Not so perfect parenting

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I’m far from a perfect parent, and I constantly struggle with feeling like I’m messing it up. One area where I really have to give myself a strong talking to is when I do craft activities with Chublet. I’ve always been someone who like to do things as instructed, have a plan and follow the path – there’s a reason I was never great at jazz trumpet, but excellent at classical… and craft with Chublet challenges all my desires to do things ‘right’.

So with this in mind a couple of weekends ago I succumb to Chublet’s pleading to do the ‘giraffe puzzle’ given to her for christmas. To clarify – the puzzle wasn’t a puzzle at all, but a sweet little collage activity set with 4 partly illustrated boards, several punch out shapes, stickers, glue and a few select glittery bits. The kit came with a little booklet that carefully, through lovely pictures, showed how you went from partly illustrated template, to clever picture by selecting a range of punch out shapes, carefully arranging them on the image, adding stickers in pre-determined locations and finally putting a few glittery touches on the emerging image. All very lovely, and very clearly set out as to how to do it FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS.

So on a rainy day when B was away looking after his Dad, I pulled the box down, showed Chublet the instruction book, helped her do the first bit, explained again that she should look at the picture to see what shapes she needed and where to put them, and then I walked away to tackle the dishes and leave her to it. Less than 5 minutes later, and barely giving me time to get the washing up gloves on, Chublet announces she’s finished the first picture and is ready for the next one. So with a big breath I go and see what she’s done. the internal monologue was going mad ‘leave it alone, she’s done it herself and is proud of that achievement, it doesn’t matter how it looks, etc etc.’ But you know what, I just couldn’t help myself in fixing one little bit – the flowerpot, that should have been at the bottom of the carefully printed vine that spread all over the page, and was instead randomly plonked by Chublet in the middle of nowhere. As she turned to chose the next picture, I carefully re-positioned that flowerpot, the right way up and just where it should have been – those instructions must be followed!

One day I might manage to be a perfect parent by worrying a whole lot less about doing it perfectly correctly.

Trying to adult

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The problem with being a not-so-organised housewife is the times when you realise that about the only thing you are truly successful at is failing as an adult. Those points of failure where not being organised, tidy and having really good routines lead to loosing things, forgetting stuff and having a carpet that hasn’t been vacuumed in too many weeks to count.

My current failure quota is pretty high when it comes to home life. Work is flying along with regular wins, but all that comes at a cost at home and a failure to balance the demands and pressures of the two parts of my life, as well as a failure to cope with high levels of interrupted sleep (yes, Chublet has been on a sleep avoidance bender recently).

Do you think science will get a point where we can swap lives for a little while? Sometimes I think it would be nice to see what it is like to be organised, neat, in control and properly adulting. But only for long enough to get the house and general life stuff in order, then I think I’ll swap back to being me – not-so-organised, preferring to play with Chublet, read a book or do some crochet to all that organising, adulty stuff.

A not so organised guide to bliss

Being a not so organised housewife you have to grab at moments of bliss as they disappear awfully quickly.

There’s the bliss of having a perfectly clean and clear kitchen bench – for the 60 sec it takes for you to start preparing the next round of food a growing preschooler demands at all hours.

There’s the bliss of finally achieving a clean and tidy house, toys put away, floors mopped and vacuumed – right up until that moment when Chubba comes home from swimming.

There’s the bliss of having nothing in the washing baskets (dirty or clean) – as long as you ignore the washing line full of things soon needing to be folded, sorted and put away.

But most of all there’s the bliss of that hour each afternoon where Chubba sleeps and the constant chatter finally ceases and despite all the chores and things that should be done, you ignore them and get a cup of hot tea a book and head to the couch – only to fall asleep yourself within 2 min.

ch-ch-ch-changes

It’s been a while since I sat down and posted here, and there have been many, many changes in that time. The last few months have been an emotional roller-coaster, but I think we’ve landed in a good place.

The first change was a new job for me, which necessitated a significant relocation, meaning B had to quit his work and we’ve switched roles with me out working full time and him at home looking after chubba, studying and looking for part time work.

Not at the beach for once.

Yes, we’ve finally broken free of Sydney and landed in a regional centre. I’m not sure if it’s a tree change or a sea change as we’ve got a bit of both. We’re now located a little over 2 hours out of sydney, and about 20min from the coast. In the last two months we’ve spent more time at the beach than we did in 10 years in Sydney. My morning commute now takes about 10min (15 if i get caught in traffic around the local primary school) and B and Chubba are easily able to join me for lunch near my new work once a week. We’re in a wonderful honeymoon phase and the new life feels blissful – long may that last.

 

Swapping roles has proven a little more challenging and I fall into the trap of trying to do it all far too often, but we’re getting there. B and Chubba have had difficulties in adapting to being with each other much more, and not having me run interference, but gradually they are sorting it out and finding a happy place.

The other change I hoped to celebrate in this post was the anticipated arrival of a second child after so many months of hoping. I should have been able to talk about the terrible timing – finding out we were finally pregnant just as I accepted this new job. However that isn’t the case. Instead we learnt the hard way that even after the 12 week mark things can go badly wrong and we lost our son after I went into labour at only 16 weeks pregnant. It’s been a strange time, so filled with joy and a sense of rightness in where we are and how our work / life / family balance is coming together, but with a new grief behind it all. Even writing these few words now bring fresh tears to my eyes. Most days pass in a blur of contentment, busy-ness and general life, and I sort of forget that i was pregnant only 6 weeks ago. Most days now our tiny little boy hovers at the very far reaches of my consciousness, not really forgotten but not actively thought of.

As terrible as the loss of our baby was and is, it has been a remarkable catalyst for forging deep caring friendships with people in our new community. The midwife who delivered him, happens to live within walking distance and is rapidly becoming a good friend; the friend of a friend at church, who came and minded chubba for an hour while B and I cried together in the hospital room cradling our tiny son, has become an almost grandma for Chubba and a caring friend for me; and my manager and colleagues have shared stories of their own losses, given me space to grieve as needed and accepted my return to work with just the right amount of care, sympathy and practicality. I am certain we are in the right place at this moment.

In reflecting on a turbulent end to 2015 and what lies ahead, 2016 feels like it will be good.

signs of a not so organised housewife #8

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That feeling of mild shame, mixed with pure relief when you discover the baby sitter is actually a cleaning / tidying fairy in disguise.

Followed a few months later by that feeling of disappointment when the same babysitter doesn’t work miracles the next time she’s booked for an evening.

All those dreams of coming home to a house given a bit of a tidy up and polish, shattered…  Back to reality and a not so organised home.

Feeling Lucky

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I’ve been reflecting a bit of late on the times I’ve said ‘we were so lucky’ and not properly understood exactly what that meant. In some ways I’m now gaining an awareness of just what it meant. You see, we’re not so lucky this time around.

When B and I decided we were ready to start a family we thought it would be nice to be pregnant within 6-12 months. Instead we fell pregnant within 6 weeks. Having many friends and some family members who have struggled with fertility issues I was able to say ‘we were really lucky and didn’t even have to think about it’. Yet I blithely rattled off that sentiment without properly understanding.

I didn’t understand the incredibly complex emotions that increase each month; the feeling of failure as the blank white space on the pregnancy test stands testament to your inability to reproduce; the tension of waiting to see if your period turns up, wondering if you should test now and get the disappointment over with early, then realising that it won’t help – every fibre of you will collapse a little on the day it arrives, regardless; the feeling of anger that is directed at no-one and nothing, but is there anyway; and the incredibly mixed emotions that come with each friend who falls pregnant or has a baby.

You see, it’s been almost a year now since we decided we wanted to add to our family. A three year age gap between chublet and no. 2 sounded about right to us, and we blithely assumed we’d get pregnant nice and quickly again, after all we were one of the those lucky couples who didn’t have fertility issues. And yet, Chublet turned 3 recently, and my womb remains empty. To add to the pain, Chublet has been doing a lot of role playing recently, and in most of it she chatters away about her brother or sister. Her brother can be anyone from her friends at daycare, to her teddies or a friend’s dog, and her sister is usually her doll or her cousins, but her inclusion of the phrase in her play sends a little arrow into my heart. How I’d love for her to properly understand the term and be able to use it in referring to her actual sibling.

It is an agony that is so hard to talk about, so strange to share, and yet so deeply a part of me each month now that some days are difficult to get through. But still, I know we are part of the lucky ones. We have Chublet who is a delight and brings us so much joy; we are only just starting down the path of being considered to have fertility issues, so our journey is still young; and we know that we can have children, so there is always that small hope. We are part of the lucky ones, but it is only now that I understand what that means as I start to uncover the other side.

Getting compliments

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Chublet has developed a delightful habit of giving out random compliments. Here are some of the recent ones I’ve stored for future reference

The public compliment
I took Chublet to a kids classical music performance a few weeks ago. After the concert I needed to use the bathrooms, and the only available toilets were the standard female cubicles. As I sit down and do what I needed to do, Chublet starts clapping and loudly exclaiming ‘Well done Mummy, you did a poo! Clever girl Mummy, poos on the toilet!’

We need to rethink our toilet training commentary.

The 4am compliment
B bought me a new nightdress recently, replacing the one that was falling apart. The first time I wore it, Chublet was a little too awake when joining us for her usual 4am cuddle, ‘You’ve got your new PJs on Mummy, I like them, so pretty. You look nice Mummy.’ If the compliment had come 4 hours later it would have been much more appreciated.

The tactful compliment
‘I like your hair mummy, it’s so dark. And it has white in it’

The ‘is my kid being sarcastic’ compliment
Doing the weekly shop, grabbing the fruit and veggies needed. As I put bananas, apples, sweet corn and carrots (all Chublet’s favourites) in the cart, Chublet says ‘Clever girl Mummy, you’re so smart.’

At least I can be fairly sure we’re giving Chublet lots of positive messaging…

Top 5 things for getting organised

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I’ve been doing some pointless daydreaming of late and thinking of things that would help me get and feel more organised.  These are my top 5.

#5 – A dishwasher.
We have a tiny kitchen, it has 5 cupboards in it. It feels cramped with one person in it.  When someone is at the sink washing dishes, it’s impossible for anyone else to access the fridge or the stove, and as soon as you have more than 2 dishes waiting to be washed it’s cluttered and difficult to work in.  If we magically had room to put in a dishwasher I’m sure it would help.  After all, being able to hide all those dirty dishes throughout the day, and then just pushing a button to make them clean overnight all sounds so much more organised.

#4 – A robotic vacuum.
I love the idea of a vacuum cleaner that just goes around and cleans up without needing help.  But even more, I know that for said vacuum cleaner to work you need to tidy up.  I’m convinced that having a robotic vacuum would inspire me to keep the floors tidy… or maybe I’d just hide the vacuum in the cupboard and leave the tidying to another day.

#3 – A cleaner
In the same vein as the vacuum, for a cleaner to do the job you pay them to do, you need to have the place tidy.  I’m sure having someone coming around regularly would give me the kick up the rear I need to do a mad dash of tidying regularly.  Then I could come home and gaze in wonder at the dust free surfaces, the clean and organised kitchen and the sparkling bathroom.  Bliss… until the next time when I stress out and run around like mad tidying up.

#2 – A bigger house with decent storage
I’m yet to find a rental place in Sydney that has a good amount of built in storage, and as we buy IKEA furniture as needed depending on the place we are moving into, our furniture is all mismatched and make-do and generally doesn’t inspire a whole lot of house love.  I just know that if I had a nice house, with proper storage, matching furniture and enough space for us to live as we’d like it’d all be so much easier.  *Please don’t ruin this daydream with reality*

#1 – A Cleaning fairy
They exist right?!  A fabulous invisible thing that comes in during the night, tidies away all the toys, folds the washing, does the dishes, cleans the floors and benches, scrubs the bathroom and vacuums the carpet.  And maybe while it’s not busy it could do the ironing, wash the windows and sort out the wardrobes.  Seriously, my life would be so much more organised and less stressful if I didn’t have to worry about any of that stuff.