I’ve decided that toddlers are like chocolate.
I love chocolate. Who doesn’t?! It’s sweet and delicious and most of the time I could just eat it all up – pleather leggings be damned! Sometimes, though, I’m really hungry for something different – something healthy, perhaps – and the thought of all that sweetness makes me feel a bit sick. Sometimes I’m so desperate for savoury, you could throw me into Willy Wonka’s river and I’d still obstinately starve myself until you turned the toaster on.
It’s not that I ever stop loving chocolate. Even when I don’t want it right that moment, it’s definitely still my favourite.
& that’s how I feel about Orla.
I love her, always, and unconditionally, but sometimes, just sometimes, I want to leave her in the shop and go & eat my bodyweight in toast. Parents of toddlers – you know what I’m talking about, right? Right?!
Here’s a typical day.
- 7:30am – I’m awoken by a soft, snuffling hedgehog burrowing warmly in beside me. She’s still half asleep and as I listen to her drowsy breathing I feel an overwhelming sense of peace and love for her. I’m excited for her to wake up and let me into her world. ♡♡♡♡♡
- 8:05am – I get up and go to brush my teeth while she screams in protest from the bed, as if being boiled alive. MUMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEIIE! ♡♡♡
- 8:10am – I attempt to scribble eyeliner and concealer on my face whilst she clings and swings from my left shin, wailing ‘I want to do it!’ I wonder, for the millionth time, how other mothers manage to be so well turned out, then give up on the idea of brushing my hair. ♡♡
- 8:20am – Pajama-clad and bed-headed, she’s eating bread & nutella by the AGA because ‘it’s nice and warm on my body’. She looks up, smiles a chocolatey smile and tells me she loves me. ♡♡♡♡♡
- 8:50am – We do battle over wearing coat & boots, with moderate amounts of shouting and throwing (and a little protest from Orla too). This whole process is comparable to wrestling an octopus into a string bag, if octopuses screamed and occasionally kicked you in the tits. Finally compromise on the boots and agree to carry her to the car. ♡♡
- 9am – Driving over the moorland, she chats happily from the back seat about what she can see. ‘It’s a foggy day today. I can see the sea! That bird is white like Tilly’. ♡♡♡♡♡
- 9:20am – Driving on the motorway at
8070mph when Orla begins to scream and sob because she wants to watch a different show on the iPad and I’m refusing to change it for her because I am driving. I snap at her that she needs to stop screaming, and she switches to crying & asking for a cuddle. Cannot do this either. Feel like the worst human alive. ♡♡♡
- 9:40am – Hit standstill traffic. Change the iPad program and give her a leg-squeeze in lieu of earlier cuddle. Look down to discover my white dress now has poo-ish brown smudges from her nutella-caked fingers. Attempt to clean this off with baby wipes. Fail. ♡♡♡
- 10am – Drop her at the childminder’s, and she is suddenly a little shy, sucking her fingers as she mournfully half-waves a goodbye. Feel bereft and horribly cruel as I drive somberly away. ♡♡♡♡♡
- 10:30am-2pm – I work my arse off and don’t come up for air, or really give her a second thought. Feel like my old self, not defined by motherhood, despite what my unbrushed hair and poo-smudged dress may belie. I begin to consider delaying collecting her by an extra hour so I can get a bit more done. ♡♡♡♡
- 3pm – A toddler or baby comes into the cafe I’m working from with its Mama, being adorably sweet/vociferously unpleasant, and all of a sudden I miss Orla horrendously. I calculate the hours until I can pick her up & check my Facebook in case the childminder has sent through any pics. I text Rory to say how much I miss her (and him, though I mainly just add this out of politeness). ♡♡♡♡♡
- 3:30pm – an hour to go! There’s no way I’m staying an extra hour today; I miss her too much. I can work when she’s in bed later anyway! ♡♡♡♡♡
- 4:20pm – Close enough to 4:30 – I can’t wait any longer. I want my baby back babyback baby back! ♡♡♡♡♡
- 4:35pm – I knock on the door and hear her laughing & jumping behind it with her friends, shouting ‘door Jane!‘. I’m so excited to scoop her up and hear about her day in her funny little world. ♡♡♡♡♡
- 4:45pm – We drive through the city and spot early Christmas lights together. She makes up a song about the things she can see, I join in, and we both sing to the point of shouting & laugh just as loud.♡♡♡♡♡
- 5pm – We’re in motorway traffic again and the iPad has run out of battery. She pretends to cry and complains loudly & repeatedly, punctuating with occasional screams for effect. I crank the radio up and try to concentrate on the road, whilst every muscle in my back contracts with tension. ♡♡
- 5:20pm – I turn the radio back down and all is quiet – she has fallen asleep. I call her name tentatively but she doesn’t answer, & suddenly I’m filled with a certainty that she has died and I missed her last pitiful pleas for help due to PM with Eddie Mair. Become so convinced I have to reach round and squeeze her leg, which she promptly wriggles in sleepy protest. PHEW. ♡♡♡♡♡
- 5:45pm – Arrive home, where she wakes as soon as the engine stills. She’s sleepy and disorientated & she cries for me to carry her inside, & so I leave my work bag, grocery shopping & coffee cup in the car – along with all the similar crap from the previous identical days. I have a headache, and a car like a homeless woman’s shopping trolley. Excellent. ♡♡♡♡
- 6pm – We are snuggled on the sofa under a blanket reading books & watching cBeebies. Her hair smells soft and babyish, and she protests if I move my arms into anything other than a big, tight embrace – ‘close the doors mummy!’. Want to get painkillers for my headache, but decide it can wait. ♡♡♡♡
- 7pm – She only wants teddy bear crisps for dinner, and possibly forever. She does not want a cuddle. She does not want to compromise. Can no longer parent. I hand over to R and go somewhere quiet to look at mindless crap on my phone in the dark. ♡
- 7:45pm She doesn’t want to wear pyjamas – “just clothes!“. Compromise and dress her in clean clothes for tomorrow, thus avoiding this battle again in the morning. Call in reinforcements in the form of R for teeth-brushing & wonder if it’s counter-productive to bribe her with chocolate to let us do it. ♡♡
- 8pm She is nestled in the crook of my arm, reading the last pages of a Father Christmas book. – she’s so excited about Christmas she makes us read this every night. I turn out the light and she snuggles down, her breathing sliding slowly into tiny little snores. I lie there a moment in the dark and breathe her in, imagining how it will be when she’s too big to want this any more. It’s so perfect I consider staying like this for the night, then remember all the work I didn’t finish earlier & tiptoe down the stairs. ♡♡♡♡♡
- 11am I drink wine and work and then I miss her. I joke to R that we should wake her up, just for a chat. He says no. ♡♡♡♡♡
- 4am She’s stirring & restless, only content if I snuggle up facing her; if I roll over, she wakes and cries like a newborn. I can’t sleep on that side and my arm goes numb, but I lie there for 45 minutes until she’s far enough gone for me to roll over & get semi-comfy again. She’s warm and soft at my back and already I’m looking forward to her waking and chatting with me in the morning, sure that tomorrow I’ll be more patient, less stressed, & blissfully loving like never before. & thinner! I’ll probably be thinner too… With fabulous hair.♡♡♡♡♡
- 7:30am New day. Begin again. ♡♡♡♡♡