I could feel it building over over the past week. The running around and being too wild. The intentional hurting and screaming at each other. The not following directions. The not taking care of their things. The not listening. The blatant disrespect and bad decision making. And it was driving me crazy.
I'd tried everything: asking them nicely; reasoning with them; punishing them; ignoring them; yelling at them; crying.
This particular day, though had been a good one so far. We’d finished their schoolwork, run an errand, had a nice lunch. And then we went to put laundry away.
I asked my 5-year-old to turn her clothes right side out while I put her brother's clothes away then I would be in to help her fold and put them away. As I sat with her folding, my 2-year-old began jumping on the top bunk bed as my 7-year-old was whining about having to do her clothes on her own.
The baby was fussy because he was sleepy and hungry and I’d pushed his feed off too long, trying to get my chores done. I scooped him into my arms and began nursing him and as I took a few slow breaths, I stared out the window taking in the most beautiful blue sky.
After regaining a tiny bit of my composure, I glanced down at the little boy in my arms. There was a large tear sitting on his tiny cheek just below his adoring gaze. That was when I lost it.
This tiny baby had spent the past week listening to me yell, scream and lose my mind as I tried to maintain control of our little family that was falling apart. Tears began streaming down my face and I looked at my girls.
I'll never forget those few words I managed to get out before collapsing into a heap on my bed “I hate the mommy that I am right now.” I didn’t yell, I didn’t scream, I didn’t cry. It was barely a whisper.
But those words I uttered in desperation stung like the tears running down my cheeks. They stung because they were true. They hung in the air of our new home like an early morning fog, surrounding us all, nowhere to go to escape it.
Alone in my room with my newborn snuggled to my breast and my two-year-old stroking my hair, I replayed the scene over and over again and tried to figure out how we got to this place.
Somewhere along the way, I’d lost them. Was I not strict enough with them? Did I let them get away with too much? Maybe I took on too much. Am I somehow not cut out for this mommy of four thing?
I spend my days surrounded, with never even a second to myself, yet I felt so alone and helpless in that moment. I felt isolated, like I was living on another planet and no one else understood. And the tiny little people that I would give my life for had pushed me to the brink of sanity; they had driven me to the edge of a breakdown. My mind raced and I couldn’t slow it down to gather the thoughts that were flying every which way.
My eldest came in a few minutes later and whispered “I'm sorry Mommy.” I took her hand and replied “I need you to be better, this isn't the family I want your baby brother to know. He's just so little, he deserves to have a happy family.”
She slowly nodded her head and I saw her eyes well-up with tears. I pulled her close to me as her little sister climbed up on the bed and my thoughts slowed as I closed my eyes and we all sat there silently, together.