Growing up and growing old: 5 things 26.9.2016

1. Pumuckl remains in a strange limbo state between baby and kid. Yes, I know, this is called “toddler”; I’m just thinking about how in his particular case it manifests in a very particular way (the usual toddler learning and tantrums aside). There’s the afternoon nap problem. He’s always been one to show his tiredness very clearly and specifically; as an infant he absolutely had to get to bed by 6.30pm. Later he just really needed his naps. But now – and for at least the past half-year – it’s no longer possible to put him to bed in the afternoon. He just can’t do it. But then he gets mega cranky by evening. But if he does fall asleep in the afternoon (he’s been known to simply pass out, whether on my lap, or in the middle of playing), he struggles at bedtime. It’s a mess. And this afternoon tiredness seems to have a major impact on (a) potty training progress, or lack thereof, and (b) his behaviour on playdates. Like I say… it’s a mess. Anyway. This isn’t a parenting blog. But this is a thing, a big thing in my life, and it’s quite a strain. It’s also probably some kind of lesson for me, constantly underslept as I am and mysteriously also constantly stressed, frustrated and grumpy, I can’t imagine why. (But… how to get anything done if I don’t get up early and stay up late? How? And if I don’t get anything done, don’t I get more stressed, frustrated and grumpy? Pretty sure I do.)

2. I was solo parenting this weekend. (Hi, single moms! I’m sure you agree, having partner gone for a couple of days is EXACTLY the same thing as raising your kid/s entirely on your own always! Solidarity, sisters!) My standard tactic when facing a heavy parenting workload – employed this time as usual – is to expect very little of myself, and of the kids. Go into hermit mode, allow plenty of TV and chill time, encourage but not push playdates. (Obviously it’s ideal if they go out, but other kids here is also good, at least up until the point where the screaming starts.) Other moms have the opposite strategy: take the kids out a lot, do stuff, tire them out. This is also what A always tells me to do. The problem is, I think, that this excellent advice works extremely well for the kids… but not for me. It’s true. They are easier and happier if they get out and active. But managing them is hard work (not least because Elf is also a bit of a hermit and a bit lazy, like me, and has to really be hassled into going out) and exhausting, and I can’t face it when I have no chance of respite for a few days. So what I need emotionally, to “take it easy”, is pretty much not what actually makes it easy. Conundrum. 

3. I read two interesting pieces on ageing while female this week. One writer is more or less 30; one more or less 50. Both are confronting certain realities about how women are seen, and suggesting – with some ambivalence – that there’s liberation in not being “hot” (or attempting to be, or being of an age to be judged in those terms). At 40, I’m slap bang in the middle of those two perspectives. Especially since having kids, I’ve certainly come to embrace being excused from the pressure of hotness. (As the 30yo says, it’s not that my age disqualifies me, but “I’m just unlikely to find the motivation to turn this particular car around”.) It’s so complicated, though, not least because I’m well aware that my husband would very much enjoy a dash more glamour on my part. Anyway… I’m way too tired to expound on this properly (see #1 and #2 above), but you should read those links. Food for thought.

4. Right now I am far more aware of, and displeased by, functional ageing, rather than cosmetic. I mean: I don’t care about my wrinkles and grey hairs. But I am really quite offended that it’s so much harder than it used to be to focus at close range. And that my bones and joints are getting kind of achy. What’s your problem, body? We are only forty here! Prime of life! Stop this right now!

5. When we moved in here, all the moms I met in the playground etc quickly identified me as the new tenant in “Melanies Wohnung”. Melanie had two toddlers. Melanie was German, and moved back to Germany after failing to settle in here. It seemed like everybody knew Melanie, yet the downstairs neighbours said she “didn’t want to integrate”. I have this weird sense of being Melanie’s successor, connected to and comparing myself to this woman I never met. Am I doing better at Swissifying myself? Am I making friends better? When visitors say the flat looks “so different” now, what does that mean?

Based on a conversation this week, apparently that means they can actually see the floor. My visitor, S, told me that Melanie didn’t keep a tidy house. Or keep herself tidy. “And of course her husband wasn’t very happy,” she said. “If she’d just washed her hair! And worn clean clothes! And she’d put on so much baby weight!” 

I think Melanie was very unhappy. I think I have a worrying waistline situation of my own. And unmanageable hair. I wonder where Melanie is now. 

One thought on “Growing up and growing old: 5 things 26.9.2016

  1. Hell, some weeks washing my hair was my only achievement when the kids were little. And I kept them both alive and in one piece. Boo-yeah!-Ginevra

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