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Us mummas are a colourful bunch. Some are energetic and resourceful, others cruisy and relaxed. And the rest, well, we’re a little in between.

Whatever ‘mother’ you are, you have to know that you have the most important job in the world. There is nothing more satisfying, difficult or meaningful than sowing into the next generation. It really brings out your true colours, tests you in all sorts of interesting ways and reveals a depth of love you may not have realised existed.

Mothers can be tough on each other. This perhaps stems from our own insecurities or guilt from past failures or simply because we are stuck in our own ways. I am a routine mum. I liked the control crying thing, I like boundaries and in the past I may have come across a little judgemental of others who didn’t quite do things my way.

Ah. Now I am a sort of grown up mumma, I can sit back and laugh at my audacity. Like I know what’s best for someone else’s child! Nowadays I appreciate the variety of mothers, I can empathise a little better and it has dawned on me that what us mums need most is encouragement.

So, I try my hardest to pop in encouragement (always has to be genuine) into my conversations with my  mum friends. They are usually pleasantly surprised to receive a compliment, especially when it comes to their parenting techniques. Because, let’s face it, we all  have our closed doors yelling, stomping moments. And the feedback from our pathetic attempt at parenting is often negative or condemning. There just isn’t enough encouragement flung around from mum to mum! Shame!

It’s easy to do and it makes such a difference. When mums feel appreciated, they tend to do a better job. It’s easier to feel patient when someone has told you how much they respect your parenting. When someone believes in you, it makes you want to try harder. When everyone is telling you that you’re a failure, it’s easy to drop the ball and start losing the plot with the kids, cos you’re already (apparently) a failure so it doesn’t matter!

So, my rambling thoughts summarised are: be kind to each other, speak the positive, encouraging things you think  and remember that we’re all in it together doing the best we can! Isn’t that cool?

Another year down! And again, we can hardly believe how fast it has flown. For us Aussies, it means Summer fun begins with outdoor Christmas carols, lazy days at the beach and a long, long school holidays to fill with incredible activities to keep our kids from saying, “Mu-arm… we’re bored!”

The transition from school routine to holiday cruisy bliss can be a little daunting. So much time, so little money, so little energy, so many demands. Parents still have to balance the earning of the money, the household chores and the keeping the children happy and entertained. It’s a tough gig.

It comes down to the same old question of how much time ‘should’ a parent play with their kids, entertain them, how much time is ok for a parent to spend on their own stuff, and how much should they work/do the household boring duties. I don’t want to fake play; ie play because I think I should, I’d rather have quality, side-splitting fun times than be at their beck and call every moment of every day out of guilt. But at the same time I don’t want them to think that they’re not important or fun… = dilemma.

My answer? Plan fun stuff that all of us can genuinely enjoy together: swimming, movies, play dates with all our friends, cafes, op shops, shopping, cooking and family time with cousins/grandparents! This fills the guilt void and leaves them time to play on their own, or together at home, while mumma gets to blog or read or swing in the hammock. Good times.

Do you have any holiday advice for the likes of me and a coupla thousand other stay at home mummas?

 

It is my daughter’s birthday today. She is a very pleasant 5 years old. On days such as these I like to look back over the past and reflect on what has happened: the good, the bad and, sometimes, the ugly.

It is different being a mum to a girl. There are so many bad stories out there about mothers and daughters. Some are as close as you can get and others are like same ends of a magnet. It seems the closer they get, the harder they push off each other. Is it a clash of the hormones? Jealousy? Competition? Or just a mismatch?

My little girl is a funny little bunny. I love that she thinks another name for a daughter is a ‘darling’. She has the sweetest and strongest soul. We are very much alike, which can be quite confronting. When I had her I decided a few things: I would always try to listen, to see beyond her behaviour, to value her emotions and always have her back.

Daughty and I are very close. We have been since she was a baby. I have a different relationship with my son which is also very close but the two are simultaneously different and that’s ok. Daughty and I ‘get’ each other. We both have times of losing the plot, both love are very affectionate and both hate being wrong. I am curious about what this relationship will look like when she is a teenager, but so far so good.

I think the key to having a good relationship with your daughter (from my oh so limited experience) is to know your place. She needs me to be her mum, to be an adult, to be patient and take time to understand her. She needs to know she’s a kid that is learning and that is ok. This is a girl that thrives when she is soaked in both love and boundaries. I think she likes the combination and appreciates when she is listened to and loved despite her fiery moments.

Ultimately, it is all trial and error and a whole load of  love. At the end of the day, if she knows she is eternally loved then I think we’ll be ok – teenage years and all! Fingers crossed!!!

Happy birthday daaaarling!

This is a message to all of you who are considering becoming parents. Parenthood is a wonderful world full of sunshine, rainbows and Disney. It is a place of love and cuddles, kisses and stories. You will rediscover your imagination, your inner child. I love being a mummy-bear. But I need to be honest, and you’ve heard it before, but parenting can be gross and stressy.

Let me enlighten you… birth. Birth is messy. Oozy gross stuff pours out of almost every orifice. It’s out of control. If you are a shy, self-controlled person, you may find the idea of screaming at the top of your lungs in front of strangers while you are naked and exposed, a little confronting. But no matter how shy or self-controlled you are, you will do this. Breastfeeding is not natural. For many, this tests your patience, your determination and your pain threshold.

Toddler years are fun and cute but there are challenges my friends. Do not be precious about having a perfectly clean house. It just won’t happen in this stage. Food will fly, my friends, on your floor, on your walls, so don’t buy anything new for a few years. Toilet training can be easy peasy depending on the child. For my first born it took 2 years and some professional counselling to finish the job. It was messy…. again… My son used to hold on to his poos for up to 6 days so Pull-ups full of the brown stuff brought me inexplicable joy. It’s amazing what stuff you learn to handle without vomiting.

Kids are cool. They can play games with you, do little jobs around the house and read you books. They also get sick and vomit. Gross again. They bounce around your kitchen and invade your personal space. Shopping for food can be extremely torturous with the constant, “Mu-arm, look at this, can we have this, Mu-arm, what is this, so-and-so gets this can we have this, Mu-arm do you remember this.” When all I want to do is read my list and get it done!

So this is where I am. With small children, in the early years of school. I don’t mean to be negative about parenting but if you’re considering having some of your own, it’s good to know what is ahead. It is a career in itself. Do not be fooled by the long daycare centres and such. There is support out there but it is your heart that will carry the weight of parenthood. They mess with your emotions and can fill you up and empty you out in one day.

I would do anything for my kids. I love them forever. It’s a tough gig and a worthy one! And I will never regret bringing these two funny little monkeys into this strange old world.

If you’re already a parent. What valuable lessons have you learnt? Funny stories?

  1. Pick their nose in public
  2. Have a screaming tantrum in K Mart
  3. Walk around the beach completely naked on a busy summer’s day
  4. Point their finger like a gun and shoot at people
  5. Ask questions loudly while watching at the movies
  6. Wear weird clothes that don’t match ie: gumboots, board shorts, t-shirt and vest.
  7. Point out imperfections in adults – “That lady has a fat tummy” or “Your hair looks weird” or “Look at all the wrinkles on your face” or “Have you got a baby in your tummy?”
  8. Eat tomato sauce with a spoon for dinner
  9. Burp the alphabet
  10. Tell the truth without any filters
  11. Jump in puddles
  12. Fart loudly
  13. Cry when they’re disappointed
  14. Have public rumble sessions, all in good fun
  15. Toilet talk – poo poo, bum head, toilet wee, fart face
  16. Go to sleep in the car and be carried into bed, still asleep
  17. Sing the wrong words to songs at the top of their voice
  18. Touch their toes
  19. Have play dates where they actually play
  20. Have their teeth brushed by someone else
Oh to be a kid again. Or not! Go on be funny. What else can kids do that us adults miss out on?

My pork ribs! Yummmmmm

Food. Glorious. Food. The other night I had a dream that the 3 judges from Masterchef Australia came and made me dessert. I couldn’t believe that I was actually eating the type of food I had salivated over through the tv screen. Now I could actually taste what I was seeing. But, alas, it was not to be and I had to wake up and eat the same old cereal instead.

The whole celebrity chef thing is a little outrageous. Now if you can cook and if you look ok on tv you can be famous baby, yeah. I know we eat with our eyes first but television cooking, who would have thought? It all started for me when I was a kid. There was a funny bearded chef called Peter Russell Clarke who cooked who knows what but it was around dinner time and the one word that comes to mind when I think of him is ‘cheese’.

I love cheese; blue vein, camembert, haloumi, brie, tasty, fetta. I’m cheese mad. These days cooking shows are on the menu for me and my family mostly because they are rated G. The kids love watching Nigella or Jamie, Masterchef  or random cooking shows from around the world. They love the look of the food on the screen even though they won’t touch the awesome food I serve up each night.

I’m not sure what I’ve done to raise such fussy eaters. We’ve always tried to instil in our kids the importance of fruit, vegetables, water, dairy and meat. So they eat fairly well. The one thing I cannot understand is that I only have 2 kids right, but it seems that most nights there’s at least one who doesn’t like what’s in front of them.

My daughter doesn’t like rice, some chicken (especially when it is barbequed), peas, fish, baked beans, bananas, rissoles, soup,  lemon meringue pie, potatoes, home made chips, pies or sausage rolls. But she does like raw garlic in pesto with gnocchi, cherry tomatoes, sprinkle cheese (that’s parmesan or mozzarella), hard cheese, cherries, cheese on toast, mango and jelly.

My sonny jim dislikes some pasta, spaghetti, baked beans, peas, potatoes, chicken kebabs, tomatoes, cooked vegetables, soup or dried pear. On the other hand he will eat fresh salmon, caesar salad, pork ribs with spicy sauce, every fruit imaginable, rice, tacos/fajitas, fish and vegemite sandwiches nearly every day.

I miss tasty food. I’m really trying to inspire adventurous taste buds in my kids but perhaps they’re still too little. I’m looking forward to the day when satay is back on the menu. When salads are more than just carrot, cucumber and tomato. When my slow cooker makes food everybody can enjoy. I imagine serving up meal after meal and each time I do, I look around the table and all I can see are beaming, excited and grateful faces. And all at once, they squeal “Thank you mummy, this looks delicious!” Ah, a girl can dream can’t she?

 

I know what you’re thinking… or do I? Mind reading abilities would be so handy right now. Paranoia seems to stem from our inability to read minds and others’ inability to share their thoughts.

I used to walk around thinking the big old world had it in for me. So I became SUPER nice so that I had a decent shot at being accepted. This sense of paranoia came out of a childhood of issues with girls at school and the like. You know the type, one week you’re their best friend, the next they are stealing your bag and making fun of your longish neck. For a lifetime loyal friend like me such rejections were so difficult. I found it hard to trust friendships and even nice things people say because people are so fickle. They simply change their mind on a whim and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Paranoia grew out of these experiences! I’m not talking the kind where you need strong medication but I think most people walk around with a mildish case of social hypochondria. This is heightened when you start a new school, uni or workplace. It’s your chance to start again, to reinvent who you are with a totally new set of people. But who are you? Who do you want to be at work, school, uni, mother’s group?

When my son started preschool I decided to be confident and friendly Emma. I would push my paranoias way down south and embrace my true self; one who cares about people, one who looks out for the little people! So I did it. This preschool was in a ridiculously wealthy part of town and I wasn’t in that demographic… not even close. Intimidation of the nation! But I decided to push that sense of self-consciousness way down out of sight and yay out of mind and I was determined to fit in, on my own terms in my own way!

The reward for all this was a group of mum friends I possibly wouldn’t have now if I had given in to my insecurities. Yes there are some mums out there who avoid me because I’m not a millionaire. I know it’s true, I just don’t care. My friends may be wealthy or not, it’s not in me to care a hoot about the mighty dollar. I just like them for who they are and who their kids are.

I saw the preschool thing as a bit of an experiment in living. I thought if I could survive in the tough world of well-to-do mums and come out smiling then my former paranoias would have no choice but to die! And 3 years later they are nearly all gone. The way I live now is to assume that all people like me for who I am and if they don’t, then most of the time it’s not my problems bucko! I am filled with amazing people in my life and I simply don’t have time to play petty games anymore! How good is that?

 

To those without kids or past the kid stage, a few tips, a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to parents and children.

DON’T… tell them their own child is tired or hungry when they are whinging. It’s not helpful, encouraging or insightful, just annoying.
DON’T… stare at parents when their kids are having a tantrum. Sometimes the little buggers just need to scream.
DON’T… hurry up a mother who is clearly struggling with her child. Just be patient and understand that sometimes, a mother is a pressure cooker, ready to explode at any moment and you don’t want to release that valve!
DON’T… expect children to be well behaved 24/7. They are not robots and sometimes they just have to bounce.
DON’T… be offended when children don’t answer your “Hello” with a polite and succinct answer. They are told not to talk to strangers so it can be quite confusing when you approach them out of the blue.
DON’T… stare at mothers with young babies bottle feeding. You don’t know the history or the reasons why so mind your own beeswax.

DO… help a mum with a stroller down/up the stairs
DO… compliment parents on their parenting… especially if you mean it!
DO… stand up on a bus/train for the pregnant and small childrened.
DO… give the benefit of the doubt. You never know, a child could have AD/HD or some other thing going on to make them misbehave.
DO… bring meals to friends or friends of friends who need a break. They may not readily admit to it but a free, yummy, hot meal at the end of a tiring day is more precious than gold!
DO… visit the mummies stuck at home and just sit, drink tea and don’t offer any advice unless it is requested

AND… in return, from those with kids we will try and…

NOT… let  our kids ruin your house with sticky hands and broken lamps
NOT… run amok and pull out your dvds out of their cases
NOT… ask you to babysit every second night
NOT… make you hold our babies unless you really want to
NOT… bore you to death with endless stories of Bestsie’s swimming lesson disasters and Rocko’s toilet training successes.
NOT… complain about our saggy boobs and tired eyes
NOT… fill our time with kids, kids, kids. There will be time for you!

image by Gengiskanhg

Yesterday I was chatting to a new mum friend about the world of parenting. It can be a pretty daunting place. First there’s the pregnancy and how you’re carrying (is it a boy or a girl?) and then there is the pressure to be the best parent ever!!!!

I loved the way my friend put this and yes, I’m going to steal it for my own glory. She said that being a first time mum is like being in year 7 (she’s a high school teacher). You are new, wide eyed and terrified. You look around at all the other mothers with awe and a little insecurity. Out of the blue you find yourself standing in a baby warehouse surrounded by cots, prams and… what the heck are these? Breast pumps, Bumbo seats, wraps, booties and weird baby toys.

The second tier of motherhood is the second/third/fourth time mum. They’ve been here before. They were the pale, frightened first timer and now they know what they’re on about. They can wrap, burp, feed, rock their baby without a care in the world. They are the 9th graders. They almost own the joint, almost.

The 12th graders are the shop assistants. They know everything! Which pram does what and when you should use a stroller and what bottles are the bomb! Their cockiness is unsettling and comforting at the same time. Basically, you need someone  to show you the ropes. It’s like peer support, I guess. The bigger the peer the better.

There is so much to learn in the parenting world. Forget all the equipment you need to raise a baby, the most important thing you need to know is that you are capable, you can do this. You must do this. You should also know that for a lot of people, parenting means competition & guilt. If your child is not walking, talking and using the iphone before the age of 2 you are a failure.

And you MUST have them booked into kindygym, hop skip jump, kindamusic and swimming lessons at two weeks old or it is the end of the world. You will not have that superstar soccer player or Olympic champion if you don’t start them early. You are a failure if they can’t read before they go to school or if they’re shy it’s all your fault for sitting on your lazy bottom and instead of getting out of the house even though you know you’ll trip over your eyelids if you do.

You must be perfect, you must wear the right clothes and seem like you have it all together when inside (like everyone else) you’re screaming out for help and sleeeeeeep.

Ultimately, your happiness and those of your family comes first. Forget the competitive nature of parenting, because in the end, we all fail.

Twenty minutes to get my blog done today. A small girl climbs on my shoulders. Many cuddles, how can I resist?  She cackles like a crow in my ear, interrupted only by ee-ii-o, her own version of ‘Old Macdonald’.

She is a talk-a-holic, according to her kindy teachers. Which is a little strange because there’s that shy side as well. She is known by many names: funny bunny, tropical, water, princess (of course), ballie-woo… Some say she is a mini me but she’s no carbon copy. Her face is part me part papa. She has inherited her father’s awesome eyebrows and possibly her grandmother’s mouth. Not sure where that nose has come from, though.

She is bright and focussed, great at fine motor and the like. As I watch my kids grow, it gets me thinking about the ups and downs of being a parent. One of the most rewarding and difficult parts of the job is watching your little munchkins grow. I love seeing hints of who they are going to be in the future. Their strengths and weaknesses and quirks. It’s great fun!

I love/hate the challenge of tantrums. It is exhausting but exhilarating when you get it right! Super mum moment here I come!!! I love being in the zone, saying the right thing at the right time. I love when they get it! When that hard earned and learned wisdom pays off. There is nothing better than using your painful experiences to help others. It is especially rewarding when those people are your kids.

Parenthood is hard but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I firmly believe that the best things are the hardest. So if you’re finding being a ma or pa a bit of a slug, you’re in good company. Keep that chin up and walk on. For, as Anne of Green Gables says, “Tomorrow is a new day without any mistakes in it yet!” (or something like that!)

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