Sleepover

Another rite of passage for R and G: they had their first sleepover on Saturday night. Dh and I had been invited to a wedding and while family children were invited, friends’ children weren’t. We asked one of the girls’ friends’ parents if they could possibly…and amazingly they offered to help us out.

I waited for them to regret their rashness and claim a prior engagement but they were dead set on having the girls over. R and G were whisked away after ballet on Saturday morning. I must have looked slightly tragic when they left as my friend sent me a text to reassure me that the girls had arrived safety and I was to go and have a wonderful time.

Dh and I took them at their word. The wedding was wonderful and it was great for us to catch up with old friends (Dh’s really but I’m the longest standing WAG so it’s nice for me to see them too) and spend some time together without the girls. I haven’t been drinking since my health scares earlier in the year but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a glass or two of fizz and there were – thankfully – no after-effects. I made an absolute show of myself on the dance floor and barely left it all evening. It’s nice to let your hair down once in a while. Dh and I went to bed at the thoroughly dirty stop out time of 2am and woke just after 8am, so it wasn’t exactly restful but it was great fun.

On Sunday lunchtime we went to collect the girls in fear and trepidation. Had they slept? Had they wet their beds? Had the parents run away to Peru in horror? After a few false starts and a couple of logistical bed moves they slept well. They woke once in the night to tell our friends that their daughter was crying (she’s a sleep talker) and their beds were both dry in the morning.

I predicted that R might go a little wobbly at bedtime, but she was absolutely fine (and was described as an angel) and G had a little quiet moment on Saturday afternoon but claimed she was sad because someone was blocking her view of the TV.

We were greeted with excited squeals. G came to me first and R went to Dh. R was more reluctant to give me a hug but when she thought dh’s back was turned she gave me such a tight hug that I swear I stopped breathing for a second.

Whenever I go away for a day or two I find chat I’m fine during the event for which I’m actually away, but the moment it’s over I have to get home. The invisible thread develops a stronger pull. I like having a bit of freedom but I like balancing it with the responsibility of having children.

We have told our friends that we owe them a night away. Someone joked (I think…) that for every night we give the girls to someone, they should get two nights from us in return. It’s easier for us to host sleepovers (in theory – we haven’t actually done it yet) because going from 2 to 3 children doesn’t feel like much of a stretch. For them, going from 1 to 3 children must be more of a challenge.

Now I realise we missed a trick by not nominating any of our friends to be godparents. One of the main functions of godparents is to host sleepovers, right? Is it too late to nominate a few people? 😉

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Predictable

As sure as eggs is eggs, it’s November 2nd and I have already had my first November Wobbler of the month. It’s not like I plan them. I don’t sit with my diary on 31st October, cackling as I fix a time and date to hurl an inanimate object at a wall, massively overreact to something relatively minor or break down in tears for no obvious reason. It’s certainly not an enjoyable time for me, or anyone that has to live with me during this ridiculous period.

I have also been waking up in cold sweats – literally – the last few nights. I jolt awake at some ungodly hour of the morning and realise that I am dripping with sweat (practically soaked through and no, we don’t have the heating on yet) and have clearly emerged from some terrible nightmare…although I cannot recall the details after. Probably for the best as the content clearly has an adverse effect on me.

It’s all very odd and there’s absolutely no reason for it. G is…[searches for polite term] challenging at the moment but she’s been the same since the day she was born and is unlikely to change any time soon. People keep telling me she’s bright, which I think is code for ‘Annoying little sod’. R is mostly delightful, apart from when she’s tired and we all have to suffer with her. Dh is lovely and sends me Emergency Jackman pictures when I’m feeling blue. Dh is a keeper and I’m punching well above my weight with him! Work is mostly good. I have a reasonably active social life and lots of lovely friends and a nice family.

I reckon the clock change is the root of it. Like most people, I absolutely HATE going to and from work in the dark in the Winter. I haven’t ever experienced jet lag, but I just want to hunker down indoors, wear pyjamas, eat lots of food and watch The Only Way is Essex (don’t judge me) at the moment.

I’m doing my classic thing of taking on lots of extra tasks, like making the invitations for the girls’ birthday party (final count = 21 hand-made unique invites), joining a professional development group and becoming Secretary at the first meeting I attended and finally committing my long-overdue romance novel to screen as part of NaNoWriMo.

Lest anyone think I’m neglecting my children (heaven forbid!) I am squeezing these extra-curricular hours into the evenings, when R and G are tucked up in bed asleep. Dh works in the evening every other week and I don’t want to sit in front of the television every night watching TOWIE on catch-up and eating chocolate, so I like doing creative stuff. It’s cheap therapy, basically.

I did something today that I would never normally do. I reached out and took help from a friend. I have become really good friends with one of the the girls’ friends’ Mum (tortured grammar there, but you see what I’m getting it) as she and I are really similar. We’re both perfectionists and over-achievers and regard even the merest slip in our impossibly high standards as a massive failure and fall apart. The girls and I went to their house for Sunday lunch a couple of weeks ago and during a post-lunch walk on the Common, I poured my heart out to her. Normally I ignore the ‘If you ever need anything…’ platitudes from friends but she has been checking in with me regularly ever since to make sure that I’m ok. When I reached meltdown this morning I sent her a text and couple of minutes later my phone rang. I sobbed at her for a few minutes while she made soothing noises (she was on the bus at the time – it must have sounded like she was making a booty call). She couldn’t do anything practical to help, but she listened and didn’t offer spurious advice or ‘You’re brilliant and you’ll be fine’ cliches. By the end of the call I felt much better, although I started fretting that I had become a leech and was taking too much of her valuable time – she assures me that I haven’t.

This is a real change for me. I absolutely loathe taking help from anyone and regard it as a failure on my part if I have to do so. However, I keep being told that I don’t need to bear this alone so I’m making a real effort to accept help and not feel like I’m being a terrible burden to anyone. I spent several months shouldering this – anxiety? –  on my own when the girls were small and it did me no good at all. Along with the self-management plan I devised last year, I need to learn to reach out for assistance when I need it.

Hopefully normal service will resume soon.

Interview with dh – coping

I struggled for a while [with anxiety and mild depression] before going on anti-depressants when the girls were 15 months old. What was that period like for you?

I don’t think I saw it really. I knew you found it hard but I didn’t really realise what was going on. It’s hard to explain isn’t it?

I didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t want to let you down. Everyone kept saying how well we were doing and how well we coped and I knew that I wasn’t coping. It created an expectation and I had to keep pretending. I couldn’t tell anyone.

I found it really difficult to imagine, to understand. The harder you found it, the more stuff I did, but I think that made it worse. I thought I was helping you out but that made you feel less and less helpful yourself. I wanted to give you a rest.

It was self-perpetuating because the worse I felt the more you did and I felt that you weren’t letting me do anything because I couldn’t cope.

I should’ve just left you alone! I still went to work and left you with them. I didn’t think you couldn’t do it, I just wanted to help as much as I could. You never gave up – you always carried on.

What’s been the hardest time for you?

The first bit. The not sleeping. The first six months. Once you can get a proper night’s sleep you can cope.

My perception is –correct me if I’m wrong –that you went through a hard time about six months ago

They’re more frustrating now. They’re a lot cleverer and answer back now. I couldn’t go back to not sleeping…to sleeping in two hour segments every night. They’re a lot easier now, relatively…they can be exhausting, but they can be quite fun as well.

When do I need to buy you a shed to escape from all these mad, hormonal women?

They’ll just follow me into the shed!

Having escapes is a good piece of advice. That’s something we got from another dad of twins – plan your escapes.

I get quite a lot of time on my own during the day. I often have rest days when you’re at work and the girls are at nursery. I’m lucky that a lot of my friends live and/or work in London so I can meet up with them.

I remember sending you out once to have some ‘you’ time on a particularly fraught day and you went for a drive and came back with a bag of potatoes! You could’ve gone for a coffee, a drink but you did something useful!

We needed potatoes! I felt I should do something useful.

You don’t have to. Sitting in Starbucks with a coffee and F1 Racing for an hour is perfectly fine.

It’s just not being with the kids for a bit.

Do you think life was nicer before twins or after twins?

Before was easier! A couple of people have asked me if I can recommend having kids and I reply ‘I wouldn’t recommend having two at once!’.