How do I love thee? Let me count thy ways…
I never knew there were so many things to count. I thought my days of excessive counting were well and truly done after I completed Mathematical Methods in year 12. After school I use to count how many boys I’d kissed as a teenager. How many pairs of shoes I owned, or how many music concerts I had ever been to. Now the counting has a slightly different focus…
As a mother I have counted many things. How many steps Raff has taken. How many words Raff has said. How many times Raff has smiled today. How many spoonful’s of food left until Raff can leave the table. How many times Raff has pooed in the last 24 hours. How many nights in a row Raff has slept through.
It’s a condition of the modern parent I think. To calculate, evaluate and count things achieved, or things you wish to be achieved, by your child. I recall when Raff was younger, I use to write down each new word he said in a beautiful list in his baby book, adding them up and brimming with pride explaining to my health nurse that he had over 50 words in his vocabulary, plus lots of new sounds! Or the amount he would drink in a day… 5 bottles of 180ml’s of formula each… What a champion baby! As he has gotten older things like the number of day naps he has had this week would be the list at the forefront of my brain, or I’d start counting how many times he had screamed ‘Mummy!’ at me while I was trying to cook dinner.
Even more recently the lists started to taken on a negative, comparative edge. How many hours sleep did you get last night? … was one I liked to ask my husband… because he always had more in the bank than me. I’d say it with a touch of spite as all I desperately wanted was just 3 nights in a row of uninterrupted sleep where I didn’t have to tuck someone in or sing Twinkle Twinkle whilst rubbing their back until they fell back asleep. Our wondrous young sleeper has had a tough few months in regards to his peaceful slumber. He’d wake up as if having a bad dream every night, needing some reassurance and a song, and would eventually end up in our bed the next time it happened. Growing and restless, no one was having a ‘good’ nights sleep. The husband would eventually roll out and get on the couch and my boy would sleep horizontally across the bed and I’d wake to his feet in my face, or neck or spleen…
We finally realised it was a need for a big boy bed … and (touch wood) … it seems to be working so far. Some regular sleep has returned to us all, and hopefully continues to improve. But still… I count. How many times did I have to go in before he fell asleep? How long did I have to lie there to calm him down? How many stories did I have to read before he actually got into bed? (actually… I never really mind how many it is… the more the merrier to me!).
With the day nap gone for good, except if he is in the car, my counting often refers to my own time, or loss of time. How long since I had some time to myself? How many YEARS since I went on a proper date with my Husband? You know, just the 2 of us, those two humans who created the most gorgeous soul in the world. Us, man and woman, husband and wife, best friends, how long since we ventured out of the house alone?
Now I know that when you have a child you can’t expect things to stay the same. And in creating this tiny little human, you are creating a family, something that is greater than the sum of its parts, something whole and magical that only those within it truly understand… but the family was created first by the 2, and the 2 first decided to embark on a life together, so it is so important the 2 take time to just be… to remember how it all began, to reminisce and romanticise their completely carefree life before offspring, their adventures and pitfalls, but, more importantly, to take part in their future and actually continue to invest in one another.
Nice photo of the husband and I here… which he asked me to remove 😛
It sounds simple… but when the life starts to literally pile up on top of you, and you are counting the hours of sleep you need against what you are getting, it’s easy to forget the big picture, and just focus on all of those small things. To count and compare, and to wish, just maybe, that your numbers were different. I wish I had 8 full hours sleep in my own bed last night. I wish that I didn’t have to do 3 loads of washing today just to get caught up. I wish, I wish, I wish.
In all seriousness, lack of sleep, and lack of space in one’s mind to think beyond the demands of her rapidly growing toddler make you count up the crap… you draw up lists with columns comparing the wants and needs of all in your household and decide everything is unfairly balanced on your side. BUT… if you take a moment to breath and count the good you quickly see the forest for the trees and realise just how lucky you are in life. It’s not always easy, especially if you are in the middle of a moment when it feels like all the numbers are stacked up against you… the number of dishes to be done, loads of washing to do, days required to fully clean your house, meals to prepare, garden beds to weed … negative, negative, negative.
So… make that mental positive list, hell, even write it down, so you can see all the good… read it out loud, show it to the other people in your household, so they also know how much you love them and the life you are creating together.
(Life)… ‘How do I love thee? Let me count thy ways…’
I have so many things that I can add to this list… so why do I focus on the negatives? Because I am human… because toddlers are hard… because being a stay at home mum can seem unfair sometimes… because I am always trying to find the balance between work/rest/family/play… because I want so much for those I love. And I want things for myself. If you add it all up there often aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all… so maybe the key is to stop counting… and to stop comparing… and remember that life is not something to be tallied up, but enjoyed and relished.
Family… so much to be grateful for… including the parent’s beach house 🙂