Most of today’s non-work brain capacity has been taken up in contemplation of Gary Moore’s bouncy, jazzy song “I’m tired”. It’s a puzzle, that song. Containing many variations on the theme of “I’m tired. Too tired for anything” – including “sitting on a pin, I’m too tired to get up”, it is a high energy, boppy song that you can’t help bouncing too. Well, I can’t, anyway, but I do have a somewhat alarming tendency to bounce.
Even I, though, can’t bounce when I’m too tired, and oh, how tired I am today. I have a whole lineup of profound, meaningful and important posts on the topics of fair trade, anger, and compassion, among other things, but I simply haven’t got the cognitive capacity to spare, because my whole brain is engaged in one long downwards moan. I’m tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrred.
I always knew parenting would be exhausting – especially those first few months. I wasn’t someone who leapt into parenthood with the bright, shiny conviction that a baby would slot right into my life without leaving so much as a wrinkle in the smooth fabric of my life. I had enough nephews and nieces to know that babies don’t work that way. Yet I sometimes look at the parents around me and it feels as though it works for everyone else. I berate myself that I must be doing something wrong – making a rod for my own back, or some other such alarming phrase.
A friend of mine recently bemoaned the fact that her husband was going on an overseas trip, leaving her to be single parent for a couple of weeks. She finished up with “but it’s his first non-work trip in two years, I can’t complain.” And when I joked that she could complain if she really tried – I certainly would! – she responded unthinkingly “Yes, but I’m a coper.”
This was weeks ago, and I have been wrestling with my insecurity ever since, trying not to turn that simple, innocuous sentence into “Yes, but I’m a coper.” Unlike you. You’re not a coper. You’re a wreck, who shouts at her children when she’s tired, even when they don’t deserve it (and let’s face it, shouting isn’t ever really deserved, because it’s not a good answer to anything, except possibly the existence of Tony Abbott). You don’t cope. You go to pieces so fast people get hit by the shrapnel. You’re an emotional basket case not fit to be a parent.
She didn’t say that. I don’t believe she even thought it. I don’t. Really I don’t. Not much, anyway. She might have kind of thought it, but not really meant it. I’m sure if I asked her she’d tell me she didn’t, and that she never meant it like that. And there’s no way she’d lie. Is there?
I have, on many occasions, wrestled those insecurities to the ground, arguing that anyone who walked a mile in my shoes would have horribly sore feet, but anytime I am at all low, say, exhausted from getting up half a dozen times a night to a distressed 3 year old who can’t tell me why she is waking, and indeed half the time isn’t actually awake, but is nonetheless waking the entire house, wait… where was I? BAM! Those insecurities pounce, wrestle me to the ground and whisper sour nightmares in my ears.
Was there ever, I wonder, a parent who truly believed that he or she did the best job possible, and didn’t go all self-flagellant over regrets and mistakes long irretrievable? Parenting is such a collection of paradoxes. To switch songs for a moment, it’s rather like Bachelor Girl once said. “I walked under a bus. I got hit by a train. And it felt so good, I want to do it again.” Good days and bad days, and exhausted too-tired-for-anything days. That’s what little girls, and little boys, and even their parents are made of.
Ouch. Is that a pin? Oh, never mind…