As I write this we are laying in my bed together, swiftly clicking over into the second hour of trying to get Olivia to sleep.
She just asked me for some water, so I called for Matt to bring it in. In one hand gesture, the entire bed and her whole body was saturated. She cried hysterically.
Matt came back in the room, I explained the water bottle was leaking and instead of listening to me, I watched in disbelief as he tipped the bottle upside down and poured water all over the floor. Apparently the water stained sheets were not enough to convince him something was amiss.
Needless to say, the whole house is on a knifes edge.
You know those soft spoken families that have boundaries and bedtimes and children that frolic in the sunshine? We are not one of those families. In fact, at the moment, Matt and I have to do everything in our power to not kill each other in certain moments.
Olivia’s new attitude takes her to a place beyond my reach. We are so connected her and I. But when she gets that look on her face, when she feels that my sole focus should be on her; the rage knocks me off my feet. I am left bewildered as she knocks her dinner on to the floor and stares at me, waiting for my reaction. When she screams “NO” for the 792nd time in a day and I all I want to do is sit in the car and cry.
And sometimes I do.
Sometimes it is too much for me. Sometimes I don’t even realise it’s coming but from deep within me I cry. Not because I don’t love her. But because I feel like I am failing. That I am screwing her up. Because sometimes I cannot withstand the constant barrage of “Mummy Mummy Mummy Mummy Mummy”. Even though hearing her say it is one of my most favourite things in the world. How can something that makes my heart sing also make me want to smash a vase on the floor in frustration?
Olivia has decided that Daddy is the outsider and I wish she could understand how much he hates it. How his heart breaks when she tells him to “shoo away”. How he gets so mad when she smacks him when she is mad. How this giant of a man, who could put his fist through a wall in anger, calmly puts her down while screaming on the inside. Because he worships her. He adores her. She has filled him with a love and pride he has never known. But even at the young age of 3, Olivia can push his buttons better than I can.
Every day we walk, talk, play in her “cuppy” in the backyard, we cook, clean and read books. After all our concern about her speech, she has taken to therapy like a champion and is smashing it.
A magnificent creature with long golden curls, size 10 feet, those long lean legs and a smile that could melt the coldest of hearts.
Olivia and I have been together every day since she was born. From that first moment in hospital at 4am when she opened her eyes and stared at me. When I lifted her from the crib and pulled her into bed with me. It was still and dark and I knew that the journey we had begun was going to take me to places I didn’t know existed.
Now she is three. Aside from the days I work on the weekend, we spend every single second of the day together. My shadow and constant source of joy.
But I am not enough.
I am limited in my capacity of what I can give her. I have been holding on to her so tightly for my own anxieties.
We walked to the shops yesterday, past a childcare filled with children playing, and she was desperate to go in. She waved at the teachers and I asked her if she wanted to go to childcare. “Yes Mummy”. Really? “Yes Mummy”. When Daddy got home the three of us sat down and spoke about what happens at child care; how she would make some new friends and play all day.
The joy on her face made me realise that I am the one who has been holding her back. For all my excuses and bullshit, Olivia has been trying to tell me she needs more. That I need to let go and accept that it is OK to admit she needs more than what I can give her. That it’s normal to do the things that every other child does. Why has it taken me so long to hear her?
I have two businesses, I work on the weekend, I have Olivia every day, I play softball, I have two dogs that need walking, a house that needs cleaning and a husband that needs his wife.
Maybe it is time for me to be OK with needing some down time. With admitting I cannot do it all. To admit that I am finding it hard to find a balance. To admit that I have completely lost myself.