Until today. Today, I realised that things have balanced out. Today, I realised that I'm totally nailing this parenting malarkey.
Picture the scene...
I was feeling a bit smug after an altogether suspiciously successful trip to the park. Merryn was asleep and Blake was in a fantastic mood after his earlier burning of loads of energy by way of stealing a pre-teen girl's scooter. As I made the boy some dinner, I even found myself humming a bit. Yep, I was completely owning Tuesday, even if the lounge looked a bit like landfill.
As Blake tucked into his fishfingers and watched Tarzan (because, hey, you wouldn't want me to be too perfect), Merryn woke up demanding food. I brought her downstairs and sat down next to Blake's highchair to feed the baby. As she fed, I watched her carefully; poised with a muslin cloth, ready for any sudden unlatches during my hydrant force let-down, and completely took my eye off the ball with Blake.
By the time Merryn finished and I had looked up, Blake had filled a miniature tractor trailer (that came from fuck knows where because I'm sure he didn't have it when I sat him down) with peas, and had proceeded to squash them into a green, squelchy mush. He had then apparently seen fit to smear the concoction all over his face, including a good sized application to his eyebrows and hair.
It took a while and about fifteen wet wipes, but I eventually managed to de-green Blake's face and was starting to clear the mush out of the tractor trailer when Merryn signalled that was tired. Now, with Merryn, you get a window of approximately a minute and half to get her into bed when she's tired before she crosses the line into hysteria. I dropped everything and stripped her off, ready to change her into her pyjamas.
Just as I was about to pop a clean nappy onto my naked baby, it occurred to me that I could neither see nor hear my son.
"Blake?" I said, gingerly, "what are you doing?"
That's when he appeared from behind the sofa with a grim expression on his face and his hand held out in front of him. Since his nappy change about an hour previous, Blake had been wandering about without trousers on (sometimes he just doesn't stay still enough for a full re-dress), and had spent a good portion of the past hour reaching into his nappy and removing his willy to examine it. Upon doing so on this occasion, however, he had apparently found more than he'd bargained for: the hand that he held out to me was covered in poo.
Time stood still for a moment as I considered the shit-smeared digits hovering in front of my face...
I abandoned a naked Merryn on the floor, her changing mat an island in a sea of squashed peas, Play-Doh crumbs and bits of wooden train track, and took Blake by the arm (not the hand) and ushered him upstairs. I washed his hands in the bathroom sink, trying not to vomit on his head as I stood over him, scraping crap from under his fingernails, and then I led him back downstairs to deal with what was left in his nappy. I quickly fastened a nappy onto Merryn and relocated her to her play mat, temporarily wrapped in a blanket in lieu of pyjamas, plonked Blake onto the changing mat and began using another seventy four wet wipes to try and clean his bottom.
Unfortunately, by this point, Merryn had well and truly crossed over to the dark side of tiredness and was seriously losing her shit, eventually crying so hard that she began to gag. I grabbed her off her mat and held her up in the air, trying not to think about the fact that I'd literally just had my hands in her brother's poo, where she proceeded to vomit all over me and the floor, elegantly crapping her pants as she did so.
It was at this point that my husband got home from work. And do you know what I did as I explained the carnage that greeted him? I laughed. I didn't lose my temper, I didn't cry, I didn't even get a little bit anxious, and that's when I realised that I'm really, properly coping with having two young children. I was the calm in the centre of the literal shit storm and none of it phased me. Within ten minutes of the catastrophic crap climax, both children were clean(ish), dressed and ready for bed and I didn't lose my shit once. Not once!
None of us are perfect parents, we know that much, but we have to celebrate the little moments that remind us that we're doing just fine. I've spent the last five months worrying that I was doing a terrible job as a mother, and yet today, in the middle of absolute sodding chaos, I realised that actually I'm doing great. Better than great; I'm fucking killing it.