I know you’ve all been practically hanging on the edge of your seat to hear from me again.
I’m still here.
I’m just off.
I’ll just jump right in, shall I?
Since coming back from holidays, I’ve suddenly noticed our house is far more filthy than I remember and I can only assume my “spot cleans” are no longer cutting it. I think I have also developed a medium to severe case of the blues because, let’s face it, there are very few things appealing about returning from vacation. Unless you picked up some ghastly case of gastro and your holiday was in rural India. Then, I’d imagine you’d be glad to be back. Since returning I’m also trialling some new *approaches* with Ella because things are going a bit pear-shaped over here. Obviously, she has not one bit liked these new approaches because what baby would prefer to sleep in a boring old cot when she can have the comfort of her mother’s warm body if she just cries loud enough? When I do finally have some crying-and-shrieking-free time to myself, I can usually be found in the corner of the lounge room nursing a cup of hot tea saturated with rescue remedy and taking long deep breaths.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. Yesterday, my friend Renae must have either given Ella a stern talking to or slipped something illegal into her milk because I’ve had over 24 hours of Smooth Baby Sailing. If you’ve got a baby and you need a friend, I highly recommend Renae. She’s kind and helpful and babies just listen to her.
Anyway, I’ve been waiting to write until I can put a positive spin on my flat feelings. Nobody likes a whinger. But then I thought, that’s not really what we do here, is it? That’s quite the opposite of what we do. The Red Tent is a place for time-out, yes, and I’m sure you don’t want to hear a stay-at-home mum complaining all day, but the Red Tent is also about showing up just as you are, taking your shoes off and breathing out a long-winded Ho-ly heeeeeell.
Good, bad, tired, cranky, a little hysterical – all are welcome here, including me.
So, firstly, let’s talk about the holiday.
When Joel and I decided to go on a week’s vacation, I envisioned long stretches of time where I could write without interruption. I dreamed about lying on a hot beach reading a really good book. I anticipated napping and shopping and a little bit of romance, even. I imagined feeling free. We had seven entire days that were ours and ours alone. (Read: mine and mine alone.)
But oh my god I’m a mum now.
I’m a mum.
Are you hearing this?
Are you getting it?
These children, they stick around.
They come with you.
They don’t realize that mummy and daddy are on vacation. They don’t feel the need to flop into a comfy chair and catch up on some reading. They don’t take themselves off for walks and massages and swims. They don’t know to be quiet and peaceful and restful. One child I know pulls out her very best “keep me entertained at all times or I’m going to have a serious meltdown” card while holidaying, in fact. It just so happens that she also got sick while we were away and was hit by a bad teething bout at the same time.
And she did not for one second think it polite to wait until we got back from holidays to make us aware of these general complaints. We were made aware. “Quick smart”, I think the term is.
Incase you don’t already know, CHILDREN ARE PERMANENT.
Startling, I know.
And they have this incredibly precise way of letting you know that it’s not about you anymore. It’s called crying.
So you sacrifice. You compromise. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like sacrifice or compromise because you love them and you love your moments with them. But other times, like when you’re holidaying and expecting a certain level of relaxation, it feels like you are doing a whole lotta sacrificing and a whole lotta compromising. I’ve come to suspect that that’s what love is. It’s not a feeling. Not really. It’s service. It’s meeting the needs of another person without question. It’s patience when there’s no patience left. It’s kindness when there’s no kindness left. It’s trying again even though it’s hard. It’s something you do. Something you give.
When I got back home, I actually truly got that I am a mum now.
I’m a mum.
I realized wholeheartedly that Ella was not going anywhere and it dawned on me that freedom is now dispensed in sporadic bursts. I understood that my needs fall into a scramble with everyone else’s needs. I don’t come first. We’re a family now. And even on holidays there are still sleepness nights and nappies to be washed and bored children and snotty noses and husbands’ agendas. My moments have to be searched for, scheduled, and booked. It’s just how it is now.
You can imagine my alarm, I’m sure.
Secondly, I just have to tell you about my daughter.
She’s discovered she wants things.
She’s discovered she can grab things.
She’s discovered she has a voice.
And all these things have occurred AT THE SAME TIME and seemingly overnight.
The kind of noises that come from Ella’s mouth when she’s not holding in her grabby little hands the things she wants make Joel and I nervous. We flash each other glances of what can only be interpreted as pure fear and without speaking, I know Joel is also wondering at what age they take boarding school applicants. I can say with certainty that in those looks we give each other, we are both picturing the kind of child we’ll have on our hands when she’s a little older. We envisage supermarket tantrums with rising panic. Those kind of thoughts can make a person sweat.
I think we’ve got a princess in our care, you guys. I know it’s a little early to tell, but I’m just saying. It’s just an inkling. And that inkling is enough to make me order books like “Redirecting Children’s Behaviour” and stay up at night reading them under the dim light of my iPhone.
If there is anything I do not want, it’s a princess to live with. Please God, no.
So anyway that’s where I’m at at the moment.
Thanks for stopping by.
I’ll just be here de-princessing my child.
You all carry on now.