Friday, June 6, 2014
Living on the Edge
One of the advantages of schooling over home schooling is that after the children go to school I can do outrageously BAD things without them knowing. Like balancing my breakfast and the laptop on the balustrade above the stairs while huddling over the heater. So this is what living on the edge is like..
Tell me, is daily life a constant struggle for you, or is it only me? Things that make me panic on the inside: making telephone calls, organising pieces of paper such as bills and hockey rosters, needing to buy essential items of sporting equipment or shoes, or book covers, or indeed any of the paraphernalia of daily life for the children. Organising ballet costumes. Aaargh. Following up tradies, or having them traipse around my house, however nice and useful they are. Shopping. Getting in the car again to go and fetch a child or pick one up. Going out, anywhere, ever. Making appointments. Yes, I am a disorganised hermit. Yes, I would happily never leave the house. Yes, I really do want to be Ma in Little House on the Prairie, because even though she had to hand-sew every stitch of her family's clothing and take the insides out of animals before cooking them over an open fire, she only went shopping once a year, and never had to drive the children to hockey.
Life is just way too complicated for me to get my head around most days, and I am continually tempted just to go back to bed. However, I have discovered that I do play a beneficial role in the community. Last week, instead of having my usual nap in the car, I actually went into ballet (because I absolutely HAD to, due to tedious but essential ballet business) and was earnestly telling one of my fellow ballet mums how amazing she is, as she sat there sewing an armful of diaphanous ballet costume, because if I had to sew any ballet-related costume, I would actually DIE, and then I told her why I was there, which was because I was shamefully disorganised and had messed up big in Balletland, and had to confess this to the ballet teacher. And she said to me, 'Oh, I have missed you. I always feel so efficient and talented when you are here.' See, I improve other people's self-esteem by my uselessness, thus rendering it useful. If I became super-efficient and good at things, it would make other people feel bad by comparison, and that would be mean.
I have also made another discovery. I often find myself doing these same things: suddenly and desperately needing a nap, a hot shower, cake or an Agatha Christie novel that I have read twenty five times already. I only just realised this week (because I am a bit slow), that these are all things I find intensely comforting, and that maybe, just maybe, I am using them as a substitute for dealing with whatever very uncomfortable thing I might be avoiding. So these last few days I have found myself gently asking why it is that I feel I need a nap, or to read The 4.50 From Paddington AGAIN. And the answer is usually that I don't want to write an important email, or ring the builder, or deal with an actual emotion. But then, I ask, well, what to do, now that I have admitted I don't want to ring the builder? I still don't want to do it.
And here is another revelation. People talk to each other about all this stuff. And IT MAKES THEM FEEL BETTER. I am rather an introvert, obviously, otherwise I wouldn't wish I was a hermit. But I generally don't act like one around other people. I am deceptively sociable and jolly. I listen well. People like to tell me things, and I love to listen and sympathise, and enter into their difficulties, and it often feels like I am connecting on a deep level, but it is mostly a one way street, because I don't tend to share back, or if I do, not about current difficulties, just past, resolved ones. My current problems I keep close, and ever so usefully, pretend they don't exist. And if I can eat enough cake and take enough naps, the comfort blanket works so well that I can say, 'Fine!' when anyone asks, and actually mean it. Clearly though, not fine. Daily panic. So I am resolving to discuss some actual problems with actual people. Even telling my fellow ballet mum about my stupidity helped. All those old cliches turn out to be true. A problem shared really is a problem halved. And often, the problems I seem to have.. make other people laugh. So, therapy for everyone really..