I told myself I wouldn’t blog too much about being a mum because there are plenty of better blogs out there about that already, and I like to keep as much privacy for my kids as possible. But it is a blog about being a mum and living overseas, away from family support. And I am knackered.
My husband was away for two nights and three days for work. I was at home alone with the 5yo and 5month old, while also battling a cold. Here’s what my time looked like:
Cut tiny fingernails and toenails, wipe noses (including my own), wipe poo, wipe poo off of ankles and legs on attempted wipes, clean up boogers, clean up dog poo, clean up pee off the missed toilet seat, throw laundry in, vacuum three floors including stairs, feed pet, help with homework, get baby to nap, resettle baby 20 min into nap by doing a bounce and sway which is a good workout but exhausting, make lunch for school, dress children, get socks lump free, get juice and water, get snuggles, shower (maybe), brush teeth (maybe), attempt to fix blinds, attempt to fix tv, bundle up baby, get kids into car & booster seats, get baby into carrier to walk to school, get kid settled into school, go up 68 stairs to house, get baby to nap, eat (maybe), resettle baby, go to the toilet, check news to see if America is at war yet, wash dishes, wipe cupboards and bench, put feet up for a moment oh wait nope, resettle baby, change nappy, nurse, put baby in carrier again, pick up child from school, watch child play, go to child’s school conference while trying to get baby to sleep in carrier, walk back up 68 stairs to house, try to get baby to finish nap, get snack, check kid’s lunch box, check kid’s homework, let the dog out, make lunch for next day, drink lots of water, eat, get dinner ready (thankfully husband pre-made some food for us, which made it so much easier), put pajamas on, get both settled, then wake up several times during the night to resettle baby and nurse until body gives out and can’t do it anymore so resort to co-sleeping, kid wakes up, coffee, breakfast, REPEAT.
My expectations were a bit high in terms of what I could handle. I’m new to this mum-of-two thing, had a longer post-birth recovery, and on top of that have very little sleep. At the last moment, I enlisted a friend for one night to help with bedtime and hired our sitter for a flat fee another night. Thank god for this. I couldn’t have done it alone. No way. Every bone in my body ached; every part of me could not move another muscle. It hurt to think. I’ve given birth to two babies and THIS was physically harder.
And then she came.
A new mum friend from 5yo’s school saw me at pick up- my dark under eye circles and congested nose in all its glory- and the next day she showed up on my doorstep. She insisted on helping. She brought groceries. She offered to tidy up my kitchen or do the dishes. I refused; embarrassed by the state of my house and myself.
But she understood.
She stayed anyway. We chatted. I took a shower (!) and she entertained my baby. We talked some more. The paranoid American in me kept thinking, “What’s the catch?” because I hardly know this woman. This mother. But it was a gift and I accepted it.
She is a gift.
Having a baby can be isolating. I am particularly rigid about the first year and getting the baby into a sleeping schedule (if the baby responds to schedules- some babies don’t) so I tend not to socialize much those first months. The newborn/infant daze is legit and I forgot all about it. Every day and night is different. It’s a miracle I’m typing this right now. It’s a miracle I remember my own name. I have to prioritise my time and my children are always top of the list. Second is housework (a messy house makes me more anxious than I already am). Third is my manuscript, which I try to spend at least a half hour every day working on because I have an October deadline. Not enough time on me. I probably should get new glasses. I probably should see a dentist. I’d love a re-do on my hairdo. It’d be nice to catch up on House of Cards.
My situation isn’t unique. There are many many other parents out there doing this on their own. There are parents out there whose partner is away the majority of the time, and they have to rely on others to get by. There are single parents out there doing it everyday on their own. I’m aware we chose this lifestyle of living down under, far away from loved ones. And we get by. But I have to say, I didn’t know having a second child would be so much harder.
So, when this mum showed up on my doorstep with the reminder, “it takes a village”, I cried.
To my mum friend who has been with me from the beginning of our adventure down here: Thank you.
To my mum friend of infant twins who texts to check in: Thank you.
To my Uni student kid-sitter: Thank you.
To my writer friend who keeps me writing: Thank you.
To my mum friend who offered to let me bathe in her luxurious tub: Thank you.
To my parents for supporting via Skype: Thank you.
To the nurse at our GP’s office who has the best advice: Thank you.
To my child psychologist friend who offers wisdom from afar: Thank you.
To my child’s teachers for taking great care of him: Thank you.
To my mum friend who is more knackered than I am but still manages to be a huge support via Facebook messages: Thank you.
To my mum friend who showed up on my doorstep: Thank you.
I can say with certainty, as knackered as I am, I’m incredibly grateful for the village surrounding us.