With kids, there’s never a dull moment. Without a doubt, this is the most tired I have ever felt, the most plates I’ve spun at any one time. But it’s also the most I have ever laughed.
Yesterday whilst giving the boys their tea, I had one of those moments of suddenly feeling like I was oozing with adoration for them. So much so, I got up to squeeze each of their little faces in turn, gave them a big kiss and told them I loved them. In that moment, for no particular reason, I couldn’t get over that they were mine. It might have been because they were both tucking into their tea without fuss, or because I knew that bath time was on the horizon, or might have been because there are times, just like that, where I feel so incredibly lucky to have them.
There are other times though where things aren’t as calm or adorable. I am now well accustomed to the rollercoaster life that is parenting: some days I feel like I know what I’m doing(ish), whereas others are a complete case of winging it and hoping for the best. It’s hit and miss as to what the day will bring, what the battles there may be and what curve balls might be thrown. A meal that is enjoyed one day can cause such a problem the next. A nap that usually happens like clockwork can suddenly be refused. A meltdown can ensue simply because it’s raining. Little people certainly bring a great deal of uncertainty – there really is never a dull moment.
Today, I nipped to the shops to buy the boys some new clothes. But of course, there was no nipping about it. My pre-child self always wondered why parents dragged their children on shopping trips. But I now know that this is because parents in fact have very little time to themselves. I now come as a package – it’s me and the boys – and wherever they or I need to go, we all do. So off we went, the usual routine unfolding of trying to keep Wilf strapped in and happy with snacks, and deterring Theo from all the things that we didn’t need.
In a book I am reading at the moment, it says that as parents we often think back to what life was like before children and the ease at which we travelled through life. Instead of looking back, it recommended looking forwards – advice which I thought was great, but easier said than done. So as I was there, explaining to my four-year-old that we didn’t really need water balloons, Elsa sandals or a Batman costume, I couldn’t help but think back to the days of really being able to just nip in somewhere to buy exactly what I needed. No fuss. Super speedily. And as for looking forwards, I just hope that shopping trips get easier. And quicker.
Having eventually got what we needed, the hard part was over. Or so I thought. Then came the checkout palava where Theo kept leaning on the scales alerting us to yet another unexpected item in the bagging area, in which the self-scanning process became painfully slow and frustrating. Followed by this was the realisation that Wilf had half-eaten a label and also managed to lose a shoe. Brilliant. It was at this point, reversing back through the self-checkout with me looking completely frazzled, that we began retracing our steps. I actually wasn’t close to tears before now, but quite easily could have been if the brand-new, over-priced Clark’s shoe was gone forever. But luckily, it wasn’t. Thanks to a lovely shop assistant, the said shoe was quickly found. And it was then that I absolutely did look back, my mind wandering to a time where shopping used to be a lot less stressful. But still, never a dull moment these days.
The madness then continued as we grabbed lunch out. It was either take two hungry boys home and frantically put something together, or brave being out on my own with two little ones. McDonalds seemed like an easy option – again, something that the pre-child me vowed to not really do. The guilt kicked in as soon as we’d parked, but I tried to redeem myself by buying cucumber sticks and veggie dippers, and the boys seemed to love the treat. Theo was in awe of yet more plastic tat from his Happy Meal to add to his collection of pricey magazine paraphernalia. And Wilf spent the entire time either squealing with excitement, shouting ‘hiya’ to absolutely everyone, or pointing at the music speaker and saying ‘ah eh uh’ (Alexa), over and over again. Is this what all lockdown babies are like – crazily ecstatic about being ‘out out’, I wonder?
Now, despite the mishaps, by no means has this been a bad day. It might sound like it in parts – the frantic moments and the chaos. But it is actually just our version of normal. Normal days now consist of unreasonable requests from them and reasonable requests from me, with the latter causing the most fuss. It might be because I’ve asked Theo to put his shoes on for the millionth time or I’ve stopped Wilf playing in the dog’s water bowl, the terrible parent that I am.
But the funny thing about being a parent is that these far-from-dull moments are what now make me tick; they make me smile and they warm my heart. Though I am so often desperate for space, in the same breath I’m lost when the boys aren’t around. I can’t help but check on them over again when they’re sleeping and the house feels too quiet when they’re not in it. There really is never a dull moment, but who truly wants dull moments anyway?
By the end of today, like with many days, I was completely wiped out. But this evening I walked along the beach, on my own, and ate a Creme Egg that I found in the back of the cupboard. It’s all about balancing out these never-dull moments with the odd bit of calm, wherever and whenever that may be.