Navigating the Motherhood Maze: Between Me and My Cup of Tea (poem)

It’s funny how sometimes ‘time’ seems to fly by, isn’t it? One moment you’re worrying over first words, weaning and potty training and then, in the blink of an eye, you’re hitting the next milestones – school, first sleepovers, catching the bus alone, driving lessons???!!! Those infuriating moments and hours of worry spent on things that suddenly, without realising, you’re not worrying about anymore, as something new has taken their place. There’s no doubt that the toddler years are all-consuming, but precious, in all their chaotic, sleep-deprived glory.

I am sure that many of us, who have experienced being parents of a toddler can identify with Jude’s latest blog and poem. Jude’s clever words take us back to a time when drinking a hot cup of tea was only a distant dream. Enjoy!! (Sarah, Scheme Manager)

Between Me and My Cup of Tea

This week my youngest turned seven (Minecraft birthday cake, complete with chocolate ‘earth’ and fondant Wither – tick!). My oldest is going to secondary school in September (own phone, beginnings of mature conversation, increasing frostiness towards parents – tick!). I am getting further and further away from the toddler years.

Ah, the toddler years. Those mad, frothy, shaky, turbulent, joyous, infuriating toddler years. Those simple years with simple tasks, arranged in such complex combinations, crucial sequences and unpredictable timings as to render them completely impossible to achieve.

As I get further away from those times, it feels increasingly important to remember them. To try, occasionally, to transport myself back and re-live life as it was then. Life with permanent sleep deprivation, nappies, buggies, potties, dribble, tantrums, high chairs. When it took three-quarters of an hour to walk to the post box 100 yards away, because we had to examine every ant, clump of grass and piece of litter along the way (and probably lick it).

I want to remember what life was like then, because I need to celebrate the fact that it’s SO different now. I also remember, that the least helpful people in my life back then were the ones who had forgotten how all-consumingly, brain-addlingly maddening those years were.

The one thing that sums up that period of my life best, I think, is The Undrunk Cup of Tea. That cup of tea I made in the morning, but never had a chance to drink, because some kind of child need pulled me away before even the first sip. I would find the cup of tea maybe an hour later, and optimistically pop it in the microwave for 40 seconds. Of course, during those 40 seconds, something else would happen – a nappy explosion, a sibling battle, the postman, some sick – and again I would discover the cup of tea an hour later, undrunk and re-cooled, sitting in the microwave like an abandoned mediocre film star.

As I was musing over this yesterday, I could see in my head that alluring cup of tea on one side of the kitchen, and me on the other, with two toddlers and a million crazy obstacles in between. It was like an early-motherhood version of the Crystal Maze, or an Escape Room devised by a three-year-old. So I wrote this poem, and called it, “Between Me and my Cup of Tea” – it’s dedicated to you if you’re a parent of a toddler – and maybe in a few years you’ll get a chance to read it!!!

Between Me and My Cup of Tea (poem)

There’s a one-year-old Wonder, a terrible Two,
a dirty PE kit, and somebody’s shoe,
a favourite stick that I can’t throw away,
the smell of some sick that sicked up yesterday,
a bucket, a plucker, some sand from a beach,
four things that should be kept out of the reach
and sight of children, three ladybirds – dead,
some crusty old playdoh in bright, rub-off red,
fifteen single socksocks, not one single pair,
a half headless doll and a legless brown bear,
a squashed finger biscuit, a small splash of squash,
a washable nappy that’s needing a wash,
a packed lunch that’s not been unpacked for a week,
a small French giraffe who no longer squeaks
since I tore out her squeaker – had I not, I swear,
I very soon would have torn out my own hair –
guilt, overwhelmed-ness, love and some tears,
a very small bike, too small to have gears,
self-doubts I don’t need, like old keyrings and fobs,
twelve proofs that I do a fantastic job,
a whiff and two stinkers, a tissue, some snot
a thing that’s important, a whatsit that’s not,
a discarded charger no longer reliable
something green, unidentifiable,
some year 3 maths homework that hasn’t been done,
a letter that says – I’m told – “Love you, Mum,”
a badly-drawn rainbow, a tiny deckchair,
a flier for organic period-wear,
an article titled “vasectomy – the truth,”
about enough lego to re-tile my roof,
There’s a puddle of piddle, and a potty of wee,
all between me and my (cold) cup of tea.

Jude

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