There are little changes to the routine. Moments of relative calm. Fewer hands pawing at me. An occasional meal without a spill. Less things to wipe. Ever the optimist I feel hopeful. Hopeful that the madness of early childhood is coming to an end. Hopeful that the tedium that accompanies those early years is giving way to a different type of tedium – maybe even an easier one. Here are the 10 tells I’m an optimistic parent.
1. I’ve started buying the Weekend Newspaper. To childless me it was a given. Picked up on the way to brunch in the kind of place where I certainly wasn’t invited to colour in my place mat. As a parent the Weekend paper is pure indulgence. It speaks of an often naive belief that one day I might actually get a moment to read it. I ignore the fact that some weeks by Wednesday it still sits neatly folded on the table, and by Friday it’s hidden in the recycling bin where my non-believer husband can’t find it.
2. We’re eating out. With the kids. There’s no getting over it. What was once such a simple pleasure, is a military manoeuvre. And an expensive one at that. On solo runs, I’ve always been a glutton for cheese and punishment and brought the kids out for food – when in similar circumstances my husband packs some sandwiches and lets them picnic in the boot of the car. We turning corners though and I can now convince him that meals out are worth it. We choose places where food comes fast, where can get in and get out in about an hour. And we tip well.
3. I’m making dinner from scratch. More of this another day, but I’ve all but abandoned batch cooking. The day lost to a stuffy kitchen to mass produce the same ten nice, if boring, dinners left me cold. A small tweak in my works hours, and the youngest now being a little happier to play rather than scream his way through tea time, sees me at home about 5.20pm and managing to produce a dinner by 6. It’s not haute cuisine by any means – but it also rarely Shepard’s Pie. I’ll take that, thank you.
4 I’ve attempted to clean the inside of the car. This remains possibly the most futile task ever. No change in circumstances has led to this – other than a slight element of personal shame and disgust at seeing how bad it got on occasion. The kids still eat, play and fight in the car – but at least I can convince myself that I’m less likely to find this year’s decomposing apple under the seat next March. Leave me off with my delusions.
5 I’ve partied til the wee hours. I had a very virtuous 6 months alcohol free this year and didn’t really miss drink at all. That said, when I partook of many beers at a Summer BBQ I was equally happy, so I’ve decided that there’s much happiness in the middle ground. Of course only a fool would stay out til the early hours when she should be at home chasing that elusive uninterrupted nights sleep. I am that fool. Every time. And it’s great fun.
6 I’ve stopped calling my rounded belly ‘baby weight’. When the ‘baby’ is a walking, talking attitude filled three and a half year old, its no longer fair to blame the baby. Tragically it’s time to embrace those rolls as part of me – or do something about them.
7 We put the youngest in a midi bunk. So this lasted one night and proved that I’m both optimistic and delusional. The child rarely sleeps the night in his own bed. At some stage, he pads into our room, climbs over his Dada and snuggles in. Then he star-fishes and kicks said Dada in the balls, eventually dispatching the poor man to the toddler room. He’s been all talk about flipping his bed (this one) so he can sleep in the midi-level bunk and I convinced myself it would work last week. Four bed flips later – at about 10pm, we decided its a job for another day. Not least as my husband couldn’t be bothered climbing up a ladder a few hours later. Soon, she says. Soon.
8 I’m staying out of the latest fight. I’ve taken to hiding in the kitchen and convincing myself that by not stepping into the latest argument about ponies v ninjago, I’m helping them hone those negotiation skills. Mama can’t fix everything peeps. Get it sorted.
9 We’re buggy free. This summer’s family holiday was the first without a buggy ever. Admittedly we packed the sling and we had a toddler bike seat, but my soul sang leaving that yoke behind.
10 The yearning is gone. Always a sucker for babies, I was convinced I’d never really leave that ovary tugging grá for babies behind. I love them – the smell, the sounds, the pure innocence. And then I hand them back and I love them even more.
Hope spring people. Hope springs.