I’ve just had a long conversation with Ranger Rob (aka, my four-year old in full method-acting character mode) and I’m losing my mind. These two things aren’t necessarily linked either – Rob is just a bit-player in the drama that is my disintegrating brain. This isn’t the worst it’s been and I know it will come back – it has before – but until it returns, I’ll be residing somewhere in hyper crazy-land.
The hyper part I’m putting down to my out-of-control sugar addiction. Each morning I rise thinking ‘today is the day I get healthy’. Come 9am I’m hungry for a hit and I can be extremely imaginative when it comes to reasons to eat biscuits.
I’m also putting the hyper down to the increased amounts of adrenalin I feel my body making in order to support the management of three children. Yes, I’d heard on the grapevine that the transition from two to three is ‘tricky’, but holy mother. This is another level of chaos. It’s reminding me of a big event or launch day at work, where you’re operating at a MAN-IC level – but without an end, without a ‘Goodbye folks – thanks for calling’, These folks aren’t going anywhere, unaccompanied at least, anytime soon.
One of my best friends says that if it wasn’t for photographic evidence, she wouldn’t remember any part of her three being small together. I now solemnly believe that to be true and non-wine related. It is safe to say that life has become a bit of a zoo.
However! And this is a major however. While more chaotic, it is definitely somewhat easier than the first time around. We’re finding that the good days are good and the bad days – well, on the bad days we know to pull together, steady the ship and pour the coffee.
The early years of child-rearing are challenging on any relationship. You’re trying to renegotiate a now multi-way relationship with little time for yourself, never mind himself. I met a lovely Mama of one the other week at our local indoor play centre. She was celebrating her one and only’s second birthday and he happily played with my two while we chatted. When we got to reflecting on the first two years of motherhood, we both indulged in a chat about how bloody hard it is as a couple. Is this a 21st century phenomenon? Did the generations before just accept their roles more readily and get on with it? Why had we both shared this ‘settling into a parenting couple’ experience that involved tonnes of negotiation, jostling for the title of ‘most exhausted’ parent and passive-aggressive discussions over who should empty the dishwasher? I volunteered that the first time around is the hardest, it’s normal to repeatedly visualise yourself moving into a small flat to single-handedly raise the baby (it seemed rational at the time) and it’s really nobody’s fault. It’s perhaps just how modern parenting is, where you don’t slip easily into established roles because you need to define new ones that work for you.
All you can do is keep learning, keep being kind.
Learning The Tricks. Distract, Distract, Distract. Should Buy You About Four Minutes.
When the latest addition was just two weeks old I had the most awful stomach cramps. They set in one evening and lasted into the night. I had heard about pains experienced when your uterus is contracting, but holy moly, give me back my kidney pain, any day. I googled the symptoms, throwing in the fact that I was post partum and speedily read up on this very phenomenon – correctly termed the ‘involution’ of the womb. The pain was chronic. I was rolling around on the bed, gritting my teeth while feeding the small one, after which I would promptly hand her to her attentive father for rocking, settling etc. I appeared to be ‘involving’ so quickly it was even causing some severe flatulence – violently pushing the very air from my stomach. Yes! You read that right – flatulence. I reckoned by the end of it all I’d have a tummy like J-Lo, and that was about the only thing that kept me from calling an ambulance.
The cold light of day is enlightening in every way.
‘Al, you know all that pain last night?’
‘It was awful wasn’t it?’
‘Thinking about it now, I reckon it may have just been bad gas.’
‘Yes. I mean, it was desperate… but realistically, I reckon it was just bad gas.’
Patient pause. ‘Yeah… kind of suspected as much.’
You see? Learning (me) and kindness (him). We might actually be getting the hang of this.
An excuse for a celebratory biscuit if ever there was one!