I’m Happy, You’re Happy: 2013 365 Challenge #92

If only they were always like this...

If only they were always like this…

We’ve had one of those days where we fed off each other’s emotions too much.

It started out okay: I wrote my post while the kids played and hubbie dozed on the sofa. We were meant to go out shopping but the kids were playing so nicely together I didn’t want to disturb them.

Then, after lunch, they hit whine-territory, so we decided a change of scene was in order. They’re usually the kind of kids you can take shopping but at the moment it seems anytime we’re out in public they’re either hyper or sulking.

I reached breaking point in Costa when my daughter sobbed because I told her off for kicking the table and spilling coffee everywhere (it was a wobbly table but I was tired and over-reacted). Hubbie reached boiling point stuck in a stationary car with the kids, during the time it took me to return the boots we’d bought our son because he decided they were too tight.

I’m used to me breaking: it’s always a bit tougher when we both break.

Too much child-whining, too long at home all together, too little sleep and we’re all ready to run away. Problem is there is no where to run to, so we try and put a brave face on it and muddle through to bedtime hoping tomorrow will be better.

Kids Co-operating

Kids Co-operating

It’s in my nature to see it as all my fault: the kids’ whining is my fault for not being a firm or consistent enough parent. Husband’s misery is my fault because of the kids’ behaviour and because I got cross/sad/broken when they had a tantrum in the coffee shop. It’s even my fault that hubbie is cleaning the kitchen right now instead of relaxing because I’m not a good enough housewife. You get the idea. I think I’ve said sorry about a zillion times today.

The problem is hubbie is even more sensitive to my moods than I am to his. So my constant apologies and taking of blame just make him more miserable. He needs me to be happy, but I find that almost impossible when my solid rock of cheerfulness and optimism is sad. I take his calmness so much for granted yet find it so difficult to be the person he needs me to be at times like this: i.e. cheerful. It’s not a natural state for me at the best of times! My Dad had the nickname Morbid Mick and I definitely take after him.

So I’m currently sitting on the landing outside a closed bathroom door listening to the kids play in the bath – because my kids don’t want me they want Daddy. I’m listening to hubbie clean the kitchen by himself because he doesn’t want me down there helping if I can’t be happy.

Sigh. When is it bedtime?

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:

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“Good afternoon, Melanie Carleton speaking.”

Claire sighed in relief. “Mum, thank goodness. I was so worried. I’m at the primary school, Ruth asked me to collect Sky but she isn’t here. Did she tell me the wrong time?” Now wasn’t the time for accusations. Blaming someone with a brain tumour would do nothing but cast her as the evil sister.

“Claire, how nice of you to get in touch. Sky is fine, no thanks to you. I received a telephone call from the school yesterday, querying why my granddaughter had not been collected. I was not amused.”

“And you didn’t think to phone and make sure I was okay? I was mugged last week, you know: knocked unconscious.” The hot words were out before Claire could extinguish them.

“No, Claire. Getting bopped on the head for being a silly girl and walking home alone does not compare to having doctors remove part of your brain. Although I am beginning to wonder if someone has done the same to you. How could you let Ruth down so badly?”

Tears swamped Claire’s eyes at the unfairness of it all. I didn’t do anything wrong. She told me the wrong day. Knowing self-defence was futile against her mother, Claire swallowed and let the rant run its course.

Eventually her parent fell silent. When Claire didn’t respond, she spat out, “Well, what have you got to say? Cat got your tongue?”

Inhaling deeply so she wouldn’t choke on the words, Claire said softly, “Sorry Mum, I must have misheard Ruth’s instructions. I’m sorry you were put out and you’ve had Sky all day. I’ll be there as soon as I can. As long as you’re all okay, that’s the main thing.”

“You mean apart from one screaming in disappointment since 4pm last night and the other recovering from brain surgery and thinking her sister doesn’t give a hoot. Yes we are all okay here, as you put it.”

Claire disconnected the phone. She wasn’t sure if her mother had finished but she knew there were limits to how long she could keep her own mouth shut. It’s going to be bad enough going round there now, without antagonising Mother further. Trying to tell her the truth when she thinks she knows what’s what is like trying to find clothes in your size in the sale.

She drained the dregs of her tea and straightened her knife and fork. It was tempting to order another drink, preferably a large gin and tonic, but she thought better of it. Arriving reeking of alcohol when I’m about to be put in charge of a six-year-old for two weeks is probably not a great idea. I can’t even get a latte to go, as Stella doesn’t have cup-holders.

Looking around the calm oasis of the coffee shop, Claire wondered why she had ever found it lonely travelling by herself. With no more reasons to put it off, she squared her shoulders and strode to the door.

***

6 thoughts on “I’m Happy, You’re Happy: 2013 365 Challenge #92

  1. I do so relate to that ‘it’s all my fault scenario’. I tend to feel that it’s up to me to make all my family happy and solve all their problems (even though my daughters are 18 and 21). I think it must come with the territory of being a mum!

    • We women are very good at guilt and self-blame! We should cut ourselves a break, definitely. Bit worried it doesn’t wear off – must consider assertiveness classes before my kids are teenagers! 🙂

  2. I do not feel the least bit guilty when my husband pitches in to clean up in the kitchen, and you shouldn’t either. Being a housewife doesn’t require you to clean up every mess, especially when he is more than likely eating as much food as you coming out of that kitchen. When I cook, I neaten up as I go along. When hubby feels like rustling up some grub he throws sauce all over, drops food bits on floor and every counter surface, and dirties up every possible pan and plate. I love his results on the plate, ’cause he is a fine cook, but he knows I won’t deal with the resulting mess by myself. It is only fair that he cleans a majority of the disaster. I finish up to actually unslime the stovetop etc, but he washes dishes and big pots and pans. But no guilt when he cleans….he lives there too, and we share duties, that is unless he finds a pile of money to hire a daily maid. Do your best and stop beating yourself up. If you do all the housework you’ ll just spoil him and raise unreasonable expectations in him that you’ll get sick of fulfilling when you are old and grey someday. Ok, done opining…best of luck.

    • My hubbie isn’t lazy (well, no more than me), it’s just we have a division of labour: I’m responsible for inside stuff (shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry) and he’s responsible for outside stuff (cleaning up dog-poop, gardening, car maintenance). The problem is at at the moment, with hubbie off work and me doing the daily blog, there is twice the amount of stuff to do in the house and I have half the time to do it! I agree though, the balance needs to be reset from time to time. There isn’t much gardening to do in the winter, for example, but much more hot food and laundry required! I like it when he cleans the kitchen because, apart from the strange blindness that means he never sees the dirty hob, he does a much more thorough job than I do. 🙂

  3. I’ve had so many days like that! It’s great having hubby at home to help out, but it does mean he’s less tolerant of our daughter’s ups and downs than he used to be when he was out at work all day! Hope tomorrow is a better day for you.

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