Not one tells you it’s going to be like this. That you are so exhausted from putting out fires, and mediating arguments, and trying to work out who hit who first, that you hide on the couch and let your eight year old do it instead. That in this moment, she has more patience, and grace than you, and maybe she would be the better mummy.
No one tells you about the noise. The constant noise. From toys, and tv, and cd players. From kids playing happily, and kids arguing, and a sick baby who just cries and cries and cries for no reason. From the volume of a five year old girl with a giant hole in her ear drum, who literally has no concept of the phrase, ‘quiet voice.’
No one tells you about the mess. The house is NEVER all clean. The washing is NEVER all done, folded and put away with. There are always some dishes near the sink, or toys under the couch, or a lonely sock lying in the hallway floor.
And who has the time to clean? You could stick the kids in day care, and have a clean house, but who can afford that? Or hire a cleaner. But then you’re forking out for half an hour of cleanliness before it’s destroyed again.
And you can teach them to clean. You can try. But in the process you’re met with extreme protestations.
‘I didn’t make that mess!’ (You think I did?)
‘But cleanings boring!’ (No kidding. Get over it.)
‘I don’t want to!’ (Then don’t make the mess in the first place. Put things away. Dirty clothes go in the wash, not on the floor. Towels go in the bathroom, not on the floor. Toys go in the toy box, NOT ON THE FLOOR!)
No one tells you that sometimes all you want is a break. To be left alone with peace and quiet, to think and just enjoy being you. No distractions, no requests, no interruptions. To walk at your pace. To think an entire thought through from beginning to end. To drink your iced coffee without copious requests to share.
No one tells you that somedays, after a hard week with no sleep, and no break, the antidepressants won’t work, and you will want to give your children away. But you can’t ask for help, because then you have to admit there’s a problem, and people will want to talk about it, and the last thing you want to do is talk.
Today I’m the bad mummy. Who won’t let Bridie go to a birthday party because it is at an inconvenient time, and Tim is out fishing, and they only gave me two days notice and I haven’t had a chance to buy a present.
I’m so tired. Ava, after having four days of fevers ranging between 39-40 degrees, finally seems to be on the mend. The fever seems to have broken, but she is still miserable. I was up with her in the night while she just cried and cried. I don’t know why. She is not much better this morning.
I’m exhausted from the noise. From telling B1 and B2 to do something, and them ignoring me as soon as I’m out of the room. I’m exhausted from following up on their disobedience, and disciplining them for it. And if I hear Bailey scream at me one more time, ‘you’re not listening to me!’ I think I may go mad. I am listening! But you are interrupting the two other people trying to talk to me at the same time, and the baby is crying, and I can’t understand you when you use that horrible, whiny voice, and I have already told you no, so stop trying to give me excuses for yes.
No one tells you that the thought of a holiday, by yourself, with no one else around, could sound like absolute bliss.
no one tells you that when you do get time by yourself, you can’t wait to get home again. To have chubby arms wrapped around you, and sloppy, open mouth kisses.
Or that the sound of children laughing, even when it’s loud enough to wake the neighbours can make your heart sing.
No one tells you that the eight year old, when she shows that grace and maturity, that has clearly been modelled at some point by you, can make you feel like a parental success.
No one tells you that while a sick baby can tear your heart apart, a small piece of you loves it, for all the extra wiggle-free cuddles you get.
No one tells you that the little girl, so devastated by not being able to go to a party, can find joy instead in a special day with mummy, begging you to drop the others off to whoever will take them, so she doesn’t have to share. No one tells you that to her, you are the most incredible person in the world.
No one tells you that you will occasionally ignore the discipline for not cleaning the room, because the laughter and the happy playing sounds coming from there instead soothe your hurting soul, and bring a gentle peace.
No one tells you that the little people who can make you tear your hair out, and wish you were anywhere else but here, are also the little people who hold you like glue, and you would do anything for.
No one tells you that that.
And if they did, would it make a difference?