He comes home, giddied by the onset of the weekend. In he bustles, wrestling Ella, planting a kiss on Billy’s head and declaring, “Let’s have fun! Who wants to make a fire out the back?”
I watch him with my weary eyes. The eyes which want to see him head straight to the kitchen and clean the goddamn dishes.
Out the back we go. He chops wood. He arranges kindling. He talks about having a BBQ over the open flames. Two children continue to hang from me, wriggling, whinging, requiring the same goddamn mind numbing monitoring that I have been dishing out all week long.
I watch him, with his two free arms, moving about as they wish, having the space to fling themselves around doing whatever the hell they want. I am getting more irritated by the second. How nice for him, I think, to just breeze on through like the world is his oyster, like there is FUN to be had, you guys, because my work is DONE! I have CLOCKED OFF! HEAR ME ROOOOOAAAAR!!
Your dad might be the glitter, but I’m the glue, I remember reading a while back in a book I loved. I think of this while I feel my leg dig into the side of the chair with the weight of both kids on me as I tell Ella for the millionth time not to poke Billy in the eye. The anger is rising. I can feel it reaching my eyes and I start to seethe at the truth that while Joel gets the glory, I get the dirty daily slog of time outs and scrubbing dishes and NOOOOOO SAAAAUUUUCE after she asks for sauce with her dinner and I squirt some on her plate. He declares FUN while I wade in the constant bore of who needs a sleep, who needs to be fed, and what needs to be done.
Needless to say, things go downhill with speed.
It’s an argument that plays out every month or so in our home, when I’m too assaulted by the pecking of my life, too maxed out to do anything but shoot grim, this-is-your-fault stares. It becomes everything then. We fight about things that happened 76 days ago and what happened when Ella was two months old and why oh why MUST you do that and how many goddamn different ways do I need to say it before you understand?
It takes three days to find our way back to each other, able – at least – to be willing to hear what the other person is saying.
We get there in the end. We always do.
And for one of the first times in my motherhood life, I hear what he is saying, too.
Unravel from them, Rachel.
“Have you noticed you resent me less when you have time away?” he says. “When you just let go a little bit?”
I stay silent.
“I get home and all you want to do is throw the kids at me like here, you deal with them. And I get it. I’m not saying it’s not hard. But if you weren’t so burnt out, if you trusted me more and just left more regularly, I don’t think you’d be so angry.”
What he says is true, of course. I wonder why I need to stay close, why I need to parent like the Black Hawk is Down, even when I see it’s sabotaging the peace in my home.
“Rach”, he says. “I got this. I know the drill. They’re my kids, too, you know.”
So I leave. I pack up my little laptop and take myself out for a late lunch, right in the middle of babies needing sleep and two-year olds having tantrums and dishes overflowing and floors needing vacuuming and dinner needing to be sorted out. I write a long overdue email to a friend. I book a class for me and another friend at the new yoga place that has opened up down the road. I arrange a girl’s night out with another group of friends.
And three hours later when I arrive home, I hear two little feet pattering up the hall and a little voice yelling, “Mummy!”. I scoop her up and walk into the kitchen. Dinner is on the stove, I can hear washing spinning in the machine, Joel is smiling and two little bodies hang from me, wriggling and clambering and pulling and smothering.
Only this time, I welcome it.
We call him the Chicken Whisperer.
Wherever he is in the backyard, they flock to him like it’s Christmas.
A few more things keeping me happy this week.
The Happy Day Spa.
Oats and water and a bit of yoghurt, throw in some cucumber slices and you’ve got at least an hour worth of child entertainment.
Throw in some nail polish and hello best day ever.
Note: Do not let your child slather your face in mushy chunks of oats then answer the front door. You hit the floor when you hear that knock okay? It’s just one of those embarrassing scenes everyone would rather not be part of.
Draw me, Mummy?
Which resulted in ‘Peppa’ being drawn. (We don’t have the heart to point out that it’s actually George, honey.)
A glass of wine, a warm rug, Joel and the latest episode of Offspring are all calling me so I gotta fly.
Here’s to being more glittery.
Happy night, friends.
Remember that children, marriages and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get. H. Jackson Brown, Jr