Day two of the 28 Day Scream Free Challenge. Day one was a glorious day of parenting perfection. Day two I was in tears by 8:30am. It hasn’t helped that I’ve been in a pit of non-specific viral infectitude for the past 6 days and every muscle and bone aches like I’m a hundred and ninety nine. Given that I am sick, I have also not been in any state for my nightly sanity restoring glass of wine. It’s been a challenge, to say the least.
I gave a great deal of thought to the day one email, sent by Jackie Hall, author of The Happy Mum Handbook and instigator of the 28 Day Scream Free Challenge. It explains how stress arrives when your reality and your expectations don’t meet. How we ‘should’ all over the place and cause ourselves no end of parental angst. I’ll explain. My ovaries shouldn’t have made two eggs that day. Three children simply should not have tantrums all at once, it really isn’t fair. Twin one should damn well lie still when I’m trying to change him so the both of us don’t end up caked in faeces when I’m just trying to do the guy a favour. As we speak, twin two should stop fake crying and go to sleep. Should, should, shouldn’t, should.
It’s classic Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and it really does make sense. If you can get your head around the idea that you’ve gotta stop fighting what isn’t and go with what is. Herein lies the crux of my painful personal journey into parenting three boys. This is not the reality I planned. This life I’m living is very, very far from the one I planned in my head about 7 years ago when I began marital bliss with my now partner in daily trench combat (with managing three under 5, not with each other). I planned a life of relative financial freedom, travel, kid (or two, yes, maybe), freedom from cars and enjoying the simple things like being able to open the windows without fear that someone will fall or launch themselves out. And then those damn ovaries had to go and get overexcited on my ass.
Our life now? We don’t open the windows, we have toddler gates everywhere, we have doors tethered shut, garden beds fenced off, steps boarded up, remotes hidden up high, a permanent layer of food on the floor, a relentless state of uber readiness for anything and a thorough enjoyment of a sit down that lasts for anything more than two and a half minutes. It’s killing me. But it’s not killing me because it is (because another person in the same circumstances could quite possibly consider themselves in heaven), it kills me because of what I expected it to be.
The key to my personal state of zen and a scream free life requires a total acceptance of where and who I am. I need to embrace, with abandon, this life. Stop wishing it to be something else, easier, quieter, whatever. It’s a tough ask. I’m stubborn, and this hurts sometimes. I know if I stop fighting things will be easier, I do know that. I have moments of it and they’re usually great. Maybe if I try to just have one more moment than I had yesterday. That’ll get me there in the end. But will it be too late? Will my boys remember a mother who was just trying to survive it all, or one who loved them, every bit of them, with abandon?