Last night I came this close to crossing the line into to the land of loony-tunes. Keith was in Canberra and dinner with the kids was like being a serving wench to a couple of disgruntled lunatics.
Ivy had the post-pre-school emotional jitters and Teddy is currently eighty-two flavours of crazy. He shouts 'ME MINE MORE!' all day long, and even- at 3am last week - in his sleep. At dinner I heard 'ME MORE SOSS!' until my ears bled.
It took me twenty minutes of soothing talk about good times to calm Ivy down enough to sleep at bedtime. For me, it felt like dredging the bottom of a tapped-out emotional dam.
Some weeks when Keith is away are like that. By the time he is home I feel the weight of his emotional half-share lift off my shoulders with relief. Not for the first time, I thought about my single-parent friends, who carry that weight all alone.
Last week, after gastro ripped through the family like an evil fairy, I was all out of patience. I'd been dealing with irritable sick children for days, and one dinnertime, I had lost all my mummy mojo. Ivy refused to eat, and I had nothing left but grumpiness. Eventually, Keith appeared.
'Are you feeling very grumpy, Ivy?' he asked.
'Yes,' she whimpered.
'Do you know why you feel so grumpy?' he asked.
'No,'' she said, and burst into tears.
He folded her into a Dad-hug, and explained about sickness, and recovery, and trying to talk nicely to other people even when you felt very yukky inside, and he promised that tomorrow she would feel a little bit better.
I felt very grateful to have a Keith. And I thought of my single-Mum friends, without a Keith, who dredge that emotional dam all the time, and do it so well, and I felt very, very proud of them too.