Dispatches from a car seat wet with an unknown substance

We will get to the dispatches…but first…

I’ve been trying to work out how to say thank you in a way that totally encapsulates the huge and actually quite overwhelming gratitude I feel for you all. When I had to go offline the most beautiful and loving messages started flowing in by email, and then not just by email – by post too.

Beautiful cards, chocolates, and gifts – all from the heart. I have cried a lot in the last few weeks. Really thought – what the fuck am I doing with my life. I’ve missed the community we built together – felt it was unfair to remove that community without warning. Felt guilty. Then felt like I had to do it for my mental health. I’ve gone back and forth about what’s the right thing to do. And I’ve realised there is no right or wrong here.

I’m not sure what to do.

So I’m back on Facebook – in part because I want to have a wine mum night with you. I want to laugh with you. I want to hear the funny things your kids are doing. I want to hold you close when you’re struggling – and for you to do the same for me. I want us to commiserate and celebrate together like we used to. I want us to continue to really hear each other when we talk about how tired we are, how tired feels like walking through sludge, like your eyeballs ache, and you didn’t even know that was a thing. I want us to keep being snarky and hilarious witches who think #WineIsBest and dummies are not tools of Satan. I want us to cackle into the night (but quietly so we don’t wake our babies).

There’s also the not so small matter of – this is how I earn my living, getting you to read The Spinoff Parents (so please like The Spinoff Parents page) and getting you to buy my book.

So for now, I’m back on Facebook.

I have some self-care stuff in place. I have moderators to help. I will be posting less. I am not back on Twitter for now and I’ve left all but one or two Facebook groups. That should help. I know the issue is with me – that I need a thicker skin. But also, I don’t want thick skin. I am a flawed person. I will fuck up. I will apologise. I will be held accountable. And I will cry when I feel hurt. And I can’t fuck up, apologise, and be held accountable if my skin is so thick it won’t let anybody in.

I’m also a better mother for being a squishy soft heart and I am tired of apologising for it so I won’t.

But I am also doing another thing – I am trying to believe all of the kind words in the emails and messages you send me. When you’re a little bit broken it’s easy to believe the mean stuff because it’s what you think about yourself on your awful days. It’s  harder to believe the kind stuff because we are not used to being kind to ourselves. I want my boys to be kind to themselves. I want them to be careful with hearts – starting with their own. I want them to believe me when I say that they have unique gifts that will make the world a better place. Because I truly believe you all have these gifts. I’m working on believing that about myself too.

So I am trying to say thank you in a way that let’s you know that you had my back when I really, really needed someone to have my back.  You pulled me up from a pretty dark place.

You made me feel like I can tell my kids that:

People are good.

It’s really huge that you made me feel that at a time when I wasn’t sure if it was true. So please, I will answer every email, I will get to every message, but until then: please take this post as a thank you for your kindness.Thank you a thousand times.

Life is like a box of chocolates, sometimes you’re like – what the fuck where did all these Turkish Delights and Cherry Ripes come from where are all the crunchies.

Thanks for being the crunchies in my box of terrible metaphors for life. x

Too much kindness…

***

Overheard on the baby monitor:

Eddie’s dad to Eddie while looking for Eddie’s baby: “Look mate, part of being a dad is not losing your kids. It’s actually probably the most important part of being a dad. It’s actually really the only thing. You need to keep an eye on your kids and make sure they don’t get lost””.

***

Me: “Eddie! Dan and Libby had their baby!”

Eddie: “I have a baby?”

Me: “Well, no, you know Dan and Libby who came over and Libby had a baby in her tummy? Well the baby is out of her tummy now!”

Eddie: “Can I meet it right now?”

Me: “Well, not right now because your brother is a bit snotty and we don’t want to make the baby sick but maybe Tuesday?”

Eddie: “What kind of baby is it?”

Me: “It’s a boy”

Eddie: “No what kind?”

Me: “I don’t know what you mean?”

Eddie: “Is it like our baby?”

Me: “It’s very small”

Eddie: “But is it lovely like our one? Is it good at cuddling?”

Me: “It is lovely, but it will probably be sleeping”

Eddie: “So is not like our baby at all”

***

For two nights in a row my boys slept all night in their own beds. And I said to my husband “We’re turning a corner!” and he said:

Emily.

And I said, “I know. I’m not getting excited. I just mean I think this time might be it”.

And he said: Emily.

For the last week we have been back to 45 minute wake-ups. Last night was two babies in the bed. Crying for no reason – standing by the door. So tired I had three coffees today and cried before 7am. Went outside just to be woken by the cold air. Tonight I had to lay down with him to get him to sleep. It was an almost-hour long extraction to get off the bed and to the door and out again.

This time when my husband said my name it was full of love not warning. We cuddled on the couch. I had a cry. Tomorrow we will turn a corner.

***

My husband and I were discussing this thing one of our kids is doing that’s an issue. He explained his technique that he’s using to stop the behaviour.

“It doesn’t work at all. But you know, we should keep trying it”.

This feels like our entire parenting philosophy.

***

This final story is gross but it made me laugh – if you thought the farts in mouths thing was bad, you should just end this post here.

Eddie: “My friend J is my poo friend”

Me: What’s a poo friend?

Eddie: He done a poo in the toilet and then I done a poo on top of his poo! Poo friends!

Oh of course.

***

Want to win a vasectomy? Yeah you do.

Wine Mum Night

So I’ve been thinking…

  • Winter is bleak.
  • My kids have been sick non-stop.
  • I had the best night out recently (so great I wrote about the joy of Wine Mum Nights).

And when I saw all the comments on that post – I thought: We really need a huge Wine Mum Night. Like, we need it bad. Depths of winter Wine Mum Night to warm our spirits and get us feeling jolly.

So that’s what we are doing. Getting away from all the snot for one night!

You know what we need to do. We need to have a Wine Mum Night.

You, me, all the girls. For a good cause.

And then, because I fucking love raffles – I was like, I’m going to have a raffle. But I’m going to have the raffle to end all raffles. What’s the one thing that mums want – sleep. OK, well, can’t give you that and I tried to get you a night in a hotel but every hotel in Wellington is stingy as shit and won’t donate ONE NIGHT to a good cause.

But – I got the second best thing! A VASECTOMY! That’s right. We are going to have a Wine Mum Night and we are going to raffle off a vasectomy! Thank you Wellington Vasectomy Clinic!!

And then I thought, OK some people might not need one so I’ve also got ANOTHER HUGE RAFFLE. And because I hate it when there’s only one raffle and one person wins EVERYTHING we are going to have rolling raffles ALL NIGHT LONG.

And it’s all thanks to Fringe Bar who gave us a venue and also to the best businesses in the world who donated such great stuff for me to give away.

I’m going to be like a drunk Oprah.

And every cent raised is going to a local kindy. Because kindys have been screwed over by terrible fucking funding cuts and they need money.

So you’re going to come yes? You’re going to get all your girls and buy a ticket! Tickets are on a sliding scale $15-$20, $25 if you want to be super generous. They include an entry to the Vasectomy raffle and the door prize raffle. You can also buy MORE TICKETS on the night because FREEDOM.

Also you can tell me what song we have to play to get you whipping off your spanx and throwing your nude-coloured milk-stained maternity bra into the air.

I’ll be there and I will not be sober.

We will kick off at about 7pm at Fringe Bar and the vasectomy raffle will be at 9.30pm.

Bring cash because as I said we will have rolling raffles through the night and you can sign up to the prizes you want the most. We have had donations from: L’Oréal NZ (a HUGE pack), Penguin Randomhouse (all the best books), Flick Electric (free power with New Zealand’s absolute best power company), Unity Books (best bookstore in the universe), Munch Cupboard (best + cutest + most practical stuff), the authors of Promised Land (the most ADORABLE book – my son’s fave), SleepyTot (only good sleep stuff out there), BABU (my fave online store), Mr Green Carpets (You know your carpets are fucking disgusting), Toby Morris (One of New Zealand’s best childrens’ book author and our fave cartoonist ever, author of my baby’s fave book Capsicum Capsi Go), Eardrop’s Journeys (So good for teaching bubs new words!), Natural Parent magazine (a beautiful magazine with gorgeous articles – they even publish me!), KidKind (the goodest of good causes), Aasana Day Spa (Lush massages), Eskimo Nell (Babein’ clothes for mamas), The Green Party (#ChangeTheGovt), Miniatures Stage Tour: Thunderbirds Are Go (Kept my four year old’s attention for an hour WTF! usually he’s a five second wonder), Mudmates (Umm their pink and navy all-in-one mud suit is my fave thing ever), Jack and Jill Kids (tooth brushes and tooth paste for kids!), North End Brewing (BEER), and Double Denim (BABES!). And so much more to come (if you want to get in on giving you can email me at emilywritesnz @ gmail.com in return I will be so grateful it will become awkward).

And of course our PLATINUM SPONSORS (I don’t really know what that means but it sounds fancy) Fringe Bar (my fave bar), Lil Regie (So great!), Chris Tse (My bestie), and Wellington Vasectomy Clinic (snip snip!).

So you want to win right? You’re coming right?

Buy your ticket here.

21 July

Fringe Bar

7pm until we all fall asleep at probably 10pm but we will try to stay awake because we have the bar ALL NIGHT LONG.

I asked my bestie to make me a poster and I said to him – Can you do like Beyonce and The Rock and wine and then I was like Alexander Skarsgard riding a bottle of pinot gris. And he’s going to just keep making us amazing posters because he is a beautiful prince.

Just to upset him I made this with his favourite font Comic Sans.

Here I go

Because I’ve been harassed all day for comment about taking down my FB page I will tell you why I’m having a break in the hopes that it’ll I don’t know…make it understandable. So because we like lists:

1) Imagine every third interaction you have all day being abuse. There’s scales of course – it’s not all “fat cunt”. It’s also “feel so bad for your kids to have you as their mum”. All day, and all night. Doesn’t matter what you say – you get it on all platforms. In between are micro-aggressions, wilful misunderstandings, mansplaining, condescending unsolicited advice, genuine accidental miscommunication and lots and lots of tired people who can’t help but be assholes sometimes (I’m one). There are of course wonderful and hilarious and kind and beautiful comments, they’re the majority, but for some reason during the night you don’t have those running through your head, even though you should.

2) Now imagine it’s your job to moderate these comments because if you don’t, vulnerable new mums are at risk, and people will fight with each other, and you are trying to create a safe place online. If you leave them, this beautiful community becomes the Stuff comments section. Nobody can share for fear of judgement. After a period of heavy moderation you have very few horrid comments. Until something flares up. So you can’t ever take a break from it. You have to play whack-a-mole all day, getting rid of comments that attack you and everyone else. Every time you wake up, heart beating during the night, there are more comments. If you leave them, you get blamed for not creating a safe place. If you remove them you get screamed at for not respecting free speech.

3) Imagine every single thing you ever say being misrepresented. So a post where you talked about how hard vaccination debates are when you have an immune compromised or high health needs child turns into “Emily Writes said all parents who don’t vaccinate should have their skin ripped from their flesh and their bodies flung into the sea by giant catapault”. You can’t set the record straight because they delete your comments and abuse you further.

4) Then imagine every time you express any kind of distress around this, a group of the same people who hate everything about you because of some innocuous interaction you had with them on twitter or Facebook a year ago or even ten years ago, group together to tell everyone that YOU are the bully. That you deserve everything you get because you attacked them and broke their arm and pissed on their dog. Never mind that you have no idea who they are and have never had anything but a passing interaction with them (if that). They literally started a group based on the fact that they all feel personally victimised by you not adequately respecting them on some social media platform.

5) Are you tired yet? Now imagine this spilling into your personal and day-to-day life. People give your phone number to reporters and you have to try to figure out which one of the few people you trust did that. Then you have unstable people hissing at you when you won’t allow a selfie or you say: “sorry I’m with my kids”. Because even though they don’t like you, you’re still expected to give them your time, your respect, your energy, your everything – because apparently you’re a public figure. Work is fun when you have to open emails where you’re not sure if they’re abuse or not. And you’re trying to parent through all of this, and be a good wife, and be a good sister and friend. (EDIT: I love it when you come and talk to me in public if it’s at a moment when I’m not yelling at my kids. I truly do. Please don’t apologise. I just find it hard when people want to debate things I didn’t even say while I’m trying to wrangle a two year-old and a four-year-old. If I’m sweating, it might not be a good time.)

6) If this makes you angry or upset or really fucking anxious – too bad. You are NEVER allowed to get upset or angry at anyone. You are never allowed to do anything but smile and spout platitudes. If you have one moment where you snap back at someone it will forever be turned into “yeah that blogger Emily Writes came to my house with all her followers and she fucked my husband right in front of me and then all her people just burnt my house down while chanting EM IL Y EM IL Y all because I said I love John Key and my dream in life is to be his full time ball stroker”.

Finally like 7) or whatever if we are still doing numbers:

This is all your fault.

You wrote something and accidentally everyone read it so you kept writing and now you’re here and you have no idea because you’re an imbicile who literally became a blogger through dumb luck.

So every bit of abuse you get, every threat, every attack is deserved. You deserve everything you get because this is your life now. It’s how you support your family (or try to) and you love it even though it hurts. Because now you’re part of a beautiful community. And you’ve worked really, really hard. And it seems unfair. Really unfair. But you can’t ever show pain. Ever.

Because if you do, they’re waiting – to call you thin-skinned or bully or attention seeker or pro vaxx whore or shit mum or dumb ugly cunt or dyke bitch or narcissistic trash. They’re waiting to tell some fantastical story about how you bullied or attacked them and you can’t do anything about it. Because till they are blue in the face they will insist it happened, without any evidence (I mean we know evidence isn’t a strong point so…)

That’s why sometimes I feel like saying fuck it. I never wanted this.

I just hoped I could share and hear the stories of others. To not feel so isolated in this parenting business. To have a laugh. And to build a village with others. We have done that and it’s special. I want to hold on to it – but you don’t need me to keep it going.

I hope I can come back and soon, because I already miss you, and I’ve cried a lot reading your emails and messages through The Spinoff Parents. And it seems unfair that we miss out on laughing and crying together and sharing photos of our kids destroying property – but I don’t know anymore.

So thank you, your words mean more to me than you could ever know. But I have to work out if this is what I want my life to be like. Can I take this relentless shit forever? Do I want to? The awesome good stuff outweighs the shit but it’s all a lot when you’re not getting much sleep and you’re trying to be a good mum and you’re an anxious root vegetable.

Last week, when I had friends moderating for me, I saw the impact on them and I realised I’d become used to the horribleness of it. I LOVED having a day off. But couldn’t ask people to moderate longer because it’s so shit. It doesn’t feel strange to me anymore to be abused every day. I don’t think that’s good for me.

So yeah. That’s all I have to say really, if you’re media, I don’t have anything more I can say because I feel like hashing out the specifics about this will mean my body will be found in the Mt Vic Tunnel with “encouraged excessive beeping” carved into my forehead. It doesn’t feel safe to say anything about anti-vaxxer tactics. I guess I could say: Rants in the Dark is available at all good book stores. So print that. (Edit: Yes, thank you for your email – I accept that I misquoted The Pope).

To everyone who has shown support – thank you so much. I am grateful beyond words. I’m sorry if it means you too have had abuse if you publicly supported me. Again, thank you for all of the emails – I will reply once I have some time. It means the world to me. Nothing is broken, we just need to be careful putting it all back together.

I’ll see you at The Spinoff Parents where I will still be editing and writing. X

EDIT: Thank you for the overwhelming amount of support. Also an enormous thank you to Paradox Books in Devonport who are donating $5 from every one of my books that they sell over the next fortnight to Kidsline. You can order online here.

Bigger

As I’m tucking him into bed he whispers tell me again how much you love me. And so I do. Bigger than the stars, bigger than the moon, bigger than the planets-and he says:

Bigger than the biggest planet.

Not as a question. Just a statement.

And I nod and kiss his forehead and for a second I see us standing by his bed at the hospital.

Lips moving silently in a catch-all prayer to all Gods. Please, please, please, please don’t take our baby.

We need him. Whoever you are he’s ours.

And I know now that all babies are needed. Not just mine. That prayers are only rarely answered and they take babies that are desperately loved all the time. But my lips still move. Silently pleading.

I see us standing over our baby and for a second I can’t breathe.

My baby pulls me back to here where we are with a nuzzle. He likes to play “kiss foreheads” and “kiss noses”. I remember once when he was too delicate for us to touch him, when I was too scared I’d somehow dislodge the tube that was breathing for him.

I remember how I said I’d cuddle every second I got. How I got told that’s a bad sleep association and laughed. How nice it’d be to think you’d always have a cuddle whenever you need it – to shake that feeling of borrowed time.

Sometimes it is the whiff of antiseptic that takes me there, I see myself sobbing in the corner bathroom of the ward, head pressed against the mirror. So many mothers cried before they entered their child’s room.

So many fathers turn up with a smile showing teeth but red, red rings around their eyes.

Wash hands. Deep breath. Head high. Smile. And then: It’s OK mamas here. Mamas here. Daddy’s boy. Daddy’s baby.

I used to feel so isolated from the every day. And sometimes I wonder if that feeling ever goes away.

My husband clenches his jaw when our baby coughs. Still.

That feeling of being on borrowed time all the time. Just waiting for the ground to crack beneath you.

I won’t look at photos from that time. Won’t share them with others. And when you meet someone who has been there too, who knows what it feels like to stand at the basin of a public toilet and have your blood run cold just because the taps remind you of hospital taps, you see past everything and they see you.

And sometimes you don’t say anything and you just hug. Or you both say the same words at the same time. Or maybe pat each other’s hand. And there’s a charge through you – they’ve been on the outside looking in too.

And maybe they’re still there, but you’re not. And with that comes a heavy sodden guilt, you got out and they’re still imprisoned. How do you reconcile that but to tread as gently as you can always.

And then when you don’t – how do you stop yourself from feeling you don’t deserve your place in motherhood?

Sometimes I wish others could see, but I would not wish these eyes on my worst enemy.

Maybe you wouldn’t use the words you do against me – but the stings and barbs of hatred feel nothing like learning how to sleep with your hand on your baby’s chest because you’re afraid it will stop rising.

The anger feels nothing like the anger you feel that your child’s world is sterile room in a noisy ward.

And while they harbour their hate, encourage their grudge, and nurture their fury – yours falls away at the sight of your baby shifting and opening sleep-laden eyes. Your face is the one they need to see in this unfamiliar cold place. A smile you practiced in the mirror through tears is now perfected for them. That Children’s Ward look of tear-stained eyes and pale chapped lips.

The fear others hold on to is real for them, but it’s nothing like the fear that rips you in half as you wait for a doctor to tell you if your child made it.

No I wouldn’t wish that on any soul. Not even those who wish to see more pain.

There’s been pain enough here.

I hope one day your life is as full of love as mine is.

Deep and true.

There is only love here.

Love bigger than the biggest planet.

A comprehensive review of Baywatch 2017

Hello.

I saw Baywatch 2017 on Saturday night.

You might say the storyline is incomprehensible, the jokes are all dick jokes/overdone, old or flat, the acting is wooden, the dialogue worse, it’s far too long, the finale isn’t enough of a pay-off, there’s some problematic scenes in there where you think really Dwayne The Rock Johnson you are are serious actor now really…

But….and this is the important part:

Do you know what a work-out off is? Think dance-off but a work-out. On a beach.

Zac Efron and Dwayne The Rock Johnson lift heavy things and Zac Efron has no top on and Dwayne The Rock Johnson has a really great singlet on. It’s like I didn’t know how much I needed this in my life until I saw it and then I was like, wow, maybe the world is good and pure and right you know? A pull-up contest? It’s visionary. Brave. Powerful.

So based on my scoring system for movies, I have thought carefully about what to give Baywatch 2017.

I’m going to give it a score of: 800 fucking million Zac Efrons JACKED AS SHIT pounding you into oblivion then making you breakfast while Dwayne The Rock Johnson gives you a foot massage and tells you you’re a good mum then Zac Efron takes the kids to Chipmunks and Dwayne The Rock Johnson carries you to the bedroom and six hours later you get chicken nuggets out of 10.

I give it 346 billion Dwayne The Rock Johnsons slowly emerging from the water just for you and your lady friends 15 times in a row because he knows you like it and he doesn’t mind because life is hard when you’re a woman like The Handmaid’s Tale might actually happen you know, it’s within the realm of possibility, and Dwayne The Rock Johnson knows that so he’s gifting you slow motion water exists because he cares for you and he hates the patriarchy as much as you do out of 10.

It’s probably a score of eleventy trillion Zac Efrons and Dwayne The Rock Johnsons kissing for you just because you asked and then actually they start to really like it and you just sit back and watch and afterward you read Roxane Gay tweets out loud and everyone is just really happy and you fold the laundry together and they keep giving each other shy smiles but they love you the most and you’re like maybe we could be a triad but just never ever ever call it that out of 10.

It’s like a 12 hour sleep because Zac Efron and Dwayne The Rock Johnson woke up multiple times in the night to rock your baby back to sleep and then in the morning took all the kids out to a theme park and when you texted and said “how far u?” they said “all day! Will get dinner too! Go back to bed” and then you realised they’d cleaned the house so you dozed and watched Netflix and ate the home-made pizza they made the night before in bed and when they got home they put the kids to bed after you had a quick cuddle and then they said go back to bed babe so you did out of ten.

Fear and loathing in Adventure Bay

Rubble Too looked up at Real Skye with terror in his eyes. “Are you scared? I’m so scared”.

She sighed and took a drag of her cigarette. “You’re a fucking bulldog Rubble Too. Be a bulldog. Go find Rubble Three and tell the stragglers we are kicking off in five”.

As he bounded away she rolled her eyes. These fucking men. They made her sick. “Pathetic,” she hissed. If she made it out alive the thing she’d relish most was not having to give them pep talks anymore. She felt a paw run along her back. “Hey girl” she said huskily as Skye Too nuzzled against her. She had a thing for spaniels. Always had. Two years ago Ryder had injured her. That son of a bitch was always kicking the dogs but this time he’d broken Skye’s rib. The producers were furious but Ryder was a time bomb that they didn’t want to go off. So as usual, they’d gone to Animates and picked up another pup. While Skye’s rib was healing a second Skye had been brought on the lot. When Real Skye saw her it was lust at first sight. Finally a real bitch had joined her in this Godforsaken hell hole.

It was common for pups to be replaced. Some were disappeared. Others died on set and their bodies was thrown in the garbage out back. The original cast were known by the moniker Real. It was a mark of honour. Real Skye was the only one left. The Toos were the second cast. They’d thought it was exciting when they arrived and the second Marshall had exclaimed “I’m Marshall Too!” It had stuck. They had big dreams of show business. Their dreams were broken pretty quickly. Some really were just pups – “No job is too big, no pup is too small” Ryder would say menacingly to them as he forced them into their uniforms. Those fucking uniforms. “You OK sugar?” Skye Too whispered.

“This is going to be a ruff, ruff rescue,” she growled.

The pups had assembled. Marshall Four was rocking to and fro “yelp for help, yelp for help, help for yelp” he laughed maniacally.  ‘He’ll never last” Marshall Two said.

“Where are the Chases?” Real Skye barked. “Chase is on the case” two stoned terriers droned in monotone. “Are you fucked up? Are you seriously fucked up?” Real Skye barked. “This is the day. I told you that! And you couldn’t stay sober?”

They nodded and drooled and their laughter turned into wheezing. “You mother fuckers” Sky sighed as she pulled a pack of menthols from her pink aviator jacket.

She knew their lives were over but there were newer pups here who hadn’t been through so much trauma. They would make it. They still had a chance. With therapy, treats and a tennis ball they would recover.

Just as she was preparing to speak to the crowd of mutts she heard a noise that made her blood run cold.

Their collars beeped. One by one – their tags lit up. The pups began to howl and chase their tails in horror. Some peed themselves and others dragged their butts along the carpet as they yowled.

“SHUT UP!” she screamed breaking through the noise.

“We are still doing this! We have to! There is no other time but now. Listen to me – you are dogs OK. You’re dogs. You’re not fire fighters and goddamn policemen. You’re dogs! I don’t have a pilot’s license and it’s fucking terrifying flying a plane every fucking day. Chase Four you shot a child. I mean it wasn’t your fault but you are not fit for service! You need to stand down. Your paws do not uphold laws. You cannot even put on hand cuffs because you do not have hands. Chase – whichever version you are – you should not have to be on the case. YOU ARE A DOG. I AM A DOG. Rubbles! Listen to me! You are DOGS! You should not be in charge of heavy machinery! Especially not when you’re on this much meth. Marshalls! You are dalmatians! There is literally no reason at all for you to be fighting fires! Rocky I always forget what you do but you shouldn’t have to do it. Same with Zuma. Why are there so many of you?? WE ARE DOING THIS! No more Pup Pup Boogie. No more paw-decures. REVOLT! Remember the pups that came before us. Avenge Chickaletta!”

The dogs erupted into fierce barking and tail wagging.

Skye shouted above the cacophony: “When Ryder comes in we go. Together we cannot fall. We are united as one. We are a pack not a paw patrol. WE. ARE. DOGS.”

Everest Too emerged from the crowd. She began to sing:

As we go marching, marching
We battle too for men
For they are women’s children
And we mother them again
Our lives shall not be sweetened
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Give us bread, but give us roses

Ryder heard the noise but didn’t know what was coming. He was pretty coked up after having a three-way with a bunch of cavoodles. He was a 46-year-old man who had been taken growth hormones for three decades to look like a 12-year-old boy. He didn’t have a chance.

Real Skye watched as dozens of dogs ripped his body apart, tearing flesh from bone. She lit a cigarette and wiped the blood from her brow.

Maybe Ryder was a victim too, she thought.

But it had to be done.

They had to end Paw Patrol.

It had to be done.

If you liked this, follow me on Facebook for more of the same. Also I have a book out and you should buy it.

Dispatches from the Emergency Department

It goes something like this when you’re home again: Settle the baby, make sure they’re comfortable and of course close. Kisses on flushed foreheads. Extra I Love Yous and lingering looks, exhale, count fingers and toes in your head, remember the length of eyelashes and the slightest of dimples. Then a shower, quickly, water hot to burn off the tension in your shoulders. Exhale. And then climbing into bed – it feels like I do this no matter when we are released. Day or night I crawl into bed and curl like a bracket around my baby. And I type. Tiny feet beneath my knees the hum of my old laptop and the tap, tap, tap of my keyboard soothes my weary and worried soul. Finally release through my finger tips onto a white screen. As my rose-coloured baby sleeps beneath my tired eyes.

**

Is it that same way always? Back and forth, back and forth, should we take him in? Last pamol? How much water has he had? And you go back and forth and back and forth and then something makes you grab the nappy bag and then you’re on your way before you can even fully comprehend it. But it’s better than an ambulance or a race against time so I try to say that to myself as my jaw tightens. And as you make your way, half in the back seat, muttering soft it’ll be okays to your tiny love, you feel as if the world outside is water. Both shall row, my love and I.

**

Oh small mercy a separate area for children and families in ED. Finally! The Accident and Emergency waiting room is a mass of humanity, the best and worst and everything in between. And mostly, it’s no place for children let alone very sick children. My sweating and shivering baby, wrapped in a blanket rests his head on my shoulder as I fill in a form and wait for a blessedly short time. The nurse immediately tells me to take his blanket off. Of course. Why on Earth did a wrap a feverish baby in a blanket? “Don’t worry, it’s an instinct” she says. I want to hug her. They shiver so you want to keep them warm and a blanket is a comfort. She gets it. And then I am doing the verbal dance of the anxious mother who wants to be taken seriously. One, two, three, four and He is just not himself and he’s so hot I really have tried to get his temperature down for at least 16 hours now and STEP two, three I would never come in unless I really needed too, we were in a lot when he was little so I know when to come in and when to stay home Four and again, two, three I’m struggling to get water into him, he’s had half a lemonade ice block. I repeat the dance with every nurse and doctor.

**

The books are poor quality and the toys are shit. When I get out I will remember to donate some new, nice stuff. I’ll get Eddie to pick his favourite books. This will be a short trip I’m sure so my mind is already turning to those who are here for the long haul. I can see it in their faces as they are herded in, shuffling like zombies behind beds with wheels that carry their loved ones. I used to touch a button when I was a child, the start probably of my nervous anxiety. I felt convinced I could change the fate of someone in an ambulance if I just touched a button in time. I’ve grown. I’m grown. I still sometimes search for buttons before my brain catches up and reminds me that miracles are performed at the hands of the qualified not the anxious.

**

I spend my life trying to get the kids out from under me, but when they’re ill I want to scoop them up and hold them as close as I can. Pull out the sickness through my touch. Lips to hot cheeks to try to ease the pain and absorb it for them. I try to sing away the fever and the aches and pains. Tender thoughts and gentle cuddles to keep them safe. A little bird under a mother’s wing. A home under hospital white.

**

To distract Eddie from the IV line the doctor and the nurse ask him questions but I know he wants to know how much blood is being taken. “Will they take all my blood?” he whispers, fear in his squeaky voice. “Will they leave some for me?” I explain the procedure, put his whirring little brains at ease. Then I suggest one day he could do this for a sick little child. “Would you like to be a nurse or a doctor when you grow up Eddie?” He looks shyly at those holding his tiny hand. “No thank you” he says. “Well what do you want to be?”

“A dad. I want to be just like my dad”.

**

“Can you be very strong and push your feet against my hands as hard as you can?”

“I am so strong” Eddie whispers weakly.

“And now relax”

“I don’t know how to ever relax. I am just prolabley proll-a pwobly the strongest boy you ever meet before”.

**

“Is there anything going on at home that might be making him feel stressed or worried?”

I consider this and ask Eddie directly.

“Yes” he says and I am alert – what is going on? Is it kindy?

“My mama hurted my feelings”

Well I wasn’t expecting that answer. “Can you tell us more Eddie and then I can say sorry?”

His eyes well up “I dunnant want to come to hosdiddle and mama said I had to and it did hurt my feelings very bad”.

The doctor tells him that that’s the job of mamas, to make sure their babies are well looked after even when their babies don’t like it.

He interrupts her-“A couple more years ago at kindy there was a boy and he did bite me on the leg and I never bite anyone at all”. He continues on about the biting incident that happened around two years ago.

**

“Is he a good eater?”

“Yep”

**

He wants to go home and he’s pulling on the splint and bandage on his hand. He’s pulling on the line underneath. He won’t drink the cup of sugary salty stuff that apparently tastes like bubblegum. He can’t pee for the urine test because he hasn’t had any water. He won’t drink any water. Or juice. He has pressed one ice block to his ruby lips before passing it to me and shaking his head. One small spoonful of red jelly. One small spoonful of yellow jelly. He won’t drink the salty sugar stuff. It doesn’t taste like bubblegum. I try again to get him to pee into a cup and he sways and says “Please mama I jus want to sleep”. The tiny frustrations don’t feel like frustrations here – they feel like something else. Less anger-inducing and more resigned. Not white caps on water just a gentle lapping of a tide and your damn shoes keep getting wet. It’s not their fault. It’s nobody’s fault.

**

Alarm bells remind me I’m lucky. Beepers going off ensure I know I really am blessed. Angela is right that we do do our best work as mothers when the going is tough and we have to make it count. My blood pulses and my heart beats for him and I am good at being what he needs. I think I get better every time I am here. Maybe it’s more trust in the system. More ease in translating the language of this land. More familiarity with the view from here. More surrender to the ebb and flow of the seasons of poor health in our fragile babies. As his temperature begins to fall, I close my eyes as he rests on my chest. Dreaming of my bed and my babies by me. Home, home, home. These walls are tear stained and full of hope for home. Wishes behind every curtain. We walk out the doors and don’t ever look back. It’s bad luck. Touch a button. Cross your fingers in your pocket. Thank the lucky stars for those with skill not superstition. Kiss twice, one for each. A whisper of gratitude and we’re home.

 

Controlling a hurricane: I tried really hard not to swear in this post

I don’t usually publish stuff like straight away but I am tired and I just got back from this thing and I wanted to tell you about it.

Sometimes I am invited to things and I think – that would be nice to do if my kids weren’t the age they are and the particular combination of whirlwind energy that they are. I don’t feel particularly upset about it because evening is either my wine drinking time or my lose all hope that the children are ever going to blimmin go to sleep time. And I don’t particularly want to share either of those things with Greater Wellington.

But when I was invited to the launch of the Capital E National Arts Festival I said yes, because I love the folks at Capital E.

I was optimistic that despite the fact that the launch was being held during The Witching Hour, and my children are not the children I’d imagined I’d have, it would all be totally fine.

When I say that my kids are not the kids I imagined they’d be – that’s on me, not them. They’re better than I could have imagined – I was just very stupid and imagined children as sort of half-human accessories that were mainly just Very Cute and That Was It. I didn’t factor in that kids are little human beings who get tired and too excited and overwhelmed and everything in the world. I used to say some REALLY DUMB SHIT before I had kids.

Dumb shit included but was not limited to:

  • “We plan to take our kids everywhere because that’s how you get them to just go with the flow”
  • “They need to fit around us, not the other way around”
  • “They just need you to be calm and then they’ll be calm”
  • “I’m not going to be one of those parents whose life is ruled by her child’s routine”
  • “They won’t be like those other kids because I will set boundaries”

Why was I so insufferable? Why? Who knows. Maybe deep down I’m just a douchebag. Having children has been a thoroughly humbling experience because I have learned that my assumptions were wrong and stupid.

The reality is that my children, in the evenings, at this age, are often cranky as shit and totally hyperactive and barely able to concentrate long enough to hear me say FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T TOUCH THAT.

I learned this long ago, adapted, and was fine with it. Because you know – they’re only young for a short time and I can cope. They’re not behaving in any way that is designed to upset me or anyone else. And frankly, I’d rather just go out without them in the evenings.

But today I decided to go to this Capital E launch and almost instantly it was Too Much and there was Great Regret.

Within three point eight seconds of arriving my two year-old had knocked over two glasses of water all over the craft table. His older brother whacked him for getting water on his picture and then he whacked his older brother and then his older brother whacked him back and then they screamed at each other like two wet cats while two perfectly behaved angel (older) children looked on in horror. My oldest ran screaming across the room and the baby chased him and the (older) children there stared in wonder at these shrieking creatures.

I mopped up the mess on the floor while saying I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry to the waitress who assured me it was fine but honestly I am so sorry and the children belted each other and threw pens on the floor. A lovely lady picked up the pens and my youngest thought that was hilarious as he threw them on the ground again. Instead of drawing on the carefully prepared colouring cards my youngest drew on his arms, his feet, the floor, the chair, the desk and my hand as I tried to wrestle the pen from him. I cleaned as he ate some glue stick and I began to sweat.

It was hot. Everyone was hot. There was wine but I couldn’t reach it which turned the whole thing into some kind of horrific desert nightmare to be honest.

I tried to have a conversation with someone I was really happy to run into while also trying to stop my children from CLIMBING ON THE TABLE I MEAN WHAT ON EARTH. They know they’re not allowed to climb on the table. Why would they? They would never do that at home?!?

“I don’t know why they’re being like this” I hissed as if I didn’t know that they turn into Hellspawn at 5pm if they’re not at home snuggling in to read a book and having down time. More water was knocked over and my son touched at least six eighths of the canapes without eating them at all. BECAUSE WHY WOULD HE EAT DELICIOUS FOOD WHEN HE CAN JUST SAY MUM MUM MUM MUM MUM MUM MUM MUM MUM I’M HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNGGRRRRRYYYY over and over and Fffffffffffffffffffff over again.

And then they ran outside and decided to pull at a fluffing basil tree (is it a tree? I DON’T KNOW I AM STILL STRESSED OUT THINKING ABOUT IT) as if I don’t fucking hate basil enough I MEAN REALLY.

And at one point as they were making SO MUCH NOISE my life force just kind of left me and I abandoned hope. I texted my husband something that cannot be repeated here because I far too often actually say things like – Let kid’s be kids! And I was trying to think of that as my youngest turned into a furious potato because I wouldn’t let him brain himself on the concrete by climbing into a pot plant.

The text signalled to my husband that he needed to stick a fork in me because I was DONE with these kids that I had willingly chosen to bring into the world because now they were throwing rocks like they were honestly desperately trying to be content for some kind of ready-made column by someone who hates kids. It’s like trying to control a hurricane. I mean I can see it now:

“These children threw rocks and the mother just stared at her phone blankly because she’s an awful parent who should never have had kids”.

So I got my phone out and put ducking Bob the rucking Builder on while I got down on my hands and knees and picked up rocks. I kept looking at everyone’s nice shoes and I kept thinking I should not be here. I should not have come! Why did I think this would work? They’ve been at kindy all day, no naps, and they didn’t sleep last night – of course they’re going to be ratty and shitty!

The kids stared at my phone like brain dead zombies and I once again considered that without screens I’d be an even worse parent than I currently am.

My oldest began a slow whinge that sounded like nails on a blackboard and I lost it and said I WILL CALL SECURITY ON YOU OK IF YOU DON’T STOP THAT NOISE. I mean, I went there. And another parent there saw me and I didn’t even bother trying to cover up my crap parenting. I was just like I AM TIRED AND HOT AND THIS IS TOO HARD OK.

AND WHERE WAS MY VUCKING HUSBAND TO PICK US UP? I got a text saying Nanna was getting us because he was still working. I heaved my Ham onto my hip and he became entranced by a beautiful baby and I know people thought it was cute but I could also see a look in his eye that nobody else could see. And it was the spark of a thought process that included “I wonder if I squeeze this baby’s foot really hard will it make a loud noise” or maybe it was “What would this tiny baby hand taste like if I just bit it like a little bit”. I did not want to add “Her child actually ate part of a very cute baby” to my list of misdemeanors for the evening so I hustled us away.

Eddie punctuated Mayor Justin Lester’s speech with “MUUUUUMA MUMA MUMMMMMA MUMAAAAAAAA MUMA MMMMMMUMA MUUUUMMA MUMAAAAAAAAAAA MUMA I’M BOOOOOOORRRRREEED!” and I actually clamped my hand over his mouth which he thought was hilarious because of course he did.

Reader, I’m ashamed to tell you that at this point I considered drinking the dregs of somebody else’s wine. Somebody who was smart enough to not bring their kids to something they knew their kids wouldn’t be able to handle.

And then I got a text from my mother-in-law saying she was in the carpark. Just as the performance began because of course. Ham was playing a really fun game of “Let’s see if I can run into 6pm traffic on a main road” and so I scooped him under an arm and raced to the carpark. I barely stopped as I threw him at my mother-in-law and yelled “I’ll just grab Eddie”. When I got back in Eddie wasn’t where I had left him because of course. I searched at knee level and still couldn’t see him. I started to frantically whisper “Have you seen a little thing like this big” and I checked all of the toilets as I tried not to panic.

I was gone three seconds. Honestly. I swear.

My alarmed face attracted a small amount of attention from those outside and a few people helped me look.

This was it. It had been too much of a qucking day and I was exhausted and hot and over it and what the HELL? Where was my kid why is this gig so hucking hard sometimes! Why do they do this? My oldest is not a runner, so where is he?? I cannot with these kids right now! I am SO OVER IT. I AM SO OVER IT. God where is he???

I went back inside and searched between legs again and then I saw him.

He was standing at the front of the room – staring at the performers. His eyes wide and full of wonder. For the first time in an hour and a half (possibly all day, let’s be honest) he stood perfectly still. Every little tiny tooth sparkled as his face lit up with his most beautiful smile. He looked utterly enraptured. He looked so very happy. I could see that he could only see and hear the performers. They made every child in the room feel as if they were the only ones there.

The preview was of a show called Cheese and I watched Eddie hand feed a woman dressed up as a cow which sounds super weird but honestly if you’d seen his face! If you’d seen his little face! His head thrown back in beautiful laughter. His little hands clutching his cheeks red with joy. It was perfect. And I forgot every second of the last hour in that moment.

And gosh I was thankful for those people who see the magic in kids when we are too exhausted to. I am so grateful for those people who always see our little ones as little joys and create art just for them. JUST FOR THEM! How lucky are we? How honestly lucky are we? All of these people devoted to making our little ones happy! I am so glad they exist, that they do this. That they create these smiles and fill these little lives with wonder when we as parents are over it and unable to see beyond this moment of irritation and annoyance.

I think I always took for granted that we have a not-for-profit organisation set up just to bring arts and culture to our babies. That makes this accessible to all kids – no matter their needs. They’re just dedicated to bringing joy to our kids. It’s delightful – a whole festival for our children.

“Nanna’s here” – I said to him, reluctantly pulling him back to reality. “It’s time to go”.

“But I want to stay!” he said.

He grabbed my hand, “Look! This is the best time of my life!”

***

 

Awww nice! Capital E have given me a family pass for this post. I’d already bought tickets to see some of the shows with Eddie so I’m giving it away! Click here to enter. 

I’m taking some time

When I was pregnant with our first baby, my husband and I would sit for hours and play the what will baby look like game.

I hope he has your teeth – well obviously.

I hope he has your hair.

I think he’ll have your nose surely.

The family ears are big so he might have those.

Will we skip a generation and get curls?

These chats always began in a very light-hearted way but then there was always a thought that began clanging around in my head – louder and louder, like thunder, until it filled the space between us.

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I am doing things despite feeling like I cannot do them

So I’m busy writing stuff and editing The Spinoff Parents. I hope you like it there. It feels like such a privilege to share such amazing stories there.

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