Families Are Hard Places To Live

Co-Sleeping

by Lori Dwyer on October 4, 2013 · 0 comments

I’ve always had this weird kind of conundrum when it comes to co-sleeping with my kids.

It’s so much easier to just let them crawl into my bed if need be. I was a single person in a two person bed, so there was plenty of room. It meant I got infinitely more sleep. And there’s something lovely about curling up next to the warmth of a little person, their sweet sleepy breath in your ear.

The Chop gave up sleeping in my bed years ago. The Bump has been crawling her sleepy sweet self into my bed for the last few years, and has shown no immediate signs of wanting to stop.

Now there are two people in the two people bed, and one of us isn’t as calloused as he will eventually be by the chronic sleep deprivation that comes with little kids, I’ve taken to dispatching myself to the Bump’s bed in the wee hours of the morning.

The girl child calls for me and (somewhat miraculously,  given my constant, continuous level of tiredness) I respond. I slip in next to her warm, cuddly form in her small single bed. Once upon a month or so ago, she would have a steady reason to do so, every night. She would be cold, or scared, or have had a bad dream. She’s given up the charade completely now and simply says “Mummy! I want you in my bed!!”

The broken sleep messes with me. I’m not good when I’m tired. It makes all manner of PTSD and anxiety much, much worse. It lowers my immune system and causes dermatitis to rage over my hands and feet.

But at the same time, it’s almost kind of worth it. I know it won’t be like this forever. Ten years from now I may just be aching for the sweet softness of a child cuddled up next to me.

And besides that, I get it. It’s only human nature.

Who wants to sleep all by themselves, really, when the option of sleeping with someone beside you is there?

 

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Let’s Hear It For The Boy.

by Lori Dwyer on September 20, 2013 · 10 comments

I can be such a selfish bitch sometimes. (And don’t we already know it…?)

Three weeks we’ve been in The New House in Melbourne. The focus has been entirely on the kidlets. Obviously, that’s not the selfish part- that’s the way it should be done. I get them settled, sorted, organised, into a new routine that’s better for all of us.

But once my children are settled, I slip into ‘me, me, me’ mode. Again, not surprising- humans are inherently self-involved creatures, with only our primal biology ensuring we sacrifice ourselves so completely to our children’s needs. Beyond that, self preservation is instinctual and difficult to see past.

This is what I tell myself, at least. Biological narcissism seems preferable over selfish tunnel-vision. The truth of the matter is that I’ve largely ignored the emotional state of The Most Amazing Man, while wallowing in my own pit of worry.

This has been- still is, actually- just as difficult for him as it has been for any of us. His hip, unencumbered single life in Melbourne has suddenly been hampered by this instant family he’s found himself with. Time to himself has become almost non-existent. Lazy weekend sleep-ins and Sunday brunches have been replaced by Saturday morning cartoons and overly-energetic children. A disposable income has been replaced by Centrelink forms. It’s a shock to the shadows of life. He expected it to be different, of course. But he’s really had no way to prepare himself for the reality of it.

And being the gentle, unassuming person he is, he’s doing such a remarkable job of being everything to all of us that I sometimes, selfishly, forget how much we have turned his life upside down.

He is just here, a constant, calming presence. He washes clothes and dishes. He cooks meals and picks up the slack of the house. He plays with my children, answers a hundred questions a day from them. And does it all in good humour, with patience and understanding. He never raises his voice. He takes it all in his stride.

Sometimes I even forget to say thank you. I forget to tell him that I am okay, that I feel supported here. That I appreciate everything he does.

So, a round of applause, if you will. Credit where credit is due.

The Most Amazing In The Universe just continues to be… well… amazing.

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Softly.

by Lori Dwyer on September 19, 2013 · 2 comments

Softly, softly, softly. That’s how we do it here, every day, for now.

I watch my children adapt and warm to living with a new person in our lives. I watch with amazement as they take things in their stride, as they assess what goes on here and assimilate it into their tiny frames of what life is like.

As those of you who’ve done this before me know, introducing a new parental figure to the family mix is done with care and trepidation, and a definitive sense of not pushing things too far. 

Softly, softly.

Small invitations to intimacy are made. The Most Amazing Man offers the Chop a hug before bed, and he responds with his arms wide open. I see the hesitation more with my son than with my daughter. My Chop is hesitant to trust too much, to get too close. He remembers what it’s like to be left behind.

“I will leave you!” The Most Amazing Man says to me, taunting and joking, and I poke my tongue out in response.

Neither of us realised my son had heard that exchange, until his head pops up with shock and he asks “What? What did you say?”

“Joking, baby. We were joking, I promise. The Most Amazing Man is not going anywhere.”

Everything is done in tiny pieces, tiny increments of trust and discipline. Tiny offerings- a hug, a bedtime story, a family day out. All those ‘normal’ things you do with a dad, that my children have been missing for years.

Softly, softly. One tiny baby step at a time.

 

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