Reflections on motherhood...


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Time - the long and the short of it

When you become a parent, it dawns on you that sooner or later you will no longer be around. Perhaps it dawned on you before becoming a parent, but something about becoming a parent makes it starkly real, slightly horrifying.  Time speeds up.  One day, you're at home with a newborn, all bewilderment, exhausted love and never ending piles of laundry, and then boom, he's about to start school, all backchat, skinned knees and running for the sheer joy of it.  This is the type of time that goes too fast.

Are we there yet?
Time also slows down.  Some days it drags like the long hungry walk home from school in the baking hot sun with your kid sister.  You. Are. Never. Going. To. Get. There.  This type of time is known as are-we-there-yet? time.

Then there are the nights.  The nights stretch out before you like a black abyss.  You are unsure whether this is the seventh or the fifteenth time you've gotten up, You are pretty sure you spend more time in pjs than day clothes, and you smell, just faintly, of sour milk.  This is night time.

The five stages of baby bedtime
Then there's bed time.  Sometimes it closely resembles are-we-there-yet time.  You enter the five stages of baby bedtime.  The first is denial.  You book a time in the evening to leave the house.  You tell yourself that your baby reliably goes to bed at 6.30-7, so you should be able to leave the house at 7.15.  In technical terms, the parent is trying to shut out the reality of their situation, and begins to develop a false, preferable reality.  This is denial.

The second is anger.  Once in this stage, the parent realises that denial cannot continue.  Surely this can't be happening to me tonight.  It's the only night in the last year that I need to get somewhere by 8pm and the baby is babbling and wriggling like he's snorted coke.  Perhaps I shouldn't have had that third cup of coffee today...

The third is bargaining.  This stage involves the hope that the parent can somehow bargain their baby to sleep.  If I do this bum-patting routine one hundred times, the baby will be asleep by then.  Just start counting.  You may or may not get there.

The fourth is depression.  During the fourth stage, the parent begins to understand the certainty of never getting the baby to sleep.  It is, like, NEVER going to happen.  You have possibly been patting the baby's bum for at least three hundred pats, your arm is about to drop off from the effort, and you have no idea how long you've been in that hell-hole of a bedroom.

The fifth is acceptance.  That is, the baby accepts the inevitability of sleep and finally, finally drops off, or you accept that it's never going to happen, bring the baby back downstairs to play some more, and cancel your plans.  He will sleep when he sleeps.

That is the fives stages of baby bedtime.

The time warp
Then there's the time warp.  This can happen at any time, day or night.  It commonly occurs at bedtime.  You might think you've been in that room doing that bum patting routine for three hours.  Turns out it was 15 minutes tops.  Or you might say "I'm just popping out to the supermarket to grab some milk."  Slightly giddy with freedom, you get a little distracted in the supermarket and surrounding stores.  You get home three hours later.

Travel time
Then there's travel time.  Each journey is carefully planned and timed to coincide with nap-time.  You know you need to leave THIS INSTANT or there is going to be HELL to pay.  Or you should have left two hours ago.  You're screwed.  The car journey is going to be a white-knuckle scream-fest.  You wish you could time travel.  Preferably back in time to that moment when you had a perfect body, very few responsibilities, and a bit of disposable income.

It may only have been a brief moment, but it's one you'd like to savour again.  Much like many other moments.

So, white-knuckle scream-fest or not, savour this moment, as it'll be over before you know it.  The lifetime equivalent of fifty more bum-pats.

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