Roller coaster

It’s fair to say that I’ve been struggling since we returned home from our holiday at the end of July. Not that anyone would know it, unless they knew me extremely well and even then perhaps not. The signs were there before we went away but I managed to keep all the important balls in the air and the slight wobble in my voice under control. Recently, though, the big ‘life issues’ that are going on here have overwhelmed me and have tipped me into a form of panic mixed with inertia. Classic rabbit-in-the-headlights. I’ve been waking in the night, my heart racing and my mind working overtime.

I know that if I sort, tidy, put away, throw away, wipe, brush, scrub, and so on, it will help me to feel a little more in control but I am in a slump and finding it hard to shake myself out of it. I’m on top of work, putting meals on the table, walking the dog and doing the laundry but that’s about all I can manage at the mo. Another tell-tale sign that I don’t have my sh*t together is that I haven’t been posting much here, so I’m making time today to write in the hope that it will give me a boot up the bum to get my act together. A happy medium mindset somewhere between Eeyore and Pollyanna would do. I was going to put together a quick Monday vase but I feel the need to write about other things – I hope you don’t mind.

The main issue by far that has been occupying my mind is my dear mum. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease back in 2012 which was a shock for us all at the time. She isn’t the first person in our family to be affected by Parkinson’s. David’s dad lived with it for over 20 years before he very sadly died a few years ago, so we have some experience of it but how the disease affects one person isn’t how it will affect another. It is a disease of the brain and although it does cause physical symptoms it also alters people’s mental state and personality. It’s hugely complex and my poor mum is coping with a complicated set of symptoms that seem to grow by the week and are getting increasingly worse.

It doesn’t help that there isn’t one point of contact – there are different medical departments involved, different doctors all prescribing different medication. And then there are the cancelled or postponed appointments and the phone calls. We haven’t so far been able to get a handle on what exactly is going on which is incredibly difficult. And, of course, all this is understandably affecting my dad. My mum is only 74, he is a few years older; they had so many plans. I have been through a whole range of emotions over the years – anger at the unfairness of it, frustration at her apparent acceptance, sadness for her and my dad and because my mum is no longer able to do ‘mum’ things. She was the first person I would turn to in time of need but I can no longer do that. Now she and my dad need my help. I confess that my heart feels broken – for them and, selfishly, for me.

While all this is going on, we’re in exam results season. Last Thursday was A-level results day – those important exams where the grades take you on to university or not. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll already know that my elder son unfortunately didn’t get the grades he needed for his first choice of uni. An anxious and frankly flipping stressful 6 hours followed where my son, David and I rang every good university in the land to find out whether he was eligible for a place on any course related to history or politics. A lot of coffee and sheer adrenalin fuelled our quest and he ended up with a few decent options, finally opting for a course that seems tailor-made for him at Reading Uni. The word ‘relief’ doesn’t do the feeling justice.

He’s heading there, funnily enough, for the Reading Festival on Wednesday and we have agreed to postpone any talk of lists and plans in general until he gets home next week. I have had a peek at a few ‘Things you absolutely can’t do without at university’ lists on the internet, though, and have earmarked some of our old glasses, plates and other kitchen items that I’ll gladly send him off with so I can buy some nice new ones for us 🙂

Next, we have GCSE results day on Thursday and my younger son is getting a little twitchy. I think his brother’s results were a cold reality check and he now says he has absolutely no idea what to expect. I just want him to feel he’s done himself justice and hope he gets good enough grades to be accepted into the sixth form.

Thankfully, there have been moments of escapism among all this Real Life. My daughter took part in a two-week ballet course which culminated in a run of six performances of Coppelia. Weird story line aside, the show was a triumph and the sight of my girl dancing on stage brought a huge lump to my throat. I was hoping that the intense and exhausting experience, blistered feet and sore knees would put her off a career in dance but she still absolutely loves it. At one point, during the two weeks of rehearsals, she turned to me with a big beaming smile and said ‘I really feel I’m winning at life, Mum!’. I gave her a big hug and wished with all my heart that she could hold on to that feeling, dancing or not.

Two trips to the cinema last week also provided much-needed light relief: Incredibles 2 (fantastic, funny, clever) and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (daft, funny, colourful, musical and pure, unadulterated escapism). I’ve decided to try to go to the cinema much more often. And I haven’t completely forgotten the garden, although to look at it you might think otherwise. I spent a few hours vigorously pulling out weeds, wrestling with brambles and listening to the crickets in the long grass yesterday. I think I need to do more of that.

I know there are plenty of people who are worse off than me and I do have much to be thankful for, but sometimes sometimes the scales tip and everything seems overwhelming. It won’t last – I will give myself a good talking to, go and pick some raspberries, phone my mum and tell her I love her. Thank you for reading and I hope you have a good week.

PS You won’t ever see me on an actual roller coaster, btw – real life provides all the adrenalin I can cope with.