The other day I mis-spelt my name. It’s not a complicated name, and it’s the same one I’ve had for over 38 years, but even though I’ve been spelling for roughly 33 of those, I spelt it wrong. In two places.
It’s not just spelling that trips me up these days, sentences are patchy too. They are left hanging unfinished or – even better, repeated at least three times before I get to the point – if there is one. And names. The right names, are hard to find. And last weekend I may have sent Spidey to a party a day late.
I’ve hit the wall with a thud.
For each and every one of my babies I’ve found the six or seven month point the hardest. While the wonderbubs produce teeth, larger than life personalities and really come into themselves, this is the time when my body simply stops producing adrenaline and I feel physically zapped of energy. It’s the point where a deep-seated exhaustion kicks in and I find myself running on empty, if at all.
Third time around, I feel the thud is louder! By the end of the day my face feels so tired it’s like a numb plastic mask. I crave sugar but a few inhaled chunks of chocolate do nothing to lift my flagging energy levels. I make lists of all the packing, organising and writing I’ll do after kiddie bedtime only to find myself cruising around Facebook catching up on snippets of news but not able for much else. On top of the physical knackeredness (now a word) I realised that I’ve been walking around with a niggling feeling that felt like a weird cross between dread and anticipation. I’ve been feeling addled and a bit vexed. Like I’m impatiently waiting – but I’m not sure what for.
In fairness it’s not a mystery what’s wrong with me. I’m running around with three kids, selling one house, buying another and doing all of those jobs that just need doing. I’m not sad, teary, angry or depressed. I’m just plain old fucking exhausted. In that respect I’m lucky.
There’s no doubt sleep is a major part of the problem. Night-time sleep is patchy with teething and midnight (and 1am, 3am and 5am….) snacks not helping. It’s months since a cuddle and a snuggle up to a familiar boob had a newborn boy fed and passed out in minutes. These nights he comes into the bed and immediately sneaks one hand underneath me setting a little landmine to wake him should I dare to move him back to his cot. Night time is a game of bed, cot, co-sleeping and getting kicked by a laughing baby. As for daytimes, all that lovely stuff you read about daytime naps doesn’t apply to mothers of three! I do well when the baby sleeps to get on with tidying, making dinner and giving Yoda a bit of ‘monkey time’ and a few stories. His down times are my busy times. As a night-time person I hate to admit that going to bed too late is my ultimate downfall. But when the only time you have to yourself is after the kids go down, it’s hard to surrender that too – even if it is the smartest move.
As someone who loves her own company I also think the feeling of being ‘always on’ doesn’t help either. With multiple night wakings and full-on daytime routines I’m 24/7 as a mother. Though normal for the stage I’m at, it is hard as a person not to have any space for myself. The other ‘always on’ is the web. I grab the phone and flick through headlines and posts while feeding a baby, listing to a toddler’s ramblings or waiting outside the school. I head to bed early and then find myself flicking on the phone for an hour, carelessly giving away my sleeping time to tweets and updates that I’ll never remember. It’s a great lifeline when I’m at home, providing adult company on lonely afternoons, but it takes on a more sinister meaning when I find myself slightly panicked as I scan the room for my phone like I’m missing out on something if I don’t hit refresh every so often. It’s also a timetrap, a black-hole that takes snippets of precious time. And I secretly fear my flicking means my kids may see more of the back of the phone than the front of my (tired) face.
A few weeks after this fog descended, I’m shaking myself out of my funk though and coming out of the haze a little. The fact that I’m posting this after weeks where I felt I couldn’t string a spoken sentence together is testament to that. I’ve shunned the sensible approach and, after a string of shitty nights sleep, did what was really needed and went out with friends to swig wine and mojitos and have a laugh til the wee hours. Sometimes it helps just not to let the toddlers be the stupidest people in the gang. The head lifted off me the next day but I did learn the valuable lesson that my kids share my (hungover) love of Monster Munch.
Night time sleeping is naturally enough far from uninterrupted but as of this week Woodie The Chancer is learning that there are opening and closing hours at the Boobie Bar. Daddy has started his nocturnal dance lessons and, as I half-slept, I listened to himself and his second son snuggling each other back to sleep, without the aid of a nipple!
I have started to lose my phone and ban myself from hunting it down en route to the couch, the loo or bed. I stay away from those headlines about toddlers being poisoned, towns destroyed and pensioners robbed. I need to stay in a little bubble where the world is a nicer place than it sometimes seems.
So why write this? I guess mainly because I’m one of those people who is frequently asked ‘how I manage’ – and the answer is ‘sometimes I don’t‘. But luckily I know me, and I know my body and I know this happens but equally I know that it passes. I know that this crash doesn’t mean mama or baby has to cry themselves to sleep; that night-times sort themselves out in time; that it’s good to remind myself of that. I know that every dinner can’t be perfect and that waffles and beans are sometimes exactly what everyone needs. I know that after little sleep a night out drinking and laughing with friends is sometimes a way better idea than an early night. I know that some days great plans are trashed by the nap that doesn’t happen, a bad mood that does or just a decision to forgo the washing in favour of a chat with a highly opinionated three-year old.
I wrote this is so that tomorrow, when it all goes wrong again, me and my melty face can read and remember this.