27th October 2014 Helen 24Comment

brick wall from deamstime dot comThe 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.

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24 thoughts on “Hitting the wall

  1. Hang in there, it’s good to be able to recognise this phase, but doesn’t mean it will go any faster. I love the honesty of this, sometimes coping is as good as it gets…it’s a case of head down and just get through it….there is light at the end of the tunnel, the last of sleep just makes it hard to see. Good to have you back xx
    Life on Hushabye Farm recently posted…Find Your VillageMy Profile

    1. That’s exactly it Elizabeth! If my only achievement some days is keeping everyone alive and healthy then that’s not bad going! X

  2. Parenting is so vvv hard. You have a lot on your plate. I know these days will pass but they are not easy. Even after many years I well remember what you describe. Hang in there and dream of an easier life one day hopefully soon.

    1. Thanks Tric! I think we’re all in the midst of a ‘warts and all’ stage of parenting and finding great therapeutic value in writing about it! I think that’s the great thing – to boast about surviving the crappy days as well as revelling in the fab ones. X

    1. Thanks Doc. I’m very lucky my crash is mainly physical with a side order of frustration at my not being able to get things done, but you know yourself, if you don’t recognise the feelings for what they are they just grow and grow. Xx

  3. I can completely relate to the overwhelming feeling that the exhaustion of the 7 month mark brings…but I only have one baby, I can’t even imagine what it must be like with 3. Great post, obviously you’re still in there somewhere because the humour is still shining through! You’re doing great…fingers crossed for a decent night sleep tonight!
    Sessa Daily recently posted…Baby PortraitsMy Profile

    1. Thanks V! The good news is that though its more manic with three littelies you have this mad volume of experience to fall back on. On the tough days its just a whisper in the back of your head reminding you it gets easier, but that’s enough to keep you sane – most days!

  4. Helen I can relate, it’s bloody hard and bloody busy, and bloody mindedness is the only thing that gets you through. Good idea writing it all down, hopefully in a few months it’ll be hard to remember these crazy days. I’ve done some ridiculous things in my sleep deprived state too. You’re holding it all together, just mind yourself too

  5. Glad to hear you’re coming out of the fog, and you have written it all down so clearly – it smacks of fog-lifts all round!
    I totally get what you mean about that anxious, nervous, anticipation – the slight dread about nothing in particular, the vexed feeling. I wish for less of it for you, but I confess to being slightly relieved that other people feel that way too. So to that end, thanks for sharing.
    And wishing you lots more sleep soon xxx
    Office Mum recently posted…Fisher Price Smart Stages Chair – ReviewMy Profile

    1. Well if ever there was a Mama who understood sleep deprivation, it’s you!!!
      As for that nasty feeling of dread, isn’t it awful? Like feeling constantly starving when you’re hungover but, no matter whet you eat, you never feel satisfied. It’s dissipating as I’m feeling a little lighter but it creeps back when we’ve a busy day – maybe when I’m waiting to see if the day runs smoothly or badly.
      Humm, Dr Freud? We’ll see …..xx

  6. From someone who regularly forgets how old they are (yes I have to actually calculate it…dont ask me why…perhaps it’s just denial!) I completely know where you’re coming from! Life with kids makes you scatty! And I only have 2! Respect to you! Uxx

    1. Oh crapola, I forgot about the numbers side of things!! I’m utterly fecked there! There’s an awkward pause when I’m asked kiddie dates of birth too!!!what hope is there for us Úna except to have another mojito and take the piss out of ourselves!!! Xxx

  7. Thanks for sharing, you have a wonderful way with words. It brought me back to thee under four and being so tired I didn’t know one evening which road I had come home on! A wake up-call that I needed to slow down and sleep and allow my dh take some responsibility for his kiddies!
    Good news, I survived and 12 years on am enjoying dealing with 4 teens /pre-teens! Enjoy your babies, they grow up toooooo quickly x

    1. Thanks Niamh. I don’t feel very eloquent these days but I’ll take the compliment and run (not very fast!).

  8. I love this post. Your three babes are incredibly lucky to have such a thoughtful,loving mama. I hope Woodie thanks you in the best way possible and allows more restful nights. They are well deserved. You’re doing fantastically x

  9. Oh Helen! I felt that down in my bones! Love the image of the landmine. You have to admire their tiny ingenuity while also cursing them from a height 😉 Beautifully written post. I am right this moment doing what you described – snatching my own opportunity to sleep with my stupid phone!
    Mind The Baby recently posted…Pop quiz, hot shotMy Profile

    1. Thanks lady! We broke a record and it was 4am til he pulled up a stool at the boobie bar! Feeling like I had a hotel break and spa treatment!!

  10. Read this the other day and got swamped before I commented. As you know, your sister here, had exactly the same speed-crash into “the wall” recently…! I really do think the only survival mechanism is to claw back space, time, energy and kindness for YOU. I think we need the bounce off rock bottom before we actually do something. What a fantastic example to your kids though; we aren’t martyrs… Only (often weary) mammies! Xxx
    Emily recently posted…Can’t See The Woods For The TreesMy Profile

    1. I hear you Emily! And it’s often helpful to remind ourselves that on any day where we ‘just cope’ we actually achieve quite a lot, all things told!

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