Whoever said, 'An unexamined life is not worth living,' never spent a week examining life as a stay-at-home mother. I'm finding this exercise thoroughly depressing. I will soldier on, treating it as something akin to one of those writing exercises where you have to keep writing for fifteen or thirty minutes, never stopping your pen, waiting for the pearls to emerge from your subconscious or the universal energy or wherever that creative flow comes from.
Today was one of those stay-at-home days I dread. My playdate cancelled because of a sick child, and suddenly at eight a.m the day loomed before me like a desert, dull and featureless and incapable of sustaining human life.
There is a rough routine to our days - some sort of activity in the morning, followed by a nap from 12ish til 2ish (that's them napping, not me - and Pearl sleeps much less than Louis, so hers is more like one hour while he slumbers on for another hour after she wakes up), then lunch and a bit of playing in the backyard, finishing with a walk down to the park about 4pm, then dinner-bath-books-bed from five til seven. Basically I'm trying to exhaust them.
With no morning activity, I felt overwhelmed at the thought of entertaining the two small people for the next nine hours.
So this is what we did:
- Drove around to where I thought there was a Playgroup on. There wasn't. Rang Playgroups Australia, who told me to ring Playgroups Queensland, who told me the Tuesday Playgroups in my area are full. Obviously Tuesday is a dud day for everyone.
- Rang Mum to see if she wanted visitors. She was working, but we could pop in if we liked. Horrid visions of trying to control toddler twins in workplace. Declined.
- Found a playground in a park. This kept us going for about half an hour, until I could no longer stand the stress of trying to keep each adventurous toddler away from all those edges. There is one park I regularly go to where the climbing frames, slides, walkways etc are only about a foot and a half off the ground, so I don't have to worry about 'spotting' both children. When people have their children spaced sensibly apart, they only have one child constantly in imminent danger - the one nine months older is competent on the climbing equipment, and the one nine months younger can't walk. With two, I'm constantly weighing up the relative risks - if he slides out from under the chain on that swing, he's not going to do as much damage as if she falls from the top of that climbing frame she's attempting to scale.
- Went to the library. Much safer, and used to be foolproof, but now only keeps them entertained for a limited time before they start running up and down the aisles of books, or banging metal bookstands - you know, the ones where they display the book of the week - on metal book trolleys.
- It's only eleven o'clock! Oh my god. Back to the park for some morning tea then to teach them to chase birds, an invaluable skill for when I want to sit undisturbed for a few minutes.
- Into the car at 11.30 whereupon they promptly fell asleep. I drove to the local(ish) megaplex multimall (what are those places called? you know, like Westf1eld shopp1ngtown). Now they are a gift to mothers. All pram accessible. No cars once you get in. Giant chain stores so no staff around to see you trash the toy department. I had to do a few mundane jobs, the sorts of jobs stay at home mothers do. Locate a particularly unusual lightbulb. Find out whether the camera can be repaired. Sort out a Med1care claim from several months ago. Life's administrivia - how does that usually get done? We spent the whole of the rest of the day at the megaplex multimall. As long as I didn't stop moving, the babies stayed asleep until one thirty. Bliss!
- Came home to meet L who was doing a flying turnaround to get changed from her day's activity (collecting data from subjects) in preparation for her evening activity (presenting the results of one of her other projects to a bunch of doctors and hospital administrators in the hopes of further funding).
- Dinner and bed, bed, bed for all babies within a twenty metre radius.
I really need to work out a bit of a support plan for myself or I'm going to fall over.