This year I promised last year’s me that I would read 30 books (5 books more than my 25 book challenge last year!). I completed 26 books last year so I thought I would up my challenge a little bit. Just a small margin, haha!
One condition with these books, though, is that they have to be less fictional. My TBR (to-be-read) pile increasingly contains non fiction books about parenting, child brain development and other things I found an interest in but never pursued (such as the strange story of Typhoid Mary!), and I thought this year I really ought to buckle down and really the read things I have saved for later.
So it’s the end of January and I have completed one book so far. It’s called ‘Brain Rules for Baby’ by John Medina.
It was a wonderful book, full of scientific research about the best practices to follow in order to raise happy, healthy and most importantly, emotionally regulated children.
John Medina (who is a father of two) never writes in a way that makes you feel bad for not doing something. His tone is cheery, upbeat and optimistic. There is always something you can do, as long as you do it! Big or small.
One of the biggest things I took away from this book was the need for children to play, and to have a social circle. I won’t go into anymore detail as I am currently with my children (they are having breakfast and I am typing this out quickly while they make a colossal mess everywhere!) – but I loved reading this book. I learnt a great deal, and I am going to be using it as a reference point over the years to come. It made me feel energised and full of ideas for play and connectivity as my children grow.
I have started exercising again. Moving my body. I do it a lot, to be fair. But then life gets stressful and movement takes a back seat.
But moving your body brings life to your capillaries.
Life to your fingertips.
You can be sad, but when you move, your sadness sort of dances. The wobbling self pity fountain stays away. Dry eyes, smile lips.
I cycle down the Great Shilling Way. Sounds grand, doesn’t it? I like to think it is. It’s the path old soldiers during the First World War took. On their way somewhere. There are metal figurines of these men in their oval helmets, carrying rifles. Iron-wrought poppies. Fields to the right (or left, depending which way you’re coming), and the main road on the right.
The Great Shilling Way.
So I cycle. I also own some weights and I use those at home with a resistance band I bought years ago on Amazon.
I go to the gym. I lift heavy weights. I can squat 40kg now, and can leg press 100kg. I’ve always had super strong legs, probably why I enjoy cycling so much.
Red face. Red capillaries. Strong legs to squat down and pick things up whilst carrying my heavy 12kg baby.
Happy mood, movement, energy levels soaring. Tired muscles, but the kind of tired where you can feel the strength quietly building.
I hope this movement spree lasts longer than the last one.
Do you ever overeat when you’re tired? I do. Both my children were up all night last night and as a consequence I have eaten my bodyweight’s worth in snacks today without even realising.
When I finally collapsed in bed at 2am last ‘night’, I shut my eyes and succumbed to slumber. It was the most glorious feeling. Then that familiar cry. Only at night it’s twenty thousand times more irritating and has that unique power to make you feel furious.
But you fight it. For that precious sweet face. You scoop the chubby bundle of baby up and bring them into your own bed.
Then the pattering feet, and the croaky child voice, ‘Mama, mama, I’m scared.’
So you haul the other one into your bed too.
And try to succumb again to that glorious sleep. It’s there alright. Tantalising. Close. You feel it.
But your kids have other ideas. One of them is attempting to crawl in the bed because it is her newly found skill and she loves to do it. She is laughing as she tries to get her chubby legs up, chaos in the covers, pitch black room. And then the almost-3-year old is awake. Banging his feet on the headboard. Asking me to open my eyes. Telling me stories. Chatting to his baby sister, who chats right back.
All through the night.
All through till morning.
And they do not tire. No siree. They hanker for breakfast and are little spitfires ready and gearing for their day of action. Playing, fighting, giggling, pulling things out of cupboards, sticking play dough in corners and smushing it into rugs, snotty noses from leftover colds.
I wish today I could say ‘Ahhhh it’s all so precious and worth it.’
I KNOW it is.
But I don’t feel it today.
I feel angry. Tired. Frustrated. Guilty. Bloated from all the sweet chilli thai rice crackers I have been eating to keep my bleary eyes awake. And the countless mugs of coffee I have downed today. That massive hot chocolate I had for lunch. My oh my. I fell asleep trying to put them to bed at 7:30pm BECAUSE HELLO, SHOULDN’T THEY BE TIRED AFTER THEIR NIGHT OF PARTYING?
No they are not.
8:30pm came and went and it crept to 9… still wide and happily awake.
Some days parenting is a ride.
Today is that day.
Today I am bedraggled, a mess, and totally lost. I sit here writing this when I am supposed to be working but I am so tired from my sleepless night and my full-on day that I want to go to bed. But I am also terrified to go to bed because I know as soon as I give in to the glorious sleep that is beckoning to me.. I will be rudely yanked away again.
I know it.
P.S. Look, I only write this to document. Not to complain. I love my babies with every fibre of my being. I would wrestle sleep to the ground if I thought their lives and health were in danger. I know one day I will sleep and sleep and sleep because they will be grown and off living their own lives and I will be sad and miss them. I KNOW this. However, I also know that in the moment, sometimes, it all gets a bit too much. You can feel frustrated and angry. You will also feel guilty for feeling frustrated and angry. Being a mother is so insane. It’s so mad. It’s so crazy. It’s so surreal and unbelievable and unfair and beautiful. You can’t hold it in your hands. You can’t catch the fleeting time, and yet you wish it all away. You can’t get enough, and you have way too much.