I stole sleep this morning. Stole, because when one of us sleeps the other needs musn’t. All the same, for all my thievery, at 7:21 am all three of my children were in the same single bed as me, kicking me from inside and outside.

Weirdly enough this was a thing that brought me a modicum of tired joy.

Still I went back to sleep then and left G. to deal with the rest of the morning.

Because I can. Because it’s the weekend and I didn’t have to be up for a particular reason, but also because I have the kind of husband who’ll go “She’s grabbing much needed rest, I’ll pick up any childcare slack and [mostly] stop them from waking her for a couple of hours.

And I’ll do the same for him one of the weekend mornings usually too. But it’s normally really gendered. From conversations and reading, it appears that a female person will grant the boon of sleep to the male person but when they attempt to take it for themselves they are suddenly “needed”.

Much like stories and conversations I do find my children have a “default” of coming to me for certain needs and questions. To be honest, it doesn’t take them long to either fall into that pattern or to get broken out of it. Like bedtime routine. At the moment Twin1 is determined that I am the only one who can sing the song he likes “the right way”. I explained that Daddy needs a chance to learn how to do it right. It’s not that big of a deal to be the one that sings the song, but I kind of resent the automatic assumption of responsibility for any one job. Twin2 will mostly accept being tucked in by either of us, but Twin1 has an irritating habit of popping in to demand settling just as I’m half-way through correcting a script or a cup of tea.

Of course, it’s the irritable time of the evening when both G. and myself are in that frenzied rush to complete whatever tasks our minds and bodies will allow before exhaustion and black sleep claim us. So neither of us particularly want to take the 10 minutes break and I wish he’d just settle at the same time as his brother, but it is what it currently is.

The relentless nature of family routine is what destroys your soul in the end.

And then they give you a hug or a kiss or a picture and you’re refilled beyond what you thought was imaginable.

Maybe the cracks they make in us as they grind us daily down are like those round ligament pains in my uterus – stretching us bit by barely tolerable bit until our capacity has grown for more.

It’s the only thing that makes sense of our decision to have a third!

Anyway, once we shift their “need” for one parent, it seems to invariably transfer to a complete preference for the other. Until we shift it back. etc. etc. They say small kids are all about the black and white, so maybe that’s what’s going on there. It’s only been recently that they’ve accepted, say, being put in the other’s car seat and then when asked “Does it matter?” a small thought and they accept it “I guess it doesn’t matter.”. Healthy growth, I hope. I definitely know some adults who’ve a hard time with that concept. I might even be one on occasion.

I think my kids are going to be better than me. That’s the aim. But I don’t just mean “better” in some kind of objective, measurement sense; rather that they’ll be better as in weller (I know that’s not a word, but with the recent everything everywhere emphasis on “wellness” I’ll warrant it won’t be long before it is). I’m optimistic that I can gird them with tools in resilience and compassion that I myself was lacking and had to fashion ham-handed in the wilderness out of stones and mud.

I can’t do it all, some life experiences just have to be lived through in order to gain the experience and wisdom you need and I’m so fucking scared of what might happen to them when they have to run some of the gauntlets that early adulthood has to offer.

I’ll do my best. I’ll be present. I’ll be their “soft place to land” and I’ll hope like hell that that will be enough to see them through.