Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Yesterday I was outside in the garden and an airplane flew over the house. I looked up and thought about all the times I sat in one of those tiny seats awaiting a new adventure. How life changes. Now I am sitting on my bed with filthy hair, chipped toenail polish and smelling quite a lot like sour breast milk. Grace is sleeping in her cot like an absolute angel and for the first time in 3 weeks I have a chance to reflect on this whole parenting 2 kids business.

The first thing everyone seems to ask is “how are you coping with 2 kids?” so I am going to lay it out for you… In ALL of its tear-stained glory.

When I was pregnant with Grace I imagined a blissful life with my 2 girls, something not unlike the Instagram feeds of oldjoy, scarelttandisla or happygreylucky. You know the fantasy: perfectly groomed, gorgeous kids, frolicking in a tamed yard and wearing the best locally made hand-spun cotton clothing… Me in the background carrying out a tray of freshly baked sugar and gluten free cookies. Yah, it’s nothing like that.

We’re all taking a minute to adjust to this new whirlwind we seem to be stuck in. Sophie is processing everything like a typical 3 year old: she will be the loudest, most loved, most showered with attention child in the house or else we will all pay (and dearly at that). My reaction to Sophie’s newfound defiance and self-assertion has been to morph into a psychotic dragon mom who shouts and screams and threatens non-stop (like, literally the only time I am not shouting is when I am sleeping).

A few days ago, after an especially bad tanty, I looked down at Sophie’s sweaty, tear streaked face and realised that for all my shouting, I am doing no good. Every time I hit the roof, lose my temper, shout and scream I push her further away. Her behavior (while utterly repulsive some days) stems from a desperate need to feel like her place in the family is as important as it ever was. I see her slipping away sometimes… playing by herself in the TV room or telling me to leave her alone or calling out for her dad instead of me and it crushes my heart. Crushes it to nothing.  After a meltdown I often find myself in the bathroom having a small cry because I know I am not handling things well, but I feel totally out of control in the moment. I don’t know how to reign it all in (lack of sleep will get the blame here).

I just want Sophie to accept that we adore the shit out of her and nothing could ever change that so she need not scream and shout and spit and hit and freak out so much. But she’s 3 so I have to accept that this awareness will come, just not right now. In the meantime I suppose patience (which I have none of) will have to bridge the gaps.

It’s not all a total shit show though. Grace sleeps so well. She hardly cries. Regan has been a pillar of patience and understanding with me and I know how difficult I have made it for him. Sophie (despite the mood swings and the occasional tanty) is so helpful, she is the first in line to ferry a poo nappy to the bin or pass the wet wipes or call dad because mom needs coffee.

We are in an adjustment phase. We are working out the kinks and very soon we will have a perfectly-oiled-family-of-4-happiness-machine. And while I cannot wait for screaming to end, I also see the importance of savoring the now. Every moment with my babies is a precious moment; I never want to look back and think of all the times I didn’t hold on to… Sophie’s chats on the toilet when she’s doing a poo, Grace staring into my eyes while she nurses, Regan trying (and failing) to make a top knot for Sophie while I bath Grace…

Yes, right now things are a little rocky, but these hard times are not for us to overcome, they are for us to enjoy because we’ll be longing for them in no time.

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