I am trying to think of something insightful to say. Or witty. Witty would be good. But you got me up at 4am. Four o’bloody clock. 0400hrs. Whatever way you say it it is TOO GODDAMN EARLY. You didn’t want to settle after your feed, you didn’t want to play either. You just wanted to yell at the unfairness of the clammy heat that stuck our skin together until the sweat that came between us made you slippery.
We partied for 2hrs. TWO BLOODY HOURS of yelling at me over youtube videos of lullabies, soothing piano music and eventually Ellie Goulding and Andrew Belle because, well, you weren’t bothered what was on so I might as well try anything.
You wiggled and strained. We rocked and nappy changed, fed and paced and yes even admit I turned my back on you briefly to see if you would get the message that it was time to go back to sleep. I am not good at things like that though so moments later had you scooped back up in my arms, shhhshing and lulling and hoping I would accidentally hit on the right way to soothe you.
Because most of my parenting is accidental if I am honest. How was I to know the crafts and art would go down so well with your big sisters? How was I to know that the meals they love the most would come from throwing stuff at a pan and seeing what happens? It wasn’t instinct that led us to find out you love the old Sony Bravo advert with all the bouncy balls (though who doesn’t watch that ad and wish they could re-enact it down their street?), but rather me googling everything that popped into my head to chill you out. Well at last it worked anyway and now here we are, early enough for you to get an hour and a half before I need to wake you for your sister’s school run but too late for me to squeeze out a few last zzzzz’s. If you had asked me at 4am if I would be ok with starting my day then and there I would have been horrified and said “You are joking aren’t you?” But actually now it has happened I don’t feel so bad. I will notice it more later but for now I am only noticing a few less horrifying things.
You are my last baby and though you are almost always in my arms our cuddles are often lost in amongst all the busy-ness of being a mum of three. I hold you while I read to your sisters, make lunches and do the school runs. I hold you while I feed you and myself in the afternoon and evening. But these night time and early morning feeds are our time. The pause button has been hit for the world around us and I can gaze at you. Learn what you are about. When I hold you I am cuddling you, soothing you and while at first it is frantic in the hope of sleep still being a possibility, as the possibility fades I find so does that harrassment. Because it no longer matters if you sleep, because I won’t, so I relax and start to enjoy those clammy sticky cuddles and the feel of your hot damp hand on my cheek or pulling at my nose. Nobody else needs me right now. Only you. Right now I am all yours and you are all mine – just as it was every night for nine months. My singing is songs you and I love, instead of having been picked to be least grating to daddy, least babyish for your 6yr old sister but still simple enough for your 3yr old sister to join in with. You aren’t pulling away from me looking for something to crawl towards or pull yourself up on, or searching for something completely inappropriate to chew on. For the past few hours it has just been you and me and what could be a sweeter way to start my day? I love you little lady, let’s do this again tomorrow (or maybe the next day?!) Xxxx
Me and Blue getting our cuddle on
There is nothing quite like the fall of dusk to trigger a full on inquisition from a preschooler. First is a reasonable statement upon the announcement of bedtime “No it’s not, it’s not dark!”. At which I have to explain that the sun goes to bed later in the summer (as explaining seasonal clock changes in a way my three year old can understand is beyond even me, the mummy who uses ballpit play balls to explain how static shocks occur to the bewildered looking imp – well she did ask!). This prompts its own question. “But why does it go to bed late in summer?” I think for a bit and tell her the sun works hard in summer, shining lots to help make things grow before winter comes and everything grows more slowly, and so it shines for a bit longer. “But why can’t things grow faster in the winter as well?” “Because it’s cold and lots of things don’t like the cold”. “Mummy, can I have another story please?” “No, it’s late now sweetheart.” “But mummy I have been working hard like the sun today so I should get extra play time too”. “Maybe tomorrow, it’s late now”. Turn over to sleep, edge out of the room. “Mummy, is it school tomorrow?”. “Yes baby.” “And Jane’s (childminder)?”. “No baby, it’s school and then you and me and Poppy time tomorrow”. “Oh good, I like our little holidays.” “Good, night night sweetie”. “Mummy, is daddy at work tomorrow?” “Yes but then it’s the weekend” “Oh good… mummy?” (Sighing a bit haughtily) “Yes Izzy?”. “I love you, you’re the best mummy in the world”. (I feel guilty for being haughty and melt into a puddle of maternal happiness at this matter of fact compliment) “Oh thank you sweetheart, what a lovely thing to say! I love you too, you are a beautiful and amazingly kind little girl”. Kisses and cuddles ensue. I go to leave. “Mummy? I have a sore throat. I need calpol and chocolate milk”. It’s half past ten. We have had colds and I had a sore throat yesterday so rather than argue I grant her a small dose and a little drink and get her back into bed. “Oops, I need a wee”. Down she gets and goes to the bathroom. Ten minutes later “Izzy are you done yet?” “No, I am doing a poo”. Lovely. Another ten minutes. “Are you ok in there? Izzy? Izzy?” Open the door and there she is playing with bath toys in the sink. Finally at 11pm she goes to sleep.
And Poppy wakes for a feed.
There are rules in life for everything – brush your teeth twice a day, always say please and thank you, no wine before 3pm… 2pm? Ok, 1pm but that’s my final offer…
The point is that some of the rules we know and love to live by have solid foundations in the world. “Always look both ways before crossing the street” – great as not many of us wish to be floored by a moving vehicle. Some are made up to keep us in check (see the wine rule) and others… well what are THEY for? “Kids should be in bed by… (insert time here)”. Agreed that bed by 1am is a bit over the top rebellious and not great for their health or your relationships (with your husband or your wine), but more and more I see friends who insist their child is in bed by 7pm (I myself used to have to be tucked up by the first doof’s of the East Enders theme tune) and I wonder to myself “why?”.
If I get home from work at 5:30pm I then must spend half an hour cooking. The next half an hour is spent sitting together answering the most important questions in the world (to my kids) over dinner: “why do I have to eat my veg’ables?”, “why can’t I watch my programmes?” and “mummy, why can’t I have chocolate for dinner?” (I will come to the “chocolate rule” shortly).
That leaves me with half an hour to enjoy my children – although those who subscribe to the bath, book and bed routine have even less than that (we learned long ago that bath is simply a wet playground for our little mermaids -to bath them before bed means certain doom for any feelings of sleepiness… in fact I am fairly sure my girls are in fact mogwai’s, those adorable fluffy creatures that turn into gremlins when they hit water!). In any case bedtime is largely irrelevent if those in bed are still singing/reading/getting up to ask another question before being taken back to bed. In fairness to my children, I am not a sleeper either. I remember many nights as a child where I would be marauding the house and climbing onto chairs for crackers or biscuits long after my parents were in bed (I couldn’t tell the time yet – that’s how small I was) accompanied by my slightly younger brother who also couldn’t sleep. Moving on a few years to when we rented a flat together, the same brother got a job in a nightclub becaus he was “up anyway” and I would finally get out of bed when I heard him come home so we could have a couple of hours sing song before dawn (it all sounds a bit twee but to recover our street cred my bro would be strumming Metallica, Green Day etc. for me to sing along with – I actually walked down the aisle to him playing Green Day’s time of your life on his beloved guitar). Nowadays if my beloved family is asleep I will still prowl, listening for noises that don’t belong or signs that a child may be on the verge of waking with questions or the urge to feed or simply just enjoying the quiet. I needn’t be lonely though as chances are my mum or any of my four brothers would be awake if I chanced a cheeky text. Yet for the most part (barring anaemia related exhaustion) I have been fit, healthy and able to function at normal capacity throughout the day. It is this that I keep in mind when my little fox cubs find fresh energy after having an evening snooze, proceeding to keep us on our toes until we go to bed and in the ensuing silence they join us in the land of nod.
Now, back to the rules surrounding chocolate. East provided us with the usual parental conundrum. When may the first child start on their first egg, how much is too much and when do we fit in meals??? I take my lead from my parents. There were two days in all the year that we termed a chocolate free for all. Boxing day and Easter Sunday. And so yesterday involved many wet wipes as clean up after clean up took place. I don’t know if it was sugar crash but actually both girls slept without disturbance (as I watched a murder mystery series on box set and nibbled chocolate with a glass of water – you can’t beat thick gooey chocolate followed by thin cold water in my book!) And then, when I finally fell asleep, so did I! Then we woke up this morning and realised the conundrum wasn’t actually over. There are still piles of chocolate eggs and chicks and ducks to be eaten but now we have two girls who are operating on Easter rules expecting to sustain themselves primarily on their favourite food stuff! So I ask you… What’s the rule for Easter Monday (and who wrote it???)!?
So here we are again, tucked up in bed by 11pm. And by we I mean all of us, the whole family of four, squeezed into our double bed. Poppy’s feeding, hubby is asleep and Izzy’s drifting in and out of the land of nod. Once she drifts off we will put her in her bed but she will undoubtedly have climbed back in with us by the morning. We try to put a stop to this but with Poppy waking for feeds it feels unfair for Izzy to be the only one on her own all night long. If this makes us bad parents for not promoting her ability to sleep on her own then so be it, but I am thinking that her loving us too much to not want to snuggle and us loving her so much we miss her when she is in her room is testament to the fact that we are doing something right hehe! One day she will grow too big and choose the comfort of her own bed and thenwe will all get a good nights sleep and wake up crick free and refreshed. Until then, perhaps a bigger bed is in order?! 🙂