The bad day

I’m on my knees.

Down on the ground in my son’s bedroom surrounded by toys, scattered like so much flotsam and jetsam from a wreckage bobbing in the sea.

It’s a suitable image because I feel like a shipwreck survivor today. Exhausted, weary and on the verge of giving up.

I’m having a bad day.

It’s Monday. One of the days when my son is with me from first light to bedtime.

I know I’m supposed to say that every moment with him is precious. Every second spent together a golden memory.

But I don’t feel that way today. The truth is there are times when I hate it.

There, I said it. The thing that no parent should ever even think, let alone write down.

It’s not yet lunchtime and already I’ve been a monster, a pirate, a cowboy, a human trampoline and a punching bag.

Now he’s pulling boxes of toys out from under his bed and emptying them on the carpet, asking me to find some trivial item not seen or bothered about in years.

I scarcely know what I’m looking for as I move my hands through the piles of endless plastic junk. It’s like searching for a single blade of hay in a giant pile of needles.

‘Where is it daddy? Where is it?’, the impatience rising.

It’s relentless today. His voice is like a stab of pain to my head.

It’s as if he’s attached to me, taking my energy, taking my ideas, taking my life, sucking the marrow out of my bones.

If I could just have a minute to myself. Just a minute to myself.

There’s a molten mixture of volcanic issues at play here. From my own mental health problems, lack of self-confidence and low mood, to my son’s constant need for attention and his rampant, inexhaustible creativity and curiosity.

Add into this my feelings of guilt that I’m not enjoying this morning with him, not giving him the best of me. Yes, it’s a very bad day.

I’ve achieved nothing yet. The breakfast is not made, the clothes not ironed. We’re still in our pyjamas and I haven’t written a word. The sense of waste is upon me. Wasted time, wasted potential.

I’ve been trying to get into the shower for more than an hour. Jesus, if I could just get a minute to myself.

I think about all the things I have to do and it threatens to overwhelm me. I feel the familiar line of cold sweat on my spine and know that a panic attack is sweeping across like a sandstorm. I feel the anxiety spreading in my stomach and chest like a weed.

I go into the toilet and lock the door, hoping it will pass. But he’s knocking within seconds.

‘Come and play daddy. Come and play!’

I want to put my head on the floor, my cheek against the cold tiles and shout. Enough! Enough! Enough! Please just leave me alone!

I open the door and he has me by the arm, leading me downstairs, explaining some new game he has invented and my role in it. We sit together on the carpet in the front room and he starts to wheel a toy car around me. I feel like I’m going to burst into tears. I feel it is all falling apart again. It’s the paralysis of depression.

I decide we have to get out of the house. I’m claustrophobic in here, like I need to burst out of my own skin. I tell him that we’ll go to the park. At least there we can run around, get some fresh air.

It has been a fine and sunny morning. I put on his clothes and shoes and open the front door. At that exact moment it rains. Not gradual, the way rain usually comes, but sudden and immediate and heavy. It’s an angry rain, the fat drops pounding the Tarmac of the road and then bouncing up again. We didn’t even make it past the doorstep. It’s a really really bad day.

We go back inside. I put something on the TV, some cartoon to distract him for just a few minutes. I sneak out and into the kitchen and post a couple of quick blogs. Quick and cheap jokes, just so I can pretend to myself that I’ve achieved something, left a part of myself in the day.

I read them back and don’t think they are funny. There seems to be something faintly absurd and pathetic that I’m trying to make other people laugh when I can’t raise a smile myself.

Soon my wife comes down from her office and we decide we’ve all earned a break. We go out for a coffee and a juice and then for a short drive. We chat, about nothing in particular, but with enough mutual respect and humour that the clouds soon begin to dissolve and I remember that I am somebody. Just the process of having a little bit of family time, all of us together out of the house, brings me back to a place where I’m comfortable. It’s often the little things we give no thought to that have the most hold over our feelings.

It worked today anyway. Another day it might be something else.

As we drive through the countryside in the rain I notice my son is getting quieter in the back. Soon he is dozing and I head for home.

I lift him tenderly from the seat and lay him on our sofa. He sits up and looks at me with confusion for a second before he settles again on his side. His little eyes are not quite shut, as if he is asleep and awake at the same time. A tiny hand is at the side of his face. He is oblivious to his power to pull you this way and that.

I sit beside him on the sofa and read. I want my face to be the first thing he sees when he wakes up, so he doesn’t have a moment of fear or uncertainty.

Then we can do whatever he wants. We can run around, play, watch cartoons. Whatever he wants.

Yes it’s been a bad day. So far. I suppose we all have our own versions of a bad day.

But there’s one thing about a bad day. It can always get better.

14 thoughts on “The bad day

  1. I wrote this on one of those bad days.

    I feel like I’ve got two lives, like there’s two of me,
    On one hand, I’m a father,
    Dad to two boys, the apples of my eye.
    But then there’s me.

    I love those boys with all my heart, with all my soul, my only goal
    Is their happiness and welfare.
    I get cross. They wind me up, frustrate me, but,
    Whatever they want to do is what I want to do.
    But then there’s me.

    I’ve got ambitions. Things I want to do.
    Things I want to see. Want to make a difference.
    Always felt there’s something in me that one day will come out.
    Wasn’t good enough at football, can’t sing, can’t think of a thing,
    That I’m actually good enough to make it my life’s work,
    My crowning glory, that thing I’m known for.

    Some of its about the root of all evil. Of course it is.
    Money may not bring satisfaction but it can certainly bring security
    But then, I had jobs, maybe was ungrateful for the career opportunities I had,
    Got paid. Got paid well at times.
    Being credit worthy only brought debt.
    Now there’s less in my pocket but conversely I own more,
    Or at least, creditors own less of mine.

    So I’m happy with my boys, my family,
    Sometimes I forget the other me.
    Probably for the best. Never liked him much anyway.
    But next minute, that is me. I’m angry.
    I want time to myself and not just time to dust the shelf,
    Do the washing, cleaning, shopping, more washing.
    Get ready to start again.
    I want time for that penny to drop, that muse to sing,
    To tell me about that thing, that’s going to bring fulfilment,
    Satisfaction (I can’t get no)

    Is writing this that thing? Maybe.
    But I’m only doing it cos I just watched Kate Tempest on the telly.
    Fucking good it was to hear her talking of all that strife,
    Eloquent, enlightened and entertaining.
    But I’ve never written a poem in my fucking life,
    And I’m not about to start.

    So I’m still waiting for that thing to appear,
    Waiting to hear, that voice in my head, loud and clear
    The thought finally coming, the inspiration for which I’ve waited.
    Not patiently.
    But that’s just me.
    What am I going to do? What am I going to be?
    Probably had half my life, and sometimes that feels like a good thing,
    There’s plenty of time left though, to make my mark, to leave my legacy.

    But why won’t it come though, that thing.
    Like waiting for a phone to ring, with good news.
    It never is though.
    Actually, of course it is sometimes. Mostly, things are good.
    Plenty to enjoy.
    Music, films, football, eating. Those boys.
    But (apart from those boys) none of those things are mine.
    I didn’t create them, invent them, think of or perform them.
    Just watched someone else do it and that always leaves me short.
    Watching other people do stuff.
    I enjoy. Love my team to win. Laugh whole heartedly at quality comedy.
    Still leaves me though, with that feeling of jealousy. That the only ability,
    Is for me, to pass comment, my opinion, like I know, like anyone else cares,
    Like a critic, like the type of prick,
    That tries to deliver, via Twitter every bit of self-righteous, mis-spelled wisdom.
    O
    M
    G
    Is that me?
    Or him?
    I forgot which way round it is now.

    I think the conclusion for which I yearn, that thing I have to learn,
    Is that the me I thought I was, that I hoped to be, isn’t.
    I’m not giving up, it still could happen. That fellow could be me.
    But stop wanting it so much, especially in this frustrated and depressed,
    State of anxiety. Self-perpetuated by perceived failure.
    Maybe. And, often I think, definitely,
    That thing, that real me,
    Is the man who loves my wife and family.

    But now I feel guilty.
    Taking time to write this self indulgent nonsense.
    Somedays getting my chores done is the right the thing to do,
    Got to be done. Don’t want a mess. Prefer order, not chaos. Cleanliness.
    In turn, that makes me angry. Back to square one.
    Desperate for that elusive inspiration.
    Remember Holly Johnson saying “I’m looking for something,
    But I don’t know what it is”.
    That’s me.
    Don’t know where to start.
    Do what you’re good at. Do what you’re passionate about.

    Shit.

    Nothing.

    There must be fucking something.

    There is.
    Those boys. My wife and family. Not that other me.

    Furious Styles said “any fool can make a baby,
    But it takes a real man to be a father”.
    That brings some solace. Assuming that’s what I am being.
    Think I am.
    Or am I looking for reassure. Fishing for compliments to ease insecurity.
    Making excuses for why I didn’t achieve. Believe,
    That I could be, that other me.
    (Which way round was it again?)
    Who has definitely got that undiscovered talent for which and from which,
    He’s going to be, successful, rewarded, accomplished, published,
    Satisfied.

    And just as quickly, I’m back.
    Shovel in hand.
    Digging that dirty great hole of self-pity to fill back up again with chips from my shoulder.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ruth. I think we all get that feeling some days. Knowing we are all in the same boat hopefully helps us to cope a little bit. Stay in touch if you ever need someone to chat to x

      Like

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