I like to believe that I am a relatively strong woman, someone who knows her own mind and who is ultimately in control of her own destiny – or at least in control of what I have for breakfast.
But, as I lay on the sofa (again). Shivering at 3am (again). With a screaming toddler demanding more milk (again). A stark and painful realisation has hit me.
I have no control over my life at all. Three tiny tyrants have taken me over. They have invaded me from the inside out. First my body, then my mind and now my entire life is completely under their control. What I eat, when I eat, where I can sit, if I can sit, if I’m going to have a good day or a bad day, if I’m going to sleep for 1 hour or 2 and a half hours. It’s entirely in their power. I feel like a marionette who is at the mercy of a drunk octopus.
Obviously in public I like to put on the pretence that I have some sort of control of my life and my children’s behaviour. In response to questions like “Why do I have to do that?” I reply “Because I said so.” I also use the old favourite “because I am the grown up.” This is usually whilst I’m having a tantrum on the floor after arguing with my threenager about why she can’t wear her plastic princess shoes on a two mile walk. But the long and the short of it is, I really have no control over anything in my life anymore and they know it.
It’s like they have installed sensors on me. If my eyelids close momentarily they are alerted and intervene. If my bum hits a chair, or my head hits a pillow, or if my mouth waters at the prospect of a hot and delicious meal, they are onto me.
Every aspect of my life is governed by a power that is way beyond me and I know that I’m not the only one. If you too are experiencing this sense of disempowerment you might recognise some of the following symptoms.
- Difficulty sleeping: This is a universal symptom suffered by parents of young (and older) children. Are you frequently woken by small voices in your ear? Are your eyelids inexplicably prised open at 2am? Are your dreams shattered (literally and metaphorically), usually in a really good part, by cries of “MUMMY! DADDY! I need a weeeee!” And do you wake up even when they are asleep, because now you need a wee? If the answer is yes, you may well have ‘children.’
- Loss of appetite or loss of actual food: Feeling hungry all day, starving in fact, dreaming of all that yummy, nutritious food you’re going to cook tonight… until it comes to dinner time. Suddenly the prospect of cooking food that nobody else will eat is completely unappealing. You are sick of eating the same old crap that you are now serving up. Red pasta with or without cheese for some and ‘clean pasta’ for the especially fussy one. It’s just as well you don’t want to eat it, because it’s all been stolen from your plate by the time you’ve sat down anyway.
- Fatigue and exhaustion: These feelings are very common and are particularly strong first thing in the morning, after your ‘restful’ night’s sleep. Suddenly the prospect of doing it all again, a WHOLE day, seems completely overwhelming.
- Forgetfulness: I can’t remember what I was going to write here.
- Bladder weakness (The more children you have the worse this ailment becomes) whatever you do don’t try trampolining, skipping or sneezing with a full bladder!
- Feeling out of control: We’ve already established that you relinquished all control of your life the second you conceived.
- Headaches: These are commonly caused by TV theme tunes and incessant talk about Minecraft and Xboxes. They can also be induced by high pitched screams of toddlers and pre-schoolers, and a little too much wine the evening before.
- Talking to yourself: Well nobody else bloody listens.
- A funny smell: When was the last time you had a shower? You know, in peace? All by yourself, without anyone banging on the door because they need a wee and because they “don’t want to miss you.” Give me strength! When was the last time you washed all of the shampoo out of your hair without someone enquiring “What you doing?” and the last time you brushed your teeth for the full two minutes? That funny smell my friend… is you. It could also be coming from the toddler’s nappy!
- Hysteria: This final symptom often occurs when all of the others have taken their toll on the patient. You may find yourself laughing and crying all at the same time. You won’t be able to tell which emotion you are feeling and you will possibly have a pair of pants on your head…they may not be yours! This is when you know that things are really bad. (I have really been here!)
So what is the cause of this condition and is there a cure?
Well, I have analysed the causes and symptoms of this phenomenon and the good news is I have found to root of the problem. The bad news is, there is no cure.
Your trouble is that you love those little blighters with every bone in your body. Your love is UNCONDITIONAL and you will do anything for them, regardless of how tired you are, how crazy it is and how ridiculous you look. If you are required to dress as a fairy, whilst doing the funky gibbon in the middle of town, you are going to do it.
It doesn’t matter how qualified and skilled you were in your life prior to children you are now on a completely level playing field with every other exhausted parent. You are going to be a cook, cleaner, finder of shoes, doctor, nurse, counsellor, protector, teacher, scrubber and all round dog’s body for the foreseeable future. My best advice to you is sit back and enjoy the ride. Symptoms should ease… in around 30 years.
Have a nice (long) day!