Friday, 15 October 2010
When the Elfling is tired her skin goes translucent and all the veins under her pale skin become more visible. Most prominent of all is the vein that runs over the bridge of her nose - it's almost irridescent. And when the dark shadows and the bridge vein pops she becomes irrational, combative and generally painful to deal with.
The Monkey is not much better, though she's possibly worse when she's hungry. Irrational, grumpy, irritable. All of those fun emotions that are somehow exacerbated by their littleness and their lack of coping strategies so that life becomes unpleasant for everyone around them until they can be bundled up safe and warm in bed.
And as they get older the really bad nights are not so bad, because they understand that when they feel so out of control that it is the tiredness, and that when they eventually go to sleep they will feel better. And talking them down becomes easier, to the point where I can breathe a sigh of relief that they will soon be in bed and be less painful to deal with on a really late night.
Some nights I don't deal with their overtiredness well and I am snappy and grumpy with them because I have been working hard all day too, and I am irrational and tired. I sometimes walk home with a slightly sinking feeling in my chest because all I have the energy to do is to strip off my clothes and pull on my pilfered tracksuit pants and curl into a ball on the couch; but I have to suck it up and help feed, bathe, dress, and read stories before they go to bed.
They're easy children really, warm and loving and cheerful and playful. Good with routines and usually pretty well behaved. They are exuberant and messy and expansive and always getting into mischief as well, but they are lovely children and I am proud of them. And it hurts that same part of my chest when I realise that I half wish some nights that Bingley has already put them in bed so that we can just sit on the couch together and not be adults for a moment.
Tonight it was me that was too tired. I had too much work to do today, and while normally that would be OK on Friday afternoon because there is that release in knowing that you have the whole weekend ahead of you, I have to work tomorrow. So I already felt like I was swimming in soup. And then we had a new patient on the ward, yet another person that doesn't want to help themselves but feels happier blaming everyone else for not "helping" her. Or fixing her. I had just had enough.
I was so grateful as I walked out in the waning afternoon, so tired as I stood outside in the rain afterwards waiting for Bingley and the 3 Musketeers to pick me up.
Except they didn't. 20 minutes of standing out in the rain later I checked my phone to find all the missed calls from Bingley who had taken 3 very overtired and hungry children straight home due to the nightmarish traffic. And I burst into tears as I looked at my watch and realised it was too late to catch the bus that drops me off around the corner from home and that I would need to catch the train.
I got to the train station and stood on the rain swept platform and shivered as my dress became soaked as I waited for the train to come. Not caring that I was crying in public, unable to do anything else. The waves of fatigue battering me like the rain as the last of the twilight sank into the enveloping clouds. Got onto the train as the rain stepped up and walked out into the drenching spray.
Walked the 1300m home, sprayed by the passing cars and assaulted from the pelting rain until my skin chaffed against my clothes and no one could tell I was crying as the water trickled down my neck. Shoes squishing and stockings adhered to my legs. And thought about things to make me happier. Remembering the excited smiles on the girls' faces as they presented me with their handmade collage birthday cards this morning. Trying not to feel ungrateful that Bingley hadn't given me anything.
Thinking of how birthdays are just not the same when you're an adult, especially when you're married to someone who just doesn't "get" occasions. Remembering how much I've tried to ignore my birthday for the last 10 years and why. How every year I try not to think of it as any other day because I can't bear the childish disappointment when it's not the sort of day I want.
Getting home to the stack of gluten free chocolate macaroons that Bingley had cooked and cemented together with chocolate ganache and a sheepish expression. The belated card and expensive gift that is not really me but that I appreciate regardless. Tamping down the brattish part of me that had really just hoped for a snuggly pair of pyjamas as I peel off my sodden clothes, step into the shower and sob away the tiredness for a little while until I can smile properly at my babies and indulge in my cookies as they gleefully tuck in.