Monday, 6 July 2015

Not Enough Time to be Nice

"Better three hours too soon than a minute too late". William Shakespeare

I used to always be the person who remembered everyone’s birthdays. I was organised, I had lists and reminders and Moon Pig. I used to get so mad when someone forgot my birthday, and I have been known to sulk about it.

I’ve always been pretty organised, and I have to confess, I never had much sympathy, and definitely no empathy for people who were not quite as organised. I hate being late to a party or a meal out, and we often end up being the first ones there. Much to  Gary’s annoyance because I’ll have spent most of the afternoon rushing him to get ready, when it totally wasn’t necessary.

I’m never usually fashionably late, I’m not really a fashionable person. If the invitation says it starts at 7pm, I’m there at 7pm.

Until recently.

My organisational skills have dipped quite a bit since having two children, but it’s never been as bad as it is now.

At first I thought it was because I’d been out of work so long, that the natural ability to multitask and to prioritise and note down important dates and events and deadlines, had been honed in my days as a solicitor. To an extent this is true, I’ve definitely lost my attention to the most minute detail. But, I don’t believe that it explains it all.

I also thought it was because I now had to organise three people’s lives rather than just mine. Having to think laterally about what three people are going to need and want for every second of every single day.

I think the truth is just that I am running out of hours in the day. I’m running out of those minutes to myself, those minutes for my brain just breathe and process the information that is thrown at it from all sides.

Moving continents has created an all time low. I have finally, and completely, dropped the ball.

Not just the move itself, but the prep, the planning, the packing and the thinking. I have no space left in my head, and because there is no space, I’m making mistakes.

Those mistakes are hurting the people I love. Mostly in small ways, small mistakes. But those mistakes are starting to add up.

I forgot to send my mum a birthday card. I forgot to send my mum a birthday card, and I forgot to send her present to her.

I actually feel sick when I write that. It’s not like I don’t know when her birthday is. It’s not like I don’t have it imprinted on the inside of my brain. It’s not like I don’t think about it every single day as soon as April arrives.

I send almost all of our birthday cards via Moon Pig. They are posted from the UK and not from Dubai, so while we’ve been in Dubai it’s been a godsend. The cards actually arrive, and they arrive on time.

I usually sit down for a couple of evenings and write and schedule all of the birthday cards for the year in one go. In January, I started it, but I didn’t get very far. Nothing has happened since.

My head is so full of stuff that there are several days when I just don’t have the energy or space in my head to play with the kids. My head is so full of stuff that I can’t seem to see past it. It’s clouded my head and my judgement.

They play together, or fight, as is usually the case. When they ask me, there’s always a “but” or an “in a minute”. A pressing case of a t-shirt to iron or something to put in the oven. It’s always “later”, “when Daddy gets home”.

I feel like half a parent at the moment. I’m doing the basics, like keeping the kids alive. I try not to let them run in the road or throw themselves off a cliff, or fall backwards off the bed. I feed them (if you can call rice cakes and sausages an adequate diet), I bath them. I make sure they are in bed when they are tired and that they have all that they need.

But the things they want? They’ve fallen by the wayside. I don’t play “jump and spin”, or sing nursery rhymes. I don’t sit and play happyland with Miss S, I don’t tickle Mister L.

I know I’m doing this but I’m struggling to stop. I know that the majority of the things I “need to do” can wait, but I don't wait. I don’t sit and soak in the moment. I don’t play with my kids. My kids now can’t wait for Daddy to get home, because they get a decent amount of attention from him. I’ve fallen by the wayside as a parent.

As for Gary, he bares the brunt of it. By the time he comes home from work I’m frazzled and stressed and running out of patience. I’m short with him, and I certainly don’t tell him what an amazing job he’s doing. The compliments have fallen by the wayside too.

I never usually miss an opportunity to tell him how much I love him. To make sure I have cards and gifts for his birthday, Valentines day, Father’s day. To put thought into the gift and the words written in the cards.

This year it’s been a scramble. A bit of a last minute panic about what to get, because, yet again, I’ve forgotten. Or I remembered a while ago, but it didn’t stay in my head long enough for me to do something about it.

He’s just been given the most amazing job, a huge promotion. A job that brings us back to the UK to be closer to our families. That enables us to buy an amazing family home, and I don’t have to go back to work. I don’t tell him nearly enough how incredible he is for supporting his family, and for working so hard to build a life for us.

I don’t tell him how amazing he is with the kids. I don’t cut him any slack either, when he doesn’t do things exactly the way I do. Those few small words, that mean much more, I just don’t say them anymore. I think of them, but usually after the moment has passed.

I no longer live in the moment and really see what’s happening. I don’t say the things that I should say (because I’ve thought them), and the moment passes and the words don’t stay in my head.

I’m not sure how to fix it yet. I don’t know whether it’s just a phase, and it will pass when we are settled. Or whether I’ve fallen into a rut with it.

But I know that I want to. I know that I don’t want to be the person who forgets to send cards, or who misses those important dates in the diary. I don’t want to be the person who doesn’t remind her friends and family of how much their love and kindness really means to me.