Meeting the needs of three

“I’m just going to go upstairs for a bit to see if she’ll go to sleep, alright?” I repeat myself. Talitha’s lost in whatever is on TV. I promise her, multiple times that I’ll be back down once her baby sister is asleep. Then we’ll turn the television off and do something together. She murmurs agreement, probably just to get me to go away.

I don’t feel I’ve given her much today. I was up too late working, then Ophelia woke up more than usual, chatting and squealing and rolling over in the dark.

At one point I turned away from her, hoping she’d settle down if I ignored her. She screamed.

So, that was our night, in and out of sleep. Her brain is working on something big. She can’t switch off, though she’s tired.

So, mama’s been hitting the coffee today and tackling tasks that don’t require much. I’ve not felt completely here.

The tired baby who really, really needs a nap so she can recover from her exciting night wants to be held all day but also cannot stay still. She is grabbing for everything.

She cannot nap. She cannot stop rolling and getting into crawling position. She is wired.

She finally falls asleep at the breast. I ease away from her and sneak back downstairs.
“OK, I’m back. Remember, when this programme is done, we’ll do something else, OK?”
“No.”
“But we need to cook dinner and make bread.”
“But I want to watch more.”
“I know that but you’ve watched lots.”
“I want to watch lots.”
“We don’t have to turn it off now. When it’s done.”

The show finishes and she turns it off. For a moment, I think this will be the first time in forever that she’s turned off the television and not been upset about it.

I’m wrong. She starts crying.

I feel like just putting it back on so I can cook in peace and not deal with this. But she has already watched more TV today than usual and there is a need here…there is a need…I’m looking for it…

I’m not sure why but I suddenly ask: “Would you like to go on my back?” I haven’t worn her in the house for a long time. I’m surprised at how enthusiastically she agrees.

She is still crying when I tie her into the podaegi. Eventually her sobs quiet and I feel her muscles relax into my back. She begins to look at what I’m doing. Connection and distraction – that’s what she needed.

I think for a moment of the smallness of her. Of the growing distance between these moments where we get to be mama and baby. Then, just like that, it’s over. She wants down. She wants to peel the carrots for me.

I hand her the peeler and I hear the cry. Ophelia’s woken up. She will now go into the pod. We’ve moved on.


26 Comments

  1. November 13, 2014 / 10:49 pm

    absolutely loved this line:

    At one point I turned away from her, hoping she’d settle down if I ignored her. She screamed.

    I know it well & really made me chuckle. You have a wonderful writing style. Looking forward to reading more.

    • November 14, 2014 / 12:59 pm

      Thank you! Ah these babies – they’re all so different yet all the same!

  2. Emily
    November 14, 2014 / 12:31 pm

    Hi. I always read your posts but don’t usually comment. I was really touched by the scene you described and I can see that when ones second comes along that the first will always seem so grown up and independent, Sounds like you did exactly what she needed at that moment.

    • November 14, 2014 / 12:58 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Emily. It’s a really encouraging one at that. Yes, it’s amazed me at how much bigger she seems, though she often reminds me that she is only little.

  3. November 14, 2014 / 3:42 pm

    Aww this is such a bitter sweet post, Talitha momentarily loving to be the baby only to reminded that isn’t so. Bless you it must be a constant juggle to meet all their needs and you’re doing such an amazing job. I think I often forget that even though F is constantly chatting or challenging me that actually four is still really little. x
    Lori recently posted..STEP INTO SPRING WITH BODEN SS15

  4. November 14, 2014 / 8:25 pm

    I totally sympathise. I still feel guilty when my kids watch TV instead of doing something more interactive with me. But then I remember they need down time too like everyone else, especially after school. And I also remember watching TV lots myself during marathon BFing stints. Try not to beat yourself up. We all do so much with our kids if you analyse all the good quality time we do spend πŸ™‚
    Kathryn (@KatGotTheCream) recently posted..The Happy List #77

  5. November 14, 2014 / 11:10 pm

    i love that even though sometimes i can’t relate to your posts in a personal way (not being a mother myself) i always love the way you write and put things across, adele.
    laura redburn recently posted..snapshots of my week – 14th november

  6. November 15, 2014 / 10:37 am

    Ohhhhh…again, so familiar. I’m trying so hard to let my 3 year old still be my baby when he needs to be (and am also looking forward to the day when the TV stops without him crying – he watches so little of it, and the upset when it stops is one of the reasons for this). Thank you for this!
    Helen recently posted..Digital footprints, or trying to interact

    • November 16, 2014 / 11:22 pm

      Yes, every time she cries over television, I feel like throwing the box away!

  7. November 15, 2014 / 9:01 pm

    wow I really felt I was with you in the scene you described and although I only have on I can really relate to the baby thing. I know Wilf is a little younger but I think we are struggling with this not baby things anymore he’s growing so fast and it’s confusing for him. He reminds me sometimes that he’s still a bit little and sometimes he says he wants to be a baby again poor thing xx
    Fritha recently posted..A Little Shop Update

    • November 24, 2014 / 11:45 pm

      I forget that Wilf is younger. I reckon they’re getting to an age where the gap is closing. x

  8. November 15, 2014 / 10:59 pm

    This all seems so familiar and we are throwing another into the mix! I am uncomfortable with the amount of TV the boys watch at the moment but pregnancy is draining!
    Bex @ The Mummy Adventure recently posted..Three Boys

    • November 16, 2014 / 11:23 pm

      Congratulations! I’m not sure I knew you were expecting again! Pregnancy is draining. Talitha started watching TV when I fell pregnant with Ophelia. I just couldn’t cope otherwise. I’m sure they also do lots of other things too. x

  9. November 16, 2014 / 12:17 am

    I find your posts are great for as they are really insightful to what life with two is going to be like and I can empathise with you already especially when your pilled up with work and tell yourself only an hour while they watch something and they sort of agree with you so you just go away = parenting so much to learn

    Laura x
    Laura recently posted..Mercure Eastgate Hotel, Oxford

    • November 24, 2014 / 11:46 pm

      That’s for sure. Parenting has taught me more than anything else ever has!

  10. November 17, 2014 / 8:09 pm

    I rely on the telly far too much at the moment, I’m so behind on work and it’s the only way I can get anything done, I feel crap about it though. This is so lovely and a real reminder that our big babies are still babies too x

    • November 24, 2014 / 11:46 pm

      It’s really easily done. That’s why I end up staying up too late working instead – and being grumpy the next day!

  11. November 17, 2014 / 8:28 pm

    I remember when Kiki was born, Lola all of sudden seemed so grown up! It’s hard some days to try and meet everyone’s needs isn’t it?
    Polly recently posted..Choosing the right pushchair

    • November 24, 2014 / 11:47 pm

      It is. I think it’s good to remember that it is hard and just go a bit easy on us all too.

  12. November 18, 2014 / 8:31 am

    can completely relate – beautifully written post, really atmospheric xx
    Emma recently posted..The Great Balancing Act

  13. November 18, 2014 / 9:09 pm

    Ahhh the t.v thing. I do the same, I tell my daughter one more because I feel guilty that’s she’s watched more telly in a day than I would in a week and then the tears come and i’m looking at my watch think oh gosh I will need to cook dinner soon….wouldn’t it have been easier to have left the t.v on?
    Hannah recently posted..Secondhand first Day 2

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