Sometimes, I feel a bit like Anneka Rice, in Treasure Hunt; running around looking for clues and up against the clock, but without the helicopter, the back-up team in the studio or the budget. Or the jump suit, however that is starting to seem quite practical.
I’m sat in a coffee shop on my own, a rare and long overdue treat, scribbling away all the list of things that I need to get done, or if I’m honest with myself, I’m just adding to an already long list of ‘to dos non-urgent’; the dodgy kitchen tap that magically comes on when you put the upstairs taps on, I need to book a boiler service, I need to finalise Anna’s transport for after half term , I need to find the consent forms for Elsa’s flu vaccination, I need to pursue the claim for our disastrous holiday last year, and on and on and on it goes. On top of it all, there are sub lists, categorised in to urgency, and today I need to find the time to do all the ‘absolutely must dos’ within the next hour. In fact I’m so busy, I’ve just ordered a cup of coffee in Costa using Makaton.
I like to call this unending round of admin and logistics ‘The Mother Load’. The sheer weighty volume of this load can at times be overwhelming, like trying to swim with a bloody big ocean liner attached to your ankle. I know I’m not alone with the Mother Load, and whether you have a child with additional needs or not, I don’t doubt that as a parent you will have your own specific ‘load’. Who knew that in order to parent successfully, as in, actually know where you or your children are supposed to be at any given time, you need to become a Jedi master in the art of administration and logistics. When you throw in the speech and language appointments, googling for new ways to support your child, hospital appointments, hearing appointments, and all the other paraphernalia of appointments the Mother Load can become a little overwhelming. I’ve found it’s vitally important to share the Mother Load with others who completely ‘get it’ and are non-judgemental of your choices. I mean friends who thoroughly understand the fact that children adopt the speed of a snail when you’re trying to get them out the house, who don’t judge you (even if your house looks like you’ve been permanently burgled), who don’t turn their nose up if you’re wearing the same clothes two days running (mainly chosen from your ever growing ‘floordrobe’ obviously), and who unequivocally understand the sometimes comedic difficulties of trampolining/star jumps/running with a post birth pelvic floor (imagine the Hoover Dam being made entirely of jelly and you’ll get my drift). Friends like these make life all the richer and whilst you may have to ‘kiss a lot of frogs’ as my friend so eloquently puts it, you will find your own tribe of like minded Mum friends.
My brain does work at 100 million miles an hour, jumping from one thing to the next, without pausing to take a breath in between. I know that sometimes I interrupt people because a thought pops in to my head and I have to get that thought out and in to the conversation before it gets lost again in my brain fog. Speaking of brain fog, this morning I completely forgot I had Elsa’s Cello strapped to my back. It was only when another child asked me why I was going home with it that I actually realised!
I’ve wanted children for as long as I can remember and prior to being a parent, I guess I looked at life with children through rose tinted glasses because nothing can prepare you for being a parent. No matter how many books you read, or how much advice you’re given, your journey will be exactly that; ‘your’ journey. No two people’s experience of being a parent are the same, as all children are completely unique.
Just as I feel like I’m getting things sorted I feel like I have the rug pulled from underneath me again, and it’s so often by something I couldn’t have foreseen. Elsa was burnt by a firework at the start of November, one went horribly wrong and one of the flares hit Elsa setting fire to her skirt and her tights. To cut a long story short she suffered burns to her legs which became infected and we’ve been backwards and forwards to the hospital for several weeks now. She’s on the mend but oh the guilt! Somehow, I feel it’s my fault, I was standing next to her at the time and I feel I should have stopped it. My rational part of my brain tells me that it was a freak accident and there’s nothing I could have done, but the little monster, more commonly known by the name ‘guilt’, that sits inside my head and whispers to me in the depths of the night tells me something entirely different. Needless to say we won’t be having fireworks ever again.
Anna experienced mufti day the other day and ever since then has chosen not to wear her uniform to school and the mornings have been somewhat stressful and despite my best efforts to remain calm and focused, I realise that I am a human being too, and whilst I can have the patience of a Saint, I do however have my limits. And I’m not surprised Anna is refusing to wear school uniform, it’s really confused her, and I should’ve stuck to my guns and abstained from Mufti day. But we live and we learn. And whilst I fretted over the uniform I was reminded by a friend that it’s best to save my energy for the bigger battles and that put it all in to perspective. One day when I’m no longer here I know that Anna will be out in the world without me and I need to ensure that I help Anna to be as independent as she possibly can be, so it’s all about focusing on what really matters and what is important and letting everything else drift over my head. There is no room on this journey for excess baggage.
I’m lucky enough to have some great friends who see the comical side of Motherhood. We don’t take ourselves seriously and we can genuinely laugh at our adventures in Motherhood. I remember when I first started out on my journey with Anna, I described the feeling as being as though someone had dropped me in to the ocean without knowing whether I could swim or not. Sometimes, I feel like I’m back in that ocean again, although this time I’m wearing a life jacket and on that jacket is a whistle to call for help and it’s made me realise that I’m not alone on this journey.
The term ‘Mother Load’ refers to something in abundance or something valuable. As Mother’s we love our children fiercely and carry the Mother Load regardless of whether it’s as light as a feather or as heavy as boulder, but it is always valuable.
When I used to hear the story ‘Goldilocks’ I just took it as read and never gave it a second thought. After almost 7 years of being a Mother, I finally understand why Mama Bear’s porridge is always cold.