If I'm not able to clean the house it's not the end of the world. Ok it might be a health hazard if it goes on too long, but frankly I'm onto it before then.
If the washing doesn't get done it might mean Hubbie having to go to work in a dark blue shirt instead of a white one, but it's alright.
If I forget to get food in for dinner there will be some grumbling, but to be honest the cupboards are pretty well stocked so we're not going hungry any time soon.
If I don't feed the cat.. Ok bad example. Neo would never let me forget it if I didn't feed him. The miaowing is loud enough to alert emergency services in the next county.
If I can't get out of bed because I'm so tired, or I can't bring myself to take the kids to school in case I'm seen or have to talk to someone that's a problem.
If I don't feed myself properly I'm grumpy and not at my best. This in turn means I'm impatient and unkind to my children and that's not fair on them.
If I'm not feeling up to it and don't want to parent today, well that's just not an option.
I still have to.
It's not like I can just say, "I'm done now thanks. I'm taking a break from being a parent and I'll be back when I feel rested and well again."
I'm not talking about that normal level of sleep deprivation that leaves you unable to work out if you've brushed your teeth yet today or if your shoes really are a different colour or it's just the light at that time of the morning. Nor do I mean that forgetfulness that occurs when you're preoccupied with getting a small person ready and can't fathom those tiny poppers under the nappy. Not even the expected boredom of spending entire days in the company of either children or people with children and discussing nothing more taxing than when to wean and if it's ok to let them watch TV and eat McDonalds (yes it is - don't be a knob).
What I do mean is a debilitating form of depression that takes over when you're not looking. That takes over until it seems 'normal' to feel nothing. To barely function, but to find joy in nothing. To count the time until the kids will be home or go to bed. To close the kitchen door rather than listen to them plead for you to sit with them even for a moment.
Impatience with even the smallest infraction. A dropped rice krispie or a t shirt left on the floor is the cause of an almighty tantrum. Me, not them. They look perplexed, but as luck would have it they are pretty resilient little boys. Blue Bear always greets me with a massive smile and gives the best cuddles. Brown Bear helped me in the garden this evening and took great pride and care when I showed him how to use the shears safely. It was even better when we agreed he could have some pocket money for being so helpful.
I've realised that being there for my boys is the most important thing. They don't judge me for being snappy or for making the same meal as they had yesterday, or for how I dress at school drop off. Brown Bear likes me to sit with him to watch TV and says, "Mummy put your arm round me." Blue Bear calls me over when he's building track and says, "Mummy help me." It's simple enough isn't it ?
Sleeping in might not fix everything, but it's a good start.