I’ve long been trying to find a word that describes the sort of life you have as a parent to young children; something that encapsulates the feeling of utter chaos, that conveys the sense that your life is very much out of your own control – a word that sums up entirely the way in which your normal day is made up of manic mini-sprints, both physically and mentally.
It can often feel as though you’re just frantically treading water, trying to get work done and also be an adequate, functioning adult, but then there are these blissful downtime moments where everything is running like clockwork and the kids are at school and all seems right with the world.
And I couldn’t think of a word for the haywire parts, the bursts of hours or days that seem as though they’ve been specially designed to send you over the edge, until my literary agent said to me (humble-brag, dropped that one in, didn’t I? Ha!) that often he feels as though he’s lunging from one thing to the next.
Such an absolutely spot-on word. It really resonated with me. Maybe because I still associate the word lunging with the idea of moving suddenly and speedily towards something rather than that awful knee-bend thing you have to do in the gym. If you’re well into your fitness and only associate the word lunging with, well, lunging, then it might not hit the same note for you as it did with me.
But lunging. Careering from one thing to the next in a reasonably uncontrolled, spontaneous kind of movement, is exactly how I live life. And I’m sure I read someone wise say something, somewhere, about being in control of your destiny and trying not to be reactive all the time (ie waiting for an event to happen and then thinking “shit! Better lunge to the left!”) but I can’t remember what they said the alternative was.
I’ll be lunging for a while yet, then! At least this sort doesn’t make my knees creak.
The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that the last life update was in August. I used to write one every month, without fail, and still would like to do that, but I’ll tell you what has become increasingly difficult: the kids are getting older. Might seem an obvious statement to make, but it has a huge impact on the way I write about them. It was fun writing about boobs and poo and what have you when they were more or less inanimate, but as they grow I find myself feeling apprehensive (over) sharing much about them. It feels like an invasion of privacy – even more so than a photo or a video – because, I suppose, there’s an unsaid trust between parent and child that you won’t go laughing about their funny mistakes in public.
Unless it’s the one about lions, because that was pretty good, to me at least. Mr AMR asked the six year old for a book of “hugs, kisses and lie-ins” as a gift and she presented him with a beautifully-drawn pamphlet with multiple vouchers for hugs and kisses. And drawings of lions. Loads and loads of lions.
See? It’s not the best anecdote in the world, is it? I mean it’s cute to me, but there’s nothing worse than other people sharing stuff about their kids that they think is cute. Pass the puke bucket sil vous plait. I get it. I’m with you. The stuff that’s great to share is when they’ve made a clay reindeer that looks like a giant misshapen penis and you can all laugh, or they’ve dyed themselves blue with a hair crayon and you can all commiserate.
So I’m feeling my way with the old “life update” posts. It’s a foray (or lunge) into the unknown. I love documenting life – and where else will I record the fact that my four year-old’s little hand in mine, when we cross the road, brings me to genuine tears of happiness on a daily basis? – but life is constantly changing and the people I once considered to be part of me are now their own little persons. How mad is that? They have their own opinions and everything. You should have seen how hard I had to bribe them to put elf outfits on (see photo at top of post): I now need a whole drum of Haribo to keep up with the bribes train.
I’m pretty sure that bribery via sweets is a massive no-no in the parenting books, but I can’t imagine they look too fondly on my particular method of self-care and stress-relief either* so I’m fighting a losing battle there.
*hiding around the corner, usually in the utility room, kicking the (full, always full) linen basket and silent-shouting hugely offensive swear words into a balled-up tea towel.