Some of you parents, grandparents or carers might recognise the following scenario:
You sit down with a freshly percolated, steaming hot cup of coffee… and breathe in the delicious scent with satisfaction. You’ve earned this! Do your first delectable dip of chocolate chip cookie, then –
‘Mummmmmyyyyyy! I’m done!’
You fly [almost literally] to the aid of a preschooler, who is prone to slide off the toilet prematurely in her enthusiasm …
You deposit the three year old somewhere ‘safe,’ then dash to the next room, only to find the next sheepish culprit, who looks like she’s just finished a colour run.
‘I’m so sorry mummy, it was an excellent’ [she means accident.]
Accident of excellent proportions, more like.
As you begin scrubbing a rainbow of colour from your kitchen chairs, the five year old who spilt the paint suddenly decides she is as thirsty as a camel.
‘Mummy, I’m absolutely parched. I need a drink. I need a drink of water NOW. I’ll die without a drink. I can’t wait for a drink. I just CAN’T. Waiting is so hard.’
Operation clean up suspended. You pour said glass of water with a smi – no, let’s be honest – you do it with gritted teeth.
‘Mummmmyyyyyy. I’m stuck!’
Now it seems the little one has got herself firmly wedged behind the sofa. Emerge from Operation Rescue red-faced but triumphant: you found Skye from Paw Patrol while you were in there!
Five year old: ‘Mummy, can we make a castle out of toilet rolls, paint it pink and cover it with glitter like -‘
‘ I AM NOT AN OCTOPUS!!!!!!!!!’
Stunned silence. The first there has been all day.
It’s bittersweet, of course. You shouldn’t have raised your voice. But it’s strangely beautiful all the same. You bask in it for the five seconds before the mummy guilt inevitably kicks in.
Then you remember your coffee.
Ah. Stone cold.
Do you ever feel like shouting this at the top of your lungs?
‘I am not an octopus!
… I am one person
… with one pair of hands.
… I have a limited attention span
… and a finite capacity for interaction.
… My patience is running thin
… and my creativity is running out!’
I simply cannot be enthusiastic teacher, patient parent, happy housecleaner, caring counsellor, faithful friend, fitness fanatic, bonafide baker and insta-influencer ALL IN ONE DAY.’
Life can feel like that sometimes, can’t it? Some moments in ‘lockdown’ have certainly felt like that for me.
Sometimes we need to remind ourselves, and others, that we have limits.
You are not an octopus! You are human. You just have one pair of hands. And sometimes those hands just need to hold a warm cup of coffee in peace and quiet.
Stick on some soothing music and have that cuppa today, if you can – even if it means putting your headphones on and escaping outside for two minutes, while the kids stare wide-eyed through the window at you.
You might just emerge refreshed enough to complete your next mission.