Wednesday 5 August 2015

Are parents expected to be 'morning people'?

I've never been a morning person. I used to spend the first hour of my morning avoiding all contact with humanity and sipping a strong cup of tea. Now I have to get up at least an hour earlier than I previously did and with no chance of a cuppa, let alone a silent period of time to 'come round' to the day with all of its sensations; the noise, the traffic, the computer screens, the schedules, the interactions... Urgh. 

This morning I peeled my head from my pillow at 5:48am to stop my youngest from waking up the entire neighbourhood. My husband had got up at 3:30am with him so I could hardly use the excuse that my husband is a 'morning person' in order to get up with demanding infants. The morning feed has become a blur; when do you class the first feed of the day? 3am? 6am? Either way, I would far sooner be asleep.

Luckily this morning my eight month old went back to sleep at 7am, but my eldest woke up at 7:03, meaning I had a whole three minutes of filling the kettle, switching it on, waiting for it to boil and NOT making myself a cup of tea. 

My eldest bounded down the stairs, excited about the fact he was staying at his grandparents this evening, and although the prospect of having a break from the kids for a while is highly appealing, the day (or week) before this actually happens is ten times the work;  watching as your child bounces off the walls all day, banging their head several times in the process. My eldest was wired. "Mummy, mummy, can we do this??"  "Mummy, do you know what...??" "Mummy, what's that??" "Mummy why does that do that??" "Mummy...." ...All said in a shrill, high pitched tone whilst he bounced or ran around the living room like a monkey on speed. Sometimes I think I should just record myself saying 'I don't know' so I can play it on repeat to him in a morning to save me the trouble of repeating myself. Of course I'm not listening, I don't listen to anyone before 8am, especially not without a cup of tea. 

After helping him with a sticker book, learning about how plants grow and making him breakfast (all with the sound track of mummy, mummy...), I finally made myself some tea and toast.. Ahhhhhh. Now tea and toast sounds lovely, doesn't it? It's the sort of thing you have alongside a newspaper and radio four, or perhaps with an open window to the sound of birdsong. What tea and toast looks like for me is literally Downing the tea before I get interrupted and then shovelling bits of toast in whilst I deal with cleaning my child's jam off the floor, or mopping up his drink, or feeding child no.2 at the same time. 

My husband came down the stairs and told me he hadn't been back to sleep since 3:30am, and instead of feeling incredibly sorry for him that he was lacking in sleep, I got angry. You mean, you were already awake at 5:48am?!! You mean you could have, in your sleep deprived state, got up and done something quite untaxing like feed a small child??! Besides which, my own exhausted, non morning person state (which is not my usual middle of the day state, just in case you are unfortunate enough to meet the former) was feeling like her own exhaustion was getting entirely overlooked. I mean, I'm not talking about just the sleep exhaustion, I'm talking about the mental exhaustion of spending three hours solid with children first thing in a morning. And I don't know about you but if someone comes round for a cuppa and is still there three hours later, I start to make hints that I have other things to do; like pretend I need to go out when all I really want to do is sit for an hour in a chair on my own in complete silence.

I'm not sure why I'm telling you this story of my morning, other than to write out my angst as therapy for the loss of my morning 'me' time. Maybe parenting has totally transformed you to be ready for anything in a morning? Not me. You could say I have an attitude problem, or that life is just tough for parents of young kids. Maybe it's both. But if you meet me today and you offer me a cup of tea don't be surprised if I hug you (and leave you to go and drink it quietly on my own).

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