“This is the best day ever!” says Izzy as she cuddles a guinea pig at the free school holiday petting farm set up at the local shops.
“Mum! Mum! this is soooo fablious!” calls Zoe as she feeds the goats.
“Fablious!” parrots Muski.
“Are those three kids all yours?” asks a woman standing next to me at the fence.
“I don’t know how you do it” she says when I tell her that they are.
She’s dressed in a neat black skirt and a crisp white shirt and is carrying a brief case. I tell myself it is all in my head, that I don’t really hear a mocking tone in her words as she says “I’d go insane being stuck at home with three kids… you must be a saint”
I wonder for a moment.
Is being a stay at home mum worthy of saint-hood? Or insanity?
I extract the kids from the farm animals and we head for the fruit shop.
I catch Muski’s hands just seconds before he pulls the bottom apple from a precariously stacked pile. I calculate when we’ll next be in town and how much fruit these ravenous children will eat before then. I encourage the girls to look at the fruit shop lady when they say thank you. I juggle three children who all want a hand to hold. I answer Muski’s ‘what’s that?’ questions almost as fast as he can ask them and I attempt to explain to the girls how four fifty cent pieces and two one dollar coins all add up to the same amount.
Yes, I think to myself, this is not an easy job but it is an important one and I’m lucky I get to do it.
Then we walk past the bakery.
“I want a bun” is the familiar chorus.
Sure, why not, come and choose a bun.
They don’t have the bun that Zoe wants and no others will do. There is a foot stamp, and a pout, and then a wail of “It’s not fair.”
I can feel things slipping out of my saintly control even as I try to calm the storm. I offer Zoe two choices but Izzy hears that and thinks it means she won’t get what she wants either. Then the crying begins in stereo.
“I don’t think we’ll have a bun today” I mutter as the third one joins in with the wailing, the foot stamps go into over drive and there is an occasional flailing arm headed in my direction.
“Lets go home” I say as I pick up Muski’s hand and try to casually direct the screaming children out of the shopping centre. Now there is kicking and punching and screaming
“I don’t want to go home”
“I want a bun, give me a bun!”
People are looking now… not a sneaky, embarrassed, side ways glance but full on stares. I pick up Muski and wedge him under my arm, football style, and drag two kicking screaming almost six year olds from the building.
People are still looking as I drag them across the car park. An old couple even ‘tut tut’ us and shake their heads. Two middle aged women sitting at the cafe begin to discuss ‘the disturbance’ as we walk past… “They need a good smack” I hear as I desperately try to make it to the car without loosing what little semblance of saintliness I have left
We reach the Big White Van and I throw all three children inside. I’m trying to keep my zen but the moment for zen has well and truly passed. I hiss under my breath for the girls to get their bloody seat belts on and I give my best ‘drop dead you old witches’ look to the cafe women who are now craning over their shoulders to get a better view.
As I strap Muski, screaming “I want cake” into his car seat I do the only thing I can do to keep my sanity… I begin to sing.
“I don’t care… I don’t care if you want cake or a bun or whatever… I don’t care.
I don’t care… I don’t care if you scream if you wail or whatever…. I don’t care.”
I slam the door still singing… “I don’t care I don’t care I don’t care I … I don’t care!”
I turn to open my door and I see the ‘how do you do it’ woman a few cars up. She looks at me and smiles, the only kind face I’ve seen since this storm began.
I smile back as if to say…
“Yes, I’m a saint… and totally freaking insane!!!”