Ella very much lives for the moment…
I love that about her, but it does bring with it certain challenges. And this is in no way meant to be a negative post, just an honest one.
I am finding it increasingly difficult to go out with both the girls on my own. Ella can be unpredictable, refuse to walk or just want to be carried – all of these scenarios are arduous due to her age and size and not at all easy when you’ve only got one pair of hands and a toddler in tow too.
When she does walk, it can also be difficult. She will sit down if she’s tired or sees something on the floor that’s caught her eye that she wants to play with, or just because she wants to. Or, she will just point blank refuse to move. If she’s run on ahead, all I see is every potential danger in the environment around us – she’s really fast if she decides to change direction or go somewhere she shouldn’t (and all with no warning). A gap in the hedge along the path, steep edges, steps, streams/water in general, other people. I just can’t seem to switch off and enjoy a day out – I’m always on my guard anticipating all the possible dangers and at the moment just the mere thought of a day out can make me stressed and anxious. I know it’s going to be hard work. I feel I have to be her eyes and ears, anticipate the consequences of her actions, keep her safe and a lot of the time I end up being her legs too (my poor back!).
We’ve had one incident where we were sat outside a cafe with friends, on a busy street. Ella was sat on her chair, drinking her hot chocolate and all of a sudden, in a split second got off her chair and ran. No warning, no hesitation. Ian ran straight after her and luckily for whatever reason she ran down the pavement instead of straight into the road. It’s the ‘what if’s’ that stay with me from that day, not what did happen. She was ok but we had no idea how to tell her what she did was wrong and she couldn’t tell us why she did it.
I still can’t get over how quick she can be. When she decides to change direction, run off the wrong way or back the way we’ve just come it all happens in a micro second and has several consequences. I a) have to leave Lucy and ask her to stay put as I run after Ella (which thankfully, most of the time she does) b) we probably cover twice as much ground as we would have if Ella had stayed on track so c) running/walking further than necessary makes Ella tired, less likely to finish said walk and so ends up being carried or in the buggy meaning poor tired Lucy has to walk/go on the buggyboard.
And I am aware that I place a lot of responsibility on Lucy as a (just) 2 year old. I see that her experience of days out are sometimes limited by her sister. Lucy sees me get cross/upset with Ella or a situation, she gets less attention if I’m on my own with them as Ella needs more or ends up relegated to the buggy so I know she is safe if I have to sort out Ella. We also end up cutting days short as I end up physically and emotionally exhausted if Ella is being a monkey.
We recently went to visit Ian’s work. Both girls got dressed up in their flight suits, daddy in his and we ventured up onto the helipad of The Royal London Hospital to see the helicopter. It was a sunny, clear but unfortunately very windy day and as soon as we were on the exposed helipad, Ella went into meltdown and kept asking to go home. She didn’t want to sit in the helicopter, be with daddy, speak to the firemen. She was upset and didn’t like it. She just didn’t want to be there. I had to retreat with her down the exit ramp while Lucy enjoyed sitting in the helicopter. I couldn’t settle her or calm her so we all went inside. Once calmed down and with a snack I was talking to both girls – ‘it was too much for you up there wasn’t it Ella, you didn’t like it did you?’ at which point Lucy pipes up with a pouty face ‘I liked it’. She was very aware that we’d had to come in because of Ella and it was then that I realised she understands a lot more than we give her credit for. She had a great time charming the firemen, being a helicopter pilot and I’m sure there would be a job for her in a few years if she wanted one! We both felt guilty for her, but I was happy she had got some time to enjoy the helicopter even if it was cut short.
For the rest of the time in London which included walking on busy pavements, standing patiently in a queue, a boat ride and negotiating the tube Ella was fantastic. She listened, walked fairly well when she had to and was careful and safe on the stairs/escalators on the tube. It also helped that Ian was there as physical and emotional help – it makes a huge difference. I know Ella can walk well, follow instructions, you just never know when she will do it (and sod’s law will dictate that she will be mostly well behaved when daddy/another adult is along to help)!
Don’t get me wrong, the odd day out with both girls by myself I could probably manage. But I’m tired – physically, mentally and emotionally. Ian has been working away for a year now and finally comes home for good next week (yay!). He’s been home every 7-10 days on average and not home for long stretches very often. I’ve had a year of being pretty much a single parent – I don’t know how people do it full-time, you have my complete admiration. The last year has taken a lot out of me.
The relief of getting to work (and on time) for every 7.30 am handover over the last year has been immense. As someone in the room would say ‘I’m tired this morning’ I’d think you’re tired?! I’ve been up since 5.30am, got two small children up, dressed and out of the house for 6.50am – I’ve done a days work already. And then I’ll work my shift, go home and do it all again before bedtime. And the same again tomorrow. I’ve felt like I’ve been on a roller coaster that you’re not allowed to get off and that never stops. My coping mechanisms have been stretched to their limits and my anxiety has gone into over drive – hence my over thinking every little thing and getting stressed so easily. I can’t say this past year has been much fun from my perspective but I know it has been worth it for Ian which I can live with (I’m cashing in my year away from home when we have two hormonal teenage girls in the house 😉 ). We now have the task of adjusting to life together again and giving the girls more predictability, routine and stability. All needed, as Ella is due to start Primary school in a few weeks time. The next chapter is about to begin. Until then, I’m looking forward to my days with just Ella when Lucy is at nursery = days I can plan that I know she will enjoy and that I will manage too. Sorry for the long post, hope that explains some of my hesitation or declining of days out recently. Thank you to those who have helped me out on days out too xx
Happy summer everyone. More posts soon on the end of nursery, special friends and Mr Tumble xx