My IdeaLife

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...

Friday, 15 July 2011

Lost in space?

Last night I had a conversation with my husband prompted by a day that can only be described as a long series of neurotic panic attacks. I had this ache in my stomach all day, and I felt as if every feeling I was having was scratched into my forehead. Of course there was no blood-dripping words appearing stigmata-like to the outside world, just the powerful mind sending a few signals awry and rendering me more than a little emotional.  

So from one grown up, apparently, to another I said: “I think I should just get.some.drugs.”
Hubby: Really? you think that would make a difference?
Me: Only if I take them with...I don't know, cooking sherry
H: That’d work. Except...you don’t cook
M: Well how can I cook when I'm oozing emotions like this, surely they'll infect the food with sadness like that girl in 'Like water for chocolate'
H: Like water for what?
M: Anyway I plan to be hovering somewhere above another planet that only works in slow motion and where everyone’s voice is two octaves lower than normal
H: what has a deep slow voice got to do with dinner?
M: Who cares about dinner when I’m going to transform into that space girl that seduces Dr. Smith in Lost in Space, you know the green one that seems permanently turned on?
H: well me for one, wait did you say 'turned on'...'permanently'? 
M: No, you must have misunderstood... 

So it was decided mainlining meds with whatever spirit I had in the cupboard was going to solve all my issues. I was going to be happy at last, all green and orgasmic. Yippee!

There was no medication involved here...none at all...

But until the correct drugs were obtained from a ‘medical practitioner’ I had to walk around oozing mush and goo and tears – it was ugly and then I had a shower; no, that was not the solution; but afterwards I looked in the mirror (for the first time in 24 hours obviously) and the answer was right in front of me, actually it was right on me blinking a warning signal from below my lip "Danger! Danger! Nicole is going to be mental today".
Humongous pus volcano fully explains near nervous breakdown

Call off the dogs (or at least the men in white suits with really large syringes)! this little discovery explained everything. I had PMS. Pre-Menstrual Stress. What a freaking euphemism it should be called Pre-menstrual ‘I’m-Going-to-Turn-Into-Someone-Best-In-an-Asylum-For-A-Day-Or-Two’, PMIGTISBIAFADOT for short. Pre-pregnancy or breastfeeding, that would be like three years ago, I always used to get a gigantic pimple a few days before my period. It was as certain as my hubby flicking to sports channels during the ad breaks of Glee, and it's regular occurrence made me feel, well, regular. Now with my trainer bra boobs these monthly blemishes are going to make me feel like the quintessential teenage 'dream'.

With sanity looming and the prospect of re-living my youth, I started mopping up my weeping wounds and got happy until I'm not again, probably in about a month...or maybe tomorrow...
 
What causes your mental health days?


© MyIdeaLife, 2011, All rights reserved. Athena remains the property of 'Lost in Space', unfortunately.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

One blind housewife

As I sit here on our dining table, lotus-style and all zen (not!), a small brown furry creature is likely working up the courage to scoot across the family room floor in search of cup cake crumbs. And I’m not talking about Bang, Crash or Boom* although you could be forgiven for thinking so.

It is with great shame that I admit this: we have a mouse. This little rodent that Bang will probably want to keep as a pet, embodies my complete failure as a homemaker or Tom our builder’s complete failure as a builder, neither of which comes as a great surprise.

What is surprising though is my reaction and the little guy’s speed. He really motors along, seemingly turbocharged by my screams. Before today I always laughed at people who were scared of mice. I had one as a pet and it was sweet, his ever-moving whiskers tickling me as he crawled around my neck and through my hair, and the only reason they were banned as pets now I’m a very tall child grown-up is they smell really, really bad. That single reason has now exploded into a thousand little reasons perfectly encapsulated in my ability to jump from comfortably seated to teetering on the sofa balancing the laptop. 

So with this sort of new found fear sparking mega-production of adrenaline you’d think I’d be brick in hand ready to squash my little Beatrix Potter friend into a meat patty, but no. Surprise number 2. – I don’t want to kill it, I don’t know whether to blame 'The Green Mile' or whether I’m just a life-loving creature at heart but all I can think is “I bet he has a little family waiting for him to bring home the bacon or in this case half a cup cake". So what to do? "What about opening the backdoors and mustering it cattle-style into the corral, that is our backyard?" I propose to my newly materialized hubby. Pretending once again that I hadn’t said anything, let alone screamed my head off, he says "Do you want me to go and buy traps?" I stared at him not knowing what to do, so he took my silence as a yes.

He returned with surprise number 3. Evidence of complete love, consideration and devotion in the form of humane traps!!!! This from a guy brought up on a farm! Actions therefore very worthy of an out-of-character show of affection and I was planning all sorts of tomfoolery when he pulled out the murderous kind as well, still hopeful I said "we can try these humane ones first and then those right?" Wrong. "I’m not risking a mouse running around while we're away, I’m putting out both."


I slumped back to my normal state of ho-hum and realized there was no point in fighting a country boy – I would just have to live in hope the little guy liked cheese more than peanut butter, the brown furry thing that is, the Beatrix potter character, the scurrying rodent, no I’m not talking about my hubby I would never refer to him as a Beatrix Potter character, I meant the mouse.



UPDATE: At last count all traps are empty, maybe the broom tunnel to the back door combined with Bang’s remote control helicopter and Thomas the tank engine worked? I hope so as the alternative is a toy story style takeover of our house in our absence yet this time the toys do poo – great! 

*Bang = our gorgeous 2 yr old, Crash = our cheeky 9 mth old, Boom = my long-suffering hubby

© MyIdeaLife, 2011. All rights reserved.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Invasion of the Boob-snatchers!

Before you think otherwise, I am a major proponent of breastfeeding – I loved it so much I got all sooky and nostalgic when my youngest decided to wean himself at 7 months. And besides there were some not-so-hidden benefits like we didn’t need to buy our baby a soccer ball, he had two AND he could eat from them – well only just (see below).
Baby gets a new flesh balloon to be swallowed by play with.
I was happy* with my new toys, as was my baby, and my husband, well he was, how would you put it? beside himself. Can you blame him? they were bigger than they’d ever been and useful too. Even my toddler found them amusing - so everyone was euphoric…that was until one day I woke up and they were gone. I am not exaggerating, D one day, trainer bra the next.

Now if I don’t wear a small crane with a hydraulic lift around every day I look like I’ve got two deflated balloons hanging down around my waist. Literally, the same wrinkles left from stretching around full blown mammary glands and the same sad droopy look, lamenting their former lofty glory defying gravity.

My hubby who is lucky if I turn up, let alone with fully inflated boobs and cleanly waxed and polished, sensitively broached the topic one night as I changed for bed, ‘What happened to your playstations? Look at them, they look like two fried eggs only not as firm.’ At this point he was laughing, that sort of schoolboy chortle you're more likely to hear directed at some poor kid in change rooms, when the other boys discover he’s still got no pubes or something. I, of course, abused him for being a dirty perv and quickly covered up, but the next day as I took in
my new pre-pubescent silhouette in private I did wonder, 'Where did they go?' and more to the point 'would they ever come back?' (without the help of Dr Plastic Fantastic that is). 
If your DD sized breasts are getting you down and you too
want to look like a pre-pubescent teenager this t-shirt will help
A few google searches later and a couple of corners I wish I hadn’t turned down, eek! I’d found my missing breasts. It seems the process of pregnancy and breastfeeding transforms the breast tissue from mainly fat to mainly mammary glands. It’s not all droop and flop – they do come back in part as gradually some fatty tissue returns and they look a little fuller than their post-weaning un-happy sack state.

Until that day my hubby is making the best of things having recovered from the initial shock. Only yesterday he said my little ones make him feel like he’s dating ‘a teenager’. I embraced this rare compliment, choosing to ignore the implication that I’m now married to a would-be cradle snatcher! Me? I am content that for my boob’s sake I have to eat chocolate and avoid the gym.


*euphemism for bloody ecstatic
© My IdeaLife, 2011, All rights reserved, Two fried eggs t-shirt image remains the property of zazzle.com and cannot be reproduced.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Why did the 5ft Metal Chicken cross the equator?

(To meet his dwarf cousin the cow, of course)
If you can’t afford an airline ticket to America’s deep south so as to buy a five foot metal chicken then I've found something that may have you high-tailing it to my local farmers’ market.

Now before you get too excited I don’t think this item will excite enough people to crash a server, or cause someone to hack into Wikipedia but like The Bloggess’ hubby, it may make yours very happy and make him realise meeting you was the best thing that ever happened to him.

When I saw this I must have got a wild look in my eyes, as my husband’s filled with terror. Probably because he was scared I wouldn’t buy it for him. I reassured him “Don’t worry darling, I CAN buy this for your anniversary present as I only need to add a doily to it for the 8th”. His reaction was quite at odds with what I expected, so I just told him to shut up and hand me his smartphone. 

Anyway not wanting to cause a furore for the artist, let’s call her Butterfly, I’ve decided not to name the market where this exquisite expression of Butterfly’s current mental state at present resides. Those that really want to know – you know who you are, B. – re-tweet me everyday for a year and I’ll think about it. And don’t worry if you can’t afford $200, there’s always an equally art-gallery-worthy mouse (or rat? you can see it's lovely big ears in my perfectly composed shot above) for $100, although your hubby might get the wrong message with that one (‘cause he wouldn’t with the cow, the cow sends a perfectly clear message of devotion, love and bullish fantasy).


© 2011 My IdeaLife, All rights reserved

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Over the Moon or just on another planet?

When contemplating why a certain unnamed website would choose me over other potential candidates to write a guest post, I did what most women do and then instantly regret, I asked my husband. The exchange went something like:

Me: “It’s hard to describe isn’t it?”
Hubby (smirking): “Well not really…your point of difference is you walk around with a rocket up you’re butt”
Me: “You wish! I should have asked our 8mth old, his babble would’ve been more insightful.”

Welcome to my sophisticated life.
The irony of my husband’s tragic attempt at being funny and/or an r-rated porn star is that it got me thinking…no not about rear-ends but rockets. You see when I was a ‘child’ (really only six years ago) I wanted to be an astronaut. It wasn’t just the idea of flying through space, it was more the amazing feat of it; astronauts were simply superhuman. But what made my heart really long for NASA of Apollo 13 was the greatness humans can achieve when they work together towards a common goal. 

One superhuman feat surveys the moon.
 As an art director at the time, although I did achieve the advertising equivalent of spaceflight, there was no teamwork. So much so when the creative director got bored with doing nothing everyday while high, my beloved Cannes Lion^ also disappeared. Like most people’s reality, my working life was defined by people working against each other, while the one with the longest and hardest working tongue got what he wanted. So I was busy doing tongue stretches when…

I became a mother.
Look at it, such an innocuous little statement, short and simple. The truth is every time the phrase ‘became a mother’ is uttered there should be a universal sound effect like “dun dun doooouuunnnnn”, because it turns worlds upside-down, brains inside-out and bodies, well let’s just say zero-gravity would be useful. Basically being a mum requires years of superhuman feats and transforms your existence such that you may as well be blasted through space to another planet. Ok so I know that astronauts face G-forces that make it feel like a cow is sitting on their chest for 15mins, but try settling a screaming toddler for 4 hours straight on 3 hours sleep per night? I think even the wimpiest of men would prefer the cow.

The truth was I no longer needed to see the earth through a spaceship’s side window; I could see it in my son’s blue eyes. (SFX: a collective “oooaaawww”, no seriously if you saw those eyes you’d understand)

I used to NEED my career, I used to long for great heights of achievement within it and worst of all I used to think climbing the corporate ladder would make me whole. I was wrong, why, because now I’m an ambitionless, tracksuit wearing, naval gazer and happier than an ex-battery hen let loose on a free-range farm time has given me perspective.

Corporate tunnel-vision is gone and a big wide bottom life has replaced it, albeit with a long, strong tongue now only useful at parties. I’m not going to pretend I’ve had a brain transplant, and am now happy rolling in tulips with my boys and oh yes, playing with my kids too. I am still ambitious, I've just realised there’s more than one way to skin a cat*. I've also worked out that whatever I end up doing, that doing isn't the sum total of me-ness, there are other things that define me like skinning cats the weird stuff I say on twitter at 3am, (or given this post, on this blog during daylight hours *scary*).

Anyway at the moment life with my three boys; 8mths, 2 and 35yrs; and my blog beats hurtling through the atmosphere, driving a gold corvette and having a twitter handle like Astro_girl. For one thing being a Mum is unlikely to endanger my life which is a plus, (although my two year old recently practiced his new found skill for head butting on my cheekbone), and secondly I’d probably feel a little out of place in Houston with no PhD. (PhD’s in ‘how to avoid sitting in a poo bath with a toddler**’ don’t count)

At last I am over the moon.



P.S. The title of this post is a rhetorical question, although it's ok if you do answer it as I love all comments
^The advertising equivalent of an Oscar.
* Before you call the RSPCA I don’t really know many ways to skin a cat, in fact I don’t even know one way to skin a cat – this is probably my biggest issue. If I could skin a cat I may have found perspective when I was only a quarter of the way through my life but instead I am half way and all the cats I know still have their skin. The one that hacks up indescribable gunge on our side path has been asking for a skinning for months now so better get to it and I’ll at last be on my way to a happier life).
** This actually happened and I have yet to write a paper on avoidance strategies but I know it would contribute to the body of knowledge, just not the body anybody knows. 


© My IdeaLife, 2011. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Mummy #FAIL

The baby chokes
So Crash*, my 8 month old just choked on some bread crust that I shouldn’t have let him have and so as to save his own life he spewed all over himself, me and the floor. Now any normal person would put this incident down to experience and move on, doubtless not trying it again until the little chap could chew. Me well today I wasn’t normal.

Boom~ warned me not to give Crash the bread and I shrugged off his caution. He gave me that annoying look, you know the one your mother always gave you when you were a teenager. His face quite clearly stated, “you’ll see” as if he was this wise old man.

I secretly was a little worried when half the crust disappeared into Crash’s mouth and I tried to extract the offending piece with no luck and so the almighty spew. Boom came rushing in and kindly didn’t say ‘I told you so’ and took Crash away to clean him up as I mopped up the floors and myself.

Cloaked in chores
Dejected I raced to the laundry in search of chores to hide my shame in and found a load of washing that should have gone out an hour ago, yay! (You won’t see that very often, that is, me getting excited about washing). So off to the yard I go to dwell on my failure. I was in a deep tailspin and bracing myself for the lecture I was going to get from my “perfect” husband.


Empathy and husband in the same sentence – it’s a miracle!
But there was no lecture and then a rare moment of empathy that I was so grateful for I ended up crying while pegging up his undies. He even took some of the blame – this was mercy indeed and I knew I didn’t deserve it. Then I realized something that rarely occurs to me – maybe, just maybe, my husband really loves me????

You see my abnormality this particular day was being too hard on myself. If my hubby could forgive me, surely so could I? So I stopped and thought through why I was judging myself and I realized it was wrapped up in the pressure placed on women still to be these perfect earth mother, domestic goddess-types.

If cleanliness is next to godliness, I’m clearly destined for an eternity of flames

That’s not me, especially the domestic goddess part. To be fair being pregnant and/or breastfeeding for the last two-and-a-half years has probably exacerbated my sub-standard approach to home management, but as my Mum will tell you I’ve never been a fan.

It’s ok!
But tonight I’m done with feeling guilty for just being imperfect me. From now on my new favourite phrase is going to be: “It’s ok!” It’s ok if Bang^ wants to wear his Thomas winter PJs under his Bob the Builder summer ones and not his designer outfit to Mother’s Group. It’s ok if I don’t feel like seeing the dirt on the floor and let Crash crawl through it. It’s ok if I’d rather spend an hour on Twitter than doing something “productive”, why do we always have to be so productive? We’re not friggin’ factories! Who was it that decided incessant activity was the stuff of halos anyway?

WORLD FIRST: Mother decides not to feel guilty - is promptly ousted from village.
I’m going to relax in my failings, I’m going to rejoice in my hatred of cleaning, maybe I’ll even have a drink too many and do some swearing to add to my transgressions, but I’m going to give myself a break, I’m going to forgive myself for almost choking my baby, I’m going to let myself off lightly for not having any inclination to re-arrange the pantry, I’m going to sit here and write because that’s what makes me feel whole. I’m a bit of a #FAIL as a housewife, home economist, whatever label you want to place on it and you know what – It’s ok because I like being an un-domestic goddess (even if it means a little shaming in the village square).


P.S. This is not an overly elaborate way of saying it’s cool to be lazy either…no seriously, it’s not!
^Bang=my 2yr old. *Crash=my 9mth old. ~Boom=my 3.5 35yr old hubby
© 2011 My IdeaLife, All rights reserved

Monday, 6 June 2011

Catching fireflies

What a day. The sun’s shining, the birds are singing, the A380s are flying overhead (I live in the inner west) so I grabbed Crash* and threw a rug on the lawn and we surveyed our sparkling surrounds. In between eating grass my 8 month old soaked in the scenes. He’s been trapped indoors by rain for about a week and he couldn’t really contain his joy at finding there was a world outside his colourful rubber mat and the table he’s been systematically pulling himself up on and then falling off.



Watching him with the sun warming my face I got nostalgic, as you do (ok, only if you’re an emotionally-unhinged, hormone-filled nutbag). All these moments from my past and my childhood were flashing through my mind as senses. The smell of the grass, the feel of the winter sun cutting through chilly air, the sound of lorikeets had me galloping through a winter paddock bareback, walking on a sandy beach picking mussels with my Dad, hiding behind a neighbours fence in the dark playing spotlight and jogging through icy night air as my eyelashes froze.

Millions of moments, one half-life (hopefully!) and gone in a flash. There are 6.9 billion humans on earth all having thoughts, moments, times worth remembering and recounting. It’s overwhelming what we’re missing, what we don’t see or understand. It’s humbling and at the same time it’s beautiful to think of the vast preciousness of so many human lives.

I wish we could do justice to every moment of a life, even to just our own, but we can't and we don’t and then before we can think the word ‘regret’ the time has passed. As I look into Crash’s hopeful eyes filled with wonderment I see myself there too, and billions of others. We were all once 8 months old, full of innocence, and despite mine “growing up” and taking in 39 more years of ups and downs, they are still in essence a child’s eyes looking for joy in simple things, craving unconditional love, and innocently curious about everyone and everything.

Right now I focus back on us. Crash is talking in his own little language and he’s yet to learn that sometimes you have to hide your feelings. So his joy, his curiosity, his frustration all come out in gorgeous open facial expressions, sighs, giggles, snaps and bubbles.

And me well I'm breathing in the moments, loving being alive. Today's one is gone now as he’s having his afternoon nap, growing centimeters as he sleeps, and I am writing, desperately writing, trying to capture the light of a firefly in my hands.



*Crash is my 8 month old boy, read more at my About page
 © 2011, My IdeaLife, All rights reserved

Thursday, 26 May 2011

that light at the end of the tunnel...it may be just a train

My GP said this to me this morning and it's not yet certain whether she is extremely insightful or some type of witch doctor that cursed me because the rest of the day so far has confirmed that the light everyone refers to at the end of the proverbial tunnel is in fact a train about to run us down. 

So things have been tough lately, my country-bred husband got sick and that never happens, he even went to the doctor which is also pretty rare and asked for antibiotics. As his course finished my eldest screamed his way through a suspected ear drum perforation Friday night and was promptly prescribed antibiotics the next day. The GP appointment I booked on Tuesday for my normal doctor to check what the local toupee-wearing medical centre practitioner had prescribed turned into a mercy dash for my youngest who was also put on antibiotics.
Add to this me being sick while all this is going on and my brain deciding that keeping me awake from 1-4am every night would be a good way to fight whatever viral or bacterial infection I was harboring and you'd think you'd have that train heading my way. Well we're not quite at the trainwreck stage yet. 

After another terrible night consisting of 4 hours of broken sleep, a constant headache and stiff neck I woke begging my husband to work from home to help. He looked as bad as I felt, so obliged. Am trying to get minutes more sleep when I hear the familiar sound of a chair scraping on tiles. Knowing that my husband is changing my eldest I know it's our 8 month old trying to climb on the kids table and chairs. So I jump up and run down the hall only to watch in slow motion him keeling over backwards, chair on top of him. Tears and screaming ensue. Still no train though, just a gentle Thomas-like 'hoot-hoot' in the distance maybe. 

Still feeling like death warmed up I start on feeding the bub and master 2 turns up, chirpy and chipper thank god, and keen to eat his oats. 'Wow, things are looking up' I think, little did I know. So both are now fed but my stay-at-home-to-help husband has disappeared. Now if you've read my previous posts you know this is usual so I suspect nothing and just get mad, and get even madder when I find him in bed. 'What are you doing?' I bark. I'm so cheesed off, 'I'm in flu-hell and he decides he needs a lie down' I fume. 

Next thing he's on the loo, then he's in bed again, then he's on the loo, then he's in bed. So I ease up figuring he must be a little sick so leave him to rest until I have to go to the GP. At this point he's making me look like a picture of good health, still a little mad and not very sympathetic I ask if he is well enough to look after Master 2, he groans which is not much use and I'm running late as usual. So I sternly say 'It looks as though you won't be able to look after him, can you please answer yes or no.' He feebly responds ' I think it would be best if you took him with you.' So off we go to the GPs, again. (I swear the receptionist will be asking us over for dinner soon I know her so well).

Get to GPs five minutes late but spy a parking spot within metres of the surgery - score! I brake, put my blinker on and put car into reverse and wait as is customary in case the car behind wants to go around me to get the lights, which happen to be green. This is all not good enough for Mr. tradie in white, beat-up ute. He pulls up almost to my bumper and expects that his intimidating carry on will make me give up the park and allow him to get the lights. He doesn't know the morning that I've had, so I begin to reverse into the park, he still doesn't move. I wind down my window and ask him to move back. He pretends he's forgotten where reverse is and throws his hands in the air. I motion a distance of 10 cms and not sure whether it was the wild look in my eye or what, but he found reverse and I parked the car. And all I can say is he's lucky the lights changed again or he would have got an earful from a mad woman with a toddler in her arms as I walked past him. 

Doctors' appointment was usual - you rush to get there and then wait for 20mins trying to keep a toddler from licking chairs and disease-infested toys. When I got home is really when the train hit. By now it is lunchtime and having convinced my toddler not to do some 'driving*' and come straight upstairs for lunch, I was feeling hopeful again until I saw my husband, who was sort of green-coloured (this is not normal) and was shuffling down the hallway. I got the kids seated and food in front of them, hubby was trying to help but he then sort of jogged off towards the bathroom and the sounds that emerged. O.M.G it was awful - he was so sick, this time heaving up incessantly. I ran to his aid and felt terrible for being nothing but a biatch all morning. On returning to the table to sounds of 'Ohhhhh nooooo, Ohhhhh noooo' I saw my toddler pointing to my bub who had managed to grab his food bowl and with great satisfaction was decorating himself, the table, the floor and the highchair with a pumpkin concoction.

I got my husband some water and helped him to bed, I cleaned up the baby and his surrounds, I bundled up my toddler and put him to bed. I got the baby's bottle and put him to bed. I breathed a sigh of relief and went to the kitchen to clean up. Everything was starting to feel normal and calm, the dishwasher was on and I started filling the sink to wash the bottles and teats. Suddenly the spout flew off and a fountain of water blasted a metre into the air. In the seconds it took me to turn the tap off the window, the floor, the bench, the appliances and I were soaked. 

Tap looking innocent...don't be fooled

Normally at this point you laugh because if you didn't, you'd cry. I didn't laugh I just stood in shock and then got some paper towel and mopped some of it up, but then I knew what I had to do. I had to make myself a cup of tea, find some chocolate and sit down and write a blog post. Now that's done I can laugh and I do although somewhat hysterically, which I suppose is normal given my day.




*Driving consists of toddler insisting on climbing into front seat as soon as we park in the garage and staying there for at least 10mins. Mama has to sit in the passenger seat and turn the vanity light on and off, before luring him upstairs with offers of food or 'toot-toots'.
© MyIdeaLife 2011

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Who's the party for, when they're still under four?

Nothing new to see here as am feeling guilty again *boring*. This time it's in addition to the usual suspects:
- telling off husband in front of the boys (swear words may or may not have been involved)
- ignoring not one but two whinging children for 20mins who had both awoken early from their afternoon naps
- rushing bedtime so I can sit down and relax

The list goes on but I'd rather you didn't lose the will to live, so the reason I'm feeling guilty today because I saw a photo of my boy looking at the party happening in front of him with a frown.

This was meant to be my birthday boy, at his party - enjoying himself. Doesn't look like it does it? Between rushing around getting people drinks and catching up I noticed that he was surveying the relatively 'out-of-control' scene a lot of the time rather than joining in. I wondered what he was thinking. A few things came to my guilty mind like, ‘Who are half these kids fighting over my toys?’ or ‘Why aren’t Marlowe or Helena from kindy here?’

It’s hard to admit but when I look back on this party there were only a few things that were really for him, namely the cake, that he adored (see below), the balloons, which you may have already heard about and the presents, which he is still enjoying. The rest was for adults, two in particular: his parents. It was a chance for us to catch up with friends, utilise our newly renovated backyard, and let our hair down, well as much as you can with two very little humans to sustain.


It made me rethink the whole party thing prior to the fourth birthday, and I was all ready to try this scrooge-like approach out on our second bub who’s not yet one. Then my hubby said "what about the photos? he’ll look back and say ‘Why didn’t you have any parties for me like you did for my brother?’” So in the spirit of equality I may have to have another fun adult event for a little person who may or may not enjoy it and will definitely not remember it. If I had my time again I think I’d probably alternate years and skip the two-year birthday. Or would I? He did love that cake and his smile was unmistakable when everyone sang him Happy Birthday...mmmnnnnnn.

What do you think? Are there better ways to celebrate when they’re under four?
Have your say on my Facebook Poll



© My IdeaLife 2011, All rights reserved

Saturday, 14 May 2011

How long is a piece of balloon string? and more importantly what colour?

My first baby boy turned two yesterday. TWO! I can't believe it's been two whole years since I met first met him, coughing and spluttering after being dragged into being. What a blur of love, tears, awe, wonderment and it seems balloon ribbon choices. It's with shame I admit I spent at least 3 minutes discussing the balloon ribbon colour with a long suffering, yet very patient, party warehouse employee. You see we threw my boy a bit of a do today and being who I am I wanted everything to be just so. 

The balloon ribbon conundrum basically went something like: 
LS Employee: Do you want to match the ribbon colour to the balloon?
Me: Errrr(pause length not commensurate with level of decision)rrrrrrrrr - matching... no wait, make that contrasting....actually no...can I do both?
LS Employee: Sure, we'll just choose the ribbon randomnly
Me: Sorry, I know this is a little tragic, but do most people choose matching ribbon?
LS Employee: No no it's probably more common but contrasting is often chosen (pause) but most people do choose one or the other. 
Me: Ok
LS Employee: One last question do you want metallic or matte ribbon?
Me(certain this time): Matte
LS Employee: Ok so will send you an email conf..
Me: Sorry, sorry I know this is probably very annoying and I can't believe I'm worried about the bloody balloon ribbon, I mean it's a two year old's party...
LS Employee: Don't worry I have a two year old too, I understand
Me: So I'm not being completely mental? 
LS Employee: No, no I know how you feel
Me: Thanks, well I think I'll go back to the contrasting ribbon only
LS Employee:  Ok done. 
Me: So yellow with blue, blue with red...
LS Employee: Yes that's right. 

The poor girl was obviously the consummate customer service person because in the face of my obvious neurosis she was completely lovely. Maybe she felt pity for me because despite her sharing motherhood of a two year old with me, she's never caught herself mulling over ribbon colour, let alone needing to specify what colour should go with what. I don't know - she was just nice in the face of my insanity. 


Anyway the balloons looked great, (needless to say they would have looked great with matching ribbon also). My son had a great time, and was still singing happy birthday to you before bed tonight. The kids played nicely for the majority of the time, there was only one poo incident and the cake was the most popular attraction of the day (in fact possibly worthy of it's own post). Even my hubby looked happy despite whinging about the cost of the event for weeks*.

As soon as the last guests left I of course took to my bed, well not straight away as had to put two other little worn out humans to bed first, I think it all was too much for me. 'It' of course, being the balloon ribbon choice. LOL.

Has anyone else taken the finer details of a party,
their child won't even remember, a little far?


*It only cost too much because of the gift (a Thomas play table and set) that my hubby actually chose - go figure!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Time for Mother's Day

If someone asks me what’s the one thing in the whole world that I want for Mother's Day I wouldn’t hesitate: 
I want 24 hours to myself.

I can’t imagine the luxury of it, what a dream come true – all I would need is a hotel room with a kingsize bed, a bath, an internet connection and my own company.

Rewind three years and I wanted a whole raft of things, I wanted to earn big money and climb the corporate ladder, I wanted to have the latest designer clothes, I wanted a big house in the right suburb, I wanted to have a great body, I wanted to be popular and invited to exclusive events. I wanted to win awards and be famous within my industry. I wanted so much.

Now I’d be happy if I could shower every day. 

This basic desire got me thinking about time, ‘If only I had a few more hours a day, I could definitely fit in that evasive shower and god forbid a long hot bath’. Of course wishing for time is like wishing I could fly – it’s only going to happen in my dreams or so I thought? It turns out time can be slowed in a few ways:  
  1. Hang out on a neutron star where the gravitational force is significantly stronger than on Earth,
  2. Accelerate towards the speed of light OR 
  3. Lay down richer memories
I'm no physicist so option 3. caught my attention. Scientists investigating whether people in danger actually experience time in slow motion, discovered that volunteers did perceive time as slower by about 30% during the experiment. ('Imagine what you could do with 30% more time?!' I marveled) 

Such time warping seemed to be an illusion caused by human memory. Researcher, David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine said the illusion "is related to the phenomenon that time seems to speed up as you grow older. When you're a child, you lay down rich memories for all your experiences; when you're older, you've seen it all before and lay down fewer memories. Therefore, when a child looks back at the end of a summer, it seems to have lasted forever; adults think it zoomed by."[i]

The irony of parenthood is that it is an incredibly rich source of memories and yet everyone talks of it flying by. Does that mean we are not recording the moments? Or do we need to throw ourselves out of a plane to scare ourselves slowly? I’m not about to risk my life to test this theory but I am definitely guilty of wishing time away, all the while desperate for it to slow down so I can get off for a minute.

Shot on location at Brown Brothers Winery, Victoria, 2005
I thought I was busy then...I wasn't.

So for Mother’s Day give me time:

Time to sleep
Time to play
Time to notice
Time to enjoy
Time to write
Time to read
Time to record the beautiful memories unfolding in front of me everyday
Time to slow down.


What do you want for Mother's Day?

[i] Why Time Seems to Slow Down in Emergencies
Charles Q. Choi, 11 December 2007, www.livescience.com

Copyright © 2011 My IdeaLife. All rights reserved.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Oh to be Ita!


Like many in Australia I tuned in to the ABC’s Paper Giants on Sunday and Monday nights. I was born in the 70s and the footage of red rattlers~, paperboys selling at intersections, 20c tolls on the harbour bridge all brought back so many of my own childhood memories. Add to this the fact my Dad was a newspaper man, and for me the nostalgia of the series was like a beautiful warm blanket wrapped around what in essence was an amazing true story of a woman and mother: Ita Buttrose. No wonder I sat there mesmerised despite my sleep deprivation.

Putting the sentimentality of the series aside, one scene stuck in my mind. It was where Ita arrives home to her ultimately ungrateful, student husband after an obviously long and stressful day at work (picture all 6’2” of Kerry Packer in full flight yelling down at you) only to start dinner for him ‘Do you want onions with your steak?’ and then sit down to the sewing machine!



Now I have issues, namely two boys and a man, but none of my males expect this sort of service, thank goodness. So am I out there celebrating this fact? - no instead I’ve been having hormone-fueled meltdowns over things like having to settle both kids most nights or because my husband reads the paper on the weekend while shoveling cereal into our 2 year old, which is not my idea of great parenting. 

In fact the list of my grievances is quite long and I know the generation of women before me would probably not understand how or why given how relatively good I've got it. So I did some soul-searching as not so fond of the shouting fishwife lurking far too close to the surface. What I discovered was that expectations are the root of all evil.

I grew up naively thinking that men and women were equal and I expected my husband to be my equal partner in parenthood. So I went to university, I focused on my career, I learnt how to change tyres and the oil on a car, I went overseas by myself, I climbed the corporate ladder. On paper there was no clue that my resume was that of a female’s.

Then I fell pregnant and went on maternity leave. Surprisingly the birth, the obvious gender difference in all this, had nothing on becoming a mum. Fatherhood and motherhood I discovered are entirely different experiences.

Consider these facts about my husband:
  • He can sleep through a house-trembling, vomit-producing, full volume baby's cry
  • He feels no guilt about leaving the room for 40 minutes without explanation of where he is going while I’m left baby and a toddler either side of me – and it’s the weekend!
  • He has never been a father before but he is entirely confident that every scream from an under 18mth old is teeth and therefore can be easily dismissed with panadol
  • As soon as his head hits the pillow and sometimes before, usually during a conversation, he falls asleep
Conversely:
  • I’m unable to fall asleep without first running through a checklist of room temperatures, locked doors, open windows, charged monitors
  • A crying baby literally makes my stomach churn, let alone wakes me up
  • I can’t make a decision without first thinking of someone else's well being, god forbid I just go out and have time to myself. 
No wonder I’m mad (in all senses of the word).

Don’t get me wrong; my husband is by all accounts amazing. He’s one of the ‘nice’ guys: honest and hardworking and always willing to help. He even makes an effort to come home early from work, and the best part is he’s more obsessed with household chores than I am.

So does this generation of women expect the wrong things from their husbands?
Should we be content that our husband's role is fundamentally different but equally as valuable to the family?

At the very least I feel there needs to be an adjunct to the women's liberation message. I would hate to see another generation of girls growing up thinking that men are their equals in every way including parenthood when there are differences that mean you probably will take more time out from your career, you probably will earn less as a result, you probably will get less sleep when your children are babies and you’ll probably also get less leisure/alone time. In fact your world will probably be turned upside down and inside out and your husband’s will just shift a little to the right.

I’m not ungrateful to the Germaine Greers of this world; in fact I am completely indebted to them. I would have stabbed myself in the eye if cooking and cleaning while attached to  a sewing machine were expected of me. I also know that women’s liberation allows us to make decisions that do make us very close to equal if we choose. What they didn’t say though is that most of us would do this carrying around truckloads of guilt, resulting in a woman that is equal on the outside while beating herself up on the inside.

It seems there's no getting away from the differences between fathers and mothers, as research* shows the relational strength of the female brain is in stark contrast to the systematic male brain, in part caused by a combination of differences in neural brain structure and hormones. In layman’s terms: men can’t hear a human voice when a team is running around a field kicking a piece of air-filled leather, and women can’t not hear every voice, emotion, vibe, raised eyebrow within a 50m radius, not counting social media.

This doesn’t mean I am comfortable watching someone as brilliant as Ita Buttrose perform the role of full-time housewife and breadwinner, on the contrary. I just know I would be less agitated day-to-day if I hadn’t walked into parenthood with the expectation that my husband and I would equally share the mundane and exhausting tasks required to maintain a family. We don't and that doesn’t make me unliberated it just means I have a brain of the empathising kind* and he has a systematic one and you can guess who drew the short straw, well for now anyway. 

Please don’t slap me Ita! 


Would you like Motherhood more if you'd been prepared for
the gender inequality involved?

~ Red rattlers were the old trains that were around in the 70s - they were way past their use by date as had been in service for at least 20 yrs!
* They just can’t help it, Simon Baron-Cohen, The Guardian, April 17, 2003

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Breastfeeding Pains

“There is nothing sadder than finding yourself overwhelmingly homesick for a place which
doesn’t exist anymore”

@The Bloggess
Twitter, April 10, 2011


I've been planning to wean my nearly seven month old for a few weeks now and keep putting it off. The sterilising, finding the right size teat, creating cool boiled water, knowing the formula tastes like wet cardboard, were thoughts that kept him quickly and simply shoved on the boob.

Last night, suddenly and without warning he refused to nurse. He pushed me away and screamed from around 10.30pm on and off for four hours, as I desperately tried to feed what I perceived was a hungry baby. Eventually at 3am and with lots of rocking he calmed enough to pass out and I promptly followed suit.

At 7am I thought 'he’s been twelve hours without a feed he’ll be starving and he’ll have a great feed'. No such luck, my literally painful situation was not going to be relieved by him, no way, no how. So an hour later he gulps down 240mls of formula no problem. With only moments to spare I hook myself up to the milking machine. Spontaneously explosion averted I relax for a second until my toddler wanders over and points at the rhythmic whirring thingy, 'mama w'dhat?' he giggles, 'Max' turn'. Hubby reading the situation redirects his attentions elsewhere and with one hand on the pump and the other on the phone I call the doctor.

On the way to the doctor I have visions ranging from a simple sore throat or a tooth to a rare digestive disorder. I also have that hope that seems to always get dashed, that maybe, just maybe a member of the medical profession will know what is going on and be able to solve it. No such luck, they can't find the reason and just say it may be this or that but he looks healthy so relax.

Whatever the reason I’m struggling to cope with this on only three hours sleep. Not withstanding the pain cold turkey weaning causes, I was emotionally shocked by the rejection and sudden change in how my baby’s existence was going to be sustained. I found myself listening to the voices in my head – plenty of babies survive on formula, I had formula, but maybe that explains everything? what about that study on brain size, am I stunting his potential? Would I have been the amazing successful form of me if I had been breastfed? what about how fat formula makes babies, will I make him obese? what about viruses? he’ll probably get sick all the time; no matter I’ll keep trying him on the breast and we can go back to plan A: a nice slow and steady progression to the bottle when I'm ready.

These thoughts were all very interesting but completely irrelevant as whatever plans I had, the little guy had his own ideas. Albeit less neurotically informed, they were no less determined in their desired outcome: no boob thank you.

So I sat staring at him (rather than Twitter for iPhone), as he guzzled down his fourth huge bottle in twenty-four hours and tears filled my eyes. All the conflicting arguments and old wives tales faded in light of the sadness that my, most likely last, little baby had just taken a big step away from me towards his independence. I know it’s so tiny compared to what I am to expect in the future, but it’s a hint of the pain I’m sure I’ll feel at those larger milestones (I imagine instead of quiet tears at those points their maybe louder whaling-type goings on).

My sadness is amplified as I’ve been wishing the time away, complaining about the sleep-deprivation and my lack of time to myself. I know I will feel some relief when I get used to the idea but for now I lament that it is the end of an era. The unexplainable feeling of growing your baby with your body alone, is now just a memory. Such a quick moment in time, now gone forever.

I’ve been adamant for about a year that I would only ever have two children. But now for the first time I understand all my friends who just keep getting pregnant. Who wouldn't want to stop time and relive a beautiful memory? 

All I know is that now I am a Mum to two beautiful boys - time is my best friend and my worst enemy. There are days I long for my baby to be a toddler and then there are days like today where I would sell my soul to stop time and hold my bub in my arms forever. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The love of your life


Mark Latham is not a man I ever, ever thought I would agree with on anything. For those reading who aren’t Australian he was our opposition leader for a short time until his various public meltdowns and alleged king hit saw him unceremoniously dumped from his role. 

Like another ousted leader, he keeps popping up in the media and is likewise usually ranting some sort of subjective, under-researched nonsense. But this week he said something on radio^ that I have to admit I related to; ‘...having children is the great loving experience of any lifetime’. This was shocking to me as not only did I agree with him, it now seemed we may have somehow been cosmically linked *horror!* because the day before I had started a post called ‘The love of your life’, of course about my boys.

Luckily Mark Latham wasn’t my inspiration, it was my eldest son, a mere 22 months on this earth, looking up at me and saying for the first time ‘whove you’ as I kissed him nigh-night on Sunday. Shocked and emotional I responded ‘Love you too’ while trying to hold back tears.

I felt my heart in my throat as I closed his door - I wanted to run back in and explain to him in vivid and intense detail how much I loved him, how even when I was tired and grumpy I loved him, even when I had to say no to him I loved him, even when I was away from him he’s always on my mind. But I exercised some self-control and instead started typing, sparing him but not you - sorry!

It got me thinking...despite my normal sleep-deprived tendency to have a good old complain, my boys are the loves of my life. In the many years prior to motherhood I spent an inordinate amount of time analysing, speculating and bumbling about looking for the ‘love of my life’. I also bored quite a few people senseless with endless ramblings that could have as easily been solved by pulling the petals off a daisy. And I mistakenly thought that my wedding was the final chapter in that quest.

I had no idea that there was a love in existence that so dwarfed the love between two adults. (I would have achieved a lot more if I had - damn you ignorance!) A love so huge it throws the whole equilibrium of your existence into turmoil. You start having wierd visions during everyday events. Crossing the road becomes a mini horror movie in your mind as you play out what an out of control car could do to the pram. When you see amazement, joy or fear in your childrens eyes you find yourself wiping tears from your face. You start putting yourself so badly last you sometimes forget to eat and your husband is lucky to get a sideways glance let alone some affection (don't even start me on intimacy!). It is literally mental, well initially anyway, and it’s as beautiful as it is torturous.

This unique and huge love has made me realise that there is so much in the world we don’t understand when we think we do. Mr Latham has copped a lot of flack for his comments about people who have chosen not to have kids. Someone saying publicly that they think child-free people struggle with empathy probably does deserve most of it. But as I read one emotionally-charged critique from a non-parent* it took me back to when I hadn’t had children and I remember thinking that all this hype surrounding the love you feel for your children was definitely over-rated and I honestly thought I would prefer a puppy. I was ignorant, not in a general sense I was just ignorant of what it felt like to be a parent and worse still, I didn’t know it. This didn’t make me any less valid, triumphant, empathetic or human, it just made me ignorant of what it was like to be a parent.

The simple fact is parenthood is inexplicable to non-parents. Parents don’t rave on about their kids to be hurtful or exclusive or to make people who haven’t had kids feel bad, we just say this stuff because we are so overwhelmed and amazed we can’t help gushing and carrying on about it from sunrise to sunset. It is an all-consuming, life changing experience. You want to tell the world. Unfortunately parents forget that there are a lot of people out there who just think we are mad, smug, stupid (see Baby Brain) and intentionally trying to make child-free people envy us. We get so wrapped up in our whirlwind we almost expect that everyone will understand and not only that, we want everyone we love to experience it too. *Squirm*

So If you’re not pregnant and sick of people raving on about the greatness of parenthood, be happy that you will do and experience things that parents will have to forgo because of kids. Like me now dreaming about one day resuming regular ablution habits, let alone the round the world trips I wish I could take#.

But if you are pregnant with your first now, just know you're about to be swept off your feet in every which way that is possible. And despite maybe missing out on a promotion at work or a trip to an amazing travel destination, you won’t regret a second of it once you’ve met ‘the one’.

Can you believe this is a viral promo for maternity bras?
I don't care I love it and invite you to write what you would tell your pre-baby self.



*One response to Mark Latham's comments by Janine Toms on Mamamia.com
^The full transcript of Mark Latham’s interview at ABC Radio National
#I’m turning down free travel as we speak because caring for two under two in a hotel room would likely see me stabbing myself with a pen and certainly see me so exhausted it simply wouldn’t be worth it.