I knew motherhood would be about choices. I just didn’t expect it to be about THESE choices.
In my head, the decisions I would make each day would be ones like whether we would go to the park or soft play? (park if possible – you don’t have to supervise other people’s little darlings as well as your own there!) whether my daughter should wear pink (nope) and my son blue (yes, he rocks it!)
In reality my day-to-day choices are very different … Do I “sleep when they sleep”? (i.e. never) or attempt to clean up post-apocalyptic war zone that my house has become in the 11 minutes I have left before one of them wakes up?
Do I search for that stone cold cuppa I made an hour ago (and now can’t find) and grab my 7th ginger nut of the day (it is currently 9 a.m.) or have a hobnob and attempt to make a fresh cup of tea in the full and certain knowledge that it too will be stone cold before it gets anywhere near my lips?
These dilemmas could easily be summed up as Hobson’s choice. In our house, because of the alarming rate at which biscuits now disappear, they are known as Hobnob’s choice.
Because what no-one tells you before you have babies is that although those early days feel like weeks, and the weeks like months, there still just aren’t enough hours in the day.
I have learned that my children can be clean, dressed and ready to go out OR I can be – never both. So, it’s a simple choice – do I let passers by pity the gorgeous children with the frantic mother with sick down her back and porridge in her hair, or pity the gorgeous, slightly feral looking children whose mother clearly cares more about her own appearance than looking after her babies? (Option 2 has never happened. Not even when I have really, really tried.)
If by some miracle you do all look ready (enough) to face the world you will inevitably encounter a poonami. Or a poonado. Or get 30 seconds from your house and realise that one of you (on a really fun day, more than one of you) is covered in vomit / milk / poo.
If you venture as far as the outside world you will discover at the crucial moment that you’ve left the wipes at home. Or the spare clothes. Or their food, nappies, your wallet – something absolutely vital that you were certain you had when you left the house.
Going out on Wednesday? Pack the bag, get their clothes ready (and yours) and write the checklist for things to pack at the last minute on Monday. Not that this will stop you forgetting something, it just takes the edge off the anxiety about trying to actually leave the house in the next 48 hours.
When weaning starts you’ll focus so much on Annabel Karmel’s recipe planner that you’ll have enough purees to keep your little one going for a month. Meanwhile you haven’t had a proper meal since … what day is it again today?
As a (previously) very organised person, living in utter and complete chaos has been hard to swallow, just like the stone cold tea, but I think I’m getting there. I may still have food smears on my top but I have stashed wet wipes absolutely everywhere so now I a̶l̶w̶a̶y̶s̶ usually have one to hand to wipe off the worst of it.
When my children decide the clean nappy I put on 8 minutes ago simply must be filled, I have spares in the boot of the car and usually at least one pocket. And if one of them needs an urgent change of clothes and I haven’t got a clean outfit for them they wear their brother / sister’s clothes for a couple of hours. Or they go without a change and we head home immediately, ignoring the glares of anyone we pass and hoping nothing too toxic leaks over anything too expensive / hard to clean!
My choices now basically boil down to “do I care or not?” and finally I can say “I don’t” and say it with a smile rather than an air of defeat and exhaustion. It’s more important to me to get my children out of the house, into the fresh air, or the slightly sticky children’s centre, to play with (or at least near) other children than worry about what I look like. What they make of it all is another matter.
Obviously, my babies don’t have a phone yet, though mine is apparently irresistible, but if they did I imagine their exchange would go something like this …
TWIN 1: “Have you seen the state of her again? And she’s actually going out in public like that!”
TWIN 2: “HER???? Have you seen what I’m wearing today? I swear she just grabs random items from the tumble dryer!”
TWIN 1: “Ha!!! Yes you look ridiculous!!! It is very funny.”
TWIN 2: “I’m going to take your favourite toy when we get home and it’s going in the toilet.”
TWIN 1: “Don’t worry, I can throw up on her again and then she won’t have time to take us out.”
TWIN 2: “Good plan. I would hate the other kids to see me looking like this. P.S. You have banana in your hair. If she does manage to get us out you should probably wipe that off. ON HER BACK!
(And don’t worry, you can survive on biscuits – I’m still here!)
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