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The Super Average Mom

Figuring out mom-life one day at a time

Na-na why don’t you get a job?!

At play group today I blurted out “I’ve got a bloody bachelors of commerce degree” whilst singing an off-tune nursery rhyme that they had changed the words to in order to make it a game. It’s not that I think I’m above it, it’s just that in that moment, walking around in circles dragging a cranky toddler, trying to squash the new words into the old song, playing a game that he didn’t understand, my life seemed ridiculous.

I’ve had a 90’s song stuck in my head. It’s by the offspring and it goes ‘na-na why don’t you get a job’. I guess it’s because for some reason my stay at home mommy-hood has been on my mind and a few months ago the issue came to a head.

As I pulled into my drive the stay at home mom next door stepped out of the house. She looked fabulous. Hair and make up on point, clothes clean and ironed and not built for a trip to the park, sunglasses, jewellery…no kids in tow. Her youngest is just a few months older than my youngest. He’s started play school and she told me she was on her way to a job interview. And then she said it. “I just can’t stay home like you do, I don’t know how you do it, I’m bored”

Bam there it is. The thing no stay at home mom wants to admit. But now I want to shout it. Yes I’m constantly busy. Yes I don’t have a moment to myself. Yes I am bloody exhausted. But I am so. damn. bored. I think some of us feel it but don’t want to say it because society already has a stigma that stay at home moms are lazy or don’t have the ability to hold down a job. So we talk about the million unseen things that we do and how busy we are but no one adds ‘and I’m bored’.

You see once long ago I wasn’t a stay at home mom. For a short while there I was a fashion designer and slightly interesting person. But I gave up having a career right now to be home with my kids while they are still small. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to get involved in ‘the mommy wars’. I know some moms have to work. They need to to provide for their families. And I know some choose to for themselves, so that they can give the best part of a happy person to their children when they get home. Everyone does what’s best for them. But I chose to stay at home.

I love my kids. I love being there for the milestones and little things. But let me tell you, staying at home is not for the mentally weak. No, stay at home moms are a tough bunch of women. Some days we do not want to play blocks or dress up. Some days we don’t want to make another uneaten lunch. Some days we want to have conversations with adults that doesn’t involve poo talk. We want to talk shit.

But we find ways to cope in the isolation where you are never alone. We find creative outlets, projects, volunteering, other moms. Not because we have the time but because we need something of our own. For me right now it’s writing. Sometimes my head gets so full of useless thoughts I need to dump them on paper. Other mom’s have asked me how I find the time to write but I don’t find the time, I have to.

So here I am, a stay at home mom, just throwing it out there…I’m bored. But na-na I won’t get a job (yet).

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Santa Clause is coming to town

He’s making his list, he’s checking it twice, he knows for damn sure all the kids have been naughty and made mommy cry at some stage during the year. But hooray Santa Clause is coming to town and we have less than 2 weeks left of threatening our kids with ‘no gifts I’m calling Santa’ before the gigs up.

I have a problem though…does Santa bring all the gifts???

I have a very inquisitive three and a half year old. He has ALL the questions. I have bought his Christmas gifts and wrapped them before the malls get insane and I lose my Christmas cheer and have to resort to spiked egg nogg to enjoy the season. They are all labeled ‘from Santa’ because I assumed between the ages of 3 and ‘Santa’s not real and I hate you all’, that’s what you do. Until granny threw a spanner in the works and said she’s giving me money to get a gift on her behalf, don’t care what, just put my name on it. When I said everything’s coming from Santa she said she’s sure I can make a plan.

So the story is Santa brings you gifts if you’re good. Because it’s Jesus’s birthday. He’s happy we are sharing Jesus’s birthday, kids love to share birthdays. But then granny and grandpa and this one and that give you gifts too. So even if you’re naughty you get gifts from the people who love you because we love our kids, even when they are naughty. Maybe I’m over thinking things here but I feel like I’m losing my leverage (and some of the magic that goes with a fat flying stranger delivering toys).

To make matters worse another mom told me all the gifts shouldn’t be from Santa because some kids are less fortunate and they may wonder why others got more from Santa. Apparently it’s one small gift from Santa and the rest from family. What the what? When I was growing up my parents weren’t rolling in it but I wasn’t comparing gifts, I thought those kids were just better behaved?! Maybe I’m a grinch but it’s all a little too P.C. for me. Life’s unfair kids will find it out eventually. Either way some are getting more than others. It sucks but the story isn’t going to change that.

So hubby has a plan and I think It’s a good one. Santa brings you gifts. But granny ‘requested this for you’ because she loves you and thought you would like it. Problem solved (I hope). I’ll be over here drinking my egg nog.

10 things my kids would rather play with

When a friend told me her toddler chewed the toilet brush handle I didn’t even flinch. It was probably the brush too, that’s about right. While the people at Fischer price probably have some impressive qualifications in toy design and undoubtedly spend hours thinking up ways to both entertain and stimulate the growing mind, they’ve got nothing on the home section of Kmart. So if you’re having a new baby think of this list as ‘the real baby essentials list’ and if you have a child that’s mobile, well no need to hang your head in shame – we’ve all been there.

1. An old dirty shoe. Shoes are wonderful things. The flat rubbery kind are great for teething on (move aside Sophie le giraffe) with the added bonus of good bacteria and crunch (read dirt). Slapping them together provides music and teaches them to cross the midline, an important developmental millstone. Trainers have laces which, although pose a strangulation hazard, pulling at them is great for fine motor co-ordination. If your boy is trying to walk in your sparkliest heels he’s practicing gross motor development and balance. He’s a future ice hockey star!

2. The toilet brush. Aah the toilet brush. Probably the most bacteria infested item in your home. It truly is disgusting. And extremely texturally interesting to a child. It’s the wonderful combination of a brush and a stick to wave and often there’s the added benefit of spraying water around if you shake it. Children are drawn to these. I have a suspicion they are just trying to get to us.

3. Tuppawear. Not only do these store food, they give you an opportunity to cook food too. What child hasn’t happily unpacked the tuppawear draw while their parent cooked dinner?! There can be a pile of toys lying on the floor but tupperwear is the toy of choice. It’s great for musical self-expression – you can bang it or put things in it and shake it. Or you can throw it at your parent.

4. Fragile glass bottles, bowls and vases. Once again I think they are just messing with us here. What better way to get your mom to scream than pick up something glass. It’s just funny. Plus it inevitably results in a game of catches.

5. Toilet paper. This is great stuff for unrolling. Unrolling is generally followed by tearing, which is an important skill they will need when they start school. Bet you didn’t know taking them to the toilet with you was school readiness preparation?! As they get older toilet paper is great for imaginative play and dress up – ghost, mummy…the possibilities are endless!

6. The broom. Swinging around a broom while walking is teaching them balance. If they have a sibling they are probably learning combat skills too. Added bonus – the valuable life lesson of learning to clean up after themselves.

7. Power sockets. Turning these on and off is fine motor development. Light switches teach cause-effect relationships. Oh and why would people put holes in the wall if not to try poke things into them? Scratch that, best get a socket protector.

8. The phone charger. My kids love this one. It’s a strangulation hazard so it scares mom plus it’s great for pulling, biting and wrapping. But if you intend to charge your phone in the future maybe hide it.

9. The bin. Yay for bins. They are full of dirty mushy stuff you shouldn’t touch. Think of it as a disgusting textural tub. Added bonus if it’s a pedal bin because what kid doesn’t like making things slam with their feet?!

10. A box. This is widely acknowledged by parents as the best toy. Ever. Climb in it, put things in it, push it, draw on it. Never mind the toy that came in it. Empty box equals hours of fun.

Well there you have it. Consider your Christmas shopping done! You’re welcome.

The mommy melt down

It had been a loooong night. Thanks to the joys of co-sleeping my youngest had woken me several times to give me a love-head butt, once to the nose. I woke up with a banging headache and couldn’t breath through what I’m sure was dried blood. Hubby cheerfully exclaimed ‘I managed to get him back to sleep last night’ and I snapped back ‘what do you want a thank you?!’ We’ve been together 10 years now, hubby can spot the verge of a mommy melt down from a mile off. He sprung into action and took the kids out so I could have the morning off.

I go to a play group where one mom in particular seems on the edge of a melt down, every week. She miraculously arrives with 4 kids bathed, dressed and in one piece at 9.30am. It all goes down hill from there, or so I assume, because every week I see her dragging those 4 kids out of play group early screaming (and I mean screaming) ‘get in the car you kids don’t listen to me we are never coming back to play group again!’ Next week – same deal.

I applaud this mom. Every week she comes back. She does it again. She could stay home and turn on the TV but she drags herself and her crew out of the house and tries once more. She may feel like she’s not doing the best job,standing in the parking lot loosing her cool, but I hope she knows the moms around her aren’t judging her. I just wish she could have some time for herself.

If ever someone mentions to me a mom losing it with her kids my first question is ‘Does she have support? Does she need a break?’. Kids are tough, even at the best of times. They require all of you when they are small. I’ve heard it said a million times but I’m going to say it again here…moms need breaks. When you are tired and you never get a moment to yourself patience can quickly diminish. Small defiances, little mistakes and endless nagging can mount up to something more than you can handle. It’s impossible to give of yourself when there’s nothing left to give.

On my day off I went against my initial instinct, clean the house, and used my morning to shop (read actually try on clothes without small people opening the door and exposing me to passers by). I bought my first bakini in 3 years, I must have lost my damn mind, I blame the freedom. I had a cup of coffee while it was still hot and actually got to eat my biscuit. Oh and I bought craft supplies to make my boys personalised Christmas teddies, I suddenly missed them and wanted to do something special. Because I was no longer on the edge of a mommy meltdown and once again had something left to give.

Why I’m grateful for whining

I have a 3 year old and, let’s be real, they do a fair bit of whining. Most days it drives me a little crazy, I’ve lost my cool a few times and shouted ‘that’s enough now stop it’. I’m an only child, incessant noise can slowly get to me.

But the other day something changed. We were driving back from the petrol station and my son was whining because he couldn’t fit his ice cream into a pouch of the hanging organiser by his car chair. ‘My child is lucky he even HAS an ice cream and he’s still whining’ I thought, ‘this is ridiculous’! But then it occurred to me…my child is whining because we are blessed.

I’ve never lived in poverty but I spent the first 27 years of my life in a third world country. I grew up in privilege but was constantly surrounded by people who were unemployed and couldn’t afford to feed their families. Im not talking about people struggling and not being able to afford nice things, people literally have nothing and little hope of change. Social welfare is nonexistent. Basic necessities like running water and electricity are not a reality for everyone. Every second traffic light is littered with people begging at car windows.

I’ve spent time in children’s homes there and you can be damn sure when you give those kids an ice cream no one is whining. Oh no those kids are ecstatic. They are fighting their way to the front to get theirs in fear they won’t receive one and will be quietly eating it as fast as they can. They are grateful. You’ve made their week!

The thought hit me like a ton of bricks. I am lucky my child is whining. He is unhappy about something so minor because he has never gone without. Yes we do say ‘no’ to him, I don’t want to raise an entitled brat. We aren’t rich, but he has no idea what it is to not have enough. To go hungry. To suffer.

So today, and hopefully in future, I will try to remember that my child is whining because we are blessed. We are so lucky. Today I am grateful for whining.

Even hippy moms lose their shit

I follow a few parents on Instagram who could be labeled as ‘alternative’ if you’re into labelling. I’m usually not one to compare my life to the glossy edited pictures people carefully curate and post, I know that’s the best bits of their lives and it’s not real every day, but of late I’ve found myself lusting after a certain lifestyle.

I picture my boys and myself living ‘away from it all’. We grow our own fruit and vegetables and happily spend our afternoons picking and cooking what we’ve grown. We spend our days splashing in rock pools and waterfalls and picnicking in forests. We read books under the stars with our flashlights and make fires. The boys play happily together while I sip my herbal tea and write. It all seems so peaceful, I would be so relaxed and happy.

The other day I took my boys to a theme park ‘farm’ with their granny who is visiting from overseas. We had fed the animals and seen some horses and the kids were quietly sitting under a tree eating their lunch. Across from us was another family having a picnic. The mother was dressed in a beautiful flowing floral skirt and boho top and had long natural hair. I thought to myself she looks so chilled. So peaceful. I bet this is one of the women behind those baby-wearing veggie growing forest adventuring feeds I long after. And then it happened…

Her eldest was playing in some sand and had started throwing rocks down a drain, my son had joined him. She told her son to stop and he ignored her and continued. I called my son back to me and she told her son to stop again. He continued. And then she was screaming ‘stop it I told you listen to me’ at the top of her lungs. “She obviously has a temper problem” granny commented. But I’m sure she doesn’t. I’m sure her kid has been defying her for most of his 4 years of life, as most kids do, and she had had enough. I think she was having one of ‘those’ dreaded days. I’m no one to judge, let the mom who has never lost her cool throw the first metaphorical stone. No really, please do. I would love to meet this saint of a woman and her angel children, I could learn a thing or two.

But for the rest of us mere mortals I realised something in that moment. I realised that even if our dinner is made from lovingly home grown organic veggies my kids will probably still refuse to eat it and throw it on the floor. I will still have to clean it up. Even if I have that beautiful hand-made mandala picnic rug my kids will still squish their lunch into it. Even if we spend our days exploring forests I will still be saying ‘stop’, just it will be to prevent them from falling down a cliff instead of off of a jungle gym. They will still argue, except it will be over the same stick instead of the same toy.

I’ll never stop trying to make things better for my kids, never stop striving for my funny kind of ideal. But the truth is the background in the picture might be pretty but kids remain kids. The scenery may change but mom-life is just the same. And even hippy moms lose their shit.

“Parking’s a nightmare”

I’ve developed a kind of parking lot phobia. And it’s completely not-insane. You see I’m generally one of those lucky people who get a good parking near the entrance to the shopping mall, or wherever, probably because my kids are up at the crack of dawn so we get to places before more sensible humans are even awake. But here’s the problem…when we are leaving parking is filling up and people don’t like to walk 100 meters from their car to the entrance. But they are in a huge rush. Huuuuge rush.

What non-kid parkers do not understand is that I have two kids. That’s two small people that need to be forcibly restrained in car seats. And those things are tricky, the car seats I mean. Plus there’s the pram. All of my shopping is stashed in the basket below so it needs to be unpacked before the pram is folded up, then the pram goes in the boot, followed by packing all the shopping on top. It’s a logistical nightmare. Oh and then someone needs water, and I’m not skipping giving my kid a drink because a stranger wants to park where I currently am. No. Thirsty kids are angry kids.

I’ve always assumed that when someone sees a mom approaching their car with pram and kids in-tow they know it might take a while to leave the parking. Obviously not. When I had just moved to Australia, on the first day my husband started working, I had a parking lot incident. I was about 7 months pregnant and even though I was alone in a new place I decided to venture out with my then two year old to pass the day exploring the local shopping center. As I waddled back to my car a woman pulled up waiting to take my parking. I got my son into the car as fast as is pregnantly possible and packed in the pram and paraphernalia. The woman waiting must have felt I was not getting out of her desired parking with enough hustle because she started hurling insults at me. “Selfish bitch” was one of them (Oh really). This was a bit too much for overly hormonal pregnant me and what I would usually shrug off resulted in a “I’m in a new country I can’t do this” melt down when I got home. After that when someone wanted to take my parking I started to panic.

That’s until the wisdom of age, courtesy of my mom, stepped in. “As long as you’re in the parking it’s yours you can stay as long as you like. They can find another parking” was her advice when she saw me rushing to buckle the kids in. So this is what I now do – as soon as I see someone pull up I tell them I’m leaving, but not ANY time soon. I make sure they acknowledge what I’ve said. I’m not going to ruin my day and get frantic because they are too lazy to walk a bit. Once they’ve acknowledged this, the ball is in their court. They can go find another parking or sit and wait while frustratedly tapping their steering wheel. But that’s their deal. Am I bothered? No. Do I look bothered? No. Tap away dear impatient parker, tap away.

Mummy’s toy

My kids have lots of toys, too many in fact. The other day I filled two bags for donations with the stuff that irritates me and they still haven’t noticed anything is missing. But decluttering toys is a story for another day. I have my own toy, one, and it lives in their toy box masquerading as one of theirs. It’s a little stuffed purple man from the Pixar movie Inside Out and he’s brilliant.

My husband bought it for me one Mother’s Day because, well, he gets me. You see this stuffed purple guy, Fear, talks when you push his hand and I just love what he has to say…

“I’m having the worst day ever!”
“I regret everything!”
“Oh no!”
“Did you see the way they looked at me?!”
“They’re judging us”

Maybe it’s my sarcastic sense of humour but I find this guy hilarious. I cannot for the life of me think why someone decided this was an appropriate toy for kids, but for me it’s perfect for so many reasons. You see I think when you’re tired and things aren’t going to plan this can so easily become your internal monologue. You get frustrated and start telling yourself you’re having the worst day ever. You start listing in your head all the things that have gone wrong, and then suddenly you are having the worst day ever and you do regret everything. This used to be my daily internal monologue, but I’m so far from that now I can press that little purple dudes button and laugh.

Then there’s the days I’m not feeling on top of things. Like that day when I had 6 hours of interrupted sleep courtesy of baby, my toddler pooped in his nappy and it somehow fell out and squashed all down his leg and pyjama pants. And then I went to the wrong park for our play date. But apparently it was within walking distance and since I had managed to get now exhausted sleeping baby into the pram without waking him along with the nappy bag, picnic, jackets etc. I decided a nice stroll with my toddler wouldn’t hurt. 20 mins and two kilometres later and still not there I decided to turn around and walk back to the car. Pick your battles.

On these days it helps to have where my thoughts are headed repeated back to me by a small purple man. Coming out of his mouth they sound a bit ridiculous, because maybe they are. I’m not having the worst day ever, I do not regret everything and they are not judging us. Ok maybe they are, but I really don’t give a shit, I’m stingy like that.

If you can’t see it, maybe you need to stand on your head

When I meet a grandmother in the park with her grandchild I’ve pretty much nailed down the art of knowing whether it is her daughter’s or daughter-in-law’s child. If granny announces “I’ve got her for the day, her mother works” beaming with happiness and pride, it’s her daughter’s child. If she says it like she accidentally took a bite of kiddo’s cookie that they just dropped in the sand, well it’s her son’s child and her daughter-in-law is at work.

This is a major generalisation on my part but it’s true 90% of the time, and my made-up stats don’t lie. You see granny number one is utterly proud that her daughter is a modern, independent, working woman juggling it all and is thrilled that she has some time with her grandchild. But granny number two, whilst just as happy to have some alone time, is utterly devastated that her son’s wife hasn’t given up her career to stay home with the child “like I did back in my day”. Hmm…perspective.

I have a shirt that says ‘stay weird’ and it’s my absolute favourite. The slogan is printed upside down so that when I look down I can read it. The other day I was grabbing a cup of coffee from the petrol station when the guy at the machine in front of me said “hey the writing on your shirt is upside down!”. I looked down, looked back up at him and responded “it looks the right way up to me”. You would think I had just told this guy the answer to the universe. He looked a bit shocked and stared at me speechless for a while before finally saying “I suppose that’s right isn’t it” and walked away shaking his head to himself. Funny how where you’re standing can change the view.

As mothers we are all met with daily criticism. Everyone thinks things should be done their way. Everyone knows best. And while I do hold firm beliefs on certain parenting issues (and I really do know best) lets just put this stay at home mom versus working mom issue to rest. If you have decided to stay at home to devote all the waking hours of your life to your kids, good for you. You’re a wonderful mom. And if you work because you need to put food on the table/want to give your kids the best of everything or just need to have an adult life outside of your home, good for you. You’re a wonderful mom. And if someone can’t see it that way maybe they should stand on their head.

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