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Cake success and blogging from the driveway

The cake was an unmitigated success (if I do say so myself). The pre whizzed and frozen cake mix thawed and cooked and rose beautifully. I actually enjoyed the icing and decorating, and the whole thing got et. When asked what his favourite thing about the day was, Monkey replied “the caterpillar cake” without hesitation. I have to say, it felt pretty good. I’m unclear how I became infected with the cooking-a-good-birthday-cake-makes-me-good-mum cultural meme but I have. I could go on, but this mum’s done it for me (and if you haven’t discovered her brilliant crappy pictures blog yet click through – it’s rare that things I read on the interweb actually make me laugh out loud but this does). Ok nuff said about cakes (except that Sparrow turns one shortly and I can’t guarantee I won’t go through the whole bloody thing again).

I keep waiting for a moment (just me and my laptop) to blog in but it just doesn’t come. So instead I’m blogging from my phone while Sparrow sleeps in his car seat. I’m dreaming of a cup of tea but I know that if I go he will wake. So the payoff is a quiet moment in the driveway writing this. I hate the keypad though. It disturbs me that I can’t press down on the letters, that there’s no sense at all of imprinting. I want to feel the words going down, tactile, that up and down of actual keys (better yet inky lines and paper that smells of 15 and afternoons reading like I would never stop). But my phone is what I have with me, and I’m grateful to have gotten down something. Sparrow’s awake and thirsty. Fragile in the cool afternoon. Here we go again.

The Age book of the year awards (and a paper cup)

picture of front cover of fiona mcgregor's indelible inkSparrow is awake. We sit down at the very back and down on the stage is Fiona McGregor who won Book of the Year for Indelible Ink. There is also John Tranter and Jim Davidson, but it’s Fiona I want to hear. Sparrow sits on my lap and eats a ham and avocado sandwich and a slice of apple. He smears avocado (why didn’t I pack something neater?) through his eyebrows and down my left arm. The apple slice gets slick with saliva and drops from his hands. I pick it up. It drops. I pick it up. Jim speaks about his work like he was born on the stage. He hitches up his trousers and reveals thin white ankles that he crosses and uncrosses as he speaks. Sparrow stands and looks pleased. Then starts grizzling.

John is talking now about his one hundred and fifty poems and I unclip my bra, even though Sparrow’s not due for a feed. I bare my tattooed back to the volunteers and sound techs and Sparrow settles in for a good ten minutes. Then he’s finished and I give him an empty paper cup. He is sincerely chuffed and makes it known. I start getting pointed looks. Fiona has just begun to speak and I can’t stay. I walk out and Sparrow squeals and investigates the corrugated paper surface. As soon as he’s quiet we go back in. Repeat. Five times. Then it’s over and time to go home to a childcare pickup, fish and beans in the oven, rice on the floor, a lukewarm bath, tea on the couch, and something broken called sleep.

Breastmilk, catalogue searches and childcare

Crying baby

Image via Wikipedia

I can count on one hand the times I’ve had a child free moment (and by moment, I mean moment) since Sparrow was born. About two weeks ago I was pushing him along Sydney road, and he was crying, and it was spitting and cold and someone walking in front of me lit a cigarette and I got a lungful of chemical and he was crying and I needed a break. Right then. There was nothing to do but keep walking. So we did. Keep walking. And then it passed. Last week it happened again. Walking again, and crying again, and this tearing love in my chest that pins me down and makes me want to run at exactly the same time.

Monkey was fourteen months old before he started childcare. Guilt leached through my pores for weeks, but then there was this lift. A lightness on Tuesdays and Fridays, the anticipation of child free-ness. Sparrow will be eight months old on Monday, and today was his first (half) day in the Joey’s room. He had a donkey and a wrap that smelled like home in his backpack. I handed him over with my brave face and left and closed the door and cried, and felt like I had failed him.

At home. Alone. The Temper Trap. Tea. My laptop. A yellow formica kitchen table. Three phone calls. No wriggling baby on my lap. No Monkey saying “but I’m talking Mama”. Aching breasts. The library homepage. Breast pump. Catalogue search terms: feminist theory body. Eight pages of Butler and Irigaray and Kristeva and Grosz. My left hand pumps, pulling milk out and down, hot and white into the bottle, while my right scrolls and clicks. In twenty uninterrupted minutes I have one hundred and sixty mils of milk and fifty one items on my list. I call the library and discover I can borrow fifty items at a time. There are tiny dots of milk on my laptop screen. I leave them there, and put a library visit into my calendar, and wonder how to carry fifty books, and get my keys and the empty pram, and walk through the park to pick up my baby.