As far as motherhood is concerned, I’m pretty confident in my abilities and think that I’m doing a good job the majority of the time. I’m certainly no expert but then I also don’t claim to be. I subscribe to a fairly laid back parenting approach entrenched in the good old fashioned basics that underpinned our upbringing as kids – good manners, consistent discipline (and no, not just corporal discipline although I don’t disagree with the use of a smack on the bum as a tool when warranted) and parents being parents as opposed to friends as seems to be the trend these days. My hubby is a long distance truck driver so during the week it’s me and girls and as far as getting through each day goes, I think I’ve got it sorted.
But not today. Today I was close to breaking point.
A full on week had left me tired and looking forward to sharing the parenting load this weekend. We have been extremely blessed to have two really cruisey kids. They are easy to deal with, easy to keep occupied and not very hard work at all in the grand scheme of things. But keeping all the balls up in the air all of the time is tiring, and whilst I don’t usually need my own ‘mummy timeout’ to recuperate, I find sharing the load on a weekend just gives me enough of a break to recharge and get ready to face the new week.
So today, we started our Saturdays as we normally do with swimming lessons first thing. It was a stunning day today so I was looking forward to pottering around the house for the rest of the day. Well I was until we arrived home that is… as we pulled up into the garage, the hubby informed me that he was going to the depot to clean up another truck that he had to use this week whilst his was getting repaired in the workshop.
Straight away I saw red.
“For eff’s sake!” I silently raged, not wanting to start an argument about it.
My hubby is very truck proud and would spend all weekend cleaning and polishing his truck (all unpaid mind you) if I was to let him. Since having kids, he has given up a lot of the extra time that he used to spend dedicated to this pastime however, he still does spend a few more hours a week in there than most. I don’t begrudge him wanting a clean truck, after all it’s his work place and his home away from home during the week. But it does irritate me that he prioritises it over coming home to spend time with his girls at times. It’s quite normal for him to get into the depot after being away all week and then staying to wash his truck for hours before arriving home. Over the years he’s learnt that when I ask when he’ll be in, he tells me the time he’ll actually walk through the door and not when he gets into the depot, for he will inevitably walk in the door several hours later than that, which just sends me straight into my cranky pants!
So, by the time I got both the girls out of the car and got Miss A down for a nap, I had sufficiently worked myself into a state of crankiness and into my favoured mode of being when in these pants… predominately the silent treatment and with the bare minimum of perfunctory responses. Yep, I’m one of those.
Between the monosyllabic interactions and diverted eye contact, if was safe to assume that the hubby knew I was cranky and he did what was probably the safest thing he could do – high tailed it out of there. And whilst I started to tackle the housework (because of course the in-laws were coming and the house was a pigsty), the commentary in my head began…
“You are kidding me! It’s a freaking temporary truck, do you really need to go and clean it given you haven’t been home all week or seen the girls”.
Given that he had stayed at the depot until late last night washing his regular truck and getting all of his stuff out of it to put into this temporary one, I wasn’t expecting that he wouldn’t be around today. And given his parents were coming up for a visit, this left the bulk of the house cleaning duties to me, which was just adding to the discourse in my mind.
“All I wanted was a breather, a five minute break where I didn’t have to think about the next thing I had to do”.
After sorting the kitchen, I turned my attention to the toys strewn all through the lounge and playroom and concentrated on trying to get Miss B to help pack things away. And that’s when things really took a turn for the worse. As anyone with a 2 and a half year old would tell you, the behaviour of toddlers is often infuriating. I started with a very simple task of putting some balls into a basket and over a stretch of 40 mins I might as well have been speaking to the cat. By the end, every time she didn’t comply, I would march her to her bedroom for some timeout. After the third time and in a near pleading voice, I asked her to put the balls away in the basket. She sat down near the basket, looked me square in the eye, grabbed out a ball and one by one she threw them across the room! OMG!
“Hubby, get your arse back home and help me deal with this brat of a child. I just want five minutes without having to try and rationalise with a toddler! I deal with this every freaking night at bedtime and now I have to do it on the weekend when you should be helping. It’s not fair”. The petulant inner child was making it’s way into this silent conversation.
Miss B was virtually frogmarched from the playroom to her bedroom and then the Mexican standoff started. She screamed. I held the door shut. She banged on every surface within her bedroom. I sighed and resisted the urge to yell back. My rational brain was telling me just to let it go. My emotions were just wanting to take out my anger at my hubby in some manner. Thankfully for poor Miss B, she was knackered from swimming and simply climbed up on her bed and went to sleep.
I went and made a cup of coffee… and took some Panadol.
“Right, the minute you get home, dear hubby, I am gone. Out. To the shopping centre. To walk (aimlessly, hopefully). To pick up the mail and get some groceries. For hours. Without. The. Kids. HURRY UP AND GET HOME”.
I continued with my chores. Vacuuming, dusting, wiping. Then I went to hang some laundry out. I have a pair of sunglasses that sit on top of the washing machine so that when I hang out the clothes, they’re there for me to grab. Except when they aren’t there. Which is never, but today they weren’t.
“Where are they? That’s right, I saw the hubby was wearing them last weekend and I haven’t used them since then. You are effing kidding me! Why can’t he just put things back where he found them”.
Tears pricked the back of my eyelids and I took a deep breath and sighed. I do not get to this point often. In fact, I can only ever think of one other time I have been so frustrated to the point of tears. So I hung out the clothes, came back inside and because it was past lunch time, I ate the left over pizza that I knew my hubby was looking forward to eating for lunch. Because I’m a bitch like that.
When the hubby did finally get home my rage had died down a bit. But not entirely. He knew I was pissed and was treading cautiously. I told him I was going out and he had the gall to ask if I was taking the girls. Oh, the poor poor man. He didn’t see it coming. I unloaded all the dialogue that had been building up in my mind and let him have it. It was probably unfair and whilst I spent my 2 hours walking aimlessly, indulging in some retail therapy and doing the groceries, in the back of my mind I knew that it was more about me than about him.
Returning to work with two kids, playing single parent during the week and pulling long hours, even on my day off was always going to be challenging. I keep reminding myself that it’s a short term one that should resolve itself over the next couple of months. But one thing I do know, whether it’s short term or not, what happened today is not the mother I want to be. I get that we all have our moments from time to time, but I look back at that scenario today and see a million different ways I could have handled it better. It’s a bit disappointing to be honest. But I also get that there is no point in beating myself up over it either, after all what is done, is done. So here’s to a happier day tomorrow and to seeing the back of the snarky bitch that’s been living here today!
Have you ever been driven to breaking point by your hubby or kids? How do you enjoy a bit of a mummy timeout?