Monday, 2 December 2013

Overdoing it

Having been commanded by the doctor to take it easy, I promptly reacted by Overdoing It (the annoying capitalisation here represents my mother's voice in my head which too is slightly annoying. My pain is your pain).

So on my first night out of hospital, I rearranged our bedroom furniture to take account of the newly delivered still-smelling-of-wax super king size bed (Doc's rule number 1: don't lift or strain) and nursed my puking three year old (Doc's rule number 2: avoid infection). In the week since then I've cooked and cleaned almost incessantly (rule 3 kicks the bucket), gone swimming (rule 4 hits the dust) and undertaken a variety of what I'm sure my mother and doctor would both agree are non-essential tasks such as shopped for presents, framed photographs, guillotined several hundred pages from an old volume of Shakespeare's collected works for next week's decoupage of an old IKEA bookcase, ironed an enormous mound of shirts, kept in near-constant touch with the office, had my hair cut, lugged a heavy new laundry basket over a mile back home and started writing a short story.

And now I'm tired and grumpy and want to stop.

The problem is, of course, that everyone appears to be labouring under the delusion, admittedly wholly created by me, that I wish to Overdo It; that in allowing me to Overdo It they are granting me the respect and freedom I deserve as an independent and intelligent woman, capable (as women are in this day and age) of making her own choices. Notably my boss who, having claimed I am far too driven to sit around and watch daytime TV, (a damned lie - I LOVE 60 minute makeover), has, much to my dismay, asked me to complete a chunky piece of work during my time at home next week (I do accept that I am getting paid this month but those IKEA shelves won't decoupage themselves).

The other culprit is, of course, my very liberal and modern husband who never questions either my career plans or my shabby-chic craft projects and who finds himself ill-equipped, and, let's face it, entirely oblivious of the need, to morph into a Mills and Boon hero (I have some hazy notion of being 'ruthlessly pinned' against a wall or locked in a room, weeping, to prevent my womanly nonsense).

'Nonsense' of course being the operative word here.

Because not only have I, in one way or another, invented all my chores, (ok maybe not the ironing), but I would vehemently reject any insinuation that I am NOT capable of undertaking all these and more whilst fighting disease and maintaining a healthy blood count level.

When I am well I love the fact that apart from the inevitable constraints caused by biology and a demanding pre-schooler, no one in my life puts noticeable limits on me.

Now I'm ill I want to be petted and told not to worry my pretty little head about anything. I want someone to tell me what to do and, contrary to any tendency I've ever shown and to any feminist principle, I want to obey uncomprehendingly.

But, dammit, no one is bossing me around!

I am sure that I should be able to turn off my constantly spouting tap of objectives myself without the need for external intervention but this would require effort and effort is something I don’t have the energy for at the moment, so that, ironically, continuing as normal is actually easier than the mental upheaval required to forgive myself everything I would usually do.

The downside of continuing as normal under all circumstances is that at some point you crash whether you want to or not.  This need not always involve overflowing into tears in front of one’s highly introverted and data-driven male boss…but it might.

The upside of the downside is that everyone (including said boss) seems totally OK with it and that I’ve discovered and tested the strength of a support network that, to be honest, I hadn’t tested for a while. If ever.   

So I suppose my point is that whilst aiming for moons and shooting for stars and doing bits of everything that might, at a distance, vaguely approximate to something approaching 'it all', we all crash at some point or another. The faster we run, the more frequently we may need to crash. And if we've beaten stereotypes and kept going and done well and been capable, we can’t rely on others knowing they need to step in unless we let them see our vulnerability or exhaustion. And doing this isn’t losing ground, it’s being human.