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.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

S.O.S - Send Out Search (party)

The boys rooms are a mess. 


Despite sending the boys in their rooms for what is meant to be a ten minute quick tidy up - which won't bring miracles but will help their rooms look less like a toy catalog has vomited up everywhere. 

{Kaylee Clean Your Room by Diane McAffee}

Dress ups are on the floor, stripped off clothes hanging all over the dress up tub, puzzle pieces tipped out with the boards discarded randomly on every surface. Cars, trucks, diggers (front end loaders to be specific), Lego, super heroes & their web shooting accessories litter the floor just waiting for the next unobservant, tender footed casualty to walk in & fall victim to their small painful tactics.

Robe doors left open, shoes flung to the floor - not a matching pair in sight. Coat hangers dropped to the bottom of the robe, pillows shoved on the shelves from a previous two minute clean up during the ten minute room clean. At least something was done, other than sitting down playing in the scene of destruction. 

That right there is the source of my dilemma. Playing. 

Their bedrooms is the one place they can claim as their own. I try not to enforce too many restrictions - I don't expect them their bedrooms to be Pinterest worthy every minute, if rarely at all. But I think I do have the expectation that I should be able to walk in, without first needing to cautiously clear a path with my feet before proceeding any further.

It is the first area they can go to & let their imagination carry them away. Or anywhere in the house, because it's a pigs might fly kind of day when there isn't a primary colored something-or-other along with several super hero emblem toting figurines & a collection of anything transport based found in every room. Including our en suite. Not that I have a problem with this, I'm merely just stating a fact.

Often they are asked to clean up after themselves. Specifically, say, if they were playing with Lego, only to abandon it minutes after dumping the entire tub out {to find one wheel} then dashing off to play superheroes/shops/hide & seek...or party crash the kitchen for more food. But sometimes when they are all playing nicely or I can see they are in wrapped up in their play based world I leave them. Play is the most important aspect of childhood - who am I to interrupt.

But it's all gotten a little out of hand. What started out as a few bits n pieces left out has morphed into something bigger than any four or six year old could handle. Now when they are asked to tidy their rooms it's more of a 'damage control' scenario. We're working off a triage based system - just make it safe to enter.

So my spur of the moment decision to sign up to NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month, & take on the challenge of blogging every day for the month of November with BlogHer is really ill timed on my part. With the clean washing piled up on the couch waiting to be folded, two bedrooms suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Blake & Cyclone Will (plus a Jack induced toy Tsunami), toilet floors to be cleaned up & moped after every visit from Will, who believes he is now big enough now to bypass the potty & use the toilet. Even though his legs are still a little to short to enable him to reach the intended destination, requiring the utmost caution & vigilance when approaching the loo. We've also been organizing kindergarten fundraising events & birthday parties, plus plain ol' tiredness & can't be effed procrastination disease, which have also put me behind the eight ball. 

So I don't know, do I keep the responsibility to clean up their rooms on their shoulders, even though it has reached cataclysmic proportions. At least for the next month while the to-do list is longer than our grocery shopping list. Or do I make it a priority, spend a whole (school) day bringing everything back to Mother in Law visiting conditions, then put the onus back on the minions to not let their rooms reach devastation status again.

I guess if you don't hear from me for a period exceeding forty eight hours then you could hazard a guess that I ventured into the danger zone & a search party is required.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Half a dozen facts from a Mum of half a dozen

You know how sometimes you imagine how something will be, but then it is completely different to what you expected or thought.

Like the other day when I was eyeing off the corner of Blake's banana toast. It was all thick & perfectly toasted with a melting glob of butter right on the edge. I imagined how nice that little piece would taste, how the butter would melt in my mouth as my teeth sank into the crunchy edge. I gave in & put that tempting little morsel in my mouth. Then remembered I don't like banana bread. It tasted nothing like I imagined.

Raising a large family is a little like this. Sometimes it is absolutely nothing like you thought it would be. So I thought I'd compile six fast facts.

1. Richie Rich

Minions are money sponges but they don't soak up every last cent. The perception that because there is an astronomical number of kids, the bank account must be astronomically low as well is not how it really is. We watch our pennies (dollars?), but with a budget in place everyone gets everything they need {& then some}.

Alternatively, the presumption that we must have a lot of money to be able to have a large family is about as accurate as the articles in an OK! magazine. Once someone said to me "Oh your husband must earn a lot of money, to have so many children & be able to stay home with them." Again, to afford big ticket items we plan ahead. Or use the credit card & pay it off. 
Though a spare money tree growing in the backyard wouldn't go amiss. 

2. Resentment, Schentment

The kids don't resent having a big family. They love having many brothers & sister(s) - even when it doesn't sound like it some days. 
When they play stuck in the mud & more than two get stuck there is still another sibling or two to un-stick them. Twister gets really twisty. Friday nights are like a bonafide slumber party with five kids in the same room all whispering & giggling. Backyard cricket means having a full team, with a bowler, batter, wickie plus fielders.
They don't know it to be any different, sharing a room with another sibling is normal, moving over to make room on the couch for another body is habitual. Sharing is just a given with most things. 
The sibling bonds between them are distinct & far stronger than any sibling rivalry.
I hope when they are adults & look back on these days of their childhood, they are still grateful for one another.

3. It's as easy as it looks...kinda

Raising six children is not as hard as it seems. The bigger minions can dress themselves, put on their own shoes, get their own drinks, brush their own teeth. The smaller ones all want to do this for themselves too, which if you play your cards right can work for you without tantrums. Encouraging the little ones to find their own shoes, put on their own pants (after laying them out straight) they brush their own teeth, though I do a quick all over brush either to begin or finish up. 
Our family size did not morph into epic proportions overnight, we've had several years to adjust & refine our routines. There is a lot of organization behind the scenes to make sure everything run smoother though & gets us out the door without running ridiculously late.
If I can do it, you could do it.

4. Supermum is about as real as Superman. She only exists in the movies.

By no definition are Mum's of large families Supermum's. We are no better than any other Mum, just as no Mum is any better than the next. We're all just doing what we must to get through each day, with the house still standing & every one alive, healthy & hopefully happy. There is nothing special about Mums to many. Our patience is not infinite. We are not saints. We lose our cool & get our shriek on. We are not immune to Mummy guilt either - but I'll cover that another day.

5. It is as noisy as you imagine

I'm not about to tell you otherwise, there is no argument here. Lots of people equal lots noise. When Doug gets home from work, when we're just about to sit down for dinner, or when someone comes over, it gets loud. Really loud.
Our meal times can look a little something like this.
Five kids all talking at once, plus a couple of adults (potentially with one trying to get the minions to quite down - without adding to the ear bleeding decibel levels by yelling to garner their attention & be heard). I've mentioned once or twice before that living large also means living loud. 

6. Loving them is as amazing as you think

Life with so many kids is as magical, chaotic, entertaining, constant & unending, crazy & eventful, amazing & awe inspiring as you believe.

Loving them is the easy bit. It's the dirty clothes & dirty dishes that's hard.