Today I am broken. The straw has broken the camels back. I am curled up in a ball on my bed, hiding from the children, sobbing into my pillow.
How did I get here?
You know, it was just one of those days when it all went bad. Those days which are funny when someone else tells the story, but not so funny when it is happening to you. My husband is away interstate. My daughter has an ear infection. I can’t make my work demands marry up with my home demands, and now they need me interstate for an importance conference and I can’t work out how I can possibly co-ordinate this. I had to stop midway through a work presentation to answer the persistent call of the school because my son was vomiting and he needed to be picked up. And to top it off, we are selling our car and the new owners need to pick up the car.
All on the same day.
But the straw? after months of ongoing skin issues and vet visits, the dog needed eye surgery. I had to drop him off and when I picked him up they gave me a laundry list of his new care requirements, drops in his eyes three times a day, 6 different tablets and as I stood strandled over him, trying to hold the drops in one hand, while simultaneously trying to manipulated my arm round the bucket on his head, and hold his eyelids open as he struggled backwards…then realised I had put the drops in the wrong eye…I finally caved..I lost it…I crawled to the bed and I curled up in a ball.
I surrender. My white flag is up. I can’t do this.
And yet…I am extremely fortunate to have a wonderful family who mostly live near by, and a great community of friends from the school. After all, it takes a village…right? …we can’t do this on our own…
So why I am standing straddled over a dog, with one child vomiting and another child hitting her head in pain…on my own?
Firstly…little miss independent. Sometimes, i can be very stubborn. Spitting out the words ‘I can’t do this on my own”, feels weak and I don’t like to feel incapable. I have been known to drag solid wood tables through the house on my own, because I don’t want to wait for someone else to get home. I like the satisfaction of achieving things on my own. I don’t like to feel reliant on others. I am woman…hear me roar…you know the stuff. But as I lie with my face in the pillow…I finally accept it…I can’t do this on my own (now I’m going to have to wash my mouth out with soap).
Secondly… I made my bed, now I should have to lie in it. I take full responsibility for the decision I have made in my life. I chose to have two children. I chose to go back to work to a high pressure job role. My husband chose to do a job which requires interstate travel. We bought the dog. I made the decisions, now I have to live them. Putting my more logical hat on though, I have to acknowledge that I did not choose for the kids to be sick this week. I did not choose for the dog to need eye surgery. This is a challenging week. Maybe it is a product of my choices, or maybe it is not. If every single week I had was like this, and I was always asking for help, then maybe it would be time to question my choices. But typically I can manage on my own and the choices we have made serve us well. So it is OK to ask for help when things are rough.
However, the final string in my guilty mothers bow, is that everyone is also in the same (sinking) boat. Everyone I know is also juggling their own challenges, some of them have sick family, some of them are also juggling work and kids…I have been taught very well how to look at things from other people’s perspective, to the point where I find it hard not to think of everything from their perspective not my own. Why should someone else take on my burdens, when they have enough of their own?
OK Claire, stop with the “woe is me” act. Time to pump up and ask for help, because you need it. It doesn’t make you weak or incapable. And when you’re back on your feet, you will gladly return the favour…you know you will.
So, I’ve asked the Vet for help. They are going to care for the dog in the next few days, make sure he gets the medical attention he needs. I’ve accepted Mum’s offer to bring over some dinner. I’ve asked friends and family to look after the kids, so I can attend that important work conference.
I can’t do this on my own….but that’s OK, because the village can…