Monday, 4 March 2013

Dear Clueless...

Just recently this blog post below landed in my inbox.

Letter to myself as a new mom by The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking

Kelly lives in the United States, she has five children and she homeschools them all. Hats off to her.

She also posts a lot of housekeeping tips like,  how to clean your washing machine.  I didn't even realise you HAD to clean your washing machine. Which was why I initially subscribed to her blog. It is a FASCINATING insight into how tidy, organised people who homeschool their children live.

Kelly's letter is a heartfelt piece to herself. She is a completely devoted and lovely mother. It got me thinking about what I would say to myself as a new mum, if I had the chance.

I will be sending my letter back to the year 1999 as soon as time travel becomes available. Until then, you can read it here.

Dear Clueless,

That baby is not a toy.

I know he looks like a doll, but he is a brand new human being who just needs some serious shut-eye. He does not need to ‘play’ yet.  Just feed him, burp him and put him back to sleep. Seriously. That’s all you need to do.

While I’m at it, here are some other things I should give you a heads-up on.

When he’s asleep, he IS still breathing 

Don’t poke him to check. You will regret it for days. 

You don’t necessarily have to let other people hold your baby

People will ask all the time. Then they will pass him around and make goo-goo faces at him until his eyes are spinning like windmills at which point they will hand him back, bid you good day and leave you with the screaming over-stimulated baby. It’s okay to just say ‘no’ sometimes.

And I’m just going to knock this next one on the head... 

You are never going to be a serene earth-mother papoose mum

 So you might as well just put that Baby Bjorn pouch on e-bay. This baby is a vomiter, a puker, a chronic regurgitator. He is not 'papoose-friendly.'  He will coat you in vomit when he’s facing in, then when you turn him to face outward, he will give himself a big white chuck beard that will repel people in the supermarket. It’s just what he does. (No use saving the pouch for next time either, alls I’m saying is: two won’t fit in there.) 

Sleep when he sleeps 

I mean it. As soon as his eyes close, lie down and grab some shut-eye. Don’t dither around trying to find something useful to do. The most useful thing you can do is sleep. That way you won’t turn into a crazy hysterical lady who cries when she gets stuck inside her own t-shirt trying to put it on. 

The pram is not a mobile playpen

 By that I mean: get all that Lamaze developmental crap off it. All the multi-coloured bobbly things with springs and retractable legs and shaky shaker bits, that you have strung from the canopy to keep him ‘stimulated’. Get them off! He just needs to lie there watching shadows and colour smudges form. He can’t even see that multi-coloured, textured octopus thingy you have artfully suspended right in front of his nose. You are annoying him. 

Get yourself a blow-up donut

You don't know this yet, but you can get a blow up ring-shaped cushion from the chemist. Just get one.  That’s all I’m saying on the topic and I think by now you know what I’m getting at. (You’ll find them in the old people's ailments section with the denture creams, walking frames and orthotic inserts.) 

There is no ‘magic’ way to get him to sleep

I know you think you’ve finally cracked it with that crazy up and down rocking motion you’re doing every night for two hours; that bobbing up and down and then swinging side to side motion that you’ve got going on. In about a week, that’s going to stop working and you’ll have to start all over again trying to figure out what it is you’re doing wrong or right. You can’t control any of this and even when you think you can, nothing is ever a ‘solution’ for very long. He will keep changing it up on a weekly basis. 

Stop making such a meal of it

One is easy. Trust me. In about three years, you will wish you’d relaxed and enjoyed the relative cake-walk of it more. 

All those women who tell you their newborn sleeps through the night…

…are annoying liars.  Even if it’s true, they should keep it to themselves. It’s just rude not to. Next time anyone says it to you, flick her sharply in the middle of the forehead. 

Give up on the novelty socks and cutesy baby shoes

Just let it go, this obsession with covering his feet at all times. He doesn’t need shoes.  He’s a baby! Nor does he need a hat, jacket, baby mittens AND pants over his Bonds Babygro. You are overdoing it. Tone it down on the ‘look how I dressed my baby today!’ thing. 

 I know you’re bored, but don’t be in such a hurry to start him on ‘solids’

What goes in at one end must come out at the other.  That’s all I’m saying. 

Breastfeeding is hard. You need to concentrate

It’s not an adjunct to whatever else you’re doing. (Remember what I told you about not being an earth mother?) Sit down somewhere quiet and make sure you’re doing it properly. Even then, it may not work out for you. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Some women are just not breastfeeders. 

Toilet training is hellish

It just is. But despite your fears, he is now 13 years old and is not attending high school in nappies. 

He’s in the golf cart

When he’s 18 months old, you will think you’ve lost him for good. It’s the longest, most terrifying 15 minutes of your life. But you will find him and he’s fine. Look over yonder. See that golf cart in the middle of the Fox Studios oval? See how the front wheels are shifting mysteriously this way and that? He’s in the driver’s seat working the steering wheel madly from side to side. He’s really pleased with himself and not at all ‘lost and pining for Mummy.’

Overall, he stays pretty safe well into his teens...

His health is always good, but watch for a very traumatic episode in kindergarten where he is sent home with blinding stomach pains and then writhes on the bed all night like Linda Blair in 'The Exorcist.'  Rest assured it is not demonic possession, merely a chronic case of constipation.  

Physically speaking he also remains intact. Just one small scar, behind his ear: the result of some very enthusiastic gymnastics performed unsupervised on the coffee table one Sunday morning.  (Don't worry, his ear, whilst hanging at an odd angle initially, does not come off.)

Oh and most importantly, you will sleep again. One day, you will put your head on the pillow at 10pm and not wake up until morning. It’s coming in the distant future and it’s heavenly.

Yours sincerely,



  1. Hi there Penny

    I saw you tonight at The Athenaeum.

    I was living in Sydney in the late 90s and regularly used to go along and see you play. It's been way way too long - maybe 10 years. I think the last time I might have seen you play was at The Basement - and Kitty was supporting. I've missed your wonderful voice. I bought tickets to tonight's show specifically to see you. The two songs at the end were an absolute highlight.

    Would you consider touring again, performing your own songs?

    It was so great to see you back on stage and hear your voice. I found the experience surprisingly moving and emotional. Big big thanks. I hope to see you again one day (soon).

    And I've got to say, Kitty was brilliant - definitely one of my MICF highlights.

    Love, DC xx

  2. Hi DC
    thanks for getting in touch with me and leaving such a nice message, it's made my day. I have no plans to tour on my own at the moment, but am doing some very casual gigs in Sydney over the coming months ... I think it's called Callan Park Folk Club in rozelle ... I have a very lame Facebook page which I don't really use properly, but I plan to put any gig info on it in future ... thanks for coming to see me at the Ath

  3. I think I am almost ready to do a Letter to Mummy Me. It has only been nine years since my first encounter, and it has taken me this long to analyse, assess and finish my flow chart on the subject.
    I loved reading yours. Hindsight is such a wonderful thing.

  4. Thanks Melissa, it does take a long time to get your head above water again doesn't it?