by Kate Sawtschuk
5 mum days we’ve all had. Are you having one of these days, or a combination of them, today?
The 5am start day
Your kids have woken you up before it’s light. You stumble out to the kitchen to make a soup bowl of coffee and it takes quite some time to be able to interact with anyone and accept that the day is beginning this early. As the day progresses, you fantasise about sleeping. Anywhere. Like public benches and shopping centre play areas. You think back to your pre-kids self, and curse yourself for ever thinking you were tired. At 10am, it feels like it’s 4pm. The kids choose this day to demand that you play with/hold them constantly, so you resort to granting them too much TV and then feel guilty, which makes you even more tired. After snacking on high energy foods (starting with green smoothies, progressing to chocolate), you start to feel more perky and then reach the point of delirium where you start attempting super mum stuff (see below) and fail miserably because you’re so exhausted.
The super mum day
Before 8am strikes, you’ve made an Instagram-worthy breakfast and expertly packed bento lunch boxes. You proceed to make fresh play dough and crawl around on your hands and knees playing with your kids, being a fun and energetic mum. The kids are cooperative and easy going today so you get lots of practical stuff done, like cleaning the kitchen so it’s actually usable and bringing the bathroom up to minimum hygiene standards. You make cookies or muffins, plan dinner, construct a cubby house, diffuse kids arguments graciously (without even raising your voice) and nutritious snacks are consumed by the kids without complaint. You’re a domestic goddess! You sigh smugly and wonder: why do people go on about parenting being so hard?
Foggy brain day
On this day, you forget any appointments and that thingy you needed to do for preschool/school. You can’t for the life of you think of what you will cook that won’t be spat out by the kids (you’d probably burn it anyway), so eating that day is basically the kids foraging around in the kitchen and pointing at unhealthy stuff. You can’t concentrate on or even understand your kids’ convoluted stories or demands. Of course, it is on this day that you run into your (childless) friend from uni, who asks you how you are (faint smile and blank stare), what you’ve been doing (nervous laughter) and what you think about that latest world event (pretend you have to go urgently). The most intellectual activity you can undertake today is binge watching something on Netflix (which you probably won’t have the chance to do). Oh, and at the end of the day (when it’s too late to call/text), you realise you’ve forgotten your good friend’s birthday.
You swing wildly between bursting with love for your kids, feeling immeasurably grateful and reminding yourself to stay in the present to not miss any precious and fleeting moments, to worrying about every worst case scenario that could happen in the future and every parenting decision you’ve made in the past. Will that (totally normal and insignificant) thing you did/that happened when the kids were young cause irreparable psychological damage to them that will surface in adult life? Will not feeding them 100% organic food detrimentally affect their future health? Preschool/school drop offs bring tears to your eyes because it reminds you that your kids are growing up and will leave you one day. But when you get home, your kids are grumpy and bicker with each other until you shout at them. Which makes you feel guilty, and starts the cycle again.
Your child, who has a minor cold, lies on the couch with TV on all day, dramatically demanding blankets and refreshments. Lollypops for breakfast? Sure darling. Of course mummy will make your favourite muffins. Oh no, don’t worry about brushing your teeth. As the random demands keep rolling in, you start to speak through gritted teeth and rolling your eyes out of sight. You try to sneak off to get something done, but are called back by your outraged child because they want your undivided attention. Which means watching them watch TV and only getting up when you serve them food or drink. Your other kids, who are not sick, are fed up with being housebound and then get jealous of their sick sibling and demand that they get all the special treatments too. You threaten to take everyone to the doctor and everyone becomes remarkably healthy and cooperative.
Um, or is it just me?