Sometimes I feel like a kettle.
Not just any kettle, but one of those old ones. The ones that sit on the hob and make a loud whistling noise when the water’s hot enough for a cup of tea.
Yesterday was a typical Kettle Day.
I have to describe it like that, as it’s the only way I can think of what happened last night without getting upset. It wasn’t funny at the time.
I was tired, my daughter was tired, we were both tired.
Having been up for work since 3.30am and only having my usual 5/6 hours sleep, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to deal with the hugest tantrum known to man. This tantrum lasted from 4pm until 5.40pm.
And when I say tantrum, I’m talking the works.
Not just screams and the constant pull on my shirt with, “Mummy, mummy, MUUUMMMY!” as I tried to dish up a hot supper. But the throwing of said dinner across the room with shrieks of “YOGHURT! NOW!”
I didn’t recognise my gorgeous child. Tiredness had taken her and replaced her with something else.
Her face was red, angry. The screams were so loud I could see people outside on the pavement walking past our dining room and looking round, trying to work out where the noise was coming from.
I stayed calm. On the surface. Expecting my husband through the door any minute I took the food away and began to run a bath.
Still with an angry, screaming child hanging off me, trying to ignore my constantly bleeping phone telling me yet more emails were waiting to be dealt with, I took a deep breath.
Still no husband.
With the bath ready, I attempted to strip off my daughter and sing her a song to distract from the noise coming out of her mouth. As I took off her t’shirt she launched herself at me. Hitting, scratching, shouting, “NO MUMMY! NO MUMMY! NO MUMMY!”
Remember that kettle? It’s getting hotter and hotter.
Still no husband.
Resigned to doing bathtime by myself, I tackled the gravy in my daughter’s hair, while she lunged at my face and cried and cried and cried. Still the phone is bleeping.
I can feel myself getting smaller and smaller. The kettle is starting to whistle.
I sing to my distraught and angry toddler as I dry her hair and retrieve her pyjamas. And as I attempt to get a nappy on her, the kettle shrieks.
My husband is still not home. At this particular moment, on this particular day, as I battle my early start and constant work deadlines, bleeping phone and angry angry angry child, this feels like the end of the world.
The task of getting a nappy on my little girl rises before me like a huge mountain. It’s a battle that can’t be won.
And I lose it.
I shout, “STOP” over and over again as my daughter throws herself at me. Biting and pinching and scratching.
The phone bleeps.
And I see myself. On the floor of my toddler’s room. Exhausted. Broken. Shouting.
And I hate myself.
And I cry. Great, heaving sobs.
And I throw the nappy to the other side of the room and just sit there, looking at my daughter in between the tears, while she looks back at me.
Tears coursing down our faces. Drained.
And at that moment, my daughter shuffles over to me and puts her arms around me. She’s not crying any more. She just kisses my cheek and strokes my arm.
The nappy goes on. We read a story together. We sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and bedtime is over, just like that.
No fuss. No getting out of bed. No calling, “Mummy, mummy, mummy”. Just peace.
So, just as my husband walks through the door, I slump.
Feeling like I’ve failed at motherhood today and been beaten by work, I take myself to bed at 6pm.
The phone bleeps.
And I fall asleep.