I’ve not written for a few days. Writers block perhaps. More likely after the first few hilarious blogs I’ve found the pressure too much! In truth, I’ve not been in the mood. Things have been tough. Why? That’s not quickly answered. Life, and it’s many twists, take time to explain, to unfold and unpack. It’ll take a few blogs. First up let me start by telling you about Kate, my wife.
It was a Tuesday I think, although that hardly matters. She got up at 5.30. I, as always on a weekday, got up at 5.40. I go in the shower after she’s done, and we are invariably joined by one, two or three little people before 6. Today as I emerged from the shower felicity and flossy were in the bedroom.
But something was not right. Kate hadn’t been keen to go into work for a couple of weeks but today she was shaking, her breathing was short and panicked and her eyes; it was something like terror. Panic maybe. Pain. And then the tears. Floods of tears.
I held her in my arms. Her shaking body. Her breathing snatched, as if she was drowning and yet my hug couldn’t stop her slipping down beneath the surface. At our legs two bewildered little people looked up at their parents, hugging mums legs to try and help, not understanding but full of love and determined to help.
Kate was having an anxiety attack. I will never forget it. Nor should I.
I have watched her work untold hours for more than a decade. Watched her slave away for school after school pouring her heart and soul into them desperate to give the children in her care the very best education possible. In Dubai, she woke at 5.30 every weekday, left the house shortly after 6. Usually she was home by 6, never in time for our cherished family dinner time, but in time to read her children a few stories and help out with bath time. Sometimes she didn’t get home in time. Meetings. Emergencies. Stroppy parents. All robbed her of time with her children. Days would pass when felicity, only a year old, wouldn’t see her mum. By 7.30/8 she back with her head in her laptop until at least 10, but often midnight. And for what? She got thanked by some, many actually. Many lovely people saw the wonderful work she did. But many didn’t. And, as Dubai especially proves in so many ways, money is more important than anything else. The schools she devoted herself to failed her.
But it was coming. You can’t work that hard for that long and not crack. I should have done more. Should have got her to step back before she fell back. And how she fell. Fell back into a bundle of depression, panic and anxiety. That Tuesday, after crying into my arms on our bed, somehow, unbelievably, ridiculously, she mustered herself and went into work. She never made it. She might have died that day. Her panic attack made her almost blind. Mercifully she wasn’t on a main road and had the presence of mind to pull over. She called a friend who talked to her and calmed her down.
Since that day we have made some big decisions. Decisions a lot of people don’t understand. We are spending a year travelling Europe, homeschooling our children, having breakfast and dinner together, finding out who we all are. In a tight little caravan that isn’t always the easiest thing. Homeschooling them isn’t always the easiest thing. Cooking dinner in a caravan certainly isn’t easy. Trying to tell our story isn’t always the easiest thing. And watching your wife, the love of your life, your favourite person in the world, battle with herself is certainly not the easiest thing.
As a result, I’m very defence of her. She’s dealing with a lot. Every minute of every day. Anyone with kids knows how tough things can be. 6, 4 and almost 2. Sleepless night and early mornings. Each day is exhausting and filled with unique challenges. Add depression, anxiety and panic attacks into the mix. Add the fact her father is terminally ill. It’s too much. So, yes, she can snap. She can randomly burst into tears because I put the raw meat at the top of the fridge. She can be frustrated. She can get overwhelmed. She can just want to curl up and hid. She might forget stuff or be late. Some people don’t like that. Some people don’t tolerate it. Some people are too self centred to stand in someone else’s shoes and put a bit of effort in to understand another human.
And now, we are in Crete. Her dad is dying. It’s a horrible thing to see and with all the baggage she is carrying she is trying to support him and his wife to make his final days as comfortable as possible. I’m amazed by her. Her dad should be immeasurably proud of her, as I am sure he is. She is one in 7.6 billion.