I was joking to a friend last week that I was anticipating my usual ‘end of term breakdown’ that inevitably seems to hit around 3:30pm on the Friday… an hour or two before Dave is due to come home.
I’m not sure why the penultimate period is the most difficult for me. I can hold it together for ages, and then suddenly – just before the end is in sight – I lose all sense of perspective.
A toxic cocktail of viruses hit us at the start of last week. Ivy showed the beginnings of tonsillitis and was put on antibiotics, and then Hudson went down hard on Wednesday – barely able to stumble to the car before conking out on the way to the doctors. Between the two of them, there were no less than thirteen separate doses of medications and pain relievers on the Friday, Hudson requiring a steroid treatment to open up his throat that had painfully almost closed over the night before, making it a very stressful and restless night for all concerned. Our usually cheerful and spirited boy vanished, leaving a miserable, moaning shadow in his wake. It was so hard to watch the transformation. Later on, we found out he also had Hand, Foot and Mouth disease – with painful ulcers spreading throughout his mouth, making every medication administration attempt fraught with tearful difficulty.
As a hidden blessing, the increased need for holding it together meant that we got to the end of term before even realising it.
Thinking we escaped scot-free, however, was a little naive. Now that the dust has settled and health is slowly returning to normal, space opens up again for excessive ruminating. For me, it is these taxing last stages of pregnancy, where each day ‘could be’ the one… and when it isn’t, I gaze in growing horror at the days stretching out before me – wondering how I could possibly do another restless night, another day of shuffling painfully around, another lecture to the kids about ‘how tired Mummy is’, another ridiculous attempt to get all the random suddenly urgent tasks done before the baby arrives…. another despairing look from Dave when I get caught up in the seemingly inconsequential things.
I think about the process of birth. The agony, complete surrender of control, the adrenaline pumping when you realise it is ‘go time’. The utter exhaustion and defeat of feeling as if you can’t endure another minute. The throwing up, the abandonment of dignity… did I mention the pain? I want it to be over, I want to cross that seemingly unsurpassable divide. I just want to hold my baby safely in my arms and know that it is finished.
And yet, by sheer force of will, I am unable to conjure up my preferred reality. I will be surprised, caught off guard, unprepared. Life will refuse to bend to my attempts to control it.
My EnneaThought for the day was this: “Remember at your best your subjective world comes into alignment with objective reality and you become realistic and accepting of life. How can you embody your best today?”
Type Ones in the Enneagram picture a perfect world and work tirelessly to bring it into existence. That quality can be a positive and beautiful one, but also an exhausting and destructive force if it is not used wisely. I’m still learning to distinguish the difference. To refuse to let only the negative side of the equation or the repeated mistakes of the past define me.
For now, I’m appreciative of school holidays. For having a supportive, capable husband who willingly whisks the kids off for a few hours of sunshine so that I can rest, process, recover. I’m watching the processes of my body with veiled wonder – the increasingly uncomfortable tightenings that make it difficult to concentrate, the tumbling and twisting of the baby yet to join us, the forced slowing of pace that this last stage requires.
I’m really not that great at this, but I’m doing my best to relax, to ease back into the reality that I’m firmly planted within, and let fall my attempts to make it something else. It is my rebellion. Resisting definition. Carried out a little reluctantly from the comfortable confines of this black armchair.
This post is inspired by the Five Minute Friday writing challenge. Each week I join with this talented group of writers, free writing for five minutes in accordance with a prompt. Though clearly today I spent far more than five minutes! Today’s prompt is ‘define’.