The little things are important too

Two graves

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What do you think about when you sit in a cosy café, tea in hand, staring out onto a rainy street? I was there, a few days ago. I was thinking about the ‘me’ in the future, on the day of my death actually.

I had my big four-0 recently, which I think triggered this moroseness. But also, my granddad died a few weeks ago, which was very sad, but was not unexpected as he was nearly 90 and had been ill for some time. He’d had a good life. Married to my Nan for 60 odd years, and died with loving family around him.

One thing that occurred to me was that when imagining myself on my death bed, the little irritating things in life would seem so irrelevant, inconsequential. It has been said that when you are on your deathbed you don’t remember how much time you spent at work or how much money you earned, but you will remember the people you loved, and who loved you. Petty annoyances will no longer matter. But does that mean we should dismiss the trivial, day-to-day things such as getting the washing off the line or cleaning the house? Should we just ignore these things because they will be of no consequence when we look back, and should we instead spend our lives hugging everyone, talking and generally being sickeningly loving to everyone we know? Or do these insignificant things all contribute to the whole?

Although it seems a little morbid there are benefits to considering one’s own mortality. Firstly, no matter what you do with your life, no matter how much money you make, however many friends you have – you will, at some point die – it’s a sobering thought but death is a lonely affair. No one and no thing, including money can accompany you through the gates of Hades, across the river Styx, to the other side, wherever.

We all seem to be in one hell of a rush to get somewhere these days. Is it that we are trying to get to our own deaths as quickly and as painlessly as possible? Or is it that we want to get everything done, get to a state of completion before we sit back and relax and enjoy the remainder of our lives? Who is to say that we will not die before that day comes, and then we will have wasted time and effort in the pursuit of ‘getting stuff done’.

While I ponder these questions I think I will have just one more cuppa, because although I probably won’t remember this small event years in the future, I will, I’m sure, be just that little bit more relaxed. And perhaps maybe, it will make my life just that little bit better.

Where the hell is my life?

I’ve been living in someone else’s body. It started when I came out of hospital with my first son 3 years ago, and it’s only recently that I’ve been feeling like me again.  But I think the worst of it is over.

I have to admit, I’ve not found motherhood easy, most don’t. But most mums just get on with it and make the most of it, enjoy time looking after their kids.

Truth is, and it hurts to admit this, but sometimes I don’t like looking after my children. At times I feel so overwhelmed by them that I fear I will lose my mind.

Everyone feels like that Love” my mother is fond of telling me before regaling me with tales of my delinquency as a nipper. Thanks mum but that was you, then, with lots of family and friends to help. This is me now, no family nearby, friends all having their own inadequacy problems.

The constant noise, the constant mess, its enough to make me seriously wonder why I had children in the first place. I mean. Where is that person I used to be; calm, controlled, energetic, ordered? Now I am a drained, morose, scatty, temperamental shadow of my former self and there is little hope of returning to the person I was, at least for the next 10 years.  At times, I don’t feel any motivation to entertain them and then I feel guilty because they are bored. I rely too much on the TV. I just don’t know what else to do with them.

I spend some days wishing the day would end. I’m literally wishing our lives away. I take them out most mornings, to play groups where I sit and chat to people about children or stare into space mind elsewhere, but fearful of catching some new mum’s eye and having to have meaningless conversations that begin, “What’s your little boy’s name?” then you’ll discuss age, stage of development, sleep habits etc. Dull Dull Dull!

On particularly bad days I’m screaming inside my head “I just want my life back”. It’s usually when, after a morning watching them at playgroup, it’s pissing down so I cant send them off into the garden, I feel bored to distraction with trying to find something that will amuse them for more than 5 minutes so that I can read, write, tidy, clean – all of which id rather do than entertain my own children. “Make a cake with them, play a game with them” my best friend says.  Sometimes – ‘Yes great advice’, more often ‘No, I don’t bloody want to. In fact, I can’t thing of anything more tedious or frustrating’.

Sometimes I take the boys to the park if it’s not raining. It can be fun if we’re all running around, chasing each other. But playgroup or park, both take up only two hours of the day. What about the other 10? Well from 7am till 9am my husband will take care of their breakfast and clearing up the kitchen (honestly – where did I get such a treasure of a husband) while I take the dog for a walk, have a shower and mentally prepare myself for the day.

I have plenty of time off. OS (older son, 3) does three blessed days a week at nursery. YS (younger son, 2) has recently started going to nursery two mornings a week. So I have time to myself, free time, when I am responsible for no-one but me.

My husband gives me time off too, the occasional afternoon, and he takes them off my hands for a few hours at the weekends. But, get this, I am such a controlling cow that I can’t let him leave the house without strict instructions regarding coats, food, activities and time of return. You’d think, after all this complaining, that I’d just be glad to see the back of them.

I know what you’re thinking. What on god’s earth does this idiot woman have to complain about? And do you know what? I completely agree with you. I have nothing to complain about. But, until recently I’ve had days where I’ve felt I’ve been wasting away into nothingness.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my boys to bits . They’ve always had plenty of hugs, chats, attention most of the day. But sometimes id rather be doing things other than playing with them. I have been doing it for three years now, maybe I’m done playing with babies and toddlers.

The question is: does all this make me a bad mum? Does it mean that I don’t love my children?  I know that Rachel Cusk got a load of flack when her book ‘A Life’s Work’ was published. It described all the real feelings she had: desperation, boredom, guilt – after having her daughter and was criticized to hell for it. Told she didn’t love her daughter if she felt that way. So let me make one thing perfectly clear. I adore my boys. I gaze at them lovingly every night (when they’re asleep) and would gladly sacrifice my life (and anyone else’s) for them. Does that mean I have to spend my days entertaining them?

Thankfully my days with them are getting easier. I can find the time, when i’m with them, to read a magazine. They are getting on with the important business of playing so I don’t have that enduring feeling of guilt tying my tummy up in knots.