Smoke & Mirrors…

Busy. Keeping busy. Every waking moment. Planning, doing, moving and shaking; albeit not in the term of “big business” more anxiety and jangling nerves that leave my hands jittering and spilling drinks, dropping bottles (gaviscon off the garage floor anyone?!) and generally causing me frustration and embarrassment.

My mind is never still, nor am I physically. Tick tock tick tock. I have come to the conclusion it is a protective measure: too much time on ones hands to ruminate is dangerous. Thoughts come unbidden.  They still have a tendency to take me by surprise: a mental stock-take of the medicine cupboard; an appraisal of potential “weapons” – it’s amazing what you can do with the most run of the mill household items. The need is still there. Particularly on the bad days.

The house is clean, washing up to date. I have baked, entertained, ironed, meal planned and filed paperwork like a woman possessed. 

I look well. I have make up on, painted nails, hair clean, smelling fragrant. Not only is it my armour, it is an artful misdirection. A new take on the magicians slight of hand. I show what I want you to see. 

Slow down. Take time for yourself they say. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Rest when you can. Why? Will that be the magic fix? 

There are yet even more people involved in our lives now, more meetings, appointments, frustrating phone calls & emails. Everything is happening and yet time stands still. Limbo. At the beck and call of authorities who push deadlines and time frames then move the goal posts at the 11th hour. I no longer want to be reasonable and considered yet moderation is key.

I am raging. I burn with white hot anger. It spills over to my every day life. Fragile children, already clingy, needy, uncertain. They demand, understandably,  so much from me. I am torn in wanting to soothe, appease, console; but I am selfish. I feel conflicted and unsure of my approach with them. They want answers to promises I cannot make. My ferocious, voracious stance is only matched by my impotence and threatens our burgeoning protective bubble. The bubble is as delicate as those blown in childhood from bottles. 

I am told I need to stop with guilt. Ha! It is a laughable suggestion:  I am a mother, a woman & Jewish at that!! We give the Catholics a good run for their money where guilt comes in! If only chicken soup really did cure all ills. I’m sure the NHS would be most grateful though big pharma, maybe not so much?

Do not get me wrong. It is not all black. There are things to enjoy and things to look forward to. Realisations of how much friends and loved ones. mean. I hope they know how appreciated they are – both my virtual, on line support network & the flesh and blood variety. Guilt creeps in when I am too tired to reply or comment. I should be able to support others as they have done me but I cannot find the words, nor sometimes the energy. 

I am in equal parts engaged and yet withdrawn from the real world. I keep waiting for the sense of normality (whatever that is) to resume. Instead I feel I am wavering, teetering. I am reminded of the Stevie Smith poem “Not waving but drowning.”

 

The Rules…..

It’s funny how sometimes an idea for a new post comes upon you…this one came to me as I was cleaning up after one of my littlies had been sick.(thank you reflux) and therefore I am sure Dear Reader, you are just dying to read on aren’t you?!

So THE RULES…..Hubby and I have a very old fashioned, what used to be termed traditional marriage, especially now that he is the sole bread winner (to be fair, with me, 4 kids and 2 cats, he’s more like the crumbs winner than the whole actual loaf but I digress) since I gave up a “proper” job 2 years ago to be the main carer for our children.

Any feminists might want to stop reading further since I am sure I will be inundated with outraged responses that I am setting women’s lib back 50 years at least. However, personally, I think the whole women’s lib thing might just have shot us well and truly in the foot and not just because I actually do like wearing high-heels and don’t consider them some enslaving device of patriarchal oppression.  Woman these days are expected to want it all, have it all and be it all but at the expense of what?

Having been both a working Mum and a “non working” one, I don’t pretend to have the answer as to what is best for anyone else but in our family, it was glaringly obvious that something had to give and it was going to be my sanity if I carried on working in regular employment and juggling hubbies shifts, child care, medical situations and the like, especially when he went to work away and I was left being Mum and Dad as it were.

Some woman manage it all with aplomb; I am more than slightly envious of those sleekly put together, glossy haired, designer-handbag toting women who waft calm, serenity and Jo Malone and seem to have both their immaculate, perfectly behaved small folk and board room big wigs eating out of their hands. They also somehow manage to sit on the PTA, have organic, paraben free  nic-nacs  everywhere and do a Nigella in their  kitchen. (Actually, I have often wondered if those women are not some visiting alien/stepford wife experiment, judging by the amount of amazing yet frazzled women I meet in the “real” world).   I doff my hat to you,  however, I can’t and I’m not too proud to admit when I’m beaten.

Maybe it’s the sheer number of kids we have or the fact that 3 out of the 4 have extra needs; maybe it’s having a hubby who works shifts and for which weekends off are rarer than rocking horse poo. All I know is that whilst the extra money I earned was very welcome, it ultimately was a case of boom or bust in more ways than one and with only a slight reservation I handed my notice in to concentrate on events on the home front.

Of course, being a stay at home mother, does have it’s own drawbacks, not least of all and like many of those “wonderful” FB meme’s proclaim, you are at the whim of a small army of crazy folk, all of your own making! Added to that they share 50% go my gene pool so I am often battling mini versions of me…..(hubby has my full respect)

I do have days where I miss the comraderie of working with other grown ups but my last job was working from home anyway so it’s been quite some time since I got to partake in office gossip and bicker over whose turn it was to put the coffee on…it’s not quite the same having the argument with yourself and the office Christmas party was very dull 😀

Since taking on the mantle of full time motherhood/carer, we have fallen into largely traditional roles: he takes the bins out and mows the lawn, checks the tire pressures and that sort of thing and I am responsible for  keeping the home fires burning and all that entails.

I am very lucky (and happy) to have a throughly modern man who does help round the house and with the childcare especially but frankly it’s a bit rubbish to expect him to go out and earn a living and then come home to do the shopping, cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing as well…..(isn’t it???)

Anyway, back to the focus of this post: RULES.  Being a virtuoso parent of some 15 1/2 years I have dealt with my fair share of dirt, snot, pee, poop and blood and I am generally a hardened veteran on these fronts. However, there is a point I well and truly draw the line at and it was established very early on in to the days of parenthood: VOMIT (I’m getting to the point of the post soon I promise).

Give me a small child saying “here Mummy!” and thrusting a revolting, crusty bogey in my hand, I barely bat an eyelid; wee that’s flooded every where but the toilet bowl – well I have 3 boys (4 if you count the hubby), I can whisk out a wipe quicker than you can say Cillit Bang. But PUKE…nope, not ever, not even slightly. I am vomit phobic; in fact, this is actually a pucker phenomenon and goes by the time of emetophobia. I’ll be honest, even talking (writing) about it gets to me.

Pre children, I really wondered how I would cope with this aspect of child-rearing and it did make me question whether I was cut out for motherhood at all. (There have since been many others aspects that have me questioning that but it’s a bit too late 4 children on 😉 ) I however reasoned that vomiting kiddos was not an every day occurrence and was prepared to take the plunge.

I didn’t of course factor in refluxing children (3 out of my 4 little treasures have had major reflux issues and didn’t grow out of it until an advanced age in the case of the oldest and the little 2 still suffer regularly despite meds, surgery etc) who could do an impressive performance that would rival something from The Omen and cover walls a spectacular 8 feet or so from me, even managing to hit the ceiling on various occasions. Baby vomit from milk was manageable but only just. Add in food and it’s a whole different kettle of fish.

Hubby can still regale you with the tale of when we were away with our  firstborn. He had been suffering from  a truly horrible ear/throat infection and having been off his food for a while, managed to consume most of a jar of food in Boots, Brent Cross and then techni-colour yawned prolifically all over the baby change facilities.

When I started making that harrumphing noise, eyes streaming and ashen in the face, I was despatched unceremoniously into the shop to find clean clothes and purchase enough baby wipes to reach the moon and back. Apparently he was not prepared to clean up me too. Very unreasonable I thought.

So early on in our parenting roles, it was established and agreed that Martin would be responsible for clearing up vom-related incidences. In hind-sight and if I had my time again, I would have had it written in as an actual clause to the marriage vows and every employment contract he ever signed. Actually not a bad plan going forward….

Since the vomiting incident that inspired this blog post transpired at 5:30am one Saturday morning and hubby was of course at work, I  was most put out. Being roused from slumber to the less than welcome tones of “I AM FINISHED” (bottom wiping) is bad enough but vomit is a whole new level of no no.

Would it have been unreasonable to ring his company and ask them to send him home to clean up? I really don’t think so….although I accept that could be difficult when he’s at 30,000 feet (pilot by profession). Nonetheless, I think there’s many a mother who would agree with me that it’s not too much to ask that he delay his flight to some frivolous  European destination so that I don’t have to clear up under these circumstances…right??? (Don’t all shout at once)

Upon proffering a glass of water, cuddles and reassurance to the G man responsible for the “deposit” in his bedroom,  it briefly (not that briefly) occurred to me to just shut the door on it and leave it, especially as G sleeps in a cabin bed and had produced his offering all down the side of it, on to a pile of lego and clothing as well as the sheets and carpet.

My befuddled, sleep fogged brain tried to calculate how long it was until hubby’s return but maths has never been my strong suit even under the best circumstances and so I gave up even trying to guess and resigned myself to a date with the rubber gloves, dettol, bucket and kitchen towel.

One amazing tip I have discovered is that Vicks Vapour rub smeared prolifically under one’s nose is nothing less than a god-send when having to tackle this hideous task. I think I was inspired to try it by an episode of Silent Witness or similar when they had a “floater”  – dead body that has been in water for some time  – to autopsy (FYI, floater means something entirely different in this house). Whilst it doesn’t stop my own stomach trying to add to the mess, I can usually manage to dry retch my way through the clean up. Try it next time you are faced with such a situation…or leave it to your other half….definitely my preferred option.

So, when hubby returned later that day and the children pounced on him as he walked in the door for apps, X Box codes and the like, he found me unamused and grumpy waving a hastily scribbled appendix to be added to the marriage vows, entitled THE RULES:

THOU SHALT NOT GO TO WORK/PLAY/CYCLE/ AND LEAVE THOU’S WIFE TO CLEAN UP THY CHILDREN’S VOMIT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES….EVER…EVEN IF THAT MEANS DELAYING YOUR WORKING DAY/PLAY TIME.

Funnily enough I can’t seem to get him to sign it……ah well, off to google “an idiot’s guide to legal contracts” and see if I can find a loop hole…..

Until next time…oh and Happy New Year 2016…may it consist of all things  lovely….and no vomit…