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I am standing in the kitchen, where I suspect I spend eighty per cent of each day, you are in your highchair investigating various bits and pieces that have been placed there for your amusement, none of which are actual toys. The kitchen is a scene of chaos: food preparation spread across one bench and dishes waiting patiently to be washed across the other. Your brother races in holding a stapler he has pilfered from the office, bouncing from one foot to the other in that crazy excitable way he has. “Look Eloise” he says, opening the stapler wide like a beasts mouth ready to devour his pray. He slams it shut and you break out in hysterical laughter while I observe the scene wondering if it is wise parenting to let a three year old play with a stapler. Open. Shut. Giggles. Open. Shut. Giggles. And so it goes: the two of you playing your game where he acts the clown and you, the ever enthusiastic audience.

My dear sweet girl I must apologise for the lapse in letters. Something you will likely learn about me is that unfortunately on the scale of routine to erratic I lean much more toward the latter. My absence has not been from lack of things to write of. Not at all. In the last three months you have morphed surely and steadily from a stationary baby to a sitting, crawling, and now standing (god help me) infant. Nothing is safe anymore. The baby gate has been erected and I am in that constant state of alertness that comes with a crawling, standing baby: always at the ready to pull some tiny non-food object from your hand. I’m also coming to realise that if I want to keep dressing you in white Wondersuits, daily sweeping and mopping will be required.

This newfound mobility means play with your brother is getting easier. It tends to be a mix of happy giggles and hair pulling. He really actually adores you. And you, him. And I’m surprised that already the two of you seem to have this bond and certainly a strong affection for one another. On kindy days when we drop him off he always give you a kiss goodbye. Always. And in the mornings when you wake he asks me to lift him into the cot so he can play with you. There are also tears, of course. When you get your chubby hands on his lego creations, when he gets too rough with rolling you over, when you laugh at his tantrum-ing four year old ways. But the smiles and laughter far outweigh the tears. And seeing you two together is the most joyful sight to my tired, sleep-deprived eyes.

It has been a joy these last few months getting to know you. You remain a happy and easy-going baby: smiling for strangers with your big dark eyes and sweet dimpled grin. When you do cry you are easily placated by food, sleep or cuddles. Which is just as well because although you are not a noisy child, when you do scream it is at a volume that leaves ears ringing and ensures that your needs are seen to right away. Oh and I have to tell you about your Pterodactyl squawk. It is equal parts disturbing and hilarious. You squawk when you’re excited, when something is funny and probably most often when you are waiting impatiently for dinner. My girl, you love your food. Almost anything we put in front of you, you are happy to eat. Except banana and avocado which is surprising considering they are two of your brothers (and mine) favourite foods. It is certainly a relief having another child who is a happy and willing eater, which is just as well because you are still a pretty terrible sleeper. Good thing I’m experienced in this whole sleep-deprivation caper (your brother has given me good practice).

I just adore you Ellie, you bring so much joy to our family.

Love mummy. x

More letters to Eloise.
Letters to Lachlan.

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Happy Mothers Day

To you, the mothers in my life, thank you. Thank you for your words of wisdom and your practical suggestions, for sharing your hard learnt lessons and sometimes just making me feel like I’m not alone. Your words have buoyed me when I was sinking and inspired me to be the mother I want to be. Thank you for sharing this wonderful, crazy journey with me, Happy Mothers Day.

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My most treasured pieces of mothering wisdom

Use Your Knees
It’s easy to forget but even small children with big personalities and oodles of attitude can still find the world and all its rules a most daunting place. When I find myself at the beginning of an unwinnable power struggle with my son simply remembering to bend my knees, look him in the eye and talk to him is all I need to solve the issue. It stops the threats (mine) and the frustration (his) and nearly always leads to a happier home.

Do what works for you
There is no right way to mother. Only your way, that works for you and your family. Often parenting choices are presented to us in dichotomies: breast or bottle, cot or co-sleeping, pram or baby-wearing, cloth or disposable nappies, and so it goes on. But we are not rigid all or nothing beings. At times I’ve been a breastfeeding, co-sleeping, sling-wearing, disposable using mother. And at other times I’ve fed my baby a bottle and put her in a cot. Learning to do what works for me has saved my sanity and gifted me the joy of freedom to be the mother I want to be.

This too shall pass
A good friend first said this to me when I was in midst of a baby waking every hour sleep-deprived hell. It has become a mantra I repeat often, usually accompanied by closing my eyes and breathing deeply. When I open my eyes I am calmed and comforted and most importantly reminded that while the days may go slow the years go fast. These are days to not simply endure but to treasure.

What’s your most treasured mothering wisdom?

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?

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: Letter to Lachlan

Dear Lachlan,

You are thirty one months old and if I ever worried you were late in talking, those fears have long since been put to rest. I remember the early days and weeks and months of your life and the strange loneliness I felt while I mothered you: the house quiet but for your cries and my own voice self-consciously narrating our daily routine. Actually having a conversation with you felt a lifetime away and yet, here we are, conversing every day, and despite occasionally longing for a moment of quiet, I just love this part of mothering.

You like to tell us what you are doing, what you are thinking, what you think we should be doing (have I mentioned how bossy you are?!). There is no internal censor when you are two. And as you narrate your life and your thoughts to us, I can see your mind expanding with connections: you look at an Australian flag toothpick staked in your toasted sandwich and remark “it’s a flag, like Ethan’s” (board shorts he wore on Australian day), you see a plane flying and you remark “Ma-ma’s plane, go to South America” (which she did a few months ago). You are fiercely observant and smart to boot. And you make us laugh at least once every day.

The Monster & Me: Letter to Lachlan

Always an active child, your latest physical endeavors involve jumping and rolling and hopping. But mostly jumping. And mostly off things that look far too high for a 95 centimeter tall toddler to be launching from. Launch you do though. Sometimes even at people, a fifteen kilo boy is leaping into their unready arms their only warning. Miraculously all your bones remain intact even if your legs are a constant polka dot pattern of bruises.

The Monster & Me: Fingal Lighthouse

Lachlan you continue to challenge all that I know of patience and understanding. And teach me everyday about kindness and love.

You light up my world and I love you.

Mummy x


More Letters to Lachlan
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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?

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