My IdeaLife: challenges

My Kingdom for a Kiss Upon Her Shoulder

It's been 18 years since his blood warmed our hearts and his, but his voice remains and still inspires...Read more...

The love of your life

Is it a man, is it a career, no it's superbaby!...Read more...

A lifetime of beauty in a song

Middle East (the band not the place) have somehow condensed the human experience into this soulful song: Blood...Read more...

Superwomen have it all by NOT doing it all

Superwoman really don't exist, it's more like Insanitywoman, so stop pretending and start outsourcing...Read more...

Showing posts with label challenges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label challenges. Show all posts

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Working Mum aka losing your mind

Ok so I am still a little in shock here, sitting in my pjs, as only two days ago I confirmed the change in date to tonight, for a girl's night out with two smashing Mums from my neighbourhood. It's a night out we've been discussing for probably four weeks as we all have varying degrees of work, not to mention two toddlers each so finding a night we were all free and then moving it the week before was pretty lucky. 

But luck ran out for me tonight as I entered the twilight zone and completely forgot I was going anywhere. When my hubby opened the door and I heard my lovely yet "my-forgiveness-is-running-low" friend ask innocently "is Nicole ready to come out?", I screamed 'Oh my god". 

Mortified I unravelled myself from a toddler-turned-puppy-dog who had settled into my chest as only a puppy can, and stumbled to the door, my racing mind stopped by my beautifully dressed, made-up friend, confirming my fears and throwing me into the realisation of my ridiculous absent-mindedness. 

She conversely was treated with a vision of shapeless grey marle, in my comfy and oft-stained pjs, the grey tinge of an unmade up hungover and exhausted face, distorted in horror. "You are not quite ready then" she giggled, I think still hoping I wasn't a complete ar5e and was going to rush and get my act together. 

An x-ray of my brain taken tonight
The truth is I was actually lucky to be awake as I was contemplating passing out about half an hour earlier but was staying up to help with bath and bedtime for the boys. When she did note the suitcases that had taken up residence under my eyes I think she knew I was in no condition to join them.

This really isn't a happy post, it is kind of a scary post, obviously my life is a little bit too congested at the moment and maybe I need to work out how to give my mind a break ... and if I do that, fingers crossed my lovely friends will forgive me and invite me out again.... please! 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Dedicated to Boston


Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Oatmeal...that is all


If resting on the 7th day is good enough for God then I'm in too, so here's a cartoon that is so true it makes me laugh until I cry... 


On that note The Oatmeal and an early night are going to make me happy. 
What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Never Give Up

When I was seven I took Piano lessons. Like most seven year olds I didn't like to practice. My teacher, Mrs Thomson, was pretty hard core and was perpetually frustrated with my lack of practice at home as I made little progress between lessons. I did learn to read music and I did learn to play at a basic level. I lasted about two years but the thought of taking exams paralysed me with fear. You see it wasn't just laziness, even at such a young age I was terrified of failure, so much so that I sabotaged myself so as to stay in control of the situation. If I was going to fail, I wasn't going to fail while trying, so I didn't, I quit instead. 

It was a safe existence, but a soul-destroying path I was venturing down, and unbeknowns to me I was in the early stages of avoiding disappointment and pain really well. I don't know what part of my childhood did this, but I became acutely aware that on the other side of trying was supposedly devastation. Devastation because the world would find out you weren't perfect. 

Recently my three old started to cry badly before swimming lessons. He definitely wanted to quit. I saw hideous fear in my little boy's gorgeous blue eyes, and I fought hard with my instinct to wrap him in my arms and take him home. The one thing that stopping me was the massive flash back to my own fears in childhood and I knew if he faced his fear, instead of quitting, it would be a better outcome and not just for his ability to swim. 

The first week was the worst, so much so the lifeguard asked me to leave the pool area so Bang would stop crying and staring at me. Only 7 mins of the 30mins had smiles. The week after he arrived back home with Dad who had brought him home straight away, feeling that it was disrupting the class too much. Back in the car Bang and I went, me coaching him all the way there on how good he would feel after he overcame his fears. The tears started again as we neared the pool but this time only lasted 10mins, and were quickly replaced by a broad smile of accomplishment. 

Facing fears requires concentration...calm before the big smiles!
The week after that Bang bravely let his swimming teacher pour water over his head. Four weeks in he poured water over his own head in the bath for the first time, the experience of which created an expression that in the three years I have known him I had never seen before. With the biggest smile ever, pure joy erupted from his face as he looked up at me and shook the water off with pride and a renewed sense of his own ability and strength. 

This proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that courage and happiness are closely related. Understanding your fear and accepting it as normal, and then pushing past it with no expectations of success or brilliance, just getting past the fear and doing something you're scared of - it is an amazing thing and we underestimate its power. We also overestimate how hard it is to help someone persevere.  We only had to endure approximately 30mins of anguish to get to those big gorgeous smiles.

"All it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage and great things will happen. I promise"
Benjamin Mee, zoo owner (His story in the movie "We bought a zoo")


What I realise now is that those little choices to quit instead of try are like taking a small pick to your self-esteem, knocking little bits of self-belief off every time. And luckily I have realised in time for the beginning of my own children's lives that if I can help them face their own fears, and instil in them a sense of courage and resourcefulness, then they will always know that anything is possible. And hopefully for me I will still have half a life to lead with courage and passion.


What fears would you like to face? 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Small Bump, Huge tears: the agony of miscarriage

I am sharing this song because although it is likely to do to you what it did to me, namely make you spontaneously burst into tears, which arguably isn't that pleasant, it is too beautiful not to. 

The scans of my unmade plans


What an unbelievably rare talent, Ed Sheeran is that he can capture so perfectly the hope and love that happens even before you meet a baby. It defies all logic but nonetheless the love is palpable and I would know as I only got to meet two of my four. 

I know I am one of the lucky ones but even so I still remember the shocking emotional agony of my miscarriages. There are people all around the world trying to define at what point divided cells become life - for me it is that first magical moment of connection. Eight weeks later when a once beating heart was no longer, there was no comfort in knowing how early or how developed or not, because a new life had died before it had lived, and all the hopes and dreams I had attached to this very small person died suddenly with it. 

My comfort came in the form of another two babies and although I knew they were different and unique lives, they were still new and perfect with wonderous eyes and gorgeous potential. But this song reminds me of the cruelty of miscarriage and the absurdity of losing the love of your life and all of those precious unmade plans...

"Hold on tight, it'll be alright" xxx

Monday, 17 December 2012

What would you say to the parents in Connecticut?

I don't know what you would say but I am at a point where I would have to scream simply "what the f*ck?!". There is no normal explanation for this. "Some people are mentally disturbed" no longer cuts it when 20 six and seven year olds are the chosen target. This is not just a tipping point for the USA, it is a question for the world, especially the virtual world. There is something that we are missing when we hear of teenagers doing these things. 


The only thing I can remember that is worse than what has happened in Connecticut, is what happened to poor James Bulger, a 2 year old in the UK, lured away from his Mum by two ten year olds to be t0rtured and murd3red slowly. Two ten years olds now in their 20s with hidden identities for their protection so they can live their lives in freedom. Huh!? What are we doing wrong? Are we too busy to notice we are raising psych0paths? Are we too lazy to keep them off video games that make murd3r seem like fun? What are we not teaching them about the value of life that they take it away from people so small and innocent and in no way capable of causing any form of pain to them, that would warrant these kind of vind!ctive and cowardly att@cks? And worst of all when we find out through some horrific situation that involves innocent people losing their happy existences, that these young people are actually psych0paths, why do we as a society find it necessary to protect them from normal people who feel that maybe it's not cool to have obvious s0ciopaths living freely in society? 

I am so mad, there is no way around it, I am furious. I am livid with his mother for teaching him to sh00t and having semi-@ut0matic weap0ns just hanging around, for knowing instinctively that he was not right and doing nothing about it. I am horrified that somehow a bunch of morons have lobbied to allow people to freely own these weap0ns. I am incensed that he and his mother* are gone so we can't make them live with the consequences of their choices or grab them and shake them until we find out why, Why, WHY?????
From top right (clockwise): Noah Pozner, Emilie Parker, Dylan Hockley, Grace McDonnell, Victoria Soto, 27, Mary Sherlach, 56, Lauren Russeau, 30, James Mattioli and Olivia Engel, Jesse Lewis and Ana M. Marquez-Greene
Every beautiful smiling face I've seen on TV that I know now is no longer, looks like any of our family photos. The innocent unbridled joy of life still mostly unchallenged. I don't know what to say to those left behind without their beautiful little cheeky monkeys. There is no sense, nor hope I can find in this. It is a horror beyond any movie and over 40 people are not acting as they try to face something not even the most w@rped movie makers could think up. I suppose the only comfort is so many are grieving with you, not as deeply of course, but we are here too, feeling it hard and hating a world where this can happen. Something has to change, please, something has to come from these beautiful young things cut down so unfairly and far too soon. 



RIP
Charlotte Bacon, age 6
Daniel Barden, age 7
Olivia Engel, age 6
Josephine Gay, age 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, age 6
Dylan Hockley, age 6
Madeleine F Hsu, age 6
Catherine Hubbard, age 6
Chase Kowalski , age 7
Jesse Lewis, age 6
James Mattioli, age 6
Grace McDonnell, age 7
Emilie Parker, age 6
Jack Pinto, age 6
Noah Pozner, age 6
Caroline Previdi, age 6
Jessica Rekos, age 6
Avielle Richman, age 6
Benjamin Wheeler, age 6
Allison Wyatt, age 6

Rachel Davino, age 29
Dawn Hochsprung, age 47
Anne Marie Murphy, age 52
Lauren Rousseau, age 30
Mary Sherlach, age 56
Victoria Soto, age 27

*One mother's account of living with a mentally ill son sheds new light on what this man may have been putting her through and raises great points about the potential root cause and its solution. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

"Stop crying" Mummy cried hysterically

There's something soul-destroying about listening to Adele as your child cries hysterically. Nothing has really changed in the three and half years since I met my first child, a baby's cry, a toddler's cry, they are all the same, they cut through my skin and reach in and grab my heart and say "You are failing me". 



I will never get used to it. Waiting for a coffee today I heard a distant scream of agony and my heart broke just a little as it tapped into the many different cries I have heard in my short time as a Mum. The worst is the pain one, where there is nothing much you can do but comfort them and give them paracetamol, followed closely by the one I am listening to tonight. The over-tired completely lost-my-mind, I'm never sleeping again, and I may die of a broken heart unless you cuddle me all night tantrum. 



The fact is I do feel like I've failed him, despite the fact that I know most parents go through this. The thing with our second child is we didn't do things by the book. Our first was off the bottle by 1.5, he was not cuddled to sleep or given milk in the middle of the night. Unfortunately our laxed approach has lead us to another night where we will have to leave him to cry himself to sleep after comforting and rocking him for over an hour with no success. This is my fault and my husbands. And I am feeling it acutely. 

Luckily despite not following some childless nutbag that's written a book based on their extensive experience with other people's babies, nights like these are far and few between but they are the worst of times for everyone. Made even more traumatic by the fact he can now clearly call out "Mumma" in the most emotional and heartbroken way. 

Poor little guy, being a toddler is so hard, that's the reason we don't remember it I reckon. Just imagine you are too short to reach the stuff that's most interesting, especially the food that you like. You have to get a taller person to understand what you want even though you don't speak very clearly. When you are in the middle of a crucial scene in Madagascar someone stronger than you and who can pick you up does just that and strips you naked and puts you in a bath. Seriously have these people any respect?! 

Poor little man he is so upset, and all my comforting does is make the next time I lie him down even more traumatic. If any one tells you there is something harder than being a parent, smile kindly as you boof them on the head with your handbag. 

The only light is that once you have been through this once or twice you sort of know how it goes. You know that you have to last about 30 75 minutes and then it will be over, he will be asleep and so will you, both exhausted. 

Have you lived through uncontrolled-crying?

Monday, 8 October 2012

"Superwomen" have it all by NOT doing it all..


I was pretty nervous when Nina called from Fairfax to ask me questions about being a working Mum. Mainly because I feel slightly guilty about it most of the time. I have written about the struggle of Mum's today in Mamamia not once but twice, and so hearing that Sunday Life was going to do an article about us "Superwomen" was reassuring.

The age old question, "Shouldn't Mums give up their working, social and every other kind of lives for the lives of their children?", was still rattling around in my guilty conscience as Nina asked me questions about how I coped. But I remembered some of the advice I had had from so many women who now had older kids and had juggled it all. The lovely Bern Morley told me that there has been absolutely no negative affects on her gorgeous children and they'd been in child care from infancy. And TV-host Melissa Doyle, who arrives at the set of Sunrise every week day at 4.30am, told me she felt the same and elaborated saying "I hope they feel proud of their Mum". Their confidence calmed me and reminded me of the key reasons why I chose to be a working Mum.

But if you are thinking about being a "superwoman" and feel like it'd be all too much, you'd be right. It is really hard and what has come to light it is how insane it is. But take heart - help is here. Because there are so many of us now, there are also highly-accessible and acceptable services ready to help us manage. And as journalist Cosima Marriner writes in Sunday's article:

 "No longer do we have to pretend to the world we're [superwomen] – while imploding inside with the impossibility of doing it all...we've found a new role model: Outsourcing Woman."

Read the full article here: Mother's Little Helpers in yesterday's Sunday Life/Sun-Herald. 

Monday, 1 October 2012

A Beautiful Beginnings End: RIP Jill Meagher

Street Art Tribute in Hosier Lane, Melbourne, Source: HeraldSun

Her dreams were those of any beautiful young girl, her vibrancy and light existence marred only by a shimmer of doubt that flashed through her mind when a stranger began talking to her on the way home early last Saturday morning. That doubt grew into unthinkable horror when Jill Meagher's circumstances conspired against her and a predator, a man so lost and damaged, thought nothing of ending her near perfect life. A life with a long future of love and adventure and moments. A lifetime of moments he felt were less worthy, than a vulgar, disturbed one made up of power and violence. 

Source: The Vine Live
I don't understand this man, not even close. What megalomania takes hold to not understand another human's huge and majestic existence? How could he not see her, and how she extended into the past, the future and into all those that know and love her in the present? Was it the brilliance of her that made him hate her enough to end her beautiful life? I don't know and like the thousands that walked down Sydney Road as a tribute to this senseless loss, I will probably never know what possessed the man that did this to Jill. 

Tribute March for Jill Meagher, Brunswick, Source: HeraldSun
All we are left with are questions unanswered, shock and grief. And a desperate scrambling to pull together, to reassure each other that humanity is not lost. That there are more of us who feel each other, empathise with and respect each other, than those that do not. I want to hope, I want to send thoughts of strength and love to Tom Meagher and the McKeon Family, but I am collapsed in grief at the absurdity of this life. That this can happen, and does happen more often than we know, breaks my heart. 

Tears replace the space where hope lived, so for now I cry with you in your great loss. And hope that maybe one day the lyrics of this song will make sense of the senselessness of Jill's end. 


"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end"

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

UPDATE: The Burden of True Love: Dedicated to Marina Krim in her unthinkable loss

I seem to have an unhealthy obsession with death of late. It is quite disturbing and not really conducive to a light and smiling existence. Instead I have strange visions of myself being injured or worse one of my beautiful boys. I try to tell myself that living in fear of death is a waste of life and I know it is, I can feel it is, but now I have so much to lose, so much to miss in the growth of my two little toddler boys into young men and god permitting, adults. I watched Shadowlands tonight, and I knew I shouldn't but it is a beautiful story and a true one. Non-fiction is always more magnetic to me but unfortunately usually contains the real tragedy of the absurdity of our lives.

my idealife banksy

C.S. Lewis although a committed Christian and successful author had never really fallen in love. His life was perfectly balanced, clinical and in control. Until he met Joy quite late in life. Her massive IQ and wit derailed his limited existence and he fell hard and passionately in love with her. But by some strange fate it turned out she had cancer and died only four years after they were married. His life was turned upside down and back the front and was taken completely out of his hands. In spite of this he recognises that the happiness she brought was worth the pain. I love the part where he says to her on her deathbed "I love you Joy, you make me so happy, I never knew I could feel such happiness... you are the truest person I know." 

What is more devastating than their love cut far too short is Joy having to leave her boys, when still only boys very much still in need of their Mum, behind alone, without her. As a Mum I find this almost unbearable to watch let alone imagine for my own boys. 


I know that people somehow survive this kind of loss, the pain, although never completely gone, reduces and life crowds in to distract you. But I buckle in two at the thought, I don't seem to be made of the stuff that those that continue are. I feel like my insides are custard, probably soft and malleable through never having been through anything even close to this harrowing. 

I only wish that my fears will work to drive my enjoyment of the moments I am having this second, when my boys still love cuddles and kisses, and say things like "You are my true love" or yell with glee, "Mummy, Mummy" on my arrival home from work, running at me with arms splayed ready to be easily swung in the air, my face buried in their soft necks breathing in their innocence before bursting a raspberry onto their perfect skin, and drinking in the erupting giggles that this all imbues. 

Like C.S. Lewis, my nightmares will probably never cease, but if the worst were to happen and I end up broken by grief I hope I remember they were worth the pain, every precious second knowing them is better than a pain-free existence never having looked into their eyes of joy and wonder, and realising they are the joy and wonder of my life. 



Sending Kevin and Marina Krim the strength no Mother can imagine having,
as you face the most terrible of losses x

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Problem with Mortality: Jim Stynes gone at 45

On the day of Jim Stynes state funeral an edited version of this post was published in the Tele

"All those moments lost in time...like tears in rain...time to die"
BladeRunner 1982


I’m not in to watching sport, in fact when my husband turns it on, daily that is, I go kind of mental and loudly threaten a 24 hour Jane Austen marathon until he changes the channel. But tonight the not so random Fox Sports channel specifically selected to watch a dedication to AFL legend Jim Stynes sent me a different kind of crazy. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I took in the loss of an obviously great man with a rare mix of humility, drive and amazing character. My heart broke as I imagined his wife and children facing a future without what was obviously the backbone of their reality gone. And as I saw the helplessness we all share when the enemy of our time rears it’s ugly head, to cut short another young life at only 45, it was almost too much.

Last year Sarah Watt died of Cancer, a month before her, Steve Jobs, weeks before that Gavin Larkin, a few months before that my cousin, and the list goes on like a morbid game of Chinese Whispers that leaves only grief and sadness in its wake.

We are surrounded by death, a day does not go by in which we are not confronted by mortality. Whether it be a car accident, a suicide bomb or an illness, the TV beams it to us daily. Not surprising really, given over 150,000 people die each day. What is surprising though is how we manage to ignore it, mainly because it is not our own and for years and hopefully whole life times we carve a path through life without looking death squarely in the eye. We live as if immortal.

Even when my Mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer I managed to shelve the situation in the “she’ll be right” category of my brain and luckily she was. Today though my delusion is showing cracks and I don’t know whether it is maturity or just that the people threatened and dying now are peers, but my "eternal" existence is being challenged.

Jim, Steve and Sarah had children, so have I, they were happy, so am I, they were in their 40s, so am I, they were needed, so am I. There it is, the unfamiliar face of death taking someone my age, at my stage of life. It is despicable, wrong and absurd. But most of all it is insanely confronting.

It is an understatement to say I am not happy about this happening. The injustice of it is driving me quietly mad. I am sad and angry and desperate at this interruption to such brilliant existences. “It is NOT fair! this is not how it is meant to be” I scream as I try to return death back to its abstract box, miles away from me. But as I spin hopelessly in my new world without infinity, I realise I need a new way to look at this or I would be of no use to anybody.

Then I remembered what I had heard last year. When it became apparent that Steve Jobs was gravely ill, I watched his speech to Stanford graduates. It left me a blubbering mess then and compelled me to write about his life, but his words were like oxygen for those grieving his loss after he died and I so I share them again as we grieve again today for Jim Stynes:

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart…”
Steve Jobs, 2005

And when Jim Stynes was asked whether he thought what was happening to him was incredibly unjust he responded: 

“Life throws up challenges, life is unfair.
When you understand that, you can get on with your life”. 
Jim Stynes, 2010



He also admitted to being too busy to get a sizable lump on his back checked despite his wife urging him to go to the Doctor. Sound familiar? “Living” does gets in the way of life and if on the day we die we want to look back without regret, listening to those that have at last faced their own mortality is key. 

So maybe instead of seeing a seething monster when death reminds us it exists, we need to see a motivator with a light shining through our material and superficial trappings to our soul and heart. A filter that tears away the unimportant and uncovers what it is we want from our very finite life. 

Unfortunately these inspirational and wise words can’t reduce the intense pain of losing someone we love or the thought of our own self ceasing. But maybe if we accepted that one day our spirit will end with one final synapse firing in our brain. Maybe then and only then would we truly learn how to live, grateful for the things that matter, and looking for ways to find inner happiness and share it with those we love.

When life gets in the way and I forget what really matters I am going to stop and remember the great ones that don’t have the chances I have, to cherish their gorgeous family and friends and to stop sometimes and just be.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam Jim Stynes

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

PARENT LOSES WILL-TO-LIVE AT INDOOR PLAY CENTRE

When I was a child-free, busy career-woman waking up to the sprinkling of rain on a weekend was kind of romantic and the perfect excuse to stay in bed longer. The worst that could happen is a picnic or BBQ would need to be moved undercover, but to be honest I wasn’t really rolling in picnic invitations. In fact most weekends I was suffering from at least a minor hangover, so really the world could have frozen over outside and as long as I had a doona I’d be happy.




Then two tenacious little wriggly things changed all that when they found their way through the perils of my uterean landscape into ovum heaven. Rain on a weekend now means only one thing and it is no longer a nice warm lie in, it in no way resembles a snuggle as you drift between hazy consciousness and la-la-land, and it causes worse brain damage than any amount of alcohol consumption. ‘IT’ is the INDOOR PLAY CENTRE.

Three simple words that in isolation are all quite innocuous, they could even be seen as quite positive, but when combined in this particular order contain the power to strike fear into the hearts of the brave, reduce the stoic to cowering messes of tears and transform the cool, calm and collected to hot, bothered and berserk.

Funnily enough the truth of this doesn’t prevent desperate parents from once again venturing into the fray at the slightest hint of rain. For some reason the last memory of play-centre insanity is overshadowed by the more recent hell raised by two trapped banshees, I mean boys, in the space formerly recognised as the home. Which, after a morning of rain, is easily mistaken for a small landfill site. And letting them loose in a ball-filled pit of despair seems like the better option to living in a tip for a day…until you arrive.

The noise itself, something akin to the screams of a thousand cats being strangled, would send any normal person running in the opposite direction, but to a parent on a rainy day, they stay the course, wildly hanging on to the hope that this time, despite blood pouring from their ears, it will be fun for all.

It really isn’t until you are through the door and you lose sight of one child in the multi-level tunnels, nets and padded shapes and the other disappears under a rainbow of germ-infested plastic balls that the horror returns and you realise the error of your ways. By then it is too late to retreat as your hell, is your children’s idea of the most fun they have ever had in their whole life.

On this particular morning I looked jealously at parents sitting at tables, relaxed with coffees, smug in the knowledge they can leave there over-four year old to fend for themselves, which is code for my child is now big enough to run into, push over, throw balls at everyone else’s children. Conversely I removed my shoes and ran around on padded vinyl, batting big kids out of the way and diverting incoming missiles as my 16 month old giggled his way through mazes and ball pits. My only consolation was knowing my hubby was currently squeezing himself through a wobbling, netted tunnel three levels above the ground in an effort to keep sight of our 2 year old, who was about to disappear into a mess of mangled bodies hurtling themselves down a 30ft slide on hessian bags.



Don't be fooled by the pretty colours and cute monkeys...this is HELL on earth.
There is always an island of respite with a sign above it stating, “under fours only”. Again a glimmer of hope returns as you drag your child towards the single level, fenced in, near empty toddler area, and almost hysterically sell-in the excitement of what is obviously the most boring area in the centre, even a dirty cup off the floor is more captivating, because god-forbid you could be allowed to relax for more than 5 seconds. Their sudden possession by the spirit of hell drawing them back to the rampaging levels of mayhem drives you back through the gate to hell again. And you watch as they head, giggling for certain injury.

We escaped this time with only a four year jumping on our 16 month old’s head from height no less, but xrays were not required, and other than the obligatory “Damien” impersonations as we try to extract our little energy balls from their extremely fun “pinball machine”, we escaped with our lives only just. But I know I left about ten years of my life in there and if I ever consider going again I require you to smack me in the head with a large shovel.


 ©2012, My IdeaLife, All rights reserved

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

MISSING TV REMOTE BREAKS HEART: A Mum's Grief

My little people fixated by their beloved Brum.
We couldn’t find the TV remote to turn off a morning of 'Big Cook, Little Cook', 'Raa Raa, the noisy little lion', 'Show me, Show me' to name just a few. This single small failure was about to set off a tidal wave of emotion. Boom had taken the boys to the park and I was pottering about with the overly-enthusiastic soundtrack of children's shows playing in the background. Then this music came on, it was clever, funny orchestral music used to introduce a small vintage car that happens to be the local superhero in Birmingham, his name is Brum.

Brum has been pivotal in my life as he has captured the imagination of both my boys in a way no other show has. Initially Bang was very taken with 'In the Night Garden', but by the time Crash came along, Brum was and still is the preferred viewing choice of both. Other shows come and go, but Brum fighting baddies, saving kittens and flying through the air to stop out-of-control trains never grows tired.

Brum taught both my boys how to eat, his attention-demanding antics, hilarious music, sound effects and cute storylines allowed food to enter their mouths without resistance. All sorts of healthy items passed their lips as they smiled at Brum.


This cheery little fellow is perfectly designed to make people smile, unfortunately for me, today he has had the opposite affect and I am a whimpering mess. As I leave behind a couple of years of being a SAHM and return to work I now realise that I may never see another episode. I may never be able to watch on as my boys eager eyes take in the action, frowning when there’s danger or smiling at the happy ending. I won’t see them wave at Brum the way the cast do or clap at the end once he’s saved the day. And I will never hear that haunting Oboe trill at the start of a new adventure.

It is the end of an era and I know we will all adjust and get used to seeing each other less but for today I am just going to sit here and cry my eyes out because time moves too fast and I wish I could stay home, me and my little men together forever.


© MyIdeaLife, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 5 January 2012

POSITION VACANT: One Housewife


As the lovely Andrea from Fox in Flats-infamy highlighted last week on Twitter I am returning to work in January after 15 months Maternity Leave, and wait for it...fulltime. I know collective gasp from many including me sometimes. But despite a bit of a go, I am being sacked from my role as Domestic Goddess (actually my job title was Domestic Avoidess but no point in getting caught up in semantics).

This lack of natural ability in grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, washing, tidying etcetera has caused the constant hum of guilt to overshadow my time as a Stay-at-home-Mum. Who knew that housewife and Mother were synonymous! I didn't and nothing really prepared me for the expectation that if you are not working out of the house, you are working in it.

Don't get me wrong, everyone has to contribute so it stands to reason that who ever is at home, Mum or Dad, gets lumped with the home management. Problem for me is I have always viewed housework with particular disdain. Probably because society places no value on a well-run home. Who nowadays really cares if there are a few crumbs on the ground or toys are not neatly put away. As long as nobody is sitting around in 3 day old food or worse then you are doing ok as far as I'm concerned.

But it runs deeper than just lack of acknowledgement. When I was a child I remember feeling so confused and hurt by the fact that my brother never had to do the things that were expected of me, like sewing, ironing or cooking. My constant question "Why do I have to do it, when he doesn't?" was usually met with “Because I said so”, which to my mind translated to “There is no logic or reason behind this unfairness”. The reality was when I was growing up girls were still expected to learn and know things about managing a home and at most, boys were taught how to mow the lawn, change a tyre, but most importantly how to sit on the couch, watch sport while drinks and snacks magically materialising next to them, usually courtesy of the nearest female.

This injustice and my determination to overcome it rendered me slightly crap as a "housewife". Luckily my husband has no such hang ups about chores. He doesn't question his validity as he hangs out the washing, he doesn't associate stacking the dishwasher with discrimination and he certainly does not feel like he's giving up on fulfilling his potential by changing the bed sheets. Unfortunately I do, albeit in a subtle way. But as I look back at my 15 months 'off', I can see clearly that for some reason being a housewife makes me feel like a failure in a way work outside of the house never has. It is not logical, in fact it is the opposite as what could be more rewarding than working for the benefit of the people you love the most in the world?

But there you have it, I prefer the paid work to the house work.

Luckily, as I hand one of the household reigns back to my hubby, I can take comfort in the fact that 'Housewife' and 'Mother' are two different roles. Just because I am no longer at home with my children, does not mean I am no longer 'Mum'. In fact with the extra help we are getting I may find I get some more 'play' time with them, rather than yelling at them from the laundry to stop trying to impale themselves from a great height on to Lego towers.

If I stayed home and continued to feel anxious about my missing-Goddess, and the relationship that has with my Mother-role, then I would not be doing them the huge favour some assume. A Mother feeling like a failure around 24/7 is far more dangerous than a confident, secure one who is away for 38 hours a week, I’m sure.

Now to the task of securing contentment… hmmmm… maybe I’ll go and fold some clothes.

Is housework your mental disorder too?


©MyIdeaLife, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Monday, 5 December 2011

MUMMY FAILURES UNITE!


For those of you that know me, you probably know I am SO not afraid to express my opinions in real life, but mainly on topics I know a lot about. So maybe if I was writing about advertising or marketing I would be out on a limb every day (stay tuned), but instead I mostly write about motherhood. As a fairly new Mum myself and with no formal parenting training I am very careful not to put myself forward as any type of expert in that area. Like most Mummy bloggers, I am bumbling through the most challenging experience of my life and all I can hope is that what I write shows empathy to other parents who were equally shocked by the challenges of parenthood.

So I was pretty surprised at the reaction of some women to a piece I wrote that was published on Mamamia last Tuesday. The article was my personal feelings surrounding sending my eldest to daycare. I intentionally put an alternative view forward simply because it occurred to me that maybe a bit of daycare would have done me good when I was younger, never dreaming this would be misconstrued as attacking stay-at-home Mums. Nor that it would incite nearly 500 comments.

One comment from a non-Mum created a very valid furore:
"Sorry, but what’s the point of having kids if you’re just going to ship them off somewhere? Yeah, I know, ppl need to work blah blah but if you can’t afford kids then don’t have them. Personally when I have kids, I’m going to look after them 24/7, I won’t have kids and palm them off willy nilly." 

Another Mum was in a fury:
“I do find this article infuriating. Is it not possible to simply outline all the positives you see about your own personal choice of parenting without having to resort to attacking any other choice that’s different to yours?...Please don’t assume that my daughter was sheltered and protected at home by a doting, grumpy mother…”

Another stated I was condescending and a bully to stay-at-home Mums. (I am not, for the record.) 


Another was a little more realistic and extremely funny:
"I am a SAHM. I would dearly LOVE to place (dump, bung, fling, fire out of a cannon) my children into daycare for a day or two a week. Can’t afford it. Sigh. It’s been 7 years at home and we’re all sick of looking at each other. I would love a chance to miss my children." 

And there were many gems of wisdom such as this one:
"The way I see it, it takes a village to raise a child, not a mum and dad in isolation, which is often the case now, we live so far from extended family." 


Needless to say my personal quandary caused a little bit of 'discussion' probably because modern parenting is so personal, contentious and varied. I am glad we have choices, however hard they may be, where our own Mothers did not. I think we will always have regrets, I already feel that it probably would have been better if my eldest went to kindy at 16 months instead of 9 months but my work situation did not allow for this (I was pregnant with my second and had to return for 6 months before going on maternity leave again). Then again as one wise commenter on Mamamia said, you can never tell what would have had better outcomes because you can’t run concurrent existences for your children to see if they would have faired better taking a different path.

One thing occurred to me though as I read all the comments, Lana Hirschowitz, the editor of Mamamia and Mia Freedman have the best jobs in the world if this is what they see most days. That is, passionate women who adore their children and truly want the best for them, which was the theme through most of the comments. Also the vast majority were empathetic, understanding and kind in their support for Mothers who face tough decisions involving the loves of our lives. We’ve all been there and the support between us is so crucial. Children used to be brought up by a community and although so many of us are isolated geographically, online can be that community at least for insanity-prevention if not for providing the break all Mums need now and then. 

For those that were judgemental, harsh and self-righteous well they can stay by themselves in their perfect worlds and have this video to keep them company. 



So go have a read and see what about 400 Mums feel about daycare – it is fascinating and mostly really heartwarming and encouraging. 



The video above is a part of a very funny series of videos, created by Valerie Stone Hawthorne you can watch more on YouTube or visit her blog 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

THE KEY TO A HAPPY BIRTHDAY: The Front Door


When you read this you could be forgiven for thinking I just make this stuff up. I wish I was making it up because I can't for the life of me figure out how I get this 'lucky'. I must just be special in a she attends a "special" class kind of way.

Birthdays come around once a year as you know, and so on this one day you can say things like:
"No dear, today I'm having a shower first so for once I get to spend 40 minutes in there and you get to spend 5 minutes after that while I yell at you to hurry up" or
"Oooh look Crash has done a big poo, I'm not changing him because it's my birthday".

In fact all bets are off when it's your birthday, well that's what I thought until today. It was all looking as I would expect from a family with two toddlers, I got a card and Happy Birthday sang to me, no present but that’s ok given hubby didn't get one last year (although I had a 3 month old I was breastfeeding so I was lucky to get out of the house let alone go shopping for a present, he doesn't have any such excuse).



Anyway I was even looking forward to the breakfast out with my boys until learning only minutes before that Boom had booked a Chiropractor appointment at 8.30. That’s when things started to feel less birthdayish and very every other day of the yearish. Even the breakfast at a nice café was the usual mayhem, where one of you is always lunging to catch a falling knife or save a full cup of coffee from ending up all over the table or you or both but little did I know it was about to become anything but an ordinary day.

I raced home as it was obvious the little guy wanted to sleep. With one toddler on my hip, another attached to my hand I somehow got the keys out of my pocket to get inside. But they looked strange, and as my conscious mind caught up to the vision in front of me I realised that the front door key had somehow vanished from the key ring.

It wasn't hard to put two and two together if you knew my husband. I quickly surmised he had taken the front door key off to take with him the night before as he was at a function. What the Einstein did with the key god only knows but I'd say it ended up on his key ring, next to his front door key.

After ringing him around 15 times I eventually tracked him down through an ad agency receptionist who was embarrassed to hear the story that I was determined to share with anyone who would listen. He was standing in front of her so I was able to "calmly" explain the situation. He was so “helpful” he said he would come out of his meeting if I got the boys back in the car and drove to him. Great! thanks sweet!

After staring at our 7ft metal side gate and imagining climbing over it using the bins as steps and then breaking a leg as I landed on the other side leaving two toddlers to play on the road, I started putting Crash back into his car seat. Then our elderly neighbour, Jack pulled up. "Wonder if I could jump their fence?" I thought. He was up for the adventure so all three of us bundled up to their backyard and Jack got his ladder out. The boys played with or really just got licked by their dog, as I scrambled over a 6ft paling fence landing unceremoniously in a magnolia tree on the other side. No doubt my tight, low cut cargos were showing an enormous amount of tradie butt crack, not to mention over-exposure of my mini-cleavage. What can I say? the outfit was not designed for scaling backyard fences.

I picked myself up and unlocked the back door and went and collected my little Irish twins who'd found the whole situation quite fun. I looked on the bright side I had sustained no splinters or broken limbs for my birthday, but I had also sustained no presents or relaxation. Hmmmm. So instead of being glum I put my boys down for their afternoon naps and started scheming an equally ‘Happy’ Birthday for my husband in a months time. 
That cheered me up no end, but I need some help so any ideas on how to make his special day that little bit more extra-special, you know like he did for me. (Revenge is sweet!)

Monday, 14 November 2011

YOU SCREAM, I SCREAM, WE ALL SCREAM...

The innocuous source of pure mayhem

I have two boys, now 2-and-a-half and 14 months, commonly known as Bang and Crash. By all accounts things are getting a little easier as Bang can now tell us off pre-tantrum so at least we know why he’s about to turn into a writhing hyena and Crash is walking about and therefore not living up to his namesake as much. (He also happens to tell us off but luckily incy wincy still works a treat on him). 
  
One way I’ve noticed to get them both going in tandem is to offer to buy them ice cream. Now you would think this would be a cause for great excitement and joy in their young minds. And yes there is some of that, but only if you purchase the ice cream in a certain way. Yesterday we did not follow the Toddler's guide to Toddlers rule on purchasing ice cream and we copped an earful as a result.


RULE No. 173: DOGS, CHIPS & SLIPPERY DIPS ARE FUN
We had just been to a park to eat Fish and Chips and watched doggies of all shapes and sizes chase balls into the water. Crash even tried to have a go and managed to nab a particularly wet Labrador’s ball. Luckily the dog didn’t mind as he was more interested in the chip buried deep in Crash’s little fist. To the dog’s dismay Crash ended up with both until I wrenched the dripping ball from his hand and apologetically returned it (always nice to mix some dog saliva with your meal).
  

To extricate the boys from the park my Husband’s standard manoeuvre is to bribe them with a smoothie. This night though he strayed from his usual and offered ice cream (mainly because he wanted gelato for himself!). Bang was so fast off a slide I may have muttered under my breath “Good one daddy” and off we went, smug in how well we mustered toddlers.


RULE No. 68: STATIONARY CARS ARE NOT FUN
It may have been over-confidence, or a lack of thought, but our grand plan of a fun afternoon quickly evaporated into duelling banshees. You see we didn’t take them in to the Ice Cream shop, I stayed with them in the car while my hubby went in. First mistake. They lasted for about 30secs before the whining started, and then some full-blown screaming ensued. I would have paid a digger driver to roll past at this point but instead I screamed “Stop screaming!” I know, I know, it makes things worse but I had silence from their shock for about another 30 seconds and I needed that silence. I was tired and disappointed that all the points we deserved for the chips and the doggies and the slippery dips suddenly didn’t count because they were in a stationary car for more than a minute.

RULE No. 235: WHITE ICE CREAM IS EVEN LESS FUN
Second mistake, hubby forgot to take his phone that I was calling to make sure he got Bang a pink ice cream. On the appearance of a white one, you’d think we had grabbed the child and broke both his arms. “I don’t want a white one, pink one, pink, No, not white one, Noooooooo” was just comprehensible as it came out all dramatic and high-pitched from a collapsed and bubbling face strewn with tears and snot.
  

I know what you’re thinking. And yes we probably should have shoved the white one into his hands and said something along the lines of “You know there are children in Africa who don’t even know what ice cream is, they’re lucky to eat dirt for lunch!” But instead I told my hubby off for not having his phone and upon assessing the mayhem he quickly turned to go and get a PINK one.

RULE No. 4: DO NOT EVER WASH MY HAIR
I can safely say we lived happily ever after (if by ‘ever after’ you mean the 15 minutes until the next meltdown), because once the pink one materialised and the car started moving the hysteria subsided. And besides it’s difficult to moan when you’re using your mouth to move ice cream off a cone on to clothes and car seats. But don’t worry we don’t always pander to their every whim, that night we got them both back by washing their hair. That is definitely a no-no in the Toddler guidebook and we knew it - AH HA HAAAAAA



©MyIdeaLife, 2011, All rights reserved