WELCOME TO MY BLOG!

You are probably wondering what this blog is about and whether you should continue reading.

In short, this blog is essentially about my personal experiences as a parent and as a modern day woman, written as short stories that I hope will be relatable and offer some comedic relief.

I started journal writing as a form of cathartic release from all of the stresses of being a mother and day-to-day living. From doing this, I rediscovered my love of creative writing. As a mother of two gorgeous and adventurous cherubs, I oftentimes find myself in rather amusing and outright unbelievable situations, which quickly became fodder for my short stories.

Suffice to say, this blog will now act as my medium for journal writing in the form of slightly embellished short stories. At a minimum, I will be aiming for a weekly entry.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them!

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INNOCENT WHITE LIES

When is a lie acceptable? Are there degrees of lying? It is less of a lie if it’s a “white lie”? Or is lying just plain old lying?

What about telling your children that Santa exists? Or the Easter Bunny? Or the Tooth Fairy?

And if you choose to do so, when do you tell them the truth? That you have indeed, lied to them.

My parents didn’t give me fairy tales or half-truths. We were poor. If I got a present, they made damn sure I knew that they had scraped and saved every dollar to get me that ONE present. That one item would be a necessity; no frivolous toy; no gift wrapping; no card. There was no illusion of some old jovial fat dude climbing down a chimney in the middle of the night to place a beautifully wrapped gift under a Christmas tree. No Easter Bunny was pooping chocolate eggs on our lawns. And the Tooth Fairy? I was lucky to see the dentist.

Maybe that’s why I overcompensate as a parent. I want to give them the magic and fun that I didn’t get as a child. I want them to look back fondly at their childhood memories.

I’ll admit that a small part of me wants to conform to society norms. I don’t want my child to blurt out, “It’s a lie! Your parents are lying to you! There’s no such thing as Santa.”

I can ponder away the day trying to find reason and rhyme for my parenting choices. Inevitably, I will have to come clean with my lies.

We place the baby tooth into a plastic bag and put it under Mandy’s pillow.

“So the Tooth Fairy will come, take my tooth and give me a coin?” Mandy queries.

I can’t seem to look her in the eyes. “Yes, so I’m told.”

“What does she look like? How does she get my tooth if I’m lying on the pillow? How much money will I get? What happens with the teeth?”

Oh boy.

My brain scrambles for answers. I don’t recall seeing a “How to lie effectively to your child” section in the parenting manual I received from the maternal health nurse.

“Uh, no-one has seen the Tooth Fairy, so we don’t know the mechanics or logistics,” I reply. “Also, you get ONE gold coin per tooth. That’s all I know.”

Mandy contemplates my answers for a moment.

“Mummy, do you give me presents as well as Santa or are you pretending to be Santa?”

I pause. She’s at an age where her friends are probably discussing the rumours. This is the perfect opportunity to come clean, but then she’s likely to ruin it for her little brother.

“No, Mummy and Daddy give you presents as well as Santa,” I reluctantly reply.

“What about the Easter Bunny? Are you putting the eggs in the lawn for us to find?”

I feel the weight of her accusing stare. I shift uncomfortably. Mandy could become an excellent cross-examiner one day.

“Me?” I exclaim in feigned shock, “I don’t have time for that!”

“Hmm.” Mandy responds. She’s onto me. The jig is probably up.

“If you have any further questions, ask your dad. He’s the expert,” I deflect. “Hey, let’s read a book.”

I am the Master of Deflection and Timely Distractions.

“I think I’ll ask Ally tomorrow if she thinks the Tooth Fairy is real,” Mandy casually says. “She knows everything.”

I shudder at the thought of what’s to come.

FIND YOUR STRENGTH

I walk down this well-trodden path, resigned to my fate. The sky is filled with dark clouds, threatening a downpour that will sweep me off my feet and drown me in its flood. There is no light; no rays of sunshine; no warmth. Despite efforts to protect myself, piling layers upon layers, I feel the cold penetrating into the depths of my soul. Winter is here. Well and truly.

What do you do when your mind begs to succumb to the deep pits of despair? How do you crawl out from the sinister tunnel of self-doubt? You’re in pain; mental fatigue; physical stress. You’re on the brink of shut down mode.

Oh, but The Show must go on! The children need to be fed, clothed and loved. The house should be cleaned. The bills must be paid. You have to turn up to work. People rely on you to function. Society expects your contribution. Life stops for no-one.

“Mummy, why are we going round and round?” asks Henry, my 2.5-year-old son.

We’ve been driving around the neighbourhood for the last half an hour. At any moment I expect a police car to pull me over and write-up a ticket for public nuisance. I’ve taken the same roundabout ten times now and I see people peer out from curtains. I must look like I’m casing joints or seriously lost with directions.

“You need a nap,” I reply. The truth of the matter is that I need a nap but at this stage, I’ll take the consolation prize of a break. I am beyond exhausted, physically and mentally. Parenting is damn hard. It is relentless. You are on call 24/7, every day for at least 18 years.

“Mummy, I need a chino!”

“Mummy, I did a fluff fluff!”

“Mummy, where’s Daddy?”

“Mummy, I want Donalds!”

I drive for another half an hour before there is silence. I park the car and rest my forehead on the steering wheel. It took everything I had to concentrate on driving without incident. I feel overwhelmed with the burden of responsibility. It creeps and climbs like vines, slowly choking and leaving me gasping for breath.

As I silently fall apart in the car, I realise that I need to seek help. I need to reach out to my village and remember that there are people willing to support and care for me, if only I ask. I need to pause to allow myself the time to recover so that I can gather the strength to continue.

Right now I’m merely existing, living day-to-day, going through the motions. I’m a grainy black and white. Instead, I want to be vibrant and colourful. I want loud and bright. I want to live life to its fullest.

Why? I owe it to my children and husband to be the best version of me. I owe it to myself.

For the time being, I’m reminded that after every storm, there is a rainbow.

NEGOTIATION BREAKDOWN

Tantrums. A word that sends shivers down many a parent’s spine. An action that when unleashed in public, causes embarrassment and dismay.

Do you ignore it? Do you try to placate? Do you bribe? Or do you edge away and pretend the toddler lying facedown on the ground isn’t yours?

It’s common knowledge that toddlers lack social and emotional maturity, are at the beginning stages of language development and seek independence over their environment. As a consequence, toddlers are prone to tantrums when they become frustrated or upset. While it is a normal part of child development, it’s still painful to deal with.

“Remember Henry, if you want to walk,” I tell my tantrum-prone toddler, “you must hold Mummy’s hand.”

“Ok Mummy,” Henry replies, looking innocently at me.

I know better. I squat down to his eye level and reiterate my point. “You have to hold my hand. No running.”

“Yes Mummy,” he replies, adamant. “I will!”

“Promise?” I tease. Seriously, as if I can trust the word of a 2.5-year-old.

“Promise.”

We start our hundred-metre walk to pick up his sister from school. We get two metres from the car before Henry tugs at my hand.

“Mummy! A bug!” Henry exclaims, pointing at a dead beetle.

“Oh yes, a bug.” I gently pull him along but he resists.

“Mummy, bug bite me?”

“No, it’s dead darling.” My second attempt at leaving fails.

“His Mummy and Daddy will be sad.”

I sigh. “Yes, so sad but they’ll always remember it.”

“Is it a boy or girl?”

Ah shoot. I don’t have time for this.

“I don’t know darling.” I pull him forwards.

“Hey look over there!” I point to nothing in particular.

“What?” Henry asks, his interest piqued.

“I see something interesting over there,” I lie. “Lets go have a look.”

Henry starts walking in the right direction. There are two randy teenagers exchanging saliva on the sidewalk. Henry decides to stop right in front of them and blurts out, “Bleurgh!”

The teenagers stop their tonsil hockey. I suppress my laughter.

We walk another five metres before Henry refuses to hold my hand.

“Mummy, I’m ok. I was here,” he argues, pointing to the footpath.

“No Henry,” I admonish. “Hold my hand.”

We are so so close to our destination, I could cry.

“No!”

In a flash, his hand slips out and he’s running towards the road. I sprint after him like Wile E. Coyote after the Road Runner.

I drop my phone in the process. I’m appalled to admit that for a split second I had considered the merits of stopping to pick up my phone.

I grab Henry by the jacket before he gets hurt. He throws an epic tantrum as I drag him back to retrieve my phone.

I struggle with small fists and legs thrashing around. I’m sweating from my exertion. My phone screen is cracked.

It’s a fine balance between giving your child the opportunity to feel independent and keeping them safe. Some days I feel like throwing in the parenting towel. It’s a hard role. The toughest gig I’ve ever had.

Next time you see a harried parent with a toddler chucking a tantrum, give them a sympathetic smile and try not to judge.

HALF-PRICED DISCOUNT…STILL NOT ENOUGH

“Make time for yourself.”
“It’s not about having time. It’s about making time.”
“Have a break. Have a Kit Kat.”

Life is just damn hectic. It’s go-go go from the moment I wake up and doesn’t end until I’m passed out in bed. I’m like a lab rat running on a wheel, only I’m not having fun and I can’t get off. Every so often I need a time-out; sit on the bench; press the pause button on life; give myself some self-love (*snigger* actual term).

Everyone has different ideas when it comes to self-love. Some people go away on retreats; some do treks to reconnect with nature (*shudder*); some simply just need a night without the kids.

My choice of self-love comes in the form of discounts, coupons and bargains. So when a business card for 50% off hair colouring and cut was thrust into my palm, I decided I was well overdue for some me-time.

I lean back on the comfy chair and close my eyes. The warm water washes over my poorly maintained hair and the caressing hands of Salon Lady massages my scalp. It feels divine.

“Mummy.”

I ignore the voice. The smell of sweetly scented shampoo wafts towards my nose as it’s being lathered on my hair.

“Mummy! I’m bored.”

I can’t remember the last time I got a head massage. It feels great. I could almost fall asleep. Almost.

“Mum! Are you even listening to me?”

I open my eyes and peer over to my 6-year-old fickle pickle.

“Darling, I told you that I would be here for a few hours,” I tell Mandy, “You insisted on coming with me.”

Mandy gives me The Look. A perfect combination of apathy and boredom you would expect from an adolescent.

“Why don’t you get some crayons and paper from the massive bag you made me carry and create something,” I say as I close my eyes. I’m desperately trying to emulate feelings of being pampered and relaxed. You know, the ones you’re supposed to have while getting hair treatment at an expensive boutique salon.

Salon Lady goes to get the heating towel.

“Mummy, you should see how much of your hair is in the sink!” Mandy exclaims, peeking into the basin.

“What?” I ask. There isn’t any point pretending to relax anymore.

“So so much hair. Mummy, that colour doesn’t suit you,” Mandy remarks, as if she’s a hair colouring expert.

“It’s my natural hair colour,” I reply dryly.

Salon Lady puts the towel on my conditioned hair and tells me to chill out. How on earth am I meant to ‘chill out’ with a Debbie Downer in my ear?

After what seemed like an age of listening to Mandy whine and getting a crook neck from being forgotten by Salon Lady, I shuffle over to the chair to have my hair cut. I see Mandy spinning in circles on a salon stool.

“Mandy! Stop that!” I yell out. “Jeez Louise.”

I continue chatting to Salon Lady about the real estate market. From the corner of my eye, I can see Mandy draped over two seats and doing horizontal leg presses.

“Mandy! Seriously!” I yell again. At the rate I’m jerking about, I’ll become a trendsetter in sporting lopsided haircuts.

As Salon Lady prepares to blow dry my hair, Mandy jumps up and down in front of me.

“Mum, I need to go,” Mandy mutters. “Like now.”

The salon doesn’t have a toilet.

Self-love total bill = 50% discount + 10% whining surcharge + 10% negative commentary tax + 100% quick exit fee

Doesn’t seem like much of a win, does it?

CHANNELLING MEAT LOAF

There comes a time when you just have to put on your big girl pants and do what’s best for the people you love. Even if it means you can foresee your own suffering.

Dummies, also known as pacifiers are Henry’s BFFs. It’s the first thing he thinks about in the morning and the last thing he seeks for at night. His attachment to dummies is equal to that of a security blanket or a snuggle toy for bed. Sometimes, kids outgrow these things and sometimes you just have to force them to.

“Where’s my dummy?” Henry whines.

“We gave it to Alex; the baby, remember?” I remind him gently, “You’re a big boy now. You don’t need a dummy.”

Henry goes into prone position and wails, “I need my dummy! I need to breathe!”

“No. No dummy Henry,” I say, mustering up all my strength for the impending tantrum. I give him a pat on the back. Big mistake. Rookie error.

“I want handies!” he yells, as he reaches out to hold my hand.

I roll my eyes and think to myself, “Get in line kid.”

“No.”

“I want to touch your arm!” Henry demands.

“No.”

“I want to touch your body Mummy!!” cries Henry, his little hand reaching out to seek comfort.

“No,” I giggle. “Are you channelling your dad?”

Henry rolls around in his cot and pounds his tiny fists into the mattress. He gives me crocodile tears for a good five minutes before changing tack.

“Mummy, my noodle hurts!” says Henry, sitting up.

This kid is relentless at bedtime. I would kill to go to bed early and have a big sleep.

“Uh-huh, point to your noodle,” I ask, because really… that could mean anything.

Henry points to his elbow and says, “It’s not fair really.”

“It’s fine. Go to sleep.” I turn to leave.

Henry starts the waterworks and like the sucker that I am, his cries tug at my heartstrings.

“Mummy! I want my dummy!!” Henry sobs. Snot is dribbling down his nose; his face has turned red; tears are streaming down his cheeks.

I feel my resolve disintegrate into smithereens. Reluctantly, I return and give him my hand.

“Go to sleep Henry,” I reassure him. Thank goodness I threw out the dummies into the bin at the shops and not at home. I’d probably be rummaging through it just about now.

Henry calms down and says, “I love you lots Mummy.”

His words are a balm for my weary soul. I can never get enough. “I love you too pork chop. GO. TO. SLEEP.”

“I’d do anything for you Mummy,” Henry continues with his declarations of love.

I chuckle and sing, “But I won’t do that!”

ACCIDENTAL RAILJOB

Which one would you choose?

Sitting in your climate controlled car but crawling bumper to bumper in gridlocked traffic. ETA unknown.

Or…

Packed like sardines in an overcrowded train carriage with a broken thermostat. ETA dependent on the weather.

Neither? You work from home? You don’t need work? Your money grows on trees? I so so envy you.

If you’re like me and have to join the masses for the commute, and have chosen the train then you have my commiseration.

Why? Train rides are the worst; stifling heat from the masses in contained areas; recycled air filled with germs from hacking coughs and projectile sneezing; someone constantly sniffling or snorting their gunk; unpleasant smells. Let’s not forget the awkwardness of having someone in your personal space.

On my latest commute, the train system was in shambles due to track damage. This meant hordes of people converged on the platforms to get a coveted position in the carriages. I end up pushed along until I’m right in front of the disabled seats. I am standing so close to this seated woman that it borders on indecent. Being vertically challenged, my hand immediately skims the nearby handrails to hold myself upright. It’s prime real estate. I ready myself in a warrior stance to avoid toppling with the jerky movements of the train.

Not wanting to stare at the woman in my direct line of sight, I shift my gaze to people in the carriage. I’m immediately assaulted with the sight of a man oddly rubbing his phone on the thigh, incessantly, for what feels like an unseemly amount of time. He must really want a clean phone screen.

Feeling a bit perturbed, I look away and catch the sight of a woman putting on a full face of makeup. I’m amazed at her ability to put on eyeliner without stabbing herself in the eye. On a good day, I look like I’m playing a solo game of Twister against the mirror so I can’t imagine adding movement to that conundrum.

More people shuffle into the carriage. I take a deep fortifying breath. Regret courses through me when I take a whiff of body odour from the armpits of the man standing beside me. I’m just at the right height for maximum damage. I shuffle and do a 180 degree turn only to have a mouth breather in my face.

As I’m having my moment of existential crisis, I’m become aware of the feeling of material rubbing against my knuckles and glance down.

“What the fudging hell?”

A giant man is standing near me, his crotch leaning against the handrail, which just so happened to have my hand wrapped around it. The swaying movement of the train meant that I was giving this giant a railjob. I look up and continued looking up till I reach the man’s face. I can feel myself blushing. He hasn’t noticed. I try to discreetly move my hand but it’s jammed. It ain’t going anywhere.

“Ahem!” Nothing. Nada.

“Ahem! Ahem! Argh!” I say with more emphasis.

The man looks curiously down at me. I direct my gaze to the hostage situation and glance back to him. He jerks away from the rails and gives me an apologetic smile.

I give an involuntary shudder. I’m going to have to bleach my eyes and scrub my knuckles after this particular train ride.

The train doors open. My stop. I push and shove my way past the crowd to get through in time. The cool air hits my face, offering immediate respite. I take a breather.

You know that saying…do a good deed every day?

I think I reached my quota.

THE SILVER LINING OF BEING AWKWARD

Humans are social creatures. It’s important for us to feel a sense of belonging. This fundamental need drives us to seek company; to form meaningful relationships with others; to engage in conversation. Essentially, we seek to make a human connection. A disconnect can lead to social isolation, loneliness and depression.

I struggled with my sense of identity and belonging throughout childhood and early adulthood. I was an extremely introverted child and shied away from people. I wasn’t able to effectively communicate and therefore, I found it difficult to make friends.

As a grown-ass adult, conversation still doesn’t come easily for me. Unfortunately, I’m also awkward as f#@k. Random sh!t just comes out of my pie hole. On the outside, I might look aloof and confident but on the inside, I’m a jumbled mess of insecurities that could rival that of a 15-year-old teenager. My 6-year-old daughter has more pizzazz and social skills than I do. It’s really embarrassing. Luckily my friends accept me for who I am, flaws and all.

Recently, I met a mother of a child in the same swimming class as Mandy.

“Hello,” I say to the woman sitting next to me.

She gives me a welcoming smile and asks, “Which one is your child?”

“Oh Mandy,” I say, pointing at the rambunctious girl doing cannonballs into the pool and getting told off. I roll my eyes. She has a few minutes until class and still manages to get in trouble.

“You’ve got a lively one there,” she laughs.

I giggle. “You don’t know the half of it!” Mandy is my Little Miss Independent.

Lisa, the woman, is a talker. This suits me just fine as it prevents any outbreaks of verbal diarrhoea.

“Breanna does choir, ballet and swimming on Saturdays. She does Japanese, tennis and piano during the school week.”

“Oh Mandy does piano,” I cut in. It’s been a while since I contributed to this conversation and I don’t want to look like I’m uninterested.

“Yes, piano is so good for the brain. Breanna has done it for a few years now. She’s excelling at the moment. Did you know that music makes children smarter? I’ve listened to classical music since Breanna was in my tummy.”

Lisa rambles on and on. I don’t think she’s paused since we started talking. How does she do that? She must have huge lung capacity.

I give a noncommittal grunt as I watch Mandy attempt breast stroke. I’m so proud that she’s giving it a go.

“And of course, I had to speak to her teacher about the girl not inviting Breanna to her party. It’s just not acceptable in this day and age.”

I realise I’ve zoned out and give a mental heave to refocus on what Lisa is saying. Does she realise she’s monopolising the conversation? Is she a nervous chatterer? Is it possible that someone is more socially inept than me?

Our girls hop out of the pool and rush over to get dried. Lisa is still talking. I hear ‘coffee’, ‘next time’ and ‘see you’. My brain connects some imaginary dots.

“Yeah, I’d love to,” I reply, stuffing Mandy’s things into her swim bag.

Lisa gives me a wary expression and leaves.

“Mum, why did you say you’d love to when she said ‘see you’?” Mandy asks me, confused.

“Lisa asked me to go for a coffee next time she sees me,” I say, a little uncertainly.

“No she didn’t,” Mandy scrunches her brow. “She said she needed a coffee next time, and she said see you.”

“Oh.” That explains the weird look then.

Yes, I’m socially awkward. Yes, I say random things. Silver linings people. I’m pretty awesome at listening… most of the time.