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The Contradiction of Parenthood

The day begins with me doing a ninja crawl out of bed through a sea of limbs. I have to peel children off me as gently as I can in the attempt not to disturb them, which would kill my hopes of a quiet shower.

As I shuffle to the bathroom I mutter almost incoherently about wanting my own bed back, desperately needing a proper nights sleep. They have their own beds, why do they always end up in mine, when was the last time I slept through the night?

My right hand is completely numb where it was trapped beneath my own body all night, my hip is throbbing with a positional ache. I’m grumpy and tired.

I have to stop letting them get in bed with me, I decide.

The day blurs and my bedtime arrives again. A couple of hours ago, I battled to get them in their own beds. I sang songs, wrestled with toothbrushes, ran up and down for water and soft toys, kissed and hugged goodnight at least ten times. One last song. Tuck me in. Night, night, mummy.

I slide between my own sheets and spread out like an angel.

It’s cold and vast, why did I get such a big bed just for me? I feel stiff and alone. I can’t quite relax. It takes a long while to drift off into an uneasy sleep, I’m semi-conscious the whole time, waiting, curled up in my own little ball of warmth. The very edges of myself feel cold and there is a hollow space there.

After a while comes the sound of little feet on the landing. I turn to the doorway and pull back the sheet for the first visitor.

Small and warm, the visitor slots against my body; a perfect fit. His breathing is even and he is asleep within moments. My arm curls around his waist and peace finally consumes me. The smell of his fine baby hair sends a wave of calm all the way through me.

The sound of feet comes again. The second visitor slots in neatly, too.

I sleep, tangled in limbs, skin against mine, the sweet smell of their sleepy little heads wherever I turn.

Maybe I’ll wake up a little grumpy and stiff, but right now I know I need them just as much as they need me.

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7 responses to “The Contradiction of Parenthood”

  1. This is a beautiful ‘story,’ Emma. You sound like the perfect mum to your small children. How lucky they are to have you as their mother. When my children were young, it wasn’t seen as the ‘proper’ thing to allow children in our beds. That’s sad when I think about it now. Still, they grew up to be healthy, happy adults. Funnily enough, although I don’t have children to curl up with, my cat often climbs on top of me during the night, and no matter where she settles down, I sleep better, even if she’s sitting on my legs. This is a lovely, heartwarming piece, Emma. X 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Please don’t feel sad about not having your children in your bed; they have grown up wonderfully and are an absolute credit to you. When my kids are grown, there will most certainly be a new wave of parenting that will make me feel like I made mistakes; that’s the cycle of it. As my therapist often says, “We do the best that we can with what we have got.” When I think about that in terms of parenting, it makes me feel incredibly grateful to my own parents for trying their very best to raise me in the best way that they knew.

      Liked by 1 person

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