YOU are not prepared for a lot of things when it comes to motherhood. Things like your hips never being quite the same again, what true sleep deprivation is like, how you want to cry with happiness the first time your child utters “mama” and then cry with a completely different emotion when they won’t stop roaring it.
Lots of stuff like that. And no-one ever warns you about the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” trap that is guilt.
I’ve been feeling a lot of it lately. This week for example, two boys were at a Holiday Camp and Smallest Boy started a few hours of work experience with his daddy. Child labour, free child-care; call it what you will, it meant I had just one child to contend with for three hours that particular day.
As we were going our separate ways following a cup of coffee, Lovely Liam and Smallest Boy stopped on the street to thump the living daylights out of each other, complete with sound effects for good measure.
What were they fighting over? Me. They were fighting over me.
“I don’t want Liam touching you! Get him away from you. You are not his mammy, too!”
On the way home with the one remaining child, what did he say to me when he had me all to himself?
“I like it when the others are not here. It’s quieter.”
Wham! Right in the solar plexus – guilt.
There is just not enough of me to go around nor are there enough hours in the day.
Even the dog is contributing to the guilt trip lately. Unless I smarten up pronto and take her for regular runs, I wouldn’t blame her at all if she puts me up on donedeal.ie
I am a member of a Facebook group whose directive is to assist and support parents everywhere in getting them through the tougher moments of the day gently. Their mission statement ends with the words;
“Go forth and be lovely and gentle....deep breaths....count to 10!!!”
I am more of a lurker than a participant these days but I love the ethos and the group is bursting at the seams with good advice.
There is much love.
But when there are more than two children it becomes harder. They fight over everything, couch space, TV rights, biscuits, the air they breathe and their mother.
When I was pregnant for the second and third time I was absolutely demented through lack of sleep. I knew I was in trouble and floundering but I waited it out. However, when I was 5 months along with our fourth son, I felt the symptoms knocking and scratching at the door once more and this time I was not putting up with it.
After a fashion I found myself sitting in front of a counsellor and to make a long story short, I was okay and did not go on to experience Post Natal Depression when Smallest Boy was born.
I contribute this partly to him being a good sleeper. It certainly helped as I do not function well on broken sleep. Even two nights of messing can take its angry, festery toll on me.
I’m great fun at parties, I promise.
I suppose what I am trying to say is even though I am getting lots and lots of lovely sleep again, Lovely Liam could still wake up during the night.
It might be just once but for ten minutes there’s crying (I almost did the other night!) and some nonsensical talking out of him. Lately I am finding it really hard to deal with.
It reminds me too much of the dark days.
I decided it had to stop.
I clamped down hard.
More guilt. And I will most likely get kicked out of my gentle parenting group if they get wind of this but I threatened my midnight sleepwalker and talker.
I told him if he got out of his bed he would have to sleep on a blanket in the car. He would not go to the pool anymore because it could be the pool that wakes him up at night time. Then I loaded him with Zirtek in an effort to abolish his new most annoying sniffing habit and some Nurofen for good luck.
I know. I know. But I was desperate.
And guess what? It bloody well worked.
But at least I’m not tired any more.