Heart beating fast. Arms flying. Limbs flailing. Grabbing for breath as I grab for supplies. Frantically pinning down a restless torso with one arm as I reach out quick-as-I-can with the other, only to realise I don’t have what I need. A dart of a glance downwards and I run for it, hoping nothing dangerous will happen while I’m gone….
What is this seemingly untameable force, this mountain-like obstacle, this challenge that is pushing me to my physical and mental limits? ? Well, I hate to disappoint. It’s nothing as exciting or exotic as it sounds. Very mundane actually. Painfully domestic. Just another morning (noon, afternoon, evening, night) changing my baby son’s nappy.
No-one ever told me that changing nappies sapped strength faster then the midday sun.
And that’s just the half of it (one-third of it if you want to get precise). As well as our full-of-zest eleven month old, I have a two year old we’ve only partially toilet-trained, because we haven’t yet found the energy to commit to the whole program, and a four-year old who still requires at the least a lot of persuasion –at most the whole exercise done for her—just to get dressed in the morning. [Like me perhaps, she shows a particular fondness for her pyjamas.]
And no-one ever told me parenting was like an adrenal sport.
That it’s so constantly physical, that by the time you stop at the end of the day all you have the energy to do is fall into bed fully clothed.
In case you need convincing (and I’m assuming if you are reading this and you have young children that you don’t!) let me share a brief list to assert my case:
Why Parenting is like an Adrenal Sport
The constant requests that hit you from all sides – like paintball fire, and wear you down until you have no energy left to reply with.
The do-it-now-or-never time pressures. Children are like stopwatches…or time bombs…you only have so long before they need you. NOW!
The heart-beating moments of anxiety that happen daily: What is that in the baby’s mouth? Did the four-year old permanently damage her head when she fell from the chair, or are those just crocodile tears? And how much panadol did my two-year old just consume before I caught him on the floor with the upturned bottle?
The sheer physicality of getting three young bodies out the door, fed, dressed, with both shoes on both feet (before they remove them again), and vital supplies packed (ie. at least three loaded bags).
The inability to communicate with one’s spouse in anything softer than a shout – or you risk not being heard at all. Especially when Peppa Pig is playing at full- blast in the background. Or Elsa is singing her poor frozen heart out.
The breaking up of fights, and the administration of justice.
The hunger…and thirst. Why am I always thirsty?
And then there’s the tears, the screams, the high-pitched wailing: Their’s and yours.
Not to mention breastfeeding (which I happen to love) but still, there’s something about being at someone’s beck and call, day and night, especially when that person is growing by the second, that makes you both hungry and weary and exhilarated all at once…
Now, I’m no sporty-type. Actually, I’m the exact opposite. Give me the beach, and I’ll be under the shadiest tree reading a book, or scribbling in a notebook. Take me to a mountain and I’ll be at the top (having arrived by car) taking photos of the vista. BUT what I have managed to pick up from those that are is that adrenaline can be a good thing.
Bungy-jumpers, and mountain-climbers, and rock-climbers, and kickboxers, and cross-fitters (sporty-types, forgive me if I get the lingo all lopsided) don’t do their thing out of obligation, or under duress. They do it because they love it. Right? Because somewhere between opening the plane door and hurling down to earth, they experience the exhilaration, the sheer joy and priviledge of doing something they feel called to do. Perhaps, even, they might call themselves blessed.
And …correct me if I’m wrong, good adventure sportsmen also have something else …a secret weapon of sorts: their support person or team. The one/s who pull the rope secure when it seems they are falling. For me it’s my family, my husband and my friends. And—in this unique and wonderful period of our life —my college campus sisters. The ones who offer me their hands when I’m outnumbered. Who hold one of my children when another needs me. Who offer help in a myriad of small but meaningful ways.
Parenting is tough-mudder stuff (excuse the pun) but it is mighty-wonderful too. I love my kids more than I hate my sore back, the wrinkles under my eyes, the squishy new cm’s added around my wasitline.
My kids are, after all, not a burden, but a gift. One I longed for.
So, if parenting is an adrenal sport, it’s one I want to partake in. Again, and again, and again. And grow in. And enjoy. Like all adrenaline rushes (I imagine ) it goes too fast.
I want to make sure that I soak it in.