Last week I took F to a baby sensory class at my local Children’s Centre.
After a very hectic Christmas period, it gave me the opportunity to spend some much-needed quality time with my boy. There was the usual mix of mums and bubs there – first-timers, expert sleepers (damn you) and – slightly more unusually – identical twins.
Throughout the session I was in total awe of Twin Mum. I swear she must have superpowers and secret arms squirrelled away in her T-shirt as she soothed, entertained and expertly parented two five-monthers without breaking a sweat. She even managed to make getting them both into winter coats look effortless, while I, meanwhile, wrestled for about twenty minutes getting F into his as he flipped and flopped like one of those fortune-telling miracle fish you get in Christmas crackers.
Yet when I, totally awestruck, asked her how she coped, she just shrugged her shoulders. I’m pretty sure she also rolled her eyes as she probably gets asked that question fifty billion times a day. To be honest though I was hoping she’d produce some sort of bullet-pointed list I could follow to achieve her level of parental zen.
She didn’t of course because, let’s face it, there is no secret. It’s so easy when you’re on the outside looking in, or on the cusp of a ‘big change’, to wonder how you or anyone else will cope.
When I think back almost five months ago – when I was right at the start of my new life as a single mum – I was physically sick at the thought of how I’d manage on my own.
How, I wondered then, would I possibly get through each day? Juggle double bedtimes? Or cook dinner while simultaneously entertaining a pre-schooler and feeding a baby?
I bet, if we all think back to our pre-child days, we wouldn’t be able to comprehend how we could survive on less than four hours broken sleep a night.
And yet here we are. Doing just that.
In the end we do cope. We muddle through. We carve out makeshift routines and shortcuts because we have to. And that’s what I’m holding on to at the moment as I come to the realisation I will need to return to work soon and stare panicked at the logistical nightmare of getting two kids up, dressed, fed and out of the house before 7.30am so that I can get to work on time.
Ultimately that nightmare will soon become my ‘normal’. It probably won’t be pretty or easy – and there will definitely be a few tears (mine and the kids) – but we’ll manage and hopefully I will look back in a few years’ time and wonder what I was making such a fuss about.