Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Those Days are These Days

I used to dread those days.

Those impossibly long, soul draining, parental working days. 

You know the ones. 

The ones that get underway well before the sun comes up, where the dog barks and the child screams and the wind blows the outdoor setting over before the alarm on your mobile phone ever gets a chance to squeal its morning not-so-glory in your ear.

The ones where you manage to squeeze three hours of morning preparation into one, managing to layer nail varnish onto the holes in your last pair of tights whilst co-brushing your teeth with your toddler, making a mental note to buy more milk whilst simultaneously burning a hole in your ear with your straightening iron.

The ones where you, the toddler and your miraculous holy grail head of straightened hair run out the front door smack bang into a cyclonic rain storm, only to find the umbrella is missing: presumed drowned in the toilet, and replaced with a hyper colour plastic phone and six old sultanas covered in indistinguishable fluff and grit.

The ones where the daycare drop off leaves you a mooshy mess of mummy guilt and fluster. The ones where you have to peel your child off your side in the doorway - like sliding a wedge between two magnets - before making a guilt-wracked mercy dash in the rain to the bus, the train, the tram, the overcrowded overpass, that will never get you there on time.

The ones where the barista mistakes your strangled strong latte request for soy latte. Which won’t matter anyway when you spill two-thirds of the stuff in your jacket cuff and down your leg as you try and completely fail to regain some, or any, sense of awesome working person togetherness in the 12 floors of enforced elevator reprieve you must endure while you run late, later every morning.

The ones where the email inbox fills up with emails that you don’t want to contend with, while you stare at the download icon willing the one email you actually need to make its way through the universe so you can please, maybe, yes, perhaps, indeed, oh please just get shit done. Before you have to go back and do the day in reverse again. 

The one where you forgot to put your lunchbox in the tea room fridge, and you are left with a winless choice: a plastic Tupperware container filled with dubious quality and potential gastric disaster, your toddler’s afternoon snack box of cracked up crackers, or a maniacal dash to the food court in the cyclonic rain- which followed you all the way to work and now menaces from the window, daring you to even try. 

The ones where the phone rings incessantly like the mocking failure bells of side show alley, while you doodle on your notepad and daydream of hanging out at the carnival and riding the ferris wheel as like you’re twelve again. You’re thirty, how the hell did that happen? And why are doodling stick flowers and artistically challenged box houses when you have so very much to do?

The ones where your brain turns to puddles of plush pah phoo before four, where you drag your holey stockinged legs through the sideways water bullets to find that the barista has already shut the machine down. And the suit in front of you made off with the last conceivable chocolate brownie standing, perfect stockings, umbrella and all. Oh Murphy, you've done it again, top marks for accuracy.

The ones where the transport system grinds to a smashing halt under the hordes of peak hour crushdom, shuddering along the city streets while you calculate how many dollars this game of human sardines will cost in daycare fines and overtired toddler fees. 

The ones where the traffic lights turn every shade but green as you sit in the thrumming throng, while your toddler melts into a thunderous velociraptor as the situation of the earlier eaten cracked crackers cracks the evening universe into a headache that will lodge deep behind your eye - absolutely cracking and removable only by the power of the weekend and the medication of a bottle of red. Or three. 

The ones where the postie left the bills not the wedding invites, and the parcel man left the slip not the present from Grandma, but the dog left the type of terrifying present in the laundry room that you Just. Don’t. Want. To. Know. About. 

The ones where you oscillate between serving up toast or nutritional value, while sneaking Tim Tams from the top of the fridge and hoping that the pizza gods might arrive on the doorstep and save you from the triple tears of chopping onions with a toddler by your side, finely diced to distraction.

The ones where you manage to pull off a dinner with three finger burns, two vegetables and a side of mash, only to discover that your toddler now exclusively eats muesli with yoghurt from the red bowl, and only while sitting on the floor in slippers. 

The ones where you read half of seven different bed times stories, fairies fractured with sea shells mixed with meatballs falling from the sky onto some kids plate; lulling yourself to sleep while your toddler puts her plush posse to bed and proceeds to march all over the dying dregs of your regrettable soy latte experience.

The ones where you lean your head against the ironing board as the house descends into the sounds of silence, wondering if you managed to hide some Tim Tams from yourself but knowing deep down in your shattered psyche that you've drained the emergency chocolate bank well beyond dry. 

The ones where you finally collapse on the couch, only to remember that you never got the f$%#ing milk … and now the dog is barking at an imaginary cat and the toddler is screaming ‘twinkle twinkle A B D Muuuuummmy’ and you should probably set the alarm before the sun decides to come back up all over again. 

Yep, I used to dread those days. 

Now days though, those days are just these days, and these days are my days.

And I wouldn’t change my days for all the non-soy lattes in the city. 

Would you?

M x

Monday, June 23, 2014

When Life Takes Away Your Lemons

"When life gives you lemons ..."

It's a saying we've all heard. When life gives us proverbial lemons, we crack jokes. Make lemonade. Ask for sugar and water. Squirt them in people's eyes. Get your friends to bring salt and tequila. Bake a pie.

We make jokes until we squeeze our way out of our sour situation into sweeter territory (terrible puns intended). But what happens when the situation spins a full 180, reverses right up onto your expectations, and life takes your lemons away instead? 

I recently had the juice knocked out of my tumbler when the universe decided to play havoc with the natural order of destruction, and take away my lemons - and the tree on which the lemons grew, and the backyard in which the tree stood, and the house over which the tree shaded.

The phone call from the landlord came on a nondescript Wednesday afternoon, an unceremonious conversation to announce that our beloved wild backyard was to be turned over the future: a scraggly grass canvas for a blonde-brick two-story townhouse resplendent with shortened eaves, double garage, paved courtyard and secure gun-metal grey letterbox. 

It would all have to go - the archaic lemon tree and it's communal bevy of produce, the stone fruit tree that ripened from hard to rotten with no in-between, the swaying verandah frame and it's pepper-holed polycarbonate roofing sheets, and the useless bicycle-part-and-reflector-light scarecrow buried beneath the overgrown lawn.

In the space of one phone call, I was brought back down to the reality that I was a tenant and not a home-owner, perched precariously in someone else's house at the permission of their contractual obligations and the mercy of their lifestyle choices, mortgage repayments and blonde-brick two-story townhouse dreams.

More the point, I was brought crashing down to the reality that we would have to move house. Again. With a dog. And a toddler. And three bedrooms full of furniture and cloth nappies and singing walkers and the general accumulated crap of two exhausted parents and a miniature hoarder with a penchant for shiny objects.

There was shock. There was panic. There was anger. There was extreme ranting at my husband, who looked like he might quite like to move house all by himself just to get away from me for a while. Then there was sweet, sweet denial.

The denial phase was kind to us. We had visitors from interstate, we potted plants in the yard, we bought more crap that would eventually have to move house with us, and our daughter  even managed to turn one, complete with a coming of age tricycle and number one birthday cake.

And so it was that we found ourselves knee deep in the aftermath of first birthday celebrations, covered in sticky green icing and crumpled wrapping paper, when the tree loppers arrived to exterminate the backyard and our ability to ignore the situation any longer.

The sound was horrific, much like a toddler squealing their dissatisfaction with the removal of their favourite toy, or a labouring woman expressing her vehement disagreement with her partner's decision to sit down for a quick cuppa and ham and tomato sandwich in the middle of transition.

After several hours of auditory torture, the tree lopping crew and the trees were gone, and with them, the sense of home. Without the trees, without the lemons, without the sun dappled light and the scratchy leaves and the boughing branches banging on the window, our rambling old terrace was nothing but an old house that belonged to someone else - crumbling mortar, sagging front door, cracked pavement, broken lattice, haggard tree stumps and an unshakeable tendency toward shedding dust and attracting ants.

Inspired by the devastation, we packed up our denial and our belongings and got out of there as quickly as we could. One truck, fifteen car trips, seven million trailer loads, and only a handful of tears and swear words, and we have successfully transplanted ourselves into another inner-outer-inner suburb, with the dog and toddler and tricycle all still (relatively) intact.

We don't have any lemons anymore, or a magnificent old lemon tree in a ramshackle old yard to shade under in the summer months. But we do have a giant olive tree out the front of the new place that looks like it's going to deliver in abundance.

Tapenade, anyone?

M x

Saturday, May 10, 2014

International Blog Swap Day 2014 - A Bloggy Blind Date with Cookies and Cwtches


It's International Blog Swap Day, and I'm lucky enough to have been partnered up and sent on a bloggy 'blind date' with the delightful Lina from Cookies and Cwtches. To mark the occasion, Lina has a written a special guest post! To really put the swap in International Blog Swap Day, I will be blogging over at Cookies and Cwtches today as well, make sure you head over to say g'day.

Hi I’m Lina and I blog over at Cookies and Cwtches. Cwtches is the Welsh word for cuddle or hug! I am 32 and a mummy to two little girls aged 7 and 3 and have another little one due in a couple of months.

As I’m writing this post for International Blog Swap Day I thought I would just introduce myself, my blog and tell you a little bit about me.

I live in a small town in Wales although I was born and grew up in London. Moving to Wales was a big change for me – there is much more countryside, the people are nicer and the houses are much cheaper than I was used to in London! I think Wales is a really nice area for children to grow up but I do get homesick for the hustle and bustle of London sometimes!

I started my blog because I love writing, and thought it would be a great record of my children’s growing up years. I write a lot about parenting in general as well as our little family memories too. I also really enjoy cooking and crafts and like to record recipes and our craft activities on the blog as well as share these ideas with other people who may be reading.  

To give you an idea of what I like to write about here are some links to some of my more popular posts…

  http://cookiesandcwtches.com/recipe-healthy-smoothie-ice-lollies/  http://cookiesandcwtches.com/nursery-ideas/

A big thank you to Mumdanity for hosting my post…do pop over to my blog where she will be writing a guest post of her own.

Thanks to Lina for her post - head on over to her blog too!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Wintry Side of the Equation

It's been nearly two months now since I slipped into the exhausting slipstream thick of working-mum life. Most of the life dust has settled, but I am struggling to find out exactly where the time has gone, and where the halves of all the sad and single socks in our neglected washing basket have buggered off to. 

Somewhere, between reclaiming my work skirts from the back of the wardrobe and trying to source, chop, crumb, bake and pleadingly squeeze zucchini sticks into an eleven month old each evening, the trademark Australian summer days have shifted toward the wintery side of the annual equation. 

In true transitional fashion, we are still getting a smattering of hot days wedged in among the cold ones, but they are fast becoming the warm exception to the chilly rule, like finding a prized full noodle in a packet of resolutely broken ones.

For the most part, though, the long rambling evenings of the summer months have given way to the crisp mornings of April, and the train station platform has seen a resurgence of black tights, well-loved boots and mid-length coats topped off with football scarves. 
Our cold dinners have given way to casseroles, fish and chips at the beach have been replaced with fish and chips on the lounge room floor, and picnics in the park are teetering indecisively on the precipice of seasonal give. 

In the same vein, the tantalizing waft of summer barbecues has been phased out by the acrid smell of wood fire smoke, piping from a medley of disparate chimneys as fireplaces are cleaned and test-fired in readiness for the battle of the temperatures that lies ahead. 

The leaves are starting to switch on the trees, going out in sympathy with the browning grass and the gnarling twigs, ready to peter out as daylight savings does and fall to the footpath when the first windscreens ice up in the morning. 

My crumbling old house in the inner-outer-inner suburbs of Melbourne is also showing the signs of the season, with the last good lemons throwing themselves from the tree and the cobwebs closing in on the windows that no longer need to be opened.  

To protest the shift in the the weather, a small but formidable army of mice have found their way through the cracks, making a mockery of the endless deficiencies in our antique door seals and off-kilter walls and skirting boards. 

The washing machine is now full of sturdy toddler trousers, footed pajamas and corporate shift dresses and tights - a far cry from the primary colour carnival of short-sleeve onesies, cotton nappy covers and sensible breastfeeding singlets that have been swallowed up by the missing weeks. 

The seasonal shift has even got the washing line preparing for hibernation, catching its last few weeks of relatively useful sun before it will be forced to slink off into a cool grey corner of the backyard for the duration of the lacklustre-laundry winter months. 

Somewhere, somehow, summer has turned to autumn, new year has turned to mid year, daycare has turned from new to routine, bottles have turned to cups, crawling has turned to stepping, fast has turned to much faster and I still can't find a pair of matching socks - and by time time I do, my daughter will have outgrown them anyway!

Has time crept up on you lately?

M x