Life with a baby and a toddler is a bit mental. That’s an understatement and an overstatement. It’s wonderful and so deeply awful in so many ways that it’s easy to get the whole thing out of perspective.
I’ve been reading a couple of blogs recently that make the whole newborn thing seem so wonderful and appealing. Good writing can do that. I can stumble my way through some prose that touches on beautiful moments in the middle of the night where it’s just me and him and some soft small baby fingers wrapped about mine, where he rests in the crook of my arms and breathes deep and satisfied having fed in the grey darkness of the night.
See, what lovely scenes. And there is more. I can write of the wonder of waking next to big fat grins, to tiny feet padding around our flat, to voices asking for porridge and puzzles and just one more book. I can write of dancing in kitchens with small eyes joyful, of giant cuddles, of voices calling out for mummy. I can write of the closeness of these times, the limited horizons, the beauty of being so focused on one thing in one place. I can write of the smell of my boys as they snuggle in close, as growing little bodies wrap themselves around mine, as we run through parks, as we laugh and giggle and tickle and bounce on beds. There is such beauty in this life together.
I could write of patient explaining again and again why we don’t hit, pull things off shelves or throw large objects across the room. Of sitting with the toddler in his big emotions and holding his body wracked with sobs as he figures out the crazy horrible reality that you can’t always get what you want. I could write of explaining, of wiping away tears, of quiet chats outside and moments when he seems to understand and calm and be at peace again.
(Scratching record noise)
But there is the flip side. Writing like that is not the whole story. Yes these things are here and this life is beautiful. But I could write another story to our nights and days. The endless feeding. The endless fucking feeding. The nights of weary despair wondering if the stupid baby will ever sleep alone, the desire to chuck it across the room because I have been touched too many times today. The frustration of finally getting him to sleep and then hearing a massive poo unleashed. The calculations as to how long until morning? Will he notice the poo? Will it wake him up in 30 min time just as I have got back to sleep?Shall I risk leaving him? Am I a bad person for leaving my baby in poo
I could write of the endless demands of the toddler, the constant ‘shall we watch TV?’, the worries about him turning into a sociopath as he wacks his brother around the head for the hundredth time that morning. I could write of the whining voice demanding porridge, tractor ted, hot chocolate and more. I could write of the fears that he’ll never eat more than pasta, the lack of patience as he pulls books from the shelves again and again. Hot anger spills from me too often in this season of life as time and again I am out of control. I cannot make them sleep or eat or do anything and I run too often to the banks of frustration, despair and anger.
I could write of my hatred of these small enclosed times, the fear of never having a friend again, the deep loneliness of a day with the children and no one else. The fear of being left behind, of not being able to hold a conversation again, the haze of sleep deprivation that makes me unable to listen to what’s going on around me. I could write about my desire for space, for time to write and envy of anyone who seems to be able to deal with tiny people and do more than just collapse at the end of the day.
Either story is true and not true at any point in the day or night. I flip regularly from one to the other, usually in the space of a few hours or minutes. I guess that’s the reality of life. It can be explained either way but there is more than just the wonder and there is more than just the hard despair. Both need expressing and noticing. Life with small children is both deeply awesome and deeply sucky at the same time and that’s ok.
Your correspondent, once more writing things that really only she needs to hear…