...was honestly, I can't do this.
I had another of those moments of crushing existential dread, the tight-chested feeling that I am failing at *everything*.
My house is messy. I'm anxiously waiting for a supplier to get back to me. My children are fighting ALL the time. The baby is not sleeping. I feel cross or sad a fair proportion of the time. When I try to help the girls negotiate calmly for what they want, they stop screaming at each other only long enough to start screaming at me. Two different children told me they hate me yesterday and I didn't get ONE single job ticked off my list. Yesterday Talia got hurt twice when big ones got fed up with her and used their hands not their words. I cuddled a distraught baby to sleep: She wouldn't even feed. My husband tends to fall asleep putting the children to bed so we have lost our evening.
Every little thing feels like evidence that I'm getting it all wrong.
Failing. Falling. Flying apart.
I haven't felt like this in the longest time.
I won't be taking a picture of the living room today so that you can all tell me it's not that bad. It's that bad. I tidied up in here FOUR times yesterday, and hoovered once, and this morning it looks like a cereal box and a Waldorf toy shop and a wardrobe all exploded in here (which is pretty much realistically analogous to what actually happened).
A naked baby is sitting right in the middle of it hoovering up bits of the cereal she threw everywhere at the same time as trying to fit a peach-coloured wooden brick into her little ball run. She's sitting on a pink play silk and a rainbow bean bag frog. My toddler in her spotty red pjs is counting pennies on and off the arm of the sofa and talking to herself in an American accent. Her hair is lightly dreaded at the back where she pulls it in her sleep.
This life is SO DAMN BEAUTIFUL. But it's also bloody hard.
I know I'm not alone in having broken days. I know this is a universal of motherhood - finding it top-of-the-world awesome one day, and the next day pushing down the urge to run screaming out of the door. In the trenches of motherhood, peacemaking and picking up and cooking and planning and doubting and trying, it's so easy to lose perspective and hear only the internal voice of self-criticism.
This morning I painted the bathroom before breakfast time. I nursed my baby, helped write a letter, inspected icicles, made hot milk, knitted two rows of a jumper, put one bag of laundry away, folded towels out of the tumble drier, laughed at a wrinkly-nosed face-pulling baby, re-hung the canvas which Rowan knocks off the wall every other night in her wrestles with sleep, brushed a big girl's hair and helped her pick out a dress, showed a baby how to use a little clay whistle, emailed a customer, and built a tower of bricks simply for the joy of the child knocking it over.
So why am I grieving all of the things I can't do, didn't get done, am *not* able to use as a measure of success? Looking at that list, today is about thirty or so times better than yesterday! And yet, I woke up grieving, and I'm sitting here writing this and crying, thinking of all the ways in which I am not and will never be the mother I want to be.
My plan for today is just this: breathe the beautiful, find every tiny scrap of light in today. I've given myself time to reconcile myself with my ideals and my sadness, and now I'm looking to the wild and crazy grace to pull me back out again.