It’s cool to be a bit crap

With a short (but welcome) burst of school and kinder again this week, I’ve found myself taking stock of my winning and non-so-winning moments these school holidays.

Let’s start with my great moments – the ones where I was patient, creative and engaged with the children.  I baked with them (to be honest, it was more for them than with them).   I painted and crafted with them (and then finished their projects when they got bored and drifted off).  I took them to the library, to live theatre and the movies.  I spent a whole day making over their bedroom until it was fit for the pages of a glossy coffee table magazine.  I even strapped my bewildered feet into ice skates for the first time ever, in a surprise mother-daughter bonding session.

Looks pretty impressive on paper, doesn’t it?

School holiday moments (the good ones)

My feel-good school holiday montage

But in the interests of transparency, I’ll also share some of my not-so-great moments. Such as the three days straight where it rained pretty much constantly, and the puppy crapped and pissed in the house a lot.  On those days, the children fought and sulked, I yelled (even though I realise it’s not cool), and frequently resorted to eating chocolate hiding behind the pantry door.  To be honest, I was a bit of a grumpy cow.

And what made my mood even more morose was that all of my friends seemed to be doing interesting, fun-looking stuff on Facebook and Instagram.  I wondered why I was stuck in a funk at home, while everyone else was (apparently) exploring Melbourne and revelling in their children’s company?

Social media can be a bugger like that at times.  Like when you’ve just stepped backwards into a puddle of urine (again) and thrown the dishcloth dramatically across the kitchen and bellowed WHY IS THE DOG INSIDE THE HOUSE AGAIN?  AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO EVER TAKES HER OUTSIDE FOR A WEE!!? At times like this, it can seem like everyone is a more creative, proactive and fun parent than you.

creative parenting

What’s wrong with me? Why didn’t I think to fashion superhero elements into the children’s clothing this morning? (image: Abbey Hendrickson)

But looking back on those grumpy cow moments, I’ve decided to cut myself a bit of slack, because the truth is that being in charge of little people doesn’t always make for a relaxing, uplifting experience.  At times it can be exhausting and (is it okay to say this?) pretty boring. I’m just not that into hide and seek. Or playing memory match, with the house a veritable pigsty around me.  Does that make me a crap parent?

What I suspect is that everyone has their crap parent moments.  We all lose the plot now and again, and say things we regret as soon as the words are out of our mouth (even the most excruciatingly patient, earth-mother types).  It’s just that we generally don’t broadcast them on social media.

And in the parenting stakes, I’m pretty sure it’s okay to be a bit crap now and then.  We’re human, after all.

So next time you read that blog post – from the amazing, inspiring tree change family who live in the idyllic farmhouse and gather organic vegetables, which they cook in their rustic kitchen and eat at their hand-crafted, reclaimed timber dining table every night … just imagine what doesn’t make it into the blog.

Like maybe sometimes the children refuse to wear the romantic gumboots and be photographed picking berries, and instead chuck an enormous tantrum and demand to play on their mother’s iphone, which she is constantly shoving in their face at every instagramable opportunity.

You’ve got to admit – it’s kind of fun to conjure up.

gumboots are so hot right now

Empty gumboots (image: Monica Hoinkis)



My (attempted) technology break

This weekend we put in some serious family bonding time, travelling down the Great Ocean Road, to a remote farm property near Johanna Beach.  A family love-in, if you will. With no wifi, and no 3G coverage.  Yeeeek.

When we arrived late Friday afternoon, we were greeted by the farm owners and their beautiful cattle dogs Charlie Brown and Zach.  They took us on a tour of the property, and encouraged us to use the produce as needed.

After 5 hours of togetherness in the car, all that space and fresh air was like a tonic to the soul.  I was just a little discombobulated, when I found I couldn’t access Instagram to post a picture of the kids with the dogs.

Zac the sheepdog

Looks like we have to get a dog then…

We were shown to our wooden cottage with views of the serene hills dotted with cows, sheep, and the occasional kangaroo.   Ah… the serenity.  And yet, I quickly worked out that if I stood on the balcony with my arms outstretched, I could sometimes get enough reception to refresh my Facebook feed.  

We also met a very opinionated sheep called Barbara, who was well-trained in the art of voice projection.

In the morning we were hounded out of bed by kids eager to check the nesting boxes for breakfast eggs and feed the sheep.  So off I trudged – sleepy, make-up-free and clad in sensible footwear.  I made sure my phone was securely in pocket, ready to capture the picking, plucking and gathering activities.  Annoyingly however, the sheep were unable, (or just unwilling) to divulge any secret wifi hotspots.

PlumsWe took to the road again Saturday for some obligatory sights – the Apostles, Port Campbell beach, and a cheese farm.  All beautiful.  And along the way, I checked my phone and found the sky hadn’t fallen in on social media.

Back at the farm that evening, we opened a bottle of sparkling for an anniversary toast, and took in the stunning view together for a few minutes.  But when Cam returned to cooking the dinner, and the kids went checking for eggs (again), I found myself walking 500 metres up a hill, to post this pic to Instagram.

Serenity... and Moet

Moet: meet the cows. Cows: this is Moet.

The farmer looked at me like I was a little bonkers, as I waved down to him – glass in one hand and phone in the other.  Maybe he was right.

After dinner (and handwashing of many dishes) we all sat together on the couch and indulged in a bit of Winter Olympics heckling and local cheese eating.  Now this was quality family time.  We turned in for an early night, while the fog rolled in and a gentle rain started on the iron roof.  Arguably the best sound around.

All in all it was a spectacular weekend away from my laptop.  And if it wasn’t for bloody Barbara and her nocturnal exclamations, I could say it’s the most tranquil few days I’ve had in as long as I can remember.

Barbara the sheep

Barbara (old windbag)