It is 3:00PM on Saturday afternoon as I begin to write the second half of this week’s post.
Emily is sitting in the middle of Katie’s loungeroom floor reading a book.
I am not sure how many words she will give me before she needs some attention.
It has been a big week, and I am exhausted.
We are three hours into our stay at hotel Katie Lee’s, and I am praying Emily will sleep well this evening.
Since we were last here the flame trees have begun to change colour, and the wind has become crisper.
Thank God for reverse cycle air conditioning, because I think we are going to need it later.
Monday started out rather gently as it happens.
When I poked my head around Little’s door somewhere within the 5:00AM mark, she promptly informed me that she wanted a cu for cuddle, and a bo for bottle.
Absolutely, I responded as I picked her up from her cot, and she handed me her dummy as an indication of just how finished she was of being in her bed.
Most of her speech patterns are soft sounds, and given how bird and bottle sound the same, along with did and finished, a mama has to listen hard to the inflection and nuances of her words.
I think bakok is actually breakfast. But who knows what bwaa is.
Stttt is often top, p p p p is pants or pooh, and train is mm.
Whether mm is because mummy takes the train or something else entirely, I don’t know.
I am certain the reason someone is back in our bed as dawn breaks is because she is cold.
Wasn’t I saying that Michael and I were missing the days when we used to have her in with us for a couple of hours each day?
Thanks universe, and thanks Little for delivering.
However if you really are more comfortable in your own bed sweetie pie, daddy and I will manage with one another.
After almost an hour of fidgeting, I relented and took baby girl down stairs for her breakfast.
My usual habit is to put her down on the lounge room floor in front of her toys as I open the curtains, and say hello to the world.
Then after a minute or so, just as I have gotten comfortable under a blanket on the lounge, she will crawl over and look at me with a twinkle in her eye.
Would you like your breakfast, I ask in the most excited voice I can find.
This evokes a series of frantic I am so happy movements, a big smile, and a yes yes yes please mummy babble.
Sometimes she will grab each of my index fingers before I am even up, and start walking to the kitchen, while other times she will start toward the kitchen by herself.
There is the odd occasion whereby she wants me to carry her, but that is unusual.
She tends to eat more if I put her in her chair rather than just plonk her on the floor.
However sometimes there is no waiting, so I quickly peel a banana and hand that good stuff over while I get organised.
She will always eat more solids when Michael feeds her.
We sat in our usual spot. Me with my legs stretched out, a cup of tea in one hand, and my back against the herbs and spices cupboard. She in her chair with the tricky tray, a quarter slice of toast in each hand, and chewing away contentedly.
How is your toast, I enquired.
Good, she replied.
Would you like some water, I continued.
Yes, she responded verbally, and with a full body nod.
Ok, I said, handing her the bottle.
She lifted it to her mouth and began to guzzle.
When she finished, she told me as much, then handed the bottle back, and said thanks.
When did you become so interactive, I asked her in my head.
This was amazing. I now
Have a baby I can have a conversation with, I flushed with pleasure.
After breakfast, we took the unusual step of putting the washing on.
Usually it does not entre my mind, but I wanted to use the phrase you snooze you lose with daddy when he woke up, so we had to do something.
What can I say; it is the smallest things, which keep me amused.
As I opened the back door, Little tumbled out with her usual excitement.
After all, the rocking horse was waiting.
Back and forth, she went for ages as I pottered in the kitchen.
As I casually walked out into the yard with the basket on my hip, Emily followed me to the line.
Normally she is happy to play on her equipment or sit and eat leaves while we hang the clothes.
But on Monday, she wanted a cuddle while I completed our task.
I tried to hang them with one hand, but it was a bit of a struggle.
Then I had the brain wave of putting her down on the ground at my feet with the bag of pegs for entertainment.
Talk about a dream come true.
Here was the baby I had always wanted, sitting at my feet, handing me pegs as I hung out the washing.
Each of us peaceful in the moment.
The lines began to fill with all those baby clothes, and I was worried we would run out of pegs.
But nope, those babies just kept coming.
May I have two more pegs please Little, I would ask each time I plucked a wet top from the basket.
Sure enough her little hand would come up first with one peg, and then with a second.
Sometimes she would have to take one back and exchange it for a different colour, but it we were a well-oiled machine.
Just as we were beginning the game with the second load of washing, daddy materialised before us.
What’s happening here girls, he asked in a sleepy tone.
You snooze you lose daddy, I said laughing before I had even finished the sentence.
He giggled appropriately, and kissed us each on the head.
I can see that, he said as he admired our new way of hanging out the clothes.
He knows that I don’t use language in the same way as him, and this was a very him thing to say.
Did you do all this just so you could say that, he continued.
Yep, I responded with pride.
And it was with this jovial mood we began our day as a family.
Nursing our coffees in the sun, while Little ate her bickies at her picnic table.
When it became clear breakfast was going to become brunch, Emily was also ready for her next meal.
It was too nice of a day to be inside, so we stayed in café meg.
We could not believe it when Michael turned to take our plates inside and saw a black cat roaming our house.
Did you put that there, he asked as he picked up my coffee cup.
Do not blame me for a random cat, I said as he bent down to give it a pat.
Maybe it came in the front door when you and Emily were doing laps, he continued.
I would have noticed a cat, I said.
It was not me who left the screen doors open, I retorted, pointing to the double doors on to our garden.
I could not have been any more excited than when Emily crawled back in the lounge room, saw the cat, and said ca.
We were surprised at how friendly it was, and how comfortable it appeared sauntering around our bottom floor.
Michael picked it up and took it outside, and as silently as it appeared, it disappeared under the fence, and toward the house up the back.
Meanwhile, my husband was on a mission to clean the house, while I had a blog to finish.
We had stupidly stayed up watching crap on television until after midnight the night before, and were both feeling tired.
Another coffee, I asked as my husband prepared to go for a swim.
He had just put Emily down, and had come to kiss me good-bye.
The problem was I did not hear him say swim.
I had heard something about going to good will, and the supermarket for coconut, but that was it.
Therefore, when he still was not home over three hours later, I was beginning to worry.
I try not to call him when he is out, just so that introverted personality of his can get the breathing space it needs.
However, I confess to those crazy chaotic thoughts racing through my head. Just as I was seriously beginning to contemplate calling him, he walked through the gate.
Meanwhile Emily had woken up after a nice big long sleep, I had finished my blog, and we had enjoyed our lunch at her picnic table.
Her with a lovely penne pasta, cooked to perfection, with a topping of olives and lemon infused oil.
While I enjoyed boring old tuna, kidney beans and white rice.
Michael spent the remainder of his afternoon vacuuming the house, mowing the lawn, and taking Emily to the park.
While I spent the remainder of mine keeping Emily from riding the vacuum cleaner, chasing the mower, and baking the most perfect Anzac biscuits in the history of café meg.
Lest we forget.
As I sifted my flour, measured my oats, and melted the butter, I remembered the diggers who have done, and continue to defend our country.
We are lucky to live here, I thought as I added yet more golden syrup to the mix.
I am not big on crowds, so going to the dawn service or a parade through the city was not a part of my ANZAC day plan.
But to bake biscuits and reflect upon our nation’s history was my way of finding meaning in the moment.
I was just switching out the second and third batches from the oven when Emily Kate arrived home.
Daddy informed me she was starving, as they walked into the kitchen.
Luckily, I have everything all ready, I turned and said gesturing to the previously set up chair.
I am not sure how it happened, but I ended up feeding Emily her solids.
I was trying to be so careful not to spill anything on her knitted cardigan.
I was flustered as I stood up to check the biscuits, make Emily a second serving, and call out to Michael regarding her bath.
Look at you super mum, he said coming around the corner.
I had to laugh, as he knows how much of a difficult time I have been giving myself lately.
But I had to admit, I was pretty on top of things that day.
I realise again, that when I contribute more than the bare minimum, and stretch myself a little further than the beyond the shitty attitude I have been carting recently, that I do feel better.
I had hoped the second serving of vegetables would go down as well as the appley appley almond meal and all spice porridge had the night before, but unfortunately, it was a fail.
So I peeled Emily out of her clothes, and we went up to the bathroom.
I had never seen her have so much fun in the bath.
I filmed the coolest little video of it.
Thankfully, the camera did not pick up on the bath toys sounding suspiciously like farts as she refilled them under water.
I think we were in there for about half an hour.
She is suddenly a lot more stable in the water, so I do not have to work as hard to keep her safe.
Sure, she has the occasional slip, but even that she is getting better at catching herself.
Squirting mummy with her toys is her favourite pass time.
Between her and daddy, I know my fighting back is a lost cause, but I do it anyway.
Getting her down was not easy, and Michael had to intervene once again.
The main thing was she stayed down for Grey’s Anatomy, so I got to watch my now one of two television shows per week.
Although having said that, I am not sure if I can stick with Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, so I could be down to one show very shortly.
Tuesday morning baby girl was up early again.
Our night had been neither here nor there, but either way it was too early for mummy.
Daddy brought her in for a quick cuddle before they got up and headed down stairs in search of coffee.
I was supposed to get up and indulge in a quick yoga session, but I made the mistake of checking Facebook, and subsequently got stuck replying to all the things I had missed over night.
Note to self, never ever pick up the phone before at least being on the train.
Needless to say, the yoga did not happen, and I felt guilty about it all day.
Work was slow, so I left early.
I was on a mission to find Emily a nice dress for this time of year, but I found nothing.
I wondered when I had become so blind, as I walked down the open-air mall half way between my work and my house.
Everything was all dark and shadowy, punctuated with pockets of light here and there.
It did not matter where I situated myself. I could not get things to become clear.
Surely, it had only been a few short years ago I used to do this without a cane, I mused as I tentatively tapped along.
Disembodied voices whisked past, as I tried not to bump into anything.
I hate this I hate this I hate this, I chanted inwardly with every step.
NO wonder I want to sit at home and rot.
This is too fucking hard, I continued as I entered the shopping centre.
Why was nowhere comfortable, I asked myself as I followed a three-year-old boy down the stairs.
And why was it the only two shops I could confidently identify without question in the food court were KFC and Donut King.
Clearly, I am going to need some more orientation and mobility around the area if I am to be out and about with Little more. Because these cannot be the only options, I can give her for snacking.
I don’t know what it is about the baby’s fashion this year, but finding a dress is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Eventually I gave up and headed home.
Meanwhile Emily and Michael had taken a spontaneous trip to grandma’s house for lunch.
I don’t know what it is about the magical world of grandma, but every time they go, there is a new toy to be discovered.
This time it was a rocking horse.
Michael said that Emily’s face lit up when she saw it at the bottom of the steps in the yard, and she knew exactly what it was and how to make it move.
Her Auntie Jenny also came to visit along with her cousin Sally, and I am pretty sure it was Sally who has taught her to blow raspberries. Because she certainly could not do it in the morning, but could when she got home.
So Sally, is there anything you would like to tell me?
After Sally and Jenny left, grandma, grandpa, daddy, and baby girl sat down for a big lunch.
However, the birdies also wanted their lunch, so Emily’s chair had to be turned around so she could see them.
I know this because as I was putting Emily to bed later that night, we were having a cuddle in the rocking chair the way we always do after she has visited grandma, and there were a lot of g g g g g g and bir bir bir bir birs coming out of her mouth.
Earlier in the afternoon, Michael and baby girl had agreed to meet me at the station, but I was a little quicker than I had imagined.
So whereas they would normally be on the platform to protect me from such well-intended gestures as grabbing my shoulder and yanking me into the lift by random strangers, they were not.
As in literally yes, I was shoved into a lift already filled with people, and the doors shut behind me.
Then I was unceremoniously pushed out, almost into Emily’s trike.
I’ve got her thanks, Michael said to the well-meaning old lady perpetrating such an action.
Immediately I grabbed the handle of sweetie pie’s tricycle, swapped canes with my husband, spun Emily around, and off we went.
In my haste to get us into the second elevator, I accidentally ran over another little old lady’s foot.
Oops, I am sorry, I laughed as I pulled us back.
Oh don’t worry she chuckled.
I know who you are, she continued.
Everybody does, my husband said jokingly.
After that, we got home without incident. Although I have no idea how, given I was driving like a drunk person.
In a bid to create more time later, Michael ducked into the shower as Emily and I ate our afternoon tea on the kitchen floor.
We were due at the doctors at 5:00PM, and as usual were cutting it far too fine.
I have a doctor who runs very close to time, and does not like to be kept waiting.
I had a blindy day today, I confessed to my husband as I trudged behind him without a stick.
That happens, he said, after giving me instructions about the three upcoming poles I should avoid.
Yep, I thought as I stepped sideways. More than you think.
As we walked home, Michael and Emily decided they needed to play in the park.
My job was to go home, have a nice hot shower, run Emily’s bath, and make sure dinner was organised.
I wonder at what age will I stop poking my head out from under the water because I think I can hear Emily.
Again, we had such a good time in the bath before playing flop on the bed with daddy.
I knew getting her down would be hard, as it always is after a visit to grandma’s house. However again after almost an hour I needed Michael to take over.
Finally two bottles later, one cuddle in the arm chair, and countless countless circles of the cot she settled down.
We only heard from her once in the middle of the night around 1:30AM, and then again at 4:45, when she came in with us and snuggled into daddy’s smelly armpit for a sleep.
6:45AM we were all up.
I had arranged to go into work a little later, as I was still on an aby girl dress hunt, and I had agreed to work back again. Even though the drunk guy incident from the week before still hadn’t entirely left my awareness.
In fact I find myself getting nervous whenever I am leaving the station on my own now.
I know I am not supposed to let this stuff effect me, but it does.
Now I don’t want to talk to anyone just in case it is him.
I’ll drive you to the shops, Michael had offered.
No no, it is fine I had automatically responded as I shovelled down my eggs and avocado based breakfast.
I’ll drive you, he had insisted.
But you hate shopping, I had thought to myself.
It is just easier to go without you I continued with my monolog.
Even though in truth it is not.
I had planned to put Emily on her trike, and we would duck up to the local mall a couple of stops away as we sometimes do.
My husband was not as antsy as usual, as we wandered searching through the discount department stores in search of something pretty.
Eventually we found something, and although it is not what I would have chosen for her, it was a dress.
And after all, that is what I wanted.
I secretly think that Michael actually wanted to choose it for her, which is why he came with us. And which is why I gave him his way.
So far this is the second piece of clothing we have ever bought for the cutie cute cute cute.
Again a big thank you to everyone who keeps our baby girl well dressed.
We appreciate it.
I think I have almost got the train trip mastered.
Nothing like a strong cup of coffee and a couple of ANZAC bickies to keep a girl entertained for the journey.
Work was slow, so I amused myself by working on The Blunder Weeks blog, and trying once again not to resent the single digit figure per hour I would be working for if things did not get busier.
They did not get busier.
Meanwhile Emily and daddy took a quick trip to the park near our house where they ran into the same black cat who graced us with its presents earlier in the week.
It turned out to be the slutty cat.
Oh no, I exclaimed over the phone as Michael relayed the story.
Slutty cat knows where we live, I said.
Don’t ever feed it, he responded.
I’m not the one who is likely to take pity on it, I reminded him.
He who is the biggest animal lover in the entire world, and by extension his daughter.
It will be you to who decide to give it a saucer of milk, or in Emily’s case, one of her bickies, I warned.
Apparently, baby girl slept for over two hours, which gave daddy a chance to try and sort out his superannuation for the zillionth time.
They then headed to the supermarket and spent the afternoon in the good park before coming home to bath, bottle, bed.
Thank God, my train trip was uneventful, although I did ring my sister to walk me home just in case.
However, my orientation was completely off kilter again and I ran into a fence, three trees, a garbage bin, someone else’s drive way. And the wall of our property before meeting my husband at our front gate.
He had explained it took a long time to get baby girl down, and she had cried it out hard core in the interim.
I had not really understood what he meant until I snuck up the stairs as I had promised her earlier that day, so I could blow her a kiss good night from the doorway, and I found her crying in her sleep.
Quietly quietly, I crept closer to her cot and gently put my hand on her bottom.
She didn’t move. But still she sobbed.
I began to worry she couldn’t breathe properly, so had to move my hand up toward her chest in order to check her heart beat and the movement of her lungs.
Five or so minutes past and still, she was unhappy.
These late nights are not worth it, I decided as I stood there, willing her to aknowledge I was beside her on some level, and telling her it was ok.
I hate when she goes to sleep unhappy.
Normally I put her to bed, and although I tried to explain I would not be home before I left, that may as well have been weeks according to toddler time.
Before I knew it, I had showered, eaten dinner, and been banished to the bedroom while Michael watched a boy movie.
I felt as though I had not had enough time to settle down, but at the same time was too tired to argue or work on anything else.
I trawled Facebook for a while, but with no real fruit to show for my time wasting.
When will I ever learn.
The next morning I was almost straight back to work.
But oh God, what a horrible day.
It began with the blindingly obvious and somewhat paralysing recognition of not being able to see my handsome husband’s face from less than a metre away.
This resulted in a tearful phone call to Emma, my orientation and mobility instructor to arrange an information session regarding a guide dog.
Even though I know this is not the answer, and would prefer to risk surgery instead, I need to completely rule it out. And I cannot do that without all the information.
Part of me feels stupid for refusing to even examine the possibility in the past, but at the same time, I don’t think it has been, or ever will be an option for me.
Good Lord, I can barely cope with one toddler, let alone two.
I made the phone call out of desperation and fear.
I rang Michael to tell him what I had done as I walked to work, and completely broke down.
I had wanted to wait until I got home to tell him in person, but I simply could not.
I had to confess all my fears from a distance.
It was almost as if I were giving him time to pack his bags and leave before I got back.
Thankfully, things were kind of busy that day, so I did not have too much time to wallow in my grief.
However, I had to fight the urge to cry the entire time.
Meanwhile Emily and Michael did their usual chores around the house in the morning, went for a walk to the supermarket for milk, came home so she could have a nap, had big big lunch, and then went to the good park for a big big play.
They were not home when I arrived, which gave me fifteen minutes to call my friend Liz and also tell her what I had done.
However, in true Liz style, she immediately broke the tension by telling me about her day.
It was the first time I had managed a smile, let alone a belly laugh in what seemed like an age.
After that, there was no going back to my conversation.
I found it hard to connect with my family that evening, and simply felt like I was going through the motions.
Oh God, to feel so disconnected from those I love is horrible, I thought as I cuddled Emily close and tried to find my happy place.
Putting her in the bath was fun, but getting her to bed was its usual nightmare.
Since when did I become the parent who has to sit there for an hour and a half, I wondered as I indeed sat there for an hour and a half trying to put our daughter to sleep.
Not surprisingly, Michael had to come and help in between chopping vegetables and preparing rice etc.
However eventually sleep prevailed and we didn’t hear from her until 1:30AM, which in our world is amazing.
Normally I would have gotten up with her on Friday morning, but I had refused.
As it was we had a massive day ahead, and I needed an extra fifteen minutes to myself to psych up.
It would seem our new thing is to all have a cuddle together first thing in the morning.
So Michael brought baby girl in around 5:40AM, and miraculously she fell asleep for another hour and a half nestled against his chest, while I lay there semi-conscious fretting about our pending adventure.
All week I had been strategizing in my mind regarding our trip.
Questions such as which baby carrying apparatus would I take?
How much water could I drink without needing to use the bathroom all day?
If I did need to use the bathroom, what would I do with Emily?
Where were the bathrooms?
Would three bottles be enough?
Should I take solids or only finger foods?
Could we manage the train trip?
There were so many things to think about.
Which way should I approach the church?
If I wore a skirt, as is tradition, then how would I climb the play equipment?
If I did not wear a skirt, as is tradition then how harshly would I be judged?
Oh, the list went on.
What if nobody would help me…
I had completely forgotten to factor in that we were going to the beach as a sideline to our original motivation for such a big adventure, which was to attend one Greek Easter service with our friend Maria.
It was not until we were half way there that I remembered with clarity that Elizabeth of course would take us to use the facilities if we needed.
However it is always best to have every situation covered, which is why I had spent days agonising over trying to remember where the baby change rooms were located near the beach, or whether or not it would be acceptable to change Emily in her pram if need be.
As daddy put us on the train, I was nervous.
So was he, given the extent of my melt down twenty-four hours previously.
He had declared his intention to drive us down, but I had stubbornly refused.
I hate being in the car. Especially in Sydney traffic.
At least if we took the train, it would be slightly quicker, and I would not feel carsick.
However, I failed to articulate that to my darling husband. Therefore, he thought I was just trying to prove a point, and make things more difficult for myself.
It wasn’t until I arrived home later that night I discovered the reason he wanted to drive me, wasn’t because he thought I couldn’t do it, but he wanted me to enjoy my day, and not spend all my energy travelling.
In hindsight, he may have been right.
Because By God it was intense. And it stretched me beyond my limits.
I had never been so relieved to be journeying back over the harbour bridge toward our home, than I was at 6:30 that evening.
I was nervous that Emily would not like the train, and would not make the distance given how fidgety she has been on them lately.
I spent the bulk of our trip into the city fretting we would have to get off before our stop and find something else to do in the interim before carrying on with our odyssey.
I had decided I was not ready to tackle the lift at Town Hall station, even though it would have cut almost an hour off our trip.
Therefore we got off at Wynyard, walked along George street very slowly, stopped at Tony the fruit man’s stand for a quick chat, headed to work so I could pick up the container of fondant I accidently left there the day before in preparation for Rosy May’s birthday cake, then continued along George for another couple of blocks through the crowds, scaffolding, odd places to cross, noise of the jackhammers, and smell of delicious coffee that I couldn’t actually stop and buy because I was pushing the pram.
Finally, we made it to the dreaded lift.
I don’t know what it is about this lift, but it scares the crap out of me.
Down one floor, through the ticketing barriers, and into another even more scarier lift on to the lower platform.
Thankfully the next train was ours, and we didn’t have too long to wait.
I had been surprised Emily had stayed in the pram as long as she had.
We had been on the go for an hour and fifteen minutes, and still she sat happily.
The train was empty until a rather smelly Greek grandma sat immediately beside me and started playing with Emily.
Part of me was grateful for the entertainment, but part of me was mortified at her presumption that she could play with my daughter without asking.
I could barely believe my eyes when she bent down and kissed her toes.
The words in Greek flashed across my forehead, but I could not get them to my mouth.
I wanted her to stop.
Stop stop stop touching my baby without permission.
Out of all the places she could have sat, why did she pick us.
I had forgotten how intrusive Greek women could be.
Thankfully, she disembarked from the train about twenty minutes into our trip, and I got my space back.
Clickity clack clickity clack bump thump thump went the train as we hurtled ever further from our home, and my comfortable life back into the territory of my youth – figuratively and literally.
Did I really want to do this, I asked myself for the millionth time.
Still I could not get a clear answer.
Through one station then another and still Emily sat quietly in the pram eating her book.
It wasn’t until we were over an hour and a half into our trip when she decided she must must must get out of that contraption, and on to my lap.
I couldn’t believe how well she was travelling.
Twenty more minutes and we would be at the park, I thought to myself.
Only twenty more minutes.
Thankfully A nice friendly couple hopped on the train and entertained baby girl for the remainder of our journey, before helping us off with the pram.
As we wheeled down the platform, Elizabeth called to us.
Before I knew it, her husband Malcom took over driving duties,Elizabeth took my arm, and off we trotted to the glorious glorious green park.
I was shocked when I looked out and couldn’t see the ocean.
I was even more shocked when I couldn’t see the equipment.
I could not make the outline between the park and the grass.
It was frightening how glary it was, and how lacking in detail everything was comparative to the last time, I was there.
However, I had no time to grieve or process. Little wanted to crawl across copious amounts of soft green nature carpet, climb up slippery-dips, climb down rock walls, and generally get stuck into the business of being a baby.
Poor Malcom was left pushing the pram from pillar to post behind us as Elizabeth and I stood chatting beside Emily.
After twenty minutes or so, we put sweetie pie back in the buggy,and took her for a walk around the esplanade in search of coffee.
I had thought I would enjoy being back in the familiar place of my younger days, but surprisingly I was quite neutral about it.
Sure, I loved the sound, smell, and sense of the ocean seeping into my soul, but not enough to ever consider moving back.
I need a different beach to run along.
All week I had been worried about finding facilities if we needed them, but Elizabeth took us straight to the parent’s room almost without asking so we could change Emily’s nappy.
I loved how her first thought was always for the welfare of my daughter.
And this is precisely why we are friends.
Not only is she a fantastic wedding celebrant, naming ceremonier, and house healer, but she was totally, in line with what I needed.
The relief at knowing Emily was being taken care of in the most auspicious way possible put me completely at ease.
Sure it bothered me that I couldn’t see the entrances to the shops as we walked down the open air mall – and to think I used to do this without a cane, I thought as I peered into the greyness of grey grey grey which is now my visual acuity.
Was my favourite shop still there, I wondered as we trawled for a place to park the pram.
We picked a café with high chairs, which were visual from the outset, and got organised.
I pulled Emily’s lunch out, and began to place slivers of mandarin on her tray.
She sat quietly eating her food as Elizabeth and I sipped our coffees, and munched on hot chips.
Yep, it was one of those kinds of days.
I could not resist giving Emily 1 when she reached for it.
Normally she does not like potato, so I did not think she would be into it at all.
Four chippies later however, and the girl was on a role.
Still, I cannot complain. Yes, it was her first hot chip, but she still ate her homemade burger paddy from daddy, some carrots, cheese, peas, and a banana.
It was Emily who became restless, which got us moving.
She was so tired.
Too tired in fact.
Again, we tracked back to the parent’s room inside the community centre, changed her into another fresh nappy and a pretty dress, then gave her a bottle.
I was sure she would drop off to sleep straight away, but apparently not.
There were far too many things for her to look at.
Slowly we walked down the mall, trying to coax her to sleep with the lull of the wheels.
At one point, we hit panic stations when we discovered Emily did not have her dummy.
The only dummy she will ever take.
This had been re-enforced the previous evening when when I had tried to offer her a different one as a spare.
Yep, you know that tactic I was never going to use, that one.
However, I was foiled, as all she did was take one suck, and throw it across the room in disgust at my trickery.
I knew she had been sucking on it a block and a half before, as I had specifically asked Elizabeth whether or not Emily was holding it.
As it were, precisely this scenario I was afraid of happening.
There was nothing else for it; we had to backtrack.
Elizabeth’s eager eyes scanned the footpath as we slowly retraced our steps.
We found the dummy under a bench seat at least a metre from the pram line we had previously taken.
She must have thrown that one hard, Elizabeth said as she picked it up and I tipped the contents of my water bottle over it.
Eating off the kitchen floor was one thing, but germs from a foreign suburb were entirely another.
We popped it back in her mouth, lowered the pram into a more reclined position and continued our gentle walk toward the station.
Emily and I were due at Greek Easter services within the hour; however, I did not want to get on the train without her being asleep.
Up and down the concourse, we pushed as we waited for our ride.
Finally finally just before we were due to embark on the long silver chain, baby girl dropped off.
I thought I would get at least an hour out of her given how early she had woken that morning, and given how much stimulation she had received already.
I was nervous about seeing everyone again, as it had been many years.
I knew the kind of judgement I would be facing, and was not sure I was up for it. Let alone whether I should be exposing Little to such harshness and hypocrisy.
again, it comes down to those insecurities, which pinch my bottom regarding my disability, people’s dumb ass assumptions, and my quest for validation.
The question is when am I going to give this shit up, because it is getting boring.
I had to really concentrate on counting the stops between our destinations as it had been so long since I had travelled that line, and it was very noisy due to the school kids spewing forth from all directions in our carriage.
I wanted to scream at them to shut up so Emily could sleep.
God knew she needed it.
I disembarked from the train, only 90% confident of my where abouts.
Thankfully, the train-ticketing guy saw us and directed us to the lift and assured me I was where I wanted to be.
I arranged for him to meet us back in the same spot and get us back on our way in the following hours. SO at least that tiny detail was taken care of.
The next thing I had to do was find our way across the road, past the pub, up the hill, around the corner, and across another road to my final do I really want to do this respite stop before taking Emily to church.
It was oh so bright; therefore, I had to listen very carefully for new obstacles.
The landscaping had changed, thus I had to walk very very slowly.
I needed to give myself the best chance of not running into anything.
Clearly, the council had spruced the place up in the last five years, as not everything was as I remembered.
The pavement had been redone, new shops and buildings had been built, gardens had been replaced and reshaped, and thing really looked the same.
As I reached the private art gallery just next door to the church, I rang my mother to tell her where I was.
I had encountered some strange ghosts from my past of late, and this was prime ghost territory.
Who knew what could happen next.
All week I had been wracking my brain about the most pram friendly way to enter the church but without physically wheeling her through the crazy car park.
Again, it had been so long, I could not remember all the details. Not to mention I was not a pram pusher back in those days. So although I would give it the occasional thought, it did not hold meaning the way it does now.
I struggled to get her up the step.
My heart raced as I accidentally dodged a little old lady, and turned the corner.
Thankfully, it was presvitera, Father’s wife who greeted me as I poked my head through the sliding door into the kitchen.
Before I knew it, she was embracing me in welcome, and then calling to Father to come and see.
Some things never change, I thought as I watched her say hello to Emily, ask after my husband, and beckon to her own father to come over.
My friend Maria had texted me to tell me her kids was asleep and she was running late.
At this point, I was not upset, as I was too overwhelmed and too busy with the next one thousand things I needed to accomplish in order to make this a smooth transition.
Presvitera took the pram and maneuvered it through the skinny door.
Where would you like to sit, she asked.
Up the back in my usual place, I responded.
When had the church become so dark, I marvelled as I stood trying to adjust to the light.
Holy shit I must really be going blind I thought.
Again there was no time to grieve or to process, I had to keep moving.
Emily was still sound asleep in the pram, and I prayed to God she would stay that way.
I had no idea how long the service was, or how long Emily would tolerate the heat, the crowds, and the whole having to be quiet thing.
Before I knew it, Father’s wife was handing me another baby.
This is George, she said.
It took me a minute to catch up.
George is her grand son.
He is five months old.
Oh, I said in response, are not you a cutie.
I could never imagine having a boy, I thought as I held his plump little figure in my arms.
They are so different to having a girl.
They are so boyish.
George’s mummy soon came and stood next to me.
The service began with the familiar minor notes of the byzantine scale.
Still Emily slept.
It was not until Father rattled his frankincense a little too vigorously in our direction that she woke with a start.
I could see the judgement in the air as I lifted her from the pram.
Normally I would allow her to sit, but she had been in one seat or another for the last six hours, apart from the quick play at the park, and we still had a two hour train trip home ahead of us where I would need her back in that thing, so getting her out was the best thing for all of us.
Firstly, she played happily in my arms, then in presvitera’s.
I was mortified when one of the bitchiest women on earth gaped at Emily in disbelief as she learned that I was her mother.
As if something like that could not possibly happen.
How could I, something so grotesque, make something so adorable.
And what’s more, who was my husband.
How could I have a husband?
Were all things I saw flash across her mind in a split second.
When I had been more involved in the Greek church going culture, there had always been a collective wisdom regarding how lovely I am, but how unlovely it would be to have me marry one of their sons.
The relief on parent’s faces as they would announce that their boy had become engaged to a lovely girl was blatantly obvious at every occurrence.
It was as if they were safe now.
Because of course God was punishing me, or my parents, depending on whom you asked which is why I am blind.
And nobody wanted that kind of curse brought down on their family.
Because isn’t that what this is?
Why I ever let it get to me in the past I will never know.
Why I seek approval from these kinds of people I will never know.
So why was I there?
My friend Maria had thought it would be lovely for us to attend a service together with the kids.
So I had packed our bag for the day, fretted over every detail, decided I would manage, and headed to the other end of Sydney.
Sydney is a big place, so this was no mean feat.
Still there was no sign of her.
However, by this time I was too disassociated from my body to care.
My mortification grew when the bitchy woman, in question unbeknownst to me took my baby from presvitera and was holding her instead.
Emily of course had completely disarmed her initial horror,while I was left inwardly seething and outwardly stressing.
Where the fuck was her respect.
No of course not, I thought as my heart lurched into my mouth.
Someone was holding my child without permission.
This is not what I had signed up for.
However, I was paralysed with God knows what.
My mouth remained shut, my feet glued to the spot, and my face frozen in fear, as presvitera and her daughter tried to reassure me everything was fine.
Clearly my face said otherwise.
Sorry Little, I apologised silently as I willed my arms to reach for her.
I found it difficult to concentrate on the service when I had such a cutie cute cute cute to contend with.
My angel was wrapped around my body, so why would I concentrate on praying when I had her right here, I thought in some vague notion of in articulation.
She was being adorable with her cuddles and her curiosity.
We were in full view of the candles, and she was fascinated.
As the service grew longer, so did her restlessness.
Sometimes she would sing along with the chanters, while at other times she would stand on my lap and play with my hair.
For a long five minutes, she handed George’s book back and forth with a young man in front of us.
However, she split most of her time between presvitera and me.
I could not believe it when the bitchy woman put her back in her pram and told me she should sit there.
What was she doing touching my baby again, I thought as I glared at her.
Thia, I said sternly, we have a two-hour train trip ahead of us where I need her to sit in the pram. If I wanted her there now, I would have put her there myself.
Oh, so you don’t want her there, she said.
No, but don’t worry about it.
Thanks for the mixed messages, I thought as again I found myself seething with anger.
Where was Maria?
Her job was to protect me from this shit, I thought as I began to pack our things.
I was aware of it getting dark outside and we needed to go.
My readying to leave was met with protests, although I cannot figure out why.
Because the moment the service was over, everyone scattered like ants.
It was not as if anyone wanted to actually stay and have a chat.
So I was left alone, trying to breathe, and figure out the best path to choose which would get us back to the train station safely.
Pelagia, I heard from behind me, as I was diling Maria to find out if she had made it, and to tell her we were leaving.
Pelagia being my Greek name.
However, it was Maria calling me.
She had just arrived.
I looked at her in disbelief.
What do you mean you are arriving, I asked her.
This had been her idea.
We had come all this way at her request, and she was just arriving?
I could not get my head around it.
All I could think about was how we were going to get home.
The weather was closing in rapidly, and we would need to get moving.
But I was momentarily torn, because I wanted to spend time with her also.
Michael had told me that even if she arrived afterward, that I was to come straight home.
He was already upset with her for suggesting she might be late.
This would send him over the edge, and I knew it.
I stood chatting with her for five minutes or so, and let her take Emily to see the flowers.
We had to get going, though I kept telling myself.
Do you want me to walk you, she had asked.
Nope, I just want to go, I had insisted.
I understood that her kids had been asleep, of course they had.
I knew that this would be the day they would have their monster nap. Because isn’t that always the way.
The day she had to be somewhere.
Still, this was an hour and three quarters kind of late.
I stood there feeling lost and out of place.
I had forgotten to light a candle, and kiss the icons. However, by this time, taking those three steps to accomplish the ritual was all too much.
Who knew when I would need those steps elsewhere?
I felt for Maria’s husband as he tried to problem solve on my behalf.
I had to assure him that I indeed had this, and could manage.
I could see he was upset with her, and although he had no idea as to just how big an effort this had been, he seemed to instinctively grasp it more so than she did.
However when Maria and I had five minutes to ourselves as she helped me change Little into something more comfortable for travelling home, and walked me half way to the station, I learned that she too was at the end of her rope.
Still, this was big.
This was really big.
We had come such a long way to see her.
I was too busy to be angry with her, but somehow learning that she had typically taken on more than she could handle, tended to soften my understanding.
I felt guilty about asking her to walk with me the entire way to the station because I did not want to take her away from her friends and family.
Although in hindsight, I should have insisted, because it was really difficult.
And after all, this had been her idea, yet I was worried about taking up her time?
What the hell was wrong with me.
I would never bring Little this far from home under normal circumstances.
I am sure the only reason Michael let me go was because he thought she would be here to soften my landing.
He knows the tumultuous relationship I have with the Greek culture, and knows my ambiguity regarding introducing Little into it.
SO for her not to turn up would be a real disappointment for him.
On some level I knew he would see it as a betrayal of trust.
As in he had trusted her to take care of us, and she had not.
I am not sure if there is any coming back from this.
He is protective of us in the best possible way, and this is big.
Big big big.
When I got back to the station, I felt marooned on an island so far from home.
It was horrible.
I wondered how could it be that when we go to Katie’s I feel closer to the gentleness of our sanctuary than when we are stuck on the other side of Sydney, even though she is twice as far away.
I could not wait to get on that train.
Thankfully, it was a fast one, without many stops,and we were back in the city before I knew it.
And thankfully, I had plenty of snacks to keep Little occupied with as she sat like the rock star that she is in her pram and babbled away.
It was peak hour as we pulled into Town Hall station.
The train guy on the platform was not helpful as I approached to ask where the lift was.
I had my cane in my hand dragging behind me as I had done all day, which for some strange assed reason people seemed to respond to better than if I held it out in front.
How or why they think it works is a mystery to me.
I mean it sort of works in some situations, because there is something comforting about reading the ground no matter where it is coming from, and listening to the echo of my stick bouncing off the buildings and other environmental obstacles. But somehow, I do not think people are that smart to realise that is a factor. However as I said, for whatever reason, they seemed to think it was of use.
Although trying to hold that and push the pram properly is not easy.
Anyone who has pushed my pram knows that it can be stubborn.
Good God if I knew then what I knew now regarding how we were going to raise this child, we would have bought things differently.
Our pram is compact, and you can lift it up and fold it down with one hand, however rarely do we use it as such.
And then of course there is the playpen.
So many things have worked out so differently than we had anticipated.
I feel like we wasted so much money trying to prepare and get this right, when we really should have waited and gone with the flow a little more.
Sure in theory that $300 baby carrier should have worked, but…
I still have not forgiven myself for that one. However nor have I put it up on eBay either.
I tried to explain to him that I could not see, but he dismissed me with a wave of his hand.
I was too tired to push the point more than three times, so I just kept walking and figured we would do laps of the platform if need be until I found the lift, or decided to take the escalator instead.
Miraculously however we stumbled across the lift in the next three steps, it opened immediately for us, we stepped in, went up a platform only to find our train waiting for us as I backed out into the throng of commuters.
Without apology, I pushed the pram up on to the train, and asked if there were any seats.
People were packed like sardines, but at least three people got up, and gave us some room.
Then those same three people smiled and played with Little as she sat happily in her pram offering up half chewed banana.
You are such a good sharer baby girl.
I rang Michael and let him know our where abouts so he could meet us at the station, and the relief in his voice was also distinct.
Clearly, we had both felt the stretch of the umbilical chord, and were eager to be back in one another’s company.
I could not believe how well Emily behaved.
She handled this thing better than her mummy. Although why I should be surprised, I don’t know. She so often knows how to handle situations with more grace and dignity than I do.
May you always have that my love.
So often do I note the wisdom of my baby is beyond her years on this earth.
I can only hope that by the time I die, I have one tenth of her graciousness, humour, cleverness, and ability to manipulate.
You rock honey.
It was only as we reached the last two stations that she became restless.
I had to work hard at keeping her contained.
The only thing, which calmed her down, was the promise of a waiting daddy, and she could get out of her seat in a few minutes.
I know she doesn’t know what that means, but she knows we never keep her waiting long.
A nice gentleman helped lift the pram to the platform, and Michael immediately picked it up.
Emily could barely believe her eyes as she saw his handsome face.
We hurried home without incident, and were barely in the door before those two were down on the carpet having cuddles, playing with toys, and chatting about their day.
I have never seen Michael so happy or eager to see his baby girl as he was that night.
Were you worried, I asked as I watched them completely absorbed in one another.
Yes, he admitted as he lifted her up over his head and she giggled at the game.
Me to, I responded.
I am not sure I can do that again for a while. It pushed me beyond my limit, I continued.
However, I had to admit there was something freeing about it, and I felt like we were in a whole new era of adventure travel.
Some sort of elastic band, which had been keeping us safe and close to home up until that point had snapped, and suddenly our world was a whole lot bigger.
There was no time to rest, as after dinner, I still had to make Rosy May’s birthday cake.
I had intended to make it earlier in the week and freeze it, but given the horrible day I had experienced on Thursday, I did not think it prudent to be baking. As everybody knows baking only works when you do it with love. Otherwise, it tastes like crap.
So after Little had played with her daddy, we had eaten dinner, and she was down for the night, I literally threw ingredients into a bowl and poored them into the giant cupcake cake tin.
However, I was not thinking, and if I had taken a moment, I would have made the top and then the bottom separately, because they are different sizes and shapes.
Admittedly, it was not my best work, but it was better than nothing.
Ultimately, we were after a good presentation, and that was Michael’s domain.
I fell into bed exhausted on Friday night, and barely woke when Michael got up to feed Emily.
For all intensive purposes, she had a good night.
Surely, she must have been worn out, I thought as I rolled over.
As is our new normal, Michael brought her in with us, but she was not really interested in going back to sleep.
She and daddy dozed on and off for a little while, but eventually he yielded to the birds calling, and they snuck downstairs.
However, I didn’t get the luxury of sleeping in for too much longer, as there was coffee to drink, and bags to be packed.
Michael had a cake to ice, and a car to load. Therefore, mummy had to be up and at them.
We were off to hotel Katie Lee’s for the week, and my husband was eager to get started.
He is now a wiz with the fondant, therefore it didn’t take too long before Rosy’s cupcake cake was decorated, and ready to go.
Thank God, we kept the cake box from our wedding cake our gatecrasher Jo bought with her on our special day, because once again it came in very handy for transporting our culinary masterpiece.
As usual, Michael had prepared most of Emily’s things, so all I had to do was get myself organised.
I was way behind in the blog, so needed to pack my laptop in the spirit of intent.
I had planned to get some more balloons for Rosy, but had forgotten to buy them in the lead-up. So off we went with only ourselves as an offering.
Michael must have been feeling abundant that day because he said that although he is a tight ass, he was going to take the motor way.
Rarely does he do this on the way to Katie’s because it costs us a ridiculous amount in tolls.
I didn’t argue.
As far as I am concerned, the less traffic lights, twists, and turns, the better.
Emily happily chattered in the back before falling asleep about half an hour in to our journey.
I had intended to write, but was having too good a time talking to my husband.
I feel guilty when I do my own thing in the car, because I feel like I should be talking to him instead.
After all, we are in such close proximity, and there is nowhere to escape.
Quite often, that is where we will have some of our best conversations.
We arrived at Katie’s without incident, and were greeted by a very happy Rosy May.
Clearly, the preparation work Katie and I had been doing had paid off.
Benny the dog was his usual excited self, and Emily was immediately obsessed with him.
Michael unloaded our things, went through the routine of telling Katie what was where, before sculling his coffee, and heading back into the sunset.
We had five days of fun ahead of us.
It seemed like all the time in the world.
Given Emily had already slept on the way down; I was not really going to try too hard to get her down after lunch.
However, Rosy did need a nap.
From the get go, we knew this trip was going to be more harmonious for the girls, and we were right.
They played fairly happily.
Each of them having grown up considerably since our last trip a month or so before.
This was going to be our last trip for a long long time as Katie and her family are moving to Darwin, so we needed to make it count.
Most of the house had been packed up, which really surprised me.
I knew she had been working on it, but had not expected such progress to be made.
Still, there was enough to keep a baby girl amused for hours.
Late on Saturday afternoon, we decided to go for a walk.
However rather than head away from the setting sun, we headed sort of toward it, and alongside.
It did not take long to get the girls in their prams – we are getting good at this now.
However, the walk was excruciating.
I could not make out the difference between the path, the grass, the road, the trees, or Katie.
My head pounded as we made our way along the pretty track.
I felt terrible I could not enjoy any of it.
I felt terrible that I could see so much less this time around.
How the fuck had that happened.
Things were going so well. But now, now, they were a complete mess.
Everything was a blur of colourless colour.
It took all my will power not to find myself screaming in a heap on the concrete.
My head wanted to turn back, but my body needed to walk.
I needed to work the fear from my hips.
I cannot believe I am this blind, I thought as we passed a flame tree that I did not know was flaming.
No part of the experience was pleasant.
Work work work, I had to work so hard.
Was this how it was always going to be from now on, I wondered as I pushed the pram and apologised to Emily for my stupidity.
I am such a shit mother, I thought as we continued.
What kind of life am I offering her.
No part of me is doing this with grace or dignity right now, and I am ashamed.
Still my soul screamed and screamed and screamed a harrowing scream of all that this is.
I cannot think about not seeing Little’s face.
I cannot think about where this might be leading.
I need to find a way to fix it, I thought as we turned around.
I had hoped it would be better on the walk back, but it was not.
It just hurt.
Hurt hurt hurt.
However, being the mamma that I am, I kept it together.
Emily cannot know I feel like this, I thought as I blindly put one foot in front of the other.
I have to protect her.
I had let go of the notion that Emily needed to be in bed by her usual bedtime. However, I was worried because what if my new laxness meant that she would never go to bed on time again after we got home.
So when we returned to the house, I let her potter, and then put her in the bath.
I can’t believe I lugged the nappy bag all the way on our walk, only not to need it, I thought as I ran the water.
She had not wanted to sit in the pram on the way home, so I had perched her on my hip, and we had all struggled to make it back intact.
Her bath was a speedy affair, and after chasing her around the house in various stages of undress, and using several tactics, I gave up and got Katie to help me get her dressed.
How on earth am I going to do this when Michael is away, I fretted as I watched Katie deftly put one arm through, then another, followed by first one leg, then the other into those cutie pink pyjamas.
Desperately I tried to give her dinner, but a baby girl was not interested in anything apart from Rosy.
Rosy sat at the table so Emily sat at the table.
Rosy ate pasta, so Emily ate Rosy’s pasta.
Rosy did laps; therefore, Emily wanted to do laps.
For over an hour, I fought with her to get her to eat, but with little luck.
I knew she was hungry, which is why I kept trying.
Of course using my cross, voice did nothing, but out of frustration, I used it anyway.
Why oh why I even bother, I don’t know.
The cutie cute cute cute wanted to climb on the chairs, over the table, put the bowl on her head, crawl around the floor, pull Benny’s tale, touch Rosy, play with toys, give mummy cuddles, smile at Katie, and any number of other things apart from eat her dinner.
Occasionally I would get a spoon full in, or Katie would manage it. But it was not often.
Even Rosy got in on the action and tried to feed Emily.
Admittedly, she probably responded to Rosy the best, but Rosy did not really understand the need to be consistant, and her two-year-old aim was not that good. But nice helping sweetie.
In the end between the four of us, we got enough sustenance into her that I felt confident in giving her a big fat bottle and putting her down.
I did not want her to wake hungry within the first three hours, which is why I had been so insistent.
Low and behold though, madam butterfly bottom went straight down, and slept for ten and a half hours.
This is unheard of in our world.
Meanwhile, Katie and I fell into a conversation, which left me trembling with the trauma of it, and fighting every instinct to flee the scene.
Apparently, I had written something in an earlier blog post, which had put a couple of readers off side. Therefore, I was left having to explain myself, and try to figure out a way to remedy the situation without losing any of the authenticity, integrity, or essence of my description.
After all, what is blogging for if not an expression of one blind mamma’s take on things.
I thought I had set the scene up so there could be no misunderstanding, however I am told there was.
Needless to say, I apologised for my misstep, and promised to edit the offending post, and bring greater clarity to the situation.
As we spoke, I skimmed through the peace in question, found what I thought might have been the problem phraise, and even though it was linguistically correct, out of respect for Katie, I took it out, and reworded the paragraph.
Holy crap, it is not often I am sideswiped like that, and I think we were both taken by surprise.
I mean if the content of my work had not bothered either of us, then why should it have bothered anyone else.
Katie knew it had been a difficult peace for me to write. And I knew as I wrote it, that it might be misconstrued. However, I put it up anyway, and hoped that people would read between the lines. Because it is often in those blank spaces where I say far more than I do within the edges of the ink.
It was one of those things that I had taken for granted because Katie has known me for so long, that I had assumed she knew the details, however it turns out she did not.
Oops, sorry Katie girl.
Therefore having to fill her in completely threw me into a whole world of pain.
As in oh my God how am I going to get through this and still breathe type of emotional pain.
I swear to God if I could have walked out that door, gotten into my car, and driven away never to be seen again, I would have done it.
I would have bundled up baby girl and hightailed it back to the loving arms of my husband in a heartbeat.
I thought about ringing him to come and get me, but the whole time lag thing stopped me.
There was nothing I could do to have him materialise right then and there, so there was nothing else for it, but to stop shaking, try not to cry, and under no circumstance let Katie see how much I had been affected by our late night Tet-a-Tet.
I had to assume by the violence of my reaction that there was a major shifting of the titanic plates within my soul. Because if I had looked at it in any other way I would have split apart into a thousand million atoms, and not in the good way, but in the never to be put back together again type I am broken way.
The urge to throw up was almost unbearable, but again I held my ground.
It is not that I do not trust Katie. Quite the opposite in fact.
It was that I wanted to spare her my anguish.
I knew that if I did not keep it together, she would have been upset for me.
Why should we both have suffered…
Holy shit girl, never again. Let us never speak of such things again.
I went to bed in a state of high-level distress.
I was distraught as I pulled the covers up over my shivering body.
All I wanted was a big hug, but was too embarrassed to ask Katie for one.
Emily was asleep, so I could not very well wrap my body around hers.
What I would not have done to see Michael in that second.
I love you honey.
He is my safe-place.
I cannot be sure if I heard Katie go to bed or not.
However, I do remember periodically waking to listen for Emily.
Who would have thought she would sleep for so long.
Somewhere in the 5:00AM, I brought her in with me, where she dozed off almost immediately after a nappy change, a quick bottle, and a mention of Benny.
It was somewhere around 7:30AM when she woke properly and called for Rosy.
We played quietly on mummy’s bed for almost an hour before padding out into the lounge room where we found a waiting Katie Lee.
That girl is all over this stuff, I thought as she offered to make us coffee.
Not for the first time, nor would it be the last, did I wonder how she did this.
I know it is hard, because she tells me so.
We have the kind of the relationship where we can call it as it is. But she makes it look easy.
I think this is because she is so good at it.
I was surprised at how well I felt, given how unwell I had felt going to bed.
I had decided that I would give it until the light of day and then decide whether to call Michael to come and fetch us.
However all was well again in my being, and all traces of our conversation had vanished.
I felt vulnerable in terms of Katie had seen into a very private part of my soul, and I had not quite zipped it up properly again.
I was secretly worried she would think less of me now.
Thank God, it had never been tense between us, as it so well could have been in any other lifetime.
But we so got this.
And this is why I knew we could do five days together.
I worried about the girls, and whether or not we were stretching them too far, but so far so good.
We had lived together, and this was going to be a slice of cake.
Birthday cake in fact.
Because today was Rosy May’s second birthday.
Happy birthday Rosy Posey.
Occasionally throughout the day, I would think back to two years earlier and imagine Katie Lee holding her newborn baby in the hospital just as she had described to me a year or so earlier.
I would think about her beautiful rain dance the evening before she gave birth, and her amazing mamma standing in the backyard holding an umbrella over Katie’s head as they summoned Rosy into the world in true earth Goddess style.
I thought about the peacefulness she must have felt.
I thought about the tiny bundle of joy sleeping in her arms.
I thought about the all-absorbing encompassing love she must have felt in the moment.
I thought about how long two years seemed.
We had decided to take the girls to the wild life zoo for Rosy’s birthday.
Our intention to leave early so we were in time for the koala presentation was lovely, but so did not happen.
It took us forever to get organised.
For one thing, Rosy and I had to have a delicious morning birthday shower together. And that takes time people.
Katie took Emily, while Rosy and I took a red balloon in with us so we could listen to the droplets falling on the rubber.
I knew that Rosy was feeling a little bewildered by Emily again, and needed some special attention.
The skin on skin contact was the best thing we could have done.
As I have said previously, Rosy takes a little while to warm up to people and I needed to find a way we could become friends.
Often I would ask her who Emily’s mummy was, and then who her mummy was, so she could remember the difference.
I also explained to her that my eyes were broken, which is why I needed to see her with my hands.
Putting it like this was something she could almost get a toddler handle upon. Therefore, she was a little more tolerant of my touching her, or asking her to use her words in response to my enquiries
Emily fell asleep in the car, while Rosy chattered.
However, the poor little thing spilt her milk, so we had to change her out of her party dress into something else.
We arrived at the zoo just as the tiger presentation was underway.
An actual tiger.
We met Rosy’s family outside the enclosure as the big stripy cat strolled past.
I could not see a fucking thing.
Yep, that is the only way to put it.
Everything everything everything was one big grey nothingness.
It was so hard to push the pram.
I kept running into stuff. Stuff that I did not even know was there until I ran into it.
This was like being in the heaviest smog fog one has ever seen.
I simply had no visibility.
It was hard not to become frustrated with myself as I bumbled and fumbled about like one of those seventeenth century French idiots in the park having to do battle for their supper I have previously mentioned in another post.
I felt degraded.
I sat Emily on her splat mat for lunch, a little way from the picnic table, as I was too overwhelmed for anything else.
Even feeding her was difficult.
Partly because she was hard core teething, therefore not particularly interested in food, and partly because I could not bear to look at anything else and simultaneously not see it and see it at the same time.
At least on the ground I knew I was safe.
I needed the solidarity of the earth below me.
Although I have to confess to worrying about what that water seeping up through the grass actually was, given how close we were to a toilet block.
Katie asked me what I wanted, but I was too overwhelmed to make a decision.
My brain was too busy trying to process this new environment.
And I was too busy feeling guilty about not being able to see and how that would affect Little to be able to concentrate on something as trivial and comparatively meaningless as eating.
As long as baby girl was taken care of, the rest did not matter.
After a longish lunch, the family began to disband and look for other animals.
Everyone was very welcoming and accepting of our presents, and I appreciated it.
However, Emily and I stayed behind a little while and chattered with Katie’s mum Jenny, as some of the others packed everything up.
I felt terrible asking, but there was no way I could push the pram nearly as competently as Katie was, so I got Jenny to do it for me.
Oh, my God girl, I could not have enjoyed the rest of the afternoon without you.
Thank you so much for looking after us.
I knew that zoos were not Jenny’s favourite place, but they are Emily’s.
She loves her animal friends.
Therefore when we got to the kangaroo enclosure, that cutie cute cute cute was out of her pram before I knew it, and patting a kangaroo.
Yes literally patting a grazing kangaroo.
No fear, no judgement, just the blissful innocence and curiosity of a baby girl.
I was so happy as I lay down on the grass next to her, risking the wrath of kangaroo poo on my clothing so we could share the experience.
Katie took loads of photos for us.
Meanwhile Rosy was off galloping around the place from one animal to another with her other grandma.
Occasionally she would race up to us in her state of delirious happiness, before running off in another direction in search of the next exciting discovery.
It was beautiful to see her with such abandon.
Usually Katie or Jenny would be close by if Little needed anything.
However, the funniest moment came when Emily chased after the giant goose.
It was hilarious to see this little bare crawling baby race after a ginormous bright orange beaked goose across the paddock.
The only reason I stopped her, was because that cranky grey-feathered goose had already taken a nip at Jenny.
Normally I would just let her go, as I do not want to discourage her love of nature. But at the same time, I did not want that waste high bad boy to bight her either.
I felt horrible lifting her up and taking her away from her fun.
However thankfully Katie and Jenny were on to the next thing, and whisked her away to find something else.
I stayed where I was, because I could not cope with the blindness of it all.
I thought my eyes were once again going to pop out of their sockets, and I could not move my neck.
My head pounded heavily.
However, no amount of physical discomfort and self-prostration could take away from the contentment I felt watching the girls in the soft mid-afternoon sun have the time of their lives as they explored the animal kingdom.
This is life, Katie said as she caught a glimpse of Rosy with grandpa Bruce fleeing across the grass.
Yep, I agreed. This is life.
This is why we take Emily to the zoo, I continued as the smile spread across my face.
She was so happy.
Katie then took us down to the billy goats so we could give them some food.
After all, they were the only greedy gutses who were interested in eating the dry boring feed we had eagerly purchased at the door.
Emily was a little taken back by them, but only because they were so big.
She settled down once she felt how soft their tongues were licking her hand.
Next, we went to the monkeys, whereby Emily was more interested in watching how we interacted with them, rather than our animal cousins themselves.
This was followed by a quick trip to the koalas, then a quiet cup of coffee with Katie’s parents Jenny and Bruce before hopping into the car for the long drive home.
Slowly the rest of the family had dropped away over the afternoon, and it was only the six of us who stood at the car as we packed the girls in.
A big thank you to grandpa Bruce for adjusting baby girl’s straps on her car seat so she would be more comfortable.
I love how you took care of her, and did not just see it and walk away.
That shows such strength and integrity of character in my book.
This time it was Rosy’s turn to fall asleep, while Emily chattered.
Part of me had hoped she would nap, but part of me hoped she would not, as by this time it was after 4:00PM.
Apart from the sun being in her eyes, she handled quite well all things considered.
It had been a big day.
Not until we got to Katie’s street did she lose it completely.
By this time, Rosy had just woken up, and we were thirty seconds from home.
Katie threw us from a moving car so we could settle in and Little could have a bath, while she and Rosy continued on to Colleens house where we had stored the giant cupcake cake as there was no room in Katie’s tiny we are moving soon fridge.
The moment baby girl entered the house and saw Benny she calmed right down.
I knew her cries were more than just a protest. However, it did not become clear until a few minutes later when the unmistakable smell of a giant pooh wafted from her nappy.
Funnily enough, she normally waits until we get home for such ablutions. But I think the reason she suddenly became so upset in the car was because she needed to go.
I let her play quietly for a while as I got her bath organised.
We were just getting ready to hop in when Rosy and Katie came home.
Again, it was a lightning fast wash. I had barely gotten her in when she was ready to come out.
I took her into our room and tried to play with her the way daddy does, but she was not interested.
Somehow, I managed to get her dressed, and we played quietly while Rosy and Katie spoke to Paul via Facetime and they cut the cake as a family.
Only after they had finished, and Rosy was beginning to deconstruct said giant cupcake cake, did we come out to take some photos for their memory book.
Sorry you could not be there Paul.
Sweetie pie was so tired, but we managed to get some dinner into her before giving her a bottle and putting her to bed.
She went down fairly well.
Of course, we had to have a chat about her day, and I think she fell asleep somewhere around recounting the koalas.
I love you baby girl.
Sleep tight my love. We have had a big week.
I will see you in the morning.