Tuesday, 19 October 2010


Today I have had two conversations with people that inspired today's blog post.

One involved a new mumma to a 4 week old bubby.  We were having the conversation about grabbing a moments rest in the busy day of being a mother.  Particularly challenging when your baby doesn't sleep much during the day.  And the other a gorgeous new friend from kinder.  Both conversations brought up the issue of being a good parent and the inevitable comparisons that we tend to make when we look at other parents we meet. 

It took me back to my first baby and how I was so scared to leave the precious bubby for more than 5 minutes to have a shower for fear of somehow neglecting the poor child and damaging his prospects of fulfilling his potential because he was pyschologically damaged from my neglect!   What the?????!!!!!  Clearly sleep deprivation sets the tone for irrational decision making early on in the piece. 

In fact I was reminiscing about how I couldn't stand the crying so much that I would get out of the shower before I had even rinsed the shampoo out and spend the rest of the day with shampoo in my hair!  Looking good!  What was I thinking?  Not alot clearly......

And now five babies down the track...... how do I react to my crying baby?  "Well excuse me bubby but  I need to shower, blow dry and GHD my hair - oh and paint my face- before you can have my attention!"    

...........aaaah but that is where the magic happens......

On my return the bubby has inevitably, magically fallen asleep. 

Some may say (or feel) this is neglect - as I most certainly felt with my first child.  Now I call it reality.  

As parents we give ourselves a hard time about every descision we make. And mothers especially tend to fall into the pattern of thinking of everyone else's needs before ourselves and acting in accordance.  If we think about this just a little bit- it's not a great pattern to be modelling to our children is it?  

It's good to put ourselves first sometimes. 

I am totally guilty of putting myself last pretty much ALL the time.  I am trying ever so hard to put myself first just some of the time. It is not something that comes easily to me at all.  Let's call it a New Years resolution- only it's not new year (although damn it i wish this year was over!) .........and I hope unlike most new years resolutions that this one last a little longer than a couple of days!

What I have gotten better at since I have had more children is letting things go a little.  

Like not running to a crying child at the very first instance.  

Like not succumbing to every single request that every child demands of me for fear that I will somehow damage their prospects for a fulfilled life ahead because they are pyschologically damaged from me saying no to their ridiculous demands for lollies at 8 oclock at night!

Like having weetbix for dinner every now and then so you can have a rest.

Some people have this idea of me being a Supermum.  WRONG!

If being a supermum means having a tidy house, all the laundry done, folded and put away, dinner planned, always in a good mood, never dreaming of another job and never getting frustrated at the kids- then as my kids would say "epic fail"!  

Click here to go to a previous post to get my feelings on all that kind of unhealthy perfection.

I'm so not a Supermum and then some.......I have bad days where the chaos is a little more out of control than others, days when I wish I was skulling vodka at 10am, days where I wish the laundry was under control,  days where I yell at the kids for totally unreasonable reasons......

I have learnt to choose my battles.  My fourth child has been a challenge- all of you that know him understand!  He has basically made it impossible for me to go anywhere except the necessary places.  Wherever we went he would either scream or run away. Delightful.  He has been labelled the human tornado- for obvious reasons.  Sitting still is not in his genetic makeup and for a just turned 4yo he can run like the wind- and usually straight into oncoming traffic.  Awesome- NOT!

I had to decide for my own sanity how to deal with this.  For me it meant basically not going out during the day.  I had to learn that this wasn't a punishment for me being a bad parent but just the best way to deal with a very difficult child.   I just couldn't stand the judgmental glares anymore.  Behind all this difficult behaviour lies one of the most wonderful personalities.  

I learnt to make it work in my favour and to stop giving myself a hard time.  It's just the way it is.  It's ok- as long as I don't compare myself to other people.  That is the tricky part. 

It's normal.  Normal in a healthy way to have a balance of days where we feel ok about things and days where we feel crap about things too.

Let's all give ourselves a break and simplify things a little.  Lower the bar.  My theory is that if I have low expectations I have far fewer failures.  

Sometimes neglecting things a little gives us benefits that we would otherwise not have received.  It's not all bad.

My garden has suffered a whole lot of neglect over winter.   I normally grow a winter vegie crop but other things took priority for me this year and the vegie bed got left to go wild.

Some plants (like children) benefit from being left to their own devices a little.

I planted a solitary horseradish plant just over 2 years ago and it has THRIVED.  I normally harvest quite alot of it after winter to contain it- it notoriously takes over the garden.  

It is a beautiful plant growing enormous green foliage during spring/summer that dies off over winter.  A member of the Brassica group of plants- really probably my favourite veg are in this group- cabbage, mustard, broccoli etc.

When winter ended I was keen to harvest some of the delectable roots to make various horseradish wonders.

Here are the roots after harvest.  

Once they'd had a good scrub I blitzed them and added a little vinegar, vinegar and salt to taste.

The aroma is divine- but be careful not to inhale too fast......it's potent stuff!

It looks really pretty........

.......and keeps for months in a jar in the fridge.

Today I added some to Japanese mayo and had it on some toasted sourdough with pork rillettes &  fresh aragula from the garden (another plant that loves a bit of neglect!) It was DIVINE!  Simple delicious food at it's best.  

Next on my to do list is to make up some beetroot and horseradish like I find at my local Russian providore and to make my own pork rillettes- food of the gods!  

I have found this great blog that has a recipe...click here to take a look!  Tell me that does not look divine!

Mine are via my latest order from the wonderful Bruny Island Cheese company.  Click here to look at their beautiful website. Truly magnifique!

So let's all promise each other to "neglect" a little and practise putting ourselves first for a bit........and see if we survive and thrive a little as a result! 


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  1. Horseradish... I fell in love that day sitting at your table & fresh home grown Horseradish was his name! Just Divine!

  2. True words of wisdom you are, indeedy do!!! So just then I put myself first and asked Miss A to give me a massage (which she prides as her specialty). However, I told her she wasnt allowed to speak the whole time (mission impossible for her)but to just enjoy the silence. The moment was all about ME!!!
    Ruth, I enjoy reading your blog so much and hearing of the large embrace you have on life.
    You are a wonderful mother and friend!!! CC xxx

  3. You are amazing actually.

  4. Your photography is so wonderful! And your sentiments I totally agree with. I learnt to let my kids cry a bit about 8 months into the 2nd (who cried a lot!). Then by the 3rd I was too tired to get up so within in 10 minutes he'd be back asleep ... I couldn't believe I'd been such a sucker for so long, running at the first wail!! But like a dear friend of mine said, kids are our teachers, and ain't that the truth!!! Thanks for another gorgeous blog. Those pork rillettes remind me of France! Scruuumptious! XX

  5. It has been a long and exhausting day, it is so wonderful to hear your words of wisdom! I am now going to straight to bed and will the rest of the house work can wait!! night night!

  6. See... I need sleep my last post did'nt even make sense!

  7. Talking about the importance of self care in relation to being a good parent is obviously great. However, using the word 'neglect' makes me really uncomfortable as it trivializes the fact that neglect is one of, if not the worst form of child abuse.

  8. @ anonymous (previous comment)
    Thanks for your comment- I agree with you that neglect proper is abusive.
    I am sorry you have misunderstood the meaning of the post.
    The tone of this article was intended to highlight our own guilt and self judgement as parents. That when we think of putting ourselves first - just some of the time & clearly not when it is truly detrimental- that our first gut feeling is that that is somehow neglectful. That is why that word is in inverted commas.
    Of course it is not meant to be a post about neglecting your children- if you read through my other posts you will see I am all about giving a FULL life to my children and to any others who come in to my life.

  9. Beautiful post...You can't kill horseradish even if you try very, very hard...it's a ripper plant. I left all mine behind in Tassie but will be popping some in up here for sure! The 1st time I made horseradish cream I nearly blew my head off, because I decided to take the lid off the blender and have a whiff - even though the recipe warned me not to! he he there's a tip - don't EVER tell me NOT to do something, unless you really WANT me to do it. And as for our version of "neglectful" parenting...I'm happy to report that after being raised with plenty of NO's (not always with lengthy explanations and justifications), lots of routine and a clear distinction between the adult world and their world and making them wait if I was busy doing something else - my kids are gorgeous, funny, intelligent, insightful, clever, resourceful, talented and totally independent human beings who understood from a VERY young age that the world does NOT revolve around them - and that they were a part of a family that is part of a humongous global family and we all need to work together to get on.
    YAY to OUR kinda "neglect"! X

  10. Ruth, I remember so many of your words still today. I always remember you telling me that you put a special hat on when you want to have some uninterrupted reading time, and the kids know to leave you read. I LOVE that idea and have told many about it. You have so much spirit and warmth and love to share about everything you do - mum, wife and friend. Keep up the inspirational words. I get ALL your words. Oh, I have a completely barren veggie patch. The only thing in it at all is a massive horseradish and I've never got around to it! it's time to dig that nugget up hey! xx

  11. Hear, hear GG! Thank you, I love it. We all need to be left to our own devices at times, without constant attention. I'm definitely guilty of over-cultivation at times!! I felt the need to constantly intervene in their play and then someone said 'just leave them be' and I thought, yes, what a great idea! Kids are like plants, and will thrive with lots of love, security, food, water and plenty of time outdoors!!! Luckily we have a big backyard and the kids just love to pull out the trillions of weeds that grow (see, great reason for neglecting!) Thanks for fabulous, kind post as always, Kate XXX


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