When you have small children, there are days where you just CANNOT face going to the park.
It is no surprise that these days often come after you have been up ALL night because one of them wet the bed and the other one randomly burst into song at 4am. You may have been dealing with choppers coming through, unstoppable projectile vomit, raging temperatures or night terrors.
Or maybe, and it's rare... but maybe, you've actually been for a night out on the town with your pals and have rolled in at 2am with a belly full of beer and a heart full of joy.
These are all typical reasons why sometimes, you just don't want to lug a double buggy out the next day to the park. You don't want to stand in the rain, lifting kids on and off slides and stopping them getting booted over by older kids on swings. You don't want to have deal the outrageous tantrums that ensue when you lift them off the swings to let another kid have a turn. You don't want to have to make idle chit-chat with random strangers at the slide who always ask you, 'How old is he?', 'Is he potty trained yet?', 'Have you put his name down for the nursery yet?' - all of the classic questions that are designed to make you feel like a worthless mother, make you question everything and force you into a competition that you have no choice but to be involved in.
You just want to have an easy day at home for once. Just today. You just want a cheeky lie in, a cup of warm tea, a spot of 'Homes Under the Hammer' and a nice Alka Seltzer to settle everything down.
Just this once. For a change.
Sadly, this is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.
In fact, I can say with full confidence that if you have had a rough night, the exact opposite is going to happen the following day. I would bet every penny of my life's savings on it down at Ladbrokes.
I have summarised the situation as follows:
1. Big party night out + obscene consumption of alcohol =
Kids get up at 5 am the next day and INSIST on going to soft play.
2. Life changing job interview tomorrow + need to be alert, witty and intelligent =
Kids get up at 2am ,4am and 6am the night before and puke Ready Brek on your dry cleaned suit just before leaving the house.
3. Hideous flu + Husband working + Grandparents and babysitters unavailable =
Kids get up at 4am + torrential rain + you've run out of milk + you're on your last nappy and therefore HAVE to go to Tesco's.
Kids have a radar for this stuff. They know when you are at your lowest and that is when they peak and set out to push you into the nearest asylum.
However, it's all okay as I have a quick tale to tell that may prove highly motivational and help you through these inevitably trying days.
Here it is:
When my son Stan was a tiny baby, he was diagnosed with having a 'Floppy head' at his six week check. This basically meant that the muscles in his neck weren't developing properly and this can be a symptom of a whole range of hideous debilitating conditions. We were sent for numerous tests at the hospital to rule out complications, one of which was an ultrasound scan on his brain.
The radiographer was somewhat lacking in personality and he had about as much expression in his face as a footballer's wife who had overdosed on the botox. The more questions I asked, the more effort he made to ignore me and thus fuel my anxiety. I am not sure if this lack of bedside manner was part of his job description or if he was just a miserable git.
Maybe he had been up at 2, 4 and 6 am with his toddler too and I was being overly sensitive and judgmental.
Anyway, as he glided the scanner over my baby's tiny brain, I was eager to know, 'What are looking for? What are you trying to find???'
Dr Botox eventually surrendered and said one thing that will stick in my mind forever... one thing that has changed my life for the better and now helps me to cope on the aforementioned days when all I want to do is escape by locking myself in the shed and burying my head in a massive jug of beer.
He said he was looking for 'Wrinkles on the brain'.
He explained that wrinkles were good. The more wrinkles that the brain has, the healthier the baby.
*He said that every time the child learns something new, a wrinkle will form.
How sweet is that?? A WRINKLY BRAIN!
After that day, Stan got the all-clear and I went on a mission to make his brain as wrinkly as possible.
I'd read him a new book- SQUELCH- new wrinkle.
Drag him to the park when I was hungover- SQUELCH- new wrinkle,
Feed him something new that took an hour to prepare- SQUELCH- new wrinkle,
Let him throw a bag of flour all over the kitchen-SQUELCH- new wrinkle,
Now, every time he lobs his Spaghetti Bolognese at the wall, runs away when I let him out of the pram, has a meltdown over a bag of Skittles at the Tesco's checkout and shits in the bath and plays with it, I just tell myself that new wrinkles are being etched into his tiny brain.
And this makes it ALL worthwhile.
I can cope with all of it, any time, any day, with or without sleep or a hangover because:
I AM MAKING THOSE WRINKLES!!!
I never thought that I would actively seek out wrinkles. But I do. I just cannot get enough.
Parents of the world: Keep pushing those swings and climbing those frames. Keep calm when your child is flapping around like a paralytic starfish on the supermarket floor. Laugh out loud when he rips your newly planted rhododendrons from the flower bed. Chuckle when he pushes paperclips into the USB socket of your new flat screen TV....
Those wrinkles are forming... Squelch.
* I have just Googled the brain and how it all works, and it turns out that we don't actually get a new wrinkle every time we learn something new. When we learn new things, we make new 'Neuron connections'.
Turns out that Dr Botox was spinning me a yarn and speaking to me in what can only be described as 'Layman's terms'. Obviously the jackass didn't think I was capable of understanding the truth about the human brain function.
Despite this, I am still gonna live my life on the 'Get that wrinkle...Squelch' policy as it has done wonders for my parental motivation to date...even if it is based on total bullshit.
Join me, won't you?
PHOTO BY TZA