This morning I made the mistake of watching the end of Toy Story 3 with my daughter (yes we allow her watch TV in the mornings – bad parents). I say mistake as it was a dull, wet Monday morning and I had a serious case of PMS. I was crying over the smallest of things. Needless to say the heart-wrenching scene where Andy leaves his best friend Woody behind had me in floods of tears. I literally couldn’t hold in the emotion. My husband looked on bemused as my little girl (who was sitting on my lap) studied me intently; why was mama crying? Obviously she could not comprehend why mama was having a full on meltdown. There was so much hitting me right that I just managed to sob out ‘mama’s being silly’ before running for a box of tissues.
Woody, Buzz and the gang are almost like stand-ins for us parents in this film; watching as their once tiny children begin to out-grow their space in the family unit and need to forge their own path (for a little while at least). I watched my tiny lady wave as the end credits rolled up and felt so very thankful not to be Andy’s mum. I had years ahead yet before I was consigned to the sidelines of my daughter’s life. But there will come a period of time when she will be so focused on her own life and her own path that I may well be relegated to the attic as it where while she figures things out on her own. I’m not too worried. This is all a natural part of growing up and as heartbreaking as it can be our children know we are never far if they need us. And if we have done our job right they will come back to us; loving the security of family and home while they figure out their place in the world.
I felt as if I was watching Toy Story from both the perspective of parent and child. The child in me still remembers packing up for college….and hating every second of it. I was not like Andy. I didn’t want to leave my cosy family nest. I was homesick for months. I would never have given away my toys (one of which still resides in my now adult room upstairs – and he won’t be leaving until I do). I longed to put the challenges and perplexities of adulthood away for another year. I wasn’t ready for that step and it took me a long time to feel at ‘home’ away from my family. In fact it’s only since I got married and had my own child that I felt a sense of home again. I do still cry when leaving my parents (at the grand old age of 34) but I also look forward to getting back to my own space, my own nest. It’s taken a long time to get here but like all late bloomers I found my place in the end.
The irrationality is what tips me off first; I begin to resent every other human being on earth for silly things such as bumping into me accidentally in the street or daring to smile at me as I cross the road. I seethe furiously inside before realising what time of the month it is; that’s right it’s PMS week. PMS is even harder when you are a mother because you do not have the ability to just hide away in your room stuffing your face with chocolate while watching the Gilmore Girls on repeat. No you have a child now so you have to remain (somewhat) patient, covertly nabbing chocolate from the fridge and being forced to watch reruns of Peppa Pig. This means that your partner will, inevitably, have to take the fall for you containing your temper during the day. The minute he arrives home you will lose all hope of being rational and calm; his arrival will signal a deluge of emotion. Tears, shouting, passive-aggressive comments about how long it took him to get home and on it goes. If he has any sense he will remain silent instead of fighting back, knowing it will end in apologies and tearful hugs.
Periods are no fun at all when you are a mum. In the old days I kinda enjoyed having the excuse to eat too much cheese and consume buckets of coco cola. I would throw myself on the couch after work to watch trashy TV and load up on glossy magazines. Now it’s a whole different ball-game. For one thing I don’t usually get to sit down and if the TV is on you can bet we won’t be watching ‘my’ shows. I can’t slob about the house as I’m too busy catching up on my endless to do list while trying to figure out if it’s possible to actually get eyes put in the back of my head. My toddler has zero sympathy for her mama and can’t understand why mummy doesn’t enjoy her usual rough and tumble games.
The worst part, though, is the mood swings. I can go from deliriously happy to raging bull in a matter of minutes. And I can’t vent on a little 22 month old (no matter how annoying she gets) so I have to ball everything up inside and scream into a pillow when it gets too much. Everything becomes so much harder as even a trip to the park becomes riddled with potential meltdown opportunities…and I don’t mean for my daughter. I once had to leave a shopping trip to Kilkenny as people touching off me was causing too much hormone overload. So every outing we make during PMS week is fraught with explosive possibilities.
And wouldn’t you know it the little maggot seems to sense when mummy is at her most vulnerable- this is the week she has the most tantrums, she fails to nap properly and doesn’t sleep through the night. It’s like she is in tune with me at the worst possible moment. I can only imagine that when puberty hits my husband will have to emigrate one week out of every month. I’m sure we won’t be a joy to be around.
For now I take my little breaks at nap-time (when there is actually a nap-time), squeezing in as much chocolate and crap TV as I can before she wakes up. Speaking of which…I better get back to it!