Tag Archives: life with little ones

Lions & Lambs

Growing up in England, there was much preoccupation with the weather, as there seems to be in general, but more so, apparently, in countries whose weather is either predictably bad or predictably unpredictable. There was always a saying “March roars in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” meaning that it was supposed to be some kind of critical weather month which magically transitioned from winter to spring. True, early March in England is generally pretty grim weather-wise, but I certainly have memories of many an April, May and June wondering when exactly the nice weather would arrive.

Today is the penultimate day of March and, whilst the weather in Auckland has gradually become a little cooler but still remained generally very pleasant, I’d say in terms of Happiness and Vitality, March is definitely ending on a more leonine note than it started. [Actually all the lions I’ve ever seen have been very cool, calm and collected, mostly asleep but even the awake ones have been sedately pacing or meticulously stalking prey- but never mind, let’s not wreck the analogy.]

Quite what I was thinking making “Vitality” the theme for March, at 7 months pregnant with a fairly hectic work schedule for both myself and Mr L, I have no idea. Today I find myself completely exhausted and emotionally overwrought as I gear up for my last rostered shift at work this evening (still leaving a few loose ends to tidy up before no 3 arrives) and at home I find myself increasingly disorganised and at the end of my tether with Miss L, who seems to have firmly embraced the terrible twos at the age of only 21 months. Carrying an extra 20kg, sleeping poorly (thanks to big tummy, pregnancy-induced snoring, crying children), I don’t think I’ve ever felt less full of vitality in my life. I keep saying “when I’m on maternity leave…” but in fact work accounts for less than 20 hours of my week so I’m not entirely sure how much difference stopping will make. At least there won’t be any more super-late (3am) nights. At least, not work-related ones.

Anyway here’s a summary of March Happiness:

Go to sleep earlier– I did ok with this one for a couple of weeks, but it required a surprising amount of discipline. I looked around for a clock to use as a time-keeping substitute for my phone (not a prolonged search, I admit) and then kind of forgot about it, and as my sleep became more frequently interrupted by other the other factors mentioned above, I found myself turning to my phone and its cyber-entertainment during bouts of insomnia. I have found showering before bed fairly relaxing however, and have got into a bit of a habit of doing this. Plus showering at night means I can do it at leisure without fear of a child killing themselves/their sibling while I’m at it.

Exercise– did badly on this one, coming nowhere close to 3 times a week (although I didn’t keep my resolution chart either- another fail- so I couldn’t say how many times I did manage it). It did reiterate to me, though, how much better I feel after some fresh air, even if it’s just a 20 minute stroll through the park with the dog.

Act energetic– this was perhaps the most ridiculous of my ideas so far. For someone who finds it hard to fake “energetic” at the best of times, this was never going to happen given my current size, my sleep-debt and everything else at the moment. Might have to re-try this one at a later date.

Toss, restore, organise was moderately successful. We managed to get the spare room sorted out, the cot in the baby’s room up, a few more pictures on the walls and a couple of other odd jobs done. I haven’t done a lot of tossing, but I’ve made the bed a bit more often than usual and been a bit more diligent about putting the laundry away. The evening tidy up happens properly about 50% of the time, and in a modified format most nights.

Similarly for the nagging tasks– when I reviewed my to-do list last night I was pleasantly surprised to see how short it was. True to my word, I have crossed off an item without doing it once a week and managed to get through a couple of other items a week from it and amazingly have managed not to add too many other things to it.  To be honest I didn’t give a lot of thought to doing smaller than 1 minute jobs right away, maybe I already do them without thinking, I don’t know, there just didn’t seem to be that many….

Eat better, however was also a complete fail…. But I have mapped out a rough outline of my post-baby diet which (perversely) I am planning to start after Easter- yes, before the baby is born!! Really keen to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight in time for our ski trip in August, 3 months post baby, so I thought I’d get started early as 3 months isn’t a lot of time to shift all the kgs I’ve gained.

All in all, I’m kind of wondering how Gretchen fit all this in on top of real life. I suppose the idea is that it’s supposed to enhance and improve your real life. It probably helped that she was writing a book about it but she must have had a job and a life going on while it was in progress, it’s not like a book pays the bills before it’s written (well, not many bills). Anyway she seems to be quite popular these days, with another book, a podcast series and also speaking at some Happiness convention in Sydney we saw an ad for….

I, meanwhile, feel like I just have to survive this evening/this week/this pregnancy/who knows how long… I’m hanging out for the day I don’t go to bed dreading being woken up and to waking up most mornings feeling reliably relaxed and refreshed. Maybe in another 10 years!

February summed up

Well, I feel as though I am ending February with a spectacular FAIL. I got as far as printing my resolution chart out but neglected to actually put it up anywhere visible (in fact I’d go so far as to say I lost it) let alone fill it in.

I limped through last weekend at work, thinking “I just have to make it to Tuesday”. Well I made it, and then struggled through Tuesday tired and preoccupied instead of enjoying being at home. Wednesday was better but then yesterday fell hopelessly apart by bedtime with Master L, Miss L and mummy all tired (Master L after preschool, Miss L mysteriously having refused her daytime sleep and mummy having stayed up too late the night before doing nothing constructive).

I feel like I am constantly making excuses for myself- yes I’m pregnant, yes I’m tired, so what? So go to bed earlier! It was MY decision to have a third baby (and a first, and a second), no one else’s (well except Mr L I suppose!) and it’s not fair that I take out being tired and pregnant and fat (not just pregnant fat- too much food fat!) on the kids.

When Master L sobs back at me “Mummy why do you have to shout at us?” and Miss L goes and hides in the spare room…. I feel like the worst mother in the world. Especially when I answer his question in my head “I have no reason, bubba, except that I’m just being a shitty mother this evening”.

Maybe I should have followed Gretchen’s lead and worked on Vitality first rather than Attitude. Some fresh air and more quality sleep might have put me in a better frame of mind….

So, overall, as far as the resolutions went:

 

No negative FB posts- B+ This was easier than I thought
Use your kind voice C- Started off ok and got worse. This is really a conscious decision. I can choose what I use!
Area of refuge C+ I got better at this, but didn’t feel it had a huge impact
Use your kind voice FAIL I was terrible at this!! But it sort of reappears in March, so I’ll give it another crack.

 

Anyway there are just under 48 hours left of Feb… probably not enough time to redeem myself but I can at least improve on the past 48 hours!

February Happiness project- Attitude

And so (given that I finished her book at the very end of January), I decided February would be the start of my Gretchen Rubin-inspired Happiness project. Not long to plan, exactly, I know, but I thought I’d ride the motivational wave and get stuck in.

More t/f on the rest of the project (assuming I keep at it!) but it’s fairly closely modelled on Gretchen’s: essentially, tackling one area a month with some more specific goals laid out. I thought I’d start with “Attitude”. Interestingly, she leaves this one until November, which didn’t make much sense to me when I read the book. I thought if I worked on this first, the remaining 11 months might be a bit easier.

So my mini-goals/tasks/resolutions were:

1) No negative FB updates

2) Use your kind voice– funnily enough as soon as I started this I got an email from The Parenting Place– some NZ parenting support group I’ve had almost nothing to do with except signing up for their newsletter in a moment of weakness. They don’t send a lot of useful stuff, but I found this timely:

“As parents it’s easy to forget that how we say something often matters as much as what we say. If you have a child who can be resistant, keep the fight out of your voice and try using charm instead. It’s amazing what can be achieved when our tone of voice lets our kids know that we expect them to make a good choice. Making a decision to sound calm and happy often has the added benefit of making you feel calm and happy – a win/win for everyone.”

Sounds so simple doesn’t it? Along with it went a resolution to try and say “Yes” as much as possible. “Yes I’ll play with you. Yes we can go to the park. Yes you can help me make your breakfast”. What no one has told me is how you’re meant to respond when they throw it back in your face- when, after a morning of speaking kindly and saying “yes”, Master L has a meltdown because you say (kindly) “Yes we can build sandcastles on the beach…. Another day. Now we have to go home and have lunch and put Miss L down for a sleep”. And suddenly your sweet obliging child turns into an ungrateful, entitled monster and you’re almost sorry you bothered indulging him in the first place.

3) Find an area of refuge– “when people’s minds are unoccupied,” Gretchen says, “they tend to drift to anxious or angry thoughts. And rumination- dwelling on slights, unpleasant encounters and sad events- leads to bad feelings”. I’ve found this hard as it’s a bit vague. Apart from the argument with my sister, which has taken up more of my headspace than it should, what I’ve been trying to do is think of nice things- the new baby, holidays etc, before I go to sleep at night.

4) Smile more– especially when you feel negative or anxious

Gretchen recommends keeping a resolution chart, ticking off each day which resolutions you pretty much stuck to and reviewing it to see how you are going.

Now that we’re half way through February, I wonder if the reason she left this one till last is that it’s so bloody hard! Apart from the fact that it’s a bit more abstract in nature than, say, eating healthily, it requires an incredible amount of determination, resolve and energy to maintain a good attitude towards life in general. As Gretchen her self says,

“It’s easier to complain than to laugh, easier to yell than to joke around, easier to be demanding than be satisfied.”

Especially when you are moderately heavily pregnant with your third child… (Don’t make excuses, fortunately, is not on the chart).

February’s been an up and down month anyway. It started with a solo night away in Melbourne for me at a work meeting. I finished the book the night before I left and was all fired up to plan my project and start! I found 2 days (and one, blissful night in a comfortable bed in a cool, dark, quiet hotel room) unbelievably refreshing. I came back relaxed and energised and feeling like I’d had a holiday. Maybe something to do with the fact that we did, then, go on holiday for a week, back to Sydney, which was also a really enjoyable week.

Since coming home though, I’ve really struggled with work, especially, but also the day to day routine in general. I’m tired, annoyed with the annoying bits (of work) and desensitised to the good bits. Maternity leave is within view but before it lie 2 more night shifts and another weekend. Plus a number of work things I need to get done before I go on leave. And it seems like every week for the next month or so either Mr L is away or I am either away or working a weekend. Other things, like petty arguments with my sister, a slight change in routine for the kids and a ton of things on my to-do list that I never seem to get on top of, have allowed a negative attitude to stomp all over my resolutions and February happiness goals.

So I’m finding it hard! But half of Feb is left. The last couple of days I have been angry Mummy and I don’t like it at all, so I’m going to do and print my chart out right now and hopefully add some more ticks to it…

I Wanna Be a Supermodel

“Not just a song by Jill Sobule” was going to be my subtitle, until I realised her song was “I’m gonna be a Supermodel”… although that may still be appropriate.

In the olden days it was called “setting a good example”, but in 21st century parenting lingo, it’s known as “modelling”. Whatever you want to call it, it’s been something I’ve been giving considerable thought to lately. Partly because I’ve been modelling some particularly bad behaviour & coping mechanisms, partly because (as a result of said badness) I have be consulting widely with various parenting/self-help manuals, [the best of which was a book called The Smallest Things by Angela Mollard– it was very un-self-helpy and easy to read] and finally, because I had Dr Phil on today (while doing some really boring work-stuff) and they had yet another “family in crisis” where the parents’ behaviour both towards each other and towards their kids was pretty diabolical and their eldest child was starting to “disrespect” her mother. I thought: “Only starting to???” but also, “Well how do you expect her to act any differently when she’s been seeing that kind of interaction all her life?” Which is exactly what Dr Phil said. Genius, evidently.

I know I’ve banged on a lot about this on my blog (well, as much as “a lot” can be with my rather scanty posts) but again and again, I’m struck by the reflection of myself in my kids, especially Master L. And I’m usually really quite ashamed. He shouts at his sister (not all the time, but sometimes), he loses his temper very quickly, often with the simplest of things, and the other night when I stopped briefly to snack on a piece of bread on the way up to their bath and bed, they of course wanted a piece of bread too and I realised how they want to copy everything you do. Some of this (like the temper outbursts) is typical toddler behaviour. But all you have to do is hear your words come out of their mouths (good and bad words, I might add) and you realise what little sponges they are.

I’ve been conscious of my propensity to lose my temper more easily than I should for a while and am desperately trying to be more patient. I found a nice little poem the other day and stuck it on the fridge which has helped a bit:

Give me patience when little hands

Tug at me with ceaseless small demands

Give me gentle words and smiling eyes

And keep my lips from hasty, sharp replies

Let not fatigue, confusion or noise

Obscure my vision of life’s fleeting joys

So when in years to come my house is still

Beautiful memories its rooms may fill

Unknown

But the bread incident made me think- what other behaviours am I “modeling” for my children that I’d really like to be modeling better?

1. Eating habits– It doesn’t help that I’m now 15 weeks pregnant with number 3 (yay!) so despite the fact that my eating should really be squeaky clean in the interests of number 3’s health, I figure I did ok the last 2 pregnancies eating with (almost) reckless abandon, lost my baby weight each time and produced healthy babies. (Albeit sizeable ones- whether their size was because of my more than 20kg weight gain I’m not sure. Probably not.) Since they started eating solids we’ve been aware of how they want to eat the same things you do, they always want what’s on your plate regardless of what’s on theirs. On the whole, we do eat fairly healthily and I like to think that having the occasional cake or muffin teaches them that these things are part of our way of life and we need to learn to enjoy them in moderation. But I am terrible when it comes to standing up snacking & grazing, eating slowly, not eating the kids’ leftovers and eating while driving/walking around etc. It’s really bad, unconscious eating, which goes against everything I’ve learned when it comes to enjoying food but not over-doing it. I don’t want my kids to start copying this.

On the plus side (let’s acknowledge the positives too!) the kids always eat breakfast and dinner (and 99% of the time, lunch) sitting at the table, I don’t let them walk around and eat, and I don’t have my phone/laptop/book/magazine at the table and I’m trying to ban toys and other distractions for them too (we don’t have the TV on at meal times). I try to be fairly relaxed about what they eat and how much (I never make them finish their food but when Master L’s vegetables remain on his plate untouched it’s very hard to not say “Just eat 3 pieces of carrot and then you can have your yoghurt/fruit etc”.)

Anyway it’s a work in progress but I’m really becoming conscious of the example I’m setting these days.

2. Getting things done– I’ve mentioned before that I tend to procrastinate and be of the “Oh I’ll finish it later, I really need/deserve a sit-down/rest/mindless TV viewing session” mentality (the definition of procrastination). This is exactly how my parents are and exactly how I don’t want to be and how I don’t want my kids to end up. And to be honest, when I’ve worked till 2am the night before or been up with Master L 5 times during the night, I feel quite entitled to do what I want while Miss L’s asleep! But I can’t expect the kids to understand this. Besides which, I’ve often found that it’s when you feel most tired and lethargic that the best remedy is to keep busy or you feel even worse.  The fact that it’s hard to get anything other than a limited set of tasks actually done with the kids around is hardly a motivator to start sometimes, but sitting around trying to do nothing with them is probably even more frustrating.

3. Exercise– I’ve pulled the pregnancy card lately but they do see me take the dog out for a walk (not often enough). When I look around at friends of mine who are active, by and large they have active parents (this goes not just for physical exercise but also for activities in general, as per my previous point). They also tend to have active kids. I remember when my Dad went through a jogging phase when I was about 8 years old. It lasted about 2 weeks and I think he went for 3 runs in that time. I was so excited to go with him- waking up early and going out running seemed like a huge adventure. Then, when I got a bit older and could really have benefitted from a bit more exercise myself, but wasn’t old enough to go out running alone, having one of my parents to go with would have been perfect. I remember always being envious of my cousins, who used to go on family bike rides with their parents. I have seen my Mum on a bike once, my Dad, never. We got to go for family walks, or we’d ride our bikes while Mum and Dad walked, allowing us to clock up a grand total of about 5km for a bike ride. Hardly a work-out. So not just for myself, but the sake of my kids, I think it’s important to make time to exercise, even though they are so often the excuse why I don’t.

So I’m wondering if the extrinsic motivator of my kids will prove to be more powerful than my own intrinsic motivation. I don’t think my hair will ever shine like the sea or that everyone will want to look just like me, but I’m hoping one day, even if not a supermodel, I might just make a super model.

Energy

I have talked before about my changing perspective of my parents and how I hate the feeling I am turning into them. This feeling was magnified recently by a two week visit from them. My fingers were itching to post about the many issues I had with their behaviour, but I realised in essence I’d be re-hashing this post.

So instead I thought I’d try and identify what it is about them that I don’t like and don’t want to become, or pass onto my children, rather than just rant in a teen-rage style, generalised objection to their presence.

One of the things that really struck me was how very low energy they are. In the murky depths of my memory lies some reference to high vs low energy personalities during our very basic psychology lectures at uni. I’m sure there was some kind of 2 x 2 matrix (evidently popular with basic psychology theories) where high/low energy was plotted against high/low motivation, or effort or something, which correlated to overall productivity- ie you can compensate for being low energy by pulling your finger out once in a while and trying really hard to achieve something worthwhile. I can’t find any reference to this specific model on the internet, which quite possibly means I either imagined or misunderstood the entire thing, or that in the last 20 years, theories have changed. All I can find are Myers-Briggs-style introvert/extrovert scales which, while similar in concept, are not quite the same.

So seeing as I can’t back up my observation with any objective or at least widely observed kind of evidence or reference frame, I should probably explain what I mean with examples.

By high/low energy, I don’t necessarily mean physical energy, although high energy people do tend to be physically active as well. It’s more of a state of mind, an attitude. My parents started each of their days with us slowly, they luxuriated each morning by sitting around in bed drinking tea (two cups each) every morning, before having a leisurely shower and then eating breakfast together. Cereal AND toast. This probably represents the fact that they are retired and don’t have much to get up in a hurry for, but it was really irritating when I’d been up with Master and Miss L each morning since before 6, to then have them not be ready to get going for the day much before 10.

But I don’t think lying around in bed is what makes them low-energy, it was more their attitude that irked me than their routine. Their interactions with the kids, for example. They would sit and watch them play. Everything was very passive. There might be a bit of book reading. There was some wandering around the garden after them, watching them do stuff. There was a lot of “Hmmm?”-ing and “Oh, yeeees!”ing and “Really?”-ing. While I know it’s not fair to compare them to Mr L’s parents (I’m not sure why I say it’s not fair, but anyway), the difference was startling. My mother in law, in response to Master L’s requests for the same story/game/train-track-build 100 times over, would respond with “Come on then!” put down her tea, get shoes/books/other paraphernalia ready and engage enthusiastically in said requested activity, regardless of convenience (or some would say hassle) factor. My own mother’s response would typically be “Well not now darling, I’m eating breakfast” or “Yes ok in a minute, let me just finish my tea”. Not once did my parents initiate an outing that involved the kids (“Shall we go to the park? Do you want us to take them out somewhere? We thought we might go to xyz and give you a chance to rest”).

The evenings were similar. 5 o’clock was beer-o’clock. Watch the kids eat dinner. Watch the kids in the bath. Watch, watch, watch, while I got out food, pyjamas, nappies, milk, books, then hung up towels and took dirty clothes and empty cups and bottles downstairs where they waited around murmuring “is there anything we can do to help?”. That’s a little unfair, a few loads of washing up were done and some toys were put away… But as far as I’m concerned, all the washing up needs to be done at some stage and all the toys need to be put away, so I did the rest.

I know, I know, they’re the grandparents and I am the parent. They’ve done their dash, they’ve raised their kids (with daily declarations from my mother about what hard work it is and not one acknowledgement of any of it being worth the effort, I got the distinct impression they felt slightly smug and wanted to point out what they had been through and what I had now chosen to enter into). There is no rule of grand-parenting, that says you are obliged to change nappies (my Mum changed about 4 in that 2 weeks) or buy gifts or take grandchildren on outings or get up early to entertain them and have the throw Weetbix at you…. But there is also no rule in my house that says “Feel free to come and stay for 2 weeks while my husband is away, under the auspices of helping out, only to encumber me with two more mouths to feed and voices to listen to”. Again, harsh and perhaps a slight exaggeration, but that’s how I felt at times, that it would actually have been easier if it was just me and the kids.

But I digress, this is meant to be a discussion of high/low energy personalities, if such a thing exists. By nature (or nurture) I think I am probably low energy. Yeah ok, so being constantly tired etc doesn’t help but it’s not like I thought I’d be getting 8 hours a night with 2 kids (or even 1): I knew what I was in for. And it’s not like pre-kids I was one of those crazy can’t-sit-still kinds of people either. Luckily, Mr L is (again, probably by nurture) high-energy. Until now, I thought I was just free-loading off his energy. He suggests something and I say “Yeah! Let’s! Great idea!”, knowing that he has the tenacity and drive to make things happen and see them through that I just can’t seem to summon de novo (typified in several of our holidays with kids). But having looked after my parents for a week, I think maybe some of his energy and high-energy personality may have rubbed off on me. There were days when my parents were happy to just sit. The record was 6 hours sitting reading in the sun…. like who does that???!!! And it was me going “Right, I’m going out for a walk” or, knowing we were all sluggish and bleuch, dragging everyone out for some fresh air cos I knew it would make us feel better. Filling the gap between afternoon sleeps and dinner with a bike ride or trip to the park. I mean it’s all relative, and like the introvert/extrovert axis, put me in a room of low energy people and I probably seem like an absolute dynamo, but put me in an over-achievers’ convention and I’ll be the one in the corner groaning “Do we HAVE to?”

And so, what have I learned? As a child, I remember many quiet, often boring hours spent waiting. Waiting for my parents to wake up/finish dinner/finish their tea, wanting to spend longer riding bikes or at the park, but always being hurried on because my parents wanted to get home (to more tea and books and TV). I would have loved to go camping or walking or sailing or a whole host of activities. I would have loved (and benefitted from) the chance to go running with one of my parents or done things in the evenings other than watching tv. One of the best holidays we went on as kids was to a place called Centerparcs, where there were activities all day- we played badminton, went sailing, swimming… it was awesome. So different from our usual sit-around existence. A few years I got to go to day camps which were run at school and they were so much fun. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect my parents to have run a holiday-camp at home, and I do think kids need to be encouraged to find their own entertainment sometimes, but there’s a balance.

Most of all, I don’t want my kids to sit around all their childhoods and then look back and say “I wish I’d been given the opportunity to do that. And that. And that.” And I don’t want them to look at me when I retire, or when I visit my grandchildren and say “Far out she’s hard work, when’s she going home?”, I want them to say “Wow, she’s so great with the kids, we really love having her here.”

Choose your own adventure

When I was about 10, I went through a phase of reading “Choose your own adventure” books. It’s probably around that age that many kids fancy themselves as Nancy Drew, or the Secret Seven, or whatever the current trend is (I must be dating myself terribly, now I’m sure it’s all Harry Potter and Wimpy Kid books). Regardless, when I was in primary school (before all this “tween” nonsense and at 10 you were still a kid) all I really wanted to be was a character out of Swallows and Amazons.

I liked the idea of choosing my own adventure and having some part in deciding how the story ended, even if most of the books seemed to be based in haunted houses fighting various ghouls rather than doing anything I really fancied, but they frustrated me no end as I always seemed to end up in a loop. Instead of getting to the end of the story and out of the house, I’d keep being directed back to the same page, having to make the same decision over and over again. Trying to choose a different door to leave the room by somehow never seemed to work: no matter what different options I tried to take, I’d keep coming back to the same page until I eventually got frustrated and gave up.

Of late, on our own big adult adventure, I’ve had a couple of moments (ok days) where I’ve really struggled. I like to think I’ve maintained perspective, that I’m acknowledging that changing countries is going to be challenging and going to take time to adjust to but even so things have, at times, felt a bit miserable.

During my latest bout of negativity, exacerbated by work, child and stress-related sleep deprivation, I got a bit sick of myself and my own attitude towards things and decided I was tired of feeling rotten and looking on the negative side and that it was time to pull myself together. I embarked on this adventure upon without coercion, with my eyes wide open. I agreed to leave my job, my friends, my home, and come here for a change of scene and to experience new things. To be sitting around feeling homesick because I liked Master L’s old swimming school better or I was missing my weekly catch-ups at the local park with 4 women known only to me through the random birth-dates of our eldest children, seemed pathetic, but much to my dismay, it was how I felt.

So I decided I needed to focus again on choosing my own adventure, embracing the positives and trying to see through or around the negatives.

Friends & Family

When we left I boldly declared “I only see each of my friends once every 3-6 months each anyway, I don’t think I’ll miss them.” Besides which, now that no one has phone conversations any more, I wouldn’t even miss talking to them, as the main acceptable mode of communication these days seems to be via text message, email or Facebook.

As you are pottering around the house one morning you decide to:

a) Facetime a friend

b) Skype your Applephobic parents

c) Both of the above

 You choose c. Fuelled by the success of a (long-planned) Skype chat with your parents once morning, you suggest a Skype chat later in the day with a friend. Her kids are at daycare, Miss L is asleep and Master L occupied, and you have a lovely long chat with fewer child-related interruptions than if you’d been face to face on a “playdate” (as catchups with kids now seem to be known).

Kids

Not a patient person at the best of times, I sometimes (ok frequently) wonder how I will keep from going insane and how my kids will ever turn into functional humans who don’t hate me, if I keep yelling and screaming at them. I hate myself for getting frustrated and angry at them but it’s hard when I’m tired, bored and not really sure what I’m doing.

One evening after a particularly angry day, you decide to

a)    Take a vow of silence. Maybe if you don’t speak and just ignore them they will feed, dress, toilet and basically raise themselves

b)    Ask the dog to look after them some afternoons to give you a break

c)     Seek out a simple, more socially acceptable (and legal) strategy to help you change your approach

You choose c. Surfing the good old net (again!) you stumble across the Abundant Mama website and in particular this post strikes a chord. You adopt “Just be kind” as your new mantra and it probably helps reduce your yelling by about 30% on the first day. Plus it has lots of other useful-looking bits and pieces on it to check out.

Things to do

I must admit, at times I’ve been a bit bored. I scratch my head to think what it is I would have been doing at home that would have prevented such boredom, I can’t think of too many worthwhile things there were to do at home that I don’t have here. Perhaps playdates and coffees and catch-ups did happen more frequently than I thought. Or maybe I just spent more time than I like to admit surfing the net and watching TV. Loneliness is probably boredom’s best friend, so not having much to do has certainly not helped me feel any less homesick, either.

Given you have a surplus of free time you decide to:

 a) Bake lots of cakes and eat them

b) Take up stand-up-paddleboarding

c) Plan lots of fun and exciting things to do with the other Ls, in and out of town

You start off with a but then realise your pants are too tight and you have gained 3kg. So you try b and have an awesome SUP lesson with Mission Bay Watersports and learn to stand up and paddle the SUP Master L bought on the weekend. You are also going to do c, but one thing at a time, right?

Work

Possibly the biggest challenge. I’ve taken a slightly less senior job than I had in Sydney, as there wasn’t anything directly equivalent available. While being very positive about this on a good day (I’m getting out of the house, maintaining my skills, not getting caught up in bureaucracy and, if nothing else, earning money), on a not-so-good day it can be a little frustrating being condescended to (on occasion) and constantly explaining myself to people and trying to tell them I’m better than they might think.

After a particularly demoralising day at work you decide to:

a)    Skulk around complaining about how bored and under-challenged you are

b)    Roll your eyes and mutter how no-one realizes you’re more senior than this

c)     Prove yourself by performing and acting appropriately for your level of experience and ability and in time maybe there’ll be an opening for you at a more senior level (unlikely if you choose a or b)

You choose c.  As soon as a vacancy comes up, you are put into the position and everyone expresses their admiration that you were humble enough to get a foot in the door this way, as well as the more junior people confessing they felt secretly threatened by the fact that you are more senior to them.

So there you have it: my very own choose your own adventure. And hopefully, unlike the books, with this one I won’t end up in a loop coming back to the same page over and over again.

Kids & Cafes

I am not one of those entitled mother-types who expects cafes in general to cater for children. I also have a particular dislike for the popular concept of what constitutes “child-friendly” (play gyms, play grounds, “kids eat free before 6” deals etc). In fact I believe that, as a general rule, children should be café-friendly rather than the other way round. I do not expect other people to enjoy eating in close proximity to my children and I, in turn, cringe pretty much every time I have to sit within sight or earshot of any OPCs in a café of my choosing, especially when I’m sans enfants myself.

However, realistically, human beings usually reproduce, meaning that, as a cafe owner, a large proportion of your clientele will have children. Those with adult children are heading towards the “old” category and belong in quiet old-people cafes, so I’m not talking about them. Those who are too young to have children generally belong in student cafes or nightclubs, so we don’t care about them either. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume, though, that many of your customers between the ages of 25 and 45 will have young children, so you’re losing out on business if you make your café completely soul-destroying for parents to bring their kids to. (NB I’m not referring to fine dining, fully licensed restaurants here, I’m talking about cafes.)

We recently had a short break to the South Island of NZ and stayed in Arrowtown. While we were there we were unlucky enough to eat at two completely child-unfriendly cafes.  We were also lucky/brave enough to venture into the coolest, hippest-looking café in town and it actually turned out to be the most child-friendly, funnily enough.

Whether the Chop Shop had observed the other two in action and taken a lesson in what not to do, I’m not sure. But if they did, they appeared to have learned the following:

  1. Serve children quickly. No one likes a restless child, let along its own parents. Especially not parents who are trying to eat their own meals simultaneously with their child. It is a fabulous idea to get the food, and even better, the kids’ food, out there early. The sooner they eat, the sooner they leave-everyone’s a winner.
  2. Have a noisy café. Background music, of any sort, is great for hiding child-related noise (yes this is mostly crying, but also shouting, banging cutlery, dropping cups and shrieking at random). Parents will also feel soothed and refreshed knowing there is more to popular music than The Wiggles and Nursery Rhymes for the Criminally Insane.
  3. Have clean toys, and just a few. We don’t need a whole basket of grimy, chewed, chipped, peeling, arm-less dolls, cars and the like. Just a few simple plastic or wooden toys which don’t look like they were rejected from a jumble sale or deliberately left behind by their owners’ parents. And ideally, non-sound-emitting ones are best.
  4. High chairs are handy, there’s no doubt about it. But I don’t routinely expect cafes to carry them, in fact our favourite breakfast café on the mainland didn’t have any. (The owner of the café commented on this to us once, and we assured him that highchairs would surely just attract more people with children so best not encourage them by getting any). But if you do equip your café with a highchair or 3, just get the basic $50 ones from IKEA [actually, having just inserted that link, I see they are only $20. Even better]. They stack. They are plastic. They don’t have loads of clips and straps and nooks and crannies, which get chewed, broken and clogged up with kiddy gunk. You can wipe them down in a flash.
  5. Kids’ menu. I can take or leave the kids’ menu. If I take it, though, it’s because it has real food on it. If I leave it, it’s because it has some awful set-menu of nuggets and chips or fish and chips or vegemite sandwiches and fruit juice poppers, which annoys me and patronises my children, who actually don’t really like chips all that much. The best thing (IMHO) is to have something that’s cheap and easy (like toast) that you can add extras to (upon leaving Sydney, Master L at 2 ½ years old was up to sausage, avocado, mushrooms AND eggs as his “extras”).
  6. Declutter the tables. Seriously, the sugar canisters, the vases, the menu tabards in plastic cases, the candles, even the salt and pepper. We don’t need the distraction and we do need the space, so get rid of this crap please!

Chop Shop, we will definitely be back. You made us feel welcome even (especially?) with our children. You ticked all the boxes. What’s more, you had lots of yummy menu items we want to try over a proper, adult, 10am breakfast. Who knows, we might even leave the kids at home next time, but if we can’t, at least you make us feel like it’s no big deal to bring them with us.

Group mentality

I went out for dinner with my Mother’s* group last night. We have known each other for as long as Master L is old, ie just over two and a half years. It was part farewell (to me) dinner, part baby shower for the last of the 5 remaining members to have baby number two (due exactly one year after Miss L was due; so we’ve all managed round two within 12 months of each other).

I had such a lovely evening and it obviously lent itself to reflecting on “Mother’s group” as a concept and, in fact, groups in general as a concept. Of course, being a farewell dinner, there was an air of sentiment, which motivated a blog post, but hopefully not too much of a rose-tinted one.

I approached Mother’s group two plus years ago with an open mind. Most of my friends seemed to enjoy the companionship it brought, for some it was a temporary convenience which dissolved when real life kicked back in, a few didn’t bother with one at all, and of course all of my child-free friends rolled their eyes and snickered “Mother’s group… you aren’t are you??”

My friends with children mostly live a fair distance away (although, to them, it’s me who lives a “long way away”, they each live in the centre of their own individual universe and seem to have trouble comprehending  how anyone who lives north of the bridge manages to make the “huge” trip any time they want to go anywhere… completely oblivious to the fact that we have all the same things [and more in many ways] north of the bridge that they have south). Anyway, the benefits of having a group of mums locally who I could meet for coffee, playdates and whatever other mysterious activities having children seemed to foster, required no further consideration.

Also, the next closest-in-age first-born among my friends is 11 months older than Master L. That is practically grown-up to someone who has a new baby. The changes that occur (to Mum and baby) in the first 11 months are so massive that having someone with an 11 month old child give you advice is almost as useless as having your mother give you advice. Correction, having my mother give you advice.

And besides, what did I have to lose?

In the first session the (very normal-looking, late 40s) child health nurse told us how she hoped our Mother’s group would be a valuable experience and how she had just been on a weekend away with her Mother’s group- and their babies were now 27 years old… Hmmm, I thought, sorry but I just don’t see that happening.

After 4 facilitated sessions it was time to strike out on our own. The same child health nurse recommended we meet at a local hotel, “great” for Mother’s groups by virtue of its soulless cafeteria-style bistro, “play area” for the hoards of screaming toddlers and preschoolers who get dragged there (completely useless to us with newborns), easy pram access and bad but cheap (well, voluminous anyway) coffee. Shudder…. There was no way I wanted to meet there. We trialled a series of meetings which went from the sublime (Bather’s Pavillion in Balmoral- unsurprisingly, NOT a great Mother’s group hang-out) to Gloria Jeans (speaking of bad coffee) and after a couple of weeks I was a bit jack of the whole thing… I resolved to go if I had nothing else on but not to specifically keep my Thursday mornings free just for Mother’s group.

The whole thing just seemed so contrived, I remember thinking, I mean what did I have in common with these women apart from geographical location and the experience of being first-time mothers? They were all (well mostly) very nice people but not people I thought I’d ever call friends.

But now that I think about it, what have I had in common with any of the “groups” I’ve been part of… I think my school group (both year group and group of friends) was probably the most contrived group I’ve ever been part of, but then I suppose that’s the nature of school friendships, you make them at an age when you don’t even know what to base them on). At uni I felt I’d found my niche and formed close friendships with people I perhaps had more in common with than I’d had at school (ex high-school geeks now trying to get a life and conveniently finding themselves at the cooler end of the geek spectrum at uni). But really, that was also pretty arbitrary. And since then, one of the things that has struck me about the friendships I’ve maintained is that none of my friends are really friends with each other, there is no “group”, my friends are disparate and have little in common. Not terribly conducive to organising “group” functions, including birthdays, weddings and baby showers, but in a way quite handy for me, who is definitely more of a one-on-one than a group socialiser. Still, I’ve often wondered if I’m missing out on something by not being part of a group. Mr L’s friends fall into several groups- there are the ex-housemate boys, the rugby boys and several other groups and they seem very strongly bonded to each other… but mine are really just a series of individuals.

But back to Mother’s group. Just when I’d decided I was jack of this, we (thank god) broke free from Gloria Jeans and started meeting at various parks around the place. We also started “hosting” and taking turns to have our get-togethers at each other’s houses. We abandoned the (ridiculous) suggestion by one Mum that we bring songs and books and things to “do” with our babies each week…. I mean seriously, was I the only one who just wanted a coffee and a chat?? Fortunately, apparently not. And so slowly, week-by-week, I got to know the other girls in the group. It was nice to have “mummy friends” now that motherhood was a big new part of my life and we’d moved even deeper into the green leafy depths of suburbia. It was even nicer once I went back to work and (happy though I was to see my work-mates again) found myself among a group of largely childless professionals. The girls I warmed to the least dropped off and there remained a core group of five mums with varying ages & backgrounds and very different personalities, but all really very supportive of each other whilst maintaining their own lives and identities.

I’m going to miss them when we move. My reflections on this whole “group” process (and, therefore, much of the “friendship” process) have surmised that groups are generally gatherings of people with an arbitrary link to each other. At times, if you’re lucky, friendships arise from those groups. But if nothing else, they provide some kind of structure and support network at uncertain times in your life. Which makes me wonder what my next “group” experience will turn out to be…

Can I see us going away for the weekend in 25 years time? Well no, but there’s not much I can imagine about what might take place in 2039. Would I be happy to go away for the weekend with them now in 2014? Yes, I most definitely would.

*I pondered moderately intensely the apostrophe placement for this blog post. You could make an argument for Mothers’ group rather than Mother’s group, but I went with the same logic that spells Mother’s Day like so- the day exists for each individual mother… except that I suppose a Mother’s group doesn’t so much…. anyway. There was no rationale or logic behind the use of a capital letter, but it’s late and I can’t be bothered to go back and change it.

Cafes of Auckland- an introduction

 

The Store- Britomart

In Sydney I find myself categorising most eating establishments as places I’d either go to with my children or I places wouldn’t in a million years. It’s rare that a place can be both. Auckland, it seems, is different. We stumbled across this delightful eatery tired and weary… Up since 4am, we’d survived a 3 hour flight with 2 kids in tow, all 4 of us had had minimal sleep and this was the first non-aeroplane or airport food we’d consumed all day. Seriously, almost anything would have done. But The Store was far from an “anything will do” kind of establishment. A Kiwi friend of mine had told me that NZers in general are far more tolerant than Sydney-siders of the presence of children at the kind of cool café that as an adult you’d actually want to eat at in the absence of your children and, having spent a very pleasant hour here (well, ok maybe half an hour, the kids weren’t THAT good!) I now believe it. We ate in the bistro/restaurant section (where I must confess I enviously eyed a few locals drinking white wine with their lunches but feared I’d lose all capacity to cope with the afternoon ahead if I did the same) but I asked for a delicious-looking chicken pie from their bakery section, which didn’t disappoint. Mr L had a pulled pork sandwich (yum) and we ordered ricotta hotcakes for the kids to share. (They were too tired to really eat much, but Mr L and I enjoyed their hotcakes for dessert). Even the (non-alcoholic) drinks were cool- I had a delicious apple & cinnamon tisane-type drink- it was a little on the sugary side but would have been a perfect hot-chocolate substitute and Master L sank all of Mr L’s quince & malt milkshake before he got much of a look-in. Service was friendly and helpful. I’d happily go there again- avec or sans enfants, either alone, with Mr L, a girlfriend or parents (including in-law).

Circus Circus- Mt Eden

I don’t think I would have gone into this place had Mr L not had it recommended to him, it looked a bit gimmicky. Although I have, on previous occasions, observed that the busiest-looking café is usually the best, so if I’d gone by that rule I may have ended up there after all, as everywhere else was deserted. I’ll have to withhold the superlative for the time being, but only because I have nothing nearby to compare it to: I was pleasantly surprised. Despite the gimmicky exterior, the service was incredibly helpful and friendly and the food and coffee were definitely worth going back for. Again, child-friendly without being (seeing-hearing-feeling) adult unfriendly, the menu offered a few different choices to the standard Sydney breakfast fare (which consists of bacon & egg rolls, eggs bene, bircher muesli). Mr L and I baulked at the bowls of coffee they served us (you can get cups instead if you want) but the coffee was really good and I had no trouble finishing mine. He had home-made hash-browns (I would have called them potato cakes or gallettes, as I was totally put-off by the term hash-brown) with smoked salmon & poached eggs and I had an omelette with salsa verde, which I don’t often do, as they are usually enormous and I just feel full and sick afterwards. This omelette was indeed quite large, but very nice, although to my great sorrow I set the pot of salsa aside to butter my toast and forgot to try it until I was full of omelette. I’m often wary of salsa verde, I often find it a bit too grass-like but this was more like a subtle pesto: delicious! We ordered the kids toast although Master L demanded most of Mr L’s smoked salmon, and a berry smoothie, which was perfectly yoghurty & un-sugary. I also spied the rolls and sandwiches they had on display as well as some amazing-looking desserts and thought, I’d happily eat here again… how long till lunch?

Zarbo- Newmarket

I realised as soon as I walked in that I’d actually been here before. It appealed to me this time for the same reason as last time- a big central counter with a vast array of breakfast, lunch and in-between choices that looked like they’d been cooked on-site at this café-cum-deli. Great coffee (again) and I like the touch of the mini chocolate-brownie bite that came with it. I’m a big fan of those little biscuits you sometimes get with a coffee when you’re not ordering food. When you are ordering food, I find it a little unnecessary, but I ate it nonetheless. I made a poor choice with my breakfast, however, mostly my own fault. I almost never order the muesli-yoghurt-fruit combo: I am fussy about my fruit, fussy about my yoghurt and I make muesli at home to my own individual taste and rarely find anything that measures up in my book. So the odds were against Zarbo being able to give me a dish that I’d be happy with. Indeed, I was unfortunate enough to end up with thin blobby yoghurt, toasted muesli riddled with banana chips (shudder) and a plate full of pineapple, pear and either papaya or melon, I wasn’t sure which. Given that my 3 least favourite fruits are, in fact, melon, papaya and pear, this was not an ideal breakfast. Like I said, poor choice on my part, really. Mr L had a lovely eggs benedict (with a potato cake instead of the boring old English muffin) and the poached eggs looked absolutely perfectly cooked. Master L had a boiled egg with bacon & toast soldiers, which he devoured. Service was pleasant and I’d go there again, although the menu didn’t enthrall me like The Store’s did, and the attention to detail didn’t impress me like Circus Circus had. Still, not a bad place to have up your sleeve.

Café Lava- Parnell

I chose this café on the basis that I was flying solo with two kids and there were no other customers in it to a) steer the stroller around or b) annoy. This blatantly disregards my advice re the busiest café being the best and Kiwis being tolerant of children etc but hey, I didn’t have the mental fortitude to test either theory. I walked past the first time having turned my nose up on approach, but on glancing inside it actually looked ok- funky white sofa and otherwise unremarkable décor, I thought perhaps I had judged it too harshly. So on the way back we stopped, I was desperate for a coffee and Master L was asking for a smoothie. Both of which they did quite nicely, I must say. So Café Lava served its purpose. I can’t say I’d rush back there- among the songs played (I think it was a radio station they had playing- although I’m not sure that’s much of an excuse) were You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling and John Farnham’s “Two Strong Hearts”…. Ok ok, so yes, they are both on my ipod and yes, alright, they are two of my favourite songs, but decidedly more appropriate for singing along to in the car than drinking coffee to. What I couldn’t get past, however, were the uninspiring photos of various dishes (do we really need an A4 snapshot of the eggs benedict?), laminated, blu-tacked to the wall… Thanks for your hospitality, you may see us again, but not in a hurry…

Mink- Parnell

We had hoped to check out Casetta for Saturday morning breakfast but it was closed. Instead, we chose Mink, partly because it was directly opposite and partly because we were in a bit of a hurry and it was the only café in which we could see people inside getting ready to open (just before 8am, apparently Kiwis sleep late- or perhaps they are all out early doing crazy adventure stuff and so don’t get to breakfast till a bit later).  We had a pleasant but not mind-blowing breakfast, the food was reasonably priced and nicely cooked- I went for poached eggs on toast with spinach which is a bit of a staple for me. The eggs were lovely (I always feel I’m taking a risk ordering poached eggs at a new café, but they were done perfectly) as was the spinach (not sure how they did it but it was hot and tasty, not watery and boring which happens often with cooked spinach) and even the toast (dark and grainy) was lovely. Good coffee, Mr L enjoyed his French toast and Master L wolfed down his sausage (which doesn’t mean much, he’s not terribly picky when it comes to sausages.) The service was pleasant and inoffensive, but I just felt there was something lacking… maybe it was the young waitress wearing running tights (interesting) who hovered, looking awkward, clearly looking for something to do, or perhaps it was the bad soundtrack (again!) or perhaps it was simply the fact that we were at the end of a big week and knew we had to haul two kids and a hundred bags back across the Tasman, so my breakfast mojo was lacking. I’d go back, faced with similar circumstances but next time I’m in Parnell, I’d do my best to try somewhere else first.

 

 

A History Lesson

.. and I’ve seen it before

.. and I’ll see it again

.. yes I’ve seen it before

.. just little bits of history repeating

I’m turning into my parents.  Actually, make that past tense. I used to think this was something to be proud of but now, more and more, I feel as though I’m channeling the worst of each of them.

My father- short tempered, socially awkward, he’s a strange combination of obsessive compulsive and procrastinator/non-finisher extraordinaire. He seems unable to see projects through till the end (what he does, he does perfectly but doesn’t finish anything which makes all that perfection kind of pointless).

My mother- much more submissive although hardly short of an opinion herself, can be incredibly judgmental but just when you think it’s really time to stand up and say something- she doesn’t.

Both of them are fairly low energy but compensate for that with high-ish ambition, which means they’ve been reasonably successful I suppose, by conventional standards.  Neither one expresses emotion particularly well, in fact sometimes I wonder if they feel much emotion, but that’s probably a bit harsh. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect everyone to wear their heart on their sleeve the whole time, but sometimes the no-nonsense, unsentimental approach wears a little thin.

I was always conscious of the fact that I might be “turning into my mother” and it never really bothered me that much, whether that was because of denial or just resignation, I’m not quite sure. But since having children (more precisely, since Master L has become a toddler) I hear the worst lines from each of my parents coming out of my mouth. Like my father, I find myself letting relatively minor irritations take over my mood, instead of just putting them aside and getting on with the relatively straight-forward business of being cheerful. Worst of all, I look at my beautiful two year old boy with (I think) the same feelings of awe and wonder that my parents regarded me with but, like them, I struggle to say the words “I love you”.

Today was a particularly trying day for various reasons. It’s preschool holidays and Master L seems to be in the throes of the terrible twos and I found myself shouting at him before 7am and wishing the day over by mid-morning. At one point I thought “I only have to get through today and then I’m at work for the rest of the week” and then immediately thought “these are your children, what sort of attitude is that?!”. At several stages throughout the day I said to myself “right, deep breath, let’s change this and make today a happy day” and we did manage to end up better than we started (amazingly). But several things really struck me that, after a whole two and a half years of parenting, I do the same way my parents did and I’m really not happy about them:

  1. Losing my temper– when I think about my childhood and the relationship I had with my parents, I’d sum up the day-to-day interaction with my father as “treading on eggshells”. He was volatile, unpredictable and short-tempered. He would fly into a rage at the drop of a hat, he’d shout at us, he’d smack us (hard) and we seemed to live in the perpetual and fearful shadow of trying not to upset him. Don’t get me wrong, he was also loving, involved, affectionate and fun, but it was always a bit of an unknown. And when Dad was in a “bad mood”, you braced yourself for an unhappy day of lying low and jumping every time a door slammed. I now find my buttons being pushed too easily by Master L’s toddler whims, tantrums and inconsistencies. I shout at him all too easily, the frustration when he doesn’t do what I tell him (AGAIN) bubbles up inside me and the only way to vent it seems to be to shout at him or worse, smack him (which I have so far managed not to do apart from on a couple of occasions). I need to find a way to deal with this. Shouting at a two-year old achieves nothing. It doesn’t make him do what I want him to do and it just makes me more angry. One of two things will happen to him- either he’ll become wary and afraid of his volatile mother, as I was of my father, or he’ll become indifferent and ignore me completely.
  2. Distance– I mentioned my parents were low-energy. I am well aware of this and try not to be the same. To a point I’m successful. I will say, “Right, let’s go and do something” and get us out of the house to find some entertainment without too much effort. But when we’re at home, I lack the energy to keep going. I can’t play all day, constantly traipsing out to the cubby house, following Master L around, playing trains or dancing or getting down on my hands and knees to entertain him. I try not to, but I find myself thinking about my own agenda, tidying up, getting dinner, sending that email, checking my phone. Every now and then I do sit down with them, on the floor, and just do nothing, let them climb over me, read books, drink imaginary cups of tea, listen to Master L’s trucks go beeeeep beeeeep beeeeep….. But sometimes I just feel like I’m faking it. I remember trying to constantly cajole my Mum to “come and play, Mum!” but now I notice it when my parents interact with my kids. It’s not that they don’t try, they just don’t have the enthusiasm to pull it off convincingly. This is in stark contrast to Mr L and his parents, all high-energy people whose energy seems to know no bounds when it comes to pretty much anything- toddler-related or not.
  3. And then there’s emotional distance– if I remember my Dad as the volatile, unpredictable one, it was my Mum who we went to for comfort, for warmth, for love, it was Mum who was “the favourite”…. Yet I could tell you the two specific times she said “I love you” to me. And one was written down. And in fact, I think she said “We love you”, not “I love you”. It was about 8 months before I said “I love you” to Master L. And even then I felt stupid doing it. At 10 months, I don’t think I’ve said it to Miss L yet. And I have never said it to the kids in front of anyone else. I always envied friends who would end their phone conversations with their parents with “Love you, Mum!”. Not that saying it every single time you speak to someone is necessarily what I’d consider appropriate, but it’s better than never saying it at all! I’ve started to notice friends’ children (older than mine) saying “I love you” to their parents and I wonder when Master L will say it to me. Although, if I don’t say it to him, I figure I’ll be waiting a long time! For the last week or so I’ve tried to get into the habit of saying it when I put him to bed, and gradually it’s feeling less awkward…  I mean, seriously, how screwed up is that???

 

So on the positive side, I guess being aware of these things is surely part of the battle? I mean, I have insight, right?? Now all I need to do is figure out how to do something about it….