Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Back On The Chain Gang

I never thought I would say this, but I had forgotten how much relentless hard graft is involved in raising babies and small children.
When I had three children under two-and-a-half, I lost count of the times some bright-eyed, well-groomed mum with self-sustaining older children would tell me to ‘enjoy’ these early years, since they were over so quickly.
Invariably, I would force a crazed smile and think ‘How can you say that? This feels like a life-sentence of hard labour.’ I even had the clothes, hair and make-up appropriate for the whole chain-gang existence. I could just about cope, but someone telling me that I should be enjoying it all, just made me feel worse. Like many parents, I had to suspend belief in everything that was rational and self-evident, and give myself up to the blind faith that things would somehow turn out alright, alternating with periods of self-flagellation when they didn’t.
Who needs religion when you can have parenthood?
Fast-forward six years, and although I still have the mental scars from those early years, the loosening of the shackles has been so gradual, that I never realised quite how much freedom H and I have gained. That is, until the travelling circus of my brother and his young family came to town.
Of course, the baby was adorable, and the two year old twins were a delight, but there really wasn’t one minute of the visit when we weren’t ‘doing something’ for one of them. Between the wiping, rattling, rocking, soothing, helping them dress, not helping them dress, and negotiating over which plate to use, there was hardly time to have a decent glass of wine or three. Luckily the weather was good, so we managed to keep all six children entertained with trips to the playground, and copious use of a paddling pool in the garden.
Now that they have gone home, the lawn looks like the final days of Glastonbury, and the house is spookily quiet. Games which involved shrieking and chasing ‘monsters’ up and down the stairs have been replaced once again by games which involve lying silently on the sofa and chasing monsters across a screen. Bathtime has reverted from an hour long water-based theme park back to something more closely resembling a sheep dip. And once again, I no longer have to wipe anyone else’s bottom but my own.
I am sitting here with a glass of soft, smooth, black-cherry tasting Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir (Ocado £8.49) and thinking with utter relief how far we have all moved on. The only down side I can see is that a single Smartie is no longer considered a suitable reward for good behaviour.
Even the kids, who loved playing with their little cousins, have gone strangely quiet on the subject of wanting me to have another baby. Maybe now that they too have realised what incredibly hard work babies and small children can be, they will finally stop bullying me and my shrivelled ovaries.


@themill said...

I always think other people's babies are the best form of contraception there is.

IngeniousRose said...

Drunk Mummy, it is a relief to know that there that one day the sofa, bath, garden, TV and bottle of wine will be my own to enjoy in relative peace.

Swearing Mother said...

You so reminded me of the day I sat in my kitchen, surrounded by snotty toddler, wailing baby, washing up and ironing and the terrible, traitorous thought "how the hell am I going to get through the next four years of this" crossed my mind. I felt so guilty but looking back, it was mind-bogglingly hard work.

I've now moved on to the empty nest syndrome, but at least the house is tidy!

Tracey said...

You had 3 children under two-and-a-half? My god, woman. You deserve a medal.
There's nothing like visitors - especially on a 24/7 basis - from those with toddlers and babies to make you realise that you don't have any need to revisit THOSE years yourself. I have a friend who did though. They had a 12 yr old and 10 yr old twins - and then must have forgotten what 'caused it', and had another baby. And so then they decided to have ANOTHER one so that #4 wouldn't be like an only child once the older ones had left home!

mcewen said...

Oh yes indeed - and what the mum pushing the pram in stilettos!

I would highly recommend to all mummies that come the dawn of hormonal pubescence, that all mummy's rent a baby or two for a period of time. The angst and chaos caused by the visitors is the best, safest and cheapest form of contraception currently available.

ZoeyBella said...

Again, I can't really relate seeing as I have no kids of my own (that I know of) but as always, I enjoy your blog! :)

Frog in the Field said...

Drunk Mummy, excellently eloquent, as usual.
I had my three niece to stay while my 12 year old daughter was elsewhere, so I didn't have her fantasticly bossy back-up. I spent the whole of Location, Location, Location, locating playdough on the living room rug and from between the floorboards.

rilly super said...

Ahh, memories memories drunk mummy. Although I have come through relatively unscathed from having four children my husband still has a bad back, not from looking after the little ones admittedly but from the male sympathy pregnancy prosthetic I made him wear for each of them

Tattie Weasle said...

Thank heavens somone who understands. I adore my two but sometimes feel guilty that I am always tired and sometimes not enjoying it. At the moment I am having withdrawal symptoms as the eldest is away with its grandparents and it is awful quiet without him...

DJ Kirkby said...

Enjoy your well deserved bottle of wine! Keep those ovaries sensibly shrivelled!

Stay at home dad said...

I can identify, but with one it's never as bad at any point. So that's it then. The next bottom-wiping development will be someone else wiping yours.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Can relate to those mothers with older children, and the feelings of inadequacy that engenders. I was once loading three children (very slowly, over-laden pram, tantrums, etc) into my car aware that a perfectly coiffed woman, fully made-up, in open-top car had pulled up and was waiting for my space. She eventually unfurled herself from the car and floated over to me adn with cut glass accent said, 'Hi, I hope you don't mind me waiting, don't rush, I really understand'. I remember thinking that she couldn't possibly understand. But perhaps in 10 years time, i could be that woman?
Lovely smooth writing, with nice crisp overtones, and a fruity mellow feel. Can I buy your writing style in Ocado?

lady macleod said...

too funny, too true,, and well done

Drunk Mummy said...

@themill - that is so true! I really can't imagine going back those dry days of pregnancy!

ingeniousrose - and peace from your relatives!

Hello swearing mother!
I remember that feeling of fear only too well (and still feel it occasionally!)

tracey - your poor friend! Imagine having to fix a stair gate all over again!

mcewen - do you know, I think renting out children and babies is an excellent idea. Everybody wins!

zoeybella - thank you, that is very kind!

frog in the field - I was relying very heavily on my own fantastically bossy nine-year-old!

rilly - the male prosthetic pregnancy sounds like an expensive option. I reckon we're on to something with the rent-a-baby scheme.

Hello tatty weasle!
He will be back all too soon. Time to crack open the vino and get legless with your mates!

djkirkby - they are shrivelled beyond rehydration!

SAHD - ah yes the Pampers days may well be returning at some point!

Pig - you did well to stay civil, and not burst into tears of frustration! Thank you for the lovely compliment!

lady macleod - thank you, I am now able to sink back into my usual misanthropy!

DB said...

Honestly, having a break from O has made me appreciate just how much hard work kids are and I have a freedom hangover again to prove it! I'm wondering why I'm yearning so badly to have another when life is so much easier with none (or even one). But I don't think anyone would have children if they knew how much they were going to ruin their life - clever mother nature makes us see only the good things and be conveniently blind to the bad when it's time to reproduce.

Akelamalu said...

Grandchildren are best, have lots of fun, kisses and cuddles then hand them back to Mum and Dad!

Rach said...

Feeling fed up, guilt-ridden and inadequate after a day with my two-year-old, so thank you for making me smile! It's good to know there is life at the end of the tunnel...roll on January 2009 and free nursery places!

Drunk Mummy said...

db - if O is away, it sounds like an excellent chance to get working on that manuscript! But perhaps it's an even better chance to go out with your mates - let's hear it for the freedom hangover!

akelamalu - somehow I think my kids will be terrified to hand over their babies to me!

Hello rach!
It will happen eventually - and you will discover a new spring in your step when it does!

Motheratlarge said...

Yep, it's hard work. But it's also so wonderful, I'd love to do it all again. Bring on exhaustion, rock-hard boobs, incessant wailing (me and baby), the whole works!