I was going to write a post on how soul-sucking it is to be a mother to a high-needs child. I do not have a high-needs child, but because I have three babies simultaneously, I feel together they are equivalent to one high-needs child because I never stop caring for them, morning, noon, night and after hours. And I did not know how to describe how soul-sucking it is. Even when I had the one, Livia, the revelation of how soul-sucking the business of motherhood was only dawned on me when I brought her home from the hospital.
Then I read this piece from Brain, Child Magazine. If you like to read essays about motherhood, this magazine is full of them, and each piece is better than the last. The mother in this particular essay employs the metaphor of canning preserved food to talk about how she preserves her personal identity through motherhood. And the difficulty of doing so. Canning is not a very big thing in Singapore. I don’t actually know anyone doing it but in Western countries, its a widespread hobby of many, especially stay at home mothers. I especially like how she described her baby crying for her while she was trying to can, as a “theft” of her individual time.
I feel that my babies are also stealing my personal time. Especially after 10pm, which is the only time I get for myself to be me. When I mean me, I mean the person who enjoys doing things for her own sake and self-satisfaction. I don’t even feel like I am unwinding, even though I should unwind. After 10pm, I want to feel like me, the woman who likes to edit her photographs, read Newsweek articles, keep abreast on current affairs, browse through challenging recipes, figuring out why her recipe that day didn’t work, look at musical parody videos and so on and so forth. Sometimes the things I do after 10pm is leisurely, and sometimes its work and it requires brain power. And sometimes it even require focus and attention like sketching and sewing. A lot of times I like to talk to my friends, whom I am unable to see in real life as often as I like or have email exchanges over a silly article that we both read that day. Then while I am doing all these things that makes me so happy to be me, I hear a cry or several cries, and I go pffft, how long can I ignore it before it reaches noise pollution levels. Then I go in the room, pacify the baby or babies, and go back out relieved and resumed being me, and then off goes another cry, and by now, all I want to do is scream (at them for not sleeping). That’s my reality everyday.
Its like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, except my life isn’t a comedic film, its real. I sincerely beseech the powers that be when will this end. Why does the clock strike 12 and I am still poor Cinderella with a toddler and triplets? Why can’t I pretend not to have a toddler and triplets for a few hours (in succession) every night? The fact is even if they were peacefully sleeping, I’d have monumental tasks pertaining to them that I have to do when they go to sleep. Fold their clothes, clean their bottles, puree their solids…its a life on loop, on neverending repeat.
I know one day I will wake up and realised I broke the spell. One day the clock will strike 12 and I will hear silence and feel lonely. Even though I know that day will come, I still find it tremendously difficult to deal with 0-7month old infants who consume every fibre of my being and a toddler who sometimes have night wakings. Don’t they realise how great it is they can sleep. To them the world is awesome, and sleep is a waste of time. To me the world outside of toddlers and triplets is awesome and sleep IS also a waste of time. But for me to enjoy my awesome world, they have to stop enjoying their awesome world and go to sleep.
P.S: I am going through a phase, which typically happens in the 6-month growth spurt, where babies want night feedings so they tend to wake up and ask for milk. It goes away but during this phase, it takes a toll on parents who are used to having their bubs sleep all night and then suddenly not wanting to sleep all night because of a stupid growth spurt.