Monthly Archives: June 2013

What makes me great?

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What is a great mother? Is she a great cook? Does she work outside the home? Volunteer at the school bake sale? Is she calm and unflappable? Does she spend hours devising great craft and educational activities for her cherished brood? Is she strict or easy? Stern or warm?

Jane Caro wrote this week of the departing Prime Minister. In her article she argues that women in high places have the problem of being held to a standard that it far too black and white. You’re either incredible or terrible. If you make mistakes, they are held against you harder, longer and your gender is included in the misstep. I wonder if it is a little the same for mothers. The image of the bumbling, slightly inept father not getting his parenting quite right is endearing, funny, perhaps even expected. After all, it’s not the natural role. Is it? But we mothers are supposed to get it right all the time. If we lose our nut in the supermarket it’s shocking. If we can’t be bothered changing the grubby clothes and wiping the sticky face before we go out it’s neglectful. If we don’t volunteer at school it’s a real shame. If we completely drop the ball well….we must be in need of a diagnosis and some medication.

I can be very mediocre at parenting and I can be really good at it. I’m good at teaching behaviour change. I’m good at conflict resolution. I’m good at meal planning. I’m good at helping my children learn to be kind, share and love one another. I’m good at loving them. I am bad at craft, imaginary play, handing tantrums, not yelling, being involved at school and energetic parenting. I can’t think what it is that makes me a good mother, but I know I am. Perhaps it is the simple fact that I love to watch their little faces just to see the minute changes in expression as they think, discover and feel. Perhaps it is that I see into their souls and no matter what dreadful thing they might get up to, I will always know they are pure gold at their core.

We mothers are, like the fathers, good, bad and a million shades in between. We win, we lose, we surrender. I’m yet to meet a mother who doesn’t love her child. Even if that love is buried under brokenness, it is still there. Even if she doesn’t get it right, the love is still there. Even if she looks to the world like the worst mother you could imagine, the love is still there. Even if she’s numb and feels nothing, the love is there. Are we great? I don’t know. What makes us great is defined by far more than just our parenting prowess. I for one want to be much more than a mother. There are lots of great things about me, a few of them have to do with parenting. To quote a woman I admire, my motherhood doesn’t explain everything about me, nor does it explain nothing. It explains some things.

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Baby names, guns and feeling great

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Here are some links from the past few weeks of the Parenting Panel on ABC612 Brisbane. We talked about baby names in the wake of the birth of the thoughtfully named North West, we talked about allowing your children to play with guns (or not) and we talked about coming out of depression and feeling strong.

Listen to the baby name madness here.

Listen to the gun play debate here.

Listen to us talking about getting better and feeling great here.

And just because….

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A word from the illogical

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We are the twins. We have guest blogged before but it was quite some time ago. This is the first time since then that we’ve had access to the puter for long enough to write to you all. At present, Mum is sufficiently distracted with her end of day bit of a sit down. We may have to work fast as that woman seems to know what we are up to even when she’s in another room. So long as we make sufficient noise, we should be OK. That woman is SO suspicious of silence.

Look, brothers, we are going through a bit of a rough patch. We feel so misunderstood you know? So we felt that we should try to explain some of our situation to you. Perhaps we might gain some empathy from you the reader, and possibly, when our Mum reads this, we can all start singing from the same song sheet.

We are learning our words and we talk heaps these days but when emotions run hot, tantruming is still our go-to mode of communication. Take for example, breakfast time. So, we know that Mum has been trying to wean us off our favourite breakfast cereal because it has too much sugar or some such bollocks. We assume she naively thought that if she just didn’t mention it for long enough, that we’d just, you know, FORGET. Like she did with dummies. Like she did with bottles. The hurt remains Mum. The hurt remains. So with the breakfast cereal thing we weren’t going down quietly. We nagged. And nagged. And nagged. And guess what! She GAVE IN! So the much anticipated morning came. We were woken with the delightful news of what was in store for us for our breakfast. Mum was excited, we were happy, it was a great start to the day. For about two and a half minutes. She served up the much loved breakfast cereal and we took one look at it and our course of action was clear. We had no choice but to throw our bowls and scream. I know you will understand brothers. You won’t believe it, she put the milk in before the honey! The humanity.

It’s a mere snapshot of the type of tribulation with with we live daily. Another example brothers. On our way home from day care today. Yes day care brothers, don’t get us started on that one. We had our backpacks on, happily walking to the car. And then disaster struck. SHE asked us to REMOVE the backpacks so that we could be strapped into our car seats. Well. You see that the only option available to us was to throw ourselves on the dirty bitumen of the car park and scream out the agony that lives inside our hearts. Then she had the nerve to get mad because of the spectacle of wrestling two tantruming almost three year olds into the car. Always more concerned with her public image than with our well being. Sigh.

By now you’re beginning to see how difficult things are for us on a daily basis. The last example and perhaps the most poignant. Certainly the most painful.  One of our number recently saw fit to throw the bath plug down the toilet and flush it. Naturally. It made a good sound brothers, why wouldn’t you? And besides, holes were made for putting things in. So anyway, after the obligatory, but overacted that was so naughty speech, things seemed all forgiven and back to normal. But no. Bath time came around. Brothers. You won’t believe what she did. She showered us. Made us stand naked in the freezing cold and sprayed us with some kind of torturous water jet. Somebody please call the authorities, she must be stopped! Why she couldn’t just reach her arm down there and pull the damn plug out of the s-bend is beyond us brothers. She just wanted to make us pay.

So our message to you brothers is that you are not alone. Hang in there. Persist with honour, and you will bend her to your will. Eventually. Our message to Mum is simple, be ever watchful mother, there are two of us, and only one of you.

Why the hell did I have kids?

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Well? Come on, do you know? I am yet to come up with a good answer. I really have no idea. I watched a TV show recently about women who are child free by choice (like this is supposed to be some kind of unbelievable phenomenon). These exceptionally sensible women reported that they were often considered selfish, selfish, I’ll say it again, SELFISH, for not having kids. I can’t think of anything more responsible, honest, selfless and utterly judicious than knowing you don’t want kids and subsequently deciding not to have any. I can’t think of a more RIGHT decision than that. And there is something about that term child FREE that is just enticing.

I think I fell into having kids. I can’t remember deciding. I wonder if that is the case for lots of people. Some say to wait until the time is right. Some say the time will never be right. Some say don’t wait too long. Some say don’t do it unless you’re sure. I think I just did it because that was the next thing. I think yes, I did want kids but I am not sure I ever thought about why. I think if you thought too much about why to have kids and all that it would encompass, nobody would ever do it. I would never wish my three little personalities away now that I know and love them, but I do think about the life I would have if we had decided not to procreate. We would certainly be travelling more. I would have seen way more movies, read way more books, eaten way more fancy dinners in schmancy restaurants. I might even have an extra degree by now. I would sure as hell have more disposable income. But how would my relationship be different if we had no kids? Would there be a lingering regret? Would one of us resent the other for not being more enthusiastic about the idea of children? Would we be just fine or would there be a three leafed hole where our boys were supposed to be?

I don’t want my life to be any different to the way it is right now. I do not have any good answer to explain why I had kids. I am not even sure I’d recommend it. Maybe it’s fine to go ahead and pop a few out if you re thinking it might be nice but aren’t sure why. I like my kids heaps and I wouldn’t give them away for quids. But having kids is not THE ultimate completion of life and humanity. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever done and it isn’t why I live and breathe. Women who choose not to have kids are not only perfectly normal, I’d hazard a guess that they are possibly even a little more mentally stable than the rest of us.