Yesterday was not a good day. I’ve actually had a bit of a stink week, really. Sick kids, sick husband, the sickness requiring samples of bodily waste to be delivered to the lab, sickness requiring numerous nappy changes and much linen washing. Sickness which means that I can’t take the kids out because one of them is sick, so none of them get to go anywhere. This, of course, produces antsy children, which in turn produces a very antsy mother.
So, yesterday I pretty much started to lose it. No, I would say that I actually lost it. No yelling and screaming (from me anyway) but I just got to the point where I thought “Okay, I think I’ll just walk away now and go somewhere else where I only have to take care of myself. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.” I handed the crying baby to my husband and told him that I was going for a drive. My oldest daughter trailed me to the door saying “Please don’t go away Mummy. Where are you going? When are you coming back? When are we going to have dinner? What are we going to eat?” I don’t remember exactly what I said to her, but I think I just ignored her and shut the door. I climbed into the van, put the keysÂ in the ignition and bawled my eyes out. I was shaking and sobbing and crying out to God for help. I simply could not go on another moment. I drove out of the driveway, not quite sure where I was headed. I really wanted to drive to the airport, charge a ticket to the US on my credit card and go visit my mommy so she could take care of me. This had a few problems: 1) I didn’t have my passport with me; 2) there wasn’t enough breastmilk in the freezer for the baby and 3) Mom and dad would give me a hug and stick me straight back on the next plane back to my husband.Â My second thought was to go visit my friend and cry on her shoulder but she has three kids of her own, all of whom have also been sick with similar stuff, and it wasn’t a good time of the day. I hate to mess with her schedule. So, I drove around the block a few times and then came home.
When I arrived back home, I just sat in the car for a few minutes feeling very drained and not at all prepared to go back inside and face my family. I just felt so incredibly overwhelmed with the things that needed to be dealt with. And I’m not talking about laundry and housework. I’m talking about discipline issues and trying to manage the boredom and character training, all that kind of stuff. I sent a text message to my mother-in-law which I believe said somethindog like “Things are not going well. I’m not coping. Please help.” She texted back and asked what the problem was. I explained that the baby has been either crying or sleeping (he’s not at all the happy baby that my first two were and I really don’t know what the problem is), the oldest has been whining and disobeying all day, and the middle one has been crying at the drop of a hat all day. Basically, someone in our house has been crying all day. She wrote back to say that she would call me when she got home and we could decide what to do. She called me about 15 minutes later and asked me how things were going (by this time I was in the house) and I burst into tears again. She said okay, we’re coming over. We’ll sit down and talk about what’s going on and then we’ll take the girls for the night so you can get some rest.
Before they arrived my husband, who is really rather bewildered by all my emotions and also still feeling quite sick himself, told me that he just wanted the two of us to get out and have a chance to talk. So I fixed a quick dinner for the kids while we waited for their grandparents to arrive. When they arrived, we went for a drive and talked. I was able to dump all the things I was feeling and he was able to respond and ask questions. In the end we both felt very drained. We didn’t have a list of magic answers, but at least we had shared with each other and I felt somewhat better having told him what was going on in my head.
We got home and my in-laws took the middle daughter for the night. We put the other two kids to bed and I went to sleep at 8:30 pm. The baby still woke twice in the night, but I woke up at 7 feeling rested. I went for a walk, knowing that the baby wouldn’t wake for another hour. My husband slept in and my oldest daughter sat reading books on our bed next to Daddy.
The morning went very smoothly. No fights. No crying. No whining. I don’t think I raised my voice once. As I later reviewed the morning, trying to figure out what in the world made the difference, I came up with a few things.
1) My oldest two children are only 22 months apart. The younger one (20 months) desperately wants to do whatever the older one is doing. This causes more fights than I even want to think about. The older one is happy to play by herself and often does, but the younger one has rarely been required to play alone and so she needs to learn. We are going to institute some play alone time for each of the girls, where they have to play by themselves in their room for a length of time each day.
2) We must have one-on-one time with each of the children each day , even if it’s just ten minutes. They each need to know that they will have time with mum every day.
3) Most importantly, we have got to have a routine. This way they know when they have their alone time and they know when they have time with mum and when we play together, etc. I’ve been thinking about routines for a while but I know now that this is an absolute must.
About 9am the phone rang and it was a good friend that lives nearby. She’s the mother of my sister-in-law and she’s fantastic with my girls. She asked how things were going and I said that Friday had been a bad day and we’re just trying to recover. She asked what she could do and I said, well, what are you offering? She said, let me take *** for a few hours today. So we arranged to drop her off just after lunch and pick her up before we went to get our younger daughter from her grandparents’ house.
Another lesson I learned : When help is offered, accept it. I’m usually pretty good about this and every time a friend offers to have a child over to play, I’m very grateful. Our daughter had the best time this afternoon. She got to run around with their dog, they went for a walk, they played on the playground and I think best of all, she was the centre of attention for a couple of hours. She thrives on that. I know that the world doesn’t revolve around her, but she needs to feel special like that.
So, it’s the end of SaturdayÂ night and I’m about to head to bed. This has been more of a brain dump than a blog post, but I wanted to get it written down for my own benefit. I don’t want to forget the lessons that I’ve learned the last 36 hours.
And for those of youÂ that might be worried, I’m not going to run away and leave my family. When I contemplate it, it makes my heart hurt. I never want my little children to ask where their mummy is. I don’t want my selfishness (and that’s definitely what it is) to take away their family. And since I’ve admitted that I’m selfish, I’ll share with you the prayer that I prayed at some point last night when I was just trying to stop being numb.
I prayed something like this “God, I need your help. I cannot do this alone. I know that being a mother and a wife is hard, stinkin’ hard. And I simply don’t know what to do.”
I wish that I could say a bird flew down and gave me a note from God. But it didn’t. I didn’t get a text message either. But I did hear, and continue to hear, him say “Don’t worry. You don’t need to know everything because I do.”
So, I’m heading to bed now, praying that tonight is the night myÂ son sleeps through until morning but knowing that’s highly unlikely. I’m going to go pray over each of my children, thanking God for the gift he’s given me and praying that I can somehow manage to not screw up their lives. I’m going to give my husband a big kiss and wish him a goodnight as he finishes watching some TV movie. Then I’m going to get into bed and think about the things I’ve learned and wakeup tomorrow morning and hopefully still remember them. But in case I don’t, I’ve written it all down here and I can read it again and remember.