November and, so far, December, have not been kind to us. CraftyFish has spent most of her time flat on the sofa, miserable AF – and for a kid who is normally swinging from the chandeliers, that’s distressing as hell. Especially to mommas who bear the brunt of the misery, and the responsibility for fixing it. I eventually got her blood-tested – which sounds so easy to say, but is so taxing, when your kid is super anxious, super vocal, and has never had blood tests before – and we discovered that her iron was on the floor. Not, technically, anaemic, but in the bottom 6% of the normal range. Which is bloody marvellous – relieved a lot of anxiety, let me tell you, and eminently fixable, even if it will take a long time.
At the same time, I asked the doctor to test me, too, because my brain fog was back. Last time, I didn’t notice until a doctor told me – that is, I knew I wasn’t right, but I didn’t know how not-right I was, until he told me – but this time, thank fuck, I noticed. In one week I lost my keys and took three visits to remember to tell the doctor everything and then there was the morning I caught myself wandering around the kitchen trying to remember how to make toast – with the bread in my hand the whole time. This time I knew, hey, I wasn’t like that six months ago, so off I trotted. Turns out, my iron is only marginally better than CraftyFish’s. So we’re trying to iron out our iron and be kind to ourselves: trying to remember, as we achieve so very little, that we’re not useless, we’ve just been temporarily hamstrung by biology.
It triggered me, a bit, the brain fog. I lost years to it, last time, years of barely keeping my head above water and anger and exhaustion and not being able to start, let alone finish, anything. I do not want to go back there.
The world continues to burn and the news is horrific: our government continues its march towards authoritarianism, denying – in the face of all the evidence – that there’s anything unusual happening as the biggest, hottest fires ever recorded sweep vast areas of land, killing record numbers of animals, driving thousands of people from their homes. They rejected calls for more funding for the exhausted firefighters, saying that as volunteers they “want” to be there, forcing the firies to crowd-fund for lunches and equipment; they’ve brought in a bill to allow people to discriminate on religious grounds – to fire you for being gay, or to deny you contraception; they folded the Arts, Environment and Education portfolios in with Transport, Agriculture and Employment respectively, even though those would seem to be at cross purposes; and rumour has it that they’re planning to cut the pension for both the aged and job-seekers. This week Australia was downgraded from being an open to a narrow democracy and ranked bottom of 57 countries for its climate policies.
Then there’s Brexit.
I can’t look away from this stuff. Can’t focus on the small picture, making sure my kitchen is tidy and my Christmas shopping is done and prettily wrapped. I find it utterly impossible to give a flying fuck about this stuff, to be honest, to pretend it’s business as normal, when it is so abundantly clear that painful, violent times are coming, fast. (The sky, normally so clear and blue has been relentlessly low and beige, and the temperatures over 30C every day this week, which makes it really hard to ignore.)
And then. Mum had a minor stroke and, when she was released 24 hours later, another slightly more serious one. She’s okay, she’s at home now, regarded as fit and safe, although one side of her mouth still droops. It was a lot of hospital time, though, much of it with tired and emotional kids, and I’m the sort of wimp who has to look the other way when there’s a canula in the room, let alone sticking out of my poor Mum’s thin, tissue-skinned arm. She doesn’t really understand why we made her go to hospital; can’t remember that she didn’t used to slur her speech and have trouble lifting her arm, because of the dementia. And she doesn’t remember the explanation so we tell her, over and over again, and she is struggling to process. My sister has done most of the work and I feel bad about that, too.
It has been hard.
A friend tried to remind me that I don’t have to always hold it all together, but I haven’t been able to cry. I don’t know whether that’s exhaustion, distraction (thoughts in my head like flies), good old-fashioned repression, or the profound conviction that worse is to come, but it’s just not there.
I write this out as a marker, so that it’s there, the background against which I think about my kids, make decisions for them and for myself. So that if I seem distracted, or pessimistic, or that I’m spending too much time watching Guardians of the Galaxy and reading romance novels, I remember it’s because I’m carrying all this, all the time, and try as I might, I cannot put it down.