The house is quiet. My hubby is out. Our three girls are finally snoring. I’ve eaten leftovers for dinner (why cook for one?) and dunked my fave dark chocolate into a mug of steaming decaf coffee. I’ve got all of an hour to myself before I begin to prep for the military operation that is leaving the house with three kids under four in the morning. I could veg in front of the box, read, or sleep frankly. Instead I find myself coming back to this little online project that I was so keen to get up and running before our third was born. It’s time to write again.
So much happened last year for our family. We braved a long haul and short haul holiday, fell pregnant for the third time, found and bought our first house, knocked a couple of walls down, moved in a few weeks before having our third baby, living with decorators and toddlers and mess. We made big decisions about schooling and worked hard to break some less than great financial habits and replace them with healthier ones. In the midst of all of this, as a couple we forgot how to slow down and laugh as much as we used to. Life was too full. The momentum had to be built on if we were to hit the deadlines we’d set ourselves. Busy busy busy, in the midst of wrestling with the very notion of busy and learning to strip off all but the essential and take it slowly.
The one thing that I really wanted to get off the ground last year was this blog, my little corner in the online universe where I could record the tapestry of our right now highs and lows. It’s been set up for a while, but I’ve procrastinated about getting the final bits and bobs done that will mean it’s ready for me to let people know about it. Despite my best intentions, I didn’t hit my “go live before baby gets here” deadline. “Not a failure”, I told myself. “Just a casualty of too much going on in a short space of time. I’ll get to it after the baby is born”. Ha.
Said baby is two and a half months now, and I finally feel like the newborn fog is lifting. Slowly. Nights are still broken by one or two feeds, but we are finding a new rhythm with three little girls under four and I don’t feel like I’m chasing my tail so much any more. Sometimes.
I’ve found myself saying that the jump from two kids to three has been the easiest. I found zero to being a parent the hardest. And it has in some ways. By now we have a flex-routine around two big girls and I know full well that my time is not my own until the clock strikes 7pm and they are in their (shared) room for the night. As an aside -notice I don’t say “asleep” or “in bed”. It’s party time when we close the door for up to an hour sometimes but frankly they are contained and happy so I don’t care.
The hardest thing this time round has however been managing my own expectations of what I should and shouldn’t be able to achieve on any given day.I’ve struggled with an overwhelming frustration at not being able to make progress on finishing our new home as quickly as I’d originally hoped. Or to keep up with the laundry. Or to keep a tidy house. So much creative and administrative energy confined to the sofa as I feed our sweet girl… and feed the big girls spag bol or beans on toast again.
You’d think with two babes under my belt already I’d know how hard core the first few months with a new baby are, but my selective memory deceives me repeatedly. I forgot how impossible it is to get anything done other than feed and clothe your baby and possibly your other kids when you spend so much of your day feeding, burping, jiggling and shush-patting a newborn. For the first time in our parenting journey we’ve also been treated to hour after hour of unhappy screams, which further dents productivity levels. I’ve found myself scrapping to do lists entirely because all I can cope with is the absolute essentials. I berate myself for wanting to be productive when any semblance of productivity, or at least my definition of it, was flung out of the window a long time ago. And I daily battle feelings of failure at not being able to help our girl avoid the screams that can go on for seemingly ever. At their worst they seem to pierce my bones and leave me exhausted.
But two days ago our gorgeous little girl giggled. And a light in my heart went on. Because I realised that I’d connected with her in a way it’s been difficult to do until now. I finally feel like I’m beginning to work out what makes her tick.
Truthfully I thought I would just keep calm and carry on this time round. But our girl reminds me daily that she is not just “our third”, not merely a number to add to our brood. She is she. And while she is my third, everything she does is her first. And she deserves my emotional attention. And time. And focus.
Once again, I find myself readjusting my priorities and how I define a successful, “productive” day. It does not matter what does and does not get done at home, no matter how much I think it does. What does matter is sitting down on the floor with these girls and meeting them where they are at. Playing and laughing and cuddling. Discovering who our littlest girl is. Being fully present. Making mistakes and learning from them. Trying new things as they grow and change before my eyes and new tactics and routines are required. Controlling my own spiralling emotions when all three of them kick off and I don’t know where to start with redeeming the situation. Apologising when I stuff up and yell at them. It’s not their fault my hands are full, I remind myself. They are not my emotional punching bags.
I’m determined to have fun in the midst of all the chaos and change. Lots of it. With my girls. With the handsome man I married. With the house I’m turning into a home. I’m going to smile and laugh and dance my way through the hairy moments. Because all I truly have is right now. What’s the point in dreaming it away to some mythical “it will be easier” time in the future. Life is here, with three little girls that demand my all, with a husband I cherish yet take for granted far too often. I either lament what’s going wrong, or embrace the beautiful mess for what it is and celebrate what is going right while learning from the hiccups.
So tonight I am sat here, typing into the online space I call my own, thinking about launching it about six months later than originally planned. Part of me is scared to. Because if no one sees it no one can tear it apart. It’s easy to hide being busy and not take risks. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll be brave enough to go live with this and let other people in to the life I’ve been living behind our brand new closed doors. Maybe the delay was a good thing. I have no choice now other than to let this be the utterly imperfect, unpolished space that it is. I don’t have the luxury of time to do anything other than purge the words from my heart and head into something semi-coherent, press publish and hope for the best. I’m going to be ok with it. I’m going to remind myself that Good Enough is more than ok and better than not doing anything for fear of it not being perfect.
For what is perfection anyway, other than a heartless slave driver?
Ten points to you if you got to the end of my ramble. Next post will be better. Maybe.