instead. Enjoy.

Its the most frustrating time of the year
At the thought of gift giving
My sanity’s rifting, it’s draining my cheeeer
It’s the most frustrating time of the year

It’s the cra-craziest season of all
The shops are just shocking
My pulse starts sky rocketing, the car park’s a braaaawl
It’s the cra- craziest season of all

The tree’s in protection
To save it’s collection
Of decorative baubles and lights
From the baby who’s raging
To get past the caging
And strip it of anything briiiiiiight
Anything briiiiiiiiight

Hugh’s gifts are coming thick and fast
The toys are increasing
Our room is decreasing, this madness can’t laaaaaast
Hugh’s gifts are coming thick and faaast!

Christmas isn’t all doom and gloom
I may seem quite jaded
I just think I’m wasted on sticky tape fuuuuumes
Oh yes Christmas isn’t all doom and gloooom!

With a good wine (or maybe two) we’ll get throooooougg!

Merry Christmas 😊

 

 

The bedroom has fallen

Dear Reader, 

What you see here in this picture of yellow, navy and white, is not a picture of a navy and white towel strewn across the end of our bed but a picture of surrender. After 12 months, the bedroom, sadly, has fallen. 

Heralded as the last non Hugh domain in our household I have fiercely tried to protect its sancity with all toys and books being kicked out as they are found abandoned on the floor. That was our space. Our space to be adults, to have nice bed linen, to leave slightly dangerous things on our bedside tables. Alas this is no more.

The stripe towel has been placed over our quilt cover as Hugh is slightly too big for his change table and is now being changed on our bed more often than not. In short, Tim and I now sleep on a giant expensive, Country Road covered change table. The towel is a bit of a useless attempt to protect the bed from any unexpected accidents in the 5 second danger zone when the first nappy comes off but before the new nappy goes on. 

On the upside, we won’t be having any more kids soon as nothing kills the mood more than the lingering scent of your current offsprings latest nappy in and about the marital bed. 

I am looking forward to finding a new baby free sanctuary in our home. Options are running low but I think the downstairs powder room is yet to be touched by Hugh hands. I’ll be enjoying the adultness of a grown up room in there if anyone needs me.

Hugh, the book nerd! 

There is a new love in little Hugh’s life. Everyone’s started noticing, his parents, his grandparents, even childcare is commenting on this new relationship. 

Hugh is addicted to books. He’s become quite bibliophile and while I should be delighted (as a lover of books myself) this is not all I had hoped and dreamed it would be. 

What started out as an adorable scene with little Hugh sitting and quietly turning the pages of his favourite books by himself on the playmat has turned into an all consuming obsession that needs constant feeding. Simply turning the pages is no longer enough. He needs the words, the story, the thrill of a plot he can’t actually understand to satisfy his needs.

This means that unlike the short lived “throwing balls” phase of March – June 2017, this reading books phase requires a lot of participation and effort from Mummy and Daddy. You can’t use one hand to throw a book while you finish your morning coffee or throw it to the other side of the room to get him to distract him while you finish hanging the washing.  Nuh- uh, book phase requires attention and creativity. All.the.time. 

The book obsession really kicked off with what Tim and I affectionately refer to as Ugly Wiggles Book. There was nothing majorly wrong with Ugly Wiggles Book. It just has a lot of words, a bit of an odd story about Dorothy the Dinosaur meeting Santa and to be honest he has a lot of much nicer, fun, interactive books. But Ugly Wiggles Book was by far and away the favourite. He could pick it out from a pile of books a mile away and wanted it to be read constantly. Over and over and over again. Poor Ugly Wiggles Book got such a work out it started falling apart but that still didn’t stop Hugh. He just started taking groups of random pages around, begging for them to be read to him. Pathetic really. 

The final straw for Ugly Wiggles Book came on the weekend when Tim busted Hugh eating the pages. Dude. When you love a book so much you have to eat it things have gone too far. So Ugly Wiggles Book was carefully extracted under cover of post bedtime darkness and released back into the wild (the bin. We put it in the bin). 

After Ugly Wiggles Book we had Wiggles Propeller Book. Much nicer illustrations and a fun little ‘lift the flap’ feature to keep things fresh but after reading that up to 8 times in a row for 3 days straight Wiggles Propeller Book is also taking a small holiday. As it hasn’t been eaten so far Wiggles Propeller Book is allowed to holiday in the cupboard and has not been ‘released’ to the bin. One day it might be put back on the reading circuit rotation but for now, for our sanity, in ththe cupboard it stays. 

The lasted candidate for a cupboard vacation is a classic. An increadible children’s story by a well renowned author. I never thought I would say this but, Mem Fox, how many f%^ing pages does it take to find one goddamn green sheep? How many different types of sheep are there? Why are we looking for the green sheep anyway? I don’t understand and after the 4th time in a row my little Australian Literature Lover squeals and thrusts this book in my face/neck/mouth to be read again I am pretty sure the plot goes like this “sheep sheep sheep sheep, more sheep, green sheep, the end.” Repeat times infinity.

I do actually adore that Hugh loves reading and I think a love of books is an amazing thing for a child. But for our mental health I’m going send “Where is the green sheep?” to Club Med Downstairs Cupboard for a little while where it can relax, take a load off while Mummy and Daddy rote learn a new book by reading it over and over and over and over and over again. 

Parenting – a year in review.

IMG_0751.JPG

This time one year ago Tim and I were driving back from the hospital for the second time being told I was in labour, but not enough labour to be admitted. Having never been in labour before I was pretty confused. Exactly how much labour did I need to be in before they would hook me up to the gas machine and let me stay? One year on I am no less confused about the world of parenting and truthfully no less interested in being hooked up to a gas machine when I need a bit of something after a long hard day of work and Mumming.

When I reflect on the last twelve months I can honestly say I have never been so off kilter in my life. Parenting Year One has been a crazy ride and I can’t believe it’s gone by already.

I have learnt a lot this year, some of it helpful and some of it not. I have never related so heavily on Google to guide me through life. My search history largely consists of sentences that start with “why does my child…?”, “what if my child…?”, “when does my child…?” and my personal favourite, “should I worry if my child…?”.

I have learnt that it’s not impossible to feel incompetent at everything all at once and find my inner voice spends a lot of time quietly whispering “what the hell am I doing?” about 20-30 times a day. Google search history – “How to maintain work life balance”, “how to find work life balance”, “am I completely scarring my child because he is the first to be dropped off and last to be picked up at childcare?”, “why does no one do a wine home delivery service in Canberra?”.

I think it’s taken me a year to realise that I’m never going to feel like an expert at this. Every single day Hugh changes and grows. What I knew yesterday no longer applies and what happens tomorrow is literally anyone’s guess! Some days that’s hard. Really hard. Especially for someone like me who likes stability and a level of predictability.

But there is also so much joy in this process.

I love parenting with Tim. He is truly my partner in this journey and I adore how much he loves our son and how much Hugh loves his Dada. The relationship between these two is the most amazing and beautiful thing to watch and I am in awe of how much patience and understanding Tim can draw on everyday, not just for Hugh but for me as well.

And of course there is Hugh himself. Our boy is doing so many amazing things. He crawls, he laughs, he throws balls around the house (and anything else he can get his mitts on). He can pull himself up on almost anything, climb the bottom stairs of the staircase, say ‘Dada’, ‘Mummum’ and ‘Nan’, feed himself a piece of BBQ chicken and down 3 bowls of Greek yogurt in about 5 minutes.

He has a smile that lights up the room and  personality in spades. He’s a social butterfly like his Mumma and just wants to explore everything this world has to offer.

Hugh Alexander Abrahams, you’ve changed our lives in almost every single way but there is not a thing I would change.

Happy birthday Baby Boy.

Love Mumma

Xxxx

The Childcare Cesspit

IMG_0077

Before I begin today’s post I would like to state that we were warned. We were told repeatedly to prepare ourselves for the never ending sick cycle that is your child’s first 6-12 months in childcare but in all honesty we were not prepared. Not at all.

To most of you tomorrow is Thursday but to us tomorrow is the ominous “Day 4” of the childcare week. We are yet to make it all the way through Day 4. It’s like Hugh’s little immune system can’t hold out the full 4 days. We’ve got to Wednesday afternoon, we’ve even got to midday Thursday once but a full day Thursday just seems like too much. I’m mentally preparing for what tomorrow brings.

It’s not just Hugh who is crashing and burning at this point. So far the list of illnesses we have encountered in the past month include:

Cold (me, Tim, Hugh)

Shingles (me)

Respiratory Infection (Hugh)

Conjunctivitis (Hugh and Tim)

Tonsillitis (Tim)

Random vomiting (Hugh)

Gastro (Hugh)

Some kind of gross chin fungal infection (Hugh)

We are currently splitting out time between 2 GPs as I am too embarrassed to keep going  back to the same one every week. The two GPs don’t include the home doctor visits or the trips to the after hours clinic at the hospital. I have almost memorised our Medicare card number off by heart and I only half joke when I tell Tim I think we should pull Hugh out if childcare on Thursday as, while I would loose another days pay, the money we would save on childcar, doctors bills and medications would probably make up for it.

The most common sentence currently uttered in our household is “have you sanitised your hands?” followed by ” where’s the Glen 20?” and “do his eyes look pink to you”, “is that pus or just a bit of sleep” and ” do my eyes look pink? They’re itchy, for gods sake are they pink?!”.  At the first sign of illness we try and quarantine ourselves away from Hugh. Hugh has no such consideration and divides his time between openly coughing in our faces and wiping his hands in his snot/ eye gunk and sticking them in our mouths and up our noses on a regular basis.  Charming.

We go though so many cans of Glen 20 at the moment I feel like negotiating some sort of sponsorship deal. If anyone from Glen 20 does read my blog please get in touch. Likewise to the makers of Detol Wipes. Seriously, call me.

Despite these fine products and their germ deterring properties the little buggers keep slipping though into our house! I’m trying to come up with new ways to prevent the spread of germs.  I have considered a self contained bubble suit for Hugh, or maybe a fumigation chamber just inside the front door so he gets a good decontamination process before he gets through the door. On more extreme days perhaps we just torch the whole house and start again.

I am hopeful that tomorrow will be the day the cycle breaks and that we will make it through the dreaded “Day 4”. If not you can find me in the cleaning aisle of my local supermarket. I’ll be the lady with the slightly pink twitchy eyes, the snotty baby and the basket choc full of Glen 20.