Monthly Archives: September 2012

The truth about the hiatus

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This blog has really dropped off in the past few months. It started because I got sick but then it continued because I got disorganised. I used to pride myself on my organisational abilities. It was one of those things I’d write about in job applications; I am an excellent time manager. I’ve turned into a pretty shit manager of time these days. I used to reply to your email in no more than two days and text replies would be within the hour. Now I find weeks old messages that have gone unnoticed and it horrifies me. I’m now that person about whom people say yeah she’s pretty crap at getting back to people. Not only this, I have also lost the will to organise any social event. Previously, if I had planned to have people over for dinner I’d have reviewed my recipe books, written a list and pottered about for a few hours preparing. Last weekend, with 4 adults coming over at 5, I headed to the supermarket at 4 and threw some corn chips in a bowl at 4:30. Noice.

I’ve had heaps of things I’ve wanted to write about in the past few months and they stay in my head no longer than the time it takes me to wipe another snotty nose. By the time I sit down to write, it’s all gone and all I can do is drool and stare at the blank screen like the recently lobotomised. I think I said earlier this year that we thought this year would be the hardest yet and by golly we were right. I keep reminding myself, thirty percent, as I fail to get through another day without yelling, fail to devote adequate play time to Mr almost 5, fail to ensure a single vegetable passes their lips, fail to avoid the television as a backup parent and fail to not tell myself of all my failings.

Despite my disorganisation and failings, it seems that people still read my blog even on days when I don’t post. I am immensely curious (and chuffed) about this and would love to know more about people who read this, especially those who don’t know me and those who are from far flung places (ie not Australia). In the past 30 days, I’ve had visitors from Croatia, Poland, Lebanon, Spain, Russia and the Philippines. Unless these are all the places where the spam comes from…If you are reading and you are real and you have a minute, please write me a quick comment to tell me where you are from and maybe how you came across this blog. I’d love to hear who you are and why you read!

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Mental Illness and Parenting

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Recently I saw a Facebook meme that said, before you diagnose yourself as depressed or with low self-esteem, first make sure you are not just surrounded by assholes. It struck a chord with me because I have thought at various times in my life that I surely must have every mental illness known to man. But maybe it’s the world that is crazy and not me. That’s possible right?

So I thought I’d review some mental illnesses and blame it all on parenting twins. Here we go.

Bi-Polar Disorder

Obviously this unfortunate affliction is attributable to the highs and lows of parenting twins. Or even just parenting. One minute you have delusions of grandeur, thinking that you are the best parent that ever lived because you got through an entire day without rocking in a dark corner with a double shot of whiskey, the next you are rocking in a dark corner with a double shot of whiskey because you are clearly the worst parent that ever lived.

Depression

Well of course. It’s twins. You are in house lock down because you can’t be bothered packing the small trailer load of crap that is required for a trip to the local park, plus you can’t imagine yourself running toward the river and the road at the same time to save both twins from certain death. You haven’t dressed yourself since last Tuesday, you showered sometime recently and the thought of never getting out of bed again sounds like heaven.

Anxiety

If I don’t get the laundry done today, calamity will follow because the twins will have no clothes left by mid-week. If I don’t prep six dinners now, calamity will follow because I’ll never cope with the week’s work schedule AND getting home to cook dinner by 5. If I actually attend that get together in the park I’ve been invited to, calamity will follow because I will spend the whole time chasing twins and not get to speak to any adults. Panic attacks? Blame it on the twins.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

When I hear the sound of newborn babies cry, I get a tense feeling inside. I am hypervigilant. I can be in the deepest of sleep and yet still hear the swish of a twin’s foot brush the sheet in his bed as he rolls over. Suddenly I am alert. I go to bed on edge, waiting for that tell-tale sound, that type of cry that means my night of rest is done.

Psychosis

Well I definitely have this and it’s definitely related to having twins. I know this because as I write this, at home on the first day of school holidays, in a gloriously empty and quiet house, with all three kids in day care (I know this because I dropped them off), I just heard twin one upstairs. No kidding, I just heard him. I hear voices. Babies crying and twins muttering. They are everywhere.

So before you Dr Google yourself as seriously messed up in the head, just check that you are not surrounded by twins.

The Black Dog Returns

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Two weeks ago I thought I was getting depressed again. Caught in that cycle of negative thinking, I was why why why ing myself round the bend. That old feeling of being trapped in a cage and wanting to break something, anything just to make some noise and have a head turn my way. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, I entered the twilight zone (note to GenY types, twilight zone meaning weird place, not vampire love nest). I had about two days in a row where somebody kidnapped my kids and replaced them with exact replicas, only compliant, peaceful, smiley, happy ones. I had enough space to think wow, this really IS getting easier, these kids are FUN! I can DO this!!

And then the kidnappers returned my real kids. Phases phases phases. It is all indeed, a passing phase. The I will not eat anything but air phase seems to have faded and may pass sort of maybe one day soon. I don’t know what the name of the current phase is but it’s not my favourite. I think it’s just the one that has been going since they hit 18 months. It’s the toddler phase. I’m sorry but I have to be un-politically correct here and say that I really just can’t stand toddlers. OK maybe that’s a bit strong. Let’s put it like this. At the end of a run of the mill Saturday, I feel like I have worked a day’s hard yakka on a farm. It’s hard physical work. My body aches and if I’ve had 5 minutes to sit down and chill it would have been with boys crawling all over me like an ant hill.

Toddlers. Are they freaking insane? In the interest of getting inside their crazy little heads, I have compiled a list of things I know about them.

  1. Toddlers never stop. Toddlers move always. Toddlers move therefore toddlers are.
  2. Toddlers touch stuff. All stuff. Any stuff within reach. If it’s not within reach toddlers will drag a chair over and climb on top of something to get it. And then toddlers will break it.
  3. Toddlers love sound. Lots of it. All the time. Nice and loud. Especially sound of own making. Yeah!
  4. Toddlers will not eat dinner. Toddlers will climb on you to eat whatever you are eating.
  5. Toddlers will mess stuff up. Toddlers do not think things should be in drawers or cupboards. Things should always be on the floor when you are a toddler.
  6. Toddlers will play nicely for five minutes only. After that, toddlers will hit each other, break things, throw things and scream until you come.
  7. If there is a drain, pipe, toilet, hole or receptacle of any description, toddlers will fill it with stuff. Stuff may include rocks, lego, shoes, bits of dinner, ripped book pages and your car keys.
  8. When in the car, toddlers will say Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas until you play the Thomas theme song one thousand and fifty times.
  9. When at home, toddlers will say Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas Thomas until you put the Thomas DVD on, whereupon they will watch it for three and a half minutes before they will hit each other, break things, throw things and scream until you come.
  10. Toddlers will do whatever is most inconvenient for you. If you want them to sleep, toddlers will not sleep. If you want them to stay awake, toddlers will sleep.

The 30% ers

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Thank God we only need to get this parenting gig right 30% of the time. I was told this recently in a professional development course on trauma and infant attachment. During the first 20 minutes of the session, I was sweating it, hearing all about what being ignored as a baby does to your brain development. I was thinking of all the times when the twins were very very little, and they’d cry at the same time. I was only able to comfort one at a time, seeing as how I’ve not got 4 arms and all. Or the time when poor twin two fell down the stairs head first and all I could do was watch as I was carrying the other one at the time. Or the many times when I was so physically and emotionally over it that yes, I did ignore them and let ’em cry it out. I thought many times during those months what is this doing to them? How do twins even survive to be fully functional human beings? Catastrophising as I am wont to do at times. But then the presenter uttered the magic words. In the absence of trauma and neglect, with a stable base, parents only need to get it right 30% of the time. Whew.

At the same course I learned something that floored me. If a child does not use his eyes by the time he is 4 months old, he will never see. There will be nothing wrong with his eyes, but he will have missed the chance to develop the pathways in the brain he needs to have sight. Likewise, if by the age of between 9 and 18 months a child does not learn that he has a safe, secure, soft place to fall, the damage can be close to irreparable. I’ve seen the end result of that damage from the pointy end of highly disordered attachment. It’s pretty devastating and if you’re into bang for your tax paying buck, the cost to society is enormous. These kids grow up to be school refusing, impulsive, risk takers. They are the road rage guy. The kids your kids are scared of at school. The chronic shoplifter. The woman who can’t hold down a job. The violent husband. And worse. Much worse.

If we could just catch these kids while they are still in utero. If we could just keep their mothers safe. Safe, healthy and stress free. If we could just teach her about how her little baby’s brain is developing and why smiling at him, touching his soft skin and making silly noises at him is so important. If only more of us understood why a baby needs to go to bed fully able to trust that his little world is going to be just the same in the morning when he wakes up. If only we could teach as much as we need to, support as much as we need to in those first few years of life. If only we could catch them all in time. Imagine.

Another day, another mexican stand off

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Really, how long can a kid go without eating a scrap of dinner? How on earth do they figure out so damn quickly that anything colourful must be a vegetable and therefore, is the enemy and is to be shunned, nay, thrown to the winds or ground into the tiny cracks between the floor boards? You’re two. How the hell do you know to reject healthy food? I know the last time you ate, I know you were strategically given no afternoon tea and I freakin know that I delayed dinner on purpose so that you’d be gut rumblingly hungry. You squeal with excitement when I bring dinner out but the minute you lay eyes on it your lips are zipped tighter than Campbell Newman’s* purse strings. Then comes the melt down. For the love of the Masterchef franchise, for the love of all things holy EAT!!

It has been a three day battle of wills. Night three has seen the breakdown of Mr Almost 5’s resolve not to eat his spaghetti bolognese as it contained the offence of peas and carrots. I only won because I had the almighty combined power of the TV remote control AND apple pie for dessert. Twin two was my knight in shining saliva for two nights, the only one that ate, until tonight, when he spat out his only spoonful of colourful goodness. It has been three days since twin one has eaten dinner. He and I are eyeing each other across the battle ground, spoons in hand, both as unwilling as the other to budge. It doesn’t matter what I do, it doesn’t matter what new ideas I try, how hard I hide the good stuff, how small I chop it, I am having the same fight every mother lovin’ day of my life. And oh, how I am over it.

I know what you want kid. You want a biscuit, a drink of milk, yoghurt, porridge, you want cake, you want custard. You want life to serve you up treats without the pain of broccoli. You want saturated fats with no investment in complex carbohydrates. Well kid, I am in the throws of desperately trying to avoid Dirty Harry quotes as I say to you, you and I are not finished. I will meet you on the battle ground for as long as it takes for you to understand that I will not compromise on your dietary health. Until the point of course where your unbending will crushes my determination to ensure you eat colour.

*non Queensland readers – conservative State Premier who is in the process of gutting social services and sacking thousands of state workers to ‘balance the budget’