“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!
Dark circles. Just a phase. Feeling knackered. Ah, sure, it’s just a phase. Supermarket meltdown? Yup, just a phase. Of course, none of this “just a phase” business is really that helpful when you’re knee deep in the phase itself, not really knowing when you’re likely to resurface! When will the phase phase itself out? When will the new ‘normal’ take effect? Yes, this is one piece of parenting advice that can often leave us feeling frazzled. So this week, I’ve taken a look at some common phases to see if I can redefine my exit strategy…
The phase – Bleary-eyed night feeds: It’s the wee small hours. Little squawks from the cot signal the need for a feed. I’m fumbling for the formula trying not to pour half the powder on the floor. I’m wondering wearily when I won’t have to wake up for this. When will we achieve a full night’s sleep? Is there a chance I’ll ever feel rested again?
The exit: Ok, so I’m pretty sure this won’t be happening when Henry is ten, so for now I’m trying my best to embrace this phase and what it stands for. The peace in his little face. The way his fingers grab mine. The sound of happy guzzling. That sleepy post milk belch. The contented slump of his little body as I lower him back into his cot. When this all ends, while I might not need as much touche éclat come sunrise, it will also mean my baby won’t be such a baby anymore.
The phase – Early morning wake ups: I seriously can’t remember the last time I slept in. Most of the time I’m just thankful the clock reads on the good side of 6am. While the husband and I have always been notoriously early risers (yes, we were those annoying people who were always up before 9am) – we take it all back now. It would be nice if this phase allowed us to see the other side of 7am from time to time.
The exit: Molly is now managing a handful of post 7am wake ups, so we are confident that Henry’s 4.30am alarm call will one day come to an end. Yes, one day, these little people will be bringing us breakfast in bed on the weekends and dispensing their own weetabix. One day, we’ll lament over having to drag them out of bed, instead of the other way around. Yes, more sleep would mean these little people won’t be so little anymore. So with that thought in mind, I’m going to hold on to that (and my dark circles) for just a little while longer.
The phase – Having less ‘me’ time: Ah, life pre kids. More ‘me’ time than I often knew what to do with! My favourite ‘me’ time pastime – my yoga practice. It was pretty to look at, my body much more svelte. I could headstand like the best of them, bend like nobody’s business. These days, I feel more tin man than Lululemon pin up. Life is busy. Really darn busy. My yoga practice is usually sneaked in to the backdrop of Peppa Pig, while a small person leaps sporadically on my back – just to check that I’m still paying attention.
The exit: I’m redefining what my yoga is. It may not be all that physical, but for now, being present, enjoying these moments with my children – this is where my real yoga practice lies. This is my biggest yoga challenge to date! One day when it won’t be as ‘cool’ to have Mummy hanging around, I’ll have all the time in the world to perfect my hamstring flexibility. So, for now, this is my yoga. A reminder that this practice is so much more than just the physical.
The phase – Feeling un-sexy: I’m still wearing the husband’s pyjamas. They’re just too darn comfy. They don’t cling to my wobbly bits or dig into my muffin tops. But yes, granted, they’re far from sexy. In truth, I feel far from sexy these days. Sigh. Romance is something that requires more energy than I actually have right now.
The exit: In years to come when we’re lying on a beach in the Maldives holidaying without the children, we’ll look back on this phase and reminisce about these very un-sex kittenish-days. But heck, you know what is sexy? It’s the fact that I’ve given birth to two amazing children. It’s watching the husband evolve in his role as a wonderful daddy. It’s the mother I’m becoming more and more every day. It’s so much more than blow drying my hair or losing 5kgs.
The phase – Tiresome tantrums: “NO Mummy!” “I don’t WANT TO Mummy!” Sigh. Would it be too much to ask for one day without the drama? Without the tears, the little battles, the public meltdowns from time to time? A day where teeth are brushed and shoes put on without repeated prompting? A day where “YES Mummy!” is more the order of the day?
The exit: Hmmm. This is a tough one! The tiresome tantrums, the big emotions – they are the way we test the limits, make wrong turns and find the right path over and over again. When Molly stops throwing a wobbly over the fact she can’t have three biscuits or watch the iPad, then it might just signal she’s not such a little girl anymore. One who so cutely mispronounces her words and makes us laugh inside and out. A little girl with big emotions that are only part and parcel of growing up. And when the storm has passed, the “I love you Mummy’s” mean all is forgotten and forgiven in a heart beat.
Yes, these phases are tough. Yes, they’re down right confusing and trying at times! But one day, when each ship has sailed, I know I’ll marvel at how fast time flies – how quickly life changes from one phase to the next. So, for now, I’m doing my best to hold on to these moments.
“Enjoy the little things in life. One day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things.”