How my toddler taught me to love my body

Today, I came across an old photo of myself in an album that my mother meticulously put together about twenty years ago. I remember when she undertook this project. She wanted to have a dedicated album for each of her three daughters, and it involved hours of lovingly sorting, arranging and reminiscing over every single photograph. She gave me my album to keep when she came for the birth of my first daughter.

In that photo, I’m about eight years old. I’m standing at the shore of the ocean with my youngest sister, aged three at the time. She has a delighted grin on her face as she gingerly treads the golden sand, but you can’t see mine as it’s covered by my windswept, thick, brown curls with copper-tinged ends due to being in the sun for days on end. I’m wearing a bathing suit. My long, strong legs show that I was tall for my age.

All I can remember when I see this photo is the time my preteen self saw it in the album, self-consciously extracted it and hid it away from view.

I look so fat,” I remember thinking to myself. I hated seeing it and certainly didn’t want anyone else to see it. I remember my other sister, two years younger than me, asking me at some point why I hated that photograph so much. I don’t remember how I answered her.

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Is being a stay-at-home-mom enough?

I’ve traded in my black business suits for shorts and maxi dresses.

My shiny patent high heels for flip flops and mama Crocs.

My chic over-the-shoulder handbag for a very practical, industrially-designed khaki backpack.

My sleek updo for whatever hair arrangement is quickest to achieve, all the while accompanied by a halo of frizz framing my usually flustered face.

I’ve traded in 10.30am cappuccino breaks with intellectual colleagues for a cracker and watermelon food fight with an energetic and gleefully squealing toddler.

My 20-minute, quick-fix, power lunches for lengthy negotiations with a curly-haired little girl as to which non-carbohydrate items on her plate she will begrudgingly consume.

My after-work conversations with my husband about current events and challenges I’m facing in the office for a rambling update as to how long the baby napped that day, the contents of her diapers, how tired I am, how sore my back is and seeking his take on whether oven pizzas would be okay for dinner.

My billable-hour targets for hopes as to how many hours straight my child will sleep through the night.

My evolution into a stay-at-home-mom was not an evolution at all. It was an abrupt shift from one life to another. There was no lead-in, no transition; it was like suddenly a part of me that I had known so well, for so long, had disappeared. Instead, here I was, cradling a newborn in my arms on a Tuesday morning, wondering where on earth I was supposed to start. Continue reading

Sometimes, Mama needs to cry too.

You start off thinking you’re going to be the perfect parent.

You’ll never lose your patience. You’ll never raise your voice. You’ll never let your child see that – yes – they’ve gotten to you and that you’re essentially about to lose it.

I certainly started off that way.

I had grand visions of myself as the ever-calm, always-smiling and never-scary mama who would patiently and lovingly deal with everything my child threw my way. I mean, how hard can it be? They’re children, for heaven’s sake. All you have to do is make them feel “heard” and explain the rationale behind all of your parenting tactics, and they will obligingly and dutifully be the perfect child.

And then there comes the first time your 3-week-old just. won’t. sleep. Continue reading

A tribute to a daddy

{If you know A, you’ll also know that he is going to be less than thrilled with the attention from this post. But it’s something that needs to be said. Plus, it’s his birthday tomorrow and Father’s Day on Sunday so really, this post couldn’t be more timely.}

After the birth of a child, so much of the attention goes straight to the mother. And understandably so. However, with 18-months’ hindsight, one of the truths I’ve really come to believe is that fathers often don’t get enough acknowledgement that they too have gone through an enormous life change. They transform from husbands to fathers, and this transformation is sometimes totally underestimated. They too are wandering into completely unknown territory, and a lot of what they go through perhaps feels like it is not seen. And we, as mothers (well, I can only speak for myself) sometimes expect them to read our minds and just figure it out already!

That’s certainly how I feel it went for us. Continue reading

Tonight, I’m thinking about my mother.

As tonight’s insomnia started settling in, all I could smell was the sweet scent of my Banana Republic Rosewood perfume which always makes me think of my mother. It’s one of her favourites, and always reminds me of the time she travelled across the world to see me get admitted to the bar, and then nonchalantly left a bottle of this perfume in our guest room, so that every time I missed her I would smell it and feel like she was close.  Poetic as this all sounds, the reason my senses were treated to this luxury is that earlier this evening, Tuna decided it was necessary to pull down my perfectly organised little shelf containing all of my favourite choking hazards and uningestable substances (jewellery and perfumes, and actually, no joke –razors [WHAT WERE THEY DOING IN THERE?!]- she clearly saw that the entire set-up was a health and safety violation so actually, I owe her for bringing this to my attention). She is totally fine, but my Banana Republic perfume is not.  The glass bottle shattered everywhere, and its contents spilled across my bedroom floor.  I managed to clean it all up but the scent feels like it’s going to linger for a while.

So it got me thinking. About my mother. And how, after becoming a mother myself, I am starting to understand so many more of the mother-daughter dynamics which I previously took for granted.

The dynamic I’m particularly aware of at the moment is the one where I act like an inconsolable toddler whenever I’m with her. Or a moody teenager.  Or basically any stage of a child’s life that a parent finds more challenging than others. My dad doesn’t get much of this. It’s all smiles and jokes and laughter with him. I actually remember a Skype conversation, pre-Tuna, but not that long ago, where I spent the first half of the call crying and complaining like a little baby, and then the instant my dad appeared, he started cracking jokes and managed to make me smile. Mama actually commented on this and asked me what she had done to be the lucky recipient of all my grumpiness.

I was never really able to answer her. Continue reading