The Wall

School Holidays; Day Four.

This was how long it took for me to hit the wall.

Truthfully, they were beginning to give me the shits by
lunchtime on Day One. But it wasn’t until Day Four that drinking from a bathtub
of vodka with a straw began to seem like a good idea.

I wanted to be a mother. I love my children.

Why is this happening to me?

And I know I’ve beat this drum before but my parents didn’t
spend entire school holidays entertaining me, why the hell are my kids
demanding it?

Am I the only one who doesn’t want to play Gold Adventure?
What even is Gold Adventure? Well, from what I can tell, it’s exactly the same
as Aquabats Adventure but Luca refused to play that because it was Ziggy’s
idea.

Either way, there are always guns and bad guys and killing
and for the love of god, these boys are only 3 and 5! But the type of games they play are a whole
other post. Whether I am raising future lone gunmen is a question for another
day. Today’s question is “Do I really
have to play
Kill All The Things
games with my children, too?”

The days are a long, yawning void of repetition : Mumma!
Bored! Want! Need! Give! Me! Me! Me! Meeeeeeeeee!

I know, I know. Kids are renowned for getting bored during
the holidays. Parents are renowned for drinking vodka baths through straws. I know.

 And yet here I am,
hitting walls and wishing for the holidays to be done already. On Day Four.

I’m not sure this is normal. Or at least, I’m not sure the
level of my tension yesterday was normal. I was really fucking tense.

The day before, Luca reprimanded me. It went like this:

Ziggy, being three years old and also being Ziggy, was distraught about something that made no rational
sense to me. It’s possible I was, like the tyrant that I am, asking him to get
dressed. After trying to soothe and reason for several minutes, I had had
enough (there’s that wall again). But Ziggy likes to scream and cuddle at the
same time. Personally, I value my hearing.

Ziggy: (loudest cry in the world as he clings to me) Ahhhhhhhhhh-haaaaaaaaaaaa!

Me: Ziggy, if you’re just going to cry you can go to your
room!

Ziggy: (more crying, more clinging) Ahhhhhhhhhh-HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Me: (growing increasingly more annoyed) Ziggy, stop that
crying or get off me!

Ziggy: (hysteria) AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHH!
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Me: (matching hysteria) Jesus Christ, Ziggy, CUT IT OUT!

He did not cut it out. Perhaps he could not hear me over his
own deafening discontent.

Luca: Mumma, he’s just three years old!

Me: I know that, Luca, but he can’t scream like that.

Luca: But actually, Mum, he wasn’t screaming. He really wasn’t.
He was crying. You were the one who was screaming.

Me:

Luca: So you’re the one who has to go to time out.

We stared at each other for a moment and then I could not
help it; I began to laugh. And then we were all laughing. Because getting your
arse handed to you by a child is hilarious. And devastating.

It’s these moments that save us all – if we let them. I could
have kept screaming, telling Luca to keep out of it, clutching desperately to my title as “The
Boss” as though it could preserve my dignity. But what would be the point?
I had lost control and the kids could see that I had lost control. Allowing myself
to admit defeat in that moment allowed all of us to move beyond the moment – and with a three-year-old, that’s all it ever
is. Sometimes you feel like you’re trapped in that moment with them forever but
mostly, they just want to get back to being loved by you.   

So perhaps there was a valuable lesson in surrendering,
admitting I was handling the situation badly and letting my children know that
I was sorry. In fact, I’m pretty good at that. Losing my temper and then
pulling them into a cuddle immediately. But the scream and cuddle combo feels
like it’s getting overworked these last few days.

Yes, isolated incidents like this may not be abnormal but
perhaps the frequency is problematic. And how short the space is between
challenging kid behaviour and me losing it.

I know that becoming a school mum has been positive for me. I have thrived on the routine. The need to be somewhere at a
certain time every day, for uniforms to be clean, lunches made -  for things to run smoothly each day, more
order has been required of me. Order is necessary for the household to operate
and as it turns out, order is necessary for my sanity.

I can’t fail to mention that not having all three children
in my care all day long has also been a welcome change.

I love them, I love them, I love them.

But 24/7 with all of them kills something in me.

It just….does.

I know not everybody feels this way. But I do.

I hope that does not mean I am not as good a mother.

I come here and I try to relay my stories with humour. For
the most part, with a generous dose of hindsight, they really are funny. But I
hope in doing so I don’t completely negate the seriousness. Because in those
moments, I am not a happy person. And I am not enjoying motherhood. 

Three beautiful, bright little people, entrusted to my care,
crafted from my very body. They are radiant with life. They are everything to
me.

And sometimes it is all I can do not to run away screaming.

So. Maybe not so normal. Maybe I am not a bad mother but a mother whose depression is worse than she thought.

I read something yesterday by a brave and beautiful writer
named Robin. She has written extensively about Postpartum Depression on her blog, Farewell Stranger. She is
incredibly inspiring. Being that I had depression BEFORE babies, I never really
thought of myself as having PPD – in fact, I know I didn’t with Luca but with
Zig and Harlow, I could probably pinpoint a flare up after
they were born. But in the fog of newborn sleep deprivation and the demands of
the growing family, it’s hard to know where exhaustion ends and depression
begins. Murky. I figured I was okay.

But reading Robin’s piece about Postpartum Rage resonated a
little too strongly. And maybe I have more to speak about with a counsellor
than I thought.

 

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Hello friends

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I’m Angie!  I mum. I write. I wife. My husband would say this is the correct order.  He’s so neeeedy. I live with my family in Melbourne, Australia, where I complain about the weather for 90% of the year – but I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Except maybe in Lake Como, waving to my neighbours George and Amal each morning.

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17 Comments

  1. Dani

    OH did you have to mention ONLY day 4…I was in dream land thinking I could return her to school next week. I have an assignment due tomorrow, and haven’t done more then 200 words out of 1500 because she is driving me completely insane. She was bouncing off the walls at 330am this morning refusing to sleep because it is school holidays, and I have tried to keep her in a routine to avoid frustration (MY Frustration), but omfg…it is going to be a long week and 1/2.

    Reply
  2. Sally

    Well I totally could have written this, though I don’t have school holidays yet, so they tend to just drive me crazy all the time! I am like you, grateful, ever so grateful (you know my back story) but the days are long and hard. And yeesh, three year olds. They tell you newborns are hard work. No one mentions what happens when they turn three. And the 18 month old is giving me a run for my money, too. She learnt to say NO and squeal this week. And now that’s all she seems to do. That was cute for about 1.8 seconds….
    So glad to have met you.
    xo

    Reply
  3. sare

    Thank you! thank you for sharing your story, that is so much my story and from the comments from other readers your words resonate so strongly with many of us. As for school holidays, we diverted the start by a trip to Granny’s so officially I’m only up to day One. I’m filling the time making plans to ensure there is at least one adventure (walking to the park is totally an adventure!) each day. Fingers crossed somehow I stay sane, enjoy the time and get an assignment done!

    Reply
  4. Madeleine

    Oh honey. I hear you, I do. Week 2 of this solo gig, and preschool is shut for Easter. I NEED those two mornings, and I ain’t getting them this week – hugely unimpressed. Also unimpressed with the shouty, cranky mum I’ve been. Three pairs of shat-in knickers today from Miss P; I am so over the three year old stage.

    And the general order of school runs and preparation? Totally understand – it’s made a huge difference to my sanity, too.

    Hope your holidays improve, and big squishy hugs to you. xxx

    Reply
  5. Kylie

    I’m with you lovely lady, we had a camping trip so this is day 1 and I’m over it. It’s a rainy day I got them videos and no I don’t want to watch them as I have other things I need to do. I wish mine would just entertain themselves for an hour at least and Might love them all that bit more 🙂

    Reply
  6. Julie Firkin

    We all have days like this, with the same kind of thoughts to go along with it. Before children, we all had so much “me” time. Now we have children, we have none. I find that difficult being the recluse that I am.
    If you’d like a really cool activity, I’m sure the boys would love exploding volcanoes. You can make some paper mache volcanoes out with a paper plate, a plastic cup and some flour and water glue. If you leave a well in the top, when it dries, add some bi carb. Pour in some white vinegar and watch it foam and spill over the sides.
    We did this yesterday and the kids LOVED IT. I used a full two litre bottle of vinegar, but it was homebrand, so who cares? Over and over they did it, and they were so excited and so happy and best of all – there were NO FIGHTS!!
    Sanity saved 🙂

    Reply
  7. Angela Fortt

    I am sure that you are doing a great job. Your love for your children shines through in your posts. I can’t imagine how hard it must be with three little ones! I only have the one (11.5 weeks old) & it’s bloody hard (but worth it of course). Is there anyone that you can reach out to for some help especially during the school holidays?

    Reply
  8. Jacqui

    You are a fantastic mum, you love your kids and you are seeking help. There is a great DVD I got for free from family focus, and it guides you on how to speak to your kids about your depression. I highly recommend it. I have found having some sort of activity organised for the day, and having a routine to follow very helpful. Good luck, we’ll all get there

    Reply
  9. Karen T

    I don’t know exactly what I want to say… It’s late and I’m bone tired. Bit I’m out here, loving your guts. My children are relentless too. And I don’t want to play either… I also am considering a wet nurse!!! Wanna hug you in person! Xxx

    Reply
  10. Nannette

    Hi Angie,
    I too have experienced something similar, feeling like a bad mother because I felt like I was spending my day yelling at the most precious person in my whole world – how could I do that? Why doesn’t she get it? I have other things that I have to do! All those things would go through my head….me yelling and slamming cupboard doors and her watching me with a curious furious face…..you know, how dare I yell louder! Well she’s 13 now and so so beautiful, but every now and again I remember when she was 4 years old standing at the top of the staircase, I was in the kitchen ranting and bashing the benchtops with whatever I could get my hands on downstairs, releasing my frustration…she had wound me up so tightly….when above it all…..this little voice yells down at me…’stop mummy, you scare me when you yell’. Well I could’ve died on the spot and even now, some 10 years later I still feel so incredibly bad and guilty that I did that to her, she was just a little girl, a little girl that I loved more than any other living soul. I ran up those stairs so fast and I hugged her so tightly, we played and we were friends again. I will always remember that afternoon and thankfully she doesn’t. I am/was so ashamed of my behaviour back then. I know I’m a good mother, I’m just not that good under intense pressure, those days were hard. Normal is what I’d call it now! Thank you for sharing Angie. You’re clearly a great mum. xx

    Reply
  11. Robin | Farewell, Stranger

    Sending you so much love and hugs. And if I had extra patience I would send you that too, but I don’t. But know that I am right there holding your hand and telling that anger to bugger off and leave you alone. xx

    Reply
  12. Rebecca Farr

    I found that everyday was like Groundhog Day with the kids so I went back to work part time. I totally get it Angie!!! It’s a tough gig and I admire anyone who can do it while retaining even some small semblance of their sanity. As with you, I can’t imagine my life without anti depressants.

    Reply
  13. Zanni, Heart Mama

    I don’t have school aged kids, but I have been known to hit the wall many many times with a recently turned 3 year old. I am finding 3 a really challenging age. Sometimes there is no logic at all, but a hell of a lot of emotion. Sigh. I am sure your experience isn’t uncommon! Hang in there lovely. xx

    Reply
  14. Karen T

    I have just read your comment Nanette and it moved me to tears (as do a large portion of Angie’s posts!). Thank you for your insight from a little further down the road than where Angie and I are now xx

    Reply
  15. Teed

    You really have a lot going on. Like Robin said … let me send you some patience lol. You are above and beyond, for sure!

    Reply
  16. Naomi

    Hold on. You made it to Day 4???? Nice job! These circumstances will change and this situation will pass. You are doing a great job. You love them.

    Reply
  17. Camille

    Don’t feel bad. I screamed GET OUT GET OUT to my 4 year old the other day when she came in my room and woke me and the baby up. All we can do is try to do better next time. I’m not above putting in ear plugs when the kids are screaming/crying. 🙂

    Reply

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