Friday, 8 February 2013

It's not ok, but it's normal

You know those days, when you wake up full of the flu, or gastro, which means you are empty. Or you have had about one hour sleep total cause someone can't or won't sleep or is sick etc, etc, etc. You know, those mornings. On those mornings I usually think "This is not ok". I never feel like I can get through the day and on those horrible ones that don't fall on a weekend, I feel like it is a disaster.

This is what usually happens in my head ..."How will I cope being sick/exhausted/sick and exhausted all day? How can I look after two kids when I am not even fit to look after myself? I want to sleep all day but I can't. Its not fair! Ok I have to get a plan. What can I do?"

In the past the plan usually involved either seeing if hubby could stay home or seeing if someone could look after a not sick kid. If it was a sick kid - and I was ok - no problem. If it was sick me and sick kid, not so much. It felt like I was going to have to climb Mt Everest. Actually it still does. But you know what? I think as my confidence has grown as a Mum and don't always jump to thinking it is a disaster. I am starting to think it is normal.

A few weeks ago I was up literally all night cause I was sick. I was telling my sister in law a few days later that I had just thought "This is not normal. A person with zero sleep should not be looking after kids". She quickly replied that it is actually totally normal. And it is. All over the world, every day, are parents looking after kids when really they shouldn't even be operating a kettle. Cause that's what I am, a parent. And there are no days, hours or minutes off. No-one else can step in. I mean, if I had lost a leg, or as in the past, was losing my mind, then family and friends come to rescue. But for the more mundane and every day shocker of a day, it is just me. And I am learning that I can cope.

I think when Ella first arrived I went through the normal shock of all first time parents. The realisation that this completely dependent human was totally dependent on me. And in my case was totally dependent on someone who was on morphine and recovering from major abdominal surgery and by 3 weeks in, was also losing the plot. In any normal circumstances, that would require care and protection notification to CYFS. But oh yeah, that is pretty much normal for new parents. So no child protection officials. Just getting through the new landscape, full of sleep deprivation, complete confusion and the delight of this little person, who keeps you going, despite it all.

And when I was sick or had a terrible night, it was just us. Me and her. It was still tough but I just had to manage the two of us. Now there are three and when I wake up from another night of hardly any sleep I really do wonder how I am going to manage. And there have been many days where the plan has involved Ella going to someone's house or me getting help and I think that is definitely the way to go if you can. But I think I am starting to accept that it is normal. That it will keep happening. And I am less freaked out.

I think the main pressure I feel on a day like that is my own expectations. I don't want things to slip. I feel really bad about having a day in front of the t.v. There has been a lot of that over the last year and I hate it. Don't get me wrong, T.V is a frequently used parenting tool at our place. But I feel bad when I can't manage. I think I feel like I am doing a crap job as a Mum.

And I think that is the clincher. It's not a job. You can't call in sick or get a replacement so you can't have the expectation that as a Mum, you can "work" at it each day. You have to just be as you are sometimes. The kids are fed and warm and dry and that is all that is possible that day, or week. And I am learning to accept that. And hopefully in learning that crap days are normal, maybe my kids will be better than me at dealing with the crap days they face and see them as just a normal part of life that we all have to face and it doesn't have to be a disaster, or mean there is something wrong with you. They just are.

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