Saturday, 12 March 2016

Motherhood mojo

I've noticed lately that I'm a very different parent to F than I was when O was his age, and I'm not really sure if that's down to how different they are (and they really are VERY different) or the fact that I've kind of found my motherhood mojo.

I mean, the thing is that everything was so much worse than I expected when F was born. I expected it to be hard having two children. I expected that I would struggle to get them up and ready and out of the door in time to get O to playgroup four mornings a week, but I really didn't expect what actually happened. I didn't expect the morning breastfeed to take two and a half hours or to never sleep or to feel every single day like I was going fucking crazy. If I managed to get through a day without crying, it was a genuine miracle. There was none of that swan-on-the-water stuff, no illusion of calm or of me having my shit together; it was all panic all the time.

BUT F had his reasons for being a nightmare and none of them were his fault. He wasn't waking me up 300 times a night just to be an asshole, and things got better. Which, actually, kind of happened without me noticing. It didn't particularly occur to me at any point that I wasn't juggling anymore. The "bedtime hour" just suddenly stopped being awful and settled into a routine of being occasionally challenging. And it really helped when F started sleeping through the night, because after that I was still exhausted a lot of the time, but I wasn't OMG I'M SO TIRED KILL ME PLEASE exhausted anymore.

I've never really had much confidence as a parent, and there are a few reasons for this. Firstly - and I think a lot of parents probably feel like this - half the time I'm not even sure I know what the fuck I'm doing. But aside from that, most of my anxiety around going out alone with my kids comes from the fact that I look much younger than I am. In a couple of months I will be 29 years old, but I'm only five feet tall and I have the physique of a pre-pubescent girl. So people who don't know me look at me and I can SEE them thinking "teen pregnancy". Like, somebody actually asked me when I was pregnant with O if I knew how it had happened. No shit. And then there's the fact that I have quite a lot of tattoos and some of them are very visible. So, once I take my coat off, I can then see the OMG SHE MUST ONLY BE ABOUT 18 folks thinking "and she's trashy as fuck with it." So why does this make me feel more anxious? Because, in my mind, these people have already decided that I am a terrible, inadequate mother (notice how I said "in my mind", meaning I am aware of the fact that it might not actually be true), so if my kids don't behave impeccably, they will be vindicated. And, to be perfectly honest, I already think that about myself a lot of the time, so I really don't need a whole bunch of other people thinking it too. And sure, I know they're strangers and I'll probably never see them again, but I will have to sit through a meal or finish my shopping knowing exactly how hard they think I'm failing.

Nevertheless, O actually was a difficult child to take out and about. It wasn't just me being a nervous first-time parent; he genuinely was a nightmare a lot of the time. Before he could walk, he dangled over the side of his pushchair and grabbed at stuff as we walked by in a shop. He once trashed a whole card display in Clintons at Christmas while a bunch of employees glared at me and I muttered mortified apologies and tried to pick everything up. When he started walking, he would shake off my hand, wriggle out of his wrist strap and run off. I probably should have bought some reins, but I've always felt vaguely uncomfortable with how much they make it look like you're taking your kid for a walk. And once he was big enough to sit up at the table with everyone else, the mealtime fidgeting began. Taking him out on errands was exhausting and fraught with grumpy strops and tantrums. But going out with F is easy. A couple of weeks ago, I had to go into town to get a birthday present for my brother-in-law while O was at playgroup and my husband was at work. So we stopped off at Sainsbury's cafe first for a coffee and a snack. F sat in his high chair, chattered nonsense at me, munched a rice cake and generally behaved perfectly. On the walk into town, he pointed at everything and waved at people. To be honest, were it not for the fact that I was pushing a stroller, I probably would have forgotten he was with me.

I'm not saying that it will always be like that. In fact, sometimes he gets pissed off and shouts just like every other kid. Sometimes he throws his cup on the floor, and he is an expert at planking if he doesn't want to get back into his pushchair/car seat. But, to all intents and purposes, he is a super easy child. After how hard everything was with him when he was a baby, some hopeful and very buried part of me always figured that maybe he would be. And as for O, he's probably just going through a bit of a threenager stage right now. He was a great sleeper and feeder as a baby, and since I was only 25 when he came along, I'm really very grateful for that. 

Maybe none of this really has anything to do with how obliging or otherwise my children are; maybe what it's actually about is the fact that I feel more equipped to deal with the unpredictability of parenting young children. I feel like I can cope if my kids start acting batshit crazy while we're out somewhere. I still find it hard to cope with the inevitable judgement of others, but I accept the fact that it is exactly that; inevitable. There's not much I can do to convince anyone that I'm actually an okay parent if they've already decided that I'm not. And does it actually fucking matter what anybody else thinks anyway? Yes, sometimes people will see my parenting fail moments and they will assume things about my parenting in general based on that one snapshot of my life. But they don't know me and they don't know my children. I'm only just starting to figure out that their opinions are not important.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Having kids will change your life

There's nothing that has the power to change your life quite so much as becoming a parent. Whatever life was like before you had kids, I can guarantee you that you won't even recognise it once they arrive. The short list of things that having a baby changes is:


The slightly more in-depth list consists of:


How much you sleep will change DRAMATICALLY overnight. Literally. Because yesterday you didn't have a baby and today you do. It's just like that. How much you value sleep will change too. Before you had kids, sleep was just something you did at the end of every day because your body told you that you had to. You probably didn't really give it that much thought, did you? But now your sleep is precious. Now four uninterrupted hours on the bounce is the Holy Grail. A whole night? Are you out of your fucking mind? That's not happening for a long time yet. I am yet to meet a parent with young children  - mother or father - who does not feel nostalgic about sleep. Oh, and those Sunday morning lie-ins you used to have? Yeah. I think you can see where this is going.


When you don't have to plan every outing around the needs of a small child, you take your freedom for granted. Why wouldn't you? Before you have kids you don't have to think about packing a changing bag and having spare nappies and wipes in the car. You don't have to worry about whether or not you can breastfeed in the outfit you're wearing or if there'll be somewhere to heat up a bottle. You need to go out, so you go out. But once children come along, you can't do that anymore. You either have to plan the outing with military precision and accept the fact that your baby will probably unleash a poonami the second you sit down on the bus/start the car engine OR you need to find somebody to babysit. Somebody your child is familiar and comfortable with - and I really can't stress that part enough. Still feel like going out? Nah. Maybe tomorrow, eh?


It is ASTOUNDING how much parents worry about their kids. When they're babies, you worry if they're eating, shitting and sleeping enough (probably; undoubtedly more; and NO). When they get a little older, you start to worry about those dreaded milestones. And everybody else is worrying about them too (or being smug about them, which is pretty much the same thing), so they're THE topic of discussion at every playgroup, play date and clinic. Inescapable. After that comes behaviour (toddler tyranny is normal; anybody who says otherwise is lying) and thereafter it's a constant snowball of worry until you die. I mean, that sounds bleak, but apparently it's true. So get comfy and settle in for the ride.

Social Life

Okay, this one is tough. But the truth is, you might lose some friends after you have kids. As far as your friends with kids go, you're probably safe. When you cancel on them because you're too fucking mind-bogglingly exhausted to leave the house after 7:30pm, they will more than likely understand and feel secretly relieved. But when the same thing happens with your friends who don't have kids, they might not have quite the same level of understanding. That's not their fault, by the way, and they're not doing it to be assholes; they just have no personal experience of how knackering it can be to stagger through the bath and bedtime routine and then have to drag yourself into the shower and attempt to make yourself look something like human. So be prepared for some changes in your social circle; it's normal and it will be okay.

Your Home

After almost four years of motherhood, I honestly cannot remember what it was like to live in a home that wasn't full of toys and nappies and bottles. I used to have ornamental shit all over the place and laundry that was actually done and ironed and put away before it took on laundryzilla status. Now... Well, now I spend a lot of time trying to come up with ingenious toy storage solutions and despairing over laundry. None of my kitchen cupboards open without adult intervention and there's a lock on the OUTSIDE of my bathroom door to stop small people letting even smaller people in to rifle through the bin and unravel all the toilet roll. Sometimes, when I forget to put that lock on after I leave the bathroom, I find shampoo bottles and sponges down the toilet. Oh, and O actually pushed one of the knots in the floorboards all the way through earlier this week, so I had to call a joiner for advice about how to bung it up and fill it in. Such fun!

Honestly, reading this has probably made you think that parenthood is just an endless nightmare with no redeeming features, but that's not true. There are a lot of shitty moments when you have young children. Literally and figuratively. But there are really great moments too. There are the first moments of the morning when your kids are inexplicably ecstatic to see you. There are the moments when they climb into your lap with a book on a rainy afternoon. There are kisses and cuddles and I love you's and there is the simple fact that you are one of their absolute favourite people in the world. All of that is pretty cool really, and it's more than worth all the other stuff.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Down the rabbit hole

TRIGGER WARNING: This post is about death and loss. Please keep yourselves safe.

Last May, one of my oldest friends lost his girlfriend suddenly and silently. His story is not for me to tell, but I remember with sick clarity the moment his text came through that day. I felt the moment when the colour drained out of my face and I composed my reply with trembling fingers. I'd only met her once, but I thought of her all weekend. Several months later he posted a blog about their love story, culminating in what we only ever refer to as "that morning", and I sobbed as I read it. I could not - and still cannot - imagine the hell he experienced that day and the heartache he has battled, with bravery and dignity, ever since.

Things have changed now for all of us. Suddenly death doesn't just come for the old and the very sick; it comes for the young and healthy too, on silent and unbidden wings. Death sneaks around corners and hides behind bedroom doors. It's what makes me check on my children with just that little bit more care before I go to bed, and what makes my husband ask me just that little bit louder and with a slightly different cadence if I am okay when I've fallen asleep on the sofa. When you become a parent, death becomes your ultimate nemesis. You will fight tooth and nail to keep it away from your children, but there's always that nagging little worry in the back of your mind that it could take you away from them too. I know this happens because it happened to me and, when I got a little older, I watched it happen to my friends too.

At 17, a college friend of mine and his best friend were killed in a car accident. I'll never forget that phone call, which came on an ordinary Sunday afternoon and changed everything. I knew, of course, that young people were killed in car accidents. I'd seen the stories in the newspaper, cautionary tales warning teenagers away from taking risks in their newly acquired cars. But it didn't happen to people I knew. It didn't happen to my friends and classmates, to someone I'd been making jokes with less than 24 hours before. Until it did. And all of a sudden, none of us were immortal anymore. Probably we were all a little more alert and careful after his death. I was still learning to drive at the time and didn't get behind the wheel for weeks. 

On the seventh anniversary of his death, when I was pregnant with O, I went to put flowers on his grave. His best friend is buried beside him and, shortly before his death, his girlfriend had given birth to their son. What hit me and knocked the air out of me that day was that that baby was now seven years old and had written a note for his daddy that said simply "I miss you daddy". I cried in my car until I thought I would turn myself inside out. Suddenly, it was all too easy for me imagine how unbearable it must be for a mother to see her child grieving, and I made a promise to my unborn son that day: I promised him that I would never leave him. Of course, it's a promise that I will one day break. I don't know when that day will come, but I hope only that it will be when he is grown up and no longer needs me the way that he needs me now. I will do what I can to make sure of that for him, and for his brother too.

Children should not have to suffer the cold grip of grief so young, and it goes without saying that no parent should ever, EVER have to live through the death of their child. I've seen this too, with a colleague whose baby was stillborn a few years ago. She talks about her daughter often, and I am always blown away by her strength and tenacity. She, and every other parent like her, deserve the utmost of respect for their sheer ability to go on living through such hell, the depths of which are unfathomable to me. Nobody should ever have to experience that loss.

But sometimes life is cruel. Sometimes the things that happen to and around us don't make sense at all. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can't find a reason for these things or a light at the end of the tunnel. When I think about our future as a family, my only payers are these: Please don't take my children from me and please don't take me away from them while they are still young.

Perhaps we all think a little like this sometimes. Perhaps, every now and again, we all find ourselves heading down the rabbit hole. I hope, more than anything else, that we all have someone to reach out to and hold onto in those moments.

Take good care of yourselves.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Valentine's Day with kids = ZERO ROMANCE

Valentine's Day becomes a totally different animal when you have kids, doesn't it? If I'm completely honest, I've forgotten what the last few were like, but I do remember the first one.

My husband (then boyfriend) was incredibly excited (I don't know) and woke me up at crazy o'clock in the morning to try and convince me to open my card and present. I - perhaps somewhat ungratefully - said no and told him to wake me up at a more sociable hour. I can't remember what time he woke me up again in the end, but there was a cup of tea and a card and a present and it was all very cute. There's a good chance there was sex at some point too, although I honestly can't remember. But I remember it being a nice day.

This year I was woken by an exuberant three year-old at 8am (it's really not fair that anyone gets to be that full of life and energy before 10am), who then proceeded to steal my phone and shout at me about Fruit Ninja while I was trying to take a shower. Then there were about ten minutes of alternately shouting at and throwing stuff in the direction of my husband (at one point I sprayed his bare foot with dry shampoo in utter frustration that he wouldn't just get the fuck out of bed) before he stumbled out of the room and went to get F, who was rampaging around his cot in a sleeping bag like a giant, hungry maggot.

I wanted to take the kids to the beach because the sun was kind of shining on and off and I'm working all week next week, so outdoor family time felt like a good idea. It stopped feeling like a good idea sometime between not being able to find my wellies and F emptying the entire fucking shoe cupboard all over the hallway. By the time we fell out of the house and into the car, I was pretty much done with the whole thing, but we got to the beach, parked and got out of the car and it was fucking freezing. Not only that, I'd neglected to put hats or gloves on either of the kids, my husband was wearing the thinnest jacket in the world and I'd left my earmuffs at home. Total mum fail.

We gallantly battled our way through the sub-zero wind chill and all piled onto the beach. Obviously it was far too cold for digging in the sand or any of the stuff that you normally do at the beach, so O and I ran off in the general direction of the sea and he dragged me into the surf. Which was fine for him because he was wearing a puddle suit and wellies, but my TU Converse knock-offs were quickly waterlogged and my jeans weren't faring much better. Still, we ran in and out of the sea for a while, then we headed back to my husband and F, liberated F from the pushchair and watched him plop straight down on the sand and shovel a handful into his mouth. After another half hour of general mucking about on the sand, we headed back to the car (it really was fucking cold - it SNOWED later) and O had a tantrum about the fact that I pressed the button at the pedestrian crossing. F fell asleep on the way home.

When we got home, everybody had lunch and grandma came to visit. My husband disappeared outside to clear a bunch of crap out of the garage in the snow and I flicked through a copy of Glamour. O ran maniacally around the house making a cacophony of random noises - after several failed attempts at playing board games - while F napped, then, after the kids had had their tea things got really romantic.

I went upstairs to clean the en suite shower room. It took me over an hour because, to be brutally honest, I haven't done it properly for a really long time. By the time I came back downstairs, it was bath time and O was already tearing about in his Batman pyjamas (complete with cape). F was doing anything but co-operate with the process of getting undressed and into the bath. Once in the bath he played happily for a few minutes before turning on the cold tap and scaring the shit out of himself. Story time was noisy and I don't think anybody was really listening. O cried when he went to bed. He does this almost every night at the moment the door closes and nobody knows why. F threw his bear at me three times.

Now my husband is cooking bruschetta and I'm sort of watching The Big Bang Theory in my unicorn joggers and a jumper I probably really need to put through the wash, which goes to show how much effort I can be bothered to go to after a whole day of constant questions and crying.

So, it hasn't really been a particularly romantic day, and it won't end with champagne and strawberries or sizzling sex. But I'm okay with this. If Valentine's Day is about being with and appreciating the people you love (and, for the sake of argument, we can pretend that it's not really about extravagant gifts and nookie), then I've had a pretty good day. And I don't actually like champagne anyway. 

Friday, 12 February 2016

The Great Conjuntivitis Epidemic

Sometimes I wonder if I have ever done one single thing right in my whole life. I know that sounds melodramatic, but I seem to spend a lot of my time second guessing myself – particularly when it comes to parenting – and I always feel like I’m making the wrong decision in the end anyway. So, this week I’ve been really sick and I spent one whole day in bed and honestly don’t really know how I got through the other days. But aside from that, Toddler Taylor (or “O”, as he will be known from now on) picked up conjunctivitis at the beginning of the week and I really didn’t know what to do. My husband diligently took him to the chemist and got some eye drops for him on Tuesday while I was out of action and started treating him right away, but I had no clue what I was supposed to do about sending him to paygroup the next day.

So I did research. Obviously I know that it’s contagious, and I’ve had it a few times myself so I know it’s also really fucking itchy. Itchy = Rubbing. Rubbing = Spreading Infection. Very basic formula. But O wasn’t really rubbing at his eyes after he started on the drops, so I thought we might be okay. I emailed his playgroup and asked them what they wanted me to do and they replied saying it was fine for him to go if he wasn’t rubbing or scratching his eyes. The next morning, aside from me having to physically sit on him to administer the drops (calm down; I only weigh 4 stone more than he does), he seemed generally quite well and he said that his eyes were not itchy or sore. And, on that basis, I took him to playgroup and that was that.

At home we did everything we could think of to stop anyone else in the house catching it. We gave O his own hand towel and I made a kind of strangled screech every time he reached for the wrong towel after he’d washed his hands, which was probably pretty weird and disconcerting, but it did the trick. And we made sure he washed his hands if he’d been touching his eyes and told him not to share his cuddly toys with his brother. Infection control is almost completely impossible with small people, and they really don’t understand what you’re losing your shit about if they pick up the wrong towel or why you scream "WASH YOUR HANDS!" at them every time they touch their eyes, but we did our best.

Yesterday it seemed like Baby Taylor (or F, as he will be known from now on) had quite gooey eyes, so we decided he had probably caught the dreaded pink eye too. So we kind of sighed and were like OF COURSE, but other than that we just figured it was pretty inevitable, what with kids being essentially quite grubby creatures. 

And then. 

Then I took O to playgroup and we bumped into Tired Dad on the way in (remember Tired Dad from my post about adult naptime?) and the conversation went something like this:

Tired Dad: Morning! How are you?
Me: I’m good thanks. How about you?
TD: Eurgh. Big one has conjunctivitis and little one has conjunctivitis AND an abscess on his eyelid.
Me: *awkwardly* Oh no, are they okay?
O:*mumbles* I had that. Mummy sat on me and gave me drops.
TD: ?
Me: Er, yeah, he had it too. Beginning of the week. Er... Sorry. It might be our fault.

He was actually pretty much okay about it and we grimace-laughed about how fucking impossible it is to put drops in the eyes of young children, then O and I went inside and were greeted by a gaggle of parents standing just inside the door. So then, in a moment that will be forever known as the Playgroup Witch Hunt, this happened:

Playgroup Worker: Morning O! Your eyes look much better today!
Me: Er, yeah. He’s doing great.
Mum 1. Oh, has he had conjunctivitis? I think my daughter has that.
Mum 2. Yeah, mine was rubbing at her eyes last night too.
PW: Somebody else just called up and said their child isn’t coming because she has it too.
Me: *desperately* I’m sorry! I sent an email! He wasn’t scratching! I’m so sorry!
Me: Um...

Then I faffed around with O’s coat for way too long because I was embarrassed and kept fumbling the zip while everyone else just kind of stared at me a bit and made it ten times worse. I literally couldn’t get out of there quick enough.

At lunchtime pick-up I laughed about it with Tired Dad and he told me it probably wasn’t O’s fault at all, but there was this little voice in my head the whole time that was like, it’s just one more fucking thing for me to feel bad about. I researched, I double-checked with the playgroup, I enforced strict infection control procedures and I still messed up. That’s so me.

I suppose at least there’s this one thing: I can actually give you some solid advice for once, which is this: If your kid has conjunctivitis, ignore what PHE says and just don’t fucking send them to playgroup or whatever, because it’s really just not worth it to end up being the person everyone glares at for the rest of the week. I mean, if you just don’t give a shit about being glared at then, seriously, good for you; I wish I could be more like you. Anyway, I suppose it’s not so bad; it’s half-term next week and everyone will probably have forgotten about it by the time the kids go back... Or all of the parents will be wearing dark glasses because they’ve caught it too...

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The "Motherhood Challenge"

Today I am taking on the "Motherhood Challenge". And by taking on, I do NOT mean taking part. I'm not on Facebook, so I've only heard about this new fad through other people and my husband has shown me what it entails. For those of you who don't know, the Motherhood Challenge consists of picking the pictures of you and/or your children that you feel best sum up why you love being a mother. Cute, right? But then you're supposed to tag a bunch of your mummy friends who you think are doing an awesome job at motherhood, and that's a little less cute.

So, let's break this down. First of all, there's a good chance you'll forget to tag one of your mummy friends (or maybe you won't tag her on purpose because you think she's doing a shitty job), and when she sees your Motherhood Challenge and realises that you left her out of your "awesome mummy" list, she's probably going to feel really bad. I mean, she might not care at all. But if she's having a fucking awful day and feeling really emotionally fragile, seeing that you left her out might just make her feel a whole lot worse.

Then there's this: Some mothers out there are struggling. I don't mean that they're just having a difficult day and maybe the kids were late to school this morning. We all have those days. I'm talking about the mums out there who are battling mental health issues, like post-natal depression, and feeling really fucking alone and inadequate. Maybe it takes a mother who has experienced that mental struggle to identify this seemingly harmless "challenge" as potentially triggering, but surely then that further underlines the distinct lack of education around the issue. Surely things like the Motherhood Challenge only serve to widen the chasm and perpetuate the shame culture even more.

Last January, I was struggling. I felt like the worst mother in the world. I wanted to run away, and do you know what made it worse? Breastfeeding selfies, because the #brelfie was a huge thing at the time and it wasn't happening for us (which is not the only reason I was having a hard time; that story can be found here). I felt like such a failure and, worse than that, I felt totally isolated by my catastrophic lack of success because everywhere I looked I saw calm, beautiful pictures of mothers breastfeeding their little babies. It wasn't that I couldn't be happy for those women and their babies, it was that I was in such a dark, horrible little place that I just couldn't cope. I compared myself to those mothers and found myself entirely lacking, so much so that I was convinced my children would be better off without me.

I'm not telling you that you shouldn't post breastfeeding selfies or take part in the Motherhood Challenge, I'm just reaching out to you in the hope that you might take a moment to consider if any of your mummy friends might be struggling before you post your pictures. Right now, the odds are that you know someone who thinks she's a crap mother and that every single other woman in the world is doing a better job of motherhood than she is. And the worst part is that she probably isn't talking about it because she feels ashamed. So, maybe instead of posting photos of your most perfect moments, perhaps you need to let your friends know that you're there for them and that they have your support and not your judgement. Which is not to say that I think you are judging them, but mental health issues can change our perceptions, and depression is the darkest, coldest, loneliest little mountaintop in the world and the view is of everyone else doing better and being happier than you ever could.

I'm not trying to preach to you. That's not why I'm here. I'm here because motherhood is fucking hard sometimes, and I feel like we need to make sure that we don't alienate the mums who are struggling by pushing them further into the mental confines of their own shame. Most of all, I want you to know that if you're struggling, you are not alone.

Monday, 1 February 2016

The post of not coping

This is a warning: I'm going to be brutally honest today. If brutal honesty isn't your bag, look away now.

I am OVERWHELMED. Everyone in our house is sick with a cold virus, including me. The kids aren't sleeping and need painkillers and cough syrup administering throughout the night, and that's exhausting enough in itself, but I'm struggling with it even more because I feel like shit. I can't actually remember what it feels like to be well. I'm starting to think I might just never be well again. I mean, it's been FOREVER. On top of that, I started on the overflowing laundry bins yesterday and now my kitchen closely resembles a Chinese laundry. Other than running backwards and forwards from the washing machine to the tumble drier, the only other things I have done are clean the downstairs floors and wipe round the toilet and the sink in the bathroom. The rest of my usually lived-in-but-clean home looks like a dump truck full of random crap has sneezed all over it. Actually, it's worse than that; the truck hasn't so much sneezed as power-vomited the various detritus of family life everywhere, and I have no idea where to start.

To be perfectly honest, I'm regularly panicking over when I'm going to have time and feel well enough to catch up on everything that needs doing. To the point where, if the kids don't wake me up with coughing or sneezing or fevered screams of "MUMMY MY NOSE SMELLS FUNNY!" (I'm not even kidding), I will wake myself up in the middle of the night with WORRY.

The thing that I keep coming back to, though, is this: People cope with more than this. I've seen these people on the TV and read their blogs and I know that I could not be one of them. I proved that when Baby Taylor was ill at the beginning of last year. I fell apart. I know there's the common belief that we can cope with anything if we have to, but I also know that's not true. I've read a lot of blogs by a lot of parents, and some of those parents have been through and survived things that I know without doubt would have me crawled up in a corner, rocking and muttering.

On the other hand, people keep trying to reassure me that there are fuller laundry bins and messier houses than mine, and I do realise this, but I hold myself to a higher standard than I do other people. It's just the way I was brought up, and I can't change it.

It's just that, unfortunately, I only have enough energy to worry impotently about everything I need to do right now. Actually doing it will have to wait until I feel better. Which, at this rate, will probably be next January.