Everyone says it. Everyone thinks it. Next year I shall be thinner/fatter/more relaxed/more organised drier/wetter – delete as appropriate. My desire is to earn an income again, and preferably one that utilises the skills I have spent the last 15 years building, not starting over in my local Co-op. I need to think, boss, lead, debate and challenge again (I’m so fun). Husband won’t let me near his business (can’t imagine why) so with no one else to boss around, I think it’s time I started working again…it’s time to be a Working Mum!… (more…)
January is such a weird time. Fresh and hopeful new year resolutions swiftly become cold, depressing disappointments. A short dry, alcohol–free spell followed by a soaking, epic collapse and hangover. Ups and downs. Mine has been no different. No2 is walking (yaaay); no1 was been bitten by a swan and wet herself at the shock (booo); I’ve lost half a stone (yaaay); I climbed up on my kitchen cabinet in a need-chocolate-right-now frenzy (booo); booked a holiday (yaaay), had the car broken into (booo)….this could go on a while….
New Year Resolutions
Fundamentally the New Year is just another number, though this will take me 3 to 5 months to grasp. I like a New Year. My only real issue with is that it’s a year closer to old age. This year, I will be 36. Thirty-bloody-six. How do you even get that old?! I know it’s not old if you’re older than 36 but if you’re not then it seems so old. I’ve always thought 40 is the age at which you start to get old. And here I am, about to hit the downward slope to 40. If my age was being rounded, then I would be 40, not 30. If I achieve something big I won’t be talked about in a “Bright Young Thing” capacity, I’ll be that Bitter Old Mum who wanted to get her own back on someone. As an aside, I totally plan on doing this. I think I’ve got “something big” left in me to do before I get old. I’ll tell you more about that next week though. Watch this space for the reveal of my Grand Plan!
Is Forty just a number?
As well as me getting older, it’s another year older for my babies. Now, I have two toddlers. Or a toddler and a child. What’s the criteria for going from toddler to child? No2 started walking at Christmas time and now follows me round the house like a happy little zombie. She’s so pleased that she can transport two rice cakes in one go, she laughs as she’s walking and does a happy little hum. There’s definitely something to be learnt from these small goals and giant celebrations! No1 (age 3) seems infinitely happier to have a more interactive sister. Admittedly she spent most of yesterday pushing her over and lying flat on top of her as she tried to crawl away. They both laughed a lot the first few times she did it so it became a game. Inevitably though, no1 didn’t know when to stop and it all ended in tears and naughty steps, but it was fun while it lasted. We established over Christmas that no1 has a whole new energy level that we didn’t know existed and is no longer exhausted by a 3-mile walk. Or she is, but then a short post-lunch re-charge leaves her bouncing off the furniture like we’re at Flip Out. On a bright day, it’s really good for us as we get out and do more. So much so that I’m thinking we should maybe get a dog…
These words will make my husband go rigid, his eyes nearly pop out of his head and his balls jump back inside him. I have tried to convince him we should get a dog twice before. Both times it has turned out I have been pregnant. Worry not Husband! I’m definitely not. If I were this would be the most bizarre announcement! We do talk about no3. Should we, shouldn’t we? He’s already 36, I will be soon. Some days I am positive this is a good idea. “Give me twins!” I say, as though he has the power to make this happen. Other days, when I’m cleaning piss out of wellies because No1 didn’t let go of the duck food quickly enough and was distracted by a hat she liked, I think I must be mad. Where would this poor child be in the chaos? Are there enough rice cakes on the planet to keep everyone happy while I deal with no1’s latest disaster? And aren’t they like cocaine for kids? I’m sure you’re not really meant to feed them too many. Other events put me off too. The other day, a screaming match ended in a nosebleed for me because they both wanted to sit on my left knee. My left knee?! It’s not even that great! My left boob, maybe, but my knee? No. It is a conversation though, dear readers. I can’t think of many better ways to throw the towel in on this diet. Of course this blog represents a pretty accurate account of the first year and therefore a deterrent for any more. Certainly within the next 12 months anyway!
So new year, new dreams. We don’t make new year resolutions in this house but we do write down some goals each year. We have about a 70% success rate, which I’m happy with. I must have been pretty pushed when I decided last year that we would all learn Japanese. I don’t even know anyone Japanese. Personally I have a few aims: send more emails to the girls’ email addresses I have set up to give them access to when they’re old enough to understand sentimentality (I have a vision or tears, cuddles, “Mum you’re so amazing”, you know like in the movies); lose 2 stone to get back to wedding weight (standard); stop eating sugar (you’re welcome family); and launch my business (see earlier note on Grand Reveal next week). I have actually made moves on all of my goals already. I am going to see a nutritionist next week. She is also my yoga instructor, and incredibly beautiful, lovely and warm. I have a total girl crush on her. So much so that the first time I spoke to her I got stuck in my own hoody. It was very embarrassing. So now we only talk over email and phone. 2017, err 18, is off to a strong start. I’ll decide on dog or baby, finally name my new business, and either make a permanent home for No1 on the naughty step or just ban her from touching her sister. As long as I stay away from swans and beautiful Yoga instructors, I’ll be fine!
Happy new year everyone! Do let me know about your new year resolutions, I mean, intentions. Even better, how quickly you broke them! All likes and shares very much appreciated (return to Facebook). Namaste 🙏
I listened to a radio call-in the other day; a lady, her husband and their two children. She was worried about spoiling her children and losing the true meaning of Christmas so she had invited 8 lonely people to Christmas dinner at their house. “How amazing!” I thought. “What an incredible experience for your children” I thought. Then, “how big is your kitchen table?! And what if one of them is an axe murderer?!”….
I, like many mums I’m sure, worry about how to make Christmas all about what it should be, not just presents and over-indulgence. I bumped into a friend the other day who said they weren’t buying their son anything for Christmas because everyone else would. My inner 5-year-old staggered backwards in horror. “Nothing?!” I exclaimed in as low-pitched-voice as I could summon. Even though mine have all of the things, I couldn’t contemplate buying them nothing. That feeling of walking into a room of brightly coloured presents around the tree still makes my tummy bubble with excitement. Wriggling your toes and finding a full stocking is something I still do now at 35! I make Husband put my stocking on the bed especially so that I can! In fairness to Girly no1, all she wanted was a Frosty Girl. Don’t know what that is? Me neither. I watched 25 adverts on Nick Jr, still no idea. Luckily, a week or so after she asked I heard her singing along to an advert…for Flipzee dolls. Conundrum solved! No2, has obviously asked for nothing, unless “Burrr” or “Marrr” actually mean diamonds and pearls in which case that girls’ taste is as rich as her Mummy’s! With her, we’re upgrading. Like when your kitchen pans change from IKEA to Le Crueset. Her main gift this year is a little wooden trolley from the GLTC as a replacement for the £5 (inc. postage) one Auntie bought on eBay from China 3 years ago. The price and shipping destination are not my issue. It’s that the paint comes off every time it gets wet (by which I mean licked) and it collapses each time someone (namely the learning-to-walk-one-year-old) leans on it. So I could have not bought them any presents but it’s not fair. That’s not true. no2 has no idea what’s going on. The truth is I can’t help myself because I love Christmas and Christmas presents! I look forward to one day drowning in a sea of Chinese plastic and Vietnamese fluff. What better way to go?!
What is Christmas anyway?
We do need to teach them that it’s not all about presents though, I know that. Last year Girly no1 wouldn’t go near the chimney for 3 weeks before Christmas Eve for fear that a big fat bearded man might drop down the chimney and try and kiss her. She was so scared that we had to leave her stocking outside her bedroom door so he didn’t come in. This year she knows a bit more. When she came home singing about Baby Jesus, I asked her if she knew who he was. She looked at me blankly and then launched into an explanation about how the animals eat hay from the baby bed. “Not bad!” I thought, “but not great” scrambling through the bookcase looking for the Nativity book someone gave us a few years back. At the time of receiving it, Husband had scoffed something about religion being forced on us until I reminded him why we have Christmas. “Ok, as long as we teach her about other religious celebrations too” he had said. Yep – fine. You can be in charge of Non-Christian Events in our household because I don’t know how to celebrate Diwali or Hanukah and I really don’t see where the fun is in Ramadan. Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day and our September to November birthday gauntlet is enough. After reading the Nativity book 25 times she got it. Hopefully her cutest-thing-in-the-world concert made a little more sense.
We’ve tried to compensate for the lavish decorations, excessive food and drink and mountains of beautifully wrapped presents (yep, well done me) with a few different activities. We did the shoeboxes which I talked about in a previous post – cue videos of poor and half-dressed children living in shacks being shown to a trembly-lipped 3-year-old. This helped teach empathy and doubled up as a great threat for when no1 just wants to sit and watch TV – “right well I’ll just send all these toys to the Shoebox Kids” (not an entirely appropriate naming convention I know). I’m sure you’re not meant to benefit from charitable acts but I can’t help it, it’s the modern day equivalent of (but slightly more relevant) “think of the children in Ethiopia…” that was thrown at me when I wouldn’t eat all my dinner. We have made lots of things and spent less time on Amazon (me) and Twitter (Husband). I have watched all of Kirsty Allsopp’s Handmade Christmas episodes, marvelled over others’ talents and then picked the three easiest activities to attempt. Obviously reminding myself that it took me three months to make a cushion for my Textiles Technology GCSE and my Mum still had to step in and make it for me at midnight the night before it was due in (please don’t take my Textiles Technology GCSE away from me! Said no one ever). We made our own Christmas cards complete with cotton wool ball snowmen; potato print wrapping paper (no1 was bored after about 7 prints so that was mostly me); some crackers in bright pink and purple because they’re no1’s favourite colours; paper chains – technically they’re still in the packet; and then Husband attempted snow globes – we ended up with Tim Burton’s fog globes. Whilst the effort of doing these things was gratifying and no1 and I had some lovely quality time making them, I feel no less commercial. I spent £100 in Hobbycraft on all the materials and my Dad asked me the other day if I had swallowed a craft book as he laughed at our handmade cards.
We could of course have gone without all of these things. Perhaps a better lesson. The thing is I’m not entirely sure that depriving my family of crackers and M&S gift wrap would really help, especially when they know no different. I think the lady on the radio is right, it is seeing things first hand that leave an impression. Inviting lonely strangers might be the only way to really deliver a message on what Christmas is about. You just have to check their pockets for axes on the way in. It’s not for us this year though. We’re already feeding 8 adults and 2 children and, practically, I have no extra space. My over-sized Dad will already be (actually) treading on toes and blocking the oven. When my Girlies are of the age that they’re writing Christmas lists as long as their arms and tearing at wrapping paper like there is a dying puppy inside, we’ll do more. For now we will talk lots about what Christmas means, who Jesus is, and why Sheppers have to wash foxes at nighttime (No1’s interpretation of the whole affair).
Thank you to each and every one of you who has read any or all of the crap I have written this year. The fact that anyone takes time out of their day to read what I write baffles me, and anyone that has mentioned it to me in person, that awkward shuffle and look at the floor I did was me being deeply grateful. This will be my last post of 2017 so that just leaves me to wish you the happiest Christmas. Enjoy the time with your families and please do share with me how you keep it real in your home. And as your Christmas gift to me, please like and share this post! See you next year! xx
Girly no1, throw your hands up and shout happy Christmas…..
We all know it’s a bad idea to drink when you have to be up with the little people the next day. But we still do it. We all become the Hungover Parent. Not me of course. I’ve just heard the rumours…
5.45am Hear a faint rustling of sheets. Lift head. Owwwwww. Check time. Bury face and close eyes hoping everything goes away.
6am Hear rustling and gurgling. Close eyes tighter and pretend to be asleep.
6.05am Sick burp. Mmm jaegermeister.
6.15am Hear Baa Baa Black Sheep over the monitor. Shout into pillow. Faaaaaaaaaaaarck.
6.18am Hear Baby start stretching. Ask Husband “why two” in barely-there-voice. Husband growls.
6.30am Lie straight on edge of bed whilst being hit in the face with comforter. Wish you had gone on milk run.
6.32am Agree that Peppa Pig is a great idea. Search for 60 minute compilation on YouTube and hit play.
6.33am Lie down and close eyes. Smell something gross.
6.34am Change Baby nappy. Gag. Taste prosecco.
6.37am Sigh heavily at wee on the bed. Cover with a towel and lie on it.
6.40am Close eyes. Drift off to sleep to soothing sounds of Peppa.
6.42am Use wet wipe to clean baby sick out of hair. Retch at smell. Taste vodka.
6.43am Dry heave over toilet
6.45am Stare at Husband’s back imagining what it would be like to hurt him. Try to smile at Baby.
6.47am Clean off clogged up mascara. Put in eye drops. Successful on 3rd time.
6.50am Stare at Baby blinking lots. Try and snuggle in.
6.51am Turn over away from Baby scratching lips and kicking delicate stomach.
6.55am Turn back again to shush baby. Lie patting tummy and making coo-ing noises in gravelly zombie style voice.
7.32am Groan as Peppa finishes. Agree to one last one. Can only find 30 minute compilation. Smile inside and carry on patting Baby
8.02am Offer up stale Digestive in attempt to stave off breakfast.
8.05am Sit up. Take deep breaths. Tell Toddler you’re fine and try not to cry at how you ended up here.
8.10am Put Baby back to bed.
8.20am Pour cereal. Eat cereal.
8.22am Vomit cereal.
8.25am Pick Baby back up before head splits. Put Baby on Husbands back and leave the room quickly.
8.27am Clean up Toddlers spilt cereal.
8.28am Burn toast.
8.30am Eat toast with Toddler. Lie about not remembering the words to “5 Little Ducks”.
8.45am Suggest going to watch more Peppa
8.50am Doze off on sofa
8.54am Wake up being hit in the face with a cup. Provide more water. Down a pint for self.
8.57am Tell Toddler Mummy is fine, tummy just didn’t like the toast. Baby does it all the time, it’s ok.
9am Beg Toddler for cuddles
9.01am Bury face in Toddlers candy floss hair and cuddle round tum.
9.02am Cry when Toddler strokes face and says “I love you, Mummy”.
9.05am Feel guilty for crossly saying no more Peppa. Agree to watch Frozen to say sorry.
9.55am Wake up in panic. Where the hell is Toddler?!
9.57am Relief as see Toddler on kitchen floor surrounded by tubs and lids.
9.58am Annoyed at realise tubs contained rice, pasta and sugar.
10.05am Pause cleaning. More vomit.
10.10am Stomp upstairs to get dressed (and check on Husband and Baby).
10.12am Noisily sing “Let It Go” with Toddler.
10.14am Pick up Baby and snuggle. Smile smugly hearing Husband argue over clothes and relent on Scooby Doo costume.
10.30am Check clock to see if it’s time for Baby to sleep again yet.
10.35am Give Baby more milk to make it be quiet.
10.45am Frantically search for paracetamol and Barocca. Shout down to Husband for tea and crisps.
10.47am Make own tea and get own crisps.
11am Change pooey nappy.
11.03am Vomit up crisps
11.05am Check clock to see if it’s time for Baby to sleep again
11.10am Feel guilty for refusing to do jigsaw on bathroom floor with Toddler.
11.15am Lie on bathroom floor covered in towels pretending to do jigsaw.
11.20am Ask Toddler if she’s tired yet.
11.30am Break out in sweat as doorbell rings.
11.31am Argue with Husband about who’s going to answer door.
11.32am Freeze as hear front door open.
11.33am Run to shower on hearing in-laws voices.
11.34am Make “aaaah” noises in steaming hot shower.
11.40am Continue to stand in steaming hot shower.
11.46am Continue to stand in steaming hot shower.
11.47am Cry after Husband rubs bum against glass and shouts “Here’s Bummy!”
11.50am Start getting dressed really slowly.
12 noon Start countdown. 7 hours til bedtime.
12.10pm Wake up in bra and jeans on bed. Curse under breath.
12.15pm Cough lots to make voice normal. Clean teeth for fourth time.
12.17pm Fake happiness to see everyone. Excuse self to wretch in toilets.
12.30pm Steal cheese from Toddlers lunch. Frantically search cupboards for Mini Cheddars and Coca Cola.
12.35pm Tell everyone hangover is gone.
12.40pm Excuse self to put Toddler to bed.
12.50pm Lie down on bed as new wave of nausea hits
2.07pm Wake up to Toddler shouting “Mummy”. Hear faint baby crying. Groan. A lot.
2.10pm Try and think of reasons not to go to the park.
2.30pm Shiver on bench at park. Text in-laws and apologise for earlier disappearance.
3pm Countdown. 4 hours til bedtime.
3.25pm Argue with Toddler over leaving park.
3.30pm Watch Todler rubbing face in mud in tantrum. Rub face a lot as realise it’s bath night tonight. Then pizza…
3.32pm Drag Toddler by foot back into pram.
4pm Countdown. 3 hours til bedtime.
4.30pm Assume Baby jiggling position. Feel sick again.
5.25pm Defrost Toddler food.
5.30pm Eat half of Toddler food. Half-heartedly argue over ice cream for pudding.
5.32pm Give Toddler ice cream.
5.35pm Day dream about Dominos.
6pm Start move towards stairs muttering about pyjamas.
6.15pm Sniff baby and toddler. Confirm with Husband that baths can wait til tomorrow.
6.25pm Argue with Husband that you’re deserving of giving Baby milk in rocking chair in dimly lit room.
6.30pm Complete journey upstairs
6.40pm Let Toddler run around naked.
6.50pm Agree that Elsa & Ana probably don’t have to clean their teeth every night so we’ll do them twice in the morning.
6.51pm Read stories in best auctioneer voice.
7pm Collapse in exhausted heap on sofa.
7.13pm Accept offer of beer.
7.15pm Wonder why didn’t have beer at 6am.
7.20pm Order Dominos Meal Deal for 4.
8.15pm Devour 2 persons worth of Dominos.
8.25pm Complain about bloating.
8.27pm Pass out on sofa.
10pm Wake up in extreme state of confusion. Climb stairs on all fours.
10.05pm Stare at bed and remember dirty bedsheets. Feel for wet patches.
10.07pm Shrug and get in anyway.
Previously, when I considered myself to be a high-flying career gal, I thought the worst word in the world was ‘no.’ “There’s no such word as no! Where there’s a will there’s a way!” I would tell my team enthusiastically. I was wrong. I was stupid and ignorant. The worst word in the world is in fact, ‘The worst thing in the world is a toddler asking you why. All. The. Time.
I like curiosity. I enjoy a thirst for knowledge. Wonderings and philosophising (to a degree) are things I consider to be signs of intelligence. ‘Why?’ from the mouth of a babe is reflective of an innocent mind with so much to learn; a sponge waiting to soak up all that it is presented with; a blob of clay ready to be moulded into a sculpture of tomorrow. I myself like to know the reason behind things. “Just because” has never been a satisfying answer to me. I always want to know why so that I can understand and remember. I used to ask it a lot. I have become slightly more measured in when I use it: “Miss, why is now not a good time to explain what an anus is?” (#truestory from year 10 Biology); but I still think asking why, particularly as an adult, is powerful and that you learn a lot about people and situations. For this reason I will happily answer “Why?” to the best of my ability. I try not to give direction without reason. I don’t expect anyone to blindly follow my instructions, and I am happy to offer explanations. Especially with the Girlies. I am very conscious of it.
With the above in mind, I embrace the word ‘Why?’ from my curly blonde, pale-faced three-year-old. I enjoy the challenge of trying to answer a question in a way she will understand it. Where possible I speak to her like an adult, which has the added bonus of distracting her with trying to repeat whatever word is new to her and she enquires about the meaning rather than the topic, which we have long-since exhausted. This goodwill though, is on my “Good Mum” days. I’m lying. They’re not days. They are patches. Patch is probably too much. Moments. Yes, my Good Mum Moments. You know the times….the first half an hour after they wake up after a lie in…just after you pick them up from school…whilst they’re (silently) eating breakfast. In these times I will happily pontificate as to why eggs have a sunshine in them, or why the colour pink is called pink and not splergimlp. I will patiently provide explanation on why the sky is blue (note: according to Husband, the correct answer is not “it’s a reflection of the sea” but Rayleigh Scattering – dispersion of the colour blue being more visible to the naked eye, to you and I).
But today, I cannot deal with it.
Because today the word ‘why’ does not mean ‘why’. It means I-want-to-drain-every-last-iota-of-energy-from-you-then-knock-you-over-and-stamp-on-your-head:
“Move away from the edge of the sofa or you’ll fall off.”
“Don’t touch the cake pans after they come out of the oven because they are very hot and will burn you.”
“You need to wear your raincoat out to the car because it’s raining and you’ll get wet and cold.”
“Why do I have to wear my raincoat Mummy?”
“You must drink your water or you poo will hurt your bottom.”
“Let’s tie your hair up for nursery so you don’t get nits again. All that shampoo-ing and combing wasn’t very nice, was it?”
“Why wasn’t it very nice Mummy?”
Let me ask you a question. Is my communication unclear? Is there something in my vernacular that fails to provide good reason or justification? Am I stupid, ill-informed or deluded? Have I lost the ability to speak clearly, enunciate or make myself heard? Tough to answer in text form but I hope you trust that I don’t sound that different in real life to how I do in your head. The ‘Why?’ from Girly no1’s mouth is just another habit and comes more easily to her than ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘OK’. But because of the things I have outlined above, I feel compelled to answer. She deserves an explanation. If I am to be successful at this mothering thing then I must answer the “Why?” with an appropriate response and expand her little tiny mind. But somebody please tell me, what do you do in this situation – it could go on forever:
“If you put your hair in your sisters hand like that, she will probably pull it.”
“Because your hair is beautiful and curly and she can’t resist giving it a little tug.”
“Because she’s a baby and they give into their urges.”
“Because that’s what babies do.”
“Because of a biological predisposition.”
“I’m out. Ask Doctor Winston.”
At this point a little puff of smoke comes out of my ears and if you listen really carefully, you’ll hear a crackle like a static shock. I should add here that I have tried other things. The coaching technique:
“Why do you think?”
“Ummm….is it because….can you ask me Mummy?”
“Ask you what?”
“Ask me why.”
“Nooooooo Mummy! You ask me!”
“I am asking you…..oh! You mean ‘tell me’….“
“Yes! Can you tell me why?”
She gets cross and frustrated. So do I. She looks as me exasperatedly as if to say you are the adult. My teacher, my parent. Your job is to educate me and tell me why. What good are you to me if you cannot fulfil this one simple request?! So I try again. Until I am out of explanations and I resignedly hang my head, thinking ‘let someone else fill the sponge with whatever it needs.’
“Mummy, I’m wet. My water bottle is wet too. Why am I wet?”
“Because the car in front braked suddenly, so I had to. Sorry darling.”
“Why did the car in front throw water at my face?”
But why Mummy?
I know every child goes through the “Why?” stage. I have heard many a parent growl in frustration as they answer why their beloved brat shouldn’t eat the squashed McDonalds chip that is resting on dried dog poo. Or why wiping snot on your sleeve is so disgusting that it makes the Child Free Folk gag. I try and remind myself that “Why?” is good, curiosity is something to be applauded. I play stupid games to challenge myself to answer questions until I can no longer answer myself. Mostly I laugh. But some days, I sigh. And I say…”just because.”
Am I on my own People?! Please tell me I am not! If you have enjoyed, please like and share! Thanks lovely readers and friends xx
Every so often my little brother tells me he’s “really busy” and “tired”. As far as he is aware, he probably is. But you and I know, he’s not. He doesn’t even know the meaning of these words and, sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, I want to knee him in the wotsits and push him to the floor…(sorry Baby G!). I am tired.
Sick and Tired
Girly No2, who is 1 this week (happy birthday bubbubs), has just started nursery and we’re in the being-constantly-sick-forever phase. You know the one I mean, that 6-week period of constant colds, all the viruses, chicken pox and hand, foot and mouth (neither of which are anything to do with chickens, which I’ve always found strange). I am buying so much Calpol and Nurofen I’m having to alternate my chemists lest the staff think I am drugging my children for my own amusement. The receptionist at the doctors and I pretty much high five as I pass by. And my daily battle with the Amoxicillin is causing me more rage than the tourists that stand on the wrong side of the escalator in London.
Before I move on to my theme – I must take a moment to rant about infant antibiotics. What f****g idiot made them lemon flavoured? (I have to star out now, Facebook recently blocked me for profanity and overtly sexual content – I resisted the urge to write and tell them how very not sexual my butchered vagina is. Luckily for them, medicines were due). Why would you choose lemons? Kids hate lemons – look! Where’s the banana gone? The flavour of my childhood! Still now the smell of bananas takes me back to being a sweaty, snotty mess wrapped in blankets and nestled in my Mum’s lap! If I ever come across the decision-makers on this one then I really will be profane. Facebook will expel me forever. Anyway. I digress.
We are all very tired at the minute as we are all ill, covering up to three different illnesses at various stages between us. Night times are hell. Normally I am very lucky – my girlies sleep very well, 12 hours a night, and I am like any other parent, just a regular level of tiredness that accompanies the role of playing Mum (or Dad). At the moment though, we are in zombie mode. It’s like having a newborn. Girly no1, now 3, wakes up coughing at least once a night hacking her tiny little guts up. She’s fairly easy to pacify with medicine, water and cuddles…then she kicks you out and tells you to close the door on the way out. Girly no2 though is a different story. She’s the wailing banshee, the shouter, the 40-minute-bursts-of-sleep-er. You put her down, get back into bed and just as you get to that lovely bit where your body gives in to the heavenly feeling of sleep….she wails again. Last night this happened 4 times. I slept from 1 til 3 and 5.30 til 7. I’m bloody tired.
You Don’t Know Tired
So when I stare into the youthful face of Baby G, my 21-year-old brother, and he tells me he’s tired, you see why I briefly want to hurt him. When I’m feeling more rational, I don’t judge him at all. He’s in his twenties. He is a normal level of tired. BC (Before Children), I was the Queen of Being Tired. I used to sleep from 2am to 2pm every weekend and still be tired. I have blocked out instances when I might have dared uttered the words “I’m so tired” in front of any parents, the shame would be too much to recall. Because a strange thing happens when you become a parent; you enter a world of tiredness that you never knew existed. You do crazy things like a friend of mine did the other day and google “Chronic Exhaustion” genuinely comparing your own levels of tiredness with those of a refugee that has clung to the bottom of a lorry driving through the Eurotunnel for 4 days. You think you probably have the edge because for you, there is no end in sight. That is not to say child-free people don’t get tired, they do of course. But they don’t have the same hopelessness as a parent, because the parent knows that their windows of opportunity for sleep are controlled by the little people in their lives. They cannot take a sleeping tablet, or free up a weekend to just sleep, they just have to carry on. So deeply entrenched the lack of sleep becomes that even when the children leave home, the parents still wake up stupidly early. I never understood this about the oldies but now I totally get it. The innocent ability to sleep whenever and wherever is rarely fully regained. An appreciation is learned, but the ability never reacquired.
The other thing that makes my jaw twitch is Baby G telling me he is busy. I understand that there are busier people than me in the world. I would not, for example, sit in front of Theresa May and tell her I am busy. Alan Sugar either. My cousin, mother to eight and running her family business. There are just some people you know that, although you feel busy, you know you’re not quite as busy as them. Baby G has three things in his life – his job (engineer for a well known gas company), his car (?!) and seeing his friends. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is great. He is 21, he shouldn’t have other things to be worrying about. But I do find it irksome when he tells me that no, he hasn’t given any thought to Dad’s birthday in two days time because he has been too busy and is soooo tired. “Busy?! DOING WHAT?!” I want to shout! What things could you possibly have in your life besides how to have the most fun at your mate’s this weekend? Smoking is not an activity! Perusing the internet for new hub caps, also not an activity. Teaching yourself how to play your new decks? How lovely to have the time to learn something new! But also – not an activity.
As he tells me the 5 things he’s done in the last week that meant he forgot to pop next door to pick up the only copy of the rare book we want to buy Dad, my to do list for the day will flip through my head. Today’s: breakfast (we all know that feeding a one-year old and a three-year old at the same time is a beast of a task); both girls to school for 9am; run 5k; let cleaners in (who has time to clean?!); get showered and changed (must look as least gross as possible as sitting in hair dressers in front of a mirror for two hours); do 2-hours work to prove commitment to new business partner; plan no2’s birthday party in 3 days time; order food and drink (online shop obvs); shop for Christmas shoebox donations and make up boxes; buy and make dinner; go for hair cut (write blog whilst highlights develop); write and send thank you cards for no1’s birthday (now 6 weeks ago – too late? Is it OK to combine thank you cards from both Girlies?!); return clothes that made you look like Gemma Collins before it’s too late for a refund; message friend with whom it took you six attempts to make a date confessing that you’ve totally screwed up and send her list of dates you can actually do; submit claim for lost watch in Amsterdam; and shave your legs because it’s been two weeks since you last touched your husband (unlikely I’ll make it this far but shows I am at least thinking about him). These are the things that just have to be done in order to keep life ticking over. They sound small and quick but they are interspersed with the bear-wrestling-doses of antibiotics to be administered, at least 4 or 5 little sicks on our new carpet to be cleaned up, 3 watery bitty pooey nappies to be changed, 4332 questions from No1 to be answered, regular “Quick Mummy! The wee wee is coming now!” toilet trips and then the usual dithering and dallying of trying to leave anywhere. It’s just a different level of busy-ness.
But I made my bed
Anyone without children may well be feeling a prickle of annoyance. I’m not saying that your things are any more or less important than mine. Not that I am busier or more tired. These things are relative and we all make our own paths. I know I made my bed…it would just be nice to lie in it from time to time. I can, however, listen to my darling brother, whose nappy I changed when I was 14 (putting me off having babies until my early 30’s), and have a 3-second facial fit that looks like one of my wires has come loose when he tells me about his busy and exhausting life. When I recover, I smile and pat him on the arm and say “don’t worry, I’ll sort dads birthday” whilst secretly imagining I’m giving him a Chinese burn. One day I will share with him the truth and remind him of these times. I fantasise that I will do it when his first baby is about 4 weeks old and he’s so tired he’s nearly in tears. Then I’ll feel bad so I’ll hug him and tell him he will come out the other side….eventually….just give me your baby and go back to bed!