I lost my temper today; really, door-bangingly, pencil throwingly lost my shit. And now I feel like a baddie. I’m pretty sure my son daydreamed Batman into the scene to rescue them all from the brand new villain, Molewoman (no leather cat suit but she does wear sheepskin boots).
I haven’t had a bad day at all. Most of it was great – a bit of a sleep in, a gorgeous, still Autumn day, perfect for pottering in. I dropped the children with their grandparents for a few hours while I got some jobs done and picked them up this afternoon. They were reportedly perfect for their grandparents, but started bickering the minute they got in the car. There was a squabble over seats, then over seat belts, then over what to have for dinner. At home there was a pile of wet washing to go on the line, three beds to make up and another barny to be had. This time it was over rope ladder that has been hanging from the magnolia tree for years. This afternoon, suddenly, it was everyone’s favourite. The whole neighbourhood (i.e. the sheep up the road) knew how important that ladder was to all the children, all at once.
But none of this was beyond my tolerance levels or particularly abnormal. I sort of tutted and got on with the washing until the conflict escalated to that point where they all storm off, everything goes quiet and I think, “Ah well that’s sorted”.
After a small but welcome interlude, I coaxed them all from their sulk spots, set small one up with Reading Eggs and read a book with the twins. Small one kept up a low background whine because the computer was slow loading up. The whine increased in volume until one of the twins went and twiddled something on the computer that kept her happy. For half a minute. She started the whinge again, louder this time. I instructed her that I couldn’t understand a word she was saying when she uses a voice so imbued with whine.
I know – so witty. I chuckled at my own wit (v. uncool). She thought I was laughing at her which sent her into a frenzied throwing of the pencil tin to the floor. I sent her from the room. She sat at the door yelling while we finished the book and then picked up about a tonne of pencils when she refused.
Dinnertime was a grizzle-fest from all three. I had put an unusual amount of effort into chicken wraps – had chopped the chicken and salad up and mixed it with mayonnaise and chives, sort of Melbourne cup style. Delicious. Yes, for me that is impressive. They weren’t. Impressed that is. Everyone started whingeing about having sore tummies or wind or whatever else might prevent them from eating. An hour later I gave up and cleared up. They asked for dessert, then whinged when I refused. Then they whinged again when I ordered them into the bath. Aching legs, stingy grazes, sore noses – every bloody reason to complain they could think of. I threatened to call the waaambulance to take them all away. Or better still, take me away so I can go and see Eddie Perfect and the Renovators who are playing tonight in Hobart but who I can’t see on account of having 3 whinging children, no babysitter and a husband away fishing.
Then I encountered Wrestle Man.
At any given moment in our house there will be some toy lying about that has been there for at least a week and not put away despite regular putaway requests. This week’s Puthefuckaway is Wrestle Man. He’s been showing up everywhere – in the bath, in the kitchen sink, on the lawn, in the dog’s mouth and even in my bedroom. I know, creepy.
This time he was under my foot. And man, Wrestle Man is buff. His body is so hard it sent shooting pains through my foot. I yelled. I threw Wrestle Man onto the bathroom chest of drawers. This sort of triggered some kind of tantrum response in my brain. I threw the towels I was holding to the floor, I slammed the bathroom door and stormed into the kitchen. There I swiped the tin of pencils back to the floor, stomped into the laundry and slammed the door so hard all the school paintings clipped to it fell off. I opened the door again, picked up the paintings, stuffed them into the rubbish bin and slammed the door again, with a sort of screechy roar as accompaniment.
Then I lay on the floor and cried a bit. And puffed a lot. This tantrum business is pretty amazing cardio. It was quite comforting there on the laundry floor. The washing machine was whooshing in its rythmic, homey, just carry-on way; the fibro ceiling made me think of happy childhood summers at the family shack, and it was just good to rest my head on something. Even if it was a lino floor. Mothers don’t tend to rest their heads on anything much until they flop into bed.
I could hear the radio through the wall, so I lay there and listened to that for a bit because it was bloody wonderful to hear it whine free. There was a science report on, about renewable energy being sourced from human waste water. What a brilliant thing that would be, I thought from the floor. Put our poos to good use. We’d already shat all over nature’s wellbeing, let’s try to make good with it. Women, being so much more time-efficient on the pooing front, would be the most valuable renewable energy source. We can whip one out in the time between ‘put your shoes on’ and ‘get in the car’; in the time that blokes would have just unwrapped the newspaper. And speaking of, if we relied on the waste water of men, imagine the trees we’d waste making their toilet reading material.
“See, women are going to save the world”, thinks I from the floor. Then I had a fleeting and involuntary vision of the vodka bottle, which made me worry for myself. Was I some sort of unraveling, drug dependent bonkers person? I mean I was lying on the laundry floor having just thrown away my children’s paintings, thinking about poos and having a vodka vision. I got up, wiped the mascara off my face and went to find my terrified children.
They were wrapped up in their towels, on my bed watching telly, little opportunists they are. I lay down with them and they stroked me a bit without taking their eyes from the screen. I told them I loved them and was sorry for shouting. My son said, “You threwed Wrestle Man, are your sorry for that?” I said, “No not really, he’s a bad egg” but he’d already tuned back into the telly. I took their nonchalance for an ok, they’re not scarred for life sign, and left them to it.
They’ve fallen asleep there now and I’ll have to lift them all out soon when I go to bed. Or maybe I’ll leave one or two in there. There’s something so beautiful about your own sleeping children. At least until they kick you in the jacksie half way through the night.
Speaking of jacksies, the radio has also since reminded me that today is International Women’s Day. “Happy day”, I told myself, then almost patted myself on the back for being such a functional, kick-arse woman. I stopped when I remembered my tantrum and laundry time out and instead thought, “Oh well, it’s hard being a woman sometimes, I can only try not to repeat the behaviour.”
And then I thought, (only mildly) sheepishly, “I am woman, hear me roar.”
Happy Women’s Day to every single wonderful woman out there (except that mole who tailgated me all the way along the highway from Coles the other day).