Moments

I had a bit of a ‘moment’ on Friday morning, as I was driving Matty to the station. I’d woken up feeling irritated, sort of grumpy, a bit dissatisfied like when you’re really, really hungry and the only thing that will suffice is a burger and chips, so you go to a restaurant, and when your order comes, it turns out it’s nouvelle cuisine and your burger is  ‘deconstructed’: a few crumbs of dehydrated bread, a sliver of wagyu, a microscopic cube of pickle, and a light sprinkle of microherbs atop an artful smudge of sauce.


“I feel like I haven’t achieved anything,” I said to Matty.

Matty reminded me that indeed I had achieved things – not least in the last seven months: birthed a baby and written and edited not one but two magazines.

I wrote and edited this. The Edition, issue 1.

But that wasn’t quite what I meant. I’m not discounting the fact that I’ve managed to create a gorgeous, flame-haired, mini-human whom I love ferociously, or, that frequently, after putting mini-human to bed at 7pm I work happily on aforementioned magazine until midnight or 1am.

I gave birth to this. Marnie.

It’s more a feeling that I don’t have enough space, at the moment. Space to do the things I’d do if I had more time for myself: regularly updating my blog, for example, or painting again once in a while, or practising the piano so I don’t lose my very limited repertoire completely. I have so many ideas for the children’s books I want to write and illustrate and the jewellery I want to make and the sculptures I want to create – but there’s just no space. Not an inch.

I drew this. ‘Horse on Motorbike’, charcoal on paper

I feel overwhelmed by all the things I need to do: I have so many phone calls to make, to friends I’ve neglected as weeks have turned into months; there are a million clothes to fold and put away, but no matter how much I do, the mountain of mess gets bigger, not smaller. I’m feeling deafened by so much social media screaming for attention: the Instagram narcissists vying for likes, the Facebook braggers and the oh-my-god-you-have-to-click-on-this-or-life-won’t-be-worth-living clickbaits. (I try not to click! But I do, and then I fall headfirst into a meaningless internet vortex).

I painted this. ‘Tutti after chemo’, acrylic on canvas.

I’m exhausted. So exhausted. The baby never sleeps, and when she does, it’s in fits and starts. An hour here. Forty minutes there. She wants to be attached to me all the time. I’ve become a half-adult half-baby hybrid. Exhausted. Exhausted.

Even so, a very wise and dear friend recently reminded me that although life with a small baby can be tough, these are the years I’ll look back on as some of the most beautiful of my life. Just like the pain of childbirth, I’ll forget the crosseyed-with-tiredness delirium and the feeling of being suffocated by unfulfilled ambition.

Instead, I’ll remember how precious it was to have a baby yet unable to speak but so hilariously expressive. Who squeals with arm-flapping excitement when I walk into the room. Who has the juiciest, most kissable cheeks and hands you can’t help but squeeze; so small and pudgy, with dimples where her knuckles should be. I’ll wish I could hold her – as I do now – as her eyes flutter shut and she nuzzles into me like the sweetest, warmest, milk-drunk koala. Even for a moment. You see, the thing about moments is that they’re fleeting. They slip from our grasp and tick-tock away no matter how hard we try to hold onto them. So I know what I have to do. I have to lower my expectations of myself. I have to put down my mobile phone.  I have to be in the moment with my sweet little baby and remember that one day I’ll look back and wish I could be exactly where I am now. Right here.

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Sisters, reunited

A couple of days ago, my dear sister Fluffy arrived from London (where she lives) to celebrate her impending 30th birthday in Sydney.

2015/02/img_5485-0.jpg We’ve always been really good friends, but when I was 10 I clearly begrudged her for having the cute-factor that got her out of trouble at every turn. A point I made quite clear in this letter I penned to Tutti.

2015/02/img_54831.jpgDear Mummy, I’m very sorry although it was not all my fault. You have to understand that whenever you shout at Sonia or me, you always use my name or stare at me during a lecture so I feel blamed for everything. I feel parents should treat old & young kids the same. To try and make you forgive me I have tidied my room and used my best writing paper in this letter. I also hope that sometimes you won’t fall for her (Sonia) cute act as I know that in being 6 years she is cuter than me anyway. Sorry about the writing. Love, your misbehaved daughter Cecily Anna B.
P.S. I think the threats you give sometimes are mean.

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Marnie

My daughter Marnie entered the world with barely a squeak. Barely a whimper.

One minute everything was going marvelously. I was lying in bed feeling utterly relaxed, delighting in the little green light that flashed every 15 minutes indicating I could top up my epidural.

The next, there were suddenly too many people in the room. Too many furrowed brows. Hardly a sound but for the slowing beep of the baby heart monitor. I held my breath. I may have prayed.

Marnie was not having a particularly good time of it, thanks to an entangled umbilical that had strapped her in like a seatbelt. And for all my red-cheeked, vein-popping, labour-intense pushing, she was not going anywhere fast.

The kind-faced obstetrician wielded the forceps. Don’t worry, just the small forceps, he told me. He could have been using giant salad servers for all I cared – I was blissfully oblivious to whatever contortions my nether regions were performing, thanks to the spectacular spell of anaesthesia. All I wanted was to expel my little baby from her womb with(out) a view and for her to be okay.

And then, finally, she arrived; sweet and squashed, foaming at the mouth. Silent.

She was placed on my chest for all of two seconds, then whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to have life rubbed briskly into her pale pink body; to be oxygenated and aspirated and hooked up to monitors and tube fed.

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Matty was no longer in the room since he’d followed Marnie to the NICU (quietly plutzing over his dramatic start to fatherhood). I lay in bed feeling shell-shocked and amazed that a human being had just been squeezed out of me.

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I didn’t get to hold my baby properly for a couple of days. The first time I met her, a good few hours after her delivery, I peered down at her in her plastic crib and stood awkwardly, unsure of what to do with someone so small and vulnerable – with her toothpick limbs and bobble head. I almost felt I should extend my hand with a formal ‘pleased to meet you.’ After all, we had only just met, even if she had lived inside me for the most part of a year.

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The WTF-has-just-happened? face. Seriously. WTF.

There were no sudden explosions of overwhelming love, or fireworks or thunderbolts. Rather, my adoration grew slowly, over days, over weeks; stretching, unfurling like a lazy dog in the sun.

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The many faces of Marnie

And now, six weeks on, I’m amazed at how I’ve adapted. At how I’m able to leap out of bed at 3am and 6am – with a smile on my face because my baby needs me and she’s incredibly cute. I’ve become a morning person and a night owl and everything in between. I’m exhausted and jet-lagged and I don’t mind at all.

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Being a baby = exhausting.

To see Matty with his daughter is incredibly special. He’s a wonderful father, as I knew he would be. And there’s no more devoted a big sister than Tiggy the dog, who looks concerned when Marnie cries, lies by her cot, gently nuzzles her ear and watches on adoringly with big, brown eyes. We’re a family now, and it’s inexplicably lovely.

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Daddy and baby. Carbon copies.

I’m mesmerised by Marnie’s every sound (perhaps not the pterodactyl screech that breaks through the sound barrier of acceptable decibels and could probably shatter glass – but still.) I could stare at her face all day. Her expressions are hilarious. I guess no kid of mine had a choice but to be at least a little bit funny looking.

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Funny faces. It’s in the genes.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself – to think that I’m a mother, with a blue-eyed, red-haired daughter. An impossibly sweet one, who fits perfectly inside a fine-china teacup.

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The art of the perfect guilt-trip

By the time I was about 15, I was well-practiced in the art of getting out of trouble (and I was in trouble a LOT. My attitude by then was at an all time high). The secret? Making Tutti laugh. In most cases, laughing made her even more enraged, but it’s very hard to maintain rage when you’re gasping for breath, your upturned mouth betraying your fury.

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I’m back after two weeks away. And I’m grumpy.

Hello loyal, lovely (and HIGHLY ATTRACTIVE) readers who I have callously neglected for the last two weeks. “Where have you been?” I hear you ask. “What have you been doing?” You plead. “PLEASE fill us in with all the minute details of your illustrious life!” I hear you cry (er… in my head… as I watch the tumbleweeds roll softly by).

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It might as well be a tumbleweed. AKA The innards of one of Tiggy’s toys. There is fluff EVERYWHERE. I am going to have to teach her to use the vacuum cleaner.

In truth, I’ve had ten glorious days off work. I’ve been the very personification of the Spanish proverb that goes, “Isn’t it beautiful to do nothing and then rest afterwards.” And it is, I tell you. It really, truly is.

For the first five days of my holiday, Matty, Tutti, the Guru, Tiggy and I went to Sky Cottage in Jervis Bay, a gorgeous, simple, two-bedroom cottage, just a five minute drive from Hyams Beach, which according to the Guinness Book of Records has the whitest sand in the world. It was glorious. We lazed by the sea, watched movies, had barbecues at night by the bonfire and played an epic game of Monopoly that spanned three days and ended predictably with The Guru making appalling deals, and Matty monopolising the board until he owned everything and had mercilessly bankrupted everyone with his exorbitant rents.

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Tiggy, contemplating some of life’s big questions at Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay

I just realised I didn’t take any photos of anyone except Tiggy, so you will have to look to her to see how much we enjoyed ourselves.

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“Nothing to see here,” says Tiggy. “Move along please.”

Then we drove back to Sydney, and I spent another couple of days mooching about, and yet another couple, having succumbed to a boring cold that saw me lying in bed listlessly and coughing pathetically.

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Just imagine this is my face, I’m coughing persistently, and being incredibly self-pitying.

Then Sunday night (when I’m writing this post) rolled around, and I had all these grand plans about the fun I would have, and yet somehow, the hours ticked past, I ate a couple of sandwiches, tidied the bedroom, ate some cheese toast and fell down an appalling internet rabbit hole while trying to help Matty change his Apple ID region from UK to Australia. I went round and round in frustrating circles, unable to solve the problem and yet I persisted in vain for over an hour until I started weeping pitifully and declared my Sunday RUINED. And then I made plenty of these faces, a few of which I have captured for you here.

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So there you have it. I may be whinging and whining like a dog in the rain, but I’m back, good people of the internet, and I look forward to seeing all your lovely faces back here again. Now THAT will cheer me up.

Love ya!

Ceci xx

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The best pickles in the world

Hello friends!

It’s Friday today and I’m all out of puff. So you’re not getting much today. But what you are getting, is a picture of Tutti holding two tins of the very best and most delicious pickles in the world.

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Now you could call me biased, because these pickles are made by my cousins on Kibbutz Yavne in Israel, who, in addition to their pickling-prowess are a talented bunch (inspirational speakers, teachers, children’s fashion designers, pottery geniuses and artists among them). Except that I am actually* a pickle connoisseur. I love pickles. I could chain-crunch through an entire jar of pickles, in one sitting, and I can guarantee that these are the best.

If you’re lucky, you can find these crunchy morsels of delight in your local supermarket Kosher aisle.

*not actually.

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