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Taking up running again be like… 4 October 2016

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Every time I go for a run:

1) Find every possible reason not to go. 

2) Inner monologue during the run: I hate this, I hate this, I hate this. How does anyone like running? This is hard. I can’t breathe. Oh god, my calves. I hate this. I am CLEARLY not a runner. Oh my god, are you serious? I have only done 400 metres? Arg! I hate this so much! Everything hurts! When can I turn back? Yes, a red light, I will be able to catch my… oh. Green. How much further do I have to endure this mind numbing… I hate this, I hate this, I hate this. 

3) Inner monologue after the run: I totally smashed that! That was great!! I should totally do this more often!! Post-run showers are the bomb! (Insert additional exclamation marks)

Typical morning in my household 17 September 2016

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– Want to go outside, dear? 

– Oh yes please! 

– Shoes on! 

– Blasted shoes. I hate shoes. 

– Common Bub, shoes on. 

– Fine!! 

– See? That wasn’t so bad? 

– Whatever. Ok, I’m crossing the road! 

– Wait! Cars! 

– Nooooo! Crossing NOW! 

– Ok, it’s safe to cross now. 

– Oh look, duck poo. 

– Yes, duck poo. No, sweety, not in your mouth. 

– I do what I want! 

– But it’s yucky Bub. 

– Duck poo goes in my mouth! 

– Sweety! Oh… Well, at least you spat it back out. 

– Hmm. Maybe it tastes better second time? 

– Yuck, bubby. Don’t… Oh. 

– Yuck! Why didn’t you warn me it was gross? 

– Oh, Bubba. 

– You have some! 

– No thank you, sweety. 

– Have some! 

– No, let’s play over here! 

– WaaaaaAAAAAAA! 

– Look, a worm! 

– Meh. Whatever. Seen it before. 

– Really? But you had duck poo before and… 

– Whatevs Ma. Oh! Puddle! 

– Have fun in the puddle darling. 

– Ma! I fell over in the puddle and now I’m wet head to toe! 

– Oh, poor darling – let’s go inside and change. 

– Noooooooooo! You’re killing me, Ma! Oh! Cigarette butt!!! 

*sigh*

How I love that child. 

Children are little blessings 23 July 2016

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Tonight, little tyke decided sleeping was not for him. After finally thinking we had our night time routines down pat, yesterday and today were surprisingly hard – battles ensued with him screaming his little head off and me trying again and again to settle him. It just wasn’t working tonight, and I don’t know why. 

I started to become fretful and frustrated, which I know doesn’t help, but I just didn’t know what I was doing differently. I was wondering whether little tyke knew that I had work to do yesterday and today – or that he could feel that I needed to be elsewhere. “Typical,” I thought. 

Finally, after 30 minutes, there was silence. I counted to 60 – a full minute of quiet is normally a good indication that little tyke is asleep. 

To make sure, I counted out a second minute. I thought I had him. Exhausted (it’s surprisingly draining emotionally to ‘battle’ a baby for sleep), and maybe a little smug, I thought I could finally sneak downstairs. I wasn’t watching the door behind me when I closed it, and I must have misjudged, because it made a far louder noise than I intended it to. 

Oh dear God, no…

I held my breath, frozen in the hallway. The doorknob to my bedroom still in my hand, eyes on the door to little tyke’s room. 

Sob. 

My heart sank. 

Another sob. 

Then a wail, and and angry, high pitch scream. Little tyke was not asleep, and it was entirely my fault. 

Oh for Pete’s sake. 

I reopened the door to my own bedroom, and fell back on the bed, but from the pitch of little tyke’s screams I knew I had to go back in. 

I walk in, see little tyke standing at the foot of his cot yet again. 

Go! 

To! 

Sleep! 

I’m thinking firm and unyielding. I’ll win this time. 

But as I put little tyke back down from standing for the umteenth time, I see the utter sadness, the broken spirit on his face. It’s not obstinance this time, it’s not even over tiredness. Little tyke is telling me he needs me. 

Generally, once little tyke is in bed I don’t pick him back up. I give him a cuddle if he is standing or sitting, let him know I am there, but tell him it’s sleep time, and lay him back down. 

Today is different. My whole being is telling me something is wrong. 

So I pick little tyke up. He melts into me and sobs into my neck. 

He pushes away from me, looks at my face. Then he looks at the cot, and starts to cry again. He is distraught, shaking with emotion. 

You’re not in trouble baba I whisper. 

I turn us away from the cot instead of hovering above it. 

You’re ok baba. You’re ok. 

Little tyke relaxes in my arms. I can feel the relief in his little body. Somehow my focus on getting him to sleep had made me miss seeing my little tyke for what he was tonight. A tiny little human soul in need of comfort, in need of his mother. 

He smells salty, his little head is wet with perspiration and agitation. 

His face tucks into my neck. His breathing changes from short, superficial sobs to slower, deeper breaths. His little right arm tuck in underneath him, his left one curls around my neck. 

It strikes me in that moment. 

What a privilege. 

It’s a privilege to be little tyke’s mother. 

It’s a privilege to be his whole world.  

It’s a privilege to be the arms that soothe him when he is unwell or sad. 

And it’s an absolute privilege to be able to hug my child, to hold him, and to feel all that love that we share. 

I felt overwhelmed in that moment. Overwhelmed with privilege and love. 

He fell asleep in my arms as I rocked him softly. He stirred slightly as I placed him in his cot, covered him with his blanket and whispered I love you my darling boy. 

He is a blessing and a privilege and I am lucky to have remembered that tonight. 

Facebook culling 31 May 2016

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I have developed a private protocol so to speak for Facebook friends and when to cull. It came to a head when I simply had too many ‘friends’ on there to have a meaningful relationship with, and I asked myself what am I doing this for? 

I use my Facebook to stay in touch and updated with people I care about, and not business or networking reasons. So I set out the following ‘rules’ for myself. Not all people on my current Facebook follow these, there are always exceptions. 

All of these rules are a reflection on me, and by no means on my friends, past and present. If I I friend you, it does not mean you are a bad person or a bad friend. It also doesn’t mean we won’t become friends again in the future. 

1) The memory test. Do I remember who you are? If after poking around in your photos for a second does not ring a bell, then that is a very good indication of our friendship. I only do this in case you’ve had a name change that I’m not aware of, but if I don’t recognise you or can’t pick you in a photo without confirming with the tags, then you will be unfriended. This happens to people you met once, got along with, intended to be friends with, but then nothing. 

2) The past relationship test. This one boils down to are you an ex boyfriend? I’m not friends with any of my exes, that shit ain’t healthy. That’s not to say I don’t wish them all the best, but I do not wish to be updated on their every move. Unfollowed and unfriended. 

3) The milestone test. If you post “OMG, I am totally legit preggers right now” and my reaction is “whatever”, that is an indication of our relationship. If I can’t muster to congratulate you on something major in your life, such as a wedding, a pregnancy, a birth or an engagement, then what are we friends for!? Unfriended. Many of these are from a lifetime ago – school friends that you wouldn’t stay in touch with without Facebook anyway. 

4) The happy birthday test. If Facebook kindly reminds me that it is your birthday and I do not feel like wishing you a happy birthday, then that gives me pause. Birthdays are very important to me, so I try to acknowledge them where I can. If I can’t muster a measly happy birthday on your special day, then my level of caring for the relationship has clearly waned. If not unfriended, at least you have been reconsidered. 

5) The reciprocity test. If our communication over the last three years looks like this: 

Me 2013: Happy birthday!!!! 

Me 2014: Happy birthday lovely lady, plans for the big day? 

Me 2015: Wishing you all the best for your birthday! 

Me 2016: Happy birthday, have a great day! 

Then maybe I need to take a long hard look at that relationship as well. Does our ‘friendship’ possibly mean slightly more to me than it does to them? If I haven’t heard from them at all for three years, why are we still friends? Unfriended. 

So far, I have culled more than 100 ‘friends’ with this method. I’m sure there may be more. And to date, there’s only been a handful of those that I have regretted unfriending and re-friended. 

Facebook is a wonderful tool but it needs to continue to be there for my benefit and pleasure. Hence the above system. It’s working for me so far! 

Happy facebooking! 

It’s ‘in’ to complain 6 May 2016

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Far out – have you seen the articles circulating in the mummy blogosphere of late (maybe longer, but you know, I’ve only been one of late, so…)? 

10 reasons why I hate parenting 

The 12 honest things no one tells you about giving birth 

Why it’s ok to be a drinking parent 

Why having children makes you hate other people’s kids

You will regret having kids

Calm the fuck down parenting

And the list goes on. It makes me wonder. Does anyone else actually enjoy this parenting malarkey? Reading these articles the gist is “parenting is hard” “I sigh and roll my eyes before I answer my kid’s call for me” and “kids are annoying”. Give or take an expletive. 

A lot of parents I know in real life are the same. Ne’er a positive word shall be spoken by me about my child. 

I am sure some people do struggle. Maybe some of those people cope by blogging about it. But I think there is a general trend in the population to speak negatively about their kids specifically and parenting in general. 

To band together over the hardships of parenting and to highlight the tribulations. To make out that this is one of the hardest things there is to do in the world, and to bond over how awful children seemingly are. 

I can’t stand it. I am going to express a bit of a rebel opinion here, but: 

I find it hard to identify with these articles. I do not dislike my child. Nor does he make me hate other people’s children. He doesn’t make me drink, nor do I need “coping mechanisms” to get through the day. Sure, I don’t really know what I’m doing and there are demanding moments. 

But overall, it’s fun! And parenting sort of just happens. It’s not hard because what they need is your presence and your attention. Eye contact. You being on the floor playing with them. You treating them as human beings and seeing them, truly seeing them. 

To watch my child reach his milestones has been one of the greatest blessings I could ever imagine. Seeing the father that my partner is to his child has made me love him deeper and better. 

Being a parent is a true blessing and whilst there are challenges (and there will be more challenges up ahead) I would never wish this life away. 

12 tips for long haul flights with an infant 22 April 2016

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I’ve just arrived in Europe, having travelled here with my Bub (who is less than a year). I found online advice incredibly useful prior to my flights as well as tips from friends. And since I am currently jet lagged and nursing a little bundle of exhaustion in my arms at 3:30am, I thought I might as well share my thoughts. 

Tips for long haul

1) do not worry about other passengers. While this is super hard, keep in mind it’s only a couple of hours out of their lives. They’ll be fine. At most they’ll be slightly annoyed. Most people will be sympathetic. And you don’t need the added stress of caring about others.

2) pack more nappies than you think you need. You are better off with too many than to be stuck mid flight with a poosplosion in a tiny bathroom. 

3) bring extra outfits. Even if you do not have a poosplosion, there will be spit up (theirs or yours) or food on them.

4) bring small toys that they haven’t seen for a while. Small items that you can lose and don’t get worried about are the best. I got a good 10 min out of my little with a clothes peg. Don’t bring balls, they will roll to the back of the plane, trip up the stewardess and cause mayhem as hot tea is poured over other passengers. All of a sudden, tip 1) is out the window. With the toys – milk them for what they are worth before you bring out the next one.

5) bring a clean top for yourself. And deodorant. Do not bring entertainment for yourself, you will not need it. Wear shoes you can easily remove. Don’t wear belts or jewellery that will set off metal detectors. 

6) if your little is small enough for a bassinet, and take to cots, try to get some sleep out of them in there. My little could not fit, his feet were dangling, so he refused to go in it. Remember that if you need to hold your child the whole way, that’s ok too. Whatever works for your sanity, too! Which brings me to point 7.

7) if there is a chance they will need to sleep on you, bring a pillow for them to lie on. They are bulky and annoying, but it was completely worth it: it provides warmth on chilly planes, protects their heads from sudden movements against arm rests, gives your arms a break and facilitates breastfeeding.  

8 ) ziplock bags are your friend. Toys in one, nappies in another, liquids in one, foods etc in another. Bring an extra one for dirty clothes. Don’t be afraid to label. Label label label! Don’t worry if at the end of of your trip you are no longer organised, though. The world has a propensity for chaos. 

9) bring a muslin cloth. Light weight and versatile. Blocks out cabin lights for sleeping, works as a blanket, spit up cleaner, modesty blanket, etc.

10) bring carriers if they use them. I thought I would get my pram at the lay overs which ended up not being the case. My baby bjorn was a God sent especially in Heathrow (how I hate that airport!). Don’t be afraid to roam the aircraft when seatbelt signs are off. And if anyone shows the slightest interest in your baby – milk it. It will keep them entertained.

11) don’t worry about headphones, but when you have cycled through all the toys twice and you don’t know what else to do – turn on the TV on some kids show. The colours and movements will keep them entertained.

Oh. And 12) sucking will relieve the pressure on their ears, so for take off and landing plan for breastfeeding, a bottle or a dummy. If all of a sudden none of those are accepted, remember that crying also helps, so be patient with little people when they go up or down. Not crying might mean excruciating pain, so crying is good!!

Happy trip! 

Deeper meaning of love 23 March 2016

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I never knew how much my parents love me until I had a child of my own. 

Of course, I knew my parents love me before this. They tell me frequently. They show me in their actions. They care what I do, how I feel, what I think. 

Yet I think I took this for granted. I’ve been lucky that I grew up with two parents who were, and are, there for me. 

But as I was handed my bundle of joy, my eyes have been opened to the depth of their love. I know how monumental the birth of my brother (their first born) really must have been. How they would have marvelled at his little nose and toes and how they would have celebrated his every ‘first’. They would have been there for every step, virtual, mental and physical. I’m sure it would have been similar for their second baby (me). 

And as I have a new found respect for the love I have received, I also am acutely aware that my little one will not grasp the love we as parents have for him. We will tell him and show him, but he might only understand the vastness of that love if he chooses the path of parenthood. 

We love you, little man. 

Reciprocity 28 February 2016

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Friendship is a wonderful thing – we all have people in our lives whom we love, care about, and enjoy spending time with. True friends who know who you are (and love you despite this) who build you up and who energise you. 

When you enter your thirties, you start to distill your relationships. You want to surround yourself with positive people who matter to you. And you stop worrying so much about what others think. 

But then there are the relationships where you mean more to them than they do to you. And that can be hard, because although you don’t feel the need to be friends with these people, you also don’t have the need to be nasty or hurt them. 

Perhaps this is more the nature of female friendships, I don’t know. But sometimes, I feel obligated to be there for people I don’t have much of an affinity for. To show up for people who have invited me so many times that it will be rude to turn them down yet again. I don’t dislike them – they are genuine, nice people – but I wouldn’t call them for a coffee if I’d had a spare moment. Often, these are people you were thrown in with at some point, through work or a group or sports. 

I generally assume those relationships will fizzle and disappear, and mostly they do. But sometimes they don’t and you end up spending a Sunday morning away from your family and loved ones, despite not really having much in common with that person. It always feels fake to me, perhaps because I’m trying too hard. 

Maybe I should just keep turning them down. Keep making excuses. But I don’t have the heart to straight up tell them I’m not interested. 

Perhaps this is because I’ve been on the flip side of this coin too often when I was younger – a person you admire or like who you want to be friends with, so you keep turning to them to force a friendship. Back in the days where I still wanted desperately to be liked. These friendships are not genuine, however, and never bring happiness. They are a two-sided chore we should all be done with. 

I resolve to be better at turning people down, and to focus on friendships that are reciprocated. I think that is kinder. 

Parenting advice  11 February 2016

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There is one bit of essential parenting advice that was given to me while I was pregnant which I now wish to pass on. It is one of the simplest yet most difficult things I’ve ever been told: 

Trust your instincts. 

Because guess what!? Your instincts will know what to do. 

It’s simple, because most of us have instincts. Even just at the most basic level of feeling protective of children. But it’s hard because we are thinking human beings, and we can overthink and fret and lose sight of those instincts. 

And I am not saying don’t ask specific questions or don’t seek help when you need it. Parenting is overwhelming and, frankly, medical advice cannot be found in your inner instincts. 

But everyone is born with instincts, and we could all do to listen to them a little better. 

The point is, all the expert advice (and not so expert advice, also known as opinion) out there – the should and the should nots – have been my main cause of doubt since I’ve had a baby. 

Before babe, I was pretty good at going “meh” and ignoring the rabble. If I didn’t want to do something, I generally didn’t. I always used to say: 

“I *should* nothing, there is only I want or I don’t want”.

What I meant by that was all the external pressures from society, community, friends and family, could be ignored or adhered to. Their view of what I should or shouldn’t do didn’t matter. And their view of me might be bad person, bad sport, bad friend – but what did that matter as long as I didn’t agree. 

Yet with a woe baby, all of a sudden it is no longer me and my life, it’s another’s life. Someone utterly dependent on me. Therefore the “should and should not” discourse took another meaning. And the bad person/sport/friend turned into bad mother. 

Let that sink in for a moment. 

Bad. Mother. 

That accusation is something much harder to shake. And all the advice is whirpooling around your head. 

– you should not let the baby sleep on you. 

– you should feed the baby 3 solid meals by this age. 

– you should never wake a sleeping baby. 

– you should read to the baby every day. 

I would be feeling pretty cruisey, thinking this parenting stuff is going well for me, when a child health nurse would throw me curveballs about what I should and shouldn’t do. For example, I was told at 4 weeks that I might be overfeeding my baby by a health nurse. Yet I was fully breastfeeding and was I supposed to withhold food from a 4 week old!? And these are the professionals so they should know right? 

Sadly, much of the parenting advice, even the professional stuff out there, is directly contradictory: 

– you should leave the baby to cry themselves to sleep or they will become dependent on you to fall asleep. Or you should never leave a baby to cry as they will become anxious toddlers. 

In my sleep deprived state, I fret. I want to do the best for my baby. I want him to have the best start in life.

Then I remember that apart from the obvious safety advice (the DO and DO NOTS, rather than the should and should nots) such as do not leave children unattended near a body of water or do not let infants play with large knives, go back to that only advice that matters. 

Listen to your instincts. 

Yes, you might not have done this child raising thing before. And of course you can ask for help, that’s essential. But do what’s right for you and your baby. Don’t let the should and should nots drown out the simple joy of parenting. 

Motherhood 22 October 2015

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I was uncertain about motherhood going into it. Not because I didn’t want to be a mother, or because I wasn’t sure whether I would like it. Not even because of the identity crisis some women go through when their life changes this drastically. 

But simply because I wasn’t sure whether I would be any good at it. 

There are plenty of mothers that probably shouldn’t be mothers. What if I was one of them? This has been a fear of mine since I can remember contemplating motherhood. 

I don’t like games. Especially physical ones (think red light green light etc) and somewhere along the line I’ve picked up a heightened sense of my own awkwardness. I am also (I hate to admit) a sore loser. So when you are a sore loser and physically awkward, you avoid games. This may be a problem when it comes to motherhood. 

What if I am not warm? I’ve often been told I’m cold, stoic, standoffish. Not that you would know that from my CV, where I am “approachable” and “friendly”. I’m not sure what makes me standoffish, it might be a combination of my height (and the physical awkwardness mentioned) and a need to suss people out before I reveal too much of myself. But not exactly traits that ooze motherly charms. 

And finally, what if I’m not patient? The little cherub will need time. Lots of time. And attention. Even more attention. And there will be moments where, as a mother, patience must run deep. I lack in that department, too. 

Then I looked at my examples in life, and thought; if I can be but 10% of my own mother, in strength, love, patience and warmth, I will be ok. Emulate your mother, I thought. 

And finally, bubba came along. 

And I no longer wonder if I will be a good mum. Because all I want to be is the best mother I can be. For bub. It’s as if someone gave me a bag of tools when bubba came along. 

As I carried the capsule out to the car the very first time, I started caring less about my awkwardness. I blow bubbles toward the child and I sing songs out of tune. None of it matters. 

With the portacot I ordered online arrived a whole new level of warmth. It’s kisses and cuddles, tickles and laughter. 

And as the daily routines descend like a blanket over my life, patience has poured out of me in ways I didn’t know I had capacity for.

So I worried for nothing. 

I am the best mum I can be to the best bub that there is. We have been perfectly matched and I am the happiest I have ever been. 

I’m sure I will make mistakes. But they will not be from lack of love.