It’s Christmas Eve. The kids are in bed. Hubby has gone up to bed and I am left downstairs with my chamomile tea and Kylie screeching at me from the Royal Albert Hall.
To be honest I wasn’t going to write anything tonight. I wasn’t in the mood. I haven’t been in the mood for a few weeks… Life is too busy. The kids are too exhausting. I have not really wanted to deal with the reality of our situation… but then I just got a message from a lovely mum at school. A simple message telling me she’s thinking about me and wishing me and my family a lovely Christmas and it made me cry.
The thing is if you open the flood gates it’s pretty difficult to close them again. One way to stop them, is to channel my emotions into writing something that reflects how I am feeling…..so, tears have been wiped and I am writing….three glasses of wine down, three hours of f**king wrapping done, three children fed and entertained all f**king day. It’s been lovely.
We bumped into Santa on Thursday at Sainsbury’s. Now, this wasn’t the first time Mabel had seen Santa this year, we saw the very same bearded fat man in Asda the day before (I am not very good at writing shopping lists and seem to visit a supermarket at least 5 times a week!). She was delighted in Asda to find that if Mummy put a gold coin in the bucket then Santa gave her a chocolate.
The man collecting gold coins was collecting for Dementia Forward, the charity I volunteer for at the singing group. I mentioned this to him, but he didn’t seem overly impressed. “My mum has dementia,” I tried, thinking I would attempt to find some common ground.
“My mother in law has it,” he said. “Sometimes I wish that she’d get something else that would be quick, as it’s such a cruel disease.”
Now, at this point, I feel I should point out I had just traipsed around Asda with Mabel. It was busy, we had to get home quick smart for the puppy and I was sweating from getting the bastard trolley up the travelator-thing. To my shame, I agreed with him, a little too enthusiastically and said that I too sometimes wished for a quick end to my mother’s suffering and then…. well, I elaborated too much. The poor man took a step back from me in shock, whilst I attempted to explain that I have very dark moments sometimes and of course this is not how I feel all the time.
With his horrified expression etched in my brain, I dragged my youngest daughter away from the box of chocolates and exited the shop as fast as I could.
I am an Idiot.
Anyway, Mabel remembered her Santa experience when all three of my brood and I tackled Sainsbury’s on Thursday.
On the way out, after all three had stuffed chocolate down their necks, Martha declared that it wasn’t the “real” Santa as his sleigh wasn’t real as it had wheels and his beard had a hole in it.
“It’s from a bullet!” Archie declared without even taking a breath.
“What?” I spat. “Santa’s been shot?”
“Yes,” he said, laughing.
Inside I was laughing too whilst trying to stop Mabel from exploding with indignation. She was screaming at her big brother that it indeed was the real Santa and he was “not being kind!” We stopped at traffic lights and I turned to my ten year old son and asked him if he expected me to believe that Santa was riddled with bullet holes from the times people had attempted to kill him.
“Oh yes,” he smiled at me sweetly.”He can’t die so he’s just full of holes.”
Now, it is late and my three monsters are fast asleep in bed and looking like angels in their new pajamas ready for the excitement of the morning. Whilst I am looking forward to the day, there is a deep sadness inside me that I cannot shake. I am constantly reminding myself that it was just two years ago when my parents were here for the last “normal” Christmas. When Mum helped with the cooking and shopping. When life was a bit more simple.
How I crave that now.
Dad is okay and he and my mother have been invited to the neighbours’ for Christmas dinner tomorrow afternoon, which if I’m honest is a relief. The thought of the two of them on their own at Christmas has been difficult to come to terms with. My brother and I Face-Timed them this afternoon and Dad seemed cheery but Mum had no idea who we were.
“Say Happy Christmas to your daughter and your son, Sarah and Clive,” my dad encouraged her. But, she just tried to look behind the screen to see where the voices were coming from. She thought my brother was her brother and that I was ‘Stephen’s friend’. It’s funny. Sometimes it is. But sometimes it’s just really bloody sad.
I am going up to see them on Tuesday with the three monsters and the puppy. I expect the journey to be absolute hell and my mother to have no idea who I am when I get there. I expect my dad to look exhausted and to be relieved to have a bit of help for a few days. I expect my three monsters will drive me crazy with their fighting, bickering, screaming and shouting….but, it will be a distraction and help to keep me sane. The alternative is to focus entirely on my mother and how she is fading before our eyes as the days and weeks go by.
So, Ho, Ho Bloody Ho and Merry Christmas to you all. I know I am not the only one to have to juggle family illness and the guilt of absence with the joy and excitement of my childrens’ Christmas….it is hard, but we have no choice. Crack on and try and enjoy it when you can. It will just be a day in history before we know it.
Miss you, Mum x