Wednesday, July 18


I must admit today I was a little taken aback today.

I was speaking to a woman about a genuine housing issue, which we agreed on and then she came out with:
"You know, every time I come and look through your window it looks really messy and you seem very chaotic. Are you coping?"

I felt instantly hot.
And a bit like my mum had caught me doing something I shouldn't have.
Then I felt cross.
Is it not bad manners to go deliberately looking though people's windows when it is otherwise avoided?
Was she actually trying to help or was she being a nosey bat? Previous experiences with her and other residents experiences with her very much point to the latter. However innocent until proved guilty. Maybe.

"Is your Health Visitor helping?"

I gabbled some things and bade a quick goodbye, shutting my front door and smarting. I didn't need to look: I knew my front room was a mess. I have always been messy and struggled to stay on top of tidying up. Recently has been extra hard, as I have just felt my bones so heavy with exhuastion that it makes me feel a little ill. I'm really not deliberately slovenly but maybe I could try a bit harder. The trouble is, in the daytime as soon as I put something away, Wriggles will empty an entire box, and at night, all I can do is collapse. The one time I did try to have a proper evening blitz, Mrs Downstairs complained about the noise. Am I just making excuses for what has got out of control?

Ultimately, I know that I will tidy it spick and span by hook or by crook, whether by putting Wriggles in a high sided box or by irritating Mrs Downstairs. I will because it really is a mess. At the moment, the Wriggles friendly bits are not too bad (excepting all toys she has strewn about and untides as i go tidying) but even I won't let it get to the state where it is hazardous for her. But 'my' bits, are a little shameful. So naturally I am here writing about it rather than tidying. I do care. Sort of. But also, quite a lot of me doesn't.

Am I coping? Yes, I would say I am. Coping. That is all. I wouldn't say I am doing much more because clearly, I have things to get on top of before I can rise to the next level of whatever comes after coping. I know that I am not not-coping because not-coping is horrendous. Not-coping means not even noticing mess or not caring about anything. Not-coping means barely being able to move. Not-coping means not speaking to anyone but Wriggles or barely leaving the house. Not-coping means panic attacks and horrible thoughts coming thick and fast. So I am coping. I am able to keep not-coping at bay and get through the day. There is a start, a middle and a finish. Not-coping eclipses all time. My coping might look like someone else's not-coping, but I know for me, that is enough. After a much better time recently, I know I have taken a bit of a stumble suddenly again. But I know also I will pick myself up sooner or later. And that is coping: knowing there is not just a tomorrow but a day after that too.

When people, other than very geuine people close to you who would help in an instant, ask the dreaded "are you coping?" question, I find it a little irritating. Mainly, because exactly what are they going to do if you say no, no I'm not?

Would they for instance, find me a partner?
Would they pay for a cleaner?
Would they give me an extra pair of hands?
Would they find me more hours in the day?
Would they be able to answer the eternal question, of why toddlers empty things?
Would they iron all my fears out straight?
Would they remove my scars of bad memories that don't go away?
Would they teach my daughter to eat?
Would they wave a magic wand?
Would they take some of my tasks off me so I had a little less?
Would they give me just half an hour to help?

No, they would not.

They would look a little bit uneasy, like my Health Visitor, and maybe pat my hand. And then they would go and think thank goodness it's not me.

So I'll just keep on coping until I'm better than just coping. And in the meantime, I might even finish the washing up.


  1. How rude! It's nobody's business how tidy your house is! You're bring up a small child by yourself, what do they expect? Our policy is as long as the place is clean, a bit of mess is fine. I try and do one hour a day of actual tidying. That's enough to make sure the bathroom is clean, the food is hoovered off the carpet and the washing up is done. Basic hygiene stuff. But my house is still a mess, because I don't organise all my daughter's toys every night, the ironing isn't always done on the day it's washed and sometimes it can take me a few days to sort the spam mail ino the recycling. But so what?

    1. My thoughts exactly! When I have a spare hour it will get done. Not before and not after! And spare hours are particularly sporadic with teething toddlers running amok!!

  2. I'm just a cynical old house-husband but one that used to fret over others opinion of my messy house, particularly when I forgot the health visitor was due round (which was the norm).

    Now I counter my paranoia by casting my own aspersions on anyone's house that is pristine clean, convinced they're hiding something ... makes me feel loads better!

    Mark, Sonny, and Luca.

    PS re your neighbour, my vote goes with nosey!

    1. Thanks-I agree with the nosey vote!

      And I love the pristine clean aspersions. Tidiness hides a multitudes of sins....

  3. I totally identify with this post. You are coping and coping is fine for a while. Every year gets easier (my DD is 3 1/2) but even when you geton top of things for a while - there are periods when you go back to coping for a bit. A good answer to the, "are you coping?" question could be: "What are you offering to do for me if I'm not?"

  4. People like your neighbour drive me crazy! None of her business! For what it's worth, you sound like you're doing just fine to me - I think a messy house is a sign that you've got your priorities right: you're concentrating on looking after Wriggles and leaving unimportant things like housework and tidying until there's time. That's my philosophy anyway - which might explain why my house is a tip all the time!

  5. Creative people are rarely tidy and I agree you know yourself when you're not coping. What a rude lady, I'd have asked her 'is that a rhetorical question? I often speak my mind when anxious!'