Celebrating milestones

Last week Souljourneyboy and I took the kids to a local shopping centre after school. We decided to eat dinner in the food court – which of course sounds much easier than it actually is! Everybody wanted something different and it took a good half an hour for us to help each child get their meal from their desired food outlet. When we finally sat down together I remarked to Souljourneyboy that I am looking forward to the day when we just give the kids $10 each and they are all capable of sourcing whatever food they want themselves.

Thinking upon it later, I was reminded of similar times, when I’d look forward to various milestones that held the promise of making parenting just that bit easier. It’s funny – you desperately look forward to the time when your child is capable of some new feat, but when they actually do achieve it, it’s easy to rush forward into the new stage without really celebrating that the old one is over. And so, with a 6-year-old, 9-year-old and 11-year-old, here’s what I’m thankful for right now…

Everyone’s finally mastered this sleep thing 

I really think sleep deprivation is the single most exhausting, frustrating and difficult thing about parenting. I remember being up with a newborn in the middle of the night,  just crying, wondering why on earth I’d even bother trying to sleep when I knew I’d have to be up in an hour anyway. And then the years of everyone waking up and demanding attention at 5am! It’s a wonder I’m at all sane. Anyway, I’m pleased to report now that, apart from the odd bad dream, everyone pretty much sleeps in their own bed all night. They go to the toilet by themselves and when they wake up they do their own thing and don’t wake us up. It’s quite, quite wonderful.

Everyone can get their own drink

I know this doesn’t sound like much, but to parents with toddlers this is a REALLY BIG DEAL. I always felt like I’d just sit down after hours of playing/baking/cooking/cleaning and I’d hear a small voice – “I thirsty”. They can get their own drinks and their own food, and it makes life so much more enjoyable!

Having their friends over makes life easier  

When kids are little, there’s a limit to how long a play date can last. They really enjoy it for the fist hour or so – but then all of a sudden your kid doesn’t want to share their “favourite train” (you know, the one they haven’t played with for three years) or their friend throws something and it hits someone’s head, and it’s all over. Now, when they have friends over they disappear for hours and I rarely have to sort anything out.

When they help, it actually helps

I recall gritting my teeth when a little voice asked to “help” cook or mop or use the vacuum. I felt like it drained all my motherly reserves of patience! But now, it’s actually helpful 🙂 They can vacuum and clean and even cook without too much assistance.

There are no more naps This literally changed my life. My day is no longer carved up into pockets of time, with that constant underlying fear that you’ll stay somewhere 10 minutes too long and someone will suddenly get overtired and throw a tantrum at the shops. I really am so glad the napping stage is behind us.

What milestones have your kids reached that you are grateful for?

The Bessie Diaries – Part I

Dear Diary,

I arrived in my new family yesterday and so far I think things have been going pretty well. Everyone thinks I’m really cute (it’s great having these long floppy ears) and let’s just say I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to make sure most things go my way.

There’s a big house and yard with lots of really interesting things to smell and taste. I even found a really cool thing called a cherry tomato under the couch and I played with that for ages until it exploded.

The only downside is that they’ve got something here called a “cat”. I’m not sure exactly what they are but I think they rule the world. It’s certainly the boss of this house. That’s what it said to me yesterday, but I was a bit distracted because it was spitting in this weird way, which was pretty gross to be honest. And then today I forgot it was the boss and I tried to give it a high five, so it smacked me on the nose.

Things got a bit boring last night when everyone went to bed. They tried to put me in a little miniature house (read: prison) but I escaped in the middle of the night and went into the small one’s room. She was really fun, we played on her bed for ages and then the Mum came along and put me back in my house and shut the small one’s door. I didn’t like that so I let everyone know about it for a while. Making all that noise really tired me out though, and I had to have a quick nap when everyone else got up.

Today I played lots more with all the small people and it was great but I got sleepy. I fell asleep on the shoe they gave me to chew on.

Anyway I think it’s time for a nap. It’s a dog’s life after all 🙂

Love Bessie

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A day in my crazy life

I thought I’d share what a day in the life of this Working Mum is like…

6:30am: Wake to the sight of Bookworm looking down at me with mournful eyes. Apparently his sore throat is now of gargantuan proportions, and he can’t possibly attend school. Can’t be bothered arguing the point. Luckily Mum already has Little Miss for the day, and can mind Bookworm as well.

6:50am: Picasso upset by thought of catching bus alone. Successfully bribed with a lunch order. Souljourneyboy leaves.

7:29am: Breakfast done, Picasso and I head out the door and into the car. Car won’t start. Mum to the rescue – we drop Picasso to the bus stop, then she takes me to the train station with Little Miss and Bookworm piled in the back wearing their pyjamas. Text Souljourneyboy to tell him car has flat battery, and suggest he call NRMA. He says he will look at it first in the afternoon.

8:30am: At work, all-essential coffee in hand.

9am: Meeting number one. Less than half the people who are supposed to be there turn up, so it’s shorter than usual – happy days.

9:30am: Meeting number two. This one is more interactive; we get to use red markers and butchers paper, which is always fun.

10:30am: Pack up my desk and head to a company car. I have to drive out to one of our work sites and meet a TV News crew to show them around for a story.

10:35am: Start my long drive. I have a confession to make: navigating large roads fills me with a kind of low-level anxiety. Just the sight of big green sign gets my heart palpitations started; I never seem to understand if I’m meant to turn RIGHT NOW, where the sign is, or at the next turn. I either get it wrong, or I’m one of those annoying people who basically stall, undecided in the middle of the road, while everyone is honking at them. Last week I ended up turning the wrong way into a bus-only lane – yeah, that was fun. And I seem incapable of getting onto freeways the right way! I always end up headed the opposite direction driving for miles at a time. Anyhow I digress – despite a rather stressful drive it’s a miracle that I get to my destination with NO WRONG TURNS.

12pm: My phone rings but I don’t answer as I’m driving and concentrating VERY hard on the roads.

12:15: Arrive at my destination, only to realise that, 1 – the person who rang my phone is the journalist and I need to call her back urgently, and 2 – there is no mobile phone coverage at the work site. I make my way into the admin building and ask to use the landline phone. I quickly call my colleague and ask her to call the journalist as there’s no coverage and I can’t use my mobile. There is a pause, during which it sinks in that I am actually ON A PHONE MAKING A PHONE CALL. My colleague asks, “Why don’t you call her using the phone you’re calling me on?” Yes, indeed, that is another option which makes perfect sense. My colleague hangs up, crying with laughter, while I try and regain a semblance of dignity before calling the journalist myself.

12:45pm: The geotechnical specialist who is going to be interviewed arrives. Quick briefing.

 1pm: Travel to the site for filming with the TV crew. Geotechnical specialist is interviewed, all goes well. Then the journalist tells me she’d like to interview another person to make the story a bit more interesting.

1:25pm: I am the only other person available. Jump in the car for 30-second briefing on everything I could possibly ever need to know about the work site.

1:20pm: Interview proceeds. Fortunately, there is a spare hard hat in the car. And you know what they say – slap on a hard hat and a fluoro vest, and anyone’s a geotechnical engineer.

2:30pm: Filming’s done! I misplace my phone and keys. Keys are found in one of the work utes. Phone is eventually found – apparently I carefully put it inside the upturned hard hat and covered it over with the fluoro vest before putting it all away inside a cupboard. Go figure.

4:15pm: Home again! Nearly went the wrong way at an intersection but just decided to follow the car in front. Luckily they were headed the same way as me. Quickly catch up on emails and phone calls before anyone gets home.

4:45pm: Jump on treadmill for 20 minutes.

5:15pm: Souljourneyboy home with kids after swimming lessons.

5:30pm: Loud and unnecessary argument between Picasso and Bookworm over a piece of paper. Ipad privileges removed and Bookworm sent to room.

5:45pm: Picasso and Little Miss start a game where they run around the house, occasionally stopping and screaming at each other, then laughing their heads off. It’s really loud.

5:55pm: Souljourneyboy and I suddenly remember we sent Bookworm to his room. I tell him he can come out of room. “Do I have to?” he shouts back. Well, no, actually. It was much more pleasant without him glowering at everyone and everything and I am quite happy for him to stay there.

6pm: Souljourneyboy and I discuss the fact we are literally overcome with exhaustion.  Dinner is tuna jaffles and weet-bix, all we can manage.

6:30pm: I read “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” to the kids, as well as a book Picasso got from the library that day. It’s a strange tale about potato people and Bookworm has issues with the plot line.

6:45pm: We remember the car battery is flat. Souljourneyboy goes to have a look. It turns out the car is fine – I had accidentally left it in “drive” instead of “park” while trying to turn it on. My feeling of embarrassment is replaced by relief that we don’t need to spend any money getting it fixed. Still, I kind of wish I hadn’t told everyone at work that my car had broken down.

7:15pm: Wrestle Little Miss into bed. Make lunches for the next day.

7:30pm: Begin the arduous process of getting Bookworm and Picasso into bed. Have to convince Bookworm of the restorative powers of Panadol and a good sleep. Have the usual going-to-bed routine of Picasso and I arguing over who loves the other more (I always win).

8pm: Collapse into bed and look at the TV screen for half an hour. Not sure I actually watch anything. Feel like I should be studying for my upcoming Uni exam but can’t muster the energy.

8:45pm: Sleep….love, love, love that feeling of going to bed early and drifting off to sleep knowing you have a whole glorious 8 hours ahead of you.

So that’s it!

The Midnight Clan of Motherhood

It’s after midnight; the house is still. Poor Picasso and Little Miss are sick with a stomach bug and Souljourneyboy is coming down with it too. I’ve just cleaned up after Picasso twice in the last hour, given him a shower, changed his clothes and sheets and I’ve said I will stay up while he falls asleep.

Once more, I am part of the Midnight Clan of Motherhood.

It’s been a while  – I was a regular member a few years ago, when I was in the thick of breastfeeding and settling and sleep deprivation. I certainly don’t miss it; but I think there’s something wonderful in the universality of human experience – that at any given moment there are mothers (and fathers too – I shouldn’t be sexist) awake when everyone else sleeps, feeding their babies, cuddling them back to sleep, comforting them through sickness or sadness or bad dreams.

So here I am again, and I am reminded of a Judith Wright poem I always think of when my children are sick.

Lie quiet in the silence of my heart

I watching thee am turned into a cloud;

I guarding thee am spread upon the air.

Lie quietly; be covered by my love.

I will be rain to fall upon your earth;

I will be shade to hold the sun from you.

I am the garden beyond the burning wind,

I am the river among the blowing sand;

I am the song you hear before you sleep.

In being these, I lose myself in these.

I am the woman-statue of the fountain

out of whose metal breasts continually

starts a living water; I am a vase

shaped only for my hour of holding you.

This drought is but to turn me into a cloud.

This heat but casts my shadow cooler on you.

Turn to my breast your fever, and be still.

Picasso is asleep now. I stroked my hand over his forehead and down his nose, just like I did when he was a baby – it used to make him close his eyes. He is so big now.

And I am going back to bed. I pray that all you mothers (and fathers) out there who are still awake – feeding, comforting, settling – will get some sleep this night too.

xxx