Even on the good days, there is a part of me counting down the hours.
If I stop and listen, an internal tick tock marks the passing of time and more specifically, the time when I can be alone. On some level, I am always thinking about it.
Some days every minute passes at an excruciating crawl. Feeding small people toast feels like the most arduous of tasks and then there seems to be a neverending stream of requests for snacks thereafter. There are days when the kids eat a lot of Savoys. Salt and preservatives and probably nothing of value and I know it, I know I'm falling down but I don't seem to care, am too tired to care.
Someone eats a piece of fruit and I feel like maybe I'm not the worst mother alive.
These days are becoming more rare – thank god. The kids are getting older and with that comes a little more independence for them and a little more breathing space for me. But still, even when they don't actually need me, often times they'll just want me. Of course they do, I'm their mother. But I am one little person and stretched a little thin in places. In fact, some days I'm plain worn through. Holey and unholy.
I like my kids so much. I really like them as people. They each have quirks that fascinate and amuse me. I clutch their sweet faces in my hands, I stare into their little eyes and they wriggle to get away but I love them so much that I am greedy for the feeling of their soft skin against mine, to smell their hair, the hair I never brush because who can stand the screaming?
I make them kiss me a thousand times a day.
And on those same days, I am almost certainly longing for the time when they are tucked up in their beds and completely surrendered to sleep. Only then do I realise I have been holding my breath – for hours.
I don't think I'm a bad person. I hope I'm a good mother. But I need more breathing room than is currently on offer.
Ho hum. This is my life. I love them. I love them beyond all other people and things in this world. But there is a sense of treading water when they're around. Even on the good days, those beautiful days when the mood is easy and the laughter comes freely. Even on the days when I am really enjoying each mothering moment for what it is, I am so grateful when they are finally asleep.
And then nine times out of ten, all the grand plans I made for those precious kid-free hours are smashed by exhaustion. Or I end up trying frantically to get uniforms clean for the morning. Brushing my teeth feels like the most herculean of efforts.
I would like to enjoy the day to dayness of my reality more.
I'm not sure I know how.