Miscellany

The older child

It’s 1am, and I can’t sleep.  I’m not even close.  I’m thinking about my daughter, and how lately our relationship seems to have fallen apart, and I’m quietly berating myself for not being able to be the mother I really want to be for her.

There’s something I’ve already learnt about the older child, 7 months in to having more than one.  And that is how much added pressure you can suddenly and unintentionally find yourself placing on their little shoulders.  The pressure to find something to happily amuse themselves with.  The pressure to instinctively know right from wrong.  The pressure to be able to read you, when you are feeling stressed, busy or at wits end.  The pressure to just grow up.  She’s 4. So much pressure for a little one.

My daughter is a star, she shines so bright.  She is affectionate, caring and concerned, smart, funny, inquisitive, bubbly and loud, with never-ending energy and enthusiasm, and a good heart.  She loves unconditionally.  She is so beautiful that she takes my breath away.  She wants to do everything – all day long she constantly asks me, what are we doing next Mumma? Will you do something with me?  I want to do something with you.

watermarked - moose funny pose

But she hears no a lot.  No I can’t do something with you right now,  I have to [insert meaningless chore or task, or responsibility revolving around younger child, here].  No, don’t do that.  No, don’t touch that.  No you can’t.  No no no.  Some days I feel like I’m a hammer, banging away at that nail, until eventually it’s pushed all the way through and there’s no more banging to be done.  I’m scared of breaking her spirit.  Isn’t it strange that you can be saying words and yet knowing you shouldn’t be saying them, both in the same moment?  How do you learn to put yourself in between that, to pry it apart enough so that you have time to take action?

She’s 4.  She now has a younger sibling that she’s waited such a long time for, but he still can’t play with her yet.  She has been through so much change in the past year, we all have, and she has coped with it amazingly well.  We have asked a lot of this little girl already, and she hasn’t complained.  She is such a wonderful person, everything I could have wished for in my child.

But right now, I am everything I never thought I would be as a mother.  In fact, I despise my mother self.  I don’t want my daughter to remember me as this mother.  I want her memories of me to be of a  mother who was always there for her when she needed it, who would encourage her, who was interested in her, who was fun and would play.  And I am those things, all of the time on the inside, just not consistently on the outside.

I feel like I’ve been sitting around waiting for more energy, more motivation, more patience, to magically appear from somewhere.  But it doesn’t.  I desperately want to feel charged, full of life, ready for adventure and seeking opportunities to connect and laugh.  But I am so tired.  There are two of them now, and their demands and needs are constant, and every day is a marathon I’m running just to keep moderately on top of things, because if I stop for a moment then it will just resemble a 24-car pile up – the first car stops and the rest just continue smashing up in to each other.

I don’t know if this is post-natal depression.  I suffered with it for the year after Moose was born, but is it possible for it to come back in fits and starts, with 3 years in between, with the birth of another child in between?  It’s not like this all of the time, we have ebbs and flows.  But in these dark days, it permeates the very walls like a disease.

She’s 4.  I’m 32.  I’m the one who needs to change this scenario, I’m the one who needs to be the bigger person, I’m the one who needs to man up and throw everything I’ve got in to this relationship.  Because my daughter is a beautiful miracle, and she is worth whatever it takes, at the expense of anything.

watermarked - sunny moose

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Miscellany

Lately

I haven’t been blogging much for a while, apart from the usual 52 Project posts and my Read, Watch, Listen posts.

Lately, it feels like there is too much fighting for my time.  It’s not all bad, a lot of it is fun stuff and I just wish I had more time to really sink my teeth in to everything.  However, I know I really am quite spoilt right now to not have to worry about work sucking up all the hours in my day, and to be able to dabble in so many hobbies.  Sometimes though, with the additions of being a parent and also being a wife (ie. Treasurer, Doctor, Taxi, Events Organiser, Administration Assistant, Chef, Cleaner, Gardener, etc.), I feel like every moment of my day, someone or something is depending on me.  A lot of the time I love that, but at other times, it can get draining.  Sometimes, you just want to be answerable only to yourself for a while.  I know that will come, eventually, one day.

watermarked - feet

I had a bout of depression and insomnia a couple of weeks ago, with the two of them feeding off each other.  I seemed to only be getting between 4-6 hours of sleep each night, and regardless of how tired I was, I couldn’t get to sleep easily.  There were middle of the night breakdowns, frustration and impatience during the day, and arguments galore.  I was feeling like a failure as a parent, as a wife, and in myself.  It happens from time to time, but once I’m in a logical state of mind again, I can see how it all boils down to the quality (or lack of quality) of my sleep.  I’m feeling a bit better now, and trying to get back into a positive mindset, but I’m still not getting anywhere near enough sleep.  That’s partly my fault due to staying up too late.  When you’re “on the job” from 6am until 9.30pm every day, all you want at the end of it is time to veg out and do whatever it is that YOU want to do!  But, 9.30 is a pretty late time to just be beginning “me” time, and before I know it, it’s 11pm and I’m still not ready for bed.  The sleeping issue is also partly due to being woken up through the night at least once.  Little R has just started waking up during the night again after sleeping through for quite a while, plus we started night-time toilet training with Moose just recently.  So, sleep-throughs have become more rare lately.

I’ve got a couple of “special projects” going on at the moment.  The first is NaNoWriMo, which of course you know all about, right?  This is the third year I’ve participated, and I’m yet to win.  I’m not holding my breath that that will happen this year either.  I had a cracking start on Day 1, it was so good I had to tweet about it!

But I’m now 6,000 words behind, and with a wedding to attend this weekend it’s not looking likely that I’ll be able to make up for lost time.  I keep thinking “That’s it, it’s over, just give up now and don’t waste any more time on it”.  But then I think “Just do what you can, and then try to smash it in the last week or so to get to the end!”  I don’t know what I want to do, and I don’t know why I keep attempting this year after year!  I think I am just a competitive person, and the fact that there is this thing out there that I can’t master, it really eats away at me.  I can’t stand that!  I must conquer it!

My other project is that I’ve started on Michelle Bridge’s 12WBT program.  Now this project I’m happy with my progress on!  I’m doing the “Post-Baby” program, and my aim is not to lose weight so much but to increase my tone, flexibility, strength and overall fitness.  I also wanted to pick up some new exercise techniques, and healthy recipes along the way.  Going in to the program, I knew that I wouldn’t be playing along strictly on the nutrition side of it.  That might seem like I’m therefore wasting my time, but I think we eat reasonably well anyway, plus I like my food way too much to make any drastic changes to what I eat.  Our two main issues with nutrition are that a lot of our dinner meals are very “carb-y”, and that Big R and I will have sweet treats at night on most nights after the kids have gone to bed.  So even though I’m not taking on board the breakfast and lunch suggestions from 12WBT (because for breakfast I just can’t do fruit/muesli-type fare, I’m always starving and so I can’t do without my toast and coffee, and the lunches just because I don’t have time to whip up a homemade meal from scratch in the middle of the day), I’m replacing a lot of our usual dinners with 12WBT dinners.  I’m also making an effort to forgo the nightly sweet treat more often.  On the exercise front though, I haven’t missed a workout yet!  6 days a week and going strong!  I love exercise and I’m really enjoying being challenged and doing new things (as my old routine was beginning to be just that – old).  I’m feeling good, sore a lot of the time, but that’s ok.  I’m one of those strange people who actually likes that feeling!

Speaking of exercise, I have another new obsession thanks to Veggie Mama – the Yoga With Adriene channel on YouTube!  Adriene has so much variety in her videos, regardless of whether you’re an absolute beginner and just want to go through the common poses in detail, or if you’re feeling sore in a particular area and want to stretch it out, or if you’re a yoga regular and are looking for a new routine.  She’s very clear and easy to follow, and I love that she isn’t a stickler for holding the perfect form, she allows you flexibility (ha! Geddit?) to move around in the postures to find what feels right for you at the time.  As someone who has been practising yoga for years, I’m finding this to be the best philosophy for reaping the most benefits from the exercise.  While we’re talking yoga, check out the other recommendation in Veggie Mama’s post that I’ve linked to above – the Cosmic Kids Yoga YouTube channel.  I was trying to encourage Moose to watch an episode and do the yoga each week but she wasn’t as keen as I thought she would be.  But never mind about her, I think this channel is fantastic!  The stories are engaging, the backdrops are colourful, and the yoga is integrated in to the storyline so discreetly the kids will hardly even realise they’re exercising!  This would be great for kids between 2-6 years of age, and a fun activity for parents and kids to do together.

Combined with all this exercise and yoga, I’m making more of an effort to practice mindfulness- trying to catch myself in moments, to stop the internal chatter and pay attention to what’s happening right now. It’s not only about enjoying this time while I’m at home with the kids, but it’s something I want to learn and continue with so I can better enjoy their whole childhood too and our years as a young family, as well as to help me see the goodness in my own everyday.  It’s about it being a practice for life.

watermarked - mystery flower

And the kids?  Well, Moose seems to be discreetly growing up from right under me, little by little each day.  I can see it in the way she talks and in her expanding vocabulary, as well as in her facial expressions.  Little R is growing up too of course, but his growth is more obvious.  He’s now rolling around on the floor at lighting speed, from back to front, and occasionally from front to back.  He’s also well on his way to saying his first word.  Here’s a little preview of what he’s sounding out right now, can you guess what the first word might be?-

Mmm, mmaa, mmaammaa

*grins proudly with glee*

 

So, what’s up with you lately?  Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

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Moments

In the middle of the night

3:58am. Little R is stirring in his bassinett. Although it’s completely dark in the room, I can picture him just by his noise – straining against the confines of his cotton swaddle, head moving from side to side, legs kicking out. Yep, I’ll have to get up and feed him this time, no getting out of it. He was fussing earlier in the night, about 1-something am. I didn’t get up then, he must have settled back down. Have I gone back to sleep since then? I can’t be sure, I don’t have that feeling of waking up from sleep. Perhaps I’ve been awake this whole time?

I turn the light on, and yes, one of his arms is out of his swaddle, flapping about uncontrollably. His eyes search the ceiling, until my face comes in to view, and for a moment when he spots me, he’s still. Then, I can see recognition in his eyes, and he smiles up at me. I smile back at him. “Hi there, little man“. Even though it’s the middle of the night, I’m happy to see him.

As we go about our feed-change-feed routine every night, quietly and calmly, I’m always amazed and relieved at how easy and enjoyable it is for both of us. Thankfully, so different to the last time. I didn’t know that babyhood could be like this. I’m so grateful to be experiencing this version of it. I’m content and peaceful, as I look down at Little R’s perfect face and stroke his whisper-soft hair while he feeds, and I try to memorise this beautiful moment for all time so I can always return. I know these moments of exclusive togetherness in the still and silence of the night will be gone someday soon, and while I might be appreciative of the extra sleep, I’ll miss them all the same.

He feeds, cradled warm against my tummy with a hand gripping my pyjama collar, his only sound the tiny glug-glug-glug of his drinking. The bedside lamp softly lights the room with a warm, dreamy ambience, and next to my chair the heating vent in the floor pumps out lovely hot air, drifting past my face. We are cosy inside against the freezing conditions on the other side of the wall.

I look up through a gap in the wooden slat blinds covering the window next to me, and I see through it a half-moon in an otherwise-blank sky. I think about all the sleeping people in my street, my suburb, my city, and I think about all the other Mums who are awake with their babes at this moment too. I know some of them will be feeling just as content and blissful as I am now. And I know others will be struggling, crying, screaming, not knowing what to do next or whether they’ll ever feel like a good mother, as I did once before. My heart goes out to all of them and I wish them strength and peace. Isolated under our own roofs, yet united in our purpose, under the watchful glow of a half-moon.

 

Linking up with The Weekend Rewind at Maxabella Loves

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