It seems like a fortnight that is well worth documenting, if only for the fact that it was the fortnight in which I was kicked in the ear by my son, head-butted by my daughter, and remembered how to cry. And told a man that I’d met only three minutes previously that the weather was as grey as his soul, and accepted an over-sized work shirt because I didn’t want to make the woman who offered it to me feel bad for assuming I was two sizes larger than I actually am, and spewed from the very depths of my soul for 12 hours straight. And did a total of 367 loads of washing, and exposed my undergarments to an entire primary school, and shat myself. And admitted to an audience of 350 good people that I’m an idiot blogger who’ll do anything for a free sandwich, and was told off for not being the mother of a charitable 11-year-old (long story), and slept (in the loosest sense of the word) in a faux-leather recliner that unreclined every time I inhaled.
It’s been quite the fortnight.
Before you alarm yourself, the crying thing is a GOOD thing (the shitting-myself and faux-leather recliner things, not so much). You see, I haven’t shed a tear for the best part of a year; not since I started on the happy pills. Which has been good, but also weird. Over the course of the past year, I’ve tested myself on the crying front, watching Long Lost Families and 24 Hours in Emergency – even One Born Every Minute – but nope, nothing, not even when that baby girl got kicked in the head by a horse and SURVIVED, and that man found a sister he didn’t even know EXISTED, and that woman squeezed a baby out of her VAGINA. It was perplexing (the crying thing, not the vagina thing).
And then, on the way to work one day, not three hours after my last soul-extracting spew, I was listening to James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes audiobook – in which the comedian James Acaster recounts his, yes, classic scrapes – and he told the story of accidentally going to a French porcelain exhibition, where a woman licked a French porcelain plate (you had to be there), and I laughed out loud. Lolled, if you will. But, I couldn’t stop laughing. I laughed so much that I actually started sobbing, which was weird, and also really, really bad given that I was driving down a main road at the time, but I couldn’t stop. I WAILED, tears blurring my vision (apologies to the oncoming traffic), while I kind of dog-howled. It was weird, yes, but also hugely cathartic. I felt good, in a dog-howling, blurry-vision, dangerous-driving kind of way.
Then, just three days later, Frankie kicked me in the ear as I attempted to manhandle him into school. This is an everyday occurrence. We pull up at the school, he undoes his seatbelt, and curls up in the footwell of the car. Is it called a footwell? Spellcheck says no. The floor bit. You know. Anyway, he curls up there, and I have to kind of drag him out, while he wails and weeps, and then I get him on to the pavement, put his bag on my back, my keys in pocket, and – as I do so – he runs off. I chase him, grab him, fireman lift him to school, he begs to be put down, promises to walk nicely, I believe him, put him down, he bolts, I grab him, fireman lift him, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. This particular day, all the school mums were watching. They watched the whole sorry episode, and I felt so SHIT, and so HOPELESS, that when Frankie booted me square in the ear, I started to cry. I sort of kept it together in front of the mums, as I threw Frankie at the teachers and wished them well, but as soon as I got back to the car, I sobbed. Head on the steering wheel, great gulps of despair, sobbing. Again, it felt curiously cathartic.
And then, finally, as Frankie went into surgery to have his kidney stone blasted – a kidney stone that’s been the likely cause of his school reluctance and general twat-headeness – I saw a kid walking – nay, skipping – towards the hospital with his mum, wearing a t-shirt that said, “Last day of chemo! Hooray,” and I fucking lost it.
Everyone has their shit to deal with. Yeah, I’ve had my shit, but it pales into comparison to other people’s shit, for which I am thankful. It’s maybe time I took a step back to acknowledge that. For the past few months we’ve been soldiering on through kidney stones and hospital stays and illness and injury and work – so much work – and high-school rejections and stern letters from the school and bills – so many bills – that we’ve forgotten to breathe.
I remembered to breathe today, taking Alice to the beach and getting ridiculously giddy in the waves and thinking, THIS! This is what it’s all about! And then Alice head-butted me in a moment of extreme giddiness and my sunglasses smacked into my cheekbone and it hurt so much that I cried so she cried and we all cried and, well, that’s life, eh?