I used to think my other half got the very worst of me. He comes in from a 12-hour day having had little interaction with the outside world. His new “office” keeps him socially distanced from his colleagues, and he craves that connection from his family when he walks in the door after a long and busy day.
Understandable, and I would be the same had I not had a mismatched day of working from home while balancing the ordinary and extraordinary role of mum.
While he is buzzing with an exhausted energy I, on the other hand, am yearning for quiet and distance. I can barely hold a conversation until the two darlings are fast asleep and the house has entered a calm after the storm.
Even then my attention span is limited, and conversation seems to be the last thing my mind can translate into anything tangible. We both need to decompress after our respective long days, but in different ways which don’t always fit so well together. He’s Lego and I’m Mega Bloks.
I am finding the balance of life is getting more and more complicated. Harmonising the vast array of emotions under one house is the biggest challenge as neither I nor the kids can fully express the up and down spiral of this pandemic living. And, sure, we never really know what’s coming next.
Yesterday I managed to glue a little bit of life back together. Literally and figuratively. The kids were wired and burning for attention. I was pulled in eight different ways, none of which I could fully commit to and a migraine played the drums on my temples.
But Barbie’s horse had a slight accident as the three-year-old tested her strength and the horse lost a leg. A few tears and a dollop of glue and I was not only redeemer of devious accidents but vet extraordinaire to plastic toys. The horse belonged to her sister and not being the first forcefully broken toy, I knew the ramifications of such events. Nothing unusual at all. This is life with kids, a battlefield of “that’s mine” and “she pinched me”.
Yet these days the tedious moments and emotions quicken from peaceful to explosive faster than ever before and it’s up to me to find the centre of calm. Yesterday I found it as we successfully operated on the purple pony – sorry, unicorn – as a strange composure overtook us, and we connected under pretend anaesthetic and sutures. I imagine more toys will be dangerously attacked so we can recreate this serene moment when tensions fray.
But I’m grown up enough to admit there are many days when I struggle to manage the frustration or hold on to any patience. Days like today when life seemed to crack again as emotions rose from tiny toes and I couldn’t hold them all together. I left the figurative glue too high on the shelf, and whatever feelings soared through my mind and theirs became unstuck.
I couldn’t reach the symbolic glue in time before myself and the kids were consumed by yet another pandemic day of being so exhausted by all that life is currently not offering.
With perfect timing, as the walls crumbled, in walks the husband who is equally overwhelmed and saturated. In need of the normality of home life, he doesn’t find it as the kids are flying high under their own unknown overwhelm and I am beyond spent in attempting to keep everyone on an even keel.
There are tears.
Many of them mine.
And I think how little I can offer him at that moment. Or the next.
Come 9pm, I collapse and internalise as I mentally work my way through finding enough glue for tomorrow. So while I think he doesn’t get the best of me, the truth is I get the worst of me. I’m overly-conscious of my other half’s exhaustion, but I’ve barely noticed my own.
I give little thought to slowing down, being mindful, appreciating the ever-ballooning list under a deepening pandemic sky. In an attempt to control the controllable I relinquish the idea that I need to be my best for anyone. Just for a moment.
And then, as the kids sleep, he places a blanket on my knees, hands me a cup of tea and sticks Bake Off on the box.
He finds a little bit of glue because even though I may not see it, he knows I need a dollop of it for myself.