This morning was rough. Mornings have been, lately.

Enter the dancing rhinoceros waving his palm fronds. Impossible to ignore, with the annoying whiny singsong voice singing the "Failure" song. I try to keep my chin up, to walk around him as politely as possible. I try to awaken with deep breaths in my lungs, shoulders back, to smile and be kind and be above it all. Above the breakfast traffic in the kitchen, Leafy on the floor crying because I can't get anything quick enough to suit him, Kid A and his strong breakfast opinions. I try to be the older one, the calm one, the tallest.

Always ignoring the lumpy rhino sitting on my living room floor, smirking at me.

Sometimes the blogs I read are inspiring to me. There are lovely photos, beautiful images. And sometimes I wonder: do their kids ever drive them to sharp words? Do their lives ever feel like chaos? Are there days when they sit and stare at the wall, willing themselves to get up and leap in, even though they just felt their last shreds of determination fizzle away in their stomachs?

You guys, it's really not the poo that gets to me. It's the squabbling. The complaining. The shrieking which is happening even right now, as I write this. This is what makes me feel that, try as hard as I might, I'm outnumbered. The atmosphere of my home is not really up to me. And they are winning.

They are children. They need to be helped through and over and above their emotions. But there are so many of them, and only one smiling me. (Actually, Chinua and Renee have been known to smile too, but they're not here ALL the time, and besides, screaming is louder than smiling.)

Anyways. This weekend marks the fourth week that I have been only in the house, except for going to the birth center pregnant and coming home with a baby. (I was home for a week before the baby was born, since the scooter was too uncomfortable for me.) Today my midwife came over and gave me the all clear to get on the scooter again.

So this afternoon, in the late afternoon sun, I left the house, by myself, to get ingredients for a cake that I am making for Kid A tomorrow. It's been four weeks. FOUR WEEKS.

I can't even tell you what it meant to me. I didn't bring the camera, but the next time I go, I'll bring it, so that I can show you some of the things that I saw.

I didn't have music playing, but it seemed to me that the loveliest songs were echoing over the rice fields. I have never seen anything so beautiful. The sun, the new flowers. The jungle seems friendly now, in the post-monsoon sun, not oppressive anymore. Leaves were burning, everything everywhere smelled fresh and new. I smiled at everyone I saw.

And when I got home, the rhinoceros was gone. Or rather, he was out in the yard, but I think I can keep him at bay.