It's very early in the morning, and I'm finding it difficult to unglue my eyes. Little children are already whining, clamoring for breakfast and squabbling over toys. A bunch of chickens and a dog are waiting for their morning meal as well. Husband's lunch has to be packed and sandwiches made for him to take along before he hurries off.
I feel a stab of annoyance rising within me. Can't they all just leave me alone for a couple of minutes, so I can have a cup of coffee in peace before diving head-first into the busyness of the morning? I move along moodily, irritably, doing what has to be done and speaking in short grunts.
It's midday, and I really need to do a couple of things on the computer. There are emails to be answered, my husband asked me to research a certain topic for him on the internet, not to mention the laundry must be folded and brought in before it starts raining. Yet my older daughter refuses point-blank to take a nap, and the baby wakes up after 30 minutes, fussy and unrested but with no intention of settling down again. I shut down the computer and take my little ones outside, where they "help" fold the laundry by clinging to my legs.
I'm so frustrated I could rip my hair off. When am I going to do all the stuff I must do? Why can't "they" (husband, children, whoever claims some of my time) understand how much I already have on my plate, and let me carry on with it? Why can they never wait? Why do I always have to be so frazzled?
It's evening, and I'm stifling a yawn while the girls are playing in the bathtub. I thought I would catch up on ironing once they are in bed, but now I realize I'm not really up to it. I'm lucky if I can summon enough energy to do the dishes before turning in. I waste no time in attempting to get my toddler into the fresh clean clothes I laid out for her earlier, but she takes it all as a fun game and prances along from one edge of the bed to the other, giggling loudly.
Why can't they understand how tired I am? Why won't they go to bed quickly for a change? Why does my husband have to choose this precise moment to tell me he is arriving soon with a month's worth of groceries, and that I must somehow find extra space in the already overstuffed freezer by rearranging it?
The part of my mind that has not yet gone off-balance knows I'm being unreasonable. My children are as good as can be, it's just that they are children, and so will play, bounce, squabble and demand attention from the moment they rise till it's time to go to bed, and beyond. And you won't find many husbands who completely and totally take charge over all the grocery shopping. Yet I feel an irresistible urge to snap, bite someone's head off, stomp my feet, raise my voice - several times a day. I don't want to be reasonable anymore. I want to have things the way I want, and I want to stop whatever is getting in the way.
As I sense this sweeping over me like a tide, threatening to swallow me, it's like watching a car crash in slow motion without being able to do anything about it. I'm just helplessly, desperately asking myself - who is this insufferable, unloving person speaking out of my mouth? Can it really be me? And if it is, how can I live with it?
What keeps me going is the knowledge that it is not me. Or at least, that it isn't the deepest, truest part of my essence as a person. Fighting what bursts out of me when things don't go as planned is like fighting a many-headed dragon, yet I don't give up. I start every day afresh, and rejoice over tiny achievments such as keeping myself within the limits of my patience as I explain for the tenth time in an hour that we do not play with the contents of the bathroom cabinet.
I am humbled. I'm walking in small steps; I'm not trying to be a perfect mother, or even a better-than-most mother. For me, it is immense pride and joy just to be good enough.