It was dark, cold, foggy and really fucking early in the morning.
I dragged myself out of bed filled with dread, determination, anxiety, panic and anger. All these emotions were shoved down deep where I thought they belonged and I convinced myself that I was excited and happy about what I was trying to do.
I woke my babies. I can’t clearly remember how old they were (maybe 4 and 5). I rugged us all up, bundled us into the car and drove the 30+ minutes through the fog and stillness to the paddock on the edge of the lake. I found a carpark and we hopped out and joined the crowd.
There through the trees and fog was the amazing spectacle that we were here for; hot air balloons semi inflated, their gas burners blasting. The sound alone still gives me a thrill and goosebumps on my arms.
We waited and watched. My boys were bored and restless. I’d promised them a tethered ride, I’d promised them fun, I’d promised them breakfast. I wasn’t delivering.
Then the crowd started murmuring and dispersing. We moved closer to get a better view and find out what was happening. The winds weren’t good, there would be no balloons rides of any kind today.
All those feeling I’d shoved down surged to the surface. I’d wasted my time, I’d failed, I’d let my boys down. What would my husband say, what would everyone else say? I’d talked it up. I’d told everyone. I was going to look like a pathetic parent.
The boys were no longer restless and bored. They were annoyed and not afraid to let me know it. I got the silent treatment, I got the sulks and I got the attitude. I promised them excitement, fun and food and this was none of those things.
They became the target for my anger, anxiety, frustration and fear. The ungrateful little shits had no right to complain. I did this for them. It wasn’t my fault the fucking weather let me down. I would get enough judgement from hubby and everyone else, I didn’t need that shit from them too!
NO, THERE WERE NO PANCAKES, NO THERE WERE NO BACON AND EGG ROLLS! HAVE A BLOODY HOT CHOCOLATE AND BE HAPPY ABOUT IT!
I was ashamed of myself, I was terrified of the repercussions of my failure, I punished myself mercilessly for it. It was true, what everyone thought; I was a shit mother. My heart was tearing in two and my stomach was clenched with fear.
The reality was my boys didn’t need or want to see hot air balloons up close. That was my need to be seen as the perfect parent projected onto them.
Worse still I was teaching them and my husband that it was necessary to punish me when my plans didn’t come off. I was punishing myself, so of course they could too.
Parenting is hard. The little buggers don’t come with instructions but we make it even harder by trying to live up to the unrealistic expectations we place upon ourselves to be “perfect”.
The first few days after I became a mum for the first time I cried every time I looked at my baby boy. I couldn’t believe just how much I LOVED that little human. What would happen if we loved ourselves that way?