Parenthood is hard.

It’s constant.

It’s emotionally draining.

The whinging.

The whining.

They are too tired.

They are not tired.

They don’t want to go to sleep.

The  crying.

The fighting.

They are hungry.

They are not hungry.

They don’t want that for dinner.

They are bored.

They have nothing to wear.

They don’t want to wear it.

Its not fair because I don’t let them do anything.

They have to do everything around here.

I sometimes think I am insane.  I mean, seriously, what person in their right mind would sign up for this?  I don’t know what type of sane person would put their hand up for 4 years worth of crappy nappies. Not to mention the sleepless nights and the tantrums.

I mean, fair enough, you get caught out once.  The parenting gig is a lot harder than you thought it would be.  But once you know the pot is full of boiling hot water, you don’t put your hand in again do you? And yet, I have willingly put up my hand more than once.  Not too sure what that says about my IQ.

Before you have your first kid, you are all “I am going to be such a cool mum.  I am not going to smack them, and I am not going to yell.  My kids and I are going to be best friends”.

Then reality sets in.  You realise that you can’t be one of the cool kids.  You have a responsibility to make sure that you raise your kids the right way. They need to behave.  You can’t say yes all the time. In fact, you can’t say yes much at all.  They need to learn values.  Respect. Right from Wrong.

You find yourself saying things and doing things you swore black and blue that you would never do and never say.

I can remember being a kid. I can remember going shopping with my parents at the local shopping centre and getting into trouble for being naughty, particularly for running around and playing in the clothes racks. I thought it was pretty unfair at the time.  I was bored and trying to have fun. Running in and out of the clothes racks was fun.

Now I find myself at the same shopping centre with my kids, yelling at them for being naughty, running around and playing in the clothes racks. I find myself wishing that I could die or at least crawl under the nearest rock while the shop assistant gives me the death stare.

… Yes! I know they are naughty, you judgemental cow!   I just want to shop in peace and look at nice things, quietly, and enjoy the background music, but I can’t. I have to tote this little cretins around with me. Just wait until you have kids!  Don’t you DARE give me that stare until you have walked a mile in my shoes.  And F.Y.I the clothes you sell are crap and they don’t fit over my fat …

And don’t get me started about the self serve checkouts!  GRRRR!  Yes, Woollies, Big W and Coles, I am talking about you.

 All of the checkouts are closed except two, and one of those is an express aisle! Both open aisles have a line up of 42 people waiting to be served.  

One kid is whinging because I wouldn’t  buy Cocoa Pops, one kid keeps hovering near the lollies and drinks at the checkout in the hope I won’t notice them try to snarfle a Kinder Surprise, and one kid is busting to do a poo and can’t hold on any longer and needs to go RIGHT NOW!

Then I spy it.

The self serve checkout.

It is almost like a golden light from Heaven is shining down on me.  God himself is talking to me saying, “Look, I have prepared a way for you.  There are four self serve checkouts, they are all empty and one of those is for you.”

And even though I am philosophically opposed to the self serve checkouts, because four checkout operators could be employed, instead of one supervisor, it seems so convenient, just this once. I am very tempted.  In fact, the kids whinging has become so unbearable, that to not take advantage of the self serve checkout would be a travesty.

I take one more look at the kids, notice the excruciating faces of poo pain that is accompanying the whinges of the busting one, and start moving my trolley towards the self serve checkout.

Inwardly, I am admonishing myself.  Another win for the corporations.  Of course people like me with no willpower will use the self serve checkout if supermarkets make it uncomfortable enough for people to line up at the normal registers.

I start scanning through the items. Thats when the trouble starts. One kid decides to start trying to press buttons. One kid decides to start ‘helping’ by taking stuff out of the trolley. One kid starts touching the stuff that I have scanned and put in the bags.  The computer  starts freaking out.  “Unexpected Weight. Call for Supervisor. Removed Item from the Bagging Area. Call for supervisor.  You are an idiot and should not be using the self serve checkout.  Call for supervisor.

I start yelling at the kids and tell them to leave the stuff f#ck alone, with a couple of extra expletives and warnings about death and dismemberment thrown in for good measure just so they know I am serious.  I even lash out to smack the busting one on the hand to keep him away from the bagging area as he tries to take something from the bag and accidentally smack him on the head instead.  Another shopper gives me a dirty look, the look that says “You are a bad mother.”  I feel very trailer-trash right about now.

The supervisor still has to help me another 34 times before I have finally finished scanning through the items and by the time I am finally finished I am so frazzled that I just about need a bourbon and coke right then on the spot.  But we don’t have time for that, as the busting one has announced the poo is starting to come out, so we hotfoot it down to the parents toilets, while I sit and relax in the aroma of nappy bins that haven’t been emptied in four hours.

So its not all sunshine and lollipops, this parenting gig.  Anyone who tries to say that it’s easy, is delusional.  Seriously, check to see if they have had a lobotomy or something.

But there are some moments, some very golden moments that make it all worthwhile.

The kisses. The cuddles. The cuteness.

Mr J has started to become quite a charmer.  In the last couple of weeks, he has told me that my hair looks beautiful, and my shoes look lovely.  In the morning wake up routine, I give all of the kids one on one cuddles. In our morning cuddles, I asked Mr J if he knew that I loved him.  He said “Yes”.  I asked how does he know that I love him. He replied “Because you are Beautiful”.  This morning I asked if he was my Poppet-Boy. He said “Yes”.  I asked, “How do you know you are my poppet-boy?” He replied,”Because you are my precious”.  Awww Melt. Right there.

About 3 o’clock this morning, Miss O (10 years old), had a nightmare and came into my room for comfort.  Too tired to move, but wanting to give comfort, I beckoned her into my bed for a cuddle. There she stayed, snuggled in my arms until the alarm went off this morning.  I felt so glad that even though she is 10 I still get the chance to hold her tight and make her feel loved.  I will treasure that moment.

Even in the midst of their naughtiness, there are moments that just make me laugh. Just this week, Mr S informed me that Mr J was being naughty and had messed up their room. When I pressed him for more information, and asked if it was just Mr J, he informed me that Mr J had started doing it, then he “accidentally joined in”.

Blink and you will miss it, but hidden amongst the mundane, are the moments that are golden.

Look for them, cherish and treasure them, before they are gone.

They are the moments that make it all worthwhile.

Rose Coloured Glasses

On Monday we decided to shrug off the housework, get out of the house and go for a drive. We visited the Mount Hypipamee National park and on the first leg of the journey we had a great time breathing in the beauty of dinner falls.

But the main reason for choosing the Mount Hypipamee National Park was becuase I wanted to take the kids to see the the Mount Hypipamee Crater.

The crater was formed as a result of a volcanic gas explosion and until recently, it was believed that it had an underwater tunnel connecting it to other waterways.

I had visited the crater when I was a kid, so for me the crater was an amazing, mystical place, and I wanted my children to experience that same sense of wonder.

[I even had dreams about the crater when I was a child. The most recurrent one was where Aliens were attacking the earth, and many of us (humans) descended into the crater going under the green sludge (in real life the green is just a layer of duckweed but in my dream it was green sludge) to emerge into a new, safe land, where we formed a resistance. Other times, the crater was just a part of the topographical landscape in dreams – particularly ones about volcanoes and lava, usually trying to escaping from the flowing lava and fireballs.]

So after we explored dinner falls, we climbed the relatively short but steep rainforest track to the Crater.

(So you don’t think I am totally unfit or anything I’ll just leave out the part where I was huffing and puffing by the time I got to the top. Future Post Alert – Did I mention that I am overweight and just recently discovered I have to lose 20 kilos? I have a plan to do something about this, I just have to work out what that plan is.)

Seeing the crater again after all those years was strange. I had seen the crater so many times in my mind’s eye, from the perspective of a young child. Now that I was here again, I had to take off my rose coloured glasses, and see it again for real.

Thank you to the kind lady who offered to take this picture for us. It feels nice to have a family pic.

The crater still was still beautiful. Looking at the sheer rock walls, the rainforest and into the deep abyss (from the safety of the viewing platform) was still a breathtaking experience.

But it wasn’t the way that I remembered it.

It wasn’t exactly the way my mind’s eye had made it out to be.

Of course, the crater has not changed. I have. I am taller. I am older. When I look at things now, I see them from a new perspective.

This got me thinking about the different perspectives we have about things in our past.

Movies that we watched. People that we knew. The things that happened to us.

The movies that were super scary or super awesome when we were kids, are not necessarily that crash hot when we revisit them as adults.

[Take Jaws for example. Worst. Movie. Ever. But back then it was really scary! Another great example of this – Electric Dreams – where the guy’s computer comes to life and tries to ruin his relationship and control his life – I watched that again recently and had a red mark from all of the head slaps I gave myself for putting myself through watching it again.]

The people that we knew back then that were super cool or the meanest horrible bullies are *usually* very different people when we meet them again later in life.

The things that happened to us, the things that we did as kids, both good and bad, are all things that we remember from a child’s perspective.

In a world where each day contained the possibility of a new adventure; when the dark contained monster; when each school day (particularly sitting there in maths) felt like it was never going to end.

Sometimes the way we remember things that happened to us or things that we did as a kid can also be totally different from the people that we experienced them with, depending on our age, our likes and dislikes, and many other factors. For example, the school bully will have a different collection of memories about their school lives than their victims do. Even siblings may remember shared experiences with completely different perspectives, and remember things that happened in a completely different way.

Sometimes its a little bit fun to keep those rose coloured glasses on.

I don’t want forget about how the crater was a magical mystical place for me as a child. I can still choose to remember it the way I did before.

I can choose to remember how good certain songs, cartoons, movies made me feel when I was growing up.

However, sometimes its healthy to let those childhood perspectives go, particularly if they are holding us back. If we experienced traumatic times in our childhood, it can be good to look at these things with adult eyes. Going back to process the things that happened to us with the wisdom and knowledge that comes with age, can help us to gain new perspectives, find new ways to cope and achieve a new level of understanding, so that we can begin to heal and move forward with our lives.

The final lesson that I took from my visit to the crater is about the way I parent my children right now and what they will think about me in 20, 30 or 40 years time.

Its my job to nurture them, guiding them to discover their path in life, hopefully shaping them in to beautiful, caring, loving individuals that go onto to lead fruitful, successful and happy lives.

This means that there will be times that they don’t agree with the decisions that I make for them. From their current childhood perspective, I may be mean, or dumb, or just not understand. It may literally feel like the end of the world if my 10 year old daughter can’t do something that I feel is inappropriate for her age.

I am not a saint and I am certainly not a perfect mum. I know they will frustrate me at times and I will make mistakes plenty of mistakes along the way. I work full time. In the hustle and bustle of life it can easy to be overwhelmed by schedules. I can’t always make it to the school assembly. I can’t always do things that stay at home Mums can do. Sometimes I feel guilty about that.

I can also do my best to listen, to love them, to talk to them about anything and everything, to make them feel important, and take an interest in their interests and in what they are doing, even if I can’t be there. I can do my best to make time to provide them with amazing experiences that they will remember for ever, experiences to let them know how much they are loved. These don’t have to be grand gestures. Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

Hopefully when my children are are older and wiser, looking back at their lives, without their rose coloured glasses, they will know three simple things.

I worked hard to make sure they had everything they need.

I did everything in my power to make them feel safe, protected and loved.

I love them very, very much, even more than life itself.

Learning to Ride

I have vague recollections about learning to ride my first bicycle without trainer wheels.

My mother says I kept getting cranky when I fell off and I would yell at the bike and chuck it to the ground.  Whilst I don’t remember this ( all I remember is the awesome feeling of freedom once I got going) my hubster says that he is not surprised. Hmmm….

Anyhow, luckily for Me, Miss O has a lot more grace.

We have wanting to get Miss O a bike for a while now, but due to finances its something that we have had to keep putting on the backburner.  Miss O turned ten at the end of February and my mother bought her a bike.  (Amazingly Generous!  I love my mum!)

Miss O has been so excited about getting a chance to ride it – but we had about almost a month of rain and busy schedules so the bike sat in the garage and Miss O would go into the garage just to stare at it longingly.

This weekend was the first weekend of the school holidays and we had some sun and free time so we decided we would take the opportunity to go down to the park with the kids and teach Miss O how to  ride.

Grandma had also bought her a super cute matching purple helmet, so first things first was to adjust the helmet, so it was secure and not too loose.

This was easier said than done. It was too loose, it was too tight, it was choking her… After a few tears and tantrums, and several goes, Miss O still wasn’t happy with the feeling of the helmet.

Hubster and I were pretty sure that we had it just right, so in the end we had to tell Miss O that the helmet was a dealbreaker.  Either she got used to the feeling of wearing the helmet, or she could get used to the feeling of the bike being in the garage forever.  Miss O agreed it was better to get used to the feeling of the helmet, and soon we were on our way to the park.

We started Miss O off on the grass to get the hang of balancing on the bike, pushing on the pedals with the right strength and gave her some push offs to get going.

Once she was able to stay upright for a few metres, we encouraged her to start using the path, and practice by herself so she could really get the hang of it.

I was so proud of my Miss O’s determination to keep trying until she got it right.  And she was so excited once she was doing it all by herself.  There were several “woo hooo!” moments.

I am so proud of my angel, I have made a movie trailer about it.

Lol, I know the video is corny (I make these a lot for the kids and my husband just groans).

But Miss O’s determination to succeed got me to thinking about those moments of truth in life.

When its hard.  When we don’t believe that we can do it.  When we are afraid we might fall.

These are the moments of truth. The moments that we need to overcome our fear and try.

If we fail, if we fall, so what?  We just need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start again.

We can all be champions in our own way.

And those “woo hoo!” moments are really worth it.

We all have to start somewhere.

Is there something you are too scared to try?