I’m writing this for three reasons. (Well, I actually started writing it 14 days ago, but have been that exhausted that it has taken this long to finish!).
- Firstly to share with non mums what it feels like. I’m sorry to do the whole ‘you can’t understand what its like’ card, but seriously, I reckon that only Mums or people who have illnesses or who work shifts, can really understand the true meaning of ‘exhaustion’!
- Secondly so that other mums know it is not just them.
- And finally to remind me when these days are over, that my body really is too old to get broody again!
It starts with overwhelming sleepiness. I like the feeling of this stage as for years I was a rubbish sleeper. My eyelids get heavy, blinking takes twice as long, and it takes a huge effort to reopen my eyes. Suddenly I find myself asleep on whinnie the pooh. Max (4.5yrs) will either be shaking me awake or kindly putting a blanket over me, depending on his mood. But in a couple of months time this type if tiredness will be potentially dangerous when little Willow starts to crawl; there are stairs, small toys, so many potential problems. I remember waking up oneday with a start to find myself asleep on the floor and max nose to nose with one of our old dogs, who just woken up was trying to work out if max was a dog (who could be bitten) or a child. (We sadly found him a safer home very shortly after, which was extremely heartbreaking to do, but he was worried, let alone us).
Soon sleep becomes more difficult though as the worst stage kicks in. Your head hurts, there’s a dull ache constantly behind the eyes, your stomach feels like a washing machine, and all I want to eat is chocolate. After days of sleep torture, where you are dragged out of a heavy collapse several times, I then find myself incapable of getting back to sleep, which is just the worst kind of torture ever. The brain gets noisy and I get GRUMPY!
When we are grumpy, the ability to be nice to people, give them the benefit of the doubt, have endless patience with the children and be fun rather than shout, disappears in a puff of smoke. But no one appears to be willing to understand or let you be grumpy, or not as grumpy for as long as I’d like anyway! Expectations are high, children are disappointed, husbands snap back and ‘normal’ people either think you are stupid or a cow. I suspect this is where many of the arguments in the blogosphere/twittersphere/facebooksphere originate from.
Soon perspective goes. That’s when there are tears hiding behind my eyes constantly all day long, and all I can see is an interminable long haul ahead with no hope of rescue. And frankly I’ve been tempted to throw both kids out of the window. I hate the crying bit. I hate the pathetic bit. When I’m out of it, I can see how useful it can be (I’ll post about that in a few days, as I’m on my way out, cross fingers). But when I’m in it, it feels like big dark sticky goo.
So don’t feel sorry for me, or be put off having kids, because it isn’t every day or forever, and I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s not their fault that tonsilitus in one (mega puke city!), inevitably is passed to the other, and then other things go wrong like child-care etc. But when you see a mum parking really badly or slowly, be patient. She may very well be stupid, but she may also be operating on minimum brain cells due to the exhaustion. Remember, it’s one of the most effective forms of torture, and lack of sleep can kill you! When she snaps at you, hold your tongue and give her a hug instead. Most of all, have realistic expectations on what she can achieve and tell her how fabulous she is for managing it. Finally remember, ‘this too shall pass’ (one of my mates favourite sayings, you know who you are SB!), and normal service will resume very soon, with a much cheerier version of me/your wife/mum/friend/workmate/neighbour.
To be continued …. Tips for picking up the pieces when exhausted.