I have written this post over a few hours and a few glasses of wine. It’s not overly edited, a little raw, and I’ll appreciate reading it tomorrow, and in the years to come I’m sure.
Today was really hard. Not all of it mind you. Parts of it were utterly lovely. I took the kids to Sandgate Uniting Church for the first time this morning for the 9am service. I had my game face on; I had done some research and knew a few names from my time working for the Uniting church over a decade ago, and being a leader at Sandgate UC Youthgroup 20 years ago (gulp). And I knew that there would be welcoming smiles and a cuppa and Monte Carlo bikkie at the end.
I went in, armed with a calm voice and a kind mantra to myself. Guys, the kids blew me away. They were so well behaved and apart from a few very minor brain farts from Darby, I was incredibly pleased and super proud of them. We chatted to a few people afterwards, and Chance and Quinn are even keen to go to Day Camp this year. Day camp is where Frith and I met (we were leaders) for the first time 20 years ago this coming July.
When we got home, Quinn melted down over something (seemingly) minor, which was followed by about 20 minutes of her screaming/crying/pleading with me to help her but not being able to tell me how. I tried sitting with her and talking to her but she was such a hot mess of emotions. We got there with distraction (I showed her old videos of herself as a toddler) and some soft words.
My tank had taken a big hit, and it was only lunch time.
We then headed over to Mum and Dad’s to celebrate Dad’s birthday (it’s tomorrow) and we had such a great time. There were friends of my parent’s whom I hadn’t seen in a while and they are such great people and wonderful company. The kids pretty much kept to themselves downstairs watching their new favourite show “The Deep“. I had such a great time talking to our friends and eating wonderful food prepared by mum and dad. Just lovely.
Then we headed home and Woollies dropped off my order not long after that. Quinn was being incredibly helpful with putting things away and I commented to her about how proud I was of her and how helpful she was being. I felt so relieved that we were done with the outbursts for the day.
But I was wrong. Boy was I wrong. At around 5:30pm shit went down. And the shit hit the fan. And then shit was flung all over the walls. You get the idea…
I can’t even tell you where it all went wrong. I think Quinn pushed Darby over to get past him to get to me and demanded to know what was for dinner. I asked her to ask nicely and it was on like Donkey Kong. There was hitting and kicking and screaming and demands and crying and more screaming. I kept as calm as possible, but felt utterly helpless and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t talk her off the ledge.
I told her that before anything else could happen, she needed to apologise to me for hitting and being rude. She is such a stubborn little thing. Just like her Dad. Frith rarely apologised to me when he really should have. So so stubborn and argumentative. She was wearing me down, and fast.
Then she took it out on the boys as well and I just lost my cool. Not at her, but something broke inside of me. I started crying a little to myself in the kitchen, starting to think about a few people I could call to come and give me a hand. Honestly, the neighbours must be wondering who the hell has moved into their street. It would be hard not to judge. I know I would find it hard if I didn’t know any kind of back story and all I heard were screams of “Mama!!! Mama!!! Pleeeeeeeease!!!!” (Please make it better immediately somehow.)
Then Chance and Darby were having a pillow fight in the lounge room and knocked a bottle of wine off the sideboard. I heard the bang and looked at the wine on the floor and fell apart. Not about the wine, clearly, (plus it had only split the cap and there was just a puddle, not a bottle of wine in a million pieces) but just the feeling of helplessness; of utter desperation.
I let the tears pour out, knowing it was what I needed in this situation; knowing it was a perfectly acceptable response to my immediate and surrounding circumstances. You see, I’ve been on antidepressants for almost a year which have been numbing the pain. Before that, I was just running on adrenaline; keeping my head above water; keeping going for the kids; functioning at such a high and unsustainable level, that when I came down with a crashing thud in June last year, medication was a good option suggested to me.
Then when Frith’s brother Etienne passed away, something had to give and I started on the meds. They numbed me. They were doing the job I needed them to do, and it enabled me to just keep going with the kids; they enabled me to buy a house and move for the last time in a long time; they enabled me to deal with the big highs and lows the kids were having; but they also took away my ability to really feel those highs a lows myself. I have been on a slow simmer for months.
After talking to my GP, I have reduced my dose (which was very low to start with) by half, and I’ve felt more like myself these past two weeks than I have in years. It’s nice. I’m just chugging away on the half dose, and certainly feeling less cloudy than I have in a long time.
And it means I can cry.
I have not been able to cry for months. Not properly. In fact, one of the reasons I spoke to my GP about reducing my meds was because I had no avenue for release. When shit went down with the kids, I was like a pressure cooker with nowhere for the steam to go. It would just build up and I would get angry and feel out of control with nowhere for the emotion to go. I needed that release; I needed to cry and be able to move on.
So tonight I cried. I howled, all the while Quinn was continuously yelling “Mama mama mama mama mamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”
Darby asked me why I was crying. He said “Mama it’s okay, the bottle didn’t smash!” Ha ha. He thought I was crying about the spilled wine. I kept crying. I didn’t say anything to him. The last few months of pressure was pouring out in tears and snot and sobs. “Mama why are you crying?” Darby asked again.
I could feel Quinn’s presence behind me; I could sense her apprehension; I could hear her quietness. I walked over and sat down as my cry subsided. I didn’t cut myself off; I was aware that I needed this, and that I also needed her to see it. Not to make her feel bad or to feel like she was to blame, but to help her understand that I am not a robot. To help her see that her actions had made someone she loves more than anything in the world, feel really sad.
“Why are you crying?“
“I’m crying because I don’t know how to make you feel better and I get really sad when my kids are upset and I can’t make them feel better. I’m crying because I’m really upset. Maybe I’ll feel better after I have a cry.”
To be honest I don’t know exactly what I said, but I wanted to be as honest as I possibly could, while still being age-appropriate with how much I shared.
“I’m sorry Mama.”
Followed by lots of hugs and soft words.
At dinner a few minutes later, the mood was light and calm. I said something along the lines of “what did we all learn today? Maybe we learnt that Mama sometimes cries too?”
“I’ve never seen you cry before, Mama” said Quinn.
I certainly haven’t tried to hide my emotions from the kids, I just haven’t been able to get them out. Now they have seen me cry, maybe they will see me as more human; as more vulnerable; maybe a little softer than the Mama they have gotten to know these last 17 months.
I wish I could say the rest of the evening turned around after that, but after a disastrous bath session with the four of them in the tub, and far too much water out of the bath, I put them all to bed straight after, at 7pm. The three younger kids were out to it within 10 minutes, and Chance was asleep just after 7:30. I knew they were tired, I’m just glad they didn’t resist.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring. All I know is, I needed the cry, and they needed to see it. And I am drinking the wine that they compromised. I’ve been dreading cleaning up the kitchen (only a mild disaster), but I’ve just realised that it can wait until tomorrow. I don’t need to put that pressure on myself.
That’s where I’m at this fine Sunday evening. At least the wine is still okay… 🙂
~ Drops mic. Walks away… ~