I can do this


I have learned that mothering is often synonymous with self-reprisal, self-loathing and self-whatever else.  Sometimes followed by clarity.  Sometimes a big glass of claret.  The day started well and I was determined not to descend into the shouting madness that Maple often propels me into with her back-chatting and rudeness. Four years old and an attitude like a sassy street walker… “watchoo lookin at?” and an answer for everything. So I spent much of the day calmly responding to her backchat, trying to get her to rephrase what she was saying, nicely, gently and with love, or to try not saying anything if she only had nastiness to spout. We had some beautiful moments as we always do, but the afternoon just took its toll. One calm “darling, can you see how that might make mummy feel” after another, my voice trembling after the fiftieth provocation, and predictably I spun out of control and almost worse than shouting, I burst into tears. And I couldn’t stop. I left the room and sobbed my heart out and thinking I had regained some sort of temporary composure, sobbed some more right in front of my children. Great. What a star performance. In that moment, it was not just my daughter’s rudeness and the fact that she had yelled “I HATE YOU!” when I walked her to her room to consider her rudeness, and it was not just the fact that my son was yet again showing huge resistance at mealtime despite being the size of a pea with some sort of unexplained chromosomal abnormality, or the fact that he also momentarily started back-chatting me in precisely the same manner as his sister until I thought the floor was falling out beneath me…in the same moment I felt irreconcilably out of control in my life. A great big spotlight was shining on my every disappointment; our relocation to Melbourne, the disappearance of music and songwriting from my life, the absence of old friends and old haunts, my lack of inspiration, verve, humour, my life, lost opportunities. Everything a huge sack of shit. And head on my hands I sobbed in front of my children and let my son stroke my hair and I heard Maple saying “Mummy, shall we start all of this again. I will stop being rude, Zeph will start eating and you will stop being cross and we will all be happy.” I wanted to snap out of it, erase it all, apologise for being a woman at a very confusing juncture of her life, wishing to be fancy-free, sans-sprogs and back in the land of ‘happening’. But I couldn’t shake the deep darkness of it all. The painfulness of it all. The cutting sense of my own failure. The lack of drive. The lack of creativity and the need to be back with my brethren in order to feel inspired again but lacking the push, the confidence, the self-belief, the whatever to get something happening for myself, by myself. Pathetic woman. Spineless woman. The bad-tempered mother with no tolerance for anything. The cross, angry mother whose daughter says she hates her. No time for anything but children and a job which is merely a temporary fix. No time for me. The skeleton of me, dripping with the saggy flesh of post-children, post-caring, post-sexy. And then Oz came home and I cried some more and I spilled the beans and the children watched. We all curled up on the bed and we calmly talked it through with Maple while Zephy cooed and smiled up at me having won himself some boob after being threatened with bed a million times while being force-fed 150ml of full-fat milk. Maple explained herself. “I’m rude because mummy is angry all the time.” Oh god. Sickness to the gut. Ozzie: “Mummy is angry because you are rude.” Bless him. He had my back. But the girl could be right. Mummy is angry a lot of the time. Mummy is disappointed with herself and takes it out on the small people who are just behaving like small people. But something happened as the tiny four year old attempted to listen and explain herself. She suddenly understood how upset I was, how in love with her I am, how the word hate is so violent and harmful and careless and malicious. We promised a new beginning and she cuddled me and kissed me. She is such an affectionate child. A deep contrast from the shoot-from-the-hip lippy four-nager. And suddenly the ugly fantasy I had half-heartedly entertained only half an hour earlier, of popping an excessive number of sleeping tablets and leaving all this shit behind, this overwhelming sense of inconquerable disappointment…well it dissipated and I actually noticed it go. And my period came and while this should not in any way undermine the significance of my almost-drowning, I understood that the out-of-controlness and suffocating sense of having lost sight of my purpose was real but also deeply magnified and accentuated by exhaustion, frustration and yes, hormones. As Oz drew the blinds to let in some small breeze to counteract the heavy hellishness of the searingly hot day, I felt the pain slip away. I can do this.

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2 Responses to I can do this

  1. mary says:

    Yes you can, Miranda. Cheers for this, it helps to know I’m not alone. It can be tough at times in the wilful, defiant, wild world of the fours, especially with the persistant pull of another little needy clammering in the background. I respond in a brief calm moment with baby sleepinging. at last full of my milk. Oh no, times up. 4 year old crying out. Laters love! xx

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