from around here

What motherhood looks like right now

There was a time where I thought it was insane to bring 3 kids out alone, but those days are over because last week, I took all 4 of them out on the bus. Alone.

Truett had to stay back for swimming lessons in school and the other 3 wanted to tag along to pick him up so I thought, yeah why not, right? How hard could this be? Turns out, actually not that bad. This buddy system is the best thing ever invented. Kirsten watched the two little boys on the way there, and Tru took over as Theo’s buddy on the way back. Easy peasy.

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I suppose this is what they call skills upgrading. Next upgrade: 5 babies.


I generally like bedtime, but bedtime with this baby is out of control.

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I thought I’d seen the cheekiest baby (Kirsten!) but this Theo is a new level of ridiculous. He has no downtime and he doesn’t even make the slightest effort to try to fall asleep. He’ll sing and talk and be like all play for 2 hours on the bed and just as I’m about to give up, he will flop his head onto the pillow, pretend to close his eyes in the most cherubic way possible and say “VERY TIRED!!”

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The first time he did this, I totally fell for it like “woah, did he finally fall asleep??” but then it was just his way of toying with my feelings because 5 seconds later, he jumped up and laughed like it was a huge joke and he got me.


Finally, he’ll insist on lying directly on top of my chest in order to fall asleep, which would have been great at any other time, but with baby Hayley getting to be the size of a papaya, having another baby lie on top of me is like being suffocated with cuteness. For better or worse, I can’t ever resist feeling the weight of a chubby baby on my chest.


I don’t know how this happened but Finn is a dreamboat through and through.

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He’s got this way of making people feel special without even trying. This is the kid who would stop right in the middle of a playground session and run over to whisper in my ear “I need to tell you a secret…I love you, mom!”

Sometimes when we’re out with friends, he’ll go up to the aunties to give them a hug or quietly hold their hand without being asked to do so. And I can see it in their eyes – instant heart melt.

So on most afternoons, the kids have a regular playground date with a group of other kids near our apartment and yesterday, I spotted Finn running back with an armful of dried sticks/leaves that he had picked from the ground. I tried to make him throw them away but he was adamant that these were flowers and he needed to give them to all the girls. I was like “first of all, those aren’t flowers. They’re dried sticks and girls generally don’t what them. Also, why do you need to give them to all the girls??”

But he needed to, and who am I to say no to chivalry? Although I was pretty certain the girls wouldn’t want them.

I was wrong though, because the next thing I knew, he was distributing them to a bunch of girls and guess what? They all took the dried sticks like it was roses on Valentine’s day.

Looks like I’m not the only one who finds it impossible to say no to this face.

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Learning to listen

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn as a mom is to listen. Like really take the time to hear them out when it matters.

So this happened yesterday evening.

It’s our usual evening roundup where the big kids will go shower themselves while I sort out the babies and clean up the house before we all gather for our book/chocolate milk/evening snack session. By the time Tru, Finn and Theo were showered and changed, I went in to check on Kirsten to discover that she had spent the past five minutes going to town on the entire bathroom (walls, ceiling, shelves, mirror, lamp) with the shower spray. Everything was soaked. Meanwhile, she was still very dry and noticeably un-bathed.

When I’m presented with a situation like this where my child is doing something they should not be doing, my immediate solution is to SHUT. IT. DOWN. and put a swift end to it.

This is where I suppose the listening parent would take the time to find out why this is happening but I’m still in the process of acquiring this skill and I’m not one to be all, “Um sweetie, may I enquire as to why you are causing a tsunami in the bathroom? Is something on fire?”

Instead, I delivered one of my perfected mom geyser beams and told her she had exactly 60 seconds to get her act together. As I walked out of the bathroom, I heard her sobbing while frantically trying to set a new shower record like it’s the third act of an epic greek tragedy. Which it isn’t. I mean, she’s in this predicament because of the poor choices she’s made and I was also considering having her sent straight to bed for a timeout.

But after I got her dried off and changed (all the while still sobbing), I thought I’d try the listening strategy. It was very uncharacteristic behaviour from my most responsible child who tries her best to be a good kid. This girl is the one I can count on to do the right thing at the right time and nothing crushes her more than to know that we’re disappointed with her actions. She’ll take any disciplinary action we dole out in stride but it breaks her little heart when she knows she’s been less than exemplary.

Also, I was very interested to hear what possible reason she could come up with to explain away my water-logged toilet.

“Hey baby, what was that about?” I asked as gently as I could.

She just kept sobbing.

“I’m really trying to hear you out. I’m sorry I was fierce. Talk to mommy, ok?”

“I wasn’t playing. I just wanted to make sure there were no lizards in the toilet,” she said between sobs.

URGHHHHH, I did not see that coming. That was a very good one indeed. I couldn’t have come up with a better explanation if I tried.

//The back story is that last week, she ran out screaming after getting ambushed by a fat, juicy lizard mid-shower and has been traumatised ever since. And as a first-hand survivor of a mid-shower lizard attack, I know exactly how terrifying this is. I, too, have a lizard radar to secure my surroundings before every shower, except my system is more advanced and does not require hosing down the entire toilet.

This was turning out to be a greek tragedy after all. Poor helpless girl gets raided by scary lizard and while trying to check for more lizards, she gets yelled at by tyrant mom.

There was a lot of hugging and some more sobbing and I told her I was sorry for getting mad and that I’ll teach her my anti-lizard perimeter sweep.


In the midst of the mayhem that goes on everyday, it takes a very conscious effort to hear them out especially when it seems like a waste of time. And the truth is, most of the time, it won’t be legit because kids act up without thinking things through a lot and then we’ll have to yell at them to wake up their idea. But occasionally, it is legit and if we don’t take the time to listen, we’ll never know the difference.

This is really hard. I thought having them as infants was the hardest part but that’s just physical exhaustion to deal with and they make up for it by looking at you with adoring eyes all day like you’re the greatest human being on earth.

The growing up part, that takes so much more out of you. We’ll just have to figure this out together.

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from around here

The real deal

If I had to describe it, parenting 4 kids is like moving from crisis to crisis all day with very brief commercial breaks of warm and fuzzy mom moments.

Like at any given point, someone will have a problem that needs fixing. Or a situation that requires immediate attention NOW MOM!! Or someone else is in my face about needing a snack/cookie/goldfish refill. Or the baby is facing imminent mortal danger.

That’s on a good day.

On the not so good days, someone is pooping on the floor while two other someones are engaged in a yelling match about whose turn it is to hold random object while one more someone is trying to lo hei their noodles like it’s鱼生. Nobody wants to learn their 听写 and then five minutes later, someone is calling someone else a grouchie pouchie, upon which that someone else loses it and starts crying about how “names are mean and it’s not fair”. And I have to yell at everyone because hey, if you can’t beat them, join them right?

On these sort of days, it’s like I’m on netflix, where there ain’t no commercial breaks of fuzziness.

I don’t even want to think about how it’ll be like when baby Hayley comes along because I like to avoid my problems until I have no choice and absolutely have to deal with them.

This one particularly tough day, I declared it a playground day and sent them all out to let off some steam and Kirsten was all “mom, mommmmm, come quick, you need to take a photo of us.” So I ran back into the house to grab my iphone and I come out to see this.

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In this one moment, it feels like the entire day has been the commercial break and this is the real deal. This fleeting moment that tells me I’m doing an excellent job at raising these kids.

I’ve been nailing this parenting gig all day – one more day of crises averted and everyone is (relatively) happy. And I can do this again tomorrow.