In the before children days a long, stressful stretch in the office was quickly remedied with a few drinks, a long lie in or a weekend away in the bush.
Now life is a little different…
- Endless sleep deprivation.
- No chance of a lie in (in fact after eight years I’m not sure I know how to lie in anymore – but nap I can do, given the opportunity).
- No point in over indulging – as the consequences in the morning are too dire to even think about (and once I turned thirty the hangovers became mind-blowingly bad).
- No freedom for an impromptu weekend away in the bush (and given I’ve been breastfeeding for all but six months of the past eight years there hasn’t been much of a chance.).
Couple together these restrictions, on a former, fancy free, decadent life-style, with the huge responsibility of attempting to bring up three children to be half decent adults.
Children test us like no other examining board has ever done before. Children should be hired by recruitment teams, as they instinctively know how to test adults on:
- Ability to think creatively on the spot;
- to avert a melt-down in interpersonal relations
- to focus attention on the best products (within budget and of best quality)
- to entertain customers when there’s a delay in delivery
- Organisational ability
- Health and safety
- Communication skills
Children demand all we can give and then some. And, if we want them to be half decent citizens of planet Earth, we try to give with grace, impeccable manners, a genuine smile (like we really LOVE playing ‘shops’ for the 100th time and reading ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ again and again) and attention.
We want to promote a ‘can do’ attitude, we want our children to have good manners, to listen, to respect, to love, to be fit and healthy, to appreciate the environment and respect it, to be kind and caring, confident, emphatic to others… there are endless attributes we’d love our children to have – but we have the task of role-modelling them and that’s not always easy.
At times all the pressure builds up and I just want to explode, run away, hide under the blankets, float away in a bubble, take a holiday or hand in my notice (err, no can do!).
I particularly feel the pressure as my husband and I are living without the direct support of extended family. We both have siblings, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles who would be fantastic role models for our children – but they ALL live on the other side of the world. So Dan and I feel the pressure even more so of being good ‘role models’. Of course Dan and I are not ‘perfect parents’ (no one is!) and though we try our best, we know our ‘best’ isn’t always good enough. Yes we drop our guard from time to time and show characteristics we are not proud of in ourselves. There is nothing like a child to reflect the true picture. The true picture isn’t always pretty and children don’t let us turn our backs on our reflection. Children constantly remind us of our faults. So comes the guilt. The burden of which can overwhelm if not carefully managed.
Right now I am feeling a little ‘burnt out’. I know this time will pass, but with Alice reaching 18 months I’m feeling the need to step back and reclaim a little time for me. I am caring for Sophie and Alice, full time, Monday to Friday, 8am to 3pm, and then Charlotte after school. Thankfully I have the help of Frances for a few hours every Thursday and Friday (the only chance in the week that the floors get cleaned and the bathrooms get a once over). My day starts around 6am and it’s near 9pm before all the girls are asleep. Alice wakes a few times in the night too. It’s full on from dawn to dusk!
Charlotte is thriving, independent, confident and striding out on her own flight path. Sophie is a joy, but full on. Alice is bright, happy, funny, inquisitive, active (a regular toddler) and still breastfeeds (I guess I shouldn’t complain – she’s very healthy, doesn’t get upset with teething or need knock out meds – just comfort sucks like a leech!). And I know I’ll be looking back in a few years,with rose-tinted specs, saying, ‘Where did those years go?!’ but… I’m just needing a little breathing space to recharge.
I feel like I have no energy to make that space happen. I have some wonderful people in my life who I haven’t seen for ages. I don’t know where to begin to schedule the time to see them. I just feel too exhausted to contemplate it. But make it happen I must… before Alice reaches two!
I’m just clinging on to my parents coming over for Christmas and New Year!
If any other family overseas are reading this and have any time to spare (and cash for a flight over!) there’s a bed with your name on it and three little girls that could do with some fresh role models (whilst the two they were born to work on a little make-over, re-model and revamp!). xx