‘Seriously, surely there must be more people that live here that I know nothing about,’ you say to yourself, as you walk past the huge mountain of washing stacked up on the couch waiting to be rescued.
You’ve just cleaned up a lunch mess and dealt with a toddler that refuses to eat any of the healthy array of options you have lovingly presented and has, instead, decided to repeatedly throw all the food on the floor. You walk into your elder child’s room - who is currently at school - and there are towels all over the floor, food wrappers, dirty clothes, and you realise the bedding needs to be changed again. ‘Another few loads of washing then,’ you mutter to yourself.
You have work emails to attend to – and there’s that one you have been meaning to get to for days. The housework needs to be done because friends are coming over tomorrow for dinner. Your husband needs his GST filed by next week. You wanted to have started dinner prep by now. The morning seems to have disappeared. Why is there never enough time?
After hanging another load of washing up, you find your husband has left the contents of his wallet sprawled over your bedside table, three pairs of shoes are scattered around the room, his clothes from yesterday lie on the bathroom floor instead of in the actual washing basket, and his whiskers are scattered all over the bathroom sink like a black hairy array of unwelcome confetti at a party that no one asked for. ‘Seriously, how hard is it to clean up after yourself,’ you think as you pick the clothes off the floor and wash the spiky bits of hair down the sink, while you remember that weeding he keeps telling you he will do every weekend, but never does.
You catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and for a moment, wish that it was the younger, brighter, slimmer, less sleep-deprived version of you that was looking back. Or perhaps it would be good if your reflection resembled Amanda from next door, who always seems to look effortlessly chic, radiant, and blooming. You know slim-legged Amanda has just returned from a winery tour up North with friends and feel a pang of envy at her ability to roam free.
High pitched yelling distracts you from your train of thought. As you walk back to the living room, picking up scattered toys along the way, you realise in the space of ten minutes your toddler has pulled the dirt out of a plant and spread it all over the carpet, drawn on the walls with the crayons he was playing with, and has somehow managed to get himself stuck in the bottom kitchen drawer. ‘Mummy, mummy, I stuck,’ he whines.
‘Great, another lot of messes to clean up,’ you whisper as you free your toddler and slump on the couch, squished into the middle of the mountain of washing that suddenly seems bigger – all with a huge sigh of exhaustion. You feel the familiar pangs of guilt – for not playing enough with him on your days off, for not getting enough work done or being the best version of you in your role, for all the jobs that need doing, yet you never seem to have the time to do.
Sliding doors version one – pushing through
‘I’m home,’ your husband chants as he walks through the front door, looking chipper with himself after his day at work. You ignore him as you’re still annoyed with the whisker confetti party in the sink, and with how your day has panned out. The vacuuming took forever as you were continually interrupted by new messes and toddler meltdowns. The GST isn’t done. Work emails are still waiting. Plus, your boss phoned earlier and asked for that report she’s been waiting on and you said you’d try to do that tonight. Dinner prep hasn’t started, and you’re aware you should have at least tried to get food on the table by now.
He takes a beer from the fridge and sits down on the couch disrupting the neatly stacked washing lined up above him. ‘What’s up with you?’ he says.
You feel a pang of fury at him for being so selfish sitting down and not helping with everything there is to do.
An argument unleashes.
Sliding doors version two – pausing and re-setting
You pick yourself up from the slumped sigh on the couch, find your gratitude journal, and pause with your pen in hand, as you stare out the window at the beautiful sunny day outside.
- I have two healthy children that love and adore me, as I do them.
- I am healthy. My body has grown and birthed two babies. I am so lucky to have them. My body has done wonderful things.
- I love my smile. I am grateful for my determined spirit.
- I am fortunate to have a role that provides me with income and stability, and the flexibility to work part-time.
- I love my work colleagues Jen and Oliver who always put a smile on my face and make the workday fun.
- My husband works hard for our family so we can have a good life.
- He made me coffee in bed this morning.
- I love that he always makes an effort to take the kids biking in the weekends.
- I love this cosy spot in the house, with the sun streaming in the window.
- I am lucky to live in a comfortable home.
- I love living so close to the river and being able to go for walks in nature.
- I am thankful for the food we are always able to provide our family.
- I am grateful to have today off work to spend time with my little boy.
You surprise yourself at how your pen keeps flowing and words have continued to spill all over the extra note space in your journal.
You decide the housework and to-dos can wait - you don’t want to waste the sunshine – so you head down to the river with your toddler. You watch him playing in the shallow waters with rocks, picking up sticks, and marvelling at the different shaped leaves. He looks up at you with the biggest smile, which melts your heart. He is such a little treasure.
When your boss phones you explain that you won’t be able to have the reports done until next week, which she said is fine. You decide the vacuuming can wait, as you want to spend just a little longer down here at the river with the sunshine on your face and the fresh air blowing through your hair.
As your husband walks through the door chanting ‘I’m home,’ you give him a big ‘hello - I love you’ hug, the kind that doesn’t need to be accompanied by words. You explain you haven’t got around to cooking dinner yet, so you decide to make something together, while taking turns to play and talk with the kids, as you have a disjointed conversation about weekend plans. You see Amanda get home from work next door and give her a big wave, as you suddenly realise it might be hard sometimes coming home to an empty house. You remind yourself again, that while these children are hard work and can cause chaos, how lucky you are to have a home that is bursting full of love.