There is so much noise. In my house, in my head, in my ears and in my mouth. Just out of the shower, still wet, it starts. They want the blue towel with the orange star. Both of them, and there is only one. He hollers and roars, stamping his foot. She wails, highly pitched, crocodile’s tears jumping from her eyes. Still dripping they fill the landing with wet footprints and a lot of noise. The baby, still in her cot, wakes and joins in. The crying resounds through the house, pressure builds in my head and before I can think I scream as well. I rant, shout and scold. I push children into rooms, naked and wet, and toss nasty words all around me. Now the noise is mine as well.
Somewhere deep down a little voice sounds. Softly, then a bit louder, the little voice tries to speak through the racket. ‘Don’t shout,’ it says. ‘It doesn’t work, you know that. Walk away, go downstairs. Count to ten. Come back calm. Stop shouting. Stop shouting. Stop shouting.’
I hear the little voice, but muffled, and the well-meant advice drowns in the noise, my mouth keeps screaming. The madness ends in a sea of sounds and suddenly I sit, two slippery wet bodies pressed against me. Softly hiccupping she lays her head in my neck. He puts his arms firmly around the three of us. It is quiet and I don’t know what to say. We cuddle.
I dry and dress them. They play, sometimes sweet, sometimes angry and shouting, as children do. The baby cries from lost sleep. With pounding ears I ignore them. The problem is obvious; the baby is teething and our nights too are filled with cries. We are tired, from lack of sleep and from screaming. And I am ashamed. Never again, I say, never again I will lose myself like that. I will be a good mother.
A couple of hours later I am at the door, coat on, we need to go, pre-school waits. They are not coming, I call softly, then louder. They slide down the stairs, on their bottoms, a cheeky glimmer in their eyes. I hurry up the stairs, and on the landing I find a mountain. A very high mountain. All our clothes, from all our wardrobes, are in this mountain. I feel my three childless hours slip through my fingers, taken up by sorting, folding, stuffing, and my fuses blow again. Fragile, in the background, the little voice tries, they are so little, it’s actually funny, but it gets swept up in the swirling tirade that follows.
Later, the children at school, the baby in bed and the clothes back in the wardrobes, the house is quiet. I sit still, on the sofa. In my head the noise goes on, ranting and raving down to my toes and the tips of my shaking fingers. Rest never comes, no work gets done and it’s time to pick them up again.