When I became a parent, I knew in advance that my children would need me. Need me to feed and water them, clothe them, provide them with comfort and a warm place to sleep. I did not realise, however, the full extent of how much they would need me and the complexities of their needs. Never mind that I would just be expected to understand the most illogical of needs. Let me explain.
I need you to help me sleep
Now, if I needed to go to sleep and someone showed me a comfortable bed, then I would be in there no questions asked. With Children it is a totally different Barrel of monkeys. It’s all about facilitating their trip to the land of nod. Top monkey was an awful sleeper. He needed you to be there until the very last moments of consciousness. Even then he had a special sixth sense that knew when you had left the room. His other trick was showing up at 3am to announce “mummy I’m tired”. Just saying “then go back to bed” was not enough. This would trigger an almighty, mind numbingly painful, tantrum. Not great in the early hours.
Middle has a habit of becoming over excited at bedtime. Swinging from the rafters of the monkey house, shrieking with joy and jubilation. Disrupting the other inmates, his listening ears firmly switched to off. Once navigated, however, the excitement switches off the moment his head hits the pillow. Beware though he is also a silent sleepwalker. Many a night, appearing next to the bed silently, frightening the living bejeezuz out of me and Mr LMR.
Little Miss, is currently in transition. An independant adventurer, sleep is just in the way of all the things she is yet to discover. Unfortunately, the tiredness still comes and overwhelms her. You know she needs a nap because despite her best efforts to keep beavering about, she will spontaneously burst into uncontrollable sobs. A run in the pushchair usually resolves this, but not possible in the school holidays, you will find me pacing the garden. A reluctant Little Miss just babbling away contentedly refusing to nod off. It is so frustrating because, if you took her out she would not be happy. So tough luck mummy, keep pacing until I’ve dosed off. Ps don’t try and just put me to bed. I’ll scream uncontrollably for hours, then fall asleep immediately once you pick me up again.
I need you to feed me…all of the time!
“Mummy I’m hungry”. This is the sound track to my life. There needs to be a long stream of snacks throughout the day. My male monkeys are never full. Even if they snacked all the way to tea time they would still eat their dinner. So long as I hadn’t made something offensive like macaroni cheese of course. I can sometimes distract them with activities, but the inevitable snack break will arrive at some point, and God help me if I am not prepared. My mummy friends always used to laugh at the huge rucksack I still carried when I no longer needed the necessities of nappies or changes of clothes. “What’s in there?” They always asked. “Snacks”. 90% healthy, filling snacks to be precise. Filling, my bum. Nothing ever filled them. Or if it does, no one told them.
I need you to have all of the answers
Top Monkey has recently moved into the realm of asking multiple, complicated questions. On a recent drive to my parent’s house, I answered numerous, difficult and profound queries. These ranged from why are there no women werewolves, to how does my brain work, to what happens to your body when you die and will I be lonely if all of my friends died and I am the only one left!?!
“I don’t know” is an unacceptable answer. This is met with the counter question, “why don’t you know?” I find an episode of multiple questions needs to just be navigated until he gets bored. This is done through counter questioning. “What makes you ask that?” Diverting attention to someone else. “Daddy, what do you think?” Or just providing equally fantastical answers. “Your brain works because God put magic in your head. It’s amazing isn’t it?”
I need you to be an octopus
I often find myself bombarded with a number of requests all at once. Everyone needs something promptly and before the others whose needs are different but equally urgent in their world. If you get the order wrong, which I inevitably will, all hell breaks loose. My favourite phrase at home is “Do I look like an octopus?” I know I say this a lot as recently, whilst visiting their Nanna, Top Monkey told Middle that Nana wasn’t an octopus like mummy when he was making demands whilst she was feeding Little Miss. Sometimes Mr LMR gets in on the act too.
Last Christmas we visited the local garden centre for the all singing, all dancing lighting and decoration display. Little Miss, only a few months old, was in the pushchair, screaming for a feed. Top and Middle Monkey had picked up random items and were thrusting them at me, shouting “can we have this for Christmas?” As I stood there, wondering where I was and what the hell was going on, Mr LMR sauntered over, wearing a Chunky knit jumper, which he had found in the Middle aged man’s gardening clothes section.
“What do you think of this?” He says, seemingly oblivious to the noise. “What?” I said rather iritably. He repeated the question. I looked at him in disbelief from within my bubble of noise. “Fine” he huffed starting to remove the jumper. “What do you want me to do?” I shouted over the din. “Grow another ear, that only listens to you!?!” I’ll be honest, although, Mr LMR did not find this amusing. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the need to laugh out loud. I feigned a strop and took Little Miss outside to walk around the outdoor displays, laughing hysterically to myself. Mr LMR and the older monkeys, stood in silence momentarily at the shock of my outburst. What can you do?
I need my time too
In amongst all of their complex and never ending needs sits me. Sometimes quivering in fear, often calmly hiding in the The quiet place in my brain. I am not the sand man, nor am I an octopus. I don’t have all the answers and, last time I looked, I hadn’t grown that third ear. So I am sorry dear monkeys, if sometimes I delegate the task of making endless rounds of toast to daddy, so that I can go for a run. Or that I take the time to finish eating my sandwich before I run to your cries. Or that sometimes I stare at you blankly while you and your brother have another arguement about something illogical. Because I have needs too and, they are just as important as yours are. Sometimes more so.
Don’t worry though, I don’t expect you to understand. Not right now at least. However, every time I look after me too, I am so much better for you and much better at meeting all those needs. Like finding that perfect piece of square toast!