I feel it is about time that I return to a theme that is a constant in my life: fatigue. Probably because I am too bloody tired to think about anything else, to be fair. Tiredness plagues me. It hangs round me like concrete balloons, slowing me down and making me stupid. The other day, I actually forgot the words ‘garden centre’. I know. Ridiculous. I was talking away to someone, having a fascinating conversation about places to take the kids (because what other conversations do I have these days?) and about two seconds before I was due to say ‘garden centre’ I became aware that there was just a little gap in my mind where those words used to reside. I opened my vocabulary filing cabinet at the letter G, riffled past gallop, gamble and gammon, only to find some bastard had nicked the garden centre. Where did it go? I stood there, mouth agape, probably slightly dribbling, mid-sentence, conscious of the growing silence where my voice should have been, until finally – ping – ‘garden centre’ returned. I was so relieved I said it way too loudly and enthusiastically and got some very weird looks from a passer-by.
I know when my tiredness levels have progressed from the usual run-of-the-mill tired – although there is scant running involved, as that takes far too much energy, to all-out, fall momentarily asleep standing up whilst waiting for the kettle to boil exhaustion (and don’t think for a moment that this hasn’t happened). It’s when friends (shortly to be reclassified, downgraded and struck off my Christmas card list) meet me and say: “God, you look tired.” This has happened to me twice in a week. As a fond greeting, I have heard better. As a conversational opener, it lacks a little finesse. As a way to make me feel even more tired, worn out, crap and generally fed up, it’s pretty much ticking those boxes like an examiner at a Mensa convention. I am not sure at what point they think that I need this to be pointed out to me, to be honest. I appreciate that often, what with the flurry of the morning routine to get B to nursery and to walk E to school, personal grooming is not first on my list. But I do look in the mirror before I leave the house. I wave the moisturising cream around in the general direction of my face. I acquaint my hair with a brush. So I can see my dark eye bags, sucking the light and energy from the rest of my face like two black holes so large I am convinced I am only weeks away from some kind of gravitational collapse, leaving only two malevolent eye bags on a pair of legs. I do not need reminding of this fact.
“God, you look tired.”
“Really? Because I thought that after a few weeks of being woken up by my one year old twice a night, I was looking rather stunning. Blemished, pale skin and an inability to string coherent thought together are all the rage, don’t you know.”
The level of weariness that I, and I am sure, a whole slumber of other parents, operate from, is less about going into your lounge to get something, only to find when you get there you have forgotten what it is you wanted. It is more like forgetting where your sodding lounge is in the first place.
But let’s not be too churlish about it. Tiredness was part of the contract that I signed up for when I decided to become a parent. It was just tucked away in the eighty-sixth page of the terms and conditions, just below never being able to finish a conversation and slightly above the clause about always paying more for your children’s shoes that yours. Nah, let’s be churlish. This bit of parenting is utterly shit.
So for now, I take my leave, and head to the… the… you know… what’s it blood called… that place where you can buy plants and bird feed and shit. Yeah. There.