The anxiety is ramping up.
Little Miss H is leaving her communication book on my pillow each night.
She’s crying after school each day, she’s not settling at bedtime. She’s struggling and she’s micromanaging every tiny detail of the upcoming weekend.
You see Mr H and I are going to a party. Well actually it’s a bit more than that, it’s a black tie ‘do’, I know, super fancy! It’s being held at a hotel and we are staying overnight.
The logistics and preparation for this have been huge. We don’t have child care on tap. We have one family member who we can call on for occasional special events but their work schedule is such that it takes a lot of planning and preparation so we never do anything spontaneous and to be honest the girls wouldn’t manage that anyway. We don’t have day to day help and we muddle along ourselves. Mostly we’re cruising, Mr H and I are a great team and largely it’s a well oiled machine. He carries a lot of extra on top of full time work because of my health and the girls’ needs and things can get a little bit chaotic and sometimes quite frankly it’s a diabolical farce!
But this weekend we have our trusted babysitter, Bee sleeping over. It’s a first, so understandably the anxiety is building. The girls have known her for two and half years and absolutely adore her. She’s like a fun auntie/big sister to them but she’s mature, trustworthy and dependable so I am relaxed. She young enough to be fun and get down on the floor with them but also old enough that she’s an adult and doesn’t take any nonsense from them.
I’m totally relaxed about it, I have no doubts at all and I KNOW all will be fine.
Little Miss H’s anxiety is breaking me though. My heart shatters with each tear that rolls down her porcelain cheek. With each quiver of her lip my ribs contract and squeeze my heart until it hurts. With each anxious detail she tries to micro manage another stone forms in the pit of my stomach.
This should be a super fun adventure for them. Instead Little Miss H has the weight of the world on her shoulders, even down to planning the menu and working out how long the pasta takes to cook for her tea. At her age it never would have crossed my mind, all I would’ve thought was ‘great I can stay up late, eat chocolate and watch TV’!!
Instead my Little Miss at the age of nine needs all the details of every second, both for our itinerary and hers. What is happening when. ‘What happens if it’s all different? Different from how you do it Mummy?’, ‘what happens if she doesn’t wake up when I need her?’, ‘will she let me cuddle her?’, ‘what happens if tea doesn’t taste the same?’, ‘when will you get back?’, ‘where will you be?’, ‘can we what’s app?’ , ‘I don’t want you to go’ and so on.
My Little Miss is a bundle of nerves and worries. We have drawn up a plan. She has a script. She has had food cooked by Bee before and it was fine every other time I remind her. Bee WILL wake up and always cuddles her whenever Little Miss allows it. The things we know are true are uncertainties and doubts in Little Miss H’s anxious whirlpool of thoughts.
Tiny will be demanding and hard work but ‘fine’ until she’s too tired then she’ll be a tricky customer but Bee has experience of that so at least it won’t come as a surprise!
I need to relax on this night away. I haven’t had a break for a year and that was one night away locally with my cousin, which was brilliant but not even 24 hours. Mr H travels with work and whilst I know he is working hard while he is away, it is a break from routine, it is a break from the squawking, the screeching and the screaming, it is a break from the mundanity, the constant demands and the take, take, take. It is a change of scenery and a chance to miss us and it is a chance to be him and be good at something other than parenting. Yes, I know it’s not relaxing like a holiday but it is fortifying for the soul and the psyche.
I need a break from the routine, the stress and the demands. I need to be me, just briefly. I am Muuuuuuuummmmmmmyyyyyyyyyy, carer, teacher, nurse, chef, pot wash, taxi driver, administrator, advocate, arse wiper, puke cleaner upper, skivvy, maid etc all the time. Just for one night I need to be ME.
Switching off is nigh on impossible when I know how anxious Little Miss H will be feeling and how avoidable it is and how I am the cause of it. So, I have to lock that guilt away. I have to work at having fun and switching off. Because to be honest I won’t really switch off… I’ll just be masking, pretending and mimicking. The irony is not lost on me. That in itself is exhausting so I’ll come back even more tired and I’ll have the fall out of the change of routine to deal with. It’ll take a couple of weeks to get back on an even keel but with Christmas coming that won’t be easy.
Do I get an insight into how it is for Little Miss H every day of her life? Yes, I do. Is it worth it? Yes, it is, not just for all I will learn about masking and mimicking but for the chance to (pretend to) be ME, just for one night. The more I practice perhaps in time it’ll get easier and a night away will be the break I so need it to be.
Until then, I can’t wait to wear my posh frock and my glitter shoes, to eat, drink, dance and be merry.
I’ll raise my glass to you all and toast my night of pretending to be ‘me’!