Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Digging deep

We watched a programme the other day about men training to become Royal Marines Commandos, and it focused on the times when the training is incredibly tough - when the recruits think they can't possibly take any more and consider giving up. It was about them having to dig deep and find their fighting spirit to get up and keep going, even when they felt like giving up.

It occurred to me that it's like that for pretty much everyone at times, isn't it? No matter what we do in life, we will all have times when we think "Sod this, what am I doing?".
Parenthood is no different. In fact, it's probably the biggest example of having no choice but to keep going, no matter how exhausting, frustrating, upsetting and plain old bloody hard it might get.

Suck it up, princess, because nobody else will do it for you.

Amelie is going through a particularly difficult phase at the moment. Our happy, smiley, content little baby is suddenly very frustrated and angry. She has spectacular tantrums, where she headbutts doors, floors and furniture so hard, we're certain she'll do herself major damage.
She nips us, and bites us, and slaps our faces. Daisy is even a little bit scared of her!
She sleeps pretty well most of the time, but maybe once or twice a week, she is up during the night, and gets very upset, screaming and throwing herself around. I usually spend pretty much the whole of those ights downstairs in the living room, feeling very lonely and tired while she screams the night away, because I don't want to disturb everyone else.

We have this brilliant app at the moment called Wonder Weeks, which explains what's going on developmentally with your baby at their particular age. It explains what they call developmental "leaps", where your baby or toddler might be having a particularly stormy time. It tells you what's going on in their bodies and minds, and how best to deal with it.
This is great because years ago, the attitude was just "Oh, they're being naughty, and testing boundaries. Ignore them or punish them."
Now, there's much more understanding that babies are going through almost constant changes that they're not emotionally equipped to deal with, which obviously manifests itself in the form of tantrums and violent outbursts, and occasionally sleepless nights.

A bit of understanding goes a long way. When Charlie went through this phase 11 years ago, I struggled so much, because I felt like I was failing him. This time, I know it's a phase, and will pass, but it doesn't make it any less distressing at the time.

I'm so tired. I'm 27 weeks pregnant, so have reached that stage where I'm breathless because I'm starting to be squished from the inside. I'm trying so hard to keep going all day, every day. There's housework to do, the older two kids need a bit of attention and involvement, and obviously a lot of my time is being spent keeping Amelie safe and entertained, which is often difficult when I'm reaching the end of my energy reserves and I have to deal with a major tantrum.

None of this is a whinge. I don't want to hear "Well, you chose this!"
I know I chose this, I'm not UN-choosing it, but it's really bloody hard sometimes. I know that at least for the next year, there are going to be tough times.
I'll have a newborn to breastfeed, a toddler to keep busy and safe, and two older kids to support through the transition into a new school, where I should encourage new friendships by inviting friends over to play or have dinner, even when I'm so exhausted, I can barely walk the length of myself.
There will be days like today, where I am so tired, all I can do is go through the motions with silent tears rolling down my face. But there's never a bad day, just bad parts of days.
In fact, let's not even call them bad parts, just tricky parts. 
All it takes is to see them all giggle together, or see them all eat their dinner, or even have them all asleep and have 5 minutes to breathe quietly, to put it all in perspective and make me wonder why it was all such a struggle.

Today was a brilliant example, I was just knackered and emotional and finding every moment really difficult. Then, out of nowhere, Amelie fell asleep and Charlie and Daisy played happily together while I laid down. I didn't sleep as such, but just having a little while to be quiet and still was all I needed and I was able to see each of my kids for the lovely little people they are.

Sometimes you just have to remind yourself that it'll pass. It always passes. Everything is a phase.

And if that doesn't solve everything, there's always coffee and chocolate.

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