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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Balancing Act

It’s a balancing act, this motherhood lark. Some are able to walk the tightrope with accomplished poise, never falling off.  Others have the fine finesse of a trapeze artist, swinging gracefully from one situation to another; any fumbling disguised or forgotten in a triumphant final flourish. My mothering possesses neither of these qualities. In fact, the only thing it has in common with either of them is that right now, is it feels like a bit of a circus.

Amidst the mountains of washing, the brightly coloured trail of toys that frankly, I was too tired to put away the night before, and the cups and plates waiting to go into the as yet, unstacked dishwasher, I sometimes feel overwhelmed; that I can’t keep up.  My Big Top is a mess. Everyday life has become comedic, we lurch from one clown like skit to another. There are days when I feel that I am slowly losing my metaphorical marbles. One morning recently I picked up a jar of marmalade and tried to drink from it, thinking it was a cup of tea. That’s the level of madness that I’m at right now.

Millions of women have two children. Surely it can’t be that hard, can it? Sometimes it feels that way.  All I know is, after 8 weeks of waking every 2-3 hours each night, I can barely remember my own name let alone what to put on my shopping list.  This last week I’ve been house hunting, looking for a place to rent. During the course of a morning’s viewings I constantly had to check where EB was, that I’d picked up the car seat and put him back in the car and hadn’t left him sleeping in his Maxi Cosi in some uninhabited flat. My head felt so full of noise, I worried I'd have an 'out' moment and just forget him.

Sleep deprivation and general exhaustion are responsible for the fact my multitasking capabilities are off kilter at the moment; that the house looks a bit of a mess, that I’m slightly unorganised and that I certainly don’t look anywhere near the yummy mummy I’d like to be.  My mantra for 2013 was to treat myself kindly, so I keep telling myself that all that stuff doesn’t matter (right now). What I am finding hard though, and what does matter, is managing the dynamic between Pip and EB;  balancing my time with each of them and nurturing the relationship between them. That matters to me. A lot.

Pip loves being a big brother, he really does. He’s so proud of the new addition to our family.  He is very sweet with EB and very tactile - but alas, not very gentle.  Some days I fear that EB is in danger of becoming a human canon ball. Whoever invented the Baby Bjorn bouncy chair clearly didn’t design it with older brothers in mind. It’s OK, I tell myself, we just won’t use the chair when Pip’s around. Yet even a pat on the head from Pip seems to turn EB into a nodding dog.  Boom! Down comes a massive hand on to EB’s delicate crown.  ‘BE GENTLE’ I cry for the umpteenth time that day. I hate myself for it.  I know he’s only trying to be affectionate, but my pleas of gentleness seem to fall on deaf ears.  Big clown loves to play with little clown and sees nothing wrong with what he is doing. In the meantime, Mummy, the frazzled ringmaster, becomes increasingly stressed out.

Try as I might, I can’t seem to help Pip find the balance between showing affection and doing it gently. A number of weeks in now, I’m finding it increasingly hard to remain patient, to parent calmly and say;  ‘Well done, nice and gently, that’s right.’  It’s taking all my will power to resist the temptation to bark; ‘Do NOT do that to your brother. You’ll hurt him’.  If I reflect on it, it makes me sad. I don’t want to have to constantly be telling him off for not being gentle enough.  I don’t see malicious intent in his actions,  just the adoration of an over exuberant three year old, but managing it is turning out to be a full time job.
 
Inside my head I can hear the broken record of a mother with her needle stuck, continually repeating; ‘ Be Gentle’...'BE Gentle'...'BE GENTLE’.  I tell myself millions of babies have survived the rigorous demonstrative love of older siblings and it will be fine, but trying to balance protecting my youngest whilst not wanting to discourage my oldest from demonstrating his love seems so difficult. Who’d have thought that something so well meant would be a cause of stress? I’m hoping it’s just a phase, that it will pass soon. My new juggling act will certainly be much easier to perform if it does.


18 comments:

  1. That was a wonderfully written post - just loved that first paragraph, and I really enjoyed your experiences in comparison to a circus. And you can write so beautifully with all you have going on? Have I gushed enough? Anyway, I hear your frustration and sadness at the current situation but given everything you have on your plate at the moment, you are doing fabulously well. If I had a second, I don't think I would have quite your patience - because, in fact, that is how you came across in this piece - that you really, really are doing your very best with two children with very different needs. Hang in there - and you'll make me laugh if you spread tea on your toast! X.

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    1. Thanks OM, that's a lovely compliment. If I spread my tea on my toast I think I'll have hit rock bottom! x

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  2. For a start I think no one is as together as you think they are. Some of us just blag it better! I'm sorry you're struggling ATM, but as Older Mum says, you're doing brilliantly. As for two boys, the physical inter action between them will always astound and worry you! That disturbed sleep is a killer. Hope all settles down soon.

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    1. You always give sage advice, thank you. And yes, I'm sure they'll do far worse things to each other in time to come. Brotherly love eh?

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  3. I could have written this. I am dealing with this with E and feel the same guilt.

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  4. Hugs hon. I know how you feel. You are doing well though. Keep remembering that.It is hard with two espeacially when they are closer as an age. I am finding it hard :( but i am trying to keep positive. When i manage to go somewhere else than to nursery and back then i congratulate myself. some days is hard to find time for a shower though or the carpet needs vacuuming but it's life and i resent that i can't do everything. these days mums live further away from their families and everybody expects them to get along by themselves. This was not the case 10-15 years ago though. Remember i am here if you ever need to chat x

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    1. It's nice to hear from someone who is going through the same thing. You are so right about living further from families - some days I wish that mine were just around the corner. Being in London can be quite isolating sometimes without the support network of family. I have friends, but it's not quite the same, they have their own children to deal with. Thanks for your supportive comment. x

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  5. I don't think there's a reader out there who can't relate to this feeling - we ALL remember it, very well. The fumbling around erratically, trying desperately to get our head organised, yet lurching chaotically from one event to the next. Honestly, please believe me that it gets better - I went on to have a third so I must have forgotten very quickly life with a newborn and a toddler. Try to remember and savour the good bits. The 'lost marble' type behaviour is definitely down to lack of sleep and nothing else. You will get this back. xx

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    1. Thanks for your words of reassurance. Hopefully normal service will resume again shortly :0) x

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  6. I feel your pain! It's really not easy adjusting to life with two and all that entails. For me, some days are better than others. We are far from a well-oiled machine, but I'm getting better at leaving the house in under an hour and doing bedtime without too many tears. It's taken a while to get to this stage, though, and I still feel bad when the boy's bedtime books are barely audible because the baby's crying so loudly. Although they love each other most of the time, he's sometimes very silly with her. He chucked a comic at her yesterday and was poking her with a Peppa Pig telescope today. I've put her playpen up to try to delineate a safe zone but I'm not sure how well that will work! Anyway, rest assured that we're all wondering how it's meant to work and it does get better x

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    1. Ah, Primrose Hill...I will think of you and know that I'm not alone next time I need to set up a 'safe zone' :0). Thanks x

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  7. Honestly it does get easier! I was there and people used to say, it will get better, I used to sit there and scowl at them, shake my head and think to myself its all lie, its all lies! But Slowly it does, yes slowly! Moo still has her moments now but its no where near as bad as it was back when he was a newborn.

    I used to sit there when they were both in bed, and feel terrible at how I had shouted at Moo, but she had really pushed me to the limits and she would poke and prod Thor for no reason what so ever! Walk past him and give him a nudge on the head. Its a huge adjustment for them.

    It will get better xxx

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  8. I know I wrote a comment a couple of days ago but must have not pressed the publish button...sleep deprivation eh!
    Great comparison to the circus, my 'big top' is always a complete mess, and I'm constantly telling Alex to be careful I feel like a broken record! I too wonder how other's seem to be coping so well-I'm thinking they must have some sort of secret extra help from someone! x

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    1. Why didn't someone tell me about the *secret help* club? That would make things so much easier :0)

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  9. How lovely that he is so proud to be a big brother. I imagine it is a worry (or it is for me) that having a second child will make the first one unhappy in some way, which doesn't seem to be the case with you. I am always telling the little man to be gentle with other children. I know he is just trying to tickle or cuddle them and the last thing I want to do is stunt his desire to show affection but he is just a bit rough. Boys eh?!

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  10. so very well written and so true! i am only in week 2 and still ahve hubby at home but know what you mean about the exhaustion and sleep deprivation. I hadn't slept much beyond 4 -5 hrs from 8 weeks into my pregnancy and had only been left work a week and a half when daughter came 5 weeks early. I was hoping for a little rest but no chance! I think I worked out in the first 6 days after she was born I had slept for a grand total of 20 hours (sounds a lot but doesn't equate to even 3 hrs a night on average) and in the last two nights I have had between an hour and a half and two hours disturbed sleep each night. I so know what you mean about the 'out' experience. I have sat listening to people around me talk and have felt all fuzzy headed and like the voices are just echoing around me and nothing is making sense. I have no idea how I will d this with a toddler and hubby back working shifts! i too have spent the last couple of days telling my little girl to be careful and mind her feet and not to climb where her sister is etc etc. She too loves her little sister and just has no spacial awareness! lol! Despite all this I just take comfort in the fact I'm not the only one and we are all going through this together! I am sure things will get much clearer and easier soon xxx

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