A Gladiatorial Contest

October 20, 2011 at 9:01 am (Uncategorized)

After all my monotonous moaning, guess who is asleep in his cot – and after being transferred from the car, no less?? Will wonders ever cease? We’ve been to swimming this morning, which always tuckers him out, but even so the continuation of this sleep is a bit of a surprise as he woke up as soon as I turned off the engine, so he was awake when I put him back down… I thought I had Buckley’s.

So. Opportunity paralysis sets in. I’ll just stare at the screen a while, shall I?

I really don’t want to complain every single bloody time I get the chance to blog. There is so much that’s so great about motherhood, and Master J is so much fun, so incredibly cute and funny and – I feel sure – so smart, that I am well aware I’ve only presented a very skewed impression of how I am finding it all so far. I don’t really know how to account for that, other than that I don’t have an alternative vehicle for getting all the negative feelings off my chest. Diaries are tricky at present; I can’t pick up a pen without Master J launching himself across the room to try to swipe it from my hands – pen lids are particularly prized – and any attempt to write in his presence, on paper or screen, has been met with a dizzying blur of grubby fingers smearing their way across every surface, shortly followed by the insistent banging and tearing of core materials. But I should get my whingeing done elsewhere, because I would dearly love to revive this blog and restore its spirit.

My time here would probably be better spent telling you of the chaos of changing nappies now Master J has discovered his penis. The existence of his dick is a matter of great interest and amusement, and apparently requires ongoing confirmation each and every time they meet. ‘It’s still here!’ his delighted face seems to say. The instant his nappy is off, both hands plunge downward as though he thinks he has to catch it in time – and judging by the, er, ball skills he shows in more conventional terms, it’s a bloody good thing he doesn’t.

Now, I am all for this lifelong game of discovery – after all, it’ll be the longest relationship he ever has – but it is a little awkward when the nappy’s off due to a number two.

“Hold on, buddy,” I plead. “Just give me a second. Just… no, no… hang on, mate… just… one… little… second…I’ll just wipe the… buddy, that’s poo… Stop! Poo! That’s poo! Please don’t… oh, okay – too late, Mummy! Too slow!”

In what may prove to be his greatest display of multitasking, he also requires a secondary diversion while he’s pulling his penis – maybe this is the beginning of the magazine stash. Right now he favours an incredibly phallic thermometer – hmmm – and a ruled notebook with spiral binding. He also likes to punch one little fist deep into the pot of barrier cream that sits beside the change mat for treating nappy rash. Once he’s done that, he either attempts to place his entire cream-coated fist into his mouth, or he starts reaching for nappies and flinging them about like environmentally hazardous rose petals. The grand finale is the flip ‘n’ dive, whereupon he abruptly abandons dick, diapers and dermatological aids in favour of a desperate bid for freedom. You’ve all seen the barrel go over the waterfall? It’s something similar here whenever Master J attempts to flee the change table under his own steam. And he is strong. Strong and fast. In all honesty, I am frequently sweating (not to mention swearing) by the time he’s wearing a clean nappy and has been delivered back to the relative safety of the floor. I can’t help feeling a surge of triumph each time I do this, quite as though I have unexpectedly defeated a far worthier opponent against all odds. In my mind, a crowd roars approval. I beat my chainmail and shake my sword, a dusty, bloodied but still victorious figure, standing in the centre of the ancient colosseum.

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Groundhog Day. Again.

October 19, 2011 at 11:03 am (Uncategorized)

The following post was begun last Friday 14 October, but it reads so much like today – Wednesday 19 October – that I am hunting around for Bill Murray:

I am officially a broken record with two tracks, and two tracks only: I’m so tired is hands-down my favourite number, the one I have on endless replay, the one that everyone has heard too many times, so that they flinch at the opening bar, and coming in at a close No. 2 on the MTV Top 40 (MTV being a little known cult station I’ve started called Motherhood Takes Vino), placing unchanged for a record number of weeks, is I have no time – I can’t get enough of that little ditty either. Over and over and over I play these two songs. It’s a blessing in disguise, trust me, that I haven’t managed to find time to blog, because thus far you’ve been mostly spared the grim reality, which is this: I no longer have ANYTHING of value to say. I’m so tired, and I have no time. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.

My son, on the other hand, is TIRELESS. He’s also at a stage of Maximum Cuteness right now, and boy, doesn’t he know it. Talk about working the room – he is very smooth with the ladies, and he knows just how to play us. He is having a little stroll in the pram with his grandma right now, hence this “post” (which in reality is whatever fragments of one I can produce in the 23 minutes at my disposal), having raged against his cot for so long and at such a pitch that my MIL and I both gave up. I know, Annah and Samantha, I know, I really do understand everything you’re saying, and I truly, truly appreciate hearing your approach, not to mention the fact that I’m thrilled for your own success, but I was hoping to persuade him to sleep in his cot during the day so that I could accomplish just a few tiny tasks in that reclaimed time. I wasn’t aiming too high – just the occasional blog, some meal preparation, perhaps, write a few emails, pay a few bills – even fold a few piles of laundry, you know? I really thought that was a pretty modest ambition. But it’s still not happening, and I am approaching my wit’s end. He just DOES NOT want to be in his cot in the middle of the day. Nothing helps except cuddle snoozes, which remove the problem altogether as far as he’s concerned. He can last two hours, sometimes more, if he’s having a cuddle snooze. And yes, he will sometimes sleep in the car, and yes, he will sometimes sleep in the pram, but that means I am either cuddling, driving or pushing, and that means it never stops. It. Never. Stops.

Nights, I hear you say. Work nights. Yes. I see now that this is the only window available to me. It’s time to accept that if I wish to get anything at all done, I have got to start using my nights after Master J has gone down. But he’s been waking every night since he turned 8 months old, and up until 10 days ago I was still breastfeeding him (though I was down to three feeds a day), and it’s all I can do to string a sentence together for Llew, let alone compose a piece a writing.

Later now…

Well, here I am, trying. Master J went down at 7 o’clock and has spent the past 27 minutes letting the neighbourhood know what he thinks of our parenting skills. He’s given us our dressing down in person; Llew’s just done a second round of story time because I need to step away from the screaming for a moment. And you’re right, Annah: I know what would solve this dilemma. I could wind back the clock three months and succumb to the cuddle snooze. Master J and I could both give in to the lovely if impractical practice of having a nice long cuddle each day, because goodness knows he sleeps like a dream when he’s nestled into the crook of my arm.

And this, begun Monday 26 September 2011:

Since last I posted, I’ve turned 39 and Master J has turned 10 months old. For a fortnight – i.e. twice – Llew worked from home on Mondays, but the corporate powers that be quickly changed their minds about that one, so today we’re back to business as usual. Easy come, easy go.  It does make me angry, though, hearing his company say ANYTHING about the importance of achieving work/life balance – something he was told he needed to work on at his last review.

In fact, I have to say capitalism in general is leaving me feeling pretty jaded. I am so tired, right across the board, of listening to all the empty, insincere corporate blather about issues affecting employees. It’s so hollow and cynical to just keep mouthing the words, knowing there’s absolutely sweet F.A. behind them except the sure knowledge that everyone is working overtime and just about no one is getting ahead. Oh, and when they talk about tough times and a terrible year as the pre-bonus time disclaimer, right before posting record profits? Please! And for Christ’s sake, spare me the pep talk about everyone needing to tighten their belts and make the necessary sacrifices during these difficult economic times. The rank hypocrisy of it all makes my coffee curdle.

Walking Master J down the beach promenade last weekend, it occurred to me that if every great civilisation must fall, then surely the decline of capitalism has begun. I took in all the obese, littering beachgoers – several thousand arrogant, thoughtless, obnoxiously loud, bad mannered, ill-spoken, heavily inked Australian day-trippers, disgorged from the ferry in such vast numbers it was difficult to move from one end of the beach to the other – and I saw a society being brought to its knees by its own selfish good fortune. Collectively we evince a society with too much time and money on its hands.

I have managed to file a couple of items for Varuna, the Writers’ House: Slinging Hash: how do writers really earn a crust? and most recently a Q & A with the wise and witty Charlotte Wood on her terrific new novel Animal People.

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