When Bec H and I began this blog, the aim was to maintain the theme of ‘when city meets country’. Sadly, I am very late with my entry this time around, as I haven’t been able to reconcile this theme with what has been occupying my mind – namely, children – and so haven’t known how to begin.
So, as Julie Andrews once sang in joyful song, how about I “start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start”.
When my first son was born, I received many cards saying ‘this is the happiest time of your life… Enjoy… etc etc’. But really, I don’t know that ‘happiest’ is how I would describe it. In fact, I found motherhood pretty overwhelming. As one great friend said – ‘Bec, you’ve just had major abdominal surgery [emergency cesaerean], and someone has shoved a baby into your arms as soon as you’re out of the operating theatre and said – here, look after this 24hrs a day’.
Subsequently, I found parenthood to be an interesting paradox, full of love and adoration, combined with pain and confusion. Don’t get me wrong. I adore my children. I could smother them in kisses and cuddles all day long if only they would do exactly what I asked them all of the time. But wouldn’t you know it, they won’t.
These past few weeks Thomas, at the tender age of 4 ½, has been exploring his inherent teenage self 10 years early, and is using terms such as ‘bored’, ‘no, I don’t want to’, ‘no’, ‘no’, ‘I don’t need a mother’ (ouch, only once, think he was sorry for that one), and ‘no’ again. At which point, if I push it, he might try to hit me, run away from me, or slam his door. To be fair, he has had a terrible cold, and as he said to Dougal ‘I can’t help it Dad. When I’m sick, my brain tells me to be bad!’. Thankfully, that cold is receeding and I can see the light (ie, tonight – ‘Mum, you’re the best mum ever’. Could have been because I just fed him custard and chocolate brownie for dessert).
James, in the meantime, has been to the doctor and has had a blood test, chest x-ray, and urine test, to see why his lymph nodes are so large. Extracting blood from a 21mth old is no easy feat (it took 4 of us). Nor is getting a urine sample. At least I didn’t have a repeat of when I had to get one off Thomas around the same age. I believe it took me about 2 days of following him around the garden with his nappy off, bottle held at the ready, my gaze permanently pointed at his groin, waiting. Then, in the blink of an eye, I would glance away to remind myself that I still could, only to miss the whole thing, and have to start anew. Fortunately, James by contrast has the excellent habit of generally weeing in the bath, so apart from a few false starts with a bit of bathwater, all went well.
James also has his eye teeth coming down, and is a chronically bad eater. He is also a very determined little fellow. All of these traits combine to make meal times quite stressful (Thomas however is excellent). Forget about trying to trick James into eating something – if he’s decided he’s not into it, it’s best just to give up then and there. But really, can one live off milk and roasted potato on its own forever, even if it is light and fluffy?
Amidst all of this, we had the big band heading up north for a 5 show tour. This involved putting 12 people on the road. I decided I had to delegate out this time as I had to bring the boys, so only planned to go as far as the first show in Grafton (which had happily sold out 2 weeks prior). Well, even Grafton it turned out was 5 hours too far. Two sick boys (James had the cold by then too), long hours in the car, a bit of running around once there, all combined to make me long for the certainty of home. It wasn’t helped by the fact that I FORGOT JAMES’ BOTTLE (oh. My. God) but didn’t realise until it was too late. Needless to say the fact that we made it through the first night, all in the one room, is a miracle, although James did wake every 2 hours, one of which I took him outside and we were both saved from hysterics by the far off rumbling of a country train, trailed by a ‘tooooot’. Nothing like a distraction.
Needless to say, I won’t be taking my angels away with me ‘on tour’ again until they are bigger.
But now for the good news. James is almost 2, upon which he can go to the preschool that his big brother currently attends. I was going to pop him in for 1 day, but the teacher thought that 2 days would be best. She didn’t need to work hard to convince me. And here is the country meets city angle: I haven’t had to book him in whilst still in utero (I could almost have rocked up on the day really), and it’s probably ¼ of the cost of childcare in the city. I am simultaneously excited, and also sad.
I hope I don’t sound like a bad parent, but hopefully more like an exasperated one, who, after 26 years of having been able to control her temper (I didn’t learn it until I was about 13), needs to relearn the skill because I appear to have lost it with my placenta.
[sorry, no photos this time. It’s difficult to think of taking a photo whilst a child – or indeed, myself – is in the midst of a tantrum].