I would definitely say that I have reached that period of being pregnant where my overriding feelings a lot of the time, aside from tiredness and generally aching, are pure guilt. I know I went through this last time around too, but the feelings seem to be a lot more amplified this time; maybe because I have more children to feel guilty for this time around, maybe because this time my children are older and seemingly more aware of my recent short comings; but either way I feel pretty rubbish as a mummy of late.
As we plod on through the third trimester I am getting increasingly bigger, more tired, less comfortable and more irritable. And I feel absolutely rotten about the fact that my children have to live with that person as their mummy. I don't think the summer holidays have helped, because as much as I'm loving not having to dash out on the school run each morning, I have also getting very little respite from them and their constant need for... something.
I adore my children. I adore being a stay-at-home-mum to them both. And I feel so so lucky that I get to be in the position where we can afford for me to be at home for them, and that I get the privilege of a front row seat in these crucial first years of their lives. I know that I always miss them terribly when I'm away from them, even for reasonably short lengths of time, because honestly, spending time with them is my favourite thing to do. But it is a job. A big job. A tough job. An important job. One that I take very seriously, and one that makes me have very high expectations of myself. Because obviously I want to always do the best for my children, like all parents do... and lucky me, I get all the time in the world to do it, so I should be totally nailing it... right? But the truth is, like any job, however much you might love it, however important it may be to you, it's really hard sometimes to keep your enthusiasm at 100% all of the time.
And right now I feel like I am being an utter failure. I feel like I had such high hopes and expectations for this summer. That we would have such fun adventures together. I was so excited for preschool to break up so that our little gang could have seven long weeks of uninterrupted time together. I pictured us snuggling in bed in the mornings while Daddy got ready for work, then filling our days with the simple happy things; little trips out to the park, lunch dates together, adventures to the seaside or to country parks, trips out for milkshake or ice creams, drearier afternoons spent at the cinema; then when Daddy got home from work we would regale him with stories of the fun we'd had, before tucking them happily into bed a little later than usual. This was supposed to be a special summer; ahead of my biggest starting primary school and my baby starting preschool. An "end of an era" kind of summer. I wanted to fill up our days with amazing memories of their last days as a pair of preschool siblings before their baby sister comes along and changes things, and before our lives become a series of school runs and too-short-holidays in between.
The reality has been somewhat different. Preschool finished and I finished work just as the third trimester kicked in, bringing with it a bad back and lack of energy to do even simple things. It also brought an almost obsessive compulsive need to clean and tidy and nest. And the result has been a grumpy tired mummy, who has spent most of the energy she does have on trying to keep the perfect home, when she should have been focusing on entertaining the perfect children who live in it. Because now, as my energy levels diminish even further I can neither keep the perfect house nor entertain the perfect children, and those ever-so-high expectations I have of myself seem completely and permanently beyond my reach.
Too many days we have sat at home and basically done nothing. I have turned down play dates with friends because the idea of chasing my two around in a big open space full of other children off of school has filled me with dread. We have wasted our time together, and as I watch the last few days of our holidays melt away, I am just so cross at myself. Because I'm actually really looking forward to preschool and school starting so I can get a little tiny break a few days a week, and so I don't have to feel so utterly awful about the empty boring days my poor kids have had this summer, because I know that someone else can do all the fun things with them instead.
I think the only thing saving me from feeling completely and utterly sorry for myself, is knowing that I felt this last time around. I can remember the weird excitement I felt post-partum when I got down on the floor to help tidy up toys again, how glad I was to play with my little man again, and the absolutely ridiculously giddy feeling I had that I could pick him up properly and cuddle him properly again. I know this is part of it, part of the fun of adding to our family. And if we're honest, guilt is a massive part of the parenthood job description anyway, whatever you do.
But I am looking forward to those days when I feel like me again, like their proper mummy again. The one who never wants the school holidays to end. The one who throws dance parties in the kitchen. The one who crawls around on the floor making dens. The one who makes impromptu decisions to go on random adventures. Because I think my children miss her. And I miss her. And the next time I get to be her, I get to be her with three beautiful babies instead of two.