The kiwis use the phrase, “Four seasons in one day”, a lot. And with good reason. We’ve lived over here three and a half years now and I still haven’t mastered the art of selecting my outfit so I can be comfortable in a cool and overcast start to the day, a steamy hot midday, a bitter “Southerly” sweeping in and finishing off with some hail. Bigger bag maybe…?
Anyways this blog is not about weather, although as I am English I could probably write a blog purely on weather. Another time perhaps.
This blog is about how many emotions a mother experiences in one day. I could put parent here if we want to be PC but frankly I think the number of fathers who are swayed by their children’s emotions, as much as the mother of their children is, will be in single figures.
We have our own emotions, yes we most certainly do. And I’ll admit it, they are stronger and darker at certain times of the month. I would like to deny this but it’s futile, particularly this month. However if any man uses this as a reason to disregard a woman’s opinion in the middle of an argument, I will deny I ever admitted this.
On top of our emotions we are also required to ride the emotional waves of the children in our lives. The requirement comes from a mystery source from within. It’s not required by law, or by social services or even some well meaning parenting book. No it’s just there, we have to feel every emotion our children feel. So for every child in the home you have, the number of emotions you deal with will increase. Let’s count mine, just in one hour of an average day:
#1 I wake up and feel angry that the dog is already yelping for her walk.
#2 Remembering it’s Gareth’s turn to walk her, I feel relieved and press snooze on my alarm.
#3 I also feel a little smug.
#4 I then feel annoyed again because Four Year Old (4-YO) has woken up early.
#5 4-YO looks all sleepy and cute so I feel lots of love for our wonderful little prince and suggest he comes in for a cuddle, which also means I still don’t have to get up yet.
#6 4-YO screams with rage at the idea of delaying his breakfast.
#7 I crawl out of bed, slightly angry at being forced out of it by a small, loud being.
#8 4-YO is overcome with physical weakness and whines that he needs to be carried.
#9 I resent the request, he got himself here, he can get himself to the kitchen.
#10 4-YO is filled with rage again.
#11 I also feel pretty rageful, how very dare he!
#12 4-YO is convinced his human right to be carried whenever and wherever he wants has been unjustifiably denied, so screams in despair.
#13 I pick the little punk up despairing myself that my son will EVER fully function as a human being. Of course it will all be my fault.
#14 4-YO is overwhelmed with love for me when I agree to get some juice and toast for him and tells me so, I love you mummy.
#15 Then he is livid when I suggest he sits on a chair and not on the countertop.
#16 He then sulks, choosing to sit on the floor in a heap whilst I get his breakfast.
#17 Disgust comes when he doesn’t get to pour the juice.
#18 Actual tears that I put the butter under the jam and not on top.
#19 4-YO is overwhelmed by grief that breakfast can only be eaten at the kitchen table.
#20 Five Year Old (5-YO) arrives, unhappy that 4-YO’s screaming woke her up.
#21 Then 5-YO is upset that we only have the juice that she does not like.
There’s just a lot of emotional arguing over juice and toast; it’s poured wrong, it’s being wasted, there is no Marmite, many proclamations that there will be no breakfast eaten today.
#22 Both 4-YO and 5-YO are filled with rage at the very mention of getting dressed.
#23 I also feel rage at the very strong possibility that all this rage is going to result in us leaving late and I’ll be late for a meeting.
#24 Whilst avoiding the getting dressed part, the children play with the dog and the 4-YO cries more tears, this time of genuine pain from being scratched by the dumb dog.
#25 I want to kill the dog, and anything else that stands between me and having fully dressed children.
#26 Finally the children are dressed and I feel a slight glimmer of hope that just maybe we might get out before the traffic is at standstill.
#27 More fool me. 5-YO announces with great disappointment that it is Friday and she needs to share something in class, and it’s all my fault she has nothing.
#28 I feel pure frustration that I forgot. That I have no ideas of what a 5-YO can say that is both easy to remember and interesting to a bunch of other 5-YO’s. That somehow this is all my fault.
#29 We scrabble around for something, anything to use as a prop. We find a key and I suggest with relief that she ask all the children to guess what the key is for and see what exciting stories they can think up.
#30 I feel pretty proud of myself for coming up with something so imaginative and delightful for small people to discuss, I should write a book about this key thing….
#31 5-YO is bewildered by my suggestion and instead pulls out a broken, cupcake shaped lip gloss from her bag and announces she’ll share about that.
#32 During this time, 4-YO has brightened up considerably because he’s taken all his clothes off and is enjoying filling the sink with water and toothpaste.
#33 Despair returns, will he ever get past the mental age of a two year old???
#34 4-YO is indignant at the suggestion he is wasting time and needs to get dressed.
#35 Both 4-YO and I are filled with very loud anger as I dress him and he tries to stop me.
#36 Relief comes as I have two children dressed, and with teeth cleaned, walking towards the door.
#37 4-YO panics when he realises he doesn’t have his beloved “Bluey”.
#38 4-YO instructs his mother to get Bluey and feels extremely upset when she suggests that if he wants it he has two seconds to get it and get in the car.
#39 4-YO is once again struck by the lack of energy and physical strength to hold himself up and slumps to the floor, whining about the injustice of the world that requires him to walk.
#40 I feel desperately defeated as I go and hunt down Bluey.
#41 Bluey is found, relief abounds.
#42 4-YO is disgusted that he has to say thank you for someone finding his Bluey, but mercifully says the magic words and we can all carry on with our lives.
#43 We all skip happily to the car, the sun is shining, all is right with the world.
#44 4-YO is extremely angry 5-YO got in his side of the car.
#45 5-YO thinks this is hilarious and sits in 4-YO’s seat too.
#46 4-YO is once again struck down by the weak limb syndrome and falls into a pit of despair
#47 I lose it and shout them into their seats.
#48 We are all strapped in and we are moving out of the driveway. I feel guilty for screaming at the children (and somewhat embarrassed that the neighbours will have heard).
#49 I apologise for shouting and they graciously accept the apology.
We turn round the corner and hit the traffic jam to school.
There will be 50 more emotions getting from the car to 5-YO’s classroom, 25 more dropping off 4-YO at pre-school, things settle over the day when I’m at work but it’s certainly not void of emotion. I reckon by the time the children get to bed I must have surfed at least 400 emotions in one day. Most of them short lived and not attached to anything deep or meaningful. But you experience them none the less.
It’s exhausting, it’s relentless, it’s the life of a mother.