Monday 25 February 2013

It Doesn't Seem To Matter How Many Times I Explain It...

They just keep letting the pigeon drive the bus.

This is probably their favourite book at the moment. Actually, okay, it's mine, but since they can't read yet it amounts to the same thing.

New bedroom, by the way - Jay has FINALLY finished his 18-month-long attic renovation project. We spent all of last week making an entire new bed in our kitchen (what can I say - it seemed like a good idea at the time) and we've moved in even though the room has no bedside lights, no wardrobes, no side tables, actually no other furniture at all - just a bed and some carpet. The whole thing was such an ordeal (Jay did 95% of the renovation himself, and we had a fixed deadline of ten people sleeping in our tiny house last weekend) that all we've done since it finished is sit under the duvet and read stories. And watch youtube. There are worse ways to live, though, right?

Monday 18 February 2013

To Three or Not To Three: I Like Doing Other Things, Too

What kind of person does it make me if I would rather shut myself away and write a book than raise another child?

Because sometimes I would rather do that. Hey, sometimes I would rather do that than raise the children I already have. They wear me out. They have hit the Whys, and they have hit them hard. I really thought that people complained too much about the whole why thing: after all, what could be more of a privilege than explaining the world to my two little treasures, thought 2011-me? HA HA HA, says 2013-me.

I thought the whys  would be along the lines of 'Mummy, why do I need to hold your hand when I cross the road?' And of course, the answer would be both honest and loving: So you don't get squished, my little angel.

I didn't realise the questions would be not just incessant but unanswerable:Mummy, WHY can't you find my gloves?' /Because I'm a terrible housekeeper, my sweetheart. 'Mummy, WHY do we only have red jam?' / Because Daddy did the shopping and Daddy has no culinary imagination, precious darling  'Mummy, WHY you wearing those clothes?' / Because I like them... I think... hey, what's wrong with these clothes? You're too young to be criticising my clothes!   Mummy, WHY does Nathaniel have a big house but we only have a small house? / Errrrrrrrr.....)

Today, it was even stupider. One of my children requires constant verbal interaction: 'Mummy, look at my feet! Can you see my feet!' (yes I can). 'Oh look, Mummy, THE QUEEN' (that's right, honey, that's a statue of Queen Victoria I think'') and then "Mummy! We are climbing the stairs!" and while I'm trying to think of the appropriate response to that, the other one chimes in with "Mummy, why are we climbing the stairs?"

Why... hang on... what? I have no answer for that, except because we have to. So many of their questions have no response except that's just the way things are, honey; I don't know, I guess that's culturally determined; I have no idea, why DO we bother with cleaning?I'm pretty sure it's all just a chasing after the wind. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. There really is no meaning to so much of what we do, it turns out, when every single thing is interrogated. Mummy is officially weary of it all. It's like living in the book of Ecclesiastes over here.

They are delightful, but they are tiring. And they use me up. I want to do other things too but they need me all the time. For the times I am home with them, they are my job. And when they are asleep I have to do all the things I didn't get a chance to do when they were awake. It's a never ending treadmill. (See here. None of this has changed).

I know that if we added another child to our family, the tiny bit of time that I have left in my life to do things that I actually - gasp - want to do would shrink to be even tinier than it already is. The tiny portion of my brain that remains to me as mine alone feels so small already. I hate that I have so little time to do things that fill me up, as a person - the things that recharge me. I want more time to be creative, in ways both big and mundane. I that this is no less selfish for being an educated sort of selfishness. I know how privileged it is to be yearning for things that are right at the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but that's what I'm yearning for.

I mean, some of the time that's what I'm yearning for. Because other days, I ask myself: What kind of person does it make me if I would rather watch TV than raise another child?

Because really, that's no less true than the other stuff. I just want a break, sometimes. Why would I make things harder, faster, busier?

The best description of parenthood I've ever heard is: Lots of joy; not a lot of fun. That's the tradeoff. That's the opportunity cost. We trade one sort of pleasure for another. To be a parent, to do parenting, means sacrificing time that could otherwise be used for other things. I won't get my thirties twice. And I love being a mother, but this really is a real sacrifice. If the joy / fun thing looks like an easy win to you, looks like an equation with a payoff that tends to infinity, I think that you are really underrating how awesome fun can be.

I haven't read a novel all month. I would never, ever have believed that could be true of me.

The other day, I lay on the floor with them and we built roads out of their blocks. I built some tunnels for Blue's trains and he started using them as bridges for a family of imaginary snails, imaginary snails that I hadn't met before and haven't met since. As it was happening, I realised that he would never remember this. He will never remember the day we spend building a block bridge to take his snails to safety.

And I grumpily thought what's the point and then I realised that I will remember this. Days like this are much more a gift to me than to them. When this has all faded into a subconscious childhood blur for them, I will be the one who remembers him, his small pudgy hands, his tiny body, the look of intense concentration on his face, the way he compliments me without quite knowing how to do it: "Oh wow, Mummy, I love your hairs! They look really... similar!" 

I treasure these days. There is so much joy. Why would I not do all this again?

I love them so much. I love being with them.

But I like doing other things, too.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Let's Make This Happen, Girl

Here is a video of me trying to teach the twins my favourite song: 

(yes, I make them sing. They'll be glad one day. Also - listen to the end. Is he talented or what? For once I'm not being sarcastic). 
The song is this one: Something Good Can Work, by Two Door Cinema Club. I love this song so much. Really, really so much - I love this song more than the Beliebers love Justin is how much. It's so upbeat, and I am not naturally upbeat - In fact, I have a special category on spotify called 'upbeat' that I created pretty much just to contain this song. Some days, the fourteen year old vocalist in this song is nicer to me than anybody in my real life. On those days, I use this song as my life coach - I turn it up loud, and getting the children dressed, sing along: Let's make this happen, girl!  Then, working on attachment stuff with my kids: We're going to show the world that something good can work!  and working on finishing my book: It can work for yoooooou, and you know that it will. Will it? 

I feel like I need the encouragement. Lately I came across this video, and it's pretty much the best thing I've ever seen so I'm going to sit here for a while so you can watch that, or at least put it on your 'watch later' list - you'll be glad, I promise. 

I loved it - she's talking about YouTube, but there's so much truth in there about how we interact with all kinds of content that other people create - and then how the creators interact with our interactions - it's made me think a lot about how I read, as well as how I write. (And it's a whole lot more interesting than that summary makes it sound). I liked the part about American Idol, particularly. And then she got to the end and said that she wasn't actually scared about creating things and I just thought - wow. Way to go. I wish I could say the same. And I didn't realise, until I realised it, but I've been having some big-time Fear about finishing this book. I'm not quite done yet and there have been some legitimate reasons (some editing stuff, some life stuff) but I don't think that's really the issue. I'm on draft four point five, and surely it's got to be time to say goodbye soon, but  I keep getting snagged on some uncomfortable things - mostly, why would I want to put this horrible (and true) version of myself out into the world? Frankly, I'm terrified. I feel really vulnerable about people I know reading it, and judging me for what's inside me- and also vulnerable on a more prosaic level because I'm worried it's a big pile of £$*^& and wow, nobody wants to know that about the thing they've been working on for the last two years, do they?

This is not a writing blog - I try not to get too boring about book stuff here but this is really beginning to bother me. I know that there's no point writing anything personal unless it is fierce and honest and real. If people are interested in process, they'll read something informative, and I have no claim to having any information to pass on. My aim, I guess, it let people know what the whole thing felt like, from my perspective. Nobody is going to pay ten dollars to read 'we did some stuff and it was moderately difficult and now I'm moderately pleased we survived'. Snoozefest. It's got to be honest, or there's no point. If we want to have stilted conversations where we censor everything real and pretend to be better people than we really are, we can go to our high school reunions. I don't think there's any point writing that kind of stuff down. And I don't mind blogging honestly, because I could delete it all if I wanted to, but putting things in print feels like maybe a terrible, huge mistake. I want to be honest, I want to be brave, but I don't feel any of those things, I just feel like a scared little girly. A scared little girly or a sad old lady, an old lady who turns to teenage songs for inspiration and courage.

But you've got to take what you can get, right? I play this song for Pink quite often when we are on our own (so okay, almost never) and we call it 'Girls' Music'. As well as learning to sing it, I'm trying to teach her to say 'Let's make this happen, girl!' partly because I want her to be more upbeat than me, and partly because it makes me laugh.

I need to keep saying my favourite line over to myself, talking to myself in the third person like the truly functional human being that I am: Let's make this happen, girl. I want to finish this thing. I am going to finish this thing. So I made another poster for myself and you can have it too, if you like:

So that's me. What about you? What do you need to make happen?