The past couple of weeks have been tough, not for any dramatic reason but simply a combination of long days home with sick children, a couple of days of wild August winds keeping everyone indoors after school, and third-trimester weariness beginning to set in.
I felt that every loud noise was grating my nerves and every little squabble or infraction from the children was a personal affront.
The children seemed more boisterous than normal, slower to listen to instructions, and losing my temper was becoming a regular occurrence. I was ready to declare myself a failure as a parent and at life.
Then one afternoon I got a call from my obstetrician’s office.
“We’ve got the results from your latest blood test. You’ve got very low iron, it’s basically as low as it can be,” I was told. I needed to begin taking extra iron supplements right way.
I was so relieved. Now I had a simple explanation for the reason I was so tired and cranky by the afternoon every day, and why the evenings stretched out like an impossible series of marathons of Olympic proportions.
Not at all because there was something terribly wrong with me as a parent, or because I wasn’t praying enough, or for any other reason more than that I needed to eat more steak.
Anaemia is not uncommon for women in late pregnancy, and as I had it during my last pregnancy I probably should have seen it coming and realised that’s why I was becoming so physically and mentally depleted every day.
I can so easily twist myself up in knots wondering what on earth is wrong with me, or whether we are doing the right things as parents.
Often it’s the simplest explanations for a problem which get overlooked, and I find it amazing what difference such a simple thing as a good night’s sleep or an effort to eat more proper meals or get out for a walk each day can make to our whole perspective on things and ability to get through our days more gracefully.
In my case I have to remember to wash down a little red pill with a glass of orange juice every morning for a while.
But also that it doesn’t hurt to be a bit more gentle with myself, not to jump to conclusions which paint me as a terrible mother but to just give myself a break sometimes and remember that I’m only human and I have to look after myself.
“Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart,” Jesus said, and this is what I needed to remember during my bad couple of weeks.
That instead of being harsh and impatient with myself for feeling at the end of my tether and having those feelings seep into my interactions with the children and Peter, that it’s far better to relax and accept my limitations.
There may be a different perspective which I can’t yet see when I am too caught up in trying to be a perfect mother with perfectly behaved children.