It started with my daughter walking up to me and spitting a mouthful of milk on my face. It dripped down my neck, down my shirt.
I resisted the urge to rage at her. I hadn’t even had a cup of coffee yet. I wanted to yell.
‘WHAT THE FUCK HANNAH!’
Instead I said, “go get me a towel right now.”
“I’m sorry mom,” she said, face turned down, eyes averted.
When she came back I wiped the milk from my skin and told her to sit on the couch and not say a word. 10 minutes later, after I felt the anger subside, I called her to sit on my lap.
“What happened before? Why did you spit your milk on me?”
“I was trying to give you a fish kiss,” she said.
Breakfast was eaten, but we didn’t watch her favorite show. Punishment. She understood. The baby’s nap time rolled around and he was angry. He resisted. He yelled. He cried. 30 minutes and a glass of milk later and he finally slumbered.
I emerge from the bedroom feeling as though I’d won one battle for the day to find Hannah eating peanut butter out of the jar. She’s supposed to ask before she eats anything. It’s a rule and, I feel, a reasonable one.
I grab a snack and a coloring book and a new pack of crayons for her. Coffee for me. I bring this all downstairs to our family room – away from where the baby was napping. “Here,” I say, “take this and sit down and color. Please show me some good behaviour because you haven’t done this yet today.” She colors half a page then starts playing with the dog. Then starts chasing the dog. Then starts yelling and throwing toys for the dog.
I lose it. I order her to lie on the couch and not move or say a word.
I feel the anger bubbling over and I feel myself retreat inside to find some strength only there’s nothing there. I feel sick, still having not recovered from an earlier illness. I feel tired. I feel emotionally exhausted. I want to get away – to run somewhere where I can be still in quiet.
It gets me thinking about how everytime I’m away from my kids I long to be right back at their side. If I get away for a haircut..I wonder what they are doing. If I run to the store for milk, I want to be home tucking them in. If I’m out at an event I look forward to seeing them again. I realize that I don’t want to get away from my kids, not really. I’m not running from them.
Instead I’m running back towards myself. There isn’t a version of me that exists without them any longer. There is no village here. There’s me. Day in and day out and day in and day out I’m afloat in the ocean with these kids. These kids who I adore. Every waking moment is for them, about them, because of them.
I suppose that’s why I write. The act of writing is a selfish thing. It’s MY thing.
When the kids are grown and I come out of this day to day cloud of sing-songs and lunches and cartoons and routines I’m hoping that writing will be the thing that keeps my individual self alive. Because I’m starting to wonder what will be left of me…it’s all happening so fast. When she moves out and he gets married where does that leave me? I hope it’s not knitting sweaters for cats and pining for grand kids and feeling lost. Because I’m already lost. I’ve lost myself in them.