Saturday, October 30, 2010

Two reasons to be grateful

My second son is turning 3 years of age in 3 sleeps and my first born son will be 5 in about 7 weeks. I am very lucky. Not every woman is so lucky. A good friend of mine has written a great blog – a personal and insightful blog about the trials and tribulations (in a very real sense) about trying to conceive through IVF, frustrated by a series of gynaecological problems and the added issue of being in her 40s. Please read

Of all the luck I’ve had in my life (which isn’t the lottery winning kind, just the lack-of-trauma kind of luck) falling pregnant without trying, on both occasions, is one of the life altering ones. And one I admit to have taken a little for granted. In fact, when I did fall pregnant I focussed more on my good fortune to fall pregnant to this man I adored than to any of the other mistakes drunken fumblings  potential sperm donors it could have been with.

I fell pregnant 6 months after meeting my now husband. With my first pregnancy I initially couldn’t work out why my PMT was lasting for weeks without resulting in a period... d’uh! Shows how much my brain was taken up with ‘lurve’.  So it was a good 6-8 weeks before I knew I was pregnant. (And upon doing the test, at home, alone, did a very good impersonation of Hugh Grant in the opening scenes of Four Weddings and a Funeral).  We ‘planned’ the second pregnancy, if, by planned you mean, ‘is it time we tried for a second baby?’ ‘Yeah, sure, why not’.  And within weeks – bada bing bada boom. We deliberated more about moving interstate than we had to about having children.

So fortunate, so fortunate.

And I know now from this friend and from others, that it isn’t so easy for all. That so many women who want children don’t get to have them at all, or don’t get to have them without a major cost financially but more importantly physically and emotionally. 

And of course I feel so sad for them, for having even the merest inkling of what it is like to so keenly want something it isn’t entirely in your power to get. I always wanted to have children. I was the kind of girl who would ask to hold any baby within sight, who would so happily rock other people’s babies to sleep. And in my 20s, single, I started to hear a very feint tick of my biological clock too. I remember late one night sitting on the couch and imagining and even feeling the weight of a baby lying on my chest asleep. It was so real and so wanted it brought a tear to my eye and caught my breath. I can only imagine the pain of wanting a baby more acutely and desperately and passionately than that. To willingly subject your body and your relationship with your spouse to so much intrusion and pressure in the hope of conceiving, carrying and birthing your own children.

But now I’m a mother myself I wonder other things too. Now that I’ve had the children I always longed for I realise that they aren’t the be all and end all that I imagined. That while they are fulfilling they aren’t all consumingly fulfilling – that they fill a void but not all the voids. It is an open secret among brave women who admit the truth, that having children can sometimes feel a bit of a let down; that it doesn’t live up to their expectations. That motherhood doesn't live up to all its hype.

And I worry about the women on IVF who undergo so many medical interventions and sometimes so many cycles of hope and joy and disappointment before falling pregnant (if they are lucky). Will they experience a much more pronounced sense of shock when they have their long desired children and they find out it isn’t what they hoped or imagined?

Or in fact, are they (for the most part, we can’t generalise here as anywhere) more grateful for their children and less likely to dwell on the more dreary, mundane, depleting aspects of motherhood? Are they so grateful to have their babies that 3 am feeding time is an unutterable joy? Can they wait through a 2 year olds’ temper tantrum with good grace? It’s not that black and white, I know. Motherhood is nothing if not a grey area.

I do know that despite all the drudgery of motherhood I should be grateful for the safe arrival of my children into my life as if I did have to fight and struggle for their existence. That in the ‘shit sandwich’ that is motherhood that I focus more on the bread and less on the shit (although there is so much actual shit...).  I have been so very blessed to have children of my own and I should (though won’t always I know) remember that before I whinge, raise my voice, or wish myself away to a deserted tropical island. 

To those women who can’t have their children as easily as me, I wish you all the luck and grace the world can offer, and all the strength required to cope with having children or with not having them. Mothers, if you need a reason to be a little more grateful for those little creatures that gave you stretch marks, incontinence and who test your patience at every turn then click on Ticking Clock (in my Blog List). It is written with honesty, humour and hope - balanced out with reality. If you or any friends are facing IVF, they might find it helpful.
Motherhood isn't easy before or during, but it is a worthwhile pursuit for those who want it. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What does bread have in common with feminine hygiene products?

The things you read on a bread bag. 'At Helga's we like to make our bread happy and carefree'. Really? So apart from anthropomorphising a flour and yeast food product and endowing it with human emotions, they are marketing this product with the same lines that promote tampons and associated 'feminine hygiene' products?

I can picture it now... a sunny day, a sandy beach, waves crashing, a loaf of bread and a slimline pack of tampons frolicking carefree ... or windsurfing perhaps?

Whatever next?

What other odd ads like this have you seen?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Presents not just my presence will be required

My second son turns three early next week. (Three years of age going on about 15 years as far as I can make out from his attitude!). We live a fair distance away from our families, as in the 1000s of kms. Grandparents have already asked for gift ideas and so I have given out some that I've been able to rustle up. However, that has left me short of ideas for what to give him from us! I struggle to think of gift ideas for anyone, including myself when anyone asks me what I want. Although the older I get the more 'diamonds' seems to be a fitting answer.

I went to Toys R Us today and wandered the aisles seeking inspiration. As is often the case, very little was forthcoming. I just so resent spending $50 for plastic rubbish that serves only a single function - and a pointless and not very interesting one at that. A dancing Buzz Lightyear? What's the point? Surely any kid could use any doll and make it dance, at the very least in their own minds eye. And as for other horrendous toys to purchase, check out WordWigs blog for the hideousness of modern children's toys.

And given we live in a space of 54 m squared - including cupboards and furniture, less will have to be 'more' for the moment.

I have tried to get a gift that can fulfill each of my son's talents and interests - he is arty so I've got some paints and stamps (soon to decorate our walls no doubt); a bag of bouncy balls to satisfy his throwing and hitting urges (he's got better hand-eye coordination than his mother), a plastic lawnmower so he can mow the lawns (all 2.5 acres of it) with his Dad, and more Hot Wheels cars - because we can't seem to have enough.

Individually wrapped and included with the gifts that will arrive from grandparents and a few friends for a party, he will hopefully have a good day. And if that fails, he doesn't have long to wait till Christmas (*shakes head in gift thinking horror*.

How do you think of the right gifts?

Monday, October 25, 2010

I'd rather be...


Obviously right this instant I am writing. But this is just a quick writing. I want to be doing looooooooooong writing. The kind of writing where my mind is detached from my physical self and is plotting, constructing, dreaming and scheming. Alas, today that will not be.

As I've said before I am the Mum of two boys. We are home from a lovely weekend away and today I need to wash the clothes and restock the fridge, and, probably, pay my children some kind of attention. I need two selves (as a minimum).

I'm new to this blogging thing and am really excited and invigorated by it. By reading everyone else's blogs and writing my own. But admittedly I am struggling with how to fit this in with my real, physical life. I am a 'head' person. A daydreamer, a reader. Its hard to do this and be a Mum and wife. There must be a way because you are all doing it with such style, grace and elan! I will read and learn. If any of you need a mentoree then I'm your gal!

So excuse my quick, self-focussed blog entry today. Tomorrow and the next day I (semi)shamelessly have my two boys at child care ('kindy' for the almost 5 year old). Tomorrow I will burrow myself into the Shed, and into my head and worm my way out with hopefully some coherently worded sentences and fully realised thoughts.

Here's hoping!

Meanwhile I must convince the almost 3 year old that peanut butter and Vegemite (although wonderful on their own) really don't work in symbiosis.

Till tomorrow, take care.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Boy mothering

I am the mother of two sons, almost 3 and almost 5 (I didn’t plan well – I have 2 birthdays, a wedding anniversary and Christmas all in the next 3 months). #familyplanningfail

When I was younger and hubby and child-free I always wanted three children – two boys then a girl. I actually didn’t much focus on the husband aspect, given that I always knew it was easier to fall pregnant than to find a male to want to spend the rest of my life with. Fortunately for all involved I found one (in hindsight single-motherhood is not something to opt into if given a choice). I imagined that the two older boys would be the protector of their younger sister – pseudo-bodyguards of a sort.

So life goes on, meet lovely man, fall pregnant, have son, get married, fall pregnant, have another son. Second son not a sleeper, little high maintenance and within 6-8 weeks I turn to husband and say ‘you need a referral to a surgeon, get that thing snipped – we are not going again’.

There was NO argument.

And I wonder sometimes how I’d cope with a third child (answer: I would but probably not well) and especially a girl. I’ve been a girl. It’s tough. I’m glad I don’t have to raise one. In wanting sons perhaps I remain blissfully ignorant about what it takes to raise boys. I probably thought it was a little like husbands and dogs – keep them fed and rub their tummy occasionally.

Whatever awaits me, I know it isn’t as easy as that – I’ve read Steve Biddulph’s ‘Manhood’ (and there is another book about raising sons given to me by my mother-in-law somewhere – she must think I need the help). I have the usual fears about boys and their increased penchant for risk – fast cars, faster women but overall I am loving the boy mothering. Here’s why:

• I’m the special one in our family. The only one without a ‘doodle’. Thankfully they haven’t asked for a name for what I do have, they just point at my absence (I could write a whole feminist essay on this quoting all the relevant French theorists, but I can’t be arsed). I am the ‘other’ but am happy with it in this instance.
• I get to show them and teach them about the right way to treat women. Politely and respectfully. I will soon teach them that diamonds are the answer to every problem.
• They like being physical – running, jumping, lifting, wrestling, playing in mud – they make full use of the bodies they are given and are sensible risk takers.
• They’re extremely happy in their own skin. Mostly naked. Sadly most of the funny things they do is when they’re naked which means I can’t share it with their family over the www because one or the other of us could be arrested.
• They have good imaginations – they ‘fish’ off the top of the rainwater tank – not into the tank which is fully enclosed, please don’t send DOCS.
• They don’t panic or get too frightened of anything. The other month our property caught fire, slowly moving up the hill. While the Rural Fire Service put out the fire, my boys were demanding crumpets with honey and the making of a Thomas the Tank Engine track. If two fire trucks and 8 firefighters don’t get their attention I’m not sure what will. But we don’t have any nightmares.
• They’re just as happy to get a $2 Hot Wheels car as anything else. Cheaper and healthier than lollies – although slightly more difficult to pass through the digestive system
• They like to ‘help’. No #1 son thinks he’s old enough to work the microwave and the electric frying pan. No #2 son thinks he has the knife skills of a Japanese Tepanyaki chef. However, he also loves to clean the toilet with the toilet brush (score 1 for Mum!). Turns out Toilet Duck isn’t a childproof bottle.

For all the arguments, roughing up and aggressiveness that can sometimes be the life of boys, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Seeing the gentleness of my boys with each other and with their friends, and for all the cuddles, kisses and raspberries on my tummy – for all this I am a grateful boy-mother.

Bestill my beating grey matter... *soulswoon*

These two glorious brains are lingering around my bedroom in various states of read-iness. Hard too... http://http//

And if anyone wants to parent my children for a few months I'll get all this reading done.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Who the hell is Hooli?

Who am I? Well, without getting all existential on yo ass (channelling Kanye West, how odd), these are a few random things about me...

  • I live on a hill but you probably guessed that. It is a hill in Central Qld. It is steep. Have not yet been stupid enough to try to climb it.
  • I live on said hill with a husband (mine) and two sons (both ours).
  • We all live in a 9 x 6 m shed. It is a shed with 1.5 bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. It has airconditioning. It is not a hovel. It is lovely.
  • One day we will build. Until then we live in the shed. Some people minimise to simplify their life. We minimised by necessity. Its fabulous. Divesting of unnecessary stuff feels good, especially if it can be used by others.
  • Three of the four inhabitants of this small space are alpha males.
  • I'm thankful for Lenore Skenazy because now I can re-badge my kids as 'free range' rather than feral
  • My kids' feet are 'tough as old boots'. They don't 'do' shoes. Sometimes they do clothes. We live rurally - no one to see :)
  • for me buying clothes from a posh shop is buying them at Target as opposed to Big W or the Salvos
  • I couldn't live without... a book on the shelf next to the toilet. If I'm sittin' I'm readin'.
  • I absolutely detest being read to. I inadvertently reserved an audiobook from the library last week and freaked out. Librarian said they're good for going on walks. That would mean I'd have to climb the hill. I said thanks, but no thanks. My inability to listen and absorb story and walk without falling notwithstanding.
  • I adore Stephen Fry and would not kick him out of bed, even if he had the misfortune to fall into it (he is gay after all and probably would rather not share the bed with heterosexual me). I'd even let him read to me.
  • I'd like to achieve more in my day than getting four loads of laundry washed and dried, although it is no mean feat in a wet Central Qld summer.
  • I don't do clothes dryers. I will do 3 clothes horses and a long piece of string strung up under the verandah. Will have my knickers on display if it saves the earth.
  • despite the fact I live on a hill and occasionally sit cross-legged, that is where the resemblance to any sage or prophet ends
  • is glad the neighbour's dog is a frequent visitor. It delays the boys asking for a dog of their own. Its like having grandchildren. Play with it then send it home to eat, crap etc.
  • I used to like ironing, once. Before I had a hubby with more business shirts than is humanly necessary
  • is entirely unsure why my husband suggested to my boys that I could darn the holes in their socks. A) a lie B) buy new socks C) not been done in the last 30 years.
  • likes that you can disguise laziness as 'instilling an independent spirit and self-sufficiency in my children'
  • is so lapsed a Catholic that I could be said to be prolapsed
  • we named our two sons after kings. I don't recommend it. It gives them ideas above their station
  • I love 'Grand Designs' as much as I love Kevin McCloud
  • Englishmen are my default position (phew, hubby has English mum). I blame Jane Austen, and Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice
  • has been searching for something and recently realised I already have it or am it. I've decided to stop making the simple, complex. I live the simple life others crave. I should just shut up and enjoy it.

So that's a bit about me. Hopefully I'll write a bit more about me. You can read if it you'd like.