When you’re ahead keep your mouth shut.
I broke the rule yesterday. I posted a blog about the vexed issue of dropping my son at childcare (https://whatsadaddyfor.blog/2017/08/03/the-morning-run-revisited/). It was an update to my original post last week which received such a huge response (https://whatsadaddyfor.blog/2017/07/26/the-morning-run/).
Yesterday I wrote that we’d had a good week. Other than a few tears, the trauma involved in handing him over the to crèche staff had been diminished. I suppose I wanted all the people who had contacted me to know that it was going well.
What a fool I was.
Today, almost inevitably, we fall off a cliff. A really, really high cliff.
Mummy is away, working early. He hasn’t slept well. The factors are stacking up against me like a crooked pile of china. Soon it topples.
The tantrum in the house is quite breathtaking in its force; a visceral display of sorrow and anger. Nothing I can say or do seems to be able to bring any peace or relief to his mind.
The handover is even worse. I simply don’t have words to describe the show of naked distress he displays as I try to leave him there. It’s heartbreaking. I do what I always fear I will. I fall apart.
I start to sob right in the middle of the crèche, in front of children, parents, staff members. I just can’t do it anymore. My resolve has been extinguished.
I go outside and sit on a step, still weeping, dabbing a grotty paper hanky at my eyes.
I’m not a religious person. I don’t really understand what it means to be spiritual. But there’s a phrase which keeps going through my mind again and again.
‘God help me, it’s just too hard. God help me, it’s just too hard.’
One of the staff members comes out and sits beside me. I pull myself together and within a couple of minutes we’re laughing about it all. She checks that my son has calmed down and then I leave.
I go to my favourite coffee shop and order a flat white. I sit down and open my laptop. This is where I do a lot of my writing.
The structure of this post is forming in my mind. I decide I’m going to call it ‘The worst morning ever.’
But funny things start to happen.
I phone my wife for a chat. As ever things don’t seem anywhere near as bad once I talk to her.
I phone the crèche. They tell me my son is now playing happily.
Then, unexpectedly, an old friend walks into the coffee shop. She joins me at the table. She has read some of my blogs. We talk about it.
The next hour rolls along in a blur of shared mental health and parenting experiences. I’ve known this person casually for many years, but now she tells me things that I could never even have begun to guess.
She is one of the most ‘together’ people I know. Except she has all the same problems as me.
I say goodbye to my friend and check my phone. I have a message from a number I don’t recognise.
It’s a message from my son.
I realise that the staff member who sat on the step with me has gone to the trouble of sending it on. Just to make me feel better. For my sake. She didn’t have to do it. But she did.
It’s easy when you spend a bit of time on social media to believe that people have become very cynical. There’s so much aggression and anger. So much apparent intent on hurting each other.
And then there’s this. Simple gestures, like a gift from a child.
Now the piece I’m writing has a different tone. I’ve found the hope again. Now I decide to call it ‘The best worst morning ever’.
I’m looking for a conclusion. The innate need my mind has to pull it all together into a neat point. The storyteller’s desire to have a meaning for it all.
I don’t know. I was desperate and now I’m happy.
It’s Friday. The three of us are going for a hotel break this weekend and I’m beyond excited about that. My mind is already racing ahead, coming up with jokes for my next post.
Things are good. But it’s scary how we exist just inches away from that step.
Sitting there saying ‘God help me.’