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

bon voyage social media

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My thumb hurts.

I looked down at Peach today and saw she was smiling at me. I nearly missed it


because I was too busy scrolling. Mindlessly scrolling through the depths of Instagram.

I couldn’t tell you what I was looking at. It was just one image after another, scroll, scroll, scroll, pause… like… scroll, scroll… then suddenly a movement on my lap caught my eye and there she was looking up at me, gums and dimples and all.

Then and there I decided to follow in the footsteps of some other friends on Instagram and take a break.

I used to take every January off Facebook in the days when I was quite addicted to it. It was amazing how quickly I forgot all about it, how quickly it was replaced by real live things: books, the newspaper, phone calls, conversation, writing. Thoughts that didn’t automatically translate into status updates. But sure enough February would come around and the habit would begin again.

I like Instagram a lot more than Facebook which is both good and bad at the same time. Good because I am engaging in things and people that truly interest me. I’ve connected with some wonderful people that I would never have had the opportunity to otherwise. I’ve had windows opened towards me into other people’s lives. When you’re home with small children it can make you feel less alone to have a peek through those windows, to see what other people are up to. I’ve been inspired by creative people and learned things from other mothers.

But it can also take away from real life, if you let it. Just like it did today, when I almost missed the sweet and fleeting smile of my baby. I’ve misheard questions and comments from Birdie and the Pixie because I’ve been on my phone, ignoring them and not being present. I don’t like the example I am setting them, losing myself in cyber space while I should be reading them a book or listening to their ideas, or just observing, thinking, watching, sitting. I find my attention span is becoming more and more limited as my thumb flicks from here to there, not fully engaging… and it’s not just Instagram, it’s my phone in its entirety. I remember the days I used to scoff when I heard people talking about phones that had cameras on them. I have a camera thank you very much. Ha!

So bye bye Instagram, and while I’m at it: Twitter and Facebook too… I’m off on hiatus for a week or so. Destination: Real Life.

If you’re thinking about it too, check out this video, it might give you the motivation you need!

my mother

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We grew up in an old red brick farmhouse in the suburbs. It had once owned much of the land surrounding it, which in the early 1900s had been filled with orchards. The house had various extensions, a wood fired oven, an overgrown garden and many, many places to hide. With each subsequent daughter of my own, the more I think about and appreciate my mother, taking care of us in that big old house while Dad was at work, and my admiration for her only continues to grow.

I am the eldest of four girls. Mum was a full time stay at home mother until I was ten years old when she began her part time career in social work. My childhood memories are calm and peaceful. I don’t remember things being busy or chaotic, yet I look around at my own life with these small ladies and wonder how that could possibly be so.

A few weeks ago I had an older cousin visit whom I haven’t seen in a number of years. “Do you still like butter?” she asked. “I love butter!” I said, a little too enthusiastically (who doesn’t?), wondering where this line of questioning was going. She explained that when I was a child I used to ask Mum if I could have some butter, and apparently she would cut squares from the block and let me eat them. The shock! The horror! Parenting seems so serious these days.

I often talk to Mum about what it was like for her back then, with four of us under her feet. She told me that after she had taken us all to school and kinder and so on she would move around the house making all the beds, and before making each one she would curl up in it and close her eyes for just a few minutes before moving to the next. Back in those days she drank nescafe by the bucket load and cafes were out of the question. Whenever we went somewhere on weekends she would always pack sandwiches (vegemite), apples (lots), muesli bars (no frills), bottles of water (tap) and a thermos (of nescafe) for her and Dad. At the beach the sandwiches would get sand in them and would crunch between your teeth.

By the time I was in VCE Mum and Dad had divorced. Mum went back to uni to study law. It took her years to finish it, and while I was at uni she was still also studying. I have a vivid memory of her hunched over the old desk in her bedroom overlooking the front garden, with piles of law books on either side of her. I remember her asking me once (probably more), “Don’t you have homework to do? Aren’t you meant to be at uni today? Shouldn’t you be studying?” “Nope,” I shrugged before heading back to the TV, knowing full well I did, and I was. Now that I’m at a stage in my life where I have plans to go back to study in the future, I am only beginning to comprehend what it would have meant to make that decision (particularly to do something like law) and to stick at it, like Mum did. My sisters and I used to tease her about being one of the mature age students in the front row. I asked her if she always put her hand up to answer all the questions. She admitted that yes, she did.

As I go about my days I often text Mum, or call her and say help me! She always does, even if I can hear her frantically typing in the background. She’s the first person I ask when the girls are sick, if they have a rash or if I have a question about life. When she comes over I cling to her and I make her stay a lot longer than she wants to. I turn up at her house and let her make me cups of tea and cook me dinner. She never makes me wash up.

I am so lucky to have her and to know that whenever I’m stuck or lacking motivation or struggling all I have to do is think what would Mum do? and know that if I do that, things will work out. If that means giving my kids hunks of butter to keep them quiet then… I guess I have to do it. But then again, there are iPads these days.

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?

I’ll eat half now and save the other half for when I’m dying

That is what Birdie said to me last night when I was bribing her with a cupcake after dinner.

Hmm, ok, well I think it will have gone stale by then…

I’m SO AWKWARD with three year old death talk! And it’s all we seem to be talking about this week!

“I can’t water those flowers because they are dead.”

“If the sun doesn’t come out all the plants will die.”

“When you’re dead what will you do?”

“Teddy can’t play because he’s dead today.”

And the most difficult: “I don’t want to die.

I suppose this is just the beginning, as although she is having fun playing with the word, she is still too young to have much or any understanding of what it actually is.

Dear little Birdie, I suppose this is just the beginning of a number of difficult topics and conversations we will have together. I remember thinking that my parents knew EVERYTHING. These are my earnest words: I most certainly don’t. Wish me luck! Love, Mama.

feeling unqualified

IMG_7445These girls ran rings around me today, and one of them can’t even walk.

Have you ever been the new girl in the office, sitting there shuffling papers, staring intently at your computer screen, trying desperately to look busy, mind going a million miles an hour, words spinning in your head, trying to spit out sentences that make sense, trying to look like you know what you’re doing, watching the minutes tick away, wondering who to sit with at lunch… No? Just me?

I felt like that today. A fraud in my own home. Doing the washing, cooking dinner, packing baby bags: fine. But dealing with my little ladies stumped me, time after time after time. I was just pulling blanks, trying to respond timely and say the right things, trying to be a Good Parent, trying to keep things calm, trying to communicate, trying to be clear, trying to set boundaries… trying, trying, trying.

Birdie was bouncing off the walls. She was rude to one of the waitresses we know well at the coffee shop this morning and I didn’t handle it well. I was so embarrassed that I found it hard to relay the story out loud to Prince Charming. It wasn’t that it was particularly bad, I just felt that I wasn’t clear in my response and she ended up getting away with something she wouldn’t normally have because I couldn’t think fast enough. I’m not used to her being ratty, around 5pm- maybe, but not the majority of the day. I’m exhuasted!

Meanwhile my little pixie really did nothing wrong, just had a bit of a needy day which combined with Birdie’s antics made me one tired mama come sundown.

Hopefully tomorrow I won’t feel like such a new girl and will have the brain power to out-think my crafty three year old and her trusty disciple.

Wish me luck!

the rabbit ate my computer cord

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Sounding strangely like “the dog ate my homework” though unfortunately, this bunny excuse is true. Suki ate my computer cord a few weeks ago and I have only been able to charge my computer sporadically. And no, I have not ventured out to buy a new cord yet. This is a prime example of my middle name: Procrastination, interfering with my life and annoying me, intensely.

A friend of mine is moving to Chicago next week for a new job and new life and fresh opportunities and cocktails and people and flashy city lights. I chatted to her on the phone last night. We haven’t spoken in a while so she asked me the inevitable question: “So, what’s new? What’s been happening?”

A brief silence ensued.

Well, many days have been devoured washing nappies, feeding children, playing duplo, doing puzzles, watching play school… I’ve enrolled Birdie in kindergarten for next year (!)… I toyed with the idea of going back to work and then got melodramatic and melancholy and all variation of “mel” words about mothering and parenting and loving my babies and as such got cold feet and re-did the budget and decided against it… I did some cooking… I did the “I Quit Sugar” program… I got hives… I crocheted some hats… I sewed some chooks… We went away for a couple of weekends to the beach… The girls got sick… Prince Charming got sick… I told him he had man-flu and then I got sick… Still sick…

Hmm not really news worthy, blog worthy or telling-single-high-life-living-friend-worthy.

Nevertheless, life is plodding along nicely, we are having fun, and I am trying to stop coughing and recover from this horrendous virus!

Updates from all of you? What’s new? What’s been happening? 😉

saying goodbye to my babies

IMG_3563I was home alone with the kids one night last week. I was rubbing my hands together at the thought of a tidy house followed by a hot cup of tea, a spot of sewing and an episode of Vampire Diaries (NB: no one likes a judgey-judge).

At 6.30pm Birdie was tucked into bed. At 6.45pm she did a poo. I changed her nappy and tucked her back in. At 7pm she did another one. I changed her nappy again with gritted teeth and kissed her goodnight.

Time to work on number two… err… I mean, the second child. By 8.45pm I had fed the Pixie twice and rocked her to sleep and tucked her in four times.

I felt quite frustrated by this point, glancing at the clock and seeing my night disappear before my eyes.

But being a second time parent, you notice things that you didn’t notice the first time. This time I notice how quickly they are growing up. I look at Birdie in her big girl bed, getting dressed and undressed with minimal help from me, talking in full, elaborate sentences. I remember who she used to be, and it dawned on me.

I don’t have that baby any more. That baby that is all over this blog a few years ago, is gone.

And now it’s happening again. The Pixie as I know and love her now, right now, here, today, is not mine to keep. Another Pixie will replace her, and another and another and another. These moments I have with each of them are so fleeting, as tomorrow I will meet yet another version of my children.

Of course this is what makes the beautiful tapestry of life: comings and goings, old and new.

Sometimes though, I wish the tapestry would slow down just a stitch, just a day, just a minute, so I can linger just a little longer with my soft skinned babies.