It is time to extol the pleasures of being a Mam of two under two. They won’t be this small and sweet for ever. I will look back and long for these days. They may be long, tiring and at times very stressful but they are always, always worth it. I started this blog with a mission. To start exercising. No, there is still dirt and dust aplenty on the spanking new treadmill bought in flawed optimism two babies ago in the spare room (how on earth will we move that so Betsy will have her own space when she moves into that room? Another question for another day!). No, not physical excerise. Jumping Jacks can go away for another day. No. Emotional exercise. It was An exercise in happiness. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all. Motherhood. Responsibility. Bad weather. Starting to blog, I hoped, would help me deal with this unwanted feeling of pressure. Something I could do in spare minutes, in the middle of a wakeful night or even after lights out. You might get a rewarding feeling, I thought, that will help you be a successful mother. I hoped it would be beneficial. Has it been? I truly believe so. Cathartic even.
Being able to write, chat and rant without judgement, to others who I may feel are daily visitors to my life, but I have never actually met, has really been tremendously therapeutic. So thank you one and all. You guys are helping me live the bigger picture. I always could see it. It was a bit too elusive though, carefully framed and a little out of reach, but now I think I can say I am there. Inside frame.
Friends of ours are expecting twins. Excellent news. At times however, the Dad to be is spitting feathers. Every work colleague or jocular buddy has told him that his life is ruined. Once or twice is bearable. Repeatedly is insufferable. Sure, he is known as someone who lives a healthy social life and also gets to go to lots of sporting events. Maybe they will be paused awhile. It is unfair however to throw such negativity his way, I feel. Their life will change . Their life will be amazing.
The Joys? Let us dwell a little.
Today Gigi was standing on furniture when she’s not allowed. I warned her gently. Waggly finger, eye contact, shaking head, no-no, the usual. She would lose her cartoon if she did it again. She did it again. I turned off the TV. She ran to me ‘I sowwy Mammy, I sowwy’, she said very coaxingly. Grinning at me. Winningly. I turned away for a second to smile. It was her first true apology. I don’t even know how she learned to do it so well. I hadn’t even realised she knew my warnings were warnings. So many firsts as she learns to talk. We were hugging and playing baby dolls seconds later, TV and furniture standing forgotten as usual in zip time. It was TV caused the issue in the first place. Bored. She needed interaction. I had been busy with Betsy. We played babies therefore, all three. I live and learn with two babies.
Betsy is so new in our world yet so central to it already. How can a four month old have such a laughing presence, such a vivacious personality, such a command of an audience? Gigi loves her. They are too little to fight. The joys of their age. Betsy cried yesterday as I was changing Gigi. I popped Gigi down and said, ‘Quick, run see if Betsy’s OK!”. Engaged straight away, her curly little head popped up, ‘Oh! OK Mammy!’and she tore away in urgency, I watching her closely as I dealt with nappy clean up. Behind her in moments, I held back to watch the scene. Betsy in her swinger beaming. Gigi on her knees jabbering. ‘OK Baby Beh (she can’t say the full name yet) OK baby?’. She laid her head on her lap and kept changing the music buttons. It was beautiful. Naturally the incident itself is amazing. Also, I don’t know if it seeing yourself reflected in such a loving manner being such a compliment and relief or is it that your 23 month old can’t say her sister’s name yet but is able to show love and comfort so deftly, but there is definitely the feeling of a magic spell or higher being at work in those times. Joys. Wonders.
It is a joy to look at your children’s faces in the morning when you peep into the cots and they beam at you. Sure, some mornings they are grumpy. Rare though. Very rare. Small children love morning time. It is a pleasure to see when they are wanting, that you and Daddy can satisfy their need with hugs, snacks you provide or games. Betsy and I have a moment every evening at bedtime. She is sleeping twelve hours now. I know, this is probably the main reason I feel happier and the writing is only an aside!! It is not just the sleep. It is her complete look of happiness and satisfaction when I play with her. Sing. Rhyme. Speak Irish. She thinks my attempts at Gaeilge are hysterical so I keep doing it. Now Mrs Healey (old teacher), who said my Irish needed focus!?! This is our time together. Giggles and laughs. She is clutched to me. We are so close physically that I have been unable to grab the phone and tape it so far. I can’t break the clench.
The Joys are many and far reaching. Yes my hair is unwashed half the time. I spend days dealing with nappies, (an extreme amount of poo. There, I said it) laundry, food and handling an inhuman amount of baby wipes. Throw up related extra work occurs at least once a fortnight. Toys are everywhere. I sing songs all day. My recycling bin, once full of wine bottles now only holds empty baby medicine jars and diet mineral tins. If I don’t eat right, I cannot get away with it and have full scale meltdowns and mood crashes. My sleep is an aside to being a night watchman for my children’s safety.
Yet I am away from them right now. In a Starbucks. Sneaky hour away. I have bought them clothes. I am thinking of them. I have looked at pictures of them. I am writing about them. I am in love with my family. Everything else falls in behind. The Joys of my two under two. My blessings. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am a teacher and often have to work with poets such as Plath and Dickinson, renowned for depression (Plath) and reclusivity (Dickinson). I find that I try to sell other sides of these women to my students. Their intelligence. Beauty. Skills. I don’t think they should be overshadowed by horror. So now I plan to quote a Plath poem that means so much to me. I almost tear up when teaching it now whereas pre motherhood I was indifferent. I wish that I could forget Plath’s tragedy when reading her works so every poem is not affected. I omit the first three stanzas of this poem because they are part of another story in another location. The three stanzas I place in are so beautiful and simple. A woman listening for her child. Ready to nurture. Tired. Emotional. Joyful. A paradox of feelings which culminates in love. Their words ring so true. I also never fully felt their power until I had children. So how can I expect my students to? I once had a class of 18 year olds which included a few more mature students. One of the mature students was older than me, a married soldier who had served peacekeeping time in Afghanistan and Chad and had two children. He spoke at length about Plath’s ‘Child’ and ‘Morning Song’ in class. He could relate. I could not. Who taught who that day? I hope I am not egotistical enough to think that I didn’t learn from him. We all did.
So I feel joys again. I can enjoy this experience. I am blessed. Fancy Paper is helping all the way and all of you out there too!