By Way of Explanation

Depression and anxiety are terrible things.  You think that you’ve left them behind and then all of a sudden they blindside you and you’re back with them again.

When they hit me I shutdown, I go into firefighting mode, I focus on my children, on feeding them and washing up and all the day to stuff. Everything else, the bills, emails, telephone calls gets pushed to the wayside and piles up.

Then, when I start to feel a little better, I peek out at the wreckage of my life and feel overwhelmed, unsure where to start. Sometimes it tips me back into anxiety. Sometimes I ignore it until I feel stronger. Either way, the longer I leave it, the worse I feel, the more ashamed, the guilt grows and knaws at me. It’s a terrible coping strategy and one I’m trying to change.

Facing Facts

This week has been, well, pretty grotty. Not terrible, not dramatic, but not exactly wonderful either. I feel like I’ve been firefighting and I thought I was getting away with it until today when I got the phonecall about a meeting I didn’t show up to. Not a meeting for me, no, that would be too easy.  A meeting where I was supposed to be helping someone else, another parent having a hard time, and I had completely and utterly forgotten about it. And the guilt hit me head on like a truck.

I briefly wallowed in self pity. Then I tried running away (well, into town, chatting to the nice stall holders at the farmers market, same difference). Then I tried justifying to myself why it was not my fault I’d done this. Going over all  the rubbish things that had happened this week that had led to this almighty fuck up. I thought I was being compassionate, not beating myself up for an honest mistake. Then, bam, I got hit again. This time with a phrase I said to my daughter this morning, that can straight back into my mind and reverberated between my ears. When I was trying to talk to her about something she’d done wrong and she was too busy explaining all the things her brother had done wrong to listen to me, I said “if you don’t admit to yourself what you’ve done wrong, you won’t learn to make better choices next time”.

Shit, that was what I was doing. Blaming others, pointing out their mistakes and flaws to myself rather than facing up to my own failings.

I started trying to compose a post in my head, but every which way I tried what was supposed to be about what I had done wrong, started turning into a list of other things that had gone wrong to justify it. However much I tried, the order of the words swapped around (“because of X, I did Y”, “I did Y, because of X”), but the blame shifting continued.

So, I think I have now, finally, got to a point now where I can say, without justification, that my behaviour has been less than stellar this week. My main issue, was downloading an e reader onto my laptop. A fairly harmless crime you might think, but I’ve always been a binge reader and spending a few days obsessively reading a trilogy into the wee small hours has been pretty selfish with knock on effects for everyone. Yes, a bit of escapism is good the soul, especially when things are a bit tough,  but when the morning routine is being a problem for the whole family, struggling to drag yourself out of bed from lack of sleep as you were reading until 3am is not a good place to be in. When tempers are frayed and boundaries are being pushed, having constant background headaches from accumulative lack of sleep is distinctly not a good idea. When the housework is taking longer than usual (one of the issues we have is being without a working boiler at present, and the no hot water aspect of this is a real drag), sitting in bed reading a book rather than cracking on with it doesn’t help. And when you’re feeling frustrated at (fairly minor) communication issues with your partner, turning all your attention to a screen and blocking them out isn’t wise.

In short, I, A is for, have been rather selfish this week.

I’m quite pleased that I have got to the point of admitting that, of being able to write it without a how list of justifications why it’s not my fault. It feels like it has to be the first step to moving on. That I’m finally getting somewhere.

The next step is still proving a little elusive. OK, the “stop reading all the time” step is pretty obvious, but how to discuss this issue with  my other half is a little harder. I think I’m ready to say sorry and fess up, it feels like the right thing to do, but I’m wary that the answer might well be along the lines of “yes, you have been selfish” with a possible extra list of things I’ve done wrong that I’d omitted to mention. That has been known to happen in the past. And I’m pretty sure that will just make me cross and lash out, with my own list of failings for him in return, just like I have in the past.  The thing is, what I want is a “sorry, I’ve been less than stellar too” response of some description, but that’s not how it works is it. It’s not really saying sorry if what you actually want is to trade apologies. Sorry should come with no strings attached.

So, maybe, instead of saying sorry, I just need to say that I’m aware of my failings and that I’m going to try and change them. And maybe I need to say it to the whole family, which will make it less personal than a one on one with my other half.

I haven’t finished working out the details yet, but I do feel that I’m starting to get somewhere. And then maybe I can face that big lurking stack of guilt in my head, rather than shutting it away to lurk in my brain and stoke my anxiety in future.

 

When the phone rings, my heart jumps

On Monday my mobile rang, I didn’t recognise the number. This panicked me. I didn’t answer it. Then I texted the number to my husband at work to ask him if he knew it. Then the home phone rang. I felt hounded. But I managed (just) to listen to the message. It was someone arranging details for something I’m helping them with. So I rang them back (I’m ok once I know who it is) and all was fine.

On Tuesday, I was out all day. When I came back from school with the kids the answerphone was beeping. It’s really loud, which on a mildly bad day is helpful as it’s irritating enough for me to listen to the message rather than ignore it. On Tuesday it freaked me out. I turned the power to the phone and answerphone off. I managed to tell my husband just before we took the kids out and asked him to listen to it and catch us up. When he caught up he didn’t mention it. We dropped the kids off at their group, he didn’t mention it. We went to the pub, he didn’t mention it. I thought it must be really bad and he didn’t want to upset me or was waiting for the right time. Eventually I asked him. He’d forgotten about it, because it was an automated voice saying “goodbye”. I’d been stressed about a cold call.

Today I was in when the phone rang. An 0845 number. I let it ring. Then the answerphone started beeping. I covered it with a cushion, closed the door to the room it was in and put music on. After my husband got back he said “there’s no message” (i.e. they hung up, just not quite in time). Still mildly stressed about this one as it was an “official” number and I don’t know who they were.

This is my life. Well, it’s not, it’s a sliver of my life. A ridiculous sliver. A stressful sliver. But not all of my life. But it casts a big shadow over the rest of my life at times.

Tomorrow I have to answer a phone call at 11am. This will be hard. The number will be unavailable. This will make it harder.

Why do I have to do this? CBT. It’s not a planned action to get me used to answering the phone. It’s my second appointment. The first, the assessment was in person. I told her about my trouble answering the phone, amongst other things. At the end she made the second appointment. Then she told me it would be by phone. Apparently the second appointment always is.

I was too stunned to ask why. To ask if, for me, it could be in person. I just was checking, would the number show? (no, it’s from a dr’s surgery, it will show as withheld). Could she text me first? (no, boy did I feel stupid for asking that, I realised straight away from her face it would be a big no no (and yet my dentist text me from their system to remind me of appointments)). Could she leave a message and I ring her back? (can’t remember why no for that one).

Now as the date nears, I just feel cross. It feels insensitive, inflexible, nonsensical (we’ll help you with your anxiety about, amongst other things, answering phone calls, by phoning you up).

And then Bitchface pipe’s up with “how dare you get cross about this? Fiona gets to be cross about how badly she was discharged from hospital, she’s properly ill and was in a real state and they were negligent. You on the other hand, just need to pull yourself together”. (It doesn’t help that blogspot wouldn’t let me get past identifying I’m not a robot to leave a supporting comment and I’m too ashamed to post on her facebook post in case our mutual friend works out I have anxiety).

So, these things are not a competition. I know that. Well, part of me does. I am genuinely worried about Fiona and powerless to do anything. I’m also grateful I’m not in that situation. But at the same time, I’m a bit pissed off about the added stress I’m feeling this week caused by the people that are supposed to be helping. I’m 80% sure that I’m not whining.

All in all, I’m not feeling particularly positive about this process. Which isn’t great as it “starts” tomorrow. I’m trying to push these feelings to one side, trying to give it a proper go, to give it chance to work rather than giving up on it before it starts.

In the meantime, I’m still struggling with phone calls. And don’t even get me started on emails…

And so it grinds on

I’m trying to ignore my stress. Next week I will deal with it I tell myself. Next Week. After the birthday and the associated party. Next week.

The trouble is the stress doesn’t like being ignored. It makes bubbles in my stomach. It makes it hard to concentrate. Yesterday it made me scared of the front door, I kept thinking I could see a person outside about to ring the doorbell and upbraid me for letting them down. I lurked in the back half of the house, kitchen door shut (it’s never shut), so I could convincingly pretend to be out when the doorbell rang. Which it didn’t. I had the kids in the back garden after school so they didn’t run and answer the door to the non existent ring and give the game away. Which wasn’t all bad, being outside, in the fresh air, gardening was mainly good for me (aside from trying to supervise two medium size children who wanted to help with secateurs and garden shears).

And it makes me tired. Really tired.

But good things I have done. I emailed the counselor and asked for an appointment. And today I made a GP appt for Monday after having forgotten to yesterday. Now I just have to go. And talk to him. Which I’m not looking forward to. At All.

Less good things, haven’t opened my email in 2 days as I’m so scared of it. So no idea if I can have appointment with the conselor. Haven’t spoken to husband as he was stressed out about stuff enough himself.

So, today I’m trying to do little bits of dealing with it to the best of my abilities. To help myself where I can and work up to the harder stuff. And I’m sick of this. I’m sick of it going on so long. It is years now. Years. I don’t want to live the rest of my life like this. I have a sort of fantasy about moving away and restarting, rebooting my life without the anxiety, except I can’t even enjoy that because I know it wouldn’t solve anything and I’m not up to organising it.

Exit Strategy

There is a thing in my life that causes me stress, great stress. Its a volunteer responsibility that I took on at my lowest because I didn’t know how to say no and I thought my husband wanted me to do it. I have always associated it with stress and therefore avoided dealing with it, which makes problems, which stress me, etc etc. I don’t do it well. I’m letting people down. I’m ashamed. I’m afraid that I’m going to get publically shamed. It’s all mixed up with not admitting to anyone that I’m ill. Gosh. Ill. Don’t think I’ve thought of it that way before. Right, park that one, back to the point.

I have done a bare minimum sorty outy thing tonight. I need to do more. But I’ve come to realise, I need more than that. I need an exit strategy. For everyone concerned sakes. In the past I’ve thought “I can’t stop doing this, it’s in such a mess I can’t hand it over, I need to fix it first”. And then failed to fix it,  carried on as always, ignoring it and being rubbish and letting people down and causing me stress.

I really don’t feel able to talk to my husband right now, I don’t feel I can put upon him at this time. So, I’ve emailed the counsellor I saw last summer. And I’m contemplating making a GP appt. It’s all a bit eek really. In so many ways I’ve been doing so much better. But, there is no staged return to life, so I’ve been ignoring a corner of it and that is, as I know, a rubbish strategy.

So there, in circles, to no one in particular, it is. I need a plan.

Facing up to your problems is the first stage of solving them, right? So, this is a small step in the right direction. And hopefully I will be able to sleep tonight.

Back to Life (?)

I realised something Monday evening as I was going to bed. I had forgotten to write down when the plumber was coming on the calender when I booked the appointment about 10 days earlier. But I had remembered it. I knew the date and remembered it.

So, what’s the big deal? Back at the beginning of the summer when I tried a couple of counseling sessions the counselor asked if I was having trouble remembering things. It hadn’t struck me until she asked. I was having trouble remembering appointments etc and forgetting them and that in turn added into my stress/anxiety/guilt loop. So, not only was my memory shot to pieces but I hadn’t linked the individual incidents up and realised that and I was a long way off making the leap to the fact that this might be a symptom of the stress in my life and the fact that my brain wasn’t coping all that well.

Over the summer I started carrying around a little notebook with to do lists in to help with this problem. It’s fallen out of use lately. BUT I REMEMBERED THE PLUMBER. It’s such a great sign for me (and Bitchface is really disgusted that I’m so pleased about something that just highlights my patheticness but we’ll ignore her). Not only am I remembering things but I know the date.

This week I’ve been making a dent on sorting out the housework. I’m nowhere near done (and never will be) and there are still trickier things lurking on my to list that I’m not up to facing up to, but I’ve been cleaning out kitchen cupboards and parts of the house are actually looking clean and tidy. Compared to a few months ago when it took all my effort to get the washing up done and cook in a day (which is pretty poor going for someone with no paid employment and 2 kids at school for several hours each day). I’m thinking about sending Christmas cards (none were sent for the last 2 years) and I’ve bought some presents for my (grown up) nieces and nephews – who were left out / sent something lame late for the last couple of years.

I’m thinking, very carefully, very quietly, without wishing to count my chickens before they’ve hatched or break the spell or anything, that I’m starting to, I don’t know wake up / get “back to normal” / get better?

stress?

I feel like I’m continually having the same conversations over and over again at the moment and it’s annoying/boring/frustrating.

I cannot properly answer how I am when asked without mentioning the tantrums and sleep issues that are dominating daily life and that in turn leads to a discussion of tricky behaviours the boy is exhibiting and a debate/discussion with whomever I happen to be talking to about whether he has an Autistic Spectrum Condition or not. Sometimes it’s me trying to explain to a friend that, despite my doubts, yes I feel this is a real possibility and we’re seeking an assessment whilst they explain to me that they don’t think he does have. Today it was a neighbour trying to convince me that in her opinion he almost certainly has High Functioning Autism/Aspergers and that I should get him assessed – with me desperately trying to get a word in edgeways to explain that I agree and I am trying and it’s not that darn simple. Sometime’s it’s just a sympathetic friend and we’re going over stuff for the umpteenth time. Sometimes it’s me going over stuff my head. When we get chance I’m discussing it with hubby.

I’m fed up with this. I’m fed up with the constant debate, the explaining, the discussion. I want to move on. I want to shift the focus back to him and what this behaviour is telling us about him and what we need to do about it.

Tantrums each evening for 5 days in a row, each at least half an hour. That’s pretty clear to me. That’s stress, surely. And hubby and I are pretty clear that it’s in some way school related because this is markedly worse in term time. And problems getting ready on school days are happening more and more. Today it was a sudden onset of sensory issues with clothes. Which is odd, as he’s normally fine on this. But not today, today something was itching on his neck and he went back upstairs, we had to turn his vest inside out and give him a fresh polo shirt. And then there were the trousers. Trousers he’s worn for ages are suddenly uncomfy, unwearable. It’s the button that adjusts the elastic that’s at fault. I fiddle with elastic. Still they’re declared unwearable. (I toy with the idea of giving him no option, but he’s so obviously upset and doing so will just cause a tantrum). A second pair (brown, not uniform grey) are offered. These apparently NEED a belt (he never normally wears them with a belt). Some faffing later, belt on, and they are declared uncomfy too – a similar button issue. I find a third pair, blue, no adjustable elastic so no internal button. This pair are a problem because they zip off into 3/4 length and the zips are uncomfy (all of these trousers have been worn many times with no issues previously being reported). I put emoliant cream on his legs. Still an issue. I can’t think what else to do, the only trousers left are pajama trousers and some brightly coloured ones definitely not suitable for school. I get him to have breakfast. Things calm down a little. Hubby delays going to work to help get everyone in a fit state to leave the house. Then the zip on his coat is an issue, it digs in, he NEEDS a scarf underneath. This time I put my foot down, no, there is no more time. On the brief walk to school he is subdued, seems upset. I help him into the classroom, take things out his bag for him, send him off to hang up his coat. I grab the teaching assistant as the teacher is busy and explain the problems and that his grey trousers are in his bag, should he want to change into them (or should they deem it necessary). He is not hanging up his coat. He is watching me instead as I’m talking to the TA. I go and get him to hang it up and leave him with the TA, explaining his stuff is not put away and I need to take his sister to her school now. I leave him, in the corridor, complaining about zips.

Yes, this is frustrating, but also I feel for him, I really do. Things were not right in his world this morning. But what to do?

What I want to do, is keep him at home for a couple of days, he can read books and help me with housework and calm down. But I can’t do that because he’s not ill, I’m not allowed. I could lie, and keep him at home, but then surely that will lead to him getting the idea that school is optional, that we can get out of it when we like. And yet, adults are allowed time off work with stress. And he is stressed, so clearly stressed, or am I just projecting my feelings onto him?

I can imagine a day when hubby has left the house and I’m going to really struggle to do the school run because he is too upset. It is definitely not an unconceivable event. At the moment he is still fairly small and light, but I have a bad back at the moment, if he decided not to go, I probably couldn’t make him. Not that he does refuse me, because he wants to do the right thing, but it may be he’s too involved in a tantrum to come. When/if that day comes, do I take him in late, keep him off for the morning, keep him off all day, what? And what do I do about little sister, who also needs to go to school?

Yesterday I contacted the organisation that supports parents that the pediatrician recommended. I had to explain details, it was hard, becuase I’m not sure exactly what they do so I don’t know what I’m asking for. But details were taken and they’re going to be passed to the relevant person who will contact me. Hopefully that will result in me having a better idea of the next step – which I’m thinking is talking to the SENCO. Anyway, it was mentioned in conversation that the waiting list for an ASC assesment, the one he’s being put on the one I was told was “long” is apparently TWO YEARS. I’m not sure I can wait that long. Even if I do wait, will he get a diagnosis? And what would a diagnosis change? Can’t we do something NOW?

So its back to going round in circles, again.

Wobble

The summer holidays have been pretty good so far. Yes, the kids have been exasperating at times and yes I’ve lost my temper at times, but on the whole things have been going well. They’ve had swimming lessons and seen friends and joined in with some kid friendly past their bedtime activities that would be out of the question in term time. Bed time and getting up have been more relaxed and I’ve stayed in bed until 8 a few times.

The few things I thought I had planned turned into a few more and the past week has not had nearly enough mooching about, but we’ve survived. And I managed 3 early morning runs (although that tailed off recently) and did some relaxing yoga (link via Sunny Spells for 8 mins of relaxing yoga that I’ve now lost) both alone and with my son.

And today was the first day of hubbies leave and tomorrow we go away together and there is an amazing kids program so I’ll get some adult time. Oh and I sorted out a load of admin for my voluntary stuff so I don’t have to feel like I’m letting people down whilst I’m away.

So why oh why do I suddenly feel rubbish. It came on all of a sudden, my stomach flipped and I felt anxious. I can’t settle to anything, I’m agitated, I can’t work out what to do, when I do try and work out what to do my brain produces a torrent of things I should be doing in too much of a rush for me to think about and I feel overwhelmed and hopeless as I know I can’t do any of them.

And now Bitchface is having a field day because I’m doing nothing useful and leaving hubby to put the kids to bed and it’s late (we ended up out later than planned today) and that gives us even less time and it’s not fair on him and to top it all I’m wasting time blogging so I’m clearly capable of something just nothing useless.

Oh and did I mention that I’m feeling decidedly fat and frumpy (with corroborating evidence from tight skirts) but all I can think of doing about that is comfort eating.

Not good.

Luckily Hubbie seams to be on top form, noticing, trying to communicate with me and being very patient. So hopefully we/he can prioritise the to do list and get us organised to go away.

Which is good because I don’t really feel like working out where to start at self care right now let alone doing it.

I think I may have glimpsed a few things in the corner of my minds eye when starting this blog post, contributing factors. I’m pretty sure my period is due. I’ve let the running slide. The week got busy. There’s not been enough down time. People stayed over one night so I didn’t have as much privacy. Maybe I’m nervous about going away (I didn’t think I was). Also the last time we went to a similar place I had to leave early because my dad died.

Anyway, hubbie has now got the overtired kids to sleep single handed (he’s amazing) and is downstairs being practical, so, time to take a deep breath and go and join in. I think I’ll start with the washing up…

Just another evening

Parenting, it just keeps on coming. Which is bad sometimes. And good sometimes also. Because you can get it stupendously wrong, and then you still get another chance to get it amazingly right 5 minutes later.

This afternoon was tiring. There was a lot of screaming and shouting, at me, by a 6 year old girl. I was doing a good impression of being calm and trying not to reward the bad behaviour with too much attention. Which of course led to more screaming and shouting. Eventually, it led to me saying I would not cook tea and storming off. (OK, I may have shouted the bit about not cooking).

She followed me and complained and cried and rolled on top of me. I was firm and stoical and counting down the minutes in my head until the reinforcements would arrive – I had decided that at that point I would go out and leave them all to it. But by the time he came in we had calmed down and kind of made up (without any actual apologising) and I had discovered that Small Girl found it rude when I answered “yes” in reply to her “Mummy”, thinking I was answering a question she hadn’t had chance to ask yet, rather than showing I was listening. This could explain why she rarely answers me. I set about explaining that one, I think it’s going to be a long haul.

Then I got tea underway. I tried to talk to hubby but he was tired and distracted and noodling on his tablet. I manged to explain my frustration rather than sulking and I handed over the reins of cooking to him. Then he came and interrupted my noodling, grr. But all in all it was ok. I, however, was exhausted.

After tea, which was quite late after all that, he went out (which I wasn’t entirely happy about but I had been warned in advance that it was a possibility and had agreed in principal, although that was before I knew how tired I’d be) leaving me to put the kids to bed. Which went quite well. Then I started tracing out a pattern – the start of a sewing project. I haven’t done any sewing in a couple of weeks and I decided I needed some me time.

Cue small boy appearing on the stairs to ask me questions about what is meant by the term British Isles. (Fairly random behaviour even by the standards in our house) I gave him as brief and vague an answer as possible (partly because I’m a little hazy on this myself, never having really been taught this at school), told him it was for the morning, and sent him back to bed. Then his sister came down asking. Repeat of before. Then he came back and asked some more. It quickly transpired they have different definitions in their heads and were arguing. I told him repeatedly that it was bed time, that questions were for the morning whilst he repeatedly interrupted me to start a discussion/argument. I got cross. I sent him back to bed.

Tried to settle back to patterns. They were still arguing. I went and shouted at them and told them that at this point my dad would have spanked me but I didn’t want to, but it was bed time now. This set him off worse (unsurprisingly) and he was really agitated and upset and talking louder and louder. So I shouted louder still. And stormed off. I knew it was a rubbish thing to do, but I was really cross.

I tried ringing hubby but his phone was out of range of a signal so I left a teary message instead. Then I posted an irritated FB status about children yo yoing out of bed. Then I remembered the last one I posted earlier this week and how instead of sympathy it prompted a lot of unsolicited unhelpful advice, much of it from young men without children (“don’t give them sugary food before bed”, “have you tried a reward chart”, “they should eat at least 2 hours before bed”, etc) and I deleted the comment.

Instead I started a really angry detailed venting blog post (yes, much worse than this mark 2 one). Part way through my mother in law rang up. Now I’ve been trying to get hubby to ring her for a while but he’s been too stressed out at the idea (he’s still quite pissed off with his Dad for his spectacularly bad “Don’t tell him, it’ll only give him another reason to try and get his own way” response to the news that we think our son might have Aspergers), I said I’d ring her with the kids when he was out at the weekend but life (and boys in particular) scuppered my plans. So, I answered the phone. And it helped. Amazingly, she was sympathetic and didn’t offer advice and I felt better. Who’d’ve thunk it.

So then, feeling calm and guilty, I went to check on the kids. One sleeping girl, one wakey boy. I gave him a cuddle and deferred questions/comments/complaints about The British Isles (definition of) until the morning. This took a bit of doing. And then I said sorry, and that it wasn’t fair that I was so cross with him partly because I was still tired from dealing with all the screaming from his sister earlier. We discussed how its hard to do the right thing when you’re tired or cross or hungry. And he told me I get grumpy with him like that every day. Ouch. I suggested he make me a reward chart for not being grumpy, but he wasn’t convinced.

Then I asked him why he was having such trouble getting to sleep. I see it as him not staying in bed. It’s been happening a lot recently. Once he finally stays in bed he goes to sleep pretty quickly, it’s just getting him to stay there. And he managed to explain that he feels scared when there’s no one there. Poor kid. We discussed animal brains and how they can feel scared or upset even when our thinking brain knows there’s not a good reason. And I cuddled him more. He asked me not to leave. And I thought about what I could do to help settle a boy whose scared for me to go, when I know that when I stay he doesn’t sleep (you’ve heard of I Think Therefore I Am? Well, he’s I Have Attention Therefore I Am, if you stay with him, then he stays awake, unless you fall asleep yourself). And I cobbled together my memories of relaxation techniques and breathing techniques and extemporised our own personal one there and then. And he calmed down and rolled onto his side. And I left him and I think now he’s asleep.

So, today has been long, with helping out with PTFA stuff at school and having workmen everywhere in the house and going to my first counseling session and being screamed at lots and trying to do the right parenting and getting it wrong and trying again. But everyone has survived. I’ve apologised for my mistakes. And I’ve learnt that I need to teach her that you’re meant to show someone you can hear them by answering. And I’ve learnt that he gets out of bed because he’s scared, and that I can help that all on my own, without buying any fancy book/cd/piece of kit on Amazon. So, despite my mistakes, I have done some excellent parenting.

Monday Morning Rantathon

Today I am resenting my unexpected new position of Person-Most-With-It-In-The-Morning-in-Our-Household.

I am not a natural morning person, not an early riser. I like staying in bed for as long as possible. 9 o’clock? Fine. 10 o’clock? Even better. This has been my inclination for as long as I can remember. Maybe it’s something to do with having Glandular Fever as a teenager, maybe it’s just how I am, maybe I just never grew up and got my act together. Whatever, I am rarely the first person up in my house. Add into that the habit of hiding under the cover because I don’t want to face the day and I’m hardly ever the first person up. Plus my husband struggles to sleep in late, he just wakes up, and my 2 children, well, they are fairly typical, they wake up early and loud.

So it is somewhat a shock to the system when on a Monday morning I am the first out of my room and trying to organise everyone else. Unfortunately this is not due to some amazing leap forward by me finally getting my act together but rather a reflection that everyone else seems to have slipped below my rather minimal standards.

This morning I had to try and persuade my children to stop rolling around on the floor and get dressed, whilst trying to make the grown ups their morning kick start cup of tea. Which I want to happen at the same time, but the kitchen is not near the kids bedroom and the kids are rather reluctant to get their act together (weeks of settling late to bed (despite our deperate best efforts) due to the light hot evenings are starting to take their toll). I sort of manage. Then I have to persuade them to eat some breakfast. This proves tricky. My son is easily distracted and would undoubtedly benefit from living in a minimalist household with everything not currently needed neatly stored away out of site in an elegant cupboard. Whereas our household has piles of unsorted Parent Trap (our very own Cockney Rhyming slang) everywhere ready for him to become fascinated with, pick up and start fiddling with. Then there is the negotiation over who has what bowl. I manage to steamroller him through that, helped by the knowledge that he is so much easier to be around once he’s eaten. Then the incomprehensible complaint about the lack of the right kind of breakfast cereal, except it’s unclear what the right kind of breakfast cereal would be, althought it’s clear we don’t have it. I just about manage to hold it together whilst being shouted at in the manner of someone with a justified complaint who had clearly requested this cereal in a timely and polite fashion and is now at the end of their tether. I resent being shouted at like that the first time an issue is raised.

Finally, they are both sat eating breakfast. I take the cups of tea upstairs hoping to sit in peace and drink half of mine on our bed before geting dressed. Except that it’s starting to become clear that my other half is struggling to make it out from under the covers. I want to find out what’s wrong, is he tired, hayfever, stressed, but an almighty fight breaks out downstairs, I try to ignore it but it migrates onto our rather steep stairs and sounds like it might get violent any minute so I go to intervene.

Turns out one of the things that were in a random pile on the dining table was a sheet of stickers that I had picked of the floor when tidying up last night but had got no further in their journey to where they belong (partly as I’m not even sure where that is). Bought as simple white dots, my son had coloured them in (over a week ago I think) and now they are the most important thing in the world and he has grand plans for what he is going to do next to decorate them. Grand plans that have been dashed by his sister stealing one. Getting her back to the table and breakfast is easy, she likes breakfast. Getting him to move on from Stickergate is harder but I manage it in the end.

Right back to my cup of tea. Except it is now becoming obvious that husband is really not feeling great and it seems to be all his, you know, stuff (gestures to one side). I have no idea what the right thing to do is. After a big hug I coax him upright and give him his tea and mutter something about coming to have some breakfast and seeing how he feels after that.

Then, now half dressed (yippee, progress for me) I make it back downstairs and do some more negotiating with little sister about not leaving breakfast half eaten to strew your box of precious things / small irritating rubbish (we have a difference of opinion on the contents of this particular box) all over the hallway and make husband toast.

Life continues in this vain, with me running from person to person, coaxing/cajoling/bribing/threatening them back on track and trying to get myself ready at the same time. One lowlights is having to rewrite a check for school dinner money as I inadvertendly signed in the amount payable box (the woman in the office who deals with checks appears to take great delight in pointing out errors in how they’re written which really winds me up, she came into the playground recently to tell me in front of as many people as possible that I’d written 2013 rather than 2014 on the check and not for the first time). Another is realising that despite having been brought toast in bed hubby is now hiding under the duvet again and not speaking. He manages to communicate that he plans to stay there and request I phone his work. This is really tough for me. Phone calls are the thing I find hardest when stressed and phoning in sick because you’re feeling stressed brings back some painful memories for me. But I manage it.

Finally we are on track to leave for school. And then my son goes to the toilet. This is his latest habit. Right at the last minute he goes to the toilet. And takes ages. And then more ages. And I get cross and frustrated. And then I feel guilty because bodily functions are not a sign of disobedience. And yet. I know some of the time he’s not doing what he should be in the bathroom. We are in no mans land. No longer in the parent assisted toileting, not actually reliable and trusted either. He shuts the door. I respect him. But sometimes I knock and open it and find him fiddling with the shower curtain having not even started using the toilet yet despite being in there over 5 minutes. Or opening and closing cupboard doors and then it transpires he hasn’t washed his hands yet. So this latest habit, of being a long long time just as we need to leave, is it a case of bad timing, or his infinite ability to distract himself, or a subconcious derailing of the going to school progress.

Today I decide it’s unfair on his sister to be late every day. I take advantage of another parent on site and give him a deadline, then leave without him. Maybe drawing a line in the sand will help. Unfortuantely rather than appreciating my efforts to get her to school on time and valuing some one on one time with her mum, instead she argues at me half the way to school about the contents of the bag of junk modelling stuff we’re taking in (I’d actually sorted that out the night before). When I refuse to argue further she sulks the rest of the way.

So, drop daughter off, explain sulking to her teacher, go and tell his teacher that I’m going back to get him now and he’ll be late, go home, get him, take him to the office to be signed in late, give in the cheque for dinner money and be told that I DATED IT JULY NOT JUNE. Agghhh.

So thank you, inerenet thingy, for listening to my rant. It helped. It made me feel better. For a whole minute and a half. And now Bitchface has started up pointing out how petty and small my problems are compared to real problems and what an insult I am to those really suffering…