Wow. You came back! Possibly the virtual instant coffee or virtual G & T.
Whatever it was it’s definitely great to see you again. Let me shove this rubbish of the chair – there, have a seat.
I woke up this morning remembering how much my children are my Sun and Stars. Yes that is a little cheesy. And yes, I’m aware that it’s a GOT reference (I’m actually the only person in the world that hasn’t seen GOT).
But they are.
My daughter Rani is my Star. She is that first star that you see when dusk falls.
She also reminds me of Freddie Mercury (or Beyonce, depending on your generation).
Big in personality, flamboyant. Loud. That kind of star as well.
Rani loves to perform. She loves being the centre of attention. She learned the words of the entire Frozen movie and will replay the scenes repeatedly playing all characters herself. Like a professional actor. Dramatic.
Mr H and I just look at each other, both looking suspiciously at the other, an unspoken accusation at having some hidden performing genes in our respective family history.
I played an elf in a Christmas Pantomime in an amateur theatre group as an adolescent. Surely that can’t be considered as evidence for a performing arts gene.
When she grows up she wants to be the Queen. I had to call her ‘Your Majesty’ today. This is the total truth.
Me: Here’s your cracker’s Rani.
Rani: You have to call me Your Majesty.
Me: …??…Here’s your crackers…. Your Majesty.
Rani: (bows her head graciously).
I felt obliged to bow back to her. And this is how the rest of today went.
Prince George – I have one for you when you are ready.
My daughter is big in personality, fierce, and incredibly independent. I keep reminding myself that this is all I hoped for my daughter to be when I was pregnant with her, to equip her for a world that’s places her at the end of the race, even before she is born, simply because of her gender.
That’s what I keep reminding myself as she refuses any help with her socks and shoes, or screams like the mythical banshee because she dropped a crumb on the floor or her cup isn’t red with white spots; when she asks for help doing a puzzle but hurls me out of the way as I reach for a piece because she wants to do it herself.
I wanted a fierce, independent strong-willed girl.
I. Wanted. This.
Then there is my Sun, JJ. He literally is radiance, like sunshine.
Have you ever seen the sun through a telescope? It’s a burning mass of little lava volcanos (an apology to all the astrophysicists out there), constantly moving. That’s also my Sun.
JJ has so much empathy, he is so sweet and caring that sometimes it makes my heart hurt (or maybe that was indigestion from my comfort eating).
He is always making other children laugh and I’m constantly mobbed by his little groupies. He is charming and wins everyone over (except his Prep teacher, who I’m convinced had a picture of Principle Agatha Trunchbull on her wall at home).
JJ is a mad scientist and engineer, and when he’s in The Zone, he will whip up some incredible designs with his Lego or craft. Sometimes his creations leave me speechless.
He has started writing his little sister stories, which really, makes me go to all sorts of mush.
He has this cheeky smile, with a little dimple. Such the sweetest boy.
But let me tell you…. he doesn’t ever stop moving. Ever. EVER. He was constantly moving in utero, and I clearly remember the day the radiologist laughed during an ultrasound. “You are going to be one busy mum when he comes.”
And you know, she was on the mark.
He was a miserable baby, didn’t sleep, hard to settle, and when he was awake, he cried loudly.
I remember meeting a friend out – she had a baby a similar age. I had warned her that outings were difficult for ‘us’ and somehow she reassured me that all will be well. So, against my better judgement, out we went.
JJ hated cars as an infant – I had to sing I Still Call Australia Home (don’t ask) over and over again during car rides to minimize screams (his, just to clarify). To this day I can’t bring myself to sing that song again.
JJ hated prams, he hated being in shopping centres (he even hated those shopping centre rides), and he let you know how much he hated these things with a loud scream that had passer-by’s stare at you both to make sure no harm was being done.
Well this outing was no different. My friend had her quiet infant who was enjoying the outing, big eyes taking everything in.
My JJ screamed the entire time. I was constantly pushing the threatening panic down. My friend had promised that the outing would be ok! So it had to be ok?
However, after about half an hour of perseverance my friend looked at me with worry and said, “Wow, he is challenging, isn’t he? Are you ok?”
That validation immediately triggered my internal alarm system. It went something like this….
So, with that I may have given my quick goodbyes and ran home (loud screaming in the car – JJ’s, not mine – I just couldn’t sing anymore) and I didn’t leave the house again for 3 months. Which is not something I recommend, but you know.
And in case you were wondering, yes – we had seen GP’s, paediatricians and child health nurses. I was told that there was nothing biologically wrong with my infant. I came to realise that that meant, “yeah you have a spirited child”.
My screaming JJ didn’t sleep either. We did the sleep seminar (I had to leave the seminar fifteen minutes in because the other mums couldn’t hear the Child Health Nurse speak over JJ’s cry).
I was allocated my very own Child Health Nurse, who bless her, invested so much time with JJ and I, however she ended up breaking up with us, with a “I’ve never came across a baby that didn’t respond to my techniques, but JJ, he’s …..just wonderful!”. I think she was genuinely impressed by his tenacity. JJ had earned some respect from her.
Apparently, the Sleep Clinic was our “Last Chance Saloon”.
I had so much hope pegged on this week-long stay. I was going to walk away with a baby that slept more than one-hour blocks. It was going to be my miracle.
By Day 3 I was asked to leave a talk I was “strongly encouraged” to attend, by the facilitator because JJ was “talking” too loudly, and no one could hear her talk. Yes the facilitator had the issue. By this point of the stay I had been re-assigned to the Team Leader who was sold to me as some kind of Baby Whisperer, but we weren’t making any progress even with her and I was having less sleep than ever. So, when it was suggested that I needed to leave the talk I didn’t want to attend because my 10-month-old baby was babbling too loudly…guess what happened.
Yar. I lost my shit. But the Baby Whisperer became the Mum Whisperer and convinced me to stay the entire week even though I wanted to walk out.
You can probably guess the conclusion of this story. At the end of the week JJ and I walked out there as one of the minority of patients that “didn’t respond” to the program.
When JJ started to walk ***cough*** I mean run, at 12 months, and he started talking properly around the same age, his misery eased and he started to sleep slightly better and was able to communicate with us to his satisfaction.
I kind of ‘let go’ of all those expectations and pressures I had held onto as a new mother of a spirited non-sleeper (sounds like something out of Minecraft); the rules about co-sleeping; sleeping in general; wrapping; dummies; holding your baby too much or not enough etc.
Years later I came to realize that my gorgeous boy had sensory issues and was neurodiverse. He did become acclimatized to this world and became this radiant brilliant child, always happy, always full of fun. Our Sun.
But as a newborn and infant he struggled because, I’m strongly suspecting, of how his brain was wired. No one ever told me that this could be what my JJ could be going through. And now I realize.
Both my children are beautiful spirited children. And yes, I am often challenged by them both because of their spirited nature. But I tell you, we are so very lucky to have them both, they are incredible human beings that will certainly make a huge impact on this world.
I wouldn’t swap them for the world…
And I remember this as I drink from my gin bottle and polish up my second block of chocolate for the day…..
See you next time!