Wednesday, July 28, 2010


On Friday night I was weeping in the kitchen.

It had been a tough week with Frieda, a particularly tough day.

'I just feel like she's not happy,' I wailed to my husband, 'I'm sure her atrocious behaviour is because I don't have time for her like I once did. I don't play with her like I used to. She watches too much television, I'm sure it's that making her crazy, but when Stella needs feeding or putting to sleep or I want to cook a meal or just have 5 fucking seconds peace it's such an easy option.
'She's driving me insane. She's so defiant. So wilful. She spat at a complete stranger yesterday. I'm raising a monster. It's TV. It's me. It's those bad influences from school. It's, it's, it's ...
'So fucking hard to deal with on so little sleep!'
Sob sob sob sob sob sob sob sob sob sob sob sob sob.

You get the picture.

My husband's a saint. He let me prattle on, wallow in a puddle of snot and self-pity. He made a delicious curry while he waited for me to calm down.
Then as he fried the roti he said:
'Fuck that. Don't take it on board. She's your firstborn, you're always going to feel one step behind 'cos you're learning, everything is new, you're growing together.'

My firstborn. My first baby, my first toddler, my first three year old. My first port of call for any passing fit of parental guilt.
I've mentioned before that the last few months with Frieda have really been more challenging and new and hard than having a newborn. I still haven't been able to actually write about the nitty-gritty though - part exhaustion from dealing with it, part not knowing where to start. Or stop!

And I don't want to make out like it's always hard. In so, so many ways she is being marvelous, miraculous, mischieviously deliciousness. She's taken to saying 'You're welcome' when you thank her for something - where oh where did she pick up such a quaint Americanism? (oh god, probably from the TV!) Her games of Mummy & Baby Wildebeest have progressed to my being a wildebeest, her being a Mummy Lion and the fun part being where she chases me and drags me back to her cubs to be ferociously eaten. She loves her sister and plays lovely games of peek-a-boo to enthusiastic squeals of delight from Stella. She tells me she loves me when I most need to hear it.

But the fact of the matter is - she's my firstborn. Every step of the way with her, every single step, will be the first I take with a child of mine. That's the truth, the joy, the drama and dear god make give me strength, the challenge. Oi vey.

However there's another parenting truth which has proved itself valid to me over and over (and over) again.
Just when you think you cannot stand another minute of some behaviour or habit or routine, the little darlings change it up.
Since Saturday Frieda's been an amicable and delightful little girl. Either her survival instinct kicked in and realised I was considering infanticide or my letting off some steam has enabled me to parent differently since then.
A bit of both I reckon.


Anna Bartlett said...

i hear you. it IS so hard. and with each one of them in different ways. cheers to your husband and cheers to your firstborn. and happy surprises to you.

McGillicutty said...

yes every step is your first and your last with the firstborn, the baby will be different again and it won't ever be over, just different.
Take the good days and enjoy them, keep the fantastic curries for the bad days and yes... let it out!!!!!
my 8 year old says "you're welcome" before i even say thank you.. now that's just smartassiness.

Stephanie Meade Gresham said...

how do people have three of these things????

i had crying over curry moments. thanks for sharing. makes me feel more normal.

Deer Baby said...

|hear you too. Even though there's a massive age gap between mine, it's still hard and there are days when I feel I'm doing it all wrong and one or the other of them is watching too much television, not getting enough attention, the list goes on.

You ARE doing a great job so just keep going, keep doing what you're doing and know you're not alone in your worries. Mine know a lot of the words to adverts and can sing whole theme tunes.

caroldiane said...

the interesting thing is - that the not knowing how to parent your firstborn goes on, even as they are adults older than you when you gave birth to them... still experimenting on my son - hopefully my daughter continues to benefit!

spudballoo said...

I'm late to this but just wanted to say I HEAR YOU! there are 15 months between my two boys, and the first year of having two children were so hard.

really it was a matter of survival. Just head down and go with it. My eldest watched way too much TV. Waaaaaaaaaaay too much. I was embarrassed but honestly I had to have a way of keeping him glued to one spot while I put the baby to bed, fed the baby (again), made dinner etc etc.

Now he watches pretty much NO tv. We've moved on from those times. That's how it goes. You have to suck it up and accept things won't be perfect whilst trying to juggle the very different needs of your girls. That gap will lessen with surprising speed, and one day you'll realise you can leave the house with just a few bits, that your girls will eat anything you can find in any old cafe, that you don't need to take 'special' food or stuff. You can just nip out.

that was a massive step forward for me! And that day will come sooner than you can imagine.

and, yes, dealing with all this CRAP on no sleep is the pits. Freida will test you because she's 3. Not because you have failed her by brining a sibling in to the equation. She's 3. She pushes buttons. That's the whole point of being 3 ;-)

Soon she won't need or want you to play with her. She'll be playing with her sister and you'll just be the snack provider and adjudicator. Taht's what I am, and I love it. I love my boys' closeness.

Head down. Carry on. All will be well. xxx