Thursday, 21 November 2013

Confessions of a mediocre mummy

I'm at a point in my mediocre parenting that I'm starting to question things I know that I know, and second guessing every move I make, when it comes to raising my kids. You'd think that when it comes to the fifth kid I'd be pretty much on top of things - milestones, language development, potty training, yadda, yadda, yadda. The books tell you, in one long-winded breath, that there's no 'one-size-fits-all' rule to raising a child, yet you must follow these steps and these steps only or risk being branded an incompetent and neglectful parent.

The Feral Five. Campbell, Ella, Grace, Lily & Scarlett. All at 19 months.
When Campbell was born, in all his 9lb 14oz 57cm glory, I freaked when he sneezed, changed his clothes at the slightest dribble, worried if he slept all night, stressed if he didn't sleep at night. Has he had enough tummy-time? Does he need more tummy-time? Was that a squint? Why is he crying? Why isn't he crying? I panicked if his dummy dropped to the floor and I didn't have a sterile replacement. Everything had it's arse boiled out of it in the name of hygiene. I breastfed because I was told to, used cloth nappies because I was told to, did everything I was told to do (however, nobody told me not to have a Thai Green Curry or seeded fruits when breastfeeding, but that's a whole different, and messier, story. Ok, I'll tell it, but quickly, K? So, I'd gone out with friends for the first time since having Campbell, and demolished a plate of Thai entrees and a mean Green Curry. I didn't drink, coz I knew booze plus boobie juice does not result in good mummying, according to the books. I only needed to feed Campbell twice to get the results - one cranky baby who cried all morning, looked at me with a 'Why, Mummy, why?' look, frowned, and with relative ease exploded up and out of his onesie. I kid you not, that khaki coloured baby shit oozed out at his toes and his collar. It was in his hair. And the smell? Dear God.) Anywho, back to the blog…

Ella was different. I was fearful of nappy rash, so I changed her often. I didn't breast feed, but felt the guilt. Breast is best. Breast is best. It was promoted on large posters in feeding rooms at the shopping centres. It was even written on the formula tin. When she sneezed, I didn't just think she was getting a cold, she was getting a cold because I didn't breast feed. Even today, a part of me believes her allergies, asthma and eczema are because I didn't put her on the boob. But she's alive, and I'm alive. And that good, right?

Then, the Wondertwins. Yeah, we sterilised things for a bit. For a few months, we even sterilised the dummies, but once we saw them grab the other's dummy we gave up on that one. Did the cat lick that one? Just run it under the tap. Nappy down to the knees? Maybe time to change them. A comfort bottle of milk at bedtime? Will they go to sleep? Yes? Then a comfort bottle of milk it will be. 

Along came Scarlett.
I tried breast feeding. I got through 9 motherfucking days! 9! I think it was the sleep deprivation that ended it. That and the pain. And the big boob thing, trying not to suffocate her in the process. The first bottle of formula introduced us all to the first full night's sleep. I don't wanna brag, but I will. Since she was about 2 weeks old, she has been a perfect sleeper for 98% of the time. But the mere mention of that will now make her wake screaming every night from now on. My trick is to give her the evil bottle of warmed milk, followed by a dummy or two (one for the mouth, one for the hand), lie next to her and let her fall asleep in my bed. It's peaceful and relaxing and calming for both of us and I like it. The books say a big HELL NO to that practice, and I'm not having much luck with the putting-her-in-her-cot-while-she's-awake biz. Not that I've tried all that often. And I know I'm just making an enormous rod for my already fucked up back, but it works for me. I move her to her cot and we both sleep like husbands until the alarm bleeps at 7:45am. I'm not complaining about that.

The books say Scarlett should be self-settling by now. Dummies should not be cleaned by the cat's tongue. Scraps of food and crumbs should not be eaten from the swept up dust pile in the corner of the room. The dog does not make a good babysitter. Older siblings should not put a leash on her and pretend she's their puppy. She should be saying a few words by now. She's 19 months. She can say 'Mumma' when prompted. And 'Dadda'. And we can hear the vowels & syllables in her attempts to say her sisters' and brother's names when prompted. But she will not initiate speech, except for shouting "Maaaahhhhh!" throughout the house as she looks for me. She can meow like a cat, quack like a duck, pant like a dog, can understand practically everything I say, has a good vocabulary of signs and an even better grasp of the grunt.

Oh, that fucking grunt.

Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh. UGH UGH UGH MAAAAAHHHHH!! Ugh ugh ugh (signs 'more') ugh ugh (points to banana) UGH UGH UGH! I model the spoken word, she signs it. Don't get me wrong - I love that she knows words in sign language! But I want her to stop that fecking ugh ugh ugh grunt before I go out of my ugh ugh ugh bloody (signs 'mind').

I'm slightly nervous and already pissed off based on the conversation I've already had in my head of what the maternal nurse will say about her language development. I do that sometimes - get angry with things that haven't yet happened and very well may not happen. At the Wondertwins' 18 month old check up, we discussed their language, or rather their lack of the 'English' language. Gracie expressed herself with a few Auslan signs and Lily could count to five in Spanish and say various other words learned from Dora The Explorer. The discussion then turned to the amount of television a toddler should watch, and that Gracie needs a 'real' language - oh no you di'int...

And finally...
Confession time. The Wondertwins, at age 4, can't break the dummy habit. They are entering dangerous Suri Cruise territory. I have tried everything that the books say to do, that Elmo says to do, and even things the books says not to do, such as bribery and anger. They will - yes they WILL dammit - be leaving these wretched things for good ol' Saint Nick in a few week's time. So suck on that girls.

By the sixth kid I should be a pro. Right?

Sixth kid? Not on your nelly.


  1. Loved this one, Lisa! Can relate totally - my number four is practically raising herself (and doing a pretty good job of it). Wish I knew for number one what I now know.... would have made life much less stressful. (And just for the record, they fed me a curry in hospital when I gave birth to No 1 child - I had nooooooo idea. My MIL was I was I when it exploded out the other end.) Thanks for the giggles and the memories xxxx

    1. Thanks Ruth! The hospital staff must have been bored if they fed you a curry!

  2. I use to grunt as a child apparently. Then I started talking and they couldn't shut me up. Literally. I exhausted my grandmother in one day of babysitting.......
    Now my kids talk all. the. time.
    Payback is a bitch.

  3. Oh my darling girl I have missed you! You are a breath of crappy parenting air!

    But in actual fact you are someone to aspire to parenting wise, coz you bloody tell it as it is!

    I sometimes feel terribly guilty that Axel (number 3) doesn't get the attention the other 2 got but then what's the alternative... not having siblings?

    I love my big messy, chaotic family.

    You are ugh, ugh ugh!
    Shall I translate? Fab U Lous! x

  4. So good to read you again! Makes me realise I miss you, but crazy time now of course...hope you're around over summer...oh, and Miss M finally gave her dummies to the dummy fairy this week (she'd been resisting, telling us the dummy fairy is not real for months). Well turns out, she is real, only now she's staying awake in her bed, quietly playing with her toys (they're crying for their dummies) til I go to bed, when she comes & climbs in with me til Mr Sow wants to come to bed & finds her there. It's been 3 nights of our new routine. Those dummies are not coming back! I'm wondering if Mr Sow will be on the sofa soon? xo