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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Life in the Goldfish Bowl


Sometimes life as a SAHM has a lot of sameness about it.  Days and weeks blend into one another, filled with the same routine, the same people, the same playdates.  I’m not keen on monotony; I like to mix things up a bit.  But when you have a small child to look after, I have discovered to my cost, that ‘mixing it up a bit’ and being spontaneous, doesn’t always work so well.  Being planful often works out best and this seems to result in a happier child too. It seems that there is a reason why the word ‘routine’ features so heavily in parenting books.  Despite my natural propensity to be a rolling stone, over the last few years, Pip and I have fallen into our own little pattern of life.  We’re like two goldfish swimming in a bowl; we go round and round, the same way, doing the same things, day after day, week after week.  Unfortunately I don’t have the short memory of a goldfish, which means that some days, another spoonful of dejavu isn’t entirely palatable and I crave a change of scene.

Mondays are a good example of a routine day for us. Our drill has been perfected like a military operation. We get up, breakfast and are ready to leave the house early.  Monday is the only day of the week when I insist Pip gets in the buggy, just because we’re venturing too far to use the scooter. Our route is always the same; along the road, around the back of the church, past the school, Pip always makes the same comment every time we walk past the scooters chained to the railings; ‘Look Mummy! Look at all those scooters’, and I often wonder the same thing - what the collective noun for a group of scooters would be? (A macro of micros is my best guess).  We then walk past the famous actor’s house and I surreptitiously peer into his recycling box to make things interesting.  (This week, there was nothing, as he was at the Oscars presenting an award, which was most disappointing as it’s always a highlight of my Monday morning to see what he’s been eating and drinking the past week.)  Then onwards we go, past the Grade II listed building that is home to an important historical society, and I sneak a peek at the three young, male historians sitting in the office, just starting their day, usually chatting, possibly exchanging stories about their weekend.  I like to look at the chap who sits in the right of the window, the one with the longish hair, who wears a cravat (but in a stylish, retro kind of way rather than an anachronistic social misfit one, and wonder also if the panama hat on the hatstand by the door belongs to him or someone else.) These things all make my Monday morning pilgrimage slightly more interesting.  Continuing our journey, we turn onto the main road, and then left, past the park, until we near our destination, passing under the arches of the railway bridge, where, every weekend, someone fly tips rubbish. This week, the pile of unwanted possessions included a framed photo montage of some sweet looking children. I wondered who would want to get rid of such a lovely picture, especially when someone had written in the middle, ‘I love you Daddy.’  Finally, a few steps later, we arrive at the swimming pool, for Pip’s lesson.

Once, I had to get into the pool with Pip but these days he is proficient enough to swim on his own in the pool with the teacher.  If it’s not ‘watching week’, Mums have to sit downstairs, and so I chat, and catch up on the weekly going ons of other people’s lives.  Then, back to poolside, to rescue my little swimmer and get him changed. ‘Can I have my biscuits now Mummy’? Always the same biscuits, every week - shaped like little elephants, in a green packet. After swimming we make our way to the shops, to buy food for tea, before we head home for a quick spot of lunch before dashing out again early afternoon, to ‘Big Boy’ Playgroup.  Post Big Boy playgroup we travel home again via the swings and the park, Pip shouting; ‘Push me higher Mummy, higher!’ or he’ll climb up the climbing frame and shout down at me, ‘There’s fire on your toes!’ before he slides down the fireman’s pole to blow them out.

Sometimes the sameness of it all can seem rather energy sapping. At the weekend I say to my husband, ‘Let’s get out of here’. Not because it’s not a nice place to live, it is, but just because I want to see and do something different. New experiences make life interesting- they invigorate the mind and the soul.  Yesterday as I was pushing the swing ‘higher’ for the umpteenth time, I wondered what I would do with my life when these days are gone; when Pip has started at school.  Even though life in the goldfish bowl can sometimes feel monotonous, Pip makes it interesting and it is a pleasure being with him.  We have fun together, and those moments when he achieves something, like swimming in the water without me, make the eighteen months of schlepping to the pool every week so worthwhile.

For all the frustration I sometimes feel about the sameness of it all, I know I’ll miss these days once they’re over.  I’ll miss him when he goes to school. And I don’t want to be a lonely goldfish swimming around all day on my own.  I always thought there’d be another tiddler fish in tow by this point, but despite our best efforts alas, still no tiddler fish to be seen. So maybe it’s time for me to start thinking about leaping out of the bowl and back into the big wide ocean; to think about going back to work, or retraining to do something new.  Scary, but possibly quite exciting too. 


17 comments:

  1. It can get very tedious looking after a little one can't it? Sounds like you do better at the routine thing than I ever did though - I was never very good at it and went with the flow - probably leading to frustrated kids. To be honest with school you have to get even more in a routine what with all the after school stuff and just getting them there is exhausting. Don't give up on tiddler fish either - 18 months isn't long really! Oh and I love the sound of having a nosy at famous actor's recycling (I find even ordinary people's recycling interesting!)

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    1. I'm sure not everyone finds it tedious, but I confess, some weeks do sometimes just seem a bit mind numbing. I thought it might get better when he went to school - but after reading your comment, possibly not!

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  2. I know what you mean. I'm not a SAHM, but even my one day off a week with the boy can be tedious sometimes. Routine makes robots of us all, to a certain extent, and it's important to get some variety. You're quite right to do something different at the weekend if you can - I try to do that too, even if it does mean making more of an effort than I can really be bothered with. Re the tiddler fish, do keep up hope. I've had three miscarriages in the past and felt like neither baby would ever happen, but they have. For me, the answer was acupuncture and chinese herbs from a wonderful woman called Jo George who I'd heartily recommend. I'll always be grateful to her. I don't know your situation, but it might be worth a try?

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    1. Yes, a change of scene at the weekend definitely helps. And there's no excuse really given that there is so much to see and do living in the capital. Thanks for your comment about the tiddler fish and for sharing your situation. Mine is very similar really, acupuncture was used to conceive Pip, and I'm using it again now. Was very impressed with Jo George's credentials. May go and see her for a second opinion. Thanks x

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  3. sounds like you had a lovely day... I too go with the flow these days, I really don't like being tied to doing the same thing each week but inevitably I do as we too go swimming each week. We will start a couple of classes soon so I am making the most of our time together, because all too soon she will be at school in a couple or so years. I do have routine of course, like bed! & she has thrived on routine so not knocking it at all. Enjoy every minute of him, I stupidly blinked & my first child was all grown up ... how old is Pip??

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    1. Time goes so quickly doesn't it? Pip is going to be 3 in a couple of months, and will start pre-school in September. That's the bit I'm finding hard - it just seems to have come around so quickly.

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  4. The monotony of life with a toddler, and you are so right its what they feel safe with. My routine is to the park/shopping, lunch, nap, some telly for Little A and then I make tea. Then its the bedtime routine! Everyday, well almost! I love that you pass the house of someone famous and you get a glimpse of the ordinary in that persons life - the recycle bin, although I guess it would be a house keepwer managing that. Sorry to hear that another baby hasnt materialised yet .... fingers crossed. Why dont you do a writing course .... or start researching for your first novel?

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    1. Yes, nosy me does love oggling the recycling box of Mr. Famous. Really, most surprising what he eats! Am thinking about a writing course - just thwarted currently by the childcare situation, but where there's a will and all that..x

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  5. It's so true. Days seem to blend in to one another. I work Wed-Fri and when people ask me how I spent my days at home, I often don't remember. My son craves routine as well. I tried to fit it in the beginning but soon realised that it wasn't worth it. He's happy knowing how his day/weeks are shaped and if he's happy then I most certainly am. Do you see writing in your future when Pip goes back to school? You're certainly talented. Another lovely read. x

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    1. Thanks FFHM for your kind words about the writing. There are so many talented writers out there. I don't know about it being something I could do for paid work, but I would like to write a book one day, if only for the satisfaction of saying, 'I did it'!

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  6. I yet again so concur with what you say. For me I try and have a routine, but on a fortnightly cycle so that it doesn't get too monotonous. I enjoy a bit of routine, but that is my character, and I have to fit J2's daily routine into the routine (over use of the word I know haha!) of J1 and the school run. I have to have structure to the day though otherwise I pull my hair out. Your Monday sounds fantastic, bet it flies by! And yes, it will all be gone too soon, but school days are great, they give you a good balance I think. I am like you, starting to think about planning what I want to do / achieve once I have a bit of 'child-free' time. It's scary at first because the world is your oyster, but now I am starting to formulate a plan it is actually very exciting. I still believe you will get your wish for another tiddler too.xxxxx

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    1. I always had you down as a bit of a routine/ planner/ list maker! Yes, Mondays do fly by. I'm exhausted by the end of them though.x

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  7. Good blog. You might enjoy this little poem about mothers. http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2011/12/random-quotation-spot.html

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  8. This is a bit like where I am at the moment, I need change on a daily and more long term basis. Having said that, I love my time with the little man and it's a source of great anxiety that the time goes by so quickly. I read somewhere this week - the days are long but the years are short. So true.

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  9. I like that, the days are long but the years are short. Fab quote. Thanks Polly x

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  10. I can find the days repetitive too, but punctuated by the most tender moments with my little boy.

    It can feel like a goldfish bowl, but more often than not, a rather safe and special little world that we've created, with it's own landscape, language and ritual.

    I think that I'll have the rest of my life to be grown up and wordly, and rather enjoy the little world our son has created for us. It'll change so soon.

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    1. I love your description of it as a special little world, and on good days I see it like that too. On bad days, I'm goldie...edging closer to the top of the bowl!

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