Who moved my cheese ?

Before we have kids, we dream of how gobsmackingly good looking and smart they’re going to be. After we have kids, all we dream of is dreams really, REM sleep eluding us after the extended sleep-deprivation of nursing newborns. By the time the tyke gets to school, dreams of another sort haunt our waking hours: packing up and running away for a month anywhere, so that we can have conversations that revolve around things other than uneaten school lunches, homework and after-school activities. Adult conversations.

On weekdays, we dream of weekends when there is no early morning alarm to set, when we can just laze about until midday in our pyjamas. On weekends, we dream of weekdays when the kids are off at school and we have a couple of childfree hours to ourselves. Then we find ourselves a nice herbivorous-looking sitter one evening and decide to go and get reacquainted with our other halves. That’s when the penny drops. What we really dream about is a life free of parental responsibilities. But are the childless really having such a good time or are they just pretending to have scintillatingly full lives so that we’d be envious of them?

It’s moments when my child puts her hand in mine, or clasps my face with her grubby paws and says, “Mummy I love you” that I’m left feeling silly for ever wanting different. Then the occasional resentment of it no longer being about me or having any time for pre-parenthood interests melts away and the only dream I have is of this journey that began with the making of this special little person, never-ending.

Mother and baby sharing a moment in a pool.

A private moment between me and my baby.

Puppy love in the playground.

Children grow so fast. One minute I was cradling Amanda as a newborn, the next she is talking to Vivi, her Chinese language tutor’s daughter, about her classmate’s crushes. “Sveta loves Vlad,” I hear her say.

“What’s this?” I ask in my typical Asian-mother voice, communicating my disapproval. After all, when I was her age, the only crushes I had were on TV stars and I wisely kept them to myself.

Everyone knows Sveta loves Vlad,” she says, making me feel like the only parent who missed out on the school’s weekly newsletter. She goes on to wax lyrically about her best friend’s new admirer, another classmate of theirs. “And everyone knows that Guy likes Lily.”

“That’s ok,” I say. “As long as everyone knows that you cannot have a crush or boyfriend until you are thirty, Amanda.” What I would give for her to be a baby again.

Amanda and a her friend Maia making mud pies on the banks of the Brisbane River.