Drinking my much-needed cappuccino in bed this morning, courtesy of my loving husband, strains of the heavy-metal-style vocal roar that our almost four year old has adopted as some sort of personal expression of his testosterone surge, travelled its way up the stairs. Closely followed by our youngest crying, then laughter from big brother and yet another roar, then even more crying. Wearily I dragged myself down the stairs and mentally prepared my first reprimand of the day. Last few days of the summer holidays and it’s fair to say my tolerance levels are approaching empty. I’m a car using up the dirty dregs left in the petrol tank when the warning light is on. I can still drive okay but it’s not doing the engine any good.
Breakfast continued in a dramatic fashion and the next spate of tears followed spilled milk, rice krispies and cheerios all over the future heavy metal vocalist, his chair, the table and the floor. After drying him off and completing a thorough milk elimination process (it’s a bugger if you don’t get it straight away) including mopping the entire kitchen floor (well it was filthy and in for a penny, in for a pound), the first mother versus son battle of the day ensued as he refused to get dressed or indeed listen to a single word – “cockin’ a def ‘un”, as we Lancastrians say in Yorkshire. Translation available if required. Mummy at this point having a minor meltdown (cause – being a mentally and hormonally challenged mother and typically includes rising stress levels and declarations of ‘this is a joke’ or ‘I can’t do this‘ either to myself, the wall or to the children’s father, of course they are his children if they are doing something undesirable and mine when demonstrating their irrefutable intelligence). ‘This‘ is motherhood btw. Five minutes later and having recovered from that drama, nagged aforementioned loving husband about not taking yesterday’s bin bag out and started picnic preparations for a trip out and would you credit it but little brother goes and does a repeat of big brother’s spillage with his own breakfast. Mild meltdown status immediately reignited and escalated to ‘moderate’ which generally and indeed today includes crying, head in hands, and the husband being advised that he needs to find somebody else to look after his children because I’M NOT DOING IT!’. Loving husband then advised mentally and hormonally challenged wife to go for a shower and cleaned up the second mess of the day himself. Mental note – reclean later. Meltdown rant continued as the children (they belonged to nobody at this point) were served toasted pancakes to replace the lost cereal and the bonkers wife stuffed a pancake in her own cake-hole simultaneously whilst crying en route to the shower.
Twenty minutes later and feeling a little more human, or at least a clean one with clothes on, I presented a competent-mother face to my husband in order that he felt able to leave for work, and just sighed a little sigh as he skipped out of the door for a day of rest. The children at this point were being little angels (well almost, the youngest was shouting ‘SHUT UP DOG!’ because a neighbour’s dog was barking) and playing boats with the washing up basket, declaring they were sailing away. I asked if they could just come home when their Daddy does later. They didn’t hear me. Getting them dressed was easier than normal, partly because they were both still naked after their pyjamas succombed to the milk spillage and they were feeling a bit cold. Small mercies. Just as I was wondering how I was going to get them out of the front door and onto our day ahead’s travels without a battle, big brother announced that the last one to get their shoes on was a rotten egg. Hooray! I doused myself in perfume to disguise the smell of fear emanating from my body and off we went.
It’s all true but I’ll stop being silly now. First stop was the weighing scales in Boots, a day late due to the bank holiday. The scales reported a five pound loss since last Monday, which I still don’t believe, despite the evidence. I think that might explain why I felt a bit weary and worn out last week as clearly I wasn’t taking enough calories on board. Anyway the fact still remains that I have plenty to lose, so nobody needs to worry about me anytime soon! My Fitness Pal has readjusted my calorie goals in view of my weight loss so far and now reduced my daily intake to 1740. I will try better to meet my intake requirements this week as I don’t want to do anything detrimental to my health. I did do a lot of walking last week plus the additional day may explain the extra pounds lost. I am certain it won’t be so much next week.
The kids and I did have a lovely day despite our shaky start, we spent most of it at Yeadon Tarn, which is really lovely and has a tarmac route around it, perfect for scooters, bikes and prams. We met up with a friend who has two sons the same age as ours, and as soon as she told me she was looking forward to the start of term I felt like a ‘normal’ mother again, whatever that is. The boys had a great time together and we shared grown-up conversation, a therapy in itself.
I am still thankful that the ‘meltdown’ feelings only last for a brief period now and not all day like they used to during my postnatal illness. I will never fail to appreciate what I came through to be the person I am now. I have also learned that it is important not to ‘beat myself up’ because of a few meltdowns here and there. No, not every mother will have ‘meltdowns’ but I think pretty much all mothers will find coping with the demands of motherhood difficult at one point or another and it is okay to feel like that. A ‘meltdown’ is my release and whilst mostly I can keep them well reigned-in and thankfully I have the support of my husband to share the stresses of child-rearing, I think there is a lot to be said for ‘letting it out’. If you know and care about a mother with young children, lend her your ear or even a hand if you can spare the time. Encourage her to be open and not to try to be a perfect mother that doesn’t exist. If you think she isn’t coping, don’t be afraid, just talk to her. Celebrate the baby but support the mother too.
Time for card therapy has been a little sparse of late so I have concentrated on a simple design that was easy to replicate but still satisfied my need to create something other than a hot dinner.
That’s another day done, the last Tuesday of the summer holidays. Next Tuesday the boys go back to nursery. This is not so I can get my hair done, or go to the gym, or go shopping for designer clothes. It is so I can fill the tank up, keep myself well, and be the best mother I can be.
If you have any parenting meltdowns to share please do, it’ll make us all feel better!
P.s. I know I have discussed mothers in particular, but of course any primary carer of a baby, babies and and or small children, or even bigger children for that matter can feel the strain of parenthood, which left unchecked could lead to mental illness. Share the love.