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Brimming sadness

I have had two phone calls in the last few days from people in my ‘love the mostest’ bunch. These phone calls have been both bitter and heartwrenching. They are hard conversations to have and I have been forced to sit in the moment, with tears (mine and theirs), silences, tense words (theirs), and no trace of a word (mine) that might make either of them feel better.

I’m not used to this and to be forced to sit and feel every part of my body as these people that I love fall apart because of a decision I am making, is so damn hard. But. It’s also one of the most important things I will do for myself.

We are in the throws of planning a move, away from this city and from my family. C’s family live elsewhere and don’t get to see the boys nearly as much as mine. Plus, we’re pretty sick of this city for many boring reasons I’ll one day post about.

My family is hurt but understanding. We are close and all live here mainly for each other. Because it’s the only spot we can kind of all agree on. They are terribly close to all of us and C and I have said on many occasions, that we really would not have enjoyed these years as a burgeoning family had it not been for the endless support from my mother.

She runs her own very busy and successful business but every spare moment she has she gives to us generously and without thought otherwise. She has called me just now from Noosa, sobbing, telling me she hasn’t slept for 3 days because she can’t think about anything else but our move.

I don’t know what to say. And I always know what to say. And having to sit on the other end of a phone as someone you deeply love sobs with the weight of their intense love for you and your boys, while having nothing to say to soothe this pain. Having no solution or capacity to fill this frighteningly painful void. Feels so goddamn awful.

But, this is an important thing I’m doing or learning to do. Make decisions for myself that inadvertantly hurt people. Not changing my mind or my words just so they feel better fleetingly and then making either myself or them feel like shit later. Not saying “It’ll be ok,” or “we’ll work something out.”

Just sitting while the pain and the tears and the loneliness that usually I can’t acknoweldge, swill down the phone line .

Love being a mother?

Interesting question….When I first fell pregnant with A I thought I was doing the least original thing in the world. And I was. Not that I live on the cutting edge even a significant fraction of the time but I have always been keen not to go with the flow. Having a baby seemed to be jumping right on the big mummy wave with a million other women and yet trying to come up with my own surf-board moves.

I left my mother’s group because the shiny happy faces and the ‘don’t you just love being a mother?’ songs of praise didn’t fit with me. I did love A and he was the easiest baby anyone could hope for. I had nothing to complain about but it’s not that simple. And I figured I was surrounded by simple women if they thought like that.

Women seem to get and be so precious about being a mother and about their children. They forget that it’s been done so many times before that we have now have a human race that will struggle to die out. We aren’t unique and neither are our children.

But strangely children are. Unique. Yours are. So are mine. That’s the strange part.

Despite the fact you’re doing what everyone else is, you still experience a joy shared by no other. Every single mothering or parenting experience is unique despite the fact that all babies feed, toilet train, learn to walk, enjoy sleepless spells, learn to ride a bike, start school, lose a tooth, fall so hard they can’t get up…you know what I mean.

I was never the mother type. I didn’t want to be the mother type. I knew I’d love my kids but I didn’t know I’d love being with my kids and that’s a big difference. And I do. They are the coolest people to hang out with. They make me laugh, they are unabashedly affectionate and they make me show affection in a way I’ve never before been comfortable. They challenge me intellectually (no one who negotiated with 3 year old demanding a packet of M&Ms in a long queue of frazzled Kmart shoppers can tell me that it’s not a real exercise of the mind), and they make me consider my ethics on a daily basis.

I have two boys. I’ve decided I want them to be feminists. I don’t really know what that means yet but I know I want them to grow up recognising the value of women and appreciating that value despite the fact our family only has one (s0 far anyway!). In this sense, I know that their moral framework, their appreciation of social justice, fairness and even their ability to empathise, for a large part, comes from me (and C of course). That is a huge responsibility but an exciting challenge and god knows I’m always looking for challenges.

I thought parenting was the easy way out when you couldn’t decide what career you wanted (ughm…me). No way. It’s the opposite. It requires the selflessness and patience of a monk. It forces you to put things into perspective on a daily basis. To fight the important battles and to acknowledge that ultimately your own needs come second.

I always thought that I would fight hard to keep the ‘real’ me alive when the boys came along. I would dedicate enough ‘me’ time that those things that made me who I was would not burn out. Now I realise that everything changes. There’s no me before or me to come. There is only me right now. And that’s the way it’s always been. I still love writing, reading my books, flicking through cooking magazines, watching trash on my computer, travelling, sharing a bottle (or four) with my beautiful friends, debating with my funkorama bookclub and cuddling my C. But somehow, and I’m not sure how it happened, these things are not so important now.

A and S – you rock my world. Your world and your lives are the real things that get me goin’. Thank you.


Her Bad Mother is starting Around the World in 80 Clicks and I figured Australia had to have some involvement. We’re a pretty enlightened bunch down here. Not too shabby and doing motherhood big time with a massive baby boom. A friend introduced me to this blog which is an highly entertaining account of single-motherhood goin’ beach style in Sydney.

…..and so they called the police

S’s sleep is simply appalling at the moment. After a few days away in which every nightly whimper was necessarily leaped upon and quietened with a bottle or a hug or his favourite back rub, he now expects the royal treatment and argues loudly and profusely if it is withheld.

We decided last night that we’d had enough (I’ve been over it for a while but C insists on them sharing a room) and moved A into the spare room so that when S woke and screamed blue murder he’d at least have some semblance of a chance to sleep through it.

S screamed at 10pm and at 12pm and then at 2.30pm he went hell-for-leather. After 30 minutes I went in, rubbed his back and gave him his dummy. Silence. For 3 minutes. 20 minutes later I was back in armed with a bottle thrust forcefully into his mouth. Silence. For good. I stumbled back to bed (now having been awake for almost 2 hours) and slowly drifted back to sleep.

Fast forward 5 minutes to banging on the window. Shouting. Our back grill door being fiercely rattled. I completely freaked out. C got up and we both tripped out the door to see what the hell was going on.

At the back door were not a bunch of armed robbers, desperately trying to get in and steal what little we have to offer (note robbers) but two police, a man and a woman.

“Um, we’ve had complaints about a baby crying.” (WTF. Yes babies cry….a lot)

“Yes, that’s ours.”

“A few neighbours have called to complain. Do you normally leave your back door open?” (Yes, hot summer night and the grill in front of it was locked).

“Um, no. I forgot to close it.”

“So the baby’s been screaming?”

“Ah yes, he’s a nightmare – we’re having a tough time at the moment.”

“Oh, ok. We’ll go then. You should keep your door closed at night. Sorry.”

Let me explain – we live in a gorgeous, friendly, leafy section of Sydney’s most notorious suburbs. Redfern has had a history of violence, drugs, you name it. I love it for its colour but really it’s had a bad rap for a reason. It’s the beat that no new policeman wants. You never stop. There’s always a call. Always an arrest. Always a fight. Always drugs.

So WHAT THE HELL is someone doing wasting our taxpaying resources ringing to complain ABOUT A BABY CRYING!!

For god’s sake, I can only imagine in an area like this, the police have to respond to every call which meantions the word ‘baby’ and that’s kind of comforting but I tell you what, they were so embarrassed and sorry as they left. We looked haggard. We were beat. And to get our attention, they’d been banging on the baby’s window. So guess you decided to go for his 5th yell of the night…….

Bed time stories

So we’re trying to move the boys in together so that it frees up a room for all their goddamn toys – I know it’s a sad day when they get a toy room and we don’t, but hey, if it means that we can have the iPod going all the time in family room while Thomas gets his run on the dvd in the spare room, then I’ll do it.

So, the first night S went to bed fine and when A came in 2 hours later he was so tired that he fell straight to sleep – very unusual for him. We usually enjoy at least 45 minutes of stories he tells himself as he falls asleep. Last night was their second night together and my god, it was pyjama party central. Usually S goes to sleep and stays that way (mostly) for the night but when A when to bed last night, he sprang up from his normal tummy sleeping position and the party was underway.

A thought that S would appreciate a run down of Thomas characters which S enjoyed immensly, cackling heartily at opportune times which of course just fed A’s story telling fantasies. Truth be told, the stories are pretty lame, even by my poor standards. This moved onto an exchange of giggles as though they were passing a Playboy back and forward.

C and I were standing outside the door, trying to compose ourselves. C seems to think that we will all adjust to this arrangment soon and we’ll have the house we’re desperate for but I’m less convinced. Those two are bad for each other. The just g each other up and I can’t have 2 small people not sleeping in this house (and 1 big one)). So, anyway, S kept waking intermittently hoping to get the party started again but was greeted only with A’s (frighteningly) loud snores so had a whinge just to see if either C or I were up for some break dancing. Sadly we weren’t.

I slept so goddamn badly. I’ve been trying to convince C all day for us to lug that (stupidly) massive cot back into the other room but he’s determined to make this work, if only to provide us with some very engaging nightly entertainment .

May 2020