I woke up this morning to a dull, grey, dreary day. Husband had an early start at uni, and while he fed the toddlers before he left, he didn’t change their nappies, so when I got up their were dragging around soggy bum-sponges and wailing about how much they wanted the TV on. So I pushed through it. I got everyone breakfast, had a glass of water and my meds, noticed the baby had leaked through his nappy, and put them all in the bath. I even did my eyebrows and put on a face mask and wiped down the sink while the toddlers poured water on each other and the baby rolled around on the bathroom floor. And then I got them dressed in clean clothes, put the baby down for a nap, and went to have a shower while they watched TV. I was organised and calm and getting shit done.
Even washed my hair and scrubbed out the shower and spent some time putting on real clothes. But then I came out of my room, and Darcy had been jumping the safety gate into the kitchen and smuggling out chocolate chips from the pantry while Ronan smeared sunscreen all over the TV cabinet, hall unit, and two of my scarves hanging there.
I got Ronan down for a sleep after lunch, just as the baby woke up. I made a half-hearted sandwich and tried to summon the appetite to eat some of it. I want nothing more than to go back to bed, surrounded by pillows, and read a book with the light filtering greyly through the curtains. Instead it’s laundry and cleaning honey off the kitchen floor and responding to Darcy’s questions every 2 seconds. He’s reached the stage where he cannot read a book, turn a page, draw a line in crayon, or pick up a toy without saying ‘Look, mum, look! Toy! Mum! Toy! What are you doing? I’m hungryyy! I want water! I want TV! Where’s daddy? Where’s Ronan?’ – all interjected between wailing, whimpering, whinging and copious nose-picking. I sit down with my laptop and he sits next to me and kicks the screen. I turn to him and ask if he wants to play magnets or build a Duplo house with me, giving him all of my attention, and he says ‘Mmmm….no,’ and gallops off into the sunset to wipe jam on the walls and crawl over the back of the couch and make rocket noises that are 90% spitting.
This whole process of motherhood – and motherhood while recovering from PND – is a two steps forward, one step back. I figure out what will make me feel better, but I can’t do it without being interrupted 40 times. I take a quick few minutes to do something for myself or even just clean the damn kitchen, and I turn around and there’s an entire packet of crackers crumbled beneath the wheels of a dump truck and scattered across the rug.
I try to be in the present moment. The present moment sucks.
What are you supposed to do in that kind of situation? Do you find a different moment to focus on? Then you’re not really being present at all, are you. Do you focus on your goal – a calm child, meaningful time spent with them, a moment to yourself? Do you fantasize about the next time they can go off to daycare? Count the hours until your husband comes home to relieve you?
Or is there some way of making yourself enjoy what you’re doing, even though it’s a bit shit? Is there some trick to it that happy people are born with that can be learned by unhappy people? Is it gratitude? Do you just have to force yourself to be grateful for the fact that you have children, or that they are healthy and energetic, even when they spend every ounce of that energy wandering around your home and looking for things to destroy?
What do you do when you lack the emotional energy – and possibly the physical chemistry – to feel happy and grateful?