Today, I had to leave the house.
It’s the last few torturous days of the summer school holidays. Hubster’s been unwell. He’s been on the couch watching countless Midsomer Murders since Thursday. The kids have been on their iPads for…well…at least a week. Probably two if I’m honest. I should take them outside, get them on their bikes at least. But I can’t be bothered. I just want all these bodies out of the house. I’ve had enough.
When Twin One threw a tantrum that rivaled those we saw when he was two years old, I knew I had to go. Hubster was trying to calm him down. Against my judgement, mind you. I’d told Hubster to leave him alone; it was purely attention-seeking screaming. But he went anyway and you guessed it, his presence only escalated the tantrum. I went to his room, where he was sitting, tears rolling down his cheeks, on Hubster’s lap, to speak to him and he screamed at me to ‘Go away’. So I did. I grabbed my sunnies, my library book, phone, reading glasses and purse and I left the house, without so much as a by-your-leave. I grabbed the keys to one of the cars and, wiping away my tears, left. I didn’t know where I was going; I had no money, so a movie was out. Sadly, even a coffee at a cafe was out. So I drove to a nearby park and sat a on bench and read. For three hours.
In the park around me were families who seemed to be getting it right. Playing cricket, bike riding, watching the ducks in the pond. Sure, things would go awry: the family playing cricket had an incident with a bat thrown (accidentally, so I overheard) into a sibling’s face. It was all handled extraordinarily well. The thrower apologised. The throwee cried, of course, but soothed herself. The mother called drinks. I put down my book to wipe more tears away and thought if that was my family, my children would all be screaming, and they’re considerably older than the children in this picture-perfect family. Precisely where did I go wrong?
I knew that I was being overly dramatic. My kids are mostly well-behaved and polite. But in my state, I wondered briefly about the fuck up I’ve made of my life and my children’s lives. Should I go back? I always knew that I’d return. Where else would I go for starters? But honestly, I went back before I truly wanted to: I was hungry and needed to pee.
It’s too hard this adulting shit. Especially when you throw in parenting on top of adulting. These holidays have been particularly tough. Money is extremely tight, making outings rare. I even had to turn down an offer of meeting school families at a local pool. Very cheap, really. But I had no money whatsoever, and not enough petrol in my car, at the time, to get us there and back without the worry of running out. Sitting on the bench in the park, watching the families around me, I wished I were a duck. How much simpler life would be. Surely ducks aren’t jealous of other ducks. Surely ducks don’t second-guess themselves. Surely ducks don’t need money.
I was reminded of the meme where we’re reminded to be like a duck when we’re experiencing stress: look calm on the surface, but paddle like shit below to keep going. I’m not doing that well. I never look calm on the surface, mostly because I’m unluckily bestowed with RBF (Resting Bitch Face), but also because I can’t fake my feelings. I’ve never had a poker face and my emotions are always right there. Kind of like a scratch’n’sniff, but more like a look’n’see.
For me, right now, it’s too hard being a human. It’s too hard being me. Everybody seems to be better off than I am. For the record, I know that’s not true. I know this too shall pass. But I needed to wallow today. Alone. With no words uttered, not even the pleasantries I normally exchange with strangers in a park on a gorgeous day. I had to.