“This is how you wash a lunch box!” I scream.
I plunge the container and lid down into the hot soapy water and the water runs over the side of the bench and all over my jeans and the wooden floorboards.
My nine year old stands in the kitchen with a defiant look on her face. “Well, I’m not ready and I can’t do it- I’m going to be late.”
I’d asked her for the lunch box three times when she got home from school. And the next morning when I’d cut her lunch, I discovered it hadn’t been washed with the others.
“Get your lunch box out!” I’d barked.
She took it from her school bag, full of wrappers, crumbs and stinky fruit scraps, and passed it to me without looking.
“There’s the sink- wash the container out!” I snapped, my hands up to show that I wasn’t going to take it.
She put the dirty container on the bench and walked away.
And that’s when my blood boiled and I crashed the lunchbox down in the sink.
It wasn’t just the fact that she practically flipped me the bird. It was all the moaning and wailing about not wanting to go to school prior to that. It was her not getting out of bed, not getting out of pyjamas, screaming at me and at her sisters.
But it wasn’t just that either.
It was the frustration of the repetition of this morning ritual. The fact that once again I had a sick kid at home and I had to cancel plans. It was the seven-year-old’s ongoing mesenteric adenitis and the nine-year-old’s ongoing tonsillitis and the sheer
And the feeling that I didn’t sign up for this exhaustion, mixed with the thought that the dreams in my heart and the person I want to be are being crushed under loads and loads and loads of semi-damp washing.
And then the guilt I feel for feeling resentful. This beautiful gift of time I’ve been given. Time to wander slowly to the park and watch Peter Rabbit in my pyjamas at midday with a five-year-old who thinks I’m the most incredible person in the world. Time to discover a new career path and time to get a masters degree.
I’m not ungrateful. I’m not.
A woman further along the road once said, “you can have it all, just not all at once.”
I find it quite comforting.
And then there’s Shonda Rhimes, telling it like it is:
“Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life.”
That’s pretty darn honest. And true for me too.
I am really looking forward to the time to finish my study. And I was born to work. I work hard and I love hard work.
Watching Peter Rabbit in the middle of the day- not so easy for me.
But these kids deserve a mum who is giving her best to that. Not one who is raging about a dirty lunch box because she’d rather cut and run to work.