There are lots of things, with hindsight, worth savouring in the days before little people come along and
ruin enhance your life. Functioning brain cells, eating with two hands, long hot showers (go crazy and put conditioner in your hair!), unassisted bathroom trips and hot, rather than tepid food and beverages to name a few. In truth, many of these things I DID make an effort to appreciate, having spoken to friends who were already doing the parenting thing. However, one luxury I definitely overlooked, was the simple pleasure of getting up, getting ready and leaving the house. ‘Simple’ is the operative word here. Because after children, it is Never. Simple. Again.
Your mission: Coffee with friends and as much cake as you can fit in your mouth before your pint-sized companion/s spot it from afar and demand to ‘try some’.
Destination: Your local soft-play establishment (obviously?)
Meeting time: 9am
5.30am – You are abruptly awoken by high-pitched squealing coming from the cot at the foot of the bed. You peel open one eye to check the time. It’s 5.30am. Your heart would sink, but you’re too tired so you roll back over and close your eyes, drifting slowly back into oblivion. You tell yourself to stay strong; you are NOT getting up before 6am.
5.35am – The squealing builds in intensity, moving from content excitement to frantic ‘where the hell are you?’. You give up trying to sleep but vow to at least manage to pee in peace and grab a lightening-speed shower before beginning the day. [Cue Mission Impossible theme tune] You lie flat on your back praying you are out of sight. You slowly shuffle your way to the edge of the bed, hoping that the rustling of the covers will not attract attention. You roll out, dropping straight to the floor. The baby rolls over too and is peering through the bars, his big eyes searching. You crawl warily along the floor, keeping low to remain out of sight. You can feel your heart tight in your chest, but you make it out of the door and steal some ‘me time’ in the bathroom. You’re winning.
5.45am – You begrudgingly make your way back in, tiredness seeping into your bones, but then he pulls out his killer move, beaming and cooing in adoration and excitement to see you. You scoop him up and pull him in close, breathing him in and savouring the moment. All is forgiven (until next time).
6am – A satisfied yawn escapes the baby monitor. You remember you have another child. You just have time to grab a muslin and mop up the post-feed standard morning puke from the baby’s chin and sleep-suit, before you hear a thud and know he is out of bed.
6.03am – You enter large child’s bedroom, your best cheerful ‘good morning voice’ prepped, baby on your hip, muslin on your shoulder. A barrage of questions are fired your way: “Hi mommy. I want to look out the window?” (fine…) “Can we go to the park today?” (No) “Grandad’s house?” (Not today) “Nursery today?”. You break the news you are going to soft play, but instantly regret it knowing you still have three hours to wait, an eternity in the eyes of an excitable nearly ‘threenager’. On the plus side, you have loads of time – at least you won’t be late.
6.10am – In your sleep deprived state you only just notice that your toddler has successfully emptied his sock draw all over his bedroom floor and is wearing his swimming shorts over his trousers. You wrestle them off him and quickly return his room to its previous state, singing nursery rhymes as you go to hold the baby’s quickly diminishing attention.
6.15am – You go about making breakfast, baby in highchair occupied with a pack of baby wipes (who needs toys?), toddler bustling at your feet. He tells you repeatedly he wants ‘the purple bowl’ (The one that’s still lying unwashed in the bloody dishwasher, naturally). You pour milk over a bowl of Weetabix but clumsily slosh it all over the work surface – you swear under your breath, then smile and place it on the table. You shovel porridge into the baby with one hand, whilst attempting to eat your own breakfast with the other. Ambidextrous is your new normal.
7.15am – You have no idea how it happened. But somewhere in a flurry of breakfast shoveling, teeth brushing, nursery rhyme singing, octopus dressing, unreasonable toddler negotiating and nappy changing a whole hour has gone by. You mentally count the hours left until daddy comes home from work to rescue you. 11. Still 11 hours. Surely it’s the middle of the day already?
7.30am – The baby starts to grizzle and yawn – it must be time for a nap. He’s been awake for two whole hours, after all. You push aside your jealousy, set up largest child with his favourite YouTube playlist (trying your best to ignore the pang of ‘mom guilt’) and set about getting him off to sleep.
8.00am – A lifetime of shushing and patting later, in an effort to ease your guilt, you give your eldest a five minute warning and tell him that after that the computer is going off so you can play.
8.10am – It hasn’t been five minutes yet has it? Just a few more minutes of blissful peace and quiet and Facebook procrastinating won’t hurt…
8.15am – You turn the computer off and breathe a sigh of relief at the lack of protest (on THIS occasion), then suggest a quick game of hide and seek. Except toddlers aren’t very good at hide and seek. So you spend 20 minutes, counting to ten then finding him hiding behind the curtains. Every. Single. Time. You wonder if you might win an Oscar for feigning surprise this many times, but then remember you need to leave soon so come abruptly back to reality.
8.35am – In the pre-child days, bag packing consisted of putting your purse, phone and maybe lippy into a handbag. That’s it. Done. Today, you pack nappies, nappy bags, enough baby wipes to sink a ship, tissues for inevitable snot wiping, snacks for bribing large-child out of the ball pit, muslins for sick mopping and boob hiding (should the baby need feeding), spare clothes and random toys. You still feel like you’ve forgotten something. But there is no time to dwell.
8.50am – You feel smug that everything is going to plan. The baby has napped and is now positioned in his car seat. You are all dressed and fed and nearly ready to go. You wrestle your toddler into his coat and shoes and place your key in the door. You pick the baby up in his car seat but notice an ominous smell. Why do they do it? Children know when you are about to go out of the door. Cue a crying toddler who wants to leave NOW followed by the fastest nappy change known to man and this time, you are actually away.
9.15am – You finally arrive, not too late, all things considered.
“How was your morning?” Your friend asks.
You sigh. “Oh, not too bad” But your sigh gives it away. “You?”
But you know. You both just know, and you order coffee, and breathe.
Life Love and Dirty Dishes