22 January 2012

A baby changes everything, including your clothes

What do salad dressing and baby spew have in common? They are both liquids. They are both related to the act of eating. They both also have a scientifically unproven talent for projecting themselves onto white silk shorts.
In my previous life as one half of a double-income-no-kids partnership, I freely purchased items of clothing as they appealed to me. The restrictions I placed on such items were few and flexible. Fit, budget and style factor were at the top of my list.
As if having a child hasn’t changed my life in enough ways already, I now realise that my clothes buying habits will also have to be altered. Last month’s shopping trip in Melbourne was the first one since the birth of my son, so naturally I was keen to try on anything that accentuated my waistline. Elastic-topped maternity jeans be gone! Since I had been living in stretchy yoga pants and any t-shirt old enough to be able to stretch over my baby belly, some high waisted white silk shorts presented themselves as the perfect candidate.
Looking back now, it must have been because my husband was looking after our son on said shopping trip, that I forgot that I am currently spending most of my days feeding, changing and bathing a spewy, dribbly, pooey infant. So I bought the shorts.
The first time I wore these magnificent, sumptuous shorts I was also hosting a BBQ at my house. I made all kinds of wonderful salads. And dressed them. With olive oil and soy sauce. And my shorts got in the way.
It could happen to anyone, I hear you laugh, if they are stupid enough to wear WHITE SILK shorts at a BBQ. But hey, the occasions to wear such precious items are significantly fewer these days. So, yes, I was wearing the white silk shorts.
Next stop: dry cleaners. A week or so later, having paid for my shorts to be fresh and white again, I lovingly brought them home and set them in the wardrobe, still in their plastic bag. The very next day I received a surprise phone call from my best friend, saying she’s flying up from Sydney for the day and wants to meet me for lunch.
It was perfect shorts-wearing weather, around 28° and sunny, and I donned my special shorts for only the second time as my son lay playing happily on his mat. Looking smashing, keys in hand, I scooped him up off the floor and onto my hip. As I headed for the door, his mouth opened and a cascade of vomit spilled over his lip and all over the two of us. Unobstructed by his denim overalls or my top, like a tiny white water rapid the vomit tumbled down all the way to my shorts.
I was so naive. Blinded and selfish even. Now I have one who cares nought for fine clothes and special occasions, but makes me smile more than those things ever could. Glamour is nothing. Practicality is everything.
If only the care label had read, “Do not wear in the company of small children”.

4 January 2012

Crossing Over

I’ve crossed over. Not in the creepy John Edwards TV show psychic sense, but in the child-becoming-adult sense. I know, I know. Didn’t I pass puberty about 15 years ago? But it seems there was one last bastion of childhood still remaining. Now I am even an adult when it comes to Christmas.

My first Christmas with my son officially marks the end of me as one of the children on Christmas Day, having gifts and food lovingly showered upon me by my parents and grandparents, with not much needed from me in return. I always gave presents too, of course, but I belonged to the youngest generation, the one at the end of the line. Now I am a parent, and my son has taken my place, in fact the place of all my siblings, in receiving the fun, joy and deliciousness that we have prepared for him.

This year we hosted Christmas at our house, which further cemented the transition of my husband and I from beneficiary to benefactor. We had a huge shopping list, we decorated the table, we organised the drinks esky, we even cooked the meat. The MEAT! Talk about responsibility. It was wonderful! Perfectly crackled pork with juicy flesh and sweet apricot stuffing… Oh, yes, and the feeling of our new found responsibility was awesome too.

We give and receive presents every year like normal people; choosing, wrapping, stacking them under the tree. But this year was different. The only presents that mattered were the ones marked “to Seth”, which outnumbered all other relatives at a ratio of about 5 to 1. It didn’t matter what the present was, we all leaned forward eagerly awaiting the look of wonder and fascination to cross his face when he ripped into the paper to find what lay inside. Then he would hit it (his current exploration technique), and we would all laugh and feel happy and declare it to be the best Christmas ever!

As a kid you are completely oblivious to the machinations behind putting on a such big celebration. The planning, budgeting, shopping and cooking. But I’ve just realised that that’s what makes it special. How many times have we said that giving is better than receiving? Well, I think giving the event, the production of Christmas, is even more rewarding than giving actual gifts. A gift will be opened and admired, and you will be thanked. You will probably even receive one in return.

On the other hand, the experience of a beautiful day will be shared and remembered, and there is no need to repay you in kind because it’s impossible to do. Just a face full of smiles, and you will happily do it again and again because you can. And because adults get to do whatever they want.