Monday, April 24, 2006

A Paradox Wrapped in Irony

The problem with having a blog about being a mother of three children under 15 months is that I never have time to write. Crap. Was about to regale you with the story of my morning at the mothers' support group, but O is crying and R has gone shopping. Shit, there's D going off now. Thank G-d T's... oh no, he's started too. Is it irresponsible of me to hope that the sound of my fingers tapping the keyboard will remind them of my heartbeat and lull them to sleep?

Waaaahhh! Waaaah! Waaaaaaaah!
Can you hear me through this noise? No? I'll be back…


Okay, let’s try again. At Karitane, the mothercraft nurse made me do a questionnaire to assess if I am depressed using the:

Edinburgh Post Natal Depression Scale (EPDS)
(J.L. Cox, J.M. Holden, R. Sagovsky, Department of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh)

As you have recently had a baby, we would like to know how you are feeling. Please give the answer which comes closest to how you have felt in the past 7 days - Not just how you feel today.

I have felt happy:

My answer: Does it count if I’d had my third glass of wine by the time the happiness kicked in?

In the past 7 days:

1. I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things –
If you think having newborn poo under my fingernails then sucking my finger to assess the temperature of the milk I’ve just dipped it into is funny then you’re sick. Neither is it funny that I tried to put my toddler in the newborn car seat and was repeatedly frustrated that she didn’t fit. Or the fact that I threw my car keys down the toilet because I mistook them for a poo-ey tissue. There is no funny side. What’s to laugh at?

2. I have looked forward with enjoyment to things -
Yes. Things like my children leaving home to make enormous amounts of money and support me for the rest of my life. Oh, you mean the near future?

3. I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong -
What do you mean unnecessarily? Everything is actually my fault. The fact that the kids haven’t bathed in three days can’t really be anyone else’s, can it?

4. I have been anxious or worried for no good reason –
I’ll give you three good reasons: My toddler, twin one and twin two.

5. I have felt scared or panicky for no good reason –
Define a good reason. If I wasn’t scared or panicky being left alone with three unsettled babies, I’d have to be some sort of German-engineered automaton. Or Keanu Reeves, who I suspect is a German-engineered automaton.

6. Things have been getting on top of me –
Three small things particularly. I barely have a moment where one of my darling little “things” isn’t lying on my chest.

7. I have been so unhappy that I have had difficulty sleeping -
You try sleep through the noise in this house. Seriously, if you can get two consecutive hours I’ll give you a blowjob. Although you'd probably sleep through that too.

7. I have felt sad or miserable –

I haven’t gotten out of my pajamas for weeks. It’s not like they’re sexy pajamas. You do the math.

8. I have been so unhappy that I have been crying –
Crying? Why stop there? I’ve taken to primordial screaming with low grunting moans. Sometimes it helps settle the kids.

10. The thought of harming myself has occurred to me -
Only with chocolate, alcohol and drugs. Does that count?

So, after I filled it out the nurse gave me the kind of Concerned Glance they teach in nursing college. We’ll have the parent support team give you a call, she said.

The Support Team (a group I could use when choosing bras) called and spoke in the kind of Concerned Tone they reserve for idiots and the terminally ill. They’re coming over next week to “sort (me) out”.

If I don’t write for a while, I’ve been taken away. Hopefully to a respite center in Hawaii where I can spend my days practicing kundalini yoga until my kids get rich and support me.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Aim for the heart

Are people getting stupider or am I becoming more intolerant?

We had one hour yesterday when my mom took O and it was just R, the twins and me. First we went to a milkbar to buy any caffeinated cola drinks we could get our baby-smelling hands on. Whilst there a woman came in and asked to change the box of cigarettes she’d just bought. Not to a different brand. She wanted a different warning sign. She asked if she could give back the pack that said SMOKING KILLS in exchange for one that says SMOKING HARMS YOUR NEIGHBOURS. She then lit up in my face. I fucking love people.

Stupidly we then tried to go to a restaurant. (This involved taking shifts eating quickly while the other person held 2 screaming babies. The bubs had just eaten but all the restaurant patrons insisted on looking over angrily and telling me to feed them.) The waitress asked if the twins were identical. I explained they are different sexes. Great, she said, now you don't have to have any more. We already have one at home, I told her. Is he older or younger?, she asked.

Forgive me for not suffering fools but HOW THE HELL COULD I HAVE HAD ANOTHER BABY IN THE LAST EIGHT WEEKS? Have I not done enough to boost this country's flagging birth rate?
Younger, I said. She was born yesterday. (Well that's the James Frey version of what I said. What I actually said was "Do you have mustard?".)

I am a misanthrope. I am no longer in the working world, the world of the mind. I am thus forced to speak solely with idiots and palookas all day every day. Are these people on crack? I would gatecrash an English literature class just to hear some intelligent discussion. Hell, I'd even write someone's essay on eighteenth century literature if they'd talk to me about something other than my breeding capacity. I've become that nasty old pervert who hangs around intelligent people trying to listen in on their conversations in the way that sex-addicts hang around whores. Talk to me about God and Death, baby. Oh yeah, that feels good. Touch me on the iambic pentameter, just there, yeah...

Shoot me. Aim for the heart. It’ll be better for everyone. Especially my poor kids who didn’t choose to have a mother who can’t cope with being at home. And while you’ve got the gun in your hand, can you take down the waitress as well? She never did bring me the mustard.

Monday, April 10, 2006

It really does go on

And now, life. O had an appointment with the neurologist today. She's still not walking or crawling like all the other 15 month olds around her. But she's discovering clever little shortcuts to movement, like bum shuffling. The neurologist said she'll go at her own pace and do things in her own way. Think of it as individualistic, she said. I like that.

And later today I put O to bed and heard her shouting for me. Not unusual. I went back into the room and she was STANDING. Leaning on the cot. Standing! In a dangerous way that meant she could have fallen out. And while I should have done the responsible thing and warned O of the horrors of leaning over the cot, I screamed with delight. So loud I frightened O and she plotzed onto her bum immediately. But she was standing! STANDING! On her legs! Without her splints! By herself!

One huge point for O and and a minus zero to those who said she'd never walk.

You watch her, she won't just walk. She'll fly.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Ashes to Ashes

I’ve always been thankful that having a wake is not a Jewish custom. The thought of seeing the body, all made up like a Max Factor model, seemed macabre to me. And I couldn’t fathom the prospect of drinking and laughing when someone is dead. But some people lend themselves to that kind of celebration and Ashley was one of them. He deserved a party to celebrate his life. There’s nothing that could help us all deal with this more than just spending time together, with Ashley’s body, getting trashed and fucked up and telling stories about him, laughing at the things he did and said and crying at the no-tomorrow-ness of it all.

Instead we attended prayers and a memorial service for Ashley tonight. It was terrible and beautiful. There was a strong connection between all of Ash’s friends, we just hugged each other and let ourselves sob into each other’s arms. His girlfriend spoke and she was so brave, she made everyone laugh and cry. And then Ash’s father had to say Kadish for him. The Jewish prayer for mourners. The prayer that children know and fear and deny that one day they will have to say for their parents but that no parent ever expects to say for his child. And Ash’s father was not close to him. And the prayer mocked him. And he broke down in the middle. And we all cried extra hard for him because he never knew Ashley like we did and we felt crap. For him and the loss of potential. For the son he never got to know.

I keep thinking if I just give a good enough argument Ash will be given back to us. Why him? Why did he have to go? Why not take someone old, someone who was ready? I Can’t Won’t Don’t want to accept this. Who do I have to speak to to get Ash back? This is some sort of horrendous bureaucratic mix-up. If I can just talk to the right person, the Manager, maybe we can sort this misunderstanding out…

No Wake for Ash. And no sleep for me. I don’t fucking care if it was his destiny. I don’t want to hear how he lived life to the full. I just want him back.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

He Chose Something Else

Then God slapped me in the face and said to me, look somewhere else other than yourself for a moment. And he showed me my friend Ashley. Ashley walked into an O Porto Chicken Hut on Tuesday night. He made a phone call to his business partner, S. “The doctor tells me I need to admit myself to hospital tonight. I just finished what we were working on, I’m getting a bite to eat and I want to brief you on some stuff in case I’m out of commission for a few days”. S called back 90 seconds later. Less than two minutes. A young waitress answered the phone “Do you know this man? He’s just collapsed”.

By the time the ambulance and S arrived on the scene, Ashley was completely unconscious. He was pronounced Dead on Arrival at the hospital.

He had thirty-three years. That’s all he got. A massive heart attack at 33. Ash. Funny Ash with the most absurd sense of humour. He would have found it ridiculous that he died at a take-away joint. Now everyone knows he cheated on his diet. Ash who had recently met a woman he was finally prepared to commit to. He and I had a long chat about relationships. I’m scared, he told me. Because it’s real, I told him. This is it, he told me. She’s it.

Ash who looks like everyman. So much so that R and I had a way of spotting people who looked like him everywhere we went. We’d give each other points for each Ash-a-like we saw. Then we’d report the numbers back to the original Ashley. There seem to be a concentration of them all around me this week.

Ash who always wanted to make a movie with me. “Let’s make a movie” he said. “But Ash, you have no film-related skills”. “That’s where you come in” he’d tell me. Can’t fault logic like that.

Ash who gave R a job when he was retrenched. R quoted him a price and Ash refused. You’re worth far more than that. R kept suggesting appropriate salaries and Ash kept bidding him up. What a mensch.

Ash who used to travel a lot for work. If an air hostess asked him if he had baggage to take on he’d smile “Oy, do I have baggage!”.

Ash who just gave us the most generous gift when the twins were born. Ash who taught the Rabbi’s son to cheat in cards. Ash who would have been the most fabulous father. If he’d only had time.

Ash who had only just started.

Ash. Gone. And my stupid complaining about shopping malls is an empty ball of fluff because an entire universe died with Ashley.

So we’ll never make that movie together. And you’ll never be a father. And you’ll never ever be replaced. And wherever you are, sweet Ashley, I’ll keep looking for you in a crowd. I’ll keep belly-laughing at the way you saw the world. I’ll keep you close.