Thursday, 28 February 2013

Power struggle

Do you ever feel like you've lost control? Control of your home, your children, your whole life? I've never been a control freak. I've never been obsessively neat, or super efficient, or remotely organised. But since I've become a mum, even things I thought I was in control of seem to have spiralled out of my reach. Things like this...

1) My house. I'm not a neat freak or a compulsive cleaner, but I like to think I at least used to be able to keep my home respectable enough. These days, it's a constant battle to find the worktop or the sofa or the floor. I am eternally picking things up and putting things away. I have cleaned and tidied more in the past three years than the rest of my life put together. Yet it is never clean. Never. Proper tidiness always just seems out of my reach. Especially in the kitchen. No sooner have a put everything away than more things just seem to appear there. I'm beginning to distrust my own memories. I mean, I thought I once saw a clean kitchen, but maybe my mind is playing tricks on me. Maybe I never really had a clean kitchen. Maybe no one has ever really had a clean kitchen. Maybe it's all made up by cleaning product manufacturers to squeeze money out of us as we grind ourselves into the ground.  Maybe it's just a myth...

2) My body. I don't just mean my figure, though that is also a distant memory, I mean my actual body. I rarely have fewer than two children attached to it at any one time. I thought when I said goodbye to pregnancy and breastfeeding that that would be it. I would be able to eat what I wanted, wear what I wanted and generally be in charge of my own body for the first time in years. Nope. Now, instead of having internal parasites sucking me dry, I have external ones clinging to my every limb. If I sit down to read or play with one of the girls, another will instantaneously appear to sit on my knee. Often, there are ferocious battles as three fight for only two legs. I am merely collateral damage, furniture to be used and dismissed at will. I seem never to be able to stand up when I want to, and often have to complete basic household tasks with one hand, while carrying a child in the other.

3) My brain. I forget things. Lots of things. Not that unusual, I grant you, but I'm frankly surprised I've made it this far through a sentence without losing track. OK, so I've always been a bit forgetful, but these days, it's a constant worry. It's not that I put things off as I don't have time. They just vanish from my brain. It's infuriating. I was tidying the dining table the other night, and kept noticing the half a melon still waiting to go back in the fridge. 'Must put that away,' I mumbled to myself. I found it the next night as I laid the table again. Not a single thought about it had entered my head in the 24 hours since I'd seen it. I'd been in the room numerous times, but no tiny inkling had drawn my head round to look on the table. And it's not just fruit that slips away. It took me no fewer than five trips to Boots to buy the girls new toothbrushes. I have shampoo, nappies, hair dye... but nothing during any of those trips drew me to the dental aisle. Each night as I picked up the toothpaste, I'd kick myself about the state of their brushes, but come the next morning, the thought would be gone, and I'd start the process all over again.

4) My children. Particularly my youngest. Yesterday, she pelted out into the garden while I was trying to get the twins in from nursery, and as I tried to herd her inside, she made a dash for the garden steps. Stone steps. Nine times out of ten, she stops at the top and grabs for the nearest hand to help her down. Not this time. As I ran screaming her name across the lawn, she simply stepped straight off the top one, and bounced down on her face. Luckily, all the damage seems to be a small cut and a bit of a bruise. All the damage to her that is. Not sure my heart will ever recover. And in the few hours since that event, I've also had to snatch a crayon out of her hand, just as she was about to insert it into her ear, catch her by the nappy as she tried to launch headfirst off the sofa into the book box, and dry another round of tears as she wrestled her way out of my arms and slipped over on the bathroom floor. I simply cannot keep up with her.

With the demands of three small children to meet, I just can't do all of it. I can't do any of it well. I feel like the children are running the place. I'm certainly not in charge any more. I can't be. I just can't be in charge of so many things at once.So, I have just one question. Will I ever be in control again?