Universe, are you trying to tell me something?

I have a good life: my children (6, 2.5 and 1) are healthy and happy (most of the time), my husband is gorgeous, clever and funny (most of the time), we are financially secure, and have a loving and supportive extended family and good friends. My life is good – I should be completely happy, and I really love being a Mum. But somehow I believe I would be a much better one if I saw my children just a little less… Can I say that? Can I think it?

I know my children will only be young for such a short time, and I should savour the moment with delight and enthusiasm. Sometimes it’s easy – I love the questions they ask, the smiles they radiate, the stories I get to read while lying together in a cosy warm bed, the handstands I must score out of 10…

But increasingly, I find myself irritated and irritable. Why won’t my 2.5 year old daughter stop scratching her siblings? Will she ever get into the car without writhing about and kicking me in the face? When will she stop calling me a poo poo bum bum? And what of her 6 year old sister? Will she ever have a bath or shower at night without argument? Will she ever clean her teeth when I ask her to? Just once? Will she always ignore me when I ask her a question? And while my love affair with my 1 year old son has been able to withstand him crying whenever I leave the room, how will it cope when he learns to talk (back)?

Sometimes I find myself frustrated to my core. Fights that erupt the moment I go downstairs to hang out the washing, the washing itself which materialises relentlessly day after day after day after day, the children who change their clothes 5 times in 2 hours, flinging discarded outfits into the washing pile with gay abandon because it is much easier to do that than put them away… not to mention the Mt Everest of clean washing that perpetually goads me when I walk through our living room, asking me in a whiney voice (is there any other type of voice?) when it might expect to be folded. And washing is just the beginning. How can there be this much housework to be done every single day??

I want to be the type of Mum who has fun with her children – who supports them and laughs with them and guides them calmly through the ups and downs of growing up. But despite all my best efforts (I read Buddhism for Mothers on a perpetual loop) I’m not sure I’m being the type of Mum I want to be. I get the sense right now that my children will be left not with comforting memories of a joyous time filled with laughter and learning, but rather will remember their mother’s angst and frustration, the sense of her always being in a hurry to do the next job, an uneasy awareness of a Mum nearby who is quick to anger over childhood infractions.

My first sign from the universe that something needed to change came one recent Saturday afternoon when my husband was picking up the dog poo in our back yard (not a small job, given we have 2 beagles who are walked far too infrequently). Some wives might appreciate their husband carrying out this unsavoury task – might even provide some recognition of a job well done. Not me. I found myself so in need of time away from our children that I proceeded to march out to our back yard and fight him for the pleasure of performing the job myself if he would just go and look after the kids, for goodness sake.

Sign #2 was a slow burn. I didn’t recognise it overnight. In fact, it took a number of weeks for me to realise the message I was being sent. It only dawned on me when I noticed I had gone through two or three large jars of Nutella in as many weeks. With my husband away on business three nights each week, I was so mentally and physically exhausted by the time I had finished the evening routine that I would gorge on chocolate without even thinking. Indeed the only thought I had was one of disbelief that I hadn’t thought to melt Nutella in the microwave and pour it over ice cream before! Don’t get me wrong, I stand by it as a fantastic idea – I just think three large jars in three weeks is excessive. The quantities make sense when you consider the 1:1 ratio of warm Nutella to ice-cream, but all the same…

The final sign from the universe was the most frightening. It was the wake up call I needed to seek to rebalance my life. It happened one quiet Friday evening at home when I decided we needed wine. The local bottle shop is not far, but on the way there I found myself seriously contemplating what would happen if I just kept on driving. Where would I go? What would I do? Could I leave? In the end, I settled on buying not one but two bottles of wine, and I drove straight home to drink them with my loving husband. But the thoughts that went through my mind on that short car trip were enough to shock me into realising that something needed to change.

Being a full time stay-at-home Mum is one of the hardest jobs I have ever done. I wish I could be calmer, more patient, more centred – if I were, I would be much better at it. I have nothing but the utmost respect for those who do it well and only wish I could be more like them.  But having given it a shot, I realise it is not for me long term. I need some balance in my world that I don’t have right now. I need to be able to spend some time alone with my thoughts, and I need them not to be thoughts about my children’s tantrums or what’s for dinner. I need to feel a sense of tangible achievement stemming from things I do outside my home and family if for no other reason than that it will make me kinder, more appreciative, and more loving toward them – helping myself and those I cherish be happier each and every day.

It is true that my children will be little for such a short time, and during that time I want to be loving, patient, calm, engaged. Isn’t it better for this time to seem like it is over in a happy, delicious moment than for it to drag by in one long, irritable tirade of ‘why-can’t-you-just-be-more-helpful!!??’ The challenges will still exist, of course, but I think I will be much better equipped to deal with them when they arise with patience and kindness if I also have somewhere else to go where I can be challenged, and feel smart, engaging and perhaps even appreciated.

It is possible that going back to work won’t be all it’s cracked up to be. I know it’s a juggling act that can leave one feeling exhausted and guilt-ridden – I’ve done it before.  And I haven’t even thought about how to find and secure my dream job which has loads of responsibility and is extremely fulfilling but only requires me for 3 days a week (ok, maybe a fourth from home). Plus, having recently moved cities we have no childcare in place yet and I have visions of phone conversations with recruiters while my children scream for me in the background, conveying that I am not a woman who has everything (or indeed anything) under control.

There is much work to be done to re-establish my sense of balance. Truth be told, given my nature I suspect this will always be a work in progress. But when the universe communicates with me via dog poo fights, Nutella gluttony, and anxious trips to the bottle shop – I can but listen, adjust and go forth…

Images courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net and bulldogza/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


21 thoughts on “Universe, are you trying to tell me something?

  1. Love your work, Charlotte Rose!! I like to think that I am a mum who has fun with her children, who laughs with them and supports them but “guides them calmly through the ups and downs of growing up”? Forget it!! Does this woman truly exist outside of the Brady Bunch? I think if you get through the week on only a couple of bottles of wine and a few tubs of nutella you are doing ok. After all, you didn’t actually drive away into the distance, you only thought about it. And who hasn’t considered the mindless (yet revolting) chore of, shall we say, “backyard environmental officer” more enticing than playing King Solomon during yet another sibling altercation? I definitely get your point though….good luck with finding a new job and making the myriad of arrangements that it will entail. Oh and if you find the secret to the guiding calmly bit, let me know!!!

    • Thanks Pirate Fairy for leaving my first ever comment – a huge thrill to receive! Funny you should mention the Brady Bunch – I watched a couple of episodes recently with my girls, and have found myself fantasising about having an Alice of my very own…

  2. Charlotte Rose, GREAT blog. Very funny, particularly the part about fighting your husband to clean up the dog poo. I’ve only one child (3 months) and each night when my partner gets home i “duck” down to the shops on my own (coincidentally usually to the bottle shop). Each time he nervously says to me “you’re coming back right?” I know he’s only half joking. Please keep us up to date with the job search…(i too spoke to a recruiter on the phone with a crying baby behind a closed door!) xx

    • Thanks nickygfirsttimemum (wow – did I spell that right??)!! Hmmm – if partner is slightly nervous about a 50m walk to the local (bottle) shops, I wonder what he’ll say when you raise the idea of a girls’ weekend in Sydney?? 🙂 xx

  3. Darling Charlotte Rose, what a strong voice you have. You’ve made me laugh and cry this Saturday morning. Please keep writing and keep updating us. Good luck with the search. It’s incredibly reassuring to know I’m not the only one with these thoughts – and that some one I adore has them too. Love to you, Gary and the gang. xx

  4. Hilarious, love it, actually are you in my head or am I really reading this? My adorable 1, 2, 3.5 and 5 yr old boys have the ability to turn me into someone I am not familiar with which generally manifests as a very loud monster (poor neighbors… Am always apologizing to them!). Mmmmm balanced I can only dream of it while drowning in washing, nappies, vegemite sandwiches and bolognaise… I have just dipped a toe into the job search and find the best place to take the calls is hiding in the cubby house or up a tree. Good luck to you Charlotte Rose, can’t wait to hear more!

    • Thank you Pinktulip – for your kind comments, for sharing your own challenges (four boys under 6 – now that is impressive!!), and for making me look at our trees in a new light. We have one in our front yard which I think will work quite nicely…

  5. Made me laugh out loud! Yes, the washing & how many outfits can they wear & yet, whenever you actually decide to play a role in what they wear (beacuse I gave that battle up shortly after birth – hence a 5 year old who sleeps in her togs – don’t get me started about what she was going to wear on pyjama day at school!), then that one item of clothing that you think they should wear, well, of course it’s scrunched up in the back of the draw & yep, you guessed it, filthy! How does this happen when there is a constant procession of clothes tossed back into the laundry – sometimes even folded because they couldn’t be bothered to put them away! And yes, I can relate to the dog poo solitude (I don’t even have a dog)! Husband helps by folding teh washing, going downstairs (away from most of the family) & sits & watches his shows. I appreciate it & rationally know that that is what he can contribute with other demands on him etc but still part of me thinks, why can’t I ever be left alone to do a job & why do we have ovens that are down low where little ones can reach and risk getting burnt on a daily occurence. Anyway, a very enjoyable read Charlotte Rose & I am not a blogger type person. Can’t wait for the novel! xo

    • Ah – DC&Shiraz, I can tell you feel my pain! But what have I been thinking all this time? Hubby spends hours watching the AFL each weekend – what I will do is place the folding by his side and see what happens!! Perhaps such an experiment could be the topic of a future blog post…?! xx

  6. Dearest Charlotte Rose, You had me nodding and thanking the universe that I wasn’t the only one who had these thoughts!!!! Life certainly does throw us some curve balls sometimes and it becomes a delicate balancing act. I hope you find your dream job, your kids enjoy spending time with you and that the balance you crave is returned once more. You are a wonderful Mum…never forget that your husband and your kids are SO lucky to have you. Much love from down south. We miss you! Meals

  7. Hi Charlotte Rose, definitely, if you crack the secret to being a calm, patient mum who continuously enjoys her children, write a novel and you’ll make millions! I can relate so much to your feelings of being irriated and irritable, and all the signs – does everyone feel this way? Though I’ve got that 3-day a week job and have been thinking the opposite – if I gave up the job, then I’d have time to be a better Mum – but I’m now thinking if I did that I’ll still have the same problem and will just be poor and grumpy instead!

    • Hi CantThinkofAFunnyBlogName! Yes, I did wonder if there might be an element of the grass is always greener… As it happens, I have found myself too busy writing blog articles to really kick-start the job search process yet so perhaps further thoughts is needed?! Thanks for relating – you always seem so composed… makes me feel much better!! xx

  8. Oh Charlotte Rose – I would just like to start by saying you are the MOST wonderful mother I know. Your imagination, creativity and sense of fun make you the Mum that my kids would love to have. This is just beautifully written and puts into words the unrequited love I feel for my kids, the resentment that seeps throughout my body at being at their beck, the sense of berwilderment I get when hanging out the washing and wondering how on earth my life came to be represented by the 27 individual socks staring back at me on the line and the gratitude I have for this fruit salad of emotions and the people who’ve inspired them. Please keep writing – this feels like only the beginning of your story.

    • Oh Em – what a lovely comment you have left for me. You know, when I read it I got a bit teary – you just made my day… And then again yesterday as I was hanging out the washing and despairing of the individual socks without a partner, I thought of you and smiled. xx

  9. I am loving your writing. I haven’t quite yet fought my husband to pick up our dog’s poo in the garden yet but it can only be a matter of minutes away now you’ve given me the idea 😀

    • Thank you so much, Carole! You have just made my day. In fact, I need to go downstairs now and pick up the dog poo (our architect will be here in 20 minutes, and it’s probably poor form if he steps in some). But now I will do it with a big smile on my face because you said you like my writing!! Xx

      • You are properly laugh-out-loud funny 🙂

        And I am having the most miserable week, so my laughter bar is set high this week!

        Hope the Architect stepped well 🙂 x

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