We are weary.
Our experience of being new parents has been that of being strapped to a roller coaster that never stops. It has its dizzyingly fun moments, its go-slow moments of great anticipation before dipping maddeningly, and then, sometimes, there's a backwards loop-de-loop that will leave us disoriented and out of breath. But, wonderfully and terribly, there seems to be no getting off this ride. I often look around at other new parents I have met along the way, and wonder if they're experiencing the same thing. To me, they seem sane and well rested, and I wonder if I look as harried and chaotic as I often feel.
I was ready for very little in the practical, hands-on side of parenting. In the days of my pregnancy, I thought a lot about what kind of a life I wished for our family. I let rosy, warm images float into my consciousness and, after late night conversations with my OTL, I'd think about the kind of parents we would hopefully become and how we'd grow our parenting through our strong, shared (but hopefully flexible) value system. I love doing this kind of thinking. It allows me some delicious dreaming but is also shaped by my moral compass and my skills in critical reflection. These are hard won attributes and I relished applying them to such an important time of my life.
However, not once, not ever in the whole pregnancy, did I ever pause to think how I would get the laundry done in a laundry that screams Danger! Danger! for small inquisitive children. Nor did I try and think of practical strategies for washing the dishes with a toddler hanging off one of my legs. And, furthermore, I never dreamed that I would have to do anything quite so organised as plan meals ahead and shop for them before time so that all of us would have more to eat than just egg on toast. Unheard of!
However, on a day when Tiny is sick (not terribly but enough to make him feel increasingly more miserable and tired as the day wears on), I am reminded of how many skills you need that were never part of my rosy imaginings. Most significantly tonight, I think we are often so bone weary because of the sheer physical nature of parenting a toddler. Today I picked a stressed and whiny Tiny up approximately 40,000 times. It is very difficult to ignore a miserable little one at your feet, and so up and down into my arms he went all day. A cuddle here, some dancing there, a song with actions here, a swinging game there. And then, when it was all too much, I cooked dinner one handed while he watched, tucked away in my other arm. I used to suffer from a kind of repetitive strain injury in one arm from too much typing. These days, everything, from the top of my head down, feels a bit like it has been used too much all day. I suppose I should be grateful it has all balanced out.
The thing is, though, is that I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't care if I have to employ an osteopath full time. Holding that little boy is one of the greatest joys of my life. One day he's going to be too big for any of that piffle with his mother and I'm going to feel keenly his moving away from my arms. Until then, I'm going to find it in me every time to give him a cuddle when he needs it. There'll be time enough for rest another day.