On coping with the passage of time
On coping with the passage of time
Tuesday before last, at the supermarket, busy, busy, milk, crumpets, bananas, tick, tick, tick. That’s right, Halloween, I needed lollies: Milkshakes and Minties and Mackintoshes. Then I saw the little mesh bags of chocolate coins it is our tradition to put in each other’s Christmas stockings, so I stood there in the middle of the aisle, in the middle of October, trying to work out how many of us there’d be on Christmas morning.
When I got home the dog hadn’t been walked and dinner wasn’t started and the breakfast dishes were still on the table and while I was trying to find a place to hide the Halloween lollies and a different place to hide the Christmas chocolates, my son asked what we were doing for Guy Fawkes this year.
Sunday afternoon I was at Kmart; short-tempered, trying to find white stockings for my daughter’s evil twin doll costume. There was a display of canine Christmas treats. Can we, pleaded my daughter. No, I snapped. The bloody dog doesn’t need a pamper pack. And my daughter ’s friend, said, “Christmas! Jeez, I thought it was only Halloween.” Monday morning I stood in our garage, well it’s not really a garage, it’s a carport with a broken roller door (on the to-do list: get a garage), and as the rain assailed me from the north and the east, I swayed on a bag of potting mix, sweating, swearing.
I was looking for the box labelled Halloween because my daughter had told me before she left for school she wanted to decorate the house when she got home, so could I get some spiders’ webs from the 1,2,3 shop.
I was sure I’d salvaged last year’s; laboriously disentangling them from the gate (they’re cheap as chips but I can’t abide the waste) when the lollies had run out to dissuade anymore trick or treaters.
Teetering on my makeshift stool, I unearthed three outdoor chairs, two solar showers, one Christmas tree. I sighed.
It was almost that time again.
How are you, asked my friend? Oh you know, I said, overwhelmed, overwrought. By what, she asked. I don’t know, I said. Everything? This time of year? By what I have to do, what I expected I’d have done by now. You know, she said. I’m trying to accept I’ll never get everything done. Otherwise when am I going to be happy, when I’m 60 and the kids have left and the house is perfect because it’s empty?
How are you, asked my friend? Swamped, I said. Like I can’t cope. Like I need to get on top of things. I’ve been feeling the same, she said. I keep thinking when the friends we’ve had staying are gone; when all these events we’ve got coming up are over, that then I’ll be able to relax.
But this is it, isn’t it? This is life. You’ve got to enjoy it as it’s happening.
P.S. Sorry D, I know you called, concerned you detected a grumpy tone in my words of late, and I vowed I would write a light little missive this week, just for you, but then advent calendars and netball prizegivings and spooky cupcakes engulfed me.
You responded to last week’s musings on parenting through adolescence with sympathy, dismay, and advice, lots of advice.
Belinda: “What I find works is being involved in their music but not in a cringey way. Put some Post Malone or The Weeknd on the stereo and act like you’re not slightly interested and see if you get a reaction. Food talks as well, offering to feed mates: ham and cheese toasties, popcorn. Showing them funny Insta posts ... You sort of have to get down to their level.”
Anna: This is a really exciting time, when your boy becomes the man you will have in your life, hopefully, until you are a very old woman. This is the spring of his life. So admire his growth, ask for a hug, have chats without looking directly at one another when doing the dishes, driving places. Discuss rules and parameters; ask him his views on things, including how you look. How else will he learn to pay a compliment?”
John: “Your children expect: the fridge will remain fully stocked; they can use, borrow, and take anything of yours without asking; to be loved unconditionally no matter what; but never ever want you to be their mate. That just embarrasses them. It can make for some lonely times, but when they show their love and appreciation I have found nothing better in life.”
While I was trying to find a place to hide the Halloween lollies and a different place to hide the Christmas chocolates, my son asked what we were doing for Guy Fawkes this year.