LSB got stuck in a queue the other day behind a long-winded person, who, in his words, was talking ‘absolute mince’. This expression just about sums up my own attempts to communicate, since my ability to articulate verbally has gone down the toilet. I have started gesticulating to indicate what I want, as though I’m a scuba diver and the kitchen is my underwater world, minus the iridescent fish. Handing LSB my coffee cup earlier I made a swirly gesture, drawing circles in the air with my forefinger, which he miraculously correctly as giving it 30 seconds in the microwave to reheat. As though reverting to toddler-speak, I have referred to the dishwasher recently as the ‘whoosh whoosh’, and have told the children to eat their bun over a plate so I don’t have to get the ‘vroom vroom’ out. While I like these terms for their onomatopoeic quality, I fear any onlooker may conclude that I am a bit of a simpleton.
Finishing a sentence has also become an achievement. When we were younger, my brother and I would get frustrated with The Mothership, as her statements petered into nothingness. ‘FINISH WHAT YOU’RE TRYING TO SAY,’ my brother would shout, which was never a very helpful response. I have now overtaken my mother with my lack of coherence. Put simply, there is just too much going on in my head. Information overload has occurred and I lack the headspace to process it. Last week the children went to a camp. I got up early and did some yoga, walked the dog and cooked dinners while listening to Radio 4. For the first time since March, I had a significant amount of time to potter, undisturbed. I still took to my bed two days after lunch to stare at the ceiling for half an hour.
Friends of mine, with children of a similar age, weren’t exhaling at all. Instead, since they are teachers, stuck in back to back meetings and preparing for the return of the pupils. I felt exhausted on their behalf. Merely reading the guidelines and the ‘do’s and don’ts’ for my girls as they start back at school next week took it out of me enough.
The mental load is huge. God help any parents who have children in nursery, primary and secondary schools, having to juggle all the different times and restrictions. In the next few weeks tempers will be frayed, appointments will be missed and new rules will be broken. It’s inevitable and it’s no one’s fault: there is just so much information. And for those of us who have the memory of a gnat to start with it’s going to prove exceptionally difficult.
But, and to use a phrase that I hate, ‘it is what it is.’ Either we attempt to have a sense of humour as we muddle on, or the next few months will have all the cheer of binge listening to the Radiohead back-catalogue. My advice is to be kind to ourselves when we f**k up, because this is all new, and a bit shite. Self-preservation is key. So when you see someone headed your way who winds you up, hide in a doorway. Know your people, find your tribe and develop a hand signal with your significant other which means ‘get me home immediately and put a large glass of red in my hand’. If you’re as fried as me keep in touch, as it would be great to know I’m not alone here.