I have a million and one things to do. Yeah, I'm still singing that old tune and don't look to be stopping any time soon.
But seriously, all the things. Yes, most of them are borne of my own towering expectations. Do more and do it better, Angie. Or, you know, die.
I would tell anyone living this way that it is impossible to live this way. In fact, I am telling myself right now but myself is not listening. Myself is writing lists of things she will fail to achieve today.
This morning I awoke quite free of the normal low-level anxiousness to get something quantifiable done. This low-level angst most often sees me yelling at the kids because they get in the way of the thing I feel I really should be doing and then they're upset and requiring more of me, one cries so loud as to wake up the baby who took me half an hour to put down and then the whole day falls in a screaming heap as we console ourselves over take-away pizza. Again.
But this morning looked like it was going to be different. I was going with the flow. We took our sweet time with breakfast, then we got dressed – nobody cried! – and then we hung out making block monsters. Then we played block monsters vs cars. It was so fucking boring. The kids were in heaven. Next it was craft time. I'm not even joking. I got out the glitter glue and the pipe cleaners and fuck me, if we didn't sit around making some of the ugliest collages you ever did see.
In between times, I ran interference with Harlow and made various meals and drinks. I was in mum mode – completely and totally, no distractions. I didn't so much as Instagram a photo of the crafting table (although I did think about it).
And when I finally called time so that I could maybe do something kid-free like, oh I don't know, go to the toilet, it was still too much to ask.
Which means that it doesn't matter how much time and attention you lavish on your children, they will always want more. And it's not because they're selfish, spoilt little shits but because life is never better for them than when you, the parent, are smack in the middle of it.
And the whisper-quiet confession of my heart says that I do not feel the same.
Of course, I can not see my life without my three precious children in it. They are everything to me. But not everything. You know?
I like it when they are more on the periphery of my day – we cross paths constantly but we all have our own things to do.
Today I thought I was doing an exemplary job of being 'Mum' and in the end, I felt no better for it. I did what I was supposed to do and….resented it.
I sound like a beast. I know I do. Why have kids if you don't actually want to be with them?
Caring for three small children day in, day out is demanding. My choice, certainly, but demanding nonetheless. I allow myself that. But still, some people are better at this. Much better. Some people enjoy devoting their days to their children, completely giving themselves over to their care without regret.
There is the whole argument that children need to spend time playing alone, developing their imaginations, occupying themselves. I certainly don't recall my mum and dad playing with me all day. From a very early age, I was good at making my own fun. I suspect I preferred it.
But whether I think kids could be more independent (I do), it doesn't negate the fact that I don't want to make them my entire focus, and I really don't want to play with them….ever. I love chatting with them and reading to them. I'll snuggle them on the couch through a zillion episodes of Peppa Pig. And nothing is more fascinating to me than watching their play from afar but I don't really want to be on the floor with the dinosaurs and cars.
I want to witness their life, not be it.
I am sad that they are growing up. And I'm not.
I love them so much and never so much as when I've had a breather from them.
I know I am not the only one to feel this way. And I am eternally grateful that I have the choice to stay at home with them rather than juggle a job I don't love with trying to run a family. But if I could have a nanny come in for a few hours a day so that I could GET STUFF DONE without their sweet and relentless faces in mine, I would. I really, really would.
And whether those feelings are normal or not, I can't help but think maybe I wasn't cut out to be a mother.
But then there is Zig, spied over the top of this laptop, trying so very hard to do up the button at the top of his jeans. I tried to sneak a photo of it but I was a second too late and he was in front of me, asking if I could do it up for him. I said yes but "can you go back into the bathroom and pretend to try and do them up again so that I can take a photo?"
He said no.
*Caveat: this post isn't really about Harlow because she is a baby and the care of a baby is something quite different. For the record, caring for all three of my children when they were little babes remains one of the greatest joys of my life. I am finding this stage with the boys (ages 5 and 3) infinitely harder. You need far more tricks up your parenting sleeve. All I seem to have is used tissues…..