Parenthood as far as I can tell, is truly a game of survival. It requires the stamina of an Olympic marathon runner (especially when trying to juggle work, sleep, children and life in general) and the ability to fend off dangers from every possible direction. It is without doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever done. My life as a mum of three very rarely reflects the perfect visions I held in my mind pre-children of long happy days at home just playing in the garden and eating wholesome homemade food. Pah!
The days at home are long, that remains a fact and I hope that my children are happy, but what I had edited out of my dreamy visions was the exhaustion, the screams and tantrums and the mammoth effort required to make wholesome homemade meals whilst singing ‘the wheels on the bus’ and trying to stop the baby hurling my iPhone down the toilet!
I am truly pushed to my limits daily. I am sleep deprived and delirious and still trying to carry on as if my life is indeed just as I dreamed. Oh dreams…I remember those!
I am typing this, as I again lay shivering on the sofa at 3am with an 18 month old who refuses to go to sleep. The owls are hooting in the wilds of our peaceful village.
The thing that is really upsetting me tonight is that I am now on day 5 of this ridiculous bout of sleep deprivation and I have been up even on the nights when it was not “my turn!” because now the little tyrant is refusing to go to sleep for daddy! Tonight, after having worked all day, I have been up 6 times with the baby and then my daughter fell out of bed! It is a lot like being one of those survival game shows, my husband and I have tried shouting “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here” but Ant and Dec still haven’t appeared to whisk us off to a luxury hotel.
As I lay here hallucinating about going to bed a thought crossed my mind. How does Bear Grylls survival expert extraordinaire survive parenthood? Yes he might be like Rambo when he’s on his own in the woods, but that must be a walk in the park compared to the trials of real-life parenthood. I wonder how his forest tricks would work in these daily parenting situations.
- Food foraging and cooking something up for dinner:
I have to confess, dinner time is my least favourite time of the day. I NEVER know what I’m going to cook, I never have the right ingredients and when I do finally manage to get something resembling a meal on their plates everyone (husband included) whinges about it. (Sigh!) The baby has also mastered the art of foraging for raisins and biscuit crumbs in the rug after dinner, that’s what he thinks about my culinary skills!
On a positive, I don’t have to dig a fire pit to rustle something up, but at least Bear and his survival chums are grateful for what they eat and it is possibly more nutritious that the oven chips and 50p pizza’s I have served up… yet again. Bad mummy.
- Being the hunter gatherer.
Another of my favourite pastimes. In order to acquire the food that I won’t have time to cook and that my children won’t eat I also have to be the hunter gatherer of our tribe. Usually I cheat and I shop online and the lovely Tesco delivery person brings food and wine (AKA Mummy’s juice) to our cave, but sometimes, when I haven’t even achieved this simple task, I have to take my precious angels with me to an actual shop… all of them! The phrase herding cats springs to mind in this scenario.
Shopping Trips around supermarkets with a toddler, three year old Diva and an 8 year old who NEEDS every sticker and toy in the shop, require stealth and skill that would surely impress Bear Grylls. I sprint up aisles gathering foods that are as healthy as my kids will allow, but unhealthy enough for a good dose of mum guilt, whilst simultaneously removing unwanted items from the Diva, negotiating the purchase of football stickers with the tallest one and bribing the smallest one with a box of Jaffa cakes, which he can now open!
In an exhausted mess I finally make it to the check out, where I remember a million things that I need but don’t have the energy to retrieve. The bill is astronomical and I slowly limp out of the shop, tearful and wondering why all of the shopping fitted in the trolley before I packed it into bags, but now I’m carrying three bags and pushing the trolley.
Bear’s biggest concerned when hunter gathering is “is this poisonous?” and “I wonder if I can find something else to eat with this when I’m sitting down in peace to eat it all by myself!”
- Den building
Oh Bear, your shelter constructions are beautiful. We often marvel at your creations and try to emulate this with a few sticks, some pegs and a bed sheet. But Bear, here is the challenge of parenthood… can you get the Peppa Pig tent folded and twisted and back into the pigging bag?
Obviously I’m not going to trap and eat my children, even though the little one often tries to eat me! But I feel that the trapping techniques employed by Daddy Bear Grylls in the woods must bear some resemblance to the techniques I use daily to get my children to do things… like leave the house! I use all of the following in various combinations.
There was a time in my life when silence was golden. Now silence induces the same level of fear in me as being in a room with a hungry tiger! And when silence falls I have to employ all of the above to catch the small people before something else makes its way down the toilet or out of the letter box!
So these are my thoughts right now, when I have been trying to get my baby back to sleep with every sodding trick under the sun for two hours, when I’m cold, when I’m tired, when I’m exhausted and resentful, when I can absolutely see the appeal of living in the woods on my own. Imagine the peace! Imagine going to the toilet all by yourself. Imagine accidentally wiping your bum with a stinging nettle!! Ouch!
Despite this possible danger I can absolutely state that survival in the wilderness is easier than surviving parenthood!