AH bliss, the baby is asleep, the eldest is at school and the middle one is out adventuring with Aunty for the afternoon.
Day Three: Wardrobe
Does anyone else still have a thing about wardrobe doors being left open at night?
I can’t bear our wardrobe door being left open and I shut the kids’ ones when I tuck them in at night just out of habit, I suppose. There’s something about the gaping darkness that makes me uneasy and I just can’t sleep even with the door ajar. And I should add, that to say I can’t sleep is a pretty big call because I am at least half exhausted most of the time these days and am better at falling asleep than ever before. Seriously, I used to lie awake all night and think about everything and anything useless and disturbing but nowadays it’s three pages of my book and then out to it. I don’t even dream very often anymore, well none that I remember, anyway.
My husband thinks I’m a complete weirdo but he does always remember to shut the door, bless him. I’m not sure where it comes from but I was always easily spooked so it might just be a hangover from an overactive childhood imagination. Actually, I bet there’s some ancient principal of feng shui that explains it completely. I’ll look it up.
Day Four: Brew
I come from a family of tea drinkers. I can’t remember ever not drinking tea but I guess it must have been introduced at some appropriate age, like three, maybe? Three seems like a reasonable age for your first cuppa. (I’m joking, my kids don’t drink tea…yet).
I have lovely memories of sitting down for cups of tea with my Grandparents. When I stayed there, Grandad would have already made a pot of tea by the time I got up in the morning (and porridge too, every day) and we would start the day with a cup or two before anything else happened. We’d end the day with a cuppa, too. Nana and Grandad always had one last cup for supper before they said their rosary together and went to bed.
I learned pretty quickly that there is never a bad time for a cup of tea. In times of crisis, ‘I’ll just pop the kettle on.’ In times of celebration, ‘Let’s have a cuppa.’ In summer, ‘There’s nothing as refreshing as a cup of tea on a hot day’. In winter, ‘A cup of tea will warm you up.’
I also learned the rules for tea making. There are rules for tea leaves and for tea bags. If you don’t know these rules, here is the most important one: teabag, hot water, THEN milk. Don’t dump my lovely tea bag in the milk and ruin the whole brew, please.
Day Five: Silence
Some days it feels like there has been constant noise around me. Usually it’s layers of noise – children talking over each other, T.V, toys, musical instruments, doors slamming, the bloody cat clawing up the carpet…I gets like when you say the same word over and over again and it loses all meaning and sounds like nonsense. All the different, competing sounds meld into one big super-noise and it’s so overwhelming it starts to be meaningless.
By the end of the day I am so sick of noise that I want to scream. Yes, I know that’s ironic because screaming would only create more noise. I start to feel like the noise is actually filling up my head and I can’t think properly. The kids know when I’ve reached my limit because I go on a bit of a rampage around the house turning things off and shutting doorways. I confess that they are sometimes dispatched to play outside so that I can get a bit of peace and quiet. A further confession, sometimes I let them watch TV in the lounge with the door shut even though I know they should be dispatched outside. Pick your battles for the sack of sanity, I reckon.
I used to be one of those people who hated silence. If I was home alone, even if I was reading or studying or something, I would have the TV or music on to keep me company. Nowadays, as soon as I am left home alone, I turn everything off and luxuriate in the silence. Well, in the lack of human noise anyway. I love being able to hear the wind blowing and the chooks clucking their way around the yard, the occasional tui who come to visit the big native trees next door, bees buzzing at the window; all of the cliched things that actually do make life a bit more beautiful. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it’s glorious.
Day Six : You
There are a few of you who really held me together this year when I felt like I was losing myself and couldn’t hold myself together anymore. My husband comes first on the list. After I terrified him with a major meltdown when I finally admitted how dreadful I was feeling he was nothing but kind and loving. He tried really hard to understand what was going on for me and even when he didn’t was a source of great support and strength for me. He came home from long days at work and mucked in with the kids. He tried not to be bothered by the mess and the piles of washing on days when I just hadn’t got there. He ate some pretty dire dinners without complaining – actually, usually with compliments to the chef.
The rest of my close family, you were great as well. Mum, you spotted that I wasn’t right and encouraged me to get some help. You made me take the first step to getting back to being well again. Dad, you were your usual non-judgemental and no-pressure self, offering support but in a relaxed way that made me feel like I was going to be OK. My siblings, you all had your own stuff going on but made sure you reached out, even when I didn’t reply much or well. There were family members on the outskirts as well, thinking about me, sending little unrelated messages, checking in, making dinner etc. I noticed. I thank you all.
I have some wonderful, wonderful friends who I shared how I was feeling with. You know who you are. You kept me going with your talks and laughter and distractions.
Some of you had no idea how I was feeling at all but just by being you and by being kind and warm and supportive and by carrying on in your normal way of things you managed to make what was a pretty hard time that much more bearable. Lots of my Playcentre gang fit into this category. Playcentre gave me a focus. The parents there who also have bad days, who also feel inadequate at times but who love their kids and put their very best into them made me feel like I have a place to be and that my struggles with being a Mum were struggles shared by other people. It’s such a valuable thing to feel ‘normal’, even for a little while, when everything seems to be off kilter and out of control.
I’m thankful that you were all there.
Day Seven: Test
Sometimes it feels like this motherhood gig is a test of my endurance, strength and patience. It feels like you just get through one challenging thing and then something comes up to challenge you again. I’m sitting here writing this and listening to my two youngest children coughing in their beds. The baby has already been up twice since he went down for the night (ha ha, like he ever ‘goes down for the night’) and Miss Three has just sobbed and spluttered as she was being taken to the toilet when she usually basically sleep walks her way through her nightly ‘wake up to pee’ routine. We’ve just, just gotten over the last round of coughs and colds. They had a chest infection each during the school holidays with skyrocketing temperatures and awful hacking coughs. I’m hoping we’re not heading down that road again. The wee one is also teething. It feels like he’s been teething for months and months, oh wait, he HAS been teething for months and months. Anyway, this is turning into a real pity party so let’s change focus a bit.
The other test that is relevant today is the testing that my Miss Five has just finished at school. I should stress it’s formative assessment, we don’t do crazy exams for five year olds in NZ, thank goodness. I had a meeting with her teacher and she’s doing really, really well. She’s leaping forward with her reading and writing and is just where she should be for numeracy. All excellent. But the thing that made me the happiest on her report and from the discussion with her teacher was the teacher’s comments about her being very kind, caring, well mannered and hard working. What a stunner. Proud Mum here today.