Before I speak, I have something important to say.
I was thinking how tired I am after crazy of the past ten days.
Then I was thinking about what would happen if I got pregnant again. How would I cope? I am already tired, and then throw in a pram with a screaming small person in it?
It’s enough to make me weep with fear and then never have sex again.
I made a decision to have my first baby at 25. My arms ached to hold my baby and yesterday she turned 16.
Honestly? I am pleased to have the whole younger business out of the way. I had her brother four years later and now he is only one year away from starting high school.
What I’ve realised is, I couldn’t have this life as a writer if I still had small children.
It’s not just the hours of physical care required but it’s also the emotional and thinking time.
A dear friend once came and stayed with us when my kids were younger. One of the things she said that burned into my brain was ‘You’re so present when your kids talk to you. Whatever you are doing, you stop and give them your attention and response. It must be exhausting.’
I had never thought of it like that as being exhausting. I didn’t want to be an absent parent in the room, the one always checking their phones or watching TV and not responding to them when they asked me a question. When they asked me something, I made a deal with myself I would also answer them. Always. It is something I have had to remind my husband about also.
Is it exhausting being present? Not really but it doesn’t leave very little time for anything else.
I could not have given hours at a time to plot, plan, create and refine if my children were smaller.
I could not have banished the guilt and said ‘no housework in the hours dedicated to writing.’
I could not have text my kids saying, ‘In meeting with editor in City, let yourself in. Don’t drink all the milk.’
I could not have allowed myself to think I had any other purpose than providing to my kids. Once my life was dedicated to these job and now it’s less demanding and I am less available. Because everyone is more older, wiser and more self reliant.
I am tired now because life is busy and there is stuff that happens as you get older. Health scares, family stuff, financial stuff. If I threw a baby in on that pile of responsibility now….yeah…let’s not go there.
Yet there’s a wistfulness at how quickly the years go. I regret spending time stressing about crap that doesn’t matter now. I regret not taking more video of when they were babies. I regret putting enormous pressure on myself to be a perfect mother when there isn’t a perfect child.
But I don’t regret having my kids when I did. Because I gave them the years when I had more energy and was less tired and for that, I and I am sure my kids are incredibly grateful.