At some masochistic point I did a calculation on the amount I’m likely to pack in my lifetime (not accounting for grandkids). I got to just over 7,000 and gave up counting. I figure I’m about half way through now.
AND If 3 kids generate a need for over 7,000 lunchboxes there’s a further:
6,500 or so morning wake-ups per child
the same amount of bedtimes and dinners, give or take a few
A gazillion or so debates
Several thousand loads of washing (and close to that in lost socks – single socks)
hundreds of shoes to find, thousands of hairs to do, probably at least 20 cases of nit infestations, coughs, colds, sport drop offs…
Let’s face it, parenting is monotonous.
They say it costs over $250,000 to raise a child, and then there’s the therapy bill (most likely for both parties)
It was only yesterday I officially declared the lunchbox breaking point. With great contempt I posted on my Facebook feed:
“Ah morning routine. How I loathe thou. Between the lunch boxes, tween attitude, nagging and repeating, lost stuff, last minute notes it’s driving me nuts. Oh wait! There’s the book end night time routine too. Anyone want a job??”
But it didn’t stop there. Oh no. I followed up in fits of tears, an argument with husband, a decision to run away, a decision to change my mind and finally calm.
By lunch time I found myself sitting on the floor of my new (old) house, unpacking boxes and talking to the parenting help line, actually I’ll give you the number because it’s the ONLY one of such services I’ve ever found to actually help Parent Line NSW 1300 130 052 (sorry, NSW Australia only has access to this one I believe). While on that mini-rant if you are in need of such help can I urge you to keep trying until you find a line or service that works for you because they do exist. Other such help lines have told me to ‘call back later as we are too busy’ and my favourite, the one that told me ‘obviously you have problems because your children were born out of wedlock’. (persist, the good ones do exist).
Anyhoo, on the line I spoke with the counselor, Sue for an hour and in that time discovered that even though I have beautiful, happy, healthy children and even though my life is SO much more fortunate that so many people it’s still OK to acknowledge I feel stressed, it’s OK to acknowledge that I’m not OK right now. We spoke for a long time about strategies that I can use in the home and about me being too hard on myself. Clearly it’s time to actually ask for help.
Let’s face it, the reality of parenting is that it IS monotonous, and it IS bloody hard. Throw some teenage hormones and sibling rivalries into the mix and boom! It’s a recipe to rival a molotov cocktail.
I came to realise that there are things that need to change in my house and the time is now. So I put a whole bunch of steps in place to look after me as well as the family.
And this morning I got up, had a shower, dressed and left the house. I left the house because my dear friend answered the call for a Mrs. Doubtfire / Mary Poppins / second mum to step in for just two mornings per week – 1.5hrs each day to just be there, to negotiate, get the kids up, pack the lunchboxes and kiss them on their way to the bus.
My dear friend didn’t question my abilities as a mum, nor human she just stepped in and helped. And needless to say the morning went off without a hitch, the kids were perfect angels and the lunchboxes, even though not packed by me contained the same amount of goodness and love.
Point being mums, nobody has a perfect run in parenting. Some days are really tough for all of us and if any mum tells you something different ask her where she’s getting her drugs from (and let me know would you). Don’t deny yourself the right to curse your bad days, don’t be too proud to ask for help and remember that you are doing the best with what you have today. Your kids will continue to love you no matter what.