Archive for August, 2012

Glowing surprises

August 29, 2012

Small children certainly keep you on your toes.

Kids themselves, and the accoutrement they come with, have an uncanny and occasionally wonderful knack of taking you by surprise. The surprise you get when you step unexpectedly on Lego isn’t so wonderful, nor is the surprise of the wet toilet seat. But I did find it wonderful the other night when I turned off all the lights prior to dragging myself off to bed and stood for a while in the darkness, as you do, and gradually noticed shiny pockets of glow-in-the-dark things everywhere. I tracked some down, and found three glow-in-the-dark frogs, a dinosaur, a matchbox car, several ubiquitous stars, random stickers and some Trashpack containers. It was like discovering a new galaxy – my own personal galaxy. The Tri-boy Galaxy. Personally I think everything should come in glow-in-the-dark. The world would be a cooler place if we all hung out in neon. You can’t take anything too seriously when it glows.

Another girl, another planet

August 26, 2012

Sometimes I like to think there is another me living in an alternate universe.

The Other Me is married to this guy and is quietly sitting backstage breastfeeding our adorable baby girl whilst sipping a water and relishing the fact that my gorgeous husband is going to finish his set soon and then come backstage and want to immediately cuddle his baby girl and give me a kiss on the cheek and ask how he sounded and how things were backstage and am I hungry and should we go and suss out some yummy curry? He has my name tattooed on his rib cage and has written the most beautiful song I have ever heard about how much he loves me and his baby. I watch him as other people watch him and love the fact that he doesn’t care what they think – he is only interested in me and our baby. He is self assured and comfortable and I feel this around him. He makes me feel special and interesting and intelligent and sexy and he is all these things. He asks me questions and shows an interest and is supportive and strong.

And ok he’s an extremely talented, good looking, famous muso performing at Glastonbury.

This alternate universe is a million miles away. An impossibility, of course. A dream. But there are things this Other Me has that I want. Even without the beard, the baby girl, the tattoo, the Glastonbury, the love song. Surely we all secretly want to be rescued? For someone to open that portal to our Other Selves. Perhaps that’s why women read Fifty Shades and write blogs. I can’t be the only one who feels as though there is another me somewhere, vibrant, happy, alive, just waiting to be released. This Me sometimes feels suspended in a state of grey animation, plodding through the drudgery until the colour returns, but worried in case it doesn’t. How long do you give it? How do you make the colour return? What if you can’t?

Maybe I just need a new set of contact lenses.

The lost hours

August 24, 2012

Today I spent three hours in a large indoor shopping complex, and I wish I could have that time back.

There’s a grotesque quality to these places. They’re surreal and nauseating. They buzz and vibrate and disorientate in an inhuman way. When I’m in one I feel like hyperventilating, vomiting, stuttering and collapsing all at once. My eyeballs move uncontrollably in my head. My body loses coordination. My thought processes unravel. I forget why I came and lose sense of direction. I feel like I am in a dome lit by multiple strobe lights and surrounded by dozens of loud large screen tvs. I am momentarily entranced by objects which I will occasionally buy only to feel dirty and cheated afterwards. Everything is loud, bright, colourful, cheap, and nasty.

There is a predictable narrative to a visit to a shopping complex. It is preceded by an air of anticipation: excitement at the prospect of wandering, aimlessly browsing, spending money. The anticipation is quashed by the Gruen transfer, and becomes instead a thin edge, a margin of control before the bomb explodes. This usually takes about two hours, by which time the air has thickened, the people have thickened, the grime seeps out. It is time to go when there is a sense of bad after taste about everything. A nasty, static, toxic air. Like a crime has been committed somewhere nearby and it has permeated the atmosphere.

I always overstay my time in these places and leave, hurriedly, desperately, choking for fresh air. On the drive home I wonder what has happened in the world whilst I have been cocooned in the poisoned dome. There’s a feeling of time lost. A disconnection which must be feverishly restored. The radio. The window down. Check my phone. Think of the day’s tasks ahead. Normality. Alive, alive!

I detest shopping. I loath mass production and materialism and the vomitous force-feeding of consumerism. I feel the cheap buzz of the buy like a tacky drug high and feel guilty for letting myself get sucked in. I go to these places to buy gifts, cards, wrapping paper, toilet paper, milk, and bread. I come out having left some tiny fragment of me, of my time.

I just hope she likes the fluffy dice.

Bring on the blossom

August 20, 2012

This winter has well and truly sucked.

I’ve been trying to differentiate between what is just me getting old and grumpy, and what is genuinely, frost bitingly, shit weather, and have concluded that this winter has been the latter. No one seems to be warm. Everywhere is mud and puddles. Branches have come down and fences collapsed. Grass has turned to swamp and steps to slippery falls. Washing hangs on the line for an extra rinse and outdoor toys sit forlorn, soaking and neglected. The suburban landscape is a drab and dreary picture.

But it’s not just the weather that has been depressing.

Relationships have been strained and tested. People have been challenged and pushed to their limit, losing patience. Communication has stalled and misunderstandings arisen. There have been breakdowns and breakups and broken hearts. Fists are clenched in fury as well as frost as ropes are stretched taut to breaking.

We are all waiting for the warmth. With it will come the dry comfort of the sun to scorch the sodden ground and firm our footing. With the warmth we can resume our carefree lives and remember what we came for.

We will all feel better in the Spring.

What game show are you?

August 19, 2012

My life of late has come to resemble a Japanese game show.

It has the colour. The chaos. The energy. The emotion. The torturous, sadistic pain. Sometimes I’m the contestant in yellow who says their piece and gets a round of applause. Other times I’m the unsuspecting contestant in orange who suffers the first blow. I feel the green contestant’s schadenfreude, watching on as others suffer, and the fearful dread of the contestant in red who awaits the excruciating inevitable. Poor guy.

I wonder if this is parenting for everyone? A lot of people around me with kids appear to be genuinely, convincingly… calm. I see them wandering in the aisles at the supermarket, two or perhaps even three kids in tow, pushing the trolley, shopping and… calm. Family outings? Relaxing, feeding ducks and… calm. Arriving at school intact, on time and… yes, calm. No bone-crushing challenges or spiky tortures here. Like an episode of Wheel of Fortune: they are in control of the wheel, know the phrase and keep missing the Bankrupt. The game is their’s to be played, whilst mine is controlled by a psychopathic sadist with a whistle.

That’s entertainment.

While we’re on the subject

August 16, 2012

Here’s a poem about life with boys. You get the picture.

Sticky piss seat.
Knees scrubbed with toothbrush
to get the dirt out.
Action, active, arsenal
Every stick a gun.
Futile efforts against mess.
The stains.
Slugs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails.
All true.
And more –
Balls and falls and fights.
Will they stop?
I didn’t bank on the chaos.

Can somebody please remind me why I did this?

August 16, 2012

I’m not very well – nothing major, just a cold, but it’s pretty obvious that I’m not 100% – and do my children care?

Even one iota?

Nope.

It really is pretty depressing to have children, whom you love more than life itself, treat you like crap when you are demonstrably weakened by illness.

In my more fragile moments, such as now, I torture myself with thoughts of other parents with children – in my torment they are always girls – sitting quietly in the evening, brushing their hair, drawing quietly, even, dare I say it, READING. And when, such as now, their mother is even mildly debilitated with pain or discomfort, the children sit quietly next to her and check on her well-being. They might ask something like “Are you ok Mummy?” They will admonish younger siblings for being too noisy and take themselves off to bed without being told to spare their mother’s effort. All very Enid Blyton.

And in the later years, these kindly daughters, these caring offspring, will pop in to visit their Mum and make sure she’s ok. They will put on the kettle. They might bring her some flowers they picked from their garden to cheer her up. They will drive her to appointments, and castigate her for overdoing it. They will collect her groceries and keep her company.

In short, they will be thoughtful and they will care.

(Drum roll for the self-pity). None of these acts will feature in my life’s script.

I didn’t have children to produce ready-made carers, and I am genuinely excited by the potential prospect of regaining my independence when my three boys have flown the coup. I accept and appreciate that I may not see much of some or all of them in adulthood as they partner up and start their own families. I know I will long to still feature in their lives and in the lives of their children, but I acknowledge that this will be largely dependent on their partners. Such is life for mothers of boys.

It would be nice, however, to have just a little bit of care shown my way. Just an occasional thought. The odd meagre consideration.

I don’t think it’s asking too much, but I don’t like my chances.

You know you’re a grown up when…

August 9, 2012

I just had one of those epiphanies you have when you realise with a jolt that you are not nineteen anymore.

Like the one when I realised why my high school was so strict on its uniform policy, when I had spent the best part of my 5 years there protesting its unfairness. I get now that high school students are walking billboards for their school, and other parents will judge the school by their appearance. Back when I was 15 I thought purple hair, nose rings and doc marten boots were standard forms of self expression and should not in any way be infringed upon whether inside the school gates or out. I argued vehemently with the principal when one student got suspended for simply dying their hair green. I think my words at the time were “Where are you going to draw the line? At lip gloss and hairspray?” But now as an adult, and as a parent, I can sort of understand where the principal was coming from in her stance against such outward forms of rebellious expression. The public judges the school on the appearance of its students. I still think people – and teenagers especially – should be free to express themselves, but I also think that they need to show respect for rules that are there for a reason.

Boring grown up? Tick.

I have also realised what it was my parents wanted me and my siblings to be during our teenage years and how we failed them in this way.

They wanted us to be squares.

I know this because this is what I want my kids to be when they are teenagers. Not nerdy, dorky, friendless squares, but intelligent, concerned, and sensible ones. I don’t want them to be inspired by Katy Perry, singing about last Friday night and the deeds committed and the online evidence and how it will all be done again next week. I know to a 15 year old it all seems like so much fun and just so rebellious but I know now that it is pointless, dangerous and quite often regrettable. I want my kids to be interested in school. To be motivated to achieve. To have aspirations. To care about others. To be home before midnight. All the things my parents wished for me but which most of the time I failed to uphold. I know now that being square IS cool and if that makes me a bonafide grown up then so be it.

The things we do

August 9, 2012

I have written about shitty bedtimes before, and in my household it is a constant struggle to get 3 boys to bed without damage to furniture, adult blood pressure or hernias.

We tend to go through phases of things that work. Things that give us leverage. Ways of encouraging the boys to do as they’re told and go to bed.

Let’s call them threats.

Around September there is the Royal Show. December it’s Christmas (we have tried to string this one out for a whole year but it loses impact by around February). Birthdays are pretty good, but difficult to stick to as a bribery tool if you have already bought the bike and were secretly really looking forward to giving it to them. I tend not to use removal of playdates as a threat because really that’s just shooting myself in the foot. Similarly with visiting grandparents and attending birthday parties.

We’ve done money. We’ve done toys. We’ve done chocolate frogs. We’ve done football cards. We’ve done surprises. We’ve done reward charts that inevitably peter out and end up crumpled and dusty under the fridge.

Right now I’ve cottoned on to something which has worked fairly consistently for the last few nights, but which comes at a cost to me: I have to write each of them a story and put it under their pillow.

I say a cost to me because I tend to forget I have promised this, and by midnight when I finally drag myself off to bed, I invariably have to get up again and compose something which will not only be readable by the boys, but which will maintain their enthusiasm for this particular bribery tool for a while longer so I can keep using it. So I will sit bleary eyed and write until 1 or 2am, before switching off the computer, stapling the pages together, folding the masterpieces and lovingly tucking them under the pillows of two sleeping boys, hoping that when they find them in the morning my efforts will be rewarded. When they are no longer rewarded I’ll know it’s time for a new bribery tool. At this stage I haven’t thought that far ahead yet, and will just have to cross that bridge when I come to it. Maybe it will be to film an animated motion picture every night using models constructed entirely out of string. Or to nightly build a life size replica of the seven wonders of the world using matchsticks. I think I have some in a drawer somewhere…

The things we do.

Wanted: one libido

August 8, 2012

Over the past few years I’ve pondered this libido thing.

Libidos get lost. They get found. They disappear. They are re-awakened. They are chemically enhanced. They are artificially subdued. They are sated. They are frustrated. They are often out of sync.

It is hard for a woman’s libido to find its way to the surface when her mind may be preoccupied with children’s lunchboxes, laundry, bills, elderly parents, work. Through these layers of thought, this quagmire of selfless obligation, there is very little clear passage for arousal and physical intimacy. To wade through it all takes time. Effort. Focused concentration. Possibly longer than the 15 minutes snooze allowance on the alarm.

This temporary remission in libido activity might not be cause for any great concern were it not for the presence of – for some – a partner for whom a libido seems to demand urgent attention alongside hunger, thirst, fatigue, and other basic bodily functions. In this instance there is an obvious and profound disconnect between the two: where one libido crouches  under dirty towels and underwear hoping not to be seen, the other parades around topless in red jocks kissing its own biceps. Left alone in a room it’s pretty clear they wouldn’t get along.

It would be funny if it didn’t have serious implications. Marriages crash on libido rocks. With tension, frustration, and even contempt creeping in, communication breaks down and it can get  nasty. Something as simple as lack of libido sync can turn into resentment and mistrust – and their housemate betrayal – surprisingly easily. The sooner it is recognised as a problem the quicker a resolution can be found.

But what to do?

Is porn the answer? Fifty Shade of Grey? A nanny perhaps? Is it ever acceptable to “lie back and think of England” for the sake of harmony, or “fake it to make it”? Some women may even encourage their partners to visit a prostitute as a bandaid measure, while others seek medication or supplements to stir their libidinous yearnings.

In an ideal world, we would not feel deficient for not feeling particularly aroused at 7:15am when the kids are mere metres away watching cartoons and we are mindful of the lack of fruit for lunchboxes and the overdue rego and the unwashed soccer uniform that someone needs tonight and the email that needed to be sent yesterday and the odd niggling pain in one knee since the last run at the gym. In an ideal world we would have partners who understand this and are patient and compassionate and controlled in their longing and can turn it into a gentle, loving desire that flatters our egos and calms our overactive minds, rather than adds yet more burden.

When this happens – they wait while we arrive – magic results. For a moment partners are reunified. Egos are caressed as well as bodies. We lose our robotic, perfunctory, automaton demeanor and become sensory and physical. We remember ourselves, and our partners, from a younger, more energetic time. It sustains us and replenishes lost lusts. It is healthy and necessary, and it probably should happen more often.