I have no time to myself.
I kind of expected that in the early days with a second baby, but you know what? It’s not Rory that demands all my attention and energy. Rory might be the easiest baby that ever existed.
During the day, I can’t sit down and concentrate on anything, because Arlo (rightfully so) demands my attention. During the evenings I can’t because Rory isn’t going to sleep until 9 or 10, and because Sam would like us to spend time together (rightfully so). Arlo stopped napping a long time ago so there is no break for me, all day – this can be really, really gruelling.
I get told off for being a bit vacant and unresponsive with Arlo during the bedtime hour. Once everyone is in bed, I get told “All you ever do is stare at your phone”. I notice Sam doing the same things too, after all, we are only human and there’s only so much whiney, demanding toddler a person can take, but I decide not to start a fight. I guess the point trying to make is that I feel like whatever I do, I can’t win.
There is no time to dedicate to working out how to earn more money – things are OK now, but we will soon be into severe budgeting hell again.
Time for hobbies? Forget it.
There is no time to update my sorely neglected business blog.
There is a long list of things to write on this blog, but there is no time.
There is no time to watch the TV programs I like without feeling guilty that it’s inappropriate for Arlo or that I’m boring Sam to death.
There is no time to take a time out from thinking about the fact that there is no time, because there is no time.
I need to give Sam, and our relationship, time. I need to give our children time. But where is the time for me?
When the weekend rolls around I’m relieved that it’s not only down to me to provide the constant, all-day stimulation. And then the weekend is over before I know it.
I feel like I shouldn’t be writing this. Because what did I expect by having two children? But I don’t think it’s about having two children, I think it’s about the terrible twos.
Aside from 4-11 months old when sleep was a massive problem for Arlo, 2-3 years has been the most demanding stage for me. I’ve hesitated writing this because I feel guilty at even saying it out loud, or having Arlo read it later on, but I’m going to say it anyway. Having a constantly talking, attention-demanding, tantruming, potty-training two year old with me AT ALL TIMES is draining… is exasperating….is a lot of things.
Here’s a typical day in the life for me at the moment. (Except Sam does sometimes kindly let me watch big brother in the evenings, we do not always ignore each other in favour of our phones, and sometimes I manage to find time to write blog posts about there being no time). PS. Sam is not a heartless bastard. These are just examples of how a badly-timed comment can unintentionally hit you where it hurts.
6.30am I hear Arlo crying. Moaning about something or other. Yet again, it’s a grumpy start to the day.
6.45am Sam brings Arlo in to our bed. If we get downstairs now, we could have breakfast and be washed and dressed before Rory wakes. Arlo continues moaning and wakes Rory up.
7am Arlo doesn’t want breakfast, he wants a snack. Arlo follows me around the kitchen wailing.
8am I get Rory ready. Arlo doesn’t want to go to playgroup. Arlo doesn’t want to stay home and play with trains. I get myself ready, Arlo wants to come upstairs. Arlo wants to go downstairs. Arlo wants to come upstairs.
9.30am Playgroup. Arlo is happy unless someone else has a toy he wants. Rory sleeps. I do that thing that i swore i never would and absent-mindedly respond to Arlo’s chatter without really listening. I catch eyes with another mother. Are they wondering why I am looking at my phone rather than playing with my toddler?
11am I am starving. Too early for lunch. Rory is sleeping, chances are he’ll be awake at lunchtime, delaying my food until even later. So I eat biscuits, just in case I don’t get a chance to eat anything else for another three hours.
“Mama, RORY’S AWAKE!”
“Arlo he’s trying to go to sleep, let’s leave him alone.”
“MAMA, HE’S AWAKE! COME AND SEE, MAMA. ARE YOU COMING?? LOOL MAMA, HE’S AWAKE! RORY’S AWAKE!!”
11.15am Arlo refuses to move from his highchair until lunch is served.
11.20am I remember the conversation I had with Sam about wondering whether we were doing enough to engage Arlo and encourage him out of his constant whinging. Rory is asleep. I focus on Arlo and suggest we do something he asked me to do yesterday when I was busy with Rory. He doesn’t want to play with me. He doesn’t want to do anything.
11.30am I feed Rory and watch as Arlo sits silently in his highchair, staring into space.
12pm Arlo refuses to eat the lunch I’ve made. He has a yogurt and gets down from the table.
12.30am Arlo does not want me to eat my lunch on the sofa. He demands I eat at it at the table. Rory is crying.
1.15pm Rory is happy and I return to my lunch. Arlo asks for a nap. I abandon my lunch again and waste 45 minutes upstairs with a child that refuses to nap anymore.
2pm I call time on this nap fail.
2.15pm Rory needs resettling. Arlo wants me to play pretend cars with him.
2.25pm Rory is asleep. Until Arlo accidentally throws a plastic trumpet into his head.
2.30pm I eat lunch on the sofa in front of home and away. Arlo repeatedly pokes his foot into my arm. Arlo wants me to play pretend cars.
2.35pm I remember a conversation Sam and I had about appropriate TV for Arlo and I feel guilty. What’s the point anyway, all I hear is Arlo, “WHAT ARE THEY DOING, MAMA? ARE THEY AT HOSPITAL? ARE THEY ON THE BEACH? THEY WANT TO GO TO THE CAFE”.
2.45pm “Can you pick Rory up, Mama. Pick Rory up. He wants to be picked up.”
3pm I put Cbeebies on. Arlo is quiet. I feed Rory.
3.10pm Sam sends me a picture of the clutter on the dining room table with the caption “this is getting out of hand”
IS IT A BEE OR A FLY, MAMA?
“It’s a fly”
“A BEE OR A FLY, MAMA?”
“IS IT A BEE OR A FLY? BEE OR A FLY?”
4pm Arlo wants to play trains. Arlo doesn’t want to play trains. Arlo is incapable of doing anything himself and must cry every time something goes wrong with his train track.
4.15pm I ask Arlo if he’s SURE he doesn’t need the potty, for the millionth time that day. Rory poos. Arlo poos on the floor. I spend the next 45 minutes dealing with poo.
5pm I am starving. Rory enters his wakeful period and will want to feed from now until 9.45pm
5.45pm After 15 mins of dealing with Arlo’s whinging, Sam makes a half-joke about wishing he was still at work.
6pm Arlo doesn’t want this dinner. This dinner is a bit rubbish for him. He wants his other nice dinner.
6.15pm Sam thinks the key to Arlo’s whininess is naps.
8pm Arlo is in bed. Either asleep or not yet asleep, but at least in bed. I am starving
9pm We eat the dinner Sam has made. Rory cries. Sam switches on football or some cooking show that I have no interest in.
9.15pm I get ready to rant to Sam about my non-event of a day, and how sometimes I think I might go insane if I had only toddler conversations 24/7, day in day out. But Sam is looking at his phone and making the noises he makes when I know he’s not listening.
9.45pm I’ve just got Rory to sleep. For the first time all day, my hands are unoccupied and my brain space is free. I think about working on some images, or writing a blog post that’s been in my head for a week. But I’m knackered and just want to go to bed.
2am Feed Rory
4am Feed Rory. He is restless until 5.30am. I know I don’t have long to sleep, is there any point?
6.30am I hear Arlo crying.
I love him, I really do. I love his clever thoughts and his cheeky smile. I love seeing him grow and change. I love that he has a real thirst for stimulation. For every 10 frustrating and demanding moments there is one where he surprises me with his wit, kindness, or cleverness.
Of course I love him. But am I allowed to admit my selfish thoughts from time to time?