Another month, another move

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It’s 7:15pm and I just want to crawl into my parents’ pull-out sofa bed and pass out.

12 hours earlier we left our spotless new apartment, with stars in our eyes and crumpled clothes on our backs. This was it, our first official workday from our new home.

It’s 7:18pm and we’re taking the familiar elevator up to my parent’s home to pick our son up and say no to my mum’s requests to have dinner with them – just twice, before we say yes.

We’re late because we went to buy groceries for the little guy, who starts school tomorrow. We stood in front of the vegetable aisle for 5 minutes trying to tell spinach apart from every other green leafy leaf. (It’s been 17 months since we last cooked. And last time we shopped, “spinach” was written in English. And we forgot.)

It’s 7:30pm and I’ve shamelessly handed over the freshly bought chicken and pasta to mum, asking her to cook my son’s school lunch.

It’s 7:31pm and I am so ashamed. I’ll chastise myself when I get that half an hour extra of sleep tomorrow night.

The last time I did this, it was so much fun. The novelty of sitting on the floor and eating pizzas, of picking clothes out of boxes and of imagining all the ways to fill up your corner space, is now replaced with a crippling case of nerves and fatigue. And fatigue.

It’s 8:05pm and we’ve been saying bye for about 6 minutes now. I don’t know what we’re expecting: for them to ask us to stay over tonight or to stay forever?

We enter the new place and are instantly glad to have our own space. Except when we see the kid’s lunch bowl and bottles in the sink. Why can he just use paper plates and cups like we do?

It’s 11.38pm and the only stars in my eyes now are the ones swirling around my head.

Kid’s school lunch only took about 2 hours of prep time. That should do – to impress the teachers, that is; he’s going to reject it anyway.

1t’s 12:18 and I’ve been awake for 18 hours and need to be up at I’ll-smash-that-goddamn-alarm o’clock. I’m writing this random piece because I’m overtired and cannot sleep.

Sorry, what were we talking about? I dozed off for a minute there.

Oh yeah, new house. Yay!

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Yo’ mama needs a break.

He’s a skinny boy, with nary a growth spurt in sight. He’s crawled into our bed sometime between deep sleep and morning dreams, and has now taken over my space and sleep.

I carefully slip his warm weightless arm off mine and pick up my cold weightless phone. It doesn’t take a new-age embrace-your-child-or-ruin-them-forever mama to point out what was wrong there. So I toss my phone aside and pick up his little arm again.

Why stop there? Look at the little guy lying there, curled up beside me. All trusting and cushy. So I nudge closer and scoop him up in my arms. Oh his little frame so close against mine makes it feel like he is in my womb again. All mine, and mine alone.

He promptly kicks me in the groin and rolls away to a less needy pillow.

Little turd. Doesn’t he know I made him? And that I know several other mummy clichés?

  1. I wake up with bumps along my brow and cheekbones, because for a puny 2 year old, he head-butts like a pro-wrestler.
  1. Every muscle in my body aches from changing his clothes. It’s like trying to slip 4 pairs of wet tights on a wriggling octopus – blindfolded – with one hand tied behind my back.
  1. These days, when I gather him up after a fall to “take the pain away” with the age-old remedy of mama’s kisses, suddenly it’s: “Yucky. Too much kisses, mama. Don’t dooo that.” (While I thank M for passing on his ability to crack everyone up, I very proudly take credit for his witty comebacks. And oh how it has come back.)
  1. My body is a bean bag (put that in your song, John Mayer), and not just in reference to the shapelessness. When it comes to my lap, my son has called shotgun for eternity. Once seated on me, he proceeds to squish and squirm and jump and curl and stretch and wildly trash about as if possessed by the devil. His elbows, head and knees have a way of giving me a deep tissue massage from hell.
  1. When I try to reflect on my life and where I’m headed, the thoughts come unbidden to me. What’s for dinner, what’s in the pantry, what’s in the laundry, what should we do tomorrow to keep his mind active, all the ways I could be stifling him, all the ways I’m not nurturing him, everything I’ve not done for my husband that I used to and vice versa, all the free time I have that I don’t use…was that the baby crying?? I should go. I shouldn’t. Maybe just this once. One time can set a habit. Aaarrrgghhhhhhh.

Hence, this post.

Hence. This. Post.

There comes a time in every parent’s week. When you’ve been smacked, kicked and yelled at. When the naughty corner gives them enough time to come back with an apology, but doesn’t give you enough time to calm down. When all the cuteness in the world becomes a blur. And then, you lose it when they accidentally drop a pen.

You know you can’t be angry with anyone in particular, but you want to be. You know you’re not a victim, but every bit of you hurts. You’ve got a mostly calm and independent child, so saying you haven’t had any me-time just doesn’t feel right. Even when the most well-intentioned partner, parent or friend offers to help out, your brain cannot detach.

Which is why, even when the baby has been an angel, you still need an out. Except, you’re guilty to even say the words.

Come on mamas say it with me: I need time away from my child and that’s okay.

Even when my child has done nothing but sleep all day, I still need time away and that’s okay.

I’ve had a relaxing weekend and an easy week at work/ home, I still need time away and that’s okay.

I’ve spent all day at work, and come back to a whiney little sook. I momentarily wish I was still at work, and I hate myself for thinking that. That’s okay, too. On both counts.

They’re cute as hell and bottomless pits of love and adoration. The joy they give us is pure and overwhelming. And we still need time away and that’s okay.

In 2 days when it’s Mother’s Day and they make cutesy hand-drawn cards, but we secretly wish they gave us some solid baby-free, chore-free time – that’s okay, too.

Because if I’m not okay, they’re not okay.

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Happy Mother’s Day, ya’ll.

(Mostly to my mum, who’s had to endure us, and now our kids, without a minute’s break.)

Let’s talk about talk, baby.

A few days ago, O told me he wanted a “peena budda sanmit”. I almost died of cardiomegaly. That’s an enlarged heart, FYI. That’s also more Grey’s Anatomy than general knowledge, sadly.

The “peena budda sanmit” in question was reduced to crumbs before I could establish a proper timeline detailing the name’s lifespan in my head. From cave-baby-esque banging on the pantry door to calling out for “peela balla”, it’s been a long, tongue-twisty journey to “peena budda”.

I constantly talk to him, about our day, our dreams and pretty much everything in between. Apart from developing his communication skills, I’m giving him a heads up that if he doesn’t start reciprocating right away, he may not be able to get in edgeways with me. That’s motivation, right there!

This may come as a surprise to you, but I talk a lot. Yes, it’s true. I know, I know. Take a minute to digest that, if you must. Take two.

Done? Ok, where was I? Yes, so I talk a lot. But thanks to years of writing for a living, I’ve learned to edit myself before spitting out every word that comes into my head. Except during a fight, of course. Or when that awesome human comes to talk to you. Then I may as well be banging on the pantry door, yelling “peela balla” repeatedly.

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I’m just as bad when I’ve been hurt. I analyse, overanalyse and then abuse my analytical prowess. I prepare speeches in my head and perfect them down to the parting words, to go with my dramatic exit. A few hundred different perspectives, inner reflections and devil’s advocating later, I’m ready for the confrontation. Except, all that tossing and turning took roughly 27 years and no one else gives a damn anymore.

At the other end of the spectrum, get me in front of, or on the phone with, an old friend or one of my closest people, and I can talk till the cows come home with their grandcalves. I will share and sometimes over share. It’s like I’m drunk on words, and I cannot hold my drink. Hashtag no regrets.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not alone in this.

Clearly, the vocal chords fail us when we’re angry, intimidated or hurt. Clearly, there’s nothing ground-breaking in that statement.

When I started writing this post, it was along the lines of teaching my little guy the importance of tone and the power of kind words. But now I’m wondering what happens to the words that we hold back?

Is that what we talk to ourselves about? Unresolved anger, hurt and embarrassment?

What?

Hold that walking the walk bit, we need to start talking the talk.
For a second, let’s forget the tones and intentions, length and brevity, sharpness and bluntness in our speech. For a second, let’s go back to our first words. Our “peena budda” moment, per se. When we had a basic need to communicate our basic needs.

Now let’s flip the conversation inwards.

Let’s train our tongues to frame compliments for ourselves. Hard as it may be, try telling yourself you’re awesome. It is, after all, the basic kindness we show other people. Let’s talk positive to ourselves and vent out the negatives. Not by whinging, but by flushing it out. If it can’t be fixed, flush. If it’s about people who don’t matter, flush. If it’s about the past, flush. If it can’t be flushed then take a minute to think about what you can learn from it and move on.

Wake up tomorrow – nope, why wait? – start now. Talk yourself up. Whisper sweet nothings to yourself. Be kind, adoring and inspiring.

I’m also starting to think that it’s ok to cheat sometimes. I mean, you praise people when you don’t mean it, so as to not offend them. How about not offending yourself for a change? I say, bring on the butter and lay it on thick.

Truth is, you’re pretty cool. Someone, somewhere wants to be like you. Someone, somewhere wants your home or your job or your friends.

You’re trying just as hard as everyone else at this life thing; some days are just harder than the others. You string together words to express your feelings, and you string together feelings to make sense of it all. It’s not easy, and yet, you’re here.

You’ve come a long way from your first words; now it’s time to talk nice to yourself. You’ll be surprised at what flattering things you’ll hear in return.

Mama Bare

Working mum. Daddy daycare. Hot mama. Dad bod. Mummy blogger. Dad jokes. Soccer mom.

The reason so many parents internally fight our status quo is that apart from convincing ourselves that we don’t have to lose who we used to be, we need to duck from all these labels being flung at us. Sometimes we wear them with pride, but other times we have an insatiable itch to drop the parental word. In the process, we make our kids look like monsters and ourselves like sleep-deprived maniacs. One moment we’re sucking in air through our clenched teeth and shaking our heads like we’re completely over it. The very next moment, we’re (over) sharing every poop story and our suspicion that we’re raising a genius.

To my non-parent friends (fur babies don’t count), if we’re confusing you it’s only because we’re constantly confused.

I’m writing this today because I’m one more incident* away from putting my child up on eBay.

Yesterday, however, I would’ve exhaled fire on anyone who tried to take my beautiful baby away from my adoring (borderline psycho) gaze.

This split personality is born as we try to strike the right balance. Saying ‘No shouting’ in a dangerously low shouting voice. Wildly jumping and laughing around the house with them and hoping they don’t misbehave elsewhere. Fetching a bottle of milk at 3am while pining for a bottle of red. Pulling faces to make them laugh and telling them that if they pull faces it’ll stay like that. Trying not to give in to their ginormous, heart-achingly beautiful eyes while maintaining eye contact.

Most parents have their shit together, but every word of advice and every book convinces us that it cannot be. That we HAVE to be breast-feeding, formula-feeding, water-feeding, juice-feeding, co-sleeping, cot-sleeping, chest-sleeping, car-sleeping, where-ever-the-fuck-the-screaming-banshee-slept-sleeping, sleep-training, molly-coddling, military-training, purée-feeding, baby-led-weaning-feeding, organic-feeding, burger-feeding, childcare-sending, grandma-daycare-sending, staying-at-home, working-from-home, try-anything, full-time, part-time, life-term parents and nothing less.

Fuck that shit! (Notice how every parenting blog/article is the most profanity-ridden?)

My logic is that much like marriage, parenting cannot be defined. I made the baby, now I get to make the rules! Except, I know nothing about it. I call it Jon Snow Parenting (I had to go there or his Ghost (strike two) would’ve hunted me down).

I shovel my way out of the endless shitstorm that is parenting advice, and come away with few nuggets of wisdom. But just as nuggets do no good for me except for instant gratification, these well-meaning, unsolicited nuggets may pull me through for the moment but mean sweet fuckall. Let me elaborate.

Pick your battles.
Am I raising a child or strategically taking over a small country? If at the end of this I was going to be crowned Queen of my own country, maybe I’d see some sense in all the fighting (I wouldn’t, I’m a pacifist); Instead, at the end of each battle I find myself on the floor, cleaning food from under the table or begging a confused 2-year old to forgive me. Not very regal, no.

This too shall pass.
Should I just close my eyes and count to ten thousand? Or cover my ears and shout LA LA LA LA LA till it ends?

Women have always done this.
How small-minded of me to think that I, a unique human being, created another unique human being in our unique lives.

But you chose to have the baby.
Not advice.

Pass the baby to someone else.
If I could’ve got the little critter off me for one second, I would’ve been sitting by a pool bar with a cocktail jug in hand. With mum’s best friend, guilt.

I’m sure no one’s coming to me for Jon Snow parenting advice, but hear this: Happy parents means happy babies. So pick your joys, because this too, shall pass.

Mum

Now that I’ve finished writing this, I’ve decided not to sell the kid on eBay just yet. I need the inspiration.

(If you’re still wondering who Jon Snow is and why he knows nothing, we haven’t talked in a while. Let’s chat soon, or you know, google it.)

*Incidents include and are not limited to: Refusing breakfast, lunch and/or dinner, eating only cereal for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner, regressing on potty training, incessant screaming, breaking out into hysterical tantrums just ‘cause, smacking, kicking, not being able to think logically, not seeing the bigger picture, not understanding that I need a break, refusal to play cutesy games with me, rejecting me, chocolate, back-arching crying, teething, not falling asleep when I snap my fingers.