The tears stung my eyes as I drove home from the doctor. The appointment had been fine -- everyone was healthy, everyone was happy - I was just exhausted. That day alone I’d dropped two kids at two different schools, come home, stripped three beds, done three loads of washing, taken Toddler to the supermarket (where she’d lain on the floor screaming because I wouldn’t given her a second Kinder Surprise), rushed home, put her to bed, done two hours of work, changed three pooey nappies in succession, picked up my son from school, rushed home, supervised his homework minute by excruciating minute (given his murderous antipathy to homework), rushed out for the doctor’s appointment, kept Toddler busy with some filthy toys whilst we waited, and now, at 6m, was rushing again to pick up my daughter from my mum’s, from where I would take all the kids home to a house still strewn with shopping bags, wet laundry, and no dinner.
I was exhausted.
I love my kids, desperately. I feel immensely grateful for them every day of my life. And I have always been prepared for the hard work that is involved in raising them. Sometimes, though, the endless slog just weighs me down, until I feel like I’m walking through water, until I long to break away from the Mumminess of it all and just be me for a day or so, unshackled by responsibilities. But that’s not going to happen. Not for another 18 or 20 years.
It’s the relentlessness of parenthood that gets to me, the fact that you can never clock off. Even when you’re on a break, even when, for a moment, all kids are occupied, you are always on call. And 99% of the work is hideously mundane – school lunches, laundry, tidying, ferrying the kids around from school to activity to home again. “But you chose this, Mum,” my son pointed out to me one day, when I told him I didn’t want to clean up his mess. “You wanted to have kids. It’s your job!”
“I did want kids,” I responded crankily, “and I love you guys more than anything. But that doesn’t mean I wanted to cook, clean and tidy every single minute of my life. That’s not what motherhood should be about!’
That night, I hung in there until the kids were in bed. Then, as I was stacking the dinner dishes, I started to sob in earnest. “What’s wrong?” asked my husband, coming up behind me. “Did something happen?”
“I’m TIRED!!!” I howled. “I can’t DO it anymore!!!!”
He put out his arms. “Come here,” he said soothingly, and gave me a cuddle me. “It’s okay. Why don’t you just hop into bed?”
“Because I’m TOO TIRED!!!!” I cried. He laughed. And led me to the bedroom.
I sobbed for about ten minutes straight, lying on my bed in my clothes. And then suddenly, I didn’t feel like crying any more. We watched a bit of TV, and then I curled into a ball and went to sleep.
And by the morning, I was ready to be a mum again. Till the next breakdown, anyway.