Monday, 23 August 2010

Doesn't Anyone Enjoy Their Children Anymore?!

Wednesday 23rd June

We visited our old childminder. In the lift on the way up to the seventeenth floor, Big Sister says,
“I am really incited to see her!” She misses the childminder. She showed her grazed knees from the fall in the park yesterday. The childminder misses her too. She looks after three children under twenty months at the moment, so none of them talk back to her. Big Sister loves re-discovering all of the childminder’s toys and sits politely at the table for a fruit and juice snack.
When I try to encourage my daughter to do a wee she assertively refuses:
“No!” holding the palm of her hand up to halt me. The childminder is surprised.
“I’ve never seen that side of her!” I see it a lot. I smile.
The childminder asks how I am enjoying having two children. I feel embarrassed that secretly my first response to this is, “enjoying?”
Surviving might describe it better.
But yes, I am enjoying them, I reply. I am very busy. I’m a twenty-four-seven stay-at-home-mum but I’m glad that it’s me taking care of them. These early years don’t last long.
“And it’s a really important time,” agrees the childminder.

Yesterday, on http://www.mumsnet.com/ I read a thread entitled, “Doesn’t Anyone Enjoy Their Children Anymore? I just seem to hear SAHMs moan about how stressed they are or that they can’t wait until bedtime/kids go to nursery/school.”
The gist of the replies was, “Don’t be so judgemental! We do all enjoy our kids, but it is hard work – and working mums just sometimes have to make ends meet, and look at the juggling act they manage!”

I asked the childminder how does she fit housework into her schedule? I am in awe of her managing so many kids at once. One way she does it is that she sets the washing machine to come on automatically at 5am so that when they get up, a load of washing is already done. I am envious of that convenience!

Angel, Islington moorings are amazing right now, it is a favourite anyway as it’s our winter mooring. It’s near to our GP, our childminder, friends and work. But this summer British Waterways have closed the towpath for maintenance, so we have our own private mooring. We have a BW key, and only boaters can come down here. So no constant stream of curious onlookers peering in the windows, no drunken teenagers or wannabe boaters asking, “Is it cold in winter?”

But the best thing, as a boat mum, is arriving home with the kids asleep I can park the double buggy safely on the towpath, knowing they will not be disturbed, as the only passerby would be an occasional boater neighbour. So they’re sleeping soundly and I can see them from my window and I don’t have to fear for their safety!

Meg phoned, having a bad time juggling work and kids. Everything is relentless. She is considering an extra day of kids in nursery so that she can have some breathing space, but feels guilty. I say, if they can afford it, and she wants it – do it! Everybody has different parenting styles and different work/family life balance and it’s whatever works for you. But don’t feel guilty. Because you have to do what makes you happy. Life’s too short to be unhappy. I arrange to visit her next week. And there are ups and downs and when I have a bad day I phone Meg, but today I’m having a good day.

This morning I just left the dishes, didn’t do any housework at all. I went out with the kids for most of the day. Big Sister had a brilliant time in the fountains at the park, she is really happy. The dishes are still there. I told Meg on the phone,
“I feel reckless, outrageous, wild!” She laughs and says,
“Yeah, leave those dishes!”

The Doctor said he doesn’t mind sometimes coming home and the dishes or laundry are not sorted, so long as the girls are happy. So maybe it’s just me, giving me a hard time.

The day ends with a sunny evening on the back deck, The Doctor and I are eating prawn curry and supping wine and talking and laughing. Afterwards we had cheese and more wine and I decide that Camembert is so good that I’m going to be faithful to it,
“Monogamous, monoga-cheese-mus, or something.”
The Doctor said,
“Fromaganous!” Being true to one cheese.
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