Sneaky Peaky

14th March 2016
MotherLoad

Here’s a pic of me and my first bubba. I look alright in this pic, but maternal happiness wasn’t as ‘instinctive’ as I thought it would be. Most days I felt like I was gonna die. I want to explore that feeling in my novel.

So this week I’ve really thrown myself into my new novel on Post-Natal Depression (relax, it’s not as bleak as it sounds).  I’m trying to crack open the theme with some humour, irony and a 4 year-old.  I thought perhaps you might enjoy a little sneak peak at the work in progress.  Now, keep in mind that for an author putting drafts out in public feels a little like walking around naked.  So you all better give me some uplifting feedback (or this novel will get real depressing, real quick!)

Okay – here goes…

DRAFT:  Mummy’s Just Losing Her Mind excerpt (C) GJ STROUD 2016

It is breakfast and today’s topic of conversation is dogs. Abby is talking about them relentlessly, each breathless word punctuated by the blobby slurp of weetbix.

“Cats don’t like to swim. Dogs like to swim though. Most dogs. They like to swim but they don’t like getting a bath. Monty likes to swim, doesn’t he? He likes it when we throw a stick and he jumps in to get it and swims it back to us. Do you know what I dreamed about last night Mummy?”

“What?” I spoon gluggy weetbix into baby Liddy’s mouth.

“I dreamed Monty could walk on just two legs. That’s what I did dream about. That our dog was a walker. A swimmer and a walker. And in the dream….”

Her voice is a pneumatic drill in my head. I haven’t had enough sleep and I can’t tolerate her bright and chipper outlook. I feel hung over. That’s Motherhood: one great big hangover but no wild party the night before, no hazy memories of champagne and chardonnay, no crazy funny stories to recount. The Motherhood Hangover comes after a night of shitty old ‘wake ups’ where you put in a dummy or catch vomit or deal with wet sheets or comfort a screamer.

Lydia gives a hearty sneeze, spraying me with chunks of weetbix and a good dose of mucous. I sigh and The Little Part Of Me pangs I wish I was going to work. This is work of another kind. A work that, if it was advertised, you would say; “They couldn’t pay me enough to do that.” It is another day of Mothering.

“Mummy?” Abby pauses but only for a second. “Mummy!”

“Yes,” I blink. The Big Part Of Me takes a breath and returns to reality.

“Are we going shopping today?”

“Yep,” I smile and nod.

“Goody!” She leaps from her chair, twirling and coiling through the kitchen like a gnome doing ballet. “Can I wear a dress?”

“Sure can!”

Lyddy smiles at me and then sneezes again.

***

It takes two hours to get to the Newsagents. This is not because we live out of town, this is just how long it takes for the three of us to get dressed, eat breakfast, pack snacks, stock the nappy bag, eat the snacks, re-pack the snacks, get in the car, strap up, load the stroller and drive to the main street. It is nine a.m. and I am exhausted.

The newsagency is not pram friendly. For a start there are three steps up, just to get into the door. Once inside, there are forty trillion things at pram level and Lydia (who is in the pram) attempts to grab every single one of them. Fortunately, the newsagency aisles are too narrow for the pram to squeeze through. Unfortunately, this means that I have to leave Lyddy wedged between the local papers and the busty girls on Zoo magazines while Abby and I go in search of the craft supplies. Abby wants to make a card for Daddy’s birthday. We have just selected a packet of coloured cardstock when I hear Lyddy start up. It is The Little Grizzle.

“I’m just here, Lyddy,” I call out. An old man looks up at me. He is probably not judging me, but I frown at him anyway.

“Maybe we could get some stickers?” Abby is asking. She touches an overpriced plastic packet of golden stars.

“I don’t think we need those, darling. I think Daddy would like you to draw…” I trail off. Lydia is working up to The Big Grizzle. I peek over the craft display. She has pulled half a dozen local papers off the shelf and is shredding them up.

“I’ll just check on Lyddy,” I say, leaving Abby with all the glorious temptations.

I weave my way around the aisles and displays making shooshing noises to Lydia as I approach. I pinch the pram’s seatbelt buckles and drag her out, but her arm is caught. As I tug, the whole pram rises up causing more newspapers to slither to the ground.

Lydia starts to bellow. I wrangle her free from the pram, hoping I haven’t dislocated her shoulder or caused the front wheels to lock. A woman behind me is trying to get past but I have wedged the pram so firmly, the end of the aisle is completely blocked. She mutters something and walks away.

“Come on, Abs.” I call out. “Just bring your stuff. We’ve got to go.”

So what do you think?  You want more?  You couldn’t relate?  You laughed? Smirked?  Smiled?

Leave me a comment…puhleaaaaase!!

14 responses to “Sneaky Peaky”

  1. Ken Holloway says:

    Hilarious! I can see those people judging you and thinking what a bad parent you are! Oh my how I can relate to those days! Beautifully described?

    • gjstroud says:

      Thanks Ken – it’s such a public mission to be a parent. For me personally, add on the fact I’m a teacher and I feel like people around me are expecting even MORE from me and my kids. Experience is teaching me though that most people are that busy trying to wrangle their own kids/ demons that they aren’t actually paying that much attention to yours! How wonderful that you can still keep reading even though your current injuries prevent you from doing pretty much anything else!

  2. JulianneCavalieri says:

    loved it , laughed and felt like crying .
    Such memories !
    Every mother feels like this at times but most of us don’t fess up . Looking forward too more .
    Go Gab!!!!!

    • gjstroud says:

      Oh I’m so glad you can relate! It’s sooo cathartic writing it all down and letting it all hang out and it’s bringing back some memories that I can laugh about now but cried about back then!

  3. Jen says:

    OMG I remember all that. Lack of sleep is such a drainer, and it has coloured my memories of those early years with some heavy grey times. It was definitely not easy, though at the time I was very reluctant to admit otherwise. Motherhood after all is supposed to be “wonderful”! Love your witty writings, and particularly enjoyed (laughed) this piece. Love your work Gab. Keep it up. Jen.

    • gjstroud says:

      Thanks Jen – that word reluctant just struck something with me as I read your comment… I think it expresses that uncertainty we feel as new mothers. As you say, for some reason we believe we’re “supposed” to be enjoying ourselves so we don’t want to be the one who stands up and says “Hang on – this sucks sometimes, in fact, it sucks a lot of the time!” The lack of sleep and hormonal stuff knocks mums around too. We truly aren’t in our ‘right mind’ which is kind of dangerous if you think on it too long!

  4. Roslyn Harling says:

    Brilliant, an insight into the daily grind of a mum, with some humour. Love it!!!!!

    • gjstroud says:

      Thanks Ros, It’s been so cool getting all this +ve feedback. Very motivating. Makes the late nights worth it!

  5. Catherine says:

    Hilarious Gab! I just wanted to keep reading. Can’t wait to read the book. I can relate for sure – looking forward to the funny ‘mother of a teenager’ stage sequel in a few years time!

    • gjstroud says:

      Oh Catherine I am dreading the teenage years… I see what some of my friends go through and i just think Oh. Em. Geeeee!

  6. Kate says:

    Almost laughed, smiled, felt sad, touched your hand, wiped the snot off your top, made you a cup of tea. Laughed (not judged) when Liddy found the papers and Abby found the overpriced gold stars… Frowned (judged) at the mumbling lady.
    I’m not a mother, and probably never will be, but I see parts of you in all the mothers around me.
    Loved it. Want more. Keep writing and sharing please.
    PS you and Ramona make such good ‘twins’ 🙂

    • gjstroud says:

      Gorgeous gorgeous friend of mine… thank you for reading and being on my shoulder throughout (you know another lady perches there don’t you?) So good to see your words here waiting for me. Each time I sit to write this story on mothering and depression and the small dramas of life I find I am filled with a frisson of excitement just like when I have a chance to read a few pages of a book I am loving. I hope that one day, when it’s all published and selling like a hot cake, readers will feel that frisson too.

  7. Bronwyn says:

    Ooh I really enjoyed reading this! I’m new to the hangover that is motherhood and rotating between dreading my girl getting older and wanting it all to hurry up, because surely it gets easier? Ha!

    • gjstroud says:

      Hello Beautiful Bronwyn, I’ve seen you out and about with your newbie but you’ve always been with your lovely family and friends so I haven’t wanted to intrude (but I’m going to next time I see you!). I’m thrilled that you enjoyed my excerpt. I really want to get this novel ‘right’ in terms of creating something that resonates with mothers and the universal struggles of mothering. Nice to think a ‘new mumma’ gives it the thumbs up. The issue of time and parenting is something I think about A LOT. I think you might enjoy this piece I wrote last year: Let me know what you think.

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