You know when you imagine your life, you have little vignettes of how things will be… I envisaged that life with two children under two would be really tricky and often chaotic. But amongst the upheaval, I also pictured us playing in the park, going for walks in the pram, digging in the vegetable garden, collecting eggs from the chickens, cuddles on my bed while reading bedtime stories, bath time fun, chasing giggling children around the house… I could go on. As things are a little tough in our house at the moment, those imagined realities aren’t creating themselves as effortlessly as they did when we just had our daughter. Part of my distress at everything is my ongoing unwillingness to come to terms with ‘our new reality’ as my husband puts it. Our new reality is learning to live with a child that doesn’t sleep but does scream. Screams before, during and on waking from every sleep. Screams throughout almost every car trip. Screams whenever he is put in the pram. Screams, screams and screams. Do we want to take Olivia to a playgroup? Does it involve a car trip to get there? Will it be worth the constant screaming to get there? What about have family breakfast out at a cafe? One of my most favourite things to do. Will it be worth the disgruntled looks from other patrons while you stand there trying to rock, cuddle and sway the screams out of an inconsolable baby? Needless to say, often in our sleep deprived state, its just all a little too hard. But on our good days, I am determined to bring my imagined vignettes to reality.
Driving through Yass I kept catching sight of this gorgeous park beside the Yass River. The kind that you idealistically picture in your mind. A playground filled with bright, colourful equipment – a twisty slippery dip, a fort, a rock climbing wall, monkey bars, even a bright, yellow boat to play in. Just outside the play area are picnic tables and a large grassed area with shady trees. The grass continues, hugging the path that meanders alongside the river. Wonderful isn’t it? So yesterday my mum and I took my daughter and son to the park. Being very conscious that our little man’s issues often means our daughter misses out, I try and create special times for her when I can. Little Miss loves the park. She would live on a slippery dip if she could. The park turned out to be better that I’d imagined. My daughter had a brilliant time, playing with lots of other young children who were there too. My mum fed Little Man his lunch while I took in how perfect the moment was. One of those rare occasions when reality surpasses your imagination.
Taking advantage of the glorious day, we walked up to a cafe specializing in local produce and bought some rolls so we could have a picnic by the river. There we were, the four of us spread out on a picnic rug, under some grand, old, shady trees, by the river. Everyone was happy, laughing and enjoying the moment. Even the ants, who were stealing our crumbs, were living the dream. Perfection struggles to describe the moment.
But then I made the fatal error. I pushed it too far. Nap time for both children approached. A choice had to be made. Pack them in the car, risking that they’d fall asleep before we get home thereby ruining their naps and paying for it with their terrible, horribleness all afternoon … Or, put them in the pram, walk by the river while they sleep peacefully and in turn do some much needed exercise. Needless to say, the choice seemed obvious. Walk by the river. Surely, surrounded by the calmness of nature in this perfect moment, both children would succumb to sleep??
Little Miss quickly nodded off, lulled to sleep by the rhythm of the pram on the pavement. And as the pram gently rocked over each of the bumps in the payment, Little Man screamed. As we walked under green trees with the sunlight softly filtering through, Little Man screamed. As we went under the bridge, admiring the reeds bowing in the wind, Little Man screamed. As the birds flew overhead, darting and swooping beneath a perfect, blue sky, Little Man screamed. As young 20somethings jogged effortlessly past us, Little Man screamed. For the entire walk, Little Man screamed. And while Little Man screamed his heart out, Little Miss slept.