I Lost My Shit

It’s fair to say I lost my shit.

It wasn’t that I screamed the house down and stamped my feet, it was scarier than that. Something just snapped, maybe it was the hot water running out, the rain falling on the washing I’d hung on the line (again) or the perpetual poo stain in the downstairs toilet – I can’t be sure. I stood at the bottom of the stairs and called out the names of the travellers one by one, and when I didn’t hear an immediate sound of movement I ended with a “NOW!” As they sat lined up on the couch, I heard a strangely calm and measured tone in my voice which I combined with a long, extended glare from child to child. I could see it in their eyes as I moved from one child to another with my list of aggrievances. Fear.

After a week of indulgence at Granny’s house; a week of breakfast in front of the telly, a week where the third little traveller explained to me at midday that the reason he was yet to get dressed was because his clothes were taking awhile to return from the laundry.

“Should we phone down to housekeeping, or maybe check with the concierge?” I suggested.

He looked at me blankly.

“Perhaps you’d like to get off your bottom and go and have a look for them?”

“Oh no,” he said looking a little confused by my lapse of intelligence “Granny will bring them.”

The fourth little traveler was delighted with Hotel le Granny, his favourite thing being her  “full buffet breakfast” with everything you could ever want. Granny had served each traveller their meal of choice, supplied treats on trips to the supermarket, and not only provided free wifi but there was television and a choice of movies as well. It was no surprise when it came time to leave the little travellers weren’t in a hurry to get out of their onesies.

When we returned to the beach house life appeared to go on unchanged. As I cooked my third lot of bacon and eggs for the morning, taking side orders and pouring hot chocolate, it occurred to me that these were the same children who managed to pour their own cereal in a bowl each morning before school. The same children who could make their own beds. Children who were capable of scrambling their own eggs, baking cakes and peeling vegetables. These children now seemed unable to make it to the cutlery drawer to find a knife and fork.

I lost my shit.

After explaining that this was also my holiday and that university was to begin in a week, and that at some stage I would be expected to write words disguised as work. I explained (with my scary calm voice and slightly unhinged facial expression) that I had spent my entire week preparing food, cooking food, sweeping up food and then beginning the process again. That I’d found clean clothes in the washing basket, run through the rain to the supermarket only to be told I’d bought the wrong crackers, and spent a fortune on unnecessary whined for treats. And that yesterday as the hail fell and one of them looked out the window and said “you’ll need to take an umbrella when you go to get us a donut” that they were lucky to still be alive. I was done. DONE!

“This is a share house, we all live together, and you guys are really awful housemates. I’m going to the supermarket and if something doesn’t change around here soon I’m going to set up a roster. You’ve become lazy, selfish and none of you are pulling your weight.”

As I drove away from the house the guilt washed over me. It wasn’t a share house, it was a family, and I was their mother. It was up to me to handle it better, it shouldn’t have come to this. As I wandered through the vegetable section of Foodland I thought of their little faces, and realised I’d let it get this bad. I stopped at the Post Office and picked up a parcel from G, it was a present for the second little travellers birthday this weekend – another wave of guilt. I made my way to the Butchers and then ran back to the car in the rain feeling like a failure, this was our holiday it was meant to be fun and I’d been mean and miserable. I reached into the shopping bags to grab my phone – no phone.

I scrambled through the bags again, emptied the contents onto the floor of the car. Still no phone. I’d lost my phone. It was then that I thought of crawling into a fetal position and sobbing. I walked back inside the shopping centre.

It wasn’t at the Post Office. It wasn’t at the Butchers. I went into customer service at the supermarket.

“Did I leave my phone here?”

“What colour is the screen?” the assistant asked with an arched eye brow.

“Umm, I’m not sure but the case is blue.”

“Yeah, you kind of have to tell me what colour the screen is.”

I could see it on the bench.

“I’m kind of in my 4th week of school holidays with four children and no husband – I can’t remember the colour of screen, it’s covered in apps and icons. Can I please just have my phone? It has a blue case.”

She looked at me blankly.

“If I  put the password in and unlock the phone will you believe me that its mine?”

She turned to her co-worker and they conferred.

Two minutes later and I was running back through the rain to the car with the phone in my pocket.

The first sign that something was up when I returned to the house was Mr 10 at the front gate. “Can you not sit on the couch when you come in, I’ve just cleaned them with the leather cleaner.” Someone had had a go at cleaning the glass door, it was smudged from top to toe but I didn’t care. They’d tried to clean the door! The dishwasher was packed. There was a faint smell of cleaning product throughout the house, and the washing machine was running.

“Guys, this is amazing, thank you!”

Everyone immediately jumped in to take ownership on every job they’d done. I had a sous chef at dinner, vegetables were peeled, garbage taken out and washing folded – and when I made my way to the downstairs toilet at the end of the night ready to face the inevitable poo stain I was greeted by white frothy bubbles in the bowl. For a moment I was confused, and then I realised they were bubbles of cleaning product (I hate to think of how much they tipped down the loo) BUT THERE WERE BUBBLES!

I’m under no illusion that this is going to last. I know that we’ll return to the asking, which develops into nagging and eventual yelling slash pleading. I will once again threaten, roster, demand and screech – but we live in hope. Today there is no poo stain, just white frothy bubbles of potential.


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