Blog Archives

An Open Letter to Jessica Simpson

Dear Jessica,  I heard your exciting news on the radio this morning and I want to congratulate you. Apparently, you’re expecting a massive weight gain! I was under the impression that you were expecting a baby, but that ridiculous assumption was cleared up right away by those lovely DJs. I am obviously misguided in my (warped?) impression that pregnancy was all about creating a baby and growing a family. How silly of me. Read the rest of this entry

Funfairs are not always fun. Or fair.

Little Man was always a cautious child. He didn’t start walking until 17 months – and then he did it perfectly. It was as if he practiced at night in his cot when nobody was looking and didn’t reveal his skills until he’d nailed it. That’s my boy – not a huge risk-taker. He has never really been one to climb every (okay, any) tree or jump into rough-housing with the boys. He was always terrified of open staircases, high platforms and long slides at the playground. Riding a bike was not something to even begin contemplating until he turned seven and even then, it was – how do I put this delicately? – interesting. My gentle boy was always far more at home with his feet firmly rooted to the ground, building genius constructions with Lego, blocks and Zoobs.

An intergalactic Zoob creature – one of many creations by Little Man.

Every time we’ve ever gone to a fun fair, he’s politely, yet strongly declined offers to go on the scary rides (and by scary, I mean the kiddie-coaster) and been more than happy to watch as we’ve put our lives on the line. In stark contrast, Hubby and I are scaryrideaholics. We even went to Disneyworld on honeymoon (romantic sunsets on deserted beaches are so overrated, people). So, you can imagine our delight when this week, at the Perth Royal Show, Little Man suddenly (and out of nowhere) expressed the desire to go on his first ever scary  ride. I had to stay on the ground (grumble) with Baby G while Hubby, Miss M and Little Man got on the ride and this allowed for some excellent photographic opportunities. We probably should have known better and rather initiated Little Man into the world of scary rides with something tamer, but he did choose this and you know what they say to do when opportunity knocks… Read the rest of this entry

I don’t love all my children the same.

I don't love all of my children the same I have  a confession. When I was expecting Little Man, I suffered terrible, unspeakable guilt. You see, I knew that there was no way I could possibly love this new baby as much as I loved Miss M.  Miss M was so beautiful, so clever, so funny. She was my baby girl and I adored her with every cell in my body. Sure I understood, on a logical level, that parents love all their kids the same (hadn’t my own parents told my siblings and I that all the time, like a mantra?) but in my heart…in my gut, I was certain that it simply wouldn’t be possible for me. Miss M was the light of my life and I couldn’t fathom how on earth another child could inspire the love in me that she had. So I cried. I beat myself up. I knew I must be a bad mother. Read the rest of this entry

Baking a batch of memories

New Bonbon Break header If you knew today was the last day of your life, would you still do what you’re going to do? This is a question that was posed to me today and it really got me thinking. I so often get lost in the details of running my home and my family that I find myself so immersed in laundry, dishes, writing, bills, making lunches, checking homework, running to after-school activities that it’s only late at night that I realise I missed out on so many opportunities to spend time – real time – with my family. Our lives consist of endless rushing from the time we wake up until we get to bed that there are hardly gaps to breathe and notice one another. It’s hard! And I don’t know how to slow down. There is no give. Life is just crazy right now. This weekend, I found a gap and boy, did I grab hold. The big kids had play-dates and Baby G and I were blissfully alone with nothing to do. Sure, my laundry was (correction – still is) piled to the sky but I decided that it could wait. We were going to bake. Read the rest of this entry

The Sting Of The Spelling Bee

Can you spell A-N-X-I-E-T-Y?

This evening Miss M competed in the Year Four Spelling Bee at school. She has been studying a word list that, quite frankly, would make most adults tremble and ask for Mummy. Miss M worked her little butt off and I am a very proud mama bear. I am also devastated for my little girl, who worked so hard, can spell ridiculous words like paroxysm, vehemence, exhilarate and harangue and still got knocked out tonight in the semi-final round. Boy, oh boy, did she cry.

After lots of cuddles and a big chat, she is fine. I explained that it’s okay to feel disappointed, as long as she also makes space next to ‘disappointed’ for ‘proud’ and ‘brave. I think she gets it. I hope so. It’s so important for her to learn to fail and then to get up, brush off and try again.

I have decided to share with you some of the words from her Spelling Bee list. The definitions may or may not be accurate. Read the rest of this entry

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

If you were asked what the most important thing you could give your child is, what would your answer be? I asked a few mums I know this very question and the answer was unanimous: love.  My knee-jerk answer was love, too. After some thought, I have a different answer. I think the most important thing I could give my children is respect.
Enough respect to admit I am sometimes wrong.
A week ago, I was a really horrible mother to Miss M. I was unreasonably impatient, I yelled when she didn’t deserve it and it ended with her in tears. I lay in bed that night feeling like a terrible parent. I had absolutely failed in the mommy department – really, you would have agreed if, heaven-forbid, there was a hidden camera. Read the rest of this entry

A Princess, Pull-Ups and Puddles.

You know when you make a really stupid parenting decision, and then (for reasons of parental consistency) decide to stick with it? And you know sticking with it is irrational and a mistake but you do it anyway? And then it bites you in the bum, really hard? This is one of those stories. 

Toilet training pull-ups baby girl

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Octomom: To judge or not to judge?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted The Story of A High Horse after reading a seriously judgmental blog post by another parenting blogger. Earlier this week, I read a piece on Mamapedia by Nadia Suleman – aka Octomom – on her parenting theories. As I expected, the comments after her piece were emotionally-driven, fiercely opinionated and far from supportive (the words hate, abuse and Hitler were bandied about liberally). In fact, the comments were so negative that Mamapedia pulled the piece. I’ll admit, at this point, that my own initial reaction to someone with her reputation giving parenting advice was not kind, not charitable and certainly not supportive.
To judge or not to judge? That is the question.

To judge or not to judge? That is the question.

Well, aren’t I a hypocrite? Read the rest of this entry

The Guilt Sandwich.

Miss M is in Year 4. Add Kindy and Pre-School to the mix and she’s been a school-going kid for 6 years. This means that I have been a school lunch making mama for six years. For most mums, this is par for the course. For me – this has been divine torture.  You see, Miss M is the world’s pickiest eater. She has been this way since food was introduced to her at 6 months. She absolutely refused solids – by refused, I mean she karate-chopped the spoon-pretending-to-be-an-aeroplane out of my hands with ninja precision. Let me be clear – the mushy food stage was entirely deflected by Miss M. I watched all my friends’ babies gobble down pumpkin mush while I wore pumpkin mush. I witnessed their babies guzzling mashed avocado while I got a bonus (all be it, unexpected) avocado face-mask. You get the picture. Then came the chewy-food phase. This looked promising. Miss M would happily crawl around on the grass and pick up leaves and beetles and eat them with relish. The cheese pieces, apple cubes, mini sandwiches I made her? Didn’t get touched. My desperation to feed this baby got so out of control that I resorted one day to breaking her sandwich up into tiny pieces and scattering them in the grass, hoping she would mistake them for beetles. Yes, you read right. And don’t judge. Read the rest of this entry

C is for Cheating.

Today’s announcement that Samsung has been ordered to pay Apple upwards of a billion dollars (I can’t help but picture Dr Evil from Austen Powers, but I digress) has got me thinking. How do we make sure our children grow up and don’t become the kind of people who think plagiarism is okay? I have a confession.  Read the rest of this entry

I don’t donate blood. I donate memories.

Every fortnight, I donate blood plasma. I’ve been doing it for approximately two years now and I’d like to tell you why. When I sit in that chair, with a needle in my arm, I’m not donating just blood. I’m donating memories.  Four years ago, my father-in-law was diagnosed with Cancer. In the time he was sick, he had to have countless blood transfusions. These transfusions gave him back to us, time and again. Together with Chemotherapy, Radiation and all the other treatments that come with Cancer, these blood transfusions extended his time with us and for that I will always be grateful. I wish I could track down and hug the people who took the time and effort to donate blood – their momentary discomfort gave us a priceless gift.  I donate blood because, without it, my Baby G would not have known her Bumpa. She would not have memories of him playing the clown at the dinner table. She would not have memories of the deep discussions they had and how he listened intently to all she had to say. She wouldn’t still talk about him cuddling her at bedtime and telling her special stories. She would have missed out on this:

Unconditional love.

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The Story of a High Horse.

Last week a blogger, Issa Waters, posted No Excuses: Parenting Isn’t Hard on BlogHer. I love the premise of her piece, but her judgemental stance was pretty confronting and she used some strong language that got a few people pretty wound up. Including me. She called parents who shout at their children, drag their children, punish their children and so forth, abusive. A pretty powerful word, you have to agree. I was quite angry, until I realised that the reaction her article really should have generated in me was empathy.

You see, she is me. She is me ten years and two children ago.

Back, when it was just hubby, one baby and I, I was very comfortably perched on that very same high-horse she is on now. I looked at that little, miraculous person in my arms and couldn’t fathom ever raising my voice at her, let alone feeling angry or frustrated. Resentful? Never ever. Just like Issa, right now.

When I saw parents of older kids losing their tempers and yelling or dragging their naughty kids away, I’d shake my head and think to myself, “I will never be that kind of mother. I will always speak gently to my child. I will teach her lessons with love and compassion. There is no need to yell. Ever.” When I saw toddlers tantruming in shopping centres, I’d immediately put it down to bad parenting. That parent obviously doesn’t have good structure, that child clearly needs to sleep, she is selfish…tut tut. If I saw a child in grubby clothes, I’d smugly acknowledge my child’s immaculate onesie and pat myself on the back for the two changes of clothes in my nappy bag.

That high-horse was a mighty lofty seat. It made me feel like I was a really excellent parent. It was also completely unstable. The thing to remember about high-horses is this – we tend to come crashing down off them with a mighty thud.

You see, Issa, your baby is going to grow up and maybe have a some siblings. He is going to fight with his siblings relentlessly, no matter how much you teach them that they need to love one another. He is going to tell you “no”. He is going to throw tantrums. He is going to be defiant. He is going to test you and push you and poke you and prod you and see how much he can push the boundaries until one day, without warning, you are going to lose your patience and snap. You will yell at him. You will feel terrible and you will hug your child and say sorry.

In that moment, you will realise that the mum you saw yelling in McDonalds – the one you judged as abusive – may have just had a bad day. Just like you. You will acknowledge that she probaby is not the demonic woman you made her out to be. You’ll muse that, in fact, she is probably every bit as loving to her child as you are.

That morning, she may have woken up and made scrambled eggs for her kids and mopped up a spill as her child knocked over her milk. She may have reminded that child to please be careful and not put her glass on the edge of the table (an instruction she has given that child at every. single. mealtime.) She may have watched as that child knocked the refilled glass of milk on the floor immediately afterwards and, suppressing an angry remark, mopped it up. For the second time. She maybe struggled to get three children to school on time, in laundered clothes with brushed hair and teeth and packed lunches. After a day of excellent mothering, she maybe decided to treat her kids to McDonalds. Maybe they fought all the way there over who crossed the imaginary Backseat Line of Doom. Maybe they kicked the back of her seat the whole way there, even though she repeatedly told them not to. Maybe as soon as their happy meal arrived, her daughter put the cup on the edge of the table and then knocked it over. Again. Maybe at that point, she lost her patience and yelled. Maybe she yanked her child out of the way and angrily shrieked at her to sit still and think about her actions. Maybe the child looked sad, just like you said. Maybe.

I can bet that she didn’t feel proud of the yelling and yanking. I can bet that, that night, when she tucked her daughter in bed, she looked at her little face and wished she had been gentler in that McDonalds moment.

I know that, on days when I’ve lost my cool with my kids, the condemnation I rain upon myself is far heavier than any condemnation anyone else could aim at me. Each and every night, as I go into my kids’ bedrooms and kiss them goodnight, I look at those innocent, sleeping faces and wish I had been a better mother to them that day.

I am always striving to be a perfect mother – so far, in nearly ten years of motherhood, I have never once even come close.

Yes, I yell at my kids. More often that I would like to admit. Yes, I have had countless moments when I have been ashamed of my parenting. You say parenting isn’t hard, Issa. You’re wrong. Parenting a sweet-smelling, cooing baby isn’t hard. Parenting bigger kids is hard. Teenagers? Not there yet, but I’d bet it makes the little kid stage seem easy. Talk to me again in 9 years’ time. I’ll buy you a coffee and we can laugh about the day you lectured us all from your high-horse.

I don’t condemn you for it – not at all – like I said, I’ve been there. Falling off it is a rite of passage. And when you do land with a thud, I hope there is a compassionate mum waiting there to smile knowingly at you from across the supermarket aisle as your child lies on the floor kicking and screaming, and you try to yank him up and pull him away, burning with shame as you feel all eyes on you, judging your terrible parenting. I hope that mum will come over and tell you it’s okay and that her child did it too, at that age and that you breathe a sigh of relief that you’re not being condemned.

When I see a mum being less than perfect, I have to remind myself that, more often than not, she is just like me. She is trying her best to keep it together. She loves her kids to distraction. Like me, she is probably tired and overworked and worn down. Like me, she is imperfect. The snippet of her life I am witnessing may well be just a grubby and ugly piece of a much larger, very beautiful puzzle.

A few years ago, a friend’s child was tantruming in a shopping centre. He was kicking and screaming and performing. She was struggling to restrain him and was mortified by the condemning stares of passers by. She knew what they were thinking (she was no stranger to the high-horse, having only recently tumbled off it herself). As she yanked her howling child away, kicking and screaming, she felt someone tapping her on the shoulder. She looked up and there, in front of her was an old lady, holding out a bunch of flowers. She handed them over to my friend and said, “You look like you need a little pick-me-up” then knelt down and handed a single flower to the little boy, who calmed down immediately. With tears in her eyes, my friend hugged the old lady. That understanding changed everything.

Let’s not judge each other any more. These Mommy Wars need to end.

Image borrowed from the talented Naked Pastor. Visit nakedpastor.tumblr.com.

Image borrowed from the talented Naked Pastor. Visit nakedpastor.tumblr.com.

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Thanks for the poo.

Last week, when I dropped my children off at school, one of the mothers walked up to me and put a rotten egg in my pocket. Just like that. I didn’t like the way it smelled, but I quickly zipped up my pocket and kept it with me all day, anyway. I tried to ignore the stench that followed me around and I tried to pretend that I wasn’t aware that people were wrinkling their noses as I walked by. I could only imagine what they must have been thinking about me. At the supermarket, one of those perfect mothers (you know the ones – dressed in an unstained white suit, sporting perfectly coiffed hair and impeccable make up…the ones who have magazine-cover-ready toddlers, eating organic, home-made sugarless snacks, not having tantrums while pulling M&Ms off the shelf) walked up to me, looked me up and down and sneered as she took three filthy concrete bricks out of her shopping trolley and theatrically dumped them in my handbag. The weight hurt my shoulder and sent the beginnings of a headache shooting up my neck but I dutifully zipped up my bag and carried them off, all the same. When I got to my car, I found an insulting note on my windscreen. It was vulgar and untrue. It made me recoil with shock and it hurt my feelings, so, of course I pinned it to my chest for all to see. Read the rest of this entry

Am I a slave to my children?

20120802-100054.jpg Last night, after I made my 3 children frothy hot chocolates, my seven year old son approached me. He said, “Mum, you say all the time that you aren’t our servant, but you kind of are.” Mmmm, interesting. I asked him why he said that. He replied, “Well, servants are people who serve other people, right? They cook and clean and do all kinds of things for other people as their job, right?” I grudgingly agreed, not really liking this conversation very much at all. He continued, “Well, there is a problem then, Mum, because you act like our servant because you wash our clothes and cook and fetch us from school and help us with homework, and  clean our rooms sometimes even when we were supposed to. You do lots of things for us kids but we don’t have money to pay you, so that means you do it for free. That’s really bad, Mum. It means you are a slave!” I was gob-smacked. What a thought. Deep breath, Michelle, deep breath. Read the rest of this entry

I’m being bullied.

There’s this girl I know. She hates me. She watches my life with avid fascination…every little thing I do. Mostly, I’m able to avoid her, but every now and again, she finds me. Yesterday, I was having one of ‘those’ days. You know the kind – when life seems too much and nothing goes according to plan? I was feeling like a failure because other people seem to manage the juggle so well and I was just.not.managing. Well, I bumped into The Girl. She looked at me and smirked. She looked at my disheveled appearance and her satisfaction was palpable. Without a care in the world, she said, “You’re pathetic. Your husband deserves better. Your kids deserve better. You are a failure, Michelle.” Just like that. Read the rest of this entry
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