It was a Season 2, Grey’s Anatomy episode that finally broke me. So unexpected. I’d been fighting it off for months, and I was putting up a valiant fight. Every time that voice in my head piped up, I’d hush it with one strong swipe of defence. I had so many justifications that the fight was most often easily won. The scores remained:
Kate : 47,638
Mummy Guilt: nil
We had an incident with a chicken bone some weeks back. I had all the little ones sitting up at the kitchen bench awaiting the dinner that I was plating up. Ben was still at work and I was quietly giving myself a high-five for my organisation skills in having dinner prepared early, and with a smile on my face to boot! I was breaking up a roast chicken when I came across a ‘wish-bone’. A beautiful memory suddenly leapt into my mind of my own mother holding a wish-bone out to me, with her little finger tightly wrapped around one end. I held the bone out to Eve and asked her to take the other end. When she cracked the bone and ended up with the larger end in her little hand, the kids all began to squeal, “Evie, make a wish! You have to make a wish now!” Eve thought about it for only a moment before announcing,
“I wish….I wish I had a happy Mummy…not a cranky Mummy”.
And there it was.
All the months of stress and frustration, all the missed sleep, missed meals, missed exercise, missed everything. Trying to the point of exhaustion to run a household and a business, with a workload that was simply beyond me. There it all was, wrapped up in one sentence from the mouth of a three year old. MY three year old. My emotionally neglected three year old it would seem…
Still, I was strong enough for this. I’d expected these kinds of battles. Moments or words that take me by surprise and knock the air from my lungs. Reminding me that even whilst I’m kidding myself that I’m doing a fabulous job of ‘keeping all the balls in the air’ as a dear friend of mine would say, I had in fact dropped the balls a long time back and was actually being booed off the stage. I took a very, VERY deep breath and carried on.
Barely a day has passed this year without hearing those long, drawn out vowels,
‘Muuum, you are always working on your computer. You never have time to play with uus!!”
But I had so many reasonable justifications! I have been a mother since I was 17 years old. I never had a chance to discover what I wanted to do or be in this life before I had a family. I never had a chance to sink myself into those beautifully long regular working hours and realise my potential. I never had a chance dammit!! Just pipe down and let Mummy build a career so that I can be a good role model for you kids, and so I can help Daddy bring in an income to pay for this huge family, and so I can die knowing I did something other than mould Queen Elsa out of playdoh and clean up spilt rice! For the love of God, just GIVE ME A CHANCE!!!
It turns out that Mother Guilt is a formidable opponent. She is persistent to the point of relentless. Her cruel swipes have no care for your petty claims of injustice. She has heard them all and regards none as worthy of consideration. No, Mother Guilt will see that a mother cares for her young above herself until the end of time. She’s tricky like that.
And so there I was, taking a moment to switch off my brain before falling asleep, watching McDreamy with his perfect hair and his half-smiles and wonderful choice of words, when BAM! A storyline emerged about a father who was too consumed in trying desperately to find a cure for his dying child, that he failed to realise his child was actually dying right before his eyes, and he was forfeiting his last moments to hold her and tell her how much he loved her. And before I had a chance to construct a clear thought pattern I was gone. Sobbing. Sobbing for all the times I haven’t held my children this year, for all the scratched knees I haven’t taken the time to kiss, for all the books I haven’t read, for all the hilarity I haven’t laughed at, for all the amazing wisdom pouring out of their little mouths that I simply haven’t heard.
Well played Mother Guilt, well played.
Some photos I took last Sunday when I was far, far away from my computer…after my ‘Grey’s Anatomy enlightenment moment’…obviously.