Mama’s sad

They say a lot of emotions are left on a hairdresser’s floor, swept up and stuffed in the bin. Haircuts are cathartic, symbolic.

Well, I took a little pinch of Louis’ hair from the floor home with me, and maybe that was a mistake because I’m sitting on the couch feeling more emotions than I did when I found out I was pregnant after peeing on a stick alone in a public toilet.

After a failed DIY bang trim, we’d been meaning to take him for a haircut for a while, but every weekend rolled around and we’d been too busy. Then today, we found ourselves walking past the kids hair salon with a happy toddler, and they had time to take him. Suddenly, he was in the tiny salon chair. It was happening.

I held it together as the hairdresser nonchalantly lopped off Louis’ blonde baby mullet, and turned him into a sandy-haired boy. We pointed out the fish in the tank and the little plastic dog, and laughed at “Lou Lou” in the mirror (narcissist!). She kept hacking away; I felt increasingly agitated and was barely suppressing the urge to whack the scissors out of her hand “oooops! Looks like we’re done!”. But then it was over and he was running around playing with his balloon, and I tried to keep my spirits up by buying a book on planes that I was convinced he’d shown a slither of interest in.

And then we got home. And mama was sad. Heavingly, snottingly, blotchy faced, wailingly sad. I don’t think any of us were ready for the haircut, but I was not prepared for the wall of sadness that suddenly crashed down on me. The old mullet was terrible, but the flicky little blonde ends were once Louis’ newborn mohawk, which I had twiddled for hours upon hours as I drank in his delicious new baby smell. I hadn’t noticed when that lovely sweet smell was replaced with the smell of boy farts and crusty old food. But I’d watched the remains of that soft baby mohawk swept into the dustpan along with hair snippets from all the big kids.

Hair cuts are supposed to make you look a little different, but this one transformed Louis’ little baby-to-toddler face into one that resembled the boy he is about to become. I realised I don’t know who that boy is! All I know is that if he’s anything like other boys, he is going to go to school, and fall in love and excel in things and fail at others, and eventually, no matter what I do, hate me.

It’s safe to say that this haircut, and the shock and overwhelming sadness that came with it, also gave way to all the anxiety I hadn’t had time to register since I became pregnant.

No milestone in the parenting journey has been exactly surprising, but I guess it’s the way it makes you feel that trips you up. I mean, I know how babies are made, but getting pregnant was a surprise. Despite it triggering a major upheaval in our lives, in that we were suddenly moving country (for health insurance purposes) and buying baby clothes rather than planning our wedding… it kind of all felt natural. We were excited. Birth was nothing at all like my plan, but that wasn’t exactly surprising because childbirth is dangerous and so much can go wrong and I guess the adrenaline of the result – a baby! – all helped me brush off the trauma and move on.

Then actually being a mum to a real baby wasn’t what I expected in that things that I thought would be hard or disgusting and terrible weren’t the least of my worries. And Louis himself has been surprising in that, well, I was convinced he’d be ginger! But also he surprises us by revealing new tricks, personality traits, food preferences and sleeping patterns every day.

But somehow the fact that I got pregnant, gave birth and raised a baby has been nothing in comparison to the surprise, and the shock and overwhelming fear of the unknown when I realised today, that our baby is now a boy. A beautiful, healthy, hilarious, smart and lovely boy. But he swallowed up that little sweet baby, before I could realise he’d gone.

 

 

 

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NYC mornings

Despite having several hours between waking up and needing to leave the house, our mornings always escalate into a bit of a disaster. Make the coffee, make the porridge, put the porridge in three bowls, watch the contents of the smallest bowl splatter all over the walls, floor and cupboards (how?) and get smushed into the seat of the high chair. Attempt to clean.

Eat cold porridge. Pour cold coffee down the sink.

Peel apple and cut into small pieces. Make honey sandwiches and cut into small pieces. Peel an orange and cut into small pieces. Cut some cheese into small pieces. Etcetera. Wave bye bye to daddy. Comfort distraught toddler who never wants daddy to go. Melt as he says, “cuggle mama”.

Right. Ten minutes to get out the door before we’re late. What’s next?

Brush teeth whilst sitting on the toilet to stop toddler playing with the toilet water. Comfort distraught toddler again when he melts down because you won’t open the mascara so he can put it on his eyes like you did. Dab snot off your shirt. Wrestle toddler into his clothes – “eieieieoooo”,  “here is my handle, here is my spout”, “here a woof, there a woof”. Throw toddler’s lunchbox, drink bottle, milk bottle, nappies, wipes, favourite toy, spare pants, top, socks, jumper, spare sheets, and overdue medical form, into a bag.

That STINKS.

Wrestle clothes off toddler. Whisk nappy off and wipe most of poo with wad of wipes. Chase poo caked butt around house with more wipes. Wrestle toddler back into new clothes, “short and stout”, “yes, sir, yes, sit”, “when I get all steeeamed UP”! Change your own outfit because it now has a little poo on it and last time you didn’t change and you could smell it all day. Lug your handbag and the bag of nappies, wipes, spare clothes, sheets and blankets, milk bottle, water bottle and favourite toy AND the stupid effing stroller AND toddler down the three flights of stairs.

It’s raining.

LIKE you’re going to take the now writhing toddler back up three flights of stairs and rummage through the cupboards for the rain cover. Pull weightlifting faces as you force your squealing octopus of a toddler into the stupid effing stroller, not taking your foot off it in case it flips over.  Push the poor kid 15 minutes in the drizzle to daycare, only to arrive with him asleep (and a bit wet). Wake him up half an hour before he is ready, then leave him bleary-eyed and distraught. Skuttle off to the subway, trying to put the pieces of your broken heart together with thoughts of those cuggles you’ll have when you get home. Buy coffee. Concentrate on not spilling it. Accept the first train is too full so wait six minutes for the next. Stare at people’s armpits. Curse your coat for being too hot and your coffee for being gross and cold again. Mentally complain to Google maps for not taking into consideration the extra four minutes it takes to weave your way through 14th Street – Union Square station when the subway stairs are rammed.

Get on the 6 train with the homeless guy asking for money.

Feel around your pocket. You have a tiny helicopter and some cheddar goldfish, but no dollars. Watch the teenager and construction worker pass him a few bills. Feel like shit. Watch everyone else stare blankly ahead as if poverty is not literally staring them in the face. Feel even more like shit because you are no better. Find your wallet, chase homeless man off train and give him a dollar. Feel even shittier because it’s such a disingenuous gesture. Shuffle off to office to work on spreadsheet

Feel very blessed to have a job, a roof, people to love, and food to eat, even if it is cold oatmeal.

An ode to our railroad apartment (aka hallway house)

A railroad apartment is a right of passage for New Yorkers (we are told). And it’s your lucky day as we are about to move out of ours.
Here’s why you should definitely add a railroad to your list of life experiences. Especially if you have a kid/kids.
– You can see your kid jumping on your bed while you prepare his lunch from the kitchen
– It is easy to clean (but equally, it is easy to turn into what resembles a crack den in seconds AND, because the vacuum and cleaning products are so precariously balanced on top of one another in the cupboard, it is too dangerous to pull them out and clean).
– With cupboards too small for even a human to stand in, you have no choice but to live as a minimalist, and can therefore get away with wearing the same, yogurt smeared and blueberry-stained clothing everyday.
– With no washing machine, and no time to lug the dirty clothing to the laundromat more than twice a week, there’s really no point in trying to get out the stains.
– With a bathroom the size of a shower, there’s nowhere to soak or hang the clothes you attempt to de-stain, anyway.
– Because the kitchen is so narrow, the fridge is conveniently located in the “lounge”, for easy access to alcoholic beverages.
– Because your lounge is too small and narrow, the only place to put the TV is in your bedroom, which means every day is a holiday with TV in bed just like in a hotel room!
– With no room for a table, there’s always an excuse to eat in bed, watching TV, and pretend it’s hotel room service.
– Because running back and forth gets old, your kid will push the limits of going UP. And having trained on the drawers, bar stools and toilet/vanity, will be able to scale any ladder or climbing apparatus in the playground like a boss.
– With the only windows located on opposite ends of the railroad/hallway, you always have one completely dark space in the middle of the house, in which to play vampires.
– With window-fitted air conditioners on opposite ends of the house, you always have one stiflingly hot room in the middle, in which to sit and sweat in, and imagine you are visiting a luxurious sauna. You can even put a paddling pool next to the fridge, opening the fridge door and turning on the overhead fan, to make every day of summer feel like a fun frat party.
– With thin walls separating you from your neighbours on two sides of the apartment, and a busy road on the other, there is never a need to turn on the radio or to have a conversation with someone within the house as you can tune into everyone else’s.
– With thin walls between neighbours on two sides of the apartment, and a busy road on the other, there is never a need to smoke weed or go to a live gig, as both manage to permeate the walls and sneak under the cracks of your doors.
Get in line folks, and we will be in touch shortly asking you to fill out an application.

Crappy post

Since I’ve read all the neighbourhood baby-related classifieds and replied to my recent FB messages from friends and family far away, I thought I would spend a max of 15 minutes to write a post.

You can achieve a lot in 15 minutes, so I’m told. You can write a crappy book by dedicating just 15 minutes per day to spilling words on to a page. You can launch a crappy business and you can do a crappy job on a DIY project. I hope to write one crappy blog post.

If I had more time I could go into detail of how I smashed the coin jar all over the tiles and living area and how I let Louis paint linen, walls and other such household items with a home-made yoghurt iceblock whilst I addressed it. Or how I took him to two playgrounds and the swimming pool to tire him out enough for me to take a call. And how that was the first time he’d ever not woken up during the call and started exercising his vocal cords down the phone. And how I had wished I had not consumed all the ginger ale in the house as I wanted to high-five myself with a whisky and dry at 3pm.

I could also talk about what it’s like to move to a new country with a small baby. That might be something people would want to read.

But I’ll just say that I managed to do today and yesterday’s dishes AND send the laundry off with Fly Cleaners. When it’s 30/95 degrees and you have 30pounds of washing so dirty its attracting fruit flies, and a baby far too big for the front pack… it’s worth the extra $10 for the man who walks it all the way up and down your stairs for you.

My 15 minutes isn’t quite up but the baby is so bye.

$4 can buy happiness

Paper thin pancake as wide as me
Stuffed with fragrant potatoes and the odd pea
Dip dip dippy dip dip yippeee
Oh goodness. My belly
So round
So full
Of bright red and yellow free flow  curry
And that coconutty stuff – cool yet peppery
Mmmmasala dosai – oh my ghee
Artist’s impression:
Image

An honest review of swee kueh

(aka chwee kueh)
Swee kueh is a round glutenous rice cake cooked in lard and topped with a fried radish and garlic garnish
which often has an ever-so-slight fish sauce kick to it.
It’s served in brown wax paper and you eat it with a skewer.
In my hawker centre, it costs about $1.80 for one serving of 4 pieces.
Even though it both sounds and looks somewhat unappetising, and is slimy and oily and pungent and difficult to eat with a small stick it is actually quite nice.

I can understand why people would travel across the island to buy it from the Tiong Bahru hawker centre.

Artist’s impression:

swee kueh

Travel memories: Delhi

I’ve never heard anything quite as vomit-inducing as a skull hitting concrete.

We were stuffing stuffed parantha in our stomachs, yellow goop dripping off our fingers and smiles being exchanged with beetle-nut-gummed locals, when he stumbled in. Blazed.
Business men stepped away as he wove his way through the table, slumping on the counter. The rotund owner dismissed him. He started to stumble through the shop, muttering. I’m not quite sure what happened next, but I saw someone, perhaps a staff member, perhaps simply an aggravated passerby, turn.
There was a shove. There was that crack. And then, after life took a long breath, as if deciding on the fate of this man, the blood began to seep out of his head across the concrete.
It was as if all the tuk-tuks stopped tooting, the fruit vendors stopped yelling, the smoky truck engines chugged to a halt. A few dozen Delhites, and two tourists (us) watched as the body was dragged between the plastic tables and chairs and on to the curb, one hand flopped into the gutter and his floppy jeans exposing his skinny bottom.
Life resumed, as staff threw a bucket of water over the blood on the floor, customers paid up and went off to work, and a new wave of breakfast-eaters stepped over the man and ordered their usual without blinking.
We followed the business people – not that we had anywhere we had to be – stopping at an art gallery we didn’t really want to look at, and proceeding to feign interest in glass elephants.
And when a few hours later, we tuk tukked back past that street corner, we saw the man was still there, reaching into the gutter. Well his body, filled with glue or whatever he had inhaled before he stepped foot in that restaurant, was. His spirit though, had well and truly, gone.

Sweet Escape

Just two hours away on the ferry, I have found blissful solitude at Marjoly Resort on Bintan Island, Indonesia.

A hop skip and a jump, a weekend retreat for the same price as a round of Friday night drinks and a basic brunch… and the bonus of a shiny blue visa in the passport. This is where I spent the past two weekends…ImageImageImage

Jan 2013. Japan.

Sometimes when you live in perpetual summer you just want to bomb down a snowy mountain.

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