“You’re looking great!” a friend of mine told me this week. “Seriously?” I reply. “Have you seen these dark circles? And look at this belly!” I say, grabbing a handful of flesh from my mid section. In my head, I’m asking myself if she’s actually seeing the same person that I do when I look in the mirror. I mean, I feel pretty haggered most of the time. I look pretty haggered most of the time. Can she not see that too?
I want to tell you the tale of a first time mother. She had read many books in preparation, to help her become the mother she always hoped to be. A calm, centred mother who took the challenges of parenthood in her stride – who rolled with the sleepless nights, the changes to her body, the changes to her life – with complete ease.
I nearly didn’t write to you this week. It has been one of those weeks. We sold the house. We’re buying a new one. The washing machine broke down. Molly’s visa needed sorting. Henry got sick. I haven’t slept much. The old ladies’ holiday is approaching. Yes, one of those weeks where it feels like someone has written a huge bunch of “to do’s” on separate post it notes, filled a sack full of them and then emptied that sack over your head.
“That’s a lame excuse for a press up if ever I saw one! Look at those arms shaking! You’ve got NO strength anymore!! And look at those thighs – get squatting NOW!”
It’s a hot, humid morning. I’m sweating it out in bootcamp in the battle against the jiggly bits. At this point, I need to highlight that the above dialogue is my inner voice talking and not the wonderful, encouraging instructor. Yes, over the last few weeks, my ego has been giving me a right old battering. “What’s the point?” it probes. “You’ve got no time!” it taunts. “You need to put in way more effort than that!”
“When will it get better?” asks the weary husband, as we debate the ins and outs of why Henry might be waking like clockwork at 4.30am every morning. “I’m sure it’s just a phase,” I reply as I catch a glimpse of my bedraggled self in the mirror. Ah! “Just a phase.” Those three little words. If I had a pound for every time I heard them (or uttered them to someone else), then I would be a very rich woman!
“I feel like I’m 100 years old!” laments the husband. It’s 3am and we’re lying awake just after Henry’s feed. While he’s back in his cot sleeping peacefully again, Molly has started coughing in her room, interrupting the possibility of sleep yet again. We’re tired. So. Dog. Tired! And in the wee small hours we begin to debate many things: will Henry ever sleep through? Is Dubai the healthiest place to bring up our children? Is our AC full of dust? Will there be a housing crash soon?
I’m going to start by telling you that I’ve shed a few tears this week, and at times I’ve been feeling the need to escape. Nope, it’s not from the desert heat that is still lingering around the squelching 40 degree C mark. It’s not from the husband who has actually been a great help. In fact a certain little person is at the heart of the reason why I’ve been feeling frustrated of late.
It’s the weekend. The day begins at 4.38am with the gentle babbling of baby Henry from his cot at the bottom of our bed. We drift in and out of sleepiness until 5.56am when Molly’s face appears inches from mine. “Mornin’ Mummy,” she says climbing into the bed with her entourage of teddies. Bleary eyes are rubbed, a poo filled nappy changed and bottle dispensed, until half an hour later we’re up and raring to go. (Ok, ‘raring’ might be just a slight overstatement here.)