Mother Who Works

Thursday, October 28, 2010

FYI

I've just noticed that for those of you who subscribe by email, the video for 'Christmas' doesn't come through. (It's me - hyperventilating!) So you'll need to click the link at the bottom of the page to go to the actual website to view it.

You also need to do this to comment - which I'd really love you to do!

If you could also pass this on to everyone you've ever met in your whole entire life - including that odd girl you sat next to in Grade One - and encourage them all to subscribe, I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks,

MWW

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Christmas

Christmas. There; I’ve typed it. And I can almost refrain for reaching for a brown paper bag to control my hyperventilating.






Don’t you think Christmas is the ultimate test for the working mother? It’s like it taunts you, ‘you’ve made it this far in the year, but can you handle.… Christmas??’

Last year I decided it’d be a good idea to spend this Christmas with my brother and his family in the Middle East. He works for an airline so we can mostly get pretty good deals. But as it’s turned out, Christmas is kinda busy, so the cheapest way to get my partner and kids there is via the really, really cheap (ie cramped/no movies) airline to Kuala Lumpa and a connecting flight to the Middle East. What I failed to realise until yesterday, was the far cheaper way for me to get there, is first class with my brother’s airline.

I pondered how to break the news and decided a message on Partner’s phone would be best. ‘So, just realised….’ I started, and ended with ‘..really, no, really, I’m only doing this to save us money.’

It’s not quite finalised, but the picture so far is him and kids, hoping there’s something decent left on that food trolley when it finally makes its way to them, while I’m in my own suite, with a bed and French champagne.

Yes, I feel bad. I will get over it. It really is just to help the budget...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Maintenance

So Friday afternoon, I'm at my desk. We're 'free range' in our office, or open plan.

The conversation turns to religion and Mary McKillop. The group next to us are predominantly of catholic up bringing and our team is pretty much protestant/atheist, so it does make for some good arguments.

Our boss, MD (Managing Director) strolls out to join the conversation. He's extremely knowledgeable on such matters as he actually spent seven years of his life training to be a priest before he joined our highly moral industry that rates right up there with used car salesmen and politicians.

He's adding some highly intellectual concepts to the discussion, when suddenly, he breaks off mid-sentence:

'Mother Who Works,' he exclaims, 'are you painting your toe nails at you desk???'

I clutch my Chanel Paradoxal (their fab new colour - check it out!) defensively and quietly ask, 'Is that wrong?'


Vote on the poll below - please!!





Friday, October 22, 2010

Gym?

I’m been vaguely contemplating joining a gym. I do run but those babies – the smallest was just a slip of a thing at 8lb 6 – have taken their toll on my pelvis. My physio (who, BTW, brutal!!! If there’s ever a war, there’ll be a job for her. She’ll find their weak spots and literally press them till they confess. There’s been occasions when I’ve had to be peeled from the ceiling) thinks a cross trainer might be an idea instead of just running.

As you know from Old School, I run on the treadmill in the study. There’s no room for a cross trainer. Some weight work might be good too. But I haven’t really been a gym junkie since this was what the gear looked like….





I did have one brief foray between babies 3 and 4 at an all-women’s gym that was near home. Having not been in a gym, or even exercised for quite a while, I picked what I thought was a good starting class, a combo of aerobic exercise and weights. But I obviously couldn't remember how to read the timetable because what I stumbled into was a 90 minute spin/pump class!!

As I tumbled off the bike after a grueling 45 minutes and lay on the carpet in the foetal position, sucking in air like a man almost drowned, I was approached by one of the other ladies. She had shoulders a lumberjack would be proud of, the hair of a US Marine, white socks pulled up mid-calf, tight bike shorts on her ample derrière, a singlet top that showed her sports bra and a really wide weight lifters belt pulled in so tight she was almost struggling as much as me to breathe.

As she stood over me, heaving, she grunted in an alarmingly deep voice: ‘You new here?’
‘Yes’, I whimpered.
‘Welcome to the gym,’ she gruffly offered.

There you go – she was just being kind.

So, should I join a gym?? Check the poll at the bottom of the page and cast your vote.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Inquisitive kids


When my son was in Prep, someone invited the boys from the class to a birthday party miles out of town. They were at the local school so all lived near the city, but no, that special, archery, go-cart, mini golf establishment was clearly for the enjoyment of the children and not for the convenience of the parents – god dam them.

Car-pooling was the obvious solution and I, despite having a newborn (number three) put my hand up for the pick up, and was frankly appalled when my offer was accepted.

So, trucking back from whoop-whoop with six 6-year old boys, the conversation turns to marriage.

(As a complete aside, there’s a lesson in here about what you say to your kids because they will reveal it when perhaps you wouldn’t have. I picked up a couple of brothers to take to school most mornings for years and was shocked when the older one announced you can’t have kids if you’re not married. Oh, but I think you can, I replied.  No you can’t, he insisted, because you have to sleep together and you can’t do that until your married. But you can, I ploughed on. In fact I’m not married and you’re in the car with my kids…. awkward silence….)

Back to the six year olds. So one asks if boys can marry boys. Being one to tell it like it is, I tell them yes, pretty much. (Okay, I know legally they can’t, but they can have a commitment ceremony, which is, well, a commitment. Which I'm sure I also told them.)

They then ask if boys can turn into girls. Well, yes, that’s possible too. You’d want to be really sure because it’s a big thing to do, but yes, quite possible.

Some quiet thinking time passes. So, can girls become boys? Yes, that can also be done.

And finally, one guy down the back asks, so can you turn into a lion?? No buddy, you can’t. I swear, the disappointment was palpable.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sliding doors....


Not the crap movie with that stupid concept that we’re all living parallel lives.  We’re not people!! This really is it.

No, the sliding doors I’m referring to are on my car – well, van probably. It has two – one on each side.

A work colleague sternly warned me after the returning from maternity leave for the third time that one more, and I would be looking at vehicle with sliding doors. Amazingly, that didn’t deter me and I went back for another. Although I think even three and being a Cub Leader – sorry, Assistant Cub Leader – is probably justification enough.

I don’t love my van, but I am missing it. The practicality and convenience of sliding doors is a bit like pre-sliced cheese; once you start using it, it’s very hard to go back. It’s been at the panel shop for about 5 weeks. It suffered from hail damage (similar to my thighs…if only I could book those in for repair and claim it on insurance!) and then got rear-ended by Tom outside work. Which, as it turned out, was kinda fortuitous, as the insurance company wouldn’t kick in for a loan car for hail damage alone, it had to be involved in an accident. Thanks Tom!

People do seem to be surprised I drive a van, despite the fact it is black, has dark tinted windows, is European and has leather seats. A guy at work said he thinks it’s hilarious – the way I dress and that I drive a van…hmmmm…I’m still not sure how to take that. Suggestions welcome.

So I’ve just rung that fancy-pants brand’s panel shop again and no, it'll be a few more days yet of struggling like a normal person with doors on a fixed hinge.

PS If anyone is reading any of these ramblings, it’d be great if you could subscribe (via the email is probably easiest – on the right hand side) and or leave a comment. I’m feeling lonely!!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Pack

Why do we need sleep? I posed this question to my Cub pack.

Yes, in my spare time I'm a Cub Scout Leader. Actually, that's a lie. I'm an Assistant Cub Scout Leader because I have not, and will not,  completed the training. One of the other leaders - actually no, he's also an Assistant Leader too - and I did our training together. An entire long weekend from Friday night through to late Monday night, in the middle of winter, in freezing cabins with really ordinary food and no alcohol. None. At all. I swear if that isn't a testament of commitment I don't know what is.

The toilet blocks were made of Bessa bricks so the wind could whip through unrestrained. It was all up at 6am to light fires, a day of instruction and practical examples, being patronised and treated like we were the 8 year olds. I love being told off for coming into the canteen through the wrong door. The days ended with a sing-a-long around the camp fire in the bitter cold with a cup of Milo before crawling into my sleeping bag on the top bunk with a plastic covered mattress for a wakeful night of bush noises outside and chainsaw-like snoring inside. Only to wake at 6am and do it all again. Fun, eh?

As you already know, my idea of a great Saturday night is a lovely restaurant with friends and an excess of expensive alcohol. This boot camp was a memorable weekend for all the wrong reasons so enough is enough and I am, and shall remain, a mere AL.

My son joined Cubs about ten years and within a few weeks I was cornered and asked to join the parent committee. True colours were revealed at the first meeting when, amongst the 6 or so 50ish blokes that made up said commitee, they elected me, the only female and blonde, secretary. (No, no points for guessing that. It was obvious). So after a couple of years of me bossing them all around, they stupidly elected me President - now I could boss with authority.

The next crisis was a lack of leaders so dire, we were facing packing the whole thing in. Which did hold some secret appeal, I confess. But no, as usual because I don't have enough to do, I volunteered. I do find I enjoy working with the kids more than the parents for one of the same resons I work - ie when I tell them to do something, there's a chance it'll happen.

So, why do we need sleep?
'So our parents can have a rest from us?' ventured one of my charges.
'Exactly!' I responded. Kids can be so insightful can't they?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Old School

I was asked by my old school to give a talk to the year 12 girls at their valedictory dinner. And yes, I have absolutely no qualifications in public speaking. But, naturally, being totally flattered, I accepted.

So, the night of the dinner and my partner and I arrive at the exclusive ladies club at the posh end of town. I strode in feeling fairly confident and found myself in a 1980s time warp with lots of fake pale green and pink plants and, I kid you not, a mock garden conservatory.  I sized up the crowd and my confidence evaporated. Aside from the students, there were a lot of really conservative, really important-looking and probably really rich people here.

My outfit of gold (yes, GOLD!) Rock ‘n Republic Victoria Beckham jeans with the signature crystal crowns on the pockets, ridiculously high, jewelled platform sling-backs and Ricochet black jacket suddenly looks a tad out of place amongst this sea of navy blue and pearls.  But no need to panic: everyone ignored us.

‘So, why did they ask you to speak?’ asks my supportive partner, as we stand alone with a clear radius of a couple of meters. ‘Couldn’t they get anyone else?’
Yes, thank you for that. Thank you.

We’re seated at a table with staff (who were very friendly – they're probably trained to smell panic) and a few parents. One starts grilling me.
‘Have you got a daughter at school?’ No.
‘Why are you here?’ I’m speaking.
‘What about?’ Stuff.
‘Are you an Olympian?’ (Seriously, if you know me, you know just how frickin funny that is!!!) No.
The conversation turns to running.
‘Have you run the New York Marathon?’ No.
‘Where do you run?’ At home, on the treadmill, in the study….

He was eventually put out of his misery and was gracious enough to say well done.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Milestones


There are key milestones in a child’s life that bring joy to our hearts. The first smile, the first few steps, the first words and of course, the first time they say ‘I love you Mummy’ with such conviction it makes you want to weep.

But there are other milestones, perhaps less celebrated, but never the less equally significant.

Like when they innocently ask, ‘Mum, what a c&*t?’

There have been conversations about this milestone as any mother who’s experienced it can describe the exact circumstances, so traumatised are they by the question. It’s akin to where were you when you heard about 9/11 or when Princess Diana died.

So I was driving. My son was sitting in the front seat, two of his sisters in the back with one of their friends (I really hoped the friend wasn’t going to repeat any of this when she got home, but as the youngest of five, I figured we were fairly safe) when he dropped the big ‘c’ question.


Tempted as I was to say, “Sweetie, can we run by the office? I’ll flip through my Teledex and give you a couple of examples…” I refrained and just explain the technical definition. I then thought it best to give some context. It may not be his finest moment if in Family Life (ie sex ed), he uses the c-word to describe a vagina. Context given, I imparted the sage advise that he not use the word because as an 8 year old, if it’s within ear shot of any adult, that’s a game he won’t win.

Another memorable milestone is when they tell you they hate you, with such conviction it makes you want to weep.

The first time is a real slap in the face, but really, as they become more tweeny, teeny and precocious, and gets used with increasing regularity, it does loose a lot of impact. They really should have saved that one up for a special occasion. It’s now reached the point when even the four year old, following the lead of her older sibling, will yell ‘I hate you Mummy!’ Once it would have cut me to the core, but now, my response is generally, ‘That may well be, but you still have to pick up your stuff.’

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Small children and filthy hangovers….

…mix about as well as oil-tanker spills and a tropical oceans. They just don’t.

You know what I’m talking about. You’re woken about 5 hours earlier than you would have liked by small fingers, prying open your mascara-caked eyes, demanding cuddles and breakfast and just being so bloody perky, while you lie there, afraid to move in case your head literally does snap clean off your shoulders – because it’s all hurting so much and feeling extremely fragile.

I’ve often said that there’s nothing more dangerous than a mother let off her leash. I don’t what it is but the sudden freedom it just too much. We’re as excited as three year olds at an indoor play centre birthday party – and we’re in equal danger of wetting our pants!!!

We show no restraint what so ever.  Laughing, talking over each other, drinking. At one point, you usually do have an inkling that you may be getting a little over refreshed, but you’re having so much fun you just don’t care.. Until it’s all way too late.

But I have a solution. Okay, not a solution, that’s a complete over promise. I have a coping mechanism.

Drag your sorry self into the shower (taking all necessarily children in with you) and have a thorough good hosing down. Try not to throw up.  Dry off and put on your most comfortable clothes. Feed the kids a bit of toast (and your self if you can face it) and then drive to the nearest movie multiplex. Hopefully it was a huge Saturday night as they tend to be very quite on Sunday mornings.

Pick whatever the kids want to see, (as long as it’s legal!), buy the biggest popcorn you can, plus a couple of bottles of water and then immerse yourself in the cool dark of the cinema. Eat as much popcorn as you can.  Like when you had morning sickness, it makes you thirsty, so you drink lots of water and gradually rehydrate. And you can even close your eyes every now and then and not even see the kids climbing over the seats.

By the time the movies over, you’ll almost feel human again. Well, at least human enough to make it through the day.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The school holidays


Thank god the school holidays are over! Not that I didn’t enjoy the break as much as the kids – possibly more.  A holiday from getting up at 5.45am five gruelling mornings in a row, week after week, packing lunches, despatching kids to where they’re supposed to be and getting to working looking like – well, let’s just say looking like I’ve put in the required amount a effort!

It’s been quite pleasant really. I even had two day ‘working from home’ when I couldn’t get child care, which I’d so been looking forward to, but between the cleaners mopping around my feet and kids constant fighting or telling me they were bored as I hid in their room and emailed, it was actually somewhat of a relief to get back to the office. Yet another reminder of why I work!

No, the reason I’m glad they’re over is I’ve put on about two kilos. It’s not just the holiday mode and the popcorn at the pictures, but the extraordinary cooking talent of the kids. One in particular is quite the Master Chef.

So my parents came for lunch on the first weekend and she started with grissini, wrapped with proscutto and blue cheese, baked in the oven until the proscutto  is crispy and the cheese is gooey. Yum! That was followed by roast pork with apple glaze and mash. She then threw a dinner party for the relatives-who-aren’t-related. We started with zucchini fritters on a bed of rocket, parmesan and smoked salmon, followed by parsley crumbed fish with garlic mash and wilted bok choy and finished with jellied champagne (non-alcoholic!) ice cream and berries.

A friend came for lunch and she threw together a chicken and mushroom pasta. There's been pumpkin soup for the cousins, meringues for her brother, banana bread for me, chocolate ganache in warmed croissants, brown sugar cream to accompany the desserts. And it's all soooo gooood!

Last Friday night we went to friend for pizza and she whipped up individual rhubarb and berry tarts that were so delicious I ate a second one for lunch the next day. And that’s not to mention the Oreo cookie pudding-slash-slice (her words, not mine). A recipe she made up and I’m sure accounted for a kilo all on it’s own!

Here's an example of one of her creations:


 And here are my shoes (yes, on my desk!!) trying to account for said kilos....sadly, I can't find anything higher.



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