House of Tears

I think I’m going to take out shares in Kleenex. There seems to be a flood of tears in our house at the moment. Our tissue consumption is definitely inflated and that’s without considering the impact of cold and flu season. Yep, Kleenex are cleaning up with us.

The tears are going to result in more grey hairs, I feel. Early hours crying from the wee one leads to sobbing from Eve. Amongst all the breastfeeding literature and talks no one mentions how over-whelming it feels to be solely responsible for the well-being of a little one who can only let you know his needs by squeaking. Especially when it’s all harder than the photos of established feeding in the pamphlets. They don’t tell you of the constant demand, what to do when engorgement makes the perfect latch impossible, the frustration of leaking with a baby that doesn’t seem to be feeding well. And, with all things child-related, it always seems to be worse at night. Add sleep deprivation, hormones and adjusting to such a seismic lifestyle shift alongside a boyfriend who has no qualms about getting plenty of rest himself it’s no wonder she’s sobbing.

Walking the tightrope between offering advice and making things worse by interfering is hard. I can only go on how it all felt for me. Making sure she eats and drinks well, holding the baby so she can nap, but not to the extent that I’m taking over or making her feel as though she’s doing it wrong. To give her a shoulder to cry on and offer up the Kleenex seems to be my best tactic.

At least she’s accepting of the tissues. It’s far harder to wipe up the tears and snot from a toddler tantrum of epic proportions. Anything can trigger one: going out, staying in, getting dressed, tripping over, being stopped from tripping, not getting to go up the escalator in the supermarket, shoes. Ironically, the biggest cause of excessive facial fluid is an attempt to wipe up the mess from the last tantrum. Wailing, flailing, rolling on the floor. I expect blood to trickle from my ears at the aural assault. If children’s screams were truly an energy source just as they were in Monsters Inc then we’d not having to be attached to the National Grid. We would a single-handed power station.

And then Boo comes home from school, a face like thunder.

‘What’s wrong?’

‘Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh.’

‘Woah. Deep breath. Then tell me.’

‘Weeeeeeeep, ma-ma squeeeeeeeeak.’

At which point I usually lose my temper, growl at her a bit about pulling herself together and then have to take a deep breath myself because my irritation doesn’t help matters and the whine becomes even higher pitched.

It turns out that whatever’s caused her pain is minor. On Monday her hair clip had broken. On Tuesday an elastic band had broken on the buggy she built in a day-long workshop, meaning she didn’t come far up the field in the race. Today it was because she’d grazed her knee at lunchtime and then had to do PE. Anyone would think she was made to do an assault course after a double amputation.

This week the days are filled with tears…and it’s only Wednesday!

Gales are forecast for tonight. By morning the roof is likely to be leaking into the kitchen and utility room. Even the house is ready to weep.

And yet contrary to my normal usual disposition towards a good blub myself (no prizes for guessing where my children get it from) I actually feel quite strong. This could all change in a heartbeat, but for now I’m the matriarch; the rock to which all hands cling as they weather their storms. Maybe it’s because a crumbling rock is no good to anyone. Maybe it was that second glass of Rioja.

Who knows what crisis may befall us tomorrow, but my emotional first-aid kit is ready and waiting. A sturdy shoulder that doesn’t mind the damp, something chilling in the fridge and, of course, the box of tissues.

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