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Archive for June, 2009

I recently remarked that all people ever seemed to do on facebook was take quizzes, most of which give grammatically-challenged and yet cutting insights into my personality such as “Your eyes always has a smile in them!! Your all about having fun and parting the night away…”. I’m still unsure how I might “part the night away”, unless, of course, there had been an outbreak of lice at the school and I was having to check the entire family’s heads with a fine tooth comb until after 9pm. In which case, I’m not sure where the “having fun” bit comes in. To be quite honest.  

Anyway, a couple of people told me that I wasn’t being very fair about facebook. People do plenty of other things there, they claimed. For example, they join groups (did you know that I counted 27 separate groups called “Stupid” and seven of them have only one member… now that’s stupid!) and they also become “fans” of things (my favourite ever was the invitation to become a fan of “I Hate Waking Up In The Morning!” because it laughed brazenly in the face of grammar and logic). People also like to circulate lists of things about themselves – “25 Random Things About Me” was a popular one a couple of months back, which was shortly followed by “25 Random Things About Myself That You Probably Don’t Want To Know” and then “25 Random Things I Wish I’d Never Read”.

People kept asking me “Oh, NDM. When are you going to do your ‘25 Things’?” but personally, I couldn’t think of 25 things about myself that would even be worth sharing (she says as she publishes her 231st blog post). I decided I should create my own facebook list meme such as “25 things I could have done differently to have avoided a Late Pass this morning” or “25 recipes that take over 30 minutes to prepare that my daughter will dismiss out of hand as bisgusting” or even “25 unidentifiable things found under my son’s bed” (a hard one to do since the things are unidentifiable). But in the end, I felt they all lacked a certain universality…

And then, some four long months after the “25 random things” craze that swept the Facebook nation, I finally compiled the following list:

25 RANDOM THINGS MOTHERHOOD HAS TAUGHT ME (SO FAR)
  1. The school run is a called a “run” for a reason. As in “Run! Run! RUNNNNNNNN! WE’RE SHITTING-FUCKING LATE!!!”
  2. Never feed the children something saturated in sugar and food colouring shortly before doing the grocery shopping or having them interviewed on national television. 
  3. The parenting motto “Be persistent and consistent” only works when you can actually remember what you’re being persistent about. Damn that short-term memory-loss-due-to-long-term-sleep-depriv… What was I saying again?
  4. Those Japanese women were onto something by wearing kimonos: the tiny steps they have to take is all good training for pushing the pram with one of those toddler skateboards attached and/or moving about the house with a small child wrapped around both your legs. 
  5. Being a mother means that both hot and cold drinks will always be drunk as luke-warm drinks and any sentence conveying vital information will never be fini
  6. Never do the school run on foot in your ugg boots: your feet get hotter than the sun and you look Like A Fool. 
  7. Children snacking on sultanas (known as “raisins” to my US reader) may give you that warm fuzzy Good Mother Feeling about them having actually eaten something from the Health Foods aisle of the supermarket but do not be fooled: those sultanas will reappear entirely intact out the other end. Just think re-hydrated grapes. 
  8. Follow your instincts, except when your instinct is to run naked and screaming from the house. 
  9. Once you’ve had children, you will never be able to remember a time before them – and not just because “they change your life” (etc) but also because you really won’t be able to remember. Something to do with long-term-sleep-depriv…whatever.
  10. Adjust your expectations of yourself and what you are able to achieve with small children around. A 5 minute errand without kids will be a 45 minute errand with kids. And a 25 Random Things List will become a 10 Random Things List. For example.

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The morning after I’d gone tit-watching with her husband, my friend KT made me “dance my way thin” with a “Afro-Latin” routine on DVD. 

Admittedly the first incident didn’t actually cause the second – it just made for a good opening sentence, don’t you think?

You see, KT had actually arranged for Uncle B and I to go tit-watching together. And if she really had resented me for it, I expect she would have put on the “Fat Burning Dance Party!” DVD instead, where the instructor shouts instructions at you like you’re at some kind of Fat Girl Boot Camp. Personally speaking, I don’t think I could stand for somebody speaking to me like that in my own home. KT agrees – she usually turns the volume off and puts Justin Timberlake on instead, which should pretty much indicate how scary that FBDP instructor must be. 

Anyway, the “Dance Your Way Thin” instructor was cute and full’o’pep and led us through the dance routine by calling out things like “Salsa to the left! Salsa to the right!” “Shimmy back!” and – somewhat confusingly – “Africa Arms! Africa Arms!”. What struck me most was how confident she was at the end of the routine when she congratulated us all for completing the Afro-Latin workout, like we’d actually done it and weren’t just sitting looking on from the couch with a drink in one hand and a family block of Cadbury’s chocolate in the other. Which we weren’t, of course, but only because it was 9:30 in the morning.

Now, I’m sure I lost some of you back at the first tit-watching reference. Okay, okay, so it wasn’t bird watching as some of my more ornithologically-inclined readers might have been hoping. You see, Uncle B and I went to see a show called “Busting Out” which is a bit like “Puppetry of the Penis”. Except with breasts. But I think you probably might have guessed that already.  

And what a show it was. There’s something very empowering about seeing a grown woman turn her postpartum tummy into a wide-mouthed frog. Or to have an auditorium full of women all laugh together about loss of bladder control. Or just to see two ladies letting it all hang out as if to say “This is who I am. You got a problem with that?” It was like everything I’ve ever try to achieve with my blog except just bolder, brassier and semi-naked. 

And you know what? I walked out of that show feeling shit hot about my saggy baggy body. Yes: shit hot.  And the next day, after I’d been bustin’ an Afro-Latin move, I found myself pausing for thought  – and not just to wonder what the hell “Africa Arms” were. I realised that I didn’t necessarily want to be “dancing myself thin” but rather just “dancing my way healthy” – except, perhaps, with better grammar. Whatever. I wanted to just feel good in my own skin, whatever my size or shape. 

I remembered how Cate Blanchett once said in a TV interview:

I see someone’s face, someone’s body who has had children, and I think they’re the songlines of your experience.

This rang true with me because I always felt that my caesar scars are like songlines: they are my other secret smile. My deflated balloon of a stomach is a sacred place that once harboured new life and now just stores excess fluid and gas. My breasts… well, let’s just say that when I stretch down to touch my toes, my breasts get there well before my hands do and yet, for a combined total of 59 whole months, they nourished and comforted small beings most precious. This is my body: it tells my story. And it’s a story I should be proud of and not be hiding away as if it never happened. 

And so I may go on to lose my “baby fat” or I might just lose all bladder control instead. Whatever happens, I want to like those Busting Out Ladies. I want to be able to stand in all my postpartum glory and be able to shout “This is who I am. Have you got a problem with that?” and know that I, personally, don’t have a problem with it at all.

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The Not Drowning Mother wishes it to be known she’s not planning to make any semi-nude public appearances any time soon. But if she does end up making one, she’ll definitely blog about it.

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You know when a visitor puts away the clean dishes and manages to put almost everything in completely the wrong place? And you spend months looking for the can opener because you don’t know where the hell it’s been put?

Well, my kitchen cupboards are always like that. It’s like nothing’s ever had a proper home and just gets shoved in wherever it fits best at the time. And no, I’m not quite willing to admit how long it’s been since I last saw my can opener, especially considering I’m the one who probably put it away. Let’s just say that it’s been a long long time since anyone attended a can opening in this house…

But surprisingly, it’s a completely different matter when it comes to the organisation of toys in boxes. Underneath that thin veneer of utter chaos, there is complete order. No, really: each and every toy has its place. And only I know where those places are. 

Now, most people might dread those playdates where the contents of every single toy box has been summarily emptied and kicked about a bit. But not I, no. Mess is mess is mess is mess. It’s the words “Let’s pack these toys away!” that I dread the most – whether it be from a helpful visiting parent, my husband, or the World Champion of Tidier-Uppers. Because, as I said, only I know where everything goes. 

“Oh, please don’t worry yourself,” I say. “Please.

But if they really insist on helping, of course I graciously smile and thank them, all the while driving my finger nails into the palm of my hand. And the minute they’ve left the room, I immediately set about putting their wrongs to right, muttering all the while under my breath. My little half-spoken rant usually goes something like this:

Now why would you put Duplo in with the Glow-in-the-Dark blocks? Duplo doesn’t glow! Does. Not. Glow. Uh, and that’s certainly not a Dolly Dress now, is it? It’s a Barbie Dress. You don’t need to be a genius to see that Baby Annabel ain’t ever going to fit in that little purple number… And – oh dear god – Lofty doesn’t go in the Cars Box. He goes in the Guys Box because he’s so clearly a guy and not just a vehicle! He’s got a face, people. A face! And, arrrggghh!… The same rule OBVIOUSLY applies to Bertie the Bus except, actually, he goes in with the Thomas Trains box. Even though he’s not actually a train. But OBVIOUSLY he’s still part of the Isle of Sodor’s extensive public transport system and … What the hell is Autobot Jazz doing in the Cars Box? What part of “Robot In Disguise” don’t you people understand? Sheesh! He needs to go in the Transformers & Bionicle Body Parts Box under the bed … and… OH. MY. SWEET. FUCK.  Who put the Star Wars Lego in the Little Lego Box – don’t they know how expensive that shit is and what a living nightmare an incomplete Lego Separatist Spider Droid can be… and… oh… DANG IT! DANG IT ALL TO HELL!

And I end up emptying everything back onto the floor so I can do the whole thing properly, which I do until I get interrupted by some child needing a drink and/or a bandaid or I just grow bored and wander off and the whole thing gets deserted mid-project. 

It’s really little wonder my house is such a tip.

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It’s no great secret that my mind works in strange ways.

Just the other day, on of my Twitter followers (and “IRL” friends) LSK, tweeted me the following pertinent question:

Are you sure you weren’t born with two brains? One for all the normal stuff and one for, um, everything else?

My reply was swift but simple:

What normal stuff?

I felt that I had raised a fair point. Especially considering my recent shenanigans on Twitter where I decided to make a fake version of myself. 

“A fake version of yourself NDM?” I can hear the usual suspects exclaim. “Honestly! It’s bad enough that you even joined twitter, let alone blog about twitter. And now you’re wasting our preciousssssss time with tales of fake twitter accounts. Two words: Grow. Up.”

Oh COME ON, you people who ask questions! Don’t pretend you wouldn’t do the same given half a chance. Why, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and that guy who played Dudley “Booger” Dawson in “Revenge of the Nerds” all have fake versions of themselves on twitter. Absolutely everyone is doing it, darling.  

Still, I have to concede to those people that yes, I was extremely bored when I did this. I had been up since 5:15am, had already published my blog post, made Mr Justice’s lunch, laid out everyone’s clothes, found everyone’s shoes, made breakfast, done the dishes and I still had an hour and a half until I was officially late for school. What’s a Not Drowning Mother to do? Make her own fun, is what!

And so “TheFakeNDM” burst onto the twitter scene at about 7:27am on the 10th June, heckling her real counterpart by calling her blog post “vomit in a bucket” and tweeting deep ontological questions such as:

I wonder how many fake versions of celebrities on twitter have managed to get the real celebrity twitter account suspended.

By midday that same day, TheFakeNDM tweeted:

Being a fake version of a non-celebrity isn’t turning out to be as much fun as I thought it would be.

And then…

The problem with being a fake version of yourself is that you STILL have to do the dishes. You’d think there would be more perks, really.

By 2pm the next day, after asking how many black hairs you had to grow on your chin before it could be considered a beard, TheFakeNDM finally fell silent, the joke well and truly spent. Although whether the joke had any buying power in the first place is highly debatable. 

And yet, nobody can deny that I did what I am always telling a bored Mr Justice to do: I made my own fun. And it was truly very much “my own” in that it was really only fun for me. And nobody – nobody! – can ever take that away from me. Except maybe Twitter, when they suspend my fake account for “strange activity”. 

 twitsup

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For the record, Curtis Armstrong, the actor who played Dudley “Booger” Dawson in ROTN, does not have a fake version of himself on Twitter. But he should. If I was his publicist, I’d be so onto him about it. You know I would. 

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There was a time – B.C. (Before Children) – where the prospect of someone joining me in the shower might have seemed reasonably pleasant, perhaps even welcome. But not any more. Not any more. 

Just the other day, I was speed-showering when the curtain was pulled back by a hand unknown to reveal a sight arguably more terrifying than a man dressed up as his mother holding a large knife.

There, standing before me, was a small naked boy, who had just oh-so-casually tossed a nappy packed with shit to the side and was no doubt hoping to use the shower as one bloody big bidet. (Actually, I should give him some credit because he appeared to have wiped his bottom before he got in the shower. It’s just a shame that he chose to wipe it with the shit-filled nappy, is all. )

Anyway, I was telling this story to my husband in the car and about how I’d dealt with the situation (I’ll spare you further details) and my husband started laughing and telling me this story about how this guy he knew in highschool once shat in the shower and poked it through the plughole with his toe. 

Mr Justice, who had been conducting his normal surveillance of his parents’ car conversations in case the words “takeaway for dinner” were mentioned, burst out laughing, kind of like “ha-ha-HA-ha-HA-ha-HA!-HA!-HA!!” . And then my husband joined in like “ha-ha-HA-HA-ha-HA-HA-ha-ha-HA!!!“. And the two of them just laughed and laughed, louder and louder, spluttering things like “Down the plughole!” and “With his toe!” and “ha-HA-HA-ha-HA!!!!

And then all five of us were laughing because all that ha-HA-ing is so darn infectious – until I remembered what we were  laughing about and had this vision of Mr Justice telling the story to the rest of his first-grade class as part of Show And Tell, and I abruptly stopped my laughing and started making tutting noises. 

But to be honest, they were only the kind of tutting noises I make when I can see the children playing with something they shouldn’t but, after quickly weighing up the pros and cons of confiscating said item, decide that it’s easier just for me to say “Be careful not to break that!” before going back to whatever it was that I was doing, so that if it DOES get broken, my arse is at least legally covered and I am entirely within my rights to  say “Well, I told you so.” 

Anyway, when we got home, I found myself throwing in some eye-rolling action for good measure as I watched my husband and Mr Justice have a light-saber battle while simultaneously pretending to poke poo down a plughole with their big toes, both giggling like the school boys they both clearly are.  

At bed time, Mr Justice was still giggling.

“Use the toe, Luke,” he said, in his best Obe Wan Kenobe voice as my husband tucked him in, and they both started laughing “ha-HA-ha-HA-HA!-HA!-HA!!!” all over again.

By which time I was tutting and rolling my eyes so much that it would have been audible in the Children’s Courts some nine kilometres away because, really, if anyone is going down for this, it’s my husband because all *I* did, your honour, is try to have a freaking shower. Shuh!

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Mistress M and I have a plan. We’ve got this fantastic product we want to take to market. It’s truly a great idea (admittedly Mistress M’s) and it will make us rich, I tells ya. Rich! 

I can’t tell you what it is because it’s so friggin’ good that I’d have to kill you if I told you and not only am I disinclined to kill people as a general rule, it also might prove to be a very difficult thing to do via your computer keyboard, unless of course I developed one of those kick-ass superpowers which allows me to send huge currents of electricity across the internet just by thinking about it, and since that just happens to be one of the Other Things I’ve been working on for a while now, I really don’t want to put your life in jeopardy just because I can’t keep my big mouth shut. 

So just trust me when I tell you that our product idea is really good and let’s leave it at that. 

And no, for those poor poor people who follow me on Twitter, it is not the Berocca-fueled car I’ve been recently talking about. (Brilliant, I know. Two words: Ideas. Person.)

Anyway, our NPD (New Product Development) hasn’t gone any farther than the drinking-too-much-cheap-champagne-and-talking-about-it-very-excitedly stage (also known as the “Drinking Piss and Talking Shit” stage). Which we like to do a lot. Like a lot a lot. 

My husband is growing skeptical about how business-minded I really am and has started muttering about how I should be putting receipts from my alcho-mart trips aside because they might end up being tax-deductable.

“We’re brainstorming!” I told him. “We’re blue sky mining! We’re looking for white space opportunities! In fact this white space is so white because we’ve failed to do anything with it. And the champagne is an integral part: they don’t call this stage of NPD the fuzzy front end’ for nothing.”

“Okay, okay. Obviously I don’t understand the pressures of heading up a start-up company like you,” my husband conceded. “So does that make Mistress M the Product Manager and you the Marketing Director?”

“Yes. But I’m one of ‘The Creatives’ too. Don’t forget I’m ‘creative’!” I was quick to add. “Oh, and I’m also the Mail Girl, NDM in Accounts Payable, and That Strange Girl With Glasses Who Does The Photocopying That Keeps Banging On About Berocca-Fueled Cars .”

Yes, indeed. With all those strings to my bow, I consider myself to be a great asset to this venture. I’m sure Mistress M does too. 

Anyway I know there are a few more stages ahead before we can get this exciting product of ours to market: we’ve got to track consumer and retailing trends, knock up a prototype and get the product through Clinical Trials and approved by the FDA. Then there’s the viral-marketing, infomercial and thinly-disguised advertorial strategy to work out. Also we have to spend time adjusting column widths and what-not in Excel to work out profit margins and tax-efficient revenue streams (and that) and knock up heaps of animated slides in PowerPoint so that we can make future presentations to investment bankers when we’re ready to float the company. And, of course, there’s the Product Launch Party to prepare for, too. 

Hmm, my finely-honed business instincts tell me that we should probably be focusing on the launch party right now. It’s imperative that we are both able to drink a lot while still being able to talk enthusiastically (and coherently) about the product and without vomiting on anyone’s shoes. Absolutely imperative. 

So watch this space, people!

(Okay, so maybe not literally watch it as I’m sure you have other much better things to do with your lives and, let’s face it, this is going to take a long long time.)

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Recently, I found myself watching my husband brushing his teeth. He was using his hand to fill up with water and rinse his mouth, all the while leaving the tap running. 

“That’s an incredible waste of water,” I remarked, quite frankly disgusted. “Why don’t you use the glass provided?”

“It’s not an ‘incredible’ waste,” he said. “An incredible waste would be water gushing over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, not just over my hand. Ooooh, look at me. This is “That’s Incredible” with Cathy Lee Crosby. Here’s the amazing story of a man who wastes an INCREDIBLE amount of water…”

It’s soooooo boring being married to a sub-editor. Okay, so “incredible” wasn’t quite the right word. Perhaps I should have said “That’s an unnecessary waste of water” or a “Totally avoidable waste of water.” And before you judge me too harshly, let me point out that we’re currently on Stage 3a Water restrictionsand it’s winter. For overseas readers – i.e. That Guy In Paris – Australia is currently  experiencing one of the worst droughts in centuries (or maybe even ever? I should really research these things a little better), and one that has rendered its land drier than my mouth when I’m the designated driver for the evening.

It’s fair to say then that, as a Water Saver, I didn’t appreciate my husband’s oh-so-casual attitudes towards water. And I’m sure there are a few farmers out there who would also like to make a few comments about his attitude by way of pitchfork. 

Still, both my husband and I were very happy when we finally got some rain recently. Until, that is, my husband ventured to say “Maybe this is the end of the drought?”.

I scoffed loudly at his remark. Because two days of drizzle will surely have filled those near-empty water catchments and magically undone six years of drought. Without a doubt. 

Yes, indeedy two days of drizzle must certainly herald the end of this terrible drought in the same way as the following water-saving measures (which I came up with on the back of an envelope while waiting for my toast to pop) might prevent further unnecessary depletion of our water supplies:  

  • wiping under our arms and behind our ears with baby-wipes every couple of days in lieu of showering
  • licking our plates clean instead of washing them (admittedly unlikely to happen in this household with my children’s track record of eating the meals I lovingly prepare for them. Unless I got a dog. Or a whip.) 
  • turning all public water fountains into chocolate fountains (for the purposes of comedy, let’s just ignore the amount of water required to keep the chocolate edible and within Health Department guidelines)
  • filling all swimming pools with jelly crystals – Australia could go from being frequent winners on the International Swimming Circuit to being fearsome competitors on the international stage of  Naked Jelly Wrestling. Olympic Naked Jelly Wrestling Gold, here we come!

OR

We could all just USE THE CUP PROVIDED when rinsing our mouths. Sheesh!

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