Well, they did it. They finally did it.
These children broke me today. And it all culminated with a carrot juice.
Here’s the story:
I’m sick. Some sort of tonsillitis/pharyngitis thingamy. I’m not 100pc sure because I don’t have the energy to drag my kids with me to the doctors office, to wait 40 minutes for an eight minute appt, just to be told to go home and rest! All I know is it feels like I’m ingesting razor blades every time I swallow. Swollen glands, fever. The works.
I’ve been sick for the past two days. Miss 2 was having a rough night Sunday night, coughing and spluttering and generally being pretty unwell herself. Hence I had her in bed with me and was awake most of the night, breathing in her germs, and clearly became contaminated.
Yesterday was rough, with us both at home feeling poorly. Lately she’s been all kinds of irrational grumpy toddler. Couple that with being sick and she’s just been an absolute delight. If I were well I know I could manage her being unwell better. But I’m not. So I can’t.
And then there’s the 4 year old. I had her home today too. Anyone with two preschoolers will tell you how easy that is when you’re sick. Oh and even though it just happens to be the first day of summer, here in Adelaide it was cold, windy and raining. So I couldn’t even pull the “go outside and play” card.
So there they are, one grumpy because she’s sick and a toddler. The other grumpy because she’s jealous the little one is getting “looked after more”. Cue hair pulling, yelling, hitting, screaming, whinging, sulking, throwing toys, jumping off couches, refusing food, refusing nappy changes, refusing to get dressed. Generally refusing anything.
Even unlimited Netflix cartoons didn’t placate them.
So I chose to take action.
Juice would be the solution. I’d been craving one all day. Plus, it would get them out of the house, keep them occupied for the next hour until Dad gets home.
But it’s an ordeal just getting them in the car. Miss 2 refused a nappy change or to put shoes on, but insisted on changing into a summer dress. No. It’s 14 degrees outside.
By the time we get in the car, I’m knackered. I’ve not done anything more strenuous than shower for the past 48 hours. A car ride to the shops almost seems insurmountable. But juice. There’s juice at the end of that journey! Fresh squeezed carrot, apple, celery, ginger and lemon juice for me, and a banana smoothie for the girls to share.
So we drive, and I only have to do one lap of the block to get a park directly in front of the cafe. Yes! Winning! I don’t need to get my children out of the car, I think to myself as I walk into the cafe, ignoring the look on a woman’s face who can hear Miss 2 screaming her head off in the car.
“I’ll have a banana smoothie and a carrot, apple, celery, ginger and lemon juice thanks.”
Finally, it’s juice time. I’ve been thinking about this all day. I’m sure it’ll be the secret weapon to cure me.
“Sorry, we don’t have any fresh juice today.”
“What? No? (Silent devastation creeps in) Okay, well I guess I’ll have a green smoothie then.”
“No sorry, we only have ingredients for the banana or berry smoothies.”
But I don’t want a banana or berry smoothie. I want juice. I want my carrot juice combo. It’s been the only thing pulling me through these past few torturous hours hold up in our infested home. And I can feel the tears welling up.
“I’ll just have the banana smoothie then”, I say as I pay and quickly scurry back out to the car to catch my breath.
I could go up the road. 20 metres up the road to the other cafe, they might have juice.
But I can’t. I just can’t. I don’t have the mental or physical strength today to get my children out of the car, get shoes on my youngest and wrangle them 20 metres to a different cafe. That task simply seems Everest-ish.
Because at this very moment, I’m broken. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.
So I take the girls’ smoothie, get back in the car, and I cry.
Oh boy do I cry. Not sweet rom-com style girl sobs, but flat out, distorted face, ugly crying tears. All the way home.
Before children I could never have imagined that a carrot juice, or a lack of one, could compell me to tears. There’s so much I didn’t know before becoming a mother. I didn’t know exactly how hard it is. How relentless. How much you have to constantly give of yourself. Every day.
Oh sure, there are plenty of positives about motherhood. But I can’t think of them today. Perhaps that’s the problem. My gratitude level must be directly proportionate to my immunity.
Before kids, I relished a good sick day. Sure, you might feel like crap, but it’s nothing a pot of soup, a block of Top Deck and eight hours binge watching True Blood couldn’t fix.
It’s different now. When you have little people relying on you.
But how can they possibly rely on you when you burst into tears at the mere carrot juice shortage?
Because it’s not just the carrot juice. That’s just the juice that broke the camel’s back.
What really broke me today was motherhood. I’m certain it only broke me this time because I’m sick. Any other day a carrot juice shortage would just be shrugged off. I would have just walked the 20 metres to that other cafe. But not this day. This day every little whinge, every cry, every eye roll and every refusal to pick up that dropped bit of rice cracker built up. Piled up like kindling on a bonfire stack. That cafe owner didn’t realise he was tossing a lit match when he told me there was no juice. He didn’t realise it would break me – because, why would it, normally?
I have a feeling that, as mothers, we will all have a few days where we break. Maybe it will be a broken coffee machine that sends someone over the edge tomorrow. Or a beetroot stain on a favourite shirt the day after that. The truth is, anything has the power to be that back-breaking piece of straw, that lit match.
Today, it was carrot juice. Carrot juice and motherhood.
But I won’t break tomorrow.
Tomorrow, I intend to bend.