Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The one where Catherine gets her hair cut

Before I had children my idea of ‘down time’ was a quiet stroll in the park, a nice meal with friends, a massage (Oh a massage! I remember those!) a glass of wine (or two…) a movie, or even a quiet night in front of the telly. I worked hard, but I really knew how to relax. Some people say that they’re not very good at doing nothing. I am not one of those people. I excel at doing nothing. The trouble is, since having children… there isn’t time for nothing…because there is always …something.

Every weekend my husband and I negotiate. We both deserve a break, we both need quiet time. But somehow, with all the something the weekend disappears, suddenly its Sunday evening and its time to prepare for the week ahead. But not this weekend! This weekend I was adamant that the housework could wait. I needed a break. And more than that…I needed a hair cut!

So on Saturday afternoon I left my husband in charge of the girls and disappeared into town. I was ridiculously excited about my outing, I love getting my hair done. I love reading the glossy magazines that I wouldn’t waste money actually buying, I love having a coffee served with guilt free chocolate tiny teddy’s (they’re guilt free because I haven’t pinched them off G), I love the smell of the fancy salon shampoo and I love chatting inane bollox to the hairdresser. It’s bliss. Normally.

When I stepped into the salon I immediately felt old. Old and frumpy. The 15 year old receptionist smiled enigmatically and ushered me into a chair.

“Can I get you a coffee?” she bellowed over thumping drum and bass.

I ordered my coffee and started flicking through a magazine. The receptionist came back to double check my order, which was just as well as she ended up only getting it slightly wrong instead of totally wrong.

The hairdresser was a pretty young girl called Rose. That’s pretty and young. Not pretty young, although she was that too. She started asking me worrying questions about my hair and my ‘styling regime’ and the sort of style I was looking for. I explained that as a busy mum with barely enough time to fart I was looking for something ‘low maintenance’. She started cutting and chatting away.

“I’m sorry” I said, struggling to hear her, “could you possibly turn the music down?”

I saw the words as they floated past me and hung in the air. They troubled me for a moment. And then it hit me. I’d turned into my mother. I gulped back my coffee and nibbled anxiously on a tiny teddy.

My phone lit up. It was a notification from Twitter! I clicked into it and started to respond.

“Oh you’re on Twitter!” observed Rose, peering over my shoulder.   

“Yeah” I replied, “although I don’t really get it yet. It’s still new to me,”

She laughed. At me. Then said;

“You sound like my mum!”


Rose continued to snip away and I played with my phone. She asked questions about my life, and I replied, feeling older and older by the minute. I am well aware that my life revolves around my girls, but I wasn’t aware how boring it sounded.

“So you don’t work at all then?” Rose enquired…

I hate this question. I do work! I work bloody hard. Motherhood is the toughest job I’ve ever had. I tried to explain this to Rose… then, almost as an afterthought I added…

“…Oh, and I write a blog!”

Rose looks bemused.

“Wow!” she says with about as much enthusiasm as someone who has just been offered root canal treatment…

“What’s it about?”


“Motherhood” I admitted.  

Her eyes glazed over.

Rose continues ‘styling’ my hair, she uses a variety of over priced products and explained them too me as she vigorously applied them to my aching head.

“This is sea salt spray! If you use this before blow drying it will give you that really great messy look!”

Eh? You want me to pay $40 for a product that will make my hair look messy? If it’s the messy look we’re going for I think I’ll do just fine on my own.  

“This is sculpting wax..” she continued..

My eyes glazed over.

Ten minutes later and we were done. I looked at myself in the mirror. I loved my new hair! Even if it did draw attention to the worrying amount of grey I have. Rose noticed this too, and asked if I’d like to make an appointment with the colourist. Hurumph.

I paid up and left. I walked down the street grateful to be back in the fresh air and away from the ‘music’.  I browsed in the shops and then headed to the park for some quiet time. I found a bench and plonked myself down. But, as much as I relished the chance to sit and do nothing I had a nagging feeling…  I was missing something.. or someone.. or some… three..

And so, I found my way back home, to the waiting arms of my family. We played trains (that’s the one where I’m the train…), we tickled baby C, we laughed.. And as boring as it might have sounded to Rose, I was happy.

The Little Blue Torch (Short Tale Tuesday)

“Why does she think I’m a ‘phone?” asked the Little Blue Torch to the Pink Balloon.

“I’m clearly a torch! I light up! I shine!”

The Pink Balloon shrugged, he didn’t care much for the moody torch.

“She is just pretending you’re a ‘phone, mate! she is just playing”

The Little Blue Torch groaned heavily.

“That’s the problem! I am not a toy!”

The Pink Balloon shrugged again. So what? He thought. What a terrible attitude. Light up? Pha! You need to lighten up mate!

All was quiet. For now. Some respite in the chaos of the day. The little ones were sleeping. The big one was occupied elsewhere. The room was still. The pink balloon closed his eyes, trying to forget… trying to enjoy the moment. It was only a matter of time… the life of a balloon is a fragile thing. I hope I burst! He thought, better to go out with a bang! Better than deflating, slowly, slowly, slowly.

“I wish the big one would just put me away somewhere safe!” the little blue torch continued.

“I am not a toy! I don’t belong down here on the floor! I shouldn’t be covered in grubby fingerprints! I should be in that draw! The one with the important things!”

The Pink Balloon sighed. What a knob.

The house began to stir. The little ones were waking up. The big one pottered about, the kettle sang, the teacups chattered.

Suddenly the room was buzzing with activity.

The bigger little one picked up the Little Blue Torch and held him to her ear.

“Hello? Hello?” she babbled, pausing dramatically, nodding, engrossed in her conversation.

“Ok! Bye!” she dropped the Little Blue Torch, he fell to the ground with a thud. He grimaced, fuming.

Then the bigger little one picked up the Pink Balloon. “Pink Ooon!” she batted him into the air with her hand, and caught him as he floated back to her. The pink balloon felt light, dizzy, exhilarated. This is what its all about!


“Oh no! Pink Ooon gone!”

The Little Blue Torch closed his eyes as the little one reached out for him again. I suppose it’s not that bad he thought.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

The Tantrum Scale

Tantrums. Ugh. We’ve all witnessed them. That kid in the supermarket lying on the floor and thrashing around like a fish out of water, while his poor mother desperately tries to reason with him. I remember this scene. I remember smiling at the mother with sympathy and then gazing down at my newborn baby and thinking “you’ll never do that!”

Oh how wrong I was. G, like any normal toddler has had demonstrated every tantrum on the scale. We’ve had small tantrums that are easily dealt with; a bit of half hearted screaming and kicking. We’ve had bigger, more challenging tantrums; louder screaming, harder kicking, now with added arm flailing. And we’ve had colossal mega-tantrums; ear piercing screaming, powerful kicking, arm flailing with scratching, biting and hair pulling thrown in for good measure.

We’ve had polite tantrums… “G, it’s time to go home, please can you get in the buggy”

“NO THANK YOU MUMMY!!!” she wails throwing herself on the floor in protest.

We’ve had embarrassing tantrums…“Come on G! It really is time to go” I say as I bundle her into the buggy, dodging her little fists as they fly towards my face…

“HELP ME!!” she cries and stretches her arms out towards the other mothers in the playground. I hastily push the buggy away, turning red and hoping that I don’t get arrested for abducting my own child.

Often I can see events from G’s point of view. Sometimes life must seem so unjust! She lacks the life experience to put things in perspective. If she’s having fun with a ‘toy’ and I take it away, it really must feel like the end of the world. It doesn’t matter that the ‘toy’ is the vegetable peeler and that I’ve taken it away to stop her from harming herself or her little sister. I try and bare this in mind as I deal with the fall out, but as much as I try to be understanding and sympathetic sometimes the tantrums get the better of me. Sometimes I have to walk away, take some deep breaths, compose myself, or, when I’m really at the end of my tether… scream into a pillow.

And so it goes full circle. G is the child in the supermarket lying on the floor kicking and screaming. I am the exasperated mother desperately trying to negotiate with her. Out of the corner of my eye I see the new mother smiling sympathetically and then gazing at her peaceful newborn...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Morning (Short Tale Tuesday)

She opened her eyes and stretched. Sunlight filled the room. Yes it is morning! She blinked, she yawned. She wondered, briefly, if she should call out to ‘Boobs’ or perhaps she would go back to sleep. She waved her chubby hands in the air and studied them with intense interest.

Then she saw him.

He had watched her sleep, waiting patiently for the day to come. He had listened to her peaceful snoring, and watched as the light crept in around the curtains.

“Where will we go today?” he asked

She smiled as she pondered his question. Where will we go today? She closed her eyes and allowed her mind to wander.

We will jump on a cloud!

We will summersault over a rainbow!

We will chase a butterfly!

She looked into his eyes. Today we will have an adventure, Teddy!

She reached out for him. She chewed his foot. She was happy.

Down the hall ‘Boobs’ and ‘No-Boobs’ were starting to stir. The day was about to begin 

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Talking of poo . . .

My Mothers group met on Wednesday afternoons at Hollis Park in Newtown. We spread picnic blankets in the shade of the acacia trees and, while the babies fed or slept or lay gurgling, we talked. We talked about how tired we were, we talked about breastfeeding, we talked about poo. A lot. I’d estimate that in those early ‘daze’ at least 90% of our conversations ended with poo. It really is quite remarkable how a conversation that begins with ‘We’re thinking of buying a new car’ can end with “…and I had to just change her nappy then and there because she had done a crap of such biblical proportion’.

The seasons changed, the babies grew. Friendships were forged over chai lattes and toasted banana bread. We talked about teething, we talked about our husbands, we talked about poo. How much. How often. Colour. Consistency. Whether it was safely contained within the nappy… or not. We all had at least one really good poo story. We talked about poo so much that we created a whole new vocabulary…“Poonami”, “Poosplosion”, “pootastrophe”.

Winter came, we bundled coats and hats on the babies and moved our picnic blankets into the sunshine. We talked about childproofing, we talked about sleep (or lack thereof in most cases), we talked about poo. By now the babes were eating solids, which in turn opened up a whole new world of poo related conversation; what foods they liked, what foods they didn’t like and the somewhat dire consequences at the other end.

Summer swung round again. The babies turned one. We celebrated together and reflected on our achievements; mostly that we had survived a whole year of motherhood without inadvertently killing the babies. We talked about their remarkable development from tiny babies into little people, we talked about how amazing it was to watch their first steps and we talked about poo. The various challenges of nappy changes from wriggly squirming protesting to severe morning sickness induced retching (in my case).

Time passed. Some moved away, some went back to work. We kept in touch on-line and met occasionally for babychinos and playdates. We talked about the new words they were saying, we talked about tantrums and we talked about poo. The increasingly challenging nappy changes and the trials and tribulations of potty training. 

I cherished those afternoons. Without my friends at mothers group my first year with G would have been a very lonely experience. I know that as life goes on we will meet less frequently, but I also know that some of those ladies will be in my life forever. Our children will be friends and maybe even go off to school together… but hopefully... when that day comes....we’ll have stopped discussing their poo. 

Hollis Park

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers Day

My early memories of Mothers Day are of homemade cards, bunches of bright yellow Daffodils and spoiling my Mother. I recall making my Mother a cup of tea, but in an effort to save time, I used hot water from the tap rather than waiting for the kettle to boil (which seemed like an eternity) – I remember feeling so pleased with myself and I remember my Mother drinking the tea (which must have tasted something like tepid dish water) and saying ‘Thank you’. As I got older I remember putting more thought into the cards (although my Mother still claims to prefer homemade ones) and spending more on the flowers. I remember the look on her face the year that I forgot.

With the passing years I learned to appreciate her more, to value her opinion and her company. Today, I would love to present my Mother with a homemade card and a bunch of Daffs. I’d love to make her a cup of tea (I’d even wait for the kettle to boil). But my Mother lives 4000 miles away on the other side of the world so I’ll settle for FaceTime and InterFlora!

My Mother is one amazing lady. And it’s a good job as I am slowly turning into her; from the expressions I’ve started using, to the mild obsession I have developed with my hanging baskets. Now that I am a mother I understand the ups and downs, the joy and frustration, the pride and worry. I know how hard it can be. I know how amazing it can be.

So this morning, weary from a tough night with a snotty baby C all I wanted for Mothers Day was a big cuddle from G (I’d been cuddling baby C for most of the night). I emerged from the bedroom bleary eyed to find a cheeky G at the foot of the stairs with a home made card and a bunch of flowers. I felt blessed and loved and appreciated.

“Morning G! Can Mummy have a cuddle?” I said with tears in my eyes, overwhelmed with love for my little girl.

“No!” said G “Go away Mummy! I want my Daddy!”

Oh well. Can’t have it all.

Happy Mothers day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Pickle Gene

Baby C is turning into a bit of a pickle. Its probably my fault, I’ve said “Oh she is such a calm baby” one too many times and all of a sudden she seems determined to prove me wrong. She has chewed her way through G’s favourite book (it was a rather annoying book of the musical variety so if I’m honest I wasn’t too sad to see the back of it*), she has sent text messages from my phone and today I found her rummaging around in my handbag with manic enthusiasm. So, despite early indications to the contrary, it would appear that baby C is in possession of the pickle gene.

The ‘pickle’ gene… or ‘cheeky’ gene… or ‘yes she is very energetic’ gene has been rife in my family for several generations. My sister, Mrs J, definitely has it; she was the kid that lost a shoe in a pond during a school excursion, she was the kid that stripped nude at every opportunity (she still is something of a ‘free spirit’), the kid that locked herself in the car and the kid that climbed into a bag of cement… yes really. She was also the kid that made a pet out of an avocado stone… but that’s another story.

Mrs J's eldest son, GJ is has definitely inherited the pickle gene. He has a particular talent for getting wet and rather like the fish he is so obsessed with is happiest in water, playing with water or throwing things in water... Such as Mrs J's fancy smart phone...

Like any true pickle GJ can strike anywhere, hunting mischief with the dedication of a highly trained sniffer dog. My sister recently attended the wedding of a close friend and whilst immobilized breastfeeding her new baby took her eyes of GJ for a moment…just a moment... when she looked up he was running towards her with a piece of wedding cake in one hand...and a knife in the other! Oh yes.. he cut the cake…before the bride and groom. Fortunately they have a toddler of there own so were able to see the funny side. It’s a good job G wasn’t there too, I’m sure that between the two of them the cousins would have polished the whole thing off.

And as for me? I was an angel. You don’t believe me? Well ok, I was the baby that went looking for adventure, crawled out of the house, down the road and had to be rescued by a ‘good Samaritan’ in a passing car. I was the big sister that made a game of using the baby bouncer as a catapult and I was the kid that entered a jar of ‘creepy crawlies’ in the school pet contest (this was back in the days when I could be in the same room as an insect without screeching and jumping up and down like a demented banshee on a pogo stick).

I know that my little G has the pickle gene with absolute certainty. 100%. No doubt about it. She is a pickle of the highest order. A super pickle. Pickle is her middle name. Well its not really, but it should be. This week alone we’ve had crayon up the wall, lentils over the floor and mud pies in the play room (she got bored of digging up the potato and moved on to ‘baking’). When I tell my Mother stories of G’s latest antics she laughs, but I know part of her is thinking “Ha! Now its your turn!”

* Sorry Mum.. it was the Christmas carol book.