Monday, 27 May 2013

The Problem with Prams

                                (photo courtesy of

Every expectant mother is inevitably inundated with advice from all angles, but I have just one pearl of wisdom to pass on: learn how to use your pram before you actually have to use it. I really shouldn’t be complaining. My sister who, having already had five babies, assured me she will never need it again, generously passed onto me the pram she used for her last child – a state-of-the-art baby mobile that retailed at more than I paid for my first car.

Throughout the last few months of my pregnancy, it sat in the lounge room looking fancy. It really was something to be marvelled at; its cutting edge design even seemed to defy gravity. I would stroke it admiringly as I passed by, imagining the ease with which I would transport my little one through the supermarket and on long walks, when she arrived. And of course I was convinced it would be child’s play to operate it because I had seen my brother-in-law do it effortlessly when he dropped it off at our house. I was wrong. Spectacularly wrong.

The first time I took my baby girl to the shops on my own, my partner collapsed the pram for me and put it in the boot (I could have easily done it on my own, I told myself, but he insisted). Setting this contraption up again took much more effort than I had imagined and I had broken out in a sweat by the time I had finished. Luckily, baby was sleeping angelically throughout this ordeal. I wasn’t quite so lucky when it was time to come home …

After a two hour parade around town, she had well and truly had enough and was letting me know about it. I placed her in her carseat with promises of “mummy will just be two seconds”, while she screamed her little lungs out at a decibel that I previously had no idea she was capable of reaching. In the meantime, I dashed back to collapse the pram the way I’d been shown. I pulled on the lever that was supposed to go up and pushed on the one that was supposed to go down, while pressing my foot against the bit that was meant to release the wheels. Nothing happened. I tried again. And again. Perhaps I had got it wrong. Perhaps I was pushing up where I was supposed to be pushing down or pressing when I was actually supposed to be pulling. I tried every combination and permutation of pushing, pressing and pulling imaginable. The cries from the carseat were breaking my heart (and my eardrums). I considered leaving the pram in the carpark and driving home. At that moment that honestly seemed like the best solution.

Just then, a youngish looking man walked up to the car next to mine and was about to drive away. I doubted he had any children. He’d probably never touched a pram before in his life. “Excuse me”, I stammered, red with embarrassment and close to tears, “I really need some help with this pram”. He approached cautiously; clearly the background noise was not exactly inviting. I recounted for him what I had been instructed was the correct way to collapse the pram. He did exactly what I said and it worked immediately. I couldn’t believe it. Who knows what he must have told his mates later about the madwoman he met that morning in the carpark!

My daughter fell asleep before I had even driven out of the carpark, but I was still fuming when I walked through the front door of my house. “I am NEVER going out again on my own with that pram!” I raged to my partner. “I’d rather stay at home and be a hermit than got through that again!” 

I felt an intense longing for the bottom-of-the-range pram I owned 8 years ago with my first baby: 

I’d shake it and it opened.

 I’d kick it and it collapsed.

So therein lies the only other piece of advice I'd ever give to an expectant mother: in simplicity, there is greatness. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Washing Whine

                                          (image courtesy of

Several years ago, I remember one of my sisters lamenting the tedious conversation that transpired between the mothers at her children’s school during drop off and pick up times. “All they talk about is how many loads of washing they’ve done,” she said with a screwed up nose. We laughed, safe in the knowledge that both of us had far more interesting things to talk about. I didn’t really think about that conversation again (naturally I was much too busy doing interesting things!) until recently when a former teaching colleague of mine dropped in to see my new baby. There is an eight and a half year age gap between my two children and perhaps time distorts a mother’s memory, but I definitely had not anticipated the sheer quantity of washing that would come with my new little bundle – not helped at all by the fact that she is extremely refluxy and vomits with alarming frequency not only on her own outfits but on everyone else’s too, as well as on every towel, sheet or blanket in her proximity. My mother always warned me that when you became a mother, the rules of mathematics went out the window: “One plus one does not equal two when it comes to having babies”, she would say. “It’s a lot more work than anyone ever expects”.

So while my former colleague regaled me with tales from work – the classes she was teaching, the texts they were studying, the students who’d already been suspended this year – I entertained her with stories from my laundry. “Honestly”, I told her, “you won’t just be able to do all the washing at once on a Saturday morning once you’ve got kids”. She nodded sympathetically. “Just when you’ve brought in one lot, you’ve got to hang out another. The spare room is constantly piled sky high with stuff I’ve got to sort out and iron and when it rains, you might as well give up completely!"

When she left, I realised, to my absolute horror, that I had become one of those women. This thought haunted me throughout the next day as I loaded and unloaded, pegged and unpegged. By the last load of the day, I was exhausted and, during a lapse of concentration, put my partner’s new blue t-shirt in with my baby’s little white and pink outfits. When I pulled them out of the machine, I discovered her lovely dresses and jumpsuits, many of which had been gifts and had only been worn once, had turned a ghastly shade of battleship grey. At that moment, the phone rang. I thought it would be my partner and felt relieved that I could at least get some much needed moral support, but alas, it was a telemarketer. I burst into tears, apologised and hung up. What I really wanted to do was yell down the phone “HOW DARE YOU CALL ME DURING A WASHING CRISIS!”

I made a cup of tea and persuaded myself to be philosophical about the situation. It could be worse, I reasoned. I could be the mother of refluxy twins with diarrhoea whose washing machine has actually broken down … and at least I have the next instalment of The Washing Saga to tell my former colleague next time she comes to visit!