Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Farewell, And Thank You.

My new blog address is And this essay explains why. It's long, indulgent, my way of processing. Forgive me. x 

When I started blogging, six years ago, the baby vomit was milky-fresh on my membership card to the mother club. Ivy was five months old and Keith and I had just moved from our city flat to a little timber cottage with tank water and a composting toilet a couple of hours and a thousand lifestyle-miles away from our old friends and family. We were new parents dropped head-first into a new life.  

Small-town ways were new and confusing to me. So was motherhood. One day I googled ‘five-month-old baby stinky neck’ when the smell rising from Ivy’s face every time I kissed her (many hundreds of times a day) was becoming strange and unbearable. Several thousand answers instantly returned.  Turns out you have to get right under those delightful folds of your chubby baby’s  neck and excavate out the grime that accumulates there, or else it will begin to culture into– my apologies - neck cheese.Who knew? I had no baby-mama friends nearby to ask. This was pre-Facebook hive mind, Keith was travelling a lot for work and I really felt lonely. One day, I started writing a blog with the vague understanding that it was an online diary of words and pictures that could keep far-flung relatives and friends updated about our daily goings-on.

I found Ivy endless comedic, and I adored her, so I scribbled away, examining my new life as a parent, and eventually, I started exploring the blogosphere. I found other like-minded bloggers, and they found me. My blog began to grow and change, as blogs (and babies!) do. We added another baby, our beautiful boy Ted, and then another, the sweet Georgette. My blog became a record of domesticity, my long days spent inside this little house with one, two and then three small children underfoot. I recorded the tears and the laughter and the chaos. (Ah, the chaos.)

Ivy’s path through toilet training (I thought of it as the Wee Wars) is there. Once she did a poo in the hallway just to see what it looked like, and another time she refused point blank to go to the toilet at the park, and then crawled into my car seat and let the rivers run. Her sudden toddler rages are recorded; her delightful, eccentric imaginary world and her sudden and passionate embrace of all things pink, sparkly and bedazzled (much to her mother’s dismay) is recorded too. Her development into a bookish, funny schoolgirl is all here.

Little Teddy is captured on these pages. A mellow, easy-going baby, he cried so little that the first time he threw a baby tantrum, at about three months old, we put him in the car and started driving to hospital. Luckily, he calmed down and we were able to turn around before I had to shout in the emergency room ‘My baby is crying, damn you all to hell! He’s been crying for twenty minutes! eHe’s Run every test you have, and screw the expense!’ Funny little Ted, with his odd speech patterns, who insisted at two that his name was Trixie-Jeff, and loved magazines, and evolved into a curious and meticulous person. Do houses have skin? How do you say ‘slippery’ in Spanish? Are my little round poos really meatballs?

Recorded, too, is my pregnancy journey with little Georgette, which from the first trimester was a tough one. ‘Are you finished spewing yet, Mum?’ asked four-year-old Ivy as she watched Peppa Pig and failed to develop the skill of empathy. ‘I want some more cheesy toast.’

The kids were hard work, the car broke down twice a week and my body, bit by bit, crumbled under the strain until in the third trimester, the ligament in my pelvis separated and left me weeping and waddling through the final weeks like some kind of deeply depressed, obese duck. I whinged and moaned and vented my complaints onto my long-suffering blog, and my loyal and kind readers supported and encouraged me.   

Halfway through that pregnancy, my niece Autumn was born with severe disabilities. She died two months later, and in my blog I recorded my sorrow and the deep admiration I felt for my brother and sister-in-law who walked that heartbreaking road together with such grace and love. 

Finally I waddled into hospital and our adored Georgette March was born. She slept and breast-fed like a champion, and for a period, we absolutely felt suspended in a bubble of incredible good fortune – three healthy children, a happy relationship, a blessed life. I wrote about it all. Then, at ten weeks Georgie fell from a shopping trolley and suffered a head injury.  It was a nightmare, and I wrote about it as we nursed George and cried and opened our hands to an unknowable future.

My first year of being a mother of three is recorded on this blog. It was a tough season. The joy Keith and I felt in being parents gave us our steady foundation, but everyday life was often difficult. Teds asthma was bad. Ivy began school. My back problems worsened and Keith started his own business. Little Georgie went about the business of growing up;  one day babbling words, the next day eating mashed pumpkin, the next running through the halls.  She brought us incredible joy. I wrote about our love for her.

Life was busy, highly scheduled and always felt one bout of gastro away from complete meltdown. In between vacuuming compost from the floor of the car and tackling Mount Washmore (in a constant cycle of grow-and-shrink on the end of the lounge, and on glorious, transcendent occasions actually disappearing altogether for full minutes at a time), I cooked and made Play-Doh and read books about space and drew pictures. All of this life, gloriously domestic, wonderfully happy and heartbreakingly difficult, has been captured on this blog for five years.

Keith role as Best Supporting Actor has run like a sub-seam through these pages. He shows up here and there, happy to have his life mined for comedy, supportive of my decision to write publically about our private life, and always the central steady fact of my life:  the love of my life, without doubt. Our relationship is here:  our ongoing fight against selfishness, the work of allowing each other to grow as individuals while keeping the separate entity of The Family – the myth of it and the actuality too - our core around which all else revolves. In tandem we have sprouted grey hairs and wrinkles and creaky bones; our badges of glory; the scars of battling midnight wake-ups and baby viruses and sleep psychosis.

As for me, I am here in neon technicolour. My faults and my virtues, laid open for the world to see (and comment upon.) My gradual, stumbling evolution from a fiercely independent perpetual adolescent into a middle-aged mother-of-three with a poorly tended bikini line and a powerful commitment to optimism.  From me to uterus, you might say.  I hope I am wiser – at least, I realise now how much I have to learn about myself and the world. My children have brought me to my knees with rage and love and humility and gratitude, and writing this blog has enabled me to reflect upon and explore that. I will always be grateful for that, and I think the process made me a better mother.

But like any mum-blogger, I have had to reflect over the years on notions of privacy and independence and rights. I have always drawn a certain line in the sand about the parts of family life I choose to write about. My personal line of over-sharing is much further along than many, and like many bloggers, I suspect, I am captivated by the details of the lives of others, those intimacies that let us glimpse how alike we are, rather than how different. For me, TMI is never TM.

Becoming a mum, growing actual people inside your skin and feeding them from your body, means a blurring of that line between you and others. I suspect this is why blogging is so appealing to new mums –when you are sent through the shape-shifting wringer of pregnancy and birth, you stagger out the other end in a different form. Through examining the minutiae of domestic life with these miraculous tiny creatures, we try to figure out our new identity.

But as time passes, children become less us, and more them. I feel that change. My children gnaw away at my apron strings with their sharp little fangs, and shred them bit by bit with every passing month.  

I see my role as caretaker, as minder, as an emotional bodyguard, of sorts.  I want to guide and protect these kids during their fledgling years, to help them navigate the tricky waters of adolescence and to launch them out of the nest into adulthood with confidence, good health and useful habits. The ability to play an instrument, to behave with kindness, to cook a casserole, to laugh in the face of adversity. (All at once, if my training is wildly successful.)

It’s because I want to be mum to Ivy and Teddy and Georgette, rather than chronicler, that I have felt increasingly torn about this blog. There are many aspects of life that I choose not to explore here, in order to protect the privacy of my family, and this means that this picture of life (while authentic) is not complete. It is edited by me, seen through my own particular (comedy-tuned) lens and so, inevitably, it is just one version of the truth.  This doesn’t worry me when I think about pre-school life. Capturing the stories of these years is like a gift to the kids, I think, an archive of their lives pre-memory that they can keep and share in time with their own kids. (My grandchildren. Excuse me while I put my head between my legs for a minute and take some deep breaths. )    

As my kids grow older, my relationship to this blog is not so simple. Their stories belong to them, after all.  Their ideas are not the same as mine, and their perception of an incident is not the same as mine. I am raw and inappropriate and outspoken. That’s okay with me. It’s the kind of person I am, and I think sometimes it makes me a good writer. But while I’m happy to be an outrageous writer, I wish to be a thoughtful mother. I don’t want to become the mother who mined my children’s lives for comedy and drama to meet my need for validation from an audience. If for no other reason than Keith and I would rather spend our retirement funds on Mediterranean cruises than on uncomfortable therapy with angry offspring. 

This is not true for every mummy-blogger, by the way. Many writers don't perhaps share so freely of themselves, they draw a line further back in the sand, and so they don't need to police their boundaries in this way. But I am pretty much an open book, and so I think it’s a good time for me to stop being the archivist of my children’s everyday life, to thank them for an early childhood full of joy and humour and wonder, and hand the reins of their stories back to them. 

Yet, I love blogging. I love the immediacy and intimacy of the form, I love the community of bloggers, and I love to write.  Plus, I am a middle child and I need attention. To that end, I am going to start again, recalibrating how I write and what I write about, and I am going to see where that decision takes me. I’m happy to share (too much) information about myself, but I am going to re-boot my boundaries around how I talk about the kids and Keith.

I want to keep writing, to explore the world inside the home, and look deeper into how other people manage family life. I want to share things that have made me laugh, and things that have made me think, and people who have interested and inspired me.

The readers of this blog have been my intimates throughout the last five years. Thank you for reading, for commenting, for supporting and encouraging me through these first magical, wonderful, terrible and transformative years of motherhood.  I hope to see you over at Mogantosh for much more comedy and drama and tragedy and curiosity and absurdity. If you move on, thanks for being a comrade as I was fired in the oven of motherhood. In truth I might be a bit of a wonky pot at the other end.  But beauty lies in the imperfections after all. 

In the words of wise beardie Leonard Cohen: ‘Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything: that’s how the light gets in.’

My new blog: 


Monday, August 26, 2013

Oops, Complaining, Again.

Come on, antibiotics. Do your thing.

It's been three months or so now of night-and-day coughing and fatigue and a pale, wintry depression. I am limping through laundry and supermarkets and swimming lessons and the neverending hunt for school shoes, struggling to find my good humour. I just can't get well. I went to the docs today and he's put me on antibiotics. If they don't work, a lung X-Ray. 'You know', he says, 'for cancer or whatever.'

(It was funny.)

But sweet cheeses, enough of the complaining.

Instead, here's a snap from a bushwalk this weekend with the family, to see the spring flowers in the National Park. The weather was glorious, George adorable. 'Dadda back! No, Dorja walk! No, dadda back! No, Dorja walk!'

Happy week ahead, my friends. May there be more sunshine and less shouting. Wish me luck that the wonders of modern medicine will kick this chest infection of mine in the clackers.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Let Me Direct You Somewhere Wonderful

If you are not already reading Eden Riley's blog Edenland, I suggest you make your way over there and enrich your life. Eden is always an incisive, bitingly honest and funny writer, no matter what the topic, and at the minute, she is making sense of life with Bipolar Disorder.

She's flawed and fabulous. Bravo Eden. All the best.


Monday, August 19, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Theatre (That Wasn't Funny)

We are sick.

As dogs.

Sick as mangy, syphilitic, rabies-ridden, starving, nasty garbage-gang dogs. A bout of gastro hit the house on Saturday night - the night I was performing in my short play. Yes, ridonkulous. This is life when you have three kids in daycare and preschool and school. The bugs, they keep a-coming.

I spent most of the night in my dressing room with my head on a chair, gripped with horrible nausea. I couldn't run lines with my co-performer, watch other acts or hang out with the friends who had come to watch. I couldn't really talk. My body was shutting down, processing the flu I had been fighting for a week, stage-nerves, and the building momentum of a gastro bug. I just stared into space and worried about the kids and willed the minutes to pass until it was over and I could go home.

As I walked onstage, I felt cold and sweaty. I didn't know if I would remember my lines, and I couldn't be sure I wouldn't throw up out there.

But under the lights, the powerful effects of adrenalin surged through me. I sang, I acted, and I felt the warm thrill of watching an audience respond to lines I had written, voiced so beautifully by my friend and co-performer Al. They laughed, they cried, they clapped. All the while, up the back, I watched Keith and my mum grin proudly. It was really an amazing experience.

After the show, Keith and I headed straight home where we mobilised the gastro-plan: stripping ghastly, stinky beds (poor Ted threw up in his sleep), showering kids, setting up the mobile field hospital of buckets and towels, and then, and only then, the adrenaline wore off, my grinding nausea reached a peak and I started vomiting too, with Keith not far behind.

This gastro bug landed on our flu-depleted systems, and we are just wiped out. Keith and I have been as bed-bound as is possible with three small children, and I am feeling very grateful to my Mum and Dad today. Pop took on sick Ivy on Saturday night, so that Keith and Mum wouldn't miss my show. She sat up in an armchair with a bowl and watched the footy with him. Today, they took Georgie, the only thriving human in the bunch, so that we could have an easier time of it at home. It's been a very long time, if ever, that Keith and I have both been so sick at once. It's been very low-key. Watching Cake Boss,  playing games of Uno, using my limited energy to get  chicken soup and crackers and soda water into my poor sick beloveds.

I feel very happy that I stretched myself creatively to make something new. But christ on a handcart, am I glad it's over. Roll on spring. Roll on recovery.

(And I will definitely be getting a flu shot next year.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Perfect (Shit) Storm

At times, the relentless forward-motion of the household is overwhelming, is it not? I feel like the cobwebs are looking accusingly at me with their veiled little eyes, and I don't know whose stupid idea it was to clean the window in the lounge because it has now thrown every other window into terrible, filthy relief.

We are in something of a perfect storm this week, with two kids birthdays, lot of work commitments and the flu.

Critical laundry only ( as in items that have been pissed or vomited upon.)

Nothing could make me feel better.  Well, maybe dirty Jamie Oliver.