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This too shall pass

Sometimes my mind goes blank and all I can see is the cloud descending and all I can feel is fear. The darkness seeps in and pushes out the light. The guilt gains ground at these times, feeding off my insecurity, it escalates and becomes the only emotion I am able to feel, along with despair. It’s depression of course.

It passes, it always passes. Sometimes quickly, all it takes is a nap to feel better, sometimes longer, a few days, sometimes when it’s bad the end never seems to come. I haven’t had that for a while now though, thankfully. I should point out that I feel immeasurably better today than yesterday (for the benefit of my father and Lucy – don’t worry, I’m okay!)

But in these moments I look at my children and all I can see is how much I am shaping them. I can’t wipe the tears away quick enough for them not to notice. I wish I could.

“Mummy are you happy?” says Eliza.
“Yes of course darling, you make me happy.”
“But Mummy, are you really happy?”
“Yes of course.”
“Mummy,” she says as she kisses me and rests her head on my shoulder, “I love you. So much.”

I realise that I must say this to her often enough for her to know when to say it to me. She knows the value it carries. It makes me remember that I am a good mother. My children know how much I love them.

The guilt never seems to fade though.

“Mummy,” she said as I put her to bed tonight, “will you not go away tomorrow? Will you put me to bed tomorrow?”
“Yes of course I will.” I realise the last week of work trips and late working has taken its toll. The realisation that her desperately challenging behaviour this weekend was caused, in part, by the change in routine thuds down heavy in my heart.

It’s hard isn’t some times to hold it all together, to keep the plates spinning? But the hardest part is remembering that my daughters are not just plates to be kept in the air, they are little people with hearts and souls and soft brains that are being shaped and formed by everything around them. They need me more than I ever truly realise.

They are perfect. They are everything to me. I could watch them playing for hours. Tilly, as she plays with her farm, making the horses and sheep kiss (strange but true), putting the giraffe in the tractor (why not?). I could listen to her babbling, copying everything she hears all day. She loves her big sister. Shouts of “‘Iza” regularly resonate around the house, and everything ‘Iza’ has Tilly must have too. And Eliza is a good big sister. She instructs Tilly in her grown up voice about how to put the dolly in the push chair and she regularly tells her to be quiet because ‘Milo is having a nap’.

They are the closest thing to heaven when they are happy and when I am relaxed and there is no tension in the house. But when the tension seeps in it all goes to pot and they scream and shout and cry and I don’t have the first clue how to make it better. Sometimes Eliza goes beyond cuddles, she goes beyond anything at all and kicks and shouts and sobs her little heart out until she can’t breath properly and she just collapses in a tear stained mess. It breaks my heart. But I miss the window for distraction they all talk about in the books. I’ve been too busy doing something else or reading to Tilly or making a cup of tea, or heaven forfend, blogging.

Rollercoaster is a cliche but that’s only because it’s the most accurate way to describe life as a mother. It’s the best job in the world but it’s the hardest too. It’s the most rewarding and the most soul-destroying. The most joyful and most depressing. The good always outweighs the bad but you need to build up such inner-strength to deal with everything it chucks at you.

You just have to remember, all the time, that you are a good mother. You are doing a good job. Your children are happy and healthy and spirited.

If I keep telling myself this I’m hoping it will eventually sink in.

I should probably mention that him indoors and I have rather recklessly declared Lent to be booze-free. This is either a good idea or a spectacularly bad one. But somehow I need to prove I can do it. I also like setting myself impossible goals, metaphorical birch for self-flagellation if you will.

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