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Take a Freakin Break

Hey, ladies?

Yes, you! The mum with three kids hanging off her. And you over there, that mum with five kids who are sick this holidays. And, of course, you with the one kid too.

All of you. All you mums who are tired and exhausted and nearing the brink of total, catastrophic meltdown.

Yea, you know who I’m talking about.

It’s time. It’s time to stop what you are doing, walk away from the laundry. Put away that vacuum cleaner. Put down the saucepan (and make sure to switch off the oven too, because fire).

Mum Guilt. Post Natal Depletion. Toddler Drain. The Mad Army Of Little People That I Made.

We hear about it all the time, so we know it’s a thing.

But that doesn’t mean that it has to be a thing.

I mean, let’s be honest here, ladies. Can I be real for a minute? Yes?

The guilt will always be there. I’m no fool. I know such things.

But, here’s my point in this splotchy and random rant today.

We, the Mothers of the World, need to TAKE A FREAKIN BREAK. And, even more so, we need to do it and NOT GIVE A CRAP NOR APOLOGISE ABOUT IT.

I know, it’s hard. I am probably the most guilty of all the guilty people when it comes to never switching off, and putting the kids (and the husband) (and the dog) (and the neighbourhood cat) above myself and my needs. I get something ridiculous like 4 hours sleep per night, and a lot of that is spent having weird dreams about my kids and husband and cheese. I juggle 600,000,001 things per day, none of which are self serving.

So, I get it.

But – NO.

When you fly in an plane, and you sit in your seat and get ready for that all-important safety message, what does the flight attendant say?

Other than “Count the rows to the exit, the nearest exit may be behind you”??

“If oxygen masks should fall during the flight, please make sure yours is on before assisting others”.

And now, a show of hands please – how many of you Mothers out there (and parents in general, tbh) would put your own mask on before you put one on your child?

Yea.

But you have to, because that’s what they said.

Today, I lay down a challenge for all the Mums of the aforementioned list.

Let’s start small. Once, just ONCE this week, I would love for you all to apply this to everyday life. Not the oxygen masks bit, smarty pants. Unless you are on an aircraft and the oxygen masks do happen to fall, in which case, shit, do your thang!

But no, I’m talking about applying it to our everyday, chaotic messes that we call daily life.

I want you to take a moment to PUT YOURSELF FIRST.

Tell your husband, the kids are here, they are fine, I’m going out for tea. And gather your faves, your squad, your besties and go out for dinner. Or get together for a stitch and bitch. Or go to the movies alone. Anything that is 100%, entirely for YOU. You, you strange beautiful woman.

Men don’t get the same guilt we do. I don’t know why. But they don’t.

The thing is, what good are you, as a mother, as a wife, as a person, if you have reached a stage of blowout? What good are you to yourself if you are too tired to think, too tired to exist?

What good are you if your health starts to suffer while your kids thrive?

This is something I have learned the hard way this past month. And I’m still learning. And I don’t have the answers. But what I do have, is a plan. A plan to take time for me.

My life is so damn busy, I’m effectively working three jobs while raising three kids. I have reached the point where my health is suffering dangerously. So something HAD TO CHANGE.

I’ve started small. Scheduling in “me time” in my week. Extending my daughter’s preschool hours so I can have an extra hour to focus on me. And not feeling BAD ABOUT IT. And, even more so, not scheduling anything into that time! I also treat exercise like an errand. I “book” it in on my calendar, so there are no excuses.

I read. I have a book and I am forcing myself to take the time to read it. Even if it’s while I sit on the loo, it’s reading something that has more than six words per page.

I take showers and I *gasp* lock the door. Or sing so loudly I can’t hear the kids yelling at me from the other side of the glass shower door.

I am learning to unapologetically put myself first occasionally. Because I had to. Because I was a fast sinking ship and I needed to make a change quickly.

 

So there it is. I reiterate, I am setting the challenge for all y’all. Take some time for YOU. Make the time. Don’t feel bad about it. DO IT.

Because your kids need you. Your husband needs you. Your family and friends need you. YOU NEED YOU.

I need you.

 

 

 

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If I Die Tomorrow

If I die tomorrow, just know that you were loved

From the very first moment I saw you

From the very first moment we touched

If I die tomorrow, please remember that today

You made my life completely real

You made it worth the wait.

I have no plans of going

I have every intention to stay

But you will learn as time goes on

Life works in its own way

So if I die tomorrow, I need to know for sure

That you will all be fine with things

If I am there no more

 

Please look after Daddy

He’ll need to have you there

Teach him the difference between dresses and skirts

And be patient when he brushes your hair

To my daughters – become strong, confident women

Have manners and empathy; be kind

Whatever you choose to become in your life

Just know that I really don’t mind

And to my wonderful son as well

Have empathy and integrity too

And, as with your sisters, choose your own path

Decide what it is you want to do

Because all that I wish in the depth of my heart

All that I want from you

Is happiness, love and a nice big fat smile

And a family who is there with you too

Of course, I have no plans to be gone tomorrow

I plan on seeing you grow

I will watch you get bigger and learn from the world

As you realise the things that you know

And when you are old and grey I’ll still be here

Naggingly proud as a plum

I’ll embarrass you lots and huggle you more

And be right there, front and centre, Number 1

And you’ll be like, “gawd Mum just leave us, geez!

We can’t have our fun, let us be!”

And happily I’ll retreat with a smile

Knowing deep down YOU STILL LOVE ME!

Whether doctor or lawyer or parent-of-three,

I honestly don’t really care

As long as you live long and happy

As long as you know we are here.

But, if I die tomorrow.

Just know that for every day

You were loved more than ever,

Hugged more than ever,

And I will never change a thing

Not one little thing

That makes you, my children, that way.12495155_10154044942357292_7050557721886405161_n

 

 

 

 

2

A Blue Bath Kind Of Day

Last night, my husband worked a late shift. By the time he got home, two kids were asleep in bed and the third? Well, she was jumping all over me, being a general go-the-heck-to-bed-pain-in-my-bum. Nothing new there.

Husband came inside and asked me how my afternoon had gone.

“Well!” I told him. “Since you asked …”

I instantly saw the regret in his eyes, the panicked, dammit why did I ask ….

Because you care, husband. Because you care.

I immediately delved into a long novel, barely coming up for air between sentences, about how the kids had been a constant symphony of whinging all afternoon and nothing was right and I was entirely at fault through their eyes the entire afternoon and the crying and the yelling and somehow they all managed to injure themselves all at the same goddamn time and I couldn’t possibly comfort all three at once and that was my fault too and I hadn’t had a moment’s peace all afternoon not even when I went to the loo because they all needed something NOW and I couldn’t keep up and WHY DID WE HAVE CHILDREN and thank god at least two of them are asleep now but this one still awake holy shit don’t get me started on her and what she did while unsupervised in the bathroom for five minutes and the tantrum she threw on the way home oh my lordy I filmed it because otherwise you wouldn’t have believed how epic it was …

And then I stopped.

And I heard myself.

And I said, “Wait. Cancel that. Ignore what I just said. Start again. Ask me how my afternoon was ..”

“O … kay …” my dear husband replied, thinking right-o, I’ll play along … 

“How was your afternoon, dear?”

“It was good. Not great, but hey, it’s Friday and the kids are tired. Once the kids got over their initial synchronised injuries and subsequent tears, all three settled onto respective electronic devices while I pottered around doing housework and like. There were a few squabbles over the iPad but they actually sorted them out together, with minimal injury. I cooked tea and when I called the kids over to the table, all three came over without hesitation or argument which is rare! And we ate our tea together, and talked about what made us laugh that day.

After dinner was cleared, I said it was bath time and BoyChild said he felt like it was a blue bath kind of day. I thought, you know what – it is. So I grabbed the blue food colouring and the kids played in the bath for long enough for the water to start to go cold. After wrapping the kids like babies in their towels then tickle-monster-ing them into their pjs, we read stories on the couch.

At bed time the older two went without a fuss, and were asleep before too long.

All in all, not a bad afternoon, all things considered”.

And there it is.

A slight change in the way you think can have a massive impact on so many things. It’s human nature to sway towards the negative in a situation, and it certainly wasn’t a fantastic afternoon, but it wasn’t entirely disastrous either.

I need to take a leaf out of my own book sometimes – perhaps sit down and ask myself, what made me laugh today? What was something that made me smile?

Because there will always be something, even if you have to look a little harder to find it some days.

And then, I showed husband the video of the Epic Tantrum of ’16, because let’s be honest, it needed the air time.

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The Mum Who …

Yesterday, I was The Mum Who had to work at 7am.

I was The Mum Who didn’t push her son to dress up for costume day, because he said he didn’t want to do it.

I was The Mum Who didn’t read the email properly because I was too busy with other things.

I was The Mum Who didn’t realise it was a shared lunch at school.

Yesterday I was The Mum Whose son was the only child not in costume, and the only child who didn’t contribute to the lunch.

I was The Mum Who sat in my car in my lunch break and cried, because I never wanted to be The Mum Who was too busy to give that time to her kids.

Being a working Mum is bloody hard work. Even if I had realised there was a shared lunch, I wouldn’t have put up an amazing platter of themed food like the other mums. Because I didn’t have time. Even if I had fought my son to wear his costume, it still would not have been the detailed costume other kids wore.

I work hard doing two jobs and juggling three kids. Somedays I really feel like I do my best. Yesterday I was not The Mum Who did her best.

I was The Mum Who went to school at pick up time, and apologised profusely to the teacher, I was The Mum Who said it was all my fault, please don’t let the blame fall in any way on my son. I was The Mum Who had someone say to me, “Oh, your son was the one not in a costume?”. I was The Mum Who thought, for a brief moment, that maybe my kids deserve a Better Mum.

And then the bell rang, and my son ran out of the class, and hugged me, and said “I was in a cool costume Mum – my t’shirt is blue so my teacher says I’m a Blueberry!”. My son was completely unaffected by his day. He loved all the costumes, and was perfectly happy not being in one.

I was many things yesterday, but as we left the school grounds I was That Mum Who laughs with her kids. Holding hands with BoyChild while the girls ran under our arms and in circles, all three kids in hysterical laughter. I was The Mum Who works hard so my I can spend afternoons with my crazy kids. I was The Mum Who listened to their stories from school, The Mum Who joked and played with them.

The Mum Who kissed them goodnight, tucked them into bed, told them I love them, and got big, sloppy, gross kisses back from them.

Life is tough. We make mistakes. It’s not always what we hope it will be. After days like yesterday, it’s good to remind ourselves not what we aren’t, but what we are. The Mum Who will do anything for her kids. The Mum Who works hard so her kids don’t have to.

The Mum Who does ok.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Temporary Tattoos – Not So Much

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This weekend, Princess acquired a considerable amount of temporary tattoos. As in, heaps. A lot. And, she announced to me she wanted to be a Tattoo Queen.

Now, I don’t have any tattoos. I’m not against them, I just don’t have any. Husband has one, a black panther on his arm that he got when he was in his teens. He regrets it, for what it’s worth – but the kids find it hilarious. Probably not what he was going for when he got it, but there you go.

So, I’m not sure why Princess decided she wanted to be a Tattoo Queen, but it kept her quietly entertained for a long time so I left her to it. In hindsight, perhaps I should have paid a little more attention to what she was doing. Soz about that.

Princess adorned herself in temporary tattoos. On her face, on her shoulders (I’m impressed by how she managed to tattoo her own shoulder), on her torso and up and down both arms. Oh, and on her neck. And then, she moved onto her brother and sister and did all over their arms and torsos. That goodness they wouldn’t let her tattoo their faces. Smart kids.

My favourite part of the whole escapade, was when she said to her father, “Hey – Dad? You will be so proud. Your baby girl is getting her first tattoo!”. His face. Priceless.

My least favourite part of the while escapade, was two days later when I thought, I better remove these tattoos, lest it look like we never clean our children.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand they didn’t come off. So, using the tattoos on Princess’s arm and torso, we started to try everything.

Soap and water? Nope.

Babywipes? Nope. What? But they clean everything!

Nail polish remover? Nope.

Antibacterial wipes? Nope.

Oh, shit.

And so, I did what any decent parent would do. I appealed to Facebook. And the suggestions ranged from makeup remover (hello? I use baby wipes!) to a scouring pad (thanks, Mum). I didn’t really want to put turpentine near my 6 year old’s face, and while Mr T’s suggestion of JIF (household cleaner) did work, it also started to strip layers of skin, so again, not near faces.

The most consistent answer on FB was olive oil, which made sense. While I appreciate that people think we are millionaires, alas we don’t have olive oil in the house. We do, however, have common-garden vegetable oil. Worth a try.

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And, it worked. Princess valiantly sat in front of her purple vanity unit with a packet of cotton pads and a bottle of vegetable oil, and she soaked and she wiped and she scrubbed and, gosh darn it, she removed those damn tattoos.

By the end, she was tired and I was tired. She said to me, “I learned my lesson, Mum. No more tattoos on my face”.

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Mr T visibly breathed a sigh of relief.

And so today, she woke up fresh faced and said to me, “it’s so nice to see my own pretty face again”.

That it is.

Imagine my excitement when she emerged from her dentist’s appointment this morning with a grin and a “Guess what the dentist gave me, Mum! Some Frozen tattoos!”.

Oh, you have got to be kidding me.

Not. On. Your. FACE.

 

 

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Like a Switch

As you know, I am, first and foremost, a SAHM (that is, Stay At Home Mum to those of you who don’t know interweb lingo). I always felt drawn to motherhood, and it was a given that I would be a SAHM, even if only for a short period.

I loved it.

Until … I didn’t.

It was as though a switch had been flicked. One day, I was perfectly content being at home with the kids. The next day, I was not.

As luck (?!) would have it, this switch was activated the same time Mr T got his work transfer, resulting in us moving six hundred bazillion miles away from where we lived.

As soon as we had arrived here and the kids were settled in school, I began to search for work, and didn’t have much success. The glaringly obvious voids on my CV, combined with my eclectic work history (picking up work in between kids) and large variety of experience (from entry-level to management) worked against me, especially in a tricky and competitive market for even the most basic of jobs.

And so, I found myself still a SAHM. Except, I was increasingly shifting away from the nice, easygoing SAHM, and drifting towards the moody, grouchy, yell-y SAHM. A mum I did not want to be. A mum my kids didn’t deserve.

In November I got a part time job, and my other work, my passion, my dream job, is finally taking off as well. But I am still, primarily, that goddamn SAHM.

BabyGirl turns three on Sunday. In two days, my baby will be three. Which means, on Monday, she starts preschool. 20 hours a week, she will be going to preschool. I will be working two of those days, and the other two days I will have, for the first time in nearly seven years, uncommitted time without children. People are asking me, “Are you ok with her going for that many hours?”. People are saying to me, “Oh, you must be so sad that your baby is growing up!”.

Well, yes, I am, I suppose, a little sad at the prospect that my baby is growing up. But no – I’m not sad she is starting preschool. I’m am ok with her starting preschool.

You see (and I feel it important to mention at this stage, that this is very hard and upsetting for me to write) – there have been moments, snippets, times, when I have looked at my kids and thought, “Do you know what? I don’t like you. I’m sick of you. Go away. Leave me alone”. I’ve never said as much to them, but I’ve come close. And it kills me. I never wanted to become that mum who doesn’t like her kids. I mean, I’ll always love them, that goes without saying. But I would like to like them as well.

I want to enjoy my kids, to laugh with them and play. We still do those things, but they are increasingly far and few between.

I need to be apart from my kids, so I can have the opportunity to miss them.

I need to be away from them long enough that they miss me, and see me as more than that lady in the house who does all the stuff for them.

When that switch flicked off nearly a year ago, the light, the spark, began to fade. Finally, at last, with BabyGirl starting preschool in three days, I can see the light again.

I need to regain myself, so I can be the best mum I can be to my kids.

Because that’s the mum they deserve.

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2

My House is a Mess

Today, for a change (sarcasm) my house is a mess. A pig sty. It’s Day Two of the school hols, and there is shit (for lack of a better word) every where. Books. Toys. Clothes. Spoons. Everywhere.

And, it’s midday and so far I’ve hung two loads of washing, brought in two loads, changed the sheets and made four beds, cleaned the kitchen, put on the dishwasher and tidied up the bathroom. Incidentally, I’ve also suggested to Princess that she might like to tidy her room – she very politely commented, without a shred of irony or snark, “You actually don’t need to tell me, Mum – I’ve already started”.

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Right.

But, here’s the thing.

I need, we need, to stop apologising for the state of our houses. If someone was to come over unannounced today, I would be horrified and embarrased at the state of my house. But why? It’s not hygienically dirty. I vacuumed yesterday, though you wouldn’t know it to look at it. The kids are, by-and-large, wearing clothing. Well, pyjamas at least. And it’s not as though I’ve been sitting on my toosh perusing Facebook all morning.  Or sitting on my bed watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Ok, I did that for a little bit.

I mean, don’t get me wrong – I get why we tidy houses. Clean houses are so much nicer to be in. I feel that, I really do. I get such an immense sense of pleasure when my house is spotless. So much, in fact, that I take photos and send them to people. Literally to say, “look! My house is clean!”.

Because, it only ever lasts a day, tops. And I think that’s actually ok?

Our house has three kids in it. Three kids who like to read, play with lego, play with dolls, play toy kitchens. This house also has a mum in it. A mum who doesn’t want to spend her entire day constantly cleaning up after said children.

If someone tells me they are coming over, I clean the house. I make it look presentable – often by relocating the junk to another room, to be honest. And I do this because I know that the cleanliness of my house reflects on me. But what I don’t like, is the feeling that the cleanliness of my house reflects on me as a mother.

We already have so much damn pressure put on us to be perfect mothers. Our kids should be well behaved. They should be tidy and clean. They should be polite. Our house should be tidy.

So, I tidy my house when someone is coming over. I even spend hours tidying, and then pull the old line, “excuse the mess”, knowing full well that the house is cleaner than it has been in weeks.

But, what if there is an emergency? And I have to call someone to come over in a rush? My house probably won’t be tidy. It will be clean, but not necessarily tidy. And, if I can’t allow someone to see my house in it’s true state, then I feel like that says more about them, than me.

If a person comes into your house and judges you (and I know, pre-kids I was well guilty of it myself), then do you really want that person in your house?

I guess my point is this – I work hard at home. Very little of my time is actually spent sitting down doing nothing. In fact, as I type this, I have a 2 year clambering over me, and I’ve left my chair twice now to clean up a spill or fetch a drink of water or take a child to the toilet. Yet, my house still looks like a bombsite. I shouldn’t have to apologise for that. What I should apologise for, is getting angry at my kids when they dare to walk into a room I’ve just cleaned. How dare they think they can live in this house? That’s not the mum I want to be.

You know what? My kids are happy. We are having an at-home day. A PJ day. A messy house day.

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And that’s ok.