Apart from the odd post here and there, I pretty much stopped writing about parenting when I finished up Mummy Mayhem. There comes a time in your childrens' lives when you realise it's not your story to tell. Writing about toilet training and three-year-old tantrums is one thing, but as your kids grow and so does their awareness of the world (not to mention the Interwebs), it's time, in my opinion, to stop writing about them.
But I can still write about being a parent.
Parenting can be REALLY hard. There are 'those days' that unwind us on occasion, no less me over the last couple of weeks in particular. The Queen referred to the year 1992 as her 'annus horribilis'. That's what the last two weeks have been for me, with everything culminating in me 'having a moment' in my car on the side of the road last Thursday - head down on the steering wheel and great heaving sobs escaping uncontrollably. All because one son forgot his school shoes; a fact only discovered once we were driving up to the school gate. After a slightly longer than usual drive from home that morning - almost an hour - it became the straw that broke the camel's back. (I managed to pull myself together, make a few calls, and in the end he was only ten minutes late - a gorgeous friend offering me shoes and a nice, long empathetic hug.)
Except that it wasn't just about the missing shoes at all.
Over the past few weeks the household has become a breeding ground for a dreaded lurgy that has taken all of us down one by one. When you're sick everything seems worse, right? Emotions and reactions are heightened. Tenfold. Even the smallest of things seem big. Add to that, I'm about to embark on a challenging month ahead (more on that another time) and, well, it can all seem a bit too much at once. I haven't reacted well at times.
Sometimes I'm the best mother in the world, sometimes I may not be the worst, but I feel pretty damn ordinary. I lose my *$%#, you know? Probably because I'm human. Doesn't make it any less disappointing to me though.
I think I'm particularly tough on myself because this is what I do all day, every day. I can't blame pressures at 'work'. I can't blame being time poor because I'm studying. I should be able to do this with ease, don't you think? But some days, I just feel so overwhelmed by everything. There's always something that needs fixing, you know?
But maybe, doing this gig without the kind of 'outside' help that only an extended family can provide (Mr A is great when he isn't at work and the like) is exactly what adds to the problem. For the past almost fourteen and a half years, I've had to do this without the benefit of a little extra help from a grandparent and/or sibling from time to time. I know people will probably read this and think, But you're at home all day and your kids are at school - it can't be too bad! That's true, I am, and most of the time it isn't, but I'm not sitting at home all day every day watching daytime television and eating donuts by the dozen. I'm 'working'. Household chores, but work nonetheless. I don't outsource anything. In fact, the closest I come to getting help is ordering food online every few weeks or so!
I do, however, enjoy the odd catch up with friends and I'm on my paddle board as much as possible (to me, that's my 'run' or 'gym session' or 'tennis clinic'), and I have taken a 'day off' on occasion to shop or watch trashy tv or sleep (mostly when I'm sick). But I am working otherwise.
Mr A works (like, outside the home!), and over the years he has traveled quite a bit for work, so it has always been up to me to shoulder most of the 'every day' parenting. I can't tell you how many times a work trip overseas unfortunately coincided with a sick child, and I just had to suck it up. I couldn't call on my parents or my sister or an in-law to perhaps swing by and just play with one child for an hour or so while I wiped up the vomit of another. Never. EVER.
As a consequence, it's me my boys call out for in the middle of the night when they're sick. It's me who caters to everyone's social and school obligations and coordinates it all, and it's me who has to ask them 343 times every afternoon after school to start their homework. *face plants*
I suppose eventually, the ongoing pressures and demands of parenting sometimes catches up with you. Certainly, it seems to have caught up with me lately.
But I love that old saying: This too shall pass. Because I know from experience it will, and I am always quick to remind myself that I'm not the only one with these challenges. Many are in my shoes. And then there are the mums and dads who are working and trying to coordinate everything around all the same stuff I do. I'm lucky in that regard. I do get time to myself to regroup. I know it's only up from here.
Moving on now...