Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Being a parent

More than just a mother has written a beautiful post about what it means to be a parent. She has described the joy of being a parent perfectly. But there is an alternate version to her morning love story...

Thanks to More than for the inspiration (you might want to read her version first).

My version

Thud. Thud thud thud thud thud. Small penguin-like footsteps make their way ever closer. Then a tentative creek of a floorboard as our three year old son waits at the entrance to our bedroom. Heavy breathing breaks the silence. He stands there, perfectly still. Reaching some conclusion in his mind, he decides to venture into the darkness where I lie, edged out of sleep into a half awake state of alertness.

He fumbles with his tiny nightlight that he carries in his hands, crammed with two teddies, a stuffed monkey and its partner in crime, a blue cow. The light casts a dull glow on the bedroom wall, as he attempts to quietly step his way over piles of discarded clothes littering the floor, edging ever closer to our bed.

I hold my breathe. It's decision time. Is he going to head left towards my husband's side of the bed or veer right and come to me? It's always me. On the rare occasion my husband has been roused from his slumber, he will whisper to our son to come to him. He will easily wrap our small boy in his arms so that he's lying tucked into his armpit, snug and cosy.

But today is not one of those days. Today the small stealth terrorist sneaks towards me before shining the night light directly into my eyes and pronouncing: 'I'm thirsty mummy.'

I fumble for my water glass and give him a sip. Then in an inelegant dance involving several knees and other hard bony bits, he hoists himself up and over me so that he can lie spreadeagled in the bed. My husband grunts and rolls over.

'Cuddle me mummy,' he whispers in a voice mere decibels away from a shout. I wrap my arm around him and snuggle him into me. It's a wonderful oneness, warmth, a reminder of the tiny baby he once was. Contented I shut my eyes...

One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi .... and the snuggle ends with a pointy elbow rammed into my nose and another full volume stage whisper of: 'I want to get up and have milk mummy.'

'Atsigsoclock,' I mumble, desperately clinging to the last few strands of sleep that are keeping me anchored to semi-consciousness. 'NO, NOW!' he whispers emphatically. 'Firstsnuggle,' I say attempting to regain the loveliness of the few seconds of closeness.

He lies supine for another half minute. Then performs the crocodile death roll, grabbing the duvet and attempting to roll himself and me up in it. I push him back into the space between my husband and I, pleading: 'Lie still'. He does. For ten seconds. Then he rides his imaginary bicycle under the covers, scraping his toenails up and down the length of my leg. I ignore it until I feel he might gouge a varicose vein, so grab his leg and hold it still.

Restrained he has a momentary lapse of energy allowing me just time enough to drift off towards slumberville...

GAH! My eye is prised open and the night light shone directly into my fully dilated pupil. I'm awake. I don't want to be. 'Turn...the...light...off," I stage whisper through clenched teeth. 'But I'm thirsty and hungry and I want to go downstairs,' he wails. 'It is six o clock!'

I lift my head wearily off the pillow and glance at the clock. 5.47 the red numbers glow with evil malevolence. 'Thirteen more minutes,' I say and turn my back on him in the vain hope that it will make me invisible to him.

It doesn't. The teddies, the monkey and the cow decide that my head is the best place for them to have a tea party. I move further away so that I'm lying on a knife edge, where the mattress ends and the cold winter air starts. I balance precariously, every muscle taught. Sleep scurries away. Adrenalin has taken its place.

I am kicked, jostled, poked, prodded, nagged and scraped for a further three minutes of agony until I give up the fight.

I sigh. One of those sighs that starts at your toes and works its way up so that your chest swells to maximum capacity before exhaling a night's worth of carbon dioxide. 'C'mon then,' I say fumbling about on the floor for my slippers.

'Use my night light mummy,' the devil child kindly offers, chipper and full of beans now that he's started the day.

'Thank you,' I say. And I finally understand what it means to be a parent.

13 comments:

Nicola said...

You've nailed my version of being a parent on the head. I've always envied other parents who extol the beauty of their morning snuggles with their kids - how they all fall blissfully back to sleep together. It has NEVER ONCE been like that for me!!! glad to hear I am not alone. And what is it about the under the sheets cycling/toe scratching thing?? I thought fidgety legs syndrome was an adult or pg complaint...*sigh.

xx

Tara said...

How can you make a pre-6am wake up call so wonderful!
Thankfully my two have nailed the not before 7am thing. It took Y E A R S of training!

More than a Mother said...

Hee hee hee, chortle chortle, snort. Wanna swap..?

Home Office Mum said...

Nicola - glad to know it's not just me who has this as the morning norm. I had the fidgety legs thing when pregnant, maybe that's where he got it from?

Tara - I've been training mine for years. We've now got close to 6am vs the close to 5am that is used to be. This is why the bags under my eyes are fully packed at all times.

More than - yes please to swapping. I am green with envy. Maybe I too will one day be able to write a lovely blog post like yours - but I think it requires sleep to feel that nice about your children.

Ali said...

Ah yes, I love it when I get MTAM's version, but yours is far more commonplace. Great post!

nappy valley girl said...

Ho ho. Sounds just like my early mornings.....Littleboy 1 always gets in MY side of the bed as well (although he expects Daddy to get his milk - he has given up on Mummy).

I try to have a rule that if it's before 6, he goes back to his own bed, but 5.45 is a killer, because they're probably not that sleepy. Just have to grit my teeth for 6am and the start of CBeebies....

Welsh Girl said...

Wonderful, evocative post Home Office Mum.

Mothership said...

This is hilarious. And much more like our house. I get the other, well actually it's never really happened, or not since he was too small to walk.
I, in turn, offer you the morning wake up routine from the point of view of the child in question. My own toddler, One, was a guest blogger the other day over at my place. I am actually quite miffed that he's had more hits than me..

Completely Alienne said...

Katyboo sent me her. Oh how I remember those days, I got a mixture of both your and MTAM's experiences. Now the youngest is 14 and I still get the occasional visitation. Occasionally because she is ill and wants comfort, so she turns back into a 3 year old. SLightly more often because her room is tip and she cannot get into her own bed, so she comes to share mine. She still hogs the quilt and snores, and I still love it when she joins me!

Iota said...

Funny how angular a small child can be first thing in the morning, when soft and chubby and round the rest of the day.

Nobby and Me said...

Great post! My son has done the exact same on many occasions, little blighter. My daughter on the other hand ghosts in silently then stands there about 10 cm from my head and waits for me to sense her presence... and funnily enough nothing gets me fully awake quicker than sleepily rolling over to find a little face staring into my eyes! Cunning.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Super post. We get visits at regular intervals during the night by five year old daughter and wails from two year old son in his cot. They both slept through last night and what happened? The dog was sick all night!

I yelled at it at 4am and the dog duly cowered. Guilt.Guilt.Guilt = a modern mum and dad's life!!

Jo Beaufoix said...

Blimey, that's my life, right down to the elbow in the eye and the begging. Sighhhhh. Brilliant.