Conversations with preschoolers: Why my son would make a great politician

My husband often says I would make a great lawyer because I have perfected the art of arguing and seldom back down when I think I am right (which is all the time). So it has come as quite a shock to find myself completely stumped when conversing with my just turned three-year-old. While Lach is keen for Max to become a pro golfer and fund our early retirement, I’m starting to think he’d be perfectly suited to a career in politics. Not only is he a master dissembler, he could sell doonas in the desert.

Here’s Maxwell’s guide to stumping Mum/winning an election.

Tip 1: If you don’t know the answer to a question, just avoid it. The key to getting your point across is repetition.
Example
Max: Mum, I want to eat a penguin.
Me: Huh?
Max: I want to eat a penguin.
Me: Why do you want to eat a penguin?
Max: I love them.
Me: So why would you want to eat one?
Max: They taste nice.
Me: How do you know what a penguin tastes like?
Max: I want to eat a penguin.

Tip 2: If you do something wrong, pretend there is nothing wrong with it.
Example
Me: Max, what is that smell?
Max: Poo.
Me: Did you poo in your undies again?
Max: Yes.
Me: Why did you poo in your undies?
Max (incredulous): Because I needed to.
Me: Was it a mistake?
Max: No Mum, I do it on purpose.
Me: Doesn’t it feel yucky?
Max (smiling): No, it feels nice.

Tip 3: When you are in the wrong, blame everyone but yourself. When you have run out of options, go back to the start. The circular argument will frustrate your accuser and they will eventually tire and give up.
Example
Me: Max did you break Mummy’s necklace?
Max: No. Hugo broke it.
Me: But Max, Hugo is asleep.
Max: So?
Me: So how can Hugo break it if he’s asleep?
Max: Wilbur broke it.
Me: But Wilbur is a dog.
Max: So?
Me: How can Wilbur break it if he is a dog and he’s outside?
Max: Daddy broke it.
Me: But Daddy is at work.
Max: So?
Me: How can Dad break the necklace if he’s not here?
Max: Hugo broke it.

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Returning to work post Hugh – the challenges of being a part-timer

In early July, I returned to work after 12 months maternity leave. I was lucky that my workplace created a part-time role for me because working full-time, studying and raising two kids under 2.5 would have most certainly sent me towards a Britney-style breakdown.

As this was my second return to work rodeo, I decided not to waste my time wallowing in mummy guilt. With house renovations nearly complete and a massive mortgage, I need to contribute to the family budget. I also love my job. My career ambitions coexist with my desire to cram as many toddler cuddles as possible into 24 hours and I’ve (almost) made peace with that.

I knew I’d cry the whole drive to work on my first day back. I knew I would call my mother-in-law 14 times to hear my children’s voices and make sure they’d eaten breakfast/done a poo/had a nap. What I didn’t realise is how much my identity and approach to work would change.

While part-time work is great in aiding work-life balance, it also poses a lot of challenges for new mums. It can be hard to stay relevant as people often view you as the “mummy part-timer” rather than a hard-working, ambitious, kick-arse professional who also happens to be a mum.

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At home I love being covered in Playdoh and snot handprints, watching the same Paw Patrol episode 45 times and doing energetic performances of “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”. But at work, I want to be the “career me”, the one who knows her stuff and is a valuable asset to the organisation. I don’t want to spend my part-time years caught in corridor conversations that never extend beyond how I’m going to lose all my baby weight and whether I’m going to try for a girl. Don’t get me wrong, I love that everyone asks about the boys. But I also want my colleagues to ask about the projects I’m working on or ask my opinion on things like they used to.

Yes, I know I have gone from managing a team of five and a large budget to managing no-one and having to put in a request for a pack of post-its but I’m still the same person, with the same knowledge and experience.Yes, I may be sleep-deprived and craving a cuddle, but I know my shit.

I know what you’re thinking, quit bitching and do something about it. You’re right. So I’ve started inviting myself to some senior management meetings and I’ve made sure I start up work conversations armed with a heap of research and knowledge. Yes, I may be sleep-deprived and craving a cuddle, but I know my shit.

Another challenge I’ve faced is going from someone willing to work at all hours of the day and night to someone who places strict boundaries on work-time and mum-time. On the two days that I’m home with my kids, I don’t respond to work emails and I stay away from my laptop. I want to be present when my two-and-a-half-year-old creates another fridge-magnet-worthy artwork or covers his brother in stickers, instead of responding to meeting invites and mentally adding to my to-do list.

Part-time work is great but it also comes at a price. Watching less experienced people on the career trajectory you once envisioned can feel like a punch in the gut. Would I exchange the days at home with my kids for a less stagnant career? Absolutely not. So for the next few years I plan to take it as it comes, work my breastfeeding bosoms off and become the best version of my working mum self. I’m a kick-arse part-timer. I’m also a mum.

Hear me roar.

Confessions of an oversharent

Remember me? I’m that chick that started a mummy blog with the intention of writing weekly updates and then forgot all about it. Life has been a tad busy with two little ones 18 months apart. We have also relocated to a coastal town while we renovate our tiny house in Melbourne and I just finished my first semester back at uni since popping out cherub number 2 (fist pump).

The other day I was reading yet another article about how mundane and boring it is when people update their social media accounts with info on their kids. This is an absolute bugbear of mine. You see I am a total unapologetic oversharent. Just this week I posted a pic of my two-year-old riding my 10-month-old like a horse along with an anecdote about how hard it is to convince a picky toddler that a spinach arancini ball is a cookie.

I only have five weeks left before rejoining the corporate world and I am embracing every babycino chocolate moustache, every tentative step as my bubba learns to walk and every cuddle on the couch. Because frankly my dear, I don’t give an exploding baby shit if it bores you. It’s my life in all of its glorious mediocrity and if you’re a friend of mine, it should make you smile rather than roll you eyes and grunt.

So why do I overshare(nt)? Well I’ve thought a lot about that lately. Sometimes being a stay at home mum can feel like you’re living on a remote island with two uncooperative Energiser bunnies who gurgle, scream and spew in the place of conversation. Posting on social media feels like I’m sending a message in a bottle across the sea except that someone actually reads it in real-time and more than often responds. Ok, so it’s nothing like a message in a bottle, I may have been going a bit far with the island anecdote there. But it’s about feeling connected to the world in an age when the phone very rarely rings unless it’s a Namibian asking for my bank details and passport number. The days can feel long and lonely and when you’re investing all your time in two little beings it’s kinda hard not to make them the focus of your life’s commentary. Also living in a town affectionately known as “God’s waiting room” due to the 95yo average resident age doesn’t do wonders for the social life.

As an immigrant with family all over the world, oversharenting also offers a shortcut in keeping the ones that care updated. Believe it or not, not everyone has WhatsApp and I can’t be farked sending personalised emails to 58 relatives. I have a screaming baby to breastfeed and three episodes of Australia’s Next Top Model to catch up on (P.S. I reckon it’s a close one between Izi and the redhead).

Another reason I oversharent – I am crazy, madly proud of my little men. They are delicious, enlightening little dudes and every day I am astounded at the scrumptiousness that Lach and I managed to make. Sure they are no better than anyone else’s kids, they are probably just awesomely average but they are mine and I love them more than salted caramel cronuts.

This time in my life isn’t going to last forever, one day I am sure I will get back to the gym and develop an intense passion for protein balls. Until then, I am committed to boring the bejeezus out of anyone who will let me. Viva la oversharenting!

Toddler taming, naptime nightmares and poo, lots of poo

This week has been less than ideal…which is a parental euphemism for horrendously hellish. Yes, I know it’s only Wednesday but I’ve already felt the urge to put my head in the oven and turn on the gas about 52 times.

I dragged my exhausted lardy butt out of bed at ridiculous-o-clock on Monday to be greeted by Moo’s usual Weetbix throwing and toothbrush refusal. By 9am, it became clear that any attempt on my part to take my eyes off him would be met with destruction.

While trying to get Hugo down for his morning nap, I returned to the living room to find that Moo had fed Wilbur (the dog) four chocolate biscuits, decorated the floor with Krummies breadcrumbs and Superglued his hands together (with the glue I was using to fix the three ornaments he broke last week). The good news was that Wilbur managed to digest the bikkies without throwing up and my nail polish remover freed Moo’s hands with minimal screaming (thanks Google). In retrospect I probably should have left his hands stuck together because in the arvo he ate half a tube of hand lotion for entrée then took one bite out of each apple in the fruit bowl for main course which resulted in him pooping out an apple sticker.

As most parents with littlies would know, naptime is the peaceful sanctuary amidst the chaos when you get to sit down, drink a HOT cup of tea, watch something other than the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and exhale. As suckers for punishment, Lach and I moved Moo from a cot to a single bed over the weekend. As a result, our easy pre-sleep routine has turned into a nightmare. Instead of putting Moo into his cot with a kiss and him rolling over and going to sleep, we now have to repeatedly place him in a horizontal position only for him to pop up like a jack-in-the-box and climb out of bed straight away while either crying or laughing his head off, sometimes doing both simultaneously.

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On Monday it took three stories, 30 minutes and 45 lie-downs to get him to sleep…and then instead of sleeping for 3 hours, he slept for 40 minutes (thank you Melbourne thunderstorm). While trying to get him to go back down, Hugo woke up screaming which resulted in me running from room to room alternating between rocking Hugo back to sleep and putting Moo under the covers…over and over again. After an hour, I gave up and Hugo ended up sleeping on my shoulder while Moo watched Sheriff Callie’s Wild West and tried to ride Wilbur around the living room like a horse.

Only one word can describe Tuesday: crap. The daily poop count was Moo: 5, Wilbur:3, Hugo:2. As a result of his overzealous bowel, Moo ended up with nappy rash and the poor bubba screamed every time he sat down so I had a 13.5kg Velcro toddler on one hip and a 7.6kg nearly 4-month-old on the other. Hugo is a poopcrastinator and likes to spend 3-4 days working on a poonami before it explodes down his legs, up his back and all over me. While I was dealing with his epic evacuation, a bored Moo decided to decorate my iPod with black permanent marker and unpack the contents of my handbag and three kitchen drawers. By 11.30am I was praying that naptime would improve…but it got worse. It took 45 minutes and 65 lie-downs to get Moo to stay in his bed and go to sleep. Thank Buddha once he was down he slept for two hours and I had a chance to rest my back and cry into a bowl of cold oats.

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In the arvo I thought I would escape the mess and take the boys to the park. After an altercation with a fellow toddler over whose turn it was to go down the slide, Moo perked up and had a ball…until Hugo started squirming for a feed and I had to hall my titties home. Leaving the park was not high on Moo’s preferred list of things to do so after throwing his babyccino all over the sidewalk, he spent the 30-minute walk home screaming blue murder while passers-by gave me sympathetic looks laced with a side of judgement. Needless to say I have never been more relieved to hear Lach’s key in the door when he got home from work. I was even more ecstatic to see his wine club delivery on the porch.

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After watching half the Dancing with the Stars finale with a breast pump and a glass of Pinot, I fell into bed at 10pm only to be woken by my hungry cherub at 11.30pm, then 1am, then 3am…

Today I had said, “Please stop putting your car in the scrambled eggs” 13 times before 7am…

Thank God they are cute.

Disclaimer for the mummy trolls: Yes, I know I am lucky to have conceived two gorgeous, healthy boys and am very grateful. Yes, I love them more than anything. Yes, I know there are people having faaaaaar worse weeks than I am. No, I would not change anything about my life. Sometimes one just needs to vent. Yes, I feel better now. 

Another year older and full of gratitude

WARNING: soppy post ahead…

This week I am turning 33. As someone who is prone to complaining and focusing on the negative, I thought my birthday was a good time to take stock of my life and focus on the positives because in the words of one of my favourite composers, John Bucchino, “grateful, grateful, truly grateful I am”.

Today –

I am grateful for my close friends who invest their time and love into moulding a caring and meaningful relationship with me.

I am grateful for my sense of humour that has turned dark times into memories I can laugh at over a glass of sauv.

I am grateful for all the shitty, tumultuous and sometimes abusive relationships that made me recognise and appreciate a good man.

I am grateful that after seven years I call that good man my husband and that every time I see him tickle our baby boy, I fall more in love with him.

I am grateful for my imperfect body that grew and continues to nurture a beautiful new life.

I am grateful for our often messy home that is filled with warmth, laughter and personality, and for our street full of talkative and supportive neighbours (bar one).

I am grateful to have spent 21 years of my life in the magnificent, vibrant and culturally diverse South Africa and to have witnessed the end of apartheid.

I am grateful for the organic supermarket in Seddon that always has stock of Joe’s Chocolate Ripple ice cream when I’ve had a bad day and for acknowledging my patronage with a 5% discount.

I am grateful that despite being given a 5-10% chance of conceiving naturally, we managed to fall pregnant without the heartache and stress of IVF that so many people we love have had to face.

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I am grateful for our ‘defective’ pedigree fluff child Wilbur who loves burrowing into the back of my knees each night to share my love of trashy TV.

I am grateful that I married a man whose family is as loveable as he is.

I am grateful that my biggest financial worry is how I am going to afford a monthly facial, an over-priced maxi dress and our dog’s annual Christmas portrait.

I am grateful for Mondays spent with my mothers group who have alleviated the loneliness of being a stay-at-home mum.

I am grateful to live in a country where I can go for long walks with my baby and never feel unsafe.

I am grateful to have travelled extensively and seen sights that will remain perfect snapshots in my memory, that sunset in Santorini, walking through the villages of Cinque Terre…

I am grateful for a mother who can make me laugh like no other person in the world and who stays up past midnight every year so she can be the first to wish me a happy birthday.

I am grateful for a father whose intelligence, stability and love has created the foundation for my abundant and confident life.

I am grateful for my sister whose marathon Skype chats always remind me that I am a powerful and capable woman and a great Mum, and for my nieces who emanate all that is right with the world.

I am grateful for my son who moves me every day and who has redefined my life in the best possible way.

I am grateful that at (nearly) 33, my life is all that I imagined and hoped it would be.

Where for art thou sleep?

Free to a good home: Baby boy. Comes with built-in alarm clock guaranteed to go off every hour from 1am. Mute button faulty. Repair doubtful.

Sleep is one of my favourite past-times. I love curling up in fresh sheets, nuzzling into my over-priced chiropractor-approved pillow and dreaming about Colin Firth exiting the water in Pride and Prejudice the miniseries. Sleep is like finding out that a chocolate Tasti D-Lite contains only 70 calories. It’s like flipping through New Idea and discovering Heidi Klum has stretch marks, saddle bags and crows feet. It’s like being told your cheating ex ended up with an obese bogan who infected him with gonorrhea. Ultimate bliss.

Dear God how I miss it.

It’s ironic that I decorated Moo’s nursery in owls because he has proven to be a big fan of the nocturnal lifestyle. In eight months I can count the number of times he has ‘slept through’ on one hand which has left me feeling (and looking) like a pensioner who has lost their passion for the pokies.

This morning Moo was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 4.55am after calling for cuddles at 1, 2 and 3am. Boob used to get him back to sleep relatively quickly but now, after 30 minutes of hydration he looks at me as if to say, “Let’s get up and watch ads for the Ab Circle Pro”.

I’ve followed the books, introduced a strict routine and done the self-settling thing. I’ve Googled the gigs out of the issue, rung helplines, joined support groups and taken on every bit of ludicrous advice thrown at me from friends, relatives and the 60-year-old childless Italian lady I run into at the coffee shop every second day. Yes, I’ve cut out yoghurt and bumped up protein, added fifty layers of bamboo blankets and cranked up the oil heater, changed the mattress protector and sweated on a muslin cloth then placed it in his cot. I’ve patted his tummy while counting to 500, chanted Tibetan sleep inducing hymns and prayed to Morpheus, Buddha and the Easter Bunny.

I’d love to say I’ve coped with eight months of sleep deprivation with zen-like serenity but the truth is, I’ve oscillated between Ms Rational and a crazy, ranting “sterilise me now” psycho. I mourn the stamina of my twenties when I’d drink my bodyweight in cocktails till 4am, sleep for two hours and skip to work fuelled by caffeine and Tic Tacs. These days if I get any less than a four hour block of slumber, I get a lazy eye and can’t manage much more than shuffling through the day in my slippers and watching repeat episodes of Say Yes to the Dress.

On the opposite end of the strung-out spectrum is my husband who handles the lack of sleep with the patience of a celibate Christian looking for love. He just nods as I rant about the pros of China’s one child policy in the middle of the night and says, “Babe, he’s a baby. He’ll sleep eventually.” I’ve done extremely well marrying someone who is the calm to my crazy. Encouraging him to take on a new job that requires him to travel overseas a lot was probably not my finest decision. If he asks any of you where his passport is hiding, please don’t tell him it’s at the bottom of the nappy disposal bin.

People tell me Moo will sleep better once he turns one. Until then I’m going to try and cherish those early morning snuggles because I know I’ll miss them when he’s a sullen 16-year-old passed out on the couch stinking of UDLs. And let’s face it, sleep is a fair trade off when you peer into the cot and see your bub beaming at you with squeezy cheeks full of dimples…even if it is 4am.

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 Moo partaking in one of his least favourite activities

From Prada to Poo: The joys of being a fat and unfashionable new mum

If you’d asked me 12 months ago to describe myself in ‘elevator talk’ I would’ve said, “I’m a successful communications manager working in the health sector. I love travelling the world, splurging on $260 face cream and pouring myself into a taxi after too many mojitos.” I would happily debate the merits of BB creams vs. foundations, squatted till my glutes screamed to fit into skinny jeans and knew all about my hairdresser’s unfaithful ex. Between my job, social life, studying for my Masters degree and performing in the odd amateur musical, I never sat down and got off on thrill of meeting deadlines and celebrating successes.

Fast forward 12 months, one baby and 17 kilos and my life would take a broken elevator with a tardy repairman to describe.

As a previously fashion conscious compulsive shopper, I’m currently sitting at my computer in a mismatched tracksuit covered in breast milk, saliva and a blob of something that after a quick ‘scratch and sniff’ test is identified as regurgitated pumpkin. I used to fit into a size 28 jeans, now that’s my BMI. The last piece of jewellery I bought was a Baltic amber teething necklace and this Summer I’ll be chaffing in shorts fastened with a hair band thanks to my new tummy that hangs over my c-section scar like a zebra print moonbag. My mascara has coagulated past its use by date and my eyebrow plucker has cashed in its super and commenced an early retirement.

After eight months on maternity leave I don’t know if or when I’ll return to my previously satisfying job. Could I leave my gorgeous baby boy in the care of strangers while I fiddle with marketing plans and Photoshop double chins? I’m not sure. My role has been snapped up by a 20-something year old who is willing and able to spend 60 hours a week tied to her desk at the mercy of the constantly shrinking deadline. Would the executive group want to trade her in for a part-timer who’ll be doing the childcare dash at 4.30pm every afternoon? I doubt it. Search part-time marketing and communications roles on Seek and you don’t even need to scroll, a reduction in work hours brings up a short list of assistant roles paying less than a nugget fryer at Maccas. After years of fighting for promotions and working through weekends, I’ve stepped off the career escalator for a while and my bank balance is currently in debit of 86c.

Late nights socialising with friends and performing in sometimes dodgy theatre productions have become cosy nights in, dreaming up different accents for Mr Rubber Ducky, and singing Wallace the Wondrous Warthog to an audience of one. I go to bed at 8.30pm knowing I’ll be up at 12, 3 and 5 to nurse or cuddle and sometimes swear. My Masters, which I planned to finish at the end of this year, may take another five and I haven’t seen or heard from most of my gay mates as suburban mums with muffin top aren’t the trendiest club companions.

While I’d love to say that I still read three novels a month and am able to come up with witty one-liners and unique cultural observations, my bedside table is now piled with books on sleep training and last week I forgot how to spell “yoghurt”. I haven’t said anything remotely amusing since last November and when I hear myself talk about nappy contents and baby-led weaning, I start to wonder why no one has offered me a job as an aural anaesthetist.

I’m grateful that my husband and I travelled extensively as newlyweds because ever since flying to South Africa with a five-month-old, I’ve been Googling “self lobotomy” to rid my brain of the memory. I know Christmas in New York is lovely, but we’ll be spending the next 18 December’s in either Ballarat, Creswick or Geelong.

Now before the smoke starts rising from the keyboards of mummy trolls, let me say that I wouldn’t change a thing. Sticking my post-coital legs in the air for eights months was the best decision I ever made. My gorgeous little chicken-legged cherub has crept into deepest crevices of my heart and made my life fuller than I ever imagined it could be. Sure I’m fat and unfashionable and I haven’t waxed my legs in eight weeks, my career is in the toilet and a new grey hair just sprung up to say “Hi, you’re old”, but I’m the best goddamn frog impersonator in Melbourne and my little man thinks I’m Miranda Kerr. So if you ask me to describe myself between the Ground Floor and Level 2, I may just say, “I’m a new mum” and leave it at that. Because for now, that’s more than enough.

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