Monday, March 31, 2008

Letting sleeping girls lie

Am I a bad mother?

I found myself thinking that last night, as I lay in bed. Beside me was my husband Kyle, and at my feet and curled along the other side of my body, was my five-year-old Harmonie.

Harmonie often sleeps with us. It started when Kyle began working away from home.

I found bedtime went much easier if I let the kids sneak into bed with me.

Which was fine every now and then, but not so good when Kyle began working home more often. See, my plan was to get out bed once the kids were asleep – but often I’d end up falling asleep before they did!

Whenever Kyle came home, Chase would grudgingly return to his room, but the Little Princess refused.

“I want to sleep with Mumma,” she’d pout.

These days, Harmonie happily sleeps in her own bed quite often, but there are times – when she’s sick, had a bad dream, or particularly fretful – that we let her join us.

To be honest, we’re not too concerned about it. Okay, it does kind of rule out the occasional middle-of-the-night fumble, but after all, there other times (and places) for that!

And I like the feel of that warm little body snuggled up around my feet. Yes, my feet!

Harmonie likes to pop her pillow at the bottom of the bed, and hang on to my leg at night. Often she’ll cuddle my foot as she goes to sleep, or reach for it in the middle of the night. Sometimes, she lays with her legs on mine. Other times, she sleeps with one hand on my foot, and another curled around Kyle’s big toe.

I think it’s sweet. There’s something so innocent and wonderful as the love of a child. And I know that this feeling won’t last forever – that one day, Harmonie will turn into a rebellious teen who won’t want to be anywhere near me, let alone at my feet!

And though he complains, Kyle quite likes it too – otherwise he’d turf her out himself.

Anyway, I wrote about our ‘bedtime problems’ for Brisbane newspaper The Courier Mail recently, and was astounded at the response I got.

While a few readers were nice, there were those who called us ‘pathetic’ and accused us of raising cosseted children who would grow up to be bullied and picked on. We were told to ‘grow a backbone’ and stand up to the whining of a small child.

But I don’t know, last night as I crept back into bed after tending to my son - growing pains, but that’s another story – Harmonie contentedly grabbed my foot in her sleep and cuddled it against her. And I couldn’t help but wonder: Is this really so wrong?

Am I really spoiling my child and putting my marriage second by loving being so close to her? Could I be responsible for her getting a foot fetish in later life?

What’s worse is that it’s not just Harmonie who likes sleeping with us, it’s our cats too.

Sometimes there are five of us in this marital bed – so it’s a bit crowded.

Is it time to get a bigger bed? Or should we accept that we’ve made our bed, and now have to lie in it?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A sucker for beauty

There’s a sucker born every day.
And then there’s Demi Moore.
The admittedly-gorgeous actor has obligingly shared her secret to her ageless beauty – leeches.
Not content with cosmetic surgery, and regular body cleanses, the lovely Demi likes nothing better than popping across to Austria to allow fat, black leeches to feast on her blood. As you do.
“It crawls in and you feel it bite down on you and you want to go, 'You b*****d',” she told TV host David Letterman. “Then you relax and work on your breathing just to kind of relax.
"You watch it swell up on your blood, watching it get fatter and fatter - then when it's super drunk on your blood it just kind of rolls over like it's stumbling out of the bar."
If that’s not gross enough, patients must do a full detox, shave or wax their bodies (leeches love a Brazilian) and enjoy a turpentine bath before letting the leeches lose on their bodies – starting with the bellybutton first.
Demi apparently spent a couple of hours relaxing while the leeches sucked her blood.
“They have a little enzyme that when they are biting down in you it gets released in your blood and generally you bleed for quite a bit - and your health is optimised,” she says. "It detoxifies your blood.”
Now don’t panic! These aren’t just your ordinary, garden-variety leeches. “We are talking about highly trained medical leeches,” Demi reassures us. "These are not some low-level scavengers - we're talking high-level blood suckers.”
Oh, that’s all right then.
Is it just me, or does anyone else thing this woman has far too much money and far too much time on her hands?
I think we all know who the real sucker is here …

Friday, March 28, 2008

Day spa dreaming

It could only happen to me.

Last November, my lovely Mum-in-law gave me a voucher for my birthday. I love birthday vouchers, and this one was a winner. I was the lucky recipient of a day out at the Dome spa at the Brisbane Marriott – massage, facial, sauna, and champagne high tea by the pool.

But I’ve been so busy with work and family, that – typically – I haven’t had time to use it. I mean, who gets a day all to themselves? We’re all so busy, we’re lucky to get an hour.

After a particularly nasty week – hubby away at work, fighting with Chase about homework, a scary credit card bill, a couple of sick kids – oh, and did I mention Narnie cat peeing in Harmonie’s Easter egg basket? I finally snapped.

“I never get to do anything for myself,” I raved. “I’m booking my day spa. And you’re looking after the kids!”

To his credit, Kyle didn’t blink. “Okay,” he said. “Do it next weekend.” As simple as that.

And all this week, I’ve been waiting. My creaky back, stiff neck, and clicky hips have been aching more than usual, but I’ve put off my regular physio, knowing I’m booked in for a hot stone massage today. Oh, it’s going to be bliss.

I wake bright and early, hop in the shower, and I’m just getting changed into what I like to call ‘casual spa wear’, when the phone rings.

It’s the Marriott Dome. My therapist has phoned in sick. My Big Day Out has been cancelled. Of course it has!

“Tell them it’s not good enough,” says Kyle. “Tell them you’ve rearranged your schedule to go today, and you won’t get another chance for ages.”

But I figure, it’s not the poor girl on the phone’s fault. And people get sick. These things happen. No point in getting angry.

And so I find myself back at the computer, before a busy day catching up on housework. Yes, it’s not quite what I had in mind, but I guess things could be worse.

Kyle’s still taking the kids out for the morning, there’s a bottle of bubbly in the fridge, and I still have my spa day to look forward to.

I just need to find time to fit it in!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

When mummies aren't yummy

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of all this ‘yummy mummy’ business.

You know, super-slim celebrity mums like Victoria Beckham, Kate Hudson, Elle Macpherson and Liz Hurley who seem to delight in swanning around in haute couture and making the rest of us look bad.

I have no problem with naturally thin women, or those who enjoy keeping fit, and taking pride in their appearance. But don’t get me started on mothers who starve themselves, over-exercise, follow silly diets, and turn to botox and surgery in a bid to stay yummy. Far from being yummy, the whole thing leaves a pretty nasty taste in my mouth.

Look at Posh, who boasts the same waist measurement of a seven-year-old child - courtesy of a strawberry and champagne diet, regular detoxes, and a tummy tuck after every c-section. Or Liz Hurley, whose slimming secret is watercress soup, and plenty of it. And Kate Hudson, who got her enviable figure back by hiring two personal trainers, working out three hours a day, and eating next to nothing, after the birth of her son Ryder.

It could be worse. TV star Jaime Presley ate nothing but cabbage soup while working out for two hours a day after giving birth to her son Desi. And I admit it: She looks great. But would you want to do it? (And more importantly, would your husband want to sleep with you if you were?)

Most new mums are too busy going without sleep, wiping up baby sick, dealing with toxic nappies, and stuffing cabbage leaves down their bras to find a minute to themselves, let alone two or three hours.

And if we did have so much free time, I bet most mums would rather catch up on sleep, shopping or the latest episode of Desperate Housewives than working out till the point of exhaustion on an empty tummy. No, the closest we get to regular exercise is the school run. And forget about designer clothes, we’re lucky if we make it out of our trakky daks in the morning!

No, although most Mummies would undoubtedly love to be yummy, I have a far more realistic guide to Mums In The Real World.

Crummy mummies
Forgetful mums who never return excursion forms and swimming permission slips in time. They don’t know which days are tuckshop, forget to send library books back, and mistakenly send their children dressed in their uniforms on free-dress days. Often seen consoling a tearful child who has just realised he won’t be allowed to go on the chocolate factory excursion because Mum forget to sign the permission slip.

Slummy mummies
Britney Spears-types who would rather go out on the town with their girlfriends than take their kids to the park. Often dressed in a uniform of high heels, short skirts, and plunging necklines, with optional muffin top. Regularly spotted chatting up Dishy Dads at the school gate, showing off their latest tattoo, or dancing on tables at the school disco.

Plummy mummies
Well-to-do types who are always bragging about their latest investment property, fabulous hairdresser, or luxurious overseas holiday. They dress their kids in trendy designer gear, organise over-the-top birthday parties, and think their child is far more advanced than anyone else’s, particularly yours. Regularly spotted in their new 4WDs ferrying their kids to and from after-school ballet, sport, music and language classes.

Tummy mummies
Otherwise gorgeous women who, without celebrity access to fitness instructors, dieticians and cosmetic surgeons, never quite manage to lose their baby tummy. Think of Jamie Oliver’s wife Jools who recently admitted: "Since having the girls, I have to tuck my tummy into my jeans. But it just reminds me of them, so it's fine." Bless.

Dummy mummies
Mums who believe dodgy claims spun by guilt-inducing advertisers and current affairs shows. They are easy marks for companies selling expensive and unnecessary early learning toys, advanced education programs, pricey nutritional supplements or child modelling courses. They spend their spare time forwarding on scam emails about allegedly sick kids, phoney internet campaigns and dubious health warnings.

Chummy mummies
Women who become instant best friends even though the only thing they have in common is children. Though they come from completely different backgrounds and have different lives, they bond over chats about nappies, childcare and school. Can be invaluable for playdates, babysitting swaps, and occasional school pick-ups.

Glummy mummies
Cranky mums who are always tired and stressed. Often working parents who are fed up with juggling work, motherhood and life, they are always in a rush and have no time to themselves. Can often be spotted dragging kids into school after the bell has rung, or shouting at children in the supermarket.

Strummy mummies
Earth-mother types who radiate serenity and peace. Fans of breastfeeding, co-sleeping and organic food, they bake healthy snacks from scratch, and are first to volunteer for kindy roster. Their kids eat grain bread and salad instead of white bread and kiddy snacks, and watch wildlife documentaries instead of cartoons.

Rummy mummies
Stressed-out women who rely on ‘mummy’s little helper’ to get through the day. Though some prefer prescription medication to stay calm, most turn to a glass of wine (or a bottle) to help the rigours of homework, dinner, bath and bed go smoothly.

Bummy mummies
Stingy mums who are always on the scrounge. They’re the ones who ask to borrow your cot/high chair/car seat/pram and never give them back. They
regularly drop in at dinner time, and are always asking you to babysit, but never seem to return the favour.

If you fall into one of these categories, rest easy: You don’t have to be yummy, you just need to be their mummy!