I am tired. It is so close to Easter, so close. One more day until we break. Thank god. Since Christmas things have been really full on. Events have kicked off, research papers have been due in, the work/life balance has become a blurred line and I am tired. The kids are tired, the teachers are tired, everyone is tired.
Somewhere between Christmas and now the baby has decided that she doesn’t need sleep. She wakes at some point each night and cries. It resembles something between agony and annoyance, but she can’t speak so I don’t really have any idea. I spend a lot of my ‘middle of the night asleep time’ awake now, wrestling between making her cry it out and just taking her into my bed for an easy life. Between that and having the other two batting some bloody virus back and forwards between the two of them, it’s been a little bit tiring recently.
Everyone says that it takes a village. And they are so right. In the last two years, since #3 appeared, I have created for myself (and my girls) a village so strong that it could withstand anything. We are a solid, cement wall surrounded village and aint nothing going to tear us down.
It’s been a while coming though. When I birthed #1 in a haze of youth and naïvety I had no mum pals. I had never changed a nappy before let alone anything else. I was clueless. Now, babies don’t need much in the way of material stuff. Yes they need clothes and somewhere to sleep, but mostly they need love, and food, and they need to be safe, and secure. I also used to think they needed sleep but the last 7 years of parenting has proven me very very wrong on that matter. However, what the last 7 years HAS taught me is that sometimes, they do not need love and food and security from me. Sometimes, they need it from other people. And I incredible thankful to have some amazing people who will do just that. Whether it be taking the baby while I study, or driving #2 to Enjoy-a-Ball because #3 goes to bed at 5pm (did I mention she doesn’t sleep during the night).
I am horrendously bad at asking for help. I am stubborn, and strong willed and somewhat competitive and I refuse to admit when I am down. But (yes there is a but), what good am I when I am knackered and grumpy and sleep deprived? The long answer – no good. Not to anyone. I discovered, not sure when, that when people offer to help with your kids it’s because they actually want to help. And what I have discovered, probably only really since #3 arrived and threw everything into disarray, is that your village doesn’t have to be your blood. Not at all. Sure the Grandad’s and the Grandma’s are important (my Mum ranks in my top 5 most important people – love you Mum) but the friends and the playground mums are just as important. Those people are the ones that can truly see you at your worst and not judge you. Because lets face it, most of the time we seem to be, as parents, embroiled in some sort of ‘my kids is smarter than your kid’ competition. I’m tired of that shit too let me tell you.
It has taken me a long time, and a lot of soul searching to build my village. I have lost old friends, but I have made much better ones. There have been tears, and laughter, hangovers and pizzas eaten in labour wards, but my village is fortified. I am thankful every single day for the people (and other children) within my village. We are not perfect, each and every one of us has flaws. But together, we are a force.
Part of me wishes I had found my people sooner. But the more accepting side of me realizes that what I have now was worth waiting for. These are the people that will be around long after the children have left for university or gone off together to travel the world. Maybe one day their villages will include each other, I really hope so.
My one piece of advice for anyone who is struggling – don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one wants anyone else to fail. No one wants anyone else to crack under the hell that can be parenting. We are all in this together. I for one certainly wouldn’t want to be doing it alone. So to the people in my village, thank you.