Yesterday was terrible. The kind of day where your head throbs from the toddler tantrums. The kind of day where you yell at your kids more than you ever thought possible. The kind of day where you suffer from overwhelming guilt and regret because you feel like a bad parent.
I call my husband at 3:30, voice tight, to ask when he is coming home from work.
He immediately says, “What’s wrong?”
And I just start sobbing. I was done. Patience is one of my greatest strengths, but the girls had taken it all.
Yev and I have a rule that we always try to ask for help before our breaking point, but it came upon me so quickly yesterday that I was incomprehensible on the phone.
“I’m packing up. I’m coming home now.”
I nod back to him, even though he can’t see me. I couldn’t even get out the “OK.”
I hang up and sob a little more before picking myself up to handle the screaming newborn waking up from her nap and the toddler twins ripping the duct tape off of their diapers (it’s a surprisingly audible act). Yes, you heard me correctly: duct tape. It was the only thing that could keep their diapers on for sleeping, but I found out today that even triple wrapping them is no match for my dexterous two year olds.
I walk up to V’s door, turn the knob, and approach the crib with lead weight limbs and a hollow heart. I put her on the changing table, dropping tears on her onesie, and go through the motions: rip, rip, pull, wipe; lift, adjust, tape, tape. I pick her up and bounce her on my chest, trying to soothe her as much as myself. I grab a pacifier and head to the twins’ room.
I can hear them shuffling at the blinds and banging at the door to be let out, as if they hadn’t just woken up from a nap, but instead had been imprisoned for hours. They are intermittently screaming and laughing, expressing energy I would give anything to possess. I open the door and sit on their mattresses, holding baby V, as tears cloud my vision and roll down my face.
My phone buzzes under my thigh. I’m on my way, but there’s traffic.
I suppress a sob. It’s amazing how long a 10 minute commute with traffic can feel when suffering. I try not to look at my naked children surrounded by their diapers and crumpled duct tape. How am I going to keep these diapers on for bedtime?
The girls circle me, seeing I’m upset. They place loving hands on my cheeks, pat my back, and stroke my hair. I try to see the sweetness in their concern, but instead I just want to be left alone, untouched. As a mother, we are pulled and prodded all day. I just wanted a moment where my body belonged to me, just me.
I hear the front door creak open. He’s home. Whatever part of myself I had pulled together, I quickly lost upon Yev’s arrival. Help was here, and I could finally fall apart.
“Go, take some time for yourself. I got them.”
I just nod, eyes still locked on the carpet. He takes V from my arms, and I rise from the floor, lifeless. I make myself a cup of tea and a tamale and head back to my room.
My therapeutic mind quickly assessed several factors that contributed to this breakdown. The very basic foundation being frustration, fatigue, and hunger. But when the duct tape debacle hit me, I crumpled.
I was not ok. And on days like this, I accept that sometimes it’s ok to not be ok. I can still be a wonderful mother who loves myself and my children, and I can have a bad day. They are not mutually exclusive. It is in fact because I’m a good mom that I try recognize the stressors that led to this break down and set up safeguards for the future. I’m a good mother because I believe that tomorrow is always an opportunity to implement what was learned today, and I will seize it.