Holy Crap Can It Get Any Worse? (and other daily stories of parenthood).
There is a formula to a good story. There is an introduction where we meet the characters, a catalyst for change where something happens to upset the balance we have just been introduced to – and the rest of the story is about the way that the characters struggle to restore balance and some kind of normalcy.
The characters will try and fail in order to drive the plot through further complications towards an exciting climax. But something’s gotta give…
In an ideal world, the problems will all be resolved. A new state of normalcy will reign – and everyone will learn something from their experiences.
“Never stray from the path”, “Don’t talk to strangers”, “Love the one you are with” are the types of themes or morals that might shine through in an ideal plot.
The thing with parenthood, though, is that you can have a story like this storm into your life within moments.
And things escalate.
And sometimes it’s hard to see exactly what you have learned from the experience.
And it’s also not often ‘big things’ that can complicate your day, but rather seemingly small things caused by bad timing and crossed wires.
Here is a real life example from today:
Life as Usual:
I was preparing the toddler’s breakfast and putting some books and activities out for the day while expressing so that I could go for a bush walk (multitasking mummy!) I had fed the baby and she was settling down for a nap.
Bad Stuff Happens:
Actually, in this case, it was ‘good stuff’ because Daddy came home from his night shift and all of us were excited to see him. I quickly told him about where I was up to with ‘the routine’, checked if it suited him for me to go and get some exercise, got the ok, grabbed the dog and left.
For daddy, this was a bit of a shock. He had come straight home from one world of work into a domestic realm and he hadn’t even taken off his boots yet. The ‘bad stuff’ was beginning…
But we can deal with it:
The excitement of daddy coming home and her older brother squealing had unsettled the baby.
Daddy tried to feed her with expressed milk but she didn’t want it.
Toddler got stroppy because his sister was crying and getting all the attention.
Mess was made and tears began.
Daddy now had two screaming babies to deal with – and no mummy to help.
But we can deal with it:
He changed her nappy and put a DVD on to keep the toddler entertained. He tried to get her to settle again in her cot but this process took too long and baby was now overtired.
Whoa! Worse stuff happens: Toddler bounces on bed and climbs on daddy and upsets baby (who needs to sleep) even more. Baby still won’t take bottle. Baby is screaming. Toddler is crying. Kettle is whistling…
Oh No, now all is lost!:
Mummy returns from walk to over-tired screaming baby, crying toddler and upset grumpy daddy. Mummy struggles to resettle baby and is irritated that DVD is on and coffee is not made…
Tired persons argument starts (hard to say what it was about, but there was a bit of finger pointing and it just kept being about something).
Climax: Voices are raised. Toddler is crying. Baby is screaming. Feelings are hurt. Kettle still whistling. Phone starts ringing… SO MUCH NOISE AND DRAMA!
Mummy swaddles baby and lies down with her to take a break. Daddy takes toddler for walk outside.
Tired daddy returns to have a cup of coffee (finally) and sit down with quiet activities with toddler.
Mummy emerges after difficulties settling baby.
Parents apologise*, cuddle and have a coffee together.
And all of this in an hour. Parenting is tough because things can get complicated so quickly with the stresses of a baby crying and too many little bodies needing too many different little things…
But a good story has a new level of normalcy as well as a bit of learning.
Here’s what I learned:
People need time to adjust to new environments regardless of how familiar they are
It is best to plan exercise/time away for once baby is definitely asleep and settled
Things can get out of hand quickly
‘Drop it while it’s hot’ – leave an argument before it gets out of hand and you say things you don’t mean
Be gentle with tired people.
* Today’s apology was made with a label maker. I wrote ‘I’m Sorry’ and ‘I Love You’ on sticky labels and stuck them to my forehead.(They were two separate labels – otherwise I might have actually made things worse!) It seemed like a nice light-hearted way to break the ice…and it worked.