I find that the hardest thing, above all else, about having kids, is the lack of head space they leave you with. For me, this comes above the money they cost and the heartache they cause. They are human white noise, that as well as playing in the kitchen, the sitting room and the bedroom, it carries on playing in the toilet.
It doesn’t get any better when they get older. They still shout: mum, where are you? This is just seconds after you’ve darted into the loo, to try to get a moment on your own to gather your thoughts. If you don’t answer them, they text you and if you ignore the text, then they’ll ring. ‘I’m in the bloody loo, trying to escape the incessant drone’, you want to scream. ‘I’m not even having a crap. I’m just sitting here, on a half comfy seat, staring at the lino and trying to clear my head.’
Sometimes, your head feels as if it is literally going to explode. In fact, it does explode and out of your mouth comes a whole day’s worth of white noise frustration. It’s like a banshee wailing. Words come out that make no sense, so it does absolutely nothing to improve the situation: you lot are driving me…uuuurrrrggghhhh…I’m just so…grrrrrr….it makes me feel really…angreeeeeee…and the kids all stop what they are all trying to tell you at once for exactly 5 seconds, wondering what the hell you are going on about, which would give you 5 seconds of head space, but you are now filling that 5 seconds with your own screams.
When my kids were all much younger, I devised a plan. I would always strap them into their car seats 10 minutes before we had to leave to go anywhere. I would leave them each with a book or a toy and scarper back into the house, where I would get my shit together, both mentally and literally ie all the paraphernalia that was required for the day. This plan only worked because I had a driveway, but it was my only way of staying sane. Even now, I try to follow the same plan. However, after 10 years they are wise to it and resist. No longer able to strap them in, I am thwarted.
This human white noise also accompanies me to supermarkets. When the girls were little, I could shove them in the trolley and if they were pissing me off, I could leave them at the end of the aisle I was in. Nowadays it is pure hell supermarket shopping with teenagers. Their incessant dialogue of what they feel is missing from our cupboards, makes focusing on the weekly shop impossible. If a toddler throws a tantrum in a shop, people either try to ignore it, or give you looks of sympathy. When a teenager tantrums because you won’t buy her the latest type of superfood to have been discovered in South America, people look at you as if you are both freaks. It is literally exhausting. I leave the shop with half of what I had intended to get still on the shelves and an armful (because we always forget the bloody bags: see blog: Crackerjack!!) of two extremes: organic goji berries for some godforsaken recipe from google that daughter 1 wants to create and mars bar cookies, because they were reduced to 10p.
The three most annoying things about the human white noise, are firstly, it results in nobody in the house being called by the correct name. Invariably, the girls are called by a sort of hybrid of all their names, until I reach the correct one and partner has gone by Fatcat’s name, on a couple of occasions. I frequently have entire conversations with the wrong daughter, because I have started the conversation with another daughter’s name. Secondly, that it turns me into a teenager myself: all I end up hearing is: bla, bla, bla. This frequently leads me to miss out on some really quite vital information, such as where they are going to be staying for the weekend and I then spend the weekend wondering where they are and sending text messages that aren’t directly asking: whose house is it you’re at, because then they will know that I wasn’t listening. Thirdly, when the human white noise isn’t there, I miss it and that irritates me much more than the noise itself.