It’s fair to say that Doug wasn’t 100% keen on the idea of having a third child. Shortly after I told him I was pregnant, he said the immortal line ‘It’s a bit like Brexit. I didn’t vote for it but I’m going to have to live with it’.
I didn’t totally hoodwink him. He’d gone back and forth between “no way” and “oooh another one would be ace”. It wasn’t because he didn’t want more kids. He did list some practical ways it wouldn’t be ideal – cost of holidays, fitting them in a car etc. – but his biggest concern was Us. Could we survive another baby?
Mabel and Buster were five and six when Frank was born. We’d survived and were out the other side. Everyone could ride a bike and wipe their own bum (two of life’s essential skills), but also Doug and I had time to be us again. When Mabel was two I started the business and we’d found a more equal balance having got better at sharing our roles at home and making time for each other. We’d had a couple of trips just the two of us, the kids happily trotting off to grandparents because they were old enough to understand that we weren’t abandoning them, and that they could manipulate gifts and ice cream out of the old folk.
Having done this twice before, we knew that amongst the delicious newborn cooing and ‘we made a baby!’ awesomeness, there would be resentment and exhaustion. I would feel like he was skipping off to work while he felt he could do nothing right when he walked in the door after working all day. The hissing at each other in the night. The rage as the hormones and sleep deprivation combine.
Before Frank was born we discussed how we could try to make this a smoother ride than the last bumpy two and part of that was agreeing that once it was possible to escape in the evening, we would. We know that time on our own helps us.
Part of the reason we row in these early months is because we feel so disconnected from each other, unable to find time beyond uttering a few grumpy words before collapsing mute on the sofa, chucking some food down our throats and trying to get to bed ASAP in hope of sleep. We don’t have family close by to help, and when you’re tired and not that keen on each other anyway, it’s easier not to arrange a night out.
Except we’re then on a treadmill of not finding the time and snapping at each other; spending the weekend divided in order to conquer the kids’ multiple birthday party invites, and then it’s Monday again.
Care.com got in touch a couple of weeks ago and offered us to trial their services, and it’s the push we needed. Hell, with Valentine’s Day coming if we can’t manage a date now, when will we? Care.com is an online service for finding short and longer term childcare. It’s a bit like a matchmaking service, so you get a selection of profiles that fit what you’re looking for. You can then check their references and if you like, arrange an interview to ensure the chosen carer is the right fit for your family. But instead of going on a date with the person you select, it allows you to go on a date with the person you’ve chosen to procreate with.
We were bickering as we walked out the door because it had been a rush to get three kids settled and I stupidly had visions of taking my time to get ready, which never comes to fruition. But it took about ten minutes just us and a calm set in. A familiarity. Oh wait, we do like each other. We can laugh about the total meltdown I had when he ate a piece of my ciabatta. Isn’t it funny how you don’t know what day the recycling van comes*. We apologised for all the tired sniping and showed some of the kindness that has been lacking. We’ve survived the first three months.
We had these babies because we love each other, but it can be tough when they take every ounce of your energy. Keeping back a bit for us is ok.
*Seven years. We’ve lived in the same house with the same recycling pick up day for seven years.
This post is sponsored by Care.com, the world’s largest service for finding high-quality carers.