Dear Stupid Parents,
Today’s lesson is on a topic I’m sure we’re all familiar with: extreme, relentless tiredness. When I was at uni (too) many years ago, I read in a magazine about a whole town in the U.K. somewhere that seemed to have developed a strange culture of going out and about in their pyjamas. Like, in public. On top of the initial ‘W.T. Actual F?’ I was so horrified, that I promised myself no matter how shite life got, how stressful, how otherwise unmanageable, I would never, ever leave the house in my P.Js just because. (Don’t worry, this isn’t going where you think it’s going; even on the bad days I still manage to get dressed and put on a bit of slap.) But this week, I’m sorry to say I hovered dangerously close to wearing my indoor wear as outdoor wear.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I have myself a good old, reliable pair of comfy trousers. You know the sort – hideous to the point of pitiable, stretchy round the waist, saggy round the arse. Perfect, in other words, for lounging, cleaning the bathroom, lounging, pulling on after getting caught in the rain and, eh, lounging. I have a few pairs of ‘comfies’ as they’re affectionately known in my house, and while I admit they’re downright despicable, they’re also very much in ‘what I’d grab if my house was on fire’ territory. I’ve had them so long that I don’t know where I got them, I’ve had them so long that they’re now a sort of denim blue despite starting off a deep navy, I’ve had them so damn long that even the new, fleecy, cosy, impeccable nightwear I treat myself to every Christmas just doesn’t cut it when it comes to kicking into full relaxation, I’m home for the night mode. In otherwords, I love them.
Twelve weeks ago, I had my second baby boy in 18 months. Needless to say, since then life’s been a bit manic and a proper night’s sleep feels like a luxury reserved for the rich and famous but the last few weeks have been especially challenging. No matter what I try, I can’t seem to figure out a proper rhythm for Baby Boy. His feeds are sporadic and irregular, he naps for anywhere between 5 minutes and two hours at a time with no pattern emerging whatsoever. At night, he’s been known to wake every half hour for no obvious reason, apparently just happy with a little cuddle before allowing me to return to my bed. On top of that, we have Toddler Boy: busy, energetic, verrrrry active. He generally wants to start the day at around 6am, husband heads to work at around 7 which leaves me to tackle everything the day presents with two babies and roughly 3-4 hours sleep. (I’m not the only one, I know, I’m just giving context to explain why what happened, happened.)
Luckily, we’re still able to send Toddler Boy to nursery 3 days a week which gives me a chance for Baby Boy cuddles and some much needed rest. Yesterday morning, like most nursery day mornings, we were running late. Having breakfast wasn’t an option and neither, sadly, oh so sadly, was a full face of make-up. It was an up and at ’em kinda start to the day (only a lot less chipper and with an inappropriate amount of swearing.)
Now, I know that pulling on a pair of jeans or even baggy trousers takes the EXACT SAME time as putting on the comfies, but yesterday morning, when I opened my wardrobe, I just thought ‘fuck it.’ Not in the back of my mind either, right at the forefront, so far forward that you could almost see it written across my face. Fuck. It. I was so tired, that seeing straight was nigh on impossible and managing to actually make decision about what to wear felt like a bit of a victory. So when I passed on every other pair of trousers I own and instead, put on the comfies, I was just glad that the sweat-inducing task of replacing one item of clothing with another was over. I had, perhaps a millisecond where I questioned myself, wondered what I was doing, who I’d become, but again, Fuck It won out.
The trousers in question. I’m sorry you had to see this.
We arrived at nursery as most other parents were leaving and as I walked in I passed the suits, the hairdos, the lipsticks and suddenly Fuck It seemed a bit of a arse. Me and Fuck It were no longer friends. Fuck It was quickly replaced with Oh Fuck. I needed to get back home; and fast. I practically tore the straps off the buggy in a bid to release Toddler Boy, shoved him into the arms of his room leader, threw his coat in the general direction of his peg (complete with his name and photo – gets me every time. *insert heart-eye emoji) and ran the hell outta there. Or at least as fast as I could run with a baby strapped to my chest.
On the walk back, I had to pass a couple of the other mums I usually talk to but instead of offering up the usual pleasantaries, I completely ignored them, put my head down and pretended I didn’t see them at all – I figured ‘rude bitch’ is a much more flattering assessment of me than ‘slobby cow.’ Even when I was waiting to cross the road and a car stopped to let me by, I felt judged – I wanted to scream out ‘but my coat’s from Marks and Spencer’s, I USUALLY GIVE A SHIT!’ But no, head down, shuffle on, and a promise to myself that that’d be the first and last time the comfies would see the light of day.
You could say I’m being hard on myself, that tiredness makes us all a little bit less concerned with what we look like and what other people think, but I reckon that’s a slippery slope to get on. Surely, once you stop caring about your appearance and how the world might perceive you because of it, the next logical steps are throwing away your toothbrush, refusing to wash and alcoholism?
I considered making this post a lesson about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep but who am I kidding? I’m a parent of young children, chances are, if you’re reading this then you are too – in which case see this as a warning; stay on the right side of self-respect, don’t start your day trying to convince yourself that if no one you know sees you looking rough then that makes it ok. It makes it less bad, but not ok. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, everyday I struggle to find my hairbrush let alone use it, but make a choice people. Make a choice; who do you want to be today? How much do you want to like yourself come dinner time? If you, like me, are struggling with the effects of prolonged tiredness, I think we’ve got two choices, so what’s it gona be:
1. put aside the exhaustion at the start of every day, invest in a lorry load of under-eye concealer and keep on keeping on.
2. admit that it’s all a bit too much, that lying horizontal on a sofa in comfortable clothing while our children survive on the crumbs of yesterday’s toast sounds pretty sensible and that changing your underwear everyday is slightly excessive anyway.
I want your answer to be option number 1, I want my answer to be option number 1, too but as I’m writing this in bed in the middle of the afternoon after another almost sleepless night, wearing my comfies, while my makeup bag is gathering dust at the back of a cupboard somewhere, I’m starting to think those apparently lazy, self-loathing residents of pyjama-town might be on to something after all. And, hey, at least they wouldn’t judge.
Wake me up when we get there, yea?