T.I.M - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
So after recently having my second baba, its fair to say that our day to day living has been turned upside down and life is well – mental.
Beautiful, bewitching, hard and well yes, insane.
In short I felt compelled to share a wee snippet of daily living as a mother. In a slightly deranged moment of clarity the other week I chuckled to myself as I repeated T.I.M… it was the only thing that would effectively sum up the day I had just had. So ‘THIS IS MOTHERHOOD’ was born… inspired by TIA, an acronym I came to use frequently when I volunteered in Kenya some moons ago and which kept us all smiling even when faced with quite brutal realities day to day, the term ‘THIS IS AFRICA’ would say what we often couldn’t cobble together in words; sometimes hilarious, sometimes shocking, sometimes otherworldly.
So here goes, a day in the life of…. A Mama... this mama, or to be exact, a woman, aka me, mother of one new bright and beaming 10-week-old boy and one very lively, inter galactic star dust fuelled nearly 4-year-old.
So, hold on to your hats:
Photo artistry from the talented Leo
Morning; rituals, coffee and melt downs
Yes, I hear you, WTF! To most sane people this is NOT in fact morning and is very much still the middle of the night. Try explaining that to a 3-year-old, and for those who aren’t familiar with the art of reasoning with a toddler, its simple, you can’t. The back story is our first beautiful baba has never really enjoyed the art of sleeping. So, after 3 and a half years of chronic sleep deprivation (that’s on our part – he was as bright as a button), he was just getting to a point of sleeping to a time we could reasonably call morning (anything after 5am) when, bam we went and added a new born brother to the mix. Arrrhh
So, the awesome human that is dad has been taking this grueling hit as I am in bed with baba attached to my boob. However, on this morning, trying to give him a much-needed lie in (again let me explain to those who are maybe unfamiliar, this anything is up to and beyond 7.30AM) I got up.
Breakfast making, baby on boob, and one handed mastery (parents acquire new found skills in one handed wizardry when they have kids… holding a new born while, eating, cooking, putting shoes on, trying to dress another human, or yourself, feeding animals, making a cup of tea, going to the toilet, it’s all been done).
Then some CBeebies time for leo, aka time for me and baba to lie flat and try to pretend that we are still asleep while hey duggee does his oh so weird and wonderful thing in the background (if you have ever seen that programme its like a trippy dream anyway, so floating in and out of consciousness its quite fitting)!
So let me set the scene. we were all about no screens when leo was born. We had read a lot around this and it was something that was part of our family dynamic (insignificant fact, I met Sue Palmer who wrote toxic childhood the night before at a meeting and was a tad star struck). So pre-two years there were no screens. Now when your baba wakes multiple times in the night and calls 4,30am morning – well you can just imagine what that might look like? Suffice to say that me and robin have aged about 10 years in that time – look it up, severe sleep deprivation is a form of torture. Anyway, me and robin as parents have always said to each other and tried to live by; NO judgment. Everyone has to do it their own way, whatever works for them as a family. We have very much decided we NEED CBeebies to function so it is now part of our morning – I am 100% happy and could kiss Duggee..
Attempt to get dressed. Switch on the life support machine (the coffee machine – honestly when this nearly broke I had a heart attack – and again super dad came to the rescue, he is a fixing wizard). Attempt to get anyone else dressed - don’t succeed. Give baba a wee baby steam and facial – in the bouncer while I have a 2-minute shower, interrupted in that time by leo leaving a most fragrant deposit in the toilet. This is Motherhood… you will begin to dream of the day you may go to the toilet on your own uninterrupted. And it will happen, in about 10 years.
Get myself dressed, baba pukes on clean top. Wipe it and move on (3 puke rule, if it isn’t curdled – move on). When you see the pile of washing that amounts daily, you choose to ‘not notice’ the watery pukes (is this too much information??).
Rising panic on my part that no one is dressed other than me, Leo is asking for more breakfast (usually he has 3, I mean 3 adult portions of breakfast). Baba is wet (sick and dribble), both wanting attention, all the while, dad is trying to get ready for work, while holding a baba and listening to the free flow babble coming from Leo – why is it that small humans need to verbalise their constant stream of consciousness. By 8am you feel like your brains been on a deep spin in the washing machine and youve been spat back out. It appears all we are trying to do is make it out the door before 9am for Leos gym class. I wonder, am I expecting too much??!
Email to say gym class is cancelled. Quick context, it is literally Leos favorite class, he asks ‘when is it Wednesday mama’, or hopefully most mornings ‘gym tots today???!!’. So, meltdown ensues at the same time baba wants a feed. Where is my 3rd arm I ask myself again. 2 arms just doesn’t cut it. Funny interlude… some text banter one day between mum and dad resulted in roaring laughter and the new title of ‘Gym Tits’ which we now call Leos gym class! Ah you have to love predictive text – those little golden nuggets keep me going when things get dark.
Leaving the house; Bribery and Poonami’s
I try to think up a new plan while getting baba dressed and settled on a cushion, with Leo bouncing up and down unnervingly close to the 10-week-old precious cargo.
New plan – lets go to the castle around the corner. We can walk there, baba can have a snooze in the sling, ah mama what a genius plan. ‘But I don’t want to go outside, I hate walking, I want to build a rocket.’ So, after some sweet negotiation (Alas, another skill parents unknowingly acquire – the fine art of secret service style negotiation), we are off.
Well I say we are off. It takes us another hour to actually fully leave the building.
Coats on, feed the baba, put the baba down to tackle teeth brushing, mine included, return to find Zen buddha baba has put himself to sleep, utterly bored by the proceedings and drama that descends every time we try to, well, do anything all together.
Put baba in the sling, go get the pram out of the shed while leaving Leo with a dangling carrot, ‘if you put your shoes on you can have a box of raisins, (don’t judge, another thing that went out the window, bribery… this is a formidable trick of the trade and 100% needed in order to maintain my sanity).
SAS training begins for the mama. So after having trained now extensively in post-natal recovery, healing, loving the mama and self-care, I find myself with a baba in the sling front side, and an insanely heavy backpack on my back (wtf is in there!!@??!). Que 2nd meltdown. The bike leo was excited to ride (that had also been a vital part of the bribery plan to get him out of the house), is in fact, wait for it, at the bike shop! Well fuck a duck. After mentally counting my breath, and restraining myself from having an ‘adult tantrum’, I move on, Watch a highly dramatic launch onto the grass from Leo, very angry shouts and some throwing of leaves and twigs. Poor little lamb, so we have a cuddle (no mean feat with another human strapped to your chest), i’m boil in a bag and we’re off, hallelujah! Hail the donkey pram full of more paraphernalia and Leo. Yes, we are using the pram as I suspected, not for the baby, but to avoid serious injury of the mama, me having to carry two humans and a bag would be the end of my shoulders and back.
Real life superhero in the woods
The buddha baba is not happy so we do a swap, baby in the pram, Leo on the skate board (the one I might add that has been the cause of my severely bruised shins). 5 minutes on, baba NOT happy, Im feeling like my own insides are going to explode and we are saved by a lovely woman who senses my strain and comes over to help. She picks up all the crap I dropped while trying to get baba back in the sling and chats to me about her own baba’s. BREATHE BREATHE BREATHE.
A highly important point here; sometimes that parent you see struggling on the pavement, on a bus, in the supermarket, just needs some kindness, a smile, a ‘hello’, a ‘do you need a hand’. This human contact might be the first that parent has had after a 12-hour day surviving with little people and don’t ever underestimate the power that can have on someone’s mental health.
So blah blah blah we get to the castle – SLOWLY after a pee stop on route. No not me, Leo.
We play at the castle, run around, again logistically challenging with a baba strapped to your front. I find myself crawling through bushes, sitting in a tree and trying to do all those things I did pre baba number two.
Then, you guessed it, Cack attack. When a small person needs to go, its instantaneous. No time to race to the toilet (again can’t run at speed with a baba on my body). So as the saying goes ‘does. bear shit in the woods?’. If I have lost any of you at this point, please rest assured, it was a clean affair, pooped on a pile of leaves then scooped them into a nappy bag and voila! Used the toilets to wash hands, and hey presto.
I’m totally done in already, so thinking it must nearly be lunch time, oh look its 11.10am!! it’s raining, so more playing in the woods, using a shelter we helped build that is still unbelievably standing. Then as suspected… ‘mum I’m hungry. Now again I feel I need to explain, I would say I take pleasure in being known as the mama of all pack ups. Well not today... I’ve done the unforgivable, Ive failed to bring not only the pack up, but any snacks. School boy error and a game changer.
Does a bear shit in the woods? Do toddlers?!?
Lunchtime; Mum juggling, food and boobs
11.40AM – 1PM
Head home – so putting into context, the grand effort to get out took around an hour and a half and we stayed for about an hour.
Journey home in the rain pushing the over laden donkey pram. Get back, feed baba, and make lunch while trying to keep Leo entertained with hide and seek, aka you go hide and I’ll take a really really long time to find you.
So when my ass hits a chair for lunch it feels like Ive been awake for 3 days already and – ah yes we are official about ½ way through the day.
While we eat lunch, I again dream of a 3rd arm, as I attempt to express while feeding. What does this look like I hear you cry… well it isn’t pretty. Half my sandwich ends up falling on Rumi’s head as he feeds but needs must (I don’t express every day but it does help me to carve out a bit of mama self-care time later on – read on to find out).
Afternoon Antics; crafty cuts, Dens and into the wild.
In a nut shell the afternoon looked like this….
Crafters; We got down to some serious creative play, we got messy, we did some high-octane crafting; imagine paint, glitter and glue explosions and you will have a pretty accurate picture…. Aka go wild leo, create, enjoy – lasted about 20minutes.
Den builders: blankets, chairs, teddies, me and baba and captain Leo. ‘Sister Sister’ as Leo calls it which is like ‘mummy’s and daddy’s’ and is a fav of mine as involves, ‘going to bed – lying down and pretending to be asleep – Hurray (if only).
Wild Beasts; back outdoors for some serious afternoon fresh air blasting and wild animal releasing (I totally get it, Im not a kid but it feels so good to hang upside down at the play park, run in a field and howl like a wolf – seriously good for the soul and your own sanity). After the set back of having gotten everyone actually dressed to go out, baba pukes all over himself and poo’s up his back. Que meltdown, everyone back in, to de robe a very unhappy baba, nappy change, clothing change then a feed to settle, all the while trying to soothe a very frustrated little person who just wants a cuddle without a baba hanging from your boob.
We get to the park, we run about, I go down the slide after saying I can’t because I have baba Rumi in the sling. After the 7th time climbing up and sliding down in a train with Leos feet digging into my back I admit defeat. Put a fork in me, I am done.
We head home, all the while, i’m wondering why I always do it to myself, sweating profusely with a hot water bottle baba strapped to my chest a jacket and cardigan on which I now can’t remove as it stupidly put the sling on over them both in a rush to leave the house. Baba is wriggling and wants to stretch out after being in the sling. Walking home looking like a small pterodactyl is trying to break free from my chest.
Another melt down on the way back as the small human starts to struggle with, just about everything, The reality of waking up at 4.30am is that by 4pm you are totally and utterly cream crackered.
We get in the door, everyone is crying, I send an SOS to dad who tentatively asks how our day has been!?! To which I reply; ‘Fucking hard’ – parent code for ‘come home NOW’…
The Home Straight; SOS, cavalry and bedtime.
Dad, aka my saviour gets back and scoops up Leo to his delight, gives me a compassionate look and a big bear hug and says…’well done mama – my hero’.… We have a gourmet meal lovingly prepared… fish fingers, potato wedges, peas and broccoli (get some green on their– all food groups represented – we are wining, and the little human is happy). Leo’s eyes are rolling into the back of his head and hes struggling to eat his tea (me and dad know this then means he wakes up in the night hungry and we have a restless night – Nooooooo), and right on que from our little pocket rocket, ‘im not tired mummy’ – of course not son ?!?@@! – Breathe breathe breathe only 2 hours till we can ALL go to bed (you think I am joking – this has become my bed time and I am 100% happy with that).
Quiet play, matching pairs Ninjago style, PJs on, teeth brushed, and then all into the big bed to read stories, one arm round Leo, one round buddha boy who’s feeding and snoozing.
Dad takes Leo to bed, I lie down with baba and play back the day’s events, feeling utterly exhausted. Slowly as I re-tell the day to robin I find the humour in it all. Maybe I’m just delirious but the moments from the day where I felt I was actually going to have a full-blown adult ‘tantrum’ (yes, I can fully vouch, they do exist), had become laughable.
Then the very variable and final part of my day, some muma time, some yoga time. I haul myself out of bed and do a win win trade with robin, he snuggles in next to baba (Dads fav time of the day, he gets to snug in with his baba and an expressed bottle of milk on hand in case baba needs a top up). While I go and unravel on my mat. Sometimes I get 5 minutes of yoga, sometimes on a very good day an hour. Sometimes I just breathe then lie in shavasana. But Some time to just be in my body without anything else, to unwind the knots, decompress, breathe, move and be in my body, let go of my sometimes buzzing, sometimes foggy brain and just be is unimaginably blissful. Whatever kind of day it’s been, this is like my re set, it brings it all home (humour and chocolate also feature heavily, the number of squares of chocolate relay the kind of day - 2 on average, 3 if things got really trippy!). Whatever it might be for you, I would urge any Muma to find something, your own recharge switch, decompression chamber, reset button… it’s a must. This is what wakes me up to the beauty that is my family of 4… the wild, raw, juiciness of it all and how grateful I am for the rainbow bonkers madness that is my day to day… it’s filled with a lot and Pure love is at the centre – thank the heavens for oxytocin… We all know you do wildly crazy stuff when you are inlove and parenthood is testament to this.
In bed, Asleep, babe in arms. AKA cream crackered, day officially done! Winning at Mothering!
So there we have it, a day in the life of.
This is motherhood, or more accurately, this is MY MOTHERHOOD.
Over and out.