So last week, (now four weeks past, with the time it’s taken to write!)… was a funny old week.
On Monday, we returned from a long weekend away with the wider family. Which was lovely, except for the usual injection of comparison, criticism and all round Mummy Guilt that comes with spending an intense and exposed amount of time with… well, anyone… whilst raising small children. Spiralling out of this, the week that followed was framed by a kind of urgent and obsessive compulsion to fix everything that my eyes were suddenly opened to. You know, all of the things that pregnancy, childbirth, Easter and flu had camouflaged and allowed to fester; but were now no longer acceptable because I had noticed them.
So on Tuesday, for example, I took Toddler to the doctors to check his excema. Which would have been successful, had I not forgotten to actually check in at reception! Thus, despite running there with a minute to spare, we spent the next forty five minutes playing hide and seek and so forth, in a tiny little waiting room, anticipating a call that was never going to come.
Yeah. Nice one, Mum.
On Wednesday I got so over-excited by the sunshine that I decided absolutely everything in the house ought to be washed and hung out to dry today. Which, again, would have been successful, had I not worked so frantically and thoughtlessly that I managed to dye absolutely everything orange! (I mean, I like orange, don’t get me wrong; but if you see a Tango baby- or Vicar, come to think of it- this week… chances are they’re mine.)
On Thursday, by far the worst one, I went to a car seat specialist and asked them to look at our set-up. For months, Husband and I had been having our domestic-of-the-day over the fitting of the ruddy things; and yet it was only this week that I had an epiphany. (Prompted by a friend’s wisdom, rather than my own, naturally.) .
Like… What if there’s an actual problem that’s a little bigger than our ongoing feud with seatbelts?!
Lo and behold, it turned out that Toddler’s seat was actually incompatible with our “new” car. And honestly?… I didn’t even know that was a thing. I mean, seatbelts are seatbelts, right?! Wrong. We couldn’t get it strapped in securely because it wasn’t designed to be strapped in securely to our particular car. And, being blissfully ignorant and all, when we exchanged our car last year… it didn’t even cross my mind to check.
Still… No point dwelling, I guess. You live and you learn; you do better when you know better. But still. There’s nothing quite like finding out you’ve been putting your child at risk for an entire six months, to help hammer home that final nail of shame.
By Friday, then, I had morphed into some kind of demented, hormonal Soup Dragon; ruthlessly combing through the house looking for a family of Clangers. And the Clangers did not disappoint! There were drawers of outgrown underwear; bags of odd socks; even boxes of dirty pyjamas. There were skirts that rode up, trousers that rode down, and t-shirts that flashed more belly button than a teenager on spring break. By the afternoon, I was wiping Toddler’s bum with one hand, whilst simultaneously ebaying on my phone with the other; frantically attempting to replace everything that needed replacing right there; online, at home, in budget and on the spot.
See, amidst the nagging and the moaning and the growing list of things I wanted him to fix; I managed to observe to Husband that I felt a bit like I’d been in a coma. That I’d suddenly woken up from baby world and come around to find that a series of incredibly subtle but significant changes had taken place during my mental absence. Which, you know, is a tad disconcerting at the best of times, but seemed all the more ridiculous this week.
For this week, it transpired, held a much more interesting and exciting development. For this week we were offered- and very quickly accepted!- Tinker’s first place at primary school. (*Sobs*)
Yes, just this week I signed official documents to confirm that –
a) My firstborn child is growing up, ready to exit the preschool phase and about to embark on this first, significant step towards independence. (Insert over-emotional, bawl-fest emoji).
b) My week is about to get a whole lot easier! (Insert happy clappy, praise hands emoji).
And C- mostly- C) We have almost been doing this parenting thing for five whole years. (Insert The Scream emoji!)
Five freakin’ years.
How have I not got the hang of this yet?!
I mean, on the one hand, I’d love to go back to that first-time-mum-to-be me; sat wide-eyed and terrified in that ridiculously overcomplicated demonstration on how to bath a baby. I’d love to sit next to her, speak into her panic and tell her, “don’t worry! She’s still alive! We’ve actually made it to primary school, and you know- at this stage- that’s all that counts!”
On the other hand, of course, I’d also love to have a quiet word with that same, idealistic little fool; sat with her head held high at a weaning workshop because she’d done all the research, prepared all the gear, made the spreadsheet- yes, the spreadsheet! – and was still convincing herself that she didn’t miss teaching! To her I’d say, “lap it up, love! Enjoy this confidence, Sanctimummy, while you have one tiny baby- and one thing to think about at a time! Yes, you enjoy it… all that imagining yourself at home and in control of a brood of well turned-out young uns… Haha… Just you wait!”
I never imagined how many life-threatening mistakes you could find out you’re making, after they’re already done. How much stuff you’re just meant to know, and quite often don’t, before they even come along.
I never imagined how many times I’d cry at the news, thanking God, because it could easily have been us. Nor how many times I’d lay awake worrying, sleepless in fear; only to find that in reality, it doesn’t achieve very much.
And while I expected challenge, I never quite considered just how different each child would be. How the ages and stages just keep on coming; brand new curveballs, just multiplied by three!
I never imagined how often I’d still be deciding what to do, when the words have already left my mouth. Nor how many times I’d regret what I’d already said; knowing that now, I’d have to carry it out!
And I never imagined how many times, in those conversations about life, I’d find myself making sh..tuff… up on the spot. Nor how many times, despite my well prepared lines, I’d resort to crying out, “oh just BECAUSE!”
I never imagined just how much time I’d spend, comparing myself, and coming up short. That no matter how many books that I read, or pins that I shared… I’d still be winging it for this long.
I have my suspicions about you too, to tell you the truth, if you’ve managed to read this far.
Because the secret, I feel, despite the online brag reel,
Is that actually… most of us are.