I woke. I couldn't swallow. I ached. My eyes were burning and I felt like shit. I tip-toed downstairs trying not to wake my girls hoping they would, at least, wake with happy faces and grateful words for chopped up pear and sliced mango on the breakfast table.
"I hate Pear" said Nell.
"Good Morning Mummy" I responded.
"Can I have a pancake?" asked Mary.
"Please?" I tried.
"Ugh" repeated Nell and stomped to the fridge to get herself a chocolate pancake with eyes that accused me of poisoning her with fruit.
I breathed with difficultly and thought to myself. Are my kids old enough yet? Shall I take a risk? And with a deep breath I said this,
"Right SIT DOWN both of you. I want to tell you something that I haven't told you before."
They both looked up and didn't expect the next sentence.
"When I was about your age I was beaten black and blue every day of my life. When I was crying I would get hit again harder. When I was cold I was told it was too bad. I wasn't hungry because I was never fed. Granny didn't feed me and didn't look after me" with eyes wide open they said nothing so I continued,
"I was frightened every minute of every day. I longed for love and warmth. I am telling you this because if I had been given pear and mango for breakfast I would have be thrilled. I am doing everything I can to give you both the best of what I can afford. But it's hard. It's very hard because I am here on my own doing all of it. Now please just today, will you both try and be kind to me and each other and get yourselves ready for school without me shouting"
I breathed and looked at them. It was me that had tears in my eyes and Mary asked, "Why didn't Granny feed you?" so I explained that Granny had been sick when I was a little girl just as she was when she died. "Do you remember me telling you about Granny being sick?"
Nell replied, "Yes I do. She took lots of medicine when she wasn't really meant to".
"Kind of" I replied and then I explained that Granny had been an alcoholic and that she did things that she didn't know she was doing a lot of the time. I continued by saying that when they didn't appreciate the lengths that I go to to make them happy and healthy, it makes me sad. I get cross because they act as if it's normal to have such lovely things and it isn't. I said, "You already have had way more than I ever did when I was a child". They ate the fruit.
Needless to say within 10 minutes of this huge revelation and weight lifted from my shoulders, Mary had kicked Nell in the shin, toothpaste was on the new bathroom carpet and I had trodden in dog shit in my slippers. The lid came off.
"GET IN THE FUCKING CAR" I was no doubt heard yelling in my hormonal rage.
And then I lost the dog. My mothers dog. The one that had shat on the rug in the hallway that I had trodden in. A neighbour looked at me as I stomped around the village corner yelling for the little SHITzu because he had bolted. I muttered, "I'm not surprised you ran off you little shit. I'm going to fucking kill you when I find you". I didn't find him. The offer to take my girls to school for me was wasted but gratefully received and I got in the car with my feverish sweat running down my back.
"God I feel unwell today" I said to no one in particular as the girls sat in the back.
"Seat-belts" I instructed like I do every bleeding morning. Really? Are my children just bloody stupid or do they not think? I got to the school gates. I had no intention of getting out of the car and even though I wanted to kill the Shitzu, I was starting to worry that he might have really run off.
"WAIT!" I called after the children. They turned probably thinking, 'Now what?' I looked at them as though they were insane, "Kiss me!" I ordered.
"No way" said Mary but did. "Love you" I said.
"Sorry Mummy' said Nell as I kissed her, "So am I" I replied.
You see? It's always shit.