Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bittersweet perspective

One of the truest things I have come to know about motherhood is that the days can feel like years, while the years go by like days.  Early motherhood was not easy for me.  I started out with no pram, no cot but a homemade sling, a pile of flat cloth nappies I had made myself in bright pink cow print, and oodles of idealism.  When told we couldn't be released from hospital unless we had a car seat installed, we said no problem - we were going home with the baby in a sling on the train!

It wasn't easy though.  I struggled with no sleep and being in the middle of my degree, the frustration of my life being on hold for this tiny, irrational being who inspired such terrifying extremes of emotion.  Old ladies would stop me and between reprimanding me for not dressing my child warmly enough, instruct me to "treasure these times, they grow so fast".  I would only nod in a sleep-deprived haze and had no idea what they were talking about.

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When I moved to the western suburbs, I hardly knew anyone.  Days would stretch out in seemingly interminable boredom.  Then I found Hausfrau and nearby Fels Park.  Now the parks throughout the municipality are being upgraded, but many used to be pretty crappy five years ago.  Modern Fels Park was always guaranteed to be full and you could perch on the sandpit and have someone to talk to, even if it was nothing more than that banal, ritualistic "And how old is she?" question.  I guess "how many times have you lost it so far today?" is a bit personal!

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So Hausfrau was a refuge for me during those times.  It is grown up enough to feel like you are not totally compromising yourself in the cafe equivalent of a McDonalds playground.  The coffee is old-school Genovese and usually great (the boss, in pink Euro housewife-chic kerchief, makes the best coffee).

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I love their mini cakes which are perfect, just enough for a child or an adult, especially when you are still wearing threadbare maternity clothes a year later!

Hausfrau helped a lot and things got better.  My babies turned into curious, delightful toddlers and funny, effervescent preschoolers.  I met wonderful, like-minded people and made an amazing community here in Footscray.

My children still frustrate me.  I lament the lack of spontaneity, endless sisyphean cleaning and a feeling of moving through molasses, that it takes so long to cook a meal or leave the house.  I still complain about stupid things.  Then suddenly an incredibly brave friend's baby daughter is diagnosed with leukaemia and everything just seems to fall away in total insignificance.

J, it is all so unfair.  You are so positive and always have been through everything.  When you are ready for a coffee and cake delivery (mini or maxi!), just call.


  1. My mother in law was diagnosed with Lymphoma cancer and our whole world went from bright to dark. It really puts everything into perspective and all the petty things you used to complain about seem so insignificant.

    No matter what, life is beautiful when you are healthy and have people around you who love you. Thats all we really need.

    Thats what i have learned anyways.

    All the best to your friend and her child. I know it ain't easy. If it weren't for the big J then i wouldn't have made it anyhere. Beautiful song.

  2. Thanks for a lovely chat at the party today. It's great to meet other lovely Footscrayites and I feel really happy knowing that my community of friends is expanding. I can really relate to how you felt during the early years in Footscray and also to that slow, frustrating & isolated feeling slowly lifting.

    I am so sorry to hear about your friend's child. It's really shitty. I couldn't listen to the song as I knew it would make me burst into tears.


    Thanks for sharing this personal tid-bit.. As I said this morning, it's important for your blog to have a little bit of your heart in it.


  3. Hi Marine... Thanks for your kind words. You are right - all we need are people that love us, and the gift of good health. Everything else is just a bonus.

    Hi Ashley, so lovely to meet you too! Thanks for the reassurance. I understand, I still cry every time I hear the song and I have listened to it a million times.

    An update - my friend's daughter has Down syndrome and apparently Downs babies have a much higher chance of getting leukaemia but also the form they get is apparently a well-treatable one. So still awful news but there are rays of hope.

  4. Love this post. Over and above food and restaurant posts, I feel so touched when someone I've been reading for so long shares so honestly and deeply.

  5. By the way Lauren, I mentioned I have a blog too- the address is Pretty much a frugality/health/family/community/mummy blog (yeah.. real narrow subject area hey!?)

    Would love to see you.


  6. I'm glad to hear there's a place (specifically, a cafe) you can go to seek solace and have some much needed alone time from all the madness in Life. Motherhood isn't easy and I have nothing but the utmost respect for you women. We can probably never match up to the selfless things you've done for us even if we tried, so we appreciate every single thing nonetheless. The song is fantastic too. Good stuff and all the best with everything, Lauren! You're such a star!

  7. Sad post - I shall pray for your friend and her baby. It really does put things into perspective.

  8. Brilliant post, especially so for such devastating news. I'm thinking about them.

  9. Lauren, you're a wise and wonderful woman. Many a new mother would benefit from reading this. As I learned from being alongside my sister for the birth of her son, there are so many expectations and so little support for new moms out there. I can only imagine the comfort my sister would have found in you!

    Sending many a positive wave of support to your friend and her daughter.


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