I woke up feeling sorry for myself today. I had two kids at home and no plans. It was raining outside and the house was a mess. It was still dark at 6.20am when my daughter Isabella rushed into our room and climbed into bed with my husband and I. Only ten seconds later she ran out, leaving a trail of morning wee behind her.
I buried my head under the pillow as my husband did the clean up. "Make sure you use disinfectant!" I yelled out. Then we had a "heated discussion" about toilet mishaps and house cleaning.
This was five minutes into the day.
Four and a half hours later I was still moping around the house in my ugly, stained, pink dressing gown. Isabella was squashing play dough all over the floor and Fin was rolling onions under the table. They were happy. I was still miserable. But part of me wanted to be in this place, this pit of self-pity.
Around and around the streets I drove as negative thoughts swirled around and around my mind.
I am so tired.
I feel trapped.
I hate rainy days.
I wish I could have a day to myself. A whole day.
I wish Isabella would stop asking so many questions.
“Where are we going mum?”
Nowhere. I am going nowhere. I feel like I am sinking.
But I reply, “We’ll see…”
We end up at the local shopping centre. It's
I buy the kids some pajamas which has been a long overdue purchase. There's only so long you can squeeze an almost one year old into double zero pajamas.
We sit down at table and chairs outside a doughnut shop to have some morning tea that I had oh-so-budget-consciously packed. It's then that I overhear a conversation that changes my day.
“Would you look at that,” an elderly female voice says from the table a few metres away. “How beautiful are those two. A boy and a girl. Do you remember when…”
Her voice trails off and out of my hearing range. I wish I could hear but instead I imagine what she may have said to her husband who was sitting next to her.
“Do you remember when we had two young children? Do you remember when we ourselves were young parents too? We use to think it was so hard. If only I knew how fast time would go and how quickly they would grow up and move out and into the world. I sometimes wish I knew what I know now: those days were some of the best in my life. I had purpose. I had my whole life ahead of me. I had my health. I had many friends and family, all still alive. I was free, without even knowing it.”
I look at my two children. Isabella is squeezing a ripe banana between her fingers and then painting the trolley with the sloppy, gooey mixture. Fin is mouthing a rice cracker, his yellow snot running over the ridge of his cherry coloured lip and into his mouth.
My children are beautiful.
I love them and I love that I can just be here with them. I have all the free time today to enjoy them.
Our next stop is the supermarket and I bump into my neighbour Jim. He is 85 years old and a keen gardener. I ask him how he is and he tells me:
“I am going slow today. I fell out of the taxi last night when I got home. My knee just gave way and they had to drag me inside. I am in a lot of pain.”
I listen and sympathise. I think that maybe I should help, but Jim being Jim has never wanted me to lift a finger for him. The subject of conversation changes and we say goodbye. I wish I could help but perhaps this was more of a case of Jim helping me.
I am slowly begin to realise how good I’ve got it.
As we meander in and out of the aisles I am conscious of my legs moving strongly and rhythmically. I have no pain. I am not trapped within my own body. I am free to walk, to run, to move without restriction.
I walk outside the shops and I spot Jim’s wife Pat. I begin to walk over to her and realise she is asleep, sitting atop of her walker.
“Why is she asleep mum?” Isabella asks.
“Well, when you get old you get very tired.”
She looks exhausted. Her body is a little slumped and her pale face is set in a frown. It would have been a long and hard walk from the taxi to the entrance of the supermarket. It doesn't take much to take it out of her. We decide not to wake her and instead let her rest.
As we continue on I realise that although I am tired I still have energy. I feel like I have a reserve of strength that come when you’re still young. I feel like I can keep going.
As I arrive back home from the shopping centre I am greeted at the door with clothes that have been flung across the floor and shoes scattered in the doorway. There’s still play dough squished into the cracks of the table and floorboards. There’s still toys and a zillion crumbs covering the carpet.
But I choose to look beyond the mess, beyond myself and see that I am so completely blessed.
Goodbye self pity.