Mess is sometimes just what you need.

I’m really not in a great place right now. I’m exhausted. I’m sick. I’m irritated. I need sleep. I got through my first dairy-free Easter refraining from a chocolate feast, whilst having a yucky flu. That in itself is a huge deal to me.

My in-laws flew to Canberra to spend time with Baby Gabe (and us of course) and whilst it has been a total delight to watch the wonderful relationships between my children and their relatives grow, it’s left me very worn out.

Quality time is my husband’s love language but he’s not much of a planner, so whenever we are with his family I put alot of effort into organising activities that’ll suit everyone. We had a few difficult family holidays in the early days of our marriage so I’ve learnt how important it is to have a loose plan up my sleeve. Now that we have kids, this is especially neccesary. Sitting around isn’t an option as Briars energy and active nature means she’ll quickly start finding her own fun and it may not be in in-law approved ways. And every parent knows how hard spontaneity can be with a baby and a toddler. So instead, I’ve spent alot of time seeking out activities that were suitable for everyone so each day had a loose, flexible plan.

In the last few days we’ve spent time at four different parks, drunk lots of coffee, ridden carousels, gone to church, had dinner at the Queanbeyan club, caught up with cousins and friends, played board games, been to church, had an Easter Egg hunt and overall made some fantastic memories that will last a lifetime.

But as every parent knows, post-holiday fall-out hits kids hard. A mixture of overtiredness, overstimulation and the sadness of saying goodbye to beloved family had left Briar in a very hyped up and sensitive mood. Warwick headed off to his night shift at 3.30pm and won’t return until 7.30am tomorrow, leaving me with a sick baby and a toddler who was bouncing off the walls on a chocolate high. It was also raining.

Briar was understandably bored being cooped up inside after an action filled week.

Gabe and I were needing to rest, and although Peppa Pig was playing, Briar seemingly took on the person challenge of “how many new ways can I wake my brother up?” Not content with the normal poking and over-enthusiastic tickling, tonight she has sat on his legs, dropped a bowl on him twice and kicked him in the face. None of these was mean spirited, she’s just so desperate to play with her beloved little brother.

So when I walked into the kitchen to find she had used a cup to scoop out the dogs water bowl all over the floor and was lying on her stomach sliding around in it, I nearly lost it. She was wearing the beautiful embroidered white dress pictures above. It is a chilly night. This was not on.

I am not a naturally patient, gentle and calm person. I lose my cool easily, jump to conclusions when I shouldn’t and I yell. But this is not the mother I aspire to be. So for me, motherhood is a journey of going against my natural flawed hot-headed personality, and recreating myself into the person my person my children deserve for a mum. The last thing my two gorgeous kids deserve is an angry, yelling, impatient mum. I refuse to be that.

So, in this moment, with my daughter flailing around in a puddle of dog saliva mixed with water, whilst wearing the prettiest dress imaginable, I took a deep breath and thought of a mother I aspire to be like. What would she do? What would she say?

I knew what she’d say: Your daughter is bored and seeking sensory play.

Briar was wet and cold. So, I stripped her off and ran a warm bath. Then, I squirted shaving foam over the bathroom wall, and plopped Briar into the bath. Armed with a comb and a squeegee, she had a wonderful time smearing, scraping and splashing that foam all through the bath.

As for me, I sat on a stool under the bathroom heat lamp and enjoyed a peaceful sit. I enjoyed my daughters joy.

Gabriel was able to sleep soundly on my bed undisturbed for nearly an hour.

Thank you lord.

After her bath, as we let the plug out, Briar did a brilliant job of cleaning off the wall and washing away the foam. My mood lifted.

Once again, the mantra lives true: “Your child isn’t giving you a hard time. Your child is having a hard time.”

Tonight was hard. But both my babies are asleep now and I can relax.

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