Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

The birds and the bees November 9, 2012

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baby Sometimes an opportunity just presents itself for the birds and the bees conversation, and before you know it you’re halfway in and there is no stopping.  Suffice to say Sister of a Man-Child is now a little wiser than she was a week ago about Mother Nature and babies!

We were heading back from a long weekend away, listening to the radio, and they were chatting to callers about being pregnant and not knowing it.  Even our 9-year-old daughter could understand that it was a bit odd.  “Mum surely someone would know if they were having a baby wouldn’t they?”  And the average person would agree, yes surely you would know you were having a baby.  And if you listened to one caller, you would still not believe her story that she didn’t know until she delivered the baby that she was pregnant!!!!  Personally, I am really not sure how a 9 month pregnant women could not think she was having a baby – regardless of what the doctors said about not being pregnant – either that or you would be seeing an oncologist about a massive growth in your stomach.

But I digress.  As we drove home in the quiet of the car, I had a split second flash back to 9 years ago, and then out of my mouth popped my response: “Well not necessarily actually.  Because it happened to me when we were having you”.   And so the story about our daughter’s small beginnings unfolded.  From the discovery at 16 weeks that I was pregnant, to her amazing arrival at 41 weeks into the world.  She was keen to know if she was planned, or an accident.  I told her emphatically she was very much planned and wanted, but that it was a bit of a surprise to learn I was pregnant.

For readers who themselves are itching to know how someone who had already had twins could not know she was pregnant, here’s a small list of reasons:

  • No morning sickness (yes I am someone who breezes through pregnancies without any problems at all, no queasiness, no sore body parts)
  • A body whose menstrual clock was so out of kilter, I was convinced that I could not possibly be pregnant
  • An earlier diagnosis of potential early menopause and a single functioning ovary
  • And the firm belief that it would almost border on an immaculate conception!!!

Suffice to say I was indeed pretty shocked to be sitting in the doctor’s rooms to discuss my ongoing concerns about feeling “bloated”, having also been to the naturopath for some assistance, when she passed me the pregnancy test results – positive!!!!  Fortunately the 6-year-old twin boys in the room were too pre-occupied to notice my shock and our subsequent discussions.   Although they did notice that I became a bit vague for the rest of the day, walking up the same supermarket aisle several times and getting lost on the way to a good friend’s house.  Yes you could say I spent the day in absolute shock.  I didn’t ring Father of a Man-Child in case he had a car accident when I told him, so waited until I saw him later that day.  Our initial shock was mixed with absolute delight and then temporary panic, as the threat of twins was very high given my family history and an existing set.

Fortunately the scan revealed only one healthy baby (and the fact that I was 16 WEEKS PREGNANT), and the subsequent amniocentesis test (not a pleasant prospect but a necessary evil under the circumstances) revealed a girl – much to all of our delight.  Suffice to say it was a lovely (and short) pregnancy, enjoyed by me, hubby and the boys, and the excitement around the arrival of a baby sister was lovely for the men-children and family and friends.

Sister of a Man-Child then asked me how soon can girls get pregnant, which of course led us further down the birds and bees discussion, to talk of eggs and periods and when it would all happen.  As she is 9 years old and some girls unfortunately now start menstruating by 10 years old (far too early in my book) the timing is probably pretty good.   I explained that sometime between 10 and 14 she would indeed be producing eggs, but that didn’t mean she would get pregnant.  And I also explained that no you couldn’t get pregnant just lying in a bed with a boy (she did ask), but that when she had a partner, and they planned it, they would hopefully get pregnant when they wanted! 🙂

She also asked about how old you could be which is interesting, given some of my friends have had babies in their mid-late 40’s.  I explained that was possible, but also told her about eggs ageing and that physiologically you were better to have them a bit earlier if you could.  It’s amazing sometimes how they see the world, and how they manage to piece it all together.

So there you have it, the story of Sister of a Man-Child’s beginnings.   We have always said she was a Gift from God under the circumstances (but then really every child is), and most definitely a planned and longed for daughter and sister, not a “happy accident”!   Does the distinction matter?  Maybe not to some, but I think to my daughter she somehow wanted to know as we drove in the car and heard amazing stories from other women, that she wasn’t an “accident”. 🙂

I have written about Sister of a Man-Child before:  A Princess Tale.  She is such a delight!


No room for Mums….. October 19, 2012

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bridgeBeing a mother of teenage men-children is an interesting journey. The boys that needed you so much for so many years as their primary carer, no longer look to you first for help and advice with everything. On the contrary, they look to and respect the opinions of their friends and peers first, older boys second, sporting coaches, teachers or other authority figures next, and parents coming in a long way last.

Trust me, 16 year old boys know everything and don’t need parents at all!  Except when they need a lift somewhere, or to know how to open a bank account, get a tax file number, put on a washing machine, fill the dishwasher or hang out some clothes.  And if they want something, they don’t necessarily ask their mother first anymore (especially if they think their father will lend a more sympathetic ear). Even more so if it’s a blokey activity, which I can appreciate and actually think is healthy for boys. You know, that male bonding stuff.

It’s certainly a challenge for one’s ego parenting teenagers, even more so as Mother of a Man-Child. In my mid 40’s, it’s fair to say I am loving life. Great mates, great job, great family, at my healthiest in years, good work/life balance, good network of friends and colleagues. However such is the power of teenagers that in a split second your ego can be inflated by a few simple words (“Mum, you look great” – if only they could say it without surprise in their voices), then instantly deflated with a look from them that needs no words, rendering said mother as “useless”.  If you are having a moment of weakness, these incidents can cut you to the core, leaving you feeling bereft, and almost in mourning for the children you once had, and the adoration they once bestowed upon you.

And God forbid you should attempt to talk to their friends.  Most of them seem very nice to me and happy to chat upon arrival in our home. Yet one of my men-children in particular (and to be fair not his brother) practically drags his friends out of the room, so quick is he to escape our presence.  I can only assume it’s embarrassment on his part – perhaps we are not up to his standards?  They say the grass is always greener on the other side – does the same extend to parents?  Are everyone else’s parents somehow cooler than your own?  No doubt.

Thankfully I still have Sister of a Man-child, who still wants and needs her mother. Me and my ego soak that up every day, knowing too well it is a temporary state.  Fortunately, as Celia Lashlie’s book “He’ll be OK” showed, I also have confidence the men-children will return to me in due course, and be the nice young men we are bringing them up to be, who love and appreciate their Mum (and of course their Dad and sister). 🙂

I have written about the journey across the adolescent bridge before:  It’s a Man’s world


Happy 16th Birthday Boys! March 9, 2012

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Just over 16 years ago, our darling men-children were born.  Two gorgeous little bundles of joy that had spent 37 weeks in rather cramped quarters it’s fair to say.  Any wonder they sometimes don’t like each other’s company!

I can still remember the day I found out I was having twins.  I was alone at the hospital for the scan, being the typical pragmatist.  Don’t fuss, you go to work (future) Father of a Man-child, I’ll be fine etc.  And of course I was fine, having breezed through the early part of the pregnancy feeling absolutely amazing, not a day of morning sickness, and at 18 weeks no signs of anything unusual.

Back then it was perfectly normal to have your first scan nearly half way through the pregnancy – so you can imagine my shock when they said “The first thing we need to tell you is there’s more than one in there!”  And before my brain could even register what they were saying “It’s twins”!!!  Oh-My-God.  My immediate thought, followed quickly by tears, was of my Mother, who 30 years before me, had learned the exact same news – that she too was to be the mother of twins (yes me and my sister).   Tears because sadly she was not there to share the news, and to swap the countless stories about being pregnant with twins, mothering twins, adoring and loving twins.

I made the call to (future) Father of a Man-Child from the obstetrician’s waiting room, still reeling in shock.  Thankfully he was absolutely thrilled, which helped me recover somewhat.  He thought the idea of getting two at once was “fantastic”.   I then went to work, and shared the news with everyone there.  The irony was not lost on any of them, especially since the day before I had mentioned the forthcoming scan and told them jokingly “all bets are off if there’s more than one in here”!!!!  With the number of twins in our family it’s fair to say it wasn’t a completely unimaginable event, but still a shock nonetheless.

I rang my Father and sisters that night to tell them the news.  I still remember Dad laughing (knowingly) and telling me how wonderful it was of course, and probably also sharing the same sense of deja vu about my mother.  And the call to my twin sister, which went something like this:  “Shit, Shit, oh shit, shit…shit, shit…..(hysterical laughter) shit!”  That was she, not me!

We were blessed with a wonderful pregnancy, a good birth (even though an unexpected C-section), and textbook babies.   They really were amazing from day one – good feeders, sleepers, and eaters, achieving all the milestones every baby should.   As parents, it really was twice the joy (and about 1.5 times the work of one baby for those who are wondering).  As parents we really couldn’t ask for more, except seven years later of course, when our darling daughter arrived as a little surprise package.

So Happy Birthday boys! I can’t believe how quickly the last 16 years have passed.  To watch you both grow into fine young men-children (with a few bumps along the way as this blog reveals) has been a privilege and an honour.

Love Mother of a Man-Child xo

Here’s one of the few stories about our early life with the men-children:  The Holiday from Hell, the only bad one we’ve ever had.



Mother of a Man-Child: The Hurdy-Gurdy of Life February 25, 2011

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The only thing guaranteed in my life at the moment is the never-ending ride on an emotional roller-coaster, as we journey the ups and downs of adolescence with our men-children.  You never know quite what you’re in for on any given day – it could be a pleasant conversation where they actually respond to questions civilly (as opposed to the expected grunt) or an early morning screaming match because they’ve decided to start proceedings with an argument about stolen jocks whilst getting ready for school.

Why is it that so often I now think of my own parents, and my own adolescent behaviour as I parent my children?  Life, like history, has a way of repeating itself.  Teenager behaviour, just like toddler behaviour, is fairly predictable after all (give or take a few interesting events that will become family lore in our little part of the world).  So around and around we go, just like a hurdy-gurdy, with life invariably repeating itself over the generations.

We actually have our very own hurdy-gurdy (see pic).  An ancient piece of playground equipment, that I remember fondly as a child, with hours spent spinning wildly around and around with the neighbourhood kids.  I assume it’s called a “hurdy-gurdy” because it resembles the round disc-like version found at playgrounds.  But our hurdy-gurdy is particularly unique, and very much a part of our family history, and a special part of our lives.  We still talk about the time my sister managed to get her finger caught and mangled in the inner workings of the hurdy-gurdy – it wasn’t a pretty sight trust me.  Hence the plastic ice-cream container designed to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself again (low tech but effective).

The hurdy-gurdy spent years sitting out the back of my parent’s house, no doubt awaiting grand-children.  When finally they arrived, it took more than a little convincing for my husband to allow the junk/scrap metal to be bought to it’s new home.  And so began the painstaking process by Mother of a Man-Child to replace the rotted timber wooden seats, a sparkling coat of paint and new rubber handles for grip (not that we ever had anything that fancy).  And yet another generation (my boys) benefited from the joys of the hurdy-gurdy.  On the odd occasion, my adult siblings would climb upon the hurdy-gurdy late on a Christmas Eve, with much hilarity and recklessness, spinning far faster than they could remember it going (you definitely don’t do rides like you used to as you get older do you?).

As the boys grew, the hurdy-gurdy was cast aside again (parked down the side of our house) with occasional requests by my husband to remove it permanently.  Thankfully we didn’t, because along came our daughter, and only recently the hurdy-gurdy is enjoying life yet again, this time accompanied by the squeals and delights of small girls, who all gaze in wonder at this strange toy, and when they finally understand it’s workings have a wonderful time enjoying wind in their hair, and un-abandoned, dizzying freedom.

Now that my younger sister has a baby and a new house with a good backyard, there is talk of handing the hurdy-gurdy on in time for the next generation to enjoy.  By then it will probably need a fresh lick of paint and a nice new set of handles, and be ready to entertain yet again.

The origins of the hurdy-gurdy remain a little unknown.  My 90-year-old grandmother recalls her husband bought it for my mother and her siblings when they were young.  By all accounts he bought it from a bloke who we think might have made it himself – it almost looks like it’s been fashioned from parts of a Hills Hoist.  In our lifetimes none of us has ever seen anything quite like it.

And as for where the hurdy-gurdy will end it’s life?  Provided it doesn’t continue to be passed along to countless generations of our family (spending the odd hiatus parked in the corner of the yard neglected), I have always insisted it be donated to a toy museum, where for future generations people will wonder at the strange toy that children from another era found enjoyment with.  Just imagine the stories the hurdy-gurdy could tell?  What great wisdom would it impart to us?  Likely it would say the only thing guaranteed is that the circle of like completes itself time and time again, with all the reliability of a spinning hurdy-gurdy. 🙂


Mother of a Man-Child: Through the Eyes of their Younger Sister! December 23, 2010

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Brother & SisterMy men-children actually have a sibling – a gorgeous little sister, a veritable gift from God, who surprised us all seven years ago.  She’s definitely one of those “old souls”, someone who’s been here before, and is wise beyond her years.  Maybe that’s just what happens when you live in an “adult” house – they’ve seen and heard a lot more than just toddler speak growing up, and adjust their view of the world accordingly.

So I’m always interested to observe my daughter’s views on her brothers.  Of course there’s not much she misses out on hearing – you can’t ask her to go away every time there’s “secret men-children business”.  Although we do use a certain amount of discretion, depending on the sensitivity of the issue at hand.

Their relationship is probably typical of siblings, although I wish it were better.  Man-Child I is quite good with his sister, but has been known to yell aggressively at her on occasion, and she’s somewhat sensitive so doesn’t respond well to this of course (who does?).

Man-Child II is probably very like his sister in many ways and so they have one of those typical “middle child” relationships – both know exactly how to wind the other up, which causes constant squabbling and drives me mad.

I said to my poor daughter the other day in exasperation and anger unfortunately: “Just ignore Man-Child II.  He only does it because he knows he’ll get a reaction, every time.  If you don’t respond he’ll soon tire of it”.

Later that night, when he tried again, I was ready to rip his throat out.  She looked at me and said – “You’re right Mum.  Just ignore him.”  It made me stop and bite my tongue – now’s who’s the grown up one?

One day in the car she asked me a simple question:  “Mum, do you think I’ll be as bad as the boys?”  Naturally I said she wouldn’t, without any doubt in my mind, although to be honest who really knows the answer to that question?  Only time will tell.

I do wish the boys would be nicer to her.  I once observed some 16 and 18-year-old brothers with their 7-year-old sister at a wedding.  She was tired at the end of a long wedding ceremony and it was late at night.  They took it in turns to cuddle her on their laps whilst their parents mingled and danced.  I thought it was absolutely gorgeous.  Unfortunately I can’t even imagine my men-children doing that, although they will babysit if we pay them.

I am confident however that once my daughter is about 15 years old and has lots of nice girlfriends, the boys will have renewed interest in her.  🙂  I’m also hopeful they’ll love the idea of being the “chaperone” who will drive her to parties, pick her up late at night, and be the nice protective brothers they should be.

And on the recent subject of Christmas presents, having insisted the men-children at least buy one for their sister, she replied one thing she would like is for them to be nice to her for the day and not call her names.  Let’s see if Santa can organize that wish!


Mother of a Man-Child: Live in babysitters at last! July 9, 2010

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We have finally reached the point where we will allow our 14-year-old boys to babysit their 6-year-old sister.  For parents of younger kids who have been paying for babysitters for years, this brings a sort of freedom akin to the moment you realise your toddler is toilet-trained and you no longer have to spend half your income on nappies!

Of course we are naturally cautious about when we choose to have them babysit.   Normally it’s when we are at a function very close to home, and not a terribly late night, just in case we need to rush home (yes, still slightly paranoid).  And we seem to have randomly struck upon a financial deal whereby if they are both home we don’t pay them, but if only one is home then we pay him $20 for babysitting services.  Logically, I don’t expect this arrangement will last very long, but it’s financially beneficial whilst it does. 🙂

On the first weekend we left them to babysit, we were actually out two nights running.  All seemed in order when we arrived home each night, and our daughter was safely tucked up in bed.  The fun started the following morning, when my daughter informed me:  “(Insert name of Man-Child II) told me not to tell you, but he had friends over last night”!  What an interesting bit of information.  Of course I enquired exactly how many friends he had over and was a little shocked to hear of 4 visitors.  When I asked Man-Child II about his visitors I was relieved to learn they had not stayed long, and had just detoured via McDonald’s on a Saturday night.  I also pointed out that perhaps next time he might actually ASK for permission to have friends over – I didn’t tell him the answer would probably be “no” in our absence.

The next morning, after our second night out, our in-built lie detector (6-year-old daughter) was again quick to enlighten me with tales of the prior night.  She informed me that “(Insert name of Man-Child I) asked me not to tell you, but he was using your Mac (sexy work computer) last night, and it wasn’t even for something important, he was on Facebook”.  I tried not to laugh, and thanked her for being honest (and the perfect “dobber” in my view).  The boys clearly don’t realise that in asking their sister not to tell us, her radar instantly goes up and she knows they’re doing the wrong thing.  I will not be educating them anytime soon.