Corona Diaries


08.00, Thursday 19th March

Total cases Germany: 12,327

Total deaths: 28

Total recovered: 105

I am doing my utmost not to leave the house. There are two reasons for that. One, I do not want to help to spread the virus. Two,  I do not want my family or I to catch the virus especially as my husband, my daughter and I myself, all have asthma, so we’re considered high risk.

♦♦♦♦

I am one of those people who consumes news. That is, I read the news, a lot. I watched the virus from afar, in China, and I was horrified. And I felt trepidation. My children call me their dragon mother. They always proudly recant stories of me, puffing up my chest and blowing out my flames at any remotely dubious character who would even dare to glance in their direction.

So I started rabbiting on to my husband about that proper larder I had been planning on installing in the cellar for the last couple of years. He readily agreed that it wasn’t actually a bad idea.

Then the numbers in our almost neighbour Italy, suddenly shot up. And luckily, I was ahead of the curve.

It seems to me that Germans (at least in my area) haven’t quite got the concept of supermarkets. They still tend to go shopping most days. Whereas I’m a buy in bulk kind of lass. Partly because of my British heritage. Partly because I have four whole children. And going shopping with four whole children is a mammoth task. Two of my children are ‘blessed’ with ADHD, one of those is also sprinkled with autism. Growing up, our shopping trips meant once a month, a big, massive shop with two overflowing  trolleys and then, every now and then an attempt at nipping out to top up milk, bread and other fresh stuff. Even that became a bit too much at some point. So I started having our milk and yoghurt delivered and a fruit and veg pack for a while too. Those deliveries may well have saved my sanity.

As the years went by, kids started moving out, and I starting relaxing and going shopping alone more and more often. I love cooking, so I would really let the food inspire me.

But experience is experience. So before almost anyone else started ‘hamstering’ as the Germans call it. I was standing in line, once again with my two trolleys full to the brim of things we regularly eat and drink, but have a long shelf life (the shop assistant looked rather surprised). I had decided, before the shit hit the fan, I would get myself together and sort my larder out once and for all! Not only that, I would give my two grown up children who have moved out, but live on a pittance, a few bits and pieces to keep them going  too. Let me assure you: I am not greedy. I did not buy anything we would not normally use and I did it at a time when the shelves were full and everything was in abundance. And since then, I have only bought regular levels of shopping.

I am organized. I am one of those irritating mothers who has an itinerary planned for a holiday.

I’ve also realized that, any time I hit a crisis my reaction is to feed people. Be it a death, a storm, or a virus.

I think it’s how I take control.

Last Friday
They announced the schools were closing as of Tuesday. I was so glad. The numbers of ill people had been rising day after day. My asthmatic daughter was squashed like a sardine on the bus and I was fearful. So fearful, I had started losing sleep.

I just wanted to have her at home and put her in a cocoon. And stand guard over her.

I might be the dragon mother but this dubious character, who wants to attack my family is invisible.

Saturday
I cooked. Soups mainly. I thought,  if we get the virus we will need something healthy. I stayed up late until they all cooled down and then I put them in the new freezer.

On Saturday I also cried. A lot. I cried about my grown-up children. Who have stopped coming to visit because they are scared to infect us asthmatics. I cried about the people in Italy that I do not know. I cried about the people in Italy that I do know. I cried about my dad, who died, 40 years ago – the anniversary was the day before, on the 13th of March, – and when he died, he was the same age as I am now. Just 47. I cried about my mum and my step father who are not nice people and who want nothing at all to do with me, but I know there’s a high chance they would not survive this virus, should they get it. I cried about random acts of kindness. I cried about my daughter losing her job, her income and her premier the night before in the theatre. I cried about her happy bubble bursting and her insecurities awakening. I cried for friends who have diabetes, heart conditions, asthma and cancer. I cried for people I do not know and have never met. I cried for people who are alone and sad and scared and lonely. I cried with fear that I may never see my children have their own children and that I may never be able to be their dragon grandmother.

And then I dried my face and I started to cook.

I tried to plan how I could stay home as much as possible. How I could try and help people from inside my home. What could I offer? I wanted to go out and do my bit. It’s quite a hard realisation when it suddenly dawns on you, you can’t be the protector anymore. You have to be the protected.

So I called people. I wrote to people. I tried to see if everyone was OK. A lot of people were not OK.

Monday
Akasha had to go to school. I had cancelled work completely for the following five weeks. So we juggled things around and my husband drove her back and forth, so she at least didn’t have to be a sardine on a bus.

♦♦♦♦

Friends call. They offer to deliver food and help in anyway they can.

I start to see my invisible foe everywhere. Is he on the box the postman just delivered?

I read somewhere that the virus can live on cardboard for 24 hours. Is it fake news? So I take the box in. And leave it sitting for 24 hours before I open it. I wash my hands, saying the alphabet twice. Just to be sure. You may think that I am paranoid. But the very next day two postal workers in Italy die from the virus and unions are demanding the closure of postal services. The day after that our postman has gloves on.

There’s no cheery banter at the door. Not much more than a brief thanks in that sudden, momentary contact.

I feel sad. It’s hard to motivate myself to do anything. I am so tired because I have trouble sleeping. And I have a persistent cough that I know is just from a previous bad cold. But I want to be healthy, so if I get the virus, I can fight it with all my might.

♦♦♦♦

Tuesday
My mood improved dramatically. I felt more normal and motivated again. I realized that I probably went through a few stages and it seems to be happening to a lot of people around me.

The first stage is denial: I cannot believe this is happening. I cannot accept this. From my perception this is a longer stage for the young. When you’re young you feel invincible. And most likely, you haven’t experienced much death. Also, with this virus, the young don’t seem to be as badly affected as older people. At least, so far.

After that comes acceptance and with that often some kind of crisis. Maybe you feel angry, or can’t sleep, perhaps you cry a lot like I did, or start to be really anxious. This stage is horrible. But I think it’s important not to suppress it. Once you let it out you can get onto the next bit.

For me that’s definitely take control. Do something. This is a good stage. I don’t know however, what comes next.

We are all, suddenly, in the same boat. Young and old. Across the nations. Some of us are at earlier stages, others at later. This is our war and we need to fight it together.

I wish you all strength. I wish you all courage. I wish you all patience. Above all, I wish you all to feel the love from and give the love to one another.

Stay safe.

10.15, Thursday 19th March

Total cases Germany: 12,343(+16)

Total deaths: 28

Total recovered: 105

 

 

 

 

 

Oops, I keep doing it again!!


You’d think that I have great, big, massive size nine’s. Seriously. Because I always, always, always, always manage to put both of my enormous feet right into it.

And then I dig.

And dig.

And dig.

And the hole just gets bigger.

Honestly.

And I have no way, whatsoever, of climbing out of it. I just make it worse.

Another man, had bought me a tiny present. Just a little thing. A small token of appreciation for the friendship I’d offered him. Knowing how it is to be a foreigner in a strange land.
Who knows, perhaps his thoughtful gift was even meant for both of us.

I’d sensed a slight stiffening when I’d mentioned it, in my own blase way.
So I tried to make it better. Having experienced the rising of that old green monster myself, on many an occasion. Even when there was no actual cause.

So I explained that we’d been chatting on the internet. The stiffening stiffened further and the eyes narrowed.

So I said not to worry. That one relationship for me was quite enough.

Further stiffening.

Plenty. I declared. Plenty. One relationship is plenty. One relationship requires so much effort, I’d keel over with exhaustion if I had to be involved in two…

Board-like.

You’re the only boy for me! I tried, weakly.

Boy? His eyes attempted to remain serious.

I’m too forgetful nowadays… I wouldn’t manage it. I added, deep in thought… Can you imagine, all the presents? I’d have to give you both the same gifts all the time, so that I wouldn’t get confused…
And that wouldn’t be very personal, would it?

But what I really should have said is:

Husband – I love you because you are you and I am me,
And we fit together
just like a lock and its key.

I love you because you let me be
who I can be
even when
that’s someone
who’s slightly
freaky!

And I should tell you that:

You make my world
complete –
For another
I have no need!

Because you are my soul mate!
You are my friend!
And without you
My whole world would end.

So… Love


As some of you already know I have four whole children. I’ve counted and double counted and it’s true – there really are four of them! It’s bizarre. I can’t always quite believe it myself. But there you are.

They entered the world like this:

  • girl
  • girl
  • boy
  • another girl

When my then six year old son heard that his third sibling would be yet another girl he was so pissed off disappointed that he said, “Bloody hell!”, crawled under the dining table and refused to come back out.

Bringing up four whole children is wild. Seriously.

Firstly, you spend a lot of time counting heads to make sure that you haven’t left one somewhere. Or added one accidentally. You learn, quite quickly, the importance of making sure that you haven’t double-counted the same head, because that leaves you with the false sense of security of having all of your children present and correct.

You swiftly learn, to think on your feet when your children well and truly drop you in it. You also develop the art of the quick getaway.

Saying sorry becomes second nature, so much so that you often say it as a precursor to an event, the moment you enter the room/shop/tourist attraction/bank/doctor’s office (delete as appropriate).

You find going out with adult friends difficult because you find yourself continually compelled to ask them: “Do you have your key?” And, “Are you sure you don’t need to go to the toilet?”

Finally having child free time with your partner, you ban talking about the kids and then stare into space until you both give in and start talking about the kids again.

You never, ever have any money in your purse. It’s like money has some kind of aversion to your purse. You regularly find yourself going into the butchers and the bakers only to find yourself penniless. Thus having to explain to the not-always-so-patient shop assistant that you, yet again, need to nip over to the hole in the wall to grab some cash.

You can never remember the name of the child standing in front of you. Especially when you are annoyed. So in the middle of a telling off you have to shout, “What’s your name again?” before dishing out the punishment.

Food vanishes. You shop and shop and shop. You cook and cook and cook. But every time you attempt to make yourself a quick snack or snatch a biscuit: there’s nothing left.

Your house is filled with germs. For two reasons. One is: you have lost the will to clean. And the other is: they bring home every conceivable type of germ from even the remotest part of the region and then they share it all around.

At some point you get the Norovirus. In your house. For three weeks solid. You lose your mind. Especially when your children admit they might just have spread it around again because they shared a sandwich.

You become an expert nit picker.

You also become a taxi driver, counsellor, mediator and pharmacist.

Seriously, visitors come to your house just to admire the array of medicines in your cupboard and to compliment you on your ‘tried and tested’ pharmaceutical knowledge (all the while kindly ignoring the clutter that surrounds you).

You laugh a lot. It would be true to say, not always at appropriate moments. But you develop a deep, belly laugh that suddenly booms out of you uncontrollably. Finally your children feel embarrassed. At your loudness. At your lack of restraint. They whisper, “Mum!!” with agitated voices.

But you know, from experience, that one day they will say, “One of the things I love most about you, Mum, is your huge laugh!”

And you’ll say, “I learned to laugh so much because of you.”

 

 

Eye-smiler!


Love is a funny thing really. You don’t choose it. You don’t scan a vast array of heads and shout, “I’ll take that one.”

I just saw you in the street. You smiled and you had me.

I was putty in your hands. Just like that.

I had no idea if you were a good or a bad man. I didn’t know what your name was. I hadn’t even sniffed you. You were across the street, far too far away for me to get a whiff of your pheromones.

But somehow, you magnetically pulled me into staggering towards your smiling eyes and your big strong arms. It didn’t seem to bother you at all that I couldn’t hold my vodka.

It’s been almost 15 years and you have never given me reason to doubt you. Quite the opposite. You have only, over the years, given me reasons to love you more and more.

To be honest, I remained convinced that I am either extremely lucky or that one day, you’d wake up and think to yourself: what on earth am I doing with this crazy woman and her chaotic life? But each day you just kept on smiling at me with those beautiful eyes. In fact, you seemed to smile a little more the more chaotic I was. Even though, you yourself are really quite orderly.

I mean, I did spot that you’re a little odd too. After all you said things like: “You’re the spice of my life!” Or, “Maths is beautiful!”

Sometimes I really couldn’t take you quite so seriously…

But the other day, something happened that made me finally realise that you’re probably planning to stick around for good.

We’d gone to bed. Me quite late again because I couldn’t stop coughing and I didn’t want to keep you awake half the night coughing when you had to go to work the next day.
I finally joined you and after a few tosses and turns and a few more coughs, I nodded off.
Then I woke up feeling nauseous. You ran to the kitchen and got me a bucket then you ran again for a glass of water. You rubbed my back as I coughed and spluttered over the bucket – without complaining that no sick actually came up at all. Then you ran to our daughter who also needed a bucket and also retained all of her stomach contents. You returned to our bed where I lay complaining, rather loudly, about the heat in the room so you measured my temperature and stated that, it was, in fact, completely normal. You encouraged me to “just try and sleep” as I tossed and I turned but I thought I might be better off upside down in the bed, with my face right next to your feet. Then I sat up again and wailed for the bucket. I heaved and I coughed and I snotted. Then I cuddled back down and hugged you tight, breathing hot germ-filled breath into your face. I talked and I talked but I didn’t make the slightest bit of sense. At some point, I started to cry, quite hysterically, which, after a while turned into uncontrollable laughter with an added cough instead. Finally, after even more giggles and strops I drifted back to sleep.

I woke up the next day feeling at first refreshed, you’d got up with the children and had let me sleep. At first, I thought about how tired you must be, then I started to remember bits – wailing, incessant talking, hysterical laughter. You may be my husband and my best friend, but in all honesty: I was mortified.

On your return home I apologised.

And here’s the thing: you just shrugged and said you were used to it and that it happens quite often of late. 😮

That’s when I realised that you really are here to stay. That you love me, warts and all.

I hope, that for the rest of our lives, I continue to make those eyes smile.

 

 

It’s the way you make me feel


Sometimes I bound through life making silly, downright idiotic and even atrocious decisions.

I am a very decisive person, but even though I apparently know what I want, it seems, I don’t always know what is best for me!!

However, 12 years ago today I made the very best decision of my entire life: I married you!

Now sometimes you annoy me, just a little bit. The other day you put your smelly feet on the dining table and I thought, “What the fuck?!?” And, in my ever-decisive manner, I had to tell you to put them right back down on the floor again!!!!

Which you then did immediately.

Of course.

While we’re at it: I don’t cope very well with you not putting your seatbelt on until we get to the top of the street.

And if you really want me to give it to you straight:

You really could wash your hands more often and not wiggle your fingers at me right after you touched the bin lid, in that ‘I’m going to tickle you with my dirty digits’ way that you do. Which makes me, in turn, race to the sink to wash my own hands, even though I haven’t touched a single thing!

But really what I want to do now is get right down to the nitty gritty.

We have been through, in twelve years of marriage, a few things, that nobody ever wants to go through.

Every single moment, you were there. Holding my hand. Wiping away my tears. Picking my outbursts up off the floor, shuggling them around a bit, then carefully putting them back together in a nice, orderly fashion.

You listened, even if I had to prod you awake at times. You knew when to give the hug and when not to give the hug. You cooked and cleaned whenever I needed you to, no matter how tired you were, or how bad your own day had been. You poured wine at all the right moments.

And the other day I overheard you telling Akasha, “As perfect as  Mummy is, she has a tendency to exaggerate sometimes.”

Despite everything that I am and have been, everything I’ve done and haven’t done; you still see me as perfect!!! (We’ll ignore the second part of the sentence.) (This isn’t the main reason that I love you.)

Without you I couldn’t be the person that I am today.

Thank you.

 

 

Fever Diva


When I was a little girl, around, I don’t know, maybe seven or eight years old, I picked up one of those childhood illnesses. I’m not sure which one it was. All I know is, that I had an extremely high temperature.

It was so high that I started hallucinating, seeing heads with no bodies and matchstick people doing strange exercises over by my mum’s wardrobe.

It freaked my mum right out, I can tell you.

The problem is: it didn’t stop there.

After that illness, any time I had a low grade fever, I’d start hallucinating again.

When I was a kid, I’d get sick and then, you know, hallucinate. And my mum would become unglued.

I’d stay healthy for a while and then I’d pick up a cold or a sickness bug and then suddenly I’d be shoving away floating faces and yelling at stick men and my mum would be ruing the day she ever gave birth to such an oddity.

When I was 17 my hallucinations and I moved out. We moved around a bit and then settled down in a little house, in a little village.

My fevers and my hallucinations had become more of a biennial event, so, in general, I kept them pretty much to myself.

Then my first husband moved himself in.

He stayed overnight, left in the morning and returned in the evening with some clean underwear. He stayed the night again, then left in morning and returned with a chest of drawers, for his clean underwear. He stayed the night and then left in the morning and returned in the evening with pretty much all of his stuff.

He, luckily,  was only confronted by my visions three or four times, as he trotted his stuff right back out again after about seven years. He found it all a bit odd, but to be honest, he was more exasperated by my lack of interest in wearing two identical socks simultaneously, and the fact that my tool kit consisted of: a hammer, a bag of carpet tacks, Blu-Tack and some felt pens. The latter concern was not unreasonable. After all, when he went to the loo and yanked on the toilet tissue, it was surely fair enough, that he was horrified, that not only the whole roll, but also the holder and a heap of plaster, came flying towards him.

Looking back, I could have yelled at him for destroying my handiwork with his man-strength.

Instead, I was too busy explaining that that rubbery stuff really was Blu-Tack, despite it not being blue. That, I had cleverly coloured it in with the felt pens so it would match the wall colour.

He did not share my enthusiasm. Instead, he went around dismantling things and replacing them with screws and something called ‘raw plugs’.

It took him a good couple of years to stop shaking his head and to appreciate my talent.

I remember the exact day quite clearly.

We’d been housesitting for my parents for a week as they’d taken a holiday. We’d fed the plants and watered the cat.

On their return I wanted the house to be spick and span. So I did all the washing, changed all the bedding, scrubbed down the kitchen and the bathroom, I even popped out to the local florist and bought flowers as a distraction from the smell of polish. All I needed to do was hoover and wash the floor.

I got the hoover out and sucked away on the deep pile carpet in the hall. Then I entered the kitchen, with the brand new cushioned linoleum. I paused for a second, and then I heard a horrifying noise. The hoover, it turned out, had different settings depending on how deep the pile of your carpet was, or in this case, wasn’t.

I pushed and I pulled but the gurgle persisted so I switched the hoover off.

I lay it on it’s back and then glanced at the floor.

I think my heart actually stopped for a second as it sunk in.

The bloody hoover had sucked a chunk right out of my mum’s new, extortionately priced, linoleum.

Driven by lack of linoleum funds and a healthy amount of fear – my mum is not a person you want to piss off – I raided every drawer in the house until I found, no, not felt pens but crayons.

Felt pens wash off. Crayons are wax. Linoleum is frequently washed.

And so I went to work, crayoning the upper linoleum pattern onto the lower linoleum backing with as much haste as my shaky hands could muster.

My first husband, knowing my mother, went into a full blind panic.

When I’d finished, and tested and retested my work, with a mop and bucket, I stepped back and asked him, “What do you think?” I saw that fleeting you-are-my-heroine look flash across his face and I knew, I just knew that all my Blu-Tack colouring-in had been in preparation for that precise moment.

We hurriedly finished the house, desperate to make a quick get away before my parents’ and siblings’ arrival.

I may be mistress of fraud with a  crayon but I cannot lie through my teeth, even if my life depends on it.

We were close to leaving when my parents showed up. So close. We were almost at the back door, in the kitchen. Which meant that the subsequent conversation took part, in it’s entirety, in the kitchen. We enquired about their holiday and made our ‘we need to go ASAP’ excuses, and the whole time, the treacherous cat, stared at the crayoned hole in the linoleum. The same cat that I’d just watered for a week tried to give my game away!!

Years passed. My mum renewed her lino. I renewed my husband. And life trundled along.

My second husband eradicated my sock nonsense and bought himself a bumper tool kit. But the real icing on the cake was that he arrived in my life complete with a full blown cat allergy.

I aged and developed various ailments. The children kindly brought home and shared around all the bugs, nits and noroviruses that they could catch at school. The frequency of my fevers increased steadily, to every few months, rather than every couple of years.

And there had been a new development. With an even slighter rise in temperature, I found myself having restless nights and on waking that I’d turned upside down in my bed. Yup, suddenly I’d wake up in the morning and my face would be, well… facing my husband’s hairy feet.

On Sunday, our youngest child woke us up at 4am having grabbed an illness which ran pretty much like this: vomit, 40°C fever, bad headache, sore neck; which thus sent us into a tailspin, having already gone through one child fighting against meningitis. So we did the mega-alert, test-the-temperature-every-fifteen-minutes for any increase, thing. Actually, we were so anxious that we checked every five minutes. For two and a half hours. Then we started to notice a decrease, so we gave her some Nurofen and some water, and tried to sleep a little.

Her illness developed: sore throat, tissue boxes worth of snot, nose bleeds, a sore eye. The child, who normally puts the bounce in the word bounce, lolled around on the sofa.

Her fever stayed fairly steady for three days.

Three whole days.

For three days, she breathed her hot breath into my face as I stuck the thermometer in her ear and nursed her brow.

For three days, she passed me snot filled tissues and empty glasses so I could replenish her water.

For three days, I was filled with dread because at 38°C, I feel the need, somehow, to cuddle up to my husband’s feet. For three days, I despaired because at 38.5°C, I visualise hovering heads and exercising matchstick men.

What on earth would 40°C mean for me?

On the fourth night, one feverless child lay in her bed and slept soundly. Her mother, on the other hand, kept waking up, thinking that, at any moment, she would be violently sick. Then the feeling would subside, she’d lie back down and snooze again.

At around 4am she found herself sitting, bolt upright in bed, thrashing her arm wildly. Her stunned husband called out to her, “Are you having a nightmare again?”

“No.” She said matter-of-factly. “There’s a scarecrow.”

Because she could quite blatantly see a green grass (rather than brown straw) scarecrow, pogoing in the middle of her bed.

Now I know what happens at 40°C. I have an even better imagination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You and me


There’s you
and then there’s me
we stand on opposite sides
and see what we see.

There’s you
and then there’s me
we stand on opposite sides
and see what we see.

I see flowers
where you see weeds

You fear wasps
when I cherish bees

I listen to music
and you hear noise

You see rubbish
I see potential elaborate and interesting toys.

You feel anger
but I, I feel pain

I see helplessness
but you? You see shame!

You feel hatred
when I, I just feel sad

I am disappointed, lost and lonely
and you? Are you glad?

There’s you
and then there’s me
we stand on opposite sides
and see what we see.

There’s you
and then there’s me
we stand on opposite sides
and see whatever it is we see.

 

Dreaming up true heroes


I’m one of those people who remembers dreams. In explicit detail. I awoke this morning and realised I’d had several back to back dreams and they all appeared to have a running theme:

I’d found myself having some difficulties, generally of the missing passport/lost ticket/non-functioning bank card persuasion and I felt rather panicky and weepy. There always seemed to be a ‘going off on holiday’ scenario but we’re not going anywhere – so that part must have just been wishful thinking.

Anyway, every dream ended with my husband saving the day at the last minute.

I got up and went downstairs to inform him that he’s my hero.

Can you imagine my surprise?

He was standing at the kitchen sink. Washing pans. With nowt on ‘cept his superman pants.

#healreadyknows

 

Revolutionary mother-lucker


I think that I have stumbled upon a miracle.

In fact, I know I have.

A miracle parenting key.

I am so excited.

It’s revolutionary. It happened like this:

The New Year had come and gone. As it does. With its fireworks and its clouded sky; that no matter how much you squinted your eyes towards or how often you staggered backwards and forwards, forwards and backwards, or even sidey ways; you couldn’t see those damned far-reaching rockets in. The bottles had clinked their last whole clink into the recycling bank and complete meals had been ungratefully by some, regurgitated into the once-white water closet.

I stood in the kitchen. Alone. Bleary-eyed. Waiting for the notifying beep of the oven. Ready to drag out, another, exhaustedly yet still, lovingly cooked meal.

The table wasn’t laid.

Drinks were not prepared.

Despite mouth-watering smells meandering the halls.

The beep beeped its rapturous beep. But no feet thumped heavily on the stairs.

I sighed.

And then…

I had an epiphany.

I shouted, loud and clear, “The dinner has made itself!”

Doors miraculously opened. Steps thundered. But as they entered the room, eyes widened curiously.

Suddenly, the table was laid and we all sat down and ate dinner.

The following day, I stood in the kitchen. Alone. Bleary-eyed. I jabbed at vegetables in a pan.

“Dinner has made itself!” I yelled. Perhaps, I admit, slightly less graciously than the day before.

This time, the race on the stairs seemed somewhat slower, and those eyes that met mine were somewhat less curious, and somewhat more sceptical.

Mum!” I heard a slightly indignant voice say.

I asked, calmly and rather sweetly, “Should the dinner eat itself too?”

The table suddenly found itself laid. And after dinner, the  dirty dishes were magically gone.

I continued with my new catchphrase throughout the week in varying circumstances. I occasionally saw the odd eye roll and I smiled, sweetly, of course. As is my nature.

Then, last week, I got sick. Yet again. The dog was the first to notice. She kept standing on two feet instead of four and peering at me intently. She wouldn’t leave my side.

If I’m honest, my pooch did manage to freak me out slightly with her intense bobbing in my face.

Though, I could also lay fault on my fever. My husband said to me the next day, that I kept complaining, “Everything was too 3D!”

Apparently, I’m quite entertaining with a fever!

Anyway, the following day, I didn’t just have a fever, but also a very unhappy stomach and the first sparks of a sinus headache.

I won’t lie. I did feel a little bit sorry for myself.

There was none of that ‘stand up and soldier on’ routine. Because, if I stood up, I was in serious danger of falling right back down again.

So I lolled around. Arguing with the telly. Or sat on the loo, with a bowl in my lap as a precaution.

The dog left my side at that point. She lay sullenly in the hall, trying to cover her nose with her ears.

Children brought me water. Children brought me peppermint tea. One child made me a delicious lunch. Which I very ungraciously, quite soon after, dumped again. But I swear, it was so tasty I really, really, really did not want to let go of it…

My husband returned home early and gave me much needed pain relief in the form of a hot water bottle. Unfortunately for him though, there was no more in-house entertainment of the 3D variety, despite his valiant efforts of keeping me warm and cosy.

The whole weekend the dinner didn’t make itself. Reini cooked on Saturday and on Sunday Aden slipped on his dashing new pinny and rustled up a jolly lovely cottage pie.

I ate and I retained it.

It was a proud moment for both of us.

On the Monday, I discovered the washing had indeed been washing itself. There were nicely folded towels in the bathroom and clean underwear on my shelf. Which all things considered, was more than an added bonus.

Akasha returned home from school and despite being only eight years old, insisted on making lunch.

Aden arrived home with a bunch of flowers. Then Akasha went shopping with her daddy. She’s not one to miss out on some competition: she returned with flourishing tulips.

Dinner appeared on the table thanks to my man. Who’d already done a full days work, been shopping and forked out for blooms.

I “oohed” and I “aahed” a lot and I do admit, the odd tear did attempt to escape.

On Tuesday, I thought, things will be back to normal, but a present arrived in the post.

From my man.

And Joni cooked her very first, and coincidently, very tasty, roast dinner. True, we didn’t eat until half past nine but it was delicious.

As dessert my husband informed me that several parcels would be arriving in his name and that they were all for me and I was allowed to open each one of them as they arrived.

A little tear did escape at that moment.

True to his word, one parcel after another has arrived. Generally, they’re Eastern ingredients for a cake he’s keen for me to attempt to bake for him to try. It’s very exciting.

Today another little parcel arrived. It’s a lovely yellow notebook.

I am thankful for many things.

I am thankful for chicken dinners and freshly washed washing, that I didn’t have to freeze my butt off in the washroom doing.

I am thankful for flowers and email.

Akasha finally has email and keeps emailing me words such as: “I love you so much more than enything [anything] in the world mum” and “I like your haere [hair] you look very nice you are looking beautiful today I hope you have a lovely day” (actually, this seems to be a running theme: “Hi mum you look beautiful today and all the time you awis [always] look beautiful” or “Hi mom you are looking beautiful today I hope you are having a good time a proper good time”) and “Hi mum it is my pleger [pleasure] to help you”.

Though to be honest I’m still pretty sceptical about this one: “mum i’m really love you very much if you knew who much i love you eerie indiana knew how much i love you properly love you important thing to me i love you very much more than anything”. One could think her English is getting worse, but I err on the side of optimism, I’m pleased that she finally spelt ‘anything’ correctly.

I am thankful for sugar and spice and puppy dog tails.

But above all: I am well and truly thankful that there’s one less month ’til Christmas, because, to be frank: I’m getting used to this.

Four reasons to be a fully proud Mum


Some days I feel kind of sad.

It hurts me that other children laugh at my children. At their mispronunciation. At her dyslexia. That they mistake their quietness for weakness and use it to knock down their confidence and reduce their self-esteem.

I feel tearful when I think of a whole family that has rejected them and I wonder if, I alone, representing my side am actually enough.

My heart weighs heavy in my chest as I watch him struggle through one overwhelming situation after another and as I watch her drag her exhausted body out of bed and into another difficult day.

Life can be so tough.

◊◊◊

Some days I feel screamingly angry.

Why do we collect illnesses and disorders like others collect fine art, postage stamps or old coins?

Why is so much expected of us, even though it’s clear that we cannot deliver?

Why do we always have to wait so long, in waiting rooms, for diagnoses, and for support?

Why oh why can’t I be: stronger, fitter, less tired, more patient, more flexible, calmer, more at peace, more confident, better at German, tidier, less stubborn, more stubborn, more understanding and less angry?

Why, sometimes, could I just not give a damn?

Life can be a fucking challenge.

◊◊◊

Other days, like today, I feel heart-swellingly proud.

You see, today is the last school day and today each one of my four children brought home their report card and looked at me with eyes filled with anticipation.

The autistic/ADHD/OCD one, (that’s the one that yesterday, had a meltdown at his sister’s school festival – because there was too much noise and too many people – and, the day before, had a meltdown – because I went to town and I only got home as the storm was starting, thus I might have been injured – and on Saturday, took a meltdown in the wine shop – because it could be that he would knock over a glass bottle and break it and also because there was just far too much glass all around) waved at me not only a card but also a certificate. The certificate clearly certifies that this, named young man, the one with all those difficulties, achieved the highest grades in the whole class.

We drove together to pick up his little sister. Him beaming and waving his award under my nose, me congratulating and attempting to look for endangering traffic.

The little one has just completed first grade. It’s not been the easiest year. She can’t understand her brother’s meltdowns. And there are times when having two impulsive ADHD siblings is a somewhat hair-raising adventure.
Being bullied by a couple of girls from her class hasn’t helped matters at all. Plus despite her making me espressos on a regular basis, the sensitive little soul notices that I am still tired.
To top it all she added asthma to her medical records. And like us all, lived through a recent family member’s suicide.

That little one, won’t be graded until next year, but her report rang in songs of praise. Praise in English. Praise in Maths. Praise in Music, in Sport, in politeness, in orderliness (which must be mentioned because it is an absolute first on any report card ever crossing this threshold) and in general behaviour; the only real criticism was her being a little shy.

Hallelujah! Praise the (fast growing) number four!

Now. I’ll be honest and tell you, the other two weren’t the best reports I’ve ever seen. But I expected that.

And I was still proud.

Because my eldest daughter, she’s still at school, but she’s 19. And she’s got one further year to go. It’s a different system, you see. She’s restless and yes, in this coming final year, she needs to buckle down. But she knows that. And I can see just how capable she is. She sings stunningly, in her school choir, at all the concerts, at events, even in old people’s homes and a few weeks ago she stood up and sang at that family funeral to comfort all of us. All alone. Just her and her voice. No music. Nothing. She was nervous, but she did it and I cried a pocketful of proud tears.
She’s in the school drama group and a few weeks ago she performed her socks off for her audience. Which, naturally, included me. And she has two jobs. You read correctly. Two jobs. I know a few high school kids who have one job. But if I’m honest, not many. But my biggest little girl reliably works two.

Actually, she’s not my biggest little girl. She’s my eldest little girl. The biggest is my second eldest… It might be a genetic thing. My second toe is longer than my ‘big’ toe. Perhaps it has something to do with that…

So my tallest child looked somewhat forlorn as she handed me her report card. She’s the one who’s a perfectionist but also has really bad dyslexia, and ADHD, with a hefty dose of depression thrown in.

Her year has been spent trying to find rays of sunshine on mainly overcast and rainy days.

I am incredibly proud of her because I know that she has torn herself out of bed each and every day. That, despite feeling lost and lonely, she entered her classroom and gave all that she could give at that time. I am ferociously proud because she relentlessly climbed on a bus and trudged through therapy every single week.

And I’m impressed because on top of all that she continued as a school first aider and voluntary fire-girl (along with her brother, though obviously, he’s a fire-boy) and she learned lines and acted her socks off with her sister in the aforementioned school play.

I’m in awe that she not only managed to pass every single subject, but in some she even managed to get good grades.

To each and every one of my children:

I can see you
I can hear you
I love you
And you make me so proud!
Thank you!

Life can be bloody emotional!