Wednesday, January 25, 2012

GASPING FOR AIR

SOMETHING happens when you survive the first eight months of being a mum of 3. When you come up for air after several years of sleep deprivation and deafening chaos, there is a curious feeling of being slightly triumphant inside. Like suddenly I am invincible, able to achieve anything. That I can run the world and still whip together dinner for five in 10 minutes flat. That's me right now. 

This can change on a minute by minute, day by day basis. All it takes for me to go back to thinking I can't do this full-time-mum thingy, is all of them crying/whinging/screaming at the same time for not very long at all. It's that easy for me to crack. But then I take a few deep breaths and congratulate myself that another day is down and tomorrow it's going to get a little bit easier because they'll be a little bit older and they might finally start listening to me. 

That said, having 3 kids makes you realise your power. If you survive with your sanity intact, you emerge so much more 'able' in yourself, so infinitely more flexible - because you've been to the edge of your sanity and pulled yourself back. Many times I've felt on the brink of losing it - I've screamed and threatened to run away (not one of my finer moments in front of the kids!), but when I've finally clawed back a little bit of me, I'm surprised by feeling like a better person for it. 

In life, I always thought of myself as a bit of plodder, preferring slow and lazy weekends when I wasn't racing around London in my heyday. But now, after five years in the Cork countryside, I find myself a Power Mum. I amaze myself with my sudden ability to multi-task: juggle three kids, arrange playdates, manage a dozen pick-ups and events each day, host coffee mornings, organise christmas parties, redesign a newsletter and hold down quite a hectic social life. And now I'm going to try to add writing a Blog to this list. This is what happens when you become a mum. You become someone else. A different efficiency creeps in because if you didn't evolve in this way, you couldn't manage. 

I'm really not sure who I am anymore. I have been a mum for exactly four years. Today (as I write this) is my biggest boy's birthday - and it's been a spectacular ride. Seventeen months after Jago 'The Hurricane' knocked us off our feet, a feisty Tegan entered our world - she's now 2 and a half and a Spice Girl on Steroids, wailing to get her own way. She was displaced as my baby eight months ago when Lorcan screamed his way into our lives. Some say the third child is an angel and just fits in; not Lorci, he's the loudest and most demanding of them all. 

Somewhere between discovering three babies in my body and breastfeeding myself into brainfog over four years, I forgot who I was. I went internal. My core destabilised, I went into automatic pilot as my brain detached from my body. I've had days when I could barely utter a sentence, forgetting words for every day items like eggs and cookers. Days when I honestly still think it's 2001. Days when I can't stand the smallest noise (which means the kids don't stand a chance) and I crave silence. Utter silence. What bliss that would be. And space. My own room. Kids not allowed. Somewhere with no clutter where I can retreat when overwhelm kicks in. And when I'm in there, I am magically protected from feelings of Mummy Guilt; thinking they're going to hurt themselves or kill each other if I'm not watching over them constantly. 

As each baby took over my body and my life, I lost myself a little bit more. I lost control. I didn't realise it at the time but Control used to be a very good friend of mine; now he's as distant as most of my Before Baby best friends back home. As more babies added to the chaos, Control left me shaking my head until I gave up, broken; I just didn't care anymore. "It doesn't matter", I repeat to myself a lot these days, "It just doesn't matter". 

Many things have to give. It's not uncommon to find the same sheets on our beds for at least a month, we leave the kitchen in a mess overnight cos we're too tired to clear up after the two hour battle to get the kids to bed, and the kids often wear clothes for four or five days (I wipe off stains with a babywipe) because laundry is a constant nightmare. It doesn't matter.

I'm fed up of battling with them. I'm fed up of shouting. I'm fed up of not having any control over my life. I'm fed of being waitress to the rudest clientele in the world. I'm fed up of the drudgery of trying to get good food into them. I'm fed up of not being able to achieve anything day-in-day-out. I'm fed up of being nothing but Mum. It's time to change. Time to get back to me. Time to find out who I really am. Who I've evolved into. I know I'm still here somewhere, underneath the frazzled exterior, I'm here, I can feel it, smiling, secretly pleased with my achievements, wanting to write again, suddenly feeling external, wanting to be someone. I hope this Blog will be my journey back to me. 


I've wished so many days away as I wrestled with the mayhem, but now I'm starting to take deep breaths and appreciate their joy of life. They're unique and beautiful and I can't imagine life any other way, but boy it's the hardest work I've ever had to do. I'm coming back; something is shifting; I can feel 'me' there somewhere; I think it's all gonna be ok. 

 

14 comments:

Lucy @ DreamingAloud said...

Welcome to the blogosphere- you've entered the atmosphere on fire - welcome to the way back home to yourself!

Love this "As each baby took over my body and my life, I lost myself a little bit more. I lost control. I didn't realise it at the time but Control used to be a very good friend of mine; now he's as distant as most of my Before Baby best friends back home."

So true!

It is going to be OK - really it is. Just maybe not today... or tomorrow! But it's all good - just SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO intense right now.

Love the background of the blog. Love your writing - from the heart.

Popping you on my blog roll.
x

Amy Vickers said...

Thanks Lucy, still trying to get the hang of this Blog thing. The wallpaper is a painting I did just before I had Lorc, during a 2-hour surge of colourful creativity. Loving the new outlet this page provides. Starting to use my brain again, happier days...

kim said...

This is depressing!You only have 3 kids with not huge but not small age gaps.Its not normal to feel this way,go and see your doctor.

Karien said...

Kim might have a point. I have similar age kids, similar feeling, and my GP suggested I suffer from PND.... I refused medicin, but take some herbal supplements (StJohn Worth, evening primrose) and had some good talks with hubby. It helps, a bit. Day by day the sky clears up a little bit. Don't be afraid to ask for help when needed!!!

Amy Vickers said...

Doctors love putting labels on things. I wouldn't be a fan of that. Evening primrose and Vit D tablets help, but I can't get away from exhaustion at the moment.

kim said...

Theres nothing wrong with labels if its the right label!If not a doctor then help from family and friends or paid help if you can afford it?Better diet,better bedtime routine?Co sleeping?I have 3 aged 3(4 in feb) and under,(i had 3 under 2 at one point)and i have number 4 due in september.when i find it hard one its usually because one of the above is out of kilter.

Karien said...

I am with you on the labels, they are not great. I do not think I suffer from PND either. But I do know I have a problem... And for me it is more than just exhaustion (although that does not help), but it is off course very personal and different for everyone. What I mainly mean to say is that it is important to take your feelings serious. You can deal with them in any way you see fit, but the main thing is don't just push it away. A blog can be a great way to vent, share feelings and to make you feel not alone. Because that is how I often feel, just me and the kids on our little planet, and that drives me insane.

Karien said...

Kim, it is really hard to compare. Different people cope completely different in the same situation. And situatons. kids etc can also differ. Some have many kids close together and are fine, others don't manage with what is seemingly less.

Unknown said...

Ooof. If you are trying to be helpful Kim I'd say work on your delivery!!

Karien said...

Gosh, I just have to keep coming back to read this post. It is as if I wrote it... Thanks, it does help me to know I am not alone. We can survive this and like you said, we will emerge stronger for it!

Amy Vickers said...

Ouch!

Amy Vickers said...

Thanks Karien, and thanks for your support x

Ashley @ Mama Raw said...

You're not alone, and you're not "not normal." I have two kids and have lost myself amongst the drudgery of day to day life with them. Lately, having a blog has been my main outlet, my sole therapy, and I don't know what I'd do without it. You're right, in being a mother--to one or eleven--you do realize your power. That is probably the greatest gift my kids have given me. I can't wait to read more!

Katie Webb said...

Wow- thanks for your blog Amy! I think I could have written a lot of that myself! Just to say- don't listen to a word that Kim says- how dare she say what is 'right and not right' to feel? Don't pay any attention and please keep writing exactly what you are thinking and I really hope that it is a cathartic process and helps you to re-acquaint yourself with the person that has got a little bit lost in nappies and screaming babies. I think being a mum makes you realise that even though these little people need every last piece of you 24/7- it is vital that you allow yourself to not feel guilty that you need time for yourself too. There's a really good book- 'what mothers do-especially when it looks like nothing by Naomi standlen- it helped me realise that I do achieve things on a daily basis, even if you are sleep deprived and feel useless- fully recommend reading! All best wishes- am in awe of three babies- I only have two who are good (ssshhh, don't tell anyone!) sleepers and feel half dead most of the time!!