Over the past 3.5 years I have had to evolve just to survive. That means, I’ve developed my own unique formula, which involves loads of Whining multiplied by stacks of Wine-ing and just a little bit of that Charlie Sheen-style Winning. Here are my top survival tactics to help me keep “winning” at this mothering gig every day.
First off – Wine-ing – Drinking a little bit of wine to adapt to your stressful environment.
I’m so not an alcoholic or anything – please click here so I can redeem myself slightly (sip). Also, I should make clear that I hardly, ever drink in private and I never drink in the morning (is that after 12pm?)!
Secondly - Whining - whinging, complaining, bitching and moaning.
This aspect of my strategy involves talking to someone, anyone and everyone about your crappy day and all your general concerns, fears, hopes, dreams and complaints. To qualify as one of my Whining Confidants doesn’t take much. You make the exclusive shortlist by a simple process of elimination – you just can’t be my husband, but other than that, you’re fair game to be on the receiving end of all of my whinging – that goes for:
- any unsuspecting mum, dad or nanny in the park or playground who happens to be near me if I see a kid coughing near my kid/s.
- the poor guy manning the till over the graveyard shift at the supermarket, whose keen to just get on with his job when I am in the mood for offloading all my complaints of the day.
- fellow mums/dads at the school (you know who you are!).
- my kids
- my mother
- my coffee guy (Murray:I love you )
- my hairdresser (Babe: you go to the grave with the stuff we’ve discussed!)
- random elderly ladies (typically the ones with tight perms and lilac tints) who show me hints of kindness or smile at my kids when we’re out.
Thirdly – Winning – adapting, not caring what other people think of you and your decisions, being strong, being brave enough to take risks and set yourself apart from the minority even though people might call you ‘a few sandwiches short of a picnic’ sometimes.
This tactic is multi-faceted and involves some primal stuff we’ve all got within but forget to use:
- Foraging: To avoid starvation as a result of over being over-busy I remind myself to eat before the evening rush begins. I usually eat Aiden‘s leftover sandwich crusts and any other miscellaneous items that he rejected in his lunch box on the ride home from school. I also eat the kids leftover dinner (but only if I am genuinely starving, because this type of food is the least appealing at the end of a long day. Eating chocolates out of the pantry when no one is looking is my preference (much more satisfying and energizing) but if the chocolate supply has dwindled to an all-time low, sometimes I have no choice, but to eat the remnants of leftover, cold scrambled eggs just to sustain myself.
- Hunting and Gathering: Hide all of the annoying toys away even if you know it will break your kids’ hearts – I can think of nothing worse than cleaning up 1000000 puzzle pieces and craft items after an arduous day of mothering. There’s also nothing worse than stepping on that Barney toy bus and setting off the blasted toy (which has no “Off” button) so as to wake the kids at midnight.
- Killer instinct – never show weakness, never break down in front of your kids. Keep poker-faced no matter how much the little killers make you want to sob for mercy. This is a hard gig, but it’s a mind game and you don’t want anyone under 5 years old prevailing over you if you can help it.
- Maintain 3 cardinal rules and stick to them – but then don’t be so anal on the other small things if they are not 1 of the “3 rules” (this tip came from a close friend of mine – absolute gold). 3 things I’ve been consistently victorious over – 1. not sleeping in my bed with me (except if the kids are really sick or newborns), 2. not bringing food upstairs to the bedrooms and 3. holding my hand when we cross the road.
Most days, I do feel like I’m winning. Mostly, because my harshest critics (my boys) haven’t sacked me or evicted me into the Buzz Light Year tent in the yard - yet. Although, I know if I went a bit more Stepford-wife-ish and a bit less ‘me’, I’d have a closer shot of being a winner.
On that note:
Sorry, Darling Husband, that the kitchen was an absolute debacle when you walked in tonight at 9.30pm. I confess, there was a bit too much wine-ing and whining on Skype to my ‘getting through the day friend’ whose overseas at the moment and clearly not enough winning. I’m working on my game. Now, off to mop the floors.
Unlike my usual posts, this one has a more reflective, soppy purpose – yes I am human, not all cynical uber bitch 100% of the time!
I feel like a slack mother for not always diarising my kids’ progress, instead I tweet and Facebook it, because who has time to pull out the baby journal and hand write things in every time. So here goes. My happy 2nd birthday message to my darling baby son, Jon Jon.
Today my youngest baby boy turns 2 – I can hardly believe it. He is definitely still my baby (swaddled him for fun the other night!)
Jon Jon has always been my “textbook” child – outperforming all other kids his age in developmental milestones and pretty much always setting the benchmark for his peers. Although, in the past month I have detected a naughtiness that is apparently age-appropriate. Nonetheless, he is absolutely adorable, his sparking blue eyes, clear complexion and golden locks are the perfect ammunition for winning me over all the time, even when he bites my neck, pulls out clumps of my hair and smacks me in the face. His command of language and his unique expressions are just a delight and he makes me chuckle on cue with almost everything he says. He’s also learnt defend himself from his older brother and won’t take lightly to being clocked on the head with a cast iron Thomas train anymore – what’s more – Jon Jon has even become a little mischief-maker and instigator himself – but I guess it’s all part of the natural sibling rivalry.
His severe asthma does sometimes get him down but we are winning the battle slowly and I think he will out grow it soon. Jon Jon and I spend a lot of quality time together, he adores reading with me and has an aptitude (like his brother) for remembering the words to a book we only borrowed a week ago from the library. He is definitely a mommy’s boy and cries when I leave the house to go somewhere, which is like, never. He is very cuddly and loving which makes me absolutely melt – I hope he never loses this affectionate part of his personality – it would be a massive blow for me I think!
Aiden on the other hand, is a tough cookie, a smart arse, to be sure, but a cutie pie at the same time. He can be very challenging at times but he is also very caring and conscious of other people’s feelings and will often ask “Mommy, are you OK” if I trip or do some other clumsy act in front of him. He is at quite an in-between stage – but becoming a little man very quickly!
He comes up with the funniest little comments and I’m sure I will kick myself one day for not compiling all his little quotes and consolidating them into a book somewhere. The other day Aiden pointed to my eyebrows (to be fair, they were looking a little unruly that day) and said “Mom, who painted those eyebrows on for you?” I replied “they’re my natural eyebrows” to which Aiden responded ”Well, you look like a clown.” Mortified, but laughing all the same I queried “Oh, and what do YOU look like?” “A gentleman!” was the answer I got – absolute gold!
So, with all the funny comments and naughtiness, my boys are definitely growing up rapidly and I need to make sure I don’t get consumed with aggravation and lap up every joyous moment instead. Is it any wonder that I have acquired some brand new forehand and eye wrinkles in the last week?
I have to say – it’s all so worth it, even if it does make me look a bit like a clown!
So happy 2nd birthday my gorgeous Jon Jon, keep thriving and making me and your daddy so, so proud and happy! I love you immensely my darling boy! xxx
Every so often I feel guilty about certain things I’ve done.
Guilt is such a terrible thing, it keeps me awake at night, making my mind overactive with drawing up endless mental lists of all the things I feel bad about.
There’s no way to get rid of it.
Somehow I wish I could repent for these things that are commonly put down to a “Mother’s Guilt”, but truly there is no guilt quite like it.
I never had any kind of guilt that came remotely close to the guilt I feel now as a mom, and since there’s no such thing as a Mom’s Day of Atonement here goes, I am going to purge myself of all things mommy-related that I feel bad about in a succinct, but honest bullet-point list, blow-by-blow. I am truly sorry for all these things:
- Letting Jon Jon cry in his cot for more time than necessary while I lie in bed a little longer in the morning
- Getting super-cross with Aiden when he has a tantrum in public at the shops
- Screaming at Aiden when he refuses to have his afternoon nap
- Eating stacks of chocolate while hiding in the pantry cupboard so that the babies can’t see what I’m doing
- Having a glass of wine on the occasional day (before 4pm) if it’s been impossible to put Aiden down
- Swearing under my breath in front of my kids when my blood pressure has over boiled
- Letting the babies watch cartoons for extended periods of time while I cook or do the laundry
- Not saying please or thank you to Lance but snapping at him with 1 word replies
- Not smiling when Lance gets home from work and forgetting to kiss him “hello” or ask how his day was and then flying out the door shortly after the babies have gone to sleep
- Burning the dinner or making a rubbish meal
- Not answering my house phone or screening my cell phone because I just don’t feel like talking to anyone
- Hanging up on survey callers or charity callers when they phone my house
- Not cleaning the bathrooms or vacuuming the house for a week
- Briefly checking out hot guys when they are walking in the opposite direction to me when I push the pram on the beach promenade
- Being short or rude to my mom or dad or mother-in-law when they call and I’ve had a really hard day
- Being sarcastic or rude to unobliging strangers at the supermarket/park/street
Now I know that list doesn’t compare to what some mothers are capable of when they get pushed over the edge (take the recent case of the mother of three that admitted recently to drinking 1 litre of wine before getting into her unregistered car and driving 5 kids around before having a car accident – by the way, on air she said she was “really, really sorry…” but I still feel really, really bad about these things (and a few others that I don’t have the guts to commit to paper)!
My only hope is that by putting all this down in writing it will somehow ease a tiny amount of the enormous guilt that I constantly battle with. If not, well, there’s nothing that a good glass of Chardonnay can’t fix!
Today in the shopping centre when Aiden lay down on the floor for one of his classic shopping centre tantrum meltdowns and Jon Jon started screaming for the car park and I was attracting the most denigrating looks from the public, that’s when I cracked.
Two elderly ladies, who looked like they took cosmetic surgery advice from Joan Rivers at least 20 times each, started shaking their heads at me and then at each other in agreement and muttered some remarks to each other in reference to the scene of my two babies unleashing terror on the shopping centre. I turned to them in a pool of sweat and asked if they were talking to me. They replied that they were not but that they were saying to each other that they were concerned that I was going to drop the baby as I strapped him into my baby backpack pouch.
I then decided not to grin and shrug it off like I usually do in my simmering politeness. Instead I answered back saying, in a slightly abrupt tone, that I wasn’t intending to drop my baby off my back and that it’s just difficult trying to shop and wrangle two youngsters without any help. I then wheeled Aiden off in the trolley with Jon Jon tucked in the back pouch and I felt so proud of myself for standing up for myself against these two unwell-wishers who tried to pass judgement over me without actually offering any constructive assistance of any sort.
It then dawned on me that I am utterly sick of being Mr Nice Guy, or Mrs Nice Mommy as it were. From now on, I will say and do as I please when the moment calls for it. One of my good friends, a wise mom of four young boys recently told me that people really don’t feel sorry for you when you’re in a time of need. Rather, people don’t give a damn about what you’re going through and will just kick you when you’re down.
So I am not going to just put up and shut up anymore, I am totally going to stand up for myself. So then next time the woman in the checkout queue behind me tells me I shouldn’t guzzle down chocolate because it’s not a healthy snack, she’d better step back before she gets belted with a king size Toblerone. The next time some stranger tells me I look “so tired” I am going to give them a matching black eye when I deck them with my baby bag. I think you get the picture, no outta my way I need a coffee!
Today I felt like a new woman.
I can finally say that I am 97% cured of the bird flu and my mom (AKA “gagga”) came over to watch the babies for me this afternoon for a few hours.
Then the colossal dilemma hit me. Where do you go when you are given a leave pass from the kids from lunchtime nap time till just before dinner, bath and bed time – leaving really just over 1 hour (less travel time to and from home) to be alone with my thoughts and pramless, so as not be bound by the need for wide pavements and sheltered areas from the elements?
[Hold that thought, my 10 month old broke his once-a-week sleeping
through the night pattern and has woken up at 10.59pm for a feed and
cuddle, or is that the 2 year old for a midnight snack?!?!]
Right, back on board now – 11.55pm. It’s been all hands on deck for the past hour with both babies up – Jon Jon vomited his dinner on my “joujeey” black bedspread – gross and Lance is “settling” Aiden – shame.
Anyway, with 2 hours to kill this afternoon I was at a complete loss of where to go to. Being a beach and sun addict, ordinarily in summer weather it would have been an easy decision – I would have run down Bondi for a swim or a gone for a run from Bondi to Bronte and then chilled for a coffee in Tamarama half way (I haven’t done this since I was pregnant with my firstborn and Oh how I dream of doing this again…) But since the weather has been FREEZING cold here like 5 degrees in the sun in the mornings – I had no idea where to go.
I had a number of runner-up ideas which I eventually cancelled out or canned for being either inappropriate for a mother of two (like going for a drink midday to a pub, alone) or pathetic for a woman of 30 in general (like going to Customs House Library, my all time favourite library in Sydney and tucking into a wonderful historical fiction novel about Henry VIII or Marie Antoinette - ahh bliss …. and better than “doing it” in my opinion).
Finally, I settled on 3 sensible options, which I achieved mild, sedated enjoyment out of:
1. I went grocery shopping and blew $374 in 45 minutes (and this shop didn’t even include my kosher meat!)
2. I finally went to select fabrics for my long-anticipated bedheads for my masterbedroom and Aiden’s bedroom (and on my way to the warehouse I conquered my fear of finding my way to Glebe/Pyremont /getting to the Pyremont Bridge, which is really, incidentally the SAME as the Anzac Bridge, but goes by another name to confuse people who drive crappy 15-year-old cars like me and only know the inner Eastern Suburbs and CBD well, but lose confidence in the West or North!!)
3. I stopped past the Sydney Fish Markets (which was right by the Anzac Bridge/Pyrmont Bridge_ to see if the fish really is cheaper than usual – WASTE of time – no it’s not!!)
4. I drove past Oxford Street, Paddington and parked. Thought I would run up and down the shopping strip as I always dream of doing this when I am without the kids but never do – it was really average, didn’t end up buying anything as I was not in the mood and nothing excited me…I briefly contemplated getting a blow dry, or getting my nails done or buying myself some cheap flowers from Vej, the cute fruit and vegetable shop, but figured that I didn’t have sufficient time and also couldn’t really be bothered. I even called a few friends for inspiration but no-one had anything I could really work with in a spontaneous instant.
In fact, for the entire time that I was out (2.75 hours) I was checking my watch and phone incessantly to see where my mom would be up to and if the babies were up and were eating etc. I also rushed home to be back by 4.50pm because dinner is served at 5pm then bath time at 6 ish and then bed.
I realised while driving myself home with the music I like to listen to (not the Wiggles) blaring (which I NEVER het to do anymore) why I never ended up doing anything overwhelming or self-rewarding-because two primary factors consume me now – GUILT and SELFLESSNESS. I am putting those two words out there – even though Lance would say that is total bull dust – but truly, those two elements are what inhibited me today and barred me from going all out with my 3 hours of freedom and independence. At night I have no problem deciding where to go – it’s an easy decision and I HAVE to go to fabulous bar or club – but daytime is so much harder to figure out.
So – next time (if there is a next time) I vow that I am going to be way more prepared and am going to make it Bronte and back with a massive smile on my face – or with a cocktail at the end – one way or another – LESS GUILT and MORE SELFISHNESS!