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The perfect storm

The last two weeks have been a perfect storm. An au pair who shouldn’t be looking after a hamster let alone children has been the root cause of many other problems, the type of things that are normally surmountable but somehow seem unrelenting and deeply stressful. My children are the most important people in my life and I was intensely anxious about them. This coincided with a very busy two weeks at work that meant I missed more bedtimes than I’m comfortable with and had to use many elastoplasts to cover the cracks in an imperfect childcare situation.  My father was, as usual, amazing. Stepping in to help me out, ferry the girls around and provide some consistency for them and some stress-relief for me.

If you’re interested here are the much edited highlights of the last couple of weeks.

Last week him indoors injured himself playing football, the net result was a very unhappy husband and a very tired Mummy having to do solo childcare for the whole bank holiday weekend.  Ok in normal circumstances, I do it all the time and I enjoy it, but it coincided with the busiest time I’ve experienced at work since I started there.  I had intended to work over the weekend but that got squeezed into the hours after bedtime and before exhaustion took over.  Never ideal, since you never feel you’ve had any quality time to do anything and of course it just makes you even more tired than normal.

I had a rather terrifying situation on Sunday when Tilly decided to go for a swim in a very deep pond.  As I jumped in after her up to my chin I didn’t think about anything but getting my little girl out. As I carried her the 1/2 mile back to the car, both of us soaked to the skin with dirty pond water and green weed I didn’t think of anything but getting her warm, and as we sat in the bath together washing off the green weed and getting warm again I didn’t think of anything but how I’d never let her go.  She’s fine by the way, and hopefully she’ll have no memory of it.  I had a full on depression attack the following day though, tears, black dogs circling me, despair, the whole shebang. But thankfully Lucy had prepared me for this happening. A form of shock apparently.

The week that then followed was not easy, my bubbling stress level was close to hitting the mercury and I think my long suffering colleagues saw a rather different side to me.  Shouty and anxious, walking off before tears took over, that sort of thing.

The girls have been anxious too. Their behaviour has been tricky at best and extraordinarily difficult at worse, but they have muddled through.  They’ve got used the chaos and they seem almost to have come out the other side of it.  Eliza has shown moments of incredible maturity. Quite something for a 4 year old.

Being a working mother is all well and good, but the bit no one tells you is that neither side really gives a damn about the other.  Just because you have kids, who keep you awake either with their physical presence or worry, you can’t just leave everyone you work with in the brown stuff, you have to find solutions for childcare that are less than ideal. In an ideal world, which must exist somewhere since people  talk about it all the time, I’d have taken some time off, but I just couldn’t do it.  Then on the other side my kids have no concept of why I work so they don’t care about that, they just care that Mummy’s not at home to look after them. And boy do they know how to make you feel like the worst mother in the world about that.

Finally you reach a point where you can’t be the person anyone wants you to be. It’s a well trodden path, there are books on the subject, but books leave out the after effects of the intense anxiety. They don’t tell you that this kind of stress has a long tail and it takes a while to bugger off. I am still haunted by the sight of Tilly in that pond.  Writing this is making me cry, but I think that’s probably a good thing right? Processing. I know it never gets any easier being a parent but I think anyone would agree that there are periods when it just seems to be particularly hard.   And I know that there are parents who have way more than this to deal this every single day of their lives and I have nothing but admiration for them.

But things are getting better.  The girls are fine, they are happy and I’m getting back to normal.  The last couple of weeks have been so busy I haven’t been running much and I’m missing my natural anti-depressant.  I went last night.  It helped.

And after all it was sunny today. That makes everything seem okay again.



  1. I’m so sorry it’s been so hard x

  2. Hi missus. Oh man, sounds like an incredibly full on few weeks, sorry to hear. You’re right there are times when the juggling is impossible and just too hard, something has to give and it’s usually yourself. Glad to hear Tilly is ok and things have I’m sure turned that corner x

  3. Sounds like a really tough time – my heart goes out to you! I am at the moment trying to get my career back into gear, take on more freelance work and also started looking for a nanny, as #2 is on the way. Perfect timing, I know. Somehow, I still have the hope that all will go smoothly. Should definitely stay away from blog posts like these ;-)

    • Thanks so much. It’ll be fine for you, just get a decent nanny. One you feel you can trust and who has good experience. Good luck with no. 2 – congratulations! Very exciting news on the freelancing front too. You’ll be brilliant xx

  4. Sending hugs and love – childcare not being right I think is the hardest thing, it just throws everything out of balance

    Take care of yourself, be kind to yourself and give those girls a big cuddle – you are ok but you’ve all hard a nasty scare

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