If there is a video playback in heaven of our lives, I really hope I don’t have to watch today’s reel.
We launched into the new term better than expected yesterday- kids behaved well, the new chart system with monetary rewards seems to be motivating both Eli and I, and there was nothing too difficult to overcome in the course of the day.
And then today happened. I packed the kids into the car to go to the library and noticed as I was getting in that the front tire was pretty flat. “No problem”, I thought, “I think I remember how to put air in a tire, I’ll just do it on the way.” We pulled into the petrol station and located the air. I opened both windows so the kids could talk to me if necessary. Then I looked to see what pressure to fill the tires… and couldn’t find it anywhere. Whilst frantically opening car doors and scanning labels, I hear “Ooh, I need to go to the toilet” closely followed by “I’ve done a wee in my undies!”
I yanked Eli out of the car to use the travel potty but it was too late. As he’s been very reliable lately with the toilet, I haven’t had to be as vigilant with spare clothes, so of course had none to change him into! I had to strap him back in the seat sans clothing and attempt to do the air again. Of course, after this saga, stress levels were at an all time high for both parties. My less than calm response and lamenting the fact that I had repeatedly asked him less than ten minutes ago if he needed to use the toilet also didn’t help. I still couldn’t find the information about the air anywhere.
After a few frantic and unanswered phone calls to Dave, and finally finding the car manual, I hooked up the air… and couldn’t for the life of me make it work. I heard hissing and felt air blowing everywhere but into the tire. The background was now filled with mournful howls from the backseat as I swore like a sailor (in a semi-whisper), telling the kids to just wait as I tried to figure this all out. “Mum, I’m a bit scary!”, wailed Eli. “Mummy! Mummy!” went the repetitive screech from Hudson. Finally I figured it out and we high tailed it out of there as fast as legally possible.
While the rest of the day hasn’t quite hit the same dramatic lows, I have found it difficult to recover. We eventually made it to the library, after a detour back home to get new clothes, but as soon as we got home it felt like my patience was hanging by a thread, and any slightly mischievous or frustrating behavior just set me off again.
At every new failing and outburst I feel more like burying my head in the sand. Apologizing for my mistakes starts to sound very hollow when those mistakes are seemingly on repeat. The very last thing I wanted to do was gaze into the looking glass of the recent past and evaluate it. I despise the ‘me’ I uncovered today- a short-tempered, tight-fisted, emotional basket case incapable of dealing with any curve ball thrown her way. Thankfully the days I exhibit this level of behavior are few and far between but it doesn’t make it any less confronting when it happens to rear its ugly head.
I guess it also doesn’t help that at the moment I’ve been struggling with a pregnancy-related health condition that is a bit too delicate to mention, but that insists on pervading my every thought with its discomfort and pain. Having had this slight glimpse, I can’t even imagine how women with significant, ongoing health issues survive as mothers. I have a very long way to go on this journey.
Motherhood is bloody hard at times, particularly when things aren’t going to plan or if there are underlying issues that sap patience and perspective. But even now, taking a moment to write it all down, facing up to the ugly reality of disappointment in yourself is surprisingly far easier than squashing it down beneath distractions or drowning the discomfort in alcohol/self-medication of choice. Who would have thought?
In the midst of it all, though, I still tried bandaid approaches to regain my self-esteem. First I tried experience: “Who wants chicken nuggets?!” I even strayed from the loose change menu for my own burger choice, hoping the special lunch would lift my spirits. It didn’t really help. I just had three pairs of hungry eyes looking at me when I finally got the chance to eat the now soggy burger at home.
Then I decided to try baking. “Doing something worthwhile and productive always cheers me up”, I thought. While the chocolate chip cookies came out fine, the chaos of baking with kids was not really within my coping limits and the resultant batter smears and flour-stained floor did little to make me feel worthwhile and conquering again.
I spent longer than usual putting Eli to bed tonight. We lay on the bed chatting way past bedtime and it was pretty special. By the end of the day I now see this span of time as a success, despite my failings, because of the way we were able to process and respond to the detours. For Eli, his memories of today will be paying for a Planes iPad game with his own (earned) money, going through a photo album of him as a baby and spending time talking with Mummy about whatever he wanted.
I guess anything can be redeemable if you are willing to face the ugly head on and process it… At least that is the lesson I will try to take away from today.