Return to Grown-Ups

This is how Rachelle Rowlings makes it work.

It’s 4.50am!

I’ve just rolled over in bed, dreaming of a child-free holiday in Santorini, when I hear it... a gurgle. Then a cough. Then a thud. 98% of me would rather it be a masked intruder than my toddler waking up. (A masked intruder maybe I could reason with.)

Alas, it’s the tiny demon with blonde curls! She’s probably bottom-burped herself awake, remembered that she hates, well, everything, and checked her small, invisible watch that reads, ‘Take them all down with you!’

And that’s how most days begin. 

Now that I’m almost four years into this revolutionary motherhood journey, I finally get it. Expecting anything other than chaos is setting yourself up for failure! Putting your kids in a neat little category or comparing them to the child of a neighbour/sister/random person at a bus stop is terribly reckless. How your days, weeks and years run is moment-to-moment, with endurance, sense of humour, and a generous helping of patience and love.

Where were we… Ugh, yes! I carry Rumer on my hip for an hour post wake-up, because any other surface doesn’t agree with her, while Roman rolls out of bed and reveals his mood for the day. (It’s entirely dependent on the moon and the tides and the kilograms of sugar he inhaled the day earlier.)

By 9am I’m ready to leave them both at the local petrol station in exchange for a king-size Twix. But our non-daycare days are ‘mummy adventure days’, where I attempt to wow them with all the things this glorious world has to offer, to stimulate their amazing, unguarded senses. On Insta stories, these adventures appear shinier than freshly bleached tiles! But, let it be known, they are anything but...

First stop in the car is to purchase the ‘bribery snacks’. (‘Bribery snacks’ are made up of 87% sugar, 3% hard-to-open packets, 10% hope, and usually end up squished into our car’s leather upholstery. But they are essential.)

Once we arrive at Adventure Central, I immediately know if today’s activity is a hit or miss. If Roman mutters ‘I’m bored’ five seconds after I’ve paid, I know we’ve got around 7 minutes before he starts kicking me in the shins. If his eyes open wider than my wallet at a Net-a-Porter sale, we’re taking up permanent residency.

After lunch, the real fun begins. Lifting, angling and forcing what feels like a 20kg and 150kg child back into their 30cm x 30cm car seats is not dissimilar to playing Tetris after a whole bottle of tequila. After I’ve endured a tit kick, a head butt, a lip scratch and a suspected broken rib, we all head home to spend the rest of the day in ‘quiet time’ (because, quite frankly, my soul has been ripped through pebblecrete and over some barbed wire).

Full disclosure: 'quiet time' usually means I attempt to recline on the lounge while the kids damage a large portion of the house. Occasionally, when I’m one argument away from dispensing soap into my eardrums, I’ll sacrifice my ‘off-limits’ make-up drawer and hope they don’t come out looking like the Joker.

We’ve made it to 3pm! The kids are nude, sticky and frothing at the mouth. I call my husband, so they can use their cute ‘hello daddy’ voices to remind him to hurry home. This is when a somewhat normal household becomes a game reserve: two hungry, tired, angered lions roam the house, hunting for prey, gnawing at pillows and stuffed animals, snapping crayons, head butting windows and roaring at any encounter with a human.

So, I do what any other desperate parent would, I run them on the street like greyhounds! Watch them gallop around nude in the backyard! Let them lather each other’s bodies with water-based paints! Encourage them to ‘help’ cook dinner! (Which I inevitably have to clean up to cook the real dinner.)

Now, everyone thinks dinner is the best time of the day! No, no. The best time of the day is when you hear the rattle of a front door key and the melodic hues of your husband’s voice. This is when you stop, drop and roll, click your time card and Usain Bolt upstairs to scroll Insta, contemplate your navel or stare at a white blank wall. Regroup! And return. 

You’ve conquered another day!

You may not have been the Mum you strived to be. You may not have been like any of the motivational quotes you’ve saved on Instagram. But you’re their mum. You’re their sunshine, their warmth, their safety and their happiness.

The days are long, they’re monotonous, they’re strenuous and they’re sticky, but those little hands get bigger by the day and soon they’ll no longer fit in yours. So I’ll take the monotony! And I’ll take some deep breaths! And I’ll remind myself that this is all part of this crazy, wonderful, magical journey.