“All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for the daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere”
I felt this song this week. The sad, haunting lyrics expressing the thick fog that has been difficult to shake.
Even the boys have resonated with the beautiful, somber melody – both emphatically declaring at different times that it is their new tune of choice.
It is hard to see what you put your trust in until those safety nets are stripped away. For me it was sleep, good health, stable hormones, predictable rest times and not needing help from other people. I held on so tightly that my knuckles felt the strain of the battle, anger bubbling to the surface often, frustration simmering over and stinging those in my vicinity.
Parenting felt like a pointless battle. The same arguments, repetitive instructions mostly ignored, tussles and arguments over one toy in a room overflowing with other options, empty threats that fell on defiant ears. Washing, cooking, wiping, bending.
I crashed through my final layer of emotional reserves too many times to count, finally admitting that accepting some regular help might stop me going completely insane… So it looks like we will be setting up a family daycare day for Hudson and Ivy.
It’s a bit like formula feeding for me. I am the first to champion others doing what they need to do for mental health reasons, but when it comes time to make that decision myself, I become a blubbering mess.
I wanted it to be different. To be ‘enough’ for my kids. But it turns out that just showing up each day and trying to drag us all through it isn’t actually a great outcome for any of us.
This stage of life can be brutally hard. I want to achieve so much – keep the kids safe and healthy and help them developmentally, be a good wife, write, cook interesting dinners, read books, catch up with friends, help out at Open House, keep the house clean and organised, listen to inspirational podcasts, have people over for dinner, keep up to date with reading blogs and articles, cook meals for those who need it, do yoga, do laundry, help out on the Kinder fundraising committee, maintain the garden, preserve produce, host cocktail parties, plan birthday parties AND stay sane… but I’m beginning to realise it can’t be done. Or not by me, at least.
My Mum has been incredible this past week, responding instantly to my SOS texts and showing up time and time again when I’ve needed it. She took Hudson off my hands for an entire day, after we had both had spent the night sleeping very fitfully in his room which had depleted all the emotional energy that I had for him by 6:30am. She is also brave enough to speak the hard truths and tell me things I might not want to hear. I respect her so much for taking the risk and doing so.
Dave has also been an inspirational rock. Often I imagine that he braces himself as he approaches the front door, unsure of what he will find on the other side (though my passionate and colourful text messages sometimes clue him in). He constantly keeps so many balls in the air – whether it be school initiatives, his PhD, Open House, our neighbourhood community group – but most of all he truly holds our family together. I am beyond grateful at his patience, love, non-judgemental responses and his willingness to try anything to allow our whole family to flourish again.
I’m trying to slow down – heading back to bed when I can manage it, giving myself permission to spend money and take the kids out instead of biding time at home, reading fiction instead of religiously writing every single day. I’ve even been driven in the darkest moments to try my hand at poetry. The simple act of pen in hand, eyes surveying the chaos of crazy hour allows me to stand back and see it as a dance – swirling and twisting with a ragged beauty – rather than being sucked into the whirlwind of owning every fight and frustration.
I have no real words of wisdom to end this with, no epiphanies that have turned it all around. Just the offer of solidarity if you too are having a hard week… and some poetry that is getting me through the darkness.
Mint-coloured crumbs scatter
Grey streaks across marbled surface
Like a bird, I bend
Constantly retrieving, rescuing
Evidence of all I haven’t done
Is louder than faint promise of
An investment into humanity
Life and mess, darkness and beauty
Entangled. Never to be separated again.
Shouts of a pirate invasion
Piercing into alternative realities.
Little bodies bouncing to insistent beats.
Energy I can only dream of.
Stemming the constant drip of infection
Battling to catch up.
Thoughts of excelling now only in
the half waking haze of the dreamscape.
Is it really in these clouded, pajama-clad moments
That we find Hope?