Yesterday was a tough day at the office. Toddlers are not easy people to understand, or reason with, because they possess practically none of either thing. And yet I find myself arguing and trying to reason with one almost every day.
And not just any toddler, my toddler. He’s the image of his dad but he’s a mirror of me in lots of ways. Good ways yes, but like me he’s also stubborn, headstrong, and likes getting his own way. (Although when people accuse me of always wanting my own way I always wonder, who doesn’t?!) Every day I find myself trying to outwit a two year old, and feeling delighted with myself whenever I manage it. But yesterday I was not winning. And I resorted to shouting.
What did it achieve? Tears from him, followed closely by tears of frustration and guilt from me. I don’t want to be a shouty mother – so how can I preach at him every day not to shout if it’s what I resort to myself?
And so it was a day of watching the clock and waiting for Gavin to arrive home to save my sanity. Even Alex – normally the most calm, smiley, happiest baby I’ve ever met – was having a bad day and wouldn’t accept being anywhere other than in my arms. Normally I love that and I’m happy to oblige in his pudgy cuddles, but yesterday wasn’t a normal day. And so it was a day of frustration, trying to catch up with myself, trying to calm a crying baby while trying to reason with a shouting toddler. And I cracked, and I shouted at him.
Sometimes I feel like, because we did IVF, that sometimes it’s as if I’m not entitled to complain about things. I had two pregnancies that I didn’t really enjoy, there was a lot of sickness and vomiting for months on end, and with Alex I had to have weekly blood transfusions to try and prevent a rare condition Rian had when he was born. It was tough. And yet I felt a huge guilt for not enjoying them because of what we had to do to get there. And now I’m so grateful and so proud to be a mother of two, and sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t talk too much about how hard it sometimes is, because after all I should be on my knees every day, thankful for the fact we have two beautiful boys after the threat of never having any. Against the odds, we have two boys.
But some days I shout. And cry. Some days Gavin and I argue over the most ridiculous things – some days I don’t even remember what it is we’re bickering over. At one stage we argued over which of us got to have more sleep the night before! Some days I feel such ridiculous resentment that he can get up, swan into the shower and have a leisurely relaxing stand under the lovely hot water, when I have to wait for an opportunity when someone else is here before I can do the same. Whether or not my hair gets washed depends on how long someone else can watch the boys. He gets to go about his normal life; develop his career, make decisions over interesting things, have a lunch break, have a coffee that won’t go cold because someone threw up everywhere and by the time you finished cleaning it, the coffee was cold and you just aren’t bothered in making another one.
Sometimes I just miss me. Getting dressed properly – not just putting on something that looks like crap because at least when you get covered in baby puke and someone else’s dinner it doesn’t matter. Taking time to do something with my hair instead of just tying it up so it won’t get eaten and pulled. Being asked an opinion on something other than what episode of Thomas the Tank Engine we should watch.
Oh ok, enough of the poor me. Believe me, I know only too well just how lucky we are, how lucky I am to be feeling sorry for myself some days. Given the choice, I don’t want to be back at work yet. I feel so lucky that I have this time with them both, I’m glad I’m the one that gets to stay at home with them. Given the choice, Gavin would happily stay with them and let me have a long shower or bath, he’s not a bit selfish, not one little bit. But I still can’t help it, some days, I just wish I could be the old me again, even just for a while!
I’ve no doubt, if Gavin was to write a similar article from his perspective, he would write about how he wishes he could have the cuddles and smiles and the gurgly chats from Alex. He’d wish he could listen to Rian’s hilarious stories each day and watch him change and grow, learning new words and new things, doing something every single day to make him laugh. It’s amazing being their mother.
I know how lucky I am, really I do. But some days, I guess there’ll be shouting.