Things are a little bit crazy at the moment. There is an overwhelming amount of things happening. Some are in plain sight and some are “behind the scenes”. Safe to say I’m finding it difficult to juggle everything. Balance is a foreign concept and one I haven’t felt in quite a while.
I won’t complain because so much of what is happening in life right now is good. Positive experiences that I feel really grateful for. Some of them involve hopping on an airplane without my husband and my toddler which is a complex feeling in itself. Somewhere in between wrong and liberating.
It’s balance I am struggling with. If my work is in order then my home is falling down around me. I have constant guilt for choosing the laptop instead of playing on the floor with my son. It’s a constant series of choices and second guessing yourself. I find myself chanting the words “won’t pay the bills” and I shudder at how corporate that sounds. Then I remind myself that I am lucky enough to work from home and see so much of my child. I tell myself to cop on and mostly I listen.
Recently I’ve struggled with little man’s behaviour. I even feel guilty writing those words because it makes it sound as though he is troubled. Let’s it face it though, toddlerhood is a troubling time. I don’t know, it’s just hard at the moment. No harder than your experience, or her experience, but it’s hard. I struggle mostly with how destructive he is. Two years and ten months on this planet have lead to a preference for throwing, breaking and generally destroying anything that comes in to his eyeline. Even things that he truly enjoys. Favourite toys and snacks get the same treatment. It is exhausting.
Sleep isn’t even the issue. We’ve accepted that as part of our reality. He just isn’t a sleeper and we take the good nights with the bad. We go with the flow as much as is possible for a control freak like myself. We make it work and for the most part it does. We recently dropped naps and about 50% of the time we can make that work but sometimes it just doesn’t. Some days you just need to drive somewhere after 2pm. Somedays the only escape from an afternoon of tears and tantrums is a short nap to take the edge off it. Mostly we just try to do whatever makes life easy even if that means making the evening more difficult.
“He doesn’t listen to a thing I say”. I repeated this sentence to my mother at least give times on Friday. I’m laughing writing it now but in the moment it’s not funny. He’s a toddler so why on earth would he be invested in the things that limit his fun and adventure. “Don’t”, “Stop” and “Careful” are words he specifically likes to ignore. When I say ignore I genuinely mean that. Selective hearing. It’s almost a waste of breath because 99% of the time he will do the thing I’ve asked him not to do. Duh Tracey, he’s a toddler. It is so frustrating to deal with though. I suppose it’s because there are no consequences in his world. We don’t have a naughty step or time out. The “we won’t go to X” is futile because the reality is that we will. X is usually as much of an escape for us parents as it is for him. Sometimes it’s mostly for us in fact. It’s difficult to know how to navigate this stage. Parenting was never going to be easy but I’m finding this part particularly tough. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting to constantly say things that make no difference. Saying something feels better than simply sitting back and watching though. I suspect we’ll be in this space for quite some time. Three is only around the corner and I feel that more speech and more play-school can only help him understand the boundaries. Help us set them even. He goes three mornings a week now and come September it will be five. Five free days at that. I still can’t believe that he is a child that cries to go to play-school. What a transformation.
Working from home is such a privalage. We get to go to the shops when it’s quiet. We can accept a doctor’s appointment that is ten minutes away. I can sign for packages and put dinner in the slow cooker. So many benefits. It is also a constant juggling act. Do you spread yourself thinly across everything so that nothing is being 100% neglected? Or is it best to do one thing really well and completely tick it off the list? It depends on the mood I am in. It depends on the mood that the toddler is in. I’ve found myself making use of random pockets of time and using them to my advantage. For example accepting that I cannot clean the entire house in the 20 minutes between finishing my work task and collecting him from playschool. Instead I hoover and wash the floors because doing that while he is present is virtually impossible. The rest I can manage while he is here. That kind of thing. Half the battle is accepting the thing you cannot control. It’s quite liberating.
Things are about to get a whole lot crazier too. I am in a bit of a silent panic about it all truth be told. In one month’s time I will be open the doors of my very own Slimming World Class. Something I have dreamt about for years. I’m generally no good at living in the present but I do find myself day dreaming about the time where it all calms down. When my class is established and I find a routine for it all. I still have all my regular work to do. My regular parenting. Regular second-guessing. I am throwing a huge spanner in the works but one that will bring so many positives for our family and for our future. I just keep dreaming about finally (hopefully) owning a house some day. Finally being able to enrol little man in a school that he will actually attend. Right now we have no idea where we will be living. It is a strange thing to know that his schooling will be so last minute but I know it will all work out.
Then comes the bigger things. The heavy-on-the-heart things that rear their heads every couple of days. When a loved one is sick you simply cannot think about it twenty four hours a day. It cripples you and makes the day to day stuff virtually impossible. It makes the juggle infinitely more complicated. You have to quietly deal with it and often it requires burying the emotions until a time that you can truly let them flow. The reality is not fun. There is a lot of questioning, darkness and resenting the uncertainty surrounding the future. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. And yet my child needs to be fed, my house needs to be cleaned and my (wait for it) bills need to be paid. But it’s there. It’s there and it’s painful beyond words.
The ironic thing about all of this is that I am relying so much on mindfulness these days. I don’t actively sit back and decide to be mindful. I’m not even sure I know how to. I find myself randomly defaulting to it though. I focus on what I am doing now rather than all that I have to do and all that could possibly go wrong. I literally box off the other stuff and throw it in to a cupboard in my head. I know it’s there waiting for me but I’m not staring at it directly. Instead I am mostly focusing on the thing that I am doing now. The dishes, the content, the sums. I see it to it’s completion and let it drop off a little cliff. Not in a violent way. It’s a nice feeling to be able to let go of something that had been hanging over you. It’s done and now I can make room for the next thing. It’s the only way I seem to be able to keep my head above water. I love lists but I can spend more time writing them than actually doing the things that populate them. I am learning.
And then I find myself experiencing the utter cliche of the outdoors. The “what is it all for?” question that finds you when you are experiencing life’s simple pleasures. But really, the answer is under your nose. This is what it’s all for. More of this. More sunshine, sand and Sundays well spent. More delicious food, days without laptops and good coffee. It’s the graft that gets us there. It’s the late nights and deadlines that lead us to a brighter tomorrow. A tomorrow where the bills are paid easier and days are spent better.
But right now it’s today. A gift. That’s why they call it the present according to my mother. And of course she is right. We’re here and we’re together in all of this. We’re somewhere between yesterday and tomorrow and we’re raising a boy who makes that place remarkable.