If you happen to call at my house unannounced, you may well find me sitting on the sofa.
You might find the laundry basket overflowing and yet there I am on the sofa.
You might find writing jobs that need done and “to do” lists that need ticked off and still, there I am on the sofa.
You might find a kitchen cupboard that needs cleared out and the “Best Before November 2014” packets and tins disposed of.
You might trip over some shoes that need put away.
You might spot a stain on the carpet that needs doused in an appropriately chemicalised stain removal substance.
You might catch a glimpse of a less than tidy playroom with toys scattered everywhere.
You might find 3 children who I should bring to the park since it’s dry today for the first time in a week.
You might find me unable to string a sentence together, formulate a witty text in response to yours.
You might wonder why I cancelled our play date, said no to coffee in town yesterday, didn’t go to the surprise party everyone went to a fortnight ago.
You’ll decide I’m lazy.
But no. I’m bloody knackered.
Utterly, one-more-4am-start-away-from-sticking-my-whole-head-under-the-coffee-machine, knackered.
I’ll not lie, a short (routine, non-life-threatening) hospital stay is my ultimate fantasy these days. Well, that and the financial capability to employ staff. Lots of staff.
I’m not the best version of myself right now. I’m not thinking as clearly, sharply, vividly as I used to. My zest for adventure and fun, my ability to see the funny side, my social capabilities, my writing “skills” – all have been temporarily dampened by the cloud of sheer exhaustion hanging over me.
Look a little further into my life. The life of any parent.
Look beyond the sofa and my comfortable clothes, my pale complexion and the dark circles under my eyes.
Look beyond the hair that I forgot to brush this morning.
Look beyond the reply I forgot to send to your text.
Look beyond the baby weight I’ve been meaning to shift for the past year.
Look beyond the mug with permanent coffee stains and the chocolate bar wrapper (OK, wrappers).
Look a little further than your immediate judgement.
Look beyond your presumptions.
And see the 4am starts. The teething baby who just will not sleep, night or day. The restless child with a sore tummy who wakes just as I’m finally drifting off. The child who needs a drink of water at 1am. The bed that needs changed at 2am. The vomit caught in bare hands at 2.30am. The bed that needs changed again at 3am. The coughing. The bed hopping and bickering at 3.30am. The baby who wakes for the day at 4am. The nappy changes. The hunt for baby wipes. The constant running out to the wheelie bins. The bloody overflowing wheelie bins. The alarm that gets set for 6am yet never gets to go off. The endless cleaning and answering to demands. The lack of “down” time. The lack of time to do things just for you, for the benefit of only you. The inability to sit and have a cup of tea when you feel like it without someone climbing up your leg. Pulling you, asking you, singing at you, shouting at you. The time that is never ever your own. The guilt. The worry. Oh, the worry. The worry when they’re in the care of someone else. The worry when they’re with you that you’re not enough. You could be so much better. Susan down the road is so much better. Amanda on Pinterest is so much better.
The voice that whispers “failure” 23 hours in the day.
The physical exhaustion of a gruelling day. Strapping kids into car seats, lifting them out, excavating the multitude of bags and toys from the car, trying to make a decent dinner for everyone amidst crying and chaos and yet more demands. Trying to please 3 very different little people all at once. Trying to find the time just to go and have a pee. Trying to hold shit together. Day in. Day out.
I know these days will pass. They are trying but they will pass. My children are young, and there are three of them. It’s a tricky combination right now. But we’ll get through. And I’ll get some sleep. And some head space. Eventually.
I don’t want sympathy. There’s nothing to be sorry about. My little family mean the world to me.
I just wanted to explain.
So, if you happen to call in unannounced and I’m on the sofa, savouring ten minutes of peace when the ONE program they all like is on CBeebies, hold fire on the lazy tag.
I’m not lazy. I’m effing exhausted.
Can you help me with that pile of washing while you’re here?