It’s always one of the first questions raised after having a baby.
Sometimes it comes up before you even give birth.
Sometimes before you’re even pregnant.
Of course, it’s more important to some families.
It was and is extremely important to both mine and Learner Dad’s.
It’s a question of faith, of religion if you will, of setting your child on a certain path for the rest of his or her life.
Often it’ll create divide among relatives.
It’ll even cause some children to break ranks when they discover they can make their own decisions.
I am of course talking about christening…
…christening your baby into the faith that is Aussie Rules football.
Initially having only me as a parent, Master Seven was mine for the taking.
The latest in a long line of Collingwood supporters, he was wearing black and white jumpsuits and literally spitting black and white dummies from the word ‘waaahhhhhh’.
For Li’l Fatty it ain’t so simple.
Learner Dad is a passionate Eagles fan.
But he flies solo, having broken ranks from his own father’s Bombers at the tender age of eight.
He’s determined karma won’t bite him and that Li’l Fatty WILL follow in his father’s footsteps.
But he faces strong opposition.
For every Eagles jumpsuit, there’s a Magpie beanie.
For every West Coast teddy, there’s a Collingwood toy.
And the rivalry doesn’t just come in black and white.
Learner Dad’s own dad, determined to recruit his grandson in his son’s place, has taken out an Essendon membership in Li’l Fatty’s name.
So although poor Li’l Fatty is being flown between the Magpie and Eagle nests, his first football club membership actually has him a Baby Bomber!
But while Poppy Cos has been dismissed as a small time rival, receiving only an icy glare for his trouble, Learner Dad clearly considers me a greater threat.
I get the innocent eyes, the pleas to ‘just give me this’, consistently reminded I’ve already recruited one of my sons to the Magpie Army.
But, with Li’l Fatty’s own wide and innocent eyes already following his big brother around, there’s a strong chance he’ll toddle down that beaten path.
And what a well worn path it is.
Yesterday Master Seven said to me: “So, we have to go for the Swans tomorrow don’t we Mum? Because we HATE Hawthorn.”
I looked at him and said: “You can go for whoever you like honey. You know that, don’t you?”
To which he replied: “Wellllllllll, Harry goes for the Hawks.”
(Harry is his best friend).
So he’s supporting his best friend’s Hawks tomorrow.
And he reckons he has the winning formula.
He says that, to win, the Hawks simply need Lance Franklin to play as well as his brother – Buddy.
“All I know is we’re going to Melbourne,” Learner Dad announced when we were talking about his Buck’s night.
“Is that what your groomsmen have organised?” I asked.
“No, but that’s what we’re doing,” he replied.
I was suspicious.
I hadn’t anticipated my Hen’s night would be anywhere but my home town.
Learner Dad had danced many a night away in Hobart.
Why did he need to drag everyone over to Melbourne?
“You want to visit strip clubs!” I exclaimed, the truth dawning on me.
“No I don’t,” he said.
But did he just look away?
“Yes you do. You want to go to strip clubs without getting caught!”
As he drifted off to sleep, muttering his denials, I thought about it.
I remembered when one of my best friends was getting married, she was ropable at the thought her fiancé might have a stripper.
Frankly, I didn’t see the big deal.
They were just naked women.
There was (hopefully) no touching and (almost certainly) no love.
Couldn’t he have this last hurrah?
But now I knew.
Now that I’d found a man who made me feel like the only woman on Earth worth appreciating, I didn’t relish the thought of him ‘appreciating’ anyone else.
But I couldn’t be a hypocrite about it either.
I thought about the prospect of a stripper at my own Hen’s do.
The two strippers I’d seen at such events were massive flops, if you’ll excuse the pun.
The first was a black man who didn’t speak English.
On his arrival, we quickly realised he hadn’t brought his own CD player, so he had to dance around the hotel room we’d booked to faint classical elevator music.
When he began getting himself off in a desperate attempt to generate any morsel of excitement among the ladies, he was ejected from the room.
The next time it wasn’t even a real stripper.
Caught up in the female frivolity, the bar manager simply convinced her own partner to do an impromptu number for the bride-to-be.
After a few awkward attempts at gyrating against her, his act was pulled (again, pardon the pun).
So what’s the go when it comes to Buck’s and Hen’s nights?
Does it simply stay on tour?
Do we go the rest of our married lives without ever asking what the other got up to?
While I may never know whether Learner Dad’s night was about women, I can say for sure mine will be.
It’ll be about dancing, drinking and laughing with them.
With all my favourite women.
I know doodles will play a part, but maybe they’ll just be made of sugar or plastic.
Or maybe I’ll have my own little secrets to keep.
Before you read this, know that what I’m about to tell you happens to fewer than one in a thousand women.
Learner Dad has been a great sport throughout this blog.
The only topic he’s asked I keep off limits is ‘sex’.
But I must preface this piece simply by stating the obvious: for a while, sometimes a good while, babies replace sex.
They mess up your body in all sorts of ways coming out, call shotgun on your boobs, and either keep you awake all night or tire you out completely during the day.
Called regularly to task right up to the end in a bid to expel Li’l Fatty, once the baby had appeared Learner Dad was stood down.
Having had a C-section, for six weeks it was a question of… well… it was simply out of the question.
The next month it was a question of exhaustion… or interruption… or did I say exhaustion?
After that, it was merely a question of contraception.
Now I don’t have a good track record when it comes to preventing pregnancy.
Master Seven managed to dodge the morning after pill (albeit taken about 20 hours too late) and Li’l Fatty also defied a form of contraception (albeit one of the least effective types).
I’d tried the pill and Implanon but they left me flat and riddled with acne.
Both my boys had been wonderful surprises, but I wanted the next baby to be a rational decision (although, reading that back, a ‘wonderful surprise’ baby sounds far cuter than a ‘rational decision’ one).
I didn’t trust breastfeeding alone to protect me so I decided to try the Mirena.
Like an IUD and effective for five years, it often stops your periods yet does nothing to harm your fertility.
It took me two weeks to get an appointment to have it inserted and I was told it would take a week after that to take effect.
So Learner Dad and I had a three week countdown ahead of us.
But, on the exact Wednesday Learner Dad and I were supposed to be ready to scatter our sparks and let them fly, I was instead laid up on an operating table.
Mirena had snubbed its nose at my uterus and pushed right through it, into my stomach, before nestling itself somewhere under my bowel.
Fortunately I knew something wasn’t right almost immediately.
For others, it can happen and go unnoticed for years, leading to infection, organ damage and unwanted pregnancies.
The surgery was fine – having a Mirena removed is nothing compared with having a baby taken out of you.
But for now, it’s back to the contraceptive drawing board.
That or another ‘wonderful surprise’.
“Well I know it’s not one of those,” I said to Learner Dad when the ad for the foot spa came on.
“I already have someone to massage my feet.”
If I’d looked at his face right then, I would’ve seen I’d actually nailed it.
My Christmas present.
But I didn’t look so what an awkward surprise when that’s exactly what I opened on that December day.
Nine months on, I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t used it.
In fact, Learner Dad re-wrapped it and gave it to me again for my birthday in July.
While a foot spa is actually a great present and I don’t use it for reasons that would bore you, it’s not alone untouched at the bottom of the cupboard.
When it comes to partners and sons, I’m sure all you women would agree… we get a lot of useless (usually pink) crap.
Before Learner Dad, Poppy Pete used to buy up tonnes of the stuff every Mother’s Day and birthday for Master Seven to present to me – pastel pink teddy bears and bright pink balloons that said things like ‘Hugs for Mom’ or ‘Mmm… Stop… Mummy Time.’
Learner Dad has taken over the task with precision.
There’s the hot pink box of frangipani body wash with frangipani candle that screams Kmart and chemicals, a clear drawcard for confused fathers and sons in the lead up to Mother’s Day.
The random tub of fairy floss was another bright pink beauty this year.
Although he’d never heard of fairy floss, it caught Master Seven’s roving eye and he proudly presented me with it for my birthday.
(Ok I admit, I did eat it.)
And then there’s Learner Dad’s consistent pearler of a pressie – the size 18 pink Kmart nightie.
I’m size 12, I’ve told him this before and, strangely, he got it right when buying me lingerie.
But, when it comes to cheap nighties, he grabs whatever’s available on the rack.
So long as it’s pink.
And has a koala on it.
I have three of them.
Ok, ok, I’m wearing one now.
I’m wearing it with the leopard cub slippers Master Seven gave me, the ones that actually have little leopards’ heads at the toes.
The ones with removable, microwavable heat packs.
He got them to replace the shin-high fluffy pink fake ugg boots with pom poms, which wore out in about a month.
The nightie says ALL ABOUT ME.
Maybe there’s a message in that.