There is a photo of me on Christmas day two years ago, just four days after we were allowed home from hospital with our new daughter, and in it I look absolutely and completely shattered. I feel so sorry for the me of that day whenever I see the photo that I usually burst into tears, not least because I know that as the days and weeks went on after that photo, and though that photo looks like I was at the bottom of the tiredness well, I got even more tired.
It's no surprise I was tired of course. I'd had nine months of interrupted sleep during pregnancy thanks to a baby using my bladder as a trampoline, followed by six nights in hospital without more than 45 minutes sleep in a row, then a few days at home with our slightly poorly baby where any sleep we did have was interrupted by, you know, checking she was breathing and all those crazy new parent things you do. And that's before we start on the normal newborn waking every few hours thing.
Nearly two years later, and though I have had quite a few (though not enough) extended periods of sleep since then, I am sure I still feel the effects of that sleepless beginning. It's only recently, in arguments or negotiations or when making an excuse or working out whether I can bothered to do something, that I realise I can't really point to that time two years ago and say 'don't you know I'm exhausted, I have just given birth and now have a newborn.' My newborn is nearly two. At some point I am going to have to get over it, and move on.
Lots of people don't move on from things though. I know plenty of adults who blame their behaviour as a grown up on something that happened in childhood, or what they do in their current relationship on how they were treated in a previous relationship. Experiences can explain why we are who we are, but they can't always be used as an excuse. After all, should a ninety year old be able to treat someone badly and have everyone excuse this because 'they had a difficult childhood'. At some point we have to say, 'get over it.'
So I have decided - between now and the arrival of baby number two in a few months time, when once again I demand allowances be made for pregnancy, birth and newborn exhaustion, any unreasonable behaviour on my part is not because I am tired (though believe me, I am) or dealing with a young child (though I am doing this too), but just because I am being unreasonable. Ha - there are no excuses, so anyone at the receiving end may have to take me seriously. Turns out it's empowering this being unreasonable with no excuse thing. So now it's your turn to get over it.