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From Playground Hopping To Girly Shopping

Week 50

Wow wow wow!

Do you know what this means?

Little will be a one year old in the blink of an eye.

Holy moly. How is that even possible?

It seems like yesterday we were utterly overwhelmed as new parents with our tiny mew mew newborn.

You remember the one, who hardly cried, and could not move?

What happened to our little Barito?

Now we have such an adventurer on our hands. Be it shimmying between the dining room chairs under the table, putting her head inside the laundry tub, trying to fit in mummy’s pantry without my notice, playing in the laundry basket, somehow ending up on the inside of the play pen without us knowing how, standing on the nappy bench looking out the window, making crash landing sites so she can fall off the lounge, getting unstuck from the supposed unstuckible chair, climbing up the slippery side of the bath, escaping out the backdoor toward the pool, or crawling up the stairs.

Note to mummy, remember to always always close the toddler gate at the base of the stairs, because the cutie cute cute cute will periodically check to see if it is ajar, and then take her opportunity to race through and close it behind her.

Michael is currently giving her a bath after their trip to the park.

As usual, they were under instructions not to come home unless she was filthy.

Judging by the state of her hands and feet, I would say they followed my words to the letter.

He will get her out in a minute, and then they will play chasings on our big bed.

One naked baby will scamper with her head down like a bulldozer until she finds the soft safety and apparent ultimate hiding place of the pillows. While daddy will divide his time between defending the three exposed edges of the bed, and blowing raspberries on baby girl’s belly and back to make her giggle.

Her laughter will be so infectious, that I will stop writing, and laugh along with them at the beautiful soul sound.

I can feel things shifting in the house as we edge ever closer to having a baby with a year number as opposed to a month number.

Gradually I have been noticing her playing with more independence and concentration.

She is beginning to make up games in her head, filled with all sorts of baby jibber, rules, and sequences.

Face planting off the lounge is still a good pass time, but whatever karmic relationship she has going on with one of the shape sorters really needs to resolve itself.

Let us just say it is tumultuous.

Her fascination with opening and closing doors, gates, cupboards, drawers, bottles, and whatever else she can find continues to flourish. While her use of us, as a climbing gym is less frequent.

At least that is how I experience it.

Now she tends to come up to me more to tell me something, rather than use me as the main source of entertainment.

She still prefers when we are close, but the need to be touching all the time seems to have somewhat diminished.

Playing in the clamshell pool is still where we spend most of our free time, followed closely by the park, then the kitchen floor.

We can pretty much fill in our entire day alternating between these three locations.

Word wise nang nang nang nang is still top of the list, followed by o-ow o-ow o-ow.

However today sound is is brought to you by the letter ssssssssssss.

In terms of new words, there is definitely a word for grandma, a word for cuddle, and a word for yum.

Project potty has sky rocketed this week, as the cutie cute cute cute has done five number twos in eight days whilst using it. Along with one, wee on mummy’s toilet, which she found absolutely hilarious. She had never heard the tinkle tinkle tinkle tinkle sound of her water hitting the bowl before, and was delighted.

This is part of the reason why today, when we were doing a spot of shopping together, we spontaneously purchased her first pair of nickers.

Granted they are not filly like we had hoped, and are a little too big for her tiny bottom, but I am sure she will grow into them soon enough – As it is, she is growing out of everything else we have for her.

It only seems like weeks ago I went through all her clothes and put her now crop-tops into a bag to be returned to one Katie Lee, or for another mama whose baby is smaller than ours is and needs some attire.

I swear to God I am going to have to do it again.

I could not believe it last night when I picked her up, and her top was well above her belly button, and her tights above her ankles.

Wasn’t it only yesterday those things were too long?

Michael says she is getting some curls in the back of her hair, but I think it is the sunscreen I have not been able to get out, which is causing that kind of craziness.

My friend Jo warned me it would be a nightmare, but given someone refuses to wear their hat now…

Surely, she will not inherit anything from me.

This week has been intense.

Intense in that I feel like last Sunday was a thousand years ago.

Intense in that we had some ups, and we had some downs.

Intense in that I feel as though I have been a little more productive than usual and we are a little closer to our goals.

Intense in that I went on an eBay buying spree, and am not happy with most of my purchases, so will now have to get over my guilt about wasting the money, and thus having to relist said merchandise and hope I make a profit.

Dear God of consumerism…

Monday started with buffet breakfast on the kitchen floor.

Although I must say, hello 7:00AM start.

I am loving this new sleepy head thing Little has going on.

It was a strange day, because I was as restless as all get up. However, I could not decide what we should do.

It was too hot to go to the good park. Besides, there is a big mothers group, which meets there at 9:30AM on a Monday morning, and I was intimidated by the prospect of being there with all those people I did not know.

Little and I still have not gone to that park by ourselves, so I do not know the equipment well, and I was concerned about having to navigate the intricacies of the playground with all the other kids also under my feet.

How would I keep her safe?

How would I know she was ok?

How would I know if other kids were climbing over her and not waiting their turn?

And where oh where were her bells?

Michael suggested we go to the library, but I did not want to do that either.

No library, no shopping centre, no park, no no no…

Thank God, Michael was busy, because I definitely did not want to go for a drive, and that is his cure for everything.

Fine, I will take her for a walk around the block, I said as I resigned to the prospect of being out under the hot summer sun.

We packed Little into the pram with all the usual suspects, and headed off.

One nappy bag full of who knows what, a bottle of water, a banana, some bickies, sunglasses, mummy’s wallet in case we got really brave and decided to go for coffee, and naughty dolly for protection.

As we strode to our front gate, Emily said she wanted to play in the park.

How could I say no, when she asks so nicely.

Ok honey, I responded, as we continued passed the trees.

We did not even get a whole lap done when she asked again if we could play park please.

I stopped the pram, bent down, and asked her again if she would like to play in the park.

Play park, she said in a quiet mouse voice.

Ok, we can play in the park, I said.

As I turned the pram toward the playground, she got excited.

It took me two goes to find the gate, but eventually I found my baring’s, and we made it inside.

She was itching to get out of my arms as I trod carefully across the bark, listening for signs of other stealthy children who may have been near.

At first, I was not aware of anyone in our vicinity. However then I heard a little girly voice from just outside the fence asks if she too could play in the park with the baby.

I had to double take what I was hearing, and for a moment I felt really uncomfortable, as it was not as if I could look up, make eye contact with the other mama. And smile that universal greeting of all parents with young children.

Emily loves other people, and I only hoped this mummy was going to be friendly.

From the moment, they walked in the gate, and Miss Matilda scampered up the steps and across the rickety bridge to meet us, I knew we were all going to have a good time.

It turns out; they knew Emily from playgroup the week before.

What a small world our suburb is.

Fifteen minutes later, our neighbour Emily and her mummy Akiko also joined us.

As it also turns out, they know Matilda very well, and had arranged to play in the park this same morning.

Emily was so happy to have someone to play with, and I was happy to have some lovely mama company.

We ended up having a spontaneous picnic, as the girls all asked for snacks at the same time.

Little being the rock star eater she is did not turn anything down, and I was so proud of her sitting with the bigger girls and eating her biscuits and fruit.

Playing in the park was much better than doing laps of the block by myself I thought, as Michael miraculously appeared with a container of diced watermelon for everyone to share.

How did you know where we were, I asked as I kissed him hello.

I have been watching you from the backyard, he said with a cheeky grin.

Mmmm, creepy, I laughed.

It amazes me how he can see all the way from café meg to the park near our house.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to see that far.

Or what it would be like to easily navigate around a computer screen using a mouse, and having things just happen at will, as if by magic.

Sure, there is varying adaptive technologies which allow the use of a mouse, but you still have to draw a map in your head of the screen, and what might or might not be going on.

It certainly is not the same as having that big picture hand eye coordination at your fingertips.

Despite what some people might think, there is no actual replacement for having vision when you live in such a heavily sight orientated world.

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as handing someone a white cane, a guide dog, a buzzy thing, any number of text to voice adaptive technologies, or a shit load of platitudes, and saying off you go.

Blindness is complicated.

And oh, God it is exhausting.

However having said that, the worst thing about going blind is not what you might think.

The worst thing is the relentless hold it has on a girl’s cognition.

As I experiment with acupuncture in a bid to relieve my condition, it has occurred to me how overwhelmed and overworked my brain has been in trying to adjust to my diminishing sight.

I had not realised just how inefficient my body mechanics had become in a bid to keep me safe from the perceived threats of shadows and shapes, which seem to jump out at every turn.

Is it any wonder I have not been able to make a clear decision in what seems like forever?

The other mums and I sat and chatted while the girls played for over an hour and a half.

However eventually we had to concede, and take one very tired baby girl home for a nap.

Michael made the most of the quiet, and snuck off for a swim. While I attempted to get stuck into the business website again.

I am so sick of thinking about that, and having absolutely nothing to show for it.

After baby girl awoke, we enjoyed a long lunch, followed by a swim in the clamshell pool.

She is so confident in the water.

Even when she put her face under, she coughed, but did not cry.

Tuesday found mummy sneaking out of the house even earlier than the previous week, so I could get the bridge walk in both directions from work.

Walking over the harbour bridge at sunrise is something I have always wanted to do, but it had never occurred to me simply to get up and make it happen.

As with most things I do, I need at least twenty-six different reasons and motivations, which all need to align in with the craziness of my bigger picture before I will do it.

So consider yourself walked harbour bridge, even if the sun was still to sleepy to poke his shining yellow head over the horizon as I made my way across.

By mid-day, I was home again, and ready to take Emily Kate for the afternoon.

She and daddy had already spent the morning playing in the park, and going to the supermarket while they waited for my return, so Michael could go for a swim.

The plan was for Little to have a nice big sleep so mummy could figure out the scripting for the new open source SSL certificate now on offer.

However like that was going to happen.

Miss I am so tall and tired but twenty minutes slumber is enough, had other plans.

Mostly they involved eating, and playing in the clamshell pool all afternoon.

Wednesday was a repeat of Tuesday, apart from the twenty-minute power nap.

Well that, and mummy completely lost the plot and yelled at baby girl because I did not know what she wanted, or what was wrong with her bed.

It started with her crawling away and hiding under the side table while I was trying to put her nappy on, which of course I do not mind.

However when she deliberately picked up the power board, even though she knows she is not supposed to touch it. Well that was the first spark, which sent me over the edge.

I did not mean to yell the word no with such figure, but the idea of her playing with electricals and the potential of what could happen scares the shit out of me.

Most of the time she ignores electrical outlets, apart from the night light plugged in at the top of the stairs, but this particular afternoon she was intent on ignoring mummy.

I felt terrible for startling her, or at least that is how I saw it, but I simply could not pull myself back from the brink.

I am happy for her to be awake if she is not tired, but when she is exhausted, and an accident waiting to happen, I just wish she would have some sleep.

Not to mention I also found acupuncture stressful earlier that morning, and was not quite myself for the rest of the day.

Here I was thinking I could go through the intense treatment regime, and not have it affect me emotionally, or on some other level I do not know how to articulate.

All I can say is I am sorry Little; I will do better in the future.

For three hours, I tried to put her down, and for almost as long, she screamed her head off the moment I put her in her cot.

The moment I picked her up, she would stop. However when I put her on the floor to play, she would bump her head, jam her fingers, fall over, cry, grizzle, get frustrated with her toys, rub her eyes, bight my toes, and not quite know what to do with herself.

In Hindsight, I can see she was bouncing off me hard-core, and perhaps I should have asked Michael to take her with him when he went swimming, or have him stay home that afternoon.

I too was exhausted, and just needed half an hour to myself to regroup, but there was no reprieve.

Again, I am sorry sweetie pie.

I feel so helpless when she works herself up like that, and nothing pleases her.

Thank God for the clamshell, because without that, who knows how we would have gotten through the afternoon.

Once again, in the water is the only place she would calm down, so that is where we spent the bulk of our time.

However because it was so hot, I became the mummy who stood with a towel stretched behind my head so I could shade miss froggy legs from the Australian sun.

Michael completely cracked up when I told him the lengths I went to in order to keep our daughter shaded.

We also made an almond meal chocolate cake for daddy and Emily to take to grandma’s house the next day.

Which I am hoping was not too burnt, because we forgot about it while we were swimming, and the edges were a little crispy when I wrangled it out of the cake tin.

Our baking involves me getting everything out as I explain to Little what we are going to do, while she packs and unpacks the saucepans, rolling pin, baking treys, containers, measuring cups, and oh heaven help me, now she can open all the kitchen cupboards.

She still likes to watch the flour being sifted into the mixing bowl. While eggs continue to be pretty funny when the yoke is dropped from above her head. How they made it without missing their intended target I will never know. I even let her poor the milk from the cup into the dry ingredients.

However, the moment she tried to stick her fingers in and lick them, it was all over.

No sugar for you yet honey.

I promise that will come soon enough, and licking the bowl can be your job.

And you do not have to worry, because daddy has a strange eversion to uncooked baked goods, therefore it will be up to you to make sure we have the balance of flavours right by licking the dish clean.

By the time Michael got home on Wednesday afternoon, I was a mess.

I fantasized about slipping off my wedding band, and slinking out the door. But then what?

I love Little, but oh, God I just needed five minutes.

Five minutes where I had no responsibilities.

Five minutes without the mama guilt. Be it the guilt I feel when I leave her, the guilt I feel when I am with her but am worried about the other things I need to accomplish, or the three million other things I can find to feel guilty about in the meantime.

The guilt, which taunts me about not being enough, even though I know it, is not true.

Whatever internal turmoil I was working through, it was not pleasant, and I was at a loss as to how to cope.

And no, of course it did not occur to me to ask for help. Not even for a second.

I was insane.

I had not had a moment as confronting or raw as that in terms of wanting to leave since forever.

Certainly not since Little had been conceived.

It was a difficult pill to swallow, having such a blunt thought as I sat on the kitchen floor with Emily crying uncontrollably next to me.

I felt terrible the instant it invaded my awareness.

But what did I feel terrible about?

The fact that I had the thought or the fact that in that minute it felt true.

As I write this, and recall the events of that afternoon, it is too far away for me to gain a handle on.

All I know now is that I feel much better.

It was so strange, because it is not as if I ever feel trapped by my beautiful family.

But oh God at the time, I just needed quiet.

Sorry for losing the plot honey.

After going through the evening routine, and getting Little to bed, which funnily enough was not difficult, at Michael’s suggestion, I indulged in a nice long yoga session to stretch my stress away.

As usual, my husband was as supportive and kind natured as ever and he sent me to bed early so I could catch up on some much needed sleep.

Thank God for him always knowing what I need, even if I do not.

These 5:00AM starts were taking their toll, and I needed to rest.

Thursday morning I woke up to find the storm clouds had passed, and I was ready for a full day at work.

I knew Michael and Emily would be having a good day, as they were going to grandma’s house, so I didn’t need to feel guilty about not being there, or not doing a good enough job about providing for us.

I am not quite sure, how their having fun equates to my not needing to feel bad about how much money I make, but somehow it does.

I like when they do extra special things, because as sure as sure, I know that when I get home and put Emily to bed, she will need us to snuggle into the rocking chair together, our skin touching, our hearts beating, and her telling me about all the good things which she did in her day.

And sure enough without fail, as I sat with baby girl in the rocking chair that evening, she talked herself to sleep in my arms.

Michael tells me they had a fabulous time, and Emily got to play with blocks, climb grandma’s stairs, sit in her high chair and eat banana, smiled at grandpa, tickled grandma’s toes, and did a pooh in grandma’s potty.

Who knew grandma had blocks, let alone a potty.

Thanks for being so organised Grandma.

I also heard how for the first time grandma had to temporarily toddler proof the house, as our curious critter explored the environment with her customary mischief making intent.

Apparently, she slept most of the way up in the car, and some of the way back. However, it was ridiculously warm and not having air-conditioning would have been difficult for my two travellers.

I was so thankful when I did not have to get up early on Friday morning due to project cataract shifting focus slightly, which means less needles, and more herbs.

Still no bread, tea, chicken, or lamb.

Most of all I miss tea. Although chocolate is a close second. Especially as I write.

There are days where I find no greater fulfilment than in an empty page, a hot cup of tea, and a sweet treat to boot.

In the words of Ned Kelly, such is life.

However, I still left early enough to walk across the bridge.

Michael and Emily were not quite organised to walk me to the station the way they usually do, as our little post, 7:00AM baby was still munching on her vegemite toast when I needed to leave.

While I had a fairly quiet day at work, daddy and baby girl partook in their usual ritual of story time at the library.

Michael did not say much about it, and I thought nothing of it. However I had to completely crack up when he finally confessed to accidentally dropping the baby two or three inches from the floor as he was setting her down to crawl away.

She simply did not put her arms out, he said sheepishly.

Oh, so it is her fault, I teased as we lay in the darkness of our comfortable bed.

I figure he must have felt terrible about it, because he always tells me the details of their day.

Apparently, she let out an all mighty cry before getting over it and wandering off to find her friends.

They made their way home fairly quickly so the cutie cute cute cute could have a sleep, which by the way was more than two hours long.

Well done baby girl!

Later in the afternoon, they headed off to the good park where they found some of Emily’s friends to play with as a surprise.

Meanwhile I opted not to walk back across the bridge with my ten or so kilo backpack for the eighth time that week, and the universe made sure I paid for my laziness.

I had missed Little, and was eager to see her before she went to bed, so I chose to bypass the extra forty-five minutes or so it would take me to trudge through the city and across the harbour in favour of the easy option.

Ummm yeah, right!

If only I had chosen a different carriage, then maybe I would not have had to put up with the very patronising gentleman sitting next to me who insisted on peppering me with questions and antidotes regarding my disability.

These included such gems as do you know you have a camouflage cane?

Can you rock climb?

Oh aren’t you amazing!

I think it is wonderful you travel by yourself.

How do you know where you are going?

I helped someone in a wheel chair once…

And the Biggy; you should have another child.

Oh but tas if that was not enough; he made me feel his hands and then guess what he did for a living.

I was wedged between him, and some lady who was too good to get up from the seat I would normally sit in.

I made the rooky error when we first sat down of answering him when he asked which stop I was disembarking from.

It turns out he was going to the same place.

Kill me now!

On the outside, I nodded, smiled, answered his questions courteously, while on the inside I was cringing and screaming obscenities.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I am unwilling or uncomfortable to talk about my disability. Be it the ramifications there of, the coping strategies I employ, or any number of nuances and subtle adaptions which make up my world.

I am more than happy to educate, enlighten, and enhance someone’s perspective.

In fact I relish those types of interactions.

However it is all in the approach.

This particular gentleman was coming from a place of pity, which let me tell you, is never a good place to start.

I understand people cannot always help their hidden agendas, but nor can they hide them.

Honestly, I am not a toy, or a side-show attraction.

I should have walked the bridge.

Oh, I so should have walked the bridge.

Note to self, always always walk the bridge…

As it happened, I beat my family home. Therefore, those five minutes I needed so desperately on Wednesday afternoon, although it arrived a little late, it did indeed arrive.

In fact, it was more like fifteen minutes, as I stood under the shower, envisioning my petty worries from the day run down the drain.

I wonder if there is ever a time I will not think of Little.

Is this what parenting is?

I am always wondering or worrying about her on some level.

Should I let her throw her plastic blocks into the potty, or is that sending her the wrong message?

Obviously, we disinfect the thing, but ummmm but…

Should I be worried about her bighting me?

Should I really let her climb up that table, under that chair, over that obstacle?

What will sucking on a nappy wipe do to her?

How do I keep the kitchen cupboards closed?

Where oh where are her bells?

And why is she so quiet?

Getting her to sleep on Friday night was a massive effort.

She did not want daddy, she did not want mummy, but nor did she want to be left to her own devices.

Michael assures me things are changing, and of course, I know it, but when we are in it, and she will not stop crying, and will not self-settle, I find it hard to get perspective.

Four minutes of crying feels like forty.

I can barely believe my ears when I look at the clock to learn only two minutes have passed.

I wonder if she will ever sleep through the night.

Saturday morning Little was up by 6:00AM, and ready to get her groove on.

Of course she was.

I was hoping those post 7:00AM starts Michael had experienced all week would continue.

Ummm, no!

I knew Michael was struggling, the way he always does in the mornings, so I began to drag my aching body out of bed even though I had already bagsed Saturday for a sleep in.

I moved slowly, hoping he would roll over and show some sign of life, but I got nothing.

I was almost awake enough to not bother going back to bed when he groaned, pulled himself up, and went to fetch one very chatty baby girl.

I was so relieved, and immediately sank into a deep sleep with the stupidest dreams that I was too tired to wake up from.

By the time I headed down into the kitchen, declaring how much I missed my tea and toast in bed, Emily and daddy had already had breakfast, finished two loads of washing, and were thinking about morning tea.

It was only 9:00AM.

The one advantage .to madam butterfly bottom getting up so early is sometimes we can get her down for a nap before 10:30AM, which breaks up the day nicely.

Miracle of all miracles, yesterday she slept for three hours during the middle of the day.

Michael disappeared for a swim, and to run errands the way he does on a Saturday, while I researched website terms and conditions policies.

I cannot quite bring myself to pay for one of those fill in the blank templates, which promise to be comprehensive enough, but it looks like I might have to in order to get this project complete.

Michael found us playing quietly in Emily’s room when he arrived home later in the afternoon.

We had already been for a swim, had long lunch, been to the big toilet, and even tidied the kitchen after our pea, pork and falafel festival.

Emily even learnt how to dip her paddies into yogurt just like mummy.

I would have taken her for a swim anyway, but miss independent, who will only eat her lunch if it is big girl food now, was such a mess, that it was easier than trying to wipe her down.

As they often do, daddy and Emily went to play in the park for half an hour after preparing dinner.

I am told Emily walked across the rickety bridge while holding daddy’s hands for the first time, which is quite an accomplishment.

Apparently their trip to the park was motivated by Emily’s new game of bowl skating.

It is a little different to banana skating, in that instead of rubbing food all over the floor and then sliding around in it, you put a bowl face up on the floor, step both feet into it, and then push off a cupboard or draw to see how far you can go before smacking your face into either the drawer or the ground.

I have seen her do this with bowls as they are upside down, and use her hands to slide them along, but feet is a whole new level of crazy fun which is likely to end in a crash.

Unlike Friday night, whereby we are usually both so warn out we are in bed by 9:30PM, and that is after my falling asleep on the couch, we spent our Saturday night indulging in watching one of our favourite television personalities, Bear Grills. Before we headed upstairs so Michael could continue reading his latest book.

I am so mad at Audible for allegedly not having the ability to transfer my purchases back to my original .com account. However of course if I were to be switching from the other direction, the way I so stupidly did when finally made it to Australia of course my .com purchases could be transferred across.

The problem is, has limited books in comparison to the .com site, and of course, all the books I want are abridged or unavailable via the offering.

I swear to God it is bullshit, and I am having a really difficult time coming to terms with such unnecessary crap.

International copyright laws my ass.

How can that be, when there are Australian authors I cannot receive via but I can download them with a .com account?

The point of this rant is if I had access to the same books as audible offers to their US account holders, then Michael and I could be reading the same book at the same time. And I think it would be really fun to discuss it together. Sort of like how we did back in our university courtship days.

Even though chances are I will never read anything from my Australian based audible account again, I still want everything to be in the one place.

I woke on Sunday morning to the sounds of baby girl chatting to herself in the next room.

Five more minutes, just five more minutes I pleaded with the universe.

It was a relief to hear her happy, but I knew it would not last forever.

6:42AM I conceded defeat, dragged myself upright, and poked my smiling face around the door.

Even when I could sleep for a thousand years, I still try to greet her with enthusiasm and high energy as required.

Only some mornings does she prefer a softer energy to ease into the day.

I opened the blinds, let in the sunshine, and we padded downstairs so she could play.

Following this, I promptly flopped on the lounge, and fell back half asleep as she sat pulling toys off the shelves.

Eventually she came over and asked for breakfast.

I try not to refuse her when she uses her words so well and with such accuracy. Therefore, three minutes later, we were propped on the kitchen floor, and she was eating porridge.

I knew my in-laws were due to have coffee at our usual haunt this morning, and given Little and I were left at a loose end, at the very last minute I decided we would make the trip.

Even as I put her in her pretty sailor dress grandma bought, I toyed with which baby transportation device to take, or whether I should indeed take sweetie pie with me at all.

However, Michael was still sound asleep as I snuck up stairs, pulled my wild hair into a ponytail, and randomly grabbed a dress out of my closet.

One of the advantages to not seeing is that it is easy to identify exactly what is what by the feel and texture of the garment. Therefore, I knew exactly what I were looking for, and where to find it.

It was only as I flipped the pram open did I hear a disembodied voice from above ask where we were going.

In truth I was going to put Little on the hippy thing and carrier the whole time, but she had been playing with the pram all morning, which is usually an indication of she wants to get in and go for a walk.

Therefore it was with trepidation, I strapped her in, reassured a sleepy husband we would be fine, and if we were not I would know by the time I hit the trees in the park, and then we would be back.

As we made our way across the station concourse, the stationmaster took a double take at us. He had only ever seen Michael push the pram, and me walk beside them with my cane, or me carry Emily with my cane in hand. I could tell he was too busy trying to make two and two equal four to say much to us.

And I was too busy concentrating on the task of manoeuvring the pram to give him a suitable explanation.

Luckily, Michael will walk me to the station tomorrow, and those two can have a good old yarn about it after I leave.

As we walked down the platform, my hand through the wrist strap for safety, the way finding tactile markers just to the right of my right wheels, and a whole group of noisy people to my left, it occurred to me just how hard-core this was going to be on my own.

Even though it was a bright sunny day, I could not see over the end of the pram, and really had to listen hard to know whether I was likely to run into someone.

The sunshine was too bright, and the shade was too dark to make anything out, but at least my eyes were not in the physical pain they have been.

Sure, I may not be seeing as much as I thought, but at least since starting acupuncture with Dong, things were different.

At least there was clarity between the light and the dark.

And at least I had the confidence to give this a go.

I knew I would never put Little in any real danger, so I was prepared to turn back at any point in our journey.

As a worst-case scenario, I had the baby carrier in the bottom of the pram. However too bad I had accidently forgotten my cane to accompany such a possibility.

Getting on the train was no problem. All I had to do was lift the front pram wheels up, and push them onto the train before picking up the back wheels and sliding them along until I was sure we were on solid ground.

Part of me wished I had asked the stationmaster to help us with the ramp, but as I said, I was too busy dealing with the unexpected hard work of the task to stop and greet him the way I normally would.

However, the problem was I had not taken into consideration the possible eventuation of a pushbike being in the way of our embarking on the train.

Thankfully, the guard was next to us, and he explained I needed to reposition my pram to the right in order to safely climb aboard.

I wanted to explain to him that I was blind, but again there was not time, and I did not know what to say or how to say it apart from a quick thank you.

As I stood on the train, it suddenly occurred to me that I could not remember how to get off.

Should I go backward, forward, sideways, what?

I mentally went through the list of potential contacts in my head as to who would be available and who might know the answer, before settling on my youngest sister whom I have not spoken to for one reason or another in what seems like forever.

We used to speak on a daily basis, and I miss her companionship.

However, this was rather urgent and I figured if she did not pick up the phone, I would simply leave a quick message and move on to the next person until I received an answer.

Even as the connection rang, I frantically scrambled for an answer to my predicament, but could not find one.

I just needed someone to tell me what to do.

It was a surprise to hear her cheerful voice on the other end, but I did not have time for pleasantries.

I explained the situation, and she too was unsure as to how I should tackle the problem.

We discussed it briefly before I settled on stepping off the train backward. Me first, followed by raising the back wheels and then carefully lowering them when I became certain I was on solid ground, followed by lifting the front wheels, pulling back, then turning us around before lowering them to the platform.

As it turned out, I need not have worried too much, because as I was disembarking from the long silver bullet, the guard was right there to lift the front of the pram for me.

It would not be Hornsby station if someone did not practically knock us over as they rushed to block the entrance of the lift.

Not my problem, I thought as they practically jumped over the front of the pram in order to beat us to the doorway.

Although if they had gotten any closer I am fairly certain my lioness instincts would have kicked in and I would have reached out and slapped them.

I love the pram, but I am uneasy about having the hood down over baby girl.

I do not like the concept of not being able to touch her head, or lean over and make my version of eye contact with her at any point I choose.

I know of course the cover is to protect her from the elements, but more often than not, it feels like a barrier between us, which leaves me feeling vulnerable, and unable to protect my child the way I would like.

As we entered the lift, and I did my very best not to clip the heels of the three-year-old boy fidgeting before us, an abrupt voice to my left asked if I would push the up button.

Without thinking I turned to him and said that of course normally I would do that, however given I was blind, and I had the pram and not a white cane with me, that today I was unable to meet his request.

Needless to say, the elevator went very quiet as the people around me absorbed this information.

Someone must have pressed the button, because we ascended to the concourse, but there was no way I was letting go of my pram even with just one hand.

I was gripping that thing for dear life, and it was completely unfathomable to me to do otherwise no matter the circumstance.

I had to laugh at myself as I did clip someone’s heels as I exited the compartment.

Getting through the barrier was no problem, and even getting across the walkway toward the mall was doable.

However since we had begun our journey the clouds had come over, and were making everything very glary and difficult.

I knew the area reasonably well and simply followed the one and only route I have always taken to get to our chosen destination.

It was far more energy expending and slow going than I thought it would be. As of course, I had forgotten to take into consideration the different lighting, the crowds of oblivious people milling about, and the noise.

Well I had taken some of it into consideration, but I saw things going very differently in my head beforehand.

Slow down slow down; I had to just slow down.

I had to stop, listen for the sounds and how they bounced off the bollards in order to navigate safely through those dicky poles they insist on having between the outside and inside of a shopping centre to stop cars from driving into the foyer.

I had to stop and listen for the peoples footsteps around me in order to navigate around them.

Stop and listen to the sound of the escalator before pushing the pram forward into the step.

However hindsight suggests that maybe if I had stopped, and not been so concerned about the people behind me, I would have made it easier for myself by stepping on firs then pulling the pram behind me, wedging the back wheels into the base of the step the way I would if I were descending instead of my hastily raising the back wheels and using my body weight to hold the heaviest part of the pram in the air as we rose to the top.

I am sure this used to be easier; I thought as I held the handle of the pram just above my head and pushed the pram hard into the wall of the step in front.

Of course we made it without incident, so who cares.

Finding the lift did not enter my mind, as that would have meant so many other decisions and trials in our journey. Therefore, I took the quickest most direct way I knew in order to find grandma.

As I struggled with the glare, I rounded the corner to hear my sister in law Jenny’s voice call out a happy hello.

They were exactly where I knew they would be.

Sitting at the same table, we sat at last time.

Emily and I may have been late, but luck was on our side, as the coffee shop did not open until 10:00AM anyway, so the girls could not get served without me.

Emily was her usual happy self to be out and about, and played quite happily either at the window watching the comings and goings of the people below, or beneath my feet under the table with the contents nappy bag strewn around her.

Once again, I had forgotten her bells, so compulsively was forever reaching my hand down to find her as I chattered with the ladies.

Of course, I knew her aunts and grandma were keeping an eye on her also, but it was somewhat disconcerting not to know where she was courtesy of my ears as a matter of course. Especially when she was not being particularly talkative.

If I were to do it again, I would position us next to the window, thereby creating a good barrier with the pram, the glass, and the rest of us.

But what is life for if not learning new things?

Little did really well, but after an hour and a half, she was ready to get moving.

I had regretted not bringing a bottle of milk with me, because I knew if grandma had given it to her, as is our ritual when grandma is around, she would have been out like a light.

Nevertheless, I took my chances, and we departed from the group and headed to Target, at the other end of the mall.

It occurred to me as we made our way along the corridor that I should have asked someone to stay with Little for a second while I went to the bathroom, but there was no going back now.

Strolling through the main area of the shopping centre was not too bad in terms of lighting. As in it was far better than the last time we had tried to do this. However, when we hit our intended store is when I really noticed it.

Much to my surprise, the lady on the door remembered us from last time even though I did not have a cane or a carrier.

I could not believe it when she called out to us, and began to offer me her arm.

I offered her the pram in return so I could have thirty seconds break to adjust to the shitty lighting, and it made it easier to navigate to the toy section.

I did not intend to buy anything; I simply wanted to shop like a normal mama.

It was an interesting exercise in getting outside my comfort zone and stripping my identity of being the blind mama, and trading it in for something less conspicuous.

It made me feel free, exposed, vulnerable, invisible, dependant, liberated, scared, and mind blowingly ballsy.

As in, I could not believe what I was actually doing.

Sure, it was something I had always wanted, but holy wow!

The question is, what would I rather, the blind mama who looks capable, or the not so confident mama who may or may not appear as though she has it completely together.

I am certain there were times where I did not get out of the way of people coming toward us, or I rounded a corner to widely, walked too slowly, and generally acted as though I were completely oblivious to my surroundings, but oh my God, how many other people act like that all the time?

So I simply owned my self-absorbed air, and got on with the business at hand.

I had intended to visit Kmart, but my shortcut did not pan out in quite the way I hoped.

As I reached, the entrance we had originally come through I became thrown by the new position of the sun, the busker outside the door, and the complete orientation of the actual entrance I wanted in relation to where we were.

I wandered aimlessly around the courtyard for a while, pretending to show Emily the fountain before deciding the best thing to do was go home.

After all, baby girl had not had a bottle, and was very tired.

My hope was if I could keep her amused on the train well enough, she would not fall asleep until I changed her nappy, gave her a liquid snack, and put her comfortably in her cot.

One-step after another that was all I had to take.

Michael had given us strict instructions to call him if we were stuck, and he would come fetch us.

I was determined we would make it back safely, so had declined his multiple phone calls offering to change his plans and come get us.

Besides, by the time he drove to meet us, we could have been home. Therefore, I did not see the point.

We were not in a dire situation; I was a little frazzled and nervous is all.

Finding the train station took a little more effort, partly because of the buskers, yes there were multiples, and partly because of the lively conversation the gentlemen were having behind me kept permeating my consciousness, and the dickhead who had sped up to get passed me, only to slow right down once he got in front.

Once we made it back on to the train, and I had found us a seat, a mixture of relief and exhilaration washed over me.

I could hardly believe we had actually done it.

Talk about the cat that caught the cream.

Emily and I chattered, played with her toys, and were minding our own business when a young man approached and asked if he could use my phone.

I could barely wrap my head around the question.

What if it were a trick?

What if he only wanted it so he could break into my information under the guise of making a phone call or emailing a friend?

What if he simply ran off with my device?

What was I going to do, leave my baby? I do not think so.

Umm, that is a big ask, I said in response.

So it is a no then, he said more as a statement than a question.

It is a no, I said, returning my attention to Emily.

I wonder when he had gotten on the train.

How had he known I had a phone, anyway?

I did not think anyone was around when I took pictures of baby girl on the train.

The whole situation rattled me beyond anything else we had experienced that day.

I had been on such high alert the entire time we were out, and this was just so random.

I felt bad for Emily, but I made a big deal about seeing daddy when we got off the train, just so the stranger would know we were accounted for, and someone would be waiting for us when we disembarked.

Even though I had sent Michael for a swim and to get some formula, and knew of course, he would not be waiting for us, as is his habit.

I practically skipped with the pram down our front path to the gate.

I was so happy to be home.

I knew Emily would go down for a nap almost straight away, and there was good food, a bathroom, and a comfortable couch waiting for me just inside the front door.

I gave Emily her bottle, and popped her into bed.

It is the first time I have done that.

Normally I hold her for at least half her milk, just because I like it.

Not holding her does not feel right, even though I have been sensing over the last couple of weeks the end of such intimacy ending.

Baby girl wants to hold her bottle herself, and wants the space to simply roll over and go to sleep when she is finished.

I however want to continue to cuddle her and keep her close.

Touch is such an important part of our communication.

I was surprised when she woke up less than an hour later.

I had given her a big bottle in the hopes it would fill her hungry tummy, and she wouldn’t wake up quite so soon, but after ten minutes of her grizzling, it was quite apparent she was not going back to sleep, so I got her up and we headed for the kitchen.

Meal times are one of my favourite times with her.

I love scrounging around to see what I can find for her.

It is a great way to try her on new things.

Again, by the time she had finished she was so messy it was easier to put her into the pool than it was to wipe her down.

I am already wondering how I am going to cope with such madness in the winter.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon playing in the lounge room, and trying on her new nickers.

Looks like there is no going back now; toilet training has officially begun.

I only hope Michael will keep on the same page with us.

Sometimes it is difficult not being the stay home carer, as I have ideas how I would like things to be done, and obviously Michael has his.

Usually we are pretty together though.

I have never seen Emily so excited to see her daddy as she was today.

And this is where our story begins.

Daddy and Emily having gone to the park for a play, so mummy can write this blog in peace.

Love you two crazy cats!

Published inThe Blunder Weeks

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