Sleep deprihatin’

I’m tired. This is a thing that happens, occasionally. That one time I decided to have three children seems to be the primary instigator of said tiredness. My full on study-load isn’t helping, and getting towards the business end of our wedding plans seems to be the serotonin stealing cherry on top of this up-side down cake.

Really, I was lulled into an unfair, false sense of security. For the last three months our beautiful baby fox has been a solid, seven-hour- straight, dream baby night sleeper. After spending the first few weeks slightly puzzled; waking up multiple times each night to do the old pinkie under nose breathing check, I got fairly comfortable with this idea of a full night sleep, obviously too comfortable.

The last few nights have pretty much caused a stop work meeting in my brain, while it holds a fairly unproductive protest and eats lots of replacement carbs… Mmm carbs.

In some countries, sleep deprivation is a form of deathly torture; pushing victims down a slippery slope, and eventually hurtling them into insanity. Ask any uni student who’s ever fallen asleep in their Mi Goreng, or any new mother shuffling from side to side, humming lullabies to the grocery shelves; being tired sucks. It hurts, it clouds your vision and it makes you do weird things.

I recently watched a friend absent minded-ly crush her food into small balls between her fingers and examine each piece, like a kid deciding which ball of play dough to eat first. Did I say friend? I meant me. I would’ve been weirded out by my behaviour if I hadn’t already made two trips to Woolies that day for milk, forgetting it twice. But worst of all, being tired can steal the creativity out from under your socks. And that’s pretty much where I’m at now. With assignments building up, I have little to no inclination to get started, at least until the day before they’re due.

My recent epic struggle to keep my eyes open and continue working till two am, whilst wrapped around whichever infant is taking up four times more bed space than you’d feel physically possible, has hit me like a bus hitting a sleep walking zombie in her pyjamas.

The truth is, when you reach the stage of tiredness where it hurts your feet to keep your eyes open and you’ve only just woken up; you start to morph. You don’t remember what normal feels like, or if it even exists. Once you’ve broken through the other side of tiredness and into the bright, shadow filled world of sleep deprivation this is the new normal, or you may have walked in front of headlights, in which instance, you have a serious, serious case.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that things might slow down a little soon, baby might get some sleep and I’ll get back on top of my work, but just in case… Next time you see the lady in the check out queue, gently rocking her grocery basket back and forth, instead of backing away slowly, approach with caution and gently ask her if she remembers where she left her kids.

Focussing on the positives.

After dealing with, and blogging some negatives from our week, I feel I need to balance myself out a little with some of the lover-lier things from our days.

Firstly, appreciating greatness

This week has been pretty full-up, and despite the fact that all day yesterday I thought I’d lost a day; it’s only Wednesday. I was having a particularly stressful day. Putting together some uni work and trying to reason with a two year old that physics just wouldn’t appreciate her jumping on a trampoline with a cup of milk in hand (and neither would I).  Then I got a message from a friend asking for some help with a bake sale. Firstly, I love baking so yippee! And secondly the proceeds of said baked goods are to go to a charity organisation her partner works for in PNG that’s aim is to discourage violence against women. We’re winning all round here. Baked goods and human rights, I’m totally in. But this really got me appreciating the efforts of this girl. Firstly, she’s a Mumma, a time restricted, busy women who dedicates her days to caring for her children as it is. But regardless of her hectic schedule she’s still taking time out for others, volunteering her efforts to help support and encourage the support of others. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

Secondly; a kindness and some cupcakes

Back to the battle of the uni work load, in which I realise it’s Monday and I haven’t finished Friday’s lecture material, and Monday’s work has already come through. Enter the panic stage, in which I continuously sigh, pull my hair back and occasionally although not intentionally resemble Munch’s ‘Scream’. However shortly after entering this phase, a friend showed up with a batch of home-baked cup cakes for my babies. Not only were they amazing, but they made for some ridiculously happy foxes. To top it off, upon leaving she produced an armful of delicious “study-food” goods to get me through the text-book filled nights this week. A small act to her, maybe. But it put me back on top for the week and got me feeling pretty blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people.

Thirdly; some lovely mail

Enter my barely-standing completely not-waterproof mailbox. In the last week, I’ve received two pretty fantastic pieces. Firstly a postcard from a friend who has recently migrated to Cape York (the very pointy looking tip of Australia). This postcard made my day. It featured two little smiling local kids on the front, and a big long chat on the back about her bare-footed, bush living, ant eating journey thus far. It sounded amazing and it was just like talking to her in person. I got a little bit jealous of her plans to travel through the Savannah and around the Gulf to the Northern Territory, and was ridiculously happy to hear she’s enjoying her new found love of living off the land. Secondly came the delivery of my favourite magazine, addressed to the “Bohemian housewives club member” and sent to me from my very best friend, as a birthday present. Needless to say, I’m becoming very fond of our ready-for-the-heritage-list mail box. With the promise of a long-winded letter from another lovely friend on the way, I think I’d better go buy some stamps (who am I kidding, I have a draw full, just in case). It really is an art worth rekindling.

And lastly; the times they are a changin’

This week I walked outside and within a few minutes I was sneezing. Who is this weirdo? But really, I am that inhaler sucking, nerd whose skin cells rise up in warning at the sound  a barking dog. The jasmine vine I planted when we moved in just a year ago is in flower. Everywhere. It smells amazing and its little buds of pink and white are making me stupid happy. All the flowers we planted over a year ago are coming into bloom. I’m ridiculously happy that my usually more so, brightly lacquered red thumb is slightly green after all. It’s even getting warm enough to play outside. Today we sat in th sun away from the computer for a while. I completed my readings for the day and had a cup of tea  while baby fox kicked about with his bum in the air, cooing away. We will be doing it again tomorrow.

Hashtag mummy bullies.

Today something sparked my outrage. And it was attached to the humble “hash tag”. This anger has been stirring around in me for a little while, but it tipped over as I was flicking through my usual feed of Mummy Blogs. While checking out a new post, I stumbled across a picture that featured a baby with its bum in the air and a mother pointing to his cloth nappy. I thought to myself; that’s great for that mum, she’s obviously found something that works for her and she’s happy to share it with the world (or 243 “followers”- feeling cult like? Read on). However I noticed she ‘hashtagged’ (am I saying it right?) about a dozen different things, the last of which was #disposablediaperssuck. Ok, that’s how this blogger feels. With my anger level at “slightly irritated” I continued on. But again, a few posts down there was another photo of a breastfeeding mother, (I love breastfeeding and enjoy seeing it everywhere, but I also like seeing a baby being fed-period). But this hash tag flared that fiery, bandana sporting you can’t tell me what to do demon, my children know means trouble. It read #formulasucks.

Here she goes…

Firstly let me say, I love breast feeding and even more so, I love that parents put whatever the hell they can around their child’s nether regions to prevent the spread of poop. BUT here’s my problem; with 15% of mothers in this country diagnosed with postnatal depression, and many more slipping through un treated, who the hell does any other mother think they are to shame them and tell them that what they do sucks? Especially one, running a successful blog in a position to influence.

It’s simply putting pressure on an already vulnerable group within society, whilst the “all natural parent” strokes their own organic growing ego and places themself on a pedestal of perfect parenting. This is a big thing. Both on-line and in the greater community. From “breast is best” to “disposable diapers suck” to “immunisations and autism” to “hey, here’s an el natural cure for tooth ache fashioned from sticks and stones- 30 bucks please”.

I feel it really says something terrible about our generation of parenting, when “mummy bullying” is an actual thing. What hope do we give our children in a school yard if they’re taught to point out another kid because his rice wheels aren’t gluten free?

Could we all just stop and examine that disposable wearing, bottle fed, immunised child? Firstly she is fed and nourished. Her mother may have struggled endlessly with breastfeeding or she may have immediately decided it wasn’t for her. Her choice. She is clothed; her nappy may not have been hand woven from organic fibres but it keeps her clean and infection free. Way to go, mum. And lastly her parents made a conscious, scary but educated decision to give her the life-long gift, which is protection against polio. This kid’s mother- the nerve of her, seriously, how dare she. Come on guys, really?

Her Rusk sticks may have been home cooked, or they may be store bought. Either way, it sure as heck isn’t anyone’s place to shame a mother over how she cares for her child. Bullying is bullying regardless of a hash tag stuck in front.

forever young, mum.

Today I got the look. Gasp. Oh no, she didn’t!

There’s a high chance, if you’re reading this, you know the one I’m talking about. Are you a young mum, reading fragments of this as you fluster about with four other tasks and banana shmooshed in your hair?  Do you sometimes leave the house in the shirt you slept in the night before? Did you not even get to sleep? If you answered yes to any of the above, then chances are you’re all too familiar with the look I’m talking about.

You’ll also know that ‘the look’ takes many forms. It’s the older mother in the park scrutinizing your decision to ride the seesaw. It’s the man behind the counter at the greengrocer, rolling his eyes as you search for change, one hand latched onto a little finger that’s determined to run for freedom.  Or it’s the older lady in the waiting room shaking her head when your toddler accidently tips their drink; she pays no attention to the married women whose daughter has thrown herself on the floor. The look comes from many faces, and they all suck.

The look-er – let’s call them, doesn’t see the good. In fact they see very little. They see what they’ve already decided to see, and it’s shaped by years of narrow mindedness.   They see your kid fall off the swing, but they don’t see you standing right behind her, ready to pick her up and wipe away the dirt. They see that you forgot to put his socks on, but not that you kissed every one of his little toes after his bath.

This isn’t my first time at the rodeo – I’ve gotten the look before, many times in fact, and eventually it gets wearing. I’ve noticed myself changing my mannerisms in public, or putting extra time into mine and my kids appearance in order to give off the “I vacuum under my couch and there’s a spare change of clothes in my nappy bag and a rain coat at all times” look. I sometimes feel as though when my kid swears at school it’s automatically conceived that it’s because I’m young and have tattoos, therefore I must swear in front of my kids.

What it took me a long time to realise is that there is actually a lot to learn from the look-er. First and fore mostly; I’ve learnt to never be that person. To never judge someone on a preconceived idea (i.e. young parent equals irresponsible parent) or purely on the basis of what someone else has said. And secondly; I’ve learnt that you could pull organic home-knitted, outfit matching baby mittens out of your butt; but you’ll never please everyone. It’s a bit cliché, but as long as I know that I did everything I could to make our day run smoothly; that little tantrum in the car park or the mismatched socks at the doctors isn’t going to faze me.

Sometimes, after a particularly stanky look I think; “would that person be judging me this way if I’d taken a different path and decided not to have my children young?” No, they probably wouldn’t even notice me; this is when I realise that I’m truly blessed to have put the wind up an old lady’s skirt for the day. Yes I may be out in public with my hair un brushed, and I can promise you nothing will be ironed, but I have three butt kicking children that will never consider looking at someone side-ways for being a little different. And on the plus, I can still chase after them rolling downhill, without my pelvic floor falling out (at least for a few more years-knock wood).

One of my favourite quotes at the moment is from Benjamin Law; and I think it applies perfectly to the look-er; “A sage and omnipotent being, known as ‘the internet’, once said something incredibly wise under a picture of a cat dressed like a gangster driving a pimp mobile. Haters gonna hate. And the truth is, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

a day for cake.

Today was a day for cake. Delicious, fluffy, creamy cake. Apple & sour-cream layer cake with cream cheese icing to be exact.

When I woke up this morning I knew I’d have to fuel myself with something to make up for all the sleep I’ll be missing out on over the next few days. Our week is totally packed out; the cricket is on (yay!), I’m wrangling all three children alone while daddy is away for work, I have a few lovely catch ups on the horizon (which I don’t mind knocking myself out for), we have a wedding this weekend and I’m studying ’till all hours to free time up in the day to fit all this in AND I’ve just been informed that tomorrow is ‘book day’ so I have to make a costume…

Daddy has been away three days now, and boy do our babies know it… So to distract and cheer us all up, and to celebrate my second HD for the uni session we made this cake. I’m yet to actually try it; I’m waiting until all the babies are in bed and I can have a cup of tea, put the cricket on, hit the books and comfort eat, but I’m told it’s pretty amaze-balls delicious.

a birthday party

On Sunday a bunch of sugar fuelled six year olds ran wild through our house. The weight restrictions on the trampoline were well and truly tested and so were my nerves when group jumping turned to cage fighting. Our little one had a lovely day. My fiancé made a “Trash Pack” cake, which was a variation of the Monster Cake from the Women’s Weekly cookbook (I can’t keep up with these fandangle rages, I’m clearly getting old), and I had coffee with some lovely Mummies while the kiddies played. Indie thoroughly enjoyed playing rough with the bigger kids and the birthday boy was spoilt rotten; complete with a brightly coloured, pom pom sporting crown his sweet little “girlfriend” made for him to wear. It was beautiful.

a birthday story

Today is Friday, the day before my little boy’s 6th birthday. Six years ago, I was already in the labor. Earlier this evening, when he went to bed we started assembling (or rather my fiancé assembled, I handed the occasional screw driver) a 12ft trampoline in our yard. It’s now 11.30. We’re finished, and I’m asking myself in the dark and the wind; has it gotten any easier? In short yes, hell yes, immeasurably (even if at times it doesn’t feel it). For a start, it wasn’t me, single headedly building the trampoline (phew; it would almost certainly be a cage of bouncing death if I did build it, also he’d be 12 by the time it was done).
About a week ago I was sorting through some old things at my parents and found a book of letters I wrote to him just before, and after he was born. I was excited to read them, and then put them away for him, but after I reread what I’d penned nearly seven years ago, I felt ill.

I’d forgotten so much of what our lives were like when he was born that I wish I’d just stuck with the story I’d pieced together in my mind from clouded memories and photographs. I threw the book away after I read it and knew I’d done the right thing. Reading through the letters I didn’t see a together, determined young mother, I saw a terrified and alone teenager trying to keep it all together. This is not something he needs to see.
When he wakes up in the morning, it’s probably because he’s ridiculously excited to be spoilt on his birthday or because his little sister is scampering about making sounds for him to play with her. Or maybe even both. He’ll walk into the kitchen and see presents and spot his new,  trampoline that his devoted step father built for him in the dead of night. We’ll take him to his soccer final and out for a celebratory breakfast afterwards where he’ll eat cake for breakfast; just because he can. He does not need to read about where he came from, or have to remember where he’s been. It’s unimportant. What’s important is that he’s a ridiculously happy, smart and loved little kid who just so happens to come from a “blended” family.
I hate this term “blended family” it’s given to families that included children from previous relationships and it sounds like we’ve all been thrown together and beaten until we’ve mixed and are ready for the oven (don’t get me wrong, if we were, we’d make a flipping delicious cake). But it’s not the case and it’s a stupid term that divides families unnecessarily into categories. A family is a family regardless of whose womb you sprouted in or whose sack you happened to escape. A family is what defines who you are and where you’re going regardless of lineage.

We recently listened on giggling as he spoke to one of his friends; “My step dad is the best dad in the world, don’t you wish your dad was a cool step dad like mine?” we looked at each other and giggled; saying that he clearly didn’t understand the difference between having a step dad and having a “real’ dad. But I think he did. He’s a child and he calls it as he sees it; he sees himself as having the best “real” father figure in the world, and it couldn’t matter less to him if he’s a “dad” or a “Step dad” because in his little mind there’s no difference.