The changing face of romance with two kids

Over the weekend I decided to have some of girlfriends over – I don’t do this anywhere near as often as I should or would like to. To be honest, I am so elusive at a number of events or get together that I am certain a number of people have wondered about the “real-ness” of Farah’s existence! This is for a few reasons: being married into a half Greek, half Italian family means that there are is fair amount of events to go to as it is involving family. In addition I have a “high needs” parent means that a LOT of time is being taken up with my mum; not to mention that there the other usual ‘dance around the mulberry bush’ situations like sick children, teething toddler, being sick myself after all the kids have been sick and hubby also being struck down… you catch the drift.

Anyway – I tell hubby that I am having the girls over and this is what transpires;

Hubby: his Saturday? I have footy to go to…

Me: um – ok… they’re coming for dinner…

Hubby: oh ok – what are you going to make?

Me: I hadn’t really thought about it but I have a hankering for sticky date pudding so I will be making that for dessert. Why?

Hubby: I wanted to make a lasagne – how about I make a big baking tray full and you can serve that up to your friends and not have to cook

*seriously, at this point I am STARING with amazement about how BRILLIANT my husband is*

But then it gets even better on the day:

Hubby: are you going out this morning?

Me: why?

Hubby: I am wondering if you could take me to mum and dad’s so that I can go to footy with dad as my car is there.

Me: yeah – I can do that; but I still need to get a couple bits and pieces this morning from the shops…

Hubby: ok – did you want to take the kids with you and I’ll do a quick vacuum for when the girls come around?

Honestly – how ROMANTIC is my husband?

*Just as an FYI, I have added a sneaky pic that one of my girlfriends took of the dinner – the lasagne was AMAZING! The man makes his own sauce – from scratch… that he has cooking on the stove for a good portion of the day (the day prior)

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I am Australian, a mum & I’m scared

I go to work 3 days a week – I work for a federal government department here in Perth WA. I have 2 kids who I adore – a near 2-year-old and a 3-year-old who starts kindy next year. We go to that park, we do our shopping at Aldi, Coles and Woolies. Amira likes to have a babycino when we go out to a café and loves bubble tea. They share sushi together. She loves Disney princesses and he likes Blues Clues. We all love shoes. My husband works for the defence force; he likes to cook and loves his new car he picked up a few weeks ago.

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But through all this normalcy – all the ‘stuff’ that I do; that you probably do also, there is an underlying quiver of real fear that clouds my days.

Because I am a Muslim.

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I am an Australian Muslim with an Arabic background on my mum’s side and a Caucasian Australian on my dad’s side – my kids are Muslim. My husband came from a Greek and Italian background. We do Ramadan and celebrate Eid after, I go to my in-laws house for Christmas and Easter and wish them a merry Christmas as they wish us “Eid Mubarak”. I was born here, went to school here and graduated with honors. And now I live in fear of the country I live in, the people around me and what they will do or think about my children.

When I was little I remember talking about the fact that I was Muslim to my neighbours when I was explaining something like why I didn’t eat pork sausages and then when I got older still it was mentioning in passing that I was fasting that day and wouldn’t be having lunch. All this time we were all; myself, my mum and the other Muslim families I knew were just living our lives…

Then September 11 happened…

Then it changed from people asking about my faith or me mentioning it as a quick “fyi” to this sense of me having to justify my faith; havng to explain it and then defend it… having to then, by association defend myself and ‘prove’ my “Australian-ness”. But by that point I was a university student so I understood my faith and myself enough to be able to explain: I AM NOT WITH THEM – THOSE IDIOTS; THEY DO NOT REPRESENT MY RELIGION OR WHO I AM.

The fact that we, the regular ‘just living our regular life’ Muslims, we dispise them more than you.

But now I’m married and have 2 children and I look at them and the situation with Pauline Hanson and her views on Muslims and (Donald) Trumps views of Muslim and I worry for them.

That my near 4-year-old will have to justify her religion and her cultural background – that my near 2-year-old boy might be negatively labelled because he’s going to grow to be an Australian Muslim man. that even before they were born we had to think about names that would help them to ‘fit’ into a world that would alienate them because of their background.

That no matter how Australian they might be they might forever never really be ‘included’.

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And then I think of my mum – the definition of an “Aussie battler” trying to rise a child as a single parent after experiecing domesic violence and then a messy divorce and living in a country where English is her third language and working two jobs so she could send me to private school and teaching me that education was key. I think about how she brings eid cakes and cookies for her neighbors (who aren’t Muslim) and writes them christmas cards at that time of the year, because she taught me that real Islam is about loving your neighbor and being a good person. I worry for her because she does speak with an accent, does wear a head scarf (hijab) and is so obviously Muslim – but she’s elderly; what is she going to face as she faces the current situation of Australia?

I am saddened by the way things are headed – the “realness” of people’s hate for a common enemy: that we are ALL AGAINST ISIS. I am amazed that people think that we, the Muslim community need to CONTINUALLY denounce ISIS – seriously? Should I introduce myself that way? Should I start each morning that way? “Good morning – I am an Australian Muslim and denounce ISIS – can I get a large skinny latte with 1 sugar please?” if that’s the case, should the reply be: “morning! I’m an Australian Caucasian and I apologise to the indigenous Australians for the stolen generation – that will be $4.50 for the coffee”

I just don’t know anymore. I don’t even know if I am sad or disheartened by it all. I look to my children sitting there playing at their table as they have Playschool on in the background and wonder what will become of us all and feel totally despondent that this country that I was born in, the country that I was raised in and longed for when I spent 3 months in Europe (a one point i cried upon hearing & seeing the Qantas ad that had those choir kids singing “I still call Australia home” – i still well up if i hear it whilst abroad) and a time in Indonesia now has made me feel unwanted. That even though I and my children might look like everyone else and sound like everyone we are on the outside.

But this is my home. OUR home.

Isn’t THIS where I belong?

And so I have to ask myself what I fear almost every Muslim has asked themselves at some point or other in the last year or so: If things got SO bad that I; we would be told to go – WHERE do I go? Where do we belong?

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How easily we forget

I don’t know about you but I am astounded in how 2 years there seem to be both a lot of things I remember and yet a LOT of things I have (already) forgotten about newborns! It has astounded me in such a way that makes me wonder how on earth women who looked after their own newborns more than 10 years ago can feel so adamant about dispensing advice. In saying that, I have been very cautious when dispensing my own ‘anecdotes’ when asked what I did when Amira was a newborn and have tried to start with “I don’t know if it will work for you, but with Amira I think I…” because I’ve found that over time the mind forgets the ‘yuky’ part and has a way of ‘polishing’ the good parts. Perhaps this is nature or God’s way (whichever methodology you ascribe to) of continuing humanity or perhaps it’s just our own feeble, mummy brain affected minds playing tricks on us; whichever one it is, here are the things that I have found that I had forgotten about dealing with newborns:

They really are tiiinnnnyy! I remembered her being little – I remembered her being fragile – but then you have another little one and you are gobsmacked at just HOW teeny, tiny they really, really are! These little fragile, twiglike creatures that I’m scared I could break when changing a nappy.

How breast feeding hurts: when you’re putting a baby to the breast every couple hours and you haven’t breast fed for nearly a year you forget how traumatising it is on the nipples when he/she first latches on and gets going. I loved breast-feeding missy; even with all the attachment issues in the beginning, then her hating one breast to the point of exhaustive fits of crying (first her and then me!) when I’d put her on (to a point where I just gave up and destined myself to lopsided/uneven boobs) and me getting mastitis. I loved the closeness it brought us; the moments where she’d look up at me whilst feeding was like we were sharing our own little secret world that no one else was a part of. It’s not that breast feeding hurts each and every time or for the whole time you’re feeding; it’s just that initial phase when you’re needing to “toughen up” your nipples – that’s the part I’d forgotten about. Which brings me to:

How painful engorgement feels: I must admit that I did fully remember that feeling that came on the third morning post birth, when my milk came in. The shocking feeling as though I had an additional couple kilos on my chest only to be greeted with a Pamela Anderson-sized chest when I looked in the mirror. I remember them being hard (sorry for TMI), for them being even bigger than I thought they’d be and being totally amazed at the concept of child-birth and all that seemed to follow. This time around though my milk started coming in at day 2 and by day three I think I was seriously giving Pammie a damn good run for her money – really; Katie Price had nothing on me! by day 4 I was ready to be able to feed an army of babies! The hardness, the “hotness” – all those feelings came back… but worse this time. And then to have a little bubba who didn’t seem to eat as much as his sister did (though I will say that he did/does want to feed ALL THE TIME!) – well, by the end of night 4 I remember standing in the shower massaging my “mummy glands” as hubby walks in and catches me crying my eyes out of the sheer pain of it all.

How HUNGRY you get post birth and post (beast) feeding: I forgot how famished I’d be after feeding. Re-experiencing this has reminded me that perhaps this is why I never quite got back to pre-baby weight! Literally; I will finish popping Rocco on for a feed and then be thinking “Oooh, I could go a plate of scrambled eggs? or a slice of warmed chocolate cake with a good dollop of thickened cream please?” its profound that these yearnings are there even after the 2am feed when in reality the only thing I should be craving is a warm bed (don’t get me wrong, I am wanting that too, but the cake is outweighing this)

Exactly how tired you will be by the end of the night & the number of times you will get up through the night:  feel that that is pretty self-explanatory. After one baby you know that you will be sleep deprived, but you also know that you’ll survive it and be ok. That after some time, these night time wake ups will lessen and you will find sleep again. But then you have another one and you realise just HOW tired you were – how you are again and then it dawns on me: I will need to sleep train all OVER again!

I know this post sounds like a total rant; a series of complaints, issues and forgotten pitfalls of having babies… but it’s not really… because along with all the above comes the other things that I hadn’t forgotten at all but hadn’t quite remembered as true to what the reality is:

The absolute beauty of watching them sleep

The feeling of bliss of holding them in your arms and the overwhelming feeling of wanting to protect them from the world

The smell of them – the tops of their head smell amazing!

Watching them watching you… & that’s just to name a few!

So that even though I may be beyond tired and its only week 2 of having toddler + newborn and I know I have at least 3 night-time feeds ahead of me later on tonight I must admit… I wouldn’t change a thing. I am a mum of two now and I am amazed by it all.

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The things a parent can’t change – sleep issues

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I feel there comes a point where we as parent’s have to concede to our “needs” for the sake of our own sanity. The problem lies, where the other parent may feel/think differently. On and off, for the last couple month’s missy (nearly 2yrs) has been waking very early in the morning and we have been trying to get her to either stay asleep, or at the very least calm down and stop crying at the top of your lungs until you are released from the sanctity of said bedroom. I know what she wants; daddy knows what she wants and she certainly knows that what she wants is to be nice and cosy in our bedroom surrounded by mummy & daddy. In fact; she’ll even settle for one of us (more so me) being in her room whilst she clutches my hand for dear life.

Anyway; for weeks we tried methods that included calming her down + soothing then walking out, returning when the crying got escalated and trying again. To NO avail. After one particular morning that started from 12.48am where ALL morning I was doing the soothing methodology til 6 (at which point is desperately have to get ready for work – albeit I am there in a zombie-like trance) something inside of me snapped. In the calmest yet sternest of voices I told her that from this morning onward there was NO more calming down – that mummy loves her but that mummy has had ENOUGH of her games and there was NO MORE.

That night I stood my ground when at 1.15am she woke up and cried. Don’t judge me people but you have no idea how tired we both were; how angry and annoyed hubby was and how bitterly disappointed I was in myself and my beautiful child that I could not manage to get her back to sleep that didn’t involve her coming into bed with us. For 30minutes she would start and stop crying; I watched her in the baby monitor as each time she had stopped crying for between 2-5minutes and watch the door. And with EACH time she did this – watched and waited for me with what I truly believe EXPECTATION, my resolve only grew more strong. Then I saw her lay down and go to sleep; only to do it again at 3.50am (for 15ish minutes this time) and then insist the day begin at 5:30am with yet more crying. For a little over a week this lasted but then all seemed ok – we were still frustrated at the 5am wake ups though but I decided that overall it was still a win!

Then the 5am wake ups and journey into our room (&bed) began to frustrate hubby – and being the dutiful wife I like to keep all members happy so obliged to train her out of this too (even though deep down I personally was not phased). And now here we are – between 3:30am and 4:20am missy will now get up crying and going off her tree until we get her.

It’s slowly killing me but I am TRYING to persevere.

It has obliterated all semblance of patience my husband has with her & when he goes into her room for the second time to tell her to sleep and that it’s still “nigh-nigh time” it is NOT soothing chastise.

This morning I came undone. After hubby went in to give her a dummy and insist she go back to sleep (it was 3.28am) and after her being silent for 10minutes she started up again and I was over it all. I grabbed my cardigan and clipped up my hair and went into her room and in a defeated but motherly voice asked her to please clam down and lay down and that mummy was here. I grabbed her spare blanket and sat in the new chair I got for room slid a foot between the ‘bars’ of her cot which she grabbed and hugged against her chest.

I can’t keep fighting this anymore – I slowly began to fall asleep there until my alarm went off to get ready for work.

Hubby is saying that I am making a rod for my own back – that with baby #2 on his way in 9weeks it will only get worse. I don’t care anymore; I would much rather her be quiet so that we CAN get SOME sleep then what we’ve been doing thus far (I mean; clearly we’re not winning the war here! And I can’t help but think that I should, as I always have – pick my battles). I am spent with this whole situation and think that overall, her issue with being up at about 4:30am is just a cross I am going to have to bear and just hope it’s a phase… they DO grow up so quickly and I just have to keep plodding along – then when she gets into a proper bed I am more than ok with her either crawling into bed with us (hubby told me this morning that he did NOT like this idea as it was OUR bed) or me getting into bed with her. I actually don’t mind that option – I mean; am I not her mother and as such should be putting her needs before my own? Clearly she wants mummy next to her at that hour – how REALLY does it hurt me? She sleeps the remaining 75% of the night.

I’m just over the fight of it all.

Sadly my morning only got emotionally worse.

A mental change

Nearly 2 years ago I started this journey called “parenthood”. On that fateful day I had no comprehension about everything and nothing was about to change. I look back to that fateful day and wonder if I could have prepared myself any better. Could I have steeled myself for the onslaught of emotion that was about to engulf me. And now; nearly 2 years later, I’m about to do it again; but this time it all feels different. This little boy growing inside of me is reshaping me yet again into a different more intense being than what my little girl ever did.

Now at the start of my third trimester I am doing the balancing act of being a mum, being the clear disciplinarian of said near two year old whilst working fulltime and trying to not seem tired. I am trying desperately to maintain my levels of guilt of having to work fulltime until bub #2 is born and not fall apart in front of hubby when really all I want to do it cry and hold my baby… and sleep.

These are the times.

And so I thought I’d blog about it all. About how this ‘parenting caper’ has and continues to shape me.

Do stay tuned whilst I get things up and running… I promise it’ll be worth it!

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