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A Blessing

Any day now, three of my dear friends will be bringing babies into the world. I wanted to write them, and all mums, a blessing.

I have many hopes for you. Many wishes.

I wish that when your journey toward meeting your beautiful baby begins you’re excited as well as scared, because of course it’s normal and right to be a little scared. It’s a powerful thing we get to do. Isn’t it amazing?

I hope you have support and love surrounding you from that first “is this labour?” thought to that first sharp intake of breath when you really know This Is It, and on to your midwife or surgeon telling you it’s time. I wish for you that you feel safe from beginning to beginning.

I hope your labour makes you feel powerful or it is just forgettable. That in a week you will gaze at your baby and think “I could probably do this again” Look at that beautiful baby you brought into the world. You did it!

When you feed you little one: I wish for every duct to remain unblocked, that you never have to send your partner down the road for cabbage, that your pump is always working. I pray not a drop of your expressed milk is ever spilled. Not one crack in not one nipple! That’s what I hope for you. I hope your supply is just perfect – not too little, not too much. And if it doesn’t work out, and somehow the universe doesn’t read this post – I hope bottles are guzzled with gusto, that milk is on special every time you go to buy it, that your snuggles are extra snuggly as your baby looks up at you their beloved mama.

I hope you don’t accidentally kill someone on Day Three. I wish your hormones to be completely under control. And if they’re not, I hope it all goes wrong in a hilariously harmless way that you can tell your coffee group about. I hope it’s such a funny story that they laugh with tears in their eyes and tell you that you should be a comedian. And in that moment I hope you feel overwhelmed – not by out of control estrogen, but by love from your fellow mamas. I wish you to always have a shoulder to cry on, someone to laugh with, someone to make you tea, and someone to gaze at your baby and say as their eyes fill with tears “you did so good!”

I hope you never have to clean your house. For at least nine weeks.

I wish that every cry can be easily hushed with a gentle pat. That there are long sleeps and good feeds. That car rides are easy, public transport always comes on time, visitors never overstay their welcome. I wish for you chocolate and cider, and sleeping on your tummy, and comfortable pants and good TV. I hope for visits from friends who have trays of lasagne for you. I hope for moments where you say “it’s honestly easier than I thought it would be”.

May you have unobtrusive but excited grandparents. Helpful family. Thoughtful and kind visits. May your buggy breaks never jam, your carrier always work the first time, no poo explosions in white clothes, and no vomit on your good clothes.

Some things I don’t have to wish or hope for – I know you will burn with love for your baby, I know those who love you will look at you with eyes shining because they’re so proud of you and so in awe of your strength. And I know you’re nervous about your first baby and how they’ll cope but I know they’ll fall more and more in love with your little one every single day. Just like you will (because I promise the second time around is just as earth-shattering).

And I also know if none of these things happen, if these wishes don’t come true, if these hopes aren’t fulfilled – I’ll be here for you. And you’ll do so well anyway – I just know it.

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I love children

Every now and then someone will breathlessly say to me “I hate kids but I just adore Eddie!” I watch them smugly wait for me to fall over myself with gratitude as if this is some kind of compliment to me and my son.

It’s not a compliment. I’m not sure how I am meant to respond to it either. Ummm I’m glad you find my son aesthetically pleasing? I’m glad the stories about the cute things he does entertain you? I’m pleased that he has performed in such a way in front of you that you don’t hate him just because he’s a child? I mean really. The only thing you do when you say shit like that to me (or rant on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr about how you hate kids) is make me put you on a list of people who I never want my kids to be around.

Saying you hate kids is hateful. It’s not edgy. It’s not cool. And if I ever, ever, ever made you think I’m “one of you” then my God I lost something in translation.

Too often I see people who think it’s cool to joke about “breeders” and how “gross” kids are. They just hate kids! But not yours…of course. I will never understand this horrible attitude. But I’m always especially surprised when I hear these comments from activists, and those in social justice circles, and from people who consider themselves feminists or allies. Because – you do know that nothing keeps women more isolated than feeling like they can never take their children anywhere right? And as a social group children are abused in huge numbers. They’re also silenced by those who are meant to protect them (from parents to politicians) and also by the fact that under a certain age they can’t talk at all or people think it’s cute to pretend not to understand what they’re saying. They’re also excluded from so many places already. And I mean – there are literally people who march in the street for the right to physically hit them. But umm you’re the oppressed one because you can’t enjoy your long black because a child is existing in your presence?

Anyway, this blog started as a rant about how grossed out I am by people who bitch and moan about children being in public spaces but then I thought – why give them more airtime?

So instead I’m going to go positive (but being on brand I’m also going to be a bit snarky) and thank some people for loving children in small ways. Because loving kids in public spaces means loving their parents. Loving women who are mostly the primary caregivers of most children. And generally just making the world a better fucking place for everyone.

So the biggie – thanks for not being an asshole in a cafe or restaurant! Thank YOU! Yes, you – that waiter who is run off her feet but still let’s my son practice his language by letting him order his own smoothie. You’re a fucking awesome person. Thank you to the dude at the table next to us who says ‘what a cool fire engine!’ to my son. Thanks for acknowledging his existence! You made him super happy because he fucking loves his fire engine. Thanks to the couple who mouth “it’s OK” and smile when I apologise for my little one crying. I don’t know why he’s crying and he’ll stop soon. So thanks for not making me feel awful about it when I’m trying everything I can to calm him down. Thanks to the clearly hungover group of students who smile and high five my son when he runs over to them to introduce himself. I’m sorry – he’s extroverted and you’re a big group of loud people and he loves big groups of loud people. Thanks to everyone who doesn’t scowl at us when we walk in and loudly claim “here we go. Why are there so many kids around here?” or laugh and say “ughhh breeders” as if I can’t hear them. While you click your fingers at waiters and then make them wait while you take photos of your eggs and tweet “I so hate kids #eggs” and leave all your messy dishes on the table in a pile and put cigarette butts out on your toast and sit for hours at your table instead of letting someone else use it and leave your newspapers in a pile on your food – I’ll smile at the waiter for you and we will comment about how you’re a bunch of turds.

Thanks for not being a jerk on flights. How much do flights suck? Isn’t it weird how parents also need to fly with their children? It’s like so arrogant for parents to want to fly with their kids. It’s almost like they want to see family or have a holiday like normal people do. Thanks for not audibly groaning when I sit next to you with my two kids. Thanks for playing peekaboo with my toddler through the seats while I breastfeed. I have been dreading this flight and your kindness makes me want to cry. Thanks for showing my son photos of your cat on your phone. He loves cats! You’re a fucking awesome person! Thanks so much for helping me with my bag. My back hurts so much and I am trying not to hold anyone up because I don’t want to be the reason why someone goes on Facebook and says kids are awful on flights. Thank you for not sighing and loudly complaining about my crying baby. I’m really overwhelmed right now. I wish I hadn’t booked a night flight but it was the cheapest option and I thought he’d sleep. I’m scared he’s in pain. I can see you rolling your eyes and grabbing your phone ready to tell everyone how useless I am – how useless all mothers who dare to travel with kids are. I’ve had a huge week and I just want to get to my dad’s place and have a bit of a break because I’m so exhausted. I’m sorry we’re both existing on the same flight as you. I am sure you’re tired too but being nasty probably won’t miraculously cure that? Thank you to the person in the aisle next to us for saying “It’s OK – my baby always cried on planes” or for gently patting my shoulder through the seat gap and saying “Not long to go”. You’re awesome. Your small kindness makes a massive difference.

Thanks for letting me be with my children in a public place. Thanks for not being an asshole about my buggy. I know it’s massive. I hate it. It’s like a monster truck – but this is the model that was given to us and it works because I have to walk everywhere so I need something sturdy. I know I am taking up space. I know I just knocked something over but I’ve picked it up and I need to get this medication and I can’t leave the buggy outside the chemist because it might get stolen. I am sorry for taking a buggy on a bus – but I can’t fold it down when I am carrying a weeks old baby. Thank you for helping me on and off. I get so embarrassed trying to do it on my own when I’m not really strong enough. Thanks for making room for me. Thanks for smiling instead of growling at me. I can’t afford two cars and my son loves his buggy. If you look into it he’s waving at you!

Thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt that I’m not intentionally trying to piss you off by being near you with a child. Thanks for treating my son like a human being. He’s a great little person. All kids are. They have ups and downs just like anybody else. They feel overwhelmed easily and sometimes it’s hard to make them do what you want them to do because they’re people! Thanks for not getting angry when a child cries. I cried in a pie shop the other day and I’m an adult. If I’m allowed to without being scowled at by other adults surely a child is allowed to?

It’s a pretty radical act to just not join in when people start bitching about kids. To call them on it and say – hey, why don’t you help a mama out instead of bagging her? Why not smile at a kid – that might stop them crying! It’s easy to say “yeah, kids are the WORST” because like all human beings kids can be annoying. Believe me, parents know this better than anyone. But do the test – would you feel comfortable saying you hate women? Because you went to a shop and a woman was crying and it irritated you? Nah. Probs not aye?

Anyway, in short – thank you. Thanks for recognising a child’s right to be in a public place. Thanks for recognising that parents aren’t evil breeders out to destroy your #eggs and #longblack.

I cried in a pie shop

Today was not a good day.

The day started at 2.30am. It’s never a good idea to start your day at 2.30am.

The littliest one screamed in my ear. I was in a deep sleep. I was dreaming about Idris Elba. I did not want the things that were happening in that dream to end.

I put the baby on my boob and succumbed to the pain. It’s always painful on that side. Sometimes I think my right breast is possessed. That’s probably a sign that I’m not getting enough sleep.

Mercifully it is a quick feed. I can’t be bothered putting the baby back in his cot. He somehow wasn’t even in his cot anyway so I figure it’s ok for him to keep snuggling into me. I haven’t seen my husband in many, many years. I assume he is in the spare room bed with our toddler.

I groggily stumble into the toilet and see a snake. It is huge. I lunge for the towel rail because I need to stop myself falling backward. I break the towel rail.

The snake is a towel. We do not have snakes in New Zealand.

The baby wakes up.

I resettle the baby. My heart is racing. I’ll check Facebook to calm myself. The first photo in my feed is a fucking snake eating a fucking croc.

My breast hurts so much I can’t sleep anyway. So I just lay there imagining snakes. I try to turn them into fun snakes wearing top hats and getting upset because they don’t have arms and their top hats keep falling down. It doesn’t work.

Panadol doesn’t take my boob pain away.

It’s now 5am. I write a blog post about how much I hate breast feeding.

The baby wakes up. I feed the baby. It’s now 6am. I close my eyes.

At 7am my oldest comes in crying. He won’t tell me what’s wrong. My husband is looking for his work pants. He turns the shower on. I turn on Playschool. The baby cries again. It must be a growth spurt.

We are all late. Husband says he has to go. He’s sorry but he needs to get to this job. He cannot take our first born to crèche because our first born isn’t dressed because he’s watching Playschool. I force myself into the shower. The oldest jabs my stomach. “BABY INERE MAMA BABY INERE PUKU”. I scowl at him. He laughs. “Whasdat mama?” he says pointing to my stretch marks. The baby begins to cry.

I put on a bra and immediately leak through it. I get another bra. I hear the bus. I am not on the bus. I am looking for underwear.

The oldest boy has smeared my moisturiser all over the mirror in his room. I ignore it. I make a coffee and hear the bus. I am not on it.

My oldest son begins his crèche half day at 8.30am. It’s 9.30am. I cannot find the baby carrier.

I cannot find my oldest son. I look out the window and see our gate is closed so I just sit down and feed the baby. I read the blog post I wrote about breast feeding. It’s shit. I look for my oldest. He is filling a bucket with dirt and he has a hose in the bucket. He is filthy. I change him. The baby cries. I change my wet bra. We finally leave.

It’s 10.30am. I walk out just in time to see the bus leave without me on it. I begin to walk to crèche. It is so windy that I can barely hear my oldest screaming at me to STOP THE WIND MAMA. It’s quite pleasant.

The baby cries. Could it be teeth?

I see another bus. I tear across the road waving one hand while trying to steer the buggy with the other. The baby is laughing as he is bounced around in the carrier. My oldest yells “FASTER MAMA! FASTER!” from the buggy. The bus driver smiles at me and gets out of the bus to help me. “Lovely kids you’ve got there,” he says. Eddie says “HI I’M EDDIE!”

I struggle to get the buggy breaks on. A young girl offers me her seat. I wave her away. She coos at my baby. “What a cutie you are!” she says to him. He beams. Eddie says “HI I’M EDDIE!”

The bus driver gets up to help me off the bus. Before he can an elderly woman leaps up and helps me with the nappy bag which has fallen out of the buggy and spilled shit everywhere.

The bus driver, the nanna, and the young girl wave and smile at me from the window as the bus leaves.

Baby actually spills shit all over me. I walk into the crèche and Eddie leaps out of the buggy. “HI! I’M EDDIE” he yells. His kaiako cheerily greet me. They help me with my bags. They pull up a chair for my boy. They pass me a glass of water. They pull out his lunchbox. I realise it’s almost lunchtime. I say I need to go and they say “no worries! It’s all good.” I rush out to the sounds of my son crying. I bite back tears as my other son begins to cry. I watch the bus go past without me on it.

His kaiako rings me on my cell phone “I just thought you should know he stopped crying straight away. He’s playing in the sandpit. Everything is OK”.

I walk home. It takes an hour and 15 minutes. I am sweaty and covered in baby poo. I get home and put the baby in the sink. I put the carrier in the washing machine. After feeding the baby I realise I need to leave again to pick up the toddler. My husband comes home. He says he needed to get one of his tools. He drives me to crèche.

I stand at the door at crèche watching my son who hasn’t seen me yet. He is pretending to be a shark. He is screaming with laughter with the other children and their kaiako. He is covered in sand. He tells me he had SO MUCH FUN. I begin packing up his gear. The other mums smile kindly at me. “Full on day aye?”

I grimace awkwardly at them.

The baby cries. I have squeezed him into a sling and he hates it. My sister rings and I accidentally hang up on her. My oldest screams at me to stop the wind. I miss the bus. My sister calls again. I complain at her. I don’t even ask how she is. She asks for the boys sizes so she can buy some clothes for them.

I remember I have a guest coming at 4pm. It’s 3pm. The next bus is in half an hour. I go to the pie shop. I order a coffee. The lady offers to toast me a sandwich and gives me a warm smile. “It’s OK,” she says.

I think I didn’t thank my sister on the phone. Did I thank the bus driver? That girl? The nana? My husband? The kaiako? The other mums? Every person who spoke to me today has treated me kindly.

My baby snores softly on my chest.  My toddler sleeps in his buggy – exhausted from his exciting day. My husband calls.

“See you soon hon. What a shitter of a day aye?”

I nod. Hang up. And start to cry

I cried in a pie shop. Because I’m thankful to everyone who is nice to mums who always miss buses.

Thomas the colonialist tank engine and Sodor the capitalist nightmare

I hate Thomas the Tank Engine. I hate it. I think Thomas is a naïve arrogant asshole who sacrifices other trains to further his career and suck up to the Fat Controller. Sodor is quite frankly a capitalist nightmare. Trains are sent to the scrapyard if they’re not Useful. And we all know what that means – it means they’re executed. They execute workers who don’t work hard enough! Anyone who isn’t Very Useful is goneburger. There are no unions in Sodor that’s for sure. And that’s not even the most fucked thing about Sodor either. Don’t get me started on how lacking the representation of women is on the show. The women trains are actually girl carriages. You don’t need to have a masters in gender studies to read between the lines on that one. Either they have no personality (Daisy) or they spend all their time giggling and chasing after Thomas and the other dudebro engines nagging them (Annie and Clarabelle). I feel like there’s a weird subtext about lady trains and that time of the month as well but I’m very tired and certainly not very useful right now.

What about Hiro? Poor Hiro was taken as a slave. He dreams of his homeland. But when he’s too old to work anymore, after a lifetime of service, do you think his “owners” will let him go home? Hell no! Coz this is Sodor and life on Sodor is an endless grind of working until you die. You’re Helpful or you create Confusion and Delay and you’re dead. Hiro ends up wasting away in the damn forest! But this is a better fate than being slaughtered by Topham Industries AKA The Government. Thomas finds him and of course Thomas dobs him in to “help” him get back to his home. Thomas signed Hiro’s death warrant and he didn’t even realise because he can’t see beyond his white privilege. He doesn’t know that one day he won’t be useful anymore. And ain’t nobody going to save him then.

I especially hate Thomas the Tank Engine because my son loves it because somebody bought him one train and that was it. It’s like an addiction. It’s toddler crack. And he can’t say “Thomas the Tank Engine” he says “Thomas the Asian” and when we are out IN PUBLIC he yells at me to get him an Asian. Or he yells “WE-AHS MY ASIAN MUMA” and I have to really loudly yell “I don’t know where your ENGINE is. Maybe your ENGINE is in the car. No I won’t buy you another ENGINE”. And someone one day will buy your child a Thomas train and that train won’t fit on the tracks you have. And the tracks you have won’t go with the other tracks someone will buy you. And you will have eight different tracks that don’t go together and you will need a second mortgage to actually build just one figure eight track and have the trains to go with it.

AND I THINK I’M JUST GONNA DOUBLE DOWN ON THIS RANT:

I hate Jeff from the Wiggles. Fuck you Jeff. Why are you always sleeping. You don’t do anything. Do you know how much I want to sleep Jeff? But if I just go to sleep instead of looking after my kid I’ll be reported to the authorities. Do your job Jeff.

I hate Elmo. My husband keeps telling me that Elmo is three and a half and I have unrealistic expectations about his behaviour. But fuck that. Elmo is an entitled little prick. And Abby – I hate Abby. Why do the adults on Sesame Street never stop Abby from doing her “magic” when they know she will fuck it up? Why is there so little adult supervision on that street? They all pop in for a song but then they just piss off after rattling off a few numbers or some dictionary definition. Maybe hang around and actually stop Abby. She’s out of control. And stop whining Big Bird. How old are you anyway?

What is up with Mr Noodle. Just no. Why does an adult man need to be taught how to throw a ball. And why does he live in the closet of a three-and-a-half year-old’s house?!?!

AND IT’S NOT JUST TV! BOOKS *flails* BOOKS:

Maisy, you are illogical. Why would a mouse be friends with a chicken? Why is everyone always shaming Eddie for not fitting into places. He’s a fucking elephant. What did you expect?

Rock on Scuffy the Tug Boat. Don’t let the man bring you down. They might be telling you not to chase waterfalls and to please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to but that’s because they’re classist. You have just as much right to hang out with the barges as any other boat. Keep on keeping on Scuffy.

And the worst: Love You Forever. Damn woman! Leave your kid alone. Let him sleep! When he turned nine you should have been assessing your health. It’s just not good news when you’re that fixated on your child not growing up. Getting on a bus at night and breaking into his house so you can sniff him when he’s a grown ass man? That’s NOT RIGHT. And if you had to call him to tell him you’re sick, you clearly don’t have a great relationship – and that’s probably because YOU ARE BREAKING INTO HIS HOUSE AT NIGHT AND TOUCHING HIM WHILE HE SLEEPS! And dude, I know your childhood was hardcore what with your mum creeping on you every night and not respecting your boundaries, but you need to break the cycle!

So I guess it’s just Jay’s Jungle, Play School, and Margaret Mahy books in this house.

Jay, you’re great. You just keep being a lovely, singing, handsome man. While I think it’s mildly narcissistic that the island you live on is shaped like a J, and it’s weird that your “friend” is a talking lighthouse I’m willing to let that slide because of your soft, sensuous singing voice. You keep being you Jay.

Justine and Jay - I ship them.

Justine and Jay – I ship them.

This post is dedicated to my sister who is the best person to rant to about Thomas. I love you Jo.

If this makes you angry and you want to comment all angry-like: Relax, it’s a joke, it’s meant to be a laugh…

Sleep

If our household had a motto it would be: qui super omnia amatur somnus.

Above all else, sleep.

Our coat of arms would be two pillows crossed over an unmade bed.

We are a home of two adults who have a deep and abiding passion and love for sleep, a toddler who seems to hate sleeping at night with the fire of a thousand suns, and a newborn who is learning to sleep.

In the night-time wars what side will our newest human choose? Will he choose the light and literally wake at 5am every morning to meet the sun just like our oldest did for an entire year? Will he choose his own bed? Will he choose sleep? Unaccompanied? At night?

Our toddler is convinced that at night mummy and daddy get out his trains and have raging “Thomasdatankasian” parties. He thinks we get out the playdough and make really cool shit FOR HOURS. He thinks we play Zoom Zoom Zoom We’re Going To The Moon on repeat while taking turns lifting each other up and spinning around at the lift off part. If he sleeps, his patron saint Jay Laga’aia might turn up to personally sing him RockABye Your Bear and upon seeing him asleep promptly leave and never make another episode of Jay’s Jungle or Playschool again. So he must not sleep. Ever. And if he does, it must be with us. So that he knows we are not playing matchbox cars without him.

He has an excellent sense of humour. When he stays at Nanna’s house (we love nanna more than any one person could love any one thing) he puts himself to sleep at around seven or eight and sleeps in his own fucking bed for 13 fucking hours. We try to replicate the exact conditions but it does not fucking work. Short of moving in with her (which surprisingly she’s not keen on) we can’t get the same result.

She shows great sympathy for our predicament. She also never gives unsolicited advice. A kindness I will be thankful for for all of my sleepless eternity. After two years we don’t need anymore advice. But we still get it. Oh do we Get It.

I find the best way to cope with unsolicited, unwanted advice is to imagine stabbing the person giving it repeatedly in the face thousands of times. It makes you smile, which releases endorphins, which stops you actually stabbing the person.

When they smugly mutter “consistency is key” with their stupid smug mouth I imagine them being eaten by a shark.

“Show him who is boss”
“Tough love is key”
“Co-sleeping is the only way”
“If you do that he will never leave your bed”
“Use a night light”
“Put amber beads in a blender and give it to him each night with a chaser of nightwishshade oil”
“Draw a pentagram on the floor of your lounge, light eight candles, and sacrifice a virgin on a full moon”

Look, I promise you I’ve tried every type of ritualistic animal slaughter and worship of a deity there is – consistently. There’s only so many virgin blood cocktails I can drink.

So here’s what we do, consistently, we do the only thing that feels right for this hopefully short-lived period of our lives – we choose sleep over all else.

Each night we kiss each other in the hallway and that kiss says the following:

I hope you get sleep but mostly I hope I get sleep. And whoever gets the most sleep will carry us through the next day and remind us that we are a family that loves each other very much.

Then we go off to the trenches with a stoic nod of the head. He, a broken man, climbs awkwardly into the bunk bed. I get the easier (some nights) option and climb into our bed and snuggle with our newborn (he’s five weeks but I feel like he was born yesterday because there’s been so little sleep in those five weeks).

This is the path of less resistance. He isn’t woken by the newborn. This is pacifism in action. If he wakes he is comforted and settled by daddy. If that means not sleeping in his own bed – so be it. Sleep – wherever it happens – is all that matters. It won’t be forever but it feels a bit like forever.

We meet in the morning bleary eyed. He makes me a coffee. I squeeze his shoulder and cover the toddler’s face in smooches.

Our gorgeous, perfect, firecracker of a child, who gives us so much joy every day, who is every single kind of adorable, my gentle, hilarious, sweet and spirited boy, beams up at me:

“Is morning mama! I liddle sleeps! I seena jellyfush wif daddy. In my sleeps. We go BEESH? FOR SAN CARSULL? ON DA BEESH MAMA? FOR SAN CARSULL? Seen a SHAAARK MAMA HAHAHAHAHAHA BEESH NAO MAMA? DADDY BEESH? THES A BEER UN DEEEEEEA UNDA CHEEER US WULL DERA PEEPUL WEF GHEMS UNDA STORY TO TULL OPUN WHYYYYY CUMON SIIIIII IS PLAYSCHOOOO. BEESH mama? FOR JELLY FUSH? KINA KINA KINA KAI UN DA BASKUT….”

I catch my husband’s eye and we try not to laugh. I start to make another coffee. One for the road.

We’re going to the beach.

I am grateful, now fuck off.

It was some time between midnight and 3am. I was dead asleep. I’d fed the littliest at midnight so it was after that, and it was before he woke up for a feed at 3am. This hardly matters, because that time of night is Hell unless you’re pashing, happy drunk, smoking in a bar, dancing, or on drugs – y’know, generally having a fulfilling life that doesn’t involve milk dripping out of your breasts or playing the fart or shit game.

So, I’m asleep and I feel this tiny hand on my face and then there’s a kiss on my forehead. And for a second I’m confused like – did the tiny one do that? He’s only four-weeks-old? Is he a mutant? That would be amazing.

And then I realise it’s my big baby and I pull him into my arms while still asleep and think “oh he’s delicious”. But then he elbows me in the tit and says “JAY JUNGLE MAMA” and I’m like “ughhh fuck you’re not delicious at all. What is that smell?” And I tell him to be quiet and I cuddle him and he says “NO JAY JUNGLE” and he climbs onto my chest and it hurts so bad because my boobs are about to explode. And then I cuddle/smother him and spend the next 40 minutes or so (who knows how long it was – it felt like days) getting him to sleep. And then I got him to sleep and I got up and I went to the bathroom and I came back to this:

Bed

And I was like “FUCK THIS SHIT IT’S MY BED. WHY ARE YOU EVEN UPSIDE DOWN? WHY CAN’T I HAVE ONE SPACE THAT IS MY OWN? WHY ARE YOU ALMOST THREE AND YOU SLEEP WORSE THAN A NEWBORN? WHY IS THERE NEVER ANY ROOM FOR ME??”.

And even though this was an internal scream the little one woke up angrily demanding a feed. While feeding on the floor I took a photo and I put it on Facebook and Twitter. And on Twitter I said ‘sigh’ because the parents on Twitter get it. And on Facebook I did a slightly longer comment because I was trying to be a bit light hearted because…well, we will get there…

So, I said “How come it’s my bed and there’s never room for me in it?” Which you’ll note is not “FUCK THIS SHIT…” It was meant to be funny, a way for me to be like “see?” without being like “OMG KILL ME SEE?” And then I got this message, which I fucking always do, from a friend’s mum. It said: “Be grateful for your boys. They will be adults before you know it and they won’t want to sleep with you. You should enjoy this time”. And I was like OK, I hope I’m never so unstable that when my sons are in their 20s I want them sleeping with me. But aside from that – CAN YOU NOT?

I know the first thing I’m going to be told is “people are just trying to be nice! They’re trying to comfort you”. Yeah, yeah, it’s hard to be charitable when you’ve had two hours sleep. Here’s the deal – trying to be helpful or not – it isn’t. It isn’t helpful. It’s condescending, patronising, and it’s actually (without being melodramatic but maybe a bit melodramatic) it’s dangerous.

Constantly telling parents – Be grateful! Be grateful! One day they won’t be shitting on you! And you’ll be like “omg, I long for the days when I was covered in sour milk and diarrhoea!” So – be grateful! You might be so exhausted that you’re crying on the toilet but these are the best days of your life SO BE GRATEFUL – leads to those parents shutting down and never sharing how they truly feel. It leads to parents not having support networks. It leads to parents walking into parenthood without any idea of how hard some moments, some days, can be. It leads to such unfair expectations on parents – enjoy every minute or you’re a fucking monster. It leads to feeling like you’re doing it all wrong.

I am so grateful for my kids. I can’t even put into words how grateful I am. So I don’t need you to tell me to be grateful. I am. Guess what – I can be so grateful and so tired. I can be so grateful and so fucking over it. I can be so grateful and also imagine not having kids and just pashing and dancing and drinking bourbons till I puke.

These comments always come from people with grown kids. And I get it. Maybe? I mean when the boys are in their 20s I might be wishing they still lived with me and needed me 24-7. I mean, I kind of hope in my late 50s I’m acting like I was in my early 20s – boning their dad, drinking bourbons, going to gigs, spending all my money on band tee shirts and fast food. But I digress – I get it kind of. Your kids are grown, you miss them, you see parents at the beginning of their parenting journey and it makes you nostalgic. I get that there’s no malicious intent.

But just again – can you not. Because when I make a heavily sanitised comment about not sleeping and you make a comment about being grateful, it implies I’m not grateful. And in my sleep deprived state it makes me feel like an asshole.

And this might seem like an overreaction to a comment, but I (and other parents) get it All. The. Time. The other week I said: “Just as one little bogan falls asleep, another little bogan wakes up. They’re like a tag team” and I got one comment and three messages with the “one day you’ll miss it/be grateful” message. I get it about once a week. And the more I get it the more I feel like I can’t talk about the hard parts of parenting, or the things I’m struggling with. Because I don’t want to appear ungrateful for my awesome kids, even the one that hates sleeping. And you see how that’s a problem right? So, here are some things you can say instead of be grateful:

  • I don’t remember how hard it was never sleeping because I’m retired and I sleep until 10 now and I spend all day playing Candy Crush. SO I’m just going to shut the fuck up. (Might be too specific).
  • That sounds tough, want me to drop you over something with chocolate in it?
  • You don’t look tired at all. You look like a glam actress who only eats paleo stuff and drinks grass smoothies.
  • I heard kids who don’t sleep are smarter than kids who do.
  • Parenting is really hard sometimes. It’s ok to find it hard sometimes.

xB

Update: wow! I’m really overwhelmed by the response to this post. Thank you so much for all of your comments. I wish I could reply to every one – but I’m typing one handed because cluster bloody fucking feeding. But thank you – I feel less alone and I hope you do too. Also, I love the idea of #iamgrateful!

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