Those of you who follow my Instagram will have clocked that last week wasn’t a great one for me and the eggs I have been juggling for a while smashed in a disgusting, snotty shaped Kate mess on the kitchen floor. The precursor to my Mamageddon showed itself as an inability to keep track of simple things… my brain was shutting down slowly – lost keys, lost wallet and before long…. lost mind.
Sometimes people say to me ‘I don’t know how you do it all’ while I stand thinking exactly the same thing about them. The point is – none of us can do it all indefinitely, at least not do it all WELL.
For me the lead up to my collapse involved some serious sleep deprivation, a subtle decline in any time to myself to get any work done let alone switch off and read a book in the bath and the axe of an imminent half term with two bored tweens hanging over my neck. After a terrible nights sleep at the weekend I woke up and decided enough was enough. I was broken. Cue tears, oh so many tears and a complete inability or willing to make any decisions other than to bury my desperately in need of a wash hair under a pillow.
Now I’m nothing if not considerate and fortunately my meltdown came on a Sunday morning allowing the family a little time to decide what on earth t0 do about the fact that Mummy was a snivelling mound under the duvet (the cover of which was also overdue a good wash) and after some phone calls, debate and some time spent waiting for me to sort myself out it was decided that yes, I was indeed having some sort of breakdown and a trip to the seaside to be looked after my mum (albeit with the three children) was in order. Necessary transportation arrangements were made – I couldn’t drive – I hadn’t slept for a week and by now my eyelids were swollen shut from crying.
The intricacies of how my family managed this difficult shutdown of the mothering element of my brain over the next three days is really by the by, the point is I had reached my saturation point. My mothering sponge was sopping wet and needed a good wringing out. And what a perfect analogy that is as the reality was that I spent the next three days sat dribbling by the side of the bath much like a sopping wet sponge (really I probably should have been thrown away and replaced by a new model, maybe one made of soft organic foam with exfoliating features). A bit of extra sleep, some great home cooking (not prepared or cooked by me) and no pressure to achieve or respond or decide or just generally adult left me right as rain and now I will no doubt launch myself into yet more commitments and activities and playdates and creative endeavours and those that I love will sigh in disbelief when I meltdown again in six months or a year. But they’ll still love me won’t they?
As mums, over the years, we get really really good at paddling furiously under water making a thousand decisions an hour and like a swan (albeit sometimes a sweaty, slightly mangled swan with gigantic eye bags) above the surface we seem to glide elegantly about our daily lives. In fact we get so good that when the point of meltdown arrives we do it just as spectacularly as we rear our children, do our jobs, run our businesses and our homes , nothing is worth doing by halves don’t you think?
I have no true tips for avoiding the Mamageddon. I came away from mine with loads of ideas and warnings and advice on how I was doing too much and that my priorities are out of balance – at the time they all seemed really useful but I know I won’t change. I like to do stuff and to do it well and if that means I have to have the most spectacular toddler tantrum every now and again then all I can say is I’m sorry. It’s me, but thank you for being there to protect me when I fall.
So if you’re reading this feeling a bit wobbly, anxious or stressed or very simple things seem to be more complicated than before then you may be on the verge of a your own mummy meltdown. It’s ok – reach out to those you love and prepare to clear the desk. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again…. you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Photography: Mouse About Town