With the birth of our third child, came a wave of busy-ness that I was so prepared to ride…Like, bring it on! In fact, I was actually looking forward to it. Crazy? Maybe. But it was what I had always envisioned when dreaming of having a large family. (not that three is large (IMHO), but it certainly is the start thereof. I mean, anything that has the adults of the home outnumbered, is a good start to a large family, right?)
In my visions, I saw myself enrobed in the complex flurry of motherhood where I was occupied with school plays, PTA’s, ballet exams and homework for one child, making playdough and playing dressup with the other, all while nursing a wee one at the bossom.And maybe even dreamy visions of quiet times with me sipping on my tea, watching the older two play together while the smallest breathes heavily in slumber on my chest, (or more accurately, *cue scratched record sound effect* me gulping down my fifth coffee for the day –contemplating if it wouldn’t just be more effective if I just ate it straight from the jar- while referee’ing the other two who have managed to take their “adventure game” & turned it into a wrestling/screeching match, all whilst the smallest one screams for more milkies – because on-demand feeding can often be like every five minutes.)
And whilst a great many of you would laugh and say, yeah the latter is the actual truth, the fact is that the real truth is that BOTH are my reality. I am both constantly being shoved down crazy lane, where everyone wants something from me – right now – (almost always specifically on the day that I reach day 65 of “Ive only had two hours sleep, and no longer own any rational thoughts”) and then being punch drunk in love with all my littles, with this endless capacity to absorb all that they can throw at me, and spew out cotton candy love right back to them.
But I take it all – for I know its merely part of the journey. A packaged deal, this crazy-lane and punch-drunk-love. And whilst I obviously will still faulter, I think that that knowledge holds me in good stead. Its all part of my rebirth into motherhood, with the coming of this third child. Stretching of my old self into the mother I need to be for them. For I am aged well enough in this mothering game to be no stranger to the tides of it all. The ebbs and flows. The goods days that come hand in hand with the bad days. And to appreciate those fleeting stages enough, to remind myself to stay focused during the trying & somewhat dark times – of which there will always be no shortage of.
I know this, and I suppose this is what manages to drive the joy back into my bones, when often the sleep deprivation threatens to leave only a husk of myself…Knowing that my dream of family is being lived and unfolding, and I remind myself of that pure blessing and honour… And that yes, it’s still a blessing and an honour, even on the days when I drop that f-bomb more times in the day than I would have liked.
And although it’s messy, loud and busy with two + a newborn, I have to say it’s actually not that bad.(if you’re ok with messy,that is) So many people have come to ask me, “I don’t know how you do it”, or “shame,I was thinking so of you last night with my two, and was wondering how bad you must have it.” I politely nod in return, but mostly, Im pondering, “Bad”? Why “bad”? I mean, it’s hard, yes. But having a child is already hard. One is enough to send you into a tale spin. Two truly tests your ability as parents to work as a team (and who can pour wine faster), and I think here is where you are truly forged into being able to parent and handle more than one. So, for me personally and without trying to sound cocky, three is merely a similar concept. Of course you now live in a state of perpetual chaos and this includes all the beautiful messes of having two…except now there really is no tag team options here for mom and dad. There really is no rest. You’re BOTH on, all day, errday. No exceptions. BUT mostly, it’s great. It’s familiar. And very doable. And even better so when the sleep tank has been tended to. (Hence why, i totally crushed those three hour naps with baby in the first month, and didnt give a damn about the kitchen)
With that being said, I’ve got to say, for the past 8 weeks (now 11 – for I wrote this so long ago), I feel like life has been wanting to test me. Like, “ohh, so you want to have a large family do you? You dont think three is so bad, do you? Well, let’s see how you handle THIS!” each time throwing me a curveball of sorts to really, as I feel, test my motherhood wares. Almost as if to see, am I ready for what I’m asking for – this large family i dream of. (well at least that’s how I interpret it.)
For context, firstly, what you might not know (and some of you may have the same setup) is that we don’t really have any family assistance. No one there to quickly help you with the kids. No one to go pick up the kids if you need to work late. Or take them in if you have an early meeting. No one right there to pour on the emotional support postpartum when you absolutely know you need it right now. Its not that my family and I dont love each other, but they (we) all have committments and thats just how it is sadly.
I always hear from many of my lovely friends of how their female counterparts truly stepped in and the power of sisterhood carried them through, and I dreamily listened to it. Yes, I had my mom. But for only for four days in the begining. And another four days a bit later….Four whole days – that’s it. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not an ungrateful hag – its four days I am utterly grateful for. She brings sanity and peace and just an amazing sense of ease an confidence with her, when ever she enters our home. But I get that she has other kids and grandkids who also need her. And well, she has a life of her own, so I get that four days is all she can give. And it’s assistance that I’ll always treasure. But as my sweet friend pointed out (with big suprised eyes), “you need more than that,Trace.A new mother needs so much more during this time!”
Point being, its just Mikey and me. We are own support structure. So when it comes to sick kids, or school transport ,or just about anything, it’s just him and me. (And very, very occassionally my mom) And in truth,I know I would liked to have had more support through those trying first six weeks. But such is our lot in life, and we accepted it. And we make it work.
Sure we have a nanny, but in all honesty, as much as our kids love her, when I’m home, the kids always prefer to be with me than with her. She’s left to clean the house,but in reality, she’s rotten at cleaning, and would mostly still just leave our home in a mess. Not to mention rejuggle my kitchen into some nonsensical order. Like some sort of sick game of “where did I put all your cups and saucers?You’ll never know!”
However, the help she did offer in her presence, however small, was still appreciated, and thus when she was not there, it was felt. Or at least, I used to feel it in the first two weeks postpartum. But then something happened. Life decided it shall truly forge me into the mother I so desperately dream of wanting to be…that busy mom, submerged in children, juggling it all…And life did so by ensuring the nanny wasn’t there (on and off) for the most part of a month!
Yes, a month! And just like that, I grew into the skin as this mother of three.. baptised by fire. It was all me, all day…until dad came home. Juggling the ballet shows, doctor visits and school pickups like a boss.
Ive drawn patience from an unknown source to get through witching hour with understanding.
I’ve managed said witching hours with baby at the breast, while also tending to my eldest upchucking into a bucket, whilst my middle child clinging as tightly as she can to me (as always) taking whatever space she can on my lap.
I’ve had to do the crazy dance in the shower (almost) all momshave done just to keep their baby happy, so that she can finish up getting clean…
I’ve had to deal with broke down cars, insurance claims and tow truck drivers all while Im nursing my little one…not to mention making sure Parker-Grace finishes her lunch.
I’ve had to deal with broken geysers flooding our yard, giving the plumbers a grand tour of our home cause getting to our geyser can sometimes prove tricky, especially in the Cape South Easter. Fortunately the plumber who came out understood kids, so he walked as quietly as he could to not wake my older two, and didnt flinch when I had to feed my baby while trying to do an EFT on the phone, cause no told me about the cash I had to pay him. Instead he sat on the carpet with his back to me, doing his books. Bless you, mr plumber.
I’ve had to pump milk/feed in all sorts of places….
Even on days that I got owned, there was always wine, and my hubby’s humour to smooth it over. And you know, I couldn’t have been happier! I felt I was so in my element.
Exhausted, yes. Bedraggled, hell yeah. Showered? Not always. Binging on chocolate, cookies and coffee, of course! But my God, was I so happy. I felt I was thriving. Truly living my dream. Maybe even slightly disappointed on the one or two days Mike came home a bit early, cause he thought I was struggling. Of course I never say no to help, but I did feel a bit sorry I didnt get to just parent by myself for the day. That’s a little twisted of me, I agree. But you see, as a fulltime working mom, I dont often get to do all these very basic, everyday life things with my kids. Evenings and weekends is what I get with them. So even though Im on maternity leave – a time which is so raw, light on sleep and heavy on emotional hormones – I really wanted to be THAT mom.
And I got just that. And it is sweetly satisfying…I got to mom it up. In fact, I mommed so hard. 🙂 And I think what made the difference for me in thoe early weeks, was deciding on those hard days, to just have fun with it. To let go of trying to “get it perfect”, and instead try to see how we can just roll with the punches, and simply enjoy the time I have with them. And while I may regret not resting more in this time, Im so glad I get to soak up my kids like this. (Ps. I actually did a Day in the Life video of one such of these days. Have a look over here. Also, guys, please be nice – it’s my VERY first time doing video. And for someone who’s so utterly self-conscious about being on video, I’m both proud and shocked at myself for even sharing it here on such a public platform. So,go check it out either way and let me know what you think! I know the sound isn’t the best – but it wasnt planned for sharing, and yes its WAY too long for my own liking, but oh well. It should be better next time. IF I ever do vlog again.)
Now I know, that some of you may be scrunching up your brows like, “so you took care of your own kids? So what? What is this woman on about, I do this all the time!?” Well then, know that I admire you – yes, you mom who stays at/works from home – and I think you’re amazing. So please indulge me as I get to fulfill a deep seated passion of mine – Momming.
Am I odd for wanting this? Lord knows I dont always have the patience that is required. And yet, I still crave more of this kind of life.It feels right in my bones to be such a constant in my children’s lives. I know I will always need an outlet that’s apart from motherhood. But I got to tell you, this felt so right in me- not to have to get up at the crack of dawn and leave my kids. So right, I think it may have breathed life into embers that are burning within me.