For some unknown reason, I have taken on three races this year – a 10k in March, a half marathon in May and a full marathon in October and I’m fundraising for two different charities as a result. I am back at work in April, doing full time over four days, whilst trying to bring up a three year old and an almost one year old to be stable, confident, happy boys. I need to work full time over four days in order to pay for the kids nursery fees. They are high. Over £1000 a month. It’s just a fact of working life. But I can’t afford not to work because in 18 months time, the eldest is at school and we need to have some income. Even though at the minute, I’m probably in debit by working.
I’m not doing it alone. I have a super hands on husband, my mum and step dad are fantastic and we try to muddle through.
And I’m trying to do this blog and do it well. Right now, it feels like I am not and it disappoints me. I’d love this to be my full time job but at the minute, it’s not viable to give it that attention.
Multi tasking is a woman’s work. Apparently. Only I’ve never been very good at it. When I became a parent, I became acutely aware of how difficult I find it to divide my attention in 150 ways. The leap from one baby to two was huge. Balancing two boys under three and all my dumb ass side projects is interesting to say the least.
It sounds like I am moaning and yeh, I’m suppose I’m being a bit of a whingebag (I wonder where the toddler gets it from) and I shouldn’t. I am fully aware that these are my life choices and I need to suck it the fuck up! I love a little project or 27. I need a goal. I need a purpose to keep me on the straight and narrow (I’d drink myself into humiliation and poverty and eat myself to whale proportions otherwise) but maybe I have taken on a little too much. Whatever the reason, 2017 feels a little tough so far. (On the bright side, none of my celeb idols have died so far. Please leave Stephen Fry, Sara Pascoe and Stevie Nicks alone!) Not least because of my concerns about how I’m doing as a parent?
Well, my house is a tip, I’m a scruff and on some days I am a zombie but nothing new there. I was a shit hot mess before I had kids. It wasn’t going to get better was it? However, the hum drum day to day routine practicalities of parenting are starting to seem immaterial as I suddenly begin to realise that my eldest, who will be three next week, has become a functioning human with a personality all of his own, almost without me noticing. His emotional well being suddenly feels hugely important. Change is afoot. We have ticked off weaning, teething, walking, talking and tantrums but school is round the corner and I want to prepare him for that. Only, my time is compromised because we have a mini whirlwind in the making and I have taken on all of the ridiculous challenges outlined above. (I’m such a tit, aren’t I?)
Joseph came along two years, two months and two weeks after James. He’s developing in a different way to his older brother and presents us with different challenges as we get to know him. The impact of Joseph’s arrival has shaken James’ world and, despite the initial bumps early on, the epic, apoplectic tantrums and disrupted sleep, I think we are only beginning to see the full emotional effects of having a baby take over his space.
One on one, James is a delight. He is funny and imaginative and ridiculously clever. Ok, so I sound like one of those arseholes who gloat about their kids but he really is all of those things. He’s bright and a complete joy. For example, the kid sings at the top of his voice and it sounds like a cat being strangled. It’s not one of his talents but it’s hilarious and I love the way he just doesn’t give a shit how or when he sings or even if the words are right. Yet, I have no illusions about my first born.
When his brother is around, he is rough and boisterous and is constantly up in Joseph’s grill. Jeez, this kid doesn’t understand personal space. If I hold Joe, he wants to be on my knee too. I’m like Father Christmas with all these kids on my lap, only my facial hair is less groomed. He snatches from his brother. They fight. He is moody and can be rude. It’s cringeworthy and always in front of the wrong people, who don’t get to see how beautiful and wonderful he is. He never sits still. He argues. (Don’t get me started on the histrionics at the Barbers. Put it like this. Blue murder ensued and a haircut never happened. Hello Chewbacca! Post coming soon) I thought that nine months on we would be beyond this.
But James is a sensitive soul. He sobbed when (Spoiler Alert!) Poppy lost her pink in Trolls because she was sad. He was devastated that Rosie was dragged away from her friend the bear in “We’re Going On a Bear Hunt.” He is hilariously earnest when he tells you a tale. He feels it. He REALLY feels it. He cares if anyone is hurt in anyway. When he is naughty, he is genuinely sorry afterwards. “I behave now, Mummy. I be a good boy. I don’t want to be naughty.” He is so loving and affectionate and wonderful. He does really love his brother, He cuddles him and kisses him but sometimes he loves a little too hard and, sometimes, that heavy handedness, I think it might be deliberate. As much as he loves him, he also, without doubt, resents him. I worry that this acute sensitivity has made him unable to cope with his brother’s arrival and how will he cope in future?
Recently, I have watched him retreat a bit in public. At soft play, he wants me to guide him and is clingy and reticent. He is absolutely confident in his own environment. At nursery, perhaps he is a bit too confident and can be hyper. He gets giddy and excited. Yet, when he isn’t when out of familiar surroundings, he becomes anxious almost. I am terrified about how he will cope with school. I don’t know how he will take it when he isn’t with the children he has been with since 10 months old. I know it’s 18 months away; half of his life. But I would hate him to be lonely.
I worry it’s my fault. Do I give Joe too much attention? Has my love for Joe made him feel insecure about my love for him, even though I shower him in hugs and kisses? Do I not spend enough time with him? I try to do all my activities when he is in bed. When he is bad, he really is horrid but am I too harsh on him? I don’t want him terrified of me. Or am I too soft? Is he just testing me to see how far he can push me until I really lose my shit? Do I actually need really to push back harder? Last week, I cancelled an outing and took electronics off him as punishment. What’s the best discipline? I won’t put up with him being a disrespectful little shit but I want to keep him happy and care free. So many questions and of course, I don’t know the answers. Do any of us have the answers?
I find it impossible to know really how to make my boy happy and secure. And how do I balance that with my youngest’ emotional needs? Two kids can sometimes feel like 10. Sibling rivalry isn’t easy. I hope they love each other and they both get what they need from me. I certainly get what I need from them. (Apart from sleep. Still no fucking sleep!) My clever, funny, rambunctious boys. I love their laughs, their determination and their wild ways. The past three years have been a rollercoaster but there is no better feeling than when I have them cuddling into me on the couch or when James says so sincerely and without prompting, “I love you so much, Mummy.”
I love you too James. Happy birthday my biggest boy! Always be confident and brave xxx