A Slow Start

It’s Wednesday yet it feels distinctly like a Monday. With school holidays, three weeks off work due to the uni break, Easter, an operation, three trips in and out of Melbourne (for fun) and a seasonal change to boot, the last month has seemed like a circus. A mainly good and fun and happy circus, but a circus nonetheless.

Bird went to school for one day after Easter before having grommets in and adenoids out last week. A big week but overall, a success. That afternoon as we sat in recovery she looked at me and said, “Mum, everything is so loud!” After five years of hearing and congestion difficulties, I breathed a sigh of relief. For all the anxiety that had come in making that decision, will we, won’t we, will we, won’t we; in that moment, it was worth it.

She went back to school today and I’m back to teaching tomorrow and kinder is back and KB is at work and, as such, our life will start to resemble normality once again. No more late nights, dinner when we feel like it, pyjama days or nicking off to the country… at least, not during the week for the time being. Weekends are another story.

Last night I lay in bed as the night folded around us. I heard the flow of gentle breath coming in waves from all except me. My breath was full and awake at the midnight hour, though in the daylight, I long for sleep.

And such is motherhood, flowing from one moment to the next, the uncertainty coming in ebbs and flows, the solidity of our day to day routines seemingly fluid yet always constant and neverending.

Today, we took things slowly on our first morning back. We hung around at school chatting to parents, and worked our way back home to a hot cup of coffee, babycinos and a moment around the table cutting out pictures of dragons and making people out of toilet rolls with sticky taped wool for hair. We are heading off to swimming lessons now.

Even though the routine is back and a rhythm will once again be in place, I welcome it. Sometimes it’s nice to have something to rely on.

(Oh, and I baked a cake… this simple, delicious, refined sugar and dairy free orange blossom cake.)

Bringing in the Weekend

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We’re taking things slowly this afternoon. There’s a chill in the air and nothing to hurry to or from. Just after school chit chat with the girls and breathing into this moment.

We saw some brightly coloured birds on the way home today. One of their favourite things to do is look up birds we see in my Grandpa’s bird book. We (they) rushed to the bookshelf as soon as we walked in the door and we discovered the birds we saw were

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Practising Contentment Within Parenthood

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I don’t know if it’s because I’ve exercised this morning and had a large coffee, but I’m feeling all energised and ready for life today. Not that I don’t feel ready for life normally, but I have more energy than usual for some reason.

I am a searcher by nature. Constantly searching for: things to read, things to learn, things to eat, things to think, things to do. Always searching for

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In General

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2016-04-04 16.11.15It’s late afternoon and the sun is streaming through my back door into the kitchen. Lentil and red kidney bean soup is being heated on the stove, fruit is being stewed to add to yoghurt and probiotics for a snuffly baby for dinner, cacao nib cookies have been cooked for school and kinder lunches, and honey ambrosia has been made to dollop on porridge in the early mornings. I’ve also got a batch of gelatine-based jelly setting in the fridge which I am hoping the big two will be happy enough to eat (it doesn’t taste quite like the jelly they get at the Nana’s houses!) The baby is playing on her mat while I busy myself in the kitchen and the older two are planting some seedlings with KB out the back. I can feel that lightness that comes with a baby becoming more independent, when they are able to entertain themselves for a while on the floor with a pile of blocks or some kitchen spoons or a rusk. The days of constant holding and cradling have, once again, come to an end. She is ten months old tomorrow.

Today I’ve been busy trying to prepare us for the school routine. School holidays have also come to an end, although the idea of school every day is one that still seems foreign to me, it’s going to take a while to get used to the monotony of it all (for many years to come).

Over the holidays we’ve baked bread, we’ve gone walking, we’ve made easter crowns, we’ve sewed, we’ve crafted, we’ve cooked, we’ve cleaned, we’ve celebrated Bird’s sixth birthday. We have done a lot of work around the house and in our garden and it feels great (I won’t mention the overflowing washing basket, the clothes unfolded or the state of our bedroom). We’ve planted out some seedlings for a (very) small Autumn harvest; we are still learning and feeling our way with the veggie patch. We’ve moved upwards, to one large apple crate and a few smaller veg crates and pots dotted with basil, strawberries, brocolli, bok choy, and beetroot. It was an Epic Fail for us with our tomatoes over summer (seriously, tomatoes and yoghurt are two things I just cannot get a handle on) but we had a few delicious rounds of crispy, sweet snow peas which made us feel better.

We reviewed our budget so that I can continue to do minimal and short term work, rather than going back to work permanently just at the moment. Oh boy, it’s tight! But with three kids it becomes both incredibly difficult to arrange childcare, and also the preciousness of this time becomes abundantly clear with each child shooting up and up and off and off. With the decision that I’ll be home longer, we’re also thinking about giving up the Pixie’s day at childcare which we have been hanging onto for dear life – our centre doesn’t even keep a waiting list any more as they are so full and in demand. When I returned to work last time it was near impossible to get the two girls in on the same day, I think I changed my working days two or three times to compensate. It’s a tough decision to let it go, as we also highly value consistency for the girls and I don’t want to chop and change, but the savings we will make as a result will surely be worth it.

Speaking of savings, these holidays we also found out we have a saver and a spender (what is done with easter eggs says a lot about a person). Friends, I’m sure you won’t need long to figure out which is Bird and which is Pixie…

My feet hurt from the last three hours spent in the kitchen. I think it’s time for a shower, some hot soup and crusty bread for dinner and an early night.

A big week awaits.

a few things i’ve learned so far

IMG_6115Before I had kids I thought there would be a distinct line between being a parent and not being a parent. As if you give birth and simultaneously download all the parenting wisdom you will ever need from iTunes directly into your head (one day…). I couldn’t think far enough ahead to realise that as a parent, as in life, you are constantly learning and evolving every step of the way, it never ends. Once you feel like you’ve semi-mastered one age, boom, it’s their birthday again. And my parenting predictions never did take into account the reality of personalities: the Pixie at age three is almost incomparable to Bird at the same age.

It seems funny now, some of the things I did with baby number one, compared with baby number two. And number three is just a whole other method entirely (read: no method). I used to have an app on my phone that would record sleep times (to the minute), nappies (what was in them and when I changed them), breastfeeds (how long on each side plus notes: “she fussed momentarily on the left today…” hashtag: notjoking) and… you get the drift. I actually became so addicted to using it I had to delete it from my phone (if she feeds and I don’t have my phone in hand to record it… did it really happen?!) I’m sure if I sifted back far enough into the archives here there would be mention of it.

These days things are very, very different. For one I don’t have time to think about all the things I used to think about. It is liberating not to worry so much about all the tiny details. To throw caution to the wind and do what I like. I still do feel some pressure to conform to societies wishes, but I can more easily shrug them off these days and do whatever suits me: bring my baby into my bed whenever I want, cuddle and feed her to sleep without a care, feed her what I want her to eat, not worry about charts or milestones or the dreaded “shoulds” (within reason), not remember or care (much) how many times she woke in the night.

While it’s much easier parenting with more confidence, I do so miss those quiet days at home with that first little baby. It’s such an incredibly precious time. You have a lot more appreciation for it with subsequent babies, when you realise that you now have to divide yourself between your children, that that special 1:1 element takes a lot more to orchestrate when you have a toddler (or more) screaming for your attention. I didn’t appreciate that those days of freedom would come to an end, because at the time they don’t seem free at all. If only I had known that sooner than I knew it, my life would be held down rigidly by kinder (and soon, school, yikes!) timetables, playdates, and of course, work. Schedules! Bells ringing! That the next baby would be born into these schedules, not into those long beautiful expansive days of what-ifs and whatevers and what-takes-your-fancy-today. Pyjama day? Great. Three hour walk and ten coffees? Excellent. Drive to the beach? Done. Sigh. Of course at the time I thought all of those things were too hard and I didn’t know what to pack in the nappy bag and what if she cried and people are looking at me and the pram might not fit through the doorway and I could knock something over and I have to cook dinner and it might be too hot… or cold… or in-betweeny… better stay home…

If I could go back and talk to myself as a new mother, I don’t think it would make any difference. Because I wouldn’t have been able to get to this place if I hadn’t been there. I had to go through the motions to learn that it’s ok, I’m ok, KB is ok, the kids are ok. We’ve got this! You can’t learn these things from being told, you have to experience it, try things, see what you like, what your baby likes and how you feel. Do I like the idea of rice cereal or don’t I? Am I comfortable with my baby in my bed or aren’t I? Do I need to try harder to get her to sleep longer or are we ok to go with the flow? Everyone is different, what works for one is not going to work for another, you have to figure it out yourself.

I know I’ve only scratched the surface of this parenting thing, there is so much more to do and to learn. So I guess the best approach from here is just to kick back, put my feet up (ha!) and enjoy the ride while I can. If there’s something else I should be doing, don’t feel any pressure to remind me, I’ll figure it out sooner or later. xx

it was you

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I look at this photo of myself from last summer and cannot comprehend it. It was you growing inside me. I watch a video that I took of my stomach bouncing and jostling as you kicked me, and now, knowing you as I do, I just can’t understand that it was you in there, doing that.

That you were so close all that time and I didn’t even know it. That you’re here now and that you were here all that time too.

It’s been seven weeks since Peach was born. She’s a lovely, round, squishy, smiley baby. KB has gone back to work and friends and family have (almost) all had their first cuddles. It seems that real life has continued, as usual.

But here I am, still getting to know this tiny human. Still marvelling at her sounds, her smell. Still tired and up all night and finding my way. Still feeling like it’s new, but old, all at the same time. Still wondering how all this happens, and why.

Still amazed by the fact that we made three humans.

I can’t think of where else to go with this post beyond that. I made humans. The end.

craft as meditation

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In most other tasks I am easy to distract. My mind is a wandering beast, untamed and largely unmanageable.

But absorbed in craft, it softens. It counts: slowly, rhythmically, soothingly. It imagines and creates, it thrills in possibility.

I began meditating (again) a few weeks ago, and while I haven’t been in any way regular, I have noticed correlations between my quiet meditative mind, and my crafting mind. While during meditation I attempt to harness my mind as it pulls and strains at invisible reigns, during craft it is forced to halt. It is absorbed by the act of quiet concentration.

And so in the last ten days since finishing work (!), and while attempting to distract my monster mind from the relentless (and seemingly impossible) task of flipping my baby before this coming Tuesday’s ECV, I have immersed myself in craft.

Stitch by stitch by little stitch I have soothed my mind and spirit. I have counted, stitch by stitch by little stitch. I have twisted my hook around wool, stitch by stitch by little stitch. In combination with all the other body and mind work I am doing this pregnancy, it has kept me in good stead.

And here I am, four beanies, pom poms, a pixie bonnet, a kotori jacket and half a lady sized beanie later, mind relatively at ease. Upcoming ECV on Tuesday not causing (much) [out of proportion] angst.

What about you? What do you reach for to calm a busy mind?

letting go: the extensive lessons of motherhood

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I stand in the kitchen chopping up pumpkin to roast and feel my baby kicking: low in my pelvis.

Instead of feeling elated at my baby saying hello, I feel drained. My darling number three is currently breech. Those of you who have been with me for a while will know that one of the reasons our Pixie is nicknamed as such is due to her stubborn breech positioning – for the Entire Pregnancy until an external cephalic version just after 36 weeks.

While my logical mind tells me all of the things that could be happening which would be much worse than this, when you are faced with a situation that is entirely out of your control and is also on a schedule, it doesn’t feel good.

I don’t mean to complain or whinge; simply to write and to figure things out in the process.

When I was pregnant with Pixie I could barely even say out loud that she was breech. I internalised this “malpositioning” and couldn’t make sense of it. Why would my baby do this? Is there something wrong with me? With them? Don’t they see the big neon flashing sign saying EXIT DOWN HERE? What is wrong with this partnership?

I took myself off for endless appointments: acupuncture, moxibustion, chiro, massage, NET, yoga, and on and on. I remember one week where I was so overwhelmed with turn-the-baby appointments I just crumpled. This was not what pregnancy was meant to be like. I wanted to enjoy my baby. I wanted to relax into pregnancy, not fight it every step of the way. I wanted to connect with my baby.

In prenatal yoga, my teacher repeats often: “Trust in life. Trust in breath. Trust your body. Your body knows what to do.”

I completely lost trust in my body and my baby. And now that it is happening again, I feel that maybe I haven’t regained that trust. Now when I hear those words, I imagine all the other women in the yoga room who are able to trust their bodies and their babies, and I long to be one of them.

I promised myself this pregnancy would be different. But now looking back, who am I to promise anything about my pregnancy? It is not in my control, after all. This is one of the biggest lessons I have had to learn – and am still learning – about pregnancy, birth and parenting. For the first time in your life: things are not in your control. You cannot choose how your body “does” pregnancy. You can’t choose who your baby is or what they will decide to do. You cannot choose how you will birth, or what your baby will be like when he/she is born. You can prepare, certainly. You can read, you can practice, you can prepare. But you can’t control.

I look forward on my calendar for this week. I have appointments jammed in either side of my working hours and kinder pick ups: acupuncture, chiro, yoga, massage. I have times of the day where I will hang myself over the edge of the couch and pray for that beautiful rounded head that is nestled comfortably up in my ribs to make its way down south. I walked around the house the other day with my iPod down my pants to try to get the baby to turn to the sound of music. I hold an icepack over the top of my stomach and then hurl it away again, feeling terrible when my baby starts to wriggle around in the cold – how could I?

I had a horrible week last week fighting this baby, this pregnancy. I was consumed by it, it ate away at me every waking moment. I dreamt about the baby, I dreamt about appointments, about hanging upside down and doing headstands in the pool. My friendly, logical mind reminds me that I should be kinder to myself and to my baby, so this week I aim to be.

I woke up yesterday morning and I felt better. I am practicing acceptance. I am doing what I can. When I feel my baby kicking and moving, I try to replace any feelings of dread (Where was that kick? Where is the baby if I am feeling the kick there?) with positivity and loving kindness. I think about baby names and holding this baby in my arms, soft and sweet smelling.

I try my best.

headspace, balance, and other anomalies

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I am on a continual quest to find these things on my path through motherhood. Sometimes I feel it hits – voila – a moment, a space, a sensation in the air: you can breathe and stand tall and freely. A time when the toys are in baskets and the washing is semi-done, the children are fed and semi-clothed, the beds are made and we have semi-slept. You smile and they smile and on you go. Other times it’s like wading through a relentless, chaotic, burdensome day of the groundhog. Like one of those dreams where you are trying so desperately to get somewhere and you try to move your limbs, and it hurts, but you’re swimming through wet concrete, it’s sticking to your skin and pulling you backwards and downwards.

As a mother, I am forever yo-yoing between these two places and in amongst the grey matter that resides from here to there. Things are changing, nothing is stagnant. There are continually things to learn, to be, to do. It can be overwhelming.

Will we parents ever get to the other end? I think part of it is just accepting that perhaps we won’t. To find those joyous moments amongst the chaos, to hug and kiss and love our children and read them that extra bedtime story they so long for, to stay here, in the now, and not worry about what is happening tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. To remember why we do what we do, to focus on the values of family and connection, and what that means for you, and yours.

Do you know what I mean?

news in dot points

* I ran my first workshop for teachers the other day at the not-for-profit I work for. One of the teachers fell asleep.

* My step-grandmother passed away a fortnight ago. At the funeral, my sister (who has Down syndrome) snuck in on the private family viewing and then proclaimed loudly to me that the body looked like a zombie.

* I booked a surprise family weekend away in Gippsland to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks. When I excitedly showed Birdie photos of the house we are staying at she proceeded to burst into tears and said she would miss her own bed.

* I thought it was about time I did something motherly and domestic, so I decided to vacuum. Then I vacuumed up a sock and now I can’t vacuum any more.

* The Pixie was having a wonderful time in the bath, KB and I sat by the side of the bath talking after a long day. It took us a few minutes to realise that she was studiously playing with a giant turd of her own making. Birdie then hysterically tried to get away from the poo and it chased her around the bath.

That’s all my news of late.

Hope you’re all having a fabo weekend with your families xo

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