I arrived at work on Monday morning, lamenting that the day was so glorious, and I would miss out on a trip to the good park with all our friends.
However just as we walked in the door, Merryn announced that my morning had been cancelled.
I am loving this five minutes up the road thing, I thought.
If I were any further way that would really bother me.
But considering we hopped in the car three minutes ago, and only made one left turn to get there, and that was only to leave our driveway, then who cared, I thought.
Well then, I’m off to the park, I said rather too enthusiastically.
I’ll come back this afternoon if it gets busy.
Sure, she said, as Emily eyed her off suspiciously.
Michael likes to take me all the way to the door.
And I like that he does so.
So we raced home, snorted a second cup of coffee, and then hopped back in the car and made our way to the good park.
I was so happy as I followed my family down the white path toward the playground.
Immediately we saw one of our friends, and then one by one, everyone we knew began to arrive.
I love days like these, I thought as Michael pointed out who was walking through the gate.
They give me a real sense of belonging.
The call had come through social media just as I was putting my shoes on for work an hour earlier.
Michael was feeling sluggish, and wasn’t as keen as I wanted him to be.
However I wasn’t going to give him a choice about it.
I wanted to push Emily on the swing, and catch up with some of our friends.
Even people who hadn’t got the message turned up.
The whole park had a festive vibe about it, as parents chattered, and kids played.
For whatever reason, many of the husbands, or in my case working wife, were there also.
Which made it extra special.
It was as if everyone had decided to go on a family adventure.
What a way to kick off a Monday, us working parents said in that secret conspiratorial we shouldn’t really be here but isn’t it fantastic way.
For hours the children ran around like crazies, but not once was there an altercation.
The only thing, which drove people away, was a lack of amenities for the grownups, and a need for lunch.
I felt fulfilled and happy as we made our way home.
I left it as late as possible, as in twenty minutes before I was due at work to see if things had become busier.
However as they hadn’t, I took the rest of the day off, and set my mind to the task of website copy yet again.
Meanwhile Emily napped, Michael did whatever Michael does, high/low tea was partaken, followed by a trip to the park, bath, bottle, and bed.
The only difference being, on Monday night I instigated a sneaky snack in between the bath and the bottle, hoping it would help Emily sleep more soundly.
Tuesday morning I woke up excited, as we were going to yet another playgroup.
Not our playgroup, but another playgroup we had heard about.
Better food and better toys. Or so the mamma grapevine said.
Our friend Seyrin was due to pick us up just after 9:30AM, which meant we needed to get a wriggle on.
Both Emily and I needed to be dressed and ready to go before the designated time.
While Michael had to get Emily’s car seat and transfer it from one vehicle to another.
So although he wasn’t coming with us. Because he wasn’t invited.
He had to be there as the capital letter and the full stop to our latest adventure.
We had never been in the car with Seyrin before, so as usual it was kind of a big deal in that regard for Michael and me.
My mum thinks we keep Little too close.
But she can think whatever she wants.
Little is our daughter, and we will do as we wish.
She had her turn.
Now it is ours.
Ronya looked at us strangely as we buckled ourselves into her car.
Clearly this was new for her also.
Seyrin and I cooed and sang to the girls as we drove the three suburbs to our destination.
Michael was again under instructions to work on the business, but who knew if that was going to happen.
So much for my setting up some structure.
I can see the next thing I will have to do is find him a co-working space outside the home.
Clearly he can’t sit down and do anything while there are chores to do.
And there are always chores that need doing.
Sometimes I think it is almost as if he creates more work for himself so he doesn’t have to help us move forward.
My husband has an analogue type brain, and an industrial type mindset.
Whereas I am quite different, and have never been happy with swapping time for money in that factory worker way.
I want more from life.
I’ve always wanted more.
While I am sure Michael would live with absolutely nothing if he were able.
The problem being, I haven’t figured out how to motivate him in a way, which makes sense for his internal forces.
So my frustration continues.
No doubt we will have the put me out of my misery conversation in a few weeks, where he will promise to do more, but life will get in the way, and we will continue in this cycle of stagnation.
After all it isn’t his money going down the drain.
Well not directly.
It’s like our stupid dining room table.
Because he bought it, he refuses to get rid of it.
But because we got Emily’s bike for nothing, he won’t look after it and put it in the garage like I have asked, because it cost him nothing.
Whereas I value what her bike can bring us, and what it will bring the next little girl if we look after it well.
SO I want it in the garage out of the elements.
But what would I know.
We arrive at the new playgroup, and I do my best to follow Seyrin through the wobbly car park to the front door.
I have no idea where we are, or what I am supposed to look for.
Seyrin leads us down a ramp, and pushes open a door where a cheerful man greets us.
I’m Alex, he says.
This is Emily, and I am Meg, I respond.
Obviously I cannot see, I continue, holding up my stick.
So would you mind showing me around?
The room felt large, and I didn’t want to make the same mistake as last time.
I was at least going to know where the bathrooms were, if nothing else.
He began to point, but I spoke up, and quite gently asked him to be more specific in his directions.
Ok he said, as Emily squirmed off my hip and took my hand the way she does when we go somewhere new.
The jumping castle is on your left, the ball pit on your right, and so on.
He had Emily at the word ball pit.
Come on sweetie I said, as she bent down to examine her new booty.
There are some tunnels on your right, followed by a trampoline.
Our only rule is no shoes on the jumpy equipment Alex explained.
The room then opened up into a big square space with a skylight.
An open kitchen ran down one side, there was a long table with seating for thirty down one side of the room, perpendicular to a couple of smaller tables which held craft, and play dough.
In the back corner was a kid’s play kitchen, to the far right was a swing, a tiny slippery dip, some kid-sized cars, and in the foreground were heaps of puzzles and other stuff we had never seen before.
The other mammas were right, I thought as I surveyed the joint.
This place did have better toys, and was more organised.
Can Emily get out anywhere, I asked.
Nope Alex replied emphatically.
I man the door, and I haven’t lost a toddler yet.
Well beware of this one, I said.
She’ll try every door you have.
She knew how to unlatch our front gate before she could walk.
I don’t think he thought I was serious.
But sure enough, Little found every door in the place, and gave it a push.
Our other playgroup has a sliding door.
Thankfully she hasn’t figured out it is the same mechanism as her wardrobe yet.
But it is only a matter of time.
And nobody really watches it, so life could get interesting.
We did lap after lap.
I couldn’t believe it when I realised I had forgotten her bells.
Nobody spoke to us, but I hadn’t expected them to either.
So we stuck to ourselves.
Still, Emily had a fantastic time.
I desperately want to get her a ball pit.
But again it is something, which will have to miraculously appear in our house one day.
Forgiveness is better than permission as they say.
When it was time for morning tea Emily sat on my lap and ate some fruit.
But just like last week’s new adventure, she wasn’t really interested.
I think she was too distracted by all the different things.
I wasn’t worried, because I had a truckload of food in her nappy bag, and I was fairly certain that if I knew Seyrin, she would have the same.
After this came the singing and dancing.
Emily sat quietly on my lap as we watched. Her fingers in her mouth, and her head on my shoulder.
I was worried she would fall asleep on the way home.
However luckily Seyrin gave her some corn to keep her awake.
It turns out I need not have worried.
Because when we got home, she clearly wasn’t going down for a nap anyway.
She wandered around the yard, ate some lunch, chattered to herself, and generally had fun with her own things.
We gave her a bottle somewhere around the 1:30PM mark in the hopes she might at least have a rest.
By rest we mean lay in her cot and talk to the mirror.
However even that wasn’t long lived.
We had just enough time to fill up the shell pool with luke warm water before she was ready to come down and get cracking with the rest of her afternoon.
No nap, no problem.
Let’s go swimming is the motto in our house.
Why punish her for something she isn’t going to do anyway.
She could barely believe her eyes when we began to undress her and show her the water.
In and out of that plastic shell she hopped.
She isn’t as confident as Rosy May was in the water at the same age by any stretch of the imagination.
But she had fun in her own way.
I let her be naked baby for as long as possible.
But once the sun left the garden and the breeze cooled down, it was time for clothes.
It was also time for her daily play in the park with daddy.
So what good timing.
When they arrived home we had a quick dinner, and put her straight to bed.
And what do you know, she went down without a fight.
Wednesday was playgroup day again.
I was so excited.
We were having the best week.
By 9:15AM Emily was busting to get out the door, so off we went.
Michael was only supposed to walk to the first corner with us.
However with each corner, he kept saying just one more.
Before I knew it, he had walked us the entire way to our local.
You tricker, I thought as he led us into the building.
I had pushed Emily most of the way in her trike, but it was reassuring to have him with us and explain things.
He would point out various landmarks along the way, making sure I understood where we were at all times.
Once again he did the mandatory paper work, and left us to it.
For two hours Emily played.
For two hours mummy struggled to find her.
Guess who had forgotten the bells yet again.
A lovely lady called Jane who had struck up a brief conversation toward the end of last week’s session came over and began talking.
I didn’t know how to explain to her that I wasn’t being rude, but I just didn’t know where Emily was, so I couldn’t give her my undivided attention the way she seemed to be giving me.
I was so worn out by the time the group had finished, that when I heard Michaels voice in the hall, I was so relieved.
I had promised that Emily and I would walk home with Seyrin, but as she hadn’t answered his text, he was worried we would be alone, so had come to fetch us himself.
Emily was a mess by the time we got home.
But not messy enough to have a nap.
Playgroup seemed to rile her up so much that sleeping was impossible.
Well not straight away.
Eventually Michael got her down for a little while, but by then it was late.
And when she sleeps late, she wakes late.
Which means bedtime is a nightmare.
Happiness was a climbing frame, a cubby house, and a seesaw.
So that is what baby girl did all afternoon.
She loves to close the shutters on her plastic house and then poke her head out and say boo to whoever is standing there.
Wednesday she even let mummy in her house for the first time.
I say that, because it had never occurred to me before to go in with her.
She was so excited.
We called daddy to come and find us.
But it took him ages.
It wasn’t until Emily burst up and out of her window like a jack in the box that he knew where we were.
She thought this was the funniest thing that had ever happened.
When we had been at the Tuesday playgroup, one of the parents was shocked when Emily climbed out through the windscreen of the car dukes of hazard style.
While another almost had a conniption when Emily went up the tiny slippery-dip the wrong way, and then down the ladder.
Oh, and she also learned a valuable lesson in motion.
Ronya was playing on the swing, Emily walked in front, and was knocked to the ground.
The point of my story is, that it will only be a matter of time until that plastic house topples on its side as Emily climbs out the window.
At the moment she will eat anything, and I mean anything, as long as it comes with tiny pasta.
So if she doesn’t like something on its own, which is pretty much everything, we put it on macaroni and it is delicious.
Everything apart from chicken.
She isn’t a fan of chicken meat.
Chicken mince is perfectly acceptable, along with puree, but not the actual meat.
Not even if it comes from mummy’s plate.
However having said that, there are certain things which can only come from my plate.
Salmon, pork, and carrot.
If we give them to her on her own plate, even if I am eating the same thing, they are deemed unworthy.
Welcome to toddler territory.
Our toddler wasn’t going to be a fussy eater, and we weren’t going to sneak her vegetables into her food.
If she weren’t going to eat broccoli in its natural form, we would persist.
We simply disguise, reshape, and reinvent by whatever means necessary.
I think I am going to have to buy that recipe book by that famous guy’s wife, which hides vegetables in everything.
Talk about another never ticked off the never ever list.
There goes another parenting theory.
Wednesday night she went down reasonably well after a trip to the park, a bath with mummy where we sang about the flippy floppy scarecrow at the top of our voices.
She learned to put her hands on her head for his flippy floppy hat.
Although her favourite is insy winsy spider still.
Now she even does the finger movements of the spider walking up the spout.
But her favourite is when the sun comes out.
Thursday morning was an early start.
Mummy had another quiet day at work, so I didn’t go.
I worked on the US project in the morning while Emily played happily in the garden with daddy, and who knows what happened in the afternoon.
Whatever it was, it must have involved some park time, because it felt like that was all we did all week was play play play and have a good day.
Friday I whizzed into work while Emily and daddy went to story time at the library.
We met afterward at the park near our house before bringing a tired baby girl home for a big long nap.
This gave mummy more time to work on the business.
All week I knew I should have been blogging, but I thought I had given it up.
I thought it had become so stale and crappy that I would reformat and come at it from a fresh place.
For months I have been trying to figure out how to pull it all together into something more polished, and I think I might have found the answer.
It will be a lot of work, but hopefully it will be worth it.
Friday afternoon we simply hung at home, as daddy was busy doing daddy stuff.
I felt guilty I didn’t take Emily to the park, but it was all too much in my pretty little head by that stage.
Which again is why I insist on us having so much equipment in the yard to keep her amused.
That way when I am having a blindy day, she doesn’t miss out.
Saturday morning I woke with Emily, and as we walked down stairs my friend Beth Ann called from the states.
I had forgotten we were going to prepare for a presentation she was giving in the next week.
I’m going to need your full attention she said as I buttered Emily’s toast.
Give me ten minutes, I said as I raced up stairs, woke Michael, promised him I’d make it up to him later, handed him the baby, and rang Beth Ann back.
Oh boy I wasn’t expecting the amazingness, which is Beth Ann when I first agreed to help.
Talk about the universe having my back.
Beth Ann provided me with exactly what I needed.
Her techniques to improve a presentation are mind blowlingly good.
I can see she has saved me thousands of hours and dollars on resources and practices that I would have otherwise spent chasing my tail in pursuit of becoming a better speaker.
Breathe, I just have to remember to breathe.
And here I thought I was the one giving her tips.
Beth Ann, you rock!
Thank you thank you thank you.
Michael had said we could go to the monthly playgroup barbecue in the park.
So once I was off the phone, I threw my hair in a mum bun, shimmied into some active wear, and off we went.
I think the only reason he agreed was because there would be sausages.
So off we went to a local park to spend time with a group of families we had never met.
Emily had her quiet bells on, but it was disconcerting to be at a playground I didn’t know.
Only because I wasn’t sure how safe the climbing equipment actually was for tiny climby toddlers who aren’t afraid of anything.
The slippery-dip was the biggest we’ve encountered, and Little didn’t bat an eyelid.
The people were lovely.
We were made welcome enough.
Michael and I took turns following Emily from place to place.
The dappled light made it difficult for me to be sure of my next step, but somehow I managed.
At one point Emily had enough of the kids and the noise.
So she wondered off to the tennis court at the far end of the complex.
I followed to see just how far she would go.
Before I knew it she had charmed a teenage boy into playing basketball with her.
Their game went on for twenty minutes, before she moved on to playing ball girl for some coach giving a private lesson.
I kept apologising as we weaved through the open expanse.
I knew we were interrupting their game, but nobody minded.
The problem was, we had done so many circles, I wasn’t sure where the exit sat.
Thankfully daddy must have spotted us, and came to fetch us.
He had been scoffing sausage sandwiches like there was no tomorrow.
Not long after this we left.
Michael dropped us at home, gave Little a bottle, and then went on his usual Saturday afternoon grocery shop.
I sat in the sunshine and worked my way through yet another short course on writing for the web while I waited for her to wake up.
Daddy arrived home just after I had wrangled her out of a dirty nappy, and was chasing her cheeky bottom around the house with the view of putting a nice fresh one on instead.
However Little wasn’t going to have a bar of it.
The moment I offered her a pair of nickers she was all for it.
But the joy didn’t last long.
Just as she was sitting down to eat her lunch she did a wee.
I have never seen her upset over toileting before.
But she was distraught.
Lately one of her favourite things to do is sit on the potty with her nappy on, and do her wees like that.
Then she’ll tell me she needs a new nappy.
I’m not sure if this means she is ready for potty training again or not.
I never want her to be upset about an accident.
As far as I can think we have done nothing to shame her or imply a negative regarding bodily functions.
If anything daddy and her have a positive relationship with farting.
After this daddy put her back in a nappy, and all was well with the world.
They went to the park for their usual afternoon constitutional, while mummy stayed home and prepared another snack, the bath, and bed.
Today has been quiet.
After all we’ve had such a big week.
Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have a home staying day.