October, November and December 2017.
I love my new house. The tall ceilings, the space, the period features, the history. It was built in 1902. Having researched the history, it was originally owned by two sisters “of independent means” who employed a maid who lived on the top floor. Their father was by all accounts a respected and very wealthy solicitor (solicitors generally were at that time). The house still has the working servant’s bells, which can be pushed in various rooms around the house causing a bell to ring in the kitchen. The more I read about the sisters and their family, the more I form a plot for a novel in my head. Writing a novel is on my list of things to do. However, I have a few things to clear from it first.
The house isn’t finished. I have accepted that it is a long term project and will remain on the list for some time. The fact that the walls of the kitchen, utility and downstairs toilet are covered in bare plaster, no longer bothers me. In fact, we have used the ‘new kitchen budget’ on a family holiday to Florida. Work can start again after we have had a summer of fun.
In October, November and December 2017 my life had a very rigid routine. With Hubby working away most days, my mornings would start with a ridiculously early alarm, a battle over breakfast with H, a battle to get H dressed and a bribe of cake in the car to get her to nursery. Work generally ended between 5.15pm and 5.30pm, the latter requiring a grand dash to the car and then through the nursery car park to avoid late fines and tears from H.
H: “Mummy, why are you always late?”
H: “Mummy, can you please come and get me before the sun sets, just once?”
On an evening after collecting Hubby from the station (not every time) and getting dinner, bath time and H’s four bedtime stories out of the way, I would either crash on the settee or update my list of things to do to the house, squeezing in any small jobs that I could tick off in the hour before bed.
Fridays, which had always been about H, became very house focused. Sanding plaster and skirting boards, mounting fire places, choosing paint, stripping bathrooms, airing damp caused by very poorly fitted plumbing works, repairing water damage, cleaning up after the builders…the list was endless.
BOB and LOB (H’s big older brother and little older brother) helped turn the top floor into a teenage hang out, which H now loves.
Weekends became about shopping for the house; Ikea, B&Q, Wilkinson’s, Hemswell Cliff Antiques Centre.
It was exhausting but it was going to be worth it. The dust wasn’t good for my health and I know I should have moved out when every wall downstairs was re-plastered but I didn’t. I wanted to be there when I came home from work to check it was being done correctly,
(because I am obviously the world’s leading expert on plastering walls).
I ignored the wheezing, the increased cough and the breathlessness. The plan was to sort my health when I had time.
On 1 December H and I had a discussion. She wanted to open every window on her advent calendar. I said “no” and she cried and cried and cried.
She had a temper tantrum which was uncharacteristically loud and long. Eventually she said:
H: “Mummy, I don’t like this house. I want to go back to our old house. You and Daddy are mean to me here. You were kind to me in our old house”.
[ Ouch ]
H: “You always work”
[ Ouch ]
M: “I’m sorry, come here”
M: “come here please, I need to hug you”
M: “ok, I’ll stay here until you’re ready”
She sat in a corner of her bedroom for fifteen minutes with her arms folded in front of her little body, looking at the floor before she walked towards me and wrapped her arms tightly around my neck.
The work on the house stopped. We spent the weekend collecting and decorating a Christmas tree with BOB and LOB. December became about Christmas and my little girl loved it.
In late December I caught a cold, (which might have been flu) and I became very ill. I had no idea what my lung function was. I dread to think.
We closed the office over Christmas and I was given a course of super strong oral antibiotics from the hospital. “No, I don’t want IVs, thank you” my standard answer.
After two weeks of resting, spending time with my family and eating lots of super rich Christmas food I felt a big improvement but it wasn’t enough to avoid a course of home IVs in January. Whilst I had felt a big improvement from where I had been, my lung function had dropped significantly. The IVs didn’t run smoothly. I appeared to be allergic to everything that I was prescribed. I didn’t manage to stay at home for the whole course either and became a very reluctant in-patient.
Writing this retrospectively, I can admit that I was probably a nightmare to deal with [Hubby reading this over my shoulder nodding emphatically]. Oh well, lesson learned, moving on.
An interesting start to 2018.