How do you do it? August 26 2015
This week I was asked to write a post for a great blog Flat Bum Mum, written by Bron a blogger, teacher and stylist. She is also a mum to three adorable but equally exhausting young girls and she puts it, the "owner of a pancake butt". Check it out here.
My blog post was in answer to the question that I often get "How do you do it?" so here is is:
When I meet new people and tell them that I have four young children and that they are all boys, they are fascinated. When people see me piled with school bags, plus a twin on each arm with one grumpy school boy refusing to get in the car and another chasing his footy down the street, they often say “I don’t know how you do it”. I am definitely not the busiest mother, nor the one with the most children or the least help in my life. I am well aware that there are many many other Mums out there facing a much tougher day than me. But I also know how much I DO fit into each day and how most of the time I feel like I am running a school camp.
The meals and the washing seem to be the most relentless. The twins are now 3 and a half so their eating habits have caught up to the rest of the family, but throw in fussy eaters and a Dad coming home late, dinner prep can start at 5pm and seem to cover a dozen courses over several hours. Don’t even get me started on the washing!
There are ways to get organised and to get the children involved in helping with household chores, systems to put in place. I plan ahead, write a lot of lists, my (paper) diary is my most prized possession and am a good multi tasker. On top of that, I rarely sit down, unless I am on a sun lounge or at a beauty parlour (rare unfortunately), but I don't really like sitting down for long any way.
What I actually find to be the most exhausting is not physical, it is the emotional stuff.
Giving everyone the attention they deserve. Not letting anyone feel left out. Remembering all their little nuances and pre-empting what could be a hazardous situation for one of them. I definitely think that your heart expands with each child, but sharing yourself with each of them equally when you are utterly exhausted yourself, can be very difficult.
So what do I do? Each day I just do my best. In that moment, on the day, the best I can do.
I know that I won’t remember the details of the days or the never ending nights, but hopefully I do remember that on each of them, I did the best I could.
Some days were terrible, especially when the twins were babies. I was a mean, impatient pajama wearing mum. They ate left overs. They wore dirty clothes. I drank too much coffee. I didn't return phone calls. I was late to school pick up. I bribed and I bluffed my way through the day.
Some days I was amazing. I was a kind, patient and skilful multi tasker. I baked, I cleaned and I entertained. My house was tidy and my hair was clean. You need to rejoice on those days.
My best is enough. Our good days outweigh our terrible days. And those amazing days make up for those horrific nights. Those nights where it took every ounce of my strength to make it through each minute. Where I wanted to jump in my car and just drive away.
So my advice is simple. Just do your best with what you have in that moment. What you have left inside you and what is within your reach, it will be enough.
Did I mention coffee? Chocolate? A walk around the block with your BFF. A long hot shower (alone)……you can do it, just like the millions of amazing Mums before you. No-one expects you to be a super hero, just try baby steps.
Oh and if you can’t find the energy any other way, just stare at their perfect faces. Hold their chubby hands. Smell their beautiful purity. Suck it in. Be grateful for what you do have. For every exhausted frustrated mum, there is another in a different type of pain. The type of pain that doesn't just go away after a good nights sleep. The type of pain suffered by those who would love to be in your shoes, but have not been able to join the ranks of Motherhood yet. Be grateful.
Keep things in perspective, don’t blame yourself for everything and don’t compare yourself to what you PERCEIVE other’s are doing. Motherhood is hard work. The early sleep deprived years can be horrendous. As the children grow older, their problems and fear’s grow more complicated. As Mums know, the benefits far outweigh the struggles, so just be. Your best is more than enough.
How I know that you're a good Mum August 05 2015 2 Comments
Last Sunday as we enjoyed the first glimpse of clear sky for days, I ventured out into the back garden with the twins. I attempted to tackle the endless weed crop that seems to have sprouted overnight while they played happily together.
Having twins seems like more than double the work sometimes as you have the individual needs of two babies to deal with, plus the energy created from their interactions together. But when they finally reach an age when they can genuinely play happily together, it is just bliss. Their own built in play date and best buddy to face each new day with. It is gorgeous to watch and listen to their self absorbed conversations as they are beautifully unaware of time passing and the world around them.
This afternoon they were in one of their happy zones. They were playing some type of imaginary game on the trampoline that I don’t really understand as each time I tried to engage or participate I was politely ushered away. As I pulled out another weed I again contemplated the whole “nature versus nurture” debate. Since we have four children all of the same gender and the twins are genetically identical, I feel like I can comment confidently on this subject.
If I had to pick one that I feel has more influence over a persons life, I would definitely say NATURE. When you have twins, especially identical twins and they are on the same schedule, eating the same foods and going about their day in a very similar way, it is fascinating to watch just how differently they can react to the same things. It’s like living within a science experiment.
When I had my first child if he didn’t have long day time sleeps I was constantly analysing if he was over tired, or he had too much sleep the night before, hungry, teething etc etc. As you know, the list goes on and there are so many variables that can affect a child’s mood and sleeping habits. There is no single obvious answer and that is why the book stores are filled with a gazillion books on a myriad of different parenting styles, techniques and schedules.
With my first child, I beat myself up over this. If my baby didn’t sleep well it must have been something I had done. If he didn’t eat all of the food offered to him, maybe I hadn’t made it tasty enough, picked the right time to give it to him, or was offering it to him in the wrong order? What I know now is that NO, a lot of the time it wasn’t me! Yay it wasn’t me!
My baby had just woken up in a bad mood as that is his temperament…he is still not a morning person at 9 years old. He loves action and movement and rarely sits still (except for on Minecraft). With hindsight and with the benefit of my live-in twin experiment, that is perhaps why he never wanted to be in the high chair for long. Or low and behold, he was never happy to be strapped in his pram for long periods of time watching a girlfriend and I catch up over coffee. He is not interested now, so why would he have been at nine months of age?
Each of our four boys are so different in temperaments, personalities and the way they react to what life throws at them. One in particular embraces change and any new adventures, while another is a real home body who needs consistency. The twins too are already showing distinct differences in personality. One springs out of bed with a smile, while the other is grumpy until his Weet-bix have well and truly digested. One yells out hello from the car window at unsuspecting strangers, while the other prefers to suss things out for a while first before he makes friends. One eats almost anything and is adventurous with his tastes (yay!). The other, not so much.
One twin will sit happily reading one book, looking very intellectual. The other will eat that same book or put it in the toilet. Together it’s a crazy combination. As I said, fascinating.
So what does this mean for other Mums?
You are doing good job!
I can spend hours researching, creating and serving up a nutritionally balanced, organic tasty meal and one twin with engulf it, while the other will spit it back on the plate. So...it’s not your fault.
I’m not saying to throw the routine out the window, to stop trying to feed your children the best possible food, or to give up trying to get them to bed on time. I’m just saying that if it doesn’t go as you planned, don’t beat yourself up about it. Some days will be good and on others, no matter how hard you try… the shit will hit the fan. What you have to see is that that shit was probably going to hit the fan anyway, even if you were the "perfect mother".
My advice? Just do your best each day, embrace the chaos and remember that another day is dawning.
The Yellow Food Phase July 15 2015 5 Comments
All of a sudden my nine year old is an adventurous eater. More importantly he seems happy with the choices I make to put on his plate each night, even grateful. Hallelujah! This is a really big deal.
It hasn’t always been this way. Being the first born, I was full of good intentions and I armed myself with the latest knowledge on which foods to introduce to a baby at that particular age. Thoughtfully prepared, organic and home made meals were politely served several times each day. They were nutritionally balanced, age appropriate and displayed beautifully on a colourful non-spill plate. Did someone say non-spill?
In the early days as a new mum I did not have the composure or see the humour in the situation to photographically document these frustrating occasions before I proceeded to clean up the carnage time after time. Now these images would give myself and Master Nine a good laugh.
Getting a fussy baby or toddler to eat well and try new foods can be one of the most frustrating jobs for a parent. No matter how well the ingredients are blended, presented or served (that old aeroplane trick), there are times when our little one’s will simply refuse. Many, many times.
Before they are old enough to comprehend the notion of dessert, or be bribed with some other temptation, there are several years of frustration. And wasted food. Twins are great for that. The odds are higher that at least one of them will eat my lovingly prepared meal, as well as their brother’s leftovers.
The frustration’s do not end after the toddler years either. Our six year old is currently going through a phase of “only eating yellow foods”. Besides a few exceptions for watermelon and tomato sauce, almost everything he eats is either a white/yellow/beige type of colour. I could probably count his preferred foods on two hands; bread, cheese...even better when combined as toasted cheese sandwiches. Potato in most forms, especially fries or mashed with butter. Pasta….with only cheese on top.
Rice. Optional tomato sauce on top. Totally gourmet. Mashed Weet-bix with yellow honey. Lots of yellow honey. Scrambled eggs. Banana’s, especially lolly banana’s :) You get it.
The only meat he will currently eat is hidden inside a party pie or chicken nugget. Gross.
Please tell me that this is sounding familiar to someone else? I know I'm not alone as more than 11,000 people already like this Facebook page dedicated to "my kid can't eat this". Check it out, you will feel much better.
Most of the time I grin and bear it now as I have seen the various phases come and go with my other children and I am a lot more relaxed. Plus I try to fill him with as much of the good stuff on his “yellow list” as possible.
I am not abdicating giving up on trying to be the perfect mother chef, I just wanted to give some hope to those well intentioned Mums that are fighting this daily battle. One day you will suddenly be sharing some raw fish or spicy vegetable curry with your child and you too will look back on these early frustrations with a grin.
You will be proud that both you and your child came though it unscathed.
Please share your stories of your fussy eaters with us all!
Finding their "thing" July 08 2015 5 Comments
If you’ve been following my social media this past week, you will know that our oldest boy Charlie turned nine years old. Being on holidays I have had more time to just ‘be’ with my kids instead of thinking about schedules and after school activities and homework. It has been awesome. They are all so similar and so different.
Physically they are clearly from the one family and they are all tactile, rough and messy. Boys.
They are all equally as energetic and loud as the next one when running freely in their own space. They don’t sit still much.
Except for when on the iPad. My best frenemy.
When it comes to their personalities and temperaments however, they are all very different. We have extroverted and introverted, shy versus confident. Attached versus independent. As they’ve aged, I have learnt to love the shy, attached, cling to “only my mum” phases. Now, the growing independence and lack of public hand holding sends a pang through my heart every time it appears. A mix of pride and sadness contemplating my obsoleteness.
I am treasuring the primary school years when we have ditched the nappies, bottles, portocots and day sleeps. We can go with the flow a lot more and if I don’t pack a huge bag of spare clothes, pre-prepared food and a whole lot of other riff-raff to take on our adventures, it’s no big deal. Finally, we are there! It seems like I’ve climbed Mt Everest to get there, but we are here and I am going to enjoy it before adolescence creeps up on us too quickly.
Charlie, being the first born has taught us so much. On the surface, he is shy, with a ‘slow to warm up’ type of temperament. Apparently very similar to his Dad as a young child and this surprises a lot of people. Like me, he is happy to be the listener rather than the talker most of the time. He now realises that being the first child to put their hand up in class or being the loudest, most extroverted leader in the playground, does not mean that you’re ‘doing the best’.
Being a thinker and more quietly spoken does not make you inferior. Sometimes other people need reminding of that. This past year has been really good to Charlie. Eight was the year he bloomed and finally appeared to others in the same way that we had always seen him when he was comfortable at home.
The world now gets to see him being loud, confident, animated, determined and funny. He has an unique style of physical humour beyond his years. When he brings it out in public, people are surprised but very amused. I have always wanted nothing more for him than to reach his full potential, what ever that is. We are well on the way.
So what ingenious strategies have we implemented to make our first born blossom in his eighth year?
What type of parenting guru am I?
I am not one at all. He discovered basketball.
Yes basketball, it is as simple and as complicated as that.
Somehow he found his “thing”.
Something that was ALL his. Somewhere that he felt safe and confident with a small group of his best mates. It was an activity no one else in his family had talked about before. It was ALL his.
He suddenly had his own uniform, his own number, a special hand shake and a coach he looks up to. His coach is still in high school himself, so is old enough to be respected, yet cool enough to be admired. The perfect mix of fun and firm, topped off with a ‘rad’ hairstyle. Bonus.
Together with the other Mums we pile as many boys as we can fit into our cars once a week for after school training. This 15 minute drive is honestly one of the highlights of my week. Their little gang exchanges thoughts on the school yard topic of the day as they change uniforms and I listen nonchalantly, but intently.
I learn more on this drive than the other four school days combined. They exchange pearls of wisdom in between shoving in afternoon tea and shoving out gas. The car is loud and stinky but full of laughs and my heart explodes as I watch them bond and treasure their true little friendships as if they were my own.
The basketball training and games give Charlie the right mix of physical activity, discipline and continuous learning that he needs. The team picks him up when he is down and revels in his small triumph’s more than the tiny smile on his face shows. Just to confirm this blog is not about excelling in sport. He is an average player for his age. In between the many ‘travel’ fouls and missed shots, he shows small glimpses of physical greatness but that is not my point. He feels good. He feels a part of something special.
His basketball career started off very slowly and often in a fiery way. There were many tantrums and displays of unsportsmanlike behaviour that were frustrating and slightly embarrassing to watch. As he learnt the rules and his body caught up to his brain, he has shown himself that perseverance pays. He knows how much ongoing practice it takes to get better at something. We too have had our patience tested as Charlie moves along each little milestone at HIS own pace, not ours.
Charlie now knows that making mistakes is not the end of the world. Even though every boy on his team seems to keep track of the score and prefers to win than to play their best game ever, they get ‘over it’.
So for now basketball has been Charlie’s "thing". The confidence he has gained on the court has transferred off it. His friendships have been given an extra chance to cement themselves firmly away from the school yard politics and the classroom responsibilities. His team includes boys that are not his ‘best friends’ at school and his broadening friendship group has helped him feel an even greater sense of belonging.
Sport is so great at providing that opportunity. For many others it can be found in musical, performing or academic interest's.
Wherever it is, I’d recommend helping your child to find their ‘thing’. It might appear in the place you least expect. In an activity you personally don’t enjoy. I'd say, give them scope to discover what it is for themselves.
It reminds me of one of my favourite quotes:
I'd love you to share how your child found their 'thing"......
Bec Judd Interview June 17 2015 4 Comments
Arguably the most famous Australian footy WAG of them all, when you think of Bec Judd, you probably picture THAT red dress, her talented husband and some of the amazing pics she posts on social media….Her glamorous outfits, arriving at exclusive events and jet setting around the world.
She has created a life for herself and her family that many aspire to. She has proved that beautiful women can also be smart, savvy and very resilient.
Put aside any thoughts you have about Bec Judd, other than this. Bec has the same concerns and many of the daily obstacles that all mothers have. Even though her shoulders are regularly covered in J’aton couture, she has a lot of pressure on them. She is juggling many things and she does it in style.
One of the Queen’s of Australian social media Bec wears many hats. Her proudest would have to be as the head of her household with husband Chris, her son Oscar (3) and daughter Billie (1).
Bec has supported her husband Chris for over a decade through his amazing AFL career. Last week an injury forced Chris’s retirement and he praised Bec for the support she has shown him during his career. He said having his little family to go home to every night will help him get through his heartache.
“Knowing that I've got you and the kids to come home to, makes me feel that whatever comes next the next chapter is going to be really exciting, so thanks to you guys” Chris said in an interview.
From my life with Shane, I can relate to a lot of what Bec has been through, behind the scenes with her AFL husband. Those select few that become the very best in their field are those that do not stop at much to achieve their goals. Exactly what they eat, how much they sleep, how often they train, how they recover, being mentally prepared, the list goes on. The support they have around them is crucial and Bec would have been through more than we know.
I was lucky enough to be able to ask Chris his exact thoughts on Bec as a mother “she is a wonderful mother, kind and patient” he said “she’s an incredibly good teacher, having experience as a speech pathologist has helped her in this department as well”.
And something we all seek to do, Chris says that Bec “gets the balance right between being caring and firm”. He admits that just watching her juggle everything tires him out “she has always been an organised person, but it has gone to a whole new level since the kids arrived! Watching her work, while keeping the kids and house in order sometimes tires me out! But she does it all with great efficiency.”
The down side to their life in the spotlight in the era of social media is that it brings out the keyboard warriors. The attacks Bec has survived online are disgusting. Underneath her soft looks and small frame, she is one tough cookie. She has the type of resilience, work ethic and confidence that we should hope to raise in our children. Cheers to that Bec Judd.
So I asked Bec about her life away from the red carpet’s and social engagements. What did Bec say when I asked her what her number one tip for new Mums is?
“Don't put too much pressure on yourself to feel like you're having the best time of your life with your newborn. Bringing home a new baby can be the hardest thing you'll ever do and some days you may hate it, so give your self some time to adjust”.
Bec says that the best thing a friend has done for her since becoming a Mum is reassuring her that “it’s ok if you feel crap some times, it’s ok if you give your baby formula, it’s ok if your kids didn’t get a bath today, it’s ok if your kids eat packet food sometimes. Just knowing that it’s ok not to be 'perfect' is reassuring”.
And on the flipside, the most useless piece of parenting advice Bec has received so far? It is something that all Mums have heard many times before - sleep when the baby sleeps. We wish it was that easy!
“Yeah right” says Bec “and cook when the baby cooks and clean when the baby cleans and bath when the baby baths. Ha!”
So what about some of the craziest moments she has experienced as a Mum?
“Having sick kids can be quite hairy when you don't know what is wrong with them and they are too young to tell you. I've made quite a few trips to Cabrini (hospital) Emergency over the last 3 and a half years!”
Or when she hears herself saying things that she never thought would come out of her mouth, like “Billie don't bite the dog”.
“Oscar STOP playing with your…..”
It seems like the average day in the Judd household is like many other Australian homes. So what products does Bec find indispensable these days? “Chux. Wipe down floors and furniture to get rid of pooh, spew, food etc and then straight in the bin”.
So with so much going on in her life and from what her husband terms her great efficiency, what is Bec’s best time saving tip for mums? To double up whenever you can!
“Double bath and double bed time story. I read to Oscar and Billie together in Oscar's bed and then transfer Billie to her cot. Every night she wails like she has been shot when I take her out of Oscar's bed to pop her into her cot. It’s not a real cry and she's over it within 5 seconds. I'm not sure why she seems so shocked when it’s time for her to get into her cot as it’s what we do every night. She's hilarious!” Sounds like she has inherited some of her Mum’s staying power to me.
And finally when I asked Bec what she would love in her life right now, she said “more time and weekends with my family”.
With Chris’s retirement from playing AFL, let’s hope that she gets her wish.
As one of THE most stylish mums around town, what is Bec's favourite every day wardrobe essential?
Black leather leggings (great for wiping off anything and everything), long tops, flat shoes.
And which flat shoes exactly are her current favourite?
Valentino stud flats. Flats can be fashionable too!
The grass is greener where you water it June 09 2015 9 Comments
Looking back on the first few years of raising twins, I have learnt a lot. Many things I have already written about in my blog, but one of the lessons that has made me the most content is that
THE WORLD CAN WAIT.
Having a young baby requires a huge adjustment to your daily routine and your psyche. From my experience, this is amplified with your first baby, as well as with twins.
But, the outside world just keeps on spinning no matter what's happening within your home. No matter what's happening inside your head. No matter what's happening in your baby’s little universe.
On those days that you can step out of your parallel universe into your "old life", you do appreciate the little things so much more.
You discover just how many topics you can cover in a quick kid free catch up with a friend. How refreshing it is to laugh over an in joke. How satisfying it is to vent to an old confidant about your particular issue of the week.
As you slip back into the loveliness of your home, you do treasure your little glimpses back out to the big wide world, but you do slowly realise that the world can wait.
The parties, the me time, the solitary exercise, the career, the pampering, the sleep in’s, the spontaneity...it can all wait.
Just ask anyone with older kids, especially much older kids. They will always tell you "these are the best days of your life" and
"it goes by so fast" etc etc, we hear it all the time, like a broken record.
It’s like that famous Oscar Wilde quote “youth is wasted on the young”. We rarely appreciate it while we are there.
So this post is for those Mums in the trenches with little babies right now. Babies that don’t sleep, babies with health issues, babies teething, babies that just like to scream 24/7. Babies that decide to have the longest sleep EVER, the day you need to leave the house on time.
I think that if Mums tell the 100% honest truth, most babies are challenging. Yes of course we all know that small percentage of babies that seem to be perfect day and night. Well, their time will come. Maybe perfect babies = horrible teenagers, who knows?
For all of those Mums currently thinking that the grass is greener somewhere else, or who are counting the days/months until the next milestone,
I stretch out my virtual arms to hug you.
Each day that you conquer and each night that you endure, is an achievement. It can be really tough. Physically, mentally and emotionally. The big trifecta. I say, milk it for all you can. The grass is greener where you water it.
Now that I have the house completely to myself a few days each week, I am aware of the silence. I do love it and it’s allowing me to pursue more of my own interests, but I am also sadly aware that now I can’t turn back time. Those days when I had young babies at home 24/7 is over. Those days when it was not only acceptable, but encouraged, to sleep when they sleep, will never return.
Those days when you can crazy dance to High-5 all day and relish in embarrassing baby talk. The times when new, clean pyjama’s with matching slippers is considered an outfit. Slip a bra underneath and you’re ready to greet guests.
I can no longer eat a Tim Tam for breakfast and blame a sleepless night. Nor an entire packet and blame breast feeding. I can no longer decline a boring social invitation in favour of an early night. I can no longer justify making 48 muffins to pass the time while the babies are sleeping. Nor can I ask a friend to bring their own milk with them for a cup of tea.
If you can, embrace these things. Watch crappy reality TV. At 3am if you have to. Talk to that grandma admiring your baby at the supermarket for a touch longer than you think you have time for. Take photo’s. Take so many photo’s that other people get annoyed. Breathe in your beautiful baby and just live in the moment.
I felt very peaceful when I finally gave in to this notion. I say to new mums, especially to Mums of multiples, just give in to it. Stop looking over the fence and succumb to the beautiful world of raising little babies. Yes sometimes it sucks and if you could, you’d kick that fence over with the gusto of an angry bull, but just give in. Listen to the grannies and learn. The world can wait.
The importance of being YOU May 27 2015 1 Comment
With all of the self help and positive affirmation mumbo jumbo on the internet these days, we can barely scroll through Instagram for two minutes before seeing another quote about being “true to yourself” or “love yourself and all of your flaws”.
I agree, don’t get me wrong I am not criticising this new wave of positivity sweeping through mainstream society. Those hippies were onto something.
What I want to say, is that it is HARD to be these things. I have finally succumbed to embracing my own body and being grateful for my strength. Ten years go I would have swapped my strong frame for a lithe body in an instant. But if you’d told me that I wouldn’t have been able to carry four babies so well, or survive all of the ups & down that I did in my thirties without collapsing in a frail heap, I hope that I would have thought twice about swapping what I have. I have rolls and dimples I never had before, but I rarely get sick and I feel strong and healthy. Something I have only been grateful for since becoming a Mum and heaven forbid - older.
Now onto the mental stuff. Luckily for me I have always had good self esteem. In my teens my frown and somewhat shyness may have given others the perception that I was arrogant or ‘up myself’. Somehow even back then, I didn’t really care what other people thought of me. This confused my friends. I didn’t need to be liked by every girl in school and if I didn’t get invited to every party on the weekend, I genuinely wasn’t phased. I definitely didn’t need a boyfriend, I was too busy for that.
Now as a parent, I try to remember what my Mum and Dad did throughout our childhood to instill that in us. When I work it out, I will let you know. I do clearly remember my Dad stopping me to tell me I was beautiful every time I left the house (biased, clearly). I never remember my Mum fussing about make up, talking about her weight or being on a diet.
That stuff is so important. The little things, day after day after day just building me up.
To have a strong sense of self is SO important. I think even more important for teenagers today with all of the additional obstacles they have in front of them. I don’t even want to think about how it will be in another decade when our boys are going through the teenage years. Clearly I am no self help guru and I only did two years of the psychology part of my Arts degree so I am not going to go any further on how to raise kids with great self esteem. I wish I had the answer.
Now that my children are entering school age, I am around Mums who have more of a “life” to themselves again. My friendship group has evolved from the “Mothers Group” type conversations about when to change from two day sleeps to one and the joys of toilet training, to more ‘adult’ responsibilities once again.
It is refreshing. The fog is clearing.
These women have amazing careers, they have started their own innovative businesses, they volunteer for charities, they run the school parents association, all while raising mostly happy children. Amazing.
But some have lost “themselves” a little bit. Totally understandable after being in the “trenches” of child rearing and putting themselves last for so long. I have been there too and it is definitely not a criticism, merely an observation.
It is very common that after you send your last child off to school and if you are not working (in traditional paid employment), you suddenly have at least six hours to yourself through the day. Sometimes you just don't know what to do with all those hours to feel fulfilled in yourself. Of course there are plenty of jobs to take up your time like cooking, cleaning, washing, chasing after everyone else etc etc. But I mean the things that make you feel good, give you your own purpose.
Once the buzz of coming home to a clean house and finally organising the linen closet wears off and you have settled into a good routine of actually doing consistent exercise, you start to think about “what else is there?” For the lucky few the answers are obvious, but for those who throughout their marriage or once their children arrived, have lost their sense of self a little, this can be a difficult question to answer.
Unfortunately life can not guarantee that you will be with your partner until you both pass peacefully in your sleep together one night. Even if you’re lucky enough to have something like this, as the years go on, there will be more time to yourself. For yourself. So if we can teach our children, in particular our daughters, to find their passions and what makes them feel good and somehow manage to keep that throughout their whole life, that is a huge achievement. That way they will never be alone. They will never be unfulfilled.
Once they have children and finally get some hours back to themselves, they will have a long list of awesome things they want to achieve. Or shock horror, they choose to never have children. Women are amazing and have so much to give. Yes sorry, we are givers. By having something that is truly your OWN, it makes you feel good. Not something you do with your partner or your kids, but something for you. A job you enjoy, a hobby, an exercise goal, a cause that you volunteer for.
My own Mum led my example. If you read my Mother’s Day post you’d remember how she studied, worked, volunteered and renovated us through our childhood. How she coped emotionally when she lost my Dad and she was alone for the first time since she was 16 years old. All with four kids.
These children of ours are watching us, they are learning from how we cope with life’s everyday, little obstacles as well as huge hurdles. I think it’s really important to show our children that we are just not their Mum, running their home. We are so much more than that. Find your mojo for yourself and for your kids. You’ll be busier, but you’ll be happier I am sure.
The sooner us girls are really running the world, the better.
An Ode to Social Media May 13 2015 5 Comments
I’m bleary eyed, it’s four in the morning
The nights are long & the day is dawning
Little twin boys are up as they’re crook
The only thing keeping me sane is Facebook.
As they gulp on their milk, I have a quick read
Living vicariously through my newsfeed
Friends out partying, new babies expected
I try really hard not to feel dejected.
With our family of six, we are so blessed,
Two more perfect boys, who would have guessed?
That drunken girl sinking shots was once me
In the midst of the party, taking a selfie.
I’m not missing out, I say out loud
Of all I’ve accomplished I should be proud.
But the grass seems greener on the other side
They’re all having fun, I must confide.
If it wasn’t for Facebook keeping me connected,
I’d be paranoid I was being rejected.
And now since I’ve discovered Instagram
My new accessory, more valuable than the pram.
So to all of those who’ve been annoyed by my posts,
The many baby pictures and the gratuitous boasts.
From the corny quotes, to the over sharing,
You did seem like you were genuinely caring.
I ask you to please understand my situation
That through gestation, lactation & even ovulation
It was your posts & pics that got me though,
In the past, what on earth did new mothers do?
With Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday (yay!) I have been reflecting on my own Mum and all of the things she has taught me. With four children of her own, Judi has seen it all before and living proof that you can thrive amongst the chaos.
Our childhood was free and relaxed and sunny. I am so grateful to her and my amazing Dad for giving us that. I know now, more than ever, how hard it must have been at times. As the Mum, she was the hub of the wheel and she has helped achieve a relatively normal family of well adjusted adults and siblings who are now very close. As a Mum, that is all I want for the future of my own boys, but I do know it takes a lot to get there.
Of course there are the obvious things that she taught us day in and day out. Relentless, I know for sure. But when I think of her and her “mothering style” I think some of the best things she has taught us have not been intentional. It reminds me as I go about my day that there are four little pair’s of eyes watching me and how I react to what life throws at me. We are always teaching, sometimes most effectively when we don't realise it at all.
I clearly remember my Mum learning to use a computer with her cursing sounds and the annoying noise of the ‘delete” button constantly coming from the front room. Trying to “dial up” the internet and persevering to keep up with technology. I remember being made to eat carob and drink “bran water” and driving for miles to see the only suitable Naturopath in Perth in the early 80’s. She was so ahead of her time about natural and holistic health.
I remember her going back to study the Greek language when we were all in High School. My parents loved Greece and she had decided that their frequent trips there would be much more satisfying if she could better understand what the locals were saying. She couldn’t even start to learn to read or speak Greek without learning their alphabet first. So without a Greek relative in sight, she persisted with Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta….and she got there. Through the mockery of four teenagers wetting themselves laughing as well as keeping up with the daily grind, she got there. What an effort.
I watched her volunteer her “spare” time to a crisis phone line and come home depleted after a Saturday night shift. I watched her put on so many birthday parties at home making all of the food herself and inviting all of our friends, their siblings and the neighbours to join us in our back garden. I watched her embrace people from all walks of life and always look for the best in people.
I watched her and her tribe of friends pick up the pieces after each other, sharing their spare nights around in their little “Babysitting Club”. I snuck out of bed and watched their rowdy dinner parties and waited in the hope that there was a forgotten piece of Sara Lee Chocolate Bavarian. I watched her pull on her leotard and head off to Jazzercise after dropping us all at school. I watched her paint walls, clean bricks, climb ladders and cook off a camping stove while we lived through another renovation.
I watched her cope with losing my Dad when she was only 49. Her childhood sweetheart, her heart and soul. How she must have cried at night alone in her bed after soldiering through another day making sure that each one of her four kids were OK. That’s when her tribe of women really came to the fore. What she taught me about life and about being a strong woman through that dark time is very hard for me to articulate. Her infectious laugh and constant positivity taught me that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. What a woman.
She is resilient, positive and full of energy. She is open minded and forward thinking. She is strong and resourceful. She is my Mum and what a woman she is. Thank you Judi x
My angry uterus :) April 29 2015 7 Comments
Well it’s official. I yell too much. Clinically diagnosed by a specialist ENT Doctor. You know, the type that you need a referral for and you spend five minutes in their office and pay hundreds of dollars for the honour of having a tube stuck right down your nose to your throat? Well that was my morning yesterday. Luckily of course it is just a couple of ‘nodule’s’ on my vocal cords and nothing more sinister, but to be told that nodules are caused by “vocal abuse” is quite eye opening. I didn't think I yelled that much.
The doctor must have taken the look of horror on my face and my constant interruptions explaining that I had four young boys as a hint to be quite casual in his explanations. Apparently it is common and yes, he agreed that I might not yell THAT much and yes, he was sure that “I was quite a calm mother”. However, the constant chatter to children repetitively explaining the way of the world, interjected with just a couple of sentences with “an elevated pitch” would be enough to create these nodules over time. He gave me an example of the tone of voice I should try to use most of the time and I felt like Rod Stewart warming up for his ten thousandth show. I didn’t bother explaining that a serene and soothing noise such as the one he was suggesting wouldn’t quite cut it at 6pm in my house. So off I trotted feeling better that nothing untoward was growing in my throat and went home for a cup of honey lemon herbal tea and to “rest” my voice for a few hours.
As I sipped that tea I was content in knowing, after three months or various medical tests and one bout of day surgery, that I had a clean bill of health. You see, 2015 has marked the “year of Olivia”. The twins are finally at kindergarten so I have a few days to pursue my career goals and some extra time to go to the types of appointments that you tend to put off when you’re a Mum. Of course, if your child has something more than a sniffle, you will bundle them into the car to see a doctor. But for yourself, you can wait.
So the purpose of this post is to remind you not to wait any more. As Mums we know how the wheels fall off the cart so quickly when we are sick or away or even just preoccupied for a few days. We need to be stealth like warrior princesses 24/7 and we need to be like this for a long time to come.
So back in February I went to see my GP and asked for a “once over”. I had every blood/urine/saliva test available as well as an internal ultrasound. The tests were easy. Once you've had a child, you are used to being poked and prodded but I must say, waiting for the results was not fun. I was so used to being tired that I didn’t know if my level of tiredness was ‘normal’ anymore. I had felt all sorts of movements and pains coming from my uterus in the past eight years and had experienced so many different types of feelings at that time of the month, that I wanted to be 100% sure I was ok. The husky voice that I got for my 40th, was still following me around 18 months later...I needed some attention.
As I suspected I was not 100%. Surprisingly I was reassured to know that most parts of my body are back to normal. Better than normal, I am shocked to say. For at least 12 months after the twins were born I felt so physically and mentally depleted but I have again been amazed at the human body and its capacity to restore itself.
However, I found out that my uterus is angry. Not just in the hypothetical way, but in a way that is now proven by medical science. I’d be angry too if I had carried seven babies, had three C-sections and housed twins all in the space of 6 years. Yes you read correctly, seven babies. My journey to motherhood has not been as straight forward as it may seem. I have had three devastating miscarriages along the way. More on that another day.
So back to the angry uterus…..I had a condition called Adenomyosis (a form of endometriosis). It is fairly common in women my age and the symptoms are things that most of us can unfortunately experience each month. In a very intense way. So after a little attention via day surgery, my once angry uterus is now as good as new. Well almost, I don’t think it will ever quite forgive me, but it has served its purpose very well. I will forgive the anger in exchange for the four beautiful children that it helped me grow.
So I urge everyone, especially mothers to access all of the health checks that we have available to us in our great country. With bulk billing and medicare rebates available it really should not be out of any mothers reach to take care of themselves too. Plus amazing offers like free mammograms to women aged 40+ and thousands of clinics appearing around Australia that examine the skin for potential skin cancer, there really is no excuse.
I also booked in for a mammogram and another skin check. Why? Because I can.
I have always preferred to sit in the sun than the shade and while I am blessed with olive skin, it is an examination I will continue to do for the rest of my life. I happily paid for my first mammogram before I was 40 for no other reason except that through Shane’s association with BCNA (Breast Cancer Network Australia) and all of the amazing “pink ladies” I have met over the years. I am well aware of how unexpectantly that horrible disease can appear in anyone. Man or woman.
So for Mother’s Day this year please give yourself a gift too. Go and have a "once over". Best case scenario - peace of mind…worse case scenario - early detection. And while you’re at it, try to drag along your significant other, for they are worse than us :(