Sunday, August 5, 2012


I don't know if there is anything more depressing than being awake in the early hours of every morning and watching futilely as the minutes slowly tick away while the rest of the world sleeps. Silence surrounds you and all the unwanted thoughts of the day rise to the surface in your mind. You lay in bed, once a place of refuge from the world, now your own private hell. This has been my reality now for the past five days as I struggle to stay asleep. Getting to sleep seems to be no problem, what I am now unable to do is stay asleep for longer than three hours or so in a row. I am waking up every morning, without fail at any time between 12am and 2am, and then literally being awake for HOURS on end (and not just 1-2 hours but more like 4-5 hours) before finally drifting back to sleep for another hour or two if I'm lucky before the whole day begins again. Then I spend the day feeling absolutely exhausted and emotionally distant from the world, everything seems too difficult when you don't get enough sleep, even the most simple of tasks seem to require too much energy to complete. I'm guessing that this insomnia is related to my pregnancy and that the difficulty staying asleep is due to anxiety about the upcoming birth and due to hormonal changes as well, etc etc but that doesn't help me feel any better. All I feel is absolutely frustrated and depressed at the idea of having to get through yet another day on only a few hours sleep, I feel somehow ripped off that I am unable to enjoy the time I have left before our new baby is born because I am so tired. I get to a point where I would give anything just to get some sleep, I think I would take any other pregnancy complaint over this. I don't know how I am going to get through the next 5-6 weeks if this sleeplessness continues.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The end of common sense?

I came across a bizarre and illogical store policy today while shopping at Savemart, Upper Hutt. I had browsed around the store for a while, intending to buy myself a pair of track pants and while I was browsing Vivi and I passed the second hand toy bin. I found what looked to be a brand new teddy bear and handed it to Vivi as she sat in the front of the trolley. We headed up to the main service desk to pay for the bear and leave. I put the bear on the counter and the clerk entered in the amount and then went to put the bear into one of the enormous Savemart plastic bags.

'I don't need a bag, thanks' I said 'I'm going to give the bear to my daughter'.

'I have to put your purchase in a plastic bag' she informed me. 'Its our store policy'.

'But I've got heaps of plastic bags at home and don't need any more' I replied. Wanting to add that surely I was doing her a favour by saving her the job of bagging up a purchase and not only that but saving the store money by not using a bag.

'I don't care what you do with the bag once you leave the store', she continued, 'but you have to take it in the bag. We also have to tie the bag like this' she demonstrated, tying the handle of the bag. 'It's because people come back into the store and shoplift.'

This didn't seem very logical to me. What I objected to was:

1. Clearly, I did not need the bag, as I had said at least two times.
2. Giving someone a purchase in a plastic bag does not deter anyone from shoplifting - if anything having a access to a bag from the store would mean someone would be free to re-enter the store and put other stuff in there, regardless of whether or not the bag had been 'tied' by the person at the counter.

What irritates me is that this just seems to be another example of people mindlessly following 'policy' set by those in authority, without using any common sense along with it. It is a kind of sheepism that suggests to me a dumbing down of society, and not letting people come to a conclusion themselves, rather being pleased that they blindly follow what is said to them.

It reminds me of a time when I was a student working at McDonalds, many moons ago. We had a policy of asking customers whether they were paying in cash or eftpos. That was all well and good except that a situation arose where I was being appraised by my supervisor and a young boy came up and asked to buy a 50 cent ice-cream. He placed a 50 cent coin on the counter and I said 'that'll be 50 cents thanks', before taking his money and putting it in the counter. Later, I was reprimanded for my actions by my supervisor who marked me down on customer service because I had not asked the boy 'if he was paying by cash or eftpos'.

'But he was clearly paying in cash as he had the coin on the counter right in front of him and it was the exact amount he needed to pay.'

'It doesn't matter. It's our policy to ask if a customer is paying in cash or eftpos and we have to do this in EVERY situation' was the reply.

Ugh, I feel for the 'intelligence' of the human race.... maybe I should go and make myself feel better with some quality TV like the 'GC' or 'Keeping up with the Kardashians'!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Hi there fellow bloggers (and the odd reader). I got lost in the mists of time and in the process of raising a child have just realised that I haven't blogged for an entire year. Crazy. Well, not quite an entire year, not quite, but close enough. Did you miss me while I was gone? kind of like missing a grain of sand on a beach I suppose. One voice among many, it's a wonder people blog at all really. Perhaps for some it's like a form of journal writing but I presume that most people do it because they want an audience of some sort, some feedback and validation?

The last time I created a blog post I had been a parent for around seven months. Well, as I said earlier, a lot of time has passed since then and our little girl is now a very busy and active 18 month old toddler. I have learnt a lot and a lot of things have changed. But more on that in future posts. I won't bore you with the in and out specifics that fascinate us as parents (but let's be honest are probably not that interesting to anyone else). What I feel like getting off my literal chest today is something that happened to me recently that made me think about parenthood and what it means to be a parent in this day and age.

Firstly, I would just like to state that I am in the very fortunate position of being able to stay at home with our daughter and raise her while my husband works. I realise that this is not a common position to be in these days, with a lot of women having to go back to work once their 12 months (or however long) of maternity leave is up. We are lucky in that Tim earns enough for us to not have to worry about me being at work for financial reasons. I still do the odd day relieving at my old job, but that's only a couple of days every 2-3 months. So for the most part, I am a full-time SAHM.

Anyway, to set the scene you should probably know that I am interested in the topic of parenthood as it is something I am experiencing myself and has been THE BIGGEST life changing thing that has ever happened to me. I am always interested in hearing what other people have to say about it and what their experiences have been like - it's an endless source of fascination and a world which I previously did not know much about. I post a lot about it on Facebook which can be a good medium to ascertain other people's opinions and ideas, a useful way to ask for advice or share one of your child's milestones with whoever might be interested. Above all, I like to be honest about how things have been for me, because I don't see a point in pretending otherwise. A lot of my posts probably come across as being me complaining about something, I guess I just find it a good way to vent.

Yesterday I had a dreadful day with my daughter. She is teething at the moment and had been grizzly and clingy all afternoon, not going five minutes without crying. I did everything I could think of to try to calm her down but nothing was working. And I was starting to get worked up myself, after all, there is only so much you can take. I was in the kitchen trying to make a casserole - dinner for us that night and for her and I needed perhaps 5-10 minutes just to get it underway. Just 5 minutes! Vivi chose that moment to be extra clingy, crying at my feet, wanting to be picked up, inconsolable. I found myself thinking 'it shouldn't have to be like this' and felt tears rise up at the frustration I was feeling at not being able to even get a simple task such as dinner underway because I was alone at home with a grizzly toddler with no support and no one who was able to take her for just five minutes to give me the time to get done what needed to be done. It occurred to me that this was not a natural or healthy way to bring up a child - all by yourself for the majority of the time, isolated from everyone else. At that moment the whole situation seemed ridiculous. Raising a child is something that surely cannot (and should not) be done by just one person - yet it is, by many, many people.

So in a fit of frustration and anger at being a parent in this 'modern western world' I posted on Facebook: "Surely it's not a natural state of affairs to be pretty much raising a child completely by yourself? how on earth are you meant to get anything done when it's just you and a toddler demanding your attention the whole day, who cannot stay engaged in a task for even 5 minutes and screams the house down as soon as you try to clean up/make dinner/do anything else that has to be done? modern society is seriously screwed up with so many Mums living in isolation and getting no help whatsoever."

Slowly during that day the responses trickled in, as I had hoped they would. I was interested in seeing what other people would say about it, whether they had had similar experiences and could offer any suggestions or just join me in bemoaning the state of the world. What surprised me, however, was some of the comments that were anything but supportive and helpful.

One person suggested to me (and to my sister-in-law) that we needed to 'get a grip' because we had no idea what loneliness was because we were not single parents. Another person decided to give me a blow by blow description of their mother who had raised children in rural NZ in the 40's "Try this.3 kids under 5, no road to house- 2 mile horse ride to nearest road. No phone, no power, no lights/ washing machine/ fridge/ drier/ vacuum cleaner/ stove/ microwave or radio. woodstove only to be kept goig 24/7 - lots wood to chop. No doctor/ dentist. No shops- all clothes made at home, all jerseys etc knitted by hand. all fruit/ veges to be grown in own garden, surplus salted or bottled to preserve. Washing all clothes + nappies for 2- no disposables- done in copper every day- another fire to light. drying on line or in front of stove. sheareres meals + shepherds meals to be done as well. My mother might have complained had she had the means to , but was probably too tired" 

What I cannot get my head around is the amount of 'one upping' that happens in the world of parenting.  I felt as though this was what was happening here as if someone was saying 'feel like complaining? well, unless you're a single parent, you don't have the right!' or 'feel like you've got it tough at times? my mother had to raise three children under five with no electricity and had to wash all the nappies by hand in a copper pot!' I mean, how is this at all helpful to someone who is a first time parent? the truth is that it's not helpful at all, and only serves to create bitterness and resentment. Besides which, it has nothing to do with the point I was trying to make - that parents on a whole are isolated and most of the time are raising their children completely by themselves and that it shouldn't have to be this way.

If you 'one up' someone, you are effectively dismissing their situation as being not as important as your own and it is like saying to them that they should simply just 'deal with it' and stop complaining. Wouldn't it be far more productive to be supportive rather than alienating other parents and discouraging them from sharing an experience that is important to them? In my opinion, what you go through is all relative to your particular situation in life and you shouldn't be made to feel as though you do not have the right to complain about the odd 'bad day' just because you live in different circumstances to someone else. As parents, we're all in the same boat - completely in awe of the responsibility we have and how we can best raise our children to be healthy and happy adults. So why the competition?


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Who wants to live forever?

It's a chiche, but do you ever stop to think just how short life really is, and how little time we actually have? I've been thinking about this a lot lately - I don't know about anyone else, but perhaps having kids is a reminder of your own mortality? that time is eventually going to run out, that you are going to grow old and die one day.

I don't mean this post to come across as being morbid in any way, it's just something I've been thinking about recently. I was hoping that when I die, I would have lived a long and full life, and done all the things I'd wanted to do, and not have been held back by fear. As an atheist, I belive that this is it. I don't believe in an afterlife, I don't think there is anything beyond this.

I'm not afraid of dying, I'm afraid of missing out on all the wonderful things that the world has to offer. I would miss spending time with my family - in particular, with Tim and Vivi, with my parents, siblings - I would miss my valuable and inspiring friends. I would miss music, laughter, the breathtaking beauty of a sunrise (now, there's a cliche if ever there was one!), I would miss feeling inspired and that feeling that you get sometimes where you feel as though you're going to live forever and ever and ever. I would miss watching our daughter grow up, and see the awesome person that I know she's going to become.

I am 31 years old now, who knows how much longer I'll have left - I'm hoping it'll be a long time -another lifetime and a bit, but who's to know? I guess the whole point is to make the most of what you have, and if you don't like what you have, then to do what you can to change things and to make life worth living - both for yourself, and for those you love.

Because in the end, it's all about love.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


It's easy to be idealistic about childcare options and returning to work before you have a child. Here I was, thinking that I would return to work at the end of June, after nine months maternity leave, that we would place Vivi in a daycare centre near the hospital where I worked, that it would all go 'according to plan'. However, as we were to soon learn, not much about having a baby (or a child, for that matter) ever goes 'to plan'.

For instance, we hadn't factored into our grand plan, the fact that our daughter would have severe reflux that would take months to become managable.

Nor did I have any conception of the bond that develops between you and your child, when you spend all day with them. You are thinking about them, every waking moment.

So it didn't come as any surprise to me, when I realised that there was no way I was going to be able to return to work full time as planned. There was no way we were going to be able to put Vivi in daycare, with a bunch of people who were essentially strangers to her. I knew that I would not be able to trust anyone else to look after her.

I feel incredibly lucky that I am able to stay at home to be with Vivi, no matter how much I miss the stimulation of work and the friends I made there - being at home with our daughter (to me) is infinitely more important.

Some people are lucky enough to have parents who live in the same city, who are able to look after their children while they go to work. As one of my friends said to me 'I know that Mum and Dad love her - they really love her and want to look after her. I couldn't have gone back to work knowing that she was just being left with people who were paid to look after her. At least I know they love her in the same way that I do.'

Making the decision not to go back to work (in some respects) was one of the hardest I have ever had to make but I feel that it was the right decison for us as a family.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Being a modern Mum

At coffee group today, the question of returning to work came up. A lot of our babies are older now, and some Mum's are returning to work, or at least planning their return.

I don't know about everyone else, but I was hugely idealistic about returning to the workforce before I had Vivi. I had it all planned out - I would take nine months maternity leave which would be AMPLE time before returning to work and putting Vivi in daycare. Nice and easy. Hell, I'd even been to some daycares near work and had put her name down on the waiting list.

Then I became a Mum, and Tim and I became parents.

We immersed ourselves in the strange, scary, and at times overwhelming world of parenthood for the first couple of months. We watched as our old life was stripped away, and adjusted to inhabiting a world with a little baby. We went through the trials that everyone faces: sleep deprivation, feeding issues - all the anxiety and worry that comes with the territory of being a new parent. Not to mention the relationship adjustments that inevitably have to be made. Suddenly, you don't have oodles of time up your sleeve. You are plunged into a world where EVERYTHING revolves around your baby. Can you chill out and watch a DVD together? only if your baby is asleep. Can you head out for the day to meet up with friends? only if you pack what feels like the entire car, and then make sure you will be in a situation where you will be able to put your baby down to sleep wherever it is that you're going.

Day to day life at the beginning is very much like 'groundhog day'. You gradually fall into a routine of caring for your baby, whatever that might involve. With us it is a simple routine of waking Vivi at 7am, giving her her medication, feeding her, giving her a kick around on her playmat, and then putting her to bed for a nap. In between these times there is the inevitable mountain of laundy and pile of dishes to navigate, emails to check, other random housework that needs to be done, and planning for outings that will take place that day. The days are busy, contrary to what anyone might think - just because you are at home all day does not mean that you're sitting around twiddling your thumbs or finding time for hour long pilates workouts! Being a Mum is a fulltime job in itself.

Then there is the inevitable (for some) return to the workplace.

Firstly, I would just like to point out that I am grateful that I was able to take off nine months. I know plently of other people who have had to go back to work much sooner than that.

What is foremost on my mind at the moment is that of balancing two very different roles: that of being a Mother, and a working woman.

Like of my friends in our coffee group pointed out today 'they just expect you to go back to work and carry on as normal, as though nothing has changed'. That everything will carry on as normal. I would like to know how you are meant to 'carry on as normal' when you are faced with the prospect of not only having to balance work and home life, but work, home life, and the needs of your baby. 'Carrying on as normal' involves you learning how to be everything to everyone, do don many differnet roles throughout the day. Which one are you going to prioritise over the other?

For me, being a Mother will always come first. No question about it.

I really wish I did not have to return to work. I love my job, but I love my daughter and family more. I hate the idea of leaving her in daycare all day long while I spend time elsewhere. I feel so sad when I think of all the hours that I won't be with her. What will I be missing out on? will I be at work when she is learning to crawl, taking her first steps, speaking her first word? I wish that it was possible to take more time off, but I know that it's not going to make going back to work any easier in the long term. It'll still be just as hard.

So a question I have is that why should there be the need (or expectation) for women to go back to work at all? surely being a Mother is a full time job in itself, and should be recognised as being a worthwhile occupation. I feel as though these days women are expected to do it all (and not complain). You're expected to raise a child, be a loving partner, run a household, hold down a job........ I would like to know where is the time for yourself amidst all that? why can't being a Mother be enough, if that's what you want to do?