Thursday, 17 July 2008

Adrenalin junkies

Somedays I am reminded of that gleeful maternity nurse who sang out, at some moment when I was coming round to consciousness and probably hadn't yet seen the three tiny faces that were to change my life forever, That's it! You'll never go out now!

At that instant I resolved to go out every day. And more, because she was not to be right about this. If she was to be right about this then I was a dead woman walking. For her to be right meant I would be imprisoned for the rest of my life by walls of nappies plastered in baby sick and by mountains of dirty clothing jamming all the doorways. If I found an escape route through that I would be held in by the bars of self-loathing at doing a needed job terribly, and by the self neglect that I would naturally fall into, and by my own fear of leaving the house in terror of someone spotting me and trying to section me, or remove the babies from my dazed haphazard care, because going out into the street meant staggering out there wearing pyjamas covered in vomit again for the third week running.

But she was not to be right about this. If she was, I may as well give up and bury myself alive right there and then. So after the first mad rush back home and the co-ordination of sleep, feed and wash duties, I took the babies out everyday. To the garden, to the shop, to the park, to the street.

There were some days when survival overstretched me, so I got all the babies out into the hall and I pointed through the doors and looked at the garden in the rain, and while I wept I counted that as success. There were some days when all the hours of the day were driven by just getting in the car and getting out again. And some days were driven simply by madness, and fear of failure. At 7 o'clock one dusky September evening with Dig in Sri Lanka and the babies just six months old, I packed everyone up, drove to a cricket field and walked round and round it talking about bushes. The fact that I wore pyjamas under a trenchcoat didn't make anyone stare because no-one was there to see.

Throughout all those bad, mad and frantic days there were days that shone, literally. Then I strapped sunshades to the triple buggy, strung up flags, dressed the kids up at mice, and ran at a clap through parks and shopping centres. If it was not despair that kept me company, it was hope.

In these days, now Shark, Squirrel and Tiger are older and have their own legs, shoes, and opinions about which way they're walking, we go out because we are used to doing that, and everyone has an expectation that we will do this today because this is how it has always been. Even if we fight before we get there, while we're there, and when we get home, we still go out. And now I can call it not survival, but education. Somedays I feel we're succeeding enough in that for me to enjoy this aspect of our disordered, messy life, and to look forward to next week's activities and plans. Then somedays I think planning another week, getting these children safely through the door to another lesson, attending another workshop or finding another meeting is just all too much, and it's all beyond me, and I want to give in and say I don't care, sort it out yourself, chuck up all responsibility and walk away.

And then we get those moments when Shark bursts in through the door, cuddles up to daddy Dig and whispers Daddy, please can I go to PGL? and within thirty minutes her place on a week's adventure holiday, starting Saturday, is booked, and she's jumping up and down at the excitement of a week away from home, independent of sisters and parents; a week filled with zip wires, kayaking, raft building, quad bikes, archery and a mountain walk wearing a blindfold.

All these days and months of determination, of raising expectations, of gritting teeth and saying to myself You can do it, have brought me a sudden sight of spirited, confident, outgoing children who think that the world out there is a place to be actively engaged with, discovered and explored. Now, they tow me along in their wake. And I carefully get out all the diaries and look ahead to another week, and think of that maternity nurse, and how we proved her wrong.


Samurai Beetle said...

Hi - I'm new here, found your blog by way of Potty Mummy. I just want to thank you for this post. I have one newborn and she's 5 weeks old. I've wanted to take her out frequently as well but have had several alarmingly wild crying sessions that chased me back home and made me reluctant to try again. I'm very encouraged by your post - if you can do it with 3, surly I can one through the screams and good times. Thanks again for sharing this.

sharon said...

And it's that 'I can do it" attitude that has got you where you are today, still functioning, reasonably sane and with three happy, healthy, capable little girls (although I don't suppose they'll thank me for referring to them as 'little girls')! Quite frankly that's all most of us can claim and very few of your readers had three babies all at once. Certainly not me, I only managed 2 of my own and there's a 5 year gap between them. The other children I looked after were not with me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or, at least not very often. Big sigh of relief!

Well done Grit, I think you deserve a whole chestful of medals!

Potty Mummy said...

And I find it hard enough to get out through the door with 2 sometimes. Just making it round the corner to the garden can take half an hour of shouting, preparation, and frustration before we finally make it onto the grass... Brilliant(e) post, and I loved the previous one too. Will expect to see you beaming at the Winter Olympics after next when the girls pick up Gold, Silver and Bronze in the figure skating...

Brad said...

Well done you.

Kitty said...

I'm so glad she was wrong - who has the right to tell you what you will and won't do?


Kelly Jene said...

What a great post!! A very encouraging story, that could actually be published. Proving someone wrong is always a good story.

Retiredandcrazy said...

Grit, I don't cry much, but I cried last night when I watched The Bucket List on DVD and now. You are doing such a great job and that nurse missed the whole point of everything. Love, hugs and kisses to you Daddy Dig and the girls (and I am not a love, hug and kissy person either!). Ann xx

Grit said...

hi samurai beetle, i've just been over to visit - your photos of your little person are lovely!

sharon, i cannot imagine how mothers cope when there is a big age gap between children - that seems to me like hard work!

oh yes pm, shouting, preparation, frustration! i hear you!

hi brad aka mr matchmaker! we have a very nice neighbour, and we would like to see him married. mostly so he will move out and we can buy his flat, but don't tell his prospective partner that, obviously. can you do anything long distance?

you are right kitty!

thank you kelly jene. now i feel like rewriting that and adding a murder and some spanners.

thank you ann at retired and crazy! you are very kind, and i endeavour to deserve the kisses.