Friday, November 27, 2015

On knowing you're done

I woke up at 5:30pm from an almost 2-hour nap, one induced by a crashing fatigue, and here's the really important part - one that my three children allowed to happen by peacefully going about their separate business for that whole length of time.

The crashing fatigue itself was an indicator that at least one of my chronic conditions is playing me up (probably the hormonal one, given recent changes to medication). The best way to manage these crashes - where I go, over the space of five minutes, from normality to utter exhaustion so profound I can barely raise an arm and walking is actively painful - is to lie down. Sleep is best, but if it's not possible, *sometimes* quiet immobilized rest will do the job, although it usually takes longer to work.

The crash happened when I was sitting in the car waiting for the kids to come out of school. When they piled in, all full of stories about their day, I listened, made appropriate comments, and then said: "Girls, I'm really tired. I want to lie down for a rest when we get home. Will that be OK?"

They all agreed it would be, and so, we got home, I gave them snacks, they set themselves up doing three individual activities on computers, TV and with a book, and I lay on the couch, snuggled up to a heat pack, prepared for a sleepy rest ... and fell fast asleep, only to waken much later when one of the kids called out to another.

Aside from being slobberingly grateful for the sleep, it made me realise just how done I really am with the baby and toddler stage of parenting. Such a thing would be literally inconceivable - negligent and dangerous - with tiny ones, no matter how shattered the parent is. Unless the kids / babes are napping too, daytime sleep is next to impossible when you have preschool-aged children at home and you are the only adult on duty.

I actually feel a bit sick thinking about how I would (or, more likely, would not) manage the demands of my various health problems, including my anxiety, and my professional life, if I was caring for an infant or a toddler right now. I think I wouldn't cope very well at all. I think it would be harder even than I imagine.

I love my three children fiercely, and I really loved their baby stage, and even their toddler years (well, mostly). If I had not had to have three caesareans, making a fourth pregnancy medically inadvisable, I would've liked to have had four kids, and would've probably had another close in age to my thirdborn.

But being 42, being prone to extreme fatigue snaps from at least two of my underlying chronic conditions, being at the stage where I am getting more serious about my poetry and also trying to build a viable freelance business, being ready and needing to start reinvesting more time and energy into my relationship with my partner, being called upon to do more and more in the community, being available to my kids as they grow and their problems become more complex ...

Well, for me, all of that is incompatible with the total immersion that is life with a newborn. It was a beautiful stage, but one I don't want to, can't, go back to. I know I'm done.

This is post 27 in NaBloPoMo. 27 down, 3 to go!

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