Adult Child

We’ve done it – we’ve managed to raise one child to become an adult. It’s a strange feeling to think that our daughter is no longer legally a child and is responsible for herself – well sort of! My daughter would like all the freedom that comes with being an adult but isn’t so keen on the responsibilities.

It only seems like yesterday she was a newborn baby swaddled and nestled in my arms. It’s hard to comprehend that she is now an adult. I still want to wrap her up and keep her by my side, but while that isn’t possible, I am at least proud of the woman she is becoming.

It really doesn’t matter how old your child is, you will always want to protect and care for them. My daughter is currently on ‘schoolies’ (an end of school tradition where kids go on holidays to celebrate graduating). This is the first time she has holidayed without a chaperone and I must admit I’ve had sleepless nights wondering if she is ok. It’s not that I think she will do anything stupid but where you get a group of teens conglomerating under the influence of alcohol and god knows what else, there is a propensity for trouble. I just don’t want her to get caught up in any violence or drink spiking etc. I know that as our kids grow up I have to learn to give them freedom, but until she is back home safely I think that I will feel uneasy.

It’s hard to believe I have an eighteen year old daughter as I still only feel eighteen myself. I look forward to the progression in our mother/daughter relationship from me being the disciplinarian to being more of a friend. In fact, since she has finished school I’ve noticed a shift in our connection, as she is now happy to hang out with me for a coffee and she has begun to confide in me more.

Parenthood is a journey through your kid’s different phases and now we embark on our next phase.

So today we celebrate our daughter’s milestone birthday in her absence and can relax in the knowledge that we’ve succeeded in getting our first born to adulthood. One down – three to go!

Embarrassing Kids

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All children, at some point in their life, cause embarrassment to their parents. There was a time when one of my kids was a new born and had an exploding nappy incident that shot ‘pumpkin soup’ like poo up to their shoulder blades as I was holding them whilst waiting in a queue. Needless to say I had to leave my place at the front of the queue to immediately deal with the explosion that ended up not only coating my child but also me in their excrement!

There were other embarrassing moments like when my son pointed to a man with an eye patch and yelled out at the top of his voice, ‘Look Mum, there’s a pirate over there,’ and another time when he spotted an elderly man with a white beard and again in full voice whilst pointing, drew my attention (and everyone in the whole vicinity), to ‘Santa’.

Whilst these cringe worthy moments are truly embarrassing, the time I felt was the worst was when my kids were just learning the art of walking. There is a period of a few months when your kid’s reach the age when they are pulling themselves up on furniture or just learning to walk and run independently when they are completely accident-prone. This period is marked by your child constantly being covered in bumps and bruises, from head to toe. Every time you step out of your house you are sure that every person is looking at your child wondering whether they need to alert child protection services to your neglectful parenting.

At the age of 13 months, one of my daughters split her lip when she slipped walking around the hob of the bath, another tumbled down a flight of stairs after a visitor didn’t close the gate and yet another split open her forehead when she tripped over her feet. The worst accident, not in pain but embarrassment, was when my daughter overbalanced when running and face planted on a tiled floor, chipping half of one of her front teeth. I took the fragment of tooth to the dentist and asked that they glue it back on. The dentist laughed and said as it was a baby tooth it wasn’t worth doing anything about it. My daughter had to go through the first few years of her life with only half a front tooth. I felt like we were a group of hillbillies who didn’t care about the fact she was missing half a tooth. Thankfully she lost her baby teeth very early; so that by the time she started school she had already lost what was left of her front tooth.

Now whenever I look at a toddler with bumps and bruises covering their body, I think back to that dreadful stage where even a flat and level surface is like an obstacle course for your child. Thankfully their co-ordination improves with practice and eventually you can show your face in public again without feeling the embarrassment of everyone judging your parenting skills.

Of course you can’t wrap your child up in cotton wool, but for the first few months of your child learning to walk, it would be great to be able to wrap them in bubble wrap!

What do you think is the most embarrassing age of kids?

(Photo courtesy of nenetus, freedigitalphotos.net)

New Parent

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Becoming a new parent is an exciting (and of course tiring) time in your life, however it can also be a time of feeling isolated.

I remember after my first child, once the frenzy of well-wishers had come to visit the baby, there was a lull in adult company. I knew people were respecting the fact that I needed to rest when the baby slept and that it was hard for them to know when that would be, but all the same I remember feeling very alone. I was also overwhelmed by the changes in my life – the responsibility for caring for a child 24 hours a day, a lack of sleep and the changes in hormones as my body adjusted from being pregnant into being a full-time milk bar.

Having moved house a few weeks prior to having the baby, I didn’t have any friends nearby and my old friends were not at the same stage in life, so they were busy with work commitments. I remember when my husband went back to work that I felt a bit lost. I could go all day without any adult conversation. Of course, I was besotted with our new baby, but I also felt that I had little purpose beyond caring for our daughter.

Being a first time parent, I was keen to ensure my baby was in a routine and so my life revolved around a strict regime that I inflicted upon myself. I also lacked the confidence to know that my baby would be okay unattended in her cot while I got on with chores – I would even take her into the bathroom with me when I showered, so I could keep an eye on her.

With experience came confidence to start going out and when I joined a mother’s group, I found a supportive network of new friends who were experiencing the same issues with their babies as I was with mine.

I laugh at the contrast of my first time parenting experience with that of my fourth child. My youngest child’s routine was to sleep in the car as I ferried his older sisters to and from school. He adapted to the family routine and I no longer feared leaving my baby unattended in the cot for a small amount of time to do chores. Furthermore, I no longer isolated myself at home, instead I continued with the social commitments for my other kids and to be frank I didn’t have time to feel lonely when surrounded by friends and our combined hoard of kids.

What did you find the hardest adjustment to being a new parent?

(Image courtesy of Danillo Razzuti, freedigitalphotos.net)

Open Apology

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I have always laughed, but felt a tad annoyed, when people would ask me, ‘are ALL those children yours?’ – like having four children made me like the Duggars who have dozens of kids. The jokes of ‘haven’t you worked out how they are made?’ or ‘doesn’t your television work?’ or ‘are you trying to get a whole football team?’ all became old very quickly, so I’m usually sensitive to this with other parents.

However, the other day I bumped into a mother with whom I would sit when my oldest kids were learning to swim. She has a son my eldest daughter’s age, a son my second daughter’s age, a daughter a little younger than my son and the last time I saw her several years ago she had another baby son. So I was surprised when I saw her cradling a newborn baby. ‘Is that yours?’ I asked hesitantly, to which she replied yes. ‘How many kids do you have now?’ I asked insensitively. ‘Oh about fifteen,’ she joked then said this little boy was her fifth child.

‘Wow, a child finishing school and a newborn, that’s amazing,’ I went on, followed by, ‘you’ll probably have grandkids before your youngest kids finish school.’ This sentiment stems from my own thoughts that it is quite possible that my eldest could have a child before we are free from school commitments for our youngest.

After I walked away I was replaying our conversation over in my mind and came to the conclusion that I had acted in the exact way that I had always made a silence pact not to! What I should have said was what a blessing to have such a gorgeous child and what a lovely addition he would make to the family, instead in my shock at seeing this lady with another child I blurted out insensitive comments for which I openly apologise.

I know that when you give birth to any baby, you love them unconditionally and can’t imagine your family without them. This little boy is lucky to have been born into a family where he has many siblings to dote on him. I just don’t envy his mum having to sit through all those swimming lessons again!

(Photo courtesy of papaija2008, freedigitalphotos.net)

My son’s heartfelt message on Mother’s Day

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From the moment your belly swells with the new life inside, you develop a primal love for the child you are carrying. A love so pure you will accept the excruciating pain of giving birth, put up with sleepless nights and spend your life ensuring your beloved child is loved, safe, secure, educated and entertained.

Mother’s Day is the one day of the year your child is encouraged to show you how appreciated and loved you are. This year was the first ever I didn’t receive a glitter covered macaroni necklace or a kitschy ‘World’s Greatest Mum’ mug. This year my husband purchased a great gift on behalf of the kids, so their only input was a hand written heartfelt message in a store bought card. My nine year old son’s message will be forever etched in my mind:

“To Mum, hope you have fun. P.S. Can we go see Mall Cop 2?”

After all the dirty nappies, sleep deprivation, cooking, cleaning and playing mum’s taxi, that was my son’s heartfelt message!

Luckily he does still cuddle me and spontaneously tells me that he loves me, otherwise I might have had to put him up for adoption after his effort this Mother’s Day!

(Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)

Kate’s not alone

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There has been a lot of conflicting opinions about whether Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, left hospital too soon after giving birth to little Princess Charlotte.

With my second child I left hospital after 20 hours. I just wanted to sleep in my own bed without listening to other babies crying and without the nurses chatter disturbing me. What I hadn’t counted on was that people took that to mean there was endless visiting hours at our home.

The night after giving birth to our daughter I had 26 visitors at my house at dinner time. I was exhausted and wanted time to rest and bond with my new baby. Instead I was hosting a party and ordering in copious amounts of pizza to feed the hordes.

Returning home also signified to my husband that I was back on board to care for our toddler and resume cooking and cleaning. I was exhausted and didn’t give myself a chance to heal and rest after what was a stressful experience for my body.

For the birth of my subsequent children I stayed in hospital for 3 days which meant I had allotted rest times, scheduled visiting hours, had time to stare at my beautiful baby without worrying about chores and best of all just had to tick a box on a sheet to order my meals.

While I truly understand Kate’s motivation to leave hospital immediately, having done it myself I wouldn’t choose to do it again. Having said that I’m sure Kate has nannies, chefs and cleaners so maybe returning home so early won’t be quite as exhausting for her.

There’s one thing I can tell you for sure is that I certainly didn’t look as glamourous as Kate when I left hospital with my newborn babies!

TWENTY FOR TILLY

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My heart breaks as I share this story with you. Earlier this year, my friend Carmen and her husband Kyle had a beautiful daughter Tilly – a little sister for their gorgeous son Jock. At Tilly’s standard eight week check up they were shocked to find out Tilly has Infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and in order to have a chance to survive she must undertake two years of chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants.

This family’s life has been turned upside down. Life as they knew it changed, as Carmen and Kyle took on a roster of one looking after their son, whilst the other stayed in the hospital with Tilly. Every time they leave the hospital they don’t know whether it will be the last time they will see their baby girl alive. With a depleted immune system there have been a few close calls but little Tilly is a brave and courageous fighter.

Most parents of small babies are focused on them reaching their milestones of sitting, rolling and crawling. Tilly has a different set of milestones. The next milestone for Tilly is a bone marrow transplant.

Imagine the stress of being utterly helpless to do anything to heal your daughter, other than sit by and watch as she undergoes multiple surgeries and is constantly pumped full of chemicals to kill off this insidious disease. Add to that the stress of day-to-day expenses and mounting medical bills, when neither you nor your husband can work for fear of possibly missing precious moments with your critically ill child. The Swains are proud people and have not asked anyone for help, but you don’t have to be in their shoes to know that although we can’t help eradicate Tilly’s cancer, we can help ease the stress of monetary concerns by assisting this family in need.

A fundraising page has been started to help the Swains where we ask you to donate $20 for Tilly. This small amount may not make much of an impact on your weekly budget, but will mean the world to a family dealing with unbearable stress. Please find it in your heart to help and to share this story.

I will keep you updated with Tilly’s progress and hope to report in the future that she has grown into a happy and healthy little girl, with no memory of her difficult start to life.