It has been a long while since I had a physical moment to write. I’ve also had a distinct lack of mental space. Things have been rather crazy of late. Tough. Lots of changes, adaptation periods, new jobs, new roles, new family logistics, all running along side the constantly evolving rollercoaster that is the reopening of the country post Covid 19. We’ve gone from a sleepy, confined bubble of five, for the best part of a year, to a fully established hamster wheel with a multi-level hamster cage, and many little hamsters.
As we slowly emerge from the blurry world of “Bs”: bumps, babies, buggies, baby sensory (*sobs*) it is about time to embrace the new chapter and hit up the “C’s” – children, choices, chiropractor (after hauling around a 10kg bundle of bones and chub for the best part of the last 6 months), childcare, even more complicated choices, challenges, chocolate (lots of, preferably smeared on a wall and across my new cream jacket) …
We have made it to C. Let’s pause and congratulate ourselves. What. A. Ride.
It’s not a coinkieidikie that my two favourite words du jour are crazy and chaos. Three kids up to and including age 5 is a lot of kids. Wise people warned me that we quite simply won’t have enough hands between just two of us. I laughed. Now on the other side of my face. That was an accurate observation. It turns out going to the swimming pool with 3 kids that can’t swim and, frankly, can barely float (blame the Yorkshire bones) is rather hair-raising to say the least. I know it’s not a la mode but would it make sense to consider having parenting teams of 5 or 6 adults when there are more than 2 children involved? Could we start to introduce a third or fourth person into the adult team on a permanent basis? Just putting it out there – – although strangely we’ve not been inundated with offers of new joiners to our very noisy unit.
The last few months have been mega intense. I haven’t had the time or energy for social media. Like many I have spoken to, I’ve oscillated between feeling very off about it, and then small moments taking great comfort from it and the candid reality that some have shared, the tips and ideas and the positivity. As a little side note I have really appreciated friends sharing their positive energy with me in other ways when I needed it most, and in some cases literally sending me books, forcing me to get out of the house and into an apérol spritz or a much-need kir royale.
Being social on the media was making me feel uncomfortable. I felt bad if I had something happy to communicate, because certainly there are people who have been having a terrible time, loved ones lost, jobs and lives turned upside down, generally feeling like the world is crumbling around them – which I can absolutely relate to… my cheesy photo of a chocolate-smeared smiley face or a little human taking their first wobbly steps felt inappropriate. Other days I just felt like I had had enough. I can’t write something joyous when I don’t really feel it. I’ve been burnt out. Giving everything my all, 24/7 without a proper break or moment of peace, neither for me nor Monsieur FF, has been hard. We joked about Groundhog Day but it really was. Trying to keep it together, to explain a situation we can barely comprehend to 3 and 5 year olds, to be apart from loved ones, to hear stories of the struggles of others, those that have been directly affected or have other very difficult issues to navigate throughout all this uncertainty, not being able to share a cuddle or just make a normal plan – it has felt completely overwhelming.
I have been struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel and, whilst I’ve thankfully retained my sense of smell, I’ve been losing my sense of humour.
Thank heavens then for Caitlin Moran. Her superb tome More than a Woman is bloody brilliant and she’s given me a new injection of pure, unadulterated JOY.
This feminist tome, which I have been listening to (the genius-ness of Audible for tired parent eyes still got me rejoicing) has had me chortling on the train, which btw is more discrete and a bit sweatier with a mask on. Nothing like a muffled snortle to put your socially-distanced traveller friends on the edge of their seats. Is she coughing? Is she blowing her nose in her mask? What is occurring??? I’ve had moments of utter joy listening to this as I sort out the odd sock pile. This is a very happy find. There are some golden nuggets in this book. I don’t want to spoil it for those that haven’t had chance to devour it yet, but a few key points if I may, and which I will now feed into my every day life:
- Women are actually superheroes. This is something I raise often in my house but find I am lacking the visual supports to get that across to the little humans. All the films and books are about MEN. The very concept of a superhero is in fact modelled on the baffling and mind-blowing supra-human behaviours of women-folk. Growing and birthing another creature, nurturing them, cracking on with the day job whilst you do it. Clark Kent is actually Clarissa Kent. Spider man is actually spider woman etc. Ok I don’t pay much attention to these shows, I have literally no idea what their real names are (probably a sign that my subconscious rejects the concept) but what I see is a lot of men with tights on – it’s obviously all about women. Let us recognise this truth.
- Second, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For crying out loud. How many times have I tried to find the words and there.they.are. We are sold beauty, I know that first hand, but the moment we recognise WE are the ones that decide what beauty really is, we wield all the power, rather than being beholden to it. You decide. You set the parameters and you use eyeliner accordingly. Cellulite is cute. Freckles are fancy. Bucked teeth are beautiful. Boom. Teenage years with two girls… I AM READY.
- Speaking of which, three, the teenage years are … well, terrifying. No beating around the bush here. We are in the “easy” part. Toddlerdom is a walk in the park. When you hit the teens, that is when the young people REALLY need you. More than ever. Thank you Caitlin for helping me see that this parenting journey is really quite the road trip. There is so much that lies ahead, so many complicated conversations and delicate emotions to navigate, cups of tea to make, outfits to veto. It is going to make the past 5 years of sleep-deprived insanity seem like a gentle saunter in the park with coffee and a pastry. Yes, exactly, you are right, that would be the same park we just walked around 3.569 times.
- Most significantly for this reader, as I navigate constant mum guilt and complex feelings of winning and failing at the same time, Caitlin recalled one of my favourite tunes from my free-spirited Paris days when she observes that children are the cure and the cause. Like a very potent drug. She explains that she goes from desperately wanting a moment of peace, for the kids to be gone to school and out of her hair, to frantically scrambling to smell their pillows as she counts down the minutes for them to come home. A matter of mere hours. They are an addiction. Like no other.
This is also me.
This is my strange, struggling heart. One minute I can’t take any more. The whining, the thrashing around, the violent screams of “MAMA! “ if I even attempt a sneaky trip to the toilette. The mess. Everywhere. The bottom-wiping and snot-smearing, nose-picking, non-sleeping little humans needing all of me – or Frozen and Moana at the same time with a layer of MAMAMAMAMA on top – all of their waking day. And then the admin, the tidying up, the tiredness, the lack of spontaneity and yet the constant uncertainty. Are they sick? Are they overtired? Teething? Are they happy? Confused? Hangry? What next?? There is a total lack of time for us. The grown ups. Lost in the chaos. But, when they go to school and nursery, and the house is quiet (between availability of care and sickness, this is quite rare), or I look around the office, and my hopeless, helpless heart starts to beat a little faster….the thoughts start pouring in – how long til I can get on that train? How many minutes til they will be back? What can I do tonight to show them that I really REALLY love them? Oh I can’t wait to kiss them whilst they sleep. Gosh they are so cute. I literally can’t even find the words for the volume of love.
And then we do it all again. Every day.
That’s enough of my rambling for today. It’s nice to be back. It’s wonderful to be perusing Pinterest again. I leave you with a few motivational memes.
C u next moment of peace!!