It will go like this: You do not sleep. You have not slept in years and years. You no longer remember what it is like to sleep for 8 hours, and maybe you never did? Surely this is but a myth, some archetypal parable, another tropical destination you will never visit.
And on the nights where this feeling is most acute; the nights you forget what you are talking about as you are saying it, like whistling in the wind; the nights you try to use the milk as washing powder and feed the children a bottle of hammers, this, THIS, will be the night that your children will refuse to go to sleep. More than usual.
They will play hide and seek in each others beds and sing all of the songs they know, of which there are only three, but on repeat, and laugh and laugh at you as attempt again and again the cycle of desperation to get them to rest. Much akin to the cycle of grief; and perhaps that is what you are doing, grieving for the sleep you have lost and will never get back, it centres around bargining and dispair. Empty threats. Threats you mean but will forget. Threats of every colour. Threats for every girl and boy! You may yell. Or maybe you are the type of parent that can illict the same desired response from the raising of an eyebrow as the raising of your voice. Raising children will also raise your blood pressure.
And as you watch the minutes turn into hours while the children torment you in ways you assume must be taught to them by some secret baby militia, your mind will drift back to the good old days wherein you were always holding two drinks instead of two children; and you will savour this very moment, because this is what will play in your head when your next friend or relative or over-zealous aquantiance announces the news they are expecting. For they will certianly not be expecting this.
Then it begins to happen: The Winding Down. Oh blessed event! The rubbing of eyes. The languid limbs. The twiddling of hair. The little dimpled hands searching for stuffed animals. The kicking off of blankets, those which you will later return to cover sleeping bodies, while holding your breath. The blinking is my favourite. Must! Blink. Keep! Blink. Eyes! Blink. Open! And when they finally close and all is calm and quiet and as you have been waiting for since 5.59am that very morning, you sort of miss them for a moment. Even though they are right there, snoring and farting and heavy and warm.
But then you will stand on a piece of lego as you are trying to sneak out of their room and as you do a sort of terrible dance of silent pain you will realise of all the things you have to do, missing people who will be waking you up before dawn to ask you what you are dreaming about, is not one of them.
Theo: ‘Mama, you are happy when you sing and dance and go round and round in your skirt!’
Theo: ‘Mama! Mae-Mae put it down the hole!’
It is 6am.
Alice: ‘Hmm? What, darling? What did Mae put down the hole? …What hole? What’s happening?’
Theo: ‘MAE PUT IT DOWN THE HOLE IN THE DECK!’
Alice: ‘There’s no need to yell, darling. What did Mae put down the hole?’
Theo: ‘…The thing.’
Alice: ‘What thing?’
Theo: ‘THE THING!’
I need a cup of tea.
Alice: ‘I don’t know what thing you mean, darling. You’ll have to explain it to me.’
Theo: ‘The…thing! What do you call it? What’s it’s name?’
Alice: ‘…I’m not sure, sweetheart, I didn’t see what happened. Where did you get the thing from?’
Theo: ‘…Your bag.’
Alice: ‘…It’s my Eftpos card, isn’t it?’
Mabel: ‘Heh, heh. You’ll never find it now!’
I have no idea what she was talking about. But I bet it’s in the pot cupboard.
Theo: ‘Mama, what does this say?’
Alice: ‘Hmm? That says BBC World News.’
Theo: ‘BBC! Like the Teletubbies. Except just a logo.’
Mabel: ‘MAMA! I AM A RAINBOW! KISS MY FINGERS!’
And I do, of course. One should never say no to a Rainbow.
Mabel: ‘MAMA! I AM CLAPPING THE KISSES!’
Sometimes, the truth (no one will tell you) is that your kids will make your heart swell; like the ocean; like an orchestra, and in such a way that it fills up your whole body and your whole day and your whole life. And all the things that you have thought you were not doing well enough stop calling to you, because right now, fallen in your lap, is someone who makes you see just how well you are doing.
Theo: ‘The Cracker is coming to get you!’
Alice: ‘The Cracker?’
Theo: ‘THE CRACKER! THE CRACKER IS COMING TO GET YOU MAMA!’
Alice: ‘…a Cracker is coming to get me?’
Theo: ‘The Cracker! From under the sea!’
Alice: ‘…Oh! The Kraken! The Kraken from under the sea!’
Theo: ‘Yeah! …The Cracker!’
Theo: ‘Mama, where do my dreams come from?’
Theo: ‘They come out of the sky, out of the clouds and into my house and into my bed and into my noggin!’
Children are noisy. You will get used to it. Your life will become an endless cacophony of questions and weeping. Not all of the weeping will be yours.
You will learn to tell the difference between every cry. You will know when to come running to their aid and when to hide in the broom closet until they sort it out amongst themselves. You will learn the difference between every laugh. You will know when their amusement is at the expense of each other or at the expense of your pets dignity. You will be able to tell what chair has been dragged where and for what dastardly means even if you are at the washing line and they are inside. Such is the super-human hearing that comes with parenthood.
So when you hear a noise you do not recognise, it is seldom that you will be pleased with what you discover upon its investigation. Especially if it is coupled with maniacal laughter.
A box of records being thrown down the front steps! What a surprise! Oh, children, what ever will you think of next?
Nevermind. I don’t want to know.