Home alone


I’ve just waved goodbye to my husband and daughters, closing the gate behind them, not to see them again until tomorrow afternoon. They’re off to visit the ‘nanny and poppy with the birds’ – Aidan’s parents, as distinct from mine who have a cat.

I’ve sent Elspeth off before, usually to the ‘nanny and poppy with the cat’. I’ve gone out alone. But since Evelyn’s birth I have not spent any more than an hour or so at home by myself.

I confess to a small sniffle and the wiping of a tear after I shut the gate behind my family. Off they go to have fun, while I stay at home to get some work done on an essay.

The silence is kind of nice. I do think I will enjoy my time alone, with nobody else’s needs pressing mine lower in the priority list. But I will miss Evelyn’s funny laugh and toothless grin, and Elspeth’s enthusiastic hugs and wet sloppy kisses. Although I don’t think I’ll miss being woken up at 3am.

So it’s 9.30am. I’m going to have a shower, get this place cleaned up a bit (we have an inspection coming up) and then get stuck into addressing this essay question: Why was witchcraft a crime in Early Modern Europe?

Creamy chicken and mushroom pasta (gluten free, lactose free)

I made this one up on the fly, although obviously based it on meals previously eaten. Turned out great!



1 clove of garlic, crushed or chopped

500 grams of chicken, cubed

2-3 rashers of bacon, chopped

5-6 mushrooms, chopped

1 pack of gluten free pasta (San Remo)

1-2 tablespoons lactose free cream (Zymil)


Heat some oil in a large saucepan, and start some water boiling in another pan.

In the large pan, cook the garlic and chicken. Add the bacon after a couple of minutes. While they cook, start cooking the pasta.

Shortly before the pasta is ready, add the mushroom to the chicken. Strain the pasta when done, and add to the large pan with everything else.

Turn off the heat, and then add the cream and stir everything.

Serve with parmesan cheese and/or cracked pepper.

The things they do

There are certain things that happen in this house that make me laugh and say to myself, ‘This would never happen in a house with no kids.’ So here goes…

You’ve know there’s a toddler in the house when…

Most of your conversations are with a toy lion.

You find coins in your bed because they were tired and needed a nap.

Discussions about bowel movements become commonplace.

No matter the preceding conversation, when asked, ‘What was the crab’s name?’ you immediately answer ‘Sebastian.’

You know the theme songs from at least eighteen different cartoon shows.

You never want to see a page of ‘Goodnight Moon’ ever again.

Party hats can be, and often are, worn on any day or any occasion.

Some of the most in-depth discussions you have are spoken into a toy phone.

A brown smear has an equal chance of being vegemite, chocolate, or poop.

Shoes must be checked for toys before being donned.

Song lyrics are flexible and often entirely made up.

There are certain words you habitually spell out, Dolly Parton style, to avoid being understood.


What toddler-specific things happen in your house?

The ‘prison’ of motherhood

Some French woman with an over-inflated opinion of herself apparently thinks that modern motherhood is a prison. She seems to think that the expectations on mothers and the things we do are shackles, diminishing us, and defining us by our children.

All I can say is, if you feel that way, you’re doing it wrong.

Everybody is different, and I feel that making over-arching generalisations about a massive group of people – mothers, in this case – is far too simplistic and very unrealistic. Every mother does things differently in her life, parents in a different manner, and feels differently about it.

Some mothers do feel that they need to do everything ‘right’, and some do stress about that. That could be seen as a trap, but if it is, it’s one of a mother’s own making.

Other mothers, such as myself and (I think) most of my friends, are really quite relaxed about the whole thing. I’m not even sure what she means by the ‘intensive, over-enmeshed parenting trend’; yes I stay home with my kids, but that’s a choice I’ve made for my own reasons, and I have no resentment or feelings of imprisonment because of it.

In fact there is a kind of freedom in being a stay at home mum. I have few appointments, not much in the way of a schedule, I can do what I like when I want to. I’m never in a rush when I go shopping, which means we can go to the playground or wander leisurely around Target. If I want to sit on Facebook all day, I can do that – the kids are far more understanding than a boss would be! At a moment’s notice I can take off to my parents’ place with them, effectively giving myself a holiday (my parents are exceedingly helpful with the kids when we’re there).

I would argue that being part of the workforce is far more imprisoning than being a mother. If you disappoint a boss or refuse his request, you’re likely to be reprimanded, have pay docked, or maybe even get fired! But here, in my home, I am the boss! Show me something more free than being your own boss and working from home!

Prison? You’re doing it wrong, lady.

Overcoming shyness

For their entire lives – that’s almost three years in one case – both of my daughters have been home with me and have seen relatively few strangers. In consequence, they’ve both been wary, afraid, or shy when unknown or forgotten people are around.

In recent weeks these symptoms, in both girls, have been declining. Elspeth has been speaking to cashiers in shops; Evelyn has allowed herself to be held by others for longer periods of time.

But last night, with the visit of our friend Andrew, I think their transformation is complete! Rather than shyness, Elspeth displayed excitement and had lots of fun and games with him. Rather than screams, Evelyn was full of smiles for our tallest friend.

It’s great to see, and it alleviates a concern I’d had that my children would be poorly socialised and unprepared for things like kindergarten, school, and extracurricular activities. I’m now confident that, one way or another, they will be fine. I’m considering enrolling Elspeth into childrens’ dance classes soon, and I’m sure she’ll love it!

Close to crawling

Evelyn is nearly seven months old, and for the last week or so she’s been managing to get up onto her hands and knees. She’s doing it more often, with more confidence, and I’m sure she’ll be crawling very soon!

It’s a lovely achievement, of course, it’s great to see and it’s an important milestone. But mobility is an added burden to a parent! It means not knowing exactly where your child is, it means needing to put many objects up higher so she can’t reach them, it means an increased risk of accidents and injury. More worries!

She is also sitting up really well now, and I’m confident in leaving her sitting on the floor while I do other things – I no longer need to hover over her ready to catch! I plonk her down and put a few toys within reach, and she has a lovely time. At least until Elspeth steals the toys!

On quotes

Throughout history there have been many memorable people who have done, believed, and said many memorable things. The passage of time removes context and intent, and we are left with quotes.

Quotes are pulled out willy-nilly by all and sundry, from prominent politicians to youtube commenters, and are used to explain or justify anything at all. They are often used in a fragmentary form, or with a word or two changed, or simply in context not originally intended, and these factors can change the meaning or implication of the quote.

And yet we still treat quotes like authorities. If somebody famous said it, and it has been remembered for so long, we seem to reason, it must be right. Never mind that somebody equally famous said something entirely contradictory!

But it makes life easier. If we are quoting somebody, we don’t need to think. A quote is a short-cut going straight from premise to conclusion, bypassing explanation. It is a replacement of reason and critical analysis.

When presenting an argument or a point of view, do try to make it your own. Justify yourself in your own words. It will gain you more respect, and will demonstrate that you’ve really thought about what you’re saying. It will also hold more relevance for your topic and circumstances.

Always remember that Gurdjieff said, ‘You must go on trying to be sincere.’ But Lowell said, ‘Sincerity is impossible.’

And you can quote me.