Last week was just one of those weeks. Smushie had been sick, we had to juggle everything that comes with that being working parents plus he was waking twice or more in the night and I was shattered. Yes we have had far worse weeks but to be honest I think I am still working through layers of fatigue post-PhD/post arrival of Sumshie last year and sometimes that hits when I least expect it.
Started at 5.30am, alarm set in the slim hope I could have a shower before the boys wake and get changed to leave the house early. Smushie woke at 5.32am. Feed him then had a shower with him pulling everything possible in his reach. Arjun woke at 5.55 and normal morning chaos ensured.
Worked until 5.00pm and then headed to pick the boys up from daycare. I felt this sense of dread build up inside me. It had been a really long (10 hours) hard work day, lots of high-level thinking involved and I knew ahead of me was at least 2-3 hours of dinner/bedtime grind – before I had to finish off work uncompleted from the day.
Got the boys home and inside the house – which involves carrying my bag, lap top bag, both boys day care bags, each of them hoisted my hips (or one will scream) hiking into the house looking like I am headed for a trek to Nepal.
Both needed me at the same time, both needed food and cuddles. Both needed attention. And me? My tank was on red. I had not had any time to mentally unpack my day, download what was in my head. Shattered from the week I stood there in the kitchen with each of them hanging of my legs – literally – I silently screamed and wondered how I would do this.
My husband walked in at this moment. Normally I would just push through. Dig a little deeper. Move through the fog. I have ignored warnings (bright red warnings) like this before though and the end result is not pretty. So I asked (begged) my husband if he could just step in and take over and I have 10 minutes to walk the dog and clear my head. I am sure it was no fun for him either but graciously he said go – take half an hour.
Inside I thought I should be enjoying them. I have not seen them all day, why can’t I just enjoy them? And I just couldn’t. So I walked out.
Both children screaming behind me.
I jammed head phones on and physically let out my emotions, guilt, frustration, exhaustion, stress, processing the day and also just how hard being a mum is. How much you give and give and give even when you have nothing left. After walking for a bit, I felt a little more put back together. Like my tank and gone from empty to a few bars up and could go back and actually be the mum my children need me to be.
In reflection I don’t know if coming home from a full day of work and having wailing children clinging to your legs IS enjoyable. I think that’s hard, emotionally and physically and that’s ok. I think that sometimes you do have to dig a bit deeper but that sometimes it’s ok not to. To do what you have to in order to give some more. I think the pressure we place on ourselves to do it all, all the time, is just so unrealistic and it’s ok to break, even if it doesn’t look pretty or like me it looks like walking out on your kids and husband at 6pm at night. The fact you come back, you gear up and do it all over again – that is true strength.
xxx Dr Julie Bhosale