Life has been good recently.
With an extra half day of childcare to get on top of the housework, and lots of lovely feedback on my next book, I’ve been feeling unusual sensations: Confidence. Enjoyment.
The sun has been shining and it felt like summer in my heart, if not always outside the front door.
Then I started to struggle with sleep. And the school debate reared its head, so the sleep got worse. Now, for three nights in a row (at least, I’ve lost count) I’ve been woken every two hours, and everything’s gone to pot.
Last night I went to bed on a large glass of wine, hoping to sleep through. All it meant was the two-hour shifts of sleep left me groggy and unable to get up. I broke. Low and behold, my life reverted to what it was before. Crying before breakfast, shouting before morning snack. Unable to concentrate, unable to smile.
My family are amazing. Hubbie and kids were full of sympathy and cuddles. When I sobbed in Tesco because my Clubcard vouchers had expired, Amber said, “It’s alright Mummy,” before I’d even managed to apologise. I think maybe seeing the difference for themselves, seeing that it isn’t just words when I say, “Sorry, Mummy’s tired,” has made them take the tears and shouting less to heart.
Doesn’t stop them being little monkeys of course but you can’t expect miracles from preschoolers.
So now I’m yawning and stumbling my way round the field with the dog, trying to smile at the sun but really praying for bedtime and a night where my lovely family don’t take it in turns to wake me.
On the plus side, I didn’t cry when I got back to the car this afternoon, with two tired and cranky kids, to find a scribbled note under the wiper that said, “You have a flat tyre.” I didn’t shout at hubbie when I rang him and he said, “Oh yes, that went flat when I borrowed your car last week, just pump it up, it’ll be fine.”
There’s something to be proud of on the darkest of days. Night night.
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
“This isn’t a trek; this is just taking the bloody thing for a walk.” Claire looked up at the creature trying to eat her hat. “Cut it out!” The llama smirked at her down its long nose, and chewed insolently.
Claire caught sight of Maggie, her expression somewhere between amusement and disapproval. She held her finger to her lips and Claire looked round guiltily, realising there were children in earshot.
She tugged on the lead and the animal trotted on behind her, like the twisted off-spring of a dog and a giraffe.
The children laughed and giggled, as they walked the llamas along the country lane. At the front, a guide chatted about the local plant and animal life, although the children paid little attention. Maggie paused to let Claire catch up.
“Not what you were expecting?”
“Well, no. I went pony trekking in the New Forest. I was on the pony, not pulling it along behind me.”
“This is for the children, not you! They’re only 8 and 9 years old. Grooming and walking a llama is just their level. Plus we don’t have to worry about the health and safety paperwork if one of them were to fall off! Anyway, the fun comes later.” She threw a cheeky glance at Claire, who felt a heavy feeling in her stomach.
“Why did I let you talk me into this?”
“Because you were bored and wanted some company, some fun? Admit it, you’re having fun?”
Claire shook her head, her lip stuck out in a pout.
“Now you look like a nine-year-old.” The women laughed. “So, where to next, Claire?”
“Ironbridge Coalport, wherever that is.”
“Ah, that’s over in Shropshire. Lovely. Visit the Blist Hill Victorian Village, it will give you something different to write about on that website of yours. You can go for a ride in the horse and cart, if you’re tired of walking!”
With a nod, Claire tugged the lead of her llama and followed the giggling children back for lunch, wishing that Maggie could come with her to her next hostel. There was something infectious about the woman, something warm, that made her happy.
“Come on, Miss Carleton!”
Claire looked over her shoulder at the girl behind her and resisted the urge to swear. She gripped the rubber handles tightly in sweaty hands and willed her creaking knees to try harder. I will not lose to a nine-year old. She glanced over at the blonde-haired girl to her right, who was giggling so hard she didn’t hear the instruction to go.
Pulling hard on the handles, Claire bounced the space hopper along the grass towards the marker. Behind her she could hear her other team mates yelling and urging her on. Her thighs burned. I’m going to kill you, Maggie. She couldn’t see the woman, but she knew she was grinning, just as she had been when she volunteered Claire to take her place in the races.
I’ve seen her tramp along the road quicker than I could run. Playing the old-age card, so that I have to endure sack races and space hoppers: That’s just low. She scowled, but somewhere deep inside a sensation bubbled. Claire didn’t need to analyse it, she didn’t want to. Maggie would be too smug.
The feeling bubbled up higher, until the words were in her mind.
This is fun.