Moata's Blog Idle
It's been a banner week here at Whare Tamaira-Fox. First my 40th birthday party plans were scuttled and then the baby came down with a case of gastro.
Being the caregiver of a baby can be pretty gross at the best of times. Even when they're not pooping or vomiting, you're never more than a chubby little hand away from having something sticky smeared in your hair. Taking care of a baby with a tummy upset is like going up a level in revoltingness. It's like having a hard job that just got much, much harder.
I'm reminded of that scene in Speed when Keanu Reeves emerges, having clawed his way along the underside of the speeding bus, smelling of gas. Sandra Bullock jumps to the correct conclusion that the bus that's not allowed to go under 50 is now leaking fuel and asks incredulously, "what, you thought you needed another challenge or something?" (in this scenario my baby is a potentially explosive heavy vehicle - so I think the analogy works in that respect).
I won't go into detail of what things are like at our house at the moment but the smell is pretty terrible and if I could shower in hand sanitiser I would be doing just that.
There's not much of a bright side to this latest horror from The Book of Parental Tortures except this; due to my frantic googling of symptoms (and associated treatment advice) for the first time since I started learning to spell things, I finally know how to spell "diarrhoea" without having to look it up.
As I keep mentioning, I am turning 40 later this year. I partly keep mentioning it so that I will be ridiculously chilled out about it when it happens, but also in the vain hope that people will respond with "Forty? No WAY. You don't look a day over thirty-mumble". Thankfully, several folk have been generous enough to fake incredulity in this manner recently.
I've never had a fortieth birthday before and decided that I would do something a bit different. Having a massive party and getting so drunk that the All Blacks are forced to play without me doesn't really appeal these days. Muthahood™ has mellowed me (and lowered my alcohol tolerance so far I get tipsy if I walk into a room that has an open bottle in it).
What would I really, really like to do then as a social event? Something "booze optional". Something that I would really enjoy. Something out of the ordinary to get dressed up for.
Why, have a private screening at a movie cinema of one of my favourite movies, of course! Imagine not being worried about some weirdo stranger texting person sitting next to you in the movie? And there could be themed dressing! And themed snacks! The only thing I love better than movies is a THEME.
So a private screening of The Princess Bride, it was to be.
When you become a parent one of the unintended consequences is that you become, bit by bit, part of a parenting subculture. Suddenly you're more aware of what Plunket does. You're reading articles in parenting magazines, or occasionally on EssentialMums.co.nz. Your filter for what is happening in the world widens a bit to include things like "Treasures are on sale this week at Pak n Save". Stuff that you simply wouldn't have paid any attention to as a non-parent, now hoves into view on a regular basis.
Which is how I know that 5-11 October is International Babywearing Week.
Maybe it's because I'm a relatively new mum but I immediately framed this as a maternal alternative (maternative?) to New Zealand Fashion Week. "Not content with merely wearing clothes (so passé), mothers are encouraged to wear clothes AND babies in the ultimate expression of style", is disappointingly not what the official website says.
"Babywearing is a practice centuries old but came to popularity in the post-Victorian era as a reaction against the popular method of transporting infants at that time which was to carry them around in handbags, though there's been a surge in popularity ever since Zach Galifianakis wore a baby in 'The Hangover'" it doesn't continue.
"Nowdays modern mothers enjoy this 'handsfree' method which allows freedom to text with one hand while sipping a chai latte with the other, all while strengthening the core muscles," says absolutely no one.
I'm not going to equivocate - I was pretty damn unhappy on Sunday. It had started with lassitude, progressed to ennui and by mid-morning I could accurately have been described as being "in a funk". This was caused by a combination of a baby who is teething (his cheeks have the red glow of satanic fury), and a country that apparently doesn't share my thoughts on, well, anything (if the results of our general election are anything to go by).
As I get older I seem to care more about elections and when they don't go the way you feel they should it can all get a bit depressing.
But life does indeed go on and I intend to enjoy mine as much as I'm able. Which is why I found myself deploying a range of coping strategies on Sunday that did, eventually, get me into a less dejected state of mind.
In case, you too, had need of a bit of strategic cheering, here is my list of "Reasons to be happy even when things seem a bit sucky":
1. Icecream for breakfast - It's as simple as spoon, bowl and as much Killinchy Gold Boysenberry cheesecake flavour as you can shove into your gob. Small tip: stop before you start to feel sick or you'll actually nullify all your good efforts.
When you're pregnant people offer you all sorts of advice. Sometimes the advice is welcome and offered in a take-from-this-what-you-will, sharing of wisdom way. Sometimes it's just kind of thrust at you and is more rude than it is helpful. Or sometimes it's just gross. Someone I know went into far too much detail about the hazards of poopy nappies with me while I was pregnant. Which is fine. I'm not going to go into a swoon at the mention of poo. However the timing was a tad questionable as we were at a chocolate tasting at the time...
Anyway, I swore that once I had popped that sprog out, I was definitely not going to become a "dick parent", gleefully terrifying expectant parents with tales of poo smeared furniture and chronic sleep deprivation.
However... the first year of parenthood is one hell of a steep learning curve and there are things about the whole process that just weren't covered in antenatal class or any of the books or on the websites that I consulted before The Master came into our lives. I kind of got blindsided in a few instances. And as embarrassing as some of these things are, I feel like I should share them just in case, at some point in the future it saves some other soon-to-be mum (or dad) from having to do the "what the hell is this now?" face like I did.
Of course, it should go without saying that every pregnancy and baby is different and that how things were for me aren't necessarily how they are for anyone else. If you never experienced any of the following when you had a baby then yay for you. You should definitely not get all angry at me in the comments because this post doesn't accurately reflect your experience. It's not your blog, it's mine. This should all go without saying but for reasons I'm about to lay out, it really doesn't.
Having an opinion about parenting is DANGEROUS - Parenting is a super important job and if you get it wrong you end up with something terrible like Donald Trump so naturally it all comes with a lot of angst. A lot of the time you're flying by the seat of your mashed banana-smeared pants. There are a million little decisions every day that at best you're only 70 per cent sure are right. This general uncertainty can create problems when it comes to drawing comparisons with other parents. Let's say I decide, for my own reasons, that I want to wear pink today. My preference for pink doesn't mean that other colours aren't as good or aren't a valid choice. It doesn't mean that I judge others for their colour choices. In fact, I probably don't care very much what they are. And almost no one would assume those things either. Nobody is walking around saying "you're wearing pink - are you saying you think my blue cardy is a bad fashion choice?"
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