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.

Private-the-penguin

 

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.

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.