Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Breaking Up With Kate Bush

Dear Kate

As I’m sure you know, having sex with an ex is always a bad idea.

Too much baggage whizzing about. It’s like a demented British Airways carousel after a horribly long flight with cheap chardonnay and way too much turbulence.

It’s not so much One-More-For-The-Road as You-Made-A-Mistake-Breaking-Up-With-Me-Look-Nah-Nah-What-A-Good-Root-I-Am.

There’s all the recriminations.
The spiteful accusations.
The lame Breakup Lines to try and ease the parting.

It’s not passionate, it’s petty.

I’ve realised that a similar thing occurs when you revisit the music of your past.
That’s Past with a capital P.

Specifically, the music that you played when you were with an ex.

It’s been so many years since you and I were pals Kate.

How I loved your whimsical lyrics (“You’re like my yo-yo…” how craaazy is that?) and creepy whispering melodies, your mane of dark hair and your wild, wild I’m a bit-mad-you-know-eyes.

But those days of flouncy white frocks and one armed swaying and of course the high pitched eeriness of all your beautiful not-of-this-world songs are long gone.

As are the associated men. And that’s a Very Good Thing.

This weekend I was lingering in a music shop and I saw your cd The Whole Story. It had Wuthering Heights and Hounds of Love and all manner of reedy wierdy high pitched creepy whispery hits. I was looking for a cd to play in the car while I drove up north for a weekend away and I suddenly thought what a lovely idea it would be to revisit Kate.

I could one handed sway as I pootled up the Pacific Highway.
I could flip my hair and roll my eyes in a madcap Kate-ish fashion.
I could wear cheesecloth, or at least a blouse that flounced as well as allowing easy access for breast feeding.

And I could sing along of course because all those words were etched indelibly in my 19 year old brain.

And so it came to be. And I sang along and so did my baby and the high notes were met and lo surpassed, although not by me. And the car was fall of floaty, swaying, cheese clothy loveliness.

For about ten minutes.

And then the memories came flooding back.

It was creepy and not in the way you intended.

It was grubby. It was petty. There was a nasty taste in my mouth that I’d prefer not to identify but if I was going to be brutally honest I’d say was regret. Creepy whispery floaty regret.

And that’s why, I’m afraid, it’s over. No really.

It was beautiful while it lasted but I’d rather it stayed a wonderful memory. We've both gone too far down our respective roads, me, married with a baby and you, still floaty and whispery but now doing craazy songs about your washing machine.

We’d spoil it if we tried to start up again.

But don’t blame yourself.

It’s not you, it’s me.

(No Longer Yours)

Ova Girl

Thursday, November 23, 2006

It seems odd...

...that if I'm trying to snatch a few moments sleep in the afternoon and I hear someone using a lawnmower I relax and imagine Sunday afternoons and pleasant cut grass smells but if I hear someone using a leaf blower I want to fling up the window and scream like a banshee:


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sometimes "wrestling the caterpiller" means just that. (Four months)

Dear Tricky

Coming up to this month I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of being your mother.

I’m aware that this is probably a tenuous sensation, like thinking I’ve finally got the gist of semicolons, or finally know how to reattach the wireless router when our internet connection bites the dust. The whole of the me-mother-you-son playing field will shift and change and reset itself mysteriously and without warning, probably for the rest of our lives.

But for this moment of this month I feel as if I really know you; when you’re tired or you’re hungry or you just want to kick Mr Caterpiller’s stripy butt.

Mr Caterpiller is your current favourite Stuffed Friend. Your previous fave was Jingly Cow but soon after we got back from our big road trip around the state you dropped him like a fat stinky nappy.

I’m a little sad on behalf of the bovine, the two of you seemed such firm friends for the whole of that three weeks. He dangled and jingled and you laughed and burbled. He did his special medley of cow-centric show tunes as we made our torturous way through Melbourne traffic during one particularly special day and you, cranky as all get out, fixed him with your Evil Eye and your pouting lower lip, just daring him to stop.

Sing, damn you, you clinking four-stomached ruminant, sing! you seemed to be saying, and so he did right through The Sound Of Music (High on a hill lived a lonely Cow-herd, moo moo moo moo moo moo moo moo-oo), The Rocky Horror Picture Show(Toucha toucha toucha touch me, I want to be milky…), Godspell (Prepare Ye The Way Of The Cow) and Jesus Christ Superstar (Jesus Christ! Super Cow! If you were a dog then you’d say Bow Wow).

And then Mummy collapsed in a heap.

Now it’s all about Mr Caterpiller and his 60cm of crackly, stripy, squashable body parts.

He used to be longer than you but now you’ve caught up and also you’re much thicker than him, not that wrestling is all about who’s taller and fatter. You like to grab him as he hangs off your playgym and then you wrestle his caterpillar arse into the ground.

Your eyelashes are grown quite long and gorgeous and so I’m filled with both admiration and deep envy and you have become the Master Of The Wry Smile, often employed as you ‘posset’ yet again over my clothes or your father sings Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (the Pitjantjatjara version).

At 4 months I am much more aware of how dangerous the world is for tiny wee folk like yourself.

When you were smaller you weren’t aware of the Outside World, you were curled up and cosy in our skins. But now you see the sunlight flickering against the curtains while you feed and you break off (often with my nipple still in your mouth) and marvel at the light and why we still haven’t put up proper curtains despite it being nearly a year in the Big House and the whole hilarious nature thing.

Birds! Leaves rustling in the breeze! Flies!

You reach up and adjust my bra strap or finger the fabric of my singlet top and muse on the strange way cotton is Good because it is so light and breathable yet Evil because as a crop it sucks up so much water.

At this point, one of the greatest dangers to yourself seems to be us, your loving parents.

While we were away you and your father had a special bonding experience. He was holding you in his arms as he shook lemons from the tree and inevitably one fell on your head. It scared you but it scared your father more. I think you both cried. I was in the shower at the time and he didn’t tell me about it for another few hours, all the while “monitoring” you (yay St John’s first aid course).

Later, back at home, I left you on your tummy on the bed, with pillows on each side, as I flittered about trying to clean up the disaster that is our bedroom. I could hear you making protesting noises and I could see you had propped yourself against a pillow but I waited till I had rolled all our socks (because that’s essential, that rolled sock thing, crucial) before I picked you up. Surprise… your arm had gone almost blue.

We feel terrible about these things and we confess them to each other in shocked whispered voices and then we laugh derisively at how horrible and incompetent we are.

When we tell our stories to other parents they nod and then confess their terrible stories; the ill hung mobiles suddenly falling with pointy precision and the chasing of toddlers under prickly vines with a baby in the backpack.

I am reliably told that the most common accident for babies of your age is “father throwing baby in air and failing to catch”.

You forgive us constantly. When we drive for six hours and you sit alone in your car seat facing the back window, nothing to look at but hard blue sky, nothing to listen to but your parents singing Hits From The 80’s. When we get our timing arse about and have you out too late at night or forget to carry a spare change of clothes and you’re forced to wear an emergency crumpled dry sick singlet.

When we drop lemons on your head.

You give so much to us. It’s amazing that this could be so when you are still small (but heavy!) and wake me twice a night (not that I’m complaining) to feed and you don’t even have an email account but it’s true.

You press against us when we pick you up and you smile and blow spitty bubbles in our direction and we feel as if we’ve won the Lotto. It’s like magic to see your father’s mood change when he’s been dealing all day with idiots on the phone and feels stressed and anxious about work. If he picks you up when you’re crying, or need a nappy change or best of all when you have just woken, he can’t help but smile.

When someone you love dies and you emerge from that experience, shaken and transformed, you know how precious time is and how important it is to love each other, to be kind to each other.

And when someone you love is born, it’s the same thing.

The truth is, I know that I can’t protect you from the Outside World (although I can prioritise you over the socks) just as I can’t really fix our Wireless Router (it was a fluke) nor properly; place; semicolons;

But I do know that you encourage us to strive more, to care more, to love more.

You make us want to be better people. And we fail of course, over and over, but any time we despair or despise, if we feel depressed or downtrodden, we look at you and see in your eyes and in your face all the potential, the hope, all the Good in our lives renewed.

Fresh. Clean. Forgiven.

And on we go through the lemon infested minefield that is our life together.

Thankyou for these past four months.


Your very own


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Fails Yummy-Mummy Class

I realize that my last post may have indicated that I am exercising like a fiend, or at least like some kind of fit and healthy eastern suburbs yummy-mummy.

Ha! I laugh once, very loudly, at this ridiculous notion and three minutes later my atrophied belly fat is still reverberating with mirth.

When I said “a special exercise class’ I meant it.

Just the one.

Because they’re hard those special exercise classes. Also, when I said I did an exercise with my baby I lied because in fact he was asleep in his pram at the time. Which was a shame because that’s the highlight of the class really. The bit where you lie on your back and roll them about in your legs or dangle them on your knees (all the time sucking in your belly and clenching your lala). No doubt it was a blessing in disguise because Tricky would probably have heaved a gutful of cottage cheese all over my maternity(still) shirt but it was a little disappointing having to pretend I was holding a baby while everyone else had the real thing. At the end of the class he woke and I went to pick him up just to prove to everyone that I had a real live baby lying in the pram and not, say, a sock puppet, and the whole back of his pants was dripping with something that wasn’t gravy, leaving a large and fragrant stain on my stretch maternity (still) jeans.

So then I had to hastily wheel him out of the room which necessitated annoying some of the thinner firmer younger mothers who wanted to sit languidly on the floor in front of the doorway and chat. Just go around, one of them told me with a wave of her beautifully manicured hand and so, smilingly, I did.

And then I ran over her fingers. (Another lie.)

In the so-called change room, I stripped everything off my child and dropped it into a plastic bag and then, as he lay buck naked on a skuzzy exercise mat, I realised that although I had a nappy I had neglected to pack another set of clothes for him for just such an occasion.

And then he pissed over me.

At that point I laughed gaily and made free use of the paper towels and then, as if the gods had seen me and sighed at my crapness in maternal preparation, they granted me a small miracle and lo, scrunched in a ball at the bottom of my bag I found a singlet.

True it had been sicked on, but the sick was dry and it could only be seen by someone who was really really nosy.

I did mean to go back, I really did, but then I realised my abdominal muscles were actually coming back together of their own accord, albeit a little slower without the flappy metal things and the big rubber balls.

But sometimes, mornings mostly, I reach for my baby and roll him about on my legs and wave him in the air. Sometimes I even remind myself to hold my tummy muscles and clench my lala at the same time.

Also apropos of the last post (ooh, how very ANZAC of me) I realize that writing about getting a lump in your breast, even when you eventually discover that said lump is actually a cyst, is worrying and perhaps even frightening for some who read it in my blog (although these days it appears that’s happening less and less what with all the apparently loathsome ‘mommyness’ my blog now contains).

Yes well I’m sorry about that but guess how fucking scary it was for me?

Sometimes, when bad things happen, I get so worried I actually don’t write about it until it’s over. It’s like holding your breath and putting your hands over your eyes when the monster bit comes up in the movie. And when it was happening, the thinking and the being scared and the wishing I had been a bit less like my mum, I did think that I should blog it because that's sort of what I did when I was going through the infertility shit and it helped so much to just write out the fear and the anger and the completely soul destroying despair. But I didn't, because ultimately I was too scared to write the words I think I have cancer. Instead I rang my sister AJ in New Zealand and she was great and very calm, and just once I said to C in the middle of making dinner I'm scared about that lump and he grabbed me and said oh so am i, so am I.

All those weeks I thought about it and I thought about writing it and I thought about going to the doctor and I did sweet F.A.

In retrospect I realise it's not an effective strategy, all that agonising and procrastinating.

And I now realise it would be far more sensible for me to actually just get the lump checked out immediately and fuck the blogging.

So yeah, sorry and all.

But you know.
No one’s perfect.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Six Degrees Of Abdominal Separation

I blush at the great yawning expanse of time between my last post and this one but there has been, you know, Stuff going on.

My play has come and gone and was all good with reviews and everything. We went away soon after opening night, to Melbourne and various dry dusty interstate places but came back for the final night of the show.

It was evident that stuff had been going on there as well, the actors were so much more relaxed and able to be, well, funny. I mean it’s a serious play and all but there are these sort of funny bits in there, deliberately, and on opening night the actors were being very reverent and solemn about the play and came across as a wee tad uptight and tense. But by closing they were all relaxed and loose and floppy and actually milking some of those high farcical moments for laffs, god love them all.

I can tell time has passed because the muscles of my abdomen are now only a finger width apart.

Way back, somewhere in the first trimester, the two halves of my front torso began to drift apart. We all know those couples who seemed to be joined at the hip for say…38 years and then suddenly decided to go their own way. So it was with my tummy muscles.

It could have been something as simple as ‘She prefers to inject her Lucrin on your side’ but however it started, it got worse and worse and before I knew it there was a line drawn down my centre and a window on my solar plexus and ligaments were all that stood between my intestines and the outside world.

Just after Tricky was born one of the hospital physios checked me out as they do. She discovered that my abdominal muscles had separated far enough for her to fit seven fingers between them. And I’m not saying she had big clumping man’s hands with large sausage fingers but, you know, they weren’t overly spindly digits. Then she made me put my own fingers in so I could feel for myself the void that was once my cleverly contained internal organs. The horror.

The exercises started soon after. Every now and then I would drop into the hospital and meet with J the physio who put me and my pelvic floor through our paces. But gentle paces you know, nothing strenuous. Mostly they involved holding my tummy in and clenching my lala.

When I was about four fingers apart I attended a special exercise class at the hospital, it involved flapping bits of metal and lolling about on large balls and lifting your baby with your legs. I quite enjoyed the work out but the instructor was of the formidable variety, whenever she noted me hesitating over an exercise she would say loudly and a little impatiently: It’s alright, you won’t herniate.
Well maybe I won’t, scary lady, but that still doesn’t stop it hurting because I just had a baby don’t you know.

Anyway whether it was the hurty type of exercise or the gentle type those muscles seem to have crept back together again, last seen meeting for coffee at a local cafĂ© “just to talk”.

And then, amongst all the theatre stuff and the work stuff and the life stuff there was this lump.

I had noticed it on the right side of my right breast several weeks ago now but I had chalked it up to being one of those pesky blocked ducts. And I would dutifully mash away at it in the shower or while feeding, thinking that it would shrink away or unblock or whatever. But it didn't. And then I thought I better get it checked before I went away because otherwise that would be another three weeks before I saw a doctor.

And I didn't do that either. And it wasn't until a week after I got home that I finally made an appointment to see the doctor and get it checked.

And all that time I kept thinking of my mother and how, when she first found a lump in her breast, she didn't get it checked because she was too busy with Stuff and how, eventually it killed her.

She was 33 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 48 when she died. If I died at the same age my baby would be ten years old.

This week my doctor told me that the lump was a cyst, that I had a number of cysts in my breasts and that I could have them treated after I finish breastfeeding.

It's not bad news, she said to me.


Today, I stopped doing stuff and while playing with my baby, I said “kiss for mama?” and conveniently placed my cheek near his little mouth and I think, I’m almost a hundred percent sure, that the wet gumming at my face was his version of a kiss.

And it was sweet.