Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Bad mum/good mum... Normal mum.

I think we've covered Mummy Worry reasonably well in the past (see it here and here for a refresher). Let's explore Mummy Guilt. From what I understand, as your child grows, so too does your Mummy Guilt. Mine is currently 7 (almost 8) months old, which compared to say, my mum's (love you, mum), it barely registers on the radar. Times it by the 3 of us, and her Mummy Guilt is off the chart (and don't even try to add on the Catholic Guilt). Regardless of the size of your Mummy Guilt, you feel it acutely. Here are a few things in the last couple of months that triggered Mummy Guilt. I know I will have many more instances in the future - probably far more dramatic than these, especially if we ever have a teenage daughter - but bare with me, I'm new to this...

  1. Bad mum: Not paying close enough attention so that I confused "I'm super duper hungry" with "I wanna go home and nap".
    Good mum: Running home uphill (well, a decent incline, anyway) and singing to my increasingly cranky and STARVING baby when my milk has come in and I really need to pee.
  2. Bad mum: Knowing that if I host a BBQ with my mates, my gorgeous, super sociable little fella will barely sleep and will be buzzing from all the excitement hours later... and doing it anyway.
    Good mum: Standing in the shower for 20 minutes so he can have nice, calming, warm water bouncing off his back while I shiver in the corner of the shower.
  3. Bad mum: Watching Chicago with my baby boy who seems to enjoy show tunes more than Sesame Street.
    Good mum: Fast forwarding through the gratuitous sex and violence.
  4. Bad mum: Drinking beer and breast feeding (not actually whilst breast feeding. I'm not the Devil).
    Good mum: Only drinking 1 and 1/2 light beers over the whole day, some of which was warm (and you know what? Still good. Which is a sign I don't drink often enough), and still being paranoid about the timing of feeds. Since it took the usual 3 hours to get him down, I'd say it was out of my system. Maybe I should consider the timing in the future... Don't judge me. You've all considered it.
  5. Bad mum: Sitting up at 4am and blowing off steam online.
    Good mum: Despite being completely knackered, when little O wakes at 5.45 and wants to play, I'll get up and even be nice to him.
  6. Bad mum: Telling my screaming baby that all he does is scream (and that "I wish the Goblin King would take you away. Right now").
    Good mum: Not running away after being screamed at for 2 days straight (and, if it came to it, being willing to running through The Labyrinth, meeting weird and wonderful creatures, and then facing off with David Bowie who, if memory serves, will be in tight pants, a cod piece and a massive blonde wig).
  7. Bad mum: Changing the words to a lullaby to include the line "Go the f*** to sleep"
    Good mum: Starting a swear jar before he learns to speak.
  8. Bad mum: Running to get the camera when O is stuck in an amusing and cute dilemma, such as wedged between the bookcase and the cushions.
    Good mum: Checking his isn't in any real peril before running off to get the camera. Extra good mum: stiffling giggles and laying on the sympathy after taking the picture.
Now that I've said them out loud, they're probably not that bad - certainly not anything he'll be describing to a psychiatrist in the future - but in those moments, I really did feel bad. In front of me, there is this beautiful, trusting, innocent person, who needs my help for so many things. But then he cries for 2 hours straight, does a poo as big as your head (totally just called you a poo head) and wont even do the most basic of things - sleep when he's tired - and you think, yeah, I'm gonna let that bit of Mummy Guilt go. I think I'll save space for the real ways I'll bugger him up. You know, like letting him watch the gratuitous bits on movies when he's 2yo.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Seven sanity savers

It's a cliche, but parenting really is 24/7, 365 (and sometimes I feel like a 24 hour diner, but that's a whole other post). You find that with this little human relying on you for, well, everything, your pre-baby coping mechanisms just don't cut it anymore. Tough day at the (baby) office? Put down that bottle of wine, pappa bear! Need to run off a tough (night) shift? Hang up those runners, mamma bear! So I can't drink... I can't buy 6 inch heels and dance away the blues... No nipping off to the movies to cheer me up... CBF exercising... What's left? Here are seven sanity savers, in no particular order, that should get you to at least 8 and a half months (that's the extent of my parenting experience):
  1. Sugar: I prefer mine in the form of chocolate, but take donations of muffins, cakes and biscuits. There is some piece of research out there suggesting that mums who gorge on sugar will cause their children to become obese adults. Firstly. I'm guessing the researchers aren't mums. Secondly, they're always trying to blame mums for something. Thirdly, and I say this to my adult son: "Join an gym, go on a low carb diet and pass me that block of chocolate".
  2. Caffeine: Those all-nighters I pulled at uni were barely even pre-season training for this mum thing. Think of how much coffee you used to consume when you were cramming for exams. Now double it. That's how much you need as a new parent. Now slice that number by three quarters. That's how much you can have. Now quit doing pointless Maths and go put the kettle on.
  3. The Internet/Social Media: As long as you don't google symptoms, the internet is your friend, particularly during those feeds when you aren't gazing lovingly at your baby. Pretty soon you'll have more DIY and "I'm so making this" pins on your Pinterest boards than is humanly possible to complete in one lifetime, let alone with a new baby. Sure, you could pick up a book, but it's taken 8 months for my brain to thaw, and more often than not, I'm feeding in low light (someone suggested I read the Game of Thrones series. See point 5). Cut yourself some slack and read articles on about how much cabbage celebrities eat.
  4. Other parents: Chose wisely. If you have a child who doesn't sleep well, surround yourself with other zombie parents. Got a fussy eater? Seek out other skinny kids with worried looking mums.  Does your kid like to experiment with new things by sticking them up his nose? Make a bee line for the baby with bright blue snot. Don't mix with people who respond to your "My baby doesn't..." stories with "Oh really? Mine does, and has done since...". There's no way the judge is gonna let you off fly kicking another parent in front of their small child. And who has time for court appearances and publicity anyway (fly kick-incidents in suburban playgrounds get the media all riled up)? After all, you now fit into advertising's "busy mum" category.
  5. TV shows: It's important to distinguish between watching television and watching TV shows. You want something on DVD that you can pause for those times when you baby needs your attention. So, you know, every four minutes. You can try to watch movies, but trust me, after 4 hours you'll be confused as to why that chap in the cape is getting his butt kicked by the chick he was dating 3 hours earlier. 
  6. Long showers: Hand your baby to someone else (you know the rules: no strangers who don't at least look pleasant), shut the door and turn your bathroom into a sauna. I recommend sitting on the floor of the shower and either staring into space or having a little cry. Suspend your usual concern for the environment, housework, other people etc and stay in there until either it runs cold or you are at risk of losing 7 kg and aging 43 years.
  7. Hobbies: Chose something that doesn't have small parts, that can be interrupted frequently without effecting the quality of the outcome, and that is rather cheap in case you get bored of it, or forget to apply for Centrelink (*cough*). But not a blog about muddling through parenthood; that's my shtick (yeah, I'm rockin' the Yiddish). Oh, and FYI: Facebook is only a hobby if you are Mark Zuckerberg 10 years ago.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Rookie mistakes

I've just been spewed on, and it's entirely my own fault. I made a rookie mistake. Two, in fact. Which got me to thinking (and reaching for a spew rag): what are the other mistakes we've made as new parents? I'm not talking anything life threatening, like slipping in the shower whilst holding your precious one, or them hitting their head on the bathroom floor whilst you take a much needed loo break (*cough*). Just the things that those of use new to the game do that make our already tricky lives that much harder. Try to guess which ones I did today...
  1. Saying, "Oh, he sleeps really well!". Have you heard of a jinx? Yeah, well it applies to babies tenfold. NEVER say something is a certain way, because the little sweetheart will turn around and change faster than your friends can say "I guess they don't need that lasagna I cooked them after all...".
  2. Not having a spew rag in every pocket, next to every seat, on every table, in your hand at all times... I remember visiting a friend and her baby when I was pregnant and there seemed to be those little buggers everywhere, and I thought to myself, "What's with all the little flannels all over the place? Surely babies don't spew that much?". It aint the amount, it's the frequency. Also, it's the amount.
  3. Thinking the same thing will fix the same situation again. Last time bubba cried, you sang a lullaby and he fell straight to sleep. This time, that same lullaby caused him to scream louder. Tomorrow, combined with a different kind of rocking, it will work again. Build up your arsenal and hit him with everything you've got. Something has to work eventually.
  4. Tossing your baby in the air (still holding him, of course) just after a big feed. I have literally had my baby chuck into my mouth. Not an experience I want to repeat, and yet...
  5. Razzing up your baby before bed is often a daddy mistake, mainly because he misses out on all the fun during the day (love a good morning razz-up). It's fun at the time, but de-yippifying your child after than takes the full arsenal (see above).
  6. You need a wee. Your baby is playing happily. You sneak past, settle down and start to relax when... "Waaaaa!". He's either noticed you've left, or fallen face first onto the only area around him that doesn't have a cushion on it. Your choices are hold it til someone comes over or learn to tune it out. 
  7. I came back into the room yesterday to find last year's tax records torn apart and half chewed. Note to self: if you don't want it et, put it away (to be fair, it was on the coffee table. I'm still not sure how he grabbed it. Can my son already walk but is pretending otherwise so he can attack my important paperwork? *Shudder*).
  8. Similarly, you can vaccum the entire house and your baby will find the one thing that you missed. And it's usually the exact diameter of his airway.
  9. Ditto shopping list. I had to dig our part of my Ikea shopping list from his mouth yesterday.
  10. Thinking your child is the cutest baby every to have graced this green earth. Rookie mistake. MY baby is the cutest baby ever to have graced this green earth. Sorry.