Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Friend Zone: Catching Mums

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“I’m just really loving life, reallllly loving it. I’m just looking forward to everything you know? Everything!”

Ok, I admit it, I was being a little bit enthusiastic about life this afternoon. And the bounce in my step as I brought the jug of water to the dinner table, forcing some of the watery contents to spill over the side was just unfortunate timing, making me look a little crazy. Isn’t a girl allowed to be chipper?

Unfortunately for me, this time last week I was in such serious doldrums that I declared “Nobody loved me” and I couldn’t possibly see how I would get through the year.  This paired with the slightly manic bouncing with said jug of water resulted in the rather sobering response from the Toolman, “Mmm Hmm” which is husband speak for “Don’t take this seriously, her mood is likely to change with the wind”.

Ok, fair call. I have been known to be a little unstable in the past but I’m telling you, I’m on the up and up. But in order to be up, one must be down.

Enter the doldrums of last week…

Being in the southern hemisphere and therefore approaching the ass end of summer (not including the randomly hot days we get in March), it’s fair to say my friends around me have started to settle back into their normal routines and are far less, “Sure lets meet in the park tomorrow, sounds delightful!”. The Toolman was back to normal working hours by mid Jan and by the end of last week I was feeling lonely and isolated. No amount of positive reinforcement was going to help, I needed some extra company.

Mothers love to tell newly pregnant woman all of their tips and tricks of how to do things. Don’t fight it ladies, it seems to be some sort of strange biological imperative. It’s usually about bottle warmers or prams or maybe on a particularly bad day about “storing sleep”. Just nod politely at these ones and listen close to this one word of advice that I guarantee will get you through. It’s a real cracker …

As soon as you find that test to be positive, con as many amiable women around you to fall pregnant as quickly as possible. A best friend would be great, a work colleague will do, just make sure you cast your net really wide. You’re going to need them. But don’t need them so much they can smell your desperation…

You see, in the last year I realise now I have been focussing my attentions on people around me who are not available. Nice, loving but for whatever reason, not available.

“Why don’t they call?” I’d ask the Toolman. I foolishly thought that when I had a baby people would constantly be visiting (and lets face it, bringing me cake). And some did and for that I am so bone grateful I could cry. Others didn’t and I suppose for some silly reason that I haven’t quite gotten to the bottom of yet, I thought they would. I assumed it was my turn to be visited. But mainly, I’m just too darn young to have any girlfriends who have started their families and women who have gone before me into motherhood have moved on. My sister had to go and get a silly job last year and my dear cousin is now returning back to work. So I’m existing in a bit of a vacuum.

But you know what I’ve realised. People are busy with their own lives. They’re just getting by themselves, needing the people in their life to make allowances too. And you know what? I’m not that damn important!

So I decided to pull myself together. If I couldn’t find anyone to play with, I’d just get on out there, just Bella and I. So I’ve been walking and walking and walking some more. I walk everywhere. And this morning, a friend with a bub met me for a walk. And then when I was walking home, another friend with a bub saw me and “yoo hoo-ed” out her window and asked me to have a coffee. And then this arvo, another girlfriend with a bub invited me to the zoo. You see what just happened there? It’s taken me a while to figure it out I know.

And you know the best thing about all this? My face was make up free, I was in my “gym gear” throughout it all (P.s. Stay at home mums rarely go to the gym. Stretchy pants are just really comfy) and not one of these other mums bat an eyelid.

It’s ok to talk about teething and raspberry stains unselfconsciously. It’s absolutely normal to stop half way through a conversation to attend to a child only to pick it up again immediately without offending someone. And best of all, other mums understand that when you say you’re going to sneeze, it’s perfectly normal to all stop mid walk and cross your legs.

So yes Toolman, I am really loving life today. I’m more optimistic about the coming year, even if no one is around for coffee next week. I feel good today simply because I’ve spoken with friends and felt understood. Chatted around the proverbial water cooler.

We may be the boring people in the supermarket aisle, with dollops of yoghurt on our stretchy pants or the over animated mums at music class but inside we’re the amusing people of yesteryear. Don’t let the appearance fool you, we may even be quite good company.

And just like I have learnt in recent times, there just might be a special friendship in the making…

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Inadequacies of Motherhood

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She won't remember this but I will.

She won’t remember this but I will.

I’ve been eagerly waiting for the opportunity to write for weeks. After anticipating that I would be receiving a laptop for Christmas from the Toolman, I was looking forward to the prospect that it would enable me to write more. Currently, I have to take off to the office to write and raising Bella rarely allows it. Needless to say I wasn’t even slightly perturbed when instead of a laptop I was presented with a diamond ring to mark the successful first year of Bella’s life. Complaining? … Not!Following other blogs as part of my morning coffee ritual has left me itching even more for the opportunity to get back here. But I have also been left with a rather uncomfortable “blog inadequacy”.  I’ve moved in the past year into the “mommy blog” domain and thus am confronted daily with articles and ideas for balancing life, feeding toddlers, baby wearing and co-sleeping.  Mothering can now be done in a “style” and a larger than life market has been developed to largely make us all feel rather inadequate. You think the celeb magazines are bad? Pick up a parenting one and you are guaranteed to feel undermined.

I’ve only started thinking about all this in the last couple of days when I had to admit to myself that the reason I hadn’t written was that I was waiting for something to happen, something noteworthy to share. Something really exciting that didn’t start with “Today Bella ……….. for the first time”.

(Insert tumbleweeds here).

Everywhere I look there seems to be change on the horizon. Friends expecting second babies, people returning to work or study, starting a project of some sort. Here I am with Bella, just us, most days. And it seems that there is a whole industry designed to make me feel uncomfortable with this.

No one ever says to me, “That must me great”. I usually get, “Well if you don’t have to return to work, good for you” (only another woman could understand why this stings), “What do you do all day?” or my personal favourite, “Do you socialise her?”, like she’s a Rottweiler.

Just to be really really clear about it, this isn’t a blog about how a parent should be at home just because that is what I am doing. That would actually be giving me more credit that I am due. You see, being a mother at home (do we still use the phrase “stay at home mum?”) just came about for me as a result of an assumption both the toolman and I made. In that way I know I am lucky; as well as wanting this gig, I’m also with a man who wants it for me too.

Now more than ever I am venturing into unfamiliar domains. The first year of Bell’s life was undoubtedly the most transformative and difficult time of my adult life (and believe me, I’ve had some doozies)! But in a way, it was clear what my role was. Especially because I was expressing full time, my days were structured and ran on a four hour pumping routine. For this reason and because I was permanently sleep deprived, my wings were rather clipped.

Since her birthday though, we seem to have come into a whole new space. I’m not longer feeding; she’s crawling and standing and seems to understand most of what I say. This morning I found her trying to put on my socks and when I asked her to bring me my shoes, she crawled over and diligently did her best to drag them to me. I’ve gone from living with a mute stranger to having a permanently attached miniature version of myself who appears to have the same sense of humour (minus the vulgarity…give it time).

It would be too easy to simply list all the things I do in a day that occupy my time; we all know it’s a full time job looking after a child. It’s simply that all of these tasks put together at the end of the day, have little noticeable effect on anyone but the two of us. How interesting is it to anyone else that today I spent a good 45 minutes with two plastic cups, teaching Bell the art of chinking glasses and making a toast to the enthusiastic “Cheers!” of her mother. Or that I fancied myself a bit of a queen when I mastered the art of walking with the pram whilst reading a book to Bell at the same time. Hence, the blogging hiatus.

I have felt so confused that I have even considered returning to work after I received an offer from my old boss and mentor. Not because the idea really appealed to me but simply because I thought that in years to come Bella may be more appreciative that her mother was a “career woman”, rendering me utterly exotic in her eyes (I grew up in the 80s so the image of women with massive shoulder pads and brief cases still sends a tingle down my spine). But as the Toolman eloquently put it, if I did take up any more demands simply to satisfy a little girls fantasy that may or may not exist, he’d “never hear the end of it”.

So this will be our 2013. It will be about walks and books and music and weetbix. All of those things are now my social currency. I’m not the woman heroically juggling work and motherhood. I’m not the mother who runs a successful business from home. I’m not even the mother who runs bake sales. I’m the mother of a one year old and nothing else.  I usually love it, I often tire from it, and without doubt, most of the time can see the funny side (think calls to the Doctor concerning suspected radioactive blue poo after a blueberry incident).

So here we are, radioactive poo and all.

Cheers!