Cuddle fatigue. That’s what my therapist calls the feeling I get at the end of the day when I don’t want any person to get within three feet of me. When she first said it I was like holy crap, I didn’t know there was a term that could so accurately describe wanting to flick your children on the ear if they dare to attempt physical contact when you’re at the end of yourself.
By the way, I get to the end of myself every damn day.
It is during these periods of cuddle fatigue, when the kids are in bed and I’m all splayed out on the couch with a fly swat by my side in case Joel tries to give me a loving pat on the anything, that I start daydreaming about the future. I’m not talking about the weekend, or summer, or the five year plan, I’m talking about that glorious day when the kids all move out of home into manky student flats where their personal hygiene is no longer my problem.
Exhausted, a bit greasy, a lot sticky, and with hair frizzed up the ying-yang (possibly also drooling a little), I’ll lay there imagining a time when I can go back to doing things my way, when I want to, without some little grub thwacking me over the head with a pirate sword or hollering from the other end of the house “someone wipe my buuuuuuum” – FYI, ‘someone’ is me.
I’ve tried just looking forward to when they’re all at school, but people keep telling me that stage brings a whole new set of challenges like juggling everyone’s activities, dealing with complicated kid friendships, and trying to figure out when you have to start knocking on your son’s bedroom door instead of just bowling on in. So this is why I fantasise about a time when it’s not just a bit easier, but a time when it’s a buttload easier – a time when it will just be me, Joel and a little dog with our (grown up and completely self sufficient) children coming to visit on Sundays.
Easter is upon us and the kids are about to all be at home for four days in a row while the weather ruins everyone’s plans. That means we’ll be pretty much housebound and very much crazy, so I’ll probably reach the end of myself by approximately 7:04 tomorrow morning. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of Things I Won’t Have To Do One Day so when I’m in the mire this weekend I have a handy resource to remind myself that in time I’ll no longer have to hide in the bathroom to eat a handful of chicken chips.
To some the creation of this list may seem a bit premature, given the twins are only two and Victor almost five. Like perhaps putting such a long lens on life might only lead to disappointment when I snap out of my daydreams to face the reality I’ve still got many years of this crap ahead of me. To those people I say, come spend the witching hour at my place and you’ll soon see why I need some distant hope to cling to.
Before I continue, let me just clarify that I am grateful for my kids and feel very blessed to have them wipe their snot on every single item of my clothing and bedding. Of course I am. I love those sticky little humans more than anything, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get super rinsed by their very existence and I’m not allowed to look forward to one day spending time with them without having to wipe up their spat-out vegetables, ask if they need to go to the toilet, or waste actual minutes of life trying to move the lumpy bits of the socks on their feet.
Things I Won’t Have To Do One Day:
- MacGuyver a toy out of its packaging
- Check the toilets before guests arrive
- Lug around a bag with nappies, drink bottles, hats, sunscreen and a half-eaten apple from last week
- Die a little inside when I realise there are no wipes in that bag
- Put my body on the line trying to break up a bitey/scratchy fight
- Sniff suspicious marks on the carpet
- Wash entire loads of laundry that contain exactly zero items of my own
- Witness someone react to a plate of delicious dinner as if it’s a puddle of vomit
- Explain why gumboots are not the best option in the middle of summer
- Explain why jandals are not the best option in the middle of winter
- Enter into high level negotiations over dumb shit like having a bath
- Clean the fiddly compartments of the bento lunchboxes I bought to prove I love my children
- Avoid air travel
- Feel the burn of other parents’ eye lasers as I drive straight out of daycare to the McDonald’s drive thru over the road
- Sing the Umizoomi theme song to help get a child to sleep
- Remember the names of a thousand school children. Gah, and their parents
- Work with fondant
- Remind myself it’s not really okay, nor legal, to shut someone in a wardrobe so I can eat donuts in peace
- Wake up at 5am to the screechy cries of “I want my dress on” every damn day
- Couple up 29384 pairs of socks
- Be abused for unscrewing the top on the yoghurt pouch
- Make mental notes every time I see a stray toy because I know later in the day some bugger is going to desperately need that or the world will end
- Buy crap bread from the dairy
- Strap anyone else into the car before I get in. Yeah, it sounds lame, and definitely not the climactic end to this list that you might have been imagining, but for real, I honestly can’t wait until I can just walk from the house to the car, open the driver’s door and get in. Just eff’ing get in!
Look, I know I’m only scratching the surface here, but my brain just broke from all the thinking (let’s not forget my mind is keeping quite busy remembering where everyone’s everything is, so there’s not much spare room for processing actual thoughts).
Of course the flip side to all this longing-for-a-kid-free-home is that one day I will actually have a kid-free home and no longer have all the good things and then I’ll be all cut up about that. The cuddles are obviously bloody great, and kids say really hilarious stuff all the time. Plus, every now and then they surprise me by doing something cool and miraculous, like putting four pieces of duplo away, and it fills my heart with pride and hope that maybe they will end up being a contributing member of society after all.
I guess it’s safe to dream about a future without kids while they’re still all up in my grill, because in the back of that muddled brain I know I’ve still got loads of time with my chicks in the coop. I’m sure the day they start moving out of home those dreams will turn to despair and I’ll be nostalgically pining for the very days I’m living right now.