A depression hangs over the British Isles. Grey clouds pack together and smother the sun. Tiny drops spit down. The days get shorter and colder. While we press our noses against the back door and stare at the muddy garden I feel trapped in myself. The dark clouds drape a grey veil over my eyes and I am losing myself. Who is this mad, freaky woman? Who lost her patience miles ago, and whirls through the house like a cranky tornado? Who rushes from euphoria to desperation, driven yet stressed, till only exhaustion remains? From a distance I observe, and I think, this should be different. Better.
One morning I come down, hairs still wet, and in the kitchen Tijm bounces towards me. He points. ‘Mama, the sun is shining, look, mama. It’s lovely out there.’
Looking out the window I blink my eyes. A blue sky grins at me. Tijm has his wellies out already. ‘Mama, let’s go!’
I put the kettle on. ‘Shall we have breakfast first?’
Not much later we’re off to the park. The air is crackling, frost glitters on the grass and sunshine polishes the world. We wear hats and mittens. In the park we turn into a muddy track. It is only nine o’clock and all sounds are frozen still. We climb over the sluice, pass the sandy wall and stop at the cascade. Despite the cold the sun beams away the grub from inside my head. I breathe the sharp air and feel my senses awaken. My brain rolls a merry tumble in my head. Hello, it cheers. I’m back.
Tijm scampers away to collects sticks. We play pooh-sticks, we toss sprigs and branches in the water, and see which one is the first swirling down. Linde's stick get's stuck and Tijm wins. We play, again and again. The children run round collecting more. The water sparkles, the trees rustle and the world shines. Linde slumps in the mud and screams. I pull her up and kiss the scare away. Jasmijn whinges in the buggy, with cold fingers. Biscuits buy her peace. Like small white clouds the problems sail through my head. Confident I blow them away and the sky stays clear. We cross the stepping stones, one by one. I hold Linde and Tijm’s hands and step by step we brave the river. I turn back, get Jasmijn, and then the buggy. We fall, tumble and roll. We smile. We are covered in mud but the cobwebs are cleared from my head.
That afternoon the clouds return. The sun is hidden, far away, as if it was never there. I stand in the kitchen, the clock chimes four and I turn on the lights. Night is coming, but bedtime is far away. Tijm and Linde jump from chair to sofa, Jasmijn bawls hungry in her playpen. Slowly I count to ten and try to go back to the park. Back to that place inside me, where I was this morning, where the sun shines. Where I can be a nice mother and enjoy life without getting lost. I know I can do it. It’s just so darn difficult.