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Supermum has left the building

18th June 2018

A friend from home messaged me recently ‘your energy is astounding’, which gave me pause. I guess that really is how I come off on social media. Behold, a party! Behold, lasagne! Behold, le picturesque cobblestones! What doesn’t appear are the starfished Netflix couch-comas or long hours with my sore bones in the bath reading the crap memoirs available on Kindle Unlimited. Also, those gorgeous cobblestones wreck one pair of shoes after the other, and I am failing utterly in the quest to keep up.

The shops here in town are really just boutiques for the Saturday-trippers, out of my budget. The Red Cross is hardly ever open and you cannot go in with a specific need, more just to have a wander and emerge with the feather boa you never knew you needed. I’ve had a terrible hit-rate shopping online *La Redoute bites the weiner) and I can’t drive as far as Montepllier and Nimes because certain death.

I ramble about this only to make the point that keeping the kids in school clothes, a manageable task at home, seem here, like so many things, beyond my skill set. Basically the children are in nice clean rags,which, to be fair, is how they like to dress, but you can rest assured that I can see the side-eye I’m getting at the school gate, where children are about 80% tidier than any I encounter at home.

You see, to manage this France adventure without constant ball-dropping would take a certain kind of mother, and it occurs to me that perhaps that what I seem.

Let me set you straight. I am not that mother. Not even even close. And on a week like this, I am failing in every direction. The kids room is a sea of clothes and papers. They scatter their belongings as they go, and here in France, they are already coping with so much that I let a lot of this go. Their emotional life is more important rightr now than cracking down on their self-care, but I am always on the back foot trying to keep up. (I imagine some fun times dragging them back up to expectation in Australia).

It is so tiring to manage life here, and this last month or two has felt overwhelming to me. All the kids are struggling and my manuscript has stalled. On my to-list today is a chapter I planned to write, but working between two broken laptops is doing my head in. But before that, I felt that if I didn’t get some of these thoughts out of my head and onto the page I might literally explode in a shower of tears and fury. I did have a mini meltdown yesterday to Keith, complete with snot and ugly-crying, but I fear that was just a prelude to the real eruption.

I feel needed at every juncture, needed to manage the emotional stress of all three kids (significant), their practical day to day needs (all have regressed and need massive help) and my own life, where my poor language skills make every interaction painful and unsatisfying. Basically it’s one of those moments where life asks a lot of me as a mother; and I can’t quite step up. Good times!

I have friends here who are lovely, and I have Netflix and books and podcasts, but I truly feel the deep loneliness of the outsider. Keith is wonderful but he is trying to fit his own increased dad-duties in with a massive work project. Social media makes it worse - I’m not that comfortable with showing all the struggle on there, there are too many eyes - relatives, children of my friends - it feels too wierd. So I tend to just go dark a bit.

We’ve had a string of visitors lately. There is always a bit of a funk after they leave - we are all tired, after the intensive socialising (which is one of the incredible benefits of beeing so far aweay - when friends come, we really spend time together and deep-dive into conversation and fun and laughter) so it feels really sad to lose that easy connection. Thje children really feel the wrench, every time the Australians go home.

It’s first-year syndrome. There is so much work involved in setting up the systems of a new life, and in getting to a comfortable place. You reap the benefits later, apparently. But we will be just here for the adjustment phase, and then home. I’m not sure how much I really thought that through…

I miss home. I really look forward to a more expanded world, which is counterintuitive I know, surrounded as I am by All of Yoorop, but I can’t drive to a big city, I can’t go to the movies, I can’t go to the library, I can’t go for coffee with my beloved girlfriends and laugh so much in ten minutes that it’s a serious pelvic floor workout. I can’t construct the life that I love here, even though I have loved life here.

Today, smallest child is home with a painful ear infection, the middle child is scratching hhisead furiously (dear god. The mini-beasts are back. Kill me now) and the eldest is coping valiantly but counting down the minutes until the school year is over (just 3 weeks, my brave soul.) My back hurts, because there is just no avoiding the.bloody.stairs and the fucking.school.run. Which every day, now, requires a psychotherapy therapy session for the (pick a child!any child!) in most need at that moment.

Next meal! Next awkward conversation in French! Next bout of anxious insomnia worrying about the children!

Remind me, whose idea was this again?

(ps - forgive me if this post contains typos, bad edits or repetitions. I am writing on a bulgarian portable keyboard attached to an old French laptop, and emailing this to Keith, who will upload it to the place-holder blog that is replacing my old blog, which was eaten by an evil virus. I’m on the floor because all the equiment means I can’t be on the couch, and my back is killing me. Play me a tiny violin, call me a waahmbulance, and thank you for your kind indulgence.)

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