Thursday, March 31, 2011

Article in

Another article is published in the online magazine parentingexpress. Read it here

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Sydney Morning Herald Weighs In On Child Development

What do you think of this people?
For my part, I'm reassured I'm on the right track boring Miss Q silly by narrating her life to music all day long...

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I am not catholic. Yet there is no shortage of the guilt I am feeling as a new mum.
I feel guilty when she cries. Guilty I can’t always make her stop crying. Guilty I don’t know why she’s crying in the first place, when she’s been fed, changed, loved, and anything else I could think of. I feel guilty I want to go for a run without pushing her in front of me, so then I do just that and feel guilty I forgot to grab the rain protector for the pram and she got a little bit wet. Guilty I spend a portion of each day wondering why my child can’t be more like the other kids and sleep so I can get some timeout and don’t have to feel guilty for wishing I got it when I don’t. Guilty for this, guilty for that, guilty for stuff that hasn’t even happened yet, because I’ve had time to imagine it while rocking my baby through her post-injection blues.

One of the mother’s in my mothers group said ‘we’ll have a bad moment every day and a bad day every week.’
Yesterday was a bad moment all day long, after two other bad days all day long. Does that mean I’m home free for the next two weeks?
The thing is, I’ve never hung out with anyone as much as I hang out with Miss Q, and honestly, sometimes it’s exhausting.
Exhausting in a way that running to rehearsal, dancing for 6 hours then running home never was. It’s a fatigue I feel deep in my marrow and it’s made all the more resonant because I fight against it, not wanting to admit that my resources are tapped. That although my well of love for this little person is infinitely deep, the further I have to go down the well to get it, the more effort it is to pull it up to the surface.
Is that bad?
Am I failing?
I feel like I am.
And because I do, I project that lack of self-confidence into every facet of my life. I’m a bad wife; I’ve got no energy left for my husband. I’m not helping enough with the chores. I look like a frumpy house frau badly in need of a haircut.
Don’t you wish you lived in my mind?

Last night I went out. I wasn’t going to – was feeling guilty about leaving my child with my parents, knowing she would bottle refuse and probably scream – but they made me, saying they’d looked after me, they could look after anyone.
And so off I went with my husband, my brother, his girlfriend and a couple of friends playing the same role of nervous new parents as Gregory and I, and my mew-mum friend and I had a couple of cocktails, feeling like we were on night release from prison and feeling guilty for it just the same. Before our first drinks were finished, we were giggling like schoolgirls in the seventh grade, swapping secrets, feeling free, being just us, not mothers to our delicious baby girls which is how we are now more commonly known. We pranced up the opera house steps, took our seats and Tim Minchin and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra entertained and thrilled, impressed and distracted us.

He’s a brilliant performer for many reasons, but last night he was brilliant because he spoke just to me. In the first act, still high on my liberation from the mighty Q, I grabbed my husband’s hand and squeezed as Tim sang his lullaby to his baby girl.

What more can I do to put a stop to

This mind numbing noise you are making?

Where is the line between patting and hitting?

When is rocking “rocking” and when is it “shaking”?

I don’t know what else I can try to try to hush you

My heart says I love you but my brain’s saying fuck you

And hoping a child trafficker will abduct you

At least then I’ll get a few hours in bed

Do you understand? I silently begged Gregory. This is how I feel some days. I don’t know how to love her more, I’m consumed, almost obliterated by it, but still it’s not enough.

The applause at the end of this song led me to believe I wasn’t the only person capable of appreciating his terribly inappropriate lyrics and I sat back and felt the support of strangers all similarly entwined.
Tim’s musical prowess was put to the fore in the second act and I was inspired by a man who stuck by his dreams to turn his nerdy enthusiasm for piano into an international career.
Of course, we begged for him to return post bow, and of course he did, performing not one, but two encores.
By then I’d already started to miss my little Q, was loving the entertainment, but had one eye on the door, anxious to head home to my baby girl when Tim read my mind again and this time reduced me to tears.

And you my baby girl my jetlagged infant daughter

You'll be handed round the room like a puppy at a primary school
And you won’t understand but you will learn one day

That wherever you are and whatever you face

These are the people who'll make you feel safe in this world

My sweet blue-eyed girl

And if my baby girl when you're twenty-one or thirty-one

And Christmas comes around and you find yourself nine thousand miles from home

You'll know whatever comes,

Your brothers and sisters and me and your mum

Will be waiting for you in the sun

Girl when Christmas comes

Your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles

Your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum

Will be waiting for you in the sun, drinking white wine in the sun 

Baby whenever you come, we'll be waiting for you in the sun


I really like Christmas. It's sentimental I know

And I really like Miss Q. In fact I really love Miss Q. I love everything about her. I love her individuality. Her determination. Her gorgeous gummy smile. Her singing, her contented face in a shower. I love her when she’s a punk. When she arches her back and throws her arms out like she’s being crucified. I love her now. I love her then. 
I’ve just got to remember to love myself and the mother I am to her. I’m doing the best I can and somehow, beneath the fatigue and the self-doubt I know that's enough for her.
The end.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I am in the baby-making age group and it occurs to me that the conception of the world’s next little humans comes about through the most disparate of circumstances. Here we are doing the most natural thing in the world, yet our lives are so busy, varied and peppered with individuality, that it's unlikely any human will ever enter this world just because it’s what we’re programmed biologically to do.
Here are some of the ways and reasons the next generation came to be;
·               For my part, I always wanted to be a mum but wasn’t sure it was going to happen as I was gallivanting about New York as a very single, likely to stay that way lady. Just as I started developing a theory of gaining a masters in teaching (a stable, sensible career) so I could become a foster mother, I met a chef, 18 months later I married him and a year after that we moved around the world and gave baby making a go, since no one ever gets pregnant straight away…9 months later we had Miss Q.
·                      One girlfriend is six weeks away from welcoming her second babe, and as she is the stepmother to two sons and mother to another, she’s really hoping for a girl. Apparently fish and beans can help you out, and avoid bananas and chocolate as they make a better environment for boys. It’s a wonder I didn’t give birth to both considering what I eat!
·                      There is another new human in the world belonging to very dear family friends, whose mum is a very adept midwife. It was embarrassing hearing about her baby preparation as I looked like an absolute neophyte in comparison. But the baby had very definite opinions on its birth, refusing to budge from feet first and was delivered via c-section into the arms of her new mama. Her dad would have been there too of course, but he was otherwise occupied in an overseas engagement and met her a couple of weeks after she arrived on earth.
·                     Another new mum and I were set up by our mothers because we happened to be due within a week of each other and were booked into the same birth centre in Sydney. Luckily, we’ve since found we like each other for a few other reasons than that. Pipped at the post by less than twenty-four hours, I can still remember the thrill I felt for my friend when I heard of her new baby girl, a thrill which was most definitely twinged with envy, anticipation and if I’m honest, a little trepidation for what was to come for me.
·                     One dear friend has a delightful, energetic son, now joined by an equally delightful, delicious daughter. But not without struggle. There are two little lives between brother and sister who didn’t make the full journey. I know my friend still thinks of those little souls and wonders who they may have become…
·                     I recently met a lady who is a very proud and capable, but totally accidental mother. Conceiving (though she was told that wasn’t possible) to a man she’d only just met while her other life was still in a shambles; a loving, extended and very modern family unit now surround her son.
·                      There’s another little girl, delighting her new parents day and night, a delight that was some five odd years and many treatments in the making. What a wonder it must be for them to gaze at their little human, she will never know the rigour of the paths they travelled to be her parents.
·                     Then there’s the lady whose husband’s sperm wasn’t up to the task so they enlisted the help of another and their son is 50% mum 50% stranger about whom they know nothing other than his health, height and colour of his hair.
All these little people, so cherished and hoped for, their journeys beginning weeks, months even years before they ever made an appearance. Who knows how these events will shape and influence them, and the parenting we provide. Still I know one thing for sure, they won’t be able to comprehend the odyssey to parenthood till they’ve been on the ride themselves.


One of my brothers is back from overseas and attempting a career change after ten years in one field. Never having gone for a real job myself, I am watching from the unemployed – pardon me - I meant full time mothering sideline, completely fascinated by the rigmarole and bureaucratic hoopla our friends in HR are making him jump through. He has had two interviews (one involving an emergency trip to Melbourne to meet the chief in charge of something), several psychometric tests, a couple of maths exams, an impromptu presentation of material he received only ten minutes previously, one medical involving half an hour with a nurse and another half with a doctor and now a third interview at the airport because this time they’re flying the chief in charge of something up here instead.
All for a rookie position that commences with 9 months of training.
I know I’m not the first to highlight this irregularity, but no one even checked to see if I could spell my name before I took on this job of being Miss Q’s mum.
My brother is being grilled because he is a novice with no direct experience.
I am most certainly a novice with no experience, direct or otherwise. My saving grace is Miss Q doesn’t know what she’s doing either.
I too had nine months of training, at the end of which I graduated whether I was qualified or not.
And now I’m in the thick of it.
Instantly promoted from carrier to chief carer, a job with a list of responsibilities ranging from entire food source (no small feat if you think about it) to expert entertainer (often involving the singing of such hits as ‘you are my girl I love you so’ and ‘what colour nappy would please you baby’).
The job is vast and all encompassing. The hours are arduous, monotony is commonplace, and the salary is absolute rubbish.
But the bonuses cannot be beat.
Find me a job that starts every morning with a delicious smile from the person you made, and ends each workday with that very same human as you cradle them in your sleepy arms.
And the best part is absolutely no one else in the entire universe could go for this job. There are other mothers for sure. And other women who could do what I’m doing and quite possibly do it much better, but there ain’t no one else who can claim to be the mother of little Miss Q.
The job is unavailable. Now and always. I’ve got my KPI’s, I know the targets, the job called for commitment and stamina and I’ve signed on for life.
Sure, there was a bit of preparation. I was required to enter the trade with a man assisting me, and there’s an element of the uncontrollable that made things a little dicey, but it’s funny how in the end, the toughest job I’ll ever have was the easiest one to get.

Friday, March 18, 2011


‘We are like kookaburras Nome,’ says my youngest brother the other day as he takes Miss Q into his arms.
‘I beg your pardon,’ I say, ‘are you referring to my nose as a beak?’
‘You made the comparison not I,’ he says rudely, ‘but no, actually I’m not. I am referring to the fact that the raising of a kookaburra is a communal effort. Everyone in the family helps. Kind of like what happens here with Miss Q.’
To be fair, ours is an unusual (or unfortunate depending on your perspective) circumstance.
Miss Q, my husband and I have moved into my parents’ place for a couple of months while we await our new rental place becoming available. One brother has returned from living OS and he and his foreign girlfriend are also currently residing under the same roof while they seek gainful employment (which now that I’m a mother I can justify not having. Much easier to say I’m a full time mum than it is to say, oh I’m a performer between gigs).
Then there is the kookaburra brother who is legitimately in between contracts and around the house a lot of the time building things like a meat smoker, (who knew every house needed one) and sundry other relatives and family friends popping in and out of the other spare room.

Kookaburras catch lizards, snakes, even small rats, then eat them, regurgitate them and feed them to their young. Which isn’t too different from what happened here last week when Gregory and I took my parents to a play to thank them for having their quiet, tidy house invaded by our young family.
Leaving Miss Q in the loving, capable and familiar hands of the aforementioned two of her three uncles, off we went to the play, without a parental worry in the world.
As it turned out, it wasn’t them we had to worry about,
It seems our little human is a diva. A tantrum thrower. A determined, opinionated, bottle-refusing punk who gave my brothers such a rough time that when we returned (not four hours later) she had become a more successful form of contraception than the talk dad gave them as young men about facing the consequences of their actions.
Apparently she had no qualms screaming non-stop for twenty minutes, her pitch and resonance so high Dame Joan would have been proud, then promptly stopping, staring at her near deranged uncles and breaking into a wide, gorgeous grin.
That, (as one brother so succinctly put it) was really annoying.
They tried everything. Rocking, wrapping, singing, talking, cuddling, walking, reasoning, pleading, begging, bargaining and finally ignoring. Not a thing worked.
Miss Q, while not looking much like her mother, is apparently behaving in a very similar fashion to the way I conducted myself in the early months of my life. Which is a shame really, my parents left the biggest gap between my next sibling and I owing to my proclivity for annoying, difficult behaviour.
Why does the apple not pitch itself far, far from the tree? If she was adopted I could blame someone else’s gene pool. As it stands, I can only hold Gregory partially responsible.
So there are my brothers desperately trying to feed Miss Q her bottle of expressed breast milk (which - as I’ve stated in a previous blog - is more distressing to obtain than when Giovanni tried to extract blood from a stone) and she greets their efforts with closed eyes, a turned head and when they don’t locate the true source of her food (ie me) she exercises her disgust in a sustained, and ear splittingly enthusiastic fashion.
‘And it gets even worse,’ says one brother as Gregory and I poor him a stiff drink.
‘How could it?’ Gregory wants to know.
‘Well we started to worry that she didn’t like the bottle because the milk wasn’t the right temperature,’ said one brother, ‘so we did what we’d seen in the movies. You know, poor a bit on the inside of your arm and see if it’s too hot.’
‘And that’s what was wrong?’ I ask, hoping I could justify my child’s unreal behaviour.
‘Not at all, it was perfect,’ said the other brother, ‘but I forgot what I was dealing with so I just licked it off my wrist. I licked milk made by you, from your breast off my wrist. I tried to spit it out but it was too late and now I’ll forever know that I’ve tasted my sister’s breast milk.’
‘Ah, I can see how that would upset you,’ said Gregory filling his tumbler just a little bit more.
‘Upset me? It’s horrifying. Disgusting. Don’t you dare tell anyone what happened.’
No little brother, I won’t. I promise. 
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