“You’re so naughty to me Mummy. You’re always cross,” Molly interrupts my bedtime story to tell me. “You need to calm down, Mummy. Just calm down,” she says, gesticulating by waving her hands up and down with her fingers spread wide. She is referring to the fact that I am cross because she won’t lie still and just listen to the darn story. I keep having to stop and start while she tosses about, chats to some of her teddies and then tells me she needs to get up for some water. “Will you settle DOWN! Are we reading this story or shall I just turn off the light?”
“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’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.)
“Let’s play dollies!” Molly declares, waving her Frozen dolls in my face. “You be Elsa and I be Anna!”
“Ok, let’s pretend they’re going to the park,” I say, bending my knees on the sofa to create a slide for them to go down, in an effort to keep my part in the game horizontal for at least a few more minutes.
“No, let’s go on the bouncy castle!” she cries, making Elsa jump vigorously up and down on my belly. “It’s nice and bouncy, Mummy!”
The setting is Dublin Airport. A toddler is having a full on meltdown over a bag of Haribos. Lying on the floor, arms flailing, legs kicking – screaming: “I WANT the SWEEEETIEEEES!! Give me the SWEEETIEEEES!!!!!” The father is quickly stashing the fodder in question in his pocket while the mother crouches down with a small baby strapped to her chest. She’s trying calmly to reason with the screeching child so as not to cause even more of a scene.
Ah, Sleep. My old friend. How have you been? I haven’t seen much of you lately and right now, I’m beginning to fear we might never get acquainted again! I remember all too well your cosiness. Sinking into the land of nod without a care in the world. No-one to disrupt us except perhaps a snoring husband after a few too many beers out with the lads. Ten. Blissful. Hours. Ah, yes Sleep. We were great friends back then. What happened?
Lately I’ve been doing exactly what I told myself I wouldn’t do this time around. I’ve been tormenting myself by looking for answers to questions that don’t seem to want to be answered just yet. My late night google-ing sessions in particular have been driving me mad! “When will my baby sleep through the night?” “Should I be stretching out my feedings by now?” “Why won’t my baby nap during the day?” “Why hasn’t he done a poo for 3 days?”
“I thought you said you wouldn’t analyse things so much this time,” said the well-meaning husband as he listened to me rant about the fact that I thought Henry should be taking a nap. “Didn’t we say we’d go with the flow a bit more? Just watch and see how things pan out?” However, going with the flow is easy when you’ve had 10 hours sleep, a long uninterrupted shower and a peaceful cup of coffee. Cue the reality of sleepless nights, the loss of your free time and a second small child to deal with and you’ve got a recipe for going slightly crazy!