The clock hasn’t even hit 8:30 but I feel worn out, and a quick glance in the mirror shows that I look that way as well. My skin is bumpy and dry and my hair is wild even though it is in a ponytail. I would love a glass of wine to sip before bed, but there is none to be found in the kitchen of my parent’s guesthouse and vineyard. I know. I settle for three, yes three, chocolate brownies instead, that are intended for the unrelated guesthouse guests, thinking about how I will make more for my mom in the morning. I’m visiting my parents a province away, with my kiddos, but no husband, who stayed at home to work and won’t meet us until next weekend for camping. We arrived yesterday after leaving our home at 4:30 am. Everyone is still catching up on that missed sleep.
The day had gone so well. We all helped make and serve breakfast, farm chores were done and early naps were had and we headed to the beach. Joy was found there - jumping off the dock, swimming to the floating island, sliding into the water, chasing each other around and digging in the sand. Papa brought fried chicken from a fast food restaurant to the beach, the first my kids have ever had and it was devoured along with many veggies we had picked ourselves from the garden. Liam ate three, yes three, pieces of chicken and declared it ‘just so yummy!’ All wanted to know why we never eat it at home.
Back at the house, the girls have an early bath and soon everyone is clean and in their jammies. Then Raine falls from a chair, but catches her foot in the back spindle so she is hanging there, all her weight suspended on her tiny, twisted ankle. She is screaming and shaking and it takes many minutes to settle her on the couch with a bag of ice and her two stuffed kitties.
From upstairs I hear a clunk and it’s Haven who has fallen off the bed and landed on her face and bit a good sized chunk from her top lip. I’m thinking how nothing bleeds quite like a mouth injury while I nurse her trying to keep her quiet.
Because tonight of all nights, is the night before the Ironman Triathlon all the guesthouse guests are racing in come 6:30 am. All are needing a good night’s sleep before rising to participate in something they have trained months or years for, spent thousands of dollars on and travelled from far away to attend. My nerves are frazzled and I’m anxious about the athletes experience being impacted by my children and feeling the pressure to keep everyone still. Still and quiet.
Of course, of course, of course, Liam comes racing up the stairs howling, because he has stood up underneath the countertop hard, and split a small piece of his scalp open. I’m thinking I was wrong, very wrong before, because nothing bleeds quite like a scalp injury, while my mom searches the first aid kit for some butterfly tape.
Finally, thank God, no one is crying and Grammy is reading stories and I am tweeting (because it feels like it will help before I can get to the wine and chocolate). Soon all are asleep, not just the athletes, and I head downstairs and call my husband and tell him I love him and I’m sorry, so sorry for ever taking him for granted and how thankful I am our babies are now okay.
I find and eat the brownies and think about going to bed, but decide to write this instead. Because I want to remember. Parenting, yes, it can be beautiful, but it can also be beautifully trying. And I want to remember this time, that even when all of it is hitting the fan, and I hold it together and cuddle all my kids and say all the right things. Inside all I want to do is keep them safe, not see them hurting and somehow to do this I want to yell, why can’t we be more careful and less wild, and for the love please be quiet (yes I know you are hurt) because there are people sleeping downstairs. Because I'm overwhelmed and worried and upset all my kids have gotten hurt in one night on my watch. And I’m not even praying the most important prayer at a time like this, which is of course help! I’m not even thinking of praying, and yet by some miracle I am holding it together.
Which of course, is the most important thing I remember during the brownies. That I wasn’t even praying for it, and yet I still got it.