I'd like to dedicate my award for Extremely Tired Mum in a Working Role to Eva, my 2 year old daughter. Without waking me up at 4am and keeping me awake with her tireless dedication to not going back to sleep and inane requests, none of this would be possible.
I hate days like this! Yes, I know there must be a very minute percentage of the population that would actually like days like this, but I do not just hate it because of the stinging eyes, pulsing head and general feeling of lethargy. I do not even hate it because I believed that after the torture of 1 year+ of sleepless nights that these days, like a stretchmark free stomach and spontaneity, were a thing of the past. And it is not the embarrassment of my inability to articulate and generally communicate with colleagues giving myself and other working mothers a bad name that makes me hate it so.
I hate it because of the ill will it spreads in my household for the rest of the day. The unfortunate thing for 'my household' is that it consists solely of Eva and I; just us two - no respite, no escape.
Most of the time our household is good; sometimes great and at times, times like this, bad: a time when a dark cloud of extreme tiredness loiters with intent in our household. When Eva's every call of "mum" is like a million fingernails scraping a blackboard. Eva's appetite for life, thirst for knowledge and never waning penchant for asking annoying questions battles it out with my will to live. But it's a losing battle because I know she will win not because she is stronger or smarter but because she's a child, and she deserves to have those questions answered, least of all because she does not yet know what 'through gritted teeth' is.
I hate days like this because I don't want to do this anymore and I dislike myself for not wanting to do this anymore. I miss my old life, not because it was more fulfilling, not by any stretch, merely because it wasn't this; it wasn't 'today'. I miss the life I took for granted whilst watching repeats of programmes I didn't even enjoy very much the first time I watched them. I dislike myself for not wanting to build another Lego building, do another puzzle, read Dear Zoo for the umpteenth time or be responsible for taking someone else to the toilet when I've probably given myself cystitis from holding my own wee in because I'm too tired to go for myself. I ask things like "Can I say that?" Can I say that sometimes I am annoyed that such things are being asked of me when I have been made so tired? Can I say that I found the nativity play boring? Is that allowed? And then a friend without children calls interrupting my internal questions and mentions her spontaneous trip to the cinema and it feels like bragging and insensitivity, which is very unlikely, but the jealously still feels like a dagger through my heart. I look around the room I just tidied and it is re-strewn with toys and the only answer is bed; for both of us, but firstly for Eva.
I send her off to get ready for bed which is fruitless and a time-buying mechanism, because she is only 2 and as a 2 year old, I have to do everything for her because there's very little she can do entirely by herself.
5 minutes later (because even the purchase of 5 minutes feels freeing) Eva returns to the front room talking about the moon and I fob her off with my 'ooh yes, the moon' without really looking. When I pretend I can see it from where I am she starts crying (she's tired), takes my hand and wants me to follow her. It transpires she knows I cannot see the moon from where I am because it was at the back of the house. And Eva is vindicated because she really does have the meanest mummy in the world which I assume she tries to tell everyone at nursery in the language that only I can understand. But her interest and happiness for the moon restores my interest and happiness for the moon and my heart un-tenses.
10-20 minutes later, Eva is asleep and it is beautiful, she is beautiful and this is when I love her the most (can I say that?). Not because she looks beautiful, peaceful and is quiet but because when she is asleep, the guilt kicks in and I think of all the wonderful, funny, clever things she does and the pride and happiness she has brought me in her short life, happiness that 1000 years of watching television repeats and spontaneously going to the cinema every day for the rest of my life (which would somewhat take the spontaneity out of it) could never bring.
And when you look at them and you feel guilty and you remember the good, you know that tomorrow will be a better day because ultimately sleep is the greatest healer.