Let me beat you to it. I know some of you will be completely horrified by this post and label me a-bad-mother-for-life but I’m ok with that and here’s why.
For everyone of you who thinks I’m an appalling Mother, there’s at least another Mum who will read this and say loudly ‘YES! OH DEAR GOD YES YES!’ And then their partner will wonder what the hell the mother of their children has just read to invoke the response they have been unable to elicit since school holidays started. And you know why? Because school holidays creates a personal space vacuum with children and as mums we are simply touched out.
Today I was trying to do some research for work. Ironically, I was reading on what it meant to be a good leader. I was exploring self awareness, how to take a step back and demonstrate emotional intelligence and resilience in adversity. I wanted to inspire a sense of vision, a purpose for my team on my return to work. And then, from her beanbag Miss 6 decided now was the time to kick me in the shins and lying across me Master 3 kicked me in my sore, ovulating ovaries. And I bellowed:
‘JUST. GET. OFF ME.’
My Mum, who was visiting, looked up, slightly startled. And in that way that only Mums can do, she gently admonished me ‘They actually weren’t being naughty…’ which of course they weren’t. They were just being kids. But I was at the end of my many constructive coping mechanisms when you feel your patience waning with your kids…well, being kids. And so I cracked.
It’s not their fault. Both kids have been sick with high temperatures and chest infections all through the holidays. I’m talking six weeks so far and counting. I’ve slept on a mattress beside Miss 6 to give her regular cold compresses and Panadol to keep her temperature below 39.5, while having the vomit bowl at the ready. Simultaneously, my husband has been up every two/three hours overnight giving my son Ventolin and taking his oxygen saturation levels to see if it was time to call an ambulance.
We have cuddled our children during delirium and rigours. We have cuddled them during the Doctors’ visits when they told us we just had to ride it out, that it was a virus that was going around. And then my husband cuddled me when I was bedridden with the same virus for almost a week.
I know my kids have had a rough few weeks and they’ve needed Mummy and Daddy to feel safe when they’ve felt so wretched. But the simple matter is these weren’t the holidays I had planned. And I’m feeling a little cheated.
I wanted to take my kids to the park, to ride their bikes and scooters in the sunshine. I wanted to organise play dates with the Mums and kids I don’t catch up with often enough during the year. I wanted to take the kids to see art galleries, museums and to have an illness free family holiday by the beach. I wanted my children to run wild, free, laugh so hard their sides hurt, get so dirty I’d have to soak their clothes for two days, have fun and experience educationally interactive learning.
Yeah I know. With parenthood there’s a fine line between optimism and naivete bordering on stupidity.
But in my defence, I’ve continually had at least one child adhered to me for weeks. And not a baby, that’s to be expected, but rather a child who never stops talking. Wanting. Needing. And just when they are starting to get better, they actually get more clingy. Because they are afraid of feeling that sick again – which I get, I really do.
The domestic chaos I am in feels a lot like being a new parent again. All my kids seem to do is generate dirty washing, sibling discord while needing so much food. All the time. My hair is dirty, my legs unshaven and nails bitten to the quick. I always seem to have at least one child follow me to the toilet – even when I try to block it off with my feet – allegedly. I have once again been reminded of the harsh reality that I cannot meet all my children’s physical, emotional, medical and educational needs. And I know I’m not alone. The honest Mums I know are all starting to count down the days their beloved offspring return to be someone else’s challenge – I mean – go back to school. It’s ironic, because it doesn’t seem that long ago that we were all trying to carefully plan our leave around a long holiday period so we could spend as much time as possible with our little darlings. And now we are all clock watching the minutes until sleep time and when we can have a glass/bottle of wine and relax. And when that wine time comes, no human or animal should come near us. No touching. At all.
What I/we need is time and space. What I need is school to return and work to recommence so I can have a God damned coffee in peace and where if anyone touches me and it’s unwelcome it’s acceptable for me to raise a disapproving eyebrow and deliver a scathing retort.
But I know what will happen. I’ll get them well just in time for school and I’ll be sad and guilty that I’ve ‘wasted’ another holiday period when I should have been creating ‘priceless family memories’ with the perfect holiday filled with sunshine and laughter. Or I’ll feel bad that I haven’t been giving them ‘ongoing educational development’ by practicing writing in the bane of every parent’s existence – the bloody holiday journal. And I’ll miss them like hell on my first day at work and wish I could have one more cuddle as I look around instinctively suspicious of the silence. And I’ll love/hate every minute of my time alone.
I know all this. I can see it coming. And yet, still…please kids…stop climbing over me, the furniture and the cat and just give Mummy a 15 minutes of peace. And for the love of God…