Friday, November 20, 2015

What Would You Have Said?


Sitting at the traffic lights this morning, we sat across from the University where three flags were fluttering in the wind. Usually it is the West Australian flag, the Australian flag and the Indigenous flag, but today the third flag had been replaced with the Rainbow flag.

‘What’s that flag?’ the Mop wanted to know. She always has good questions.

‘That’s the Rainbow flag,’ I told her.

‘And what does it mean?’ she asked.

Awesome question I thought, wondering how I was going to answer in a timely fashion appropriate to my audience of a three year old, five year old and eight year old.

‘It means that the things that are different about us, are the things that make us beautiful,’ I said.

‘It’s about treating everyone the same, regardless of whether you are a boy or a girl, what colour your skin is, who you love, what religion you are or what you believe in.’ 

There was a brief pause in the back seat.

‘Soooo,’ the Mop started, obviously trying to get a handle on it all. ‘It’s for people with pink skin who love cats and for people with brown skin who love dogs?’

‘Sort of,’ I said. ‘The Rainbow flag reminds us the people who love dogs are just as awesome as the people who love cats.’

‘I love bunnies,’ said the three year old.

‘Me too,’ piped up the eight year old.

‘Well, you’re awesome too,’ I said.

‘I like all the animals,’ said the Mop.

‘Animals are sooooo beautiful,’ sighed the eight year old.

‘And the Rainbow flag tells us it’s okay to love animals?’ asked the Mop.

‘And marry animals?’ asked the three year old.

Uhhhhhh. I felt the conversation was getting a little off course.

‘Well,’ I said as the lights changed and we headed off. ‘The Rainbow flag simply tells us that we are all different and that makes us special. After all, a rainbow wouldn’t be as pretty if it was all the same colour.’

‘I’m going to marry a rainbow,’ said the three year old.

‘That’s fine by me, as long as it loves you as much as I do.’
Vive la difference!
 
 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Falling in Love


I am falling I love with my middle child.

I should clarify for anyone who is concerned – but I already love her very much. I would do anything for her, including go all Tiger Mother on someone’s butt if they tried to hurt her – but as anyone who has ever been in love with someone, and then suddenly not would know, there is a difference between loving someone and being in love with them.

I am falling in love with my middle child.

I find myself staring at her when she is talking, mesmerised by the way she screws her little cupid mouth up when she is thinking. I find myself catching the light in her hair wisps. I stare after her when she walks away, hoping she will do little side kick she does when she is happy. She is completely oblivious to me and my deepening scrutiny.

I bliss out in the mornings when I stick my head into her bedroom and she is just waking up and she puts her arms out to me and I crawl into her bed, and she wraps them around my neck and simply says ‘Mummy,’ before snuggling into me.

I wish I could bottle the joy she gives me when she gallops off, legs gangling in all direction, hips one way, head the other, ungainly as a baby giraffe, but oh so much shorter.

I wish I could capture the stories I overhear her creating, alone with her toys, the complex relationships she creates between a Barbie doll, a Lego house, a small stuffed bird and a book (she likes to play with books – as toys. Yeah, I don’t really get it either, but I love it anyway).

One day she made an Elsa out of a popped blue balloon, carefully taping on arms, legs and hair that she had made out of paper. She spent ages playing with this ‘doll’ – which could easily be classified as rubbish – and I found it today, carefully packed away on her shelf. My heart ached when I saw it next to her pile of expensive toys.

When you fall in love with someone, you suddenly become aware of everything they do – and you love them for it. (When you fall out of love, you are also aware of everything they do, but it makes you want to tear your hair out. Or theirs.)

When you fall in love with someone, their annoying habits become quirks; their oddities become endearing.

I can’t say why all of a sudden I am falling in love with her, because like I say, I have always loved her deeply. But it’s like I am seeing her more clearly. Maybe at five and three quarters, she is becoming the person she is meant to be, rather than the little kid who always getting left behind, or underfoot.

All year I have been saying this is her year, and all year I have been waiting for her to share this sentiment. Finally I have understood that I need to let her become who she is in her own time.

All year I have been admiring her strengths – but admiration is not always the same as love. On more than one occasion I referred to her as a cockroach – because of her innate ability to survive and her utter imperviousness to what is going on around her. My husband called her a cat – because she always lands on her feet (not literally, she’s quite clumsy). These are not bad traits to have – actually they’re bloody awesome, perhaps it’s the labels we gave to them which was unfair.

All year has been building to this point – this rather tardy recognition of mine. I am ashamed it has taken me so long.

And like any woman who is in love, I am in a blissful state where the sun is a little brighter, the sky a little bluer, and I smile in my sleep.



 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

That Time I Talked About Masturbation at a Party


I was congratulating myself at having made it to 10pm at a friend’s 40th. It was officially ‘past my bedtime’ but I was still going strong with a glass of champagne in my hand, although I occasionally had to step out of my towering heels, confusing whoever I was standing with at the time by shrinking three inches without any explanation.

We were discussing my good luck at being able to sleep in an empty house that night – my family were away and I wouldn’t be woken by small children.

I sniffed. ‘My youngest usually wakes at 5am, but it doesn’t matter – I have been waking up at 4am for no apparent reason.’

One friend shook her head sadly, ‘I have been waking at 2am! I can’t ever get back to sleep.’

We all clucked sympathetically.

‘What do you do?’ we asked.

‘I just lie there,’ she replied.

One lady leaned forward ‘if you find you are lying there for more than half an hour, you should just get up.’

‘And do what?’ she wanted to know.

‘Anything,’ was the answer. ‘Read a book, do the dishes, anything but TV.’

It was time for my five cents.

‘Masturbate,’ I said.

I had their attention. All their eyes were on me.

‘That’s what I hear anyway,’ I quickly covered. ‘But it focuses all your attention on one thing. Your mind stops wandering, and you stop thinking about all the crap you have to do, stop worrying about things. It focuses your mind and body.’

I nodded sagely. I felt like Dr Phil.

The conversation changed quite quickly after that – it is possible that people slunk away in search of companions who weren’t chronic over-sharers like me.  It’s possible people may not be able to look me in the eye on Monday.

It’s possible that now some people might get a better night’s sleep. You're welcome.

As for me, I found a ridiculously full stomach and being up to the eyeballs in champagne did the trick. And for the record – without the kids (and husband) being present I managed to sleep in to a record time of 6.45am.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why am I so Quiet?

I don’t write here as much as I used to.

This is partly because I have lots of other writing projects. Partly because I have been finishing my Grad Dip.

But mostly because I feel like most of what I have to say, is already being said.

There were a few lucky bloggers who started their blogs back when the rest of us were still using smoke signals and morse code to communicate. By the time the rest of us caught on, there were over 152,000,000 blogs in the world. To put that in content, that is approximately how many pieces of Lego Friends we suck up the vacuum cleaner each week. Especially those tiny little purple bows and brushes. They shit me.

152 million blogs.

Of course, five of those are mine. One I gave up on a long time ago, and one I will never admit is mine (yay, internet anonymity).

But how are we meant to be heard amongst so many voices?

I started From Mum to Me primarily as a record of my children’s early lives – a way to capture forever all their little quirks, and all my major mistakes. What I wrote about was ridiculously important to me, but also completely recognisable to everyone else. For the most part, parenting blogs such as this, are universal stories told with different names. And we share and read them, precisely because we can see our own experiences in someone else’s words and think ‘thank god, I thought I was the only one who did that.’

You are not alone.

If we could sum up the messages of 99.9% of all the ‘mummy’ blogs and ‘mommy blogs’ and ‘parenting blogs’ in only four words – that message would be YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

It’s a pretty powerful message, even when wrapped up in stinky nappies and glitter glue.

Because even though I started the blog for me, I kept writing for you, because of those wonderful comments and emails I get every now and then, the likes on Facebook, the private messages – the ones that say ‘thank you for making me understand I am not alone in this.’

That has been very powerful for me.

I am under no illusion that what I write is Pulitzer worthy or compellingly unique. Usually, it’s full of speling mistakes.

But while I am lazily inactive here on the blog, I do still share and post things on my Facebook account. Mostly because it’s a lot easier than thinking up funny topics and then finding the time to sit down and actually write about them.

I find it fascinating to see what really makes people jump – the things that people get excited about. I should point out that it’s never anything that I actually write. Sniff. But that’s ok, I’ve dealt with that.

The memes and links that generate the most activity is like a spotlight, pointing out the major issues that affect us all. Because we (Relentless readers) are a rather homogenous group. Roughly a third from the States, a third from Australia and the rest from across the globe like the UK, NZ and Canada. Hi everyone.

And while we are not all women (hi guys) and not all my readers are actually mums, when something spikes I can see the issues we think about. The clever meme people may have made us laugh, but they also manage to capture our concerns.

The most recent thing I posted up on Facebook was a great quote from Jennifer Garner about the fact that she has a baby bump despite not being pregnant. She totally owned it, and everyone seemed to love it.

I recently published a book 'The Brutal Truth About the Third Child' (available on Amazon here). Yeah, I actually just did that. Anyway, in the book I wrote a completely new piece called ‘What does your body really look like after three babies?’. It was quite confronting, which is probably why I never put it up on the blog.

But, like Jennifer, I like to think that my scars and wobbly bits are just a badge of honour of being a mum. I’d rather have them, than not, and I think a lot of you feel the same way too.

But if someone as lovely as Jennifer Garner is writing it, then I don’t need to, which is why I am sometimes very silent over here.


But you don’t need to be. Please keep those messages coming.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Trials of a Day-Care Mum

It’s becoming increasingly painful trying to drop Number Three off at day-care in the mornings.

There are days when I slink back to the car and I can still hear her howling with the indignity of being abandoned in a giant park-like setting with dozens of other children, grown-ups who actually enjoy playing with children (or are paid to act as though they do) and tiny little toilets that perfectly fit her bottom with no fear she will ever fall in.

She doesn’t realise how good she has it.

She tells me she would rather stay home with me. But when I probe a little deeper it’s clear that it isn’t me she wants to spend the day curled up with, but the TV. I asked her directly once ‘do you love the TV more than Mummy?’ She didn’t even have the decency to hesitate for a second before nodding enthusiastically.

All my kids have loved day-care, to begin with anyway. I am fortunate enough that my kids go to a particularly well rated community centre. They have nature play gardens, enormous cubby houses, swings in the shady trees, sand pits and bridges, teepees and enough animals to maintain a hobby farm (including what we were told was going to be a ‘miniature’ pig but someone obviously screwed up, because this pig is the size of a small car and has to be kept separate from the kids now because there is every chance he might decide one day to snack on a small child).

At home all we have is TV and a gold fish that refuses to die no matter how much we ty and neglect it.

At day-care, my three year old – who is in the ‘science’ room, learns about how the body works by handling real brains (I kid you not, there is a photograph on the wall of them poking at a brain), using sophisticated contraptions to see how blood pumps through the body, and draw outlines of themselves on giant paper and fill in the gaps (heart, brain, poo tube).

At home, my child learned about the body by figuring out that each time she poops on the toilet she gets a lolly pop. So she is learning to hold part of it in, getting a lolly, then going back half an hour later to do another poo and get another lolly. A valuable lesson for both of us.

At day-care, she is given fruit at 9am, a two course, cooked lunch in a fully equipped dining room with kid-sized tables and chairs and vases of flowers on the table, plus afternoon tea that you can smell being baked in the mornings. All the parents walk back to their cars with their heads at a funny angle, which I finally realised is them trying to sniff the delicious aromas of the kids lunch (while trying not to sniff the giant pig).

At home, we have stale bread which I can turn into a choice of a) stale sandwiches or b) toast. Which is effectively warm stale sandwiches, but since the butter is all nice and melty, no one cares.

At daycare, she has approximately 100 children between the ages of 0 and 5 to play with, boys, girls, different ethnic and language  groups, rough kids, gentle kids, kids who want to dance, kids who want to run, kids who will push her on the swing, kids who want to be pushed. 100 little people who want to do nothing but play.

At home, she has me. Who will do anything to avoid playing (including scrubbing the toilet, which needs it more often now that she is crapping every half an hour).

I try and explain this to her, but she won’t listen. She continues to howl in the mornings, breaking my heart. As I hand her over to one of her adoring carers and practically sprint out the door with the other two in tow, I leave a little piece of me behind.

She will only being going for a couple more months. Soon I will finish my last university subject, soon it will be Christmas, soon she will start pre-school.

And I am pretty sure when she realises next year that she will be expected to learn and wear uniforms and can only play in the playground for limited times every day she will begin to understand how good she had it. 

When she starts getting homework and is expected to learn to read, when there are only two teachers instead of four, when the pig is traded in for a tank of hermit crabs, she might realise that hey, day-care was pretty good.

But I feel confident that she will truly appreciate the awesomeness of day-care when she opens her first lunch box that mum has packed, and it only has a banana and a stale sandwich.

Then she will probably cry and demand to be taken back to day-care.



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cock Porn at 2am

‘Where are you going,’ my husband asked groggily.

‘She’s calling out she’s done a poo, I’d better go and see’ I replied.

It was 2.15am. As in the middle of the effing night.

I trudge downstairs and open her door a crack. No tell tale waft of death, but I can hear her sniffing. She’s crying, I think. Oh no, what if she has diarrhoea? I mentally begin rearranging the following day, trying to determine how much work I can get done if I have a sick three year old at my side.

‘Why are you sad honey,’ I ask her, walking toward the bed.

‘Because I want cockcorn. I hungry,’ she said in her tiny adorable voice that suddenly wasn’t so adorable anymore.

What? Did I somehow mistake ‘popcorn’ for ‘poo’? I suppose when you’re ASLEEP it is easy to mistake all sorts of things.

I stare at her shadowy shape in the dark and resist the urge to throw a doll at her head. Instead, in my calmest voice I simply say ‘No. Go back to sleep’, turn, and leave the room.

Only after I close the door do I say a very rude word…

…which is drowned out anyway by an almighty shriek and indignant howls of misery that erupt from within the room.

I pause momentarily and assess my level of anger. Pretty high, I think, based on the fact that someone – either my husband or one of the kids – has woken me pretty much every single night for the past eight years.

There was no way I was going to deal with this in a calm, responsible manner, so I kept walking. I needed to pee anyway, so I just left the volcanic mess behind, which was now throwing itself against the door demanding ‘cockporn’.

Besides, I could hear my husband heading down the stairs. Let him deal with her, I thought, although it was entirely possible his way of solving the problem would be to actually give her a bag of popcorn at 2 o’clock in the morning.

By the time I had finished in the loo the house was dark and silent. Unbelievable. I made my way back upstairs and as soon as my shadow loomed in the door, I heard a chirpy little voice say ‘hello Mummy’, followed by some enthusiastic bouncing on my pillow.

F*ck, I thought. I would have rather he gave her the popcorn.

‘She won’t sleep,’ I muttered climbing in to bed and hauling the blankets off the other two.

It was irrelevant anyway. Whether she slept or not was not the point: the point was that I would not be able to sleep. And just like the 3,000 or so nights that preceded this one, I would not get a full night’s uninterrupted sleep.

If I’m being honest – and I usually am – I am a total bitch between the hours of midnight and 5am. 

The rest of the time I quite a nice person, but unless you catch me at the tail end of a rather awesome party (rather unlikely these days when parties finish at 5pm so we’re all in bed by 8pm) if you find me awake during these hours – I WON’T BE VERY NICE TO YOU. Even if you sprang from my loins (or are trying to spring for them) I don’t want to know you.

Now that my Third Child is three and my eldest is eight, I figure I have been having crap sleep through pregnancy, breast feeding and kids not-sleeping-through for long enough, and it is time for me to reassert my physical right to six hours uninterrupted sleep.

Note how I didn’t ask for eight or ten. Just six. Uninterrupted.

Before I had kids I was an awesome sleeper. I would have won an Olympic gold. My parents installed a smoke alarm in my bedroom when I was at uni because I used to burn incense in there and they quite rightly were concerned I would burn the house down. 

One night a spider walked across the alarm and set it off. Those bastards are loud but I slept straight through it (much to my parent’s disgust) because I was a teenager and I used to be an Olympic gold winning sleeper.

These days, one of the kids can fart in their sleep downstairs and it will wake me up, because I am a Mum, and Mums develop a rather useful (but annoying) desire to ensure their kids are safe.

Enough is enough.

No more farting. No more cockporn in the middle of the night. I need to reclaim my sleep.


So if anyone has any good advice, please let me know: how can I reclaim my sleep?


Saturday, June 6, 2015

My Mum Crush

I was sitting with two friends from my mothers group when I made an embarrassing admission.

I told them I had a Mum Crush.

Now, there are two ways conversations like this generally go. One is that people who have known you for years stare at you strangely, there is an uncomfortable silence and then suddenly everyone remembers they left a load of washing on and they all leave, never to speak to you again.

Luckily, this particular conversation went the other way.

‘Oh, me too,’ said one of them.

‘Hmmm, Simone*,’ sighed the other one

‘Yes!’ the other one said nodding.

I was a bit jealous they shared the same Mum Crush, but their kids went to a different school than mine.

‘Who’s your Mum Crush?’ my friend asked. ‘Why is she so good?’

I shrugged. I was hardly going to tell them that when I see her I think of the ‘Everything is Awesome’ song from the Lego Movie, cos she is just – awesome.

You have to remember Mum Crush’s aren’t about sex (what’s that anyway?) or anything physical, so it wasn’t that she was particularly attractive – although she is. To me, at least.
And it wasn’t that her life was something I coveted, or that her kids were better than mine, or husband was more manly. None of these things feature in a Mum Crush.

‘Well, I just find her fascinating. She talks about interesting things and we have actual conversations,’ I said. ‘Remember those?’ I said sourly as our three year olds raced through the room with handfuls of Tiny Teddies.

I said a LOT more than this (but have to maintain some level of dignity here, unlike at Mothers Group where no one expects me to have any dignity) until I realised I was gabbling like a school girl, gushing over the fact that *gasp* someone liked to talk to me.

But my friends were nodding. They totally got it.

A Mum Crush is different to a friend, probably because they’re just slightly outside your sphere. Perhaps your kids are in different classes or they go to a different school. But you probably share something – a relic of a life before you had kids perhaps – and she reminds you what it is like to be not a mum. And you love her for it.


Do you have a Mum Crush?


*Names have been changed to protect my friends. Actually, since I can’t actually remember the name of their Mum Crush, it’s entirely possible that is her real name. Sorry about that.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Story About my Breasts

Thursday April 31, 2015

It’s been a little less than three weeks since I first noticed the changes in my breast, and with every day it occupies more and more of my life.

I had been changing in my upstairs bathroom, and as I lifted my left arm over my head to remove my nightee, I noticed the skin underneath my breast puckering, and pulling inwards as if something was preventing it from moving. There was no lump, no other changes. Except for the frequent dull ache that had plagued me for months? Weeks?

I simply observed it for the first few days. The puckering was only noticeable in the mornings, when the natural light came in through the bathroom window. When I showered at night and the room was lit from above, I couldn’t see the puckering.

And so it became part of my morning ritual. Was it still there? Was there a lump? Was the pain increasing? Every morning I would lift my arms and examine the bottom of my breast. And every day, with a sinking feeling in my stomach, the small hole would still be there.

I made an appointment with my GP for the first morning after school went back. It was less than a week after I first noticed the change and I felt nervous and ridiculous that I was making a fuss over nothing. I waited for her to tell me it was normal, nothing to worry about. Instead she wrote a referral for both a mammogram and ultrasound, with an option of fine needle aspiration (FNA) if required.

As I walked out of the room she smiled and said ‘I look forward to hearing that the results are nothing.’

I called my nearest radiological clinic early the next day and was told the wait for be up to four weeks. Four weeks and one day to be exact. I endeavoured to put it out of my mind. To wait the course. Four weeks feels like forever.

I have told no one except my best friend who lived on the other side of the country. I didn’t want to worry people. I didn’t want to be made a fuss of if it all turned out to me nothing. I didn’t want to be thought of as a hypochondriac.

Now it is all I can think about.

I can’t tell if thinking about my breast, and what the changes could mean has made me feel things that are not there, or if the pain is actually getting worse.  But it seems constant now, far from debilitating, but sufficient for me to consider taking a paracetamol. I am constantly touching my breast, both to ease the ache and to seek any forming lumps.

A couple times I have come close to mentioning it to someone. I worry about their reaction. I feel foolish for even worrying in the first place: am I ridiculous for even thinking the word?

Cancer.

There are many things it could be. It could be harmless fibroids or a long defunct blocked milk duct. It could have always been like that, and it just took me 37 years to notice.

So I am waiting.

But not patiently nor peacefully. It is beginning to preoccupy my thoughts, so I called more clinics until I could find one with an earlier time slot. I will now have to drive to the very northern suburbs for my scan, but I will save myself 10 days of worry.

But possibly, I will be gaining an extra ten days of something worse.

20th May 2015
I feel a bit stupid. A time waster, not to mention the hundreds of dollars I have spent.
I have now been for not one, but two ultrasounds on my breast and both times been sent away. 

‘There’s nothing there, on your way.’

The mammogram was uncomfortable and borderline painful, but it was a small price to pay. It’s a strange thing, standing half naked in front of a stranger, being asked to manipulate your own breast, having someone touch you. ‘Hold your nipple out of the way, that’s it, now pull everything to the side.’

I was sent out to wait while the doctor looked at my mammogram results. Wrapped in a cold cotton gown, that barely stretched around me, I read trashy magazines. Then I was asked to come back for more scans. I felt even more nervous this time – had they seen something and they wanted a better look? No, sometimes the breast tissue fold over on itself, I was told, making it appear thicker than it really is. Back into the machine, a sharp corner pushed into my armpit, hand grasping the machine, angled sideways as to get as much breast into the machine as possible.

I was then sent for the ultrasound. Neither technique is 100% fallible, but when done together, anything over 1mm will be picked up. They poked and prodded and scanned and peered. Nothing. 

‘Go home,’ I was told, and I scurried away.

But still my doctor wasn’t happy. ‘I don’t know Shannon,’ she said. ‘I want to know what’s causing the puckering. I think you should get the FNA done as well.’ She glanced at my three year old on the floor, sucking on a lollypop – her reward for a flu vaccination. ‘You need to be around, you know what I mean?’

Not wanting to return to the first place, where I had been merrily sent on my way, I called a different group. No three week wait this time, I got an appointment within 24 hours. That was more like it.

The sonographer was surprised when I told her I had already been for a mammogram and ultrasound. 
‘And they didn’t find anything?’

‘No,’ I responded.

‘No lumps?’

‘No.’

‘And so you’re here because…?’

I’m here because my aunt had breast cancer when she was younger. I’m here because my breast looks abnormal. I’m here because I have a cautious GP with children the same age as mine and who is looking out for me.

The sonographer called the doctor in. Everyone was being very nice. They looked sympathetic and were understanding of my predicament, but they couldn’t see why I was there. Literally. With the dark shadowy rooms and overhead lighting, the doctor could not see the deep puckering which was so apparent in the sideways light of my bathroom. I felt like a fraud and that I was wasting everyone’s time.

‘If that were my breast, I’d be happy with that,’ the lady told me.

‘Without a lump or something to aim at, I don’t know where to put the needle,’ the doctor said reasonably. ‘And in the unlikely event something came back abnormal, we wouldn’t be able to do a re-test because there’s nothing to see or feel.’

I lay on the table, clutching the gown around me. I understood everything they were saying, which was basically ‘you’re fine, go home.’

It is the best possible outcome. Two of the best doctors in the state have reassured me there is nothing abnormal to see on the scans. Nothing to fear. No cancer. I should be elated and relieved, and most of me is.

Although I still don’t have an explanation for the pain or the puckering, and a small part of me is still worried, I am grateful I can move on. I am also indebted to my friend whose own story has reminded me to be breast aware, and now I share mine in the hope that maybe someone else might benefit.. 


This post is dedicated to all the women who are living with and fighting breast cancer. 
You are in my thoughts.

To everyone else: please remember to be breast aware.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Kids Say The Darndest Things...

One from the vaults when the Bombshell was four.

In 1637 René Descartes made his brilliant statement ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ or ‘I think, therefore I am’.  He was 41 and already a noted philosopher and mathematician.
In 2011, the Blonde Bombshell, made her brilliant statement ‘I think, so it is’. She is four. 
Of course, when Descartes made his profound statement he was talking about existentialism, and when the Bombshell made her statement she was talking about it being Tuesday when it was really Monday, but who’s nit-picking? 

Who’s to say that I don’t have a budding philosopher in the family? If she wanted it to be Tuesday, then it should be Tuesday, and too bad if the rest of the world thought it should be Monday. What’s 24 hours between friends?
There is a certain honesty in the words and beliefs of children.  They speak without worrying about social niceties (‘I did two poos and one is floating like a boat’), political correctness (‘I like your bottom Mummy, it has hair on it’) or the laws of nature (Mum: ‘how much yoghurt do you want?’ Bombshell: ‘27 minutes please’).
When children speak, they say it like it is: ‘Some cars are clean and some are dirty. Daddy’s car is dirty.  Adi’s car is clean.  Grandad’s car has a little bit of poo’.  

They conversationally tread where no adult would dare, though secretly many of us would probably love to. They have no concept of self-censorship or self-preservation (‘Mum: ‘why is your sister crying?’ Bombshell: ‘because I hurt her fingers’).
The things my daughter tells me are the highlights of my day.  I write them down and make them real, before they disappear into a forgotten memory of something she said once that made me smile… now what did she say? It’s on the tip of my tongue. I can’t remember…
I love that everything is so literal when you are four years old. Words do not have hidden meaning, children hear what is familiar. My daughters and I were walking past a neighbour’s garden, which had a prolific flowering tree. ‘Look at that pretty pink flower,’ the Bombshell said.  I replied, ‘do you know what that is? That’s called a hibiscus.’  The Bombshell then said ‘Hi Biscus, my name is ... and this is my sister’
Similarly, there is a certain logic that is applicable only to small children. Things are taken at face value, even abstract ideas.  At three and a half the Bombshell was struggling to deal with her tantrums and we were taking the approach that if I gave her a big cuddle we could squeeze out her anger and throw it in the bin.  Sometimes this worked, other times it didn’t.  

One day after a particularly drawn out tantrum and some attempting squeezing, she told me ‘I need my anger back because I’m having a tanty.’ 

I let her have her anger back and said ‘do you still want vegemite crackers?’ 

‘Yes,’ she said.  ‘Yes please,’ I corrected. She shook her head, ‘I don’t say yes please because I’m having a tantrum.’
Perhaps though what is most precious about the words of children is their unrelenting love and devotion.  They are blind to shape and size and fashion and their mum is the most beautiful mum, even when she is wearing old tracksuit pants 

Bombshell: why are you lying down Mum?’ 

Mum: ‘because I’m old and fat and tired’ 

Bombshell: ‘you’re not that bad.
Eventually our children grow up, and their words will be tempered with flattery and hidden meanings and political correctness and all the other filters adults forget they use.  

But while they are little, we should cherish their clarity of thought, because as the Bombshell so simply puts it: ‘I make you happy Mum.’

Sunday, May 10, 2015

In Bed With Mia

‘Mum.’

‘MUUUUUMMMMMA’

It is the early morning call of the native species Three-Year-Oldus-Crazy-Makus. She has woken and now needs an adult to come in and release her from her squishy puddle of doonas and toys and pillow pets.

I open the door and a streak of light falls across her low bed. Her little face glows like the moon and it breaks into a smile.

‘Watch you doin’?’ she asks. She reminds me of Gary Coleman in Diff’rent Strokes. I keep my observation to myself. It’s unlikely she will ever get the joke.

‘I want a cuddle,’ I tell her as I climb into her bed and pull the doonas over us.

‘Me too,’ she replies and curls her chubby little arm around my neck.

We lie in silence watching each other in the dim light.

‘I need tissue,’ she whispers.

So I haul myself out of her bed, blindly reaching out on the bookshelf for the tissue box. I am knocking small toys and random objects off the shelf as I fumble in the dark.

Finding the box I crawl back into her bed and hand her a tissue. She expertly blows her nose before handing it back to me. ‘Here Mum,’ she says. Like the servant I am.

A little finger makes its way into her nose and she extracts something. She peers at it in the dark for a moment before pointing the finger – and booger – in my direction. ‘Here Mum,’ she says. I ignore the finger.

The house is quiet at this time of the morning. It’s still dark outside and it’s warm in her bed, although she smells faintly of pee. It’s a smell you get used to. I wish I didn’t have to admit that.

She puts her arm around me and moves her little face towards mine. She bumps her nose against mine then kisses me. Once. Twice.

‘You smell like wee,’ I say to her. Not unkindly.

‘No I don’t,’ she replies indignantly.

‘Well, it’s not me who smells like wee,’ I say.

‘It is. It is you,’ she says gravely.

I smile at her and her beautiful face erupts like the dawns. I still find it difficult to fathom how much joy this little child both contains and emanates. She is like the sun, radiating smiles, warming hearts. 

She waves at everyone and sees everything. ‘Hello,’ she will say to the man emptying rubbish bins as we walk to daycare. ‘Goodbye’ she will wave to the teenaged students as they hurry home, weighed down with books. Her smiles spread across their faces.

‘Put light Mum,’ she asks me, so I climb out of bed and flick on the little lamp. She reaches for a plastic violin bow and starts pointing at the alphabet quilt on the wall. I think she is pretending to play X for Xylophone but she huffs at me. ‘No! A C,’ she demands.

I use the bow to point to the letters as we make our way through the alphabet. She repeats them after me, only coming unstuck on ‘U’ for Umbrella.

‘U’ I say.

‘Me,’ she replies.

‘You,’ I say and bend down for a hug. She expertly grips on and as I stand I have no choice but to bring her up with me. She is a baby koala, and will latch on regardless of whether I hold her or not.

‘You best my friend Mum’ she says.

‘I love you too,’ I tell her.



Friday, April 24, 2015

The Poo Slug

We make all sorts of allowances and break all sorts of rules for our Third Child. Despite being three years old, she is – and always will be – our baby.

And she knows it.

And exploits it.

Despite regularly using the toilet and potty at daycare for most of last year – completely without my knowledge, mind you – now that I have lost patience and taken away Baldy’s daytime nappies, she has decided that toilets are for fools and there are much better places to find relief. Like the floor outside her bedroom. And the backyard.

Yesterday after three hours in the park, and my watching her like a hawk, there had been no accidents. When we came home and I asked if she wanted to do a wee on the toilet, she gave me a sideways glance and simply said ‘No thanks mummy.’

Pretending not to watch her, I pottered around doing mum stuff, like dishes and Facebook. When I heard her run to her bedroom and start digging through the drawers for a nappy I knew she needed to go.

So armed with a bag of lollies I walked into her room and bribed her: four lollies for a wee on the toilet. Perhaps not the best parenting technique, but certainly one of the most reliable.

She did her wee and got her lollies.

I was going to need more lollies, but perhaps this was going to be easier than I thought.

Not long after, she approached me with a strange look on her face.

‘There’s a bee!’ she said, frightened.

‘Where?’ I asked.

‘On my finger.’

I looked closely at her outstretched finger and my stomach lurched. ‘That’s not a bee sweetie. That’s poo!’

She looked at her hand and back at me, her eyes big and I could see I had about three seconds before she completely lost the plot.

‘Why do you have poo on your finger?’ I asked.

‘It’s in my bottom,’ she said.

Ah.

She bent over and yes, there was part of a poo squished between her butt cheeks. But where was the rest of it I wanted to know.

‘Bend over,’ I said arming myself with a whole packet of wet wipes. She bent forward and promptly cracked her head on the corner of the wall, a huge welt immediately appearing. Trying to comfort one end and wipe the other, we finally managed to clean her up, reapply knickers, and send her out to watch TV.

Meanwhile, I needed to find the rest of the poo.

‘Where were you when you did the poo?’ I asked.

She pointed. ‘On the couch,’ she said.

Awesome.

I checked the couch. No poo.

I checked the rug in front of the TV. No poo.

Soon I was running all over the house – the bedrooms, the bathroom, the kitchen – looking for the 
poo. Nothing.

I soon figured out where it was.

‘Arghhhhhhh poooooooo,’ she moaned like was facing the worst ever demon zombie monster ever.

The first bit was just the prelude. Now it was time for the main act.

As she walked towards me, little poo slugs fell onto the floor. Splodge. Splodge. Thank god it was on the tiles.

I grabbed her under the arms and ran to the nearest toilet, holding her as far in front of me as my pathetic upper body strength would allow. I put her on the ground and started to take her – incredibly full – underpants off, only to realise that she had put them on sideways so she was squeezed into them like a crotch hugging corset.

The only way to get them off was to make her shut her legs which she had as wide open as John Wayne after riding a horse for a week. ‘Shut your legs,’ I kept saying.

‘Nooooo,’ she kept howling.

As I forcefully moved her feet together so I could pull her undies down, the giant poo started breaking apart. We both watched as a giant poo slug slowly slimed its way down her thigh, leaving a brown trail the length of her leg. She howled and tried wiping it away, which merely transferred said poo slime to her arm. More bits were falling out onto the floor, and we were both crying, one from humiliation and the other from insanity and laughter.

I finally got the knickers off, and quickly decided that they were beyond redemption. The big chunk of poo went in the toilet and the knickers went in the bin. The child went in the shower.

Later that night when her Daddy asked her about her day, she merely smiled at him and said ‘My poo went in the toilet.’


Technically true but so far from the actual truth, I could have cried.

Toilets are for wimps

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Becoming Public Enemy #1

Have you ever bagged out your boss? Criticised your husband?... or your mother-in-law? 

What about that bitchy mum who parks across two bays at school so no one scratches her precious car? I bet everyone has broadcast a dig at the PM or some other public figure.

Have you ever complained about your kids? Publicly? And how did that work out for you?

How come it is perfectly acceptable – even encouraged -  for us to trash talk other adults but the minute you say anything other than love and bunnies about children you are publicly maligned? 

And god forbid you are a mother who complains about an aspect of parenting: suddenly you are the epitome of evil.

Joffrey Baratheon 2
Bad mothers are as evil as Joffrey,
image from http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Joffrey_Baratheon

Last year I blogged about not liking playing with my kids. Rather benign really. I don’t really like playing tennis either but no one really cares about that. I didn’t write about locking them in a cupboard or starving them of food, or beating them when I was angry. I admitted that playing imaginary games with my daughter drove me nuts. I wasn’t the first mother to ever admit this, and I am pretty sure I won’t be the last. 

It was re-posted on mega site Scary Mommy and while there was a collective sigh of relief from hundreds and hundreds of mums admitting they felt the same way, there was a seam of comments from people accusing me of being a bad mother and questioning why I even bothered having kids if I wasn't going to play with them.

Society doesn’t like it when mothers admit truths like this. 

Mothers are meant to remain perfectly happy and grateful for their fortunate position. 

Society trashed British mother Isabella Dutton when she admitted that she didn’t love her children and regretted having them. Admittedly, calling them parasites in the national tabloid where they – and the entire world – could read it, might have been a judgement in error, but she cannot have been the first women to have children to please her husband and then spend the rest of her life wishing she hadn’t.

When US mother Lenore Skenazy let her then nine year old son catch the subway home by himself, she was quickly vilified as America’s worst mom. Why? For publicly admitting that she felt the way we currently parent our kids was stifling them.

Throughout history there have been bad mothers. There have been ambivalent mothers. But it is primarily in recent years with the rise in blogging and greater access for the average person to find a platform that suddenly we are able to talk about things that women have been thinking about for years. Topics that were once considered taboo are finally being talked about – albeit slowly: miscarriage, post-natal depression, gender disappointment. Genuine discussions about difficult topics that people find challenging to talk about and confronting to listen to.

And where we should be celebrating that opportunity to air some of our grievances, it would seem you cannot find a more judgmental crowd than a group of mothers. Every time a woman admits that she is not as fulfilled as she thought she might be, every time someone divulges she perhaps was a better employee than she is a mother - instead of letting her have the opportunity to fess up to what is probably a major source of angst, she is attacked.


Why aren’t parents, and in particular mothers, allowed to admit their flaws? 

What are we afraid of? 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Do you make these mistakes when shopping with kids (and husbands?)

‘We’ll be quick,’ my husband had said. ‘All I need is some soft drink from the store and some new shirts.’

‘You want to take three kids to a department store while you buy shirts?’ I asked incredulously.

He showed me his phone.

‘I have pictures of exactly what I want. Size, brand everything. It’ll be easy,’ he said.

First mistake – believing my husband.

The shop with the shirts didn’t open til 9am yet for some reason we were coasting into the carpark well before 8.30am. My husband slowed in front of the boom gate and took the proffered ticket.

What happened to it after that is anyone’s guess.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Baby Number Three

Some might consider this post a year – or even two – overdue.

It’s the post where I finally admit that Baldy Baby, aka The Third Child, is no longer a baby. She is a little girl, three years old tomorrow.

It’s not just our children who experience rights of passage when they have birthdays. Let’s be honest, they’re really only interested in cake and presents at this age, and can’t really tell the difference between a birthday and Christmas, unless they are particularly observant about colours and the fact you eat cake instead of pudding.

But for parents, admitting that your youngest child is no longer a baby, can be a momentous occasion. It represents a shift in your status as a parent: one that can often lead to serious contemplation and navel gazing.

What am I doing with my life?

What have I achieved?

Will she ever get out of nappies?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

There's Always One...

There’s always one kid at swimming lessons who spend their time howling, screaming, crying and otherwise being a complete terrorist in swim nappies. There’s always one…

Today was The Terrible Third’s first day of swimming lessons. Not yet three, her confidence around the water is only exceeded by her inability to swim, judge hazards or be remotely trustworthy.

But she was so excited to finally get to do what her big sisters have been doing for years. I left the house early, not quite knowing what was involved or how long it might take to get our access cards sorted.

I hadn’t calculated on her running the entire way from the car to the pool, as such we were slinking into our seats half way through the lesson prior to ours. The two mums turned to me and smiled.

‘You’re here early,’ one said looking at The Third as she hopped from foot to foot pointing at the water.

‘Swimming wessons,’ The Third shrieked throwing her sandals off and heading towards the pool. I grabbed her by the straps of her bathers and pulled her onto my lap. ‘You have to wait,’ I told her.

‘The other kids need to finish their lesson first.’

‘Awwwww,’ she pouted, thrusting her hands onto her hips. ‘I must swim!’ she declared.

The mums sniggered, and I glanced at the clock. Still ten minutes to go.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Story in Two Parts: Part Two The Sweet

“I’m Clarissa the Rock fairy,” the Mop announced.

“The what fairy?” I asked.

“The Rock Fairy,” she said. “I like to rock!” I could see her eyes rolling at my ignorance as she strummed her air guitar.

“Ohhh, a Rock and Roll Fairy,” I nodded.

“That’s my talent,” she said proudly.

“What do you play?” I asked.

“The giddar,” she replied.

“And do you sing?” I wanted to know.

“Of course,” she sighed dramatically.

“That’s awesome. Now go to bed so you can get up tomorrow and rock some more.” I was so tired my eyes were sticking together and I couldn’t walk straight. School holidays were doing me in.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Story in Two Parts: Part 1 The Crazy

Ding dong ding dong.

‘Groceries are here,’ I cried, dropping the towel I was using on The Terrible Third’s tangled hair and running down the hall.

It was about 7pm on a warm Perth summer night. There was still plenty of light left in the sky and a young guy was standing at the door with a trolley stacked high with plastic crates. I opened up the door and wedged the security screen open. We started unpacking the bags of groceries out onto the floor.

‘Hi Mamma,’ a little voice said behind me. I turned to see my not-quite-three year old standing nude, trailing her towel, a massive grin on her face.

‘Hi Bubba,’ I replied. ‘Can you go and get dressed please?’

At that moment she spotted a large jar of Nutella in one of the bags. ‘Mine,’ she said, grabbing at it. I reached over and pulled it out of her grasp. She immediately had a break down like I had pulled off one of her arms.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Party Idea That Will Blow Your Mind


Prepare to be amazed ladies and gentlemen because I am going to share with you the most amazing party idea ever.

No child has ever asked for this. I am pretty sure it is a world first.

Ready?

A Frozen party.

I know right, it’s the world’s most unoriginal party idea.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Diagnosis: Disaster

‘So Shannon,’ the doctor said leaning back in his chair. ‘How can I help you today?’

I gestured towards my youngest daughter, sitting on the floor playing with a toy. ‘I’m worried about her speech,’ I told him. ‘No one understands her.’

‘I’m not sure how much of it is just being the youngest child and the fact everyone speaks for her, but she is significantly less articulate than any other three year old I know.’

My daughter was smiling wildly at the doctor who then produced an otoscope. Her smile dropped and she moved behind my chair. After watching the ‘let’s look in Mummy’s ears’ charade, and having succumbed to her own ear examination, she then started to explore the room.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Third Child in Foreign Lands

Faced with a list of tiresome chores and no writing mojo to be found anywhere, I decided to indulge in a little private time this morning. I did something we all do, but rarely admit to, like pee in the shower or pick your nose just to look at it.

I googled myself.

The first page was pretty much what I expected. My blogs shannonmeyerkort.com and Relentless came up, as did my profile on WeekendNotes. There was my LinkedIn profile, gathering cobwebs and dust, various reviews and old academic papers, plus lots of mentions of my Brutal Truth About the Third Child.

I was chuffed to see my Master thesis get a mention on Google Books. Zero reviews and zero stars… probably because the only copy is sitting on a shelf somewhere around here gathering dust.

I had really begun to enjoy myself. No nude photos. No websites dedicated to destroying me. No embarrassing Facebook shots that someone else had posted.

But then a site came up that I didn’t recognise, and I got a little squeezy sensation in my stomach. 
Had someone stolen my words or had they written someone awful about me?

This is precisely why they say don’t google yourself. Sometimes it’s better not to know what others are writing about you.

But I had to find out. Besides, it was in Italian.

There was a picture of me and my family (a picture they don’t have permission to use, but we’ll ignore that) and my name. I could guess at a few of the words: ironia, testimonianza, blogger Americana.

Uh, hang on.

I went back and hit the google translate button for the page. Then, in a fabulous mash of Italian and English, appeared an article that was designed to look like I had been interviewed, but really was just a bit of a cut and paste of my Brutal Truth article.

The translations are even better than my original article: "You can doze and sleep all day and as a priestess stroll touching your belly waiting for a football.”

Some of it is pretty funny because it still makes sense:
“Are you happy of nausea and vomiting because it means you can have five minutes to get you in the bathroom?”

And other parts are completely mystifying:
“Rilavi reluctantly the vestititi used with a normal detergent, throw some broken play, refreshments sheets cradle. Your son has already managed to dismantle all sure that you put in the house and survived, so it is not necessary to reposition the newcomer.”

I liked how the Italians automatically assumed I had sons.

The French version of my ‘Letter of Apology to my Middle Child’ described it as “a mother issu[ing] an apology letter to his middle child”. And I thought I had difficulty with French pronouns.

“Shannon notes that this has forged the character of its small second. She teases threats, disputes, compromises. All you seem to want, and that is so hard to give is my complete attention. It's hard because I have three children, a house to manage and my writing."

“Shannon reassures: "I see the fire in you and I know you traceras your own way, despite your place mid or maybe because of this site?"

I particularly liked being referred to as an ‘its’. Thanks French people.

The Portuguese translation of The Brutal Truth was possibly my favourite, especially how they introduced me:

“Shannon Meyerkort is a writer, blogger and mother of three girls under seven years. His love for writing is not simple, because it implies that you are sitting to do so.”

I love how they aren’t beholden to gender assumptions about mothers being women. How refreshing.

The translation seems to make things worse than they really are:
“It seems that is six months pregnant by the time we hit the second quarter. Sit persecuted and cries a lot.”

And then go a little hard-core with the language:
“People who have just given birth, begin to upset her with all the talk bullshit about babies.”

Then they go hard-core with the parenting:
“Push your child out of the crib, take them cuddly and dispose of them in a weekend.”

That’s a bit rough, even for me.

I haven’t yet ploughed deeper into the world of Google to see if the Chinese have their own translations of The Brutal Truth, but if it’s ever found - please let me know.


It is basically impossible to get a decent photo of three kids at the same time

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