Sometimes, monotony is good. It keeps a decent routine pedalling along, no surprises, no earthquakes. Paddle paddle, tread that water. Then chaos piggybacks onto monotony, and what ensues is the realisation that this racecar needs a pitstop.
It’s always the “weird” weeks that fuck me up. So, a while ago, the baby caught chicken pox right after we got back from holiday.
The day of the pox went something like this:
Tuesday, first day back at work after holiday. Need to work from home, as big child has a settle session at her new school at 9.30am. Supposed to be dialling into a work meeting at 9.30am over Skype. Ooops. Submit apologies for meeting, take baby to nursery. Come home, dump big child in front of TV and work for an hour. Leg it to settle session in pissing rain. Clockwatch nervously for an hour. Dash her to nursery, run home, commence work. Foolishly decide to nip to the shops for lunch despite 168 unread emails. Phone call from nursery to say that baby has chicken pox, needs collecting “now, really”. Sigh.
Collect her, attempt to carry on with work despite a mewing, spotty, hot and bothered child clinging on like a limpet. Remind husband that there’s another sodding meeting at the school, at 5pm. He’ll need to leave work early to come and sit with the baby, then fetch the big one, while I cover the meeting aimed at PARENTS plural. Yep – the hall is filled with mums, dads, and even a rogue grandma. I collect up the welcome pack, nod along while someone talks to me about how to brush milk teeth, and walk home in the rain.
The following week saw this:
Grandparents on holiday + nursery staff training day = an already fucked week. Husband books Monday off and I live the high life: I drive to work, via Costa, work, drive home, and lo – dinner is on the table and all of the household jobs have been done. I just rock up to child-based cuddles, and eat my tea. I do my bidding with bedtime then piss off to the gym. What a day! Tuesday, normally a nursery day, and I’ve booked a day of holiday to cover the staff training gubbins. I don’t really have the time, seeing as last week was pretty screwed up, and those 168 unread emails are still looming large. But no matter – let’s make the best of it, get that dinner cooked, sort out that washing, tidy those toys.
Oh, and what is this? Ah yes – chicken pox in the big child. Fab. Wednesday – I guess that’s me working from home, then. Loading up Now TV and chopping up an apple and bribing her with Haribo because I have to dial in to a meeting and no, poppet, you can’t click the mouse, and I know darling, but please don’t speak because Mummy’s on the phone to six other people and they’re all way more important than me. And “Right, it’s 3pm and we’ve been indoors since 8.10am, shall we have a superquick blast of fresh air around the block?” But we can’t go, because my work mobile rings and anyway, her legs are too tired to walk anywhere.
The next day saw this:
I’m sick of being pawed at, I’m sick of my belongings being pulled from drawers and cases and then stood on and chewed and thrown and bent. I’m sick of nagging and trying and failing to do it all, because someone’s favourite cup is in the dishwasher and I put the wrong jam on the wrong side of the toast on the wrong plate. I’m sick of trying to even up my attention when actually, the big child needs it more because she’s got chicken pox but if you ignore the baby she screeches and clings on to your leg until you pick her up. So you either drag her along the kitchen floor between worksurfaces or you attempt to pin her to one hip while you hack at some vegetables for dinner.
I’m sick of “I don’t want to go out” and “I want to go to the park” but it’s rained and so the park will be soaking. And “What’s wrong, why are you crying?” to be met with “I just really really miss my daddy, that’s all.”
So I sent a text to my husband telling him I needed to go away for a few days, on my own. I needed to not do bedtime and morningtime and everything in between time. I needed to read a book and think and drink coffee, and I needed it to be not just for an hour on a Saturday afternoon.
But that’s not fair, is it? How dare I skip off into the distance with an overnight bag and a smile? Because I tell you what – there’s debt and consequence to that. That’s the shitter with kids. Spontaneity – gone. Mutual weekends away – gone. It all just goes into the tally book: “Remember three years ago when you went away for the night for X’s stag do? Well I’d like a night away please.” Or, “Remember that Thursday when you went for drinks after work and I did dinner, bath and bed all by myself, and she had a cold so I was sat up with her until 10pm? Can I claim that back now and go out on the piss next Wednesday?”
Say I could morally justify it, I could book a B&B in the countryside for two nights and finally get stuck into reading that book I’ve had on my bedside table since 2014, I can’t bloody afford it. Because I can’t get an extra day at work and so my nursery bill accounts for two thirds of what I bring home.
While we’re on the morose train, let’s fling in some good old fashioned mum guilt. Why am I feeling like this? Why can’t I bustle up and knuckle down? Why am I looking longingly at the door and wishing I could run away? Where’s this inner resolve that everyone talks about? Do I even deserve to be a mum, when some days I feel utter resentment towards this part of my life?
I didn’t book a trip away. I didn’t run out of the door. I carried on applying gel to the spots and playing row, row, row your boat with the baby. I gave kisses at bedtime and stared at my face in the bathroom mirror as I promised that the next day would be better.
But this month, I feel kind of done.
-SJW August 2017