From the moment you came into being as a tiny seed in my womb, I started carrying the weight. Not just the physical weight (although you didn’t do me any favours there, fellas), the mental and emotional weight of guilt, and overwhelm.
On the surface, the task of mothering appears to be quite straightforward. Mothering a new baby centres around three seemingly innocuous tasks: Feed. Play. Sleep. On their own, these things are not necessarily difficult. It is the cumulative effect of mastering all three, all day, every day for years, that wears me down.
The bleary haze of trying to keep track of which side you last fed on and for how long was quickly replaced by when to introduce solids and suddenly I blinked and realised I have spent endless hours in the kitchen crafting nutritious healthy meals from scratch only to have you screw up your nose because you have spied – with your stealth ninja 20/20 vision – a tiny piece of onion in your meatball, and of course that is grounds for rejecting the entire meal.
Most meals, happily eaten or not, usually end with an encore 30 minutes later of a desire for toast or 2 minute noodles anyway. On those occasions when I choose to skip the rigamarole of mashing or blending vegetables into something unrecognisable so they can be more easily hidden in the rest of the food, only to have you detect them and recoil in horror as if I have presented a plate of arsenic for your consumption, and declare: “tonight we are having bacon and eggs on toast for tea”, you don’t miss a beat before gleefully pointing out that dinner is not the time for breakfast food.
I am sure there were many magical times of play and wonder when you were babies. It is no doubt what lulled me into a false sense of delusion that having a sibling was the best idea ever because you would always have someone to play with. Except anyone witnessing the two of you “at play” currently would perhaps think they have mistakenly stumbled upon an audition for the latest episode of WWE Smackdown, complete with hurled insults and extreme overreactions to bodily injury. It is for this simple reason that I spend many nights each week driving you both to sports training, just so someone else can take on the role of referee, if only for a few short hours. I also – despite constantly being proved wrong – stubbornly believe that keeping you active will help you to come home and……
Sleep is not the enemy, you guys. I feel as though I have spent your whole lives trying to show you how wonderfully restorative sleep can be. For me as well as for you! You could see a whole new side to my personality if only you would let me have a solid forty winks instead of basically four interrupted winks. Over the last 12 years I have tried endless rocking and singing and shushing and patting and reading and now my go to is basically yelling and threats.
But for the past two weeks even the yelling and threats haven’t worked as school holidays sends everything out the window, doesn’t it? You still:
Eat – everything in the house that is not nailed down. Then complain there is nothing to eat, but there is no way I am enduring a trip to the supermarket with you two in tow. Besides, there are plenty of vegetables still on offer.
Play – mainly Playstation, as your ball keeps conveniently going over the fence 5 minutes after I push you outside and shut the door. Guess what else is going over the fence if I have to break up one more fight over Fortnite?
Sleep – Yeah, nah. There is very little meaningful sleep happening, which makes your newly discovered attitude so much easier to bear during the waking hours.
Then you smile at me.
Or smile at each other.
You hug me.
Or hug each other.
It is then that I know.
I would die for you.
Even when you are argumentative, whinging turds.
So while my bucket may be empty, my heart is full.
And my head is cheering: because in just a few short days, you’re both back at school.