If you think about it, a day with small children is pretty much the same as childbirth.
At first it’s fine. If anything you’re a bit smug. You don’t know what you were worried about – this is easy! A cup of tea and a bit of deep breathing gets you through the outfit refusals, cereal wars and toothbrush wrestling, and once you’re out and about and into a rhythm you feel like you can conquer the world.
Come mid morning though, it is getting more intense, and the need for extra caffeine is building. Sure in a fit of New Year’s resolutioning you said you’d never resort to it, that you wanted to go natural and do it all on peppermint tea but who are we kidding here. You want coffee and you want it NOW! Soon, you’re borderline obsessed with all the amazing women at playgroup and you hold onto their hands tightly throughout each nursery rhyme; you are warriors, and in this together.
Before you know it lunchtime is over. You’re half way there but there is still a long way to go. Already there have been some hilarious highs (an adorable snuggle with your toddler, heartbreaking smiles from the baby and some hysterical one liners from your eldest), as well as some extraordinary lows, (poo on the inside of your upper arm – how? – snot and no tissue in the park and an almighty melt down in the Sainsbury’s Local). By now the experience is getting more extreme by each wipe of pasta pesto off the wall. Suddenly you’ve had ENOUGH, you’re NOT doing this any more – you need a BREAK dammit!!! All dignity goes out of the window as you go all out with the bribing, pleading and finally, desperate begging; the afternoon nap MUST HAPPEN.
You relax into the bliss of complete relief that is the silence. Almost knocked out by it, you sit, stunned with relief and unable to do much more than stare at Loose Women on the telly. Soon though, it wears off, and then you’re back in the game, inhaling that diet coke, and totally in the zone. You’re past the point of no return, there is no stopping you – you’ve done two loads of washing, made a shed load of baby food to freeze, handled three tantrums and made play dough from scratch. You’re at the top of your game, nothing can stop you now – you can do this!!!!!
All of a sudden, the end is in sight. Although your energy is at an all time low, and you feel you have nothing left to give, you must somehow summon all your strength and just do it. It seems like an impossible task but this is the last hurdle. No one else can do it for you. You reach deep down into the very centre of your being and scream, wail, moan and somehow PUSH on through the fishfingers, bathwater splashes and Peppa pig, until finally, storytime arrives and – oh goodness – you can feel their heads on pillows!
Then, in a heartbeat, it’s all over. You’ve done it!! They are alive, well and ASLEEP!! Great work Mama. You feel incredible, like a lioness roaring at the top of a mountain. You gaze adoringly at your beautiful children as they slumber, kissing them in wonder, elation and delight. The glass of wine in your hand is the best you have ever tasted. A more powerful woman, nor more beautiful offspring have ever existed. You’re utterly spent, completely exhausted, but absolutely beside yourself with pride.
It was noisy, messy, and ridiculously physically demanding. It required all you had to give. It was hard work, completely undignified, boring at times, hugely painful at others and there was of course a bit of inevitable screaming and some poo. Looking back though, the whole experience was utterly mind blowing and really quite beautiful. It didn’t actually hurt that much and it was all over in a flash really. You’d do it all again tomorrow if you had to.