I’ve been a parent for just over 10 years now and it ocurred to me that I am now at a place in my parenting where I would have been with my career had I started breeding at 35 rather than 25. A few promotions, a solid understanding of your profession and your skills, still room to grow but happy and confident in what you do. But boy, it has taken those full ten years to get to that point.
Sure, we were thrown quite the curve ball with Oscar’s pregnancy and his mongy chromosome, cerebral palsy and profound speech disability (I still have occasion to think to myself ‘me! with a child who can’t talk! how ironic!’ – but don’t worry I have similar thoughts with Felix and his ‘issues’ with spelling) but I was not expecting the restlesness I felt with becoming a mother.
I had always wanted children and always wanted a tribe and yet there I was feeling trapped, incompetent and isolated. Everything was hard. I felt like I was permanently going insane and each day was just a case study in how to keep your shit together. Or not. I saw little reward and a relentlessness that made me question what on earth we werer thinking when we agreed we wanted to start a family.
Isn’t that sad? It makes me sad. I know there were good times in there – I have photos (and memories) to prove it – but oh the guilt and feelings of complete inadequacy combined with very little – that I could see at the time – reward.
But that whole experience was so typical of me. I expect myself to be good – no, the best – at everything I do the instant I turn my hand to it. The very idea of making a mistake to me was not acceptable. The notion of learning something, of being a beginner has taken me an awfully long time to come to understand and appreciate. I see exactly the same attitude in Felix and OH LORDY how I’m trying to help him learn it decades earlier than I did.
Those years were filled with excrutiating heartache as we climbed every mountain of development and diagnosis with Oscar. Chef and my relationship weathered more storms than I think any relationship should endure. I estimate three times we very nearly seperated in a five year period.
All the while I was working in the paid workforce as well in jobs I found unrewarding in terms of my bigger life picture. In the last few weeks I’ve read three interviews with artists and authors who mention they were offered a well paid corporate or likewise gig but how they turned it down. Is that what I should have been doing? Who the hell knows. Everything in my life felt ill-fitted.
And then I returned to a full time salaried position which I adored. And things started to fall into place. Both the boys were at school and Chef and I had come through those years the stronger for it.
And then I fell pregnant with Jasper. I was back at work four months after he was born and everything was tickety boo for a few months. It was like having your first child again but without any of the angst. With perspective. It all fell apart when I yet again was trying to do everything and be everywhere because that’s what us working mothers do.
The twelve months following his birth were probably the most stressful in my life. Which kind of came as a surprise. And then, as we all know, I really hit rock bottom.
I adore being at home with my boys. I don’t actually want to be doing anything else. I keep thinking of business ideas and that I must get to that creative writing but then I mooch around with my little fellas and the day is gone.
Oh sure, there are still exactly the same relentless, mind numbing moments there were when Oscar and Felix were little.
That while it shits me to tears how Jasper will take everything off Grover and claim ‘it’s mine’ the fact he says ‘it’s bloken’ and can sing all the songs to Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in tune melts my heart over and over. That Grover still wakes once a night. That Jasper is capable of a full blown temper meltdown in the space of a millisecond. That Felix has mastered the art of the pretend cry. That Oscar still has toileting issues. That the whole sibling ‘he looked at me’, ‘but it’s mine’, ‘stop it!’, ‘muuuuuum Oscar’s annoying me’ is so well rehearsed it’d rival the longest running Broadway show.
In some ways our life is harder now than it was when I was also working. But do I feel totally blessed for having this time at home with my children with the eyes, the brain and the experience to see it for it’s truly hilarious, wonderful, delightful, touching moments as much as the hair-pulling frustrating ones?