Two Hours

All the emotion is welling up in me again. I feel totally overwhelmed. Frankly, I am getting sick of this emotional rollercoaster. Why can’t I even out? There are just too many things to deal with. Well – there’s probably no more than is usual for most people, I don’t fucking know, but it seems like I’ve got a sizeable portion of the universe’s crap at the moment. Maybe it’s that I’m deficient and incapable, so everything just seems much bigger than it is. Maybe these are very normal things to be simultaneously faced with. Maybe you will read this and think, ‘And? What are you whinging about? Join the club!’ I really don’t know what a normal life is supposed to look like. I just know that the circumstances of my life right now are swallowing me whole, and I’m teetering on the edge of an abyss I simply cannot let myself fall into.
My son had another paediatrician’s appointment yesterday. His physical health seems to be improving, so we don’t need to check his bloods again for three months, unless he declines again. The doctor is now more concerned that the stress of school may be what is making him ill. Apparently little boys are more likely to manifest their emotional distress physically. This doesn’t come as a complete shock – there were concerned raised at the case conference at the end of last year about how he would handle the transition to year one.
The paediatrician believes my son may be better off at another school that has a separate ed-support programme. She has convinced me to at least go and look at the school and have a chat to the education support teachers. The idea of putting him in an ed-support school was raised last year. But it was something I had hoped would not be necessary. Surely his level of intellectual disability was not dire enough to warrant changing schools? Now I am considering it seriously for the first time.
I feel ill about the decision I am now faced with, as I drift back into his current school to take my son back to his class. I briefly talk to his teacher. She says that he is completely lost – that he is in his own world and needs constant supervision to get even the simplest of ideas. We must arrange a meeting next week to talk about it at length. I am left with the impression, even from that brief interlude, that she agrees with the paediatrician; my son cannot cope with or flourish under the usual curriculum.
I need to get out of the school. I take one last look at my son retreating back into his dream world on the mat, and then turn and scurry away. In the car I feel my body start to shake with anxiety. The emotions are vying for precedence again. But I need to do the shopping run. That was my plan – doctors then shopping. I make a point of shoving the emotions down further into the pit of my stomach, and set my mind to acquiring the things I need from Coles. I can break later. The day must go on.
I glide through the bright, surreal aisles of the shopping centre, feeling isolated and alone. I pick things off the shelves and hope that my make-up is hiding the acuteness of the emotions inside me. I look at the strangers around me and wonder what is happening for them right now in their lives. Are they happy? Are they in crisis? Are they just hiding it really well? On the drive home I start to feel that familiar pressure and burning in my face as the tears begin to swell. Sorry love, they seem to say, but you’ve hidden us for long enough, you’re time for normality is up.
I check the time. I have two hours alone in my house before I have to pick my kids up. I have two hours to cry. Two hours to let it all out. Two hours to process what the fuck I’m going to do about this new information. Two hours to let the guilt come back to the fore and consume me. Two hours to drive myself mad thinking that it is all my fault. Two hours to remember the events after my mother’s passing, when I was insane with grief and drank to deal with the pain, while my son grew in my belly. Two hours to punish myself for that weakness. Two hours to wonder if those six weeks are the only reason he has this disability. Two hours to accept the fact that I will never know with certainty what part that played in my son’s learning difficulties. Two hours to break my own heart thinking that I have robbed him of his full potential. Two hours to get freshly angry at my mother for dying so suddenly and forcing me to deal with that loss whilst pregnant. Two hours to make that familiar promise in my head that I will spend every day of my life trying to make up for that time of weakness. Two hours to fall apart and sink into darkness. Two hours to get myself together enough to redo my make-up, to paint over the heartache and pressure. And two hours to ready myself to don the mask of a strong and capable mother.

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