Before I had kids, I read a blog post about a woman who had three kids (singletons, its worth noting) and she talked about how intimidated she was by the prospect of taking all three out by herself. And I thought, in my infinite childfree wisdom, ‘why would you have three kids if you couldn’t cope with it?’
And then in the midst of the UK version of Snowmageddon last week (it snowed, like, a quarter of an inch. Everybody freak out), nursery was closed, I was home with three kids, and I just…couldn’t. In the end, a very kind friend brought her kids over because their nursery was closed too, and I had to admit that I couldn’t handle the prospect of hauling three kids out for a playdate at 4 pm. Or maybe, more broadly, I was kind of at my threshold, in terms of my ability to successfully parent three children at the same time.
Lately I’ve been making a real effort to parent more intensively, especially with the littles (I’m less worried about Theo. He had three years as an only kid). I’m trying to stay off my phone, verbalise more, focus on each girl individually, be a more present parent in general. And I’ve been proud of myself, because I’m succeeding. Bu I saw something on Facebook a couple months ago that really resonated with me. It was a meme that said ‘I’ve been dieting ALL DAY, am I skinny yet?!’
That’s how I feel about parenting babies. I can do a bang-up job for about thirty minutes at a time, and then what I want most in the world is to dick around on my phone. Or drink coffee in silence. Or fold laundry. I want to do anything but sing ‘zoom zoom we’re going to the moon’ for the 37th time that morning.
I also vividly remember watching ‘Master of None’ when I first brought the girls home (pre-Aziz Ansari sexual harassment drams). At one point in the show, the central character is feeling lovelorn and confused and he goes for a walk around New York. I saw him do that and thought ‘Efffffffff YOU! You just leave the house whenever you want. What’s that like?’
There is a reason that babies generally come in ones and parents usually come in twos (at least to start). The reason is: babies are a crap-ton of work, and multiple babies are more than double that. It is relentless and hard, and man oh man do I love my kids, but I would also love to see a little less of them.
So, to the mum of three on the internet whom I judged when I was pregnant, I apologise. I still think having three on purpose is kind of nuts, but I understand how great they are once they’re here, and I also understand how, some days, leaving the house just isn’t happening.