This was my day job, but usually I was the professional on the other side of the desk.
I took a deep breath and the words came spiralling out.
Factual, accurate, no emotion attached …composed as ever. Strong for my son. Honest for myself.
The day continued; classes began…for us both.
Normality was needed for the daytime because when we got home and when night fell, everything would be different.
Everyone had questions. So many questions.
So few answers.
The hardest to answer where those that began with “Mum…”
“Mum, what’s for dinner…?”
“Mum, can I watch tv….?”
“Mum, can I go out t play…?”
“Mum… when’s dad coming home?”
That night we all curled up on the corner sofa, duvets downstairs, and we watched our family favourite. Something focussed to make the questions stop.
Days turned into weeks and the questions slowed down but the emotions grew.
One child was angry. Too young to understand.
One was hurt – wounded by the words hurled in the eye of the storm.
Me – I held it together.
I went to work every day, I created new routines, I poured love and protection into the kids and made sure they’d be in a position to maintain or rebuild their relationship with their dad. Whatever had gone on with him and I – he was their dad. He was an amazing father; he had a blip but I knew he’d come through for his children and I would never deny him that.
But… you can only hold it together for so long…
My breakdown came when I least expected it… right in the middle of my nightly chores… putting clothes away, on autopilot.
I stood on a piece of Lego…
Well that was it…the floodgates opened…
I fell to my knees, my daughter watching, she was 7 at the time, and I could not contain my emotions… why, why now?
In that moment I felt, for the first time, or acknowledged for the first time that my heart was beaten down. The events of the past few weeks played out in my mind as a movie trailer, a highlight reel of a story with a desperately sad turning point. But my daughter was watching and so I didn’t have a the choice to wallow.
I forced a few deep breaths into my lungs. I couldn’t help but utter an expletive or two about that piece of Lego (that I was actually thankful to have as a tool of explanation for my reaction) and I managed to tuck my daughter safely into bed.
I crumbled underneath the weight of being a mother.
I shut myself in the utility room, under the guise of folding washing, and the sobs stole my breath completely. Everything I had been holding inside erupted in that moment and for the remainder of the evening my strength evaporated…
But when we hit rock bottom, even if we hit it silently, the only way is up, right?
And so, when I awoke the next day, I knew the metamorphosis had began…