This week has been a challenge. In fact, let me put a capital letter on that, just to illustrate how big a challenge it's been, This week has been A Challenge. There. Do you get it now? Good.
Amelie is Teething. Note the capital letter there. This kid doesn't do things by half. While the average age for cutting their first tooth is around 8-10 months, Amelie got her first tooth at 9 weeks. She got her second tooth at 12 weeks.
This week, she got 4 teeth in as many days. I'm not showing off, the poor baby has been in AGONY. I'd have happily waited longer for this particular milestone.
We've had the works - drooling, biting, a nose so full of snot, she can't breathe, and ends up coughing, choking and vomiting yellow mucus. She's had the diarrhoea, the severe, bum bleeding nappy rash, the soul piercing screams, the endless days and even more endless nights of rocking, shushing, comforting and holding.
And yet, she manages a smile, a coo, a "Da-da-da", and it's all worthwhile.
Sometimes, I've been so bone crushingly tired by mornings, it's been all I could do just to drag myself out of bed at 8am, get the bare minimum of morning stuff done, and drop the kids at school without even getting out of the car, because I'm still in my pyjamas and have't even washed Amelie's face. Then I get home and give her a boob, before crashing back into bed with her in the hope that she'll sleep even for half an hour. Guilt, guilt, guilt.
Then there's Charlie. He's been ill for over a month now, with a persistent cough. It's been enough to get him sent home from school so many times, I can't remember the last time he did a full week of school. Trouble is, although he genuinely has a cough, and has been seen by a doctor, he never just goes to bed. Straight onto the computer playing minecraft, every time. Which opens up a whole new world of dilemmas...
1) Am I being too soft by letting him be off school?
2) Do the teachers think I'm cruel and uncaring by sending him into school when he's clearly ill?
3) Would it seem like punishing him for being ill, if I took away his computer use during school hours?
4) Is his education suffering because he's spending so much time off sick?
5) Does this mean he's going to turn into a truant when he's older?
6) Is he suffering socially by always being at home?
7) Am I neglecting him? Should I be spending more time with him? Is the drawing out of this illness just a cry for attention because I'm always busy doing baby things? How do I find the time to home educate him when he's off sick, in among all the other things I have to do, and the fact I've not slept in days?
And on, and on, and on. Waaaaah. Guilt, guilt, guilt.
Oh, and let's not forget Daisy. Her "falling out with friends" phase has reached a peak, and every. single. day. this week, she's come home whingeing about someone. "So-and-so looked at me like THIS..." *contorts face into nasty scowl*, "So-and-so kicked me out of her club", "So-and-so is SO mean, and SO nasty, and I'm NEVER going to talk to her EVER AGAIN!!!"
And so on, for hours on end. It's driving me crazy, I know it means something to the kids, these things are always a big deal, but to me, it just looks like much ado about nothing. That is, until I've heard nothing but her voice getting louder, and louder and higher and higher pitched, for several hours, until I want to scream into a pillow. Because what happens the next day? She's best friends with them again, and falling out with someone else.
I was relaying this story to my mum yesterday, and without even looking up, she said "Maybe she just wants some attention."
Of course. Now, I know this comment wasn't in the least bit intended to make me feel guilty, but it did.
When us mums get a comment like "Maybe she just wants some attention", what we hear is "You're not giving your child enough attention, so she's resorting to falling out with everyone in order to make you stop what you're doing and help her."
And it's true, I'm living in a whirlwind of teething, sleepless nights, worrying about Charlie, and naturally, she wants in on the action. That'll explain the tantrums about friends, the extremely fussy eating she's indulging in just now, and the general constant whining. She needs me, and there's not enough of me to go around all the time. Guilt, guilt, guilt.
So anyway, being a problem solving genius, or someone who over-thinks EVERYTHING, I've decided to stop feeling guilty (or at least cut down, I don't think I can go cold turkey), and accept that dammit, I'm doing my best. It's all we can do, there will always be room for improvement, but as long as we do the best we can with the time and energy we have to spare in that given moment (and sometimes it's very little), then we're doing enough.
In the meantime, I might invest 10 minutes this afternoon by having a living room disco with the kids. It'll get me spending time with all of them at once, it'll get the endorphins flowing, it'll wake me up (because my body is becoming too used to mainlining coffee), and it'll be fun.
Take that, George Michael - who says guilty feet have got no rhythm?