Act 1, Scene 1: Family Woodbon are driving home from the zoo.
Daughter: Sing Mummy! Sing!
Me (singing) (like an angel/Dolly Parton): Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition and yawn and stretch and try to come alive…
Jump in the shower and the blood starts pumping, out on the street the traffic starts jumping with folks like me, on the job from nine to five.
Working nine to fii..
Daughter: No like it Mummy.
Me (face like thunder): WHAT?!
Note: For those of you that are somehow not aware, Dolly Parton is the greatest living person on this planet.
It’s 4:30am and I am sitting between two identical cots stroking two non-identical backs making two non-identical noises. I am tired. Tired to the core. We are on the tail end of a tandem tantrum and my nerves are long since gone. The fact that I’m still here at all is only because I am so numb with fatigue that I can’t even be bothered to stand up and relocate back to bed. And besides the (god sent) lullaby star night light is actually quite soothing…
The love of my life.
It has been a long day. One that I cannot believe I will have to repeat tomorrow. The current regular tantrum inducers are: trying to get them dressed, trying to get them undressed, putting them in the buggy, taking them out of the buggy, leaving the house, re-entering the house, putting them in their chairs for dinner time, not allowing them to make their own dinner, not allowing them to sit on a perilously high surface for dinner, bathtime, bedtime, and so it goes on… I find myself going through varying degrees of calm and collectedness (mixed with a lot of uncalm and disconnectedness), but I know that if I want to get through each fit of insanity quickly then the only thing that works is acknowledging their grief in a grown up, sensible, serious manner and then distracting them from it jovially. But who has the time and patience to do that 24 (x2) times a day? And so they cry on. And boy do they.
Nothing can prepare you for the pain of having two year old twins. I literally feel like someone has come round and injected fatigue into every joint…with an extra shot into each of my temples. When they are born you have this lovely image of ‘being totally sorted’ by this stage. “In a year or two they’ll
be playing with each other and you can put your feet up,” people said to me. At that point, phrases like that were the light at the end of the tunnel. Well that light has long since gone out. In fact it turns out it wasn’t a light at all but a firefly flying ever closer until it finally exploded like a fire cracker in my face. But will there be a light at the end of this tunnel or more exploding fire flies/crackers? Ah well, “things get much better when they turn 3,” someone sagely tells me. Well d’you know what? I know people with 3 year old twins and I’m yet to feel much hope when I visit them, I can tell you. So when is it then? 4? 5? 5000?? All I know is that if I concentrate on thinking “oh good god when will it get better??” then right now feels worse. So I’ll concentrate on the here and now. And the here and now is drifting off to sleep. And so am I. That night light is magic. In fact, fuck these two. Tonight that light is mine.
I’m having one of those days. I’ve just sat down to drink my tea, a moment of salvation that I was hoping would give me the strength to get through the next couple of hours (or minutes at least) and what do I see? I see that a urine-soaked tea towel has been stuffed in the top of my cup.
We are potty training. Well we (read I for the most part) are attempting to. But today has been one of those days. One where there has not been a single sticker assigned to the potty training log (no puns please). I sigh. I was thinking we’d pretty much nailed it with the little boy one, but even his high standards of 3-dots-and-1-butterfly-sticker a day have fallen by the wayside today. I look back to my ‘tea’ and muse that there must be a joke about throwing the towel in there somewhere. But the ‘there’ involved is my brain and that’s past being able to construct jokes. So although in its deepest corners it registers there is the potential for humour, it otherwise stays still and numb. And no glimmer of a smile crosses my face. I just can’t muster enough energy. Frankly it’s the last straw and I’m now beyond laughing.
I’m also beyond cleaning up the six hundredth wee patch that is under the table (and partly on my feet). I’m also beyond cleaning the sofa for the six hundredth time to try to rid it of what is a distinct smell of bottoms. It’s ‘Mummy’s hit a wall’ time and this tea was going to be the thing to give me the extra gazumpf to break me through it. I feel like my senses have been numbed and I am running on some 20 year old petrol that someone found in the shed that no-one’s sure is still going to work. Well I can confirm that it doesn’t. I am at that stage where I am aware that I am not being the patient, fair, soft-spoken earth mother that I would like to be. Instead I am bouncing between forced earth mother softly spoken patience and severely impatient, snapping, angry I’ve-lost-my-methadone-prescription style mother that I’d really rather not be. And do you know what goes through my mind? Yes, that’s right. I’m thinking that my mood swings are going to cause my children permanent psychological damage. Now isn’t that a productive and helpful way to occupy my mind? Is there any scientific basis for me to start worrying about this? Well there might be something out there, but the reality is that I will have read something, somewhere at some point that suggested something that might have slightly been along those lines. But of course I’ve conveniently forgotten the details of the article. And therefore forgotten the bits of the article that make this fairly unlikely.
I start cursing my inability to retain information and then just in the nick of time before I beat myself up completely for being useless again I swerve. I swerve towards the light and think one very clear thought. That reading is bad for me. Well reading anything relating to being a perfect mama anyway. I am going to go back to baser methods. I am going to trust my instincts. Because when I’ve failed in the past it’s because I haven’t trusted them sufficiently. So what do my instincts tell me? They tell me to put the kettle on, give myself a pat on the back for not killing anyone today and reach for the pack of nappies.