I’ve decided babies are designed in order to keep their parents from getting too comfortable at any given time. They are beautiful, unpredictable little monsters.
Because who needs routine and comfort and familiarity? Not people in charge of small children, apparently. Right now, my baby is teething. The corner of his third tooth has just broken through the gum. My ‘day of writing and catching up on jobs’ while my daughter goes on a jaunt with her grandparents has been turned into my ‘day of desperately trying to distract my wailing baby as he pulls at my hair and screeches into my ears.’
If you have a baby that just neatly slotted into your life as though they’ve always been there, the kind of baby that is like a neat, portable little companion that accompanies you quietly to coffee shops and restaurants and such: congratulations. You are one of the lucky ones. (Coincidentally I bet you are the kind that has lovely swishy hair and clean clothes too. I’m not in any way jealous, you understand.) My babies like to come barrelling into our lives like a wrecking ball through a brick wall. ‘BOOM! I HAVE ARRIVED! EVERYONE CHANGE YOUR PLANS!’
Right from day one – unpredictable, beautiful little monsters.
I am trying to figure out if it is feasible for me to be self-employed right now, as in, while the kids are mostly with me, and as it turns out, it is completely not feasible. It is totally unrealistic. It is utterly nonsensical, in fact. Because my kids need me. All of the time.
I need you to understand how little I am exaggerating here. Any moment where both my children are occupied without needing anything are as mythical and unobtainable as the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Also, those moments are usually facilitated by the presence of a) biscuits or b) Iggle Piggle, which is not the best parenting strategy to adopt full-time.
I had heard, of course, that people had less time after having children. I was a nursery nurse, for crying out loud! And yet, pre-children, I still imagined a time where I would be floating around the house whilst my tiny bundle slept in her Moses basket, casually getting on with things and drinking coffee (with swishy shiny hair, obviously). And then my daughter was born. I remember my husband going back to work and my honest to God question being ‘but how will I have a shower and have wees and cook dinner and look after her?’
I adapted. Because you do. And then the next one came along.
Now? Now I am only writing this because my daughter is out with her grandparents and my angrily teething son is chomping his way through a packet of Kiddylicious Veggie Straws (only a slight step up, I feel, from the distraction-with-biscuits strategy).
He’s thrown me a curveball. Because that’s what they do. You make plans, and they break them, because they are the child and they have the power to veto whatever it is you as the adult want to do. So, for example, my writing has been severely restricted and any jobs that need to be done have flown firmly out the window. Because baby will literally scream at me until I pick him up.
And yes, you might suggest, I could write while they’re asleep. Except he won’t be asleep right now. Not without my boob wedged in his mouth, which is quite the dangerous game when your baby has teeth.
It is a very good job that I love them so much and they are the best things in the entire world.
I keep telling myself I am growing from this: I am learning tenacity and grit and determination and patience and the ability to be flexible and problem-solve on the fly. What do you do when your baby has crawled over to his sister and snatched a pen from her hand whilst at the same time your dinner starts boiling over and the postman knocks on the door? I know the answer.
But the truth is I will probably do what all parents do: block out how much hard work it is and only remember the cuddles and the gummy smiles and the time we played superheroes in our underwear (like yesterday). And I will say ‘Aw, they were such good babies, weren’t they?’ And I will at some stage become broody for another.
In fact that’s why I write these things really. Future insurance against broody feelings.
I think I’ll forget about the self-employment-whilst-looking-after-the-kids thing.
Who needs money anyway?!
Hi! I’m Meg – wife to Chris, mother to our three year old daughter and five month old son. I am a writer, bookworm, Christian, feminist, and sleep enthusiast!
Image credit: Megan Bidmead