Don’t get me wrong, having kids is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. It’s something I always knew I wanted to do and whilst I am so pleased I waited till I was a bit older and did the things I wanted to do, such as pursuing a career before it became too much of a juggling act and seeing a lot – I mean loads!- of the world, having kids is also the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced. When they were small, I used to think to myself, “this will be so much easier when they’re older” but actually, I increasingly find myself finding that it isn’t and it’s now – these teenage years – that are the hardest part of this journey so far. One of my friends said to me the other day “I just wanted a baby!” we looked at each other and absolutely cracked up laughing, because she is so right! I don’t remember planning a family and thinking, “oh goody, I can’t wait to be a mum to moody teenagers!!” All I saw at that point in time was a precious little baby in a pram and didn’t think about it anymore than that! It really makes me laugh now! But every step is faced with new challenges. At one point, my boys were aged 4, 3 and newborn and my days were utter chaos. I remember my 4 year old having to feed his screaming baby brother in the back of the car whilst on a school run to pick up the 3 year old! and having three car seats wedged in across the back seat of my car. Though fortunate to have lots of space, my play room which linked the house into a big circle, was barricaded in on both sides by stair gates. This is the way forward I thought, Jackson and I were safe in the kitchen, him in a bouncer on the table and out of harms way and those two rascals unable to get out, watching Mr Tumble and trashing the equivalent of the Early Learning Centre that happened to be the play room, whilst I safely cooked, ironed and did all the things that couldn’t be done with two pairs of little hands and feet around. However, this backfired somewhat. When I let them out they were like a pair of caged animals, running riot, emptying cupboards, climbing on tables all whilst screaming! You get the picture! And of course, one of them was always worse than the other but I won’t embarrass them by going into that!
These years flew by at an alarming rate, and whilst you always embrace the change and feel ready for it when it comes like the first day of pre-school, moving to senior school, the first time you let them out on their own (that’s a biggie), mobile phones, lost mobile phones, Oyster cards and the fact I’ve now replaced these about 23 times between the two senior school boys, it takes your breath away sometimes. Momentous times for me would be when I said goodbye to the pram, when all the boys were in school and no longer spending hours and hours with my best friend, with our youngest boys in their prams walking to all our baby groups – 16 miles a week we used to walk! We still walk now, every day, despite the fact our boys long ago stopped being in the same schools and my school run sees me driving for 3 hours a day to travel just 32 miles (in total!!). Childhood worries about missing Pokemon cards soon turned into discussions about alcohol, girlfriends and parties and their language turns into something even Google translate can’t help you understand!
Yesterday, my lovely cousin and I were stood in my kitchen chatting, taking a break between stripping beds, cleaning windows and trying to get a handle on the chaos that becomes my house from one Friday to the next and I just found myself saying – what is now the title of this blog (which I immediately had to type into my iPhone notes before I forgot it!!). I’m not even sure why, probably because I was looking at my kitchen table which is the place to “do battle” on a daily basis. A place where three kids, pretty much every day, complain about the food I’ve cooked – why can’t you cook something we like?”. A place where I call them over and over to come and eat said “trash”! (thanks to a good friend Amy, I have now invested in a dinner bell – honestly – try it – it saves you screaming at the top of your voice!) and definitely a place where I’m constantly telling the boys to do the things they just don’t wanna do! They’d far rather stay staring at a screen, watching Youtube, live streaming (this is a whole new thing here!) or playing Fortnite, (if you’re a parent you’ll know what I mean!).
And whilst every day is definitely a battle of my will against theirs and a set of instructions issued that, frankly, they just don’t want to do – “get dressed”, “pack your school bag”, “brush your teeth”, “have a shower”, “tidy your room”, “do your homework”, “put away your clean washing” (anyone else’s child ask them why they need to put away washing as its only Mum that wants it put away?) there are times when you wake up to find a small person has snuck in your bed overnight, who looks at you like you’re his universe and in the absolute belief that you can fix his everything. You can find his blanket dog which has got tangled in the covers and not been stolen by the tooth fairy having turned rogue in the middle of the night – and make everything ok with his world once again……. and you know, right then and there, that this absolutely was the best thing you ever did, the most exciting and frustrating journey of your life and one that will always change and constantly evolve as they turn into adults themselves.