I’ve always considered myself to be pretty strong. I mean, not Geoff Capes strong – I couldn’t pull an articulated lorry down a main road, with or without a rope, although I have carried three children screaming across a carpark while simultaneously holding aloft a half-eaten birthday cake – but pretty, you know, tough. I’ve suffered the slings and arrows, rode the highs and lows, weathered the storm, swum the channel (is that one? I’m not sure) and still come out smiling and with my sanity in tact, give or take. What I’m trying to say, in a very, very roundabout way, is that I’ve survived my fair share of shit.
Having said that, the last few weeks have very nearly broken me. There have been occasions this month when I’ve been perilously close to the edge, by which I mean, screaming in the car. And yeah, actually screaming. I screamed until my throat was hoarse and my nerves were shattered. I just screamed. I screamed because if I didn’t, my head and my heart would explode in a catastrophic shower of madness and sadness.
Because things always come in threes, right? Because dealing with one thing at a time would be too easy, yeah? Because life, sometimes, has to test your limits by saying, okay, bitch, I reckon you could cope with your middle child refusing, point blank, to go to school, and hiding his school stuff in random places around the house, and refusing to get in the car, and then refusing to get out of the car, and screaming PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME for 30 minutes straight, until you peel him off your shoulder and run back to the car without looking back once, although you still can’t escape the piercing howls of a four-year-old. You could probably deal with that.
So, tough girl, with that in mind, I’m going to throw in a 10-year-old with a PlayStation addiction and a predisposition to SHOUTING, SCREAMING and HOWLING (ideally in public) when he doesn’t get what he wants, because that’ll be fun, yeah?
You’re on top of all that, yeah?
My lovely friends, I’m not on top of all that. Or rather, I wasn’t on top of all that. There came a point, early this week, when I was buried so deeply beneath my own personal pile of shit that it seemed wholly insurmountable. So I asked for help. Not just the usual help – not the help from my parents and my husband, which is invaluable, and is a given – but help from relative strangers, from professionals, from my guardian fucking angels. These are the people who’ve saved my bacon this week: a developmental paediatrician, a personal mind trainer, a school teacher, a kindy mum, a lawyer, and a fitness instructor. Some of them I’ve paid, some have offered their services for free, some simply said the right thing at the right time. People are fucking amazing, when they have to be.
You know what every single one of them said, in a roundabout kinda way? “You got this.” It sounds a bit glib and clichéd now I’ve put it on paper, but I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear “you got this” from a selection of trained professionals. Because if I haven’t got this, then what are my options? To say FUCK THIS and run screaming down the street? To say FUCK YOU ALL and hide in the pantry drinking wine and eating Cadbury Crème Eggs, while my kids burn out the PlayStation, paint the walls in their own faeces and invite the neighbourhood cats in, and my husband leaves me for a less-screamy/drunk version?
The paediatrician – while providing me with the tools to sort my kid out – also told me to be the mother I wanted to be. The personal mind trainer – while teaching me how to be cool, Yolanda – also told me that I was strong and powerful. The fitness instructor – while showing me how to uppercut with intent – also told me I was empowered. The teacher told me to stay strong. The kindy mum told me things would get better, while giving me a hug. Oh, and my husband? My husband told me I’m a motherfucking gangsta mamma, while my indisputably amazing parents stumped up money and hugs and off-the-chart support.
SO ANYWAY. I got to a point this week where I needed help – proper, professional help – so I asked for it, and yeah, in some cases I paid for it, but I needed it, and I got it. I needed to be told by people who don’t know me that I’m strong enough to take on the world and all its shit. I’m gonna give you the same advice, for free. For free! I don’t know what you’re dealing with at the moment, but chances are you’re dealing with something, because we all are. Here’s what I want you to know: YOU GOT THIS. You’ve dealt with shit in the past, and it didn’t kill you. In fact, it probably makes for a bloody good dinner party anecdote. This is just another bump in the road, another twist in the tale, another chapter in your story. This is the shit that gives you character. Don’t run away, and don’t eat all the crème eggs (some, but not all), because you got this, you amazing fucking human.