Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Tricky Questions

“Do you ever get tired of shouting at the kids?”

I got asked this out of the blue at the school gate once.  For a split second I toyed with pretending to be indignant and shocked at the very idea that I would even raise my voice at my kids, let alone shout at them.  But I thought, nah.  She wouldn’t buy it.

I sighed in defeat.  Yes, I said, in fact I think they are immune to it by now.

So I shout.  I’m not proud of it.  I shout.  But in my defence (she says shame facedly) I have to shout in order to be heard over the Awesome Foursome.  They wake up loudly and go to bed loudly.  And do loud stuff in the middle.  Even the baby has a voice that would make your ears bleed.  In fact, I’m pretty sure they did one day but Mister Husband reckons it was only tomato sauce.

Screecher Creature No. 4 used to be the quietest, most laid back, chilled out little dude imaginable.   I’ve been told by someone in the know, he was what is referred to in all good spy thrillers; a sleeper.  In other words, waiting, just biding his time.  Sitting there watching his brothers.  Taking it all in, sucking it all in.  All the noise, all the mayhem, all the chaos until he sees fit to join them.  And join them he did about five months ago.  So in order to be heard above his ear splitting shrieks and the various other decibel breaking world record attempts by the other three, shouting is necessary in our house. 

“How do you handle the frustration?”

What happens in group stays in group but at our last meet up in December this was a question put to me by another mother.   Sometimes I don’t handle the frustration at all, I am afraid, and these are the days when I want the kids to poo all at the same time.  And the dog.  None of this having to wipe an arse or shovel shit every hour. 

These are the days when I literally have to remove myself from the room ergo them, because all of my senses are on overload and it hurts!  Every scream, every laugh, every shout, every bark, every bloody thing bounces against the walls of my skull and makes me think terribly uncharitable thoughts.

Sometimes I live in fear of one of them escaping in the car and putting their hands around my neck as I am driving home. (only joking) (kind of)

In group, I find myself on numerous occasions, retelling, with hand gestures and sometimes sound effects, yet another loud and crazy scene in our house.  The mothers with two or more kids are delighted with me because apparently, it goes on in their houses too.  The other mothers, those with just one baby of 13 days old, tend to look at me in horror.  I can see it in their frozen and slightly panicked smiles; she lives in an asylum!  Why is she laughing?

“I am struggling.”

It takes a village to raise a child and we don’t have villages any more.  

I find myself on many occasions wondering how my mother ever managed.   

She didn’t drive.  She was without a phone.  The Wonderful World Wide Web hadn’t been invented yet.   One week I was without all three and the isolation almost killed me. 

Sometimes, on days like this, I feel like I am imagining things.    I wonder why I am finding all of this so hard.  It’s what I wanted.  Isn’t it?  I am very grateful for my blessings.  Other people have real problems.  I remind myself that each day is only 24 hours long.  I tell myself I should be able to go from 7am till after 8pm without eating, visiting the toilet, taking a break, having some time to myself and constantly serving others.  All the time and always with a smile on my face.

Well.  Would you take a ball and bounce it against a wall for 12 or 14 hours straight?  By yourself.  With no-one to chat to whilst you are doing it?  Of course you wouldn’t.  But we are all expected to look after our kids under the same boredom levels.  It takes a village to raise a child.  We don’t live in villages anymore.     

“What’s the most expensive baby item you ever bought?”

It was a cup of coffee.  That’s right, a cup of coffee.  But it was the most expensive cup of coffee I ever bought.  It cost about thirty six euro.  Oh, wait.  The coffee cost about eight quid.  The couple of hours in the crèche in Dundrum Shopping Centre cost twenty eight euro.  Two of the best cups of coffee Mister Husband and I had in a long time.  The first uninterrupted cups of coffee in months.  As the add goes; priceless. 

We also parted with almost one hundred euros to be yelled at, pushed, poked, prodded, annoyed at first and then slowly pissed off.  Our food was spilled, dropped on the floor. I’ll stop there.  It was one of many meals out with the kids.        

I read two things last month that were of great interest to me.  I haven’t forgotten them.  The first one was: “Parenting is a journey through a foreign country – find travelling companions.” 

And the other piece was: “The only good thing I ever read from a parenting book was “if you feel you are going to hurt your child – leave the room.”

We will always have questions and if we are fortunate some of them will be answered.  At the end of it all though there is only one answer to the main one: “Do you regret it?”

It might be hard.  Given the chance to “do over” I would definitely make lots of different changes.  But not choices.  I might wish for parts of my old life back.  But I have never regretted any of my kids.


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