It’s 4.37am. I mutter a string of expletives as I haul myself out of bed. I spend the next 45 minutes nipping in and out, trying to encourage Henry to have more shut-eye, before he decides he would rather be up for the day. He gives me that grin that says, quite frankly, Mum, it would be boring to go back to sleep. But instead of smiling, I find myself crying. Hot, fat tears rolling down my face, quickly, without warning. I’m cross. Darn cross at the sheer exhaustion of it all. Cross at the fact the day is beginning at sparrow fart yet again. Cross at the fact that I’m already thinking ahead to how wrecked I’ll feel later. Cross over the guilt I’m feeling for even feeling annoyed, when so many people would give anything to be in my shoes.
Molly wanders in and wonders why I’ve been crying. “Mummy’s just very tired, but I’m fine now,” I say, rubbing my face and painting on a smile. We have a morning cuppa on the balcony as the orange ball of sun breaks over the top of the houses. A familiar sight and a lovely sight. A sight that many more rested people never get to see. I know I should be embracing the day with gusto, rather than negatively counting the long hours on the horizon.
My rant continues with the husband, who is into another weekend of having to work his off day. He’s also wrecked and slightly grumpy, while I’m tetchy and ready to take everything he says the wrong way. We’ve had little time for each other lately in the whirl of noisy mini people, early mornings and tight schedules. Little energy to talk like we used to, to discuss life over a bottle of red, safe in the knowledge that we can catch up on rest the following day. Instead, if you pass us a glass of vino collapso and settle us into our respective spots on our soporific sofa, then there’s a strong chance we won’t see the other side of 9pm. It is hardly romantic!
So, here I am beginning the day feeling darn right p*&sed off at this ‘phase’ of my life which often leaves me feeling less than sprightly. This phase that means I can’t just join you as a friend, let my hair down and dance into the wee small hours. (I could, but boy I’d pay for it the next day). This phase that often requires the patience of a saint when sometimes you just want to scream from the rooftops at the sheer chaos of it all!
“You’re a bit cross today, Mummy, aren’t you?” Molly comments over breakfast, as Henry casually smears weetabix over the table and uses his little hand to wuzzle it into the wordwork. “Yes, Molly,” I sigh, “I’m just a bit tired, but I’ll be ok,” I tell her, realising I’ve been grouchy and snappy at the slightest annoyance. I’ve been digging myself into that hole of discontentment and am in danger of wallowing there if I don’t make a mental shift quickly.
While I know it might take a strong coffee to sift out some of the cobwebs, I am much more aware of my emotions these days. I’ve become more practised at spotting the downward spiral that so often bowled me over as a first time mother. The negative thought pattern that had the power to ruin my enjoyment of the day. Lack of sleep, the sheer messiness of life and the feeling of sometimes being overwhelmed – it often took a lot to come back from that edge.
Yes, these days, I can accurately tell you (or shout at you) when I’m a week from my lady’s holiday because I’ll lose some of my ability to breathe my way through the chaos. My patience for the little people will be shorter. The husband will be told in no uncertain terms: “I’m. Getting. MY. PERIOD!!” if he fails to cut me the slack that is required when faced with a premenstrual, kind of tired, slightly frazzled woman.
But hey ho, as I sit down to write you this little update, you know what? The storm has begun to pass. I’m still weary, but at least I’m smiling now. I’ve taken a yoga class and managed that magical moment in the final savasana (rest), when you drift off with the fairies with your mouth wide open – possibly only for one minute – but it’s enough to fire up the tank for another few hours.
Maybe you’ve been there, or maybe you’re feeling that way today. Whether you have small people breaking your sleep and demanding all your attention, or a stressful job that leaves you with little down time. Geez, we’re only human after all. Most of us don’t do well on a few hours of shut eye. Most of us feel weary if we’re in constant demand. Most of us don’t like to have yoghurt splashed over walls or play dough tramped into the carpet.
I’m not saying it is easy to magic away a bad mood by just taking a few deep breaths. For me, the ability to short circuit a negative spiral is a constant practice, but I’m getting much better at dusting myself off and getting back on the old horse. Of course, having a good old rant to a friend over a coffee really helps. As does taking a small power nap during Paw Patrol. (Oh, and a glass of pinot grigio over dinner for medicinal purposes – that also worked a trick.)
So, find what works for you today. Have a good belly laugh with a friend at the sheer craziness of it all. Don’t miss the loveliness of the sunrise or the smiles amidst the chaos.
If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”