Thursday, May 5, 2011

More things I have learned about parenting

Since the last time I posted about what I had learned as a parent, His Highness has grown and, along the way, has delighted in teaching me even more (the hard way, of course.)

  1. It is a truth universally acknowledged that if your child is doing something extraordinarily cute and camera worthy, they will instantly stop as soon as the camera comes out. 
  2. This will also happen if you ask them to demonstrate their new trick for a family member or friend. They're like the singing frog from the Warner Brothers cartoon.
  3. A warning to all parents in the first five rows: You will get wet. And vomited on. And pooped on. And still be expected to cuddle your darling toddler afterwards.
  4. You will find yourself singing the theme tune to The Hoobs, Chuggington or whatever your child's program of choice is at the top of your lungs. Doesn't sound so bad? Did I mention you'll be in the middle of Woolies when you do so?
  5. You'll find yourself speaking parentese. To outsiders it looks a bit like this: Child: (incomprehensible jibberish) You: I suppose so, but you'll need to wear old clothes and put a tarp down first.
  6. You will find that spending money on your child is actually just as much or more fun than spending it on yourself. Except the part when you realise that adding the word "child" to any product instantly ups the price of said product. A bit like weddings in that regard.
  7. Along the same lines, you'll keep boxes from deliveries for the kid to play with. 
  8. You will find yourself really, really looking forward to Mother's Day, dropping hints and reminders to your long-suffering husband ad nauseum. You will also insist that it is not just a Hallmark holiday, but a well-deserved day of worship for all mothers everywhere.
  9. You will eventually say "Won't somebody please think of the children?" Sorry, you will. But don't worry, you'll also learn to use it sarcastically. 
  10. When you're with your child, you'll be counting down the hours until your next break. When you're not, you'll feel bereft and count down the hours until you see them again. Welcome to parenthood.
  11. The older your child gets, the more likely it is that he or she will like something you don't like or understand. His Highness likes that appallingly nauseating remake of The Magic Roundabout. Do no get!
  12. You'll be able to spot people who like children and people who don't a mile away. The former will the ones running toward you squealing in delight. The latter will be the ones running away squealing in disgust.
  13. You won't be able to think of a 13th item for your list because you have The Hoobs theme tune stuck in your head.
  14. Parenting doesn't so much get easier as it does become a learned skill. The hard part comes when you finally learn a needed skill and your child starts challenging you in a new and inventive way. 
  15. Worrying about your child will become a new way of life.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Then and now

When we last saw His Highness, he looked a little something like this:

And now, he's more like this:

My how times have changed!

His Highness is working on his own update. He tells me he wants to share his adventures with this "walker" contraption and with this giant bath called a "swimming pool." Coming soon to a Blogger near you!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ye olde fresh starte

As my (few) followers would note, Writer Mama (and Son) has been in some kind of hibernation. The hiatus was not entirely planned, however it came about through life being that thing that happen when you're busy making other plans.

In August of last year, I started my major piece for my Masters degree. As you can imagine, this took considerable work and I had to lay aside any non-major piece related creative pursuits (much to my chagrin.) There were days I needed to find a baby-sitter just to get anything done!

But now, I have completed my Masters (I wear the silly hat in March) and now have the time to devote to Writer Mama (and Son) again! Stay tuned - I have written a great many posts in my head!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why every writer needs a journal and every mother should write

As a writer, I don't know where I would be without my journal.

As a mother, my journal is my private space, the one thing that is only for me.

The reasons for each are manifold and lead me to believe that (as the title so cleverly suggests) that all writers should journal and that all mothers should write, too. I recognise that is a sweeping statement and I fully acknowledge that. Bear with me while I explain my reasons.

First of all, as a writer our words are always under critique, if not from our editors then from ourselves. We can't put pen to paper without wondering if we've spelt this word right, if that word should be different or if there is a stronger or more accurate version of it. We wonder about flow, we worry about pacing. We second guess grammar and we rewrite the same sentence no less than five times. In a sense, once you become a writer, your writing and your words are no longer your own.

Enter the journal. In the journal, there is no one to critique you, except your own internal critic (and you'd do well to send them on vacation while journaling). There is usually no opportunity to rewrite, unless you don't mind scribbles or white out. Spelling, grammar, punctuation and correct word usage be damned. True, open, unhindered journaling necessitates that your words must come first - if they come out slightly gobbledy goop, then that just expresses how you were in that moment.

In short, the journal is just for the writer. In the journal, the writer can reclaim their words.

"Ok, I take your point!" You say. "But why do mothers need to write then? What does mothering have to do with writing?"

Writing is a form of creation and motherhood has everything to do with creation. I don't know about other mothers but after I had His Highness, I felt I was bubbling over with creativity. The act of creating life seems to set off the spark of creation that was always lurking inside but needed the proper fuel to ignite. If that creativity is going to boil over anyway, you may as well stick a pen or keyboard infront of it.

Secondly, mothers rarely have much time or space to themselves. We may willingly give it up but that doesn't mean we don't crave the ability to close the door and have a room to ourselves. If a mother keeps a journal, she can recreate that room in a tangible, though not identical, sense. She can have a space where she is not Mummy, she is just herself. I can't speak for all mothers in the world but I am a better mother when I have space to let myself out and stretch her legs.

Finally, childhood passes by so quickly. It seems that kids go from newborns to moving out in the blink of an eye. Writing, in a journal, blog or in the form of short stories or letters, can record those little moments that make up a childhood so a mother can relive them, even after their child has their own children. They can revisit their newborn whenever they feel they are missing them.

For writers and mothers, journaling and private creative writing provide two essential things: 1. A sense of privacy. 2. A sense of self. I invite you to take the reins of each and make them your own again by sending your inner critic packing, picking up a nice pen and letting the creativity boil over.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Writer Bubba (and Mum)?

I think I might have a Writer Bubba on my hands. He is actually typing away there, pretending to be like his Writer Mama.

It also appears he is fond of books! His Highness's favourite game at the moment is to tear all of my Mercedes Lackey books off the shelf, then mouth, lick and examine each in turn. Not only is he a Writer Bubba, he also has the same taste in books as his Mama (sometimes literally)!

Editor's note: This post does not imply in any way that the Writer Mama, Nicky, spends time licking her books. It was simply a bad pun and a demonstration of the style of humour employed by the author.

Writer Mama's note: Editor's note included to further demonstrate style of humour employed by me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

New look!

I thought it was time to freshen up Writer Mama (and Son) with a brand new look (new header not included.) I hope you like it as much as I do.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Confessions of a bookish mother (shameless plugs included)

You know, sometimes, when you're out and about shopping, you see a mother in a cafe, book in hand, trying to sip a cold coffee while cuddling her baby. Or you see her in Dymocks or Borders, holding up books to her baby's face and asking their opinion. She appears genuinely interested in their opinion on the latest in parenting manuals.

I am that mother.

Yes, I confess, I am a bookish mother. It stands to reason, considering I am a writer. Rather than continue to wax poetic about the ins and outs of being a bookish mother, I thought I would indulge myself by sharing my favourite parenting and writing books as of 2010 (some are about both parenting and writing!)


My Favourite Parenting and/or Writing Books in No Particular Order

1. The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley
If I convince you to read no other book on parenting, please read this one.

This book almost literally saved my husband and my lives during the first few months of His Highness's life. it helped us to solve the one problem that all parents, especially of newborns, most desperately want to solve.

How the heck do we get our baby to SLEEP?

Before His Highness was born, I was determined that he should learn to sleep through the night without resorting to the cry-it-out method, a parenting choice I happen to despise (I promise a detailed explanation later). Before we read this book, His Highness would fuss and fuss when we put him to bed. His average bedtime was 11pm. He had around six night wakings before morning. We tried everything we could think of to get him to sleep more, barring CIO. We didn't expect our baby to sleep though but we did hope that he would sleep between feeds! Enter The No-Cry Sleep Solution.

This book does not promise miracles or sleep beyond realistic expectations of a newborn or baby. The book actually begins with a table to illustrate how much sleep an average baby of x age usually gets and how many wakings you can expect. Straight off the bat, any myths of a newborn baby sleeping eight unbroken hours are dashed. That's a good thing - realistic expectations = less frustration with reality.

Secondly, this book is lousy with ideas and suggestions that do not involve leaving a baby to cry. We tried anything we thought might help His Highness.

Fast forward to now. His Highness is currently in bed asleep. He's been there for the past three hours. I expect he may wake at midnight for a nappy change and then go back to sleep until Daddy gets up in the morning. His bedtime is now 7:00pm, though he sometimes doses off for a little while at 5:00pm. He gets up at 6:00am. This has been the pattern since he was about three months old.

So, did you want to read that book now?

2. Your Baby and Child by Penelope Leach
If you see me reading this book, you may suspect I have channelled my inner Noddy (for the record, my car is red with no hint of yellow and my husband's ears are a perfectly sensible size.) I haven't, obviously, it's just that I agree so vehemently with Dr. Leach's parenting philosophy that I find myself nodding and exclaiming "Exactly!" at about every second paragraph.

This author knows her stuff. She knows child development. She knows how children think. She knows the dos and don'ts of parenting a baby and child. She can rattle off a plethora of workable, sensible parenting solutions that are in-keeping with the stage of development of the child in question. She advocates up to date knowledge, parenting that supports attachment and parenting choices made with the baby or child's needs in mind, not just the parents. She's not a softie, she's a no-nonsense advocate for children.

3. Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids by Christina Katz
The thing that I love the most about this book is that the author doesn't fill all 300 pages with encouraging "You can do it!" statements. Instead it tells you "This is HOW you WILL do it!" The former might make me feel good but the latter gives me something to do and then the resulting sense of achievement makes me feel good.

Before I read this book, my writing career was something that came "after." After His Highness is at school. After I graduate. After I've done this. After I've done that. Now, my writing career is something that is integrated into my life. Writing is something I do once the baby is in bed or while he naps. I do it while he is playing with Daddy.

If you want to be a Writer Mama (or even a Writer Papa or just a Writer), this book will show you how. It'll show you how to get published and make money before your first novel is sold. It's already given me ideas I would never have considered but am now pursuing.

Before I read this book, I was a mother wanting to be a writer. Now, I am a Freelance Writer and a Writer Mama.

Yes, the book title did partially inspire my blog title but to the best of my knowledge, the term has been in use for some time.

4. Living With Kids and Dogs (without losing your mind) by Colleen Pelar
Many people think I am crazy for adding a dog to my family when I already have a baby. And they'd be right. Fortunately, this book has helped me to get through the challenge of raising a fur- and biological baby without completely losing my mind.

This book is practical, practical and did I mention this book is practical? That is exactly what every parent and dog owner needs - a practical guide to managing both. The practical suggestions are offered in an encouraging manner that helps you to see how dogs think and how to use that to you and your child's advantage.

This book also includes warning signs that your dog is becoming or may become child aggressive, that they are jealous or see your child as a rival. It includes things you should never allow your child to do to your dog and drills into you the idea that even the best dogs can bite if provoked badly or often enough. The author is all about safety - for the child and the dog.

If you are looking for a book to help you deal with the wonderful lunacy of owning a dog and raising a child, this book may help.

5. The New Diary by Tristine Rainier
I have kept a journal since I was 11 years old. Since then, I've been known to be fairly rabid about it. However, like all long-term journalers, sometimes, I hit a rut. Sometimes, I'm so far into the rut I've no clue what to do with a shovel, even if you had one to dig myself out.

This book teaches you a new definition of the proverbial shovel and hands it to you so you can dig yourself out of that metaphorical hole-as-rut.

For those new to journaling, it gives you the tools and offers suggestions on how to get started without boxing you into one form of journaling. This is not a book about writing a date and filling in who you saw, what you ate and what classes you took. This is a book about self-expression and analysis in a way that best fits you.


Now, if you will excuse me, I have some reading to do. Right after I've finished writing for the night. Before I go, though, I'd like to ask you what your favourite books on parenting and/or writing are?