Summer With a 3 Year Old - 5 Truths


As I sat on a chair in the doctor's surgery, one arm propped up on a pillow as the nurse prepared to take a blood sample, and one arm restraining my child in an almost-headlock anticipating yet another public tantrum, my eyes filled to the brim with hot tears (the stingy kind that you know are one-third anger, one-third hurt, and one-third ridiculous hormones). The nurse noticed and exclaimed, 'I'm so sorry, are you okay? You should have said you don't like needles'. As the tears spilled over onto my cheeks, I threw my head back and laughed in her face, 'Girl, this needle in my arm is enjoyable compared to the morning I've had'. She looked at Reuben who had now thrown himself down on the floor, completely unphased by the tears or the blood, and gave me a knowing nod, assuring me that she had been there. Incase you haven't noticed, or incase you're new here, 'Maverick Mum' is basically a record of every time I've cried to an unassuming member of the general public.

I'm a 22-year-old university student. And just like every other 22-year-old university student, I had high hopes for the Summer. Sure, I knew I wasn't going to be interrailing across Europe, drinking cocktails, raking in the Instagram likes with sunset photos, and flirting with guys named Pablo. But I did intend on making up for lost time with my beautiful, bonny 3-year-old boy whom I love dearly (N.B. read in a sarcastic tone), and from whom I have insane separation guilt when I'm on my 6th hour in McClay Library, injecting coffee through my eyeballs, slamming my head off a theology book, and trying to make conversation with the Erasmus student from Spain about my love for the paella at the Christmas Continental Market, purely because I'm 150% extroverted and need to talk to someone to get through the day.

And you might remember my posts during the first couple of weeks of Summer, ohhh the glorious honeymoon period that it was. I resembled the heart-eyed-emoji as I penned, 'On the mornings I rush Reuben into creche with the quickest peck on the cheek, or in the afternoons I leave the library to get yet another coffee and duck past him playing in the playground, or in the classes when I've inevitably zoned out and I spend 50 mins thinking about how I lost my temper with him the evening before... In all of those moments, these are the days I dream of - The ordinary and unspectacular days doing the grocery shop, making tea every hour on the hour, and filling time until the gas engineer comes and goes. These are the days I'm just happy because we're together'.

So, 'After 10 weeks have passed, how is the Summer going now?' I don't hear you ask but I'll answer anyway, well... I'M OVER IT.

I am totally, utterly, undeniably, 16749% OVER IT.

After the Nurse took what seemed like 10 pints of my blood, she gave me a hug and talked to me for half an hour. Or rather, I talked AT her. I told her how Reuben had been screaming orders at me from the moment I opened my eyes that morning, how I had spent 45 minutes disciplining him because he kicked me, how he has been continually pushing every boundary, how he freaks out every time my attention is on someone else, how the only time he is happy is when he's with other children, how I long for his bed time, how I'm more emotionally exhausted than I am at uni, and how I'm not even sure I like my own son anymore.

I knew Summer would have its own difficulties - the lack of routine, time away from other children at creche, large amounts of time away from close friends who we usually do life with, budgeting money as we prepare to move house, preparing for change... But when Reuben turned three he also seemed to turn a corner with his behaviour, and it's been incredible to watch him grow into the little person who has fast become my best friend. I may not like him right now, but he did come out of my vagina and many parts of his personality can be accredited to my genes. I do love him (N.B. do not read in a sarcastic tone). Despite this, I've continually lost my patience, screamed the house down, let him win many battles and have shown anything but love. So with the many ups and downs of this parenting gig, I guess this 'down' is particularly hurting my heart because spending 10 weeks with his mum should be good for him, but instead, I seem to have created a monster. For the duration of Summer, I've done nothing other than 'be a mum', and it feels like I've failed.

Reuben starts Nursery in exactly 2 weeks from today and I know that as normality returns, this season will pass. I'll be back blogging about all the highlights, the date days, and the special conversations. And those are the moments my memory will cling onto. But for now, and for the sake of realness, if you ask me how Summer is going these are probably the main truths I'll give you;

1. I'm on a first name basis with the staff at Funky Monkeys.
We all have a local 'Soft Play' and it’s a dark, dark place where no parent ventures unless they want to be faced with toddler saliva on the walls and baby pile-ons at the bottom of the slide. Every 0.05 seconds there's a high pitched scream and you just drink your coffee and pray that it’s not your child. You look solemnly at the parents beside you and ask them, “How long have you been in?”, only to have them reply “2 hours with no signs of leaving”. You both give an exasperated sigh and sit dreaming of all those sunny days you took for granted - fresh air, wide open spaces, no claustrophobic stench coming from sweaty toddler socks. There are only so many trips you can make to the park in the rain without risking a bout of pneumonia and really, there are only so many Pinterest craft sessions you can re-create without having to visit Ulster Bank to take out a small loan to cover the cost of pipe cleaners and lollipop sticks, so Funky Monkeys it is. And forever it will be.

2. It's lonely. 
Only a mum of young children will know that you can simultaneously always have company, yet always feel alone. I don't think I've felt closer to my mum (other than when she watched me give birth) due to the many evenings I've phoned her to talk absolute crap just because I'm lonely and haven't heard an adults voice all day. I think my next blog post will be called, 'An Ode to the Stay-At-Home-Mum. You Are Amazing!'

3. Routine is boring but 'boring' is best. 
Every ounce of my being hates this truth but 3-year-olds, and admittedly 22-year-olds thrive with a routine. It's all fun and games to be adventurous and whimsical until you're eating fish fingers for dinner for the third night running and everyone is over-exhausted and hating each other. And by everyone, I mean Reuben and I. 

4. I've learned a lot about myself. And I didn't have to travel the world to do it. 
I could talk for hours about Reuben's many irrational showdowns but the truth is, this Summer has brought light to my shortcomings more than anything else. I've never been more aware of my weaknesses, my short temper, my selfishness, my pride, and my need for Jesus. 

5. God is still good. 
Being involved in Livewire at New Horizon has without a doubt been the highlight of my Summer. It was incredible to see how faithful God is. He doesn't just save us from our brokenness and then leave us there, but he continues to love us, challenge us, and transform our hearts for the rest of our lives. Following Jesus is the most exciting adventure! Yet, the same God who was with me and loved me at Livewire is the same God who is with me and loves me when I return to my reality with a crash and when I'm crying to a random nurse or battling Reuben on the naughty step for the 40th time today. He is the same God who is faithful and sustains me and gives me hope in the darkest moments. This Summer I've learned, and re-learned (and will keep re-learning) the truth that God is still good. Always.