Sometimes when you are married and living in domestic bliss you get these moments where you could just drop what you are holding and move to another country. Change your name. Dye your hair. The little things that have been grinding you down build up to a point where you feel one day, “fuck it, this is not what I signed up for”. At least if I murdered all of them I would probably be out in five years. This is South Africa.
Now let me do the cliché thing and tell you that I love my husband. I certainly love my daughter more than anything else in life. And Lord, shoot me for bothering, but I love my step-daughter too. We have a fairly peaceful, happy home, all things considered.
Then WHY do they all make me so stressed I can feel my hair greying when they are at home? Why do I feel my boobs begin to sag after one hour around them? Why do I feel I can never win?
And no, it’s not that time of the month. I checked.
Every day I calmly tell myself that today I am going to be as cool as a cucumber. I’m going to be happy and walk around with a big smile. No matter what any of them say to me, I will not react negatively. I am a fucking island. It usually lasts five minutes.
Yesterday it all started when I went to pick up my daughter from school. Aayah is a total dreamer. She got into trouble previously because she forgets to go to the toilet at break and then asks to go during class. Then she will muck around in the bathroom, dreaming and singing to herself for perhaps fifteen to twenty minutes. Eventually when she gets back to class she has missed the whole lesson and the teacher and class get disrupted on her account.
So I did what any good mother would do - I threatened her on pain of… well, pain, that if she didn’t stop it there would be Consequences. And all was well in the land of Aayah for a while.
However, this afternoon, as I arrived to collect her, she was on her way back from the bathroom and the teacher informed me that she had again been going to the toilet during class constantly. I gave her a lecture in the car and we headed off to the library. As soon as we got there she started performing for the toilet again – even though she had just gone about ten minutes before. So she had to go to the public library toilet which smells of urine and in which there is no toilet tissue. OK. So now I’m at boiling point. After the library we went straight to Pick n’ Pay to buy bread.
“Mummy, I need the toilet again. I need it really badly.”
Wow. Add to that the everyday homework drama where half an hour of homework is transformed into three hours of telling her every five minutes to concentrate on her work and stop dreaming, punctuated by about ten trips to the toilet, and we have a mother that is ready to jump off a handy bridge.
So I ask myself: does she really have some kind of a problem with her bladder or is this kid just winding me up?
Then I come to the realisation that I am the bad one here. I just have no patience. Is there some kind of magical elixir, a pill perhaps, that I can swallow? “Patience in 5 minutes – guaranteed!” Wouldn’t that be deliciously easy…
Kids are just kids, and I need to admit that I have issues with anger.
The same hot temper gets fired up when my husband gets home. Everything he says to me, I want to jump down his throat for, and make him see that he is wrong and I am right. When I look at my own behaviour afterwards I see a fishwife staring me in the face.
I’m not saying they don’t all have their faults. But my need for control overpowers everyone, even the person I am inside. It’s as if I need everything to be so perfect it could be straight out of a magazine. I suppose that my past has left me with such strong feelings of helplessness that now I want to exert my will and authority over everyone to make sure I am never treated badly again. I expect Aayah to be perfect because I want her to grow up not making the mistakes I made.
Every night after I have put Aayah to bed I regret the harsh words I have spoken to her. I ask myself: today did I build my child up or did I break her down? Did I shatter her self-confidence? Did my kind words, hugs and kisses outweigh my shouts and criticisms? Just about every night I fall lower in my estimation as a good parent.
Today it has been a full hour since she came home from school and I have not yet shouted. I have calmly and patiently asked her to do her work quickly, promising to read her a story if she finishes before 5pm.