I'm gearing up for another day alone with my two boys, aged nearly 4 years, and 9 months. Today seemed long, but was only 6 hours. Tomorrow will be 14 hours at least.
Today we managed okay, though I was pretty tired, damn that rose wine drunk late last night.
It's not the being with them constantly that's hard, it's the being with them constantly that's hard. (Yes you read that right)
That's to say I enjoy their company, we have a laugh, and get on well, really well most of the time.
But there's no "Ok lads, I'm off for a walk to clear my head, see yiz in an hour". Not for the next 10 years at least anyway. Getting out to hang up the washing involves putting on the sling, making sure the baby is dressed warmly enough, then one-handedly hanging things up and getting more and more frustrated. I've started putting him in the Cosy Coupe car, he can sit and pretend to drive, but he hates the grass on his feet, and just wailed today, his little legs bent up in the air, feet curled in like a newborn.
Some women do this everyday, sometimes for weeks on end. I don't know how they cope. Do they have family nearby, who pop in for a cuppa and to help hang out the laundry? Do they have friends they call on, piling everyone into the car, turning up for impromptu playdates? Do they get out to the beach / the park, letting the kids run free for hours, then go home alone again? Do they have the tv on all day, so they're not invited to play every 5 minutes? Do they switch off, put the baby in a playpen and ignore his cries while they have a coffee? Do they run upstairs when no one's looking and scream / tear their hair out in frustration at being stuck home alone with needy, needy children?
Do they get mad and harden their voices, saying "I don't care that you fell and hurt yourself, you shouldn't have run at me like that, stop crying now, you'll wake the baby" as I did today.
Do they get the kids to bed really early, like at 7pm, so they have the evening to themselves?
I had fun today, playing, inventing ball games and laughing, listening to 80s music on the record player. Kicking a ball around our sitting room in my gankers*, baby playing the piano like Elton John, all in white on a white piano, my left hand on his back, my right hand playing ball. He stood to drool into the keys, I didn't bat an eyelid though weeks ago that would have made me cringe. I kicked the ball and it hit the tv, smack in the middle, making it wobble on it's wall fixing. Oops, didn't give a damn. The popcorn was spilled on the floor, I left it. The nappies piled up in the corners, I left them. The marbles strewn all around, left them too. If I was parenting alone we'd be digging through the detritus with a shovel to make a path.
We made pancakes for lunch, with banana, apple and chocolate. We ate popcorn and chocolate. I drank coffee after tea, after coffee. We snacked on mints. I'm feeling like I'm letting things slide, though I have so little energy to care about it it almost scares me. I know I'll get it together someday soon, bake bread again, make a stew or a casserole. But for now it's frozen pizzas and endless potatoes and beans. That's ok.
The point is I'm trying. So I didn't get to brush my hair today, or my teeth, or remove more than the panda eyes from yesterday's make-up. My face feels tight and itchy, needs cleansing and moisturising, but I haven't even had the chance. I forget to go to the loo, sometimes it's too much hassle, so I put it off, then I don't need to any more. I need a bath, I need a nap, I need to cry, I need to run / cycle / swim free as a bird.
Self-care is second on my list today, after child-care. Tomorrow it might be the same, but I'll prepare better. I'll plan the lunch, even if it's only toasted cheese sandwiches. There, planned. With ketchup. That counts as a vegetable. Three days ago we agreed the baby needed a bath. He still hasn't had one. We can't find his bath seat, so he's deliciously baby-stinky. I'm fine with that, so is he. At least he got a clean vest today.
Signing off now, before social services come knocking at my door.