Saturday, December 20, 2014

Fifty in two hundred days

Guess what today is? Other than five days before Christmas. Today marks House of many Minions 50th blog entry. 

I wasn't sure what to do, if anything, to note the occasion. Especially with all the horrific heart ache in the news. There's a blog post floating around in my mind, but it's too hard to put my emotions & thoughts into coherent words. Hold your friends & family close & your babies closer people, it's a big bad scary world out there.

I considered writing something with Christmas spirit, after all we are in the twelve days of Christmas. Should I mention surpassing the fifty post milestone at the beginning or end of the post, was it worth drawing light to at all? Then right before falling asleep, when all my brain suddenly starts kicking over & keeps me wide awake for a further two hours, I knew what to do...

I present to you 50 things that make me, Me.

1. I got my first job at fourteen - washing dishes at a local popular beach side restaurant.

2. I was a hypochondriac as a child. Specifically for sprained wrists or ankles. I woulds sneak into the first aid box, grab a bandage & strap myself up then try & remember how I was supposed to limp to make it believable.

3. I spent my first year of high school at a private catholic school, where none of my primary school friends went. I begged my parents to enroll me in the local public high school, which they did at the beginning of the new school year. Of course by then all my friends from primary school had formed new friendship groups, so I was left on the outer, just like year eight again. 

4. I mispronounce & muddle up words when talking & look like an uneducated fool all the time

5. Following on from mispronouncing, I call vineyards vine-yards {not vinyards} & instead of pronouncing archives ar'kives I still say archives. It's a constant source of amusement for Doug. 

6. I broke my two front teeth at year 7 camp while ice skating. They are still a source insecurity today.

7. When we go out for dinner nine times out of ten I'll order either salt n pepper squid or chicken parmigiana. When you're on a good thing, stick with it.

8. I played my first game of netball at seven years old & still play now twenty four years on. With the exception of a few short breaks to grow a baby. 

9. My childhood was gaming device free. So whenever we went to my cousin's house I would beg them to play Alex Kidd on SEGA. I still love that game even though I haven't played it in twenty something years.

10. I attended five different schools - three primary schools & two high schools.

11. I have had four jobs in my life - dishwasher {working my way up the ranks to occasionally making the take-away baguette's}. As a pet shop assistant {it always creeped me out getting dead frozen rats out the freezer for our snake owning customers.} Then I worked at a well known burger & fries joint for two years before saying goodbye to work as a 3rd assistant manager for a variety store, working there for just under three years until I resigned at thirty seven weeks pregnant. Ten days later Ben gave me my current position that I have held for over ten years now. Isn't there some long service leave I'm past due for...

12. In year 9 I vomited all over my desk & the floor in morning home group. Cries of ewww, how gross, disgusting & exclamations of how they felt sick now, are still vivid. 

13. I married Doug one month before my nineteenth birthday.

14. I learnt to play the guitar for several years in my early teenage years. For some reason I stopped playing {& deeply regret it}.

15. I got my first body piercing when I was 15 years old, without permission.

16. I've had my tongue pierced, labret pierced & belly button pierced. 

17. I had my belly button re-pierced when I was 24 & still have it in today. 

18. Unless it's over thirty degrees at night I always sleep with the electric blanket on.

19. On our first wedding anniversary Doug & I won a thousand dollars at the casino on the

20. I played soccer, netball, softball & tae kwon do in primary school.

21. I was never smacked as a child - at least that I can remember.

22. Unless I know you really well I can be shy & find it hard to make the first conversation.

23. From the age of ten to fourteen my walls were covered with Keanu Reeves, JTT {Jonathon Taylor Thomas} & Prince William. Don't judge me.

24. I kill plants, unintentionally. Despite my best efforts they always wither up on me, then I drive the last nail in the coffin {or pot plant} drowning them in love & water. 

25. Before our minions came along I loved horror & suspense movies. Now it is impossible to even be in the same room when there is anything remotely thriller like or suspenseful on.

26. I cry, easily & at almost everything. I also try to hide it.

27. I suck at long division & decimals. I never grasped chemistry either. However algebra & I are friends. 

28. I've never broken a bone, but I was bitten on the nose by a family friend's dog when I was two years old & still have the scars.

29. I love funky or pretty mugs, geisha doll & babushka doll images.

30. I'm possessive of my chocolate chip cookies & give Doug the stink eye when he gives one to our dog.

31. I dropped out of high school after year eleven, then later completed my year twelve SACE studies via correspondence when Ben was a toddler while I was pregnant with Rianan & during her first four months. 

32. I was twenty eight when I went to my first concert - You am I. I've since been to P!nk, Rihanna & Keith Urban.

33. I hoard interior design magazines like Pinterest pins. 

34. For nine years I was an only child, then my first brother came along followed by my baby brother eighteen months later.

35. I find it exceptionally easy to devour a small tin of MiLo in one sitting...without milk. 

36. I used to wish my name was Sophie because it seemed like such a cool name when I was ten.

37. I grew up listening to The Cure, The Smiths & Morrissey, Smashing Pumpkins, You am I & REM. My parents still have awesome taste in music.

38. Though I'm right handed I can write legibly with my left hand, albeit very slowly.

39. My longest labor was four hours. My shortest labor was twenty minutes.

40. I was a painfully fussy eater as a child. I'm sure many family members can remember the holiday trip when I only ate buttered rolls for lunch. I also had a two hour stand off with my Dad when I was ten years old over a croissant that he wanted me to taste. By the time I caved & realised how delicious they were there wasn't any more left.

41. I'm not nearly as profound, insightful or funny as I wish to be.

42. We nearly became foster carer's before Blake was born. This is still something I feel passionate about doing when the minions are a bit older & we have a spare seat in the car.

43. Love Grey's Anatomy & the book series Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

44. Ever since I learnt to read I've been a massive bookworm. My library card often had over a dozen Baby Sitters Club & The Saddle Club novels out at any one time. I still stay up until the am hours reading, though my tastes have changed a little since I was eleven.

45. I used to read oracle cards. Though I've not looked at them in many years, I still can't bring myself to pass them on or sell them.

46. I hate licorice. Always have.

47. After growing up right near the beach I could never move far away from it. The salt & sand is in my blood.

48. I have two tattoo's. One is my husband's name on my inner left fore arm & the other is on my upper left arm with our eldest three children's foot prints, name & birth date. Due to almost constantly being pregnant or breast feeding over the last five years I've not yet finished off with our youngest three children's footprints & details. I have no idea where I am going to get them tattooed either - I don't think my arm is long enough for all six.

49. 'My Girl' is still one of my favorite movies. I dare anyone not to shed a tear when Vada is crying "He can't see without his glasses on" at Thomas J's funeral. Heart wrenching. 

50. I put off starting this blog for nearly four years. Why? Because I thought I could never live up to the bar set by all the other blogs I read frequently. Nothing has changed there, but now it doesn't hold me back. I love my little space here & all the bloggy like thoughts that run through my mind at the most inconvenient hours. 

There you go, fifty random things about me to celebrate fifty posts. Now I'm off to make myself a cuppa & cuddle up on the couch with our minions watching Despicable Me 2. I'm avoiding the news today, my heart & my tear ducts have taken as much as they can possibly bear right now.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The mother of all tantrums

{Don't let his cheeky face lead you into 
a false sense of security.
Even if he is a little bit cute.}

Once again brought to you by Murphy's law. Does he even spy & eavesdrop on anyone else, or am I just lucky?

I was mentally composing a post on how my mothering skills are so brilliant, that without even trying Clay no longer sleeps swaddled up*. He simply holds a corner of his wrap in one hand & sucks the fingers of his other hand, soothed by the sounds of his siblings screams & the front door right next to his room crashing closed every two minutes, he peacefully drifts off to the land of Zzz. There was no forethought, no plan or decision made to stop swaddling Clay. Just a natural progression that evolved from Clay turning into a little houdini & me not re-wrapping every thirty seconds.

In this post there may have been sentences how my awesomeness is so awesome that we have even managed to stop swaddling when some of the other minions were babies without any major disruptions to their (or our) normal sleeping patterns, setting a new pb record for three babies in a row now. I know, right? I hate me a little too.

The un-swaddling process with Rianan & Jack was such a production that was fraught with anxiety & scouring outdated parenting magazines by torchlight at 3am for that one miracle tip that would make all our dreams finally happen. Literally...Please. With Ben it was a non-issue - he just didn't sleep to require any elaborate ten step process to ditch the muslin wrap. Then along came the fourth child who just raises himself. My skillz are so stinkingly sparkly that I don't even have to try anymore. As if my maternal ego needed to get any bigger, Will & Clay come along breezing their way through our family dynamics, cementing the theory that after three children status level Effortless Expert is applied.

When really I should have just shut the hell up & been eternally grateful for Clay's placid & easy going nature.

Not thirty minutes later from declaring {in written draft form} we're acing this baby raising gig & feeling a little clever, the tantrum of all hell breaking lose tantrums occurred. You can put the voodoo doll & pins away, karma found me swift & proper. 

Venturing to the shops with four of the minions, we enter into the first of two shops. A knick-knack el cheapo store, to buy a present for Rianan's five dollar secret santa classroom exchange. The standard disclosure was uttered to Blake & Will as we entered the store - do not touch anything, stay with me. Will was adamant he was not going to hold my hand, squirming away the minute there was any skin to skin contact. 

Always under-estimate a three year old. When you think they will listen, never expect them too. When you think they will follow the examples of their older siblings, do not presume they will. 

That was my first mistake, having faith where none should be. Will touched, he picked up, he knocked boxes off shelves in an effort to put the one in his hand back on the shelf. He wandered up & down the aisles, around the corners blocking the path of other customers, spinning sticker stands, & presenting me with cards we didn't need. As quick as possible our secret santa purchases were made & I took my little hot handed boy out of there. 

Stepping away from the store entrance & in an open aired environment to help dis-spell the intensity of any imminent world ending cries, I tell Will I am now holding his hand while we walk around the car-park to the next store. Cue EPDPT {Epic Public Display of Preschooler Tantrum}. Instant psycho killer attacking me screaming, beetroot purple face, spaghetti legs & twisty, verge of dislocating the shoulder body drops. This continued on for twenty minutes. I kid you not. 

We were a sight to shame even the most sympathetic grandparent & been-there-done-that-glad-it's-you-not-me fellow mums. 

Nothing but the freedom to walk to his own beat was going to mollify Will. Shame that the only choices I was willing to concede to were hold my hand or go in a trolley. Only I got to suffer the consequences. Putting on the I'm-ignoring-my-screeching-child mask, not daring to make eye contact with anyone over 4 foot tall & not a genetic link to me, I dashed around the store scooping items off the shelves, throwing them haphazardly into the trolley in between attempts to calm Will down - who was having none of it. Calming words were met with Will screaming louder & kicking his little legs back & forth against the trolley harder. Thank god the trolley we chose had a fully functioning seat belt with all three prongs intact...& that Will hasn't grasped the fine motor skills yet to get that sucker undone. 

Through the entire time Will did not fail in his pledge to set the bar higher for the next tantrum to end all tantrums. Meanwhile Clay just took in the front row experience from his familiar perch in a sling across my chest, with Rianan & Blake walking & chatting as if this was an everyday occurance. Thank god it's not, my nerve endings couldn't take it if it was. 

Consider this post my formal written apology for having gotten too big for my $8 Kmart ballet flats. Even if the intended post prior to Will's cutting me back down to size was tongue in cheek & highly over exaggerated. What I should have simply written is that Clay is sleeping really well at the moment though this is sure to change in the immediate future & Will, what can I say? He is three years old. 'Nuff said.

But that would be boring.

*Swaddling : to bind an infant with long narrow strips of cloth to prevent free movement of their arms or disturbance from the startle reflex.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Super quick choc-chip muffins

Totally cheating.

Totally don't care.

You're welcome.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

NaBloPoMo status failed

November saw me committing to posting every day over here at HomM. Over on the right hand side in the blog archives, under November there should be (30) right next to it. I'm only seeing (7). 


When I signed up for NaBloPoMo  {National Blog Promotion Month} I thought it would be, well not easy, though maybe not as hard as folding the washing. Folding washing is a tortuous task. As far as I'm concerned it sucks hairy dogs balls. I'd rather clean windows. Hang on, that's not true, especially if you could see the present state of our windows & the height of our clean washing piles. 

I have a better analogy, I figured blogging everyday would be like cooking everyday. While it has to be done, some days you can choose to cook up a three ingredient spaghetti bolognaise (thank you Dolmio jar sauce) other days may find you serving up a roast pork with crackling, golden roast potatoes & crispy edged pumpkin, honey drizzled carrots, peas & beans tossed through melted garlic butter. With sticky date muffins topped with warm caramel sauce to pop that last button on your jeans.

For each day of November I planned to have proper posts where I would ramble about whatever hot topic was going viral, or about our minions as they are a constant source of inspiration & daily exasperation. A full roast dinner affair. Then those 'full bellied posts' would be interspersed with 'photo a day' snippets, or a recipe for muffins & cookies that find their way from the cooling racks to mere crumbs in ten minutes flat. Two minutes if I'm not watching those sneaky little hands. These would have been the 'three ingredient posts'.  

Then life happened & procrastination bit me on the arse, pigs might fly moments of rest found me on the couch instead of at the computer. Plus the kids needed to be fed fifty thousand times a day - not kidding. Doug expected to be able to wear clean clothes & I got sick of stepping on dirt & grit. Our exciting, riveting lives carried on full steam ahead NaBloPoMo or not. 

Unfulfilled plans & fabulous unexecuted ideas are no stranger to me. Failing to deliver on the daily blogging front is not even close to the first time I've planned to do something that never happens. It also will not be the last. The only times I planned to do something & actually followed through, without fail or procrastination, was giving birth to our six little squawkers. Not that there was any choice.

On the fridge there are three To-Do lists - one for the immediate do today/tomorrow, another is the must-get-done-soon cleaning/organising/decluttering list, the last is projects/plans I want to do when I get a spare day or two. You know, sometime before the year 2024. Midnight is also a popular time for inspiration to hit. I'll lie there thinking of everything I want to get done the next morning, freeing me up for the rest of the day - all in between school drop offs & picks ups, cutting crusts of sandwiches for three year olds, slicing fruit into baby friendly fingers, stepping on toys, picking up toys, putting away toys, loading the washing machine, turning on the dryer, mopping little boy urine up off the toilet floor, de-fusing toddler tantrums...where was I? Oh that's right, mentally composing a get-your-shit-together-in-the-morning list at midnight. Then 7am rolls around, & I roll over in bed wishing the kids didn't have to go to school so I didn't have to get up. That midnight inspiration flies out the window at the hands of 9am's procrastination. 

It seems when I decide to commit to something habits from my high school days suddenly plague me, many a night before an essay was due would find me furiously scribbling away trying to make hasty indecipherable notes transform into a 1000 word essay. If there is a deadline sudden onset of last minute-itis & procrastination fever would always strike...oh look a diary filled with poems & frivolous, fleeting declarations of love from 1998, let's waste five hours pouring over every page. 

As for unexecuted ideas, well there is an outfit of a creamy beige dress with purple tights that has never been worn. Though perhaps that is for the better. In store it seemed amuhzing however after getting home it seemed my enthusiasm had been left behind on the change room floor. Unless you count that in store try on, it has never been worn. I blame that purchase on those crazy post natal hormones & the fact my fashion choices were no longer dictated by the beach ball impersonating abdomen I had been sporting two months earlier. 

The list of fruitless intentions is long - 
- Packets of hair rollers used once in an unsuccessful attempt to create voluptuous waves.
- Untouched circular knitting needles & balls of wool to make beanies. Along with several patterns bookmarked or Pinterested. Because it seems easier to relearn how to knit a beanie on circular needles than to quickly crochet another one. Totally makes sense.
- While we're on the topic of Pinterest, my crafty/foodie/kids activities/decorating inspiration folders are bursting with tutorials & recipes I whole heartedly intend to use one day in the near future. Just like the other millions of time poor, inspiration rich Pinterest followers.
- Bottles of japanese rice wine, boxes of pastry mix, packets of lentils & split peas going dusty & out of date in the pantry from a recipe never cooked.   
- Old glassless photo frames sitting behind a cabinet, waiting for the day I wipe them down, paint them pretty & hang them up in an abstract yet totally pulled together look. {That I can never seem to quite pull together on the wall the way I saw in my mind or in someone else's house.}
- A $140 hair curling device I purchased after reading raving reviews, I have only used twice. Because when it comes down to sleep or pretty hair the sleep will win. Every. Single. Time.
Seriously I could go on. We're all the same though. There are so many 'things' we want to do - house projects to start or complete, recipes to try, places to see one day both near & far, Christmas shopping to do, friends to catch up with before another year is celebrated out with the new one cheered in. 

I'm not sorry I couldn't keep up with everyone else participating in thirty days of blogging, one month soon I'll commit again with the hopes of being able to stick to it. Maybe I'll be successful next time & you'll get the roast dinner posts along with the simpler posts of photos & food in between. 

Oh, & if the mention of those delicious sticky date muffins had your stomach growling & your taste buds craving that caramel gooey goodness, I promise I'll put the recipe up this week. Pinky promise.

 Then again life may happen.

Post script from Doug, when informed of my intentions to blog every day during November "if you planned to blog everyday we would have all starved to death & I would have been wearing the same undies for ten days straight. I'm glad you didn't."
Well, I didn't think it would have been that bad. Ben knows how to make toast & macaroni.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Defining the perfect mother

There is a woman that exists, though no one has ever found her or met her. Mothers everywhere strive to be her. They follow her examples, strive to achieve all this woman accomplishes. We measure our own successes & failures against the precedent of this infamous idol of perfection.

The Perfect Mum.

Last week I wrote a post My foray with postnatal depression & one common thread kept repeating itself from almost everyone who messaged, commented or spoke with me. 

I wanted to be the perfect mum.

So I pose the question here, what makes a perfect mum?

Is it the mum who stays home to raise her children - or is it the mum who returns to work to build a better future for her children?

Is it the mum who spends hours in the kitchen cooking every meal from bare scratch, with organic everything - or is it the mum who cooks quick nutritious meals in fifteen minutes flat?

Is it the mum who home schools her children - or the mum who drops her children off to school every weekday?

Is it the mum who bounced back to her former pre-baby svelte self - or is it the mum who still has her pregnancy weight five years on?

Is it the mum who breastfeeds her toddler - or the mum who lovingly gazes at her baby while he drinks formula from a bottle?  

Is it the mum who puts her own dreams & aspirations on hold as she dedicates her whole self to raising her children - or the mum who regularly takes time away from her children to do things by herself that make her happy?

Is it the mum who keeps her house clean & tidy what seems every minute of every day - or the mum who has a sink full of dishes & a thick layer of dust coating most surfaces?

Is it the mum with the perfect hair style & immaculately applied make up - or the mum with a hastily tied pony tail & baby vomit on her shoulder. In public.

Is it the mum who regularly sits down to do craft time with her children - or the mum who has an aversion to all things glitter & paint?

Is it the mum who always looks calm & serene - or the mum with the deep frown lines & stressed look upon her face?

Is it the mum who feeds & rocks her eleven month old baby to sleep - or the mum who follows a controlled crying routine?

I could go on. The helicopter parent, the attached parent, the free range parent, the authoritarian parent. All these labels confirm there is no perfect, ideal way to parent. At the end of the day every child, every baby, every tweenager & teenager need the same bone deep conviction - they are loved without reserve. Everything always comes back to that - a soul deep, universe wide love. 

So this perfect mum, this mythical creature that debilitates us, as she inspires us to reach further. I've never met her. 

I see her though. I recognise her, in every mum I know. 

Every mum I see holding her back straight as she pushes her screaming, tantrum throwing toddler through the shop.

I see her as she puts jars of baby food & cans of formula in her trolley. 

I see her in the mum who home schools her children. 

I see her on my way to school when she's driving to work. 

I see her in the mums taking their child to playgroup. 

I recognise her in the lone woman sitting quietly in a cafe.

I see her when she's pushing her child on the swings, kicking the ball at the park, building sandcastles at the beach. 

I see her when she's trying to reason with a defiant three year old, creating boundaries with a freedom seeking twelve year old, grasping for more patience with a sulky eight year old.

I spot her in waiting rooms when she is trying to stop her children from jumping on the chairs.

I see her doing the best she can, as she can, in that moment.

My definition a perfect mum - it's every one of us. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

48 hours out of sync

I've doggone done it again. It's horrible to see you again Murphy, I wish you hadn't came.

Last week, in a quiet peaceful moment of reflection {yes sometimes they do occur here in the home base of House of many minions} I was taking a moment to be grateful for our smooth, drama lacking lives. Oh the kids certainly keep us on our toes, but drama from outside sources, stress causing situations, dread in the pit of your stomach anxiety...we had been flying under the radar.

Up until I went and acknowledged it. It was not said out loud, but still was heard by somebody, something, somewhere. God. Universe. Deity of smugness. 'I am so grateful we haven't had any drama for a couple of years' was my undoing. It was said with gratitude, with empathy for a few friends who haven't had a great time of late with situations largely out of their direct control.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Sunday afternoon we had some news that changes our five year plan. It's not bad, it's not good, it just is. While it's still at least a year away (no, not #7) it unsettled the rest of our evening as we mulled over all the what if's, what to do's, & every potential scenerio that could develop over the next few years. Discussing plans & emergency back up plans.
Right now it doesn't affect us immediately so we're putting it to the back of our minds, I'm sure everything will be just fine, but it was unsettling while the news was digesting.

Monday, which should have been Doug's day off but he had to go in to work - though only for the morning, was going smoothly. Up until Doug's car wouldn't start. A quiet coffee before leaving in the wee dark hours of the morning...with the ignition off & the car headlights left on.
Not so bad in the scheme of things, we altered our plans for the remainder of the day but this in itself, if it had been the only speed bump, would have been forgotten days ago. Instead, it would come back into play within the next twelve hours.

Why does everything go up shits creek at dinner time? 

Blake & Will are crawling around & playing in the second lounge room, while Ben & Jack sit on the couch in there strategically building their clans on clash of clans. We pulled the homemade pizza's out the oven the same moment Will lets out a blood curdling scream. Dropping the pizza on the stove top I dash into the lounge to see Will leaning against the couch howling dramatically...not bearing any weight on his left leg. Possible bone breaking scenarios flash through my mind as I reach Will & scoop him in my arms. Ben says, without looking up from his tab, Blake did it. Problem is, Ben didn't look up from his tab a minute earlier either to see it happen. So Blake unfairly gets told off for rough play. (Shortly after I apologised to Blake for telling him off for something he didn't do & wasn't his fault. Just another mark against me in the tally of parenting fails)

Looking down to assess the potential damage to Will's leg & there is blood trialing down towards his ankle from his shin. How on earth....Oh god how bad....bugger, this definitely needs stitches. There is a small but decent sized gash near his shin bone, with a fair chunk of skin missing (to reveal the deeper fatty flesh. Vom.) A week or so earlier, a picture frame fell off the cabinet, breaking the glass. Obviously it was cleaned up. All shards of glass were collected & a thorough vacuuming to top it off. Well, I thought all shards were found.

Will, Clay & I go down to the Emergency department (in Doug's car) - where the staff were excellent. With Will's leg all cleaned up & both sides of his skin merging back together, we bundle back in the car ready to go home, excited show Daddy & the other minions his battle wound patch up {& have our dinner}. Brmmm, brmmm, brmmm, brmmm. Try again. Brmmm, brmmm, brmmm, brmmm. The dashboard display flashes check alternator with a picture of the battery. Don't have to be a mechanical goddess to know what that means. 

But wait, it gets better.

I phone Doug, who gathers the remaining four minions at home into my car to come rescue us. Not quite half an hour later, while still waiting for our knight in a Mitsubishi to arrive, I flick the ignition over again, just in case the car would start this time. I really wasn't expecting it to start. 

But it does. Stupid car couldn't have done that half an hour ago though could it. 

At this point Murphy was sniggering his dirty little ass off at us. Because Doug arrives not one minute later. After pulling Blake out of bed. Getting them all in the car instead of into bed.

I laugh. Doug rolls his eyes. We finally all get home.

I vow, for the second time, to never think how smooth, for the most part, our life normally is. Murphy's Law is listening just a little to closely to take any chances, regardless of whether my {slightly complacent} thoughts are whispered through my mind or uttered from my lips. 

Go away Murphy, it was not nice to see you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My foray with Post Natal Depression.

{Ben three hours new}

Out with the placenta, in with the Dolly Parton boobs. When your hormones change, flood in, it may catch you. I'm not talking the endorphins, they're the happy hormones. No, the despair, the dread, the frustration, the lonliness. Thoughts of what have I done?

Other times the little black cloud rolls in slowly. One little grey wisp at a time. Sneaky. Harder to notice, unobservant to the gradual changes. After all becoming a mother (for the first time or the eighth time) comes with a suitcase of upheaval. When life is already trying to find it's new axis, the seemingly smaller problems fly under the rated. In the beginning the little thoughts don't rate on the priority scale. 

Post Natal Depression.

This week is Antenatal & Postnatal Depression Week. Statistics show 1 in 7 women are diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. I believe the numbers are greater than that. How many women just keep going, even when they know their real self is hiding somewhere. Lost in all the mist.

That was me.

After Ben was born, & I've written about Ben's first year before, it was so far from how I imagined life would be. Our baby was not the happy, content little boy I imagined during pregnancy.

{A very familiar sight}

He cried. He was so hard to get to sleep. He screamed. When he did sleep, he didn't sleep for long at all.

There was already so many changes during that time - leaving full time work to stay home full time, Doug changed employment which also meant a change in working hours from a flexible shift roster to a Monday to Friday working week, plus work was now further away too. He left earlier & was home later. All of a sudden I was home by myself with Ben from 6am to 6pm. Add in Ben's aversion to sleeping & constant crying, I became an ideal candidate for PND.

Initially I tried to convince everyone around me that I was fine. I was coping & happy. It was easy to know all the right things to say to the community health nurse when she would ask how I was, how my moods were. The new mothers survey - occasionally I felt a little sad [tick box] but over all I was happy [tick box] at least that was what my manipulated answers indicated. I was still convincing myself that I was fine, I wasn't ready to think that I wasn't coping. To admit failure. I didn't open up to anyone about how I was really feeling. Not to myself, not to Doug, which is silly but true. That is what post natal depression did - it changed me. I fought internally against myself all the time. Every thought became a battle. Sometimes I would be desperate for help, for someone to really see the conflict inside my mind. But when asked how I really was, the mask came on. I was my own worst enemy.

I felt bad that Ben cried. A lot. Doug didn't do well with all the crying too, & after spending a long day at work & then driving home in peak hour traffic, I wanted to have it all together for Doug once he was home. Instead of a hot dinner, I had to pass over a screaming baby, because I just needed half an hour without grasping for ways to calm our baby. Again, silly but true. It changed my normal rational thoughts into something else altogether.
It was me who really wanted to start our family, my maternal clock was chiming loudly, while Doug was happy wait another few years, so when life wasn't perfect, I took all the problems on myself. Thinking I was the one who signed up for this, not Doug. My thinking was skewed (screwed). I felt guilty, accountable, for everything that was wrong with our baby, though none of it was my fault. This was the depression, the little dark voice telling me I had made my bed, now I had to lay in it. 

Slowly I began to lose myself. The way I was feeling, I thought it was just a new mum thing.

When I thought of post natal depression images of women not being able to get out of bed came to mind. Constantly crying. Ignoring their baby or wanting as little as possible to do with him. Failing to bond. Crouched in a corner or against a wall. Shutting out the world & everyone in it.

I didn't have problems getting out of bed each day. I didn't cry without good reason or desperation. I loved Ben & interacted with him (though at times it was with a forced smile. A happy mask because I didn't want to scar our child with buried memories of an expressionless Mum gently shaking a rattle in front of him) I only sat against a wall when I was listening to Ben cry while taking a break from trying to rock him to sleep. I went to our local mothers group. We went for walks & family dinners.

I didn't have post natal depression - according to my thoughts of what post natal depression looked like.

But I did.

I knew I did, but I was in denial. I thought it would go away as Ben got older, got easier.

Maybe it would have, maybe not. I honestly can't say if I could have continued on the way I was feeling, without reaching for help.

My GP was great, we started a treatment plan for Ben's reflux, which was quite severe & a root cause for many issues we were having. I started taking anti depressants, along with regular visits to track & document my depression & Ben's reflux. I was advised that there may not be any noticeable differences for up to three weeks, so when within four days of commencing anti depressant medication I felt great, coinciding with Ben being a little more settled than usual as we got a handle on his reflux, I thought to myself 'Ha, I don't have depression, it's just when Ben has a bad day, it's hard. It's not me after all.'

Without seeking medical advice first, I stopped taking the anti depressants. Two days later I crashed emotionally. I was back to how I felt two weeks earlier. Flat, unenthusiastic, sad, at times desperate. For what I can't specify. Perhaps desperate to feel like 'me' again. Desperate not to feel useless when our baby cried & I couldn't calm him. Desperate not to be stuck how I was feeling.

While I was back in my grey mist, Ben was still more settled & sleeping a lot easier. So it wasn't Ben. It was me as well. That was the moment I accepted I did have post natal depression.

Immediately I started taking the medication again & when we went back to the GP a few days later I told him everything that had happened. It was a relief, to find 'me' again. All those martyr thoughts evaporated, if Ben was crying I knew it wasn't because it was something I was or was not doing, I didn't get so tangled up in obsessing over nap times. I let go of the happy mask I was clinging to as a life line & let every one in. 
After four or five months, with Ben's reflux as good as it was going to get without invasive treatment, I slowly weaned off the anti depressants. 

{In the post birth bliss, before the getting lost in the grey mist of depression}

That was ten years ago. The emotions I felt during those horrible months still haunt me, settle over me like a heavy cloak when I think back to those heavy months. My heart beat picks up, the dread in my chest returns, the itchy nose that preludes the tears. The feeling of precariously teetering on an emotional ledge. It wasn't until I was out the fog of depression that I could clearly see exactly how bad I really was, how much I had ignored the little warning signs & over looked all the persistent, small negative thoughts. 

After that hellish & displacing experience I swore that if & when we had another baby I would would never go back to that lost version of myself again. I would seek help the moment I thought it was more than the 'three day blues' or lasted longer than a week.

In the weeks & months after Rianan was born both Doug & I kept a very observant eye on how I was feeling, how I reacted, how present I felt, & also following the births of Jack, Blake, Will & Clay. Thankfully it was a one off, because while at times I have felt sad in the post natal months, it was never anything close to that depressed fog that slowly absorbed who I was.

If you think that maybe, just maybe, you don't feel like who you are, if there are some dark clouds hanging around that can't be shaken off, or wonder that maybe you might have antenatal or post natal depression - please speak to someone.
Your doctor, your husband, partner, friend, mum, community health nurse, strangers on a parenting forum, anyone.

Because that grey fog, it really, really sucks.

Places to reach out for help

**This is just my side of our story with post natal depression. I haven't touched on how my depression affected Doug. How much he took on & tried to help, even when I wouldn't let him. That's another post for another day.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A moment...Interrupted

After school, once everyone is inside, food has been devoured at an alarming rate, bags have been unpacked & the kids have all excitedly given me a blow by blow account of their school lunch time, I sit down with a coffee & have fifteen minutes of down time. A blast of energy to get me through the next few hours, a subconscious perk.

A moment to press pause, a few minutes to breathe, stop spreading myself rice paper thin between six minions all immediately needing me switched on & present. 

A moment that did not happen easily yesterday.

The kettle was boiled, my mug was ready...& waiting. 



I guess the first delay was my own doing - I heard the washing machine finish the current load, so I pulled out the two light blankets & set them up on the indoor airer by the window. Inadvertently making an instant cubby house.

Bringing us to the next setback. Once the boys saw their new fortress immediately beds were stripped down to their sheets & four monkeys were haphazardly throwing & placing with precision - depending on their age & reach, blankets, throws, sheets, even a pillowcase was spotted in the mix. Depending on who you asked, the corner of our dining area was now a castle/bunker/spy base/dinosaur.

After successfully ensuring every slither of daylight was blocked without the entire structure collapsing, Clay, who had been happily bashing a Xylophone on his mat nearby, decided it was his turn to waylay any movements made towards the kettle & became cranky. Screaming, wriggling, pinching, grabby hands cranky. So he was bundled up & off to bed he went. 

Back in the kitchen & waiting for the kettle to boil, the remaining five minions descend upon the kitchen like a pack of vultures, taking up floor space looking for something else to eat. During the process of rectifying their pleas of starvation, I notice a spot of mold on the loaf of bread only bought the night before. Out of the four loaves bought not twenty fours ago - one of which is two thirds gone from lunch time earlier, two of them have mold on the first crust. Instantly nausea floods me. I imagine the entire family coming down with food poisoning & immediately begin mentally calculating how many towels & spew bowls we have. I also resolve to go back to baking our own bread. Then we know exactly how fresh it is.  

This drama eats up a further seven minutes. 

Still in the kitchen & just about ready to re boil the kettle I notice Blake has taken his boots off...& emptied half the sandpit from kindy in the middle of the living area. Dammit. I debate whether to sweep it up immediately or can it wait until after my coffee. How urgent is my need to just sit in {relative} peace compared with how much I hate stepping on sand with bare feet & the way it manages to spread everywhere. Like playdough - once you have it in the house you will never get rid of it. In the end my desire not to have sand grit spread through every square inch wins out. Then my neurotic tendencies kick in compelling me to quickly vacuum the whole house too. Fyi I'm blaming the lack of caffeine for the idiotic idea. You all remember the last time I decided to vacuum the house quickly at an inconvenient time. Notably there were no phone calls made or received this time.

Of course it was a Murphy's Law kind of afternoon, because Clay woke up after only thirty minutes. Possibly because of the vacuum. Possibly because babies seem to have an innate sense when Mum is about to do anything that begins with R - repose, recline, rest...relax. Never!

By now it's fast approaching five o'clock. My coffee mug has been sitting, un-touched, for nearly an hour. But I'm determined to get even ten minutes of bubble time*. It's not about the caffeine hit - any hot beverage will do. It's about the suspension of time where there are minimal demands, I can stop spinning in one hundred different directions. Just chill.

Within a few minutes of packing away the sand sucker I spot another miniature sand castle. Stuff it, I think to myself as I flick the kettle back on again, it can stay there for ten minutes. Then I see the boys going up & down the hallway & my despise for feeling gritty sand under my feet wins out. 

Sand gone, kettle on.

Just as I'm about to pour in the hot water, the phone starts to ring. You are kidding me. 
The Gods of NesCafe must be feeling gracious, because it's Doug letting me know he is going to be home a little late - which buys me another half hour before I have to get serious about cooking dinner. Thank you very much. I may just get this cup of hot bliss after all.

Finally the chaos storm seems to have passed & I get to sit my tush down with a hot mug full of all things good. For nearly five whole minutes no one approaches me, no calls of "Muuuuuummmmmm". No shrieking, no pestering, no superhero games that got a little carried away. I lose myself, flicking through Facebook, quietly sipping my much anticipated cuppa. It was all to brief, but it was enough.

It was everything I was hanging for, all that much sweeter for the constant delays that lead up to that precious escape. 

All I wanted was my moment of solitude in the frenzy. Life is cray cray. You take your moments when you can get them. Even if I've got to be as stubborn as getting vomit smell out of a car.

*Bubble time - A brief moment in time where I can sit, mostly minion free, & somewhat shut out the world around me. It feels like a hiatus in time, a moment of respite - without the respite.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dirty seven letter words

So, there was meant to be five more posts preceding this one. NaBloPoMo & all that. What can I say? My days all just filled up with stuff & any spare time was not spent here. 

I believe I left off with a post on the destruction of boys bedrooms & whether to leave it to the little stinkers to clean up their own trial of toy carnage & desecration, or had it exceeded their attention span limits. For the carpet to ever see daylight again was it up to me to rectify the minions mayhem mess monstrosity.   

That post kicked off the motivation I needed & the next day life was breathed into those nylon fibers. No search party was needed, however if one was launched they would have had better luck digging through our Mount Washmore searching for my bodily remains. 

It's been mentioned here & there that our washing is of epic proportions. Epic. Monstrous. Colossal. Incessant. Infinite.


Shoot me now. 

Or employee a personal full time laundress. 

Neither are feasible options, so instead you get to read about it. It's been a long time coming, this post. I've held off as long as I could. Much like the folding. 

To think I used to complain when we had three children. Man those days ain't got nothing on us now. 

I would rather change another dirty, butt covering, stinker than fold {& put away} another basket of clean clothes. That is just how over folding clothes I am. Desperate. Dirty nappy changing desperate.

Keeping up with the dirty washing that our laundry attracts faster than iron fillings to a magnet isn't the issue. Sort & separate, chuck in the machine, scoop of washing powder, turn it on, press start. Done. 

The epitome of laziness, our drier is used just as frequently as the washing machine. Once those warm, clean, minion covering clothes are smelling fresher than Clay just out the bath, is when the massive aversion & antipathy kicks in & all of a sudden the small task of folding that one basket is just too much. So begins the pattern of wash, dry, dump. Dump zone being the couch (by day three, plural) in the rarely occupied second lounge room. Of course, once more than three loads - one or two days worth, piles up the task is now impossible. 

Dishes I can do on a never ending cycle, making sandwiches, cleaning floors, making beds, changing nappies, keeping little people in optimum health, all in a days work. 

But that washing. 

Every seven to fourteen days, three hours are sucked into that multi-colored, cotton blend, floral breeze scented, time warp known as folding.

Clearly this pattern isn't ideal. I was going to say it isn't working for us, but somehow it is, given this has been the modus operandi for the last year or so...okay three years might be more accurate. Minor details aside, it must be working on some impractical level. 

In a stepford wives world the washing would be folded & put away before it ever had a chance to cool down after its hasty exit from the dryer. Scratch that, the washing would have been folded immediately upon it's removal from the washing line. Their dining table would never double as a folding table. 

Alas my life is not perfect & our dining table has probably had just as many folded clothes piles as hot dinners graced upon it's scratched surface. 

I'm certain that maintaining a habit of immediately folding & putting away the clean clothes would make the whole washing debacle less torturous, but it's just so monotonous. I have better things to do with my time than stand there & fold washing several times a day. 

So people, I need your tips. Or just a fair old shaming for airing my lazy laundry habits. How can I kick the dump n ignore habit - do I just go cold turkey, suck it up & fold those darn clothes before they touch another surface?
Are you in category A: wash, dry, fold, put away. Or do you join me in the naughty corner over at category B: wash, dry{er}, dump. Only to commence the folding process once the clothes pile becomes a serious OH&S issue. (Note the omitted mention of putting the folded clothes piles away.)  

Category A or category B? Swimming or drowning?

Oh & those dirty seven letter words I was referring to they are of course - washing, folding, sorting, put-away. 

As an added bonus here's a nine letter word for you - groundhog day.