The other morning there was a slight fracas in the park. Smallest boy has a bubble lawn mower, one he likes to take everywhere.
The struggle happened about a half hour before we left when Lovely Liam decided he “wanted a go” of the lawn mower.
Smallest Boy wasn’t for turning.
My pathetic attempts at mediation were not working and the boys were getting louder. So was I.
I was doing that loud, hissy, growl whisper thing through gritted teeth. The one that goes a little like this: “Listen to me. I sssssssaid, lisssssssten to meeeeee. Give your brother a turn. Do you hearrrrrrr meeeeeee?”
Then I felt a hand on my upper arm and I turned at the touch to see a man smiling at me. “You have your hands full there.”
You don’t know the half of it, I thought as he kept walking and I continued to untie the dog leash from around my legs and snarl at the kids.
On the way home I remembered a conversation I had with my mother in law when Oldest Boy made it through his first year. I was chatting about how hard it was “at times,” how relentless it could all be.
Then I added “but I enjoyed it.”
I stuck it in there as an affirmation; to take the sting out of sounding like I was complaining.
It was a lie.
A big, stonking lie.
I didn’t enjoy it.
And I don’t think I really knew it at the time.
I thought I was enjoying it. Because all the damn magazines and all the books said I would.
And of course I had nothing to compare it to.
When the next baby came along, whaddya know? Nothing much changed. It was still kind of boring, still relentless, still lonely and still exhausting. With one exception, however.
This time there was double the work and the baby was a crap sleeper, had a horrible time with teeth and was a bad patient.
I still didn’t enjoy it.
Third baby later it was as if his predecessor had set the bar and this new baby just had to raise it.
Three kids to look after now. I’d had a crash section, a tricky start with breast feeding and it became obvious pretty early in the day this baby was another shite sleeper but with bad eczema thrown in for good measure.
I didn’t bloody enjoy it that time either.
In fact, I hated every minute of it.
I love, absolutely love the newborn squishy stage. Not so keen on the wobbler months and once they hit their first birthday, the next year and a half can’t go quickly enough for me.
Maybe I’m crazy but I prefer the three plus age. They’ve got words. They’re more fun. They can feed themselves. There’s no nappies, no buggies, no extras. They can strap on their own belts in the car. Even let themselves out. With a bit of luck, they sleep for nine hours at night.
This stage I enjoy. I’m good at this stage. I even enjoy the backchat. (Sometimes) This I can handle. This is the future. This is when I can see with some clarity what they are going to be like in the next few years.
This is the stage I plan to enjoy before it all goes horribly pear shaped during the teenage years.
But I did not enjoy the crazy that was sleep deprivation and those days of loneliness.
I can admit and acknowledge it now. And move on to greater and better things.
I have arrived.
In case you were wondering how I solved the lawn mower fracas, I got all three of them to the car, two kids and a dog, flung Smallest Boy and the dog in the back and as I was doing up seat belts, I told Lovely Liam to go for a little walk around the car park. And to be quick about it.
Suddenly, all the fight went out of him and he declared he didn’t want to any more.
Didn’t want to because he was told he could, I suspected.