In the library, when we’ve stayed just ten minutes too long, and Margot is pressing the wheelchair-access button that opens the door to the parking lot, Violet is yanking her little sister back to safety, Jude is marching around in his boots leaving bits of chicken poop on the floor, and I’m standing at the counter waiting to sign out our books and movies.
At the grocery store, when I’ve given Margot a flat of blueberries to occupy her while I shop and she spills it all over the produce section floor, and Jude and Violet are long gone, doing the small-town kid laps of the store (knowing that everyone knows them and will send them back to me, as if I couldn't hear them screaming and laughing three aisles away).
At lunch time, when I've placed three healthy, colourful, balanced meals in front of them, I’ve just sat down to eat, and everyone asks for juice. Or spills their juice, rice, and peas all over the floor that I’ve just finished scrubbing for the first time in months (it only took me 3 hours, with all the interruptions).
When they're all occupied with games in the livingroom and I sit down with a cup of tea and a book, and they find me, clamouring to be on my lap, burrowing into me as if they're trying to get back inside me.
“It’s a wonder I’m not nuts”.
The fact is, I'm exhausted. I'm always exhausted. Five minutes into the day when Violet and Margot are already starting the "Mine!" "No, MINE!" routine, I wonder how I'm going to make it. I know I'm not alone. I don't think any mother really knows what she's getting herself into. When we are pregnant with our first child, we imagine ourselves as the serene, beautiful mother we see on the front of greeting cards, gazing into her baby's face, confident that she will handle all future parenting situations gracefully and successfully. We swear we will never be that mother who snaps at her kids at the grocery store or is short-tempered ever, let alone in public.
When the rude fact appears that we have, in fact, become that mother, it can be disheartening. To the top of the list of perceived parenting failures, we can add the fact that we are not always patient, not always gentle, not always good role models, and not always good at mothering.
The reason my statement, "It's a wonder I'm not nuts" is unsettling is because...well, maybe I am nuts. I must have been nuts to get myself into this in the first place...then to do it again, and yet again!
What comforts me is that I'm not alone. If I'm nuts, then so are you...and you, and you. We're nuts because we keep getting out of bed, keep doing our best even on days when all we get in return is backtalk and misbehaviour. Mothers of children with special needs might get less than that, and work 100 times harder than mothers of healthy children.
Somedays we feel like we could just drive away and never look back. But somehow we don't. If you looked up the words "determined" and "resilient" in the dictionary, you just might see a picture of a mother. Below the picture would be a note: "see also nuts".
Have a wonderful day, all my nutty friends out there. I love you all, and know you're all doing the best you can. Keep up the good work.