I had reached my limit. I was done. I was crying on the steps too exhausted to take myself downstairs to the kitchen where the greasy pans, dirty plates, and a crunchy floor awaited me.
How long could I get away with sitting in the stairwell? Could I stay forever? I wanted to.
I didn't want to move. After the world's longest day with the world's whiniest children, I felt so overwhelmed that one more step was impossible.
Hadley had refused to take the required three bites of dinner and had made the entire meal insufferable. The meal that had taken me an hour to make was called disgusting, gross, and horrible. She also referred to it as vomit and snake slime - it was a Hamburger Helper type casserole.
We salted it, re-heated it, tried to feed it to her, and it ended with her not taking a single bite. Her evening snack was revoked, and I knew this would come back later to haunt me.
I had to get to children's choir practice at church so a dinner mess was left behind. We made it out the door, but not before I fought with Justin and took a phone call that would require me to shuffle babysitting arrangements.
The fighting, the mess, the sitter, the painful tugging by everyone in every direction - I realize that these could be the feelings of any mother, but on this particular evening, it was me and everything just felt heavy. I felt weighted down by responsibility, irritated by all the things left undone, and just plain overwhelmed by life.
Later, as I predicted, a final melt-down occurred when Hadley did not receive her snack. Another shot at the casserole was met with more crying, so I just ended it all and put her to bed screaming that she hated me and she was starving.
I closed her door, sat on the stairs - then came my tears. Three children felt like too many. They needed too much. They had too many needs, and I felt like I was failing.
Justin realized that he needed to dig deep and offer something helpful. And he did.
"Abbie," he said. "Tomorrow you just need to get out there and have fun with your kids."
He was right.
There is so much to be done, so many places to go that often times I forget to stop and simply enjoy these three fabulous little people that I love so much.
I eventually left the stairwell, and the next day I took the kids to the park. I pushed Jack in the swing, and I helped the girls find the highest point from which to drop their parachuted army man.
We had a really great time, and I felt my spirits lift. Since school has started, we have been operating in "business mode," and with so much going on, I had forgotten to make time to relax and just enjoy my children.
Just stop and play. Who knew it could be so simple?
Things will remain chaotic, the house unclean and Hadley's dinner strikes are not likely to end anytime soon. But taking time to play reminds me what it's all for.
And it's so worth it.