Today I cried after a little jaunt down to the shops. Basically, I keep failing to learn my lesson that a mother of three kids under seven should not leave the house. And several citizens decided to let me know that this morning.
It was hot. Georgie was grumpy. Ted switched between running headlong at full pelt and dragging his heels in slow-mo. All I wanted was a coffee before we got to the park. In fact I was likely imbuing the coffee with the impossible task of turning my whole morning around. I tried and failed to find Georgie a sun-hat, while preventing Ted from spinning the hat-display at warp speed. Public shouting happened. Then Ivy spotted a wishing tree covered in labels. There was a box with pens and string, and so I let her write a wish while we waited on the footpath. George tried to fight her way out of the stroller and Teddy got under the feet of every passerby, but I stood my ground. I often feel, with three kids, that mothering involves meeting the needs of each, one at a time, while the other two wait, frustrated, for their moment of warm and intimate attention.
Ivy wrote this note: 'I wish I was grown up so I cood be a acstronart'.
Then, some wrinkle in the universal fabric had three senior citizens, one at a time, stroll past to disapprove of my parenting. Each of them did the same trick, where they speak only to the baby, and not me. 'Oh, you're very hot, aren't you darling? You want to get out of this sun, don't you?' Quick sideways glance at the bad mama, and off they trot. Three! In a row!
Fuck off, grandma, I thought to myself as we pushed sweatily off down the road. I bought all three kids a 'natural' ice-block, which distinguished itself from its'unnatural' counterparts by being twice as expensive and half as big. We headed to the park and stopped at the cafe outside for my coffee, the one shining moment of the morning, the one aspect of the outing that was based around my own needs, and while I waited, the big kids sat at the pinball machine. I watched them a bit nervously - ice-creams and all that - but they were fine. Nearly finished. No dramas.
'Small latte, no sugar' called the barista. 'That's me, ' I said, but my 'thank-you' smile froze on my lips as he added loudly, playing to the crowd, 'Now get out before they melt everywhere.'
At the park, the contempt in his voice repeated in my head as I tried to manage the kids with a hard little lump of shame in my throat.'Now GET OUT....now GET OUT'...' It was a hopeless outing. George is obsessed with the swings, and as much as I tried to lead her back towards the dog bowl at the tap (her other love), she fought out of my arms and staggered like a lemming towards the swings, both of which were in use. I had to chase her, scoop her out of the way of flying feet, and carry her back to the dog bowl, where she struggled out of my arms and then ran to certain death once more. She already has a bruised, swollen and bloody nose from a fall yesterday; this independent baby that will not hold my hand.
Finally I called an end to the madness. Teddy wiled about the unfairness of life all the way back to the car, and I burst into tears when we got home. Being in the moment is overrated, I thought wildly. The good parts of holidays with kids lie in the planning, and the reminiscing later. The present sucks! In the moment, the baby is running into the surf, and the big kids are falling off the slippery dip and making an obscene amount of mess and there is no milk and somebody is whinging 'I'm hungry.' In short, I am constantly battling with my own selfishness: where is my holiday, dammit?
It's nothing original. Any woman's blues, you might say. In fact I think mums all over the country might be having this same little meltdown right about now.Keith is working half the time while we are up here, holed up at his desk writing code and doing....physics....thing (trails off ). When he's off duty, he is full of energy for the beach and the babies. He's a great partner. But I've lost my mojo. I am going for a massage this morning to tackle the pain in my body, and I might ask if the massage therapist can do a little adjusting of my attitude too.