I then had to follow my husband in our people carrier to the garage (the brake pads had been reduced to nothing so on pressing the brake a loud scraping noise would screech from the car). I had been assured by the man at the garage it would be OK to drive with caution. I took this to mean drive with caution or die hideously. The fear as I drove the 10 miles to the garage must have been etched on my face. People commuting to work in the other direction must have only seen the whites of my eyes as I hoped I would not die and listened to the grating of metal on metal and my heart thumping in my chest. I was overjoyed to arrive at my destination, almost skipping to the service desk to deliver the key. I had to loosen my knuckles which looked as though they were still firmly clutching the steering wheel.
With a sigh of relief I got into my husband’s car and we journeyed back home. Unfortunately the children by this point had had enough of ‘spot the motorbike’, ‘pull faces at each other’ and my favourite ‘who can be quiet the longest?’. They were in full whine and bicker mode. At times I would have happily stuck my head out of the window in the driving rain and risked beheading by bus to avoid issuing yet another warning. When we arrived home my heart was still thumping.
The 2 year old went out to play on his new bike and the 4 year old went off to potter. The recipe for a quiet life, or it was supposed to be. The wailing commenced … the 2 year old had fallen off his bike and given himself a huge gash along the back of his head. Concussion watch ensued.
Within half an hour my sister’s neighbour called to say that her burglar alarm was going off and she’d given him the wrong key (she is on holiday, I have the other key). I received the news from my employer telling me I was being made redundant. Then the garage called to say that the MOT would cost £430.
My husband held his head in his hands. The rain persistently bucketed down. I braved lunch through a veil of tears.
The 4 year old seeing that something was obviously wrong decided to intervene “Why did the chicken cross the road Mummy?” she asked. “To go to the jumper shop of course”. She told me to laugh. I did, but probably not as much as she would have liked.
I tried to pull myself together. I decided the best option was to leave the house with the dogs, the children and some wellies. It started well. The sun started shining (but only because the 4 year old had been crossing her fingers, apparently), the 2 year old jumped in puddles which took him up to his thighs and the 4 year old sang. Life started to feel better. Then the 4 year old tripped over her brother and cracked her head and elbow on a rock. As I walked home carrying the wailing 4 year old I gave full custody of 1 dog on a leash to the 2 year old. Covered in the 4 year olds blood, dragging the other dog, listening to crying and the 4 year old berate the 2 year old for tripping her up I wept some more. Then the 2 year old fell, grazing a knee.
Bedtime couldn't have come quick enough.
Tomorrow is a new day. Hopefully I will not weep, the 2 year old will wear a bicycle helmet, the 4 year old will tell bad chicken jokes and protect her elbows with bubble wrap, the car will be returned and my husband will not hold his head in his hands. I will still be unemployed but trying to find the silver lining.
I am usually a fairly chipper person. I can smile through adversity. Today I buckled under the stress of a particularly bad year. A huge family crisis added to a series of smaller unfortunate incidences over the past 6 months has pushed me over the edge. I am in freefall.
Two steps forward, six steps back. I will spend the night staring at the clock thinking surely tomorrow can be better, can’t it?
My heart is still pounding through my chest.