For those of you unfamiliar with the Workshop, it runs every week on Sleep Is For The Weak where everyone is prompted to write on a particular subject. We'll share them all next Monday. This is a tricky one for me to write this week, so I’ve asked Mummy to guest write it for me. If it’s rubbish, blame her! Here she is:
Before I start this story, I’d like to point out that I had a great childhood. I have a very loving, supportive family. I think it’s worth stating that because my tale is not going to be one of innocently playing Pooh Sticks in the woods or picking flowers in a meadow (although I did both regularly.)
I’ve always been a picky, worry wart. As I grew up, it has improved as I’ve learned to deal with what were often totally irrational thoughts. Irrational is really the only way to describe the fear in my eight-year-old head that something awful would happen to my parents, to the point that I would freak out if they went out together without me and my sisters. To say I worried doesn’t come close. From the moment they told me they were going out, I would worry until the moment they came back. I paced around the house, desperate to find a distraction. I paced around the garden, looking out for the car to pull up at the gate. What would happen to us if something happened to them? How would I look after my sisters? How would I contact someone to help me? Would people step in and separate us? I howled and wailed and begged them not to go, and looking back now, I’m sure I ruined their social life.
I’m not a psychologist so my analysis is flawed, I’m sure. I do know I like control though, and not being able to influence something is difficult for me. I like to know what’s happening and I like to feel that I have a firm grasp on things. That’s not to say that I always have to be in charge, I don’t, but if no-one else steps forward, I’m more than happy to do it. Like many other little girls, I played with my sisters and our Barbies and Sindies. The difference with us is that I introduced a whole social class system and a currency!
Fun? Certainly for me. Educational? Perhaps in a harsh life-lesson sort of way for them. A little freaky? I prefer unusual! My dolls lived in the big houses, they had the good jobs. One ran the bank, for example, and as all eight-year-olds know, money comes from banks, so my doll created the money. One of my sisters carefully crafted doll toilets, but in my Doll Society, she couldn’t sell them direct to the dolls because mine owned the hardware shop so I paid her a pittance for them then charged her to buy them back from me! Non-purchase was not an option for them – how many houses had they ever visited that didn’t have a toilet? None. All residents had to buy one. Perhaps I should be on The Apprentice! Or perhaps my entrepreneurial flair is in fact autocratic tendency!
The thing is, this order and process helps me deal with stress. Another totally ‘nutty’ thing I did was start a library at home. I labelled all our books and made my super-patient family sign them out if they wanted to read them. And I’d fine them if they let their books go overdue!
I’m not a complete tidy-nut by any means, and most weeks we live in total CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) but every now and then, I start getting stressed. It gets me twitchy and I need to sort something. I have a household organiser so I know when all the insurance policies are due for renewal, or when the dog needs his boosters, that sort of thing. I have a calendar beside my front door where each member of the family has a column, with another one for all the things we need to remember, like birthdays. I don’t think either of those things is particularly wacky or off-the-wall – it strikes me that as a working mum, cook, housekeeper, general dogsbody, it’s just common sense. Saying that, even the friends I would have considered super-organised have been known to ask me for birthdays or addresses to save blushes because they know I’ll have the information.
I save for Christmas every month so it doesn’t come as a big shock in December. Not that it ever would, because I’ll be all done weeks in advance, of course!
I’m starting to get stressed now. My job is at risk, and while I haven’t enjoyed it for a while, the uncertainty does make me a bit nervous. I have every confidence in myself that I’ll be able to make a living somehow, but the fact that I don’t know that for certain is what makes me uncomfortable. So this week, I am writing a household inventory, not just of everything in the freezer, but also of the cleaning products and the store cupboard. And all Chatty Baby’s old clothes have been sorted into those that can be worn again (others can’t – I’ve posted about baby food staining before!) those that need to be passed on to another beautiful baby, all neatly labelled by age and season.
Reading back through this, and the length of this post, I guess that there’s still a lot of that neurotic child in me, but I’m much better at containing the neuroses and channelling it into something more positive. I’m so much better than I was! My books haven’t been in alphabetical order for years and I can let it go now if someone reads my magazines before me, something which would have tipped the eight-year-old me over the edge. But I can still tell from twenty paces if someone’s touched one of my ornaments!
I think worrying will always be something I do, compounded now by the eternal guilt one feels as a mother, but I don’t worry any more if I have nothing to worry about. It’s less of an issue for me now because I know the difference between the things I can influence and those I can’t, so I just don’t bother with the latter. Otherwise, I’m pretty much still me.
Thanks for reading this far! If I sound completely crazy to you, I’m not worried – nothing I can do about it.