‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’ people will say as I recount the frustrations of a shoe lost in a tall tree, or a precious thing gouged by something sharp, as though these incidences are one-offs and I have got things madly out of perspective. When life revolves around traumatised and attachment-damaged children, the small stuff comes in vast quantities, there are lorry loads of the stuff. Sometimes I look out over acres of it, with crazed eyes and a crack in my sanity.
Over the past ten years I have become your worst nightmare. I am the parent whose child turns up to school without a pen and only one trainer in their PE bag. I am the parent who cannot find gloves in cold weather, or a matching pair of socks, or something nice to put in a lunchbox. I am the one who never got the school note (or the second one either) and I rarely fill out my child’s reading log. If your child comes to play I won’t have a nice treat for pudding or a plaster to stick on their grazed knee. But please try to be patient with me and mine, because the Matterhorn of small stuff looks something like this, and sometimes it’s a wonder any of us even leave the house in the morning.
… the drawing on the school t-shirt … the soap cut into small pieces … the lunch not eaten … the toilet not flushed … the missing packet of penguins …the fingerprints in the newly iced cake … the toothpaste squeezed around the taps … the whole cut in the centre of the towel … the box of printer paper folded into airplanes … the torch left on … the lost glove … the only remaining pair of shoes lost … the swimming goggles left at the swimming pool … the metres of selotape on the kitchen floor … the writing on the table … the snot wipe on the fridge … the school planner dismembered … the flowers picked … the opened cut leaking blood on the sheets … the wee needed just after lights out … the bite in the ruler …the cat locked in the room … the paint picked off the walls … the television settings changed …
Of course the fidgetty fingers and the anxious minds can’t control a lot of this activity, which renders me unable to guarantee that anything I need will be where I left it and intact. But it does go towards explaining why I am not the person I was ten years ago and not the well-organised haven of calm and lovely motherliness that you wish I was.