I read a blog with interest this morning; the post was written by a father, who was definitely ‘keeping it real’ when talking about looking after 3 children under the age of 5.
Now, I obviously only have the two, but I could really relate to the overall sentiment. The joy of being with your kids at all times, of experiencing the silly (sometimes hilarious) things they do, the delight of doing activities together… combined with the wrenching, grinding exhaustion of being with them 24/7.
It got me thinking. (As I do, when I get the time.) In particular, it struck a chord, due to the AWFUL day I had yesterday. Allow me to fill you in.
I was aware that yesterday was going to be a tough one. The business had been going hugely well (obviously fantastic news) and we had a lot of orders to fulfil. Normally, we’d organise that so that we didn’t interfere too much with time with the kids. However, the sheer volume of orders meant that we HAD to do them whilst the kids were around. Simply no choice in the matter.
I’d fortunately planned a visit to a play barn in the morning with a good friend from Dorset and her girls; so in my head, I thought I’d feel ok about expecting them to entertain themselves in the afternoon. After all, a good morning racing around a play barn, (with me very much on hand, racing around with them, lots of mummy time!) should then wear them out enough that they would then be content to play quietly, whilst business partner and I frantically waded through the orders upstairs.
This game plan initially worked well. The boys opted for a bit of TV (yes, I know, shoot me now, I showed them the…wait for it…box of evil, or so many mummies will tell you…BAH) and business partner and I sweated it out upstairs. For about an hour, this was brilliant. We were flying through orders and feeling good about it all.
Then it all began to go pear shaped. DB2 started to howl. DB1 got grumpy. DB2 broke the DVD player. DB1 howled, because he wanted to watch a DVD. DB2 howled because I told him off for breaking the DVD player. DB1 howled because I wasn’t paying attention to him. (too busy shouting about the DVD player…)
Yet still I ploughed on, trying to gift wrap whilst hearing the heart rending sobbing of DB2, poised at the stairgate and hitting his fists against it, bellowing his heart out.
(Very reminiscent of that scene in The Graduate – you know, the one where Dustin Hoffman is desperately beating the glass, bellowing ‘Elaine!!!’ That was DB2. Exactly that. Substitute ‘Elaine!!’ for ‘MARMEEEE!!!’ and you’ve got it.)
After another 2 hours of it, we were all exhausted. The boys were emotionally overwraught, I was an exhausted wreck (yes, I was fasting that day too – doh!) and by evening time, I was actually too tired to speak. Except unfortunately, I then had more work to get on with, with my freelancing. Jeez!
Sadly, all this activity does have a negative effect, and this is where I really understood what the man from the aforementioned blog was referring to. Complete exhaustion tends to have a knock on effect; and today (the day after this madness) I have just been like a corpse. Took the boys to the museum and the library, but barely felt capable of interacting. I just wanted to sit in a corner and rock, slowly back and forth, like a madman. And of course, with complete predictability, felt horrendously guilty. So attempted to completely overstretch myself and force excitement and interaction, even though I was utterly physically and mentally knackered!
It ain’t the nicest feeling in the world, but sometimes, you have just got to cut yourself some slack. There’s a lot of pressure on mums these days to be perfect. Actually. Scrub that last remark. There’s a lot of pressure on EVERYONE to be perfect. We’re continually bombarded by images of the perfect body, stories of the perfect job, blogs about being the perfect parent – its a wonder we’re not all complete neurotic wrecks.
(oh, but hang on, wait a minute…maybe we are!)
So me writing this, is my naughty little break. I know, I know – bad, isn’t it. It’s a bit of a taboo to be honest. You mean, you allow yourself some time out? (said with same tone of voice as ‘you mean, you let your child eat fishfingers and sausages that aren’t organic?’ ‘you mean, your child doesn’t eat freshly harvested mung beans at least once a week?’ etc etc)
I don’t normally. But this is why I am a complete wreck. So today, I’m waving the white flag and having a ten minute breather.
And that’s it! Ten minutes over.
Feel much better now!