On motherhood…

The holiest of subjects. There are so many preconceptions about it. And I think every person who’s ever thought about having a child has an idea or a thought on how they want it to be, or how they think it will be. And every person who’s since had a child will attest to it being a vastly different experience.

One thing most parents have in common is the overwhelming feeling of love they feel for their child. Something no one is ever prepared for, because it cannot be compare to anything one has ever experienced before. And I only have the one child but I believe that even if you have more than one, every single child you have you get that same overwhelming, never-before-experienced feeling of love.

But the hardships are many. Some are spared, and those lucky few are exceptions to the rule. Most of us have babies that have some sort of difficulty – be it sleeping or eating. Those are the two most common ones, my empirical studies show. Of course there are people who have children who are sick and they really struggle, and are the true heroes who tirelessly fight to make the best out of a situation nobody ever wants their children to be in. But us regular parents, we mostly struggle with sleep and food.

I lucked out in the food department, at least this far. Erik eats like a large, healthy horse. But his sleeping is bad, it’s very bad. He has had one night where he slept a full four hours, in nine months. He doesn’t sleep much during the day 2-3 naps circa 20 minutes each while being continuously rocked. At night he scrapes together about 1.5 hours then eats and falls back asleep only to wake up in an hour again, and so on. After 2 AM I have to keep rocking him otherwise he will be wide awake and angry. For hours and hours.

This is the situation now.

It is so much better than it was a few months ago but far from good. Some nights I don’t sleep at all since he needs to be rocked. Every time a tooth is coming he just stops sleeping all together, he is exhausted and clingy he whines and screams nonstop but he just can’t fall asleep.

So I have learned a few tricks while being at home with him. Mom hacks, if you will.

I do my nails when he’s in the shower. That way I can keep a close look at him and interact with him while also getting to look less like a hobo. I use a dip-in remover so it doesn’t stink up the place, then I file down the nails for a more clean look. After that I soak the hands in warm water and baby oil (that’s what I have on hand) and then file additionally if I see something I missed. I push back the cuticles, usually with a tool but these days it’s with my nails and then put some lotion on them to keep them moisturized.

I’ve tried the “Amazonian Saviour” from The Body Shop. And to be honest it is like a firmer version of Vaseline. I am really underwhelmed due to it drying out my hands. I later applied “Hand Repair” hand cream by Trind to actually moisturize my hands.

That process takes between 5 and 10 minutes. Usually by that point Erik is done splashing around, so it is perfectly synced. Painting the nails I can really ever do if someone is watching him. That I haven’t managed to hack yet.

However I am strongly considering getting a gel manicure set, just so that I can do a nail at a time and guarantee that it doesn’t smudge or smear. It is a bit pricy but I think it might be a good investment, because then I can do nail art without having it get ruined. Living alone with a baby that doesn’t sleep doesn’t leave any space for do-overs.

Nails and food have always been my two big hobbies. Two hobbies that eat up more time than you realize. And when you suddenly find yourself busy 24/7 you are forced to prioritize what’s important. As a parent you, and your wants, always take a back seat, so you have to learn to do what you can with what you have. New situations require new actions. So my nails are nude, for the most part. Some weeks I just can’t manage to squeeze in any upkeep, like filing, because Erik needs 150% of my time. Same goes for food.

On good days I can make simple dishes with Erik hanging onto me or climbing the stove or the dishwasher. Worry not, no area he can access is even remotely warm and I always have a splash guard so nothing splashes onto him. Dry brusselsprouts are not splash prone.

It is often said that one eats with the eye, so sometimes I try to plate my food nicely to make myself forget how simple the dish is.

This was a pepperoni sausage and wax bean casserole with some pasta and cheese.

Other days, when you’ve been up for 12 hours playing and only had two cups of coffee (how good is coffee tho) your eyes are not half as hungry as your stomach.

On those days you eat burger patties with cheese and butter fried beets with garlic. All drowned in Sriracha mayo. That was my breakfast, lunch and dinner today – all in one meal.

Erik has a fever, not a high one but a fever nevertheless so he hasn’t left my side all day and hasn’t slept for two nights straight.

And on days like these one just doesn’t prioritize eating, going to the bathroom or the fact that one has a herniated disc and sciatica. Pain is a French word for bread, which is the motto I live by. My pain is secondary, and any hobby I used to have is a thing of the past. Erik reigns supreme, in terms of getting my attention and time. And I can’t imagine a task more rewarding or fun. Because even though it’s quite painful and I’m exhausted, there are moments like these:

For a baby who is about as affectionate as his mother was when she was younger this is an unusual sight. But it is the biggest treat for the mom unit. Baby cuddles are quite amazing and I’m all but spoiled with them.

But about mom hacks, the best one so far is discovering that the grocery stores do home deliveries. In a small town like this where there is only one pizza place that does deliveries, and that costs as much as two overpriced pizzas (I shit you not!) discovering that I can get fresh fruit and vegetables delivered to my doorstep has been a lifesaver for me. Also I don’t have to carry all those bags. They have Erik’s formula and all the food he likes.

My other lifesaver – 3 AM coffee.

Campbell of Sweden

Knowing the price of everything but never the value of anything…

I think a lot of people, when they have kids especially, lose their minds a bit. It’s inevitable, really, as we get older we usually start making more money and can afford the things we wanted while still working our way up. Of course there are exceptions, the ones who grew up with money whose only struggle in life was to choose between their two favorite colors of any brand name bag they were eyeing at the time.

But for the most part we all sit and look up interior decoration ideas online, watch shows that inspire us and motivate us to make our homes more cozy. What we rarely realize while watching these shows is the amount of money that is thrown onto that project. Most of us have a finite amount of money and if we were to decorate our homes the way that media thinks we should we would be indebted for life. A nice vase for $5000 on a cute antique table worth $150000. It’s a pleasure decorating this home, the interior designer says. No prices are ever mentioned, of course, and it was all a bargain at some auction. And auctions are for the most part public, so I check the prices because I’m curious about what kind of a bargaing we’re talking about.

A bargain to me is something I get for less than my monthly income. A vase for $5000 is, to me, not a bargain and it sure isn’t a steal – as it was referred to in this particular show.

I look over at my IKEA couch and can’t help but wonder what the designers would say about it. How they would laugh and think “by God this place simply cannot be fixed up”.

I read a lot about interior design, it fascinates me – the combinations and the many styles that add up to one coherent look. But lately I have been kind of bored. Every interior designer does the very same thing, in Sweden anyway. It can be summed up with one word: KLONG.

I can’t remember if it was the “Äng/Meadow” vase or the “Gloria” candlestick holder that made its way into everyone’s home first, but it is everywhere. Paired up with the SKULTUNA candle holder “Feather” and/or “Celestial” preferably on a tray with some other knick knack that’s dictated by ELLE HOME.

I grew more and more weary of seeing the same decor in home after home. Page after page of the same items placed in different locations around the house. It got tiresome, that déjà vu of the same color schemes and items that were losing their charm with every turn of the page. MISSONI on every pillow and towel, the boring and boho- friendly zigzag pattern. A round SVENSKT TENN vase with the seasonal bouquet, on a Bruno Mathsson piece of furniture.

So I started wondering if the children’s areas were any better. Maybe I could get ideas for Erik’s play areas if I took a gander at what there was out there. And that’s when it hit me, when I opened page after page of white. A sea of white and gray, of aesthetically pleasing children’s toys in unison colors that all just blended into the crisp white walls.

What kind of a hell is this, I thought to myself. What happened to uniqueness, to ideas outside of the boring magazine frame. Is no one their own anymore? Sheeple.

It seems that to fit in you need to blend well with the wall, stay under the radar or go batshit and be above the radar. But maybe I’m dramatic for no reason, the middle is always scrutinized. I refuse the damn Svenskt Tenn bullshit, the seventies were stylistically fucked up if you ask me. I hate the color schemes, the patterns and the quirkiness that has now been reshaped to fit a more mainstream look. It’s been toned down, washed out and boxed so that it fits your wallet but leaves no space for life.

I’m done watching clean children sit on hardwood floors, afraid to spill and make a mess. Children playing in ball pits that look like something from a Mario Bros nightmare. I’m protesting the clean, sleek look as much as I am protesting bringing back the old crap we threw out and promised to never take back in. You keep your GANT satin sheets, I’m putting the cheapest ones from IKEA on. Granted the bottom sheet is satin, here too, but that’s because my mother made our bed (due to a herniated disc and sciatica).

I am done trying to look like one of the Stepford Wives. I am not you and honestly, neither is about 75% of you. You can keep your catalogue homes and your botoxed, filler- faces with those sun feather eyelashes and gel nails paired with hair extensions and any Gucci/Louis Vuitton- bag. I’m done. And terrified.

I need a cup of coffee and a cigarette, and maybe a ton of chocolate. I need to step outside of this situation and decide the direction I want to take our home in. But I promise you one thing, and one thing alone – it won’t look like something out of a magazine. It won’t be a museum, in stead it will be a home for me and my whale of a boy. Nothing else would ever do.

Look at him happily resting in cheap sheets.

Campbell of Sweden

Some ideas…

Having a baby suddenly made me look at things differently, much like it does for most people. But for me it was a matter of learning to accept that second hand things are not the enemy.

I was living by a quote from the mayor in Spin City, an episode where they were talking about buying antiques and he said “Why would I buy old things, I’m rich – I can afford new things”. And that was my life motto, I can afford new things. But life changed suddenly for me and my finances were depleted by somebody who was promising to pay me back but who in turn just vanished. But it is often said that one should never lend anyone anything they can’t afford to lose. So I was left with the realization that in order for me to be able to give Erik everything, that I thought he should have, I had to change the way I think and shop.

So I scoured the web for good buy and sell groups, I kept an eye on sales and had to reevaluate what was important. Clothes I didn’t want to buy second hand, and I still don’t. Anything that has to do with food (plates, utensils, bottles and such) is also a matter of not buying from others. But toys, and interior decorations – that was a free market.

Some of his favorite things were given away for free or for very little money. Something I am vastly grateful for. But it’s not just a matter of financial gain, it is also very good for the environment to not throw things out as soon as the kids stop playing with them.

In hindsight I’m happy I didn’t spend tons of money on Erik’s crib, he hates sleeping away from me. I think I actually got it for free. These days it acts like a couch in one of his play areas. I’ve bought a bunch of pillows that were on sale in different stores to create a bit of dynamics or life because it is way more fun for a baby to have different fabrics and prints that are more visually stimulating than a unison clean look, which of course is more aesthetically pleasing to the adult eye. But his area is an area full of life and color, textures and sounds. It is not adjusted to suit an adult, but a place where he can make any type of mess he wants and nobody can frown upon it.

I can’t wait to watch him grow up and really get to explore all the different things that he has.

A friend found a table and two chairs that somebody was giving away for free. Their kids had drawn all over the set and it looks really well used. So come spring and/or summer I will be sanding them down and giving them a fresh coat of paint. I will also draw some roads on the table top and maybe also on the seats of the chairs so that Erik can drive his cars all over that map.

And as I was writing that I realized that I wanted to do a specific thing, I wanted to put down a wax cloth on said table top depicting a roadmap, rather than to draw it on so I checked and found one I think will be perfect. I ended up ordering it even tho the delivery cost more than the cloth itself. But it is phthalate free and safe for kids so I figured why not.

This is what it looks like and I think it will be a fun addition to his play area. The chairs I was thinking of painting green to match the ones he already has.

But for all I know I might change my mind about their color too. They, too, could do with a fresh coat of paint.

I can’t wait for my herniated disc and sciatica to heal up so I can properly start doing things around the house. First up is Erik’s Stokke Trip Trap chair. Well, actually, first up is a castling. Livingroom and bedroom are going back to where they initially were.

Fun times ahead. No idea where this blog post went. But I guess you guys have gotten used to the lack of cohesion in my texts by now.

Campbell of Sweden