Mum on the edge

Amy Condon is a mum to 3 kids, who are all under 3! Yes, you heard us right. Each week she tells us all about the ups and downs of bringing up 3 children so close in age. This week Amy tells us about her short temper the day after being woken up every hour of the night… 

‘We had a bad night last night. A very bad night. I don’t know whether it
was the cold that had been making her sniffle all day, or perhaps a surprise tooth on its way, but M woke me up every single hour. By about 3.30am, I was a wreck, tearful and barely able to function. At 5am, I cracked and brought her into our bed. Even that didn’t work. She insisted on rolling over until I was hanging out the side, and periodically shrieked with rage.

Today, while she had the advantage of a nap to ease her exhaustion-fuelled bad mood, I had to just keep on going. I’m a zombie,
irritated by anything and everything, and prone to fits of sobs. After one bad night. It’s pathetic.

M usually sleeps like a dream. Yes, there are occasional cries and
calls for Mummy but, in general, she drops off about 8pm and doesn’t stir until her bottle at 6 or 7. The twins at 15-months got us up at 5am if we were lucky and, although G was always a mercifully good sleeper, T was far more of a challenge on the body clock. Oh, and I was pregnant. How did I cope? This one night has utterly ruined me, yet I used to deal with them all the time and just get on with it. When M came along, she seemed to figure out night and day fairly quickly, but I was still up feeding her several times a night. I frequently fell asleep myself while she had her fill, but I still managed to get up every morning with the twins and head out to the park. Have I gone soft?

As a mum of young kids, I don’t think you realise how much you cope
with until you don’t really have to cope with it any more. Of course I’m
shattered by a night with barely a wink of sleep. Who wouldn’t be? Of
course I’m sick of cleaning the house a hundred times a day and doing
load after load of tiny laundry. Of course I get grumpy and weepy and
overwhelmed. I think it would be more of a problem if I didn’t. So why
do I still feel guilty? Every time I snap at one of the girls, or refuse
to read a book as I just have to get the dishes done, it eats me up.

After her disturbed night, M was very clingy and demanding. I was
reading yet another book that had been thrust forcefully into my lap
when T skipped over:

‘Mummy!’ she said, full of excitement. ‘Come and see the house I’ve made.’
I barely glanced at the book she’d set out like a tent, with her RaaRaa characters sheltering underneath.

‘Mummy’s already reading this,’ I snapped, as M kept pushing her letters book at me. ‘You’ll have to wait.’

She visibly deflated, then sadly walked back to play with her house
in silence. I felt completely awful. As M chanted: ‘Read it to M. Read
it to M’ with increasing urgency, I put on my cheeriest voice.

‘What a brilliant house, baby,’ I cooed. ‘A is for apple, B for balloon… Hufty looks so cosy!… C for cat… D for drum…’

But the damage was done. T would barely look up at me. I’d ruined
it. Within minutes, G had distracted her with another game, and it was
all forgotten, but not by me.

I spend a lot of my time feeling like I need extra hands to cope
with the cooking and cleaning and dressing and washing, but it’s when
the important things slip that I really feel bad. That house was
important. But then so was that book. Some days I just can’t win.
Especially days like this when staying awake is a momentous achievement
in itself. But I just have to go to bed at night promising I’ll make it
up to them tomorrow. That’s the refreshing thing about children. They
don’t hold grudges. T will have something just as exciting to show me
tomorrow. She’ll wake up with a clean slate and give me a second chance. I just have to try to live in the moment too. This job doesn’t have deadlines or clients or goals. The only review I need is the little ladies forming in front of my eyes. And they’re pretty darned wonderful little ladies, so I can’t be doing all that bad. I’ve made plenty of parenting mistakes and I’ll certainly make plenty more, but who the hell doesn’t? I’m not a bad mum, I’m just a normal one.’

Do you feel guilty when you snap at your kids? Tell us in our comments section below or on Facebook.

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