I’m in the supermarket, my toddler is complaining that this is the wrong shop, kicking, shouting, making herself heard.
I’m on the school run, one child runs ahead purposefully, not wanting to be seen with the littler ones, another wants to balance on every kerb along the way.
I’m at home in the morning, one child cannot find any pair of socks or shoes that feels comfortable, we’re running late, he’s barefoot.
I’m on the sideline at football training, the kids that aren’t training are bickering, or whining, or missing. I call them, they don’t reply. I cross the pitch trying to get their attention at home time and they look the other way.
I arrive wherever I’m going bedraggled, bewildered, with my travelling circus in tow.
We don’t do calm arrivals. We don’t do walking along together nicely. We don’t do quiet. EVER.
The kids are always on, they clamour for our attention, competitively eyeing up who has gotten the most time or the most of their questions asked.
When I’m tired it can just be too much, so I shout, or stress.
After a run of crazier-than-usual weeks a couple of months back, the daddy of the house being away with work, the school musical, Laoise turned three, my cousin’s (beautiful) wedding, my work was really busy, there was broken sleep caused by small people’s bad dreams. The perfect storm.
It was hard. I wrote the above piece then but didn’t post. I thought people who read the blog and know me would just nod along and think I was looking for absolution. I wasn’t, I needed therapy.
I felt like we’re the only ones who have this wildness in their kids, the loudness, the stickiniess. Other people’s kids seem to not disappear from sight constantly or to be able to stand still for a moment or hold hands.
When I read back now on what I wrote I realise that somehow things seem to have gotten a bit easier. In two months with a summer of playing hurling and staying up late behind them they seem to be easier to manage at the pitch. Maybe it was just summer fever, when the living is easier, but in our house we’re still up and out every day with lots of routines and lunchboxes.
Then I realise I’ve learned too. New tricks to keep things moving. Coping strategies.
Like that snacks are important to keep small people from getting overtired on sidelines at 7pm.
That Elsa dolls and tea-sets and fairy wands and shopping trolleys are great ice-breakers for small girls at GAA pitches to make friends. So we bring them all.
That the more haste really does mean the less speed.
That the uncomfortable socks have no place in a sock drawer and have been banished.
I’ve also relaxed a bit, I’m not in quite such a hurry to get places on time and remembering the real reason why we are late. Sure, hurls and footballs boots are often missing at the time we should be gone, but I’m trying to spend less time shouting about it and more time beforehand asking if they are ready, as all the shouting does is heighten everyone’s stress.
The timing is good. The small girl starts her part-time playschool on Wednesday, the boys start Senior Infants and First Class on Thursday. I’m hopeful for a calmer year. The sibling attacks are surely part of normal life, animal instinct maybe? There will be strops I accept this but if I can limit my stresses then that should have a similar impact on the kids. I hope?
Come on new school year, I’m ready for you. Just go easy on the homework for the first few weeks please.