I am a mother of three little women under three, and as wonderful as it is, right now it doesn’t feel much more than that.
My morning begins nursing a six month old infant, followed by entertaining two toddlers, wiping bums, changing nappies, preparing meals, cleaning up after meals, cleaning a home, walking the dog (alongside children), continuously splitting up fighting twins, bribing fighting twins with snacks and television (guilty), spoon feeding the littlest, constantly picking up trails of destruction, bathing three titchy humans (and hoping I can get time to wash myself); read twenty seven million-four hundred and sixty thousand bedtime stories, get the kids to sleep, and then be up at least three times each night with said six month old (subtract the baby and throw a job into that before going on ‘maternity leave’ before having Cassie).
Where in that 24 hour period of being an on call mum do I get the chance to be a wife? When am I supposed to get the chance to communicate anything other than “I changed the last shitty nappy, it’s your turn now”?
Having three children under three carries with it momentous joy, there is no doubt in that. But with it, there is sacrifice. Of this there is no doubt.
Call me naive, call me foolish, call me whatever you want, but I never quite imagined that since the birth of Cassie six months ago, my husband and I have devoted to each other two whole hours for a quick bite of dinner and two glasses of wine (which left me stumbling). Of course, there is the fact that we live on the other side of the world from our family, but regardless of that, we have good friends we can call upon to get out for the night. That isn’t the issue. The issue is plucking up the energy to get your six month postpartum body (that still looks six weeks postpartum) into a socially acceptable outfit (by this, I mean without reminants of your childrens’ fecal matter), God forbid you need to wash. And to then sit opposite one another in a restaurant, secretly thinking that you could be in bed getting those precious three straight hours until your littlest is up screaming to be fed (or cuddled, rocked, sung to, massaged etc).
Call me lazy, but the idea of a marriage alongside three young children is nearly as exhausting as the three young children…
…and it breaks my heart.
I see couples who have kids spending time together alone without their kids and I wonder how they manage it.
I see couples who don’t have kids doing meaningful and fun things together and I remember how life felt before kids. How it felt to be spoiled, how to effortlessly walk out the door and do whatever the hell you wanted together, how it felt to go out for dinner and get slowly pissed over a bottle of red (knowing you could sleep off the hungover haze all of the following morning). I struggle to not miss that and I struggle not feel guilty because of that.
There is no blame here. I’m not to blame for not having the energy. My kids aren’t to blame for wearing me out. This is just the way things are. It’s one of those things you could call a “good problem”. It’s one of those things you could rant to a stranger about (a little like I’m doing now), and ensure it’s concluded with a “aw but I love them so much, I wouldn’t change a thing” (which is a slight fabrication of the truth, and we all secretly know it, but God forbid we actually say that we are done out).
Being anything more than “mum” for me is a struggle. I sometimes feel like I’ve lost “me”, and I’m not talking about the pre baby me where all I had to think about was myself and what I could do at the weekend with my friends and husband, but the little old me that lives deep within. That little old me who can be brought out by my husband, but who is he?
He is the man who comes home from a long day to sometimes see she’s still in her night dress.
He is the man to tell her it’s ok to be grumpy and to consider that she’s been riding on broken sleep for half of the year.
He is the man who will cook because that’s not just down to his wife.
He is the man who will raise up his wife and set the standard for any man his daughters will bring home.
He is the man who can hopefully understand that his wife is sometimes just mentally and physically scraping by each day.
He is the man who remembers that his wife always enjoyed a laugh and tries to bring that out in her.
He is the man to remind her that one day it will get easier, and to listen to her in years from now (through gritted dentures and a loving embrace) when she longingly reflects on these days, when they had three under three, as “the best days of her life” and remind her just how good of a job she did…
…and in no doubt still doing.