Archive for March, 2012

A conspiracy of time

March 28, 2012

Every weekday morning it’s the same thing.

I get up at 7:15. We have to be out of the house by 8:30 in order to be at school by 8:45. I have 75 minutes to prepare breakfast, brush my teeth, shower, dress, pack lunches, help boys with their uniforms, check for any school forms/library books/excursion notes that need signing, change a nappy, dress a toddler, do a rapid-fire pick-up-stuff-off-the-floor and kitchen bench wipe down and find my keys before leaving the house. Surely it’s do-able with minimal stress and chaos?

Well, it would be if something weird didn’t happen to the time in this every day morning scenario.

It starts off going reasonably slowly, so that between 7:15 and 7:30 five breakfasts are calmly prepared and being happily and leisurely consumed. 7:30-7:45 is usually ample time to prepare and pack satisfactory school lunches. That leaves time before 8am to shower and dress myself before helping the boys with their uniforms and shoes and nappies.

This is where something weird happens to the passage of time because the 30 minutes between 8 and 8:30am disappear in a void. Suddenly I am frantic and insanely chanting “Where are my keys?” whilst filling drink bottles and lacing shoes and changing a nappy and putting on toddler sandals and stepping on Lego and shouting at the boys to get their school bags and remembering that I haven’t brushed my teeth or my hair yet and somebody needs $5 for a school excursion and I need $8 for my netball game and I know there’s only 85c in my purse and no petrol in the car and there’s snacks needed for creche and a spare nappy and where is that damn library book and why can I never find my friggin keys and finally, somehow, we trip and tumble out of the front door amid a chorus of complaints about walking (which actually seems quicker than the car when car seats and seat belts are factored in) and get to school just in time for the final morning bell and like so many natural disasters within 5 minutes it’s all over: a frantic and unbelievable amount of effort just to make it to school on time.

Some must casually stroll through their morning requirements and exit in a cloud-like state of organised calm: a whispered breeze of preparedness and control. Time works in their favour. I’m sure we could, if it weren’t for the disappearing 30 minutes that conspire to ensure that we invariably arrive at school less like a breeze than a tornado, with a trail of dirty dishes and open cereal packets and milk on the counter and strewn jocks and pyjamas and half eaten toast and cups and toys and forgotten show-and-tell and unflushed toilets in our wake.

Somewhere these lost conspiratorial minutes must be getting stored. Perhaps I’ll get them back when I’m 80.

Lucked out on the crafty gene

March 22, 2012

The time has come for me to acknowledge and accept that I am not a crafty person.

I cannot sew. I cannot knit. I don’t do beads or trinkets or home made cards. I once did a sewing class and broke the sewing machine. Twice. I have burnt home made playdoh, and I do not enjoy making stuff involving containers, pantyhose, potting mix and grass seeds. Do not ask me to hem, quilt, make jewelry, glue mosaics, or mould pottery. I can attempt origami but it will look ridiculous.

Whichever part of the human genome controls the capacity to create and realise crafty projects does not seem to exist in my DNA profile. Unfortunately this extends to other related crafty pursuits, such as cooking (especially jams, chutneys, roasts, pastries or fish), scarf tying, general fashion sense, makeup, gardening, and how to style hair. I am getting a haircut soon and the only realistic option for one so craftily challenged is to get it all cut off. That’s all well and good if you have a face like this. This is why I have one haircut a year. I fear it more than the dentist because I never know what to do.

I am thinking of setting up a support group for people bereft of the crafty gene called “Can’t Cook Can’t Sew”. Here people can meet and share their experiences of burnt roasts and needle pricked fingers and crooked buttons and tragic hair and clueless fashion faux pas (like the time I wore a Morticia Addams-esque black velvet dress to a day time wedding in a grand Catholic church, but that’s another story).

Anyone care to join?

Don’t ever expect to get thanked.

March 11, 2012

Ok, so this is Rule #1 in the Parenting 101 Handbook. but why does it seem to be the one learned through the toughest measures?

Last night I spent several hours painstakingly folding, sticking and cutting bits of paper to make a pseudo town for the little toys my kids are currently obsessed with, and to be honest, was pretty impressed with my efforts. I had made a beach, a park, a soccer oval, some shops, houses and even little cars for the rubbery figures. I felt sure that the boys would delight in the miniature village and elect to spend minutes, possibly even hours of their day maneuvering their colourful ghouls between each station. My hopes were buoyed when my oldest suggested some possibilities for additional scenes – a swimming pool perhaps, and some more houses. Great! My plan was working. Perhaps we could even make a little movie and upload it to the Tube and become an internet sensation… But then, my middle child, in a fit of inexplicable hostility and destructive urge, tore up the entire village and scattered the forlorn remnants around the lounge room.

I haven’t cried so much since I last watched Elephant Man.

Completely speechless, the only response I could muster was to walk out of the room and shut the door behind me. It took me several minutes to compose myself enough to re-enter the room and ask my 5 year old, through desperate tears, why he would do such a horrible thing. Of course he didn’t know, and was so taken aback by my emotional response that he laughed.

I left the room again.

Then I really really cried. Not just for the crumpled paper on the lounge room floor and the hours of wasted effort, but for what this exercise epitomised. All the love I had for my boys went into that amateur paper creation. All the hope I had, the expectations, the longing. Here was I, spending hours on a Saturday night sitting on the floor of my lounge room sticking pieces of paper together to make miniature paper cars, in the hope that it would make my boys happy. Excited. Motivated. And in an instant my efforts were crumpled and mocked and misunderstood. As my 5 year old mused in the midst of my tears, “How was I to know it took so much effort to make?” How was he to know? He will never know the effort that goes in to being his mother. And he will never thank me. Because why should he? He didn’t ask to be born. That was my choice. I don’t agree with expecting our children to be grateful, or indebted to us, because we do what we do because we choose to. Maybe one day, if my son has children of his own, and he builds them a cubby house or swing set or paper plane and they deride it and reject it, maybe then he’ll understand how I felt when I left the room in tears over some crumpled paper.

Maybe then he’ll understand what a tough and thankless and emotionally draining job being a parent can be.

Smelling roses urgently.

March 9, 2012

Lately I’ve become aware of a sensation in my head. It’s a sort of tingly, buzzy, fuzzy feeling located somewhere behind my nose and between either side of my jaw. It seems to have been there for a while now. The buzzing becomes intensified when I am trying to do something. Anything. Like write this blog. Or make a smoothie. Or brush my teeth. Or organise social events. It’s an urgency. A physiological sensation of urgency that can paradoxically become quite paralyzing. I need to do this thing. Right Now. Urgently. But I am so paralyzed by the desperate need to do it right-now-so-urgently that I end up feeling like a broken robot struggling to move. Or a crazed turkey that has been stung by a wasp.

Why this sense of urgency? I haven’t always had this driving, manic sensation so where did it come from? It doesn’t take much effort to trace it to sometime around 2 years ago when my oldest son started school. When I describe the school world to my pre-school mum friends, I invariably use the word “vortex”. You are swept up by the cyclonic winds and amid the swirling lunch boxes and drink bottles and uniforms and newsletters and permission slips and soccer shoes and readers and spelling lists and NITS and drop offs and pick ups your hours and days blow by and before you know it 10 weeks have passed and you are spat out for a brief respite during the school holidays before the winds start up again. Batten down the hatches for another term. For days book-ended by 8:50am and 3:20pm with pockets of time in between to actually Get Stuff Done. Hence I guess this urgent sub-nasal vibration causing me to desperately focus on every minute – to intensely and urgently stop and smell roses before the bell goes. Before I shift into the next phase of the day. Before it’s already tomorrow. Must get it done, absorb it, and move on. Something accomplished? Great. Tick. Next. The buzzing will stop if it’s all done and I can go to bed.

If I was a neurologist I could probably pinpoint the exact part of the brain causing this urgent tingle – the hypothalamus or hippocampus perhaps. Or both?  The former apparently has something to do with emotion, hunger and circadian rhythms, whilst the hippo bit does stuff like converting short term memory to more permanent memory. So maybe between these two brain bits an urgent, hungry and time-aware signal is formed, desperate to absorb and create memories. This must be the buzz: time is short and I need the memories.

Time to make a smoothie. Intensely.