Auntie Shellfish

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Today I looked after my nephew for a few hours.

He’s really cute. Only 17 months old. I ‘luth’ him, as a my friend Justin would say.

He kissed my dogs repeatedly. He put drinking straws in the dogs water bowl and encouraged the dogs to use them. He collected all the tennis balls in the house and threw them to the dog in a frenzy, and the dog nearly shit himself from ball overload. He fed the fat dog potato chips from his own bowl. He hated the swimming pool but insisted on wearing a single arm floaty inside. He talked to the Balinese family of wooden owls on the back deck about what seemed to be a very serious matter. He carried around a spaghetti container from the pantry and then talked to that for a while. He liked to wear my glasses and when I played the Tibetan singing bowl. He liked rice crackers and smoked trout dip. He liked carrying around a marble coaster and opening and shutting the front gate.  He liked looking out the window, and he liked it best when his Mama came home.

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Two and half hours and it was joyously relentless.

I often say I’m too old for a new baby but today I realised what it actually is that freaks me out about having a third child.

I am too selfish for a new baby. (Or ‘shellfish’, as my daughter used to say when she was small.)

I forgot what’s its like to never have any time for yourself. I’m not talking bullshit spa days, and getting pissed with mothers from childcare. I’m talking about finishing a god dammed cup of tea. My sister in law couldn’t even finish her drink. I forgot what’s that like.

Before kids, I was super selfish.

Then after I had my babies, I was completely about them. 100% dedicated mumma.

And now I’m somewhere in between.

I don’t have to make sure they’re not falling off  verandah’s and if they want a drink, they can get it themselves. I don’t have to put toothpaste on a brush or put a seatbelt on, anymore. I don’t have to get up before the sun rises or be woken three times a night.

This is why I don’t want another baby. My life is mine again. My sleep is mine again. I can read my tea leaves and plan a day without worrying about anyones nap but my own.

I am selfish but then I remember I did my time, and I remind my friends with small ones that this too will pass.

That they too will complain about how their kids sleep all day, how they eat you out of house and home and how they never want to watch TV with you anymore, and how they’re both out at parties on a Saturday night and you’re home alone watching cosy crime on the ABC.

Selfish? Yes.

Sentimental? Terribly.

Realistic? Absolutely.

Ring the bell, close the book, quench the candle.

I am done.


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