Let it go

I’m spending the journey home from work today googling advice for tonight. “How to be patient when your child throws food at you”. “How to keep smiling when your child throws the thermometer in the toilet.” “Do the no smacking laws really apply if you’ve been “accidentally” pinched? Again.”

I run to pick up the little man at the end of the day. He shrieks “Mummy!” and dives into my arms, holding up a car and singing at the top of his lungs. For a few, brief, moments, our 2 hours together are too short, and overflowing with promise. But the boy I pick up at 5 is not the same boy I take out of the cot on a Friday morning. He is tired. I am tired. He arches as I put him in the pram, crying out to walk home. But he walks into the street, or closing shops, or sits in puddles, so I force him into the pram in tears. He might be so gracious as to let me gather him up on my knee at home to watch Thomas; he won’t eat anything I cook. His only giggle is when he throws yoghurt in my hair, or bath water on the floor. It’s not all bad; those giggles make him sound like an evil mastermind disguised as a toddler, and when I laugh, he laughs. But it definitely isn’t all good.
What’s the answer from the googling? A lot of sites run Wednesday whines or winges. A lot of these come from 5pm to 7pm. It’s called the witching hour. Be calm. Be patient. Pour a glass of wine and wait it out.
It always comes back to the most important lesson I’ve learnt about parenting so far: let it at all go. All expectations are of f-all importance. Just because I haven’t seen him all day, doesn’t mean the boy isn’t going to be a monster. They are all monsters at that time. Most adults are a little bit monstrous before bed. The TV is fine, if it means I get cuddles and can make dinner. Abandon all guilt, all those who do bedtime. Shortening stories is fine, if it means I get through them without wanting to chew off my own arm in boredom (I know everybody loves The Gruffalo, but really, what is the fucking point of that story? Implausible lies stop you getting eaten? FFS). 
Parental sanity balances on picking battles, celebrating those beautiful moments of glory, and letting everything else slide. The train is pulling into the station now, and I’m working on changing my expectations. That moment when he first sees me, and his entire being is just a smile on legs, might be the only highlight of this evening. And, today at least, I will linger on that first cuddle, and remember that just one moment of glory in an evening has to be just fine. 

Dark mornings are still with us

I had forgotten how the world changes for the sleep deprived. Another chest infection for the little man, another run of unsettled nights for us. I sit on the tube in my own little bubble, hyper aware of my loud thoughts and the smallest movements of those around me. There’s a middle aged lady opposite me with her eyes closed; a few minutes ago she was frowning at her coffee cup. It clearly let her down. The young and well presented man next to me pulled a tub out of a scruffy plastic bag and moisturised specific areas of his forehead. The big headphones everywhere are starting to freak me out, like the ear version of enormous bug eyes. 

Today will be fuelled by caffeine, worry and sneaked peaks at photos of the boy. 

Happy New Year

My husband and I normally enjoy setting our New Year’s resolutions. It’s part of the smug self narrative that we excel at when we’re happy – resolutions to just add to the awesomeness of our lives. So when we’re both doing regular exercise, we resolve to take it up a step and get 6-packs. When the finances are good, we resolve to save more and buy a house (never happened. Not ever).

This year, the man is frustratingly chipper and full of energy. He’s doing an easy job in a company he loves, so has plenty of mental capacity for dreams and hobbies and plans. He’s been pushing me for resolutions for weeks, and I tried, I really did. But creating resolutions today feels like just adding extra tasks in block capitals to an already impossible list.
The blogs I love are doing much better than me at this. Brummymummyof2 has a lovely, practical list of things to make a mum’s life easier, not a list of things you’ll feel guilty about ignoring: http://www.brummymummyof2.co.uk/2015/12/new-years-resolutions-for-mum-aged-38.html?m=1. The unmumsy mum has gone for just one, which I definitely approve of. http://theunmumsymum.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/resolution-schmesolution.html?m=1 And I’ve seen this lovely reminder to reflect and be grateful: http://momastery.com/blog/2016/01/01/best-new-years-ever/

So what am I going to do? I like the idea of just a single, simple resolution. And for me, unfortunately, I keep coming back to the pretentious sounding finding myself. I don’t need to resolve to be a better mother, because striving to be the best for my little man is now written into my DNA. But in re-writing my DNA, becoming a mother has meant that I don’t really understand myself any more. I don’t know what makes me happy, or whole, or where my place in the world outside the nursery is. I don’t know how to be a good wife, colleague, human being, friend, at the same time as trying to be the best mother.

I don’t know what finding myself means. I have a feeling I might dig out some self-help books. And then pull myself together and just go out and get drunk with friends more. Write more. Find a job I love (or just like. Like would do). Reflect a bit and accept that this life is mine; and embrace what really is amazing about it.