There are points in parenthood when everything can be too much.
Often these points correlate with the school holidays. The children no longer have the routine of school, you no longer have any spare time to get everything done and you can’t hear yourself think over the incessant repetition of ‘mum’ or ‘dad’.
You want to scream and cry, and probably do.
No doubt you thought long and hard about what you were taking on when you decided to have children, but the reality of parenthood is something else, something you can’t possibly comprehend until you become one – the trials and emotions involved, what it can bring to your life but also how far it can push you.
There is no escaping the responsibility. You cannot simply quit or move away from it, and mostly you wouldn’t want to.
As parents many of us have unrealistic expectations of getting everything ‘right’, though that conflicts with the fact that none of us really know what ‘right’ is.
So as we plod along through the upbringing of our children, learning as much about life as they are along the way, it is not surprising if every so often we crack under the pressure.
I had such a breaking point last week.
When you get to that point, it is hard to see reality clearly. Every tiny thing seems blown up to massively oversized and distorted proportion.
Every accident or spillage seems like the end of the world, every whine or ridiculous nonsensical question grates against your mind like nails being dragged across a blackboard.
No doubt the uncertainty of a parent that is so stressed they cannot cope, who is irrational and constantly at boiling point, is a scary thing for a child and can have a knock-on effect to their perhaps already trying behaviour.
Once things start to get on top of you, it can go from okay to awful in a very short space of time.
If you are anything like me, then perhaps you feel a sense of guilt for taking time out for yourself?
After all, the endless list of things you need to do is never far from your mind.
But when things get too much, it is important to ask for help from your partner, friends or family – to step away and gain perspective and time to yourself to reflect, compose and, dare I say it, relax.
Having headspace and time to think is an important part of keeping sane.
While for the time being our world as parents essentially revolves around our children’s needs, it is easy to fall into a pattern of seeing ourselves as nothing more than their keepers and to neglect the fact that we too are people who also need looking after to get through life healthily and happily.
If you do find yourself feeling guilty or weak for not being able to cope, then just remember this one thing – that you are only human.
It is one of those obvious and overused statements, but one that is strangely easy to forget and one that I fail to remember on a regular basis.