This morning was the first day of spring, the day began (early as usual) but full of birdsong and promise and 1 hour later, the sun was shining. Having recently started a job in the city 2 days a week, I was looking forward to spending a fun morning with my girls – the beach was calling and we had a playdate with new friends (Anna of Mummymuckups). FUN, FUN, FUN!
The phrase ‘being present’ seems to have become increasingly popular lately. I’ve read numerous articles about how mums and dads need to be more ‘present’ when they are with their children, a partner not being ‘present’ in a relationship. It is certainly easy to get distracted with mobile phones, laptops, iPads, social media addiction, daily chores and work pressures on your mind.
Whilst I try to limit the amount of time I’m spending doing all of these things when I’m with my children, I have to be realistic, I have chores that need to be done, emails that need responding to, appointments that need to be made etc. I try to have a balance, however there are times when I’m with the girls, I find myself getting sucked into Facebook a little longer than I expected, or emails or housework, repeating “just a minute”, “hang on”, “I’m coming”, “I just need to do this and then I’ll be with you”. To which they either shout, “Look mummy”, “now mummy”, louder and louder until I get annoyed with them and give in or if they aren’t getting a reaction from me, they eventually retreat and go off to play.
I know that I’m a monkey,
Not often doing as you ask.
I’m learning all the time
And can’t always go so fast.
When my husband asked if it was ok if he flew to the UK for a couple of weeks with work a few months ago, I swallowed hard and said “of course it is, we’ll be fine”. We have a three-year-old and a 2-year-old. I can count on one hand how many times the two- year-old has slept through, my husband is very much aware of this plus the fact all of our family are in the UK, hence his concern at leaving me to cope on my own.
As the time for his departure drew closer I tried to maintain my positive mind-set, I wanted him to go away guilt free. Whenever the self-doubt began to creep in I reminded myself of some of my friends who cope amazingly with husbands who work long hours or are away a lot and aren’t often available to help out with the kids. I have one friend whose husband was away in the army for 6 months when she was looking after two very young children without any family close-by. I also have friends who have separated from their partners and therefore frequently have to manage alone.
If you knew me and my husband you would know that we didn’t exactly meticulously plan out when we were going to have our children. If we had, we may be considerably better off financially (because of visas we were on and working arrangements at the time). At the age of 33, I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and given a rather gloomy prognosis from the specialist. He informed me that it could take as long as 10 years for someone with my condition to conceive and well…it might never happen.
I was devastated and left the clinic in tears. The one thing I’d always been absolute on was my desire to have a family.
So it’s dinner time. My 3.5 year old and 2 year old are sitting at their table whilst I wash up the pile of dishes that has mounted throughout the day in the kitchen. But the truth is, they aren’t actually sitting at the table…not really…there are several get-ups to dance to the wiggles, lots of chair rocking which has already resulted in tears for one of them when she landed on her ‘bum-bum’ on the floor and the constant visits back and forth to the kitchen requesting hands to be wiped despite telling me they haven’t finished eating.
I have read somewhere amongst the minefield of psychological information available online, that in order to get the little people in our lives to do what we want them to, we should offer them choices. ‘They’ (as in the online world who I lean on regularly for advice and guidance) say that by giving children choices (out of a few carefully selected options), they feel empowered. We get what we want, they get what they want – everyone’s a winner.