Monday, 17 August 2015

Sore hip, frozen nose and best tasting coffee

The title of my post summarises my feelings about camping. I like camping in general, but this year I dreaded it. I hoped we will not have to go. I hoped husband will decide it is not Summer enough to bother, I hoped my health problems which followed me all Summer will not stop co conveniently (yes, really, I got so used to feeling uncomfortable that I preferred it to feeling uncomfortable camping without the problems - there is no win). I hoped husband will decide to spoil me and do a 'homecation' with some decent trips and lots of time with our child so I can finally recover.

None of it happened. And we left for Wales. For a quality family time I was told. To be joined by two more families. The husbands of these 3 families went to university together and stayed the best buddies. It is great. For them.

Quality family time: husband would wash dishes few times (because I complained about being tired so much before we left he saw it as a treat for me - while he did the washing I was chasing our enthusiastic 2 years old eager to explore and after 2 days started to do the dishes as it was much more relaxing). Husband took our child for 2 walks and played with our child while we were all at the beach (I read a magazine in one sitting. The next day on the beach as a group he ignored the two of us completely as it was my turn - suddenly we have turns!). When we visited local leisure centre for swimming on rainy days husband allowed me to swim few lengths every now and then between passing our child between each other or minding her on my own. He also allowed me to go and shower by myself (bathrooms in the camp site were BAD).
Quality family time in my husband's eyes: we went to Wales and I liked it. Everybody is happy.

I didn't count husband's cooking into the quality time because he loves cooking outdoors and sees his camp kitchen as an extension of a manhood.

Why I don't think it was really a quality time: husband didn't ask me what I would like to do or where I would like to go or who I would like to go with. Everything evolved around the guys being together, drinking together, making fire in the evening and drinking together. And the kids of course, the kids must have good time with their dads who miss them a lot while they are at work (and we are so blessed to have them around 24/7). He wouldn't even think about asking our friends to look over our tent after our child finally went to sleep so he could be with me or go for a walk with me. He would run off to be with his boys the moment the child closed its eyes. He would assume that I am having the best time of my life, too. And why don't we wives become best buddies, too, and chat nicely among ourselves? Wouldn't that be convenient?

On our last day a new couple arrived nearby and I watched the wife putting her younger child into a sling on her back and preparing breakfast while chatting to her older child while her husband unrolled his yoga mat and started his Sun Salutations with a very serious expression. I realised that I packed my yoga mat, too. It was in the back of the tent and I never found the time or energy to unroll it. When I started stretching once on  a blanket my child started to climb all over me. Husband saw it, said we are playing nicely together and went to have a beer and a chat with his mate.

We did have family time because all families did their own thing at some time of the day. So that probably counts as the holiday for me.

I watched the other families and thought that nobody is perfect partner or parent. It all works out in the end. If the wives continue to put the men and children first of course.

But relating to camping, I used to hike and sleep in the tent or under the sky a lot and I slept like a log. But year after year it is more and more difficult to get comfortable. I bought nice wide sleeping bags instead of mummy, started to pack our pillows which would be unthinkable in my backpacking years, invested into a better matres which doesn't loose at least half of the air you pumped in before you even lie on it. And yet I wake up every time I turn, I get frozen arm, sore hip and my nose and face get way too cold. But the morning coffee tastes absolutely best every day, there must be some truth about the outdoor cooking magic my husband keeps bashing out about (as long it is me who prepares the morning coffee as he needs to sleep off his last good night yet again).

So all in all lets carry on and look forward the day I am making money again and can afford some time for myself only. He can mind the child and have a really quality time together.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Quiet on the Home Front

How do I make everybody happy? Ever since our child arrived, everything evolves around the child. It is obvious. But lately, it is harder and harder to ensure that the balance between child activities and house work and mine own activities is achieved.
I still remember my child being few days old, 1.30 am, baby wide awake, expecting to be breastfed yet again, right after it felt of the boob. Me, crying, refusing to hold the baby. Husband, baby in his arms, all protective and manly. Me, sobbing through tears of desperation: 'I have a right to sleep!!!' It downed on me that my rights are secondary at best. I knew it would be hard, I knew we wouldn't sleep but I didn't know it would be THAT hard and there would be absolutely NO sleep between 5am and 2am. It got better.

But always when it gets really good and we start to think we have got the hang of parenting, something happens. And we are trying to work out how to get on with it once again. For example, why, after growing all teeth, being healthy and capable of sleeping through the night, does a 2 year old suddenly decide to wake up at random hours, wonder into parents room and demand hugs, snuggles, skin contact, chat, water, whatever. Why are toddlers going through this funny stage on non sleeping for no reason? Even special toddlers like mine who do not do naps?

According to clever newsletters, in my day, I am supposed to provide love and care, educational stimulation, 3 hours of physical activity, wholesome diet and safe environment for my toddler. How is it supposed to happen with no sleep?

On top of it, my clever husband, while getting ready for his day at work, for which I am supposed to feel sorry for him because his sleep was disturbed and yet he has to go out and earn the living for his family while I am lucky to stay home, instructs me to take child out as the weather will finally be nicer, notices he is running out of clean shirts, leaves behind messy shower, empty toilet rolls, unsecured working desk in his study (so our child can climb on top of it, dismantle everything, chew on electric cables and drink ink from his refill bottle for the pen he never uses/refills but which must stand on his worktop) and his drinking cup on the windowsill with a nice brown ring around the bottom. There is certain smugness in men's attitude towards us, we are homemakers, we have all the time in the world and house work is completely invisible.

I do the chores, entertain, feed and keep alive the child, but I never feel like I have done enough. I tend to ignore my child for a while each day, trying to have a cup of tea and stare at the TV screen without noticing much of what is going on or wishing to read some mails. I wish I could do something more useful while my child plays on its own for a while, but there is no energy. I do the house work but it seems to be never ending. Child produces new mess constantly, things don't stay polished or on their place, laundry basket can not be empty for longer than 10 minutes. What stays done goes unnoticed anyway.

In the time off, we have to do what husband wants to do because it is his time off. I have all time off so I don't get asked about what I want that much. Plus there is the irrational feeling of me not earning any money so not having the right to call it a shot or disappear to do my own thing like I used to before our child arrived.

To keep the household running and make everybody happy I have to put myself last. I have to learn to be happy with very little, with stolen moments. I don't have the luxury of time set as exclusively me time. I don't even have my exclusive space to do my own thing. There is no space that a 2 year old can not invade. I am happy, I have got a good partner and a fantastic child. But part of me is missing. And I need to find the time and energy to bring it back. Because I function much better when I have it, I keep my temper, I can do more, I am simply happier. I need to be ruthless for an hour a day, safeguard it for me and force myself to do whatever I dream of doing until it becomes a lovely habit.

When I was pregnant, I expected hectic few weeks, then a slow glide towards routine and easy flow. I felt my staying at home to be a great luxury. I thought that I will write, be creative, and during the first year of my child life, I will turn myself into a super fit person I could be - no work to go to, home food, what could stop me, I thought? The balancing act of peace and quiet on the home front did. Time to reload the guns...