It happened again the other day.
It hit so suddenly I didn’t even realise what had happened until it was over. The wave of rage that sweeps over me when it’s all got too much. When it’s been too many requests for food/comfort/drinks/a book/sleep/going out one after the other and even at the same time. When I’ve not managed to get one simple thing that I wanted to do done today. When the word “Mummy” has been screamed for the thousandth time in a row. When I was just about to get that sit-down I’ve been desperate for all day but the baby chose right that second to snap wide awake and scream for me. When the cat has just clattered through the flap and is miaowing for dinner.
I lost it, just for a second, and I screamed: “Will you just shut up!!?” at my two-year-old.
My toddler doesn’t know asking the same question incessantly while I’m trying to hold an important conversation is annoying.
She doesn’t understand why flinging the sofa cushions on the floor for the 134th time so far today might be pushing things too far.
She doesn’t know how frustrating it is trying to get out the door on time while she’s refusing to put on her shoes.
She doesn’t get that a huge tantrum in the supermarket is mentally exhausting to handle.
She doesn’t get why I don’t want to read her a book right this second having just sat down and put my feet up after a long day out.
She doesn’t know that at 7pm I’m hoping for some me time and so would really appreciate her just drifting quietly off to sleep without any help from me.
My baby doesn’t know crying out for mummy for the fourth time in a row at night is driving mummy insane with sleep deprivation.
She doesn’t know that it’s bad timing to do an epic up-the-back poo just as she’s been strapped into her car seat.
She doesn’t know that I can’t hold her all the time because there’s washing to be hung up and dinner to be cooked.
She doesn’t know that I’m trying my best to get her home for food but I can’t drive any faster without breaking a few laws.
She doesn’t know that I’m not a human pacifier, that having her attached to my boob throughout the night is not an option.
My children don’t yet understand why everything they want cannot be done at the drop of a hat.
They don’t understand that mummy is not a superhero. That I have emotions that are frayed and strung tight as a wire through lack of sleep and the general feeling of being overwhelmed at having two little people depending on me so much.
I should be able to show infinite patience for my children. To be the calm in the storm. I wish I could remind myself of this in those moments when the rage takes hold. But it’s like something breaks inside of me and a tidal wave of emotion has to escape somehow.
In the immediate aftermath of those moments I feel like the worst parent in the world. What sort of person speaks to their toddler in that way?
But then I remind myself, I am not a superhero.
I’m a human being. A human being who puts herself last 99 per cent of the time. A human being who has not slept properly for more than seven months. A human being who loves her children with every fibre of her being.
And so I hold my head up high and hold my children close to me. They have forgotten my outburst already, it’s as if it never even happened.
And once again I am the calm in the storm as I plough on with coping with the next tantrum, the next demand.
I’m not a superhero, but I’m pretty damn close.