Five things you don’t say to a mother

Again, I generalise. Perhaps a more accurate title would be: Please Dont Say These Things To Me Or I’ll Be Pissed And Probably A Bit Resentful For A While. Ah, ambiguity, my old friend.

This is also not specifically a mother’s issue, but they’re things have have definitely gotten to me since having leaf.

1. I’ll have that back, if you’re getting rid of stuff.

We’re moving interstate, so we’re offloading A LOT of the craps. Leafs stuff is fairly minimal; its mostly been a motivator to throw away the clothes that don’t fit her anymore and the toys she doesn’t play with. There’s some things you just don’t get rid of though – for me (and for now, I tend to have spontaneous bin sessions to cleanse my soul) (righteous, dude), there’s a lot of sentimental value in handmade gifts and some of the smaller items that maybe weren’t worn much but give you a serious case of the misty eyes when you pick them up and try to fold the teeny tinys.
So when a very good and long term family friend says she’d like the her handmade gifts returned, it got my back up.
Okay, for starters you were pretty slow in gift delivery, it’s not like her arrival was a secret? The hats were too small from the beginning, the shoes were too big until she was mobile, and then you try keeping ballet flats with an ankle strap on a crawling baby, and the caboose that was only really appropriate for photos which we never did (or intended to do).
I wasn’t getting rid of them, i’d have kept them, maybe used them again.
But no. You’ll get them back, and I hope you can give them to someone who will get use out of them, and one day I’ll understand what motivated you to make such a demand.

2. Dont worry, her hair will grow to cover that.

Leafy was an emergency cesarean (poor little mite was stuck), and in the last minute rush to get her out before shit got real the very top of her head was nicked with a scalpel. We think they cauterised it as it wasn’t bleeding. Nevertheless, she has a bald spot the size of a penny on the top of her head, and its accompanied by four crowns so it’s not exactly an easy hide.
To be honest, I don’t care if it’s hidden. I don’t care if her hair grows over it. I certainly won’t style her hair to cover it, nor will I ever have it indicated to her that it ought to be a source of shame, or warrants concealment.
I know people probably mean well when they say words to this affect, but if you insinuate there’s something wrong with my baby I’m going to say something blunt and probably cause a little tension (but I’ll probably say nothing and agree cause I just want to keep the peace. Maybe. Or not… Proceed with caution).

3. Are you still feeding her?

Yep. I hear they like, die, when you stop.
In all seriousness, breastfeeding is so tough! It’s a shame that it’s socially considered such an inherent ability, when I had to work my ass off to breastfeed leaf. First I really battled with the psychological aspect of feeding. Hell yes it is beautiful and incredible, but I often felt ill at the thought, the sensation was uncomfortable and made my skin crawl, and at a time when I simply was not hungry, I had to force myself to eat to create enough nourishment to keep myself hanging by a thread PLUS sustain another human being. For the indefinite future. We were formula supplementing almost to the point of overtaking at about four months, until I got onto some medication that made a dramatic difference. After that I felt so damn lucky to be able to breastfeed that I decided I’d keep going as long as leafy wanted.
To that end, when people ask if I’m feeding her, I know what they mean, and I know they’re probably just making conversation. I don’t want to go into the whole thing every time, nor should I have to. So I usually say ‘yeah, all she does is eat,’ and leave it at that. And also, it’s kind of not your business, y’all.

4. Is she walking yet?

Or crawling?, or any teeth?, or standing up? Eating solids? Talking? Flying? Intergalactic travel?
Sure I’m guilty of wishing the time away every now and again, but honestly show me one person who isn’t!
Go on.
I’ll wait.
Nah, I won’t, but the competitive facet of parenting is utterly ridiculous if you ask me (and I guess if you’re still reading then you do). I do not know anyone who has a line on their resumè reading;
‘Began walking at 10 months, indicating superior intelligence’.
I couldn’t care less. Unless leaf was severely behind and in some way unwell, as far as I’m concerned, the kid can stop the growing now. In fact, let’s go back in time.
Again, I’m aware it’s probably conversational, but fuck off (sorry Nan).

5. Oh she just blah-blah-blah-ed to me!

I know dude, I’m with her all day every day (apart from one accidental evening away, and it was actually less than 7 hours of her awake time).
My point is, however, if she’s going to do something new (whether it’s trying to kiss you, waving, or taking her first steps) it’s going to be with me, who she feels comfortable and safe with, who will catch her when she falls, laugh at her silliness and scold her when she needs it.
I appreciate that you’re interested in new things Leafs doing. Yeah wow she is clever. But I am telling you, it is SO not the first time. You’re not special to her, I am. Just me. Maybe the dog. Maybe her papa. Probably her grandparents and uncles. But not you.

Please excuse my use of profanity and rambles, these are things I feel strongly about (particularly the rambles, they’re invigorating). Well, as strong as one can with a large amount of sleep deprivation induced apathy.

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heart bomb.

I’m trying my darnedest not to think too much about this upcoming move, beyond the obvious every-single-conceivable-minor-detail-and-possible-negative-outcome, because, you know… Anxiety.

In the sense of broader emotional loss and adjustment to come, however, I have made earnest attempts to avoid contemplation. I endeavour to continue with this plan of attack, and generally keep my head in the sand.

Poor baby leafy, no nanny or poppy or uncles.
Not thinking though. No no no no no no no nonononononononono. No.

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battles of the predispositionary kind

Something that I’ve had difficulty with the majority of my adult life is accepting and not focussing on my inadequacies; functioning as a regular human being despite feeling like Heracles halfway to penance.

I’ve always been a strong advocate for mental health, despite never having seen any professionals myself (and being coaxed toward the idea several times) (I don’t like to talk about emotions. Vomit… But not really because obviously it’s a grossly unhealthy attitude).
But a few weeks ago things were getting hard. I wasn’t dressing the Leafy, or myself for that matter, zero housework was done. I was pulling her high chair into my bedroom and spending the day in bed, and I could not for the life of me pull myself out of this funk.
I started blaming it on leafs papa, or my not being able to get a job, not being able to study, dropping gym, dropping netball, getting a dog, being stuck in this good-for-nothing-God-forsaken-hole-of-a-town-where-dreams-come-to-die-or-be-crushed-by-the-weight-of-cumulative-ignorant-incompetence.
But the psychologist assigned to me through the magic and wonder of fate (read: the only one available) suggests I’m post natally depressed.
Yes folks, that’s right.
One year down the track. I think it’s bullshit, parenting is hard, relationships are hard, I feel about this place the way Joey does about Janice.
There’s a far more telling reason for it all but some things you don’t tell anyone. And I dont really like the Doc, he doesn’t exactly invite confidence when he watches me with cold skepticism and dismissive calculation. So what did I do? I be’d a grown up, and I got a new one. And, guys, she is COOL. Like, she may just be my (only) 72 year old best pal. She, too, disagrees with post natal, and got on board (sans prompting – I do actually want this shit to work out) with my ideas of long term anxiety. But I digress..

Despite its initial shortcomings – aka Dr Not-So-Clever – therapy has been good for introspection, and I’ve realised the work leafys papa and I need to put into our relationship. And just how great my daddy issues are. And how I pretty much let my mother convince me of anything and everything. And how much the endometriosis has affected me. And how much I actually planned to do with my life considering I never ever ever wanted children or marriage and now that’s what I’ve got and sometimes you just have to suck it up and put on your big girl pants (or any pants at all) and make do. And how I really, really don’t want to live here. But what choice do I have?
Well… Plenty. Obviously. But if I thought I had self awareness aplenty before, I’ve intensified it tenfold by getting all therapised, and now, with my baby now having spent over a year on this earth, the most consuming thought I’ve had is; What. Have. I. Done.

This poor innocent human is doomed.

It’s kind of impossible not to consider the negative facets of your own character that you’re likely to pass onto your firecracker offspring.

Despite my knowledge of my own shortcomings, leafys burgeoning personality only serves to further illuminate flaws I had previously determined irrelevent.
Things like terrible self esteem, social anxiety, depression, fear of commitment, inability to open up, emotional  indecision, narcissism, poor temperament, laziness, terrible habit of starting things with excessive fervour but never finishing them, lack of drive or determination..

All these things combine and split like the proverbial custard of life and I’m left thinking,
‘… How in the ever loving name of fuck am I supposed to raise a self sufficient, well adjusted, independent human being when I’m such a hot mess of eggs and cream and emotional distress?’
(I may have mixed my metaphors.)
(I’ve never made custard.)
(But I don’t care because humor.).

Plus apart from not wanting her to be unwittingly afflicted with the crap soup that is her genetically predetermined destiny, sometimes I’m just a shitty human. Sometimes I’m crocheting real hard, and I’ve just found a technique that gives one of my blisters/callous’ a break and for no reason at all she’s standing at the couch tugging on the ball of wool or chewing on my feet or just squealing and I’m all
‘Ohmygodpleaseshutupandleavemealoneforfivejollyminutes.’ Except I do not say jolly, and I hate myself as soon as her bottom lip drops and I inhale, trying to reabsorb the awfulness.

So you can understand how it can feel like fighting a losing battle when both my conscious and unconscious traits aren’t exactly chips for the cashing at the mother of the year casino.

I’m not sure how to resolve that. Except maybe try to do things that make me forget I’m shit, and involve E with people who aren’t.

Easier said than done.

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That’s regret/jealousy (yes, I know that squishing two words together does not a literary genius make) (no, I don’t care).

I’m caught somewhere between the two words though, which makes me think the squish-age is applicable.
I spent the majority of my pregnancy trying to hide it, predominantly because I didn’t want anyone to know. I wasn’t ashamed as such.. I was young yeah but there’s been younger. And it wasn’t a one night stand. But I suppose I’ve always been concerned about other people, and I’ve always been aware how pointless and irrational that is. Doesn’t change facts, fellas.
So there I was, all bundled up in a scarf, long sleeve shirt, jumper and coat in a lecture at uni with two hundred other people – none of whom knew me from Adam – while the heating had the room at a balmy t-shirt level and I sweated my ass off just so nobody would see my five month bump.
Not long after I just stopped physically attending classes. All my shirts got too tight, y’know?

So I of see all these gorgeous thangs in their lovely bump accentuating garb, loving what is truly a beautiful (though oft times uncomfortable) period, proudly placing a hand under their belly and looking lovingly at their partners.. and I kind of feel like a tool.
I don’t have any pictures of my belly.

Nobody is going to want to see that.

But I do.

And the worst thing is I don’t know if I want to do it again. After we first had leafy I was hard core clucky. I couldn’t wait to have more babies. Three! Four! Maybe seven!

But as time has gone on and E has become her own little person, developed a killer personality and crafted enough sass to wrangle a young bronco, I can’t imagine sharing my time with anyone else.
I know,  I know, we’d all cope, she’ll love it, it’ll be fine.

But she has the dog, they’re best pals. Maybe she would benefit from a sibling. Maybe, though, she would lose out on crucial character building she’d gain from just being with me. And I’d gain from her.

Because lately, every time I see her watching someone else, learning from them or observing them or trying to get someone’s attention or some tosser let’s their kid try beat mine up because she’s little, I have a physical reaction I never anticipated.
I’m not a great mum. I’m a good mum, I get the essentials done and whilst I wish I could do better, I’m of the opinion that a large proportion of parenting is instinctual.
So when I feel this heart up in my throat pounding in my ears stomach turned toes tingle I think maybe I’m not so useless. I’ve got the instincts there, I can’t bare the thought of losing or sharing or having someone else experience the insurmountable ecstasy that is imparting wisdom or happiness or sadness upon my child.
And I’m not sure I could ever get sick of that feeling, or be ready to share it.

So I’m regrealous. Of others and their new bumps, that I let mine be a secret, and that I might not do it again. And every other feeling, ever. Yep, I think that about covers it.

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