Category Archives: Manic Moments
A quirky column on some of the manic moments of motherhood.
As of yesterday – and due to the usual holiday influx of relatives – we now have Baby May and Toddler Thomas sleeping in our bedroom. In our very ordinary sized house we are now cramming four adults, five children, and two large hairy slobbery dogs. Aaaah, family closeness! I know in some continents larger families than this exist in spaces far smaller than this but somehow I can’t help but suspect that the rate of familial murder is far higher in those societies.
And so I find myself lying awake at 5.30am listening to baby May snort and whistle while she dreams her sweet baby dreams. What are the chances of more sleep for me? Slim to none I’d say. Never mind, I should get up and make a shopping list. With so many extras in the house we seem to be getting through a mountain of food. I’m trying not to think about the power bill.
With the shopping list done and the household stirring, I have a moment’s insanity and volunteer to take my twin four year old nieces as well as two year old Thomas with me to the supermarket. I think it was the momentary glow of selfless heroism, giving my sister a break after a broken night with her baby, but WHAT was I thinking!!? (Please have the lady committed!)
Having wrestled three recalcitrant toddlers into the car I remind myself with the thought that I do have the edge on the other shoppers. With an early start I’ll race around and be out in a flash. Dreaming, I hear you say? Can you believe it; the car park is already filling up. I’m pipped to the last kiddy park by a sveltely pregnant woman in a two seater – humph I hate her! Swallowing a scream of frustration I console myself by fantasizing about seeing her again in a few months time – sleep deprived and vomit covered with her new little darling in tow! (Oh no I’m one of those grumpy know-it-all parents!) On second thoughts, give me a break, I’m at the supermarket before 9am with three under 5 year olds – you’d be grumpy too!
My frantic race up and down the aisles is more like a drunken zigzag as I chase after the kids and try to limit destruction. They resemble nothing so much as heat seeking missiles this morning but eventually we get through the list, and leave the supermarket (for the most part) intact!
We stagger back to the house, and herd everyone outside to enjoy the sunshine. It’s been one long hard day – would you believe it’s only 10.30am! Still, as I relax back into my deck chair, the kids charge around with a ball, the babies gurgle on the rug, and my nearest and dearest sit back and share the moment with me… it does seem that after all, the holidays are worth the effort!
We’d been meandering along quite happily with toilet training, occasionally popping Thomas on the toilet and encouraging wees but not stressing a lot about it…
However an unfortunate trip to my Mums Group last week upped the ante. APPARENTLY their rugrats are all now out of nappies. (I have a sneaking suspicion there’s a bit of political spin going on there… you know… say it enough and eventually reality will remould itself to your wishes).
Anyway… it all came to a head this month when my well meaning (if slightly sneaky) monster-in-law gave Thomas a pack of “big boy undies”. Thomas promptly fell in love with the little daks, refusing to wear anything else. I laughed till I cried as he ran round the house clutching his crotch and yelling BIG BOY!!!! Of course the downside is that toilet training now had to start in earnest.
Now there are many places you can get info on toilet training. So I’m not going to give you ten easy tips to make it happen. I’m going to give you the real down and dirty – the pitfalls (ha get it?!). This is what I’ve learned the hard way over the last three weeks:
DO NOT leave the house without at least two change of undies and trousers, preferably three. Plus a t-shirt – don’t ask me how they get wee on their t-shirt but they will. Plus you will need to take spare shoes and socks in case of a ‘squidgy shoe squirt’. This is an amazing feat where your child somehow manages to keep their undies and crotch dry but fills up their shoes with the wee that presumably ran down their leg. In fact on second thoughts you may just want to stay home.
DO NOT recoil in horror when you pull down the big boy pants and discover an unannounced sneaky poo. The action of recoil will cause the elastic on the big boy pants to fire the poo across the room. YIKES!!
Pee like a girl even if you’re a boy. The Man insists that real men pee standing up but take my advice… If you have a boy, DO NOT teach him to pee standing up. Thomas has trouble getting the wee in the toilet EVEN WHEN SITTING DOWN. I can only imagine what would happen if he was standing up. I’d be wearing a raincoat and gumboots for starters. And goggles. And keeping my mouth shut.
DO NOT look too closely at the unidentified brown who-knows-how-it-got-there object on your carpet. And DO NOT taste it. It is not chocolate.
So there you have it… The down and dirty. Something to look forward to as your rugrats get a little bigger! But don’t get me wrong it’s not all bad. When Thomas does (occasionally) manage to drop a big one in the dunny, we both get to shout SPLASHDOWN! Then we give each other a high five, and put Bob the Builder stickers all over our hands. Don’t know about him but it’s the highlight of my day.
Aaah winter don’t you love it?! In winter the first thing I do when the alarm goes off (and by alarm I mean small extremely loud baby) is pull back the curtain and check out the weather. If it’s clear outside I sigh with relief. However this morning its grey skies and rain cause for a heartfelt groan. What on earth are we going to do today??
It’s two hours later….a LONG two hours later. There’s weetbix and banana all over me, the kitchen, two children, the highchair, the baby and the floor. I’m not sure if ANY of it went in mouths at all. (Possibly only the gob that landed in my mouth, when I unfortunately began talking just as Thomas discovered the practical catapult qualities of his spoon!). One child is sporting skivvy, jersey and woolly hat plus bare bum, the other is prancing around in her sundress, and the baby is still in pyjamas. Need I mention that the temperature outside can only be about 10° Celsius if that. The house already looks like a full day of play has occurred. *Sigh* And it’s only 9am.
Twenty minutes later after Thomas has managed to sneak off and drop two full rolls of toilet paper in the toilet while I am trying to clean the kitchen, I decide that we MUST get out of the house or I will no longer be responsible for my actions.
Of course getting us all out the house is the equivalent of organising an expedition to Everest. I suddenly feel great empathy for Sherpa Tenzing and all his hard work to get those mountain climbing boys out the door and up the mountain!
Never mind, eventually we get on the road. At this point I realise I have no idea where we are going. Pool? Nope didn’t pack the togs. Library? Nope can’t face the inevitable climbing of shelves and loud yelling (me not the kids!). Where else? I think fondly of summer days, parks and beaches and numerous options. Winter is hard work!
Half an hour later peace reigns. I’m drinking hot if not particularly fabulous coffee. The kids are playing in the playground. Baby is asleep in the stroller. Good old Ronald MacDonald eh? Did I mention its open twenty four hours a day? I’ve bribed the kids with the promise of fries if they play nicely for twenty minutes and so far my bad parenting bribe appears to be working. So well in fact that next time I’m bringing my book. In the meantime I’ll just sit here quietly and dream of summer days and warm tropical islands.
I remember the days when it was possible to have an entire conversation. All at once. Words strung in articulate sentences. With real pauses. Time to think. To appreciate the ideas of others. The art of conversation was a delicate and intricate dance of back and forth, knowing when to listen and when to speak…
These days my conversations, if one can grace them with the name, sound rather more like this…
“Hello Wendy how are… yes Thomas it is a BIG digger… Sorry, how are you Wendy is this your little girl… No May please DON’T poke Thomas in the eyes… And how is the feeding going? No Thomas stay here… Excuse me Wendy… THOMAAAAAAS (trailing away into distance as I run after errant child).
These days, conversations consist of brief spaces snatched from the midst of swirling chaos. Unfinished ideas, unfinished sentences, on a bad day I don’t even get to finish my words! Constantly interrupted by little hands and voices demanding attention and running commentary on the world around them. Sadly parenthood has destroyed my listening skills. The constant vigilance required of a toddler’s parent destroys any hope of being fully engaged. I leap into conversations before it’s my turn in the desperate hope I will be able to share my latest thought before the next toddler kamikaze moment.
And when I’m not shouting half finished sentences over my departing shoulder I engage in another form of conversation that goes like this…
“Digger mummy!… Yes Thomas it’s a digger….yeyow digger mummy!…yes Thomas it’s a yellow digger…. Biiiiiiig mummy!… yes Thomas it’s a biiiig yellow digger… Wheeeellls Mummy! Yes Thomas it’s a big yellow digger with wheels! Oooh look Thomas it’s an ORANGE digger! Somehow I don’t feel these conversations are improving my vocabulary.
On bad days I wonder whether I will ever experience the fine art of conversation again. I miss those long conversations with friends… talking for the sake of it…. days when I didn’t feel I had to cram ideas into the smallest possible space and time… when I actually had things to talk about and space to talk about them in.
But on my good days I’m realize that while May and Thomas may have consigned the art of conversation to a distant memory, they have taught me several key things about communication. They’ve taught me how to express an idea in the minimum amount of words – no waffle here! How to hold onto a train of thought – if you cant remember it’s not important! They’ve taught me to leap right in and talk about the important things – I might not get another chance. And… they’ve taught me to be gracious with bad listeners – after all I’m firmly in that category now.
Most of all they’ve taught me that communication is about connection. My kids have got that down pat. When Thomas tugs on my hand and says “Digger Mummy!” what he really wants is for me to stop and connect with him and the world around us. And after all isn’t that really what its really all bout?
And then I smile as I wave to Wendy as I run after Thomas running after the big yellow digger with wheels!
As parents, it’s often difficult to find ‘me time’ but it’s also all important in maintaining a modicum of sanity. After a difficult pregnancy, and now with an active toddler and new baby it was high time for a bit of quality pampering.
With this in mind, I ran a long hot bath with some yummy toiletries given by a knowing mother of two. It was the perfect soak after a demanding day. With a few doors closed between me and the rest of the family I was finally able to get into that book that had been sitting untouched for weeks. I slowly felt myself unwind. After a blissful hour of this, feeling mellow and generous, I offered to take the baby into the bath with me to give his Dad a bit of a break. It was really special time; we gazed at each other, pondering the meaning of life, love and the beauty of a new little person in the world. Life really was good – I had the balance down perfectly – I can be a momentous mother and a pampered princess! Interrupting this zen moment a little bubbly noise erupted… where had that come from!? Then without further ado, baby boy unleashed an explosive poo… and thus endeth the relaxing bath, oh well!
Take two, I thought the following week. I can do this! I had a massage voucher just waiting to be used. There WOULD be pampering and relaxation I told myself. With military precision, I had the two kids packed up, expressed bottle ready to go, rain & wind conquered, and we were on our way off to Grandma’s. Battling through the foul weather I was focused on the road. But hang on… wasn’t that Grandma’s car going the other way?? I whipped out my mobile phone to clear up matters, and wouldn’t you know it – the one time the battery dies and there’s no spare in sight, sigh! We fight through the rain and make it to Grandma’s house where someone rings Grandma and we manage to meet up in town. Yes, I tell myself “There WILL be relaxation and pampering!!” I make it in the door of the exclusively glamorous retreat with seconds to spare. Who me, relaxed? Sure thing I’m a Mum, you take these moments where you can find them!