My most recent parenting lightbulb moment 

This weekend just gone we went to the beach as a family.  There are two reasons why I was very excited about this.  The first, is that we don’t always get a chance to have quality family time, and the second is that the wind and the weather settled for this particular afternoon so it was meant to be.  A day without wind in my city is rare, because, well, it’s bloody windy here.  A nice afternoon at the beach can often mean shards of sand literally piercing their way through your layers of skin.  Painful.

 My husband and I spent afternoons and days at the beach before we had kids, swimming and drinking cider.  Salt water, ‘fro hair, sandy feet, that’s living.  After the boys were born, we took them down a couple times, but it became traumatic with the whippy sand in their faces and the loud crashes of the waves.  Plus being babies, they weren’t too keen on the cold water.  God, kids really do suck the fun out of your life, don’t they?  I joke, of course, but the point is no beach time for us.  Sometimes I’d fill the little shells up outside and sit my children in there and pretend we were beachside, but that’s about as far as we got.

 So yeah, the beach, pretty exciting.  One of my boys ran through the sand, chasing birds, falling over, straight into the ocean with not a care in the world.  He stood there, thigh deep in icy water staring into the ocean like he was home.

 My other son did not take quite so well to the water.  We took him in a little bit, but he’d have none of it.  He was more of a sit back and watch from the cocktail lounge kinda guy.  And by lounge I mean beach towel, and by cocktail I mean his bucket and his spade.  He felt safe there on the shore.  We tried a few times to get him used to it, but he was fairly traumatised, so I just left it.  Dad and Twin 1 splashed in the water and Mum and Twin 2 watched from the sidelines.

 A bit later on, he wanted to walk and look at the rocks, so we did.  He wanted to walk and look at the birds and we did.  He wanted to throw sand in a hole, so we did.  After about an hour he realised, maybe the ocean wasn’t so bad and he’d get as close as he could to the water, without actually touching it.  He was scared still, but he was curious.  I stood a few metres behind him watching him decide whether he would take that leap of faith and go just another step forward.  The next thing that happened was a moment that I wanted to freeze in time.  He walked to me, and held his hand out.  I grabbed it and that gave him all the courage he needed to go that little bit further.  To face his fears.  He led me into the water and we stood there, and as long as I was holding his hand tightly he could do it, just a bit further and a little bit deeper.  He turned to me and smiled.  He was happy.

 He felt safe with me.

 I felt many emotions overwhelm me in that split second in time.  Like how I didn’t need my phone to take a picture to remember how amazing it felt.  Like how it was the first time one of my very independent toddlers willingly grabbed my hand.  Like how he was a little boy with emotions and fears now.

 We all want to feel safe.  I look back on my childhood and I knew as long as my parents were around that everything was ok.  I could take that final step into whatever I feared.  Even now, my mum tells me to take these little leaps of faith, and she encourages me, and I feel it’s going to be fine after all.  You can do it.  I’m here.  I’ve got your back.

 Maybe on Sunday I realised I wasn’t doing so badly at this parenting thing after all.  So, my kids still have bottles.  I didn’t breastfeed too long.  My boys watch a bit too much tv.  They aren’t in beds yet.  Sometimes I can only be bothered giving them sandwiches for dinner.  I bribe them with Tiny Teddies at the supermarket.  Occasionally I hide in the cupboard and eat treats while they yell at me from behind the closed door (don’t ever deny you haven’t done this).  But, the most important thing is, they feel safe with me.  They feel secure.  With me in their corner, they can conquer their fears.  With me in their corner, they can achieve anything they set their mind to.  I’m sure one day, they might hate me and think of me as their worst enemy, but I will always, ALWAYS be their safety net.  Forever.

And that’s the most important thing we can achieve.

  

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Why you should stop apologising for every little thing 

I’m what is know as a Serial Apologist. I am so apologetic sometimes I say ‘sorry’ to people that bump into me. How annoying is that. One day someone pointed it out to me and I knew I did it, but still couldn’t change. I don’t know why, I just think it’s a polite thing to do. Politeness, and a genuine apology can be two different things.

Mums probably don’t realise it, but we all apologise a lot for things we really shouldn’t be sorry for. Like for our hair being messy or for our kids not wearing pants (I’m guilty of both of these). Maybe we feel that by doing it, it will make us feel less embarrassed about the fact our house has been destroyed by small humans that cannot yet go to the toilet but can somehow manage to create more mess than a cyclone in under ten minutes. Seriously. Before my morning coffee.

Here is a list of things you may have apologised for at some point, that probably ring true for the general population of mums everywhere in some way or another. I’ve changed the apologies to realistic answers for you to use next time.

What you said: ‘I’m sorry, my house is such a mess.’
What you should say: ‘Come on in, the kids have destroyed my house so I gave up putting shit away a long time ago. Don’t step on the Lego, it hurts like a bitch.’
• What you said: ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I’m still in my pyjamas.’

What you should say
: ‘Guess who’s still in her pyjamas at 1pm? THIS GIRL.’
• What you said: To your waxing lady: ‘I’m so sorry, it’s really, really hairy.’
What you should say: ‘You really have your work cut out for you today. It’s been a long time since I’ve even had to think about doing anything down there, but I’m really hoping to get laid soon.’
• What you said: To your husband: ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t get a chance to do the dishes today, the kids were ratty as hell,’ cue husband, who looks at the children, sitting quietly watching some crappy show or another.
What you should say: ‘As you may notice, I didn’t have time to wash the dishes today, I probably won’t do them now either. It’s 6pm and I see a Shiraz with my name on it.’
• What you said: To the general population giving you evils when you’re kids are screaming at the supermarket: ‘Sorry, he’s so loud.’
What you should say: ‘Hey, here’s an idea. Why don’t you be the one to explain to my toddler why his balloon is unfortunately blue and not red like he wants? Then maybe you could give him a donut? Because that will REALLY stop the tantrum.’
• What you said: To the person selling stuff at the door: ‘Sorry I took so long to answer, the kids just woke up from their nap.’
What you should say: ‘If you EVER, ring my doorbell again, I will cut your face.’

As a disclaimer, I do not recommend actually replacing apologies with some of the answers I suggested, just as an FYI. You may end up with a restraining order. But anyhow, I really feel like as mothers we say sorry way too much. Most of the time, they are other mums we are saying it to, and they totally get that you have nothing to say sorry for. We all just try to do our best and wade our way through the piles of washing, and the dishes, and maybe even the raising children part.

So this week, Supermums, I challenge you to take an apology out of your daily life and to not feel embarrassed or upset that your house is a little bit messy or that the only food you have to offer guests is Tiny Teddies (because that is the only thing your kids will eat) and remember that we are doing our best to survive the day to day challenges of doing what is the greatest, and some may say, the hardest, job in the world.

 

30th Sept Alyce 251

5 resolutions I may just keep

I’m a sucker for a good New Year’s Reso.  Usually after bingeing myself on food and drinks in the holiday season, my, ‘new year, new me,’ instinct kicks in.  It usually goes something like this: ‘something something, I will never eat carbs again, or saturated fats, or refined sugars, what was that sugar movie thing?  Oh and I’ll only have alcohol on the weekends.  And I’ll exercise every day, 4 kms minimum.’   In reality, New Year’s Day I celebrate my new year, new me with all of the above, and no exercise.  Goddamnit, start again tomorrow.  Then the next day, then the next day.

I gave up on them years ago, because they gave me added and unnecessary pressure to change on the first day of the year.  So I became one of those anti-reso people.  You know, the ones who just don’t give a fuck about New Year’s resolutions.  Because tomorrow you make a change, whatever.  Then I realise in hindsight the changes I wanted to make I never made after 365 days of tomorrows.

This year, I’ve been thinking a lot on some changes I need to make to reflect on those around me.  Not New Year’s resolutions for a new year, new me, but ones that actually are things I do need to change, in my life, to benefit myself and others.  No diet bullshits, just things that will give me a better quality of life, on an emotional level.  It’s not unnessecary pressure either, just a willingness to give it a go.  They aren’t really resolutions, more like ‘realsolutions.’

  1. Next year, for those around me, I’d like to give more.  I have some projects and some plans for charity related things which are great.  But it’s not just about that.  It’s the small things that make a big difference.  On Christmas Day, after we feasted and drank, and feasted again, my husband spent time putting a plate together for a homeless man in the city.  That stuff, the little drops in the bucket, I need to do more of that stuff. 
  2. For my husband, in 2016 I’d like to be more present.  We are both guilty of it.  Sitting next to each other on our phones. It made me realise that we fell in love 10 years ago, when we had the old flip phones, before Facebook, before videos of dogs with boxes on their heads running into shit.  I understand that it’s important to have down time as we are both super busy, but there does have to a limit to it.  Last night, we sat outside talking for hours.  Those moments, that’s when the memories happen.
  3. Next year, for my sons, I’d like to stop worrying about how fast they are growing up and continue to appreciate every moment I am with them.  It hit me yesterday that they really are boys now.  They tell me what they want.  They show emotion, imagination, they care for each other and their toys.  I’ll be toilet training them soon. It’s passing me by so quick and it scares me.  But instead of panicking how quickly it’s going, I need to stop, and enjoy every.  Freaking.  Moment.
  4. For my friends and family, I offer myself just as I am.  I’m always here for a listening ear and a chat.  Sometimes I forget to reply to messages, sometimes I’m late to catch ups because someone shits.  Even though we may not see each other much, I think about them all the time and am there for them 24/7 if they need me.  It’s hard to remember to tell our friends and family this when we are so caught up in our busy lives, but I just want them all to know that.
  5. Lastly, next year, for myself, I need to let go of things I can’t control.  I get worked up and hurt very easily.  I worry about things I shouldn’t be worrying about.  I take things personally. I try to make everyone happy but it’s impossible to do this all the time.  So I surrender to the situations I have no control over.

I started off 2015 so tired I couldn’t function properly.  We were moving house.  I had babies that had started crawling and never sleeping.  I felt like I was losing my identity and I had no faith in myself.  I end the year on a high, I’m still bloody tired but I’m happy.  I’m back writing and doing things I enjoy and I’m drinking in every moment with my sons.  I end 2015 with new friends that have been backbones of support to me and an extended family that is there for us when we need.  My husband and I have had our ups and downs as couples do, but we have learnt a lot together, found our groove as parents and supported each other’s goals.  

Yeah, 2015, you were great.

I hope everyone has a fantastic New Year’s, and I hope that dieting resolution goes well for you, but it’s ok if it doesn’t either, I won’t judge, I’ll take another drink though.

Happy New Year!

  

15 things people struggling to have children want you to know…

If there is one tough time of the year when you’re struggling to have children, Christmas is it.  It’s really, really hard.  Part of this may be because you are CONSTANTLY faced with things to do with children.  Christmas movies you enjoyed as a kid.  Shopping for friend’s little ones and being surrounded by toys.  Seeing the happiness and joy of parents sharing excited faces of their kids on social media Christmas morning after Santa had paid a visit.  For me, I grew up in a family who had special Christmas traditions and I couldn’t wait to share them with our kids.  But another year would pass us by.  

I enlisted some very dear friends who struggled with infertility, like I did, to share their thoughts and reflections on what they want those around them to know.   How friends and family can be there for them.  What you should and shouldn’t say.  These women (and men) have children of their own now and one thing I noticed when I asked the question was that it is still very real, very raw, and very emotional.  The question was ‘what someone struggling to have children wants you to know.’  Many of the answers I received were the same things, said in different ways.  Here is the list I came up with from the many responses I received.

  1. Saying to me ‘it’ll happen when you stop thinking about it’ is not ok.  When it’s something you want, it invades every single thought and you can’t not think about it.  Also, some of us have medical issues, so if I stop thinking about it, it still won’t happen.  
  2. I used to get frustrated with people feeling like they need to ‘tell me in person’ when they fall pregnant.  I’d actually prefer a message first, so I can have a quiet cry and compose myself.  I’m still so happy for you, but I am sad that I’m not pregnant, and that’s ok.
  3. Please don’t tell me to ‘relax’ or ‘go on a holiday with wine.’  Obviously, I’ve tried everything possible, even standing on my head!
  4. Don’t avoid the topic and pretend it’s not happening.  Check in with me and ask me how I’m holding up.  If it’s uncomfortable for you, imagine how I feel.  Sometimes, I do absolutely want to talk about it.  So ask me.
  5. That even if you don’t think it’s a big deal  or understand it’s upsetting, just recognise that it is.  I think the emotional turmoil of infertility can be tough to understand unless you’ve gone through it.
  6. Please, don’t tell us how horrible your pregnancy is, or how long it took you to conceive, especially if it’s only a couple of  months.
  7. Never tell me I can have your kids and I’d return them in a day.  I kinda want my own, thanks.
  8. Give us space at special events like Christmas, they are pretty tough.
  9. Ask my husband if he’s ok and be there for him too.  He is dealing with this in his own way and it’s just as hard for him.  Also, he has had to put up with me 24/7 in all the good, the bad and the hormonally UGLY.
  10. The journey puts your self esteem at an all time low.  You feel worthless, like a failure, and not to mention horrible and bloated from all the hormones.  Sometimes I just need someone to give me a hug and tell me I look great today and not ask if I’ve put on weight.
  11. Don’t tell me ‘it wasn’t meant to be’ if I miscarry or if my eggs don’t survive.  To me, that means everything and I’m suffering a loss.  
  12. Know how sorry I am for biting your head off over some little thing.  I didn’t mean it and I am truly sorry, it’s not an excuse but I put it down to the hormones and the stress.  I’m like a ticking time bomb and can explode at the smallest things.
  13. Telling me you heard of a lady that had her first child at 45 does not make me feel any better.  I don’t want to be trying for another 15 years to have a baby.
  14. If I’ve told you, I’ve told you in confidence.  I don’t need everyone everywhere to know what step of my cycle I’m at.  I feel terrible enough having to look my husband in the eyes and tell him it hasn’t worked, I don’t want to have to tell everyone at the supermarket as well.
  15. The struggle is real, the journey is hard, and whether it’s your first, or 100th go, or if you are trying for a second, or third, it doesn’t get any easier.  Be patient.  Be kind.  Be understanding.  Be there.

Thankyou so much to everyone who sent me emails, and messages to very willingly contribute to this list.  You are all the most amazing friends, and wonderful mothers, and mothers-to-be.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and enjoy your beautiful families.  Make sure you  count your blessings and if you have a friend who’s going through a tough time, whatever it might be, I’m sure they will appreciate a message on Christmas morning letting them know you’re thinking of them, today.

To my friends who are carrying the burden of loss and infertility this year, don’t give up.  It’s almost a New Year, with new promise.  Stay strong.

  

All I want for Christmas is…

Christmas, I just love it.  

I love it so much, that I’m pretty sure I’m on the Grinch’s hit list.  I grew up in a very close family where Christmas has always been a celebration of family.  Mum always opened her home to people she hardly knew, and always made them feel like they were one of us.  Besides this, I’m in glitter/bling/shiny things heaven, what more can a girl want?  

My husband unfortunately does NOT share my view on Christmas, because he works in retail.  To him it means long hours, constant late nights and an overwhelming demand for pudding.  I have tried to spread the Christmas cheer around the house and all I got was ‘there’s glitter everywhere.  I hate glitter.’  Point taken!

But we have children now, so Christmas means a lot more to both of us, and maybe he can put up with the glitter slightly more than he could a few years ago.  

Last year, my children were unwell with a variety of childhood illness.  I was so very tired and so was my husband.  I had all these overwhelming ideas about my kid’s first Christmas and wanted it to be perfect, but I was just too knackered.  We were literally getting maybe 3 hours of sleep a night, if we were lucky.  One night I was tallying the number of times the boys woke up and I stopped counting after 19.  

The Christmas before that I was pregnant and feeling very vulnerable and scared about something going wrong, and the Christmases before that were hard for different reasons.  While I loved it as much as I always did, it reminded me of my desperate want for a baby.

This year, all I’m feeling heading into the holiday season is an overwhelming sense of completion.  I don’t need anything for Christmas, I have it.  I have healthy children, a roof over my head, a supportive partner, a great family and some wonderful mates.  I am heading into this year with no expectations for Christmas, because I don’t need them.  Grateful, blessed, happy, healthy.

This feeling reminds me, that there are people who are not in such a wonderful place that I am.    People who can’t afford to buy their children presents this year.  Women living in shelters.  Pensioners who are lonely.  Couples who can’t have children.  

I’ve recently had some wonderful experiences with good karma surrounding me.  Simple things like a woman helping me load my groceries in the car while I balanced two toddlers.  A very old friend who has helped me take a small step forward on my career path.  A stranger at the park who offered to hold one of my boys while I cleaned the other one who had spilt drink all over himself.  With all the shitty stuff going on in the world at the moment, it’s good to know these small acts of kindness still create a large impact on me.

I’ve decided this festive season to create a good karma train, called ‘3 Acts of Kindness for Christmas.’  It’s about performing three acts of goodness purely for another person’s happiness.  It could be something simple like leaving a friendly note on someone’s car, donating some toys, telling someone they look nice or buying someone a meal.  I challenge you all to get on board this December so we can spread the good karma like wildfire.

And you never know, you might just make someone’s day.  

If you see a mum with toddlers in tow, maybe a coffee will do?

Where were you?

Everyone remembers where they were on September 11th, 2001.  We all have a story and it is vivid in our minds like it was just yesterday.  Where were you?  How did it affect your life?

I was 15 when the attacks happened, a teenager worried about upcoming exams, boys, Harry Potter, and the following year starting my TEE subjects.  When it happened I remember wondering how it would affect my family, what was going to happen to us.  In hindsight, it probably wouldn’t have had the same impact on me back then as it would if I had had children of my own.

Fast forward to the past weekend, where was I?

On Saturday morning I woke up at the ass crack of dawn (thanks kids) and did the usual scroll through social media before my feet hit the ground, when I saw the news about what had happened in Paris, at the football game.  Then the restaurants.  I immediately felt that sickness.  Then we watched live as it all went down at the Bataclan Concert Hall.  It all happened so fast.  It reminded me of the moment we saw the second plane hit World Trade Centre.

The day of terror in Paris came after suicide bombings in Lebanon and in general it was a pretty shitty week for mankind.  My heart ached.  How the hell will we come back from this?  What kind of world are my children growing up in?  It scared the life out of me.  I looked at my sons and felt the tears prickle my eyes as I thought about the horror and the violence and the terror that was becoming so frequent in the news.  How do I protect their innocence from all of this?  It’s a big job, to shelter your loved ones from a cruel and nasty world.

On Sunday morning, as all the stories began to emerge putting names to victims, it dawned on me that there was an amazing and overwhelming number of tales of heroism.  Of people jumping in front of bullets to protect others.  Of others opening their homes to broken souls.  Of a world that’s uniting against the hate.  Of people who are standing up against racism.  

When the hostage situation happened at the Lindt cafe, a woman in Sydney told a scared Muslim that she would accompany her on public transport.  That she would support her.  The hashtag #iwillridewithyou was started which saw a nation bound together in unity and stand up for others.  

There is a lot of evil in the world, but there is also a lot of good too.  I put my faith in the good.  I believe love always prevails.  I look at my sons and I know, that while I will always do my utmost to protect them from the world we live in and the evil that is present, I can definitely show them what is really important.  The heroes.  The unity.  The life.  The love.  At this point in their lives they are unaware of what happened last week, because they see the good in everything around them at 18 months.  I want them to continue to find it as they turn into adults.  

So with everything going on at the moment, we can spend our time worrying about what kind of world our children have been born into, or we can make the conscious decision to shape them so that they will be the ones that help others, that stand up for humanity and become people that make a difference in their lives.  We need to show them that there is so much goodness all around us, and we don’t have to look very hard to find it.

Peace.

 

What having newborns really looks like 

Lately, besides the obvious fact that I have two 18-month-olds terrorising the house daily, things have been pretty smooth sailing.  Sleep wise, nap wise, food wise, I really don’t have any complaints.  Except the one where they push their table angrily towards me when they want food, I call them my Alf Stewarts, because they just aren’t them when they are hungry.
It got me very reminiscent about the postpartum period, in particular the first six months of their lives.  Someone asked me how I reflect upon those times and I can’t really remember. I can’t really remember because it was really really tough.  When I was asked if I missed those early snuggles, I truly do, but there’s a lot of things I honestly don’t miss either.  This is just me being truthful.  For months I felt sure of the fact that I had no right to complain, because of what we went through to have children in the first place.  Even now when I talk about it I feel a stab of guilt.  Infertile woman has two babies, complains, bolt of lightning to the head.

The other day I was scrolling through thousands and thousands of photos I had taken in those early days.  Let me backtrack for a minute.  I used to take a lot of photos back then.  Like a lot, a lot.  Like a shit ton, if that’s a unit of measure you’re familiar with.  I didn’t want to forget anything, not one moment good or bad of my boys’ lives.  I was going through them to find good photos to print, but instead I laughed, and cringed and some of the many, many, raw and real photos I had taken.  Looking back in reflection at each of these moments, as a mother who has twins that are sleeping, eating and kind of behaving, I remembered those moments and could smile at how far we’ve come.  We made it.

To those of you who are going through a rough time, I promise there is a light at the end.  We are attuned to the easy, happy photos of that postpartum period of time, when people share things on social media.  What we don’t see is the snaps that ended up on the cutting room floor.  The really real ones.  Not the happy photos of the two babies sitting and smiling at the same time instead of grunting with colic and reflux.  No one saw the tears behind my smile when I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt about cutting myself in two.  Or when I was so tired I became a mad woman.  Or the loneliness I felt coming home with the twins after being surrounded by nurses and doctors and having a husband who had to go straight back to work and a family who lives 500kms away.  Or the panic and unrealistic expectation I had about bouncing back to my pre-baby weight (9 months on, 13 months off more like it).  And lastly recognising that overwhelming, deep, deep as the deepest ocean, I would die for these humans love and protection I felt for my boys, and grasping just how powerful this was.

These are the things people didn’t see.

I’ve decided to share some of these photos and while it makes me cringe seeing them and putting them out there, it is amazing to be able to share them with you all.  The hard stuff.  The tired stuff.  The REAL stuff.

I don’t take even one quarter of the photos any more that I used to at the start.  About 6 months ago I realised that all the time I was spending snapping away meant I wasn’t seeing things in real time, just through a camera.  Yes, I wanted those precious memories, but I wanted to be present for them even more.

I hope you at least get a smile out of these, as I sit here cringing at the fact you’re all probably enjoying them.  Thanks guys.  I’m not ashamed, or embarrassed, I’m purely reminded of a really tough time, and a really wonderful time.  Plus the one thing that’s common in all these photos, is that look of overwhelming love, even if it is a tired look.

Our boys 1277
Almost 2 weeks postpartum, the day someone asked me how much longer I had to go.

Our boys 1353
The day after the first night I roomed with the boys. They were three weeks old. I had been awake all night long.

Our boys 1649
My favourite show is ‘The Walking Dead.’. This is me as The Walking Dead.

Our boys 1706
The socks. It’s all in the socks.

Our boys 1917
Breastfeeding again, really?

Our boys 4061
I wonder who kept us up all night?
Our boys 1657

Our boys 2018
So, so tired.
Our boys 2020

Our boys 2119
Dads get tired too!

Our boys 1805
This one still makes me laugh.
Happy Monday.