Abandoning Moopet to Childcare

My arms and shoulders ache. I imagine it is from abandoning, deserting, throwing Moopet into the baby jail, behind the playpen bars of her new family day care place.

Actually, my husband did the heavy lifting of Moopet into the playpen, as I have bronchitis – and it may be this making my muscles ache rather than metaphors.

But nevertheless. My husband and I drove home in silence, which I intermittently interrupted with a status update on my emotions. “I am sad,” I announced, as we joined the main road. My husband squeezed my hand. “Now I feel depressed,” as we climbed the hill towards our house. My husband in response tried to fill the role of the jocular, rational one, but then said when we got home, “Poor thing. I am sorry, I shouldn’t start. But when she cries, I just want to pick her up and cuddle her too.”

We both plucked up as we thought of the benefits to Moopet. As an only child, she likes being around other kids (but can’t I just take her to more playgroups?) And it is good for her to spend time with other adults too and learn how to nap somewhere that is not her own room. And – what was the other thing – oh yes, we remembered how awful we felt when we sleep trained her, but how beneficial that was to her and us. We told ourselves that, back in tribal days, babies would have been cared for by a few adults while the rest went off to hunt, or gather (But couldn’t that adult be me? To which my husband asked, “Do you want to start a family day care centre here?” And I said, “No.”)

It is a bind you see. I want to work and do my PhD. Taking care of five kids in my home so I can be with my Moopet would be a step too far.

I hate, have always hated, these calculations of benefit. I have done them all my life. With a disabled sister, you ask yourself: what would be the benefit to her of me staying here in Qld versus the emotional cost to me of doing so? Always I come out on the side of me. There is an arrogance to assuming you can make a person happy.

Now here I am, back at my desk, writing about it while my Moopet plays with someone else’s mum. Here is the heart of it: I am jealous of others being loved by my Moopet. I want it all to myself! Also, I want to do the best thing by her. And finally, she is growing up, and I just seem to have sped that up, sending her away from me before she was ready to go of her own accord. I like to hold on to people until they wrench themselves away so I can always be the one saying good-bye.

I dramatise. I do it because these are words, you see, words to fill the gap between heart and the outside world. Maybe I should have stuck to describing the body blows. My chest hurts – I have strained a muscle in there, I am sure of it – the one which stretches the further away your baby goes. I reassure myself that I love my Moopet, and all this will work out.

A final note: I called the carer when we got home. She told me that Moopet had stopped crying as soon as we left. She is now eating some raisin toast. So I have taught her two good things to see her through this next stage of her independent existence: one, that there is always solace to be had from warm bread; and two, that we would never leave her with someone who did not know this and other, simple truths.

First day of childcare

We had our first attempt at childcare today. In the morning, I was feeling a deep, echoing sort of sadness, the type of melancholy which threatens to gush up like an oil well, the deeps of which would make you a wealthy woman if you could trade in those sorts of riches. I took a deep breath, and reminded myself what Margaret, my PND counsellor used to say: “Approach, don’t avoid.” I also skyped Julie this morning in London, who reminded me that this could just be one step – a day, a few hours really, at someone’s house, playing. I didn’t have to make more of it than that. I didn’t have to think about all the days to come, when my baby might be crying for me, or I for her.

I have been re-reading Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, and taking bubba to childcare reminded me of his description of the feeling a human got when pulled too far away from her soul – she would ache with the deepest longing, like an elastic band stretched too far.

OK, so maybe that’s a bit melodramatic. But the thought ran through my head, driving down to Kristy’s house.

By the time we got there it was about 10.15 am and I had already been through all the reasons in my head why this would not work out. When we entered, I put bubba on the playroom floor and sat down a few paces away. Most uncharacteristically, bubba did not cry. She did not cry, in fact, for a full hour – and then she whinged, just because she was hungry. She played. She touched Kristy. She sang, eventually, in her own way – the bababa lalala way she has of imitating sounds. She watched the other little boy play (the other kids will start after school holidays), and occasionally looked as though she might like to play with him too, except he was busy packing and unpacking the toy supermarket.

True that she checked where I was sometimes. True that she whinged for her breastfeed at the usual time. And when she started getting tired, I carried her around a bit while Kristy fed the other child his lunch.

I grew cocky. I decided to experiment with putting her down for a nap. I bundled her into her sleeping bag and put her in the portacot. She cried, for about a minute or two, then went quiet once she found her thumb. I grew cockier still. I went out to lunch, calling my husband from the cafe with a positive report. And then I found myself, with my child cared for by someone else, and with nowhere I needed to be for another 30 minutes.

My mind expanded with the possibilities. I had only hoped for two hours of childcare, two days a week to begin with, afraid that bubba would not handle much more than that. Now, I started to think what might be possible if I did not have to breastfeed. If she grew accustomed to the bottle? If she learned to take this midday nap at Kristy’s? If, in short, she grew used to childcare? The hardest moment had been watching the other boy cry for his daddy – then I felt the guilt reignite – but he was soon quietly sleeping, having simply been overtired. And presumably, my baby was sleeping too.

I got back to Kristy’s on the dot of 50 minutes – the sleep cycle. I could not hear a baby crying. I tiptoed hopefully to the glass door, and there was my bubba, sitting on Kristy’s lap. She had red eyes and had only slept for 5 or 10 minutes, before screaming the house down. Kristy had been comforting her and distracting her as well as she could. When I took her, she demanded full body contact – not this piddling, holding her up so she could stand on a chair. Not adequate! Visions of my 10.00 am to 4.00 pm drained away, and I watched them go as regretfully as I had earlier dreaded being a simple 2 hours away from my bubba.

I brought bubba home and agreed with my husband that there were 2 options: to go cold turkey, or to transition her in slowly, and then transition me out. We have opted for the slow transition. Am I being too namby pamby? Should I throw her in the deep end, so she will learn to swim? Babies are far more resilient and adaptable then we give them credit for, and bubba only knows what is acceptable because we show her what is.

I know it’s weird and unfair, but those 30 minutes gave me a taste. I started out mapping ways to not have to put her into childcare for another 8 months, and I ended up resenting the fact that I can’t put her in for a full day yet. I wanted more, and bubba crying for me meant that I can’t have it, or I choose not to have it, not yet, not until she is OK with it too. It did something to my sense of freedom, and made me remember my obligations. It is time to get her more used to the vicissitudes of life, but gradually.

I am grateful that I have the flexibility to take this sort of approach. I am impatient now for the approach to work. Time to myself – an almost forbidden elixir. I’m sorry bubba. Soon.

9 and a half months

Bubba has now been street side of the belly for longer than she was inside. Still, I told her the other day, “I invented you.” But I could never have invented everything about her. It’s more than I could have imagined.

We have been through a lot of changes in the last month.

Bubba’s head is bigger

Bubba has gone through another “wonder weeks” transition, which rocked her world, literally. Her brain got bigger and changed the way it metabolises glucose. Apparently now she can understand “categories,” and is busy comprehending that a picture of a dog and our neighbour’s poodles are part of the same group. She has also started to comprehend her own power, and has been using it to get what she wants from her gullible parents (I reckon she wins that game 80% of the time in the first round, and 100% of the time in the second. We are featherweights to her championship, 0-sized belt).

My sister is leaving home

I feel like my soul has been through the wringer – you know, that battered feeling you get in your chest after a hard, emotional pummelling. It has to do with moving house – always stressful – and the changes in our lives. It has to do with bubba getting bigger and starting family day care later this week – so soon, too soon! It has to do with my heart turning over with another thud, as my sister transitions to supported disability care. Her move is getting very mixed up in my head with my bubba’s care, and so I overreact to any wish bubba might have, as if I could somehow make my sister’s life a little happier that way. It makes no sense. It makes total sense.

I remembered that I was not alone

My husband suggested that I take a few hours of downtime, and so I went for a drive on the weekend, alone. It breathed air into my self. I gathered myself with more confidence; I recalled that I was not only on the planet to fulfil other people’s needs. I had a chat with a friend who could advise me about this, and I made a pact to let go of some control – I had seized it, and then complained about how heavy it was. I carry around this load on my back, like a Nepalese grandmother, except she carries far more useful things like aluminium sheets and bundles of blankets, whereas my bundle is a load of ideas and strictures about pleasing others, taking care of others, and not being worthy of others’ love unless I do so. It has backfired if you find yourself dizzy with the absence of weight when you do step out, alone. It is time to make some changes, to the words in your head and the baseball bat you have been using to beat yourself with.

And then you find that your partner doesn’t mind at all; in fact, he was just waiting for you to say the word (and in my case, saying many of them for me so all I had to do was say, “Yes.”)

Take the weather with you

Nothing brings home the fact that you are moving house so well as checking the weather forecast for the place you are going to. This coming week in Wollongong, it will be a bit cloudy with some rain, and cooler than Sydney. Which I had forgotten. Here I am, in a room full of boxes, which Paul Dempsey of Something For Kate once sang was not quite as bad as waiting, but pretty bad (or something to that effect. For Kate, presumably).

I am feeling it. I guess it has only taken more than a dozen moves over less than a dozen years (I have lost count, to be honest; doing a passport application or a security check is a real test of my memory these days) for me to pick up the tell-tale of signs of house-moving-anxiety. I read somewhere that it is in the top, five most stressful things you can do in life (after losing someone you love, and divorce).

One thing that is making moving easier is the way that most of my bills and other contact with the outside world are delivered to me online these days. I realise, each time I make a move, that I have kept my email address and my mobile phone number longer than any physical address since I was a kid of 16, when the relentless moving began.

I have also not got sick this time as I have the past few goes. I think it might be because this time around, I allocated a whole week to doing the packing, rather than trying to do it in and around work. I have been working this week, but I have not had any pressing deadlines to attend to (well, apart from a few tender responses, but somehow they got done.) I have also not got as stressed as I usually do – trying to pack everything in one day, and worrying the whole week about the things yet to get done. Finally, after so many moves, I have learned that: it will all get done; and slow and steady will get us across the line.

I have also learned to buy as many boxes as it takes to make the move one of streamlined cardboard rather than messy, laundry baskets of knick knacks; and to pay for as many hours as are required of a reliable, word of mouth referred, removalist. Too many times have I been burnt by dodgy guys with a truck, dragging out the time it takes to do the move, making me eat my fingernails as I watch my money and my possessions roll away. Last time we moved (about 12 months ago), Sydney City Removalists actually accused me of burning through removalists and then complaining about them on purpose. I was six months pregnant and teary, and my husband was irate. We tried to post a review on True Local, but it was not accepted by the website – another reminder that the Internet is not so much objective as it is monetised. Rather amusingly, the company kept me on their mailing list and we have received a number of emails recently, asking us to recommend them to friends. Not Going To Happen.

I wonder if bubba will take to the move badly. I wonder how someone her age (almost 9 months!) can find closure. When she walks out the door with me of this place, her only home, how will I explain to her that it is for the last time? Will she occasionally remember the grey carpet as she slides along our floorboards back in Wollongong, with a sense memory that makes her look around, startled, wondering where she is? Thankfully I am too tired to speculate too much about this. And also thankfully, wherever I and my husband are, that is where she feels most at home.

And that is the truth of it. When I first moved to NSW, five years ago or so, there was a moment when I crested North Bondi hill aboard a bus, and I looked at the ocean, and homelessness welled in me like the waves below. Not long enough here to have spread roots; not long enough in the previous town to miss it like a home; too long away from Queensland to really regard it as mine. Now I have this little family, these two other people, this baby and this man. And wherever they are, that’s my home. Hat or no hat. Boxes or no boxes. Rather than think about the possibility of them ever not being there, I will snap them in this moment in time with a few words as markers:

Bubba is in bed; I heard her cry out once, then subside, into sleep. My husband is in the kitchen, cooking me dinner with the last of the fridge offerings. And here am I, sitting in a room full of boxes; shoulder muscles too tired to rise very far; heart bleakened at the prospect of moving; encircled, emboldened, imprinted with love.

My last mothers group

Today Ellie and I attended our last Crows Nest Mothers Group. At the risk of being a little sentimental, I wanted to say a bit of a good-bye.

I have seen the babies in my mothers group grow from the size of poppets into fully fledged leprechauns, the type who would hold out a pot of gold and then zip it all the way to the other end of the rainbow, gurgling and chuckling as they crawled, rolled and galumphed ahead of you.

When Ellie and I first attended the group, there were about 30 mothers and their bubs, seated in a giant circle at the early childhood centre. None of us knew what we were doing, I think it is probably fair to say. Now, nine months on and we and our wee ones have grown.

Alex has grown long, and Zahra still looks at my glasses like they are candy canes, but with the contented grin of the well loved. Adele is a roly-poly bundle of cuteness, and Oscar and Annabel are almost as quizzical as my bubba, although perhaps a little more forgiving of strangers than Her Royal Rotundity. Then there are John, Bos, Matty and Leo, and of course smiley Tommy, all kicking their trousered legs with the delight that only people who have just discovered they have feet can. Who have I missed? Kobi, the handsomest of the lot, and doubly so because he does not yet know it; and Allyra, with her cheeky grin and her upturned nose, a little, red-cheeked elf; Chloe and Frankie with their agility of dancers. Gus still has the same, wide-open smile he had five months ago, but he is quickly turning into a little boy, and Bronwyn’s baby is the last of the pixies.

And then there are the mums. Each one an amazing, dedicated and determined woman. Each one giving their babies the very best that they can – making these babies some of the luckiest on the planet, because when these women set their mind to something, you get the strong feeling it is going to happen. Each one of the mums is kind, and smart, and resourceful. Each one has a wicked sense of humour. Each one is a friend you will miss if you are going to move away from Sydney.

Farewell my fellow mums! It has been such a privilege to share these last nine months with you all – to be part of these blossoming days, these wondering eyes, these chirping, crawling footsteps! I have enjoyed every meeting, and every moment of knowing that I have not been alone with the intense weirdness that is becoming a mum.

Some hopefully non-condescending advice about having a baby

I have a couple of friends who are pregnant at the moment. Sometimes I envy them. Not the being pregnant part – that was not a glowing time for me – but of it all being just, about, me. There is something wonderfully young and naive about the time before you have a baby. And I absolutely do not mean that in a condescending way, and I don’t mean to say that now I have one, little baby, I know everything there is to know about life, being an adult and so on. I absolutely do not think that only parents have the licence to tell others what real life is all about. And I do not think of my friends as young and naive.

Here is what I mean, if I can find a way to express it….

Before you have a baby, you are the centre of your known universe, even if you are a really unselfish person. You have all sorts of thoughts and you have the time to wonder about what they might mean. Then you have a baby, and your brain is re-wired. Neurons are re-directed towards the parts of the brain that need them most – your empathy bits. You find yourself having to really focus on someone else, to work out what it is they want and need. Women do this a lot anyway, but once they have a baby, it is like being a person pleaser on steroids.

There are a bunch of things no one told me before I had my baby. When I asked a friend why she didn’t, she just said, “What would have been the point?” Now I guess I know what she meant.

What would be the point? Your friends are going to go through it, no matter what you tell them. Of all life’s experiences, this is not one you want to pre-empt for someone. And it will be their unique experience, and will bear little semblance to yours, most likely.

My friends know that it was incredibly hard for me in those first few months. With the PND and the sleep deprivation and insomnia, I was under. Back then, I probably would not have advised anyone down this path. But now that I have bubba, and she is awesome and I am better, much better, I think, Yes, do it. I would not have wanted my doubts and dread to have stopped anyone else from finding their own way to the hardness and goodness of parenting.

That’s probably my main reason for not telling my friends all there is to know about those first few months – not even on this blog. Because not only would it be pointless, it might cause harm if it stopped someone from proceeding, or if it coloured their first view of their own experience. And although we make a decision to have children based on absolutely no evidence as to what that actually means – still, it is all sorts of indescribable.

That said, there are a few things which I want my friends to be prepared for, if they haven’t already read about them. I don’t mean this in the way of unhelpful or unwanted advice – you’ll get enough of that – but more as in the way of information, I hope.

1. Day 3 or 4 after delivery you lose your bundle. Apparently, a woman at this point after pregnancy has less estrogen in her system than a 65 year old woman. Then the milk starts to come in and I have been told that the tears subside – they didn’t for me, but that is part of my PND story, told elsewhere.

2. The night sweats. Again, no one mentioned this to me. When my milk started to come in, I had night sweats for about a week. I thought I might have a fever from the C-section but I called the hospital and the nurse called me sweetie. Nice nurse. Would have been nicer to have been forewarned, though.

3. Midwives. They will each have a different opinion on what you are supposed to do. Basically, all the health professionals you will encounter are going to broadcast public health messages at you, in the manner of the local council putting up signs telling people they let their children play at the park at their OWN RISK. They have to tell you it is best to breastfeed, and you have to wake the baby to feed, and so on, or else I guess they are scared that we could sue them if something went wrong. Here’s my advice, or really, anti-advice: you don’t have to do what they tell you. Take the advice you think sounds most suited to you and your baby, and check the baby’s weight and wees, and you will be fine.

4. Boobs. Lather on the lanolin as soon as you start breastfeeding, and in between feeds. Don’t wait until the nipples get cracked to start using the lanolin. I didn’t do this, because I didn’t realise that it’s a preventative thing as much as a healing thing – and once they are damaged, they hurt for a while.

5. Clothes. Make sure you have at least 2 pairs of comfortable maternity pants you can wear in and out of bed. I only had one pair of maternity trackies when I was pregnant, and that was not enough for my hospital stay. I got really upset about not having decent, clean clothes to fit into when in bed and wandering up and down the hallway; and you are not going to fit your regular clothes for a while after the birth. Also make sure you have a couple of tops to wear which you can breastfeed in – a button-down t-shirt and a medium or large, maternity, pull-on bra are a good option to start with, because you might not know what size your boobs will be in order to buy the bras with the clips. Rachie gave me a “Majama” bra, size L, and that continues to be awesome.

That’s it. Good night, and good luck.

Essential TV trash viewing for new parents

There are lots of lists of things one needs when one has a baby, but as I mentioned in my last post on the topic, absolutely critical is having some good trash TV to watch.

Here are my top tips.

THE LAST THREE MONTHS OF PREGNANCY

1. Upstairs Downstairs – the original series

There are about 5 series, from memory, and they are really quite good. They have a goodly amount of British period piece cheese, as they were made back in the day, but they also address some rather shocking social issues of the times, from illegitimate pregnancies, aristocratic flings with the maids, the wars, the Titanic, the Great Depression, and so on. There was a recent follow-up of three episodes made, as a kind of sequel 50 years later, which was also a really nice bit of closure for the fans like me.

2. The Tudors

It’s all about the costumes and sets, this one. The heaving bosoms get monotonous, but the gold chalices don’t. I got as far as the fourth series before not caring any more about the next wife. And anyway, I knew what was going to happen.

3. Mad Men

Of course.

THE FIRST THREE MONTHS after the baby arrives

1. The Gilmore Girls.

Nothing bad happens worse than {SPOILER} Rory dropping out of Yale for a semester. No one ever raises their voices for real. It’s perfect for the first three months of having a baby, when your nerves are shot and you can’t bear anything too deep, meaningful, gory or hard to follow, but you still want some snappiness to your dialogue and writing. There are also seven seasons, so you can keep watching it without having to resort to thinking about what else to watch.

2. Scrubs, Flight of the Conchords, Arrested Development, or other sillinesses

Some fun is a very, very good idea for these early months.

3. Downton Abbey

This is a very straightforward period drama. Good costumes and British accents are so soothing in challenging times. The old BBC Pride and Prejudice is also a good one for this reason.

I tried re-watching Will and Grace and Frasier at this time, too, but found that Will and Grace was too shrill for me, and as I had already seen most of them and Frasier, they didn’t offer enough of a reward for my efforts.

THE NEXT THREE MONTHS

1. True Blood

I tried to watch this when bubba was a month old, but it was too gory and scary for me. But now that I am getting sleep once more and bubba is older, True Blood offers the perfect mix of lameness and suspense, with a good dash of fantasy for me.

2. Mad Men

Of course.

3. Modern Family

This is such an easy to watch comedy about families, but I didn’t include it in the first three months because it might be just a little too close to home. Or not – I might be overthinking it. I have heard “Up all night” is also good fun for new parents.

I also tried watching Boardwalk Empire (Martin Scorsese), and we got through it, but it wasn’t one I will hold my breath for until the next season comes out.

Anyone else have some top TV tips for new parents?

Losing weight continued

20 days ago, I wrote the post “Losing weight.” Since then, I have been on the waggon, off the waggon and now in the last two days, back on again. It appears I have lost about 2 kilos so far. 15 to go.

In that time, I fell off the waggon when I got tired. Getting up and going for a walk is just not the incentive it used to be ;-). I also fell off the waggon in terms of diet when I started mainlining chocolate last week as a work deadline loomed. I don’t drink tea or coffee, because it just makes me more distracted, so chocolate / sugar has always been my drug of choice.

Basically what I have decided to do is to go on an actual diet. I have been decreasing my portion sizes over the last few weeks, trying to stick to an amount which sates me rather than over-fills me. It’s sort of like asking myself consciously: Are you actually hungry, or are you eating because you are cold, or bored, or tired, or because it tastes nice?

But now I am going on a diet-diet. It has all going a bit too slowly for me. I know the research says that crash diets don’t have lasting impacts, and I don’t intend a crash diet. But I do want to lose weight at a slightly quicker pace.

The last time I lost weight was when I was on an anti-candida diet, trying to work out what was wrong with me – it turned out I was gluten intolerant. So the anti-candida diet requires you to go off sugar and complex carbs almost completely, sticking to protein, low GI vegies and fruit. You also replace breakfast with a protein shake plus a mix of seeds and berries (that’s your fruit for the day). It’s kind of like those no carb diets, but a bit more hard core because you are also eliminating as much sugar as you can from your diet.

I am not going to go all out hard core. I do need to concentrate, and take care of bubba. I don’t want to be cantankerous and weak for the next few months. But I am going to substitute my breakfast of GF muesli, which has always irritated me anyway as being high in sugar and low in sustenance, with the above protein and berry shake. And I am going to replace sugary snacks with almonds and fruit and low fat yoghurt. And keep an eye on portions.

I don’t want to do all of this. Just writing about it makes me annoyed. But the way I am framing it is this: do I want diabetes when I am older? (No.) Do I want to be able to take bubba bushwalking? (Yes).

I suppose this is the core of delayed gratification. You have to focus on the long-term benefits rather than the short-term irritation.

At the same time, I am trying to turn down the volume on the voice in my head which keeps up its low self-esteem patter about being “fat” and so on. I don’t need to elaborate. You probably have all heard it at some point in your own heads. It’s unhelpful, it’s damaging, and it’s the worst motivator I have ever had when it comes to trying to be healthy. Instead, when those thoughts come up, I want to hug myself on the inside. I want to think: You’re beautiful. You’re seriously hot. You’re so good-looking right now. Check you out. You’re an attractive woman. You are doing this walking because you want to be fit and less stressed. And you are doing this diet because you want to take bubba along bush trails.

I have a friend (Rachie) who always focuses on the positive in people. She’ll say something to them and you see their shoulders go back, their head straighten. You see them think, maybe I am OK. Maybe I can do this. Anyhow, not long after bubba came along and I was feeling a bit dumpy in the dumps, she told me that I had great calves. She took a photo to show me and prove it.

Here I go, walking up my hill for the fifth time. Check me out. I have awesome calves.

How to create a mini-me

Sometimes I look at bubba and she looks just like I used to when I was a little kid, all cheeks and smile. It is easy to forget that she is actually not a mini-me.

I am pretty much the exact opposite of my mum, possibly as a reaction, but also possibly because maybe personalities naturally develop to complement the other main people in your life? Along with genetics and nurture, could this also be a factor? For example, my mum is chaotic, impatient, likes lots of noise and has tvs and radio all going at once, she is extroverted, and is sociable. I am introverted, can read literally all day and night and into the next day, enjoy small, intimate gatherings and hate noise.

Maybe this is largely because I followed in my dad’s footsteps and so was genetically programmed as the foil to my mother. So maybe there is not much I can do in the way of programming my bubba’s personality.

Or maybe if I am really meta about it, I could be one way in order to get bubba to be the other. Like the Commonwealth Bank ad in the 80s, anyone remember it? Where the besuited young man comes home to his punk rocker parents, who are woefully disappointed in his success? Ahah! They could have said to themselves later. Gotcha!

Upon reflection, this level of double triple thinking is even beyond my powers of planning. I will just have to wait and see what she is like. And crucially, see her differences not as a personal affront, but rather as her own, special evolution. Life before bubba was like a hothouse, such a controlled environment that I could plan my own surprises. And now this. I hope I can channel my own mother and rise to the challenge.

Project managing parenting

Is it wrong to apply the skills from work to your 7 month old baby?

I just read this post on Mamamia from a mum who applies her skills as a lawyer to her children. She has spreadsheets and applies the SMART principles to parenting.

This struck an OCD chord with me. I have thought on occasion that I could actually map out my goals for bubba. Not in terms of making sure she can play the Moonlight Sonata by age 3 (4 should suffice ;-)). But rather, in ways to make sure I am covering off things I wouldn’t naturally do, but probably should in order to give her own character the chance to develop along its own lines rather than mine.

So in terms of things like, making sure she has a balance of adventures, time at home and things I don’t enjoy doing but if they are on a list, I might do them. Like going out more often – I am a couch potato so sometimes need to review whether I am doing this enough for bubba. Or water polo, or dolls, or playing with other kids. A sort of baby’s bucket list.

Not that I think it is a good idea to get too OCD about it. I put enough pressure on myself to be a good enough mum, and a lot of confidence in mothering is really about thinking I as a person am pretty ok, and am probably setting a decent example of a human being for bub just as me.

But lists. I do like lists.

So maybe a short one? And one of things I might like to do with bubba:

1. Blow bubbles. They are so fun and beautiful.
2. Spend some time with flowers. So pretty!
3. Now the days are shorter, go outside rugged up, and watch the sun dip through the leaves on the balcony
4. Snuggle time, not just before sleep
5. Airplay. Maybe we can do aeroplanes in the park, as well as the living room
6. Upside down baby. I think I may be more into this than bubba.
7. Food fun. Try new things, like roast chicken, and kiwi fruit.
8. Sand. And dirt. And grass. Everywhere.
9. Shopping. I don’t like malls, but I imagine they must be a welter of lights and sounds for small, wondering faces.
10. Music and dancing. Bubba likes to sing, especially to cocktail music.

I like this list. It does not make me feel anxious about getting things done, but like all reflective activities, it reminds me of the simple things I can do to enrich my day as well as hers. I like bubbles too.