Never mind the added extras - hubby's job insecurities and working away, miscarriages, chromosome disorders, mum's stroke, Poppy's coeliac - but even the bare basics of life as a mother - money moans, lack of childcare and support, planning and catering for umpteen meals a day for umpteen ages, timings and diets, school runs, 28 hours of jobs in 24 hour timeframe - life is simply, complicated.
I often wonder how my carefree days where the decisions all centred on, well, me... (what should I wear, red or white wine, which party??) ended up so crammed with conundrums and challenges created by the responsibilities of the lives of other people. I look at my girls and wistfully wonder at their frivilous freedom. Pulled back and restained by the few obligations in their little lives - teatime, bedtime and school /playschool - they shout "can we play?" at every opportunity of freedom, their battlecry of life as a child.
But recently I've realised the grass isn't greener, it's just a different shade. My little 5 year old daughter Daisy was forced into the position of older sister by two giddy siblings and the responsibilities and expectations that hang on that mantle are... simply complicated.
Since last September when she was just about to turn five, she got a new sister, her nanna was struck down with a devastating stroke, her mum dived into a dark remote place, she started school, her other sister went through tests and got lots of attention to diagnose ceoliac and now has 'special' food, her other sister sucks the air from her parents, ill, young and needy. Quite a lot for little shoulders. On top of that, recently, she's had trouble at school - a little bit of bullying that has made her retreat into herself, battering that wall I've built up to protect her, dashing that confidence I have tried so hard to instill, clouding over that sunshine that eminates from her. Schoolyard socialising can be a dynamite place. How do I teach her to stand up for herself while being the good person? How do I not put too much responsibility on her when I need so much help? How do I protect her and guide her and teach her to cope? How do I help her make her complicated life simple?
But, like so many things in life that I have been taught by my children, she is teaching me again. She is teaching me to smile through it all, to take the complications on the chin and to seek the one thing that gets us through it all - family. At times like this, we turn to the ones that know us inside out. We stop trying to think outside the box for once, and get right back inside that box where it's safe and secure. Simply? We uncomplicate things whenever we can.