Tomorrow will be my very first mother’s day with a child old enough to understand the concept, and even though it hasn't even arrived yet, it might just be the most perfect one I’ll ever have…
Wonderland #1 proudly brought home a haphazardly potted Pansy from childcare on Wednesday, and with it her little face carried the weight of a thousand precious accomplishments, she was so immensely proud and has asked me at least twenty times since if it’s mother’s day yet so can give it to me properly. She told me she picked the yellow one because it’s my favourite colour. She said that the green bow is a bit crooked and she can fix it with ‘ticky take’ if I get it off the high shelf for her. She said that mother’s day is when you tell mummy that she’s beautiful. She said that daddy would make me a cup of tea, but that when she was bigger and it wasn’t so ‘danger’ she would do it for me instead of dad because I’m her favourite mummy ever. She said that her brother and sister were too little to know about mother’s day, but that she knew, and she wouldn’t do anything naughty all day. It’s impossible to articulate exactly how touching her sentiment is, heavenly little child. And I know, yours is just as wondrous.
This year, mother’s day isn’t about me, it’s about them. There will be no massages or expensive lunches; we will do something simple, gather as a family and do something that lights up their little faces with glee, because seeing them happy gives me that grounded, yep-I-am-doing-something-right-and-I-am-the-luckies-person-on-earth feeling, and I love that feeling, it renews me, fills in the little voids of those day to day insecurities. It genuinely completes me. That and the whole theory that I, me, turned out to be someone’s mother. Phwaor…
I flounder at the thought of reproduction; it is the closest real life thing to magic. It’s a marvel, and the pure phenomenon will never ever be lost on me. The rarest cell in my body, and the smallest cell in my husband’s got together and made a tiny little person. Three tiny little people. It’s the most primitive, and easily the best thing about being a human; that God imparted this divine capability to us is a true gift that I now cherish above all others. To grow, nourish and birth a baby is genuinely my favourite thing to do, I would do it over and over and over again if my body and situation allowed. I would do it for anyone (calling all surrogate seekers – here I am!). And it doesn’t end there (it never ends!), raising a child is the greatest investment we ever make, there is no parallel. We sign up for a deal that includes sleeplessness, heart-ache, tremendous frustration, exceptional personal challenge and torturous extremes, but out of the venture we score a breathtaking life, and we mould it, treasure it, nurture it, shape it and hopefully guide it into being the most wonderful version of itself that it could ever be.
Today I watched my babies going about their day, a quiet splice of time when they didn’t know I was spying. Wonderland #1 was pouring fictional cups of tea, Wonderland #2 was scrutinising the engineering of a toy train and little #3 was entranced by her own fingers. I felt my love for these little beings swell inside me to physical proportions. They are all so different, yet personify perfection in their own little way. I know that they will forever be my greatest personal achievement, and I love each of them with such ferocious intensity that I spontaneously start to weep. Then I erupt into sobbing, hot tears that burn a path down my cheek threatening to undo me completely. It almost hurts to be so in love. I know that I’m not unique to be experiencing this force, but today, during that moment the slow dawn of knowledge lit me up like sunshine… that’s how much my mother loves me (then the sobbing morphed into the impassioned moans of a hormonal, post-natal creature and had there been any witnesses present, an ambulance would have been summoned to medicate the crazy lady who was losing her beans). But the notion stays with me; my mum loves me like that, and I love them like that, and one day, God willing, they will know that love too. It goes around and around. Wow.
The thing is, and it’s a constant theme in all my blogs, my story is no different to yours. I’m not unique because you can relate (well at least you tell me you can), which shocks me completely and simultaneously encourages me. At times I feel like I’m the only one screwing up, getting it all so horribly wrong and missing the bits that matter, but I’m not on this journey alone – here you are, reading and intimately knowing how the intoxicating adoration we have for our babies both propels us and unravels us. And that’s the point of this indulgent prose; as mothers (parents), we are inflated by wonky potted Pansies and it buoys us for the next round of tantrums and troubles, and like the love we feel, and our mother’s felt before us, it is a perpetual motion of ebb and flow of the most exquisite variety. All we need is the occasional Pansy.
To my little ones, thank you. Thank you for choosing me to be your mama, your impact on my life has brought about some of the very best qualities in me and I will be forever in awe of you. One day when I’m a famous writer (I can dream!) you might stumble upon this clumsy and inadequate old blog post and know that on one beautiful autumn day I took some time out just to tell other people about how much I love you and share in the beautiful, universal love of a mother.
I’m off to enjoy my wonky little Pansy which I hope lives forever and ever. Happy mother’s day, Wonderlanders.
I’m a yeller. I never wanted to be, in my pre-parenthood, blissful ignorance I imagined and hoped that I’d be less of a yeller and more of a quiet voices/organic type. But as it turns out, I’m to yelling what Imelda Marcos is to shoes. I’m to yelling what the Queen Mother is to hats (have you ever seen her not wearing one? Didn’t think so). I’m to yelling what Fifi Box is to the perfect post-birth photo. People ask me advice on how to be such a fantastic yeller. I’m the yelling poster child. Do I like it? No. Do my children like it? I think they do, they do a lot of yelling themselves. Um… yeah.
Last week though, I became a reformed yeller. After a verbal explosion Wonderland #1, with the sweet innocence only a three year old can possess, asked; “mummy why do you always yell at us. Doesn’t it hurt your voice? It makes us sad and cry-ish.” Her protective use of the inclusive ‘us’ (and concern for my voice box) made me gush with pride that my three year old little girl, big sister to two, was sticking up for her siblings, speaking on behalf of the children. It was a turning point, an epiphanous moment that left me sobered and empty and really rather cry-ish myself. She’s only three, her need to be the ambassador for the littlies shouldn’t be activated yet. I think I literally hung my head in shame.
So I researched. I’m no behaviour-changing vigilante so I typed ‘I want to stop yelling at my children’ into Google (where else would I type it?). I laughed at the auto-prompter which suggested my search should be ‘I want to stop yellowing pubic hair’ (what?!). But that’s another search for another day and what I found was actually quite a bit of information, apparently I’m not the only mama who wants to turn the volume down. One of the most helpful blogs I found talked about “triggers”. It made sense, making a “scream diary” as she called it, would help me recognise patterns to the yelling (gosh that makes it sound like it’s an addiction). A “scream diary” seemed a bit intense but I did make an effort to recognise moments in which I would have normally, or felt an overwhelming urge to yell.
For instance, when I bent in front of the car to pick up a rogue sock and Wonderland #2 honked the car horn in the carport where the cavernous echoey quality made the honking seem like some kind of torture… that was a “trigger”. But! I didn’t yell. I approached the car window with my palms raised, as though a dangerous beast was encaged within. I said, in my calmest mummy voice; “ok buddy, that was fun, but now you can stop honking the horn. Stop mate. Stop. Stooop. Stoooppp. Honey, mummy needs you to stop honking the horn. Stop honking the horn mate. Stop. Stopppp. Stopppppppp. Sweetie it’s very loud and it’s hurting mummy’s ears, please can you stop?” His delight at my awkward-uncomfortable-non-yelling negotiation resulted in crazy laughing hysterics complete with bounding up and down on the driver’s seat, jabbing pudgy fingers at buttons and knobs. He stopped. And I didn’t yell! It was an accomplishment of epic proportions. I felt like this is how normal parents resolve issues, I felt like less of a bad mother. I felt good, and the ringing in my ears wasn’t even that noticeable.
When the nappy bag got tipped upside down and the children played ‘lets put coins down the heater vents’… that was a “trigger”. When the frozen peas marbled out across the kitchen floor… also a “trigger”. When the big tub of Sudocrem got plastered into blonde curls… “trigger.” When the spilt bottled of cordial merged with the spilt bottle of milk onto the freshly mopped kitchen floor… that was a FREAKING “TRIGGER!” There were these triggers, and those intense, all-consuming moments where the baby would be desperate-crying, toddler is exactly in between my legs tugging for something at full volume, pre-schooler is shouting about the importance of putting a different pair of leggings on, right now! Everyone is melting down around me, and I’m accustomed joining in. On most of these occasions I felt frustration rising and thrashing in me like smoothie ingredients in a blender. I slammed my eyes shut and my head had a visible little seizure as aggravation bubbled to get out. Deep breath. Shake it off. Speak calmly. I have most definitely been on the cusp on many occasions, but I haven’t exceeded the reasonable decibel limit.
Dr Phil says there are six weeks of discipline to successful habit changing. Well Phil, let me teach you something: mothering three very small children amplifies most aspects of life. My life isn’t busy, it’s very busy. That nappy doesn’t smell, it’s the stench extravaganza pod. I’m not tired, I’m exhausted beyond explanation. The forty-five minute period between breakfast and kinder drop off evaporates in five minutes. The hour from nine pm to ten pm might as well be eight minutes because that’s all the relaxing I get. My point is Phil, what might be one week for a regular non-parent type person is probably like at least three or four for a neurotic parent type person. So while I can’t say the habit is broken, I haven’t yelled in a week and I don’t need to wait six weeks to see results. It was a decision to be kinder, gentler, calmer with my children; I just don’t yell anymore, full stop. And they are happier, they yell less, they respond well when I need their attention. Life is just better.
It’s only been a week since my decision to stay calm so I’m no serenity guru, but the “triggers” are becoming less like loaded barrels of angry, screaming monkeys and more like reminders of how awful I used to be. It might sound harsh, but it’s absolutely completely true; yelling is awful, no one likes to be yelled at and it took me longer than it should have to make that connection (I think I’ve already suggested I’m a bit slow on the up-take).
In my perpetual mission for self-growth, I ask this: what have I learnt? Well, I’ve learnt that asking for, and explaining why the freezer door needs to be closed gets the freezer door closed more effectively than screeching about the freezer door being open again! I’ve learnt that I contributed to the crazy, heart pulsing, short-breathed elements of Wonderland more than I ever would have admitted. I’ve learnt that not yelling is as good as giving myself permission to be slower with life in general; yelling carries such an urgency, speaking is present and makes you focus on what is happening now. I’ve learnt that my children are even more wonderful than I realised (is that even possible, cos they were already pretty damn marvellous). And the best bit I’ve learnt is that my babies have a treasure trove of lessons to teach me if I slow down long enough to let them.
Now I just need to work on my smacking habit. Kidding.
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