Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Being a parent...

A year ago Juddy and I were fresh out of Karitane, released from that friendly, suffocating prison back into the world. The world wherein other children existed, as did a job I was about to return to, and two grandmothers who had no interest in routines… I should have known it was NOT FOR ME. A year ago I was at my lowest point, so angry at my little baby who couldn’t, wouldn’t fall in to line with expectations… These days, I know him so well and accept that his default setting is “challenging”. I know that he lives for cuddling, and that he is nowhere nearer a full night’s sleep than he was back then, and I am, mostly, fine with that. Last night he had a little cough and I cradled him in the crook of my elbow, that heavy cannonball head, now covered in long, obstinately straight strands of the loveliest gold, smelling so tasty and familiar, his hair tickling my nose. I could just make out his profile in the darkness, and I can honestly say I’ve never loved him more. He’s such a ball of fun. He loves dogs – “gog” is his favourite and first properly used word – and shoes “oo”. A little Clifford board book, in which puppy Clifford plays peek-a-boo in a shoe, is a treasured possession, featuring, as it does, all of his most loved things. He’s still having one breastfeed before bed, but I think his interest is waning. Now, if only mine would! Juddy adores Otis, and mimics his every move. His eyes brighten at the sound of big brother’s voice. He and I are up with the birds every morning, and he’s often quite cranky until Otis and Peggy appear. Big brother is as amazing as always. Our inventor gets more creative by the minute, and his school report earmarked his above average creative abilities, which we are doing everything to foster. I am learning, slowly, that being a parent is about welcoming and valuing the little individuals that are gifted to you, and I am doing my damndest to rise to that challenge. Be they shy, boisterous, sporty, arty, dorky, rebellious, arrogant or reclusive, I will love them and love every bit of them, even the bits I don’t understand. Peggy’s little personality – or rather, big personality – continues to develop too. She’s an emotional person – each day with her features multiple highs and lows. She’s so loving lately, and so focused. She’ll work at something for an hour or two, literally cross-eyed with determination, and takes great pride in her creations – a completed jigsaw puzzle, a drawing of a heavily decorated cake, a page of numbers and letters, sprinkled with glitter. Fashion is something she takes a keen interest in, and I am trying to just go with it rather than stifle it. 15 hairclips, a striped top underneath a floral summer frock, complete with pink tights, Snow White socks, purple sandals and hair elastics around her ankles? Sure. My Little Pony, the TV series, is Booroo’s current favourite, and she borrows many of her phrases from it. “Don’t I look smashing?” is sometimes the first words I hear as a knotty-haired monkey runs into my arms of a morning. My little tribe makes me smile. They make me scream too, but I think – or, at least tell myself – that the smiles outnumber the screams.

Friday, February 22, 2013


One year ago, I was marvelling, yet again, at the miracle of life, cuddling my new baby boy, smelling his sweetness and enjoying the novelty of his red hair. I had the birth experience to beat all birth experiences, and I was on a high that nothing could drag me down from. I loved him with my whole heart and knew him from the moment he slid into my weakened arms. But his arrival ushered in one of the hardest periods of my life. Judd simply refused to do anything that baby books/modern science/old ladies/parents of ‘perfect’ babies/I expected him to. He would not sleep any longer than 20 minutes unless he was held, he would not suck on a dummy, he would not drink from a bottle, he would not fall asleep in the car or the pram, in fact all he would do in the car or the pram was scream. Life became a really awful game – one you would ‘win’ (ie, lessen the crying somehow) if you were able to work out how to get from A to B with a baby and two older children in under 10 minutes (10 minutes being the maximum amount of time you could handle the screaming without starting to scream yourself). Life was s&%t. It really was. I woke each morning willing the day away, I woke feeling sad and scared, despite the love I felt, despite the beauty I beheld every time I looked at my son. I just couldn’t work out how to take care of him to the degree he required it – swaddled to my chest, 24/7 – plus take care of two other kids who needed me so, so much, as well as, you know, eat, talk to other adults, wash myself. And I’ve never been good with a poker face. I couldn’t hide it, and I didn’t even try. Everyone who knew me knew I was miserable. Including my children, and that was the worst bit. We tried so many things to ‘fix’ Judd, but Judd was, and is, his own little person, with a definite agenda and a determined spirit. But slowly, the tension eased, bit by tiny bit, until, wow – life was happy again. I smiled – not just for fleeting moments, but for hours. The tension started to die the day I let myself off the hook, and accepted that I had a baby who was absolutely terrible at doing lots of baby things, but who was funny, delicious, and, when left to live as he wanted to, full of a palpable joy that touched everyone around him. Judd is cheeky. He is very physical, very busy, strong in body and mind. He loves to eat, as long as the food proffered is not baby food, and he loves to breastfeed. The ecstasy associated with our breastfeeding experience is so hard to put into words – it is something that only we share, something that is sacred and ours. Only twice a day these days – once, as he wakes, he sucks gently, half asleep and I brush his growing hair back from his eyes and enjoy the quiet. The second one is before bed, when he is playful and excitable, once it’s over he dives towards whatever has caught his eye, he is totally unstoppable. He walks now, ‘reads’ books, loves his Dad, hates to sleep, kisses cheeks and lips, playfully and randomly rests his head on pillows, bangs his many hammers, scribbles with crayons, cuddles into shoulders and under chins, and knows so much love. He took me to hell and then to heaven, and I am completely addicted to his firm, round body and his lively, loving soul. He finishes off our family of five. Happy birthday Bubba Boy. I always loved you, even when I hated the life we were living together, I promise you I did. These days, it’s all good.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

School boy...

Oti, you were up early, wearing a nervous smile, a quickened pulse and a desire to get dressed in your uniform before eating your breakfast (which I didn’t allow… Honey on toast has the tendency to stick to clothing). You carted your school bag around the house with you, it sat right by your chair as you ate, and next to you on the couch while you watched TV. Like a cherished pet, it was never out of arm’s length, ever available for patting… Your uniform is crisp and a little baggy. The blue is deep, stark – it matches your navy blue eyes so beautifully. Your shoes look so chunky against your little sticks of legs. Your hair, full of body as always, looking professionally highlighted with those lovely white bits at your temple, sits as it should and smells fresh and innocent. You go to the toilet numerous times, giving you ample opportunity to wash your hands, a task you enjoy and really cling to. You are a very clean boy. Bordering on too clean. We brush your teeth, including your tongue – because you would hate to smell – and I stroke your head often. I want you to know that I know. I remember how it feels. We’re early – get used to it mate, I love punctuality – and Daddy and Grammy are there too, we all know this is a Big Day. We want you to bask in our love, to put our love for you in your pocket and carry it with you, to use it to give you strength when you feel unsure or lost. Your buddy arrives and your face lights up. You seem keener on being with him than with us. A sign of things to come, the move away from Mum and Dad, the move towards a social life that is independent of us. The very reason Mums often cry when their children start school… You two chat about Harry Potter and Star Wars and Movie World, a chat that I initially mediate somewhat, but then tell myself to exit. You draw, and you smile shyly. You ask me to take your drawing home, as you made it for Peggy. You proudly tell your teacher your name, and she is already aware of it. Its uniqueness is paying off – she has never met an Otis before. You stand out already. You don’t cry when we leave, but I do, once out of sight. Just a couple of tears. Tears for what we had, that I am sure I didn’t fully appreciate. Tears for the times you will miss me and wish you were at home. Tears for your relationship with Peggy, which will never be what it was. Now I sit here and picture your face. I hope it has a smile on it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

11 months with Bubba Boy...

11 months ago he burst forth from my body, and with him, a tidal wave of amniotic fluid and a river of misery. He was beautiful right from the start – that copper-coloured hair was something special, those black-brown eyes that were never blue, not even for a day. But he made me angry, because he wouldn’t do what babies were supposed to do, he wouldn’t do any of those basic, baby-ish things, and I used to ask why why why why why why over and over in my head. I’d be shushing and patting him in his cot while the other kids cried for me and struggled to wipe their pooey bums in the bathroom at the other end of the house, where I’d locked them away in an attempt to block out their happy noises – and to shield them from my growing rage. My beautiful, snuggly, overtired koala baby would not sleep in the car. He only screamed there, sometimes for an hour or more, and never to the point of exhaustion. He would not sleep in a pram. He would not suck on a dummy, or drink my milk from a bottle. He wanted me me me me every single moment of every single day. And I didn’t know how to break myself into three working parts. The anger, and the guilt I felt about being so completely dominated by him, and the guilt I felt about getting so angry at him, and the weariness, and the empty feeling that you feel when each second of the day is seen as one less second you need to endure… I remember it all and I putting it all here, even though it hurts to recall it. I stayed away from this blog because I couldn’t bear to face the words on a screen to cement it all and take it from the safe space of my brain… I can feel that stinging behind my eyes when I flick through the montage of his first few months. It was all grey, grey, grey, with bursts of sunlight every so often. A day when he surprisingly slept more than 20 minutes in a row… The first time he smiled at me… The way he looked when he slept on me in the Baby Bjorn, and how I was able to ignore the pain in my back, because he was beautiful and he was at peace. A friend showed me a photo of the inside of a mattress the other day – it looks like grey felt, with lots of tiny flecks of colour throughout. That was Judd’s first 6 months. And I wish it hadn’t been like that, but at least the colour was there… I guess. My koala boy is now nearly walking, and really talking – Mum, Dad, ta, “gog” (dog). His smile is this funny, tooth bearing, dazzling expression. His face is still dimpled, but overall he’s a little more slender than he once was. His feet are like soft pink balls with sausage toes attached, and his bottom is speckled with cellulite. He still doesn’t do what he’s “meant” to. He wakes up 1,345,612 times every night, and up until last week he was usually fed back to sleep. Now he’s only fed twice a day, but, boy, does he make those two events count. “Do you want booby Judd?” “Mmm!! Nyum, nyum, nyum…” He crawls over to me and his eyes are all huge and happy and he sniffs and licks his lips. And then he’s on, and he’s in his own little world, our little world, and I kiss his toes and stroke the hair that’s starting to grow into flicky layers around his ears, and I just adore him. We adore each other. His favourite song is “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars. His favourite food is chocolate, but he also loves cold meat and bread. His favourite people, other than his parents, are probably Poppy and Otis. His favourite pastime is holding his penis! And his favourite moment of the day, other than the feeds, is the three-in-a-tub bathtime. I really need a photo of that.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


I have failed to capture so much of this year, it’s been a harried whirlwind of new baby wonder and angst, toddler taming, house hunting, qualifications and career progressions and soaking up tiny wonders along the way… Here are some snippets: - Juddy sat well by 5 months, crawled and cruised at 7 months – totally skipped the commando stage – and has 6 teeth already, at 8 months of age. He also weighs over 10kg. His hair is redder and thicker, his eyes bigger, his thighs rounder and his smile sweeter than ever before. He is an unpredictable Bubba Boy, some nights sleeps quite soundly alone, other nights is only at peace in my arms. He bites and pinches without mercy. Loves eating pureed roasts and chocolate custard. Has no fear. Still breastfeeding 4 times a day – will keep it going awhile I think… He's my baby, my last, my final go at it. He smells a bit like the sea and is as yummy as can be. I just sniff him and eat him up all day long. - Otis lives in a world of his own making where pirates and superheros and Star Wars characters reign, and blood is often spilt - but if you die you can always use magic to be revived. If only it were that simple Matey! He loves books and drawing, building with Lego and blocks, crafting, eating anything sweet and cuddling those he loves. Continues to be a calm, compliant, obedient boy, and is a very calming influence on the other two. Has a tendency towards laziness – he’s a bit of a lounge lizard – which I am trying to change. Wants to be a builder, mechanic, fossil hunter, fireman and art teacher when he grows up. He’ll be busy! Is planning his Neverland-themed 5th birthday party. - Peggy. Stopped all night nappies and dummies the day she turned 3, as promised. Seems like she too should be getting a uniform and attending kindergarten orientation, she’s just so clever and confident. Just wants to be a Mum when she grows up. Likes to pretend she is the pink and purple baby. Loves skirts. Loves fairies. Wants a real fairy for a pet. Loves cooking, was so proud when I allowed her to cut with a paring knife for the first time yesterday. Loves to eat cheese, chocolate, butter and legumes, her favourite beverage is cold milk. She told off her doll for being “such a curious baby” the other day. She prances about practicing ballet moves all day long.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Things I love about Juddy – the ½ birthday edition…

The chub – the rolls, the weight, the heft of him. We call him custard boy because of his creamy skin and the way all that glorious fat wobbles. The multiple dimples in his face. The big triple chin. Yum. The eyes – the shape of Otis’, the colour of Peggy’s. Gorgeous. The hair – copper, soft, dead straight and growing and thickening rapidly. He never went through that awkward baby hair phase that the other two experienced. The smile – never has a face been so filled with pure joy. The look of him when I walk in the door after work – WOW. He looks entirely different when he smiles. Beautiful when serious and serene, cartoonishly cute when elated and excited. The smell – a cross between a sweet springtime flower and a bag of salty chips. It’s divine, I’m telling you. The kisses – open-mouthed, searching, full of love and gusto. He gives them on command. The babbling – the ‘mama’s and ‘dada’s and ‘baba’s have started. The nightly cuddles – yes, another co-sleeper. The best co-sleeper yet, in many ways. The sleeping has been so incredibly good and then so appallingly bad. A Karitane residential stay and a few psychiatrist visits are in my recent past. More on that to come. But for now, I am relishing the look of his silent, still face dimly lit by the small sliver of moonlight that comes through my bedroom window of a night. The fact that he’s mine.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Juddy, 5 weeks old...

Has a head of shining copper hair... Phil calls him "Coppertop".

Is a chubby, heavy thing, so unlike the other two were.

Has a face that echoes Oti's, with a few extra chins. And eyes that appear to be turning brown...

Loves his favourite ride - the Baby Bjorn

Fits into many a size 00.

Looks fab in bright blue.

Feeds well and often.

Enjoys the shower.

Dislikes the swing that we purchased for him.

Has very short sleep cycles, but can often push through and have a long sleep if I sit by the cot and firmly rest my hand on his back.

Refuses to take a dummy. We've tried numerous shapes and sizes.

Seems slightly scared of Peggy.

Smiles, crookedly and complete with dimples, a few times each day, with increasing frequency.

Brings us all bucketloads of joy.