I’m feeling much better now that I am on my thyroid meds. It was only three weeks ago that I felt hot and anxious as if I was trapped in an oven and I experienced ludicrous adrenaline as if I had mainlined 200 Red Bulls. Hyperthyroidism is formidable. I’ve had every listed symptom and am now 10kg below my normal body weight. Today I ate half a milk tart and didn’t feel guilty. Thankfully I’m on the mend.
Sunshine and happiness
It’s summer! It’s the light and the long evenings that I love. When I looked at my phone app this week, I just saw sunshine. Happiness!
I’ve noticed that every summer the Swiss air their duvets by hanging them out the window and down the side of their houses. At least once a week I drive past duvets and pillows suspended from homes. It’s so strange, but maybe the Swiss keep their window sills and walls cleaner than I do.
Flies and ticks
Summer brings some challenges. When it is hot, we are inundated with flies. Once I baked a fly into a lasagne (dug it out and carried on eating). Last year we put up fly screens and they make a difference but I still swat flies every day. We live in a farming community and I suppose the flies are a small price to pay for cows on our doorstep.
In the summer the Swiss are neurotic about ticks and the possibility of getting Lyme disease from them. I understand the risks but the paranoia is out of proportion. I’ve already listened to umpteen radio broadcasts on the topic this month alone. The Swiss would never cope in the African bush where there are mambas and adders and things to be legitimately freaked out about.
Now that Megan is at school, I see this tick fear more because she has had two field trips recently and we parents were told to spray tick repellent on the children beforehand, pack spray in their satchels and inspect for ticks afterwards. The children were instructed to wear long pants on a hot, 30 degree day in order to avoid the terrifying ticks. Megan said the children resprayed themselves during their picnic lunch and she borrowed some from a friend and sprayed ‘over my whole body’. This annoyed me because I refuse to pour pesticides over my kids. I’m convinced that our blasé use of pesticides in agriculture and in our homes is the modern day equivalent of lead toys, arsenic in paint and asbestos in houses. Future generations will look back at us and wonder why we were so stupid.
For some reason, Megan and Jessica rarely initiate playing in the garden. I told them there are no ticks. One of my friends remarked that their lack of interest in the garden could be because it is a large square of grass with little/no shade and we don’t have enough nooks and crannies. This friend has lots of ‘activity stations’ in her garden. For example, her children wash their hands and fiddle with the water in the bird bath and she has stones in a flower bed that they spend hours relocating. I remember my grandparents’ garden in South Africa had many hidden, interesting spots and it provided hours of intrigue and excitement.
Megan and Jessica’s lack of enthusiasm for garden play puzzles me because it’s not as if they want for imagination. Sometimes when Megan is quiet, she says, ‘I’m watching a movie in my head.’ This reminds me of me. I still daydream, even at age 38. Is that normal? I’m not sure. I may wonder what it would be like to live off the land in a cottage in Alaska or be President of the USA and I then spend the next 20 minutes gazing at the wall.
I never anticipated the chaotic, unpredictable play habits of toddlers. Megan and Jessica follow a hunter-gatherer approach to playing. They are chronic fiddlers. This is why I must make the garden more interesting. They wander round the house, collect unrelated objects and pile them into packets, mini trolleys, Tupperwares, baskets or their backpacks. They then drop them in random places, like little toy turds.
Megan and Jessica rarely keep games as originally intended. Let’s say I buy them Snakes and Ladders. They play it a few times and then they split it up and perhaps put the dice in a pencil case and the pieces in a Tupperware. That marks the end of Snakes and Ladders. Our Happy Families card game is now defunct because the families are incomplete – Mother Mouse is in a plastic bag, Daddy Frog is in an old biscuit tin etc. It is near to impossible to keep puzzles together. Today I saw some puzzle pieces in the trolley mixed with plastic vegetables, underpants, playmobil, some coins and sunglasses. This frustrates my square, perfectionist sensibilities but I’ve learned that, in the words of Elsa, I have to Let It Go.
Kate is now passing the baby age where she was cooperative and easy(ish) to bend to my will. She now wriggles and resists nappy changes unless I distract her or pin her down. She refuses purees and prefers to explore soft solid food with her hands and feet. Jessica was also a fan of baby led weaning which made eating a full body, messy experience. Megan loved purees and I spent hours cooking different concoctions which I then dropped into her open mouth, as if she was a baby bird in a nest. That was so rewarding.
Feeding time in our zoo continues to be hard core and challenging. Before I had kids, I imagined chatting at the table, unpicking our day and talking about our feelings but this kumbaya vibe hasn’t yet materialised. Maybe it’s because the children are tired. Maybe it’s because I don’t give them their preferred cuisine of chips, nuggets, IKEA meatballs and ketchup. Maybe it’s because they can’t eat in front of the tv. One child will complain about the food I’ve served, another cries over an aching body part, there’s spillage, punch ups, pleas to be fed by me and random wandering around while Kate observes the chaos and quietly squishes sweet potato through her toes and on to the floor.
Kate is crawling and has mastered the pincer grip. She’s into everything, like a puppy. This week I removed a bead and a dice from her mouth and I’m training Megan and Jessica not to leave their scissors on the floor. Oh my nerves. I only have to turn my head for a split second and Kate is already at the front door chewing on the shoes.
Life is busy so I’m relieved that I’m not at all sleep-deprived. I sleep for 8 hours every night mainly because when Kate wakes in the night, she spoons with me in the big bed. She’s not a fan of being alone in her cot, same as her sisters. Maybe there’s something wrong with it? Megan used to stand in it, shake the bars cry and rage that I had the audacity to confine her. When she was quiet and I thought she was sleeping, she was actually yanking the animals off her cot mobile or standing up and knawing on the wooden rails like a budgie sharpening its beak. Eventually she would collapse and wither off to sleep. Jessica used the cot at night but only after much coaxing and she slept in the car for day time naps.
I saw this video and thought, ‘This is my life! It sums it up.’
I see the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern just had her baby. She’s taking 6 weeks leave and then it’s back to work. Apparently this is progress for society. The article I read said this is a breakthrough for feminism and gender equality in New Zealand. I’ve realized I’m not a feminist at all. I’m like the anti-feminist. They say women can have it all but I don’t want it all.
I think it’s a great joy to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Many women find motherhood distracts them from exploring their potential but I found myself in my family. Some of my friends have climbed the corporate ladder, are highly ambitious and have achieved great things in business. I no longer compare myself to them. I think, ‘Good for you but it’s not for me.’ It is my gift and privilege to spend my days in sweatpants cooking, cleaning food off the kitchen floor, rocking kids to sleep, hunting for the Snakes and Ladders dice and being my children’s personal slave. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.