I hate long goodbyes. When I say long I don’t mean goodbyes that drag out but saying goodbye to loved ones you won’t see for a long time and that live far away. Those goodbyes. I’m no good at them. I just can’t get them right. They leave me full of wants, needs and regrets. And usually in tears. Some are definitely worse than others.
So this morning I had to say goodbye to my mum. Again. The mum goodbyes are the worst. She lives in Norway and I live in Australia. It’s not as easy as a Sunday drive to say hello. I always need that last hug or that last kiss we never share. Then there’s that last wave that usually doesn’t happen because goodbyes are killers and none of us want to let the other one have to see the pain so one of us turns away at that critical moment as the car drives out of sight.
It’s marginally easier being the one who leaves. For me at least. If I’m the one leaving I’ll quickly become (or make myself) busy with what needs to happen next. Airports, check ins, kids, all that stuff. But if I’m the one staying… whoa. And this morning was such a time. My husband and son took my mum and my niece to the airport. The baby and I had to stay because there was simply no room in the car. As soon as the car drove off I just kind of tipped.
Our house feels strangely foreign and empty when someone I love leaves it. I walk around aimlessly looking at the places they occupied searching for pieces of them left behind. As if it will miraculously make them reappear. With my mum her smell usually lingers for a while but never long enough. It’s this lotion she uses. It just smells like her, safe and cozy. I make strong connections between people and their smells. Today I have a baby that smells like my mum from those last hugs. She probably won’t get a bath today so I can hold on to that smell for just a little longer.
Goodbyes are awful. Suddenly I’m a child with children of her own desperate for my mother’s embrace. I feel lost and for a couple of days I find myself having to revisit all the choices that created the physical distance between us. But the answer is always the same. I can’t go back. I can’t sacrifice myself to be closer to my loved ones. I have to remember who I was before I left and who I am now, and the battles fought to get to this point. Going back is something I may not survive. It sounds melodramatic, I know, but severe depression is no joke. I came closer than most people know to not surviving the time I lived there and I just can’t put myself in that darkness again. My brain just can’t handle the extremes and I just can’t give up finally being on the way to doing what I want with my life. My children deserve a healthy, happy mum even if it means we have to make big sacrifices. And my mum knows that. I know that. But it’s still heartbreaking. And it still hurts like hell every now and then.
After ten years it would only be natural to assume goodbyes would get easier. They don’t. If anything they’re harder. And I know they will only keep getting harder and in some years they will reach a peak of almost unbearable as my mother at some point will become an old lady unable to travel across the world as much as she does now. (It’s still a long time away, mamma!) Our distance means there are many realities I just can’t think about. The what if’s and the when’s have to be kept far away. It means we have to carry a lot of hurt and longing in our hearts but the distance also shows how strong our love is.
Today was a little harder than it has been. Partly because it’s the first time she’s left me as a new mother of two, partly because this time there was no time for just us and because I’ve been ignoring the fact that the past two years have been an uphill battle and I’m completely depleted. I failed to really acknowledge the ledge I am hanging on to until my safest haven left. Because that’s what most mums are, the safest place there is, a haven between two arms to seek shelter from raging storms. So today the sound of every airplane above has left me in tears. Today has been a battle of its own. Today was full of regrets. Things I wish I’d said, things I wish I’d done (more of).
I love you until eternity, mamma. And I miss you every day.
I’m sorry it has to be this way.
Thank you for coming to see us. Thank you for helping out and for everything you do for us.
Thank you for letting me go, for never holding me back and for always being there when I need you the most.
(Sorry for posting your photo without permission. You’re beautiful.)
All my love, always. xx
There is a strange shift in respect and boundaries as soon as a woman becomes pregnant or at least as soon as she looks pregnant. I would go as far as saying there’s an outright disrespect of the pregnant woman and her body happening and it seems to just be the norm. Personal space vanishes and you become fair game because there’s another human growing inside you. Comments, groping, nothing is sacred. Sound like it doesn’t make sense? It doesn’t.
“Oh my, you’re huge!” “You’re so big!” “You look about ready to pop! Any day now?” “Twins?” “Must be a big baby!”
Everyone’s a bloody expert on your size and the general consensus is that you’re either way too big or way too small for wherever you are in the land of gestation. You’re rarely ‘just right’. And women seem to be the ones leading this field of so-called “expertise”, probably because they’ve either been pregnant themselves or simply because they’re women. If it sounds like I’m irritated it’s because I am. In fact, I’m pissed off.
During my first pregnancy I had just gotten to a place with my body image where I was comfortable in my own skin. Years of being told that I was too skinny, had too small boobs, had this or that wrong with me was finally starting to wear off largely because I was with a man who never, not once, made me feel as if I looked anything other than just right, he even made me feel beautiful and comfortable naked. That is no small feat after years of being told the opposite.
When we excitedly expected our first baby and morning sickness came to visit I was worried about my weight, but we didn’t own scales so it wasn’t until 12 weeks that I was weighed and found out I was 47 kgs. I freaked out. No one told me there was a problem, but in my head all those “too skinny”, “anorexic” ghosts came back in a big way. So I started eating. A lot. It didn’t help that the first 20 weeks were filled with fortnightly check ups to make sure my cervix was holding (it was very short) and I felt alone, shit scared and depressed. I was studying and so my days were largely spent at home, shuffling between the kitchen and the computer. We still didn’t own scales so there was no way for me to track my weight except through my Wii fit who promptly told me I was becoming overweight because there is no pregnancy setting on the damn thing. Needless to say I stopped using that. Being of a very tiny frame in the first place I quickly gained a bump which I adored more than anything. Except when people groped it uninvited. Around 6 months I started hearing how big I was, that it had to be twins and all that. By that stage I looked like this:
This is me at 24+3 with Anakin. Too big? I wouldn’t say so. I kept eating. I grew out of my size 8 pants, but then again they were size 8, right? But I kept eating. Before that I also heard a lot of “you’ll be back to your normal size by the time you leave the hospital” “You’re so skinny in the first place it will all just vanish once the baby’s born” from people who knew me. No pressure at all to lose all the pregnancy weight as soon as the placenta was born… But then it got to a point where the comments went in another direction. And they were far from subtle or nice.
Yes, i did gain a massive amount of weight and in the process I started getting new issues about it all. No one wants to hear how huge they are. Would you go up to a plus size person and say “oh my, you’re so fat?” Why is it so different because you’re pregnant? And it was more or less constant, from strangers, from family… I mostly played along and even said it myself, but it was doing a number on me big time.
Once Anakin was born it took me ages to look anything like my regular self. The tummy didn’t go down fast and despite losing weight at what was probably a normal pace I had a long way to go. When Anakin was around 16 weeks I was just over 63 kgs, but still not looking anything like my old self. I had lost a huge amount, but my brain was so messed up from hearing how big I had been that all I saw was those extra kilos and my new mummy pouch.
Fast forward to this pregnancy. I had just started to come to terms with my new body shape and my slightly bigger size when we got pregnant again. I was 60 kgs and thought I looked ok, even normal. Long gone was the size 8 wardrobe, but I was ok with that. The bump got pretty bumpy pretty fast. Subsequent pregnancies will do that as your muscles aren’t what they used to be. My ghosts came back along with all the other drama that went down in those first weeks. Morning sickness was back with a vengeance, worse than the first time around. And as we got further along I heard myself saying things about my body that wasn’t nice at all and growing concerned about gaining weight again. And the closer we got to 20 weeks the more I started hearing how big I was.
Last weekend I got it all in one go. 25 weeks pregnant and “any day now?” “Twins?’ “Must be a big baby!” I’ve gained 7kgs so far and this was me last friday, at 25 weeks, no Photoshop, just me.
I met the lady who runs my prenatal gym classes after that assault of unwanted opinions, a slender, super fit mid twenties lady 30 weeks pregnant and who looks amazing. She’d just been told the same thing. There is nothing remotely huge about her. Nor is there about me. We’re just right. Different pregnancies, different bodies, different babies, different everything. No woman is the same, no pregnant body is the same. And I am so tired of fighting this war with my brain about gaining weight again because I am constantly told how big I am that I can’t help but repeat it myself. We’re supposed to get bigger, we’re growing humans! Our bodies are supposed to change! There is nothing wrong with a bigger bump!
Let us feel beautiful because frankly when I look at the above image I don’t see huge or big, I see beautiful. I see life, I see happiness. But I need images like these to feel that way because as soon as I have to get dressed in the morning I find myself concerned about wearing maternity dresses because they make me look bigger and it is fucked up! I dress in things that hug the bump rather than fall off it because I just don’t know how I’ll react to the next “big” comment I hear. It’s tiresome. And it’s maintaining this messed up body image that’s etched in my brain.
I take these photos so my daughter can see what I looked like carrying her. So that she can see what we looked like when we were two bodies in one, and I take them to give evidence to myself that I am just right. And to remind myself that my pregnancies are beautiful, that they look beautiful. A body in blossom, not a body gaining weight.
Luckily I still have that man who without fail makes me feel just right. I just wish the rest of the world would stop playing the experts and instead of calling a pregnant woman big, call her beautiful.
(Image taken from Hip to be Round – A Maternity Boutique)
Alternatively just shut the hell up.
I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. It’s been a tough one to write, but a necessary one. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to share it or if I just needed to write it, but here it is.
Days… weeks… months. Pregnancy is all about time passing. How many days, then weeks and months. It follows you throughout the entire process from last menstrual period (LMP) through conception to estimated due date and delivery. Every check up or scan (if not done by the same person) starts with questions concerning time passed and number of pregnancies. At least in the beginning. Then follows the occasional awkward assumptions made by well wishers once you announce, if you announce.
This pregnancy those questions and comments carry a shadow with them. The dark side of pregnancy, the largely unspoken. Miscarriage.
It’s not something we talk about much, is it? I’ve been wondering why. Why is it so common to suffer in silence? At first I thought maybe it was because the people it involved would hurt too much by having it dragged out again and again, but now I’ve come to think it’s more about everyone else. It’s awkward, it’s painful and faced with someone carrying that hurt most people don’t know what to say or do and would rather be spared. But I have no intention of sparing anyone. Why should I? I need to acknowledge our loss because it’s not going to be undone, it happened and it will stay with me. And it happens to so many people that I think it’s important we start talking about it more. It shouldn’t feel as if it’s something you need to hide or keep to yourself. It hurts and keeping it a secret won’t make it hurt any less. I know people who have miscarried and I’m sure out of all the people I know there are many more. But it wasn’t until it happened to me I understood the full impact of it. Every time I’ve found out I was pregnant I’ve been ecstatic. It’s always taken me a few days to start believing it’s true, I’ve always done at least 4 pregnancy tests, but it’s always made me happy. And it’s never been something I’ve felt that I needed to keep between myself and my partner for 12 weeks. It’s funny how it’s almost expected to be kept a secret for the first 3 months. When I told my big brother at 9 weeks this pregnancy he commented on how early it was, as if I wasn’t meant to say anything for another few weeks. But those 3 weeks wouldn’t have made me any less pregnant at the time I told him. And it’s not like whatever happens before 12 weeks doesn’t count. I’m not sure I understand this expected 12 week silence.
Without double checking a billion different stats to compare and contrast (but getting my numbers from here) as many as 70-75% of conceptions end in miscarriage, about 30% of pregnancies, and 15-20% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage whereof 80% of those occur in the first trimester. (To make sense of these numbers have a look here.) That’s a lot.
I found out I was pregnant when I was one day overdue. I doubt I’d miss a pregnancy once my period is due because once I’m back in my cycle it’s pretty regular and it’s not like we weren’t hoping for a baby soon anyway. We’d taken some precautions for a while because neither of us wanted to have a newborn when we got married and life would be hectic enough with overseas visitors, but our maths were a bit off when we thought “oh heck, if it happens now it’ll just miss all that.” And Bam! it did right away and Shit! it didn’t miss all that. Perhaps part of me already knew something wasn’t quite right. I remember telling my partner the day before we found out that I was pretty sure it wasn’t happening this time because I was having a lot of cramps. But lo and behold, no period came and the tests started coming back positive over a few days. We were thrilled, but I was also stressed by our horrible timing. The baby’s due date was about 1,5 weeks after the wedding meaning it could come at any time and there would be heaps of people here. I have very strong feelings about not wanting any overseas visitors here at all this time around. I want us to have what we didn’t have the first time and that is time for ourselves to adjust and enjoy the newbie for a few months without pressure and people in our space. But nevertheless, I was happy. We saw a doctor and got the whole pregnancy circus going. You gotta roll with the punches right? Sometimes great things happen that don’t necessarily fit your perfect schedule. And we really wanted this baby. So stress slowly gave way for joy and excitement.
A sunny Friday rolled around. I’d been feeling a bit off and complaining about pains for a while, but the doctor said it was normal and to just take Panadol. I saw some friends and shared the news. To my big surprise they were expecting too and the afternoon turned into a celebration. I couldn’t have been happier. We’d been talking about how much fun it would be to be pregnant at the same time and now it was happening. The night came and our son had just fallen asleep. I remember standing at the top of the stairs in the living room talking to my partner when I felt a “pop”. And that was the start of the worst weekend I can remember having in a very, very long time.
Part of me knew what it was and I went to the bathroom immediately to discover that I was bleeding. My heart sank. I told my partner who tried to work out what to do. Knowing that nothing could be done if it was a miscarriage and that it very well could just be a small bleeding that would stop, we nervously decided to wait to the next day before doing anything. Dragging Anakin out of bed to go to the hospital wasn’t something I wanted to do unless I had to. And part of me was in denial. I can’t remember much of the evening. I kept going to the bathroom and I didn’t sleep much that night.
When I got up early next morning there was enough blood to warrant a trip to the hospital. Sitting in the emergency ward I felt like a zombie. We were called in for a blood test and an examination. As I laid there after what was a rather long and invasive examination looking at my bloodstained knees while a midwife and a doctor stood over me talking I just felt cold. I kept a straight face, a very matter of factly tone and desperately wanted them to let me get dressed and go. I do that, I put on a seemingly cool facade, I somehow manage to temporarily hide that I am about to fall to pieces. I can fool the best of them if I want to. Comes from years of practice, I guess. We were due another blood test in 48 hours to check hormone levels. The doctor assured me that it may not be a miscarriage, but deep down I think I knew that this was not to be. We went home, we cried and I went to bed. I laid there just staring at the wall hoping that I would go numb at some point. Anakin came in and demanded mummy come play. And somehow we got through the day. It’s hard to crumble when you still have to care for a child.
The next day my partner was playing football far away and scared to be alone I decided that we should go with him. I walked in circles pushing the pram around the football field for over an hour trying to get Anakin to sleep, hoping that something was going to make me feel better, but I just wanted to lie down and cry. A close friend of mine was there playing as well and asked how I was going. I didn’t answer, but managed somehow to turn the conversation to how he was instead. Later he asked how our weekend was going. I didn’t answer, but again turned the conversation around. I wasn’t going to lie, but I also knew telling him wouldn’t do either of us any good at that point. On the way back I tried to convince myself that I was starting to feel ok about it, that I was prepared. I was wrong.
The next morning we were back at the hospital for another blood test. Later that day they called me with the results. The lady on the phone started the conversation with “The results look fine.” My heart jumped. There was hope? But the next second she confirmed the miscarriage and asked “That’s what you thought, right?” It was, but how on earth can you relay such a message like that? Everything looks fine? I was far from fine. The pregnancy was far from fine. We were not fine. And I was still bleeding. The walls came tumbling down, but we still had to take care of Anakin. In some ways I think he was the one who carried us forward.
Then came a roller coaster of a time. We were hurting, but I found myself trying to be brave and saying things I didn’t believe to protect myself. “At least it happened now and not later” and so on. We didn’t tell that many people, but out of the few we did there was a few “It’s very common” responses and even one “blessing in disguise” and a “with the timing it’s kind of like a win-win”. Nothing deprives you of your hurt more than hearing that. Yes, it is common, but that doesn’t mean that we weren’t feeling the pain of loss. One of my closest friends even ignored the whole thing once I opened up about it. That one hurt even more. With a few pregnant friends around I felt like a failure every time I spoke to them. I tried my best to stay positive, I tried desperately to protect myself and seem more composed than I was, but a part of my heart was broken. At some point I realised that I needed to own it to move on. I needed to shed some light on that darkness before it swallowed me.
Little did I know at the time that two weeks after that Friday we conceived again. Without going into any details, let me just say we didn’t try to make it happen, it was just one of those moments when all the stars align and all that. When they say you are super fertile after losing a pregnancy they are right. In our case anyway.
I didn’t believe the test when I first saw it. None of us did. But four tests over a few days later there was no denying that we were indeed pregnant again. It was confusing. It was a downright mind fuck. The doctors and midwives all ask “what number pregnancy is this?” Number three. “And how many babies do you have?” One. “When was your LMP?” It was this date, but it was a miscarriage. And so the ball started rolling without any of us being ready for the ride.
For the first 12 weeks I was terrified. An early dating scan confirmed that everything was so far so good, but I was still shaken. I went to the bathroom all the time to check for blood. I was sick, much sicker than I had been before and throwing up several times a day. Around 11 weeks that suddenly stopped. Everything just stopped and I freaked out. Blood tests showed my hormone levels dropping a bit over 24 hours and a day before I was handing in my Masters, probably during the most stressful week work wise in a long time, we were told we needed an emergency scan done. I was hanging on by a thread. I was certain that we’d lost this one too. My partner tried his best to be brave, but I could tell he thought the same thing as I did. I barely held it together as I struggled to get as much work done as possible before the scan. Once there I could hardly believe my eyes when we saw a little dancing baby on the screen. The lady told us we could do the 12 week scan right away and we somehow managed to say yes. I think I held my breath for most of it. Baby was measuring older than the first scan had shown which explained the drop in hormone levels. Everything was fine. And we were in shock. Both before and after this I was struggling with various scenarios of how to deal with comments and responses to our new pregnancy. The miscarriage wasn’t something most people knew about and it was still so raw and the two were so inextricably linked. I avoided as many social gatherings as possible where I may be confronted with any comment on my growing bump, which decided to pop out more or less right away, or I made sure to dress in layers and be quick and quiet. I was paranoid. I was so scared someone would mention how if we had fallen pregnant a bit sooner I would have been so close to my friend (with whom I first celebrated) or comment on any other thing in that regard to which I wouldn’t know what to say or how to react. And of course it did eventually happen. Someone made just that comment, but by then I was as ready as I could be for it.
It still stings. Someone unknowingly said “congratulations on your second pregnancy” a couple of weeks ago and it slapped me in the face. Whenever I go see my midwife I pass the emergency clinic and I see people with the same look on their face as I imagined we had, women discretely holding their still flat bellies waiting for answers, men staring into space while holding their hand.
It’s not unique occurrence, but it happened to us as it happens to so many people. And in some bizarre and terrible way we were lucky to have it happen in the first trimester. Every day pregnant is a day of attachment. Every day counts. And I acknowledge the more convenient timing of our new baby and how lucky we are to have fallen pregnant again so fast. Some people say it was meant to be. I don’t know about that, but I do know that owning what happened and not hiding it in a dark corner is making this pregnancy a little less scary every day. I still wait for kicks and signs of life to feel sure. Part of me still can’t quite believe that it’s true, there’s new life in my belly and it’s doing very well. I know people who have suffered a far greater loss of their pregnancies later on and of their children after they were born and I can’t imagine how heartbreaking and absolutely life altering that must be. And in comparison our loss was small, but no loss is insignificant. It changes you somehow.
But do me a favour. Next time you meet someone who’s pregnant don’t assume which number of pregnancy or baby it is, and if you meet someone who’s lost one, please don’t tell them how common it is. They know. And don’t ignore it as if it doesn’t matter. Acknowledge the loss, don’t inadvertently belittle it or deny its significance. And as someone who had just suffered the most unimaginable loss once told me, if that’s too hard or you don’t know what to do just give them a hug.
“The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.” – V. Nabokov
Oh sweet Friday… It’s getting dark and I can hear the usual winding down noises from the bathroom. My partner is patiently trying to coax a tired toddler into the tub and to bed. I’m thankful I get to just sit here and feel like a swollen lead balloon with far too little space on the inside. I know that in a while they’ll call my name and I’ll go sing some lullabies, get a few cuddles and sit outside the bedroom for 10 minutes in the dark listening to Anakin play with his diggers in bed before I can assume my horizontal on the sofa with a glass of Maggie Beer’s non alcoholic sparking wine. (The only non alcoholic wine worth drinking. It’s delicious and I dare say better than most alcoholic sparkling wines.) I’m exhausted. Baby has been surprisingly quiet so far today, perhaps it is just waiting for me to lie down. I feel heavy and stretched. But I also feel pretty darn great. Life is in a good place. We’re not where we want to be with it all, but I am happy, very happy. This year, as hard as it has been and as much as it has kicked us in the face, has also been good. I’ve let go of a lot of hurt, I’m letting go of more every day, I’m facing fears and learning to manage them. And as heavily pregnant as I feel tonight I feel lighter than ever, and stronger than I’ve ever been.
Speaking of strong… babywearing a big, heavy toddler to sleep when pregnant makes you feel pretty strong too. Desperate times and all that. I seriously could not live without the Tula. (Picture taken at 18 weeks.)
It also doesn’t hurt that spring has sprung in all it’s glory and temperatures are hitting the 20+. Life is good. I feel damn lucky.
Happy Friday from all of us!
It’s been a bit quiet around here hasn’t it? With the exception of the 52 project there hasn’t been much going on here of late. Believe me, there’s been plenty going on, just not here.
At first it was a matter of just not having time to write and process images as I was getting down to crunch time for my Masters degree. (Now how that all wrapped up is another story.) As you can imagine juggling being a stay at home mum with writing a thesis and creating a large body of work is a huge workload. On top of that I was slowly trying to get a micro business going of handmade kids clothes. (Still working on that one.) What little time there was left I needed to just catch my breath and to spend with my family.
But as the year went on and winter hit my silence was also grounded in other reasons. Every year, around the same time, I seem to retreat and have a bit of a stock take of my life and the people in it. And this year I finally decided it was time to let go, of old hurt and the people who had caused it for so long. I started a process of pulling some people closer while letting others go. I was growing tired of feeding certain relationships that only went one way.
And the blog became part of that process. Through sharing intimate looks into our lives I was enabling some people to feel connected and informed without having to give anything back. For the most part I’m ok with that, but for a time I needed it to stop. I needed to just let some bridges burn and stop fighting an uphill battle. So I started to hold back. A lot. Some weeks it was easy, others were hard.
But recently I’ve come to realise that I am losing more than I am winning. This blog isn’t mainly about sharing thoughts and images with you or with everybody else, it’s about us. Its main function has always been to document our journey as a family, for better and for worse. It’s to make sure there is a story for Anakin to discover and hopefully cherish as he grows older, it’s for me to remember the little things, the big things and to reflect and look back on. This is our story. This is our document.
Everything else, everyone else who reads it, enjoys it or cares about it is just a bonus. A good bonus, but not why it exists in the first place. And so as major events were unfolding I was losing by not documenting it. As was Anakin and my partner.
So I guess you could say this is me telling myself to get on with it, to get back to winning and not sit by watching burnt bridges turn to ash. There are many chapters I need to get to, things I need to process, things I feel a need to share and have wanted to share for a while, but I guess one thing stands out as needing to be said first. Of all the secrets we’ve kept, and we’ve kept it from most people, this is by far the biggest one.
Our little (or not so little) baby bump is 20 weeks and kicking up a storm. We are over the moon about this little person joining our family, due late January.
We weren’t planning a big announcement of any sort and it’s been nice to have such a gem of a secret, only shared with a few close friends and loved ones. And I’ve really enjoyed sharing the news with people as we see them or talk to them as opposed to shouting it from a rooftop for all the world to hear. We kept it close and personal.
But as this most likely is my last pregnancy and this blog also is this little persons’ document there are too many things to say and to photograph to keep quiet. Neither could I hide from the camera forever.
So here it is. Our little big secret, not so secret anymore. And we’re loving it!!
I’ve been having this strange feeling of things moving too fast lately. As if something is slipping away from me. I look at you and I can’t believe all the things you can do and say, the level of things you understand and how refined your interactions with the world are. And you’re only two. All the clichés are true, time goes too fast. There are so many first and lasts. And I am finding myself scared of forgetting them all, and terrified of missing any of them.
I want to remember these things.
Like how you love to nibble on parsley and rosemary, and how you pronounce rosemary (rosmarin in Norwegian) Ros-atte-min.
Like how you call a police man a police car man (politibilmann).
Like how last night was the first time you let your pappa put you to bed since you were a tiny baby. We made a deal that I would feed and cuddle you in your room and then you and pappa would read and sing in our bed. And it went as smooth as if it was something you’d always done.
Like how today after a day of highs and lows you decided to forgo your normal bath and go to bed early. And it was the first time you didn’t ask for milk, and I didn’t offer. I want to remember how sad and happy that made me at the same time. I want to remember how you asked me to put my head on your tummy and sing while you stroked my hair and how you laid next to me for close to an hour just snuggling. Your little hands touching my face, feeling my eyebrows and the contours of my lips. How you laid there looking into my eyes for ages with a slight smile. As if you knew the significance of it all and wanted to make sure I felt just as loved as before.
Like how your face absolutely lit up when I hang your paintings on our wall and how you kept looking at them, so proud and so stoked that your art means something, that it means enough to be hung on the wall next to our art.
Like how your imagination is running so free now. You make up songs and change lyrics. How you can sit completely still for 40 minutes listening to an audio book and how you start acting it out afterwards. Your vocabulary, in both languages, is far beyond your age.
I so desperately want to remember you like you are right now. I feel I have already forgotten so much of how you were when you were smaller. I want to remember it all.
You truly are a magnificent person. I can only imagine what an amazing man you’ll grow up to be. I hope that when you do you’ll remember some of these things too, and remember that you were loved so deeply, so completely and so unconditionally.
Yours always, Mamma xx
(An over-emotional open letter to my son from the other side of darkness)
My dearest Anakin,
You thankfully have no idea of the stress and inner turmoil that has raged through me during dark times in the past. Before you entered my life I would sink to the bottom of a deep, dark ocean when life pushed me too far or I worked myself too hard. I would lie there for days, sometimes for weeks, struggling to breathe, unable and perhaps sometimes unwilling to move, chained by my own depression.
And then there was you.
Ever since you were a tiny seed in my belly things have changed. Ever since I could feel your flutters, your kicks and your little hiccups I stopped feeling so alone when things became too much. Occasionally lonely, yes, but never alone. And I stopped falling, stopped sinking to the bottom. You managed to do something nothing has ever done before, you broke my chains. You’re bigger than everything that threatens to pull me down, and you make me stronger than I ever thought possible. Being your mamma keeps me centred.
It isn’t always easy trying to give my work all I’ve got as well as give you my everything. Sometimes I fail, I fall behind, lose focus, and grow frantic trying to catch up. And that darkness comes creeping in from the corners again.
But it doesn’t take hold.
How can it stay dark when you shine so bright?
Despite all the stress and frustration I’ve had lately I would change nothing if more time for work means less time for you. Every day with you is a reminder of the things that matter the most. You make me want to be a better person, you make me strive to learn new things, to break old habits and to always, always let love in. You’ve made it simply impossible not to.
I know I’m not perfect, but you’ve taught me that I’m damn good, and that to you I am the very best. So thank you, my love, for reminding me that I am bigger than my darkness, that I am able to bridge any ocean as long as I have you, and that at the end of the day all that matters is the love we share.
Yours, unconditionally and forever,
It’s been a strange Saturday. We’ve got a lot of balls in the air at the moment, professionally and personally. Reality has the past couple of days come back to us in a big way after our trip, both for better and for worse.
We’re in the think tank. We’re planning a future.
We’ve started house hunting, the clock on my degree has seriously started ticking and there are many plans to be made, about some very big things and some very small ones. We’ll let you in on a few of those as things become clearer.
As for tonight, our dessert experiment is waiting to be tasted, homemade strawberry ice cream made with brown sugar and popping candy. Anakin is sleeping peacefully and we’ve got a date with the late, great Peter Lehmann and one of his bottles of big, bold Shiraz.
(Got a favourite red wine? Any new, big plans for the future? Please tell me about it!)
He held me in his arms today
Small arms, big embrace
Kissed my face time and time again
For a few moments our roles reversed
As if he had seen something he is still too young to know
He held me in his arms today
Held me tight and kept me safe
(Is there a better feeling in the whole wide world than knowing you are worthy of such love from the most precious person there is?)
A little while ago I posted the new Dove campaign video, Real Beauty Sketches, on my Facebook. I was immediately infatuated by the idea behind this so-called social experiment. To be honest I found it downright moving. If you don’t know what I’m talking about and you’d rather not watch it, the basic gist of it is this:
Dove got seven women of different ages and backgrounds to describe their faces and had FBI-trained forensic artist Gil Zamora create composite sketches based on the descriptions they gave. The women were also asked to spend time in a room with strangers who were asked to get to know them, though neither knew why. These strangers were later asked to describe the women to Zamora who made another sketch based on their descriptions. The two drawings of each woman were then hung side-by-side. The difference between them were significant. The tagline of the campaign is: “You are more beautiful than you think.”
The idea, if you set aside the fact that it’s an ad for someone who in the end wants to sell you something, is brilliant. If an artist had done a similar experiment I’m sure we would all be having a whole other discussion.
Before I continue let me just say something about the images below. This is me, without any make up or photoshop, in the morning before I shower. This is my naked truth. I’m showing you this because at my most vulnerable and raw, I am still me, and I am more than my appearance and I don’t need anyone to remind me of that.
Shortly after I posted the video some people raised some eyebrows towards the whole thing, and perhaps rightly so. Dove is apparently owned by a company that also owns Axe which a lot of people feel make ads that are terribly degrading towards women. Like for instance this one, which makes a woman out to be headless boobs. I just watched it and you know what, I wasn’t offended. Not one bit. Sure, I see where the critics are coming from and I’m not siding with Axe, but I just wasn’t offended. I actually found it kind of funny. Am I outrageous? Perhaps. Of course if you want to be offended, then this is the ad for you. Anyway, I digress.
The day after I posted the video a friend posted a link to this blog which is very critical of the campaign, and I’ll admit it does make some good points. If that’s the way you want to see it. It lingered a bit in my mind for a couple of days and here’s the thing; Do we really need an ad to tell us beauty is more than skin deep? And isn’t the message itself still speaking a fundamental truth when it says “You are more beautiful than you think”? Now, you’re probably thinking something like “but the media is distorting the way we view ourselves and what we think beauty should be”. Yes, I agree, but you know what?
Each and every thing I feel unhappy with about myself stems from what people I know have told me about me. Not the media, but friends and relatives — and occasionally also strangers.
When I was little I was so often accused of being both anorexic or bulimic because I was skinny it’s sickening. I was constantly trying to prove that I did indeed eat, and eat a lot, and was terrified of going to the bathroom after eating at someone’s house in case they thought I was vomiting. I was just a skinny girl. It took me years before I dared to wear skirts because I was always told my legs looked like toothpicks. I was teased for not having any boobs long before you could expect them to even be there. I never really grew big breasts, but I was forever looking down hoping that one day they would sprout and put an end to the name calling. I was teased for wearing glasses, to the point where I was cornered at school one day and bombarded with snowballs by a gang of older boys because having glasses apparently makes you an easy target. Then when I got contact lenses I was told I looked like a fish out of water. That wasn’t good enough either. I still remember sitting outside in the school yard in the sun in year 7 when someone told me I had an ugly moustache. When feeling bad about having my skin breaking out and desperately needing some comfort I was told “yes, it’s ugly”. After I had a baby I was mistaken for being pregnant again several times because of my new mummy pouch.
I’m sure I could go on, but you get the point.
So if you asked me to describe myself to you I’m sure all of these insecurities would come out in a word here and a word there. But not everything I said would mean that I think I’m ugly. For instance, I’d say I have many grey and white hairs. That’s just a fact. I have unruly curls by my temples. I would say I have a broad chin. I’d say my skin is prone to break outs. I have freckles. I have a red dot on the left side of my nose. I’d say I have beginning crows feet. I’d say I have darker hair on my upper lip, that I have blue, grey eyes. A slim nose with a round tip. Thin lips, a thin face etc etc.
I love my greys, I think they are dignified. The curls at my temples sometimes drive me crazy. I love my crows feet because to me they say something about how often I smile. My skin sometimes makes me want to hide. I like my freckles, but if you asked me to describe myself in a matter of factly way I wouldn’t say any of these things. I’d stick to what I said above.
Because I use the words slim, thin and blue does not mean that I am “enforcing our very narrow cultural perception of “beauty”, it’s just me trying to describe myself with ordinary words while trying to be as objective as I can when talking about my own looks. Something which is not easy, I might add.
Despite my description being without any positive adjectives doesn’t mean I don’t know that beauty is more than skin deep. Of course it is. I don’t need media to tell me that. I know I am beautiful in many ways. And I am not afraid to share with you what I look like before I have a shower. I’m not afraid of my naked truth however unhappy I may be with pieces of it. And this is the message I want to pass on to my son. I want him to be able to watch an ad like the Dove ad and think, yes, I probably am more beautiful than I think because he will be. I want him to understand the difference between what we think of ourselves and what others think of us. My son thinks I’m beautiful no matter how shit I may feel about myself. My partner thinks I’m beautiful on even my worst of days, my friends think I’m beautiful because they know me and love me. Sometimes even I think I’m beautiful both within and without.
I’m losing my trail here, but my point is this. We should be able to take the positives for their positives and not always pick them apart until they become ugly shadows of themselves. We should stop assuming we’re so stupid we need to be spoon fed, and we should stop expecting advertising of all things to be 100% politically correct. It is of greater significance how we treat each other, of what words we choose to describe each other than what the media tells us. The media is made up of people. It needs to change, this is true, but the biggest and greatest change lies with us, with you and me, and how we interact with each other. What I say about myself will shape my son’s view of beauty more than what the media says about it. If I am mindful of my words about myself and always mindful of my words about him, what the media says might not have such a big grip.
And lastly, this is me, after I have a shower. The difference in my eyes is not so big, but hey, it’s still me.
Today was one of those days when being a mum was the only thing that felt right.
Tonight I feel muffled and overgrown.
Holding out for the morning.
I had one of days today, you know, the ones where you wear your insides on your outside and everything is just that much more sensitive.
Just as I thought a gust of wind would surely make me crumble I was once again reminded of how much this little person I made can lift me up by simply being and that it really doesn’t matter whatever else happens as long as he’s with me. It made me think of one of my favourite songs by The Cure, Lovesong.
whenever I’m alone with you you make me feel
like i am home again whenever I’m alone with
you you make me feel like I am whole again
whenever i’m alone with you you make me feel
like I am young again whenever I’m alone with
you you make me feel like I am fun again
however far away I will always love you however
long I stay I will always love you whatever
words I say I will always love you I will always
whenever I’m alone with you you make me feel
like I am free again whenever I’m alone with
you you make me feel like I am clean again
however far away I will always love you however
long I stay I will always love you whatever
words I say I will always love you I will always
My dearest Anakin,
Someone asked me the other day what I would do if you wanted to dress up as a princess when your pappa and I get married in two years. (It will be a theme wedding.) The question stumped me, not because it was meant in any malicious way, but because I thought the answer would be obvious.
You’re thankfully far too young to realise this, but the world is sadly as full of bigots and people hateful to others who may differ from themselves as it is those who are tolerant and respectful. There are public figures who state that they won’t let homosexuals teach their children because they think that their values are somehow less, and that their personal lives will somehow effect their teaching abilities. There are master bakers who refused to bake a wedding cake because the couple were lesbian. There are people who would kill because someone does not believe in the same God as they do, there are places where a 13-year-old girl can be raped and then stoned to death for it, all in the name of religion. I could go on, but you get the picture.
My mother raised me to think for myself, to be respectful, loving and tolerant. She told me to be what I wanted to be and to stand proud. I dearly hope I pass on the same values to you. You see, the most important thing in life is to be yourself, whoever that may be. To be happy, to be fulfilled and to feel safe to express yourself. And I want you to know that I will love you unconditionally regardless of how you choose to live your life. It won’t matter to me if you’re gay, straight or partly bent to any side. You can feel free to be a carpenter, a drag queen, an astronaut, a politician or whatever else as long as you do what makes you happy. I only ask that you never mistreat or discriminate against anyone for who they are, whatever colour, gender, sexuality or religious beliefs they may have.
I am lucky to have friends who are gay, straight, drag queens, muslim, christian, astro physicists, artists, teachers, hairdressers, stay at home mums and so many other things. Although I may not agree with their religious beliefs or all their point of views, they are still my friends and I love them all dearly. The world would be a terribly boring place were we all to think and feel the same. Diversity should be celebrated! I love that we are all unique, there is only one of me, one of you and one of your pappa. It makes each and every one of us special. We all have a responsibility to do our bit to make the world a more tolerant place.
So to answer my friend’s question, what I will do if you want to be a princess at our wedding; I will buy you the prettiest dress, a tiara and whatever your heart desires and proudly have you by my side. As long as I can help it you will never be made to feel shame for whatever you may want to be or for whoever you may discover that you are.
This I promise you.
Yours, unconditionally and forever,
(An amazing poem written by Alberto Caeiro, one of Fernando Pessoa’s heteronyms.)
Before I had you
I loved Nature as a calm monk loves Christ.
Now I love Nature
As a calm monk loves the Virgin Mary,
Religiously (in my manner), like before,
But in a more heartfelt and intimate way.
I see the rivers better when I walk with you
Through the fields to the rivers’ banks.
When I sit next to you and watch the clouds
I see them much more clearly.
You haven’t taken Nature from me,
You haven’t changed Nature.
You’ve brought Nature closer.
Because you exist I see it better, though the same as before.
Because you love me I love it in the same way, but more.
Because you chose me to have you and love you
My eyes gaze at it
More than at anything.
I don’t regret what I was before,
For I am still what I was.
I only regret not having loved you before.
I am starting to sense my ship sinking. I don’t know what possessed me to think that 100% stay at home mum + 100% postgrad student would amount to anything other than imminent failure. I just don’t have 200% time, in fact I don’t have 200% anything as percentage only goes to 100.
It hasn’t been the easiest of starts. We have had visitors for 6 weeks now, and as much as I have enjoyed that, it has made it hard to focus on getting work done. And let’s not ignore the fact that after a year off, it’s damn hard to get back on the horse, let alone remember what I already have done, read and so on. My entire pre-maternity leave research catalogue is stuck on a machine I can’t start. Great thinking letting that happen, right?
Giving up is not an option, but I am struggling to understand how the 1+ hour of nap time every day will amount to much unless I start dedicating all night every night to study. Then the question becomes how far away is that big wall I’ll smash my face into, what speed will I be traveling at when I reach it and how long will my journey there take.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll manage to get my visual work sorted, but the amount of research I need to do to write my thesis, and the even bigger amount needed for upgrading to a phd is terrifying. Actually, it’s worse than terrifying, but I can’t think of a word to describe the sense of horrific doom it fills me with.
There, I’ve had a whinge about it. Now excuse me while I have a short panic attack before continuing my search for fellow artists working within similar conceptual framework as myself before my son wakes up from his nap and claims the rest of my day.
It’s ok to cry because you’re tired.
It’s ok to cry because you’re in pain.
It’s ok to cry because you’ve just had enough.
It’s ok, mummy wants to cry too.
It doesn’t matter that I haven’t eaten,
it doesn’t matter that I’m all worn out.
I’ll keep picking you up to hold you, baby,
because I’m not ok with leaving you to cry alone.
Hush hush now, go to sleep,
Mummy loves you.
I’ll see you when you wake up.
(It’s been a long, hard day. I think it’s about this mummy forgets all that needs to be done and sits down with a glass of wine. Until next time, wish us a peaceful night.)
[I’ve been sitting on this post for about a month now trying to figure out if I should post it or not. After getting the ok from my better half I have decided to just go ahead and let you read it. Hopefully I won’t regret spilling my guts on a rather delicate subject.]
I’ve been feeling a bit off my game lately. (Lately might be the understatement of the year.) It comes and goes, some days taking a bit more effort than the last. After reading the post “Lukewarm” from Anka over at Keeping it real I realised that’s the word I’ve been looking for to describe it, lukewarm. Her post really hit home on some levels.
I have plenty of moments where it’s all sunshine and roses, don’t get me wrong, and they’re mostly all Anakin related. But that’s not the issue. I’m just going to go ahead and spill the beans on the elephant in the room and then duck for cover. It’s my relationship that has become lukewarm. Now let me just make it abundantly clear that I love my partner, I absolutely do. Our family is the very best thing that has ever happened to me.
Since Anakin arrived the game has changed. While I was pregnant I was one of those naive people who claimed that having a baby wouldn’t change a thing. Oh no, my sex drive would be the same, everything would be the same, only better. Yeah, let’s just put that naive person to bed, shall we? She obviously needs to sleep it off.
For a long time I had what I call postnatal resentment. It had nothing to do with my feelings towards our baby and everything to do with me and my partner. I was too tired, too hormonal and too everything to do anything other than resent him a lot of the time. I resented him for getting to sleep, for getting to go out if he wanted to, for going to work, for pretty much every reason under the sun. Not because I necessarily wanted to do all those things, but because everything in my life had changed and so many things in his seemed to remain exactly the same. Honestly, it probably had a lot less to do with him than it did with me. Like I’ve said before, sleep deprivation does not do nice things to me. Add hormones and the feeling of being completely overwhelmed and you’ve got the recipe for postnatal resentment. I think it’s a quite common condition, although not talked about very much.
I was diagnosed with postnatal depression. Inaccurately so, I think. Or I used to think, now I am less sure what was really what. I’ve lived with depression for most of my adult life. I know it very well. And I knew that what I was feeling wasn’t depression. Sure, I cried a lot, but not because I was depressed. I was exhausted. I could very much pinpoint what my issues were and knew that as soon as the circumstances changed, I would be on my way to getting better. I had doctors and nurses try to convince me that antidepressants were the way to go, but I have never taken anything for it and didn’t intend to start when I just had a baby, especially when I was convinced they had it all wrong. What I needed was space and some peace and quiet. Time to take it all in, time to adjust, time to heal and time for our family to get used to being a family. The problem was that by the time the circumstances did change I was so worn down I couldn’t see straight. I had spent so much time trying to figure out how to be a mother, to care for my newborn and for myself while feeling like I was stuck in a corner with no room to move, I fell to pieces. And the recovery took a long time. A lot longer than expected.
On top of my crumbling tower of self I had a lot of physical pain from the birth. The episiotomy left a lot of scar tissue. Trying to “get it on” was too painful to bring on anything but tears and blood. Real romantic, right? So instead of turning to the one person I could count on for support, I shut him out because I felt like he wanted things I couldn’t give and didn’t understand what I was going through. I don’t know what becoming a father does to a man, but to a woman, or to me at least, although it was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had, it was also very much like being dumped blindfolded into an ice bath without warning. There is no preparing for what motherhood really involves. I was well prepared for the birth, but all my years of working with children still left me completely unprepared for what being a first time mum was all about. So while my heart grew and burst with this amazing, unconditional love, the rest of me had a very, very cold bath.
So, fast forward to the now. I’d like to say I’m over my postnatal resentment, but I guess I still have days where it gets the better of me. Perhaps it’s not so much postnatal anymore as just the plain, ordinary relationship dull everyone goes through. I’ve been wrecking my brain trying to figure how to jumpstart the engines again, how to get back the groove. To get us back again I think I also need to get some of me back again. The me that does other things than being a mum, the me that is an artist, that makes art, that sees friends, that has time to do things. I love spending every day with Anakin, but an hour or two doing something else would probably do us both a bit of good. I need to restore a bit more balance.
I know I haven’t been the easiest person to live with this year. I sometimes don’t take the time for the hug or the kisses I’m being given because in my brain at that instant they are obstacles between me and the dirty floors, or the laundry or whatever else is on my must-be-done-before-I-can-relax list. I sometimes don’t want to snuggle because I don’t even have any of me left for myself at the end of some days. Even when I know that a good cuddle would probably make me feel a lot better. I’m not saying it’s fair, I’m just telling it like it is. But I can change. I want to. I know I remember how to both give and receive. And I know I have enough love in me for all of us. And… I know I’ve been a total ass sometimes. But as much as I think I’m mostly to blame, it’s not entirely all on me. Thought I was going to just leave myself in the guillotine there, didn’t you?
I do a lot of the things I do because I feel like I have to and don’t do others because it is somewhat still unfamiliar to the new me. I make sure Anakin has clean pj’s for every night because I can’t imagine not taking care of such things. I don’t go out drinking or anything like that because I never know when I might be needed (and obviously because I breastfeed). Whatever I do or plan, Anakin is my number one thought. Always. My life revolves around the fact that I am his mother and he may need me any time of day. And if he does I do my very best to be there for him. I’m not saying that this doesn’t apply to fathers, because it does, but I am saying that it seems far easier to occasionally go out, have a few drinks and come home at 3 o’clock in the morning without much further consideration when you’re not the number one caretaker. Or to make plans to do things non-family related because you’re not the one who does the everyday things every single day with him. (And just to make it abundantly clear, I’m NOT saying my partner goes out drinking all the time or never has consideration. This is merely an example, so let’s not get our knickers in a twist.) Maybe we’re programmed differently or maybe I need to learn how to do some of these things too. I’m leaning heavily towards the latter.
As far as my relationship goes, it probably just needs some more time set aside for it and some practice, I think. Practice makes perfect, right? It’s not that we’ve lost anything, but more that we’ve forgotten. I love my partner no less, if anything I love him that much more. How could I not when he’s given me this beautiful boy and when he continues to love me regardless of what a monstrous bitch I sometimes am. Despite being a bit off our game, we’ve never been closer in so many ways. Maybe we just need to go out and have dinner for the first time since Anakin was born, to go on a date. To take time out for kissing. To sit down and talk about things more often. To relight the fire, so to speak. We’ve gotten a bit better, or rather I’ve got a bit better. He’s been good at the affection thing all along.
Be patient, my love. We will return. I truly do love you. Always.
There’s nothing more irritating than strangers thinking that they’re experts on the needs or general wellbeing of your child. It’s like they think that because they’ve had a baby at some point they must be the people best suited to pass judgement and obviously hold some sort of expertise. Having a baby doesn’t automatically give you a PhD in All Things Baby.
I could have called this post “How to make someone feel like a shit mum” because frankly, that’s exactly how I feel right now. World’s worst mum, folks! Catch her right here! No applause, just rotten tomatoes, thanks!
I’ve probably mentioned that Anakin hasn’t been well for a bit. He still has a cold. Or he has what I, Doctor Mum, think is a cold combined with more teething. Anakin’s had a cold before. It comes with a very barky cough. He sounds like a seal. Last time we freaked out and rushed him to the doctor to make sure he wasn’t dying of whatever sort of disease that makes a baby bark. He was fine, it was just a cold. No need to worry. So, when the young jedi fell sick again and developed the same barky cough I monitored his condition closely, but didn’t freak out. Until today.
Today at the supermarket my little snot ball is smiling away at the checkout lady who’s busy telling me about her own kid. As you do, I suppose. All of a sudden he starts barking like something out of a zoo in a coughing fit. I watch him to make sure he’s ok. His little face goes a bit red as he coughs, but immediately breaks out in a huge smile once he’s done. He hasn’t had a fever and he’s still his excellent young self. The checkout lady looks at him then guns me down with eyes raging with blame. “That sounds like croup! My son had croup and he ended up in hospital! Have you had him checked out? He needs to see a doctor!” Wow, could you possibly have said that any louder, lady? I’m not sure the entire supermarket heard you. I can feel eyes in the back of my head staring at me, waiting for my answer. “Uhm.. no, I haven’t taken him to a doctor, but I might take him tomorrow. I’m fairly sure he’s fine. He’s just got a cold.” “A cold? Sounds like croup to me! They sounds like that when they have croup. Take him to a doctor! He could be very ill!”
I mumble something in return, grab my groceries and get the hell out of there before someone hands me a tiara and a “World’s worst mum” ribbon. Thanks, Doctor Checkout lady, for that thorough examination of my son’s health and my mothering abilities. There’s probably a thousand things you could have said to express your (unwanted) concern that wouldn’t have left me feeling like the biggest shit around. There’s nothing I care more about than the welfare of my own kid, and now, thanks to you, I am freaking out. I have googled croup and figured out that yes, there might be the slight chance that my kid has what they call mild croup. Maybe. It still might also just be a cold.
It’s not like I haven’t considered taking him to a doctor sooner, but I’m just not one of those mums who screams bloody murder every time my son coughs. I monitor, I assess, I keep a bloody close eye on him. As does his pappa. But I am taking him tomorrow. Not just because the checkout lady made me paranoid and feeling like the world’s worst mum, but because he’s been sick a bit on and off for two weeks and we’d rather be safe than sorry going in to the weekend.
For the record, I am a goddamn excellent mum. Even I know that. Most of the time.
The other day I was out trying to get Anakin to have a short nap in the pram. A lady and what I assume was her daughter came cycling by on their tandem bike. Still cycling on she asks; “How old’s your baby?” “9 months.” “We have a new baby too. She’s 3 months.” I smile, but don’t say anything else assuming that the conversation is over as she’s getting further away. The lady and her kid is now almost at the end of the street. She turns her head and shouts “Is this your first bub?” “Yes, it is.” I’m amazed that the conversation is still going. “Enjoy it!” I barely have time to say “Thank you, I sure am!” before they’ve turned the corner.
Since having a baby I’m being stopped by random people all the time. A baby, like a dog, is apparently quite the conversation starter. I haven’t had a dog since I was a kid, but I see people stop to chat with dog owners and give dogs a pet all the time. What I don’t understand is this; why do strange people think it’s ok to touch your baby? I’ve been stopped numerous times by older ladies who have taken it upon themselves to do a bit of cheek pinching or head rubbing. I’ve even had them pull the hood back when Anakin was just about to go to sleep and wake him up. And every time it’s happened before I’ve had time to react because I just don’t expect people to go fiddling my kid without my permission. Not that I really know what I would say. I don’t mind people stopping for a chat or whatever, but could you please keep your hands off my spawn?
I’m fairly certain my mother once told me to beware of touching strange dogs because they may bite you. It sounds like something a mother would say. A baby is less likely to bite (well, I guess that depends on the kid and where you put your fingers), but the same rule should still apply. So what’s the deal?
Before Anakin was born the same thing would happen, but it would be people groping my belly. And let me tell you, it used to shit me to tears. I despised anyone touching it unless they asked first, with the exception of maybe two or three very close friends. And what I hated even more was when people repeatedly did it after being told to ask first, touch later, and then would say “Oh, sorry, I forgot to ask. You don’t like that, do you?” No shit, Sherlock! Grow some manners! And that was by people I already knew.
At my partners football awards night I was introduced to the date of a friend of mine. After shaking my hand she immediately went for the belly. Anyone who knew how hormone crazy I was when I was pregnant would probably say she was lucky not to get her head handed to her on a plate. But as much as the groping pissed me off, I for some strange reason had the hardest time telling people to please respect the privacy of my body and my unborn child. Perhaps because the rudeness of it is beyond me. I would never do that to anyone. A good friend of mine had this spin on it when he heard of my dislike of being groped; “Well, it’s not like it’s your tits.” No, it’s not. As much as I appreciated the joke, I was pretty amazed throughout my pregnancy of most people’s lack of respect for personal space.
So this is why I’ve been thinking that babies (and pregnant bellies) are like dogs. They should be left alone unless stated otherwise or you may very well find yourself bitten.