Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Feeling a bit shattered right now. Don't really want to talk to anyone about it yet. Feeling rock bottom disappointment and failure. That is all.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sad facts of motherhood

Motherhood is awesome. There is nothing compared to the feeling of utter perfection when your baby looks at you so perfectly, expecting nothing but knowing you and loving you as mother without even knowing what love is.

There are amazing discoveries by both parent and child every single day. For example today on our walk, Harry began pointing at random objects in the street that he found interesting with a suggestive "uhhh" noise that he likes to make. He just couldn't stop doing it. He was pointing at people in the street, cars, poles, trees, everything! It was like he was making conversation with me for the first time and the endless potential for future conversation with my child just blew my mind.

There are however, some pretty sad facts that develop along the way. None of these things matter in the long run, but I'd say it's worth noting to uphold my disdain for TV ad depictions  of motherhood (you know what I'm talking about...a mother with perfect make up and spotlessly clean clothes in the middle of the night with a sick child? whatever). I say motherhood is great but it gets pretty smelly and weird.
How about say let's just skip this nappy change ey? I've still gotta do my hair love

So in the spirit of keeping it real, here are my top sad fact experiences of motherhood:

1. My nipples are now so long from breast feeding it has literally gotten in the way of me closing plastic lid. That's all there is to say about that.

2. I've acquired a very unhealthy obsession around not waking the baby. I've scolded my sick husband for coughing too loudly. I've commando crawled out of the baby's room as he slept Catherine Zeta-Jones style. I've banned all post box checks in the house during nap times because I have a theory that the swinging noise the post box makes wake the baby. I've peed in the middle of the night and opted to flush it in the morning because it will wake the baby (like how I hid this one in the middle? Like a guilty puddle). I've gotten superstitious about the bedtime story book choice because I know for damn sure that he never sleeps through when we read that Wombat book.

3. The kid friendly foods I've been cooking are adult aorta unfriendly. Lashings of bacon, douse it with cheese, dress it up with some sort of veg and pasta, bung it in the oven and bob's your uncle- the kid loves it, it's easy and tasty but goddam it's getting heavy in my middle. Not to mention I get the lovely task of eating whatever the kid rejects. Here's a sad fact within a sad fact: I am typing this while eating double thick chocolate custard from a tub because the baby didn't like it and it's a waste to throw it out. There's children starving out there for crying out loud, we can't have wasted custard can we. And doubly thick would be doubly criminal.

4. My clothes are never clean. I have walked out of the house knowing there is food vomit on my clothes but know that by having my baby with me, people will probably forgive/tolerate me. The one time I felt it was imperative I have clean clothes on my way out to somewhere, I served Harry's meal to him while wearing pyjamas over my outfit. I then peeled off the food encrusted pyjamas then hightailed it out of food throwing range.

5. I miss my pre-baby friends and the pre-baby me who could be their friend. Since getting pregnant I've moved house to hours away from family and friends whilst my closest friends have moved halfway around the world. There's always the internet, instant messaging and video calls but it's not the same. I'm not there to respond to their texts, I only jump in when I forward the cute photo I just took of my baby. I feel baby-centric and that I can't fully share in other people's lives because I can easily sneak a photo of the baby while I'm watching him but I can't indulge in a juicy girl conversation while watching the baby who is now so scarily fast at zooming around the house and getting into all the places he shouldn't. I've become that mother whose entire Facebook stream is just of her baby and says nothing to no one except in the context of what the baby hypothetically thinks. "Happy Birthday Uncle So-and-So, love Harry". Why can't I just be me who happens to have baby and not someone's mum? Identity issues clearly but this one's too murky for me at this time of the night so let's leave it at that.

So there it is, be warned: Motherhood is awesome but does come with some minor side effects. Nothing that I can't live with anyway. And now, I shall feel vindicated for I typed up that whole thing without the baby waking. The Bananas in Pyjamas book for bedtime strikes again!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fresh Pickings

Saffron milk cap mushrooms picked by none other than my gorgeous husband with me and the little one in tow. We went to a nearby friendly vineyard and started chatting to the owner who started talking about delicious fresh mushrooms growing in his pine forest next to the cherry trees.

Twenty minutes later, we were all in there, baby in hand and all, bashing through the bush, past the giant ant hill next to the overturned dunny, over ditches and fallen pine trees... foraging through the pine forest floor for our very own golden pickings.

Was a fun way to spend a sunny Sunday.

Was yummy with a bit of garlic and parsley. Definitely not death mushrooms as the husband was paranoid about until we googled it and found it they are actually quite prized and rare gourmet mushrooms. Best of all, it was free and picked by our very own hands!

How can I go back to living in the city after random weekends like these?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Harry Does His First Birthday

I can't believe my little boy is turning ONE tomorrow.

I can't believe that his age is now measured in YEARS. I still remember telling people he was X number of days old.

I can't believe that crazy 27 hour ride that was labour started a year ago from me sitting here right now doing something as mundane as bashing away at a keyboard. Little did I know that 27 hours of excruciating physical pain is nothing compared to the heart bashing emotional ride of parenthood for life.

But look at what I get in return: bundles and bundles of cuteness, love and joy. Even with an infinite amount of pain, heartbreak and hard work that parenting entails, I could never repay the joy this little man gives me in life.

I mean just look at him sitting there like a little old man that he is.

Having his cake.

And eating it too.

Pretending like he knows how to eat like a little gentleman.

 Sitting there on the ledge as though he just happened to walk on by

 And taking a rest coz it's so damn tiring being a little person

Lining up his shots already... of cake of course.

And one day those shots will be of tequila... and I suppose I have to be cool with that coz we all did it too.

And BAM there it is.

He is going to be his own person. Doing all the things I did as a kid. As a teenager. As a young adult. And maybe even one day, a father.

A landmark of his age is both heart breaking and heart warming because every birthday is a reminder of him growing into himself as a person. Just like me, he will go through all of life's stages and live all while struggling with all his faults, wielding all his strengths and trying his damnedest to be happy.

so grown up he even uses not plastic cutlery now

Harry is no longer just a blob of a baby wailing for his needs to be fulfilled. He has stepped up one rung in life to be the fun loving, affectionate little boy that he is who loves kissing and hugging his mummy and would drop everything to play with Daddy.

Step one, on a life long journey, done and dusted. And what a beautiful ride it has been so far. I am so proud to be your mummy my little Harry. You are beautiful and my heart feels almost bursting everyday with love and pride stretching my capacity for love to infinity just by your very being.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hanging up my cape

In my last post I talked about this time of being at home and being a mum/wife as a time I will look back on fondly.

Part of that reason is not because my house gets to be immaculate all the time (which I can assure you it is not - ever), but because I get to devote my down time to my many ridiculous creative pursuits. Ridiculous in that I will dabble in this and dabble in that, but never commit to calling myself a person who does that activity.

For example, I have never been comfortable calling myself a photographer, a yogi, a cook or a crafty mum. I just do bits and bobs of everything and the only common thread is that I just love fiddling around the house. Not in a manner that cleans it of course. I am a proficient dabbler.

Here is my latest project that has been keeping me up the last week. After Harry goes to bed I do not, as wisdom would dictate, get myself ready for bed and seize the opportunity for sleep, I have instead been trying my hand at this amazing project: Audrey Cape.
too lazy to iron it for photo

I made it for my little 4 year old niece because it is just so much more fun sewing stuff for girls. Poor Harry has not been a recipient of any of my sewing efforts to date. I figure he's still too young to know he's missing out. Anyway, my 4 year old niece who is really one tough customer (when unwrapping the tutu dress I had bought her for her birthday this year she exclaimed at the top of her lungs, "I HATE IT!") tried her damnedest to also hate the cape when I presented it to her. Within minutes it was around her shoulders with a smug "I'm a princess grin" on her face.

Needless to say, I think it was a roaring success and I think it will be a favourite of hers this winter. I did make some changes to the pattern by adding two halves of a bow on each collar that she can tie. I also thought it was more friendly to little fingers than a button or a pin.

I used fabric I picked up from the local Op shop which sells some pretty amazing off cuts of fabric at crazy cheap prices. For example, this mustard fabric was $2 for about three to four metres of the stuff. The blue tweed was a bit pricier at $4 for heaps of it. Don't think they are old curtains or sheets, just simply people's unused scrap fabrics. I just love the experience of trawling through the Op shop bins and dreaming up projects as I find treasures. It's like shopping for endless possibility.

I do sometimes worry about my lack of ambition in life right now. Is it wrong that I am perfectly happy as a mum/housewife who spends her days on little projects that serve no one and nothing except my own small scale creative drive?

Having spent all my formative years concentrating on doing well in school, then uni, then working for a few years in the fairly rough and draining environment of criminal law (I defended petty crooks and criminals for years on nothing but a measly salary and the feeling of being a Justice Super Hero i.e. just for kicks), finally sitting down to do whatever I feel like feels so..... free.

My life up until becoming a mum was all about being the best daughter I could be, being the nerdiest student I could be, doing good for the community, being socially aware and responsible, speaking out for justice and essentially on a crusade to right the world's wrongs. Motherhood gave me an out and let me live in a bubble that just shrunk the world to a simple unit of my little family. I feel like I am only really getting to know who I am now and frankly, I am not sure I am ready to leave my little bubble just yet.

There are still many capes to be made .. and who knows, if I place enough capes around enough little shoulders, maybe it is the children around me that can one day save the world instead of me.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Letter to Pregnant Me

In the lead up to Harry's first birthday next week, I made up a book of "Letters to Harry". Essentially it's a book of letters from friends and family for him to one day read himself. The process of writing a letter to future grown up Harry got me thinking about what I would write if I could write a letter to myself before I had a baby.

We also had some family stay over on the weekend and they brought along their four month old first born. Being around the nervous and excited busy air of first time parents of a newborn reminded me so much of how we must have been only less than a year ago. 

Reflecting on the first year of parenting and the flashback to the newborn bubble we must have once been in got me thinking... I wish I could just go back in time to the very last time I was in a world without a baby, take myself aside before we drove to the hospital that day and tell myself a few things.

Here's what I would say:

Date: just before you pop i.e. a year ago from today
Dear Pregnant Me,

Hi. I am you from the future. I am writing you this letter to save you a lot of grief and angst. These are things that you must know, and will know. Hindsight is a lot more useful as foresight, so stop being hard headed like you usually are, put your preconceptions down and just listen for a minute. No, really...LISTEN.

EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT. Just think about that for a minute. And remember it. For every time you think "I have no idea", or "wtf is happening?", or "this is the worst" - just remember that you will come through it and it will pass. One day this big parenting conundrum that has you stumped right now will be long gone but what you have is a person you have known since it's creation and seems to become more wonderful everyday. That is what sticks, not the seemingly insurmountable pain of labour, or the infinitely long sleepless nights or the horror of your baby's first fever... just remember that it will pass.
your new parenting mantra

YOU WILL BE MORE TIRED THAN YOU HAVE EVER IMAGINED. Everyone "knows" this going into parenthood. All the knowing smiles when people realise you are pregnant "haha get your sleep now while you can" they all said. Yes I know, I am perfectly aware that parenting is difficult, I once said. No. You do not know what tired is. When you think you are the most tired a person could possibly be, expect something unexpected to happen which will mean you have to dig deeper than ever to find that extra dog to add to your pack... and don't worry, you will always have it. Everytime. And then you will wish that you were only as tired as you were last week when that once massive problem now seems so much smaller than the problem that superseded it.

YOU HAVE NO IDEA BUT YOU HAVE INSTINCT. Just accept that you don't know what you are doing and be cool with that. It's okay that you don't know. That stack of books, research and articles you have for every single foreseeable issue... put them down and place them in box, bury that box in a bonfire and burn it. Those books will make you feel more inadequate, it does not have the answers you are looking for because the authors of those books have never met your baby. Your baby is unique. He is not ordinary. He does not respond to what most babies apparently respond to. You have to give yourselves time to learn each other. It will be rough, it will take months but trust your instincts. It is stronger than you think. Those books and guides are merely that, but be aware that they can cloud your gut feel for your baby. Forget the books and stop bloody googling everything. For example, "6 week old baby crying now for two hours don't know what he wants" is not a productive search term.
the only book that accurately depicts the nature of baby sleep

BABIES ARE HARDY. Don't live in a clean freak safety conscious bubble. Your baby is resilient and strong. Don't stress about every little thing. It doesn't matter if he misses a nap every now and then. It is not the end of the world. I still remember crying because he didn't nap. Those are wasted tears. It doesn't matter if you forgot to change his nappy, these days he's lucky to get changed for anything other than a number 2. It doesn't matter if you don't sterilise every little thing, one day he will mouth the toilet when you turn around for two seconds. It doesn't matter if you have to change the routine every now and then. It's not going to make a big difference in the long run. The routine will not stop him from crying. If he wants to cry he will whether or not you gave him all his naps that day. He will be right.

not a cloth nappy in sight

BEING A MUM IS NOT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR FASHION. Stop googling "best swaddle/sling/clothnappy". That shit does NOT matter. You will not be using this expensive cloth nappies a year from now. Babies in the desert survive with nothing but basic food, shelter and LOVE. Stop expending so much energy preparing for the physical needs of the baby when he arrives and instead invest in some inside mind relaxation and calm. That stuff will take you a far longer way than having the latest baby gimmicks on hand when the baby arrives.

TREAT YOUR BABY LIKE IT'S YOUR SECOND. This way you will enjoy life with a baby. You will get so caught up in your baby it is almost as though you live in a bubble. Don't forget that your baby has entered your world and not the other way around. Don't get me wrong, the baby will become the most precious thing in your life but being completely absorbed to the point of obliviousness to the world will only mean you forget to see the big picture and focus on things like number of naps and feeds instead of numbers of funny things he did that day.

DON'T PUREE BABY FOOD. He'll be ready to eat a softer, mashed up version of your food when he's good and ready. There were days when I cooked the most beautiful baby purees which the baby wouldn't eat, whereas on the same day I ate almost nothing myself. That is NOT good parenting.
baby don't care if you took five hours to make this. If hedonwannaeat, hedonwannaeat.

LET YOUR BABY CRY. I still remember jumping at every slight noise and bolting from across the house to attend to the baby before he's even had a chance to get the cry out. It's okay to let him cry. Convert that pain in your heart every time you hear baby cry to a mild bemusement. You shouldn't think "oh no something is wrong" straight away. Think instead "aww how cute, look at him trying to say something". I'm not saying leave him to cry every time , I am saying eliminate the fear in your heart every time you hear him cry. Babies cry. That's what they do. A LOT. Don't panic. And sometimes there is nothing wrong, you've done everything and they will still cry. He will scream in your ear so hard and so long because he doesn't know what else to do. Don't cry with him. Just be patient and remember everything I said above.

Last but not least - 

ENJOY! It is hard having a baby but I promise it gets better. He starts to hit all the developmental milestones on his way to becoming a little man. With each new skill he becomes more and more fun. More and more relatable. He is lovely, ever increasingly perfect. Somehow the challenges become bigger but the boy becomes easier to enjoy.
one smile is all worth it

I know you will now scrunch up this letter and think, meh what do you know. I suppose you just have to live it to get it. And yes, I do sound a lot like my parents these days. There's nothing you can do to change that I'm afraid. That much is inevitable.

a much cooler and wiser Me a year from when you read this


Note, photo of other babies above is from the movie Babies. Incidentally an excellent film for all new mothers and mothers-to-be to watch.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I love therefore I am

My whinges aside, I have to say that my life is pretty simple right now.

Is this what they call being happy*?

Despite all the challenges, this year of being at home with the bub will surely be a golden time I will one day look back on with such happiness and longing. Everyday is as simple as "what are we having for dinner tonight?". The highlight of everyday is what new funny thing the baby did today.

Harry is a week away from turning one and I have to say I love this age so much. My heart aches just thinking that this age of cheeky innocence will one day draw to a close. Right now mummy, daddy and our house is his entire world and he is pretty happy with that. I am pretty happy with that.

I love ... afternoon sun backyard yoga with daddy and baby

I love ... daddy's backyard harvest

I love ... this cheeky bugger who has turned my whole world upside down in the most marvellous way possible

 I love the home we have. I love my little family. My heart is buttery soft with happy :)

* Harry started sleeping through this week... just a happy side note, I am sure it is just a coincidence that I am doing a happy post!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

What Harry thinks about food

How can this be possible? It seems statistically improbable. Impossible even.

My love for food is so great, I thought, that there would be no permutation possible of my genetic make up ever hating food. I held the dominant food gorging loving gene. I dream about food. I would move cities for good food. Food is more than just physical survival for me, good food is integral to the survival of the soul.

My son thinks of food in two ways.

How do I describe this... Let's see. How about I let my son's face do all the talking. Here's emotion number one:

What Harry thinks about food

The first feeling is encapsulated by the look above which I would say is somewhere between indifference and hatred (if that were possible). Just complete and utter disinterest. This manifests in his permanent turning away from his tray, from me, from anything to do with the meal taking place before him. I spend a good part of his highchair time staring at the back of his head. No matter which way I face him, his impressive neck rotation ensures that I have the least access to his frontal face. He basically acts like an arrogant little emperor, sitting there on his highchair throne impervious to all my food prep efforts, bored and angry at all this food as though eating is for such commoners. Like come on good woman, I have so much better shit to do than eat food all day!

The second reaction he has to food which drives me equally nuts is this:
Harry's "laugh it off" measures against being fed
From his royal majesty he transforms into the ultimate jester. He basically acts like meals are a big joke and that food are his props for the Harry Mealtime Show. This mood results in a lot of food throwing, yelling, tantrums and random laughing while he smashes the nearest plate/cup/knife repeatedly banging it into his face/table or sailing it off to the newspapered floor. My favourite thing to see is him face planting into his food, arms out and literally doing food angels on his high chair tray while gurgling to himself. He can do this for the entire meal and I gotta say I'm kind of proud of his artistic flair for protesting.

He started eating last week. Proper food. He was chewing chicken, like actual chicken pieces and hallelujah swallowing it. He was having modest full meals, meat, rice and veg and all without too many tears. I was so happy, I thought we were on the mend.

But alas, it wasn't meant to be. Struck down with some unknown virus since last week, his body weakened and reset our progress. This week it's back to the little emperor/joker on his high chair again, struggling to swallow the slightest morsel of food. This makes it almost more frustrating because I know he has the ability to eat. He just chooses not to.

Anyway, he may not have inherited his poor attitude toward food from me but I suppose I cannot blame him for his stalwart stubbornness. He's certainly a headstrong, strong-willed little boy and one day I will be proud that he can stand his ground to anyone. In the meantime I will simply have to be happy with mopping up all the food after him.

someone save me

Monday, March 17, 2014

Harry Does St Patrick's Day

Had a mad dash day trying to get into the St Patrick's Day spirit by doing a "Harry Does" photo shoot today.

Of course it helped that I already spent the last 18 months of my life growing my own little leprechaun so that bit was sorted.

To achieve this very green set of photos, I just had to squeeze in these little tasks into the day:

1. Make a cardboard four-leaf clover (Check! But my hand cramped from scissoring!)

2. Find some gold coins (Check! Apparently chocolate coins are only ever stocked at christmas time?)

3. Sew a rainbow bunting from random material stash at home (Check! But so not worth it because it didn't even look good in the photos!)

 4. Find a green outfit for the boy (Check! Although I just made do with his stash at home. His jumper is a little big as its an 18-24month size but nothing that rolling up arm sleeve a few times couldn't fix.

If anyone is curious Harry is wearing a H+M sweater from one of his godparents, Bonds stretch pants and Marks & Spencer socks from us when we went on a stupid internet shopping spree, and a hat his grandparents got him from a holiday to Bangkok. A green mishmash of thrifty practicality really.

My friend asked me on the phone this morning about what I had planned today. When I told him it would be this cheesy photoshoot he told me I should do something more constructive with all this time and learn a language instead. Bah! Whatever, this sort of nonsense is the best part of having a kid! You get your very own model.. whether they like it or not!

Speaking of which, he did not really enjoy the photoshoot today. Poor sod has yet another tooth coming in on the top row and was super super clingy the entire day. Most of the other shots were either of him whinging, crying or crawling towards me begging to be picked up. I have about a hundred shots that look kind of like this:
What happens when teething and modelling collide

There were quite a few passersby in the park who did look a bit concerned that I was child labouring my child a bit too harshly. They were probably also concerned when, finding myself without an assistant today (hubby was busy) I had to walk around the park in search of good light/tree/grass whilst carrying this parcel around with me. Yes, that is my child in a box with a big piece of wood at his eye level.

Good times! One day when he's all grown up I am going to terribly miss these days when he has to do exactly where I place him.

I'm not really sure what I am trying to achieve by doing these photos. I just know that at least for me, they are a lot of fun. Meanwhile...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Top ten - Signs I'm losing it

I have not handled this week's parenting and life challenges with much grace. They say a true test of one's character is how one handles adversity. I am doing very shit thank you. Here's how I know that:

1. I have blogged more than I've ever blogged averaging 1-2 posts per day. I even have a backlog of blog entry drafts waiting to be cleaned up so that my usual mind diarrhea looks as presentable as diarrhea can be.

2. I am super snappy at everyone. I've had more irrational snaps at people than there are actual snaps on those ridiculous late 90s Adidas snap pants (also irrational and just as hideous).

3. I have snarled a lot. Usually most at people closest to me. For example, dinner with my parents are usually peppered with the usual insidious digs at me that I have to ignore or laugh off but this time I just gave it back to them with full top spin. At one stage I even recall snarling, "If you think I'm doing such a shit job why don't you just call DOCS and have him taken away because clearly you think I'm failing as a parent." There may have been several full blown snarls in the same vein following this. Did I mention we were in a moderately packed restaurant?

4. My husband and I have fought a lot. More than we've ever fought. Whole sections of the day just disappear into gloomy steely silences as we both stand our ground about something that ultimately makes no difference.

5. My baby has started behaving like he actually hates me. I do all the unpleasant things he hates like feed him solids three times a day, make him sleep, stop playtime, discipline him about not climbing INTO the dishwasher, force squirt his daily vitamin into his mouth...Either that or I've become such a sourpuss and he knows it too. All the ring a ding ding games I play with him and laughs I get from him throughout the day must just vanish in his memory in light of all the unpleasantness I enforce upon him. He pushes me and turns away from me a lot and prefers his dad all the time.

6. I am quick to assume everyone is criticizing me as a parent. So much that I've actually imagined jabs at me by friends making passing innocent comments. Comments which meant nothing I obsessed about in midnight hours turning them this way and that to see just what did they really mean by that.

7. I look like a fuzzy chicken zombie.

8. I complain about lack of sleep but then proceed to squander the opportunities for sleep instead laying there all wired up over analyzing everything (and did I mention blogging?).

A true photo of my baby during an
early morning waking session
9. I have actually out loud called my baby a jerk to his face. I had just spent half an hour calming and soothing him to stop squirming, finding the optimum sleep inducing head position. I was doing well remaining mother zen calm while he kicked me in my full need to pee bladder, scratched my face and neck repeatedly, and momentarily biting me in random places. It was like calming a wild ferret. Finally he was drowsy and asleep in my arms. He even made his tongue clicking I want to sleep signal. But alas everytime I sat down and got into a comfortable position he would bolt his eyes wide open and I'd have to do it all again. Putting him down and letting him cry made him wide awake and crawling like I made my ferret son into a ball toy.

I did this for two hours. It's like he was tricking me into performing the most ridiculous uncomfortable poses luring me with sleepy eyes but he never had any intention of sleeping at all.  I looked at his bug open eyes and called him a jerk.

10. I've done that more than once.
So there it is. I am undone. My mother's love is overcooked.
I have become a crazy, whiny, argumentative, defensive, mean crazy mofo and I am so ashamed I am not coping better.
But perhaps I exaggerate. Last night I was lying in bed awaiting the next night call and I was busy hoping this week was the worst, the bottom, the point before everything gets better. Then I realized the depth of my dedication to my child can go a lot deeper.

I thought about all the scenarios that would be worse than ours. I tried as much as I could to see around the myopic obsessiveness exhausted parents are afflicted with and tried to gain perspective. He's not dying. He's not sick. He doesn't have  hole in his heart or diseases like some babies do.

Then I started going through a list of horrible things that could befall him in the future. What if he does get seriously sick? Well good job perspective... That didn't help at all.

In a way it helped in this respect: I realized whatever situation life throws at us I will be there. With all my personal failings and imperfections, I will always put everything I have on the table for this little guy and my family.

I guess like all things in life, all you can give is the best you got. I don't want to give my family my struggle finish best. I don't want to drag and sob my way to get through. I have failed. But not as a parent. I have only failed in not digging out my best qualities and using those to live this experience positively. The challenge is not my baby. The challenge is living life with my baby while being the best person I can be.

This life is hard, I will give myself that. However I will not let myself worry to the point that I ruin all the good stuff that can come of it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Top ten - why babies make bad roomies

Imagine a room mate with these top ten quality traits:

1. Waits for the precise moment you've fallen asleep to wake you up, rile you up then fall into snores exactly when you're wide awake

2. Bites you when you're giving him food literally biting the body part that feeds him

3. Somehow realizes when you have important stuff on and decides to schedule his entire day in a manner that totally fucks up your day. Every time.

4. Watches you prepare all his meals then throws it in your face and makes you clean up after him

5. Hates all the presents you've ever bought him never says thank you

6. Laugh in your face and leaves the room when you tell him to listen

7. Makes you look like a liar in front of others by never doing what you've told people he always does in front of you. Then does it exactly when no one is looking

8. Makes it difficult for you every time you want to spend time on other things like friends, hobbies or employment

9. Creates a load of laundry everyday that you have to do rain, hail or shine or you have smelly mountain within 48 hours

10. Makes you visibly uglier, age twice as fast and sag in all the wrong places

Wow, what an absolute jerk. Well friends, that is what it's like living with a normal baby. (*That's right, you read right, I'm talking some nipple biting in there too). Except society expects mothers to love and relish the experience while throwing in bucketloads of super unhelpful unsolicited parenting advice along the way. Thanks team.

I have a lot of anger for my baby right now. My patience has run very thin and my energy low. On top of the normal annoying things babies do to your lives above, my baby seems to excel above and beyond other babies in terms of being difficult. He seems to have read the parenting troubleshoot page and has decided to take on each problem with gusto.

What with breast refusal at the beginning, then bottle refusal forever after making it impossible for anyone else to look after him for a day. Then essentially screaming his head off for the first seven months of his life. Day and night. Now refusing food on a pathological level. Multiple night wakings well beyond when most normal babies can sleep through. He actually thinks 3am is 7am. Let's just add NOT GROWING  in there for kicks. It's never gonna stop, is it?

Yet I know I am the one being ridiculous. Deep down I know my baby's fussiness is only 50% his temperament, and the rest of the blame should lay squarely on my parenting. Isn't a baby only as fussy as his parents? He's just a baby after all. And bam there it is - I'm the jerk.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My baby the jerk

I've crossed some sort of parenting boundary this week. Not just the one where you leave the birthing suite with a baby with half your DNA thus making you technically a parent, but some invisible barrier beyond lovestruck parenting. You know what I'm talking about. The baby moon phase when you could never imagine your baby being capable of doing anything wrong. When your baby is an angel who poor dear only cries for a reason like teething/sick/hungry/in pain/tired.

Before I knew it I'd been telling people my baby had been teething for pretty much half his life. That's possible right?

Or is it more likely that my baby is just plain being a jerk?

This week my patience has all but run out with my child. He refuses to eat ANYTHING, sleep or do anything that might make life a bit easier for his mummy and daddy. He is totally breaking us. We spend the entire night servicing his night wakings his sleep latency worse with each week. We spend the days preparing and offering food like slaves to an unfeeling God who just laughs and throws it all over the place from his highchair throne. It's like he knows we could never bring ourselves to stop trying. We then spend the rest of the day cleaning up after him whilst my husband and I often at each other's throats being on edge from lack of sleep and battle fatigue.

I have become annoyed. And not just annoyed because of course I've felt annoyance and frustration in spades since he was born. But at some point between 3 and 5 am last night as he stared at me bug eyed refusing to sleep for hours instead squirming and headbutting me in the face repeatedly but yelling like no tomorrow every time I put him down...for the first time I was annoyed and angry AT HIM.

So there - I have crossed over into the parenting territory where you call your baby a jerk for being so damn hard and for effectively fucking with your life.

No longer can he do no wrong. Even his breath doesn't smell heavenly anymore it just smells of bad breath.

Then he wakes up in the morning completely oblivious to the hell we'd just been through to get him to go back to sleep. I actually tore an arm muscle holding him for so long last night.

I suppose I gotta keep him. He is pretty funny when he is awake the cheeky bugger. God I love that kid so much it actually hurts.

Does that make me a real parent now?

Parenthood Island

Becoming a parent is isolating.

It's like that first step into the birthing suite is crossing some invisible life sieve where only your real friends are pure enough to go through. Where parents are already hanging out with smug I told you so grins that turn into 'shit is it 6 o clock I gotta go its bedtime' looks of panic.

I feel stupid that I even have to explain that my priorities now are different. They say they understand but the haughty reception towards declining to attend parties that just don't work for your best interest of my child life view says otherwise.

Some friends get it. Others just pay lip service to really understanding that your life does not revolve around going to all your best friends' awesome parties no matter how significant the age they're turning is.

They don't really get that everything you do is just the bare minimum on which you can hang on to life. That my world and my decisions are based on being the best person I can be in the circumstances. That my circumstances involve crying three times a day while my small vanishing baby refuses to eat and throws food and yells at me. That my calendar's most notable dates are when my next appointment is with a specialist or when my baby's pathology tests come back and not whose awesome party is next. That we prioritize how we can see our family more than our friends if it involves a four hour car ride with a baby because my baby seeing friends is fun but my baby seeing his grandparents and cousins to me is crucial.

Why do I have to explain that I cant do something that is totally contrary to what my child needs right no matter how much I value our friendship.

Its been said before and I'll say it again. People with no kids HAVE NO IDEA. I'm not being selfish. I remember what it was like to be single. Yes shit was hard. But you have no idea how much harder life can be when its not ever about you. I've been on both sides. Single people who whine about their married friends being selfish I have absolutely no patience left for that as I've used up all my patience on my non sleeping non eating battles with my child.

The reality is that these friendships that appear to be falling by the wayside were all rooted in shared memories of our teens and twenties. Until you cross over to parenting island you just don't get that others don't have absolute freedom and control over their world. You say you do but I really don't think this understanding comes from a place that is any deeper than just a regurgitation of what movies and magazines say about the parenting world. A world where you function on broken sleep and 20 hour workdays for years with no weekends, no sleep ins.

Yes, just imagine a world of the eternal no sleep in. I suppose unless you have a baby or you really care about your friend, you just can't.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The hubby's garden

Despite the last post, having the hubby around does have its merits.

Our backyard is pretty pitiful and I have to say I make absolutely no contribution towards its improvement or maintenance. I am completely aware of how terrible I am at gardening.

Kale sprouts in a styrofoam box grown from seeds

The hubby is quite the opposite and is both determined and pretty successful in the garden. Recently he tried his hand at growing kale plants out of seedlings and surprised to say they are coming along. Kale is not only a hailed superfood but also really good to pop into baby food for that extra veg boost.

Transplanted into the ground.. let's wait
and see if they grow

Hitting your 30s kind of makes you wish you were more competent in something as basic as growing your own food. Maybe it's a mixture of the hipster revolution and wanting to save money but I do wish we were more self sufficient when it comes to food.

Herbs are an example of how the big supermarket chains seem to do a lot of their wallet gouging so actually having a backyard for the first time means we have invested in some pots.

Proud to say we grow our own rosemary, chives, watercress, mint, tomatoes and a few other things. So handy to just pop out to the backyard to get a handful of flavour for a quick omelette. Not bad for a couple of former city slickers.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Le sigh

Overheard this morning after breakfast:
(Husband playing with boy in his room)
"I love you so much buddy, I wouldn't change you for the world".
A warm and fuzzy feeling starts in me until the husband starts talking again... "Like if there was a hostage situation and the hijackers wanted to swap you for mummy I wouldn't swap you. I'd definitely keep you. Not mummy."
He then realises I'm in the room wiping up last night's vomit off the floor. A flash of guilt crosses his face and then a lightbulb. He quickly adds, "but then we'd bust mummy out, you and me....Yeah!"
Nice save Daddy Boo.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

He's a real boy now

My little baby continues to morph into a real live boy before my very eyes at such lightning speed I can hardly keep up with all his new developments.

my little snot-nosed monster

These are the things he can do this week that he couldn't do a fortnight ago:

His game face whilst riding his new buddy
-Pull himself up to stand. And always with an uber "I'm so awesome" grin to finish

-Throw a ball. With so much force and accurate aim that I fear that he may be good at cricket one day (my worst fears come true - I absolutely detest cricket plus think of all those wasted long days taking him to all those matches)

-Catch a rolling ball off the ground (again oh no, cricket)

-Examine whilst repeatedly opening cupboards, doors, drawers, anything with a hinge that he can get his hands on

-Perform party trick commands like a flying kiss, strong (pulls an angry Hulk face see photo right), close-open (closes and opens his fist)

-Absolutely loves loves loves to click his tongue super loud and thinks its hilarious

-Pushes himself to sitting from lying down. He spends the first ten minutes of nap time just lying down, sitting up, lying down, sitting up. Just coz he can.

-Takes proper forward steps when held up and not just jelly leg flails

-Claps his hands unprompted at the end of songs he hears on telly or even when he hears applause

-Waves hello and goodbye ..though he's been waving goodbye for a while now but I think now he gets that it's appropriate for both arrival and departures

There's probably heaps of other things he has discovered this week yet hasn't been able to express or that I haven't noticed or remembered. He definitely appears to be widening his comprehensive vocabulary and seems to be able to understand a lot of what I say to him.

It really is amazing. Now if only his little body can hurry up and grow to catch up with that big brain of his! 

We have an appointment with the feeding clinic this Friday, really looking forward to it hopefully some answers and tips about my fussy little boy.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Goodbye to my life in the circus

my wild little lion

Relief. Awash with relief.
Like a pressure valve has been located and released.

We had a much anticipated appointment with the paediatrician today to try to work out why my little boy won't eat and why he won't grow.

The week leading up to this appointment was like a long graveyard shift stretch in life. Each mealtime more anxious than the next. Every day became increments of three mealtimes. One always more arduous than the next. Tired stones felt like they were weighing on my body, pulling my heart, my limbs, my soul heavier and heavier with each breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I knew that rationally I had to remain calm and zen as food kept whizzing past me, onto me, onto the floor and everywhere except into his mouth. It took every ounce of zip I have to be the circus clown feeder I somehow ended up being. I did spoon aeroplanes so majestic that my performance could have been in an aerial show. I sang nursery rhymes. I never scolded. I sang praises so high every time he touched food you'd think he'd worked out string theory on his high chair.

I never intended to be the distraction feeder. The bring the iPad out feeder. The bribing with iced milk and chocolate custard feeder. I broke every rule I ever set for myself BEFORE I had a baby.

Listen up future parents and listen good: Parenting is a lot easier to be high and mighty about IF YOU'RE NOT ACTUALLY A PARENT.

By the end of the week, it felt like I was the disgraced circus ring master who had lost control of her little boy who had become the lion that went wild. With each meal, he grew more advanced evolving to each and everyone of my tricks to make him eat. He adapted like a rapidly evolving bacteria and each day it seemed like he ate less and less, got angrier and fussier more and more.

I knew I was NOT doing it right. I knew this was NOT sustainable. Something had to give. And it was not going to be my stubborn little boy.

By the time I walked into the paediatrician's office, I was close to losing it. I sat down on the patient's chair and looked into doctor's soft gingery hair framing his face like a halo of tranquility. He examined my boy, played with him, measured him and sat back on his doctor's chair looking at my 8.5kg wriggly little conundrum crawling havoc on his floor. And to my relief he said "I look at this child and if I didn't look at his weight trajectory, I would not think anything except that he is a healthy child".

So the verdict is...there is nothing wrong with my boy. He just needs to learn how to eat. He is just so strong-willed and independent that something has made him decide he does not like others putting things in his mouth. At least that's a lesson I won't have to teach him for later on in life.

We should never underestimate the power of reassurance of another human being, doctor or not. Just the acknowledgment that the shit you are in must be hard and that there is a way forward unloaded all my heavy stones onto his clinic floor. An hour later, I walked out and left them there.

And what do you know...the little boy gobbled up some fish fingers for dinner tonight all on his own!

Maybe sometimes in life when faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem, all we need is to sit back a little and take a load off.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Eat Pray My Love

This is not an ordinary muffin. It is a muffin baked by a desperate woman. 
One week later it lays furry, mouldy and uneaten in an unglamorous plastic box lid container.

This muffin's disappointingly dire fate mirrors the trajectory of my hopes and dreams for this kid to eat this zucchini-filled cheesy muffin, that bowl of noodles or anything at all that is remotely edible. 

Incredibly, this kid shows zealous initiative for eating anything that is most definitely not food. Furniture, plastic, cosmetics, books or especially anything from the medicine cabinet. He even has the aptitude to eat the banana peel AROUND the actual banana.

Okay, you win baby. I will say it. I am at my wit's end. I do not know what to do.

Three times a day I tell myself that this meal is not my battleground. I am calm, I am zen and my gentle good mother spirit will simply Pied Piper of Hamlin the food down his guzzle through nursery song and dance. An hour later, with my clothes soaked in toddler abstract food art, I sigh and say a little prayer that enough food made it in to sustain his wriggly little body.

I feel like I have tried EVERYTHING. Family and friends' helpful advice. Medical literature on how to handle fussy eaters. Baby advice blogs. I have given him reign. Taken the reigns. Thrown away the reigns.. I don't know how else to approach this. He thinks food is an absolute joke.

All I want is for this boy to eat. I feel like an absolute failure. And a few day's ago, this was finally confirmed so by doctors. Sadly, this little boy's growth chart just stops, literally stops at four months ago. Not a gram or centimetre grown since October 2013 (except for his head circumference.. haha ironically the one thing he doesn't need to enlarge is the only thing that has grown). The medical term for his condition: Failure to Thrive. FAILURE.

Needless to say, I felt fear... then anger...then disappointment... then shame that I have done it wrong or hadn't done enough and through it all just utter desperation.

It's hard to believe that there's anything wrong with him. He smiles, laughs, plays and makes mental leaps each day. Yet his body is so little for his age.

Please eat my boy. I just want you to grow.

Be careful what you wish for they say... I wish I could unwish that he would be my little baby forever.