Juggling and struggling – life as a Mam of two

This is my second attempt at writing a parenting post in as many months. I have fallen off the blogging wagon. I just haven’t been FEELING it.

Feelings. Little feckers aren’t they?

I’ve been having a lot of feelings.

The feelings are all over the place. One minute I’m happy, content, staring into the face of my cherub and patting myself mentally on the back for thinking up a game that didn’t involve the purchase of plastic for my two year old and the next I could be hiding upstairs, gritting my teeth, telling myself to hold it all together, that it’s only two and a half hours to bedtime and maybe another cup of tea will help.

I have been finding it really tough. REALLY tough.

I thought I had prepared mentally for life as a Mam of two. I said out loud – oh it’s going to be hard, I’m dreading it.

And you know that was it. I didn’t set anything else up. I didn’t really think about what it would be actually like. Because I’d already had one baby, I presumed it would be a bit more of that.

But how could it be? One baby is one baby. One baby and a toddler is a frickin nightmare.

I pride myself on being a juggler. In all this second born madness I’ve written 50,000 words on a new novel, an award-winning play, an award nominated short story and completed a full rewrite of my first novel.  I can function at a really high level – achieve all these goals that might take another person a year.

And yet my daily existence feels like a sham.

Why can I not cope with the simple stuff? Why does the wash basket give me palpitations? Why does the clutter feel like it’s pounding me in the head, one shoe, picnic basket, breast pump, insurance letter after the other whacking me in the temple saying ‘put me away you piece of shit housewife!’ Why does it take me a whole week to wash the floor?

Jobs that may take five minutes to complete hang about my household for weeks. Months maybe. We went on holidays two weeks ago and I still have yet to call up and pay the M50 toll. The baby only got registered this week and let me tell you, I could do with that children’s allowance we’re missing out on. Recently, it was my neighbour’s birthday and her present and wrapping paper sat haunting me on my kitchen table for four full weeks. It is driving me insane.

And yet I continue to ignore things. Not doing stuff. Making more tea. Starting and abandoning random jobs that really could be left till later. I went out and bought a ton of paint to redecorate the house. I have done one side of the door in the sitting room. And two skirting boards. We have multi coloured skirting boards in our most used room – for about two months now. Why? What is wrong with me?

Am I an under-over achiever?

Just look at that little poppet. On her way for her first swim.

I saw a Facebook meme the other day that had four options – it asked, if you could pick just one of these four, which would it be? There was good sleep forever, a self cleaning house and two others that I can’t remember. EVERYONE picked B. Everyone. I am not the only one struggling with this.

Could we all group together and form a collective? Donate three hours a week and go and clean each other’s houses? Imagine a band of women arriving with their dusters, in a sort of Challenge Anika community bleach house. We could choose one day – say Monday – and spread out among our neighbours and at the end of Monday every one of us would have a clean house and not have to worry about it until the following Monday. Think of the possibilities we could create!?

Of course, you know if we were really to go through with that, all of us would be scrubbing before anyone arrived. I am one of those people who would clean for the cleaner. I’m far embarrassed to let anyone see how we really live! And no house stays clean for more than a few hours with small kiddies around. That’s why the whole thing is so pointless. And fruitless. And depressing.

No wonder we all drink gin or wine at night.

So let me tell you about the children, seen as I spend all of my waking hours looking after them. (Waking hours these days are a bit like hospital ER hours. Always open. Always busy. And a lot of crying and suffering).

The baby is a delight. An utter charming delight. She started smiling at six weeks and if you so much as look at her, she breaks into a big beam. I think it’s her way of already getting attention, because to be fair, she hasn’t and probably won’t receive half the attention her older sister got when she was a baby.

This kills me, but it’s simply not possible to hold her as long as I’d like to all day. I’m glad I’m breastfeeding, because there’s the closeness involved in that, and we did co-sleep for most of the first two months. I don’t think she’s lacking in contact or closeness to us, but I wish I had more time for just cuddles. She’s into her cot now in our room at night and she seems pretty happy with this – in the day we keep her in her bouncy chair or bassinet buggy, lying on the mat (if her sister isn’t around!) or propped up on the sofa.

She’s gotten really strong lately and seems gearing for sitting up on her own. She’s also taken to grabbing and playing with toys, and she’s teething and a total droolfest. I can’t believe at almost four months these changes in her, and because she’s probably my last, I feel a bit sad about this, already.

The smiler

Then the toddler.

Em… yes. The toddler.

At this point, I am laughing at myself for ever thinking that the baby stage was difficult. NOTHING is as difficult as dealing with a toddler. I’m convinced. I’ve decided raising a two year old is a bit like signing up to the army.

You need to be fit – to dash at a moment’s notice and rescue them from all dangers. You need to be steely – to never give in to their demands and ridiculous warfare. And you need to be a good negotiator, to talk them out of all sorts of bomb drops and missile firing, 24 seven.

And camaflaouge helps. To catch them in their moments of most destructive damage.

Writing on walls. Dragging sand in from the garden. Pouring bottles of milk onto their mattress and pillow. Eating paper. Taking all the wipes out of the packet to clean up a tiny spill. Refusing to get dressed, every time. Demanding a bath, not wanting to get into the bath, not wanting to get out of the bath and then after getting out, discovering they are still dirty.

Saying ‘I’m hungry’, but refusing the ten snacks in a row you offer. Giving in and accepting crackers the third time they are offered. Taking spaghetti hoops and mashing them into the floor. Peeing on the carpet five minutes after peeing in the toilet and giving you hope.

Climbing out of the cot. Going through the drawers to find the keys and unlocking the front door. Leaving the house by themselves. Going missing.

That, singularly was the scariest, most panic filled moment I have EVER encountered with my daughter.

I had been lying down with the baby and she managed to flee the house on her own while I thought she was in bed asleep and go missing for at least fifteen minutes before I noticed.

Feel very lucky to have such two gorgeous girls.

I checked every room and back garden, not wanting to believe that that could possibly happen. I called my husband to see had he come to pick her up unbeknownst to me. And then I had to go out the front door and start calling her name and acknowledge that my two year was indeed, gone from the house and missing.

Thank the Lord, she was safe in a neighbour’s house – she had gone out after their little boy. But it opened my eyes to what is ahead of us – that she has skills beyond what we give her credit for and absolutely no sense of danger.

So yes, new security measures in this house.

The weeks are flying by, a merge of washing and cleaning and cooking and making food for my toddler to stomp into the floor and feed to our dog. Soon it will be time for me to go back to work, but I am not allowing myself to think about it too much, as I know I will miss the children terribly, now that we’ve bonded so much while I’m off.

Our two year’s old speech has come on leaps and bounds lately. I’d like to think this is due to my amazing Mammy skills, but in reality, she’s just developed herself and it’s come to her on her own time. She is speaking in full sentences too, it was like the language was in there, but she was just waiting for it to come out properly.

It can be hard to understand what she’s saying a lot of the time – her pronunciation can be poor, but her latest phrase is one that warms the cockles of my heart, every time.

I lub you.

I’ll leave you to translate.

Any tips on making these tough months any easier? Would love to hear from you

10 Comments on Juggling and struggling – life as a Mam of two

  1. Your little ones are beautiful and hopefully as time passes you can enjoy them better. I know for a fact I never felt like ‘me’ until my little ones were a year old. Listen to yourself and if you need extra help be sure and ask for it, but yes a lot of how you are feeling is ‘normal’.
    As for not blogging…a little bird told me you were shortlisted for a play and saw it performed. Who needs to blog!

    • Ha, thanks Tric, your words stick with me – that year to get back to yourself. I def think it’s true – it’s so strange, you don’t realise it until the year is up, that you only feeling normal then. Oh well… 8 months to go! Thanks for you lovely comment and so great to catch up in person recently x

  2. I don’t know if I can offer advice, only empathy! Today while the baby was crying, I had to run out to the back garden where the nearly FIVE year old had climbed up on that red and yellow little tikes car and stretched across to the roof of their playhouse. The car moved. He was stretched out between the two screeching for help.

    I’ll be round with my mop on monday…

  3. Nobody talks about the aloneness and how utterly shit it can be. And it is, everyday i beat myself up for things i should do better and concessions I make just so I can have 5 more minutes. The reality is this though, the ironing will be there, the dust will gather and at the end of the day all that matters is they are content and happy. My mess is now called memories because I don’t want to be the mother who won’t let my kids colour and play with puzzles for the sake of a clean house. F*ck it, who comes to visit anyway. Mine are 58wks apart. It’s awful at times, then its bliss. But they are growing up so quick so relish in the now.

    • If they come to visit I don’t let them in the door anyway!! haha. you’re so right. sometimes i have to relax and think – kids do not care about mess – only you do – stop giving out. They’re dotes really – we will look back on the pics and think – wow where did those tiny tots go?!

  4. Don’t mind the house Nicola. Imagine an epitaph that read ” She kept a tidy kitchen”… Who could ever want that ?Keep on doing what you are doing .. you are living a real life with messy kids as generations before you did.. difference is you are a prolific writer and there are only so many balls you can juggle at one time. F..k the untidy house and the calls that need to be made. Enjoy this time as best you can , for it will never pass your way again. Thank you for all the amazing effort and encouragement you give to us aspiring writers. Well done you.

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comments Carol. You are so right! She kept a tidy kitchen – haha, not on my gravestone thanks! Yes, a lot of balls in the air, but kids first, writing second i guess, house way down the list after oh i don’t know, husband and wine?! Hope the writing is going well for you x

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