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...

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