Eccen-trip Melbourne | Queen Vic Market

↑ This kid and her fruit! Checking out the produce at Queen Vic Market ↑

One of the things we want to try to do more of is getting out and about around Melbourne town with our kids. Maybe you like indoor play centres – no judgement – but I don’t. I want to get out and experience this great city of ours and I want my kids to do the same. In fact, Hazel has taken to asking me on a Thursday morning (our traditional day together, when I’m otherwise working) ‘What adventure will we go on today?’

This particular post is about my family’s regular, weekly adventure. It’s something we decided to start doing this year because a) going grocery shopping SUCKS but b) going grocery shopping is essential and c) lovely weekend family time is at a premium so c) let’s do a weekly family outing to the Vic Market on Sundays and kill two birds (one sucky one lovely one) with the one stone!

This one was a particularly special Eccen-trip because it was my birthday. The best part about that is that I led us around the market in a completely haphazard way, as is my wont, and John had to kinda cop it. We’d usually be a little more organised, a little less whimsical. But it’s my birthday and I’ll ramble if I want to.

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↑ Current favourite – Blood Oranges ↑IMG_0155
↑ Inside the covered Queen Vic deli! We have a ‘cheese guy’ and a ‘butter lady’ among other regulars ↑

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↑ Do not visit the Vic Market without trying a Borek ↑IMG_0162 IMG_0163

↑ First stop for me is always Market Lane for coffee ↑IMG_0170 IMG_0171

 

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Stranger Danger

 

Stranger Danger

Yesterday I went out and about with the kids to a shopping centre. Standard.

I was pushing Freddie in the pram while Hazel walked/skipped/ran/slouched along next to me. I passed a pop-up stall with some really cute kitten slippers so, naturally, I picked them up, asked for a size and chatted with the stallholder. Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around to see a middle-aged lady with a concerned look on her face who said: “I don’t want to tell you how to be a mum, but you should be careful turning your back on your baby. You heard about the baby kidnapped… from…” she tapered off, probably trying to recall which baby horror story she was referring to, perhaps realising she was actually thinking of an episode of Law and Order. I stood looking at her a bit dumbfounded. I couldn’t have been more than 15 centimetres from Freddie, the pram was practically touching my coat. The brake was on. Random clothing and other bits and pieces were hanging from the handles and shopping was messily and precariously piled in the basket underneath. Freddie was fast asleep and strapped into the capsule. And the exits were a fair way off. And there were a lot of people around. Hazel was standing in the way of any clear path out of there. And my pram is kinda hard to push when you first take the brake off… and I could probably go on and on and on about how awkward it would be for any would-be kidnapper to steal this particular baby right now, whichever way I was facing. But I’ll stop there.

(Deep breath)

We new parents have a lot to deal with.

There’s the baby, for one. They’re a handful. What with the crying and the pooping and the sleeping (or not sleeping) and the feeding (or not feeding). Who designed them to be so difficult?

Then there’s the rest of the family. Your spouse, perhaps another kid, your extended family. Lots of people need to be thought about when a new baby comes along. Relationships can change. Kids definitely change. Sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes it’s really challenging.

Then there’s your body. And that… I can’t even…

And then there are the Complete Strangers. On a list of ‘Things Not To Concern Yourself With When You’ve Just Had A Baby’, I’d say that ‘Complete Strangers’ comes in at number 1. Incidentally ‘The Dishes’ comes in at number 2. I just wish the Complete Strangers in question knew just how redundant they are.

You see, it isn’t the point they’re trying to make (I don’t doubt that someone somewhere sometime had their baby stolen from a shopping centre and that it was awful). It’s that these vigilante do-gooders don’t realise that their input is utterly irrelevant, out of context and potentially damaging. If pressed, my nosy stranger would have claimed good intentions; that she was saying it for my own good. But this simply isn’t  true. She was saying it for the feeling of being right, being validated, being important, being wise. She was expressing her own deep-set fears and anxieties, her own agenda. But it is misdirected: there are far fewer babies being kidnapped in shopping centres than there are brand new mums falling into the despair of post-natal anxiety, convinced they’re doing everything wrong. If she really wanted to do something for my own good, maybe just… don’t.

What makes it all so incredibly ironic is that in 2014, we have found ourselves living in an empathetically disconnected world. Where people rarely look up from their iPhones on public transport to offer their seats to the elderly. If someone starts a racist rant on the street, people desperately look the other way rather than speak up. But a frazzled mum gives her screaming toddler a lollipop in the supermarket and hell hath no fury like a complete stranger who just read I Quit Sugar.

So, vigilante strangers everywhere, I say this on behalf of every new parent:

Please shut up.

It actually doesn’t matter what you say. We’re not going to listen to you. We’re not going to like it. We’re sure as hell not going to act on it. (I have never once known a person to say to me “A lovely stranger told me off for taking my baby out in public today and I’m so glad she did! I’ll be sure to stay indoors for the next few months because random strangers on the street are universally known to be right.”) We’re not going to thank you. At best, we’re going to ignore you and if you see us playing with our phone afterwards then we are most DEFINITELY ranting about you on Facebook. So why bother? Resist the urge to scold and just shut up.

I don’t ask you to shut up because whatever it is you’re pedalling isn’t sage advice. I ask you to shut up for the plain and simple reason that you are a complete stranger, with zero knowledge of the baby or parent or situation in front of you and you should therefore please just shut up.

So the next time you’re out and you spy a parent ‘doing it wrong’ and you’re just itching to be helpful, take a deep breath and say the following:

“Your baby is beautiful.”

Believe me, you don’t know what kind of day that parent is having and saying that WILL help, if only in a small way.

And if you just can’t bring yourself to do that, go for the Do No Harm approach and please shut up.

I say this for your own good.

(This whole scenario ended with me turning my back on the nosy stranger in the hope that someone would kidnap her.)

My kid is a jerk, please don’t judge

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Exactly one year ago, I was a pretty smug biatch. I had a two-and-a-half year old daughter exhibiting absolutely no signs of the much maligned ‘Terrible Twos’ and I put it all down to the fact that I was the best mum in the goddam world. Obviously.

She said her pleases and thank-yous unprompted. She was kind and gentle with smaller children. She spoke politely, albeit eccentrically, to her elders. She never ran off – in fact, I often complained of having the opposite problem of her incessant dawdling.

The parents and their rude and rowdy tantrum-throwing toddlers, looking tired and defeated, were doing something wrong. I never said anything aloud to suggest it, but I judged them. And pitied them. And I went and got myself knocked up a second time because I was obviously so bloody good at raising angels.

A lot can change in a year.

Yesterday, my daughter yelled at a friend of mine, who was being so kind as to draw her a picture, that she DOESN’T LIKE GREEN! Not only untrue – she changes her favourite colour as often as her underwear and green has featured heavily – but incredibly rude.

Knowing she was adjusting to life with a new little brother, last week I took her out for a hot chocolate and some quality time with Mama while he slept in the pram. I even threw in a cupcake. Halfway through her drink she LOST HER MIND because she decided she wanted a juice instead.

She pushed a girl’s bike over at the park. She climbed every Ikea display she passed. While dressing her one morning she told me I stink.

She demands treats for breakfast EVERY MORNING. Getting her around the supermarket is a gauntlet of unreasonable demands from lollies to baby socks. She refuses to say goodbye when guests leave our house, instead opting to stomp her foot and make grunty noises. And forget unprompted manners – I’m lucky if I can pry a thank-you out of her.

Impervious to bribes, threats and reason (no you can’t have an apple because we’re fresh out of apples), this kid has no concept of time except RIGHT NOW.

Like all good parents, we took to Google to tell us what’s what and we found A LOT of people in the same boat. Mostly they blamed Day Care, but I knew better; this had nothing to do with being around other badly behaved kids. The simple fact of the matter is this: my kid is a jerk right now.

We’ve labelled her ‘The Threenager’ and we know it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. I know it’s temporary. I know it’s not some long-term personality indicator. But man, it’s rough. My days with Hazel used to be filled with hilarious anecdotes, now they’re filled with power struggles. Sometimes, putting her in Time Out actually makes me glad. I make a cup of tea and get nostalgic about the two-and-a-half year old I once knew.

But there’s always a silver lining, right? Well mine is this: if I see a parent with a rude and rambunctious child, tearing up all kinds of hell, I no longer judge.

I give them that tired and defeated smile of parental solidarity and shrug as if to say ‘Kids, who needs ’em?” Then quickly get my kid out of their way before she tells them they stink or demands their milkshake.

I’m a Feminist and I’m OK

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Whether it’s my bestie or Beyonce, I get really sad when I hear a woman say she isn’t a feminist. Like, really sad. Not because I think she’s probably sitting at home doing her husband’s ironing and foregoing all her girlhood dreams, but because I think it shows just how misunderstood the big, bad ‘F’ Word is in 2014. And I’m sick of it being shamed.

I’m a feminist. And I’m neither ashamed nor afraid to say so. And I think so many women (and men) actually are feminists at the heart of it but they are either unaware or ashamed to say so because they think being a feminist comes with a whole score of seemingly unattractive traits. And that’s sad to me. Sad that women feel their attractiveness trumps their own social freedom. Sad that men feel their masculinity is undermined by supporting women towards that goal.

And so I would like to clarify a few things. There is no singular feminist manifesto written by some mythical bra burner – feminism means different things to different people – but here are a few things that being a feminist definitely DOESN’T mean:

Being a feminist doesn’t mean I don’t shave my legs.
I don’t shave my legs because I’m lazy and the hair on my legs is blonde and I genuinely don’t give a rats.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean I don’t wear lipstick.
Right now I’m wearing Nars Heat Wave paired elegantly with trackies.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean I don’t like bras.
Because, dude, I’m breastfeeding right now and OMG just… no.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean I hate men.
I quite like most of the ones I know personally, and really admire many I don’t know personally – particularly this guy and this guy.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean I think all men are out to get me.
That would just be weird and paranoid.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean that I don’t think men have their own battles to fight.
They do. And I will fight gladly alongside them because it’s all the one battle, really.

Being a feminist doesn’t mean I’m a lesbian*.
In the words of Jerry Seinfeld “not that there’s anything wrong with that”.

Being a feminist means I believe in gender equality. And I believe that right now, in 2014, gender inequality still exists to the detriment of women, particularly in the workforce. I know this because I am a woman who once worked a job that demanded so much of me that becoming a mother rendered me useless to that profession. I had no choice but to forge my own path and it occurred to me, about 18 months ago, that my own path better work out because if it didn’t then I would have been screwed. A great many women are faced with that same dilemma, and very few men are. It is one of the most difficult and diverse challenges to gender equality because it requires nothing short of a complete overhaul to workplace policy and domestic culture.

Being a feminist means I believe that we need to consciously move away from the objectification of women. And we need to empower our daughters to know that they have absolute ownership over the body they inhabit; whatever it looks like, and however they choose to clothe it.

Being a feminist means that I believe we need to stand up and speak out when little acts of sexism and misogyny occur. You might say that Tony Abbott’s wink was harmless. You might say that the Nova FM prank on Samantha Armytage was all in fun. You might say that these little acts, perpetrated by men who are not necessarily bad men (insert hilarious comment about our dear Minister for Women here), are not the same as overt acts of sexism such as rape and domestic violence, but these small and seemingly inconsequential acts of sexism creates a culture that enables and normalises misogyny. And we must be brave enough to challenge the little acts, even amongst our friends, without fear of being labelled precious or aggressive. From little things big things grow so I’ve drawn a big fat line in the sand and I’ll be standing my ground.

Being a feminist means I am committed to being part of the solution to an equal society. I refuse to sit on my hands and say ‘that’s just how it is’; how it is now is not how it was 20 years ago, and it is not how it will be in 20 years time. I will be part of the momentum that propels this inevitable change, not the dead weight holding it back.

I am part of the solution by sending positive messages to my daughter and leading by example:

I do what I love with my life so that my daughter may grow up feeling that it is her right to do what she loves with her life, whatever that may be. I never underestimate my privilege in being able to do this.

I cherish my body so that my daughter will learn to cherish her own.

I stand up to sexism so that she will stand up for herself and others.

Being a feminist needn’t be such a provocative thing to be. In fact, I think that raising two future feminists is probably the most radical and honourable thing I can do.

* this is a reference to an episode of Geordie Shore where two of the girls debated whether they were feminists and came to the conclusion that they weren’t because you had to be a lesbian to be a feminist. *slaps forehead*

Sons of Eccentricity

FREDDIE & AUGUE

So….

How did you spend your last six weeks? It’s been a bit of an extended absence from the Daughters because, well, we added a couple of Sons to the mix. You heard me. Sons. And nobody was more shocked about it than we were.

Not totally shocked. I mean, we both knew we were having babies. But boys? Really? TWO of them? Neither Caroline nor I knew what we were having, but already having one daughter (and Hazel totally owns her ‘eccentric’ genes) I just kinda expected to have another. And I just kinda expected Caroline to have one, too. And everyone just kinda expected it. In fact, when I worked out the baby odds in my head, it went like this:

Most Likely: A redhead girl
Moderately Likely: A girl with hair that isn’t red
Less Likely: A redhead boy
Practically Impossible: A boy with hair that isn’t red

But then on the morning of the nineteenth of March I got a text from Caroline’s husband that stopped me in my tracks and brought a sentimental tear to my eye: I am holding our son. And so Augie the boy baby was the first surprise.

And then almost four weeks later on the fifteenth of April, along came the second: Freddie the boy baby. I knew something was up when the doctor exclaimed during delivery “Ooh, you’re a lot bigger than your sister was.” (She wasn’t joking – 55cm and 3.97kg). I never specified largeness in my baby odds, but as a particularly small human myself I didn’t feel I needed to. He is a big boy and I am a small girl – the concept floored me, and floors me still. In all fairness, his hair is auburn so he falls somewhere in between Less Likely and Practically Impossible on the likelihood scale and combining that with his unmistakably pointy chin and bowed lips, I can be assured that Frederick Francis Constable is indeed flesh of my flesh. And I adore him.

FREDDIE

So the adventures of Augie and Freddie begin. Won’t you follow along with us? We promise not to keep you waiting so long again.

A Prayer for New Parents

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May you give birth in the manner of your choosing;
And if not, may you avoid forever the acid tongues of those who did.

May your breasts be plentiful and hardy;
And if not, may you avoid forever the acid tongues of those whose are.

May you understand and accept, without reservation, that there is simply no such stage of human development called ‘sleeping through the night’;
And if not, may you avoid forever the acid tongues of those who are delusional on this matter (and bless them, for they are probably sleep deprived).

May you realise that the pram does not maketh the parent;
And in doing so, save approximately $1500.

May you find beauty in the post-partum body, without berating, parading or popular-trading the pinnacle of ‘motherhood’ as a toned, muscle-wrapped body;
And may you never venture to the Instagram accounts of Miranda Kerr or Rebecca Judd.

May you never resort to baby sign language;
For it is mumbo jumbo, I tell you. Mumbo. Jumbo.

May you sleep in whichever configuration works for you, your child, your life, your family;
And may you awaken most mornings at least mildly refreshed, without somebody’s feet in your ribs or wet nappy on your face.

May you realise that you are the most influential person in your child’s life and that it is your everyday actions (not TV, books or popular culture) that will ultimately shape their character;
And may they pick up at least one hilariously bad habit or embarrassing mannerism of yours to serve as a daily reminder.

May you find comedy in toilet training;
For there is tragedy enough in this world without finding it in poo.

May the parenting forums filled with judgmental, ill-informed and badly written ‘conversations’ eventually implode;
And may you have the strength to never go online until such time.

May you forgive yourself quickly for not enjoying ‘every’ little moment;
For it is a scientific fact that kids can be jerks sometimes and enjoying that would be weird.

May you go to bed each night knowing that your love and best efforts are enough, that YOU are enough, and that your child loves you just as you are;
And may you actually get some sleep.

Hating on Friends with Kids

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So here’s a thing that’s become a total THING. Hating on friends with kids. Especially friends who post things about their kids on Facebook. And I’m here today to tell you it’s weird, guys. Hating on people who have kids is weird.

Look, I remember 2007 like it was yesterday. I remember when Facebook was all travel photos and hilarious status updates that had to start with ‘is’. I remember being nervous about being tagged in photos from Friday night because I could barely remember Friday night. I remember being relieved to discover that although I didn’t remember it, I still looked (mostly) pretty hot. I remember giving myself the goal of posting one funny thing about cats every day. I remember. Oh yeah, I remember.

Then 7 years passed by, and a bunch of us did a few big ‘life’ things. Like getting married and having babies. And because those things were suddenly a lot bigger parts of our lives than Friday nights on the piss and LOLCATS (though for me personally, nothing will ever be bigger than LOLCATS. Nothing, you hear?) our posts started to evolve as well. We started posting about the things that were going on in our actual lives rather than, oh I don’t know, lying about going out on a Friday night when we weren’t. Or posting travel photos of places where we weren’t. Or disappearing off Facebook altogether in shame.

And the response to our change of social media direction? Haters. You may be shocked to hear that there are entire blogs dedicated to complaining about parents talking about their kids on Facebook. Entire blogs!

Haters, I’m not going to psychoanalyse what your problem is (well, I already have but I won’t present my findings in a public space), but if you’re offended/annoyed/disinterested by stuff that your “friends with kids” post on social media, I am going to give you just a dash of parental advice: you don’t have to look at it. Just like we don’t have to look at your lame selfies.

How you go about it is this: in your Newsfeed, identify a post containing a simply disgusting child who has the audacity to be starting kinder today. Hover over it and you should see a little downwards arrow on the right. Click on it and you’ll see the “I don’t want to see this” option. You can then opt to completely unfollow (without unfriending) a person who notoriously posts stuff about their abhorrent child.

How you don’t go about it is this: dedicate an entire blog to complaining about the thing you’re so offended by. It seems to me that it will actually make you far more involved in the topic that you apparently don’t like. As in, it would become your JOB to write about the thing you HATE. Where’s the logic? I ask you, where’s the logic?

These ‘friends with kids’ were presumably your ‘friends’ first and foremost. It’s not like total strangers are knocking on your door and parading their children in front of you and demanding you ‘like’ them. Why be so offended by a cute/funny/gross/uninteresting photo of a kid you know? Why be annoyed to hear that they just took their first steps? If you feel that there’s too much talk about them going on, seriously, just unfollow and stop being a jerk.

Haters, I’m sure you’d rather peruse your own profile pictures than look at photos of someone’s kid. And that’s cool. But the bottom line is this: Facebook was invented for people to connect with each other in their own unique way and talk about the things going on their actual lives. It wasn’t invented for YOU and only YOU to talk about and connect with YOURSELF and the people who think exactly the same way as YOU, are doing the same activities as YOU and are at exactly the same life-stage as YOU.

If we were friends on Facebook, I would unfollow you without ceremony. I wouldn’t start a blog about self-righteous and immature jerks, though. I’ll take this opportunity to rant about it, but an entire blog seems a little overboard. And lame. And frankly, I’m a parent now so I don’t have the time.