Wednesday 25 August 2010

Sleep Deprivation and a Hangover

Thursday 1st July

Somewhere in Hertfordshire (by train, overland).

Parenting reaches a new level when done through the dark fog of a hangover. We’re visiting Meg and her partner at their lovely house in the country. Last night was a long battle to get both girls to sleep – achieved by 9.30pm maybe? Risotto, home grown rocket and wine at a picnic bench under a tree in a huge garden. We can see fields surrounding us, distant cows and enjoy a summer evening breeze. Dinner is interrupted by random children’s needs, both theirs and ours. It is so great to relax and chat over wine, I feel like a person, not a parent. We were braced for a bad night’s sleep but the wine makes it harder for us to return to consciousness and deal with both girls waking several times and taking turns at attempting to share our bed.

This morning, I feed the baby quietly to sleep in an upstairs room for mornings nap while Big Sister runs around the garden with Meg’s daughter, who is the same age. The Doctor keeps an eye on her but she can mainly play unsupervised, safely contained inside hedges and fences with a trampoline and garden toys. This seems easier than supervised outings to the park. So, I observe,

kids + big house + garden = easier than a narrowboat.

Not to mention the dishwasher and washing machine!

I have now been studying the real life of a narrowboat wife for one month, and conclude what many people already tell me; it must be hard having kids on a boat.

• Less storage

• More chores

• Less modern conveniences

• No garden

• Less hot running water

• Cannot play safely outside unsupervised – water!

For Barge Mum the hardest thing was keeping the coal fire going in winter. For Polish Boat Mum boat journeys have become more of a chore than fun now. Single Boat Mum says it’s not hard yet, but maybe when the children need to move around and have space it will be hard.

By midday I am so tired I can’t face the train and bus journey back to London alone while controlling a baby and a toddler. (There were tantrums on the train to Hertfordshire yesterday). I’m so tired that I can barely string a sentence together. It’s supposed to be a play date today with four of us mummy mates, and The Doctor is preparing to go home, but I ask him to stay to help me with the journey home. Meg says to me, get some sleep and us mums will look after your kids. She says that The Doctor is welcome to stay too: Sit in a corner, read a book, whatever. The Doctor smiles and says that he will stay, but I am crying. All I can think of is sleep. I go to bed and cry about how much hard work everything is. Sleep deprivation makes the glass half empty. Or was it me drinking the wine that emptied the glass?

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