Category Archives: Parenting

The Call of Motherhood

My Best Sad Face: If you look closely you may spot some of those dinner chunks.

My Best Sad Face: If you look closely you may spot some of those dinner chunks.

Fake eyelashes at the ready. Freshly whipper-snippered legs ready to go-go. Boots sitting patiently at the door (recently Scotch guarded in case a pesky teenager spills a beer on them). Oh the delight … Mum’s a-goin’ out!

OK, last night was not good. I was up all night on the couch with Bella as she sent projectile vomit through all the pyjamas I own. I was glad to see this morning she was feeling  better and would be fine while the Toolman and I headed out.  I was just reflecting on how well we had managed through the long hours of the morning when I found my cleavage full of what was left of the contents of Bella’s stomach. And it’s a hefty cleavage, let me tell you.

It’s ok, I can still save this, I think to myself. A quick trip to the Dr and some Play School and Bob’s your uncle, we’ll have a healthy bouncing toddler again. The Toolman and I have waited nine months to see the wonderful Pink in concert who also appears to be the coolest and most attached celeb mum in the business.

*Cue diagnosis of ear infection and accompanying gastro*

Not to be disheartened, I negotiated a night out alone if I could find someone who might want to come with me (purchasing the spare ticket at the same time would be great).

*Cue nobody wants it*

After a couple of calls mainly just to family, I’m now too embarrassed to call anyone as it is becoming evident that my choice of music is less than favourable for everyone else except my husband….who can’t come…on account of the gastro riddled lady baby.


And as Bella lays on my chest sleeping, half sobbing “Mama”, I’m inclined to think that my place isn’t at that concert anyway. It’s with her. And just because I am an exceptionally slow learner, I’ve come to realise once again today that the days of doing what I want, when I want, are so far gone, they could slap me on the face and I wouldn’t recognise them.

*Cue unconditional love, mixed with a touch of resentment, mixed with guilt, mixed with love again*

The irony of the situation is that one of the songs I was looking forward to hearing tonight, “Good Old Days” has got me through many a challenging day at home. The lyrics urge you as you listen to look at the now and appreciate what you have in the moment. To treat today as the “good old days”.

Yeah, that could’ve worked dancing around the arena tonight but lying here with last nights dinner chunked in my hair…

*Cue. One. Big. Sigh.*

First World Problems and Maintaining Friendships

Because it's all about Bella.

Because it’s all about Bella.

I really wish this was another one of those lovely letters mummy bloggers are fond of (and I’m quite partial to as well of course). You know the ones that start with Dear Bella and continue on to talk about how our little ones are the loves of our lives. Well before reading on, lets just assume that I heartbreakingly adore my child. And while we’re at it, lets also acknowledge that I’m about to go on a First World Problem rant and that I, nor my child is ill, we have food in the cupboard and small change in a porcelain pig on the night stand, placing us in the most blessed percentile on this known earth.


I’ve been in the midst of a crisis of personal circumstance for a few weeks and I don’t think “the grass is always greener” argument is going to snap me out of it. It’s actually fair to say that after I physically recovered from having Bella, I’ve pretty much been stuck in a period of adjustment ever since. I have written about this before as I have tried to desperately explain to my friends how confusing it feels to love a child that well, sometimes you simply want to palm off for a night so you can go and pretend you still know what it feels like to be totally unencumbered from the weight of responsibility you were so totally unprepared for.

I know this sounds simple and I can hear a chorus of parents that have gone before me chanting, “suck it up, you can get back on the turps in a few years” but I feel like there are a few more layers on this.

You see, quite a few of my young silly years have been consumed with illness that you could say left me rather antisocial. Unfortunately, during a few of the years I really should have been spending my pay check on frivolous weekend drives to the beach, my then boyfriend (now husband) and I were worrying about my health. Yes, there were some great years but the time after we got married was devastating. I alienated myself from all of my friends, I gained over 35 kilos and most of our romantic encounters were spent playing cards on my bed in a psychiatric hospital. Even when I was well, it was always mostly the two of us.

I recovered from this as the lucky ones do and the past few years have been lovely. As soon as I lost the majority of the weight I gained and I finished the study which served to rehabilitate me into normal routines, I was pregnant with Bella.

Which was my choice.

Which was my blessing.

Which was my life long dream.

I just had never conceived that I would feel like I lost a part of my life and for some reason, it has started rearing its ugly head now. It could be because I am smaller or it could be because you want what you can’t have but I have other suspicions.

During those years, I lost a lot of friends. My fault. My disease. But having Bella gave me the real push to rekindle these friendships with girlfriends lost and it’s been great. Unfortunately for us, we have sort of missed each other in life timings. They don’t have kids. I do.

In the beginning I think I was kind of cool about it and really tried not to talk about Bella and asked about their dates or their boyfriends or their work but eventually I’m required to talk about myself and my contributions have become increasingly desperate as I try to convey the monumental change that occurred in our house, our relationship, our whole existence when we had Bella. Inevitably, I end up saying things like, “I need to go because if Belle falls asleep here, she wont nap later and I’ll be up all night which wont work cos’ we have music class in the morning”. And then I get in the car and I literally want to drive off a cliff because I AM THAT MOTHER.

Lately though, I’ve had a few conversations with some friends and people that frankly, I don’t even know that have left me retreating. Let me just say that I have NEVER said to anyone that is childless “you say that now but just wait till you have kids”. See, I know how patronising that is. How that makes you feel small. But I tell you what makes me feel small. Comments like,

“You really should just continue on living your life and take Bella with you”, or

“You need better role models to look up to that just take their kids everywhere”, or my favourite,

“You really need more couple time…to really connect”. Deep breath.

You know what peeps, please don’t even say “date night” around me. And I don’t really want to take my 15 month old out to a beautiful restaurant mid week. You know why? It’s got nothing to do with her, she’ll love it. She’ll throw food around, sleep all the way home and then party all night. But it will be a FRIGGIN NIGHTMARE for moi. And before you be helpful and suggest some “alone time”, now that our lifestyle has changed and the Toolman works rather gastly hours, I can’t really leave her at home during the week with him at all. I love that we live in a society where I can strap her to my back and bring her everywhere. I love that my friends think she’s really cute and never seems like trouble. I love that they love her.

And she’s not trouble and she’s not a burden. She’s just a child and as much as she is my everything, I’m not sure in hindsight that I had enough time to enjoy not being a sick person.  So I’m stuck in this limbo land where I need to get over what I feel I missed out on.

Most of all the point is that I have friends that for whatever reason like me and keep inviting me back and they’re the real friends you don’t often find that you can talk about horrible boils in horrible places with and not be the least bit embarrassed. I’m really lucky they’re there but unlucky they’re not there…you know, that place where you drive to each other’s house in your most glamorous track suit mid morning with a few kids in tow.

All in all, this isn’t about them, or Bella, or the Toolman. It might even be because I’m happy and in a good place I’m looking back over some of the years gone and thinking that sucked. It could even be that I have a child of my own now, I’m thinking more about myself when I was younger. That I could have been doing things that may have prepared me better for this time. Stories that I would have kept hidden from Bella; her mothers larrikin antics.

As I said, I wish I could have explained this in a loving letter but for whatever reason, I write it here instead for you all (mainly my mum lets be honest). One day she’ll understand how I struggled with early motherhood because I didn’t get drunk and silly enough in my early years.

And I’m guaranteeing that because I’ve been entrusted to raise her, that’ll make perfect sense….

Call to the Church: A Mothers decision not to Baptise



Having been raised a Catholic or as my Grandfather always insisted, a Roman Catholic, it has been a very considered decision that I have come to in choosing not to Christen Bella. One of the biggest misconceptions about me is that having turned my back on religion, I too have turned my back on spirituality. In actuality, I take them both very seriously. For this reason, I can’t in good faith (sorry, couldn’t help it), christen Bella knowing that I wasn’t 100% convinced it was the right path for our family.

In the past couple of days I have found myself thinking about this more and more as the new Pope is elected in Rome. Despite the fact that I no longer intellectually identify as a Catholic, the ceremonious grandeur of the robes and the smoke and St Peter’s Basilica has had me yearning that just like Santa, I still believed. I’ve even had a sudden urge to ring my family and ask them about it.

It’s a hot button topic, I’ll give you that. I too feel the sting of criticism when it’s not coming out of my own mouth when aimed at the Catholic Church. Unfortunately for me my own religious education was entrenched in so many misunderstandings, rules and anxieties about not knowing “the next line” in church that I’m pretty sure I missed the point. Ritual after ritual we were asked to complete, knowing little apart from the fact that we all “loved God”.

And that’s nice in a way because it makes you feel closer with those around you and it’s lovely to be part of an in-group where everyone knows the same language (think Hail Mary). I was even an Alter Girl which was fun I suppose but had to give it away because I couldn’t get my head around when to ring the bell. Especially because I was the type of little girl who wanted to get all these things right, I’ll admit this probably caused more anxiety in me than others. But still…

So about ten years ago, I decided the church wasn’t for me and stopped thinking about it. I got married (civil ceremony) and carried on with my life. But then a funny thing happened. I started coming back and talking with people who identified as being Christian. More and more, this idea attracted me. My husband and I tried a few different churches of different denominations with the main theme being Jesus himself. This appealed to both of us.

Being a Catholic and a Christian can go together…or they cannot. Certainly not all Catholics are Christians and vice versa. When the child sex abuse stories started leaking one after the other and I began talking with people who had been abused in the church, I pretty much closed the door. It’s very difficult for people to hear what I am going to say next because as Catholics you have invested your whole life in this religious belief or practice but I truly believe that the abuse within the church of young people has been systemic and that if the same practices occurred in any other organisation, it would be likened to a cult. This is especially upsetting and sad for the dear Christians who have dedicated their life to the Vatican.

Having this all pretty clear in my mind it surprised me that after having Bella the old beast started raising its head.  At one point I actually wondered whether Bella would go to hell if she wasn’t baptized? The Toolman and I started seriously talking about a baptism. Therefore, we were also considering what it would be like to go to Church regularly. And for Bella to attend a religious school. If one thing was made up in our minds, if we were going to do it, we were going to do it. No fair weather Catholics in this house, otherwise what the hell (sorry again) is the point?!

Well the point for many is that the Catholic Primary schools are often the best, have the most opportunity and are notoriously better than their state counterparts. The idea has even been introduced to me that I should just get over it and christen Bella so I can give her a superior education. This really concerned me. Of course I want the best education for her. Maybe we should just do it.

And then Tim said something that hit me sideways. Out of the blue he said, “If Bella isn’t a Catholic, can she go to a Catholic school?” (Bless his hippy socks)!

“Umm, no honey”.

“Doesn’t seem very Christian to me. I don’t want her to go to a school where all kids aren’t allowed to go. Doesn’t seem like a Jesus thing to do” he remarked casually.

I think it’s fair for a group of people who share religious beliefs to want to be educated under the same roof but my husband was making a good point and one I couldn’t ignore. As much as I want to want it for Bella, want her to feel the same as her cousins (because what kid wants to be different?!), and some Italian Roman Catholic part of me wants to put her in her Holy Communion dress, it still doesn’t mean that the Catholic ethos is right for our family.

And most of all I don’t want to be a Catholic simply when it suits me. For some it suits them in the night when they have a chat to God and it suits them at the dinner table when they talk to their family about Him. Or for some, it’s just because they want to be Catholic. Who knows? But we’re not really prepared to do any of that, so lets face it, it would just be about the school.

It needs to be said it has been difficult coming to this conclusion. There’s a psychological idea referred to as cognitive dissonance. Basically, it occurs when you hold two opposing beliefs, values or ideas that oppose each other. Often this is obvious when someone has held a belief all their life and in old age, when they have to face a new idea or reality, they become angry and just continue on with the old idea without examining it.

This is how I often think about religion. I truly want to be part of the group but I can’t put the abuse, the anti-same sex marriage and the dogma to the side to suit my desire to be part of an old tradition for traditions sake. And if Bella ever asked me about all this I’d find it too hard to explain away.

For these reasons, I truly resent it when people just brush my spirituality aside. My relationship with the church is complex and most importantly considered. I’m a Christian but no longer feel Catholic so am not really sure wher to turn? Who knows, I may return to it and sometimes, I even attend (always an Anglican church though) because we are all still searching for something. At the moment, as a family we are watching from afar.

Bella doesn’t mind. Tim doesn’t mind. And I’m convinved neither God and certainly not His Son would turn any of us down at the gates of Heaven. It’s the little Catholic girl in me that’s scared and imagining rows of women yelling Mia Colpa at the shiny gates.

Some habits die very hard.

Raising Healthy Girls and the Diet Trap

Bella out with her friend Ninja: Making health and exercise part of our life

Bella out with her friend Ninja: Making health and exercise part of our life

“Bread goes straight to the hips Bella” my friend caught me saying this morning.

“I thought you weren’t going to talk to Bella like that” she said. Busted. Big time. There I was perpetuating the generational cycle again. Message given: bread bad but delicious, therefore should be eaten in large amounts behind closed doors in a binge like fashion. Not to mention the message about a woman’s hips needing to be a certain shape.

Those who have followed this blog will remember my entries about weight loss. What I have failed to mention here lately is that since Bella was born I have been trying to shed the weight that I gained whilst pregnant.

Let me recap quickly for you. 2007: got married. 2008: became depressed and spent the best part of 18 months rotting away in a psychiatric unit trying to recover but nonetheless, gained 40 kilos in the process (talk about “blowing out” after marriage right?). 2010: got well on the road to recovery, jumped back into life and started down the weight loss path and lost 30 kilos by Christmas 2011. 2012: carried Bella to term and somehow managed to put it all back on.

Now I know what you’re thinking, why did I do it to myself again? Well I can honestly say, I had no idea it was happening. I didn’t own scales at the time and as my big belly grew, the fact that my ass was growing at the same time seemed to elude me. Sure, I couldn’t fit into my clothes but wasn’t that a product of the pregnancy? Apparently not.

So a couple of months after having Bella I procured some scales and was absolutely astounded to see that I had gained over 25 kilos. No, it wasn’t fluid and she was a few months old at that point so it definitely wasn’t her. It was just fat. Friggin fat..again! Deep breath.

Before I fell pregnant I was ten kilos away from my goal weight which by the way was not thin but very comfortable. Having Bella has just put a little stumble block in the way of returning to that goal. The good news is that I have managed to lose 22 of those kilos since that dreaded day on the scales a few months after she was born. But I now have to finish what I started in 2010 and lose that extra ten and get back into wedding dress shape.

But I’m so darn tired of it. I’m tired of this being an issue and I’m tired of being in the proverbial no man’s land when it comes to shopping (every other size 16 woman on the planet knows what I mean when I say this!). But most of all, this little problem needs to be nipped in the bud quick sticks if I’m to set a great example for Bella.

Just to be clear, the example I’m aiming for is not to be thin and beautiful. It’s to be healthy and happy. I’m a short woman so pushing 80 kilos around is not healthy and it certainly ain’t happy. So for the last six months I’ve been pushing the pram up and down hills, over creeks and under bridges. I even went to a Zumba class for seniors last week for heaven’s sake (which by the way was delightful)!

But all that aside, as well as the self-ingratiating sentiment that by doing all this I am somehow being a good mother, I went along this morning and managed to demonstrate that I really haven’t got the picture yet.

So how do we raise these girls of ours then? I read a quote from Kate Winslet that said “As a child I never heard one woman say to me I love my body…no one woman ever said I am so proud of my body. So I make sure to say it to Mia because a positive outlook has to start at an early age”. This quote had quite an effect on me and for some time I tried to follow suit. I started small and told Bella that I really like my fingers and then slowly ventured up to telling her I liked my tummy.

But it felt weird and it went against everything I have been taught about modesty. Perhaps it isn’t right to raise a little girl who goes into interactions with other little girls talking about how beautiful she is anyway? But mainly, I’m not a liar and my stomach resembles more of a circus act than anything else. Like the rest of me, it’s just hanging around waiting for the plastic surgeon to arrive.

Perhaps the best thing is to not mention anything at all; not food, not my fingers, not even my curly mop which Bella seems to have been blessed with as well. Maybe by some sheer luck of the draw she will be a confident little girl despite all the images she sees in the media and her mother’s venomous dislike of her body. But I doubt it.

I fear it’s my job to do this one thing right. And all I know right now is that it starts with those hills and that pram and the last ten kilos so that Bella only knows a mother on the beach who is bouncing around in all her stretch-marked glory with confidence, rather than hiding under an oversized caftan. And while I’m at it, there’s only so much holding-the-camera-above-your-head-whilst-simultaneously-pulling-your-chin-out-and-placing-your-hand-on-your-hip can do for the Christmas photos. Perhaps if I’m happy though, she’ll know no other condition but to be such.

With some embarrassment I’m owning up to my folly during pregnancy and making the public resolution I made here some three years ago. This weight has got to go.

So all together now, collective sigh….Here’s to 2013 and lacy knickers.

P.s. G-srings, boxers, briefs, (new addition of Spanx) and nudies also welcome.

The Friend Zone: Catching Mums


“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…

Inadequacies of Motherhood

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.


Thou Shall Not Judge Baby on Leash


There has been a recent story in the media proven to be perfect fodder for mums around the proverbial water cooler. The “story” is simply an image of child, fastened to a pole using a child restraint while her mother ventures into an establishment to run an “errand”. The story is particularly emotive as said errand turned out to actually be a TAB equivalent where the mother is placing a bet on probably her lucky horse.

If we take away the fact that the mother was gambling (it’s probably not fair to criticise someone who so clearly needs intervention quickly), we are left with a mother who pretty much tied her child to a pole like a cute puppy. “Child restraint” is a politically correct term for it. Lets face it ladies, it’s a leash; we may as well put horse blinkers on our kids while we’re at it. And what about those feeding bags they tie on horses too? That’d be handy.

It was at mothers group today after bringing up this topic, that I was getting myself into a froth of judgement when one dear friend simply said, “Let’s just wait a year and see what happens”. She kindly reminded us that while we may judge now, we too might be pulling on the lead getting our kids to heel in less than a year (sorry, last dig I swear).

Driving home I felt like a super bitch. I so often preach about supporting all mothers in their choices, etc, etc. but I’m just talk. I do judge the child restraint but I don’t even have a child old enough to find that I too may want to use one. Whether or not I will use it and whether or not I agree with their use in the first place really isn’t the issue here. It’s the fact that I am all too happy to judge when it is the very thing I have committed not to do. By the time I got home I almost wanted to put Bella in one in support of those mothers who clearly feel they have no other way of getting around a shopping centre without one.

It got me thinking about my dirty little secrets….you know those moments that you’d rather not have on camera?

I told the mothers at mothers group today about the time my husband came home and found me at the computer up one end of the house and Bella down the other, watching T.V., sitting in a dirty nappy with spit up down her front. I was answering some emails and had managed, within the space of about three minutes to look neglectful. Let me not even get onto how I sat in judgement while pregnant about how much television children watch these days. My daughter isn’t even one and she knows how to turn the television on and off….with the remote….the right way up!

Oh and then there’s the famous nappies. The $600, yes SIX HUNDRED dollar cloth nappies which were NEVER used. The breast feeding which turned to bottle feeding. The wooden toys that turned electronic. The homemade muffins that turned into Kraft cheese slices as a snack…it goes on and on.

When Bella was born, I resisted giving her a pacifier/dummy because my husband and I felt that it was a form of censorship; that it would silence her emotions, therefore stifling her psychological development. I am not even joking about the last bit. Eleven months on and I can say one of the best days of my life was when she worked out how to stuff the dummy back in her own mouth.

These are our dirty little secrets. The ones we’re all too scared to lay on the table. To say that some days, we’re just too tired, too fed up or too bored with the cheese muffins to give a damn. And it doesn’t mean we don’t adore, no dote on our children; it just means we’re trying to get by.

My Aunty used to always tease me that she was going to call “DOCS” (the Australian protection body for children) when she found Bella had cold feet or a runny nose. It was an ongoing joke. That was until I found a photo of my cousin asleep in a car, sunburnt with no hat, covered in chicken pox and a snotty nose. I cannot tell you the delight experienced in finding this photo. I had caught her red handed! What was wrong with me?

Perhaps as mothers we would all be better served if we wore placards around our neck, displaying our mothering secrets for all to see. “I give my child Panadol when they won’t sleep”. “I leave my child in a wet nappy while I cook dinner”. “I put my one year old in front of a Disney movie while I check facebook”….they’re dirty aren’t they?

I challenge you today to tell one of your mother friends one of your dirty little secrets, to exchange placards.

Because whilst I may be anti-restraint, I am pro-mother. And I have my friend from mothers group to thank for reminding me of that.





The Holiday



Enjoying the small things. A ladies lunch!

I’ve had a really good day today. A really good day. You’re going to have to stick with this one though. It started with an early morning wakeup call from my brother that went like this.

“How was your weekend away in Lorne?”

“Not bad. I’m a bit tired.” I yawned.

“Who’d you go with?”

“Ummm…just us and a few friends. Six adults and Bella (our daughter)”.

“No other kids?!!! What were you thinking?” he laughed. Precisely!

Let me just start by saying that the friends I went away with are delightful. Pick of the bunch type of people. Top notch. But I just wish I had had the above conversation a few weeks ago. By about the second day in to our four day break I was feeling down and resentful.

I’ve been aware over the years of the dilemma facing parents as I’ve heard my sister in law talk about how holidays away are merely a matter of picking up your life and your routines and transporting them to a different location. The holiday simply lies in the fact that there are more people to witness the doldrum. It seemed to me that there were constantly things that we were not able to do. Morning one, activity one: a hike in the heat. Afternoon one, activity two: lazy naps and smoking in the hammock under a tree. The writing was already on the wall.

By evening two my poor friends were witness to what can only be described as a full mummy-meltdown tantrum. Had I been a four year old I would have been flailing my arms and legs around, rolling on the grass. I didn’t intend on bursting into tears straight away, I was trying to be laid back and cool, demonstrating the fine and seamless art of attachment parenting…take your kids anywhere, strap them to your back, live, laugh and eat plenty. But as you are all aware by now, my experience of this takes work and plenty of it. My weekend would have been much easier if I were the “pop them in a play pen and swing them a little phenergen if need be” be type of mama.

In truth, what was really going on was that behind my good old fashioned tantrum was the desire to do what I very well pleased. To sit with my friends, pick up the paper at will, drink wine in the afternoon. And I can’t do this anymore. And they can. And I found this too overwhelming to contain. Herein lies the childish tantrum.

One of my friends (male) made two points, put quite bluntly. 1. This is the price for a “beautiful little girl”, and 2. You need to decide what it is that you really want to do and feel you can’t do while having a daughter and make moves to sort out some time so that you can do them. Both infuriatingly logical and reasonable. Another friend (female) responded differently, “You just want the choice of how to spend your time don’t you?” Bingo!

But infuriatingly logical male friend is right. It is the pay off. This really should be the end of the tantrum. Right? Well the tantrum may be over but the feeling remains.

And then something else happened on our little holiday which put the wheels in motion of today being a really good day.

The toolman and I walked down to the beach to see a friend of ours who had been lying in the sun for some hours. The toolman and my friends had all spent the afternoon napping while I entertained our ten month old who didn’t feel like following the holiday snooze time itinerary. Needless to say, as we walked towards the beach I was wondering why I was there in the first place. I was pretty sure that I spent the afternoons doing the same thing at home.

As soon as we arrived on the beach bubba decided to start squawking and in the afternoon sun and the sand, I decided to almost immediately return home. It was close to bed time, she needed dinner and a bath and by staying here while she was obviously tired, I would be making our night time routine more difficult. Only another parent would understand this logic.

But the toolman insisted we stay and cradled her in his arms on the beach while she slept, throwing caution to the wind and deciding that we would deal with whatever happened later. If she was then going to sit up till midnight, we’d deal with it. Somehow I managed to enter into a conversation with someone I hardly know and will probably never see again about enjoying the moment, mindfulness, Eckhart Tolle, mediation, liking myself, not liking myself and how I can make my days more balanced. It was bliss. Mainly because my husband was so beautifully resting with our daughter but it was also because I felt like me again. Not just a 24/7 milk machine but the person who used to do this, talk relaxedly with friends. The importance of this cannot be underestimated.

Admittedly this conversation was at the back of my mind within about an hour when bath and dinner time were at the forefront but I was reminded of it today when I was alerted to another blog. I opened it and started to read about a womans plight looking after her kids and wanting more time away. Tick, yep, sounds like me. And then she wrote that “grappling for time apart from our kids often leads to more frustration and upset all around. It rarely recharges us enough, as promised, to feel better when we come back and we are stuck in a vicious circle of craving more and more (and feeling frustrated when we can’t get it).”

She goes on to say that the more we desire time away, “Mummy time”, all things that we are told we need to keep us sane, the less we actually enjoy time with our children. This made me STOP DEAD. How much of the day do I actually spend thinking about time away from my daughter? How much of the day am I stressing about getting into another room to do the dishes, the washing, pay bills when I could be sitting with her and watching her in her little but very important play. A lot. The answer is a lot.

I have always thought that mothering is hard if it’s done right. I have been proud of sacrifice I have made for our girl. I have also obviously developed an unconscious ideal that being the best mother I can be means it has to be hard work. But what if it isn’t hard? What if the place is a mess and birthdays are forgotten and Bella and I spend hours together on the floor mastering the art of getting that oval peg through the oval hole. What if I push my friends in their hammocks away and pull my daughter closer. What if I watch the expectation of having time “for me” move in and out of my mind.

Today I saw a pile (now I mean a dirty big pile) of biscuit crumbs under the rug and I put my girl in the pram and went for a walk in the sun. I stopped to look at a tree trunk and nearly laughed at myself. I started describing the tree truck and most certainly did laugh at myself. Walking along a main road, I had a mum behind with a toddler on a trike (embarrassingly somehow keeping up with me pushing the pram) and passed a mother on bended knee negotiating with her four year old about something.

I felt a whole new type of proud walking along knowing that I was actually enjoying it; that this was better for us than picking up the crumbs. That if family and friends saw said crumbs and wanted to make a judgement about them, they could do so because my daughter and I had a sweet secret; that we’re not worried about them.

On the way home I thought about stopping for a coffee as Bella was now asleep in the pram and it was a sunny morning. I thought about buying a magazine and sitting there, flicking through the pages while Bella slept. But I went home instead.

As I said, today was a good day but it wasn’t a miracle!