Sunday, May 31, 2009

Creativity and motherhood

I just read a very interesting post over at Inner City Garden. It's all about how to balance motherhood and artistic pursuits. And it really struck a chord with me.

A week or so ago, I picked up a book at the local library called Fruits of Labour: Creativity, Self-Expression and Motherhood. The book was published in England but features writers from the UK, US and here. I found it to be a very, very interesting read.

It's essentially several different takes on the same issue: how exactly do you balance your need to be a creative, expressive individual with all the demands of motherhood and the resulting change of identity it brings?

Most of the stories are, to be honest, a little depressing - because it reinforces what we suspect: that this is no easy ride. But some are pretty illuminating, showing how children can bring out a new side to your personality and therefore open up a new realm of creativity.

Here are a couple of random excerpts.

"...All creative women with children carry an extra layer of responsibility which creates the need for a constant balancing act. Being creative can sustain you but if you are too busy, things begin to unravel. One tends to think that if one hadn't had children then none of this would be a problem, but I cannot imagine who I would be now without my daughters. There would have been no boundaries to my obsessiveness and I suspect I would have lived a much more seedy and excessive kind of existence. I would have lost my emotional tent pegs." (Julia Darling)

"Many mothers find time for themselves through sleeplessness or, when sleeping, have revealing dreams. That clever dreamlife works away, helping the artist."
(Jacqueline Morreau)

"I have not had time to read as much as childless artists or to question my work as often ... Limited time has made me learn to be decisive, which has benefited my creativity." (PJ Crook)

"Was it greedy to have children, a stake in the future, genetic continuity, unconditional love given and received? The humour and irreverent curiosity that they bring? As I build my fifth sandcastle, I look at the man asleep under his newspaper while his wife gets buried in the sand. I wonder if the pleasure of children is something only creative men can afford."
(Beeban Kidron)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Names, names, names

My head is spinning in them! What to call the new baby?

I borrowed two books from the library. One is called 'Cool Names for Babies' and among the too-out-there-to-even-contemplate names there are a couple that are okay. The other book is called '20,001 Names for Babies'. Oh my goodness ... it's TOO, TOO much!

Every time I open it I am overwhelmed.

Shaun and I have discussed names a couple of times but we're still at the 'giggle at how stupid that would sound' stage.

I am hopeful that a name or two will just come to me. That's possibly the only way I am ever going to navigate my way through the naming maze.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Feeling jumpy

I haven't bothered too much about the whole swine flu thing. Until today, that is. Just as there are more cases confirmed I am stuck at home with a sick and feverish toddler. Which inevitably leads one to wonder 'what if'...

Having just read up on what's what on a couple of government health websites, my rational side tells me he doesn't have this strain of flu. Mainly because he's not THAT sick (one advice page says H1N1 presents as a fever of over 39, while his has been under that) and because we haven't been anywhere that might be where it could have passed to him.

Or have we? At what point do I take him to a doctor?

Argh! It's doing my head in. I am trying to look after him well, but to be aware that I don't need a case of any flu either at 26 weeks pregnant.

I guess we just have to roll with it ...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Little things

Last weekend I went to our local secondhand shop and stocked up on teeny tiny clothes. I found a yellow all-in-one 00000 suit that had clearly never been worn. Plus some sweet little white organic cotton trousers in 0000. Then two or three beautiful things that had a 'Made in France' label. All were in perfect condition. I bought 15 items (well, three were little pairs of socks that were only 20c a pair) and the entire lot cost me $19. My trusty calculator reports that, socks aside, each piece cost an average of $1.20.

BARGAIN! Why would you buy new?

This particular secondhand shop often has great bargains. I suspect it was a case of good karma, finding so many lovely little things for the baby. When my mum was staying recently, we sorted out E's baby clothes (this was the reason I bought some smaller items - realised I'd given his 00000 and 0000 clothes away to a friend ages back). We got rid of anything we had too many of (who needs 18 size 00 Wondersuits?), anything stretched, anything I didn't particularly like.

We packed up about 5 cardboard boxes worth of baby clothes (I have been given a LOT of clothes over the years) and took them to the depot of the secondhand shop I refer to above.

So finding what I actually needed a week or two later was like some amazing trade! I don't think I really need to buy anything else for this baby. Nothing. Clothes-wise we are ready (not in any other way though!!), and the total spend has been about $20. Not bad.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Black and blue

This is what it looks like when you have a run-in with a meditation stool (in a shop, there's none at my place) and the meditation stool wins.

Two minutes before this happened (I think the corner flipped up and whacked - didn't actually see the incident, just heard the yelp), I'd told E to put the stool back and the man in the store said: "Just yesterday a kid hurt themselves on that."


It came up nastily blue in 30 seconds. And not pretty today either.

How ironic, though, to score a bruise like that from a meditation stool?! Not very non-violent, not very zen and certainly not very calm!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Laying low - part 2

I had another ultrasound today. This one was to check a) that the baby is growing, b) that the placenta looks OK and c) that the placenta has moved UP!


Baby looks fantastic. The technician tells me it's about 850g now (25 weeks) - and showed me a graph that puts our bub smack-bang in the middle of 'normal'. Good.

I had a Doppler done on all the uterine/placental blood vessels, the cord etc. All fine.

That placenta? LOW! Darn it. Not dangerously 'blocking the cervix' low, I was assured, but the technician said "you'll be needing a couple more ultrasounds." And then she gave me the tip to avoid Monday appointments (they ran an hour late today).

She also said "well, you've had one caesarean..." Yes, but I was hoping to AVOID having another. LIKE. THE. PLAGUE.

However, what will be will be ... all that matters is that the little one is doing OK in there.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sydneysiders, how beautiful has this weather been? (And probably elsewhere too!)

I love autumn so much. The humidity finally disappears from the air (hooray!) and there's a lovely crispness to the sunshine. Today we went for a walk along our river and laid on the grass in the park for a while as E made "cakes" out of the various sticks, leaves etc that he'd found.

When we got home he wanted to do some painting. We sat outside. It was pretty sunny so check out the look...!!

Any time I feel a slight chill in the air, I get a little nervy though: it means winter is around the corner. And sometime this winter we will have a new baby.

Blimey, that's creeping up!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Grown up in days

It's amazing how sometimes a child can mature in what seems like a matter of days. Maybe each new developmental stage creeps up slowly, but we parents finally notice it and it's like, bang, whoa, since when he did know how to do that?

This week has been a case in point. My mum has been looking after him most of this week and she's like the learning accelerator; he always comes away from time with her having learnt some brilliant new thing.

Well, the latest achievements have been pretty huge. Our boy has been rather reluctant in the toilet training department.

Last week? He needed the occasional nappy. This week? No nappies. All I can say is yipppppeeeee! Night nappy last week. No night nappies now - and only one damp bed in a week. I think we can call this progress.

We've also noticed a lovely increase in his concentration span (as I write this he is playing on his own!) and a new neatness in his writing that wasn't there last week. He didn't take his monkey to preschool. Nor did he cry when we left him there - pretty much one of the first times since Feb.

So the 'big boy' haircut has coincided with all this change.

He's really growing up.

Monday, May 11, 2009

His father is going to kill me...

... but I took my boy to the hairdresser for the first time ever. At 3 years and 10 months, his hair had never had a cut. Shaun had argued that it didn't need a cut, however I think it was getting pretty unruly.

Wisps growing here and there, long bits in his eyes.

So I bit the bullet. I am going to be in sooooo much trouble when Shaun gets home. Eek!!....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


It was a beautiful day on Monday. We took these pictures at the park. I think I like the new camera:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Strange days

Last night I pulled one of my old diaries off the shelf (they actually take up the whole shelf). I used to write a dairy pretty regularly ... and then along came blogging. Anyhow, I pulled it down because I was interested to read back about how I felt when I was about this much pregnant with E.

Because it was four years ago, I have forgotten the ins and outs of what happens in pregnancy. I have also had very little opportunity to be introspective about this one.

Looking back at what I wrote at about 6 months, I realised I was actually pretty anxious about what kind of mother I would be, how it would change me, would I cope... etc. This time round I have that part pretty much sorted (apart from the odd panic at, whoa, there will be two of them).

What's got me perplexed is the small stuff. Did sleeping on my side cause me so much bother this early on with E? Was I fitter than I am now (yes!) when I was having him? But, most intriguingly, did I get all this weird stuff happening to my body?????!!!

Weird it is.

Example 1: eyelid twitching. I have been known to get the odd twitch of the eye, but it's usually, like, twice a year for 30 seconds. Now? At least 20 times a day and only in my right eye. It had begun to irritate me so I did what any time-challenged 21st century mother would do: I consulted Dr Google. Lo and behold ... you type in 'eyelid twitching' and 'pregnancy' and there are heaps of Wiki questions and the like (no decent answers though!) from women who are in the same boat.

Example 2: leg cramps. This I don't understand. I have never had a serious calf cramp before about a week ago. I woke in the morning and moved to get out of bed - yowee - cramptastic. I recognised the symptoms straight away because Shaun gets them frequently. From now on I will be more sympathetic. They hurt.

Whatever next?!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Camera joys

We are the owners of a new camera. I wouldn't say 'proud owners' because relations between us and this little camera have not started on a good foot. You see, webought it in NZ, duty-free. Which was all good and well until ... we opened the box at home.

The camera we bought is a Lumix FS6. Nice. From the playing around we've done the pics are better than our Canon PowerShot takes (but only because it's older and been battered a bit).


There was a problem. The little door that encloses the battery and the memory card was it. It just didn't shut properly. Seriously, you could put a fingernail in the gap. Now, this is a worry to me. What about moisture getting in? What about the battery not connecting?

So I rang Panasonic Australia. They immediately fobbed me off to Panasonic NZ. I emailed them a cranky email and Panasonic NZ immediately assured me I should speak to Panasonic Australia.

Frustrating, no?

Anyhow, Panasonic Australia told me to take the camera to one of their service centres, which is not far from our place (luckily). I took it in. The guy behind the desk goes, "That's just how they make them."

Eh? With a gap between the door and the most vital elements of the camera's functioning?

Anyhow, they took it. A get a call. They still think it's 'normal'. But since it's under warranty they have replaced the latch.

We pick it up today. The latch is a fraction better. Slightly.

What to do? Get our money back from Panasonic? Clearly it's a bit shoddy and won't last. Or just shrug and go, well, you know, nothing is made to last these days. Panasonic wants us to go out and buy a new camera in two years ...

Don't you hate it when things (especially new things) don't just work?

Anyhow, here are a couple of pics from the new camera showing E and his bestest buddy Bobo. And the baby leeks and lettuces in our garden...