As LD would say, “Mumma! You’re back!” We don’t know where he gets it from but he delights in running around shouting those very words as you sit in front of him, having been nowhere and thus, not returned either. Weird.
But I am back. The Little Mumma is back. My head is filled with words that I’m desperate to get onto a page or computer screen of some description. However, life with two children tends to conspire against the mother with fanciful ideas about time to herself. Last night, the house was clean which is an essential ingredient to me sitting down to write. Trying to write while, along my polished floorboards, cat fur rolls like tumbleweeds is next to impossible. I find it difficult to concentrate when all around me, there is domestic chaos. That spot of baby sick I forgot to wipe off the couch will tick like a bomb at the back of my head. But I can’t just wipe up that spot and get back to writing because cleaning one thing only reveals twenty-seven similar sick spots and the revelation that someone with tiny hands and an equally tiny nose has squished them up against the plasma, apparently while eating vegemite toast.
So, last night, the all important factor of domestic cleanliness? Check! And the second most important factor, feeling vaguely creative? A vigourous check! But then, the conspiring of small children began. There could be an aligning of creative writing stars. The universe could lay down a red carpet leading to a golden laptop. And it would all come to naught if two tiny humans so decided. For instance, one unsettled newborn and one toddler who has decided bed time is optional. And that was all it took.
But tomorrow was a new day and here I am, writing. Last night, as I sat trapped in an endless cycle of breastfeeding and threatening (the former, my newborn, the latter, my non-bed-dwelling toddler), I was reminded of an argument my beloved, B, and I had while he was on holidays for several weeks. I was sitting on the couch, breastfeeding. He was in the kitchen, finishing up some dishes. I think I had asked him what he felt like doing that afternoon. His reply was tinged with something. He always denies these tinges but I am excellent at detecting them and even better at badgering them out of him. Words flew back and forth, the pattern made up of me digging for what was wrong and him denying anything was. And then he said it.
“It just seems like you’re always sitting down.”
With a five week old, breastfed baby in my arms, it was important to remain calm. But I didn’t feel so calm. The truth was, yes, I was spending a disproportionate amount of time on my arse. With a baby attached to my breast. And more often than not, a jealous toddler climbing on top of me (and the baby) demanding, “Cuddle? Cuddle?” And a thousand other things I’d rather be doing running through my head. Breastfeeding my first child was a relaxing time of intense bonding. Breastfeeding my second child is an exercise in survival. Life goes on and LD doesn’t give a damn about my one-on-one time with his newborn brother. The inbetween moments when neither one of your children are demanding your attention, you run around like a crazy person, peeling a potato here, picking up a sultana smooshed into the floor there until the newborn cries for boob once more. You sit down (again!) and baby begins to feed and it’s then that you realise you haven’t pissed since 7.30am that morning. Or put your boob away since last time you nursed. Oh god, did I get the mail like that?
So yeah, it does appear that I’m sitting down a bit. Such are the limitations when you have a ferociously suckling infant at your bosom. I pride myself on being able to do two things at once but when one of them is boobing a babe, I admit, I’m not as good at the juggling. Beating cream while nursing an infant, for instance, is tricky. But not impossible.
But hang on, if I’m feeding Zee in addition to reading, texting, Farmville-ing, hell -breathing, then surely that must be counted as multi-tasking. It’s not like I just waste time staring into the eyes of my precious new son. Bonding? Who has the time, I ask you?
My B, the domestic rock god, is nothing short of fabulous as a partner and daddy. He is a huge support and more attuned to chick-stuff than the average bloke (‘a real asset’ to me, his mum tells me) but on some level, he still believes as the man who goes out to work and support the family, that he has the harder job. He lamented it not really feeling all that much like a holiday. And you know what? I did feel for the guy. He’d been working his arse off in the lead up to Christmas and was really exhausted. And it’s true that he was up early each morning with LD for the duration of his holidays. He cleaned stuff, fed people, took out rubbish. There were no pina coladas by the pool. But as I pointed out to him, holidays were unlikely to really feel like holidays as we remember them. Because with kids, life goes on. And any free time tends to be a chance to get stuff done around the house that you’ve been meaning to do for the last six months. Boring.
And while we’re feeling for people, when do my holidays kick in? My day (and night!) job doesn’t offer leave. I can’t shut down for Christmas. I can’t even get a night of unbroken sleep. B feels the weight of domestic responsibility figuratively. I feel it literally, all 5 kilos of an infant who is solely dependent on me and thus, goes everywhere I go.
So come now, let’s be fair. What we do is different. Apples and oranges. Impossible to compare. Both to be respected and valued. I don’t see the point of the argument.
But if we must, then I win.
I pushed a human head out of my hooha.
I win. I win. I win.
So what has motherhood taught me today? I should have sat around eating bon bons while I had the fucking chance.