The Hamster Wheel That Is Parenting

I watch the wet grinder turn, the steel drum distorting my image as it moves. I watch mesmerized, catching a break in what has been an exhausting day. I take a moment to wonder why I feel like this almost all days and realize it is not one thing or one day. It is the constancy of it, the hamster wheel that is parenting.

It is when you reluctantly step into boots, wrap a scarf, wear a hat and shrug into those long woolen coats as your children run ahead of you into the fluffy clouds of snow at your doorstep. It is when you make snow balls and wonder if it is time to make lunch yet. It is in watching your kids agree happily to eating bread for breakfast and watching them lose momentum after taking two bites. It is when you wish you had gone ahead and made them dosa instead. It is when the clock shows 11:00 AM and you are busy chopping and sautéing and simmering just so the almost 3-year old doesn’t have a meltdown after a tiring morning in the snow.

It is in the grueling weight of expectations, in the endless piles of laundry, in the never-ending school work, in the dishes that pile up even when you decide to order in. It is in the alarm that goes off each morning in the pre-dawn hours, in the pressure you feel behind your neck as your child decides she must find that unicorn before school and you can almost hear the bus trundle in one of the roads behind yours. It is the pain in your back as you sit in a stiff-backed chair as you coax your toddler to chew and remind your older children to take bigger bites. It is in the inevitability that food rules your life.

It is in the moments you scream before you click the camera, demanding that your child pose or look into the camera or stop pulling at her glove. In the moments before each picture you archive, the angst and disappointments that evaporate into thin air each day filling the pores of your skin and forming a shiny patina in the walls of your house. It is in those raised voices, the muted grief, the underplayed disappointment, the barely restrained anger. All those little things that you bury deep inside just to make space for the happy moments, the gap toothed smiles, the impromptu hugs, the rare flowers, the scribbled notes, the infrequent happy days.

This exhaustion is permanent, etching itself in lines on my skin, in folds of fat, in bags under my eyes. In the constant yearning for sleep, for absence of physical contact, for that elusive moment of silence in which I watch my distorted image on the wet grinder.

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