At the moment Hudson has a (slightly annoying) question that he asks us. “Where’s Nanny gone?” “Where’s Daddy gone?” After we answer to the best of our knowledge as to the whereabouts of the particular person, he pauses and then asks the question again. And again. We’ve tried redirecting the question to him, telling him that we’ve already answered it, and just plain ignoring it, though the last method inevitably results in a sassy “I TALKING to you, Mummy!” I’m sure in a few months we will fondly reminisce the absence of these questions but right now it is driving us slightly batty.
I’ve had a difficult week. Pat warned me that my hormones would start to kick in about now and if that’s what this is I’ve been kicked with the power of a herd of stallions. Maybe it is settling back into life after holidays, but I’m not convinced. At the heart of it, I think it might be loneliness.
Both Dave and I are so ‘busy’ during the day- me with the kids, cleaning, cooking, feeding Ivy and hauling the troupe out to appointments or outings. Dave with his myriad of tasks flowing from teaching and facilitating Tribe, as well as churning out his PhD. By the time we get the kids into bed we are both exhausted, and it hasn’t helped that this virus still hasn’t loosened its grip on us… we are going into about week five of sickness now and it has definitely taken its toll. Dave’s snoring also increases fivefold when he is either exhausted or sick, so he had moved into the room down the hall to avoid waking Ivy and I up with the noise.
It was two nights ago when I started feeling the pressing gloominess and this time I didn’t quickly delve into my usual vices to distract and avoid the feelings. I settled in the sadness and waited for the glimmer of understanding and hope to form. It didn’t come quickly and I felt guilty giving Dave the “I don’t know” answer to his constant queries of what was really going on. The next day was difficult as I was teary the whole day and I suspect I may have accidentally wandered through our whole library outing with black mascara trails down both cheeks as I had been too focused on getting the kids out of the car to check in with the rearview mirror before heading inside. Classy.
The kids weren’t particularly difficult, though just prior to the library outing I hit my limit as I had a crying Ivy on one hip, a demanding Eli on the toilet trying to convince me that I needed to attend to his toileting needs despite him being perfectly capable, and a bored Hudson repeatedly ramming into my legs with the ride-on bus. I handled it with complete grace and composure, of course.
Sometimes I wish I could stand outside of myself and watch as the fury and frustration breaks through. Maybe that would be enough to convince me to utilise some self-control, but I doubt it. After Kinder this week Eli reported to us with relish that when some girls had tried to tell him that the 50 cents I had given him for overdue library fines didn’t belong to him, “a mean face came to me and I LIKED it!” Not that I enjoy the foray into fury, I definitely don’t, but there is a form of catharsis in that moment when it unleashes. And apparently swearing makes you hot and less stressed (according to Keele University), so I must be a supermodel by now. I’m clearly learning to move through the shame phase more quickly, thanks to the brilliant insights of Brene Brown’s TED talk “Listening to Shame”.
As I was brusquely packing the kids into the car, Hudson said something that pulled me out of the thundering clouds in my mind. “Where’s Mummy gone, Mummy?” It was so profound that the firm grip of anger released its hold a little and the phrase echoed in my mind as I pondered its significance. I am more than the sum of my feelings at one time. The darkness that had me in its tentacles was not part of me, I was choosing to partner with it for a time. And I could choose to let go and return to making good decisions in a calm way without letting it define me.
A worried Dave left work a little early to rescue either the kids or me (still not sure which!) following a few terse responses to his queries via message earlier in the day. We spent time together chatting last night and reaffirmed the need for us to connect properly. Snoring is a minimal price to pay for the importance of the connection, friendship and companionship that occurs when sharing those last thoughts before drifting off to sleep.
As I said to Dave, I cope really well….until I don’t cope at all and then everyone feels the brunt of it! Thankfully these storms are visiting less frequently and they tend to blow over fairly quickly these days. And the insights gained as a result far outweigh the shame I feel in having been swept away. That and the victory of turning to face the storm rather than burying my head in the sand or escaping into vices is actually something to celebrate! Don’t worry, Hudson, Mummy is back now….