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Running on empty

As I stepped from the shower this morning and considered what to wear for the day all I could think of was how much I just needed to put my tracksuit pants back on and stay at home for the day. How I needed to just be here with my babies. Mothering of two little people who collectively wake about a hundred times a night is, to be honest, leaving me running on empty. I have all these intentions to be productive, to exercise, to write. Yet I’m in survival mode which involves ensuring we are fed and clothed (even if they are fished, crumpled out of the washing basket) and loved and then falling in a heap by 8pm. And this feeling of being overwhelmed and underachieving is a sentiment I see echoed across the spectrum of motherhood.

Earlier in the year I made the intention to expect less, from myself, from my children, from each day. I didn’t mean it as a metaphorical waving of the white flag on life. In fact the opposite. For me, expecting less is about appreciating more. Instead of feeling disappointed in all I failed to achieve, I’m grateful for the meal I nourished my family with, for the soft arms of my son as they wrapped around me, for the baby giggles and squeals. Accepting that these will be the sole achievements for my day does not make me a failure. It makes me a mother, doing her best to live a happy life.

Do you think you expect too much from yourself?

Dear Eloise: Three months

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For three months we have watched you unfurl like a new leaf: little by little revealing yourself to us. And my girl, you are truly delightful. When I was pregnant with you I hoped for an easy-going child, a calming force to your brothers high-octane personality. And it seems this is exactly what you are. You are easy to sleep, easy to feed and generally just a happy little soul. Your smiles are the highlight of my day and just yesterday you had your very first little chuckle. I cannot ever do justice to the immeasurable joy of that tiny sound, the way your eyes lit up, and your cute little scrunched-up nose.

I’m finding second-time mamma-hood quite blissful. I still get to the end of most days and fall into an exhausted heap while our floors remain laden with crumbs and the washing sits in a heap waiting to be folded. I think I have come to expect less, from us all, and in doing so have gained so much more joy from the everyday. I’m painfully aware, sometimes too much so, that these days are over all too quickly. So I do my best to imprint into my memory the feel of your butter-soft squishy cheeks as I kiss them and the way you do the sweetest little stretch as I pick you up after you’ve been sleeping. I want to pause time and race into the exciting future all at once. It’s a truly wonderful place to be.

You should know your brother just adores you. He calls you “bootiful wittle girl” yet if anyone refers to you as anything other than your name he corrects them: “her name is Eloise Grace”. Everyday he asks to cuddle you and does so ever so gently in a way that continues to surprise me considering for most other moments of the day he is anything but gentle. And as much as he adores you, you seem fascinated by him. I’m quite sure I will blink and the two of you will be running around creating mischief together. For now though he is happy to plant sloppy kisses on your head and high-five your little hands.

I feel I should use this time to document your milestones (you rolled at 5 days (yes, 5 DAYS!) and smiled at 6 weeks) but honestly those things aren’t what I want to remember, what I want you to know was what was important to us, to me. And that is the time we spend with you, the way you have enriched our lives, and just how blessed we feel to have you. When people ask me how you are, what you are like, I tell them you are my delight. My little sunshine.

I love you beyond measure, sweet girl.

Mumma. x

Eloise’s birth story.

Letters to Lachlan.

The Monster & Me

Somewhere between selling a house, getting pregnant, growing a baby, parenting a three year old, working from home, searching for the perfect family house and about a million loads of washing, this poor little blog has been sadly neglected. I’ve missed it. The writing, the documenting,and the connections.

I’ve considered simply giving it up. Committing it to the cemetery of abandoned blogs (which I imagine is quite full these days). But I just can’t. I had and still have so many ideas for this speck of space I can call my own. And even if not one person popped by to say hi, I love being able to flick back through time, my thoughts and our lives.

So I’m hoping that you will find me here more often again. And over with you on your blogs, too.

In the interest of catching up on six months of half written (mostly in my head) blog posts some thoughts of late:

– House hunting with an energetic three year old is about as relaxing as attending a ballet concert with a drunk football player: you’re constantly muttering ‘be quiet’ while willing them not to tackle people they don’t know.

– When you work from home it’s helpful if the people you are working for have kids of their own and don’t mind that halfway through a business call an excited preschooler snatches the phone, just for a chat.

– They aren’t kidding when they say second time pregnant bellies pop sooner. When I was pregnant with Lachie I scanned the mirror each morning, willing my stomach to just look even a bit pregnant. This time round I’m thankful if I can still fit the jeans I wore the day before.

– Growing a baby and parenting a preschooler means far less time to stress about the baby and the pregnancy and all the unknowns that go along with them. It also leaves far less time for sleep.

– If a property listing doesn’t show photos of the kitchen or bathrooms, be afraid. And ‘quaint’ is really just real estate talk for ‘tiny’.

– I am absolutely ecstatic about having a baby girl. I’m also totally terrified. Boys, I know. I get. Is parenting a girl really any different? Should it be? Irrationally I’m expecting a sweet quiet child. Not because she is a girl really but because the thought of two crazily energetic kids is more than a little daunting.

– Talking about girls, what is with all the pink? This little girl will be rocking her brothers hand-me down navy stripes never mind that I will have to constantly tell strangers that ‘he’ is in fact a ‘she’.

– Living in a unit we have packed away a third of our ‘stuff’ and really, ninety percent of the time, we don’t ever miss it. After seven months I can hardly remember what is in the two dozen boxes stacked to the ceiling in the spare room. It’s been a testament to how much excess we can accumulate.

What have you been up to lately? Care to share a random thought with me?

The Monster & Me: Father & Son
The Monster & Me: Father & Son

“No mummy!” he says, palm outstretched to me in a sign of “do not interrupt”. He implores his dad “keep me safe”, from me that is. They laugh at their in-joke. A joke that doesn’t involve me. I watch from the sidelines, un-offended at my son’s rejection, my husband’s lack of inclusion. They continue with their games: pinching and play boxing, imaginary tigers and toddler acrobatics complete with “look no-hands” supermans and jumping off high things. Sometimes I try to join in. But I’m an obvious imposter into their little world of make-believe and tough guy antics: I squeal too loud when pinched, and don’t understand the rules of how to feed the hungry tiger.

Their relationship is a special one. It is full of fun and antics and teaching and respect. So when Lachlan’s palm goes up to me and I’m smilingly told to “go away”, I don’t mind. In fact it makes me immeasurable happy, this precious bond between my husband and our son.

The Monster & Me: Light
The Monster & Me: Light The Monster & Me: Light
The Monster & Me: Light

Days here begin in the early morning light. Little feet pitter patter up stairs as Lachlan silently climbs into our bed, curling his body to mine. Soon after, I am urged to “get-up, mummy”. And so I do, often bleary-eyed, often silently cursing my late-to-bed ways. I’m not a natural early-riser, it’s not inbuilt in me to wake with the sun. Yet, over the last few child-induced years of early mornings, I’ve come to enjoy the pre-six starts.

The eastern sun streams through our high windows, filling the house with warm flecks of light, waking our blinking eyes to the day. And the hours that follow are calm and (mostly) quiet. We eat poached eggs, I sip coffee. Chores are satisfyingly ticked off before the day has really even begun. And slowly the warm morning sky fades to blue and the day begins in earnest.

Are you an early-riser? Do you have a favourite time of day?

The Monster & Me: Lighthouse and boy

For six years of my childhood I celebrated Australia day overseas. In the middle of the United Arab Emirates to be exact. And every year, my parents, along with our Australian neighbours, would arrange an all-out Australia day party. There would be imported Vegemite, Violet Crumbles and home-made lamingtons. While the gigantic marquee set-up outside our house would be filled with hay bails, akubra’s, whip-cracking and the sound of John Williamson.

Beyond Australia day our parents read my sisters and I Australian themed bedtime stories and sung us Waltzing Matilda in thick outback accents. They recounted tales of their days as a flying doctor (mum) and vet (dad) flying across central Queensland and the Northern Territory, from remote cattle stations to one-horse towns. Every two years we would make the journey half-way across the world, back to the land of green and gold. It was summer and so my experience of Australia was always of long hot days at the beach, mosquito bites and sweet mango juice dripping through fingers. And so I grew up with this idea of what it meant to be Australian without actually having many concrete memories of the country I was born in.

Eventually we did move back. I learned that most Aussie kids would never admit to liking John Williamson, never mind sing along with all the words. I found that most coast-living kids didn’t own an akubra, know how to crack a whip, or throw a boomerang. And that Vegemite and Violet Crumbles were not an annual event but just part of everyday life.

Since those days I have been fortunate to experience many places around the world. And so I have seen how others live, and the places that they make their lives. And there is much to be desired and admired and yet each time I hand my passport to the Australian customs officer, mixed in with the twinge of holiday-end regret, there is gratitude that it is Australia I get to return to. Australia is not perfect. We have our challenges, our problems. Yet when I think about this country of ours, I can’t help but be incredibly thankful. For our freedoms, for our people and for this most beautiful of lands we call home.

Wishing you all very happy Australia Day! And for you fellow Aussies reading along, what does it mean to you to be Australian? I’d love to know.

The Monster & Me: Wedding photo

Four years ago today I walked through a sandstone garden path to the man I would marry. To the rest of my life.

And there is no-one in the world I’d rather share this life’s adventure with. No-one I’d rather talk things to death with. Or celebrate our child with. No-one I’d rather argue with. Or have press my buttons in the most exasperatingly annoying way. No-one I’d rather be there for through the ups and downs. Or have pick me up off the ground. No-one I’d rather have make me laugh until I choke. Or laugh at me when I trip. There is no-one I’d rather.

And so while I look back at the last four years with a heart full of happiness, I’m know the coming years hold just as much promise because there is no-one I’d rather have by my side.

My darling husband, thank you for four years full of wonderful life*.

*and for putting up with my odd bit of cray-zay.

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