Seven long weeks have seen perfect sun filled mornings back onto desolate tantrum-strewn afternoons. Wonderful, magical moments have walked side by side with desperate dismay. The moods of three young children have been ebbing and flowing like the tide at the end of their road. Their reaction to any particular event seems to depend solely on which way the wind is blowing when they stick a mucky finger up in the air, or, as likely, up their nose.
This particular evening looked set to be plucked from the embers of disaster by a family games night. We set the games up and played happily for, oh at least eight minutes. I looked at my three gorgeous children and thought how lucky I was, how I really should engage with them more often, be present, be mindful, don't let it all slip past.
And then it happened.
The wind changed direction, the 5 year old began pushing all the reliable old buttons, and the tide flowed on out the door with all the good feelings.
First it was edging the game cards off the table and watching them fall with a smirk, then it was shoving random items in our faces, then it was 'accidentally' falling on top of his brother, then it was kicking an empty plastic bag around the living room.
Then it was mums patience cracking.
Filled with an inordinate rage that he had once again ruined a perfectly nice moment, I had words and sent him up to bed before I lost it completely.
Then I followed him up to the bedroom to make sure he didn't start trashing it. (You can have that one for free).
Instead however, he got quietly into bed and started crying. And there is was. A big wave of guilt immediately hit me, washing all the anger aside and leaving me winded. I climbed into bed beside him, and as his little arms threw themselves around me and he sobbed that he was sorry I thought my heart would burst.
Happiness, Rage, Guilt, Love, Life - Extreme parenting is a really, really tough workout.