Friday, April 27, 2012

My Headline Disease

It's weird, but I often think in headlines.

Usually, it's the horribly depressing, family-of-eight-killed-in-random-bob-sledding accident type headline.  They almost always involve death. So when I do things that carry any sort of risk I have headlines bouncing around my brain like a neon Hollywood sign fused to the back of my retina.  It can actually be quite paralysing.


So you can imagine the headlines flashing through my mind after taking the three girls and my sister on a two hour drive on windy country roads after only three hours broken sleep. 


As a result, and much to my sisters consternation, I drove about thirty under the speed limit the entire way, adding an extra half an hour of 'she's touching me!' to the journey.

We were visiting my brother-in-law's family farm, a massive wheat and sheep farm with actual sheep and cows and other farming-type things like tractors of death, man-eating Koi and huge tanks of fuel.


And being a total city girl, I forgot to mention to the kids about things like barbed wire.


I did mention to them about the massive piles of poo, though.


Then my brother-in-law suggested we let the kids ride in the back of the ute so we could travel up to the top paddock to feed the cows.

Guess which kid has a city-slicker mum, and which kid has a farm-raised dad
So with me clutching the baby in the front seat (no baby seat, no seatbelt), shrieking through the window at the kids to 'Hold on! Both hands', the kids rolling around in the back, (with my sister supervising) my hyper headline syndrome was in overdrive and I was close to passing out.


Just when I though it couldn't get any worse, I glanced over to see this. Yep, that's the Curly Mop climbing on the massive metal stakes on front of the tractor which the Bombshell was driving. Yes, I still took the picture (and yes, the tractor wasn't actually on at the time), but in the back of my head the headlines were already forming...


I don't think I am cut out for the country life, and have never been so glad to get home where the headlines involve less man-eating animals and giant piles of manure.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Imelda - Eat Your Heart Out

I am planning on taking the Blonde Bombshell, Miss Curly Mop and Baldy Baby to a farm this Anzac Day.  Spending the day with tractors, mud and animals sounds pretty patriotic to me.  Afterall, before the wealth of minerals were discovered, this country was founded on the sheep's back, right? 

Whatever, this post is about shoes not sheep, and it was time to dig out the Wellies.

Unlike the kids clothes which have been sorted and packed away in enormous plastic tubs according to size and season (OCD anyone?) the shoes have been flung in various corners of the house, shoved into plastic bags, empty nappy boxes and other dark places for the past four or so years.

So, about fifteen minutes before we were due to leave for a birthday party yesterday seemed liked a good time to start sorting shoes. Another bad habit learned from my kids.

Starting with the baby pre-walkers, through the darling little size 3 sandals, up through the size 6 mary jane canvas slip ons, to the big girl size 10s, the shoes kept on coming. Almost 60 pairs of little girls shoes, each representing a stage, a memory.

I found an old pair of the Bombshell's wellies for the Curly Mop to wear.  Unlike her current glittery pinkness, when she was two the Blonde Bombshell was a bit of a tomboy and totally into Thomas the Tank Engine.  These were her favourite shoes, and she wanted to wear them everywhere. Including bed.

It was a useful phase.  Thomas taught her colours and numbers.  It also means that we actually have some toys that boys might want to play with when they come to visit.  Because for some reason boys don't seem to want to dress up Barbies and play with Dora. 

Then I found these pink and brown Argyle shoes.  I loved them so much the first time, I went back to the shop and bought them in another size.  I wish they made them in my size.  The Curly Mop currently wears the smaller pair.  For some reason they make my heart sing.

Of course, these pint-sized Converse baby sneakers also rate highly.  As a teenager and in my early 20s, I wouldn't leave the house without a pair of vintage Converse, so these bring back a whole host of memories.

The Bombshell then came in and wanted to know what I was doing.  I asked her to choose her favourite shoes.  Naturally she chose ones that were pink and shiny and not really shoes, but those hideous, ankle-breaking plastic things you find in the dress-up box.  I thought I had hidden them.  It would seem hiding shoes in the shoe box isn't really hiding them...

What are your favourite shoe memories? 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Meep. Meep.

There is a classic scene in Roadrunner… he has just run straight over a cliff and it takes him a few minutes to realise that he is no longer on solid ground, and he is in fact running on thin air. He stops, looks at the camera, gulps.

‘Meep meep’

And then gravity takes over.

That’s me right now.  Except I am not a bird. 

And I am physically incapable of running.

And my legs are not that skinny.

Otherwise, the analogy is spot on.
For the first seven weeks of Baldy Baby’s life I have been racing through the two hour feeds, the broken and insufficient night sleep, the relentlessness that comes with a new baby.  I have been (not so) silently congratulating myself on not only surviving, but thriving, welcoming the comments from surprised friends who ask ‘How are you doing? You look… good!’

It turns out that for the past week I have been running on thin air and not yet realised it.

Gravity is a bitch for the Roadrunner.  Gravity is not my friend either, but for a different reason, but for me it is the lack of sleep that has finally caught up with me, sending me to a cartoonish splat in the middle of the proverbial desert.

And I thought I was doing so well.

Meep Meep.

I am well aware this isn't the cartoon RoadRunner. I wasn't sure if I was legally allowed to
use his picture.  This one is from Creative Commons.  Not as good, I know.... but you get the point.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Brutal Truth About the Third Child - Part II

Part II: The First Few Weeks 

First Baby

When your first baby is born, you are either completely under-prepared, and believe the baby will come out after five minutes of heavy breathing and a little gasp, or completely over-prepared and have written a nine-page birth plan and packed everything from a yoga ball to a Celine Dion ‘best of’ CD.  Either way, you are terrified about the state of your lady parts.  Your husband would never admit it, but so is he.
You have attended every pre-natal class, read every book and high-lighted all the important passages.  You are an expert before you even hold the baby in your arms, at which point, you forget everything anyway.

In hospital, you keep one finger on the nurse call-button and one on speed-dial to your mum.  Eventually you kick your husband out, and move your mum in.  You send him home to wash some clothes and he returns with a $2,000 video camera and spends the next day and a half figuring it out.  He films everything from nappy change to bath time, and you end up with four solid hours of footage of your sleeping baby.  You both watch it and think it is brilliant.
You can’t figure out why breast-feeding is so hard when it looked so easy with the dolls and rubber boobs in pre-natal class.  When it is time to feed you kick out all your visitors, and take fifteen minutes to prepare.  You have pillows and specially designed cushions, modest breast-feeding tops, and shawl to cover yourself. You have a water bottle, paper and pen to record the feed, remote control and mobile phone.  You put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door, and dim the lights. By the time you are ready, your baby has fallen asleep again. It’s not as easy as you thought. You never knew breasts could bleed. You never knew holding a small baby could make your arms hurt.  You never knew the effort involved in expressing 1ml of colostrum.

As the days pass you realise that all the midwives, though meaning well, are all contradicting each other.  You try and follow all their advice and wind up feeding your baby on demand lying down in bed, in a twin-style, football hold according to a routine preordained by some woman in a book that was published last century.  By Day Three you have a major melt-down, and spend the next day crying that you can’t do it, and it’s all too hard.  Your husband brings you a family pack of Mars Bars and somehow that helps.
The day you leave hospital it takes three hours to pack the car with all the gifts and flowers you have received.  It takes another three hours to figure out how to put the baby in their car-seat. Your husband drives home at 30kmh while you sit in the backseat next to the baby, holding its head every time you go over a bump, and yelling at your husband to slow down when you go around corners.  You don’t even notice the line of traffic snarling behind you.

At home you have either over or underprepared.  You have either bought every baby item known to mankind and re-mortgaged the house, or you have been in denial for the previous nine months and wait until the day you get home to look into cots and change tables.  You realise the dining chair you put in front of the TV as a feeding chair is woefully inadequate, especially since you have now calculated you will be sitting in it for at least eight hours a day and all through the night.  You send your husband to buy an ultra-expensive, all-rocking, all-swinging, all-reclining baby feeding chair which has everything but a sink built into it.  Your bank manager starts getting antsy.
If you didn’t find out what sex the baby was, and painted the nursery a nice neutral colour, you suddenly decide that’s not good enough for your new precious bundle and send your husband to Bunnings to buy some gender-appropriate paint (eco-friendly, low-fume, non-irritant, of course).  While he is there, he also buys some storage tubs for the mountain of clothes the baby has been given in its first week of life, but by the time he comes home, your baby has grown out of half of them already.

You want the world to know that you have a new baby and send very expensive, professionally done, announcement cards with all your baby’s statistics and a photo of your newborn wrapped up to its eyeballs in blankets.  You think it is the most beautiful baby ever, and secretly start looking into child modelling agencies.  He would never admit it, but so does your husband.
You husband has taken six weeks off work to help you with the new baby.  He is a machine!  He becomes an expert at changing nappies and swaddling.  He suddenly starts washing loads and loads of clothes for the baby – something he has never done before in his life.  He brings you the baby in the middle of the night for a feed, and takes it for walks in the morning so you can have a sleep-in.  The baby is bathed every day and has fresh clothes at every nappy change. Your husband makes a Powerpoint presentation of the first thousand photos he has taken of the baby, and has it running on his computer at all times.  You start calling each other Mummy and Daddy.

When he has to return to work, you suffer a mild breakdown and your Mum has to move back in.
When you leave the house you pack for every contingency.  You have spare nappies, wipes, bags, creams and a stack of change mats (because there is no way you are putting your baby down on a public change station without layers of protection).  You have little bottles of disinfecting hand gel, suncream, a sun hat, a beanie, dummies, mittens, socks, wraps, at least two clean outfits and an emergency bottle of formula.  Just in case.  Even though you are breastfeeding.  Whatever.  Stop judging me!  You have bright and colourful toys hanging from every surface of the pram and car, toys that crinkle, toys that jingle, toys that chime. All of this is packed into two, brand new, specially designed nappy bags that cost almost as much as the ergonomic, three-wheeled, jogging pram with built-in sat-nav.  It doesn’t matter that you have never jogged before.

It takes you so long to pack the car, that the baby is due for another feed, and has done another poo, that you give up and decide to stay home.
By the time the baby is two months old, you already have filled three photo albums, moulded their feet and hands in plaster, enrolled them in three private schools, and signed them up for baby dance, baby gym, baby signing and baby modelling.

You have developed a twitch in your left eye and are not quite sure what day it is.  When people ask how you are, you gush about how beautiful your baby is, and how wonderful everything is, but wouldn’t dare mention the fact that you miss your old life and sometimes cry in the middle of the night when the baby won’t sleep. You don’t know what you expected but you’re not sure this is it.

Second Baby
When your second baby is born, you have decided that you won’t be repeating the same mistakes you made on your first one.  You trudge off to hospital with a more open-mind than the first time, but soon discover that even though you have done this before, the baby hasn’t, and it’s a completely different experience anyway. Your lady parts survived the last pregnancy somewhat intact, but this time you promise yourself you will actually do your pelvic floor exercises and not just lie about it to the nurses.

You attend a single pre-natal class, reasoning that it should all come back. You see all the first time mums and feel slightly superior to them, but also jealous of their smaller bumps and attentive husbands, who bring them footstools and cushions and cups of tea.  Yours is at home babysitting the toddler and watching the footy.
In hospital, you keep one finger on the pethidine epidural.  Your mum and husband take it in turns to stay home with the toddler or come in to hospital to be with you and the baby.  Your husband only remembers the video camera on the day you are due to be discharged, and he madly stages baths and nappy changes so the second child won’t feel left out later on in life.  Five minutes footage of your sleeping baby is plenty.

You discover breast-feeding is still hard, despite having finally figured it out with the first baby.  This new baby has no clue what to do, and you are frustrated at being back at square one.  When it is time to feed you kick out what few visitors you have, and turn the TV on.
This time round you are smiling politely at the midwives, but ignoring the advice from all except one or two you really like and trust.  You are prepared for your Day Three melt-down, but it still hits hard. You spend the next day either crying that you miss your toddler terribly, or crying because you don’t miss them as much as you think you should.  Either way, you get the bad-mother guilts.  Your husband brings you a hand-made card from your toddler and that absolutely helps.

The day you leave hospital it takes three hours to pack the car because for some reason your husband thought it would be ‘nice’ to bring the toddler, and she has decided to have a massive tantrum in the middle of the carpark.  It takes another three hours to move the baby’s carseat as far away from the toddler as possible, after discovering that the toddler ‘shared’ her sultanas with her new sister. Your husband drives home at 50kmh while you sit in the front seat yelling at the toddler to stop tossing her toys in the baby’s carseat.  You notice the line of traffic snarling behind you but don’t really care.
At home you have things pretty much sorted.  You still have all your baby stuff from the first time, and even though it’s all now covered in pink texta and stickers, it is still functional. You spend a lot of time screaming at the toddler to get out of your all-swinging, all-rocking feeding chair.  Her favourite game is to spin herself round and round and then laugh hysterically as she climbs out and falls drunkenly onto the floor.  You end up pulling out one of the dining chairs and using that to feed the baby, rather than fight with the toddler.

You didn’t find out what sex the baby was, and decided that even if it was different to the first, it would have to make do with the nursery as is.  You said that a lot during the second pregnancy – that this baby will have to ‘make do’, but when it is born, you still want it to have new things.  After all, you were a second child and always had to ‘make do’ with hand-me-downs.  You fight the urge to spoil the baby, while your husband fights the urge to favour the older one.  Not that either of you would admit that to each other.
You want the world to know that you have a new baby but cannot be bothered with the very expensive, professionally done, announcement cards. You still have two dozen cards leftover from the first baby and wonder if you just changed the baby’s name and statistics whether anyone would notice.  After all, all newborns wrapped up to their eyeballs in blankets look pretty much the same, don’t they? You decide to send out an email instead. You think your new baby is the most beautiful baby ever, and when you look back at photos of your first, you secretly think that perhaps she wasn’t as cute as you thought.  He would never admit it, but so does your husband.

You husband has taken two weeks off work to help you with the new baby.  In reality though, his job is to manage the toddler so you can feed the baby without a sticky little helper.  He hardly gets to see the baby until the toddler is in bed, and by then he is utterly exhausted and falls asleep in front of the TV.  He does two loads of washing and changes four nappies, then disappears back to work.    The baby is bathed every few days and has fresh clothes whenever she vomits.  Anything more, you argue, is bad for the environment.  It becomes your new catch-cry and prevents a lot of unnecessary washing and effort. Your husband prints a few photos he has taken of the baby, and for good measure laminates them at work.  The toddler loves them, and takes them to daycare to show her friends.
When he has to return to work, you are secretly glad because you can now get the cranky toddler back into her routine.

When you leave the house you pack as though you are going on an expedition to the other end of the earth.  Not only do you have to pack for the baby, but you have all the toddlers crap to cart around too.  Now you need two sets of nappies, spare clothes and dummies.  You have realised that generally it doesn’t snow and shine in the same day, and have calmed down a bit with the sun hats and beanies for the baby, but toddlers require snack containers, drink bottles, favourite snugglies and toys to distract.  You bought a toddler ‘board’ to go on the back of the pram but there is no way she is going to stand there quietly, so you end up putting the toddler in the pram, and the baby in a sling.  You quickly learn to only attempt the shops on days the toddler is in daycare, and you are reminded how pleasant it is the leave the house with a new baby who just sleeps all the time.
By the time the baby is two months old, you have signed the toddler up for another day at daycare.  You have printed a photo book online, and it’s only when they arrive in the mail box, that you realise most of the photos are of the toddler and not the baby.  You stop trying to ‘do’ things with the baby, and just sit with her instead.

You always know what day it is because you have a full routine for your toddler who constantly needs to be entertained.  Playgroup, mothers group, daycare, playdates.  The baby seems happy enough to tag along and get cuddles from whoever else is present.  Some days you almost forget you have a baby, until she is brought back you for a feed or nappy change, which just makes you feel guilty. 
When people ask how you are, your words tumble out and you never know what you are going to say until you have said it.  Your moods are very dependent on how much sleep you had and what your toddler is doing at that point in time.

Third Baby
When your third baby is born, even though most people think you are crazy for ‘going again’, you feel a sense of calm descend.  There is a sense of relief that you aren’t entering into the terrifying world of a first born. You know you can do it because you have done it before. You have absolutely zero expectations, which is liberating, because then you can’t be disappointed. Instead, you actually find you enjoy yourself. Your lady parts are a bit wobbly after two pregnancies, but you are completely realistic in your lack of faith that you will be doing any pelvic floor exercises this time round.  Let’s be honest, you haven’t done any sort of exercise in about two years.

You attend a pre-natal class with a friend, claiming that you are going along for moral support only.  When you find out that all the ‘rules’ about sterilising, and swaddling and feeding have changed since last time, you decide to just tune out and enjoy the complimentary Tim Tams. You enjoy watching the facial expressions of all the first-time dads when the midwife brings out the rubber vagina and pushes a doll through it. 
In hospital, you keep one finger on the TV remote because you have to keep your other kids entertained when they come to visit.  Your mum and husband fight over who has to stay home with the toddler and pre-schooler and who gets to come in to hospital to be with you and the baby.  The video camera you used for the first two is now ridiculously outdated, and you film footage of the new baby with her older sisters on your Smart Phone to be instantly uploaded to friends and family across the globe. 

Breast-feeding is still hard, and you still get bleeding nipples and mastitis, but you fast-track through the dramas and just get on with it.  You are able to breast feed or express while peeling a banana for the toddler and changing the batteries in a toy for your pre-schooler.  All at the same time.
This time round you are basically ignored by the midwives and you are fine with that.  You have your Day Three melt-down, and move on.  You have a few visitors but spend most of your time alone with the new baby, enjoying the peace and quiet.  For some reason, things just work, and you don’t know if it’s the new baby, or you.  Doesn’t matter anyway.

The day you leave hospital you stop for a minute and look around.  You are pretty certain this will be the last time you do this, and that makes you a little sad.  Although it took three hours to figure out how to fit three carseats in the back, now they are in, it’s all pretty straight forward.  At least when you just have the baby.  You’re smart enough to realise this now, and enjoy the silence of the drive home.
At home things don’t change as much as you would expect.  The baby just slots into family life, and you all continue on.  You still have all your baby stuff plus a lot of second-hand stuff donated by well-meaning friends. The all-swinging, all-rocking feeding chair lasts about two weeks before it gives its last rock, and you resign yourself to the couch.  You will be spending a lot of time on that couch.

Despite the fact that you now have three children of the same ‘colour’, the new baby is still given lots of new toys and clothes.  She could wear a different outfit every day of the year and you’d never need to do a load of washing.  Bonus.  Pity about the other two.
You have already informed the world of the new baby via Facebook while you were in hospital. You are determined to make sure she is photographed and filmed like her sisters, but realise that being made to see hundreds of photos of a sleeping baby doesn’t necessarily endear you to family and friends.  You take a dozen and are happy with that.  Everyone else breathes a sigh of relief.

You husband hasn’t taken much time off work as such, but instead rearranges everything so he can be there to do the daycare and pre-primary pick-up and drop-off.  He makes lunches, packs bags, plaits hair and then heads off to work. He is utterly exhausted and falls asleep in front of the TV with the baby in his arms and two little girls by his side.  You’re not quite sure if the baby has been bathed since she came home from hospital, but she seems to smell ok.  Your mum gives you photos of the baby that she has had printed for you.  It will be months before you manage to print your own.
You now leave three fully packed bags by the front door, one for each child, so when you leave the house, all you need to do is pick them up and throw them in the car.  However, you realise that your life has pretty much become a small bubble consisting of like-minded friends all with small kids.  If you forget your nappies, chances are they will have one. Thanks to home delivery, food shopping is a thing of the past.  You never need to leave the house again.  But you do.

By the time the baby is two months old, you can’t quite tell if it has gone fast or slow.  You have a set routine with school for your eldest and activities for your middle child.  Once you get a handle on the logistics of getting three kids ready and out of the door in the mornings, it’s not the complete chaos you were expecting.  Actually, it feels as though it has been this way forever.
When people ask you how you are, you answer honestly.  Life isn’t perfect.  Your kids aren’t perfect.  But you never really expected that anyway.  You don't have a clue what is happening in the world, you don’t wear the latest styles (or any style, for that matter) and your car is full of sand and cheerios and banana peels. Comfortable chaos. Just like every mum.


Easy and innovative new fundraising ideas at

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's A Conspiracy

The other day Whoa Mumma* posted the picture below that was so accurate of my family that I thought maybe she had snuck in with a nanny-cam.  Except for the bit where one of the kids is a boy.

I had just settled down to give Baldy Baby her second breakfast, sinking a little too far into the couch.  Further than I did in the old days, anyway.
The almost-five-year-old Blonde Bombshell and two-year-old Miss Curly Mop exchanged glances. An imperceptible nod.  The attack began.

‘Let’s play Mummies and puppies,’ announced General Bombshell.
‘Yeah!’ replied her little foot soldier.

‘Bye,’ said hubby as he ran for the door in his gym gear.  ‘Back in a couple of hours.’

Suddenly the Bombshell and the Mop emerge from the playroom, their arms full of cushions and toys.
‘What are they for?’ I ask.

‘This is for the puppy to sleep on,’ the Bombshell informs me.
The Mop promptly drops to all fours and starts wiggling her bottom.  She is a bit uncoordinated, so she ends up wiggling her entire body.  ‘Woof,’ she cries.

‘Put them back,’ I tell them.  We have enough crap in here, we don’t need a transferral of crap from one room to another.
The Mop has fallen over in a dizzy spin. ‘Wheee!’ she yells.  ‘Woof,’ she corrects herself.

‘Let’s go puppy’, orders the Bombshell.  Off they move to the next room.
Baldy Baby opens one eye and raises an eyebrow.  I swear she must be in on it.

‘Fetch puppy,’ I hear from the playroom, followed by the sound of a plastic bone being thrown against a small head.  The whimpering was doggily authentic.
There is momentary silence, then the sound of a balloon being blown up.

Hysterical laughing follows.

‘Watch this Mum,’ the Bombshell emerges with a box full of long skinny balloons, designed to bend into animals.  Another one of hubby’s brilliant and short-lived ideas.
Suddenly a yellow striped balloon whizzes past my eyes, and lands with a fart on the couch on top of the TV remote.  I see the Bombshell glance at the Mop.  This has been their plan all along.

So I do what any self-respecting mother would do - pretend not to notice.  It’s not even half past seven in the morning, if I give in now, I will have lost them for another day.
So they do what any self-respecting kid would do.  They amp up their attack.  It’s a simple enough plan, with a high chance of success – especially against a tired breastfeeding mother who has been up since 3.30am.  

They fire their secret weapon.  Parental-involvement.
She stands directly in front of me, feet planted firmly, hands on hips. 

‘Mummy, can we play schools?  I will be the teacher, and you can be the kids.  Now, who can tell me about elephants?  Mummy?  Can you spell elephant?’  Her miniature teachers-assistant is running around the room with a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, threatening to tip it out on my slippered feet.  Where on earth did she get that?
I give in.  They win.

I toss the remote in their general direction.  The red button is pushed and instantly they turn from hyper-monkeys to sub-zombies.  They sit on the couch, mouths slightly agape, eyes glazing over. It’s quarter to eight in the morning.  I am a bad mother.
Baldy Baby opens the other eye and turns her head in the direction of Scooby Doo. 

And I end up with a lapful of milk.

* Love your work Whoa Mumma!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Only If You Want To

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I have entered From Mum to Me in the Best Australian Blogs Competition. Now it could be said that Cadbury Creme Eggs makes me feel good and competitions make me feel nervous, but if I am serious about my craft, I need to put myself out there and allow my work to be judged.

The judges from The Sydney Writers' Centre will be judging the blogs based on certain criteria: writing (70%), appearance (20%) and social interaction (10%).  Hopefully they mean appearance of the blog, because I haven't brushed my hair in a week and there is a suspicious stain on my shoulder which is either Weetbix or boogies.  Not mine, I assure you.

However, if you are so inclined, you can vote in The People's Choice Award.  After all, it is you who actually read my blog, and make comments here and on my Facebook Page.  For that, I sincerely thank you.

Read, enjoy and if you like what you see - please vote. It will only take a minute. Think of it as an investment in future reading enjoyment - in those moments you find between making school lunches and wiping bottoms, between loads of washing and refereeing fights.

Voting closes Wednesday May 9th.  Click here to vote.  Go on, it's easy - From Mum to Me is on the second page. 


To get you started, here are some of my favourite posts from the past year and a half. 

The Brutal Truth About The Third Child

My Top 10 Tips to Surviving Interstate Travel With Kids

How to Torture A Pregnant Woman

A night out with a difference: McDonalds for Dinner

The joys of toilet training an unwilling child: Waiting For the Wee

The joys of home delivery: Aussie Farmers Direct Into My Heart

A very personal short story that was published in The West Australian: Kelley's Place

Why I Hate Dentists: Part 1 and Part 2

Getting sprung as a fraud: Genuine Gym Junkie

and something all mums will be able to count on: My Life By The Numbers

Click here to vote for From Mum to Me

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Newborn Nostalgia (ie. I want more babies)

Despite all claims to the contrary, I could so easily have another baby.

I have realised how much I love the newborn stage: those tiny hands curling around your finger, the little fat rolls on thighs (theirs, not mine), the way their head smells, their little fists, the way they do that little intake and sigh when they are breastfeeding.  Especially the little sigh. 

It is excruciatingly bittersweet, because it is over so soon.  As soon as you are able to relax into their utter perfectness, they have grown into the next stage, and the newborn is little more than a fond and hazy memory.

When I am out with her, women of all ages stop me to look at her, touch her, smile at her.  They all have the same look in their eye.  Wistfulness. Peacefulness.  They cross the room to seek her out. Sometimes I can see their fingers twitching, just itching to hold her.  The braver ones ask for a cuddle. 

In Woolies once, when Curly Mop was a newborn, with her adorable crop of chocolate curls, I turned around in the meat section to discover I had three women following me. They didn't realise they were following me, and all giggled and dispersed when they realised they had been sprung.  It was almost like they were under a spell. I did the same thing once where I followed a man with a newborn in a sling around the grocery store.  His wife got quite cranky with me.

Newborns are relatively rare.  Of course, there have been over six billion of them in recent times, but as a stage it is so fleeting.  It's not as though we stop loving our children when they grow up, but the new baby is a brief, ephemeral glimpse at purity.

So when you have one, you need to relish it, and the rock-star status that comes with it.  After all, no one follows the mum of a toddler around the store.  No one wants to cuddle a Year two.

And no one one wants to sniff the head of a teenager.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Glow Light Disco

The last time I went to a Blue Light Disco, I was in Year 4 and it was the mid 1980s. 

My date (who apparently ended up becoming a male model, but that’s probably another story) showed up looking like Corey Haim, with spikey hair, oversized black cargo pants with enormous pockets on the knees and a flowing white pirate shirt with massive red splotches.  He was so beautiful.
I, on the other hand, wore a pair of neatly pressed pale blue cotton knickerbockers, and a pale blue button down shirt, with tiny white flowers and a scalloped collar.  Thanks Mum.

I was in love with him and apparently he liked me, so we did what all young teenagers did: as soon as we arrived, he went one way, I went the other and we only met up again at the end of the night.  Ah, young love.
The Blue Light Disco was held in the local community centre.  It was a typical disco, with strobe lights, disco ball, kids dancing, volunteers selling soft drink and lollies, girls in one corner, boys in the other, and the occasional policeman standing at the exits, trying to ignore the occasional bit of harmless nooky. 

At the glow light disco, 2012-style
At the end of the night, they gave out prizes.  I remember John Farnham’s “You’re The Voice” cassette being the ultimate prize. Lesser prizes like the Mental As Anything single I won, were on vinyl. Awesome. Records and cassettes.  To anyone born after 1985, look it up in your mum’s encyclopedia of ancient history.
Turns out that Blue Light Disco’s haven’t really changed that much in almost three decades, except the prizes are now portable DVD players. No really.

A friend suggested we take our (almost) five years olds to the local junior disco, and even though I had attended them in the past, for some reason I thought it would be a small group of kids, dancing harmlessly to the Wiggles in the middle of a fully lit room. I wonder if that’s what my mum thought back in 1986 when she dropped me off with my Brat Packing date.
When we pulled up, the small carpark was still half empty, and I incorrectly assumed this meant that only a few kids would be at the dance. How wrong I was.  Around the other side of the building was a much larger, absolutely full-to-bursting carpark, with hordes of young children and their mums streaming towards the hall.

They say the more things change, the more they stay the same. 
This Blue Light Disco was also held in the local community centre.  It was still a typical disco, with strobe lights, disco ball, kids dancing, and volunteers selling soft drink and lollies.  But they were also selling glow sticks and glow wands and bizarre little glow rings which some of the older kids (ie the 8 year olds) put in their mouths making them look like glow-in-the-dark skeletons. 

In one corner of the pulsing room, an enormous inflatable slide had been set up.  A face painter held court in another room.  Small children painted to look like Tigers with flashing mouths ran idiotically from room to room hyped up on sour ropes.
In an outer room, large tables had been set up for the dutiful mums to sit and wait it out. The police and volunteers walked merrily around, stopping to take photos (digital, not film).  It was extraordinarily well organised considering there seemed to be a thousand small children. There was some dancing, but it seemed to be an afterthought for most of the kids who were treating the event more like the Royal Show.  I looked around, and all I could see were mums opening their wallets.

At the end of the night, when I took my rainbow-painted, slide-fatigued, glow-wand waving, sugared up offspring home she excitedly talked about everything she had done and seen.
Nothing about the dancing mind you - as I’m not even sure it registered with her that a disco is in fact a dance. 
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