Tomorrow, Oli is leaving for Edinburgh, where he’ll be staying for just over a week. He’s going to be doing a show at the fringe with the wondrous Chad Lelong – a reinterpretation of David Bowie songs – if you’re at the festival and fancy popping by, then you can find out all the details here.
But this post isn’t really about that (sorry Ol). It’s about me (so far, so predictable). You see, it’ll be the first time I’ll have been left alone with Daph even overnight, let alone for a week. And I have a confession: I am absolutely terrified.
I’ve known this week was coming up for months – I think Oli agreed to do the festival back in January. But it seemed so far away and I thought as Daph would be one it would be OK. I assumed by now we’d have a really lovely easy routine and rapport going on, and of course it never occurred to me that she would still not be sleeping through the night every night. *bitter laughter*
At present, I know I’m a spoilt cow because Oli is around a lot in the day – he works evenings obviously and so I’ve always got help with the childcare. I’ve never had to be a traditional mum, stuck at home all day on my own with a baby. I get to say things like: ‘Can you just hold Daph for a sec while I pluck an errant chin hair/straighten my hair/have a twenty-minute toilet break?’ I’ve got used to the lie ins that I get every morning (I think I mentioned in an old post that Oli and I struck a deal – I do all the night feeds, and he gets up with her in the morning so I can catch up on sleep). I usually wake up about 8am. But this week, I’ll be doing the night feeds AND getting up at 6am and giving her breakfast and then looking after her all day until she goes to bed. I am afraid. Very afraid. Of the following things specifically:
- Bathtime. How will I coordinate running the bath/ getting her ready/stopping her from drowning while she’s in the bath while I turn around and grab her towel? We have a SYSTEM goddamit: Oli gets her ready for her bath, I give her the bath, he watches her while I get all her towels ready and then I lift her out of the bath and bring her to him to get her into her nightime nappy/pyjamas. Then I read her a story and give her her milk and she goes to bed. It works! It’s a process! If one of us is missing, it’s no longer a process; it’s a health and safety violation.
- Mealtimes. These are my most hated of all parenting duties, due to Daph’s rather fussy nature (read: tendency to scream and squirm and try to climb out of her highchair after one mouthful of food). And I will have to do all of them. Worse still, I will have no one there to distract her/pull funny faces while I try to shove food into her unsuspecting mouth. And how am I meant to prepare the actual food when if you leave her in her playpen for more than about ten minutes she goes batshit crazy?
- Playtime. I guess I am a terrible mother because… *whispers* … I find playing with my own child monumentally dull after about twenty minutes. Oli is BRILLIANT at playing with her, and comes up with voices, names and characters for all her animals etc etc. All I have managed so far is voracious quacking as I squeeze her rubber duck in the bath (which barely even registers a response, truth be told, let alone a smile). I feel so ashamed but I just don’t know HOW TO PLAY. I love her to death – I think I’ve got loving her down to a fine art and have mastered the art of cuddling and kissing her and soothing her when she’s sad. But more than ten minutes of stacking bricks that she just knocks over in favour of barging towards my handbag/mobile phone/any hard surface on which to bonk her head and I just want to stick her in front of Teletubbies and hide behind my laptop. I try reading to her, but she just yanks the books out of my hand and closes them. Apparently trapping Mummy’s fingers in the pages is more fun than watching Mummy point out where Mr Tickle is.
- Going to the toilet. How. How. How.
- Having a shower. The only time I’ll be able to do this is when she’s having her first nap at 9.30am. But on Thursday I have to go to work and my mum is going to babysit. So again, how, WHEN am I meant to have a shower before leaving for the office? At 5.30 before she wakes up? When I’ve probably been up at 4am anyway. Maybe the answer is NEVER GOING TO BED.
I so wish I was better with children – I’ve never been very good with them, and much as I adore my amazing little daughter, I find spending long periods time with her now she’s older and more aware (and more opinionated) really quite challenging. I know you’re not meant to admit that, but I hope I’m not the only mother out there like it. I love the days when Granny comes over and I can sneak off and waste some time doing fun adult things like, y’know, replying to my emails. Or writing blog posts. The most challenging thing by far about being a mother is not having time to get things done. I hate that it takes four days to fold the washing because any spare second is spent firefighting the essential chores like emptying the nappy bin (you don’t want to leave that overflowing in August; LESSON LEARNT).
I am not complaining – I mean, it’s hardly a hardship to be at home with my child like many mothers up and down the country whose partners work abroad. But I AM scared. I think this week will be an interesting learning experience for me (and Daph, poor mite). I am hoping it’ll turn out better than I expect. I’ve arranged trips out for us every day, to make sure I don’t go insane with loneliness. But I’m frightened. I hope that doesn’t make me a horrible person. Wish us luck!