Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Cossie Conundrum

It's coming.

That terrifying, breath-sapping, bum-trembling moment of truth when I must trek across the sand dunes and drop my sarong to stand exposed in nothing but my cossies, untanned skin and crippling lack of self-confidence.

It happens every summer, sandwiched in between trying to cram the Christmas wrapping paper into the recycling bin and fighting over the last honeycomb chocolate square on the family dining table.

Out of nowhere, the mercury suddenly soars, the seagulls wilt in the sky, and I am forced to choose between melting into oblivion on the couch or blinding the locals at the nearest beach in my tummy covering one-piece and security sarong.

It is exceptionally safe to say that, even after life long love affair with the ocean and nearly thirty years living up and down the Eastern Australian coastline, my body is never 'beach ready' for my annual sandy debut.

Despite my very best intentions, a long list of bookmarked beauty blogs
and several drunken New Years resolutions shouted with celebratory conviction, I am the permanent antithesis of a summery beach queen.

I have an impressive lack of exfoliation skills, an empty space in my mind where beauty knowledge should reside, and a blatant disregard for all things tan and product that would make even the most compassionate beauty magazine editor hang their head in shame.

Living in this perpetual unreadiness, the annual road from couch to beach is a tough one, designed to challenge my tentative grip on positive self-perception and rapidly fuel my seasonal desire to consume cocktails - immediately, rapidly, in bulk.

The starting hurdle is always the hardest: in a state of sheer despondency, I wriggle into my swimmers, stopping frequently to curse the ample portions of Christmas trifle I've tucked away over the silly season and suffocating heat of the Australian summer.

I slather myself in sunscreen, once and then twice, acutely aware of my ghostly Melbournian pallor and the unavoidable realities and consequences of sun exposure and burn.

Covered from head to toe and back and with no more lotion to play with, I sink into procrastination, fiddling with the strap of my hat, the positioning of my pony tail, the lid of my water bottle, anything in sight, to delay the inevitable ...

The trek through the dunes is scorchingly blissful, toes frying in the grit and the whack of wind distracting my senses from the challenge ahead - where there is nothing but sand and water and my own imagined inadequacies, competing for priority on my rainbow striped beach towel of truth.

Convinced that the handful of occupied swimmers and bored sun-bakers are staring and ready to laugh in mocking judgement, I dredge up some imagined bravery: top off, shorts down, bum up, legs out, hyperventilate, breathe, swim.


The swim is the ultimate summer prize, sparking up my confidence like an unexpected Christmas present on Boxing Day. As soon as I'm in the water, it takes just three short seconds and a mouthful of salt to forget what the fuss was all about.

There's something deeply refreshing about duck-diving under the breakers and getting dunked like a bobbing bottle cork that wipes out my self-doubt. Being in the water takes me straight back to being a beach kid, keen for an afternoon on the board and a lemonade ice-block.

So if you see me on the water's edge this summer, trembling with trepidation and lighting up the horizon with my permanently pale pins, just push me in - a bit of salt fixes everything.

Do you dread getting in your cossies too?

M x

You can follow Mumdanity on Facebook and Google+ and Twitter

Photo credit: Victor Bezrukov via photopin cc

Friday, December 13, 2013

All I Want for Christmas is Queue

Greetings Santa,

I know it's been a long time since I last penned a letter to the North Pole, and I'm far too old to be putting in requests for my Christmas stocking, but I have a few things on my mind that I would like to share with you.

As you know, I popped in to your local headquarters the other day to see you for the first time in nearly twenty years (shhh, please don't repeat that too loudly) to chew the proverbial fat, and to introduce you to my little girl on the eve of her first silly season.

While it was lovely to catch up on old times, I couldn't help but notice that there have been some significant changes in your department since we last smiled in front of the magical Christmas camera together.

As I stepped through the snow covered gate that separates the white goods from your enchanted woods this year, the stripes on my observational candy cane of change started zinging out of control.

First up, I noticed that your normal contingent of elves was missing from the action -
not a single pointed shoe or elfin ear in sight. Your beloved elfin friends appear to have been replaced by a small army of helpers of an unidentifiable magical creature origin, wearing perfectly average human ears and sensible polo shirts.

Mrs Claus was also conspicuously absent from the fanciful festive proceedings, although I can extrapolate that's probably because she has a sweet empire of her own, and has far more pressing things to do than watch you fulfill your merry commitments in suburban shopping malls each December.

While pondering Mrs Claus' possible whereabouts, I noticed that your personal letter box has been switched out for a computer covered in fake snow, where children can take advantage of your free Wi-Fi and email you a Christmas wish list, complete with model numbers and instructional graphics to seal the deal.

Just watching the little wizards clicking away on the track pad and selecting holly covered template backgrounds made me feel like a relic from the Land before Time - and that reference probably consolidates my ancient status.

It's not just the mail box though. The traditional film camera that snapped our mugs years ago has been carted off to the museum, replaced by a sleek digital number with a suite of impressive options and an attached viewing screen.

I'm all for converting over to the the digital photo medium, but I was shocked to discover that the rushed one-shot-one-expression has disappeared into the back paddock and made way for an impromptu professional portrait shoot.

The non-elfin-helpers now snap, resnap, and snap photos again, allowing mums to rule out unfortunate facial freeze frames and smooth down wayward cowlicks before they are immortalised in the yellowed recesses of family photo land. 

Another seismic shift in proceedings is that your photos are now available for immediate collection from the magical photograph kiosk outside the gates, with online packages and USB copies available to complement the physical prints.

There is no more agonising wait for the postman or the expensive twenty-four hour express pick up option to see if you have conquered or destroyed the annual family photo, and no more being sent to your room for spilling juice on the only enlarged copy (sorry, Mum).

The miniature candy canes and milk bottle lollies have also been retired to the back paddock - and while I know there are plenty of dental concerns and food allergy issues and food safety and handling procedures in play, my nostalgic taste buds want to throw a tantrum of naughty list proportions. 

Your big plush seat surrounded by empty gift-wrapped boxes and life size candy canes has disappeared, and the proscenium arch style centre stage concept has been thrown out with the reindeer water.

Instead of sitting in the middle of your kingdom sharing belly laughs and big-hearted waves with all the true believers, you now spend your late November and early December days tucked away out of sight in a cubicle with a large prohibitive door and a handful of protective helpers.

The icing on the change cake, though, is that you now take official appointments as well as casual visitors seeking a spontaneous chat and photograph (pending availability, within the allocated casual visiting hours, on certain days of the week). 

When one of your efficient helpers asked if I had an appointment, I almost slipped on the imaginary reindeer poo in shock. An appointment. To see you. For a two minute chinwag and catch up.

Seriously, what gives Santa?

I get that you're a popular guy, and that I'm just one (really overgrown) kid out of oodles and noodles of excited kids across the globe wanting to catch a moment of your time, and I understand you need to protect your regular toilet and meal break entitlements with stringent work hours - but did it really have to come to this? 

A significant chunk of your charm has always been your accessibility - anyone and everyone could approach your awesome velvet covered shopping centre chair and have a catch up, a happy snap and a quick run through the wish list.

Sure, there were queues, and sometimes there were really really long queues, where you would almost melt down into your rubber thongs and overdose on Mintie freshness and Fantale stickiness waiting to get through the wooden gate and to the front of the line.

The wait was just part of the tradition though, and even though it seemed a little incongruous to the occasion - much like leaving out a saucer of milk in Australian summer heat to refresh the reindeer or roasting a turkey in a heatwave - it was worth every calve muscle cramp and frustrated parent sigh.

Of course, you and I both know that these changes are not universal across your famous chain. I am (well and truly) old enough to understand logistical purposes require you to have different magical headquarters in shopping centres across the world, and that each Santa HQ hotspot has a unique set of helpers and daily operating procedures.

Chances are that if I had a sleigh of my own and visited you in all your different enchanted setups this year, Santa, I'd find Mrs Claus and some pointy elfin ears and even a lifetime supply of free candy canes in every flavour of the rainbow.

I get that there are variations on the standard theme, just as I get that big changes can happen in the lofty space of twenty years - goodness only knows I've lived from childhood to parenthood and every other stop in between over the course of the two decades just gone.

But when Santa moves to streamline his shopping centre operations and boost efficiency, well, the warning bells really should start ringing at high volume from the tip of the North Pole to the bottom of the South.

The world seems to have lost it's funny bone since I was kid, and replaced it with an increased push to streamline efficiency and maximise productivity while following a complex web of regulations and posing for obligatory duck face selfies.

The last thing I want for Christmas is the see the magic of the season and the dreams of my childhood drowning under the weight of appointment times, online booking regulations and the pressure of taking the perfect Santa photo.

If my name does chance to appear on the nice list this year, Santa, please just give me a miniature candy cane, a hilariously bad photo and a twenty to thirty-five minute wait to hang out with you in person.

I'll be the happiest big kid in town.

M x

P.S Best regards to Mrs Claus and the elves 

You can follow Mumdanity on 
Facebook and Google+ and Twitter

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Symbiotic Breastfeeding Memo

The classes made it look like cake -
a picnic down on mothering street;
but we did not match the diagram,
you, me,

with milk to mouth our greatest feat.

Tedious crept the early weeks,
latch refused and dropping weight.
We missed the symbiotic memo,
you, me,

as we stumbled around the starting gate.

Awash in shields and pumping parts
we slowly worked the puzzle through,
and like Archimedes we hit Eureka,
you, me,

and proved the unnaturally natural true.

Head craned back and latch achieved
we entered hazy feeding on demand;
ensconced with the boomerang pillow,
you, me,
in our twenty-four-seven milk bar land.

We peeled the layers of cause and effect,
added more oatmeal and water on tap,
subtracted chocolate and orange juice,
you, me,
settled the stomach and afternoon nap.

We moved through milk drunk delirium,
then cluster feed bombs, epic and raw;
we hit our stride and rhythmic supply,
you, me,

teeth getting less, spurts getting more.

Car feeds in crowded parking lots
and sanity snacks on interstate flights;
we mastered the baby hydration caper,
you, me,

and regained the sleep of the nights.

From seven feeds, to five, now three -
the morning, the lunch and the bed -
and I can see the end creeping toward
you, me,
as you reach for bowl and cup instead.

Snuggle downs have left the building
with little arms stretching to explore;
the magic milk has grown us up,
you, me,
and the peaceful feed, it is no more.

We wrestle like dudes on cable now,
with foot in stomach and hand in hair.
We oscillate from couch to walking,
you, me,
then via the bed and onto the chair. 

The grapple extends to public view -
oh look, a napkin, a car, a puppy -
top open, bra open, mouth open,
you, me,
flapping, conjoined: the feeding guppy.


From breast to table in a microsecond,
infatuated, ingratiated with the spoon,
we're changing the calorie landscape,
you, me,
and milk will be on the firm outer soon.

As we head to two, then one, and none,
to the cupboard of cups and change,
I will remember back on this journey of
you, me -
the growing of a baby, real and strange.

M x

Linking with Grace for FYBF
You can follow Mumdanity on 
Facebook and Google+ and Twitter

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Remembering the Undies

Fotballfrue via Instagram

I stumbled across this photo of Norwegian fitness blogger Caroline Berg Eriksen this morning, looking fab and fit in nothing but her underwear just four days after giving birth to her daughter Nelia. 

Berg Eriksen is the wife of a Norwegian football player, and pens a blog called Fotballfrue (which literally translates to Soccer Wife, or the Footballer's Wife, depending on which translation program you use, but it's all just splitting hairs). 

If you've been offline reading a good old-fashioned book or putting up your Christmas decorations for the last few days, you may have missed her photo and the nice (and not-so-nice) little flurry of opinion it has generated across the big wide interwebby land. 

As you may well expect, journalists and bloggers across the globe have taken up their various corners and started the great debate, firing off posts ranging right across the spectrum from condemnation to congratulations. 

If you have come across it while Procrastabooking or browsing entertainment sites, and stumbled through it's growing online shit storm, then you may well have already decided which corner you stand in, or even decided that you don't really care enough to stand in any corner at all. 

I'm definitely in the last category on this one: I don't give two hoots about how Berg Eriksen's body looks, or the underlying motivations behind the snap, or what the photo contributes or detracts from the global post-pregnancy body image debate, or even the fact that Berg Eriksen appears to have a chandelier in her room (although that does border on being quite cool). 

Perhaps I've reached 'celebrity postpartum selfie shot' overload and tuned out, or maybe I am just too obsessed with my own rather floppy and flabby post-pregnancy body and how it looks in front of the mirror to really care about anyone else's photographed reflection.  

What does interest me about the picture, though, is the fact that a four-day young mother - who endured labour and birth and the first few days of life with a newborn - actually had the time, mental capacity and emotional stability to remember she had pretty underwear.

Not only that, she also had the physical strength to put it on and take a photo with her phone AND remember her Instagram account details, use a filter and operate the interwebby to upload it to boot. She has also managed to write a blog post complete with pictures of the birthing process and upload that too. 

All this underwear donning, writing and uploading within just a few short days of giving birth to a baby. This is astounding - she had a baby, and remembered she had lacy undies, all within the first week! 

Four days after I gave birth, I could barely even remember my own name and actually did forget my daughter's on more than one occasion. My brain felt like it was imploding, and my boobs felt like they were exploding.

Four days after I gave birth, I was camped in my lounge room wearing nothing but a fluffy mandarin coloured dressing gown, purple ankle socks and soothing gel breast pads, alternating holding my baby with bouts of crying and potato chip demolition.

Four days after I gave birth, I was in the throes of attempting to breastfeed, complete with nipple shields and breast pumps and lanolin and complementary expressed milk bottle feeds and daily home visits from midwives.

Four days after I gave birth, I was feeling the hormones crashing down around my ears, snapping at the people around me and hiding in the shower trying to feel even somewhere close to a normal functioning human again.

Four days after I gave birth, I was reeling with exhaustion, with had a baby who wouldn't sleep a wink at night time and only five broken hours sleep logged on the clock during the past ninety-six. 

Four days after I gave birth, I was thinking about buying larger maternity bras and trying to summon up the courage to try and squeeze my post-partum body into a scarily tight pair of recovery shorts so that one day, I might hopefully be able to wear some normal pants again.

Four days after I gave birth, I was marveling at the tiny little squirmy baby lying on my chest, wondering how she ever grew inside me - and more to the point, how on earth she ever actually came out.

Four days after I gave birth, I was looking down at my puffy belly and
plentiful generous expansions and somewhat judging myself for eating my way through my final trimester and dissing pregnancy yoga as boring.

Four days after I have birth, I would not have been able to remember I owned a pair of nice knickers, let alone remember where I had put them or even think to put them on.

Some new mums bounce back at an incredible pace, heading out to the grocery store and running errands with their new bundle snuggled into a carrier; other new mums (like me) take a little longer to adjust their eyes to the new daylight glare of the parenting world.

Caroline Berg Eriksen has a fab and toned physique, that she clearly worked hard for before and during her pregnancy - but it's her apparent bounce back and her ability to remember she has pretty undies so soon after birth that has me impressed.

How quickly did you bounce back after giving birth?

M x

You can follow Mumdanity on 
Facebook and Google+ and Twitter

Photo credits: Fotballfrue via Instagram/Chiot's Run via photopin cc