Anxiety and the Post-Baby Conversation: A Book Giveaway

Guys, anxiety is so hot right now! It’s the the kale smoothie of mental unrest. If the 90′s was all depression, the 21st century is all anxiety. It is more common than a bearded bicyclist. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 1997, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem affecting Australians, with 9.7% or 1.3 million adult Australians (12% women and 7.1% men) reported to suffer some form of clinical anxiety during a 12 month period.

(Comic by Beth Evans) 

If you struggle at all with anxiety, like so many of the my most beloved people, I have a book for you.

My uncle Dr. Chris Mogan,  a Melbourne-based anxiety specialist,   has written Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies, a fantastic resource which offers practical strategies for managing worry, changing your thinking, supporting your mental health with lifestyle and breaking down what different therapies might involve.

(Comic by Beth Evans)

I have a copy of his book to give away, and for an honest and funny first person account of living with anxiety, I also suggest you check out The Little Mumma. 

Secondly, I have a copy of the wonderful book The Post-Baby Conversation by Alison Osborne. This book was published in 2006, the year my first was born. It’s such a helpful read for a family navigating the surging, wild seas of parenthood for the first time. This book is not about babies, or about parenting, but rather about how to be a Couple With Children – a vastly different kind of couple than you were before having a baby.

How do you share responsibility for the new jobs created in this crazy new baby economy you live in? What will happen after work and on weekends? What kind of expectations are you both silently holding about what the other should do?

Conversations about these things are incredibly helpful for couples figuring out how to do family life – it’s an ever-evolving work in progress , after all.

I think every new parent should get a copy of this book in the maternity ward.But until then, I have realised I have two copies, so I’d love to give one away. If you have a new baby in your life, know somebody who has, or if you are just grappling with these questions, I hope this book might shine some light for you.

Leave a comment below telling me whether you would like Anxiety For Dummies, or The Post-Baby Conversation, and I will choose a winner at random.

Happy week ahead, my comrades! May it be full of laughter and hugs that last for a minimum of 20 seconds ( it’s the magic number for oxytocin release. See? I’m full of advice today! )

Moody Bitches

An emotional moment, maybe regretted in the morning.
Woodstock, 1969, photo via Buzzfeed

You know, I have realised that whenever I have a PMT meltdown it is housework-related. I’ve written about it before.

Last week I had a terrible bout of ladymadness. Two long days of anxiety and quiet rage culminated in two long nights of insomnia, nightmares and a bout of midnight weeping – over the housework. The housework. Specifically, the way it stretched out before me like a lifetime curse.

Last week, we had two kid birthdays with all the parties, special dinners and present-managing that comes with them.  Also, one child home sick. So one of those intense family weeks. All went fine. Parties and presents and dinners: all excellent. Sick child: recovered.

Of course, a week like that means other balls get dropped a little. But last week I was also full of hormones, and the chaos seemed impossible, unmanageable. I felt like I was failing at everything. I couldn’t walk properly because I hiked up a cliff on the weekend, trying to emfitten myself, so there I was, limping around, tripping over the washing, swallowing the tears, baking the cakes.  All I could see were fails, everywhere.

Today I found this book called Moody Bitches at the library. It celebrates the tide of our moods thus:

Women’s hormones are constantly in flux. They ebb and flow over a month-long cycle and they wax and wane throughout decades of fertility, vacillating with particular volatility during adolescence and perimenopause, the spring and autumn of the reproductive years.

Our hormonal variations allow us to be empathetic and intuitive – to our environment, to our children’s needs, and to our partners intentions. Women’s emotionality is normal. It is a sign of health, not disease, and it is our single biggest asset.

Granted, it may have been hard for Keith to see my 2am  tears about the laundry as an asset, as I finally whimpered myself to sleep (a tale that is humiliating to recount.) ‘You know,’ he said very carefully at one point, ‘I know this feels very real, but it’s just your hormones.’

Yes.

And no.

The problem with that argument  is that when the eostrogen courses through your veins, you are irrationally emotional, but the issue is actually real. The catastrophe of it is manufactured, but the essence of it is real.

I do feel like fucking Cinderella.

I do spend all day getting the house in order only to have all my work trashed in five minutes.

I do see mundane chores filling the rest of my days.

I do find it incredibly hard to prioritise and manage my  back pain well when the everyday physicality of running a homestead leaves me sore and exhausted.

In the cold light of morning, that’s not such a big deal, of course, and every life is full of hard graft or one kind or another.

Saturday morning, eyeballs dry,  head aching, humiliation levels high; I slunk out of the house wearing a big hat. I avoided eye contact with humans and I went and saw Mission Impossible. Robotic Tom suited my mood. I ate chocolate bullets and slouched grumpily, and by Sunday night, I was recalibrated into my normal state. Thank Christ.

I am so grateful that the PMT beast only descends on me every few months. It would be so miserable if that happened every cycle. It’s goddamn exhausting feeling all those feelings. Dear readers, if you’re about to surf the crimson tide and your hormones are holding you hostage,  you have my sympathy. I know how you feel. (Half depressed, half-murderous.) Hang in there, moody bitches.

It’s an ASSET!

Like Sands Through the Hourglass

My smallest turns four today. Four! I am gripped with twin urges: one, to  plan, joyfully,  the future with my big girl, and two, to start feeding her growth-retarding hormones like Websters parents so I can  keep her in my handbag forever.

Last week Pudding collapsed in floods of anguished tears when I stood firm on the order to put her craft things away. ‘But you don’t understand, Mummy,’ she wept. ‘ It’s boring! Cleaning up is so boring!”

Mummy understands, darling.

Mummy understands.

She talks to herself under her breath to her imaginary friend Annabel, and their exchanges are fabulous. Like recently, I was brushing my teeth while she was on the toilet next door. ‘That is not true!’ she hissed quietly.

‘What’s not true?’ I asked.

Pudding came in and shook her head angrily. ‘Annabel just said ‘you do poos in the bath every day’ to me.’

‘Well, that’s just ridiculous!’ I said. ‘You are not a  baby. You tell Annabel that. ‘

‘I will,’ she said , hands on hips. ‘I will certainly will tell her.’

‘New thongs, G?’ Dad asked yesterday. ‘Haviana’s, are they?’

‘No, they’re mine now,’ she replied. This child is well-aqquainted with the thrills of the hand-me-down.

Happy birthday, little friend! May life unfold before you like a glittering gift.

When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly “What are the days of auld lang syne, Pa?”

“They are the days of a long time ago, Laura,’ Pa said. “Go to sleep now.”

But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa’s fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the firelight gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.

She thought to herself “This is now.”

She was glad that the cozy home, and Pa and Ma, and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.

Little House in The Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Animal Crackers

Small child washing greyhound, 1937

This post was originally published in Practical Parenting Magazine, August 2015

 My kids are desperate for a pet. Specifically, they want a dog called Snuffles.  Me, I can’t factor in managing another little animal. I have my hands full with my current menagerie of three kids under nine. Plus, every time we encounter the animal kingdom it seems to be quite dramatic and stressful.

Yesterday I was hanging out with three-year-old Pudding when a little bird flew in the house and cornered itself in the kitchen. My heart sank. This happens often, and I am always reminded of that Modern Family scene when Mitchell, terrified of birds, smashes up his entire lounge room trying to encourage a pigeon to fly out.

Birds, so non-scary in their natural habitat, somehow utterly freak me out at close quarters, and make me come up against my worst, most hysterical self. Here we were, with a tiny blue-tit frantically trying to fly through the kitchen window, and conking itself over and over on the glass.

Eventually I realised that I was going to have to capture the bird in a tea towel and carry it outside.  I could feel my blood pressure rising as I closed my hand gently around the madly fluttering, warm little body. ‘It’s OK it’s OK it’s OK it’s OK’ I muttered, deranged, as I carried the bird past little Pudding.

Suddenly it squirmed out, dropped onto Pudding’s foot and then rolled, motionless onto the floor. Pudding screamed, a terrible sustained banshee wail, and then I screamed too, before picking the bird up again and running outside (IT’S OK IT’S OK IT’s OK IT’S OK)  to place it on the step. ‘They do that!’ I told Pudding, my heart hammering. ‘Birds do that! It’s not dead!  It’s just stunned!’

Eventually the little bird came to and flew away, and I discovered that as it buzzed past my laptop on its little scenic tour of the house, it had shat on my keyboard. So Nature had the last laugh after all.

My son had animal-related hysterics recently too. It was a Saturday night, right on bedtime.   My husband Keith was away and I was trying to keep the vibe calm so I could cajole all three kids into bed when six-year old T-Bone suddenly ran inside with a frog in his hand. ‘A frog!’ he yelled. ‘I’ve got a frog and he’s my new pet!’

The girls shot off the coach, cast Eloise In Paris aside and threw themselves into the spirit of the thing. ‘Little fwoggie’, moaned Pudding, poking at the poor amphibian with her dirty little paws. ‘Let’s call him Trevor,’ said eight-year-old Peanut.  ‘Where did you find him?’ I asked T-Bone. ‘In my slime bucket’, he answered. I enquired no further.

Before I could regain control, Trevor jumped out of T-Bones hands and ran behind the fridge.  I was in it now. ‘No!’ I said. ‘It’s hot back there! He’ll cook!’ I found a torch, shone it into the dust and picked out poor Trevor, just out of reach. I managed to scoop him out with a long spoon and ordered T-Bone to take him out of the house. Before they could make it, poor befuddled Trevor took a flying leap onto T-Bones face.

‘MY EYE!’ T-Bone shrieked, running in circles. He ran around so wildly that it took me a while to grab him and pluck Trevor off. ‘My eye!’ he screamed the whole time. ‘My eye!  My eye!’  Poor Trevor finally got back to his slime bucket, and I did eventually get the children to bed, but the whole crazy drama of it all was another nail in the coffin of the dog-dream. Snuffles, I’m sorry but you will have to remain an imaginary dog for a while. It’s a zoo around here already.

This Is Water

Comrades!

How are you?

It’s been so long since last we spoke. I am just back from a week-long visit to a health retreat. It was amazing. I’m still processing my thoughts on it, as I adjust to the somewhat brutal reality of being back in the thick of Mum life. My back really hurts tonight. Sadly, the Princess life is over.

Oh, the retreat…. a week of rest, exercise and laughter with my darling old friend Dim, and a detox from caffeine, sugar, gluten, salt, alcohol and the internets. What an interesting world it was – no driving, no housework…. amazing. More on this later.

I just wanted to pop in to say that in some sort of message from the universe, my laptop burped and died just before I left. The brilliant Dr Keith has just finished fixing it for me, and I’m back online, on-blog and off message.

It’s been a busy time. In the lead-up to my trip away, I was really feeling overwhelmed. Keith was overseas for a couple of weeks, then we rolled into school holidays, which ended with a road trip visiting relatives. Now, the term is in full swing, which means lots of car-pool texting, menu-planning and packing and re-packing bags.

The kids are fantastic. Loving their new (garage sale) trampoline, although their favourite games is pretending to be dead on it, which slightly defeats the energetic purpose of the thing.  Eight year old Peanut remains my favourite comedian. T-Bone swings between his two energy settings: timid like mouse and wild like buffalo. But tonight, he set the dinner table without any prompting – napkins, candles and all. I was amazed. This boy normally needs me to walk him through every step of his process like a guide dog. Maybe he’s growing up?

George has taken to shouting ‘No way Jose!’ when she gets in trouble and ‘I’ll take that as a yes’ before I have time to answer any request. Also, she says she can speak donkey language.

How is you? Overwhelmed? Underwhelmed? Just the perfect amount of whelmed?

I don’t know. Being back in the scrolling to-do list ticker of family life is something of a minor shock after a strange, suspended period away from all of this, where I felt like I was dropped back into my independent self, thinking about nothing but my next sleep or yoga class. It was so great, but I haven’t worked out yet how to  take a little of that peace and apply it to the Mum zone.

I watched this moving David Foster Wallace speech while I was away. It describes, so beautifully, the frustrations and pleasures of adult life, and the power we have to choose to see how those frustrations connect us to each other. How there is beauty even in those frustrations.

More soon. Love to you guys.

 

#Freeboobing And Other Ways I Am On The Cutting Edge (And You May Be Too)

Sadly, I have no idea of the original source of this fabulous picture. It’s been floating around for years though. If you know, please tell me so I can give credit!

This post was originally published in Practical Parenting Magazine, June 2015

Newsflash, dear readers! It has come to my attention that ‘freeboobing’ is a thing. This, the art of letting the ladies loose, is a skill that many of us have perfected with Olympic athleticism.  For me, seconds after I walk in the door, the bra is off, signalling that the relaxation hour has come.  Cup of tea, breasts roam free.

I used to keep my bralessness for private moments. At least, I tried.  I did realise one day how habitual the bra-flinging had become when my mum and dad were over for dinner. Next to Dad, mid-anecdote, I unclipped my bra, threaded it through the sleeves of my shirt like a sexy conjurer and threw it over to join the rest of the washing on the lounge, all without losing the thread of my story.

All class, me. But apparently, I’m not alone and this behaviour now has a name: it’s called ‘freeboobing’.  #freeboobing, to be totes modern and specific. Freeboobing! It’s like Christmas for women everywhere.

This got me thinking.  What else is there that is happening in my life that I never knew was a trend? Have I been on the cutting edge of fashion this WHOLE TIME?

What about #bathslobbing, where I soak in my own discarded skin cells for an hour? I am seriously good at that.  Perhaps #nobbysinging will take off, where I sing Streisand and Mariah Carey to my children with full commitment to the dramatic arc of the song and every power note it holds, knowing from their guileless little faces that they don’t yet realise how terrifyingly daggy I am? (This also applies to #mumdancing.)

What about #rabbitholing, when hours that could have been spent learning more/anything about Middle Eastern politics or cleaning the bathroom were spent in a fruitless, addictive and soul-rotting quest to understand what a Freelee the Banana Girl is? What about #hotpantsing, when my legs are too hairy for shorts on a hot day and I am forced to wear jeans so as not to frighten strangers with my mohair stockings?

Perhaps  #scrispering, will take off. This brilliant combo of ‘scream and whisper’ (this word is not my invention, although I wish it was) describes the tone one is forced to use with naughty children in public. Painful but brilliant, #honestchilding is when the kids are the only ones telling the truth, as in ‘Mum are you growing a beard?’, ‘Have you got another baby in there?’ or ‘Your breath smells like bad eggs.’

Maybe #idiotdriving will become a thing, when I back into yet another letterbox, followed by #idiotconfessions, when I must go home and tell my husband that I’ve done it again. I’m sure #anychocolating has the potential to go viral. That’s when there is no actual chocolate left in the house and one has to resort to making icing to eat while watching the Real Housewives.

Last night I had something of a peak human experience. I was so thoroughly modern that I performed a number of cool hashtags simultaneously. There I was, #freeboobing while #bathslobbing,  #rabbitholing and #anychocolating. It was a top night in. And  – who knew?- totes on the cutting edge of fashion.  Finally, my hour has come!

Raising Girls (The Hints, Music and A Prayer From Tina Fey Edition).

Good girl!

While Keith was away recently, I found myself at one point screaming ‘Don’t you scream at me!’ at my eight year old daughter. ‘You don’t get to scream!’ I helpfully screamed. ‘Only the mother gets to scream!”

Later, I gathered the troops around me and apologised. It was the housework that made me lose it, of course. Doing housework while you live with small children, I read somewhere once, is like running a blender with the top off. Sometimes you spend all evening getting the house together and the next morning, it’s like it never happened. In terms of work, it’s like every week I write the same report and it gets shredded in front of me. Groundhog Day. It can grind at your soul, comradres! At your vurry soul!

Anyways, the apologising is an important follow-on from the mother-rage. But daughters should be allowed to lose it and apologise too, I’ve decided. So I shall try not to do that ‘Don’t you scream at me!’ scream again. Note to self.

In general, raising kids is an ongoing training program, for me and Keith and for them. My two girls are the unmitigated joys for my life. The big one carries a 700 page Harry Potter book everywhere and wants to be a comedian astronaut,  and the little one copies everything her siblings do, morphed through the wierdo filter of the three-year -old. We call her ‘Replay’, and every replay is absurd and delicious. They are the best. And I want to do my best job at bringing them up.

An article I read this week held some interesting ideas, including these:

Encourage your daughter to pursue a passion.

Encourage her to solve issues on her own rather than fixing things for her.

Encourage her to take physical risks.

Allow her to disagree with you and get angry.

Make regular time to listen  - and listen more than you talk. 

Acknowledge her struggles but keep a sense of perspective.

In terms of advice, for me, nothing will ever top Tina Fey’s prayer for her daughter:

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen.Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. “My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

Amen.”

In the final reckoning, daughters are so much fun. Mine bring me enormous delight at the moment, but it’s all swings and roundabouts. Tomorrow morning one of them might awaken into a crazy-eyed changeling, ‘whetevering’ and eye-rolling me until I hide in the bathroom, eat cooking chocolate and weep. It’s all part of the rich tapestry of life…

Also:

You Don’t Have To Be Pretty (And Other Advice For Daughters)

Introduce Your Daughters To Eccentric, Interesting and Original Women

Raising Girls – The Eight-Year-old Edition

On Following A Child’s Spark

Don’t Worry, Stressed, Enraged and Weeping Parents! Your Children Will Give You A Million Chances To Do Better

If it all finally, comes to naught, turn to the healing power of music and let Dan teach you how to play the way you feel when your daughter says she hates you. Remember, if the daughter who hates you is under 10, be sure to put a capo on the fourth fret!

Honest School Notes #9

Dear Office,

I’m sorry the children were late on the last day of term this week.

Keith has been away for a fortnight and life as a solo mum-of-three has gone swimmingly. At least, until the last couple of days.

I think the crumble began at rugby practice, which requires the mothers to stand at the side of a wintry field at dinner time, while siblings get increasingly cold and angry. I started checking the time frequently at about twenty past five, waiting for the five-thirty end of training when I can pack the kids in the car and spend the next twenty minutes refereeing fights in the backseat ( a recent battle between my three and six year olds was over who was which number on the digital clock. ‘I’m the nine! No! Daddy is the nine and you are the five!” etc. It is like being in an absurdist improv session.)

However, at the end of training is where the dad-coaches start having a little fun. They chuck the ball to each other while the under sevens run wildly back and forth. The dad coaches are dad-coaching beuase they love rugby, so this bit at the end is their favourite bit. It’s hard for them to stop, even when the clock is ticking past five thirty.

They don’t care that the siblings are getting crazy-eyed and hangry. They aren’t mentally recalibrating when to put the dinner on while carting a dead-weight three year old because the grass is too wet to sit on. Nope, they are chucking a ball around and having a whale of a time.

Suddenly the ball came soaring into our little pack of mums and collected a poor women fair and square on the side of the head.  She was of course kind and brushed it off even thought, clearly,  it had actually hurt her.

‘Sorry!’ laughed the dads, and on they continued with their dad-antics (dantics?)

I checked the time again and thought how long it would take to get the spag bol on. I bent over to get the bags together and ‘Ball! Ball!” shouted the dads. They’d kicked another ball at us and this one was headed for me. I stood up and my real feelings burst out of me. The F word burst from me. Not loudly. But not softly either. The dads were laughing weakly.  ’Once is an accident!’ I said loudly. ‘Twice is…not an accident!” (It was not my strongest comeback.)

I called the children to me and stalked off the field.

Fucking rugby.

Eventually we made it home, Office, through dinner, through a chapter of Harry Potter out loud, through teeth and baths and reading-apples and all the shenanigans that accompany bedtime. Mum was over to help me. Keith’s plane was arriving first thing in the morning and we had to leave for the airport pick-up at 6am.

At eight I got my period, which kind of explained my inability to keep my feelings on the inside on the rugby field.

By ten-thirty Mum and I had finished the washing-up and making breakfast packs for the car and laying out clothes for the morning.  We tootled off to my bed to read magazines together and talk about Masterchef.

All was well until little Pudding started barking. The unmistakable bark of croup. We went next door and checked on her. She was sitting up, hot and coughing, and rubbing angrily at her ear. She’d been complaining about that ear for a couple of days – it turned out there was a tick behind it. So Mum and I held her head down while I pulled the tick out, which was as fun for everybody as it sounds.

We tucked her into the big bed and then followed one of those hours with sick kids. Those google-doctor, what-to-do, is-she-worse/better hours, where you debate whether or not to go to the hospital. She’s breathing pretty funny, but that’s just croup. Going to the A and E at midnight for hours is a pretty good way for her to get sicker.

Unless she’s having an allergic reaction to the tick and her throat is swelling shut.

Fun times, Office!

After an hour or so she settled right down and we all went to sleep. I got the T-Bones bed ready for Mum (she has a chronic lung condition and being breathed on by a sick child is a bad idea for her). Of course when I moved T out he’d pissed the bed with the urinary force of a thousand stallions and I had to change it all.

Then the alarm didn’t go off. I probably set it wrong with my tired, anxious, menstrual-anger fuelled  fingertips. S when we did wake up we were forty five minutes late for the plane. Luckily, it was delayed anyway. As was the children’s arrival at school.

My apologies again Office.

Your sincerely,

Rachael Mogan McIntosh

Honest School Notes #1

Honest School Notes #2

Honest School Notes #3

 Honest School Notes #4

Honest School Notes #5

Honest School Notes #6

Honest School Notes #7

Honest School Notes 8

 

 

 

Two Crazed Mothers (One Of Whom Was Not Me)

Young people of Minnesota swimming, from the US National Archives

School holidays have landed.  What are you guys up to? So far we have had one super-chilled, lazy day here at Rancho Relaxo and one busy drop-off-pick-up put-your-shoes-on-whaddya-mean-you-don’t-know-where-your-shoes are kinda day.

I think I will aim for more of the former but for tomorrow at least, we are still in the bizzy zone. All three of the childrens have different bookings in their social calendars and I have some work to do.

Other than that, all is well.  K has been overseas for two weeks communing with the eggheads, but is back now – hurray, hurray. I don’t like advertising on the medias that he is not here, but all went fine. As usual I’m reminded again of what goddesses single parents are.

There are benefits to being the sole captain of the good ship DowhatIsay but it is so tiring, carrying all the weight alone, and there are no breaks in the weather. I don’t like it when all of my people aren’t in the one place, so I’m happier in myself now that we’re all together. Especially when we are together trying to work out Sia’s Chandelier around the piano.  Oh my god,  power notes to thrill, that number. So high that the only solution is to shriek like banshees.

Vat else?

I took young Pudding up for a visit to pre-school last week. She’s my third child to go to this utterly beautiful little school and I have so many wonderful memoriesof the place.  This one, for instance:

Last week at the pre-school pick up, I was chatting to my friend Emma in the carpark when a woman came up, strapped her baby in the car next to us and then suddenly shouted ‘My wallet! Somebody stole my wallet!’

She ran past us, stopping to shriek ‘Watch the baby! My wallet’s gone!’ as she headed at full speed back through the gates.

Emma and I looked at each other. ‘That’s so weird,’ I said. ‘No’, said Emma, ‘what’s weird is that she’s just put her baby in my car.’

Yep, their two cars were identical, down to the ubiquitous crumbly mess in the back seat.  This poor harried, underslept mother had strapped her kid into the wrong car and then had a massive hysterical freak out. In a few minutes she sheepishly returned, retrieved her baby, got into the right car and left.

I have not cackled and hooted and wept so hard in weeks. It was such a beautifully absurd moment and I recognised myself in that mother so very much, from the nutty mistake to the dramatic overreaction to the final, sheepish walk of shame. She is Everywoman.

I laugh still remembering that. Glorious.

Then today, Pudding and I hit a conversational wall trying to establish whether she was talking about a water-bottle OR a hot-water-bottle and I remembered this:

Like many small children, our three like to spend the hour after they are put to bed inventing increasingly flimsy and desperate excuses to get up again. They all have FOMO.  Autumn has brought some glorious daytime sunshine and chilly nights (the best) and so some of our cold-weather rituals have begun: porridge for breakfast, hot-water-bottles at bedtime.

They are all sharing one room now and so last night I tucked all three  in with kisses, hot-water-bottles and the usual optimistic/hopeless lecture. Within five minutes,  three year old Pudding was out in the kitchen casually filling a plastic bottle from the water filter.

‘What are you doing?’ I asked her.

‘Yeah, I just take this to bed, Mummy,’ she said.

‘In what parallel universe?’ I spluttered.  There is already at least one wet bed every morning at our place. The washing machine is my constant companion. No way am I letting these kids take half a litre of water to bed!

‘No water bottles in bed! Absolutely not!’ I said sternly.

‘WHAT?’ came dual voices from the bedroom.

‘I’m telling Pudding she can’t take a water bottle to bed!’ I called. ‘Now go to sleep!”

‘But can I keep my water bottle?’ came a worried little voice.

‘And mine?’ piped another.

I was incensed. Were they all stashing bottles of water in their beds? No wonder everybody was pissing themselves! And what else was in there, for gods sake? Mars Bars? Greek salads?

‘No water bottles in the beds!’ I shouted. ‘Bring them out straight away!’

With much indignant muttering, Peanut and T-Bone stomped out to the big room and presented me with their hot water bottles.

‘Oh!’ I said. ‘Oh right! Water bottles. I thought you had water bottles. You can have those water bottles.’

Back to bed they went. Just another arbitrary, confusing moment in the arbitrary, confusing landscape that is childhood.

GOD life is funny. I know it is bizarre to be referencing myself. Like, pathologically so, maybe. Don’t tell me. But life is just funny.

Happy tomorrow!

Orange Is The New Black: Make a Reek That Will Last One Thousand Years!

If you’re not watching Orange Is The New Black because you are curing cancer or writing a manifesto for fourth-wave feminism, that is fine. If you’re not watching it because you don’t know it or think it’s not for you, then you should rethink your damn decision!

There are so few shows like this. Set in a women’s prison, it is all about women – exploring the complex culture behind bars, and using flashbacks to explain the back-stories of the inmates.  It covers life in a way we rarely see onscreen. Basically, it passes the shit out of the Bechdel Test.

It occasionally misses the mark. Sometimes the cheese factor is high. Sometimes I can’t bear watching Piper at all. (You too?)  But that’s fine. That’s balanced out by the moments of utterly hilarious writing. And nobody does a season-finale like OITNB. (Except maybe Larry David.)

For instance, this speech Piper gives (she’s running a clandestine business called Felonious Spunk, which sells women’s worn underwear to perverts.) It is so funny it’s almost unwatchable.

Anyway, this post is for the fans of OITNB.  Some more back story on the fabulous women of Litchfield Penitentiary.

Big Boo is best mates with Mitchell from Modern Family, and speaks with great passion and intelligence about  playing a butch lesbian character on prime time TV.

Laverne Cox is the first trans women to be nominated for an Emmy. 

Morello is Australian and she made that crazy  accent up!

Norma used to front a punk band.

Some inside goss from the woman who was in jail with the REAL Piper.

And a final p.s: the breakout star of season 3, our very own Ruby Rose, is engaged to Phoebe Dahl, Roald Dahl’s grand-daughter. They are the coolest pair in town.