Most days I promise myself two things:
- that tonight I will go without a glass of wine
- that I will be nice to my husband when he walks through the door
By mid-afternoon I have usually realised that tonight is definitely not the night to be going without my wine, and that, once again, my husband will probably not be seeing the best side of me when he gets home. Even on the days I go to work, when I get to sit in an office without small people hanging off my legs, I find that my mood rapidly deteriorates the moment I get home. I’ve been pondering why this might be, and here are my ten reasons why being pleasant to anyone seems like an impossible task between the hours of 5.30 and 7.30pm:
- Because getting three children to school and two of them back again feels like more than the equivalent of a day’s work.
- Because the walk home from school with three exhausted children will always involve at least one meltdown, one child making a run for it, and one child attacking cars with sticks.
- Because the noise and the tears and the fighting are non-stop before we even get in the house. I would love for us to walk through the door without tripping over each other and ending up in a tangled heap in the hall. I would also love to have two minutes to remove coats and shoes and maybe even get everyone a drink. But this never happens, because once we have untangled ourselves, all boys immediately empty out every single game we own and then fight over the sheet of rules.
- Because once they have emptied out every box they can find, they run into the kitchen insisting
that it’s tea time and taking their places at the table.
- Because when I reveal that no, it’s not tea time yet, they fling themselves onto the floor and then hang off my legs as if this will make their tea magically appear.
- Because attempting to prepare tea whilst carrying a two year old and breaking up a fight over the train set is not easy.
- Because the noise is relentless and sometimes I just have to sit with my head in my hands. There are endless demands from three over-tired boys; all of them repeated over and over again until they are responded to.
- Because as I’m running the bath I realise I am still wearing my work ID pass, and sometimes even my coat.
- Because I wonder whether it’s normal to get so infuriated with my own children.
- And because as we get closer to bedtime, every minute seems to get harder and harder.
But somehow it’s difficult to sum all of this up into a neat and tidy sentence when my husband arrives home and asks how it’s going. And I feel for him, because whichever question he asks (‘Are they being difficult?’ ‘Has it been a hard day?’) he is guaranteed a snappy response – ‘Yes, they’re always difficult at this time’, ‘Yes, it’s always a hard day’ or that classic, most unhelpful thing ever to say: ‘You have no idea how hard it is’. Probably the only thing he could do which would guarantee him a more favourable response is hand me a glass of gin and tell me to go and sit in a dark room.
My husband has his share of irritating habits, as we all do, but these are nothing when I compare them with my irritating habit of snapping at him around 75% of the time. So I feel for all of you other halves who arrive home at the time of day when your partner is at the end of her (or his, for I know there are plenty of primary carer dads out there too) tether – for the next hour, there is probably very little you can say to improve the situation, so I would suggest the best course of action is to pour a drink and hand over the glass.
P.S. I know it’s unhelpful, but I maintain – you really don’t know what it’s like.