I'd been treading water for a while. With the solo parenting and end of term commitments, work building up that I had no time to concentrate on because I was carrying the load of both parents and collapsing in a heap once the kids were in bed and I finally had the house back in order. Only to get up and do it all over again.
The most frustrating part about working from home when you are never without your children in their entirety, is that my uninterrupted work time is from 7pm onwards. Some nights by 7pm I could fall face down on the couch and stay there. Who am I kidding? Some days, I could do it at 5pm.
I hadn't felt this way before. Nearing seven years of motherhood, I had never felt so broken. Like a little mouse on a wheel. Round and round.
My mum called one Saturday morning and said that she and dad thought it would be a good idea if she flew down to help out for a week or so. She stayed for ten days, including Easter. She was my saviour.
The few weeks prior to her arrival, I was not a nice person. A horrible mother. Snappy, shouty, bossy, cranky. Zero patience at the beginning of the day - a recipe for disaster. For the first time, I felt like I needed a decent amount of time away from being a mother. Not necessarily from my children, but from the responsibilities of parenting them. You know? I didn't want to cook another dinner. Pack another lunchbox. Clean the kitchen for the twentieth time that day. Pick up another bloody toy. No reader, no breaking up arguments, no washing, no screaming to BRUSH YOUR TEETH! The monotony was too much. And my wingman was MIA with work.
The husband and I were like ships in the night. He would leave before the kids were awake and tip toe in, in the dark of night. Both miserable, both carrying on miserably. Because that's what you do. You just keep going.
As with every visit from the grandparents, we parents become obsolete and are no longer needed 7362 a day. I had time to catch my breath. Mum took the kids out for small snippets of time, and then big. Like a WHOLE day. Holy shit. I had no clue what a whole day without your children felt like - without taking time away from your children in order to see other people. To not hear MUU-UUM yelled in your direction between 9 - 5 and concentrate fully on what was in front of me. To just be your own company for an entire day. To edit, uninterrupted, for an ENTIRE day.
Each day that passed, I began to feel a little more like myself. Less angry, less emotional, less horrible. I know my mum knows how appreciative I am of her presence. For her love, and desire to make everything right again. At any cost. For spoiling her grandchildren and putting me back together again.
Strangely, it's only now that the kids are a bit older that I find it harder being away from most of my family. I am sure many would feel the opposite and prefer the help through the sleepless nights, constant feeding and nappy changes through the baby days.. but for me it is definitely the other way around. They are their own little people now, with big personalities, and they understand everything. They love their grandparents fiercely.
But I know the distance won't be there forever. The possibility for change is there, we just have to choose the right moment to grab it.
A few timely calendar dates were dotted through this period that really did wonders for me..
Dinner with friends, new and old. Good food, conversation and laughter is such good medicine.
And music. From my favourite guy. Live and loud and brilliant.
Listening to this (holy shit - dare I say it's better than the original?!). And this.
Watching this (SO much to take from this, never specifically related to music). And this (I never got the Zac Efron thing until I watched this, yes repeatedly).
And re-watching this (for the umpteenth time). Because no matter your mood, the gang will ALWAYS make you feel better.
Reading this. Trying to be better..
If you live close to your family and have their support - grandparents to look after the children at times, or siblings to help lighten the load, or simply to have a regular cuppa and a chat - I hope you thank them. I hope you appreciate them. I hope they know how much you appreciate them. I hope you know how lucky you are. I really do.