By PD Martin
In my last post I talked about adopting our son from Korea and it seems fitting that this post should focus on the current chaos in my life!
As any new mum/mom will tell you, it’s a HUGE change and no matter how prepared you feel, you’re NEVER prepared. And, let’s face it, some elements of the typical writer personality don’t blend well with motherhood (e.g. vagueness).
Writer + Mum = Scary combination
I know I’m a great mum in terms of being loving and affectionate, making sure they’re eating well, instilling a good sense of self, etc., but I’m a hopeless role model when it comes to getting out the door and general calmness about said departure.
So, this WAS my typical day four weeks ago:
- 5.55am – alarm goes off (3-4 mornings a week)
- 6.15am gym class (3-4 mornings a week)
- 7.15am – home (morning routine starts)
- 8.45 – Drop Grace to school at 8.45am,
- 9.15am – At desk writing
- 3.15pm – Leave to pick up Grace from school
Plus I had two longer writing days (my husband works four days a week and one day my mum picked up Grace).
And even though I started the morning routine at 7.15am, I still struggled to get out the door by 8.35am! And I ALWAYS felt a little chaotic and disorganised. And that was with one child. Sometimes I’d have to duck back up to the school with Grace’s library bag (often forgot that one every Wednesday) or her glasses.
As you can imagine, the morning chaos (and general chaos) has gone to a whole new level. It’s the night time chaos that is probably the worst. I’m happy to report that our new little boy is a great eater. But at about 5pm when I go into the kitchen to start making dinner he comes up to the child gate and starts screaming and rattling the child gate with all his might. Sometimes he’ll start throwing things at me (toys). It’s kind of like this primal voice going: “Come on, woman. Get my dinner on the table.”
Actually, he’s an incredibly well-behaved little man (food obsession aside), and incredibly happy. It’s amazing how well he has adjusted. He loves everything. Just amazing to see him settle in despite not understanding a word we’re saying, changing seasons (Northern Hemisphere to Southern Hemisphere), not to mention the biggest upheaval of them all —leaving his foster family and moving in with ‘strangers’.
Except for the chaos, things are going very smoothly. I’ve even managed to get to my 6.15am gym class two mornings a week (hopefully I’ll work my way back up to 3-4 mornings a week soon).
Pre-children we went to a friend’s house for dinner and his wife said that when he got home from work she’d hand the two kids over to him for bath, bed, etc. On the way back home that night, I said: “I can’t believe he works all day and then has to come home and get the kids bathed and into bed.” I think I even said “I’d never do that.” How ignorant was I?! Two days ago I sent my husband a text: Just curious…how far away are you? Of course, he read and knew the subtext. Ahhh….chaos! Help!
Life has certainly changed. I’m loving motherhood but still settling into my new routine (not to mention lack of writing time). But the chaos makes me feel a little out of control. So, got any funny stories of complete chaos so I don’t feel like such a loser mum!?? They can be parenthood or non-parenthood related. Please…indulge me 🙂
***Warning. Supportive rant ahead***
One thing parenting books never tell you is how difficult it is. Parents tell others how happy they are, how precious their little ones are, and on and on. The books show happy parents, usually smiling moms nursing babies with cups of tea while soft sunlight filters in through the priscillas. Ever held a cup of something, anything, hot over a new born baby with all his or her uncontrolled, eratic flailings? Not bloody likely. Had a toddler scream for whatever reason it is this time, while contending with the glares from others who seem to think you , if you were a good parent or even a mediocre one, could manage the situation. Try to get anywhere on time while packing diaper bags, and changes of clothes, and snacks, and all the things you'd need anyway as your loving, wonderful, darling partner waits outside, only to be met with, "I'm always waiting. Why can't we just leave on time?" Ever heard that voice in your head saying, "Well sweetie, if you got off your ass and packed up something other than yourself…." No, we strap in baby, who we've just changed and bathed and re-diapered and redressed because she pooped up her backside as we did up the final snap on the snowsuit. And then there's the inlaws, oh God bless the inlaws. Who feed your preschool bread without crusts and offer pop to wash it down, something you never do, and then say,"My children always ate their crusts. I can't understand why you give her pop, it is loaded with sugar."
You are doing it right, the dad who helps out after work is doing it right, his partner was doing it right. When you're really stressed, incompetent, frustrated, overwhelmed, you are a parent, just as much as you are when you are nurturing. When I had my first child, a friend said, "Welcome to never doing anything right again." And yes, sometimes I fly out the door, pulling a child along, mumbling a list of things to do interspirsed with how it all could have gone better.
I can't possibly add anything more to what Debbie said, except to offer two descriptive misquotes:
Ann Lamott wrote an essay in the first few months of her son's life about how sleep deprivation stole her brain, "I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when President Kennedy was shot, but this morning, I climbed into the shower with my underwear on."
And someone else (possibly the creators of the Baby Blues comic?): "Time is Mankind's way of making sure everything doesn't happen at once. Children are Nature's way of making sure it DOES."
Late to my own comments because of the chaos! Thanks Debbie and Sarah. I definitely feel better now. And even had a day when things seemed almost calm!