I busy myself packing snacks and water for our outing. My parents and I have decided to take the kids to a National Park 20 minutes drive away, for a walk and to swim in the rock pools. It promises to be a morning of fun and adventure.
“I’m not going.”
I hear the voice of Miss nearly-nine once more. I have already spent some time chatting with her this morning, but felt I hadn’t really gotten anywhere, so was leaving her to ponder her feelings for a little while. She has provided me with an exhaustive list of things that are terrible, and why her life is hard. She is in a power struggle, mainly with her own pre-pubescent mind which is a melting pot of feelings and emotions, all heightened by her tiredness.
I arm myself once more with a kind voice and patience. I reflect on this morning’s directed meditation. Infinite patience. They were the two words out the of the near 12 minute meditation that stuck with me. I already know that my stores have taken a hit with two nights of poor sleep, so I am aware I will have to work a little harder than usual to remain calm and open to deal with any situation that arises.
If only I knew what was coming.
I try a few more directions to bring her gently around. She will not budge. She tells me I can’t make her go. I tell her she is correct, but that I hope she will decide to, all on her own. I feel a slight shift and hope it’s in the favour that gets us all in the car and on our way, but alas she is stuck. Stuck in her own head; stubbornness and pride do not allow her to move forward; they keep her a prisoner and convince her that she is losing control of the situation and showing any sign of weakness will not get her what she wants.
What does she want?
She wants to take two cars so she can sit in the front seat.
No, that’s not it. That’s what she’s telling me it is. It’s not that. What is it my darling?
I start to lose a bit of my resolve. I inform her that we are going. After some more struggle, and the hint of consequences from me, I hear the four-letter f-word that fills me with relief and regret all at once.
But it does not feel fine. It feels ugly. It feels like we have both lost. It will have to do for now. We all go to the car, but Mister seven is sitting in the seat that has been promised to Miss nearly-nine. I exhale slowly and open my hands in a bid to draw more energy from somewhere; anywhere. I realise that this was also in this morning’s meditation. I take another breath to try and slow everything down; to buy more time.
Wait. Please wait. I haven’t re-charged. I’m not ready for another round. Can we please resolve this kindly and quickly? I need time. I need space. I need….. I need…… something…
I have nothing.
I dig deep. There’s not much left. I dig deeper and go in.
I do my best. Everyone tells me that I can only do my best. What if it’s not enough?
Today, my best is not enough.
There are tears. I try and keep talking, keep reasoning, even though I’m sure it’s futile; my Mister seven is no longer there. He is all consumed with fairness, or unfairness rather, and is determined to make things right, according to his law; according to his young third-child brain that is still developing but doesn’t know it. He thinks he is being hard-done by; cheated. He argues his case over and over and can’t listen to any kind of reason.
More tears. His, then mine.
I’m getting pulled under.
I’m on the edge.
I fall. I am pushed.
I can feel the tears burning the corners of my eyes. They spill over and I can’t see my boy anymore. I turn away and try and breathe through them. They will pass quickly I’m sure. I’m not angry, I’m hurt and scared that my best isn’t enough this time and if it’s not enough this time then there will surely be more times in the future that my best is not enough.
I try and push those unhelpful thoughts aside and regroup.
The tears keep coming, and I can’t stop them.
Time and space. That’s all I need. Time and space.
Neither is available to me right now. I hear my boy, crying. And then I hear him saying sorry. Mama I’m sorry. Mama I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry Mama.
I’m not angry at him. But the hurt prevents me from turning around.
I have nothing left to give.
I have given it all. And they have taken it, as they should.
I have nothing.
As my tears fall, their walls start coming down. They pull their punches. They put their gloves down. They see me. They regard me strangely. Curiously. They hardly ever see me cry, but they are seeing it today. What are they feeling? Regret? Sadness? Shame? Curiosity? All those things and more, I imagine. I don’t want them to feel bad, but I do want them to feel something towards me. I want them to see me. I want them to see me as an ally, not as their enemy. I want them to understand that I’m not their personal punching bag. I want them to know that together, we can get through anything and everthing, but only when we walk side-by-side; only when we work in harmony; and that Mama is not in fact unbreakable.
But how to convey this?
How to convey all of this. I know that in an hour they will all be over it; the hurt and pain they have caused will be a thing of their past, but I will carry it in my heart and my eyes that sting, all day, and for days after, because it has left a lasting mark on me. I will remember this day for all it’s wonder and glory and how they loved the walk and had an amazing time in the rockpools and the delicious lunch we shared and the absurd game of eye-spy we played, but I will also remember the feeling of “this is too much. I can’t do this. I’m just so tired” that ebbed an flowed through me for 90 minutes. 90 long minutes that felt like an eternity.
They will remember all the joyful moments, and so they should. But will they remember how Mama cried? And why Mama cried? Will they remember next time, that Mama has a breaking point? Will they remember how they felt when Mama cried and cried and couldn’t stop?
I reflect on the day in the safety and warmth of the afternoon sun and know in my heart that tomorrow is a new day.